Saturday, November 05, 2016

Interview with Curtis Choy

Dear Readers,

Eddie here. When I first met Curtis Choy he was making his documentary on Frank Chin. That documentary of course is What's Wrong With Frank Chin? (Buy your copy here.) I found Curtis to be a highly opinionated and feisty individual. And yet, a great companion to have lunch with. As one of the pioneer Asian American filmmakers, I wanted to interview him for this blog, especially about WWWFC?. The views expressed are Curtis Choy's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Frank Chin's.

My questions in bold:

(Curtis Choy)

How are you doing? Any new projects in the works?

For an old man who has lifted too many heavy things during a career chockablock with lying liars, I'm doing okay. I can still walk and dodge cars full of texting assholes. No new projects are projected. I had people re-do my website so there'd be a functioning shopping cart - all of the interesting (to me) historical stuff, art, soundclips, etc. got discarded. I want to put that stuff up on a blog, but lack enthusiasm. I could use some young person's help. My last movie was a commissioned piece for UCLA "You! Young People!" (See www.childrenoftheatomicbomb.com).

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from?

I'll work on my obituary to answer this. You can look me up on imdb.com for the resumé created by producers.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background at least?

In the 1920s my father was born in a SF Chinatown sewing factory (later to become a union shop run by my grandmother). I was born in San Francisco and grew up in a 3-story flat purchased by my dad and his brothers on the GI Bill after WW2. I attended high school in Oakland during the civil rights and Black Panther/Vietnam War era, but didn't learn about Chinatown and the I-Hotel until going to San Francisco State in the new Ethnic Studies department. I started Chonk Moonhunter Productions to create films about Asian Amerika. By the mid70s I was already priced out of San Francisco and moved to the East Bay. I freelanced as a news cameraman, camera assistant, and soundman to support my filmmaking habit. I made a living as a soundperson for 18 years before moving to LA in search of long-form work. Okay, this is pretty sloppy as obituaries go, but I'm trying to answer your question.

I think it’s interesting your father was born here in the United States during the 1920s. What generation does that make you?

I am third generation. My father's parents were the immigrants.

What did you learn about race issues growing up in the Civil Rights era in the Bay area?

I knew nothing of race before 1964. My childhood was in the lower reaches of Nob Hill, over the hill from Chinatown. My parents discouraged my friendship with a black/white kid in the neighborhood because he was part black; I didn't understand it, and didn't comply, but we naturally went in different directions, so I 'obeyed' without any effort. I didn't recognize myself as Asian until college.

The Civil Rights movement was in full swing as I grew up in Oakland. I had liberal teachers in junior high and high school, and race relations were discussed a lot. Much of what I learned about blacks came from being with them in gym (although I was college-tracked, which also separated me from working class whites), and reading the Black Panther paper. I had one Chinese friend nerdier and smarter than me, but I considered the other yellows lame sellouts and I didn't bother to know them. Race was a black (and Chicano) issue, and re-education about the phrase "colored people" was happening.

You worked with people like Wayne Wang, John Schlesinger, Terry Zwigoff and Justin Lin. I noticed you worked with Wang and Lin before they directed these big budget feature films. Has it been a conscious choice to work with independent Asian American filmmakers? Or was that just coincidence?

I was primarily interested in doing documentaries. My name was getting passed around, and after 5 years of freelancing I realized that I was a professional soundperson. Others that preferred the glory of being movie directors hired me. I was pleased to have been a part of forwarding AA art, but was disappointed when those who got a boost in their careers from the community (and people like me) abandoned us (i.e., did not hire us for proper white-man wages) when they got big. It was a conscious choice to work at cut-rate instead of heading straight for Selloutville; "coincidence" was just right time/ right place/right skill set/and a more cooperative mindset.

Can you talk about that abandonment? Describe when you felt abandoned by an Asian American filmmaker.

Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, and Scorsese employ the same people all the time, a fair exchange of loyalty for quality of work. When Wayne W and Justin Lin became 'successful' and in the money, they forgot who helped put them on the map. Below-the-line workers depend on their 'patronage' for employment. Not kissing their asses at every opportunity was probably not politically smart, but I considered them as 'equals' not better than me.

During a review of Joy Luck Club film dailies (I was not invited) where they check for technical faults and actor performances, the producer complained that I was not enough of an "LA prick on set", and therefore questioned my competence. The editor who witnessed this (before he got fired for political reasons) said that Wayne did not stick up for me. The post-sound people later sent me compliments, as they had to replace very little dialog track except for the rewritten words that weren't recorded on location.

What do you think of that designation "Asian American Filmmaker" (or "Asian American Movie", etc.)? Do you find it offensive?

I don't find it offensive, but think that "Asian American" doesn't mean anything anymore. It's been repurposed by too many people to push whatever agenda they have. I call myself "post-Asian American", but I don't reject the real gains we made when "Asian American" was fresh and pointed the way forward. We did not anticipate digitally short attention spans, surveillance everywhere, and nineteen different genders. All Asian American film festivals look the same, present the same tired stuff, and promote frivolity. When I hear "Asian American film", I think "Yeah, another project where everybody got paid badly again."

If anything, I find the future offensive: Chump or Hil-liar-y?

(Photo by Nancy Wong)

What got you interested in doing documentaries?

I was never a Hollywood narrative feature guy. In junior high, my older cousin took me to Berkeley to see these weird independent films (real indie, not Hollywood bullshit no-studio-money indie) made in 16mm by artists. I learned about cinema verité (Fred Wiseman, DA Pennebaker, the Maysles Bros.) and was fascinated by the process of fly-on-the-wall non-interventionist recording of reality (real reality, not fake TV manufactured reality). You respectfully trailed people until they forgot you were there and became themselves, unconscious of the camera. As I pursued a BA in Film, I fell into the burgeoning AA/Ethnic Studies scene, discovered our oral history, and began media work in Chinatown. I had a paid gig at CMC/CAA (the Chinese Media Committee of Chinese for Affirmative Action) where I oversaw the distribution of an ESL (English as a Second Language) TV (television) show called Sut Yung Ying Yee (SYYY) and wanted to foment revolution via guerilla video. I tried to get to Wounded Knee and record 'The People's' side of things, but wasn't allowed to bring the gear. Sorry for the acronyms, all .gov$ come saddled with them.

