Alvin Lin


Alvin Lin was born in Taipei, Taiwan and hails from New England. He blogs about Asian American pop culture, film, music, literature and politics, as well as relevant news around the world. He also writes for Imprint Talk. Alvin has degrees from Cornell and MIT.

Apologizing for Alexandra Wallace

Alexandra Wallace made a typical non-apology apology to "the entire Asian culture" (wtf?), while also making some bold accusations about threats she received that were never confirmed or validated, therefore painting herself as a victim. I've been observing the aftermath of this event given how much mainstream attention it has received.  What we do know is that this wasn't a one-time accidental mistake from this woman; Wallace had actually planned a series of internet releases about Asians.

Musical Compositions by Jie Ma


California-based pipa artist Jie Ma has spent the past few years creating a unique blend of music that incorporates traditional Eastern instruments with Western musical elements. Her CD is an innovative contribution to the overall body of American music. Her work is a twist on classical and new age genres, in much the same way that Shanghai Restoration Project is a combination of Eastern sounds with modern hip hop and electronica.

National Day of Action for Dream Act

Today is the National Day of Action for the Dream Act, to encourage Americans to call on Congresspeople and Senators to pass a ten-year piece of immigration legislation. This law would give high school students, who have lived in the United States for over five years, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they spent years in US military service, or earned a college education. To contact your state's senators and your representative, please visit: and

PAAFF Film Review: 'Wo Ai Ni Mommy' Revisited

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) recently finished after a strong lineup of films and events. One extremely moving, honest, and powerful film was Stephanie Wang-Breal's Wo Ai Ni Mommy, which Hyphen's Momo Chang reviewed back in March. The film's ability to create such strong emotional reactions from the audience merits some additional review and commentary. Please note that the review below includes a spoiler. Before proceeding, the film can be watched on PBS online now, for free, until the end of the month.

Far East Movement Lighting Up Music Billboards

Far East Movement's song "Like a G6" (featuring Dev and The Cataracs) has been tearing up the music billboards lately. It's receiving major play on pop radio stations everywhere. It currently sits at #16 on the billboard top 100, which is easily the highest ever for an Asian American musical group. This is unprecedented territory, and encouraging news for other talented musical groups like Legaci that faced early barriers but see recent traction.

Jeremy Lin on Verge of NBA Contract with Golden State Warriors

Jeremy Lin is on the verge of signing a multi-year NBA deal. League insider Marc Stein tweeted that Jeremy Lin is going home to the Bay Area to play for the Golden State Warriors. Other interested suitors included the LA Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, and an unnamed Eastern Conference team. Compared to the other suitors, Golden State was his best opportunity for NBA playing time in the near future. Hyphen covered Jeremy Lin last December, then as broader media coverage followed, and also as he finished the season as a finalist for the John Wooden and Bob Cousy awards, for the country's best Division-I basketball player and best point guard.

2010 Asian American International Film Festival

The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is back!  It's taking place at multiple venues in New York City from July 15th to 24th, beginning this Thursday. The festival's calendar of films, workshops, and panels can be found here.

The opening night presentation film is Manila Skies, the weekend centerpiece film is Au Revoir Taipei, and the closing night film is The People I've Slept With. Hyphen recently reviewed The People I've Slept With, as well as interviewed its lead actress Karin Anna Cheung (Better Luck Tomorrow).

Judge Rules Not Guilty in Robert Wone Murder Mystery

Yesterday Judge Lynn Leibovitz ruled that Victor Zaborsky, Dylan Ward, and Joseph Price were not guilty on all charges over evidence tampering, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy (it was not a court case charging murder). This is another trial by judge, rather than by jury, that ended disappointingly for murdered Asian Americans. Almost 30 years ago Judge Charles Kaufman let Vincent Chin's murderers (Michael Nitz and Ronald Ebens) go with a $3000 fine. Somewhere right now Vincent Chin is rolling in his grave.

'The Karate Kid' is Worth Seeing

One could argue that the Karate Kid remake goes back to some of the original roots of American cinematic martial arts. Martial arts were found in many of the Blaxploitation films of the 1970’s, but the past 40 years of American cinema have been more of a white appropriation of martial arts culture, without including significant black actors despite strong support from that community.

