Melissa Hung is the founding editor of Hyphen. She was the editor in chief for the magazine's first five years and went on to serve in many other leadership roles on the staff and board for more than a decade. She is a writer and freelance journalist. Her essays and reported stories have appeared in NPR, Vogue, Pacific Standard, Longreads, and Catapult, among others. A native Texan, she lives in California. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
The film Colma opens this Friday in SF, and I'm excited to see it. I missed this one at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival because it was sold out. This time I'm buying my tickets in advance.
This isn't the first time we're blogging about this, and it probably won't be the last. The message is simple: get registered as a bone marrow donor. Because of the low numbers of minorities who are registered, people who need bone marrow transplants are not getting them. We've been getting emails lately from some young Asian Americans who have cancer and blood disorders and need your help.
A couple months out of the year I get no sleep because not only am I working on Hyphen stuff outside of my day job, but I’m also working on Slant, a little film festival in Houston. We’re in our 7th year, and it takes place next weekend.
Slant screens Asian American shorts (each film is 30 minutes or less). We’ve shown a lot of emerging filmmakers who have gone on to do great things. (Michael Kang, Alice Wu, Greg Pak, just to name a few)
Don't forget, there's a Hyphen party tonight to celebrate the release of the Faith Issue. Yes, it's been out for more than a month already, but I'm sure you won't mind that we're using our latest issue as an excuse to throw a party.
More links to articles about the Virigina Tech shooting:
I was eating dinner at the Westfield mall in downtown SF the other day when I saw Bobby Lee. Bobby Lee! You know, of Mad TV. He plays every Asian character from Connie Chung to Kim Jong-il. You may have also seen him as an overeager college student in Harold & Kumar. I last saw him on screen in Chris Chan Lee's Undoing at the SF Asian American Intl Film Fest, where he had a brief role. He is 1/4 of the Asian American touring stand-up show and DVD The Kims of Comedy. (Not familiar with Bobby Lee? Watch this MadTV parody of Memoirs of a Geisha)
Interesting art review in this week's edition of the Houston Press (a weekly paper where I used to work): One Way Or Another: Asian American Art Now. The critic talks about a visual art show of works by Asian American artists put together by the Asia Society in 1996 and compares it to a current show (same title as the article) in the same gallery. The difference? The show from 11 years ago concentrated on themes of identity and the immigrant experience. Today, the themes don't really have anything to do with identity.
Well, the SF International Asian American Film Fest kicks off its 25th year tomorrow. (To learn more about the festival’s history, read Jeff Yang’s column about the fest here.) Which means I pretty much disappear for the next week, sitting in theaters.
I’m dismayed to find that some of the things I wanted to see are already sold out. So, learn a lesson from me and buy your tickets in advance. Beats waiting in the rush line.
It’s been five days since AsianWeek published Kenneth Eng’s racist screed. (Read about it at our original post here.) And, well, it’s kind of hard to top that news. The controversy has made it into national media. Here’s a story in CBS from the Associated Press. If you believe in the adage that any publicity is good publicity, then a little-known local rag called AsianWeek is doing quite well for itself.
I'm speaking at a panel tonight at 826 Valencia. It's called How to Start Your Own Magazine. For those of you know don't know, 826 Valencia is a literary nonprofit that helps students develop writing skills. They have free drop-in tutoring, workshops, and storytelling for youth. They also have seminars for adults, like this one, which are not free, but the money raised from the adult events go to supporting the youth programs. It you've heard about them before, it's probably because they've got literati Dave Eggers on board teaching there.
Racism on Britain's reality TV "Celebrity Big Brother" sparks international row with India
By Sonny Le, Hyphen Advisory Board Member
The celebrity-edition of "Big Brother" on Britain's Channel 4 seems to have reveal the ugliness of British society when three white contestants ganged up on the Bollywood-star member of the house, Shilpa Shetty.
The invectives hurled at Shetty, especially from Britain's trash-talking darling of reality television Jade Goody, ranged from calling her a dog and telling her to go back to India, have yielded at least 20,000, at last count, complaints to Ofcom, Britain's broadcasting regulator, the FCC counterpart there.