I noticed many of your documentaries have an Asian American theme to them. What made you want to explore the Asian American community?

I started out interested in the process of filmmaking. I began college after the State Strike and benefited from new courses offered by the newly-minted AAS Dept. The lack of modern published materials and the "1500 movies [Frank Chin's number]" that fostered wrong impressions about Asians gave me a mission. Here, I met Al Robles (who was auditing classes) who organized poetry readings I participated in (I was a 'writer' before veering fulltime into filmmaking), and introduced me to the International Hotel and Manilatown.

I think it's ironic that you worked on Joy Luck Club, yet at the same time we have your documentary "What's Wrong With Frank Chin?". Chin, of course, has been critical of Amy Tan (going as far as calling Tan a "fake" and “kissing white ass”). Did Chin ever give you any condemnation for working on Joy Luck Club?

The irony was not lost on me from Day One. I disliked the book, but read it twice preparing for the job. It was fairly big and a union job, but I hate how it portrayed Asian men. It would be expected that Frank would give me shit for participating, but he never brought it up. I like to think he's not considered me to be a sellout, and he did later give me carteblanche to make the movie about him.

Yeah, I really, really, really hate The Joy Luck Club. But I really, really, really liked how Frank called Amy Tan out on it, especially about the opening parable in the book about a duck that wanted to be a swan. "Ducks in the barnyard are not the subject of Chinese fairy tales, except as food," says Frank. Or, this idea that the Chinese woman's worth is measured by the "loudness of her husband's belch". Why do you think some contemporary Asian American authors are motivated to either make up falsehoods on Asian culture and Asian men?

To be fair, the movie made a ridiculous novel more coherent. It sucked majorly in its reinforcing of negative Asian male stereotypes and obvious feminist bullshit. I played my part as 'a professional', keeping my mouth shut and collecting my union overtime pay.

As to why they make this shit up, they know they have to cater to the fantasies of the moneybags to keep themselves in the green. They rationalize this as 'art' and 'creativity'; if they suffered fitting remorse and possessed any honor they'd have to commit suicide. Then who would carry their little dog in a purse?

You speak of masculinity. What, in your opinion, is masculinity in the Asian American context?

Oh, you ain't tricking me into that live animal trap! I will say that real manhood is non-misogynist, about being true to your word, not being a narcissistic metrosexual, observing the Golden Rule. Basically, old-school be-prepared Boy Scout stuff. I don't place masculinity in any Asian American context, as a real man should be fearless in the world without the shield and easy dismissal of any label.

From the time you started in the entertainment industry up until now, do you see things getting any better as far as racist images and stereotypes of Asian Americans go?

I predicted 'Glenn Rhee' on "The Walking Dead" was gonna get bumped off before getting laid (with a white girl, no less). I was wrong. So that's major progress. Before him, 'Khan' on "King of the Hill" was the only positive Asian male character on TV (and he wasn't real, just a literally cartoon character). For the most part, though, Asian males simply don't exist except as background. I expect this will change when anti-China BS ramps up after the onslaught of ISIS BS tapers off. Then Asian guys will get roles as Serious Bad Guys, as opposed to Comical Bad Guys.

So, let’s talk about your documentary “What’s Wrong With Frank Chin?” How did you come up with that title and what led you to make a film on Frank?

www.frankchin… when I started this project in 2000, the World Wide Web was taking off. I had to figure out what 'www' could be, and it didn't take long. It was a shame and travesty that a ditzy neo-sellout like Maxine would eclipse the Chinatown Cowboy in sales and popularity. I hoped that a documentary might help him sell more books. (My 1976 film "Dupont Guy: The Schiz of Grant Avenue" had the teachings of FC all through it.) I had no pre-conceived plan and began by shooting 20 hours of "Year of the Dragon" rehearsals in LA (ironically, at the David Henry Hwang theater), almost none of which made it into the final movie. My big discovery (and only publicly revealed through "WWWFC?") was his instigation of Days of Remembrance, which led to the Japanese American reparations movement.

Did you say 20 hours of footage?! How much footage did you leave out of the documentary?

Probably 70 hours. I shot a lot of play rehearsal over a week because I had just started and wasn't sure about what to do, and if the camera isn't running you're going to miss it. Rather than dabbing my toe in the water, I was jumping in. I didn't have particular and specific goals, but I did gain a better feel for what was 'real'. Hence the verité-style shot under existing light.

I think one of my favorite moments in WWWFC? was the salvo between Frank Chin and Maxine Hong Kingston. I never knew they communicated with one another through letters. This is a gem for the Asian American community. How did you get those letters?

The original letters are in his files archived in Santa Barbara. I did the initial cataloging of umpteen crates and boxes of material and stumbled on them. I re-typed them ("Edited to fit your television") since they were in his usual format of carbon copy single-space/1/4" margins and I wanted the audience to be able to follow along with the text. Even his typos and x-outs are accurately reproduced. It was my subtle diss to not show any of her text, and showing obviously fake Chinese calligraphy with her voiceover.

WWWFC? begins with Frank causing quite a stir as a teacher in San Francisco State College, while staging various skits and plays for the Chinese American Resources Project. There was actually a clip of you in it. Was that where you first met Frank?

