Melissa Hung

Founding Editor

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.

Save a Life: Bone Marrow Donor Registry

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.

Slant Film Fest in Houston Next Weekend

Slant: Bold Asian American Images

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)

More on the Virginia Tech Shooting

More links to articles about the Virigina Tech shooting:

  • Story in today's NY Times about Seung-Hui Cho's upbringing and how he hardly spoke, even as a child: Before Deadly Rage, a Life Consumed by a Troubling Silence. The story quotes the pastor of Korean American church in Centreville who watched the tapes with his family and said they had never seen Cho talk in complete sentences before.
  • Also from the Times: Korean-Americans Brace for Problems in Wake of Killings.
  • Good commentary by Jeff Yang over at Salon: Killer Refelction: Cho and other Asian shooters were portrayed as "smart but quiet" and "fundamentally foreign." What do these stereotypes reveal, and what do they obscure?
  • Bobby Lee Sighting


    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)

    Art and Identity (Or Not)

    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.

    Film Fest Fever


    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.

    AsianWeek Apologizes

    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.

    How to Start a Magazine

    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 Celebrity Big Brother

    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.

    Slant Film Festival Call For Entries

    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.

    What is Happening to the Independent Press?

    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.

    New Asian American Show Airs Tonight

    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).

    Vietnamese American Stories

    Seem to be quite a few stories lately in mainstream papers about Vietnamese Americans lately:

  • From the SF Chronicle, by Vanessa Hua: The Making of a Cyber Dissident: Cong Do had accomplished a lot as an immigrant and father of three. But it was his secret life fighting to bring democracy to Vietnam that made him an international cause celebre.
  • This is in today's LA Times: A Desperate Mother Ignores the Odds. Twenty years ago, a single mother in Vietnam sent her son to America with little money. He kept in touch through letters, but 4 years ago the letters stopped coming. Now in failing health, she sets out to find him before her visa expires or her cancer returns.
  • Help Harrison - Are You His Bone Marrow Match?


    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).

    Stereotypes in the News

  • Well, I don't know how I missed this news, but People Magazine's latest Sexiest Men Alive issue (that would be George Clooney, again, according to People) includes actors John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, and Edison Chen (star of the Grudge2 and a Hong Kong pop star), and also Survivor's Yul Kwon (profiled in the mag's section entitled "Sexy Men in Sexy Environments.")

    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?

  • Party Recap




    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.

    What Do You Think of Hyphen?

    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.

    Click here to take survey

    Love, the all-volunteer staff of Hyphen

    College Admissions, Asiaphiles

    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.)

  • This story ran in the Village Voice about a topic we seem to discuss quite a bit: Asiaphiles.
  • Here's one that will likely generate debate: A Yale freshman filed a federal civil rights complaint against Princeton University for rejecting his application for admission, claiming the University discriminated against him because he is Asian. More on that story here.
  • Issue 10 Release Party - Friday


    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:

    native guns
    and a special dj set by kero one.

    Friday, November 17th. 9-2am.
    @111 Minna Gallery

    $10 ($20 with subscription at 50% off list price!)
    21 & up

    Election Roundup & Goodbye to Anchal

    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.

  • In Virginia's senate race, Democrat Jim Webb wins over Republican George Allen, who, you may remember, pretended that he didn't know that macaca was not a nice thing to call someone. Now the Democrats have control of Congress. Is that karma or what?
  • Election, Issue 10, Film

    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.

    Hot Guys


    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:

    Launch party for the Asian Men REDefined 2007 Calendar this Saturday. Proceeds from the calendar benefit Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organization.

    Films Films Films - San Diego and SF


    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.

    The Asian Gals on America's Next Top Model


    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.

    Shahzia Sikander Gets Genius Grant

    Shahzia Sikander, who was profiled in the very first issue of Hyphen, was named a recipient of one of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants. Damn!

    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.

    A Thing for Asia

    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.

    Almond Eyes & More

    A couple interesting things in the news lately:

  • This story in the NYTimes says that after an intial dip following 9/11, more Muslims now are immigrating to the US, even if they don't agree with America's foreign policy.
  • This entry from the blog of Claire Light (a Hyphen founder and former editor) is funny. Claire makes the case that Asians do not have almond-shaped eyes. White people do.
  • Pacific Time Host Moving to Vietnam

    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!

    Bebot Videos & Blacklava Sale

    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.

    Air Guitar, Hip-Hop

    Today is things-that-have-been-featured-in-Hyphen-in-other-news-outlets day!

  • Last week in his Asian Pop clumn, Jeff Yang talks to the reigning rulers of air guitar to find out why Asian Americans dominate the rising sport of championship air guitar: Unstrung Heroes. (In issue 5, we asked MiRi "Sonyk-Rok" Park to teach us the basics of how to air guitar.) It's a pretty fun read:

    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.

  • Direct Arts' Launch Party in NY


    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.

    Yellow Peril & Other News

    Stuff in the news lately:

  • From the blog of Bryan Thao Worra (who contributed his writings to Hyphen #9), Iron Man Villain Announced: Yellow Peril Stereotype--Oops, I mean, the Mandarin. Bryan points to an article that says the main villain of the Iron Man movie will be The Mandarin. With a name like that, it doesn't sound too good. Bryan writes:

    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, Pioneering AA Actor, Dies

    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."

    Birthday Party Photos

    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!

    Hyphen Party Tomorrow Night


    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.

    The Plastic Women of the Victoria's Secret Window Display

    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.


    Art & Money

    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.

    Asian American LGBT Survey

    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.

    Officer Refuses Deployment to Iraq


    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.