So, for a couple months out of the year, my other unpaid job besides Hyphen is curating a film festival in my hometown, Houston. Slant: Bold Asian American Images features an eclectic mix of short films (30 minutes and under). Some of the filmmakers we've featured like Greg Pak, Alice Wu and Michael Kang have gone on to make notable feature length films ("Robot Stories, "Saving Face" and "The Motel," respectively). This will be our 7th year and I'm starting my search for films again, so if you know of anything good, let me know!
We're a small festival, but we're unique in that we don't charge an entry fee and we pay the filmmakers who get accepted. To find out more about what we're looking for, please visit the website of our host venue, the Aurora Picture Show. Postmark deadline is March 1st.
In other film news, the Northwest Asian American Film Festival kicks off next week. Seattle people, it's January 25-28th. Get your tickets now on the site.
There’s been a lot of depressing news in the world of independent media these days, well print indie media at least. Independent magazines have been folding left and right.
After 7 years of publishing and 38 issues, the radical, activisty Clamor has shut down.
Another lefty mag, Lip is selling its last issue this winter after several years online and in print.
In December, our friends at the artsy KitchenSink in Oakland announced they are closing shop after their 16th issue, though they will continue to do other work under the nonprofit organization they founded.
And last week, the Independent Press Association died. Most of you probably don’t know what the IPA was. But for those of us in the indie mag business, it was a place for all us maverick, unconventional magazines to come together and figure out how this publishing thing works.
Happy holidays from the Hyphen staff! I'm visiting my family right now and if you're anything like us, you're trying to figure out what sort of entertainment would be good family fare.
Well, here's something: A new Asian American family drama, My Life... Disoriented premieres on PBS tonight. It's about a Chinese American family who moves from San Francisco to Bakersfield, California. (Bakersfield is an agricultural town).
Seem to be quite a few stories lately in mainstream papers about Vietnamese Americans lately:
Been getting lots of info about this 2-year-old boy in my inbox lately. Harrison Leonardo has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. He’s spent most of this year fighting cancer, which went into remission in August. The cancer relapsed just before Thanksgiving.
I have seen adults struggle hard in the fight against cancer. I can't imagine what it is like for a child.
Harrison is currently hospitalized and undergoing another round of chemotherapy while his doctors and family search for a donor. Harrison is biracial (Filipino and Caucasian) which makes it hard to find a donor since few minorities are registered as donors. It's believed that a good match would be someone of the same background.
According to the Mavin Foundation approximately 130,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like leukemia and other blood cancers and it is estimated that at least 12,000 of these patients will not be cured without a bone marrow transplant. Thousands die every year waiting for a transplant.
His parents and brother are not matches, so the family, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is looking for help from others and is organizing several donor drives with the help of the Asian American Donor Program (AADP).
Jeff Yang comments on the men in his Asian Pop column
Do You Think We're Sexy? From Gedde Watanabe in 16 Candles to Daniel Dae Kim in Lost, it seems like the image of the Asian male has come a long way, baby. Or ... has it?
What a weekend! Thanks to everyone who attended our Music Issue Release party on Friday at 111 Minna. All Hyphen events are fundraisers and the money we earn goes right back into printing and promoting the magazine. So thanks to everyone for the support, especially to those who subscribed.
Dear Hyphen Reader,
We're always talking about ourselves over here. (Well, it is our blog). Now it's time for you to tell us about you. We're conducting a reader survey to find out who you are and what you like and don't like about Hyphen. It's all about making it a better magazine for you, so have your say!
And if that's not a lofty enough goal for you, we'll throw in another incentive: you could win a prize. Survey participants who give us their contact info could win a Hyphen t-shirt or a CD by various bands. (Of course, if you don't want to give us your contact info and enter the prize drawing, you don't have to. You can be anonymous if you like.)
The survey originally ran in the print version of Issue 10, so it assumes you have a copy of the magazine. If you've never picked up a print copy of the magazine, you can still take the survey. Just let us know that you don't have a copy of the mag and why.
It only takes a few minutes to answer the questions. So we hope you'll share your thoughts with us.