WWWFC? starts with him reading at a class in SoCal, I think UC Riverside, probably in the '90s. He was a guest lecturer in Jeff Chan's Culture & Lit class when I met him, probably Spring 1970. He started a guerilla theater group I was a part of, The CARP Players. We performed "Dear Lo Fahn Fan Gwai Whitey Honkey Honey Babe."

When you met Frank what was your impression of him?

He was tall, and showed up with a ponytail and cowboy boots. He was highly entertaining, and went straight to dissecting our nascent Asian American identity, boldly attacking the stereotypes. I had never heard anything that plausibly analytical about us. Everything in every media was all smiley kissass sellout - I sided with the scary Black Panthers and counted few Asians as friends before going to SFSC.

WWWFC? documented Frank’s falling out with the Asian American Theater Workshop due to his dominant and overbearing character (so it’s claimed). Have you had moments where Frank frustrated or angered you? Can you name an example?

He didn't fall out "due to his dominant and overbearing character". It was a power struggle and coup. He was 'fired' from his own theater. Leaderless, it would never again live up to its revolutionary nature. Frank has his way and rarely gets swayed. And maybe never considers that someone else may be more right about anything. Most geniuses are not nice people. I'm enough of an anarchist that I let others do what they will. What frustrates me is he will righteously paint himself into a corner and do nothing but irritate his supporters. We believe in his ideas but don't rely on him as a friend. He's always said that he doesn't want disciples and will not cultivate friendships. He has been true to his word.

(Photo by Nancy Wong)

Frank had a radical and brave vision for the Asian American Theater Workshop and for Asian American theater in general. What do you think may have happened had Frank stayed with AATW?

To be honest, I've never speculated on this. I know what happened and accept it as history. I wonder shit like "If Asian men were widely regarded as manly sex symbols and not to be trifled with, how would my life be different?" "How would it be if I was 4" taller?" (In Asia, I don't have to ask these questions.)

If Frank had continued with AATW, would he have run it into the ground? Would any of his actors wind up on Saturday Night Live? Would DHHwang have been eclipsed? Would Kingston not be getting awards for falsifying Chinese legends? Would Asian women be clocking white bitches for looking at Asian men? I can't really help you with this question.

You had a lot of snippets of Frank Chin’s life and literary and social views. You could have easily made each of these moments an hour-long or two-hour long documentary in of itself. Was it difficult editing this video down to about 97 minutes? Can you describe your editing process?

You have to choose what's important: what do people not know outside of his reputation? One could easily make a whole piece about Chin v. Kingston, real v. fake, etc. but that's already been argued about ad nauseum. I don't know him to be a sexist or misogynist or homophobe, but women commonly cite these bad traits as fact. I don't address this directly, but show you that he's had a long-term marriage, and hangs out with Russell Leong. What's difficult is the knowledge that you're reducing a man's life and work down to a short viewing span, and that every image and sound must be curated to show his essence and make up for the exclusion of everything else. I like to think that the style of the piece is a true reflection of him, the jazz and humor and free association, the 'chapter' structure.

There's no magic process. It's a daily workslog. Frank gets up and writes. I get up, have coffee, and edit. There were a few favorite scenes that I had to finagle in: the hippie wedding, the graveside visit with his son - these are moments that are unknown generally that say something about his character. At one point I tried Walter Murch's stand-up editing style; I found that this made some sense in a feature narrative film where you were trying to find the beats, but what I was doing required mental juggling, and sometimes a blank mind while seated in a chair. I gained weight over a couple of years of editing and good eating. A huge advantage I possessed was a smart girlfriend who would critique my day's work. When you spend the whole day screwing around with cut points you can lose sight of why you needed that scene in the story and whether it works to advance the story or is boring.

Literary scholar Calvin McMillin said “The unfortunate thing is that some people only know Frank by reputation or not at all.” I find this to be true over and over again. Were you hoping to dispel any rumors or lies about Frank in WWWFC?

It IS true. I didn't feel it was my job to refute anything, but to present what I know to be true. One can weigh evidence against conjecture and rumor and come to one's own opinion. The humor can be Frank's own hyperbole or me poking a little filmic fun, but it all works against the myth of him as an ogre.

I noticed WWWFC? didn’t have an angry or bitter tone. It didn’t judge the viewers as dumb, blind, ignorant fools. How did you approach this film, (1) knowing some people may be unaware of Asian American issues and Frank Chin’s role in it, and (2) knowing "Frank Chin haters” may be watching WWWFC?

I'm glad you noticed. I wanted to capture his energy and angst, and not editorialize beyond actual editing. Maybe I got all my anger out in Dupont Guy: The Schiz of Grant Avenue. I hated TV news and TV docs for leading people by the nose to wrong conclusions (why does the news feature only the mayor and police chief? what happened to "2 sides to every story"? shouldn't you give the I-Hotel Tenants Association equal time?) and wanted to present the facts as I know them and let the viewer make up their own mind about him.

I think the stuff is inherently interesting. There's fun stuff like the wedding, and I always enjoy a good rant. I imagine I'm not the only one. With no foreknowledge of A-A and Chin, anyone should, (at least) find some entertainment value and get educated. If the haters have a slightly open mind, they might learn something about their prejudices. Otherwise, I just hope the piece pisses them off. Maxine doesn't need or get equal time. This is equal time for Frank.

(Photo by Zand Gee?)

There was a part in WWWFC? where UCLA professor King-Kok Cheung admitted when she first read Woman Warrior she thought it was a bunch of “baloney”, yet later she embraced Maxine Hong Kingston’s autobiographical interpretation of Mulan and Chinese culture. That’s very telling about some of these Chinese American feminists – that they would embrace something knowing it to be false anyway! Thoughts?