Ed Lin Reads at Boston Progress Arts Collective

Ed Lin recently read portions of his new book Snakes Can't Run at the open mic series hosted by the Boston Progress Arts Collective. Snakes Can't Run is a sequel to Ed's book This Is a Bust, written in 2007, which follow detective Robert Chow's investigations of mysterious deaths around New York City. Ed is also the author of the popular book Waylaid, which became the movie The Motel directed by Michael Kang and co-starring Sung Kang. One thing I have always liked about Ed's books, are how authentically and knowledgably he writes about second+ generation Asian Americans, as well as about Chinese culture and behaviors, without pandering to non-Asian readers by falsely exotifying his content. It was a thrill to hear him read from portions of his book, in the various tones of the characters he's created. I consider Ed a big part of the newer generation of Asian American authors, who write characters that resonate with more closely with Asian Americans who grew up here. Ed is currently on a book reading tour, and those of you on the West Coast can catch him at various locations later this month.
I also wanted to write about the Boston Progress Arts Collective, a wonderful nurturing place for artists I had known about for years, but wish I had frequented many years earlier. BPAC recently celebrated its 5-year anniversary last month, and serves as a community for Asian American artists of all types to share, collaborate, and perform. Every other Friday it holds an Open Mic, for anyone to come perform live music, share spoken word and poetry, as well as some free style. Other events include Open Orchestra (unscripted, shared music playing), as well as improv. The caliber of artists who frequent these events is extremely impressive. Past performers at BPAC have included Beau Sia, Kevin So, and Vudoo Soul to name just a few of many. You can join their facebook group here. BPAC's events are held inside the East Meets West bookstore in Cambridge, which claims to sell the largest collection of independent Asian American works on the East Coast. BPAC also runs Boston Progress Radio, an online radio show. For those who may be interested, Boston Progress is currently seeking more volunteers to help out in any capacity. Also, for those readers in New York City, Ed Lin co-runs the open mic at the Asian American Writer's Workshop.
Finally, one open mic performer I saw and wanted to give special mention to was Cynthia Lin, a very talented musician who sings and plays acoustic guitar with a folksy and jazzy feel. Cynthia is currently finishing up her third album, and you can hear some songs from her previous two albums on her website, as well as support her work.


Ed Lin recently read portions of his new book Snakes Can't Run at the open mic series hosted by the Boston Progress Arts Collective. Snakes Can't Run is a sequel to Ed's book This Is a Bust, published in 2007, which follows detective Robert Chow's investigations of mysterious deaths around New York City. Ed is also the author of the popular book Waylaid, which became the movie The Motel directed by Michael Kang and co-starred Sung Kang.

Far East Movement Signs with CherryTree Records

FarEastMovement, the extremely talented hip hop group out of LA, just signed with CherryTree Records. CherryTree, which is owned by Universal, also manages artists like LadyGaga and LMFAO. FarEastMovement first achieved mainstream recognition with their song "Round Round" in Justin Lin's movie Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Since then they've seen their popularity take off, getting their music played in other films and television shows, as well as on the radio on the West Coast. 

Jeremy Lin a Finalist for Bob Cousy Award

Jeremy Lin has been named one of eleven finalists for the Bob Cousy Award (named after the Boston Celtics legend), given to the best college basketball point guard. The selection criteria emphasizes "leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals," which I believe describes Jeremy Lin to a T, with his old-school style play leading Harvard to one of its best seasons in history.

Race Slippery on the Tongue for ESPN Morning Talk Show

Popular ESPN morning talk show host Mike Greenberg found himself in some hot water this morning after letting out a slip of the tongue on-air while trying to say "Martin Luther King Jr.," instead saying "Martin Luther Coon Jr."

He issued an apology later today. I don't know how much this unfortunate slip of the tongue reveals about Greenberg, as this is the first time he's had a slip up like this in over ten years of broadcasting, but what is interesting to me is how similar this slip-up looks like compared to this Youtube clip of a 1965 Alabama mayor doing the same thing.
Incidentally, five years ago a television weatherman made a similar mistake, apologized, but was fired from his job.

It'll be interesting to see how the public receives this, given the prevalence of sportscasters' other racial slurring.