Love, the all-volunteer staff of Hyphen
Just wanted to share a couple stories in the news lately, before I run away from the office (and by office, just to clarify, I don't mean the Hyphen office. We don't have one of those.)
Join us this Friday for a night of movement, magazines and music as we celebrate the release of our newest issue -- The Music Issue.
DJs politik and modest mark are spinning and the following bands will also be performing:
Friday, November 17th. 9-2am.
@111 Minna Gallery
$10 ($20 with subscription at 50% off list price!)
21 & up
Reading the papers these days is actually kind of exciting. A woman speaker of the house? Rumsfeld resigning? Democratic control of Congress? We're feeling a little ― dare we say it ― hopeful. Here's an election roundup of a few races Hyphen editors have been following and how they turned out.
Sorry there hasn't been much activity on the Hyphen blog lately. We've been busy reading ballot measures, figuring out how we should vote (we hope you voted yesterday) and for some of us, staying up late covering election results at our day (turned night) jobs. I'm a little relieved to open up the newspaper and see some of the results (like Senator Rick Santorum is on his way out.) Is the tide finally turning?
We've also been busy with making sure the new issue gets out into the world. It's always great when the boxes of magazines arrive and we get to see the finished product for the first time. But that's quickly followed by thoughts of %(#$(!! because it's no fun getting thousands of magazines shipped out all over.
Just a reminder, Bay Area folks, that Michael Kang's The Motel opens tomorrow in San Francisco and Berkeley. And just to tie this into title of this post, let me mention that hottie Sung Kang is in this film, playing Sam, a hard-partying, womanizing rogue who visits the motel with a lady on his arm. (You may remember him as Han from Better Luck Tomorrow where he was likewise getting it on with the ladies.)
Also, this weekend:
San Diego, get ready! Tomorrow, the San Diego Asian Film Festival kicks off. Our friends there have an impressive lineup. "Journey From The Fall" -- Ham Tran's tale of a Vietnamese American family struggles during and after the Vietnam War is playing tomorrow night and is already sold out. Other great stuff: "Punching at the Sun" and "Colma: The Musical" (By the way, we interview the filmmakers of both these films in the next issue of Hyphen, which is coming out any day now.)
Click here for the schedule. The festival continues through the 19th.
So in important breaking news (and in our ongoing habit here at Hyphen to engage in Asianspotting), tonight is the season premiere of America's Next Top Model (the 7th season if anyone is counting) and there’s a South Asian gal in the lineup! Anchal is 19, and a salesclerk from Florida. I hope she represents in a good way.
I first heard of Shahzia when I was living in Houston. (She was a fellow at the Glassell School of Art’s Core Program there and now lives in New York.) Shahzia is known for her contemporary take on the traditional South Asian art of miniature painting.
This story in the Onion is cracking me up: I Have A Thing For Asia. Not Asians, but Asia the continent.
It began in high school, when I was first exposed to different landforms. It was then that I realized my deep attraction to the remote, demure, but utterly entrancing continent of Asia. In college, I double-majored in geography and earth science, but only so I could get closer to Asia.
A couple interesting things in the news lately:
As an Asian American, there are certain conversation openers that make me bristle. Among them are "Where are you from?" and "Where did you learn to speak English?"
Nguyen Qui Duc, host of KQED's Pacific Time radio show is leaving. September 14th will be his last broadcast. He is moving back to Vietnam where he will continue to report on stories.
Here's a story by Vanessa Hua in the SF Chronicle: Good morning, Vietnam -- decades after he fled, a radio host is going home.
Duc is also an advisor to Hyphen and has mentored many Asian American journalists. We're sad to see him leave the Bay Area, but excited for him. Good luck and thank you, Duc!
Just wanted to give a shout out to the advertisers who are supporting Hyphen.
There’s Kid Heroes, who’s responsible for this music video – Bebot by the Black Eyed Peas. They also sell a music video compilation called Bootleg Visuals (which features videos by DJ Qbert, The Pacifics and more), and some indie Asian American films, including Lolo’s Child and Lumpia. Check out the store for DVDs, CDs, T-shirts and more.