KKC was pretty clear that MHK's fakery was MHK's own search as she didn't know what was real, so I don't lump KKC in with man-hating feminists. (To destroy male hegemony, no falsehood can go far enough!) All religion is based on tunnelvision, including feminism. I'm a truer feminist than a lot of loudmouths who simply haven't found their venue for selling out.

KKC did accuse Frank of being too “dogmatic” in his defense of the Heroic Tradition (the culture and history that Mulan, Guan Gong, Monkey King, Yue Fei, etc. come from). Do you think Frank may have been too hard on his critics in defending Chinese history?

KKC is a supporter, not a critic. That she takes his name-calling and insults with good humor says a lot about her. Most of his so-called 'critics' disagree with his style and personality, but don't have equally valid arguments for the 'progressive adaptation' of tradition. He is hard on these people for being ignorant and bending stuff to fit their personal agendas. His contempt for them is both fitting and righteous.

I’m not a fan of these “progressive adaptations” either. I think the original and traditional tales are more interesting. Regarding these adaptations, Frank was famous for saying, “[Maxine Hong] Kingston , [David Henry] Hwang, and [Amy] Tan are the first writers of any race, and certainly the first writers of Asian ancestry, to so boldly fake the best-known works from the most universally known body of Asian lore in history." Would you agree?

I agree, but I do so because I believe what Frank says. I'm lazy and insufficiently motivated to do any research on my own. Chin won't come straight out and declare them "sell-outs", but what else do you call it when people do what they do for the fame and money?

Well, your documentary does quote the Ballad of Mulan. So, I wouldn’t say you’re THAT lazy. But I think having that ballad was important, because Frank always argued from history and tradition. During my Asian American studies, Frank suggested I learn Cantonese and study Chinese Opera! Did Frank ever have these kinds of expectations of you?

Frank pointed me towards several Ballads of Mulan. If Kingston falsified the story, then what is the REAL story? The ballad is succinct enough that I could show you the whole thing, and you can make up your own mind about the fake and the real - much stronger than if I had a bunch of experts tell you what to think. I like that KKC read it aloud in Cantonese, and ended it Western-style with "The End." Now that's real. Even if I directed her to end it that way.

He never really exhorted me to do anything. I think he understood (correctly) that I don't follow orders and needed to find my own way. He presented a lot of what he'd learned, much of which passed over my dense head. On my own I've taken Cantonese language classes, and flunked it three different times in my life. I searched by feel for what he was going after, without understanding it enough to interpret it for anyone. And, honestly, Chinese opera doesn't entertain me - it's work. And makes my eyes glaze over.

I did notice that KKC also supports Chin’s writings. I meet professors who taught Kingston’s and Chin's works in their classrooms. They support both people, yet their (Kingston’s and Chin’s) views on Asian America are so different (Frank would argue that there really isn’t anything “Asian” about Kingston’s works anyway). How do you think these Asian American intellegentsias resolve these two Asian American figures in their classes? Indeed, do you think there can be a middle-ground between Kingston and Chin?

The only middle ground is your own ability to accept their differing views. You can teach both, and everyone can choose which side they prefer. Or choose not to choose. Fundamentally, Kingston and Chin can never agree.

What I find interesting about KKC is her reverence towards Frank despite some of her criticisms of him. In fact, many of Frank’s critics still give him respect, even though they may disagree with him (or find him disagreeable). Why this gratitude you think?

He is deliberately disagreeable because he doesn't want to be revered. He wants people to think about the issues. They respect him because he brings up shit we've politely hidden.

There are many interesting moments you captured in Frank’s life. Name some things you found most interesting about Frank while filming WWWFC?

I have footage of FC making googly eyes and saying affectionate nonsense to a stranger's baby when we took that trip to the Sierras to revisit his childhood stomping grounds. (I'm no fan of babies in any context; I don't like the noise they make, and I don't like how they suck all the energy out of a room). Curiously, he showed complete indifference to his own dog (perhaps it was Dana's) which was kept out in the yard and looked in with sadly begging eyes.

Frank is fascinated by theatrical processes, and had suggestions for angles I could shoot. I went along with it, and overshot the Year of the Dragon rehearsals. I was still ungrounded as to the doc's direction, and felt the need to prove my own unobtrusiveness with more hang-out time. That he gave me free reign to record him in a medium he both loves and distrusts says a lot about his ability to relinquish control; we know how unyielding he can be on some things.

If something happened, he would never deny it or try to spin it.

He is a "big picture" guy. Without any context, he looks jealous for railing at MHK's Humanities Award. But faking and remaking someone else's culture to toady to imperialist expectations affects us hyphenated-Americans, and human history. It took me the better part of a year to grok what he was doing with the Resisters story, and I'm already predisposed to being on his side. He doggedly continues this uphill battle with the ignorami and the ungrateful Japanese Americans.

I think the most powerful moment in WWWFC? is the "Henry’s Day of Remembrance" chapter. We’re talking the No-No Boys, the Redress, the traitors in Japanese America, etc. Although Frank is a Chinaman, how important was he in exposing the events on the internments of Japanese Americans?

Without the growing snowball of the Days of Remembrance, redress and reparations would not have happened. He was not just important, but instrumental as the primary instigator. That he would be seen as a meddling Chinaman by the JAs was why he took the manly and contra-egotistical position of remaining in the background. (Note that it was the relatively unknown Resisters story he brought out openly, although he earlier helped republish John Okada’s "No-No Boy". The two types of dissenters are not the same.)

Finally, finish this sentence, “In the movie about me _____________”

In the movie about me, everyone thinks I look like Russell Wong. You can hear necks crack as every woman swivels their head to gawk at my magnificence, then they abandon their white boyfriends. There are no traffic jams, smartphones, or kardashians anywhere. Politically-correct speech is resolved by re-education. Religion is exclusive to Trekkies and restricted to their conventions. Having children is a privilege, and is licensed and regulated. Everyone is armed, and nobody ever gets attacked. I never think about money because it never runs out. My biggest problem is deciding which animal to eat next. All of my girlfriends are great cooks, companions, and conversationalists, and wouldn't think of becoming ex-GFs. And it's in black&white, with a 1.33 aspect frame. Like a Charlie Chan movie.