Sammy Sosa Bleaches Skin

Egads. From multiple photos and articles, it appears that baseball star Sammy Sosa has bleached his skin. This article claims it was a 'skin rejuvenation process', while this article speculates about other more disturbing motivations, including the history of black self-hate and colonial mentality in response to white-supremacist ideology, racism, and discrimination.

Calvin Sun's Keynote Speech at SERCAAL

I thought this was an excellent keynote speech given by Calvin Sun at last week's Southeast Regional Conference of Asian American Leaders (SERCAAL)*. I first came across Calvin's work several years ago on Asian American female body image while he was still in college, during which time he also helped create an annual college film festival and was also Columbia's former senior class VP. He's usually involved in a million different passions, activist and not, and it says a lot that he was chosen to speak, given the other speakers they've had. I believe the experiences, perspectives, and ideals he shares here sound representative of a lot of other passionate mid/late-twenties Asian American activists right now helping to shape the country in their own ways. Sun mentions being inspired by Better Luck Tomorrow, which leads me to wonder how influential BLT has been in awakening other Generation-Y Asian Americans...

*conference name corrected, with thanks to Julia Yip

Still the Other? What the American General Population Thinks of You

The Committee of 100 recently published its survey, titled Still the Other?, to understand views of Chinese Americans and Asian Americans among America's general population. I'll get to the punchline first, which is that significant racial attitudes and suspicions still exist. Some highlights are that most Americans still don't distinguish between Asians or Asian Americans, and see us all as one big homogeneous group, or as not American.

Hyphen Lynks: Sam Raimi, Sam Yoon

Sam #1. In an interesting development, director Sam Raimi is going to be overseeing a remake of the Zhang Yimou movie House of Flying Daggers. Why are there so many Hollywood remakes of recent movies created by Asian people? Hollywood remade The Hulk only a few years after Ang Lee directed it, remade Infernal Affairs into The Departed, and there are more than a dozen other recent examples from this decade of Hollywood remakes of brand-new quality Asian films. What is wrong with simply showing the same story with the original Asian faces in them?

Sam #2. I'm excited to pass along that Sam Yoon recently announced
his candidacy for mayor of Boston, attempting to beat out two other
candidates to take over the post long held by Tom "mumbles" Menino. For
those unaware of his background, Sam Yoon is a Princeton and Harvard
educated activist who just a few years ago became the first-ever
elected Asian American Boston city councilman. He is also a co-founder
of the Asian Political Leadership Fund,
which supports and fosters Asian American political leaders around the
country. Interestingly, most of his funds have been raised from out-of-state. Learn more about Sam Yoon and his campaign by visiting his site.

Wired Magazine Attempts to Explain Financial Crisis

Wired Magazine recently had an interesting article it called 'Recipe for Disaster: The Formula that Killed Wall Street,' speculating that the roots of the American financial crisis might be traced back to an economic model created by mathematician David X. Li. As I read it, I couldn't help but think the underlying message throughout the piece was to point the finger conveniently at one Asian guy for everything.

Study Finds Social Proof Shifts Perceptions in Brain

Here is a somewhat recent CNN article which talks about the impact of social proof upon one's perceptions. Prior research has already shown that individuals will go along with a majority view, even if it is objectively incorrect in their minds. What is interesting about this recent study is they examined how people's ideas of physical beauty changed based on what they perceived to be the average, or norm ratings of their peers.  I believe this research has relevance for Asian Americans.

Golf Announcer Mistakes Anthony Kim for 'All Those Chinese People'

Live television is great because if you harbor un-PC views, it's hard to hide it. Here are some gems from Richard Boxall and Bruce Critchley on Sky TV:

"With all these Chinese people around, I'm not sure if I bumped into
him [Kim] in the hotel reception last night," Boxall said. "I'm not
sure if it was him."

Not to be outdone, Critchley added his own cringe-worthy moment. After
Kim's approach shot landed well past the pin, the British announcer
described Kim as wearing a look of "oriental surprise," according to
the Irish Independent.

If you want to know more, here is the article link. Here is another, older article about another announcer calling a golfer 'the Chinaman'. Here is another article with reader comments on today's incident below.