Today is things-that-have-been-featured-in-Hyphen-in-other-news-outlets day!
Diddy, Sonyk and the Monster were in Finland repping more than just the red, white and blue; they were also scoring glory for the yellow. Because like competitive eating and women's golf, air guitar is a sport dominated by sons and daughters of the East.
Hyphen happenings on two coasts! In addition to co-sponsoring the 10 year birthday party for Eastwind Books tomorrow in Berkeley, Hyphen is also co-sponsoring the Direct Arts’ Launch Party in New York on Monday. Direct Arts is a nonprofit company located in the East Village, dedicated to producing theater and film that explores the intersection between different cultures and different social backgrounds.
Stuff in the news lately:
The long and the short is that the Mandarin is part of a long tradition of 'yellow peril' characters in popular culture, including Fu Manchu, Shiwan Khan, Ming the Merciless and numerous other Asian/Eurasian despots of the pulp fiction era.
Oh boy. I'm already dreading this film.
Mako, a pioneer for Asian American actors in Hollywood has died at the age of 72 from esophageal cancer.
In 1965 co-founded East West Players, the nation's first Asian American theater company. He was also nominated in 1966 for an Academy Award for his compelling turn as the Chinese character Po-han in the film, The Sand Pebbles.
"What many people say is, 'If it wasn't for Mako there wouldn't have been Asian-American theater,'" artistic director of East West Players, Tim Dang, told the LA Times. "He is revered as sort of the godfather of Asian American theater."
Editor in Chief with the birthday cake. Photo by Khang Tran.
Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to celebrate our 3rd birthday. We gave away lots of door prizes, Mr. Hyphen cut some birthday cake, and one of y’all stole a copy of the newly released Issue 9. (Hey, we’re flattered, but please don’t steal from independent mags.) We hope you had a great time — we know we did. Double thanks to those of you who bought a subscription at the door. Subscriptions are what keep Hyphen alive. Keep buying those subs so that we may celebrate another birthday with you again next year!
Hey everyone! Hope you'll be able to join us tomorrow for Hyphen's birthday party. We're turning 3. No small feat for an independent, volunteer-run magazine with little in the way of resources. I can't say we've grown as much as we've liked in these last 3 years. We still don't have an office. We still can't afford to pay anyone. We're still all working day jobs. What we do have is a lot of passion. And somehow that's taken us this far. It's really amazing (or maybe just stubborness) that we've survived as long as we have when most magazines (with millions of dollars in start-up capital) fail within their first year.
In true patriotic fashion, I spent a brief part of my long holiday weekend at the mall. What is more American than consumerism?
While walking by Victoria's Secret, I noticed they had an Asian-looking mannequin. In fact, they seemed to be making an effort at having diversity in their window displays, because there was also what looked to be a Latina mannequin.
The Aurora Picture Show, microcinema extraordinaire!
OK, so this is way belated. But I just wanted to thank the folks at the Aurora Picture Show for hosting Slant, the little film fest that I put together in Houston, my hometown. It took place in early June. This is my sixth year working on the festival and the venue just celebrated its 10th birthday, so I feel we've grown old together.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is conducting the largest study ever of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Asian and Pacific Islande Americans. (That's LGBT APIs for short.) They are looking for 500 folks to complete the online survey. It's confidential, anonymous, and available in four languages: English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Has anyone been following the story of Lt. Ehren Watada? Watada, an officer at Fort Lewis in the Seattle area, was scheduled to make his first deployment to Iraq this month and earlier this month, made public his intentions not to go.
Watada enlisted in spring 2003, motivated by a desire to help fight against a nation whose leaders were alleged to have weapons of mass destruction. But now, after doing some research, he believes that the Bush Administration lied to the public about these weapons, and that the war and occupation of Iraq is illegal. And he refuses to participate.
Here's a review in today's NY Times about the new Charlie Chan DVD boxed set.
The reviewer, Dave Kehr, writes that the decision to release a boxed set "represents a reversal for Fox, which had once removed the films from Fox Movie Channel, apparently embarrassed by the European Oland's "yellowface" portrayal of an Asian character."