Monday, October 17, 2016

To the News?

Your Asian Activist writer with no visible or audible people to rouse, sends a letter via land-mail to Richard Louie the Yellow at the top of the Yellow newsheap. My how far we have fallen since the days Connie Chung good work as Rocky's shadow? Where, oh where, is the people, the magazines, the newspapers envisioned by Ken Kashiwahara, for an activist writer to shake up and make active? I'm still being read under the blankets by flashlight. Shame on us.

September 5, 2016

Richard Louie
MSNBC
NBC News,
30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New York, N.Y. 10112

Mr. Yellow Newsman:

All these Yellows doing the news abroad the land and not one with Yellow local news out of their mouth. Not a word from a Yellow newscaster on Trump linking Japs of Dec 7th 1941 with Muslim’s of 9/11. Bring back the camps! No reaction from the JACL or OCA? No notice of George Takei, Mr. Sulu of STAR TREK doing the story of his childhood in camp as a Broadway Musical in Trump’s New York.

Of course not a word, not one Yellow American word about Pres Clinton’s followed by Pres Obama’s bellow of hatred and contempt for China and it’s children’s stories by officially endorsing Maxine Hong Kingston’s lies about Far Mulan being tattooed by her parents at birth.
You claim to be the tops in Yellow news. Prove it, please.

Obama in Hangzhou, China “When I bring up issues like huaman rights there are some tensions there that don’t take place when President Xi meets with other leaders, but that's part of our job, that’s part of what we do.”

Obama stands out among world leaders, as first nation to announce its contempt for the Chinese children’s story by awarding Maxine Hong Kingston’s hate for her father and his culture by falsifying the life of the woman who inspired generations of women to fight for their homes. White racist readers were fooled to tears of pity for poor little Max.

White feminists were fooled into dancing the White racist delights mythic misogynist Chinese men. Yuck! White women cringe at the suggestion of touching the yellow skin of a Yellow man. But White men drool at the thought of licking the yelllow of a Yellow woman. Or hairless girl.

The Presiden’s Yellow men in tow could have known Kingston was a fake in 1988. That’s when Kay Bonnetti published her interview with Kingston in CONVERSATIONS WITH MAXINE HONG KINGSTON, by Maxine Hong Kingston, ed by Skenazy & Martin (U Press of Mississippi ).

Pres Clinton awarded Kingston his Humanities Medal in 1998. She badmouths her unnamed critics and describes her lifting the tattoos off of Yue Fei , a man’s back, from a famous story, of centuries later. The man, Yue Fei, is killed by the corrupt Song court, and China saved by his allies along the Yellow river, Liang Hongyu, a lady wrestler with a talent for strategy and tactics, and Mu Guiyinng the Shandong mountain bandit queen who becomes the Supreme Commander of the 7 Yang family armies, retires, and is recalled to lead the imperial army at 45 years old. Mei Lanfang, the creator of modern theatre Peking Opera was famous for the new operas he composed amd wrote, and his playing of female roles. He wrote and played MU GUIYING ASSUMES COMMAND. Other Lady Generals in the Far Mulan traditon are the Ming dynasty’s last general Chin Liangyu, and the three Shoong sisters Ai ling H. H. Kung (Kung Hsiang-Hsi) (who loved Money) Shoong Chingling, Mme Sun Yatsen (Who loved China) Shoong Meiling, Mme Chiang Kai shek (Who loved Power).

Pres Obama’’s Arts Medal to Maxine Hong Kingston 2105 -6 (?) was a thumbing of the USA’s nose at China. What do the medals for Kingston’s the American hatred for China and Chinese children’s stories accomplish? Is it some strategy for winning? Neither Churchill nor Franklin Roosevelt thought of trashing German fairy tales to bring Hitler to heel.

Please bring some Yellow honor to the shiny eyes of Yellow journalists glistening like rhinestones doing on the news round the country.

Best,

Frank Chin
Frank Chin is your father’s generation, Son.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Toward the End

Calvin & those following the writing and unwriting of the novel ANIMALS ON THE ROAD-

The last few days have shaped a story of White people against all people of color and insisting the Whites are not White racist.

I see the end of the novel writing itself toward the end that will recall the real and the fake eyes on Kwan Kung in cans in Cuba.

Between then and now I have raised the probability Mei Lanfang the creator modern 20th century Peking Opera was more than a randy homosexual female impersonator. I pin him in cities with aircraft plants. Modern fighter planes seem to follow him in steps across Europe and Russia. He landed in Seattle and China had 12 Boeing G P-26A all metal lowing monoplane fighter planes bought as farm equipment. China can’t admit to anything an American Chinaman discovers. Asian American scholars ask Mei who? What? And forget what they never knew or read or hear about in their circle of the best minds in the house.

FCC

[Download Frank Chin's new article here]

Sunday, June 05, 2016

REAL & FAKE JOHN OKADA

New York's Pan Asian is throwing a White racist fraud to lure Yellows to see how much Tisa Chang and Ken Narasaki hate John Okada’s NO-NO BOY, in the much publicized unauthorized rewrite of his finished work. The Pan Asian pitch is stupid doubletalk. Worse. it's ignorant about art and authorship.

TISA CHANG SAYS: “N0-NO BOY is especially topical in this election year, wherethe questions of allegiance and what it means to be an American are asked again.”

KEN NAGASAKI SAYS ”EVEN TODAY, THE TERM (NO-NO BOY) CAN SPARK BITTER EXPLOSIONS AMONGST PEOPLE WHO REMAIN ANGRY ABOUT THE KINDS OF REAL LIFE ARE DEATH DECISIONS THEY AND THEIR GENERATION WERE FORCED TO MAKE…"

"Their generation were forced to make?" racist pyschobabble. Individuals, one by one, mind by mind, decides to go along with the crowd or decide something else. The divisions in the Japanese American community are between the treacherous JACL since 1929 and the oppressive USGov divided by differing USinterests, and the oppressed fools who don’t join the JACL. If the Jews want to know what a successful program of racial annihilation looks like, look to the Japs become today’s Japanese Americans.

Tisa Chang and Narasaki don’t know what they’re talking about. Citizens are not required to give their allegiance to anybody for anything at any time. Allegiance is defined by the master who demands the surrender of individual will to the master. The oath is judged by the master, not the soldier. Sun Tzu says: All religious practices are banned. Follow the leader. Even in Asia one cannot give an oath without being there and saying something, or signing something. That's the definition of an oath. The grammar is the same east and west. Oath is out of the mouth.

 The JACL declared itself secret agents of the gov over L.A. radio on December 7,1941. Mike Masaoka rhetorically “conscripted” the JACL into the JACL before congress in 1942, asked for concentration camps and status in the administration of the camps, and accepted his people’s guilt. 

Minoru Yasui asked Masaoka to stand for Nisei right and Masaoka jealously refused to stand for the law, and said good publicity was more important than the law.

Narasaki brags about his rejection of the last of the draft resisters still alive and fighting for a Japanese American call for the Supreme Court to rehear the case against the camps, for honor and arts sake. The Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee is the inevitable fruit of a serious read of Okada’s novel. The draft resisters from Heart Mountain were the only resistance group to be advised by a lawyer and forced Truman into admitting the JACL rules and the WRA rules against Japness were illegal. JA civil rights were never removed. The Nisei couldn’t sue the gov but the JACL is bleeding red meat of guilt. Why hasn’t Japanese America made their move? George Takei, Tisa Chang, and Ken Narasaki say in the voice of intimidation that they are the people. The Japs have no voice of inspiration speaking to what’s so great about Japanese America.

Tisa Chang’s Pan Asian Rep and Ken Narasaki showoff their contempt for Okada’s NO-NO BOY and use his name to make good White racist publicity and reap the White rewards for Yellow self-hatred.

There's still time before the election, Tisa Chang says. Yellows, at least show you know the difference between the real and the fake.

 FCC

Related:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Come meet Frank Chin!


Dear Readers,

Eddie here.  Just a heads up.  Frank Chin will be at the Oakland Book Festival this weekend, Sunday, May 22, 11:00AM-12:15PM.  Here's more information. Frank will be discussing his book The Confessions of a Number One Son.  Come on by and pay him a visit!

Monday, April 11, 2016

April is the Cruelest Month


On December 7th, 2015, Donald Trump likened the Muslims of today to the Japs of 1941. He suggested Muslims would come out of the camps, as docile and obedient and quiet as the Japanese did in when the last camp closed when Hector Watanabe, the last man interned and stripped of his Peruvian citizenship, walked out of,State Dept camp at Crystal City, Texas in 1949. The camps lasted longer than the JapaneseAmerican experts know.

Yellows of the Japanese persuasion have you tracked the talk on the tube about Japs since December 7th? And what did the JACL do then? What are they doing now? What's different?

As the dates roll on, the past comes clear. AA art of all the yellows is pretty disposable and cheap. Whites treat all the coloreds all the races with contempt for any idea of culture, and civilization that doesn't echo White supremacy. The Blacks have layers of art, culture and history reflected in their art, the Mexicans have a culture and history heard in their music. Other Browns, Burnt Sugar, and Light Coffees have arts of their own. Only the Yellows have smarts but no art that isn't repellent to White decency. Whatever that is. What art of a colored people isn’t repellant, laughable, and non-recognizable to the people being depicted in color on the Hollywood screen?

(Minoru Yasui)

YASUI, Minoru (1917-1988) "Why We Should Support Test Cases." Undated Mimeograph leaflet distributed inside Minidoka Relocation Center, by the Civil Liberties League.

"As a lawyer well founded upon the principles and theories as well as the intricacies of the law, and as an American citizen, I could not tolerate the illegal and unconstitutional efforts to wear away the right of American citizens. I strongly felt, and still believe , that it is the duty as American citizens to resist any infringement upon the basic principles of our nation.

"This is our duty as American citizens, as much as it to fight and die on the battlefronts in defence of our nation. We owe it to the men and boys who are fighting the war to preserve the thing that they are fighting for at home, so they can come back home to 'a land of the three and the home of the brave.'

-------."Good Law v. Good Publicity." April 17, 1942.
"THE BIG AIIIEEEEE!" ed by Chan, Chin, Inada & Wong. New York: Meridian. 1991. (pp 449-460) And in original mimeograph Seattle:Special Collections:University of Washington Library.

Yasui answers "JACL Bulletin 142" paragraph for paragraph.

(Mike Masaoka)

Masaoka had suggested Yasui ( his unnamed "self-styled martyr out to win headlines") was out to ursurp control of the JACL. The following suggests that Yasui expected the members of the JACL to support the idea of test cases and force a referendum on JACL policy:

However, it is submitted that whether or not such policy is actually conducive to the 'greatest good for the greatest number' is neverthertheless subject to questions, and moreover, althoguht the National can be convinced, thru legitmate means, that not only a substantial majority, but an overwhelming majority of the inidividual members, demand certain affirmative actions, that the National would be compelled to take such steps. If such effort is construed to be an usurpation of the preogatives of National, then it is submitted that National Headquarters would be failing in its primary function of representing the organization. ..."

Yasui argues that good law is more important than good publicity:

"If the National is willing to sacrifice certain fundamental rights of citizenship establishing a precedent whereby those rights may be deprived of American citizens without protest, then is it not possibly contributing to the destruction of the very fundamental basis of this country?...If it be tyranny to impose unreasonable restrictions upon the people upon the arbitrary and discriminatory basis of race, then it is just as shameful to submit to such unreasonable restrictions.
George Takei’s show on Broadway, set in the camps took offense. The Yellows doing the news all over the country, took no notice.

Trump started a day to day comparison of today’s news and news from 1941 into 42. The Japanese weren’t prepared for a repetition of 194 1, though that’s all that itches them all over.

February 18th passed without a peep leaking out of a Yellow politician, jurist, lawyer, newspaper artist. Roosevelt’s signing of EO-9066 is never a word said across Yellow lips. Lewis Milestone’s THE PURPLE HEART with Dana Andrews, Henry Hathaway’s WING AND A PRAYER, with Don Ameche, Delmer Daves’s DESTINATION TOKYO with Cary Grant and John Garfield are old movies as art and patriotism flashing from space into the electronic air of April.

The Koreans vs North Koreans and the Chinese didn’t make for good old movies. The Vietnam war against another Yellow country gave Whites old movies that question the White American self and doesn’t see the Yellows they look on with doubt.

February dribbled without intellectual activism or activity from the AA Studies from sea to shining sea into March.

The Japanese Hotel Association was a group of Issei who owned hotels for transients, railroad or cannery contract laborers for the salmon fisheries in Alaska. John Okada grew up with his family in a family run hotel. Monica Sone also grew up in a Pioneer Square hotel. The hotels were sealed ships at sea, and the Japanese owner manager was the captain. No female visitors allowed. They describe life in Seattle NihonMachi of the 30’s as pretty much like Guy Gabaldon growing up in Japanese-American L.A. of the 30’s in HELL TO ETERNITY is I REMEMBER MAMA set in strong family with a narrative sense of family and race and beyond.

APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH-

April 1942- Minoru Yasui, in jail for violating the Army Curfew Order on all persons of Japanese ancestry, writes an appeal to the JACL for support of his case against the application of citizen’s civil rights being racially selective, that un-constitutionally allows for citizen Japs being singled out as pariahs.

It was in April Mike Masaoka, answered Yasui. He said JACL was against support of test cases at this time. Good publicity was more important than good law.

Mildred Bartholomew of the Portland YWCA writes the JACL asking why the JACL is not providing support for JACL member Min Yasui’s case testing the constitutionality of the Army’s orders. She is bewildered.

Okada answers lamely- also bewildered-and overwhelmed by Masaoka’s lie about Bendetsen’s speech to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. Bendetsen had two plans. One if the JACL co-operates and another to round everybody up within 24 hours. An impossibility.

The un-doctored docs tell me Masaoka betrayed Min Yasui. Yasui was fighting the orders in court. Masaoka went against the civil rights he represented. He argued that good publicity was more urgent than good law. He could have separated supporting a JACL champion of Nisei civil rights, from the co-operation with the Army evacuation

OKADA, Hito. (1907-1984) "Letter on JACL Letterhead To: Miss Mildred Bartholomew c/o Young Womens Christian Ass'n, Broadway at Taylor Streets, Portland Oregon." Salt Lake: JACL National Headquarters. Dec. 4, 1942.

(The treasurer of the national JACL, Hito Okada tries to explain to an old friend, why the Portland JACL is following Mike Masaoka's direction to not support Portland's own Minoru Yasui's challenge of the curfew order:

Miss Mildred Bartholomew

c/o Young Women Christian Ass'n

Broadway at Taylor Street

Portland, Oregon

Dear Miss Bartholomew:

I received your letter of December 2nd and it does me good to know that our friends in Portland are with us. The Min Yasui's case and its resultant opinion handed down by Judge Fee was called to our attention while the Japanese American Citizens League was in a special emergency conference here in Salt Lake City with delegates from ten reloaction centers and also delegates from our free zone chapters.

Many of our members are sympthetic to Min on the steps he is taking to test the constitutionality of the curfew as pertaining to American citizens.

Briefly stating the J.A.C.L. stand on the matter of evacuation, we opposed evacuation up until it was decreed that there was military necessity for it and that the Army would take the necessary steps. Professing as we did that we were good Americans, there was no alternative for us but to prove our loyalty by cooperating with the evacuation. As Bendetson stated in one of his speeches, the Army had two plans as to evacuation, 1st , the plan that was followed through, and 2nd, evacuation of all Japanese within 24 hours if it was so required.

I sincerely believe that our cooperation with the Army and other governmental agencies has brought us a desire on the part of the governmental agencies to assist us in every way possible for resettlement. Work furloughs, indefinite furloughs, student relocation and resettlement are some of the things that I believe we obtained through cooperation with the government. I am sure that if we did not cooperate, the Army would not have acceded to giving us these concessions which are so essential to the settlement of our postwar problems.

Now, at this time, to change our policy of cooperation to that one hindering the purpose of the Army in the defense of the west coast would not be in line with the stand that we have taken to date and also the provisions we have for the future. As Dillon Myer said to us in a closed session, "Do not irritate the Aarmy", I feel that we should not undertake any projects at this time that may hinder the Resettlement Program as announced very recently by tye W.R.A. We must get these people who are so desires out of the relocation centers and establish them in the Middle West as soon as possible, as every day spent in relocation centers shows the deterioration of the splendid background of the evacuees.

Min is a personal friend of mine and, since the trial, I have had several letters from him. I have explained to him the position of the J.A.C.L. and believe he fully understands why we cannot aid him at this time. My outlook on the matters may not be those involving that which we call great principles, however, taking a realistic viewpoint, I personally cannot assist in any program that would jeopardize the future resettlement of the people if the relocation centers.

I hope that this will give you a clear picture of wgat the J.A.C.L. stand is on Min Yasui's case. Our young people have flocked to his cause, however, I believe that they do not see the broader aspects of how it may affect the Resettlement Program being pushed by the W.R.A.

Prior to evacuation, I talked to Min Yasui and, at that time, I was quite worried as to his ability to carry through his decision to test the curfew. He advised me that he had funds enough to carry the case to the Supreme Court if necessary and, knowing Min as I do, I believe he would not have started as action that he could not see to the ultimate conclusion on his own initiative.

Our present plans in regards to these test cases are to in some manner appear as a friend of the court especially in matters referring to the question of citizenship and as things progress, I shall be glad to keep you informed as to not only this matter, but also Min Yasui's case.

Thank you very much for writing fo me and kindly give my regards to my dear friends of the Evacuation Committee.

Sincerely,

Hito Okada

YASUI, Minoru (1917-1988) "Why We Should Support Test Cases." Undated Mimeograph leaflet distributed inside Minidoka Relocation Center, by the Civil Liberties League.

"As a lawyer well founded upon the principles and theories as well as the intricacies of the law, and as an American citizen, I could not tolerate the illegal and unconstitutional efforts to wear away the right of American citizens. I strongly felt, and still believe , that it is the duty as American citizens to resist any infringement upon the basic principles of our nation.

"This is our duty as American citizens, as much as it to fight and die on the battlefronts in defense of our nation. We owe it to the men and boys who are fighting the war to preserve the thing that they are fighting for at home, so they can come back home to 'a land of the three and the home of the brave.'

-------."Good Law v. Good Publicity." April 17, 1942.

"THE BIG AIIIEEEEE!" ed by Chan, Chin, Inada & Wong. New York: Meridian. 1991. (pp 449-460) And in original mimeograph Seattle:Special Collections:University of Washington Library.

Yasui answers "JACL Bulletin 142" paragraph for paragraph.

Masaoka had suggested Yasui( his unnamed "self-styled martyr out to win headlines") was out to usurp control of the JACL. The following suggests that Yasui expected the members of the JACL to support the idea of test cases and force a referendum on JACL policy:

However, it is submitted that whether or not such policy is actually conducive to the 'greatest good for the greatest number' is nevertheless subject to questions, and moreover, although the National can be convinced, thru legitimate means, that not only a substantial majority, but an overwhelming majority of the individual members, demand certain affirmative actions, that the National would be compelled to take such steps. If such effort is construed to be an usurpation of the preogatives of National, then it is submitted that National Headquarters would be failing in its primary function of representing the organization. ..."

Yasui argues that good law is more important than good publicity:

"If the National is willing to sacrifice certain fundamental rights of citizenship establishing a precedent whereby those rights may be deprived of American citizens without protest, then is it not possibly contributing to the destruction of the very fundamental basis of this country?...If it be tyranny to impose unreasonable restrictions upon the people upon the arbitrary and discriminatory basis of race, then it is just as shameful to submit to such unreasonable restrictions.”

MASAOKA, Mike ."Letter To Milton S. Eisenhower, Director, War Relocation Authority." San Francisco: JACL National Headquarters. April 6, 1942. National Archives Record Group 210; and Berkeley: Bancroft Library, call number 67/14, the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study Recoards collection, file T6.10 "JACL Staff Correspondence."

We believe that all projects should be directed to create "Better Americans in a Greater America"

We do not relish the thought of "Little Tokyos" springing up in these resettlement projects, for by so doing we are only perpetuating the very things which we hope to eliminate: those mannerisms and thoughts which mark us apart, aside from our physical characteristics. We hope for a one hundred percent American community.

One thing is certain: there should be no Japanese language schools. Special stress should be laid on enunciation and pronunciation of words so that awkward and "Oriental" sounds will be eliminated.

Masaoka categorizes his recommendations in order of importance and describes an indoctrination and behavior modification program to make the Nisei fit for the draft:

(1) Draftee Status: (2) Public Relations; (3) Education; (4) Religion; (5) Sports and Recreation; (6) Publications and Radios; (7) Health and Medical Facilities; (8) Japanese Professional and Specially-Trained People; (9) Business and Industry; (10) Organization (Self-Government); (14) Private Projects; (15) Induction or Assembly Centers; (16) Semi and Permenent Resettlement Projects.

MASAOKA, Mike ."Japanese American Citizens League, Bulletin 142. RE: Test Cases." San Francisco. April 7,1942. Berkeley: Bancroft Library. Japanese Evacuation Resettlement Study T1.34

The Min Yasui case in Portland, Oregon, is gaining considerable attention. The facts seem to indicate that one Minoru Yasui, a Nisei attorney who worked for the Japanese consulate in Chicago as late as last December 7th, registered with the State Department as a propoganda agent for a foreign government, and a reserve lieutenant in the United States Army, deliberately violated the curfew regulations and surrendered to the police with the declared intentions of legally determing the right of the authorities to impose such restrictions upon American citizens of Japanese extraction. Yasui contends that such actions are discriminatory and constitutional.

At the present time, he is "out" on bail and is said to be circulating a petition among the Portland Chapter members demanding that the National Organization take some definite stand on the question of constitutional rights of the Japanese Americans.

In regard to this particular case, as we as all other test cases of this nature...this office releases the following statement:

The national JACL stands unalterably opposed to test cases to determine the constitutionality of the military regulations at this time. We have reached this decision unanimously after examining all the facts in light of our national policy of: "the greatest good for the greatest number.”

April 6th

.Japanese America, you have three days to raise a hero and put the cartoon Blond Hitler in his place with REVENGE OF THE TRUTH.

FCC

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pat & George & George & Pat


Read and download Frank Chin's new article here.