Asian American Hairstylist Gives Homeless Haircuts for Free

haircutDespite a career styling the hair of celebrities like Jeff Gordon at high end salon Three Squares Studio, Mark Bustos takes time every Sunday to give free haircuts to the homeless.  

He first started doing this in the Philippines as a tribute to his girlfriend’s late father. Soon he would the same in Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Costa Rica.  Bustos says:

“The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC.”

You can follow Mark Bustos on Instagram.

(photo credit:  Facebook)

9-Man: No Jokes Street Volleyball


Fans abound for the gritty, fast-paced, Chinatown-style street ball known as 9-man. In the 1930s, Chinese American men began playing 9-man, a street version of volleyball involving nine players (hence the game’s obvious if not well known name) compared to the six people playing on school and pro teams across the nation. It began as a game for laundry and restaurant workers in the streets and parking lots during an era when Chinese Americans were largely socially segregated from the rest of American society. The sport has roots in Toisan, China, where many early immigrants came from. Seeking a break from work, they created a community for themselves. Even as the Chinese American community expanded, nine-man remained popular and competitive. In the 1940s, Chinese Americans began organizing tournaments inviting teams from New York, Maryland, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and many other cities. The tournaments provided a forum for connection of geographically dispersed Chinese American communities. And as the Chinese American community continues to evolve, nine-man teams unite players from urban and suburban neighborhoods — preserving a certain kind of Chinese American tradition.

Today, Seward Park in New York’s Manhattan Chinatown is the only court with nine-man regulation lines painted on. And old-hands continue to recruit younger players. In a recent New York Times article, long-time player Bob Lee explained nine-man’s appeal for both players and audience: “The offense is more explosive and there is a lot more action. It’s more exciting to watch.”


One can’t write about 9-man without discussing its energy, but also one of its notable rules: the controversial “content rule.” Established in 1991, the rule states that two-thirds of the players must be “100% Chinese descent” and one-third do not need to be 100% but must be able to prove some East Asian descent. Some say the ruling means that the game won’t be run-over by super athletes and will help maintain the 9-man community’s culture and history. Others say its straight-up racist. A big factor in evolving discussions over the rule include focus on the next generations of players, their interests, backgrounds, etc. Just recently a smaller tournament in Newton, Massachusetts, “the Boston Spike-Off,” ditched the content rule and allowed non-Asian players to join the games. For major 9-man tournaments, the rule continues to apply.

This weekend (July 19 and 20), the New York Mini goes down. Ursula Liang concisely explained the spirit:  “The most competitive of the teams with players in their 20s and 30s will be battling for a trophy, and the more community-oriented clubs…will be combining competition with some serious hanging out.” Meanwhile, throngs will set up their portable chairs and watch games played on hot summer pavement.

If you have a chance to see a tournament match, practice game, or a chance to see Ursula Liang’s new (ish) documentary “9-Man,” I highly recommend it.

Photo Credits: Andrew Huynh and NY Mini

8Asians Visits Asian America: Asian American Writer’s Workshop

Visit Asian America. Asian America is not just an identity or an idea, it’s a place as well. It is America, and certain parts of America distinctly embody the Asian American homeland. Join us as we highlight different Asian American destinations that you can add to your next travel itinerary.

Asian American Writer’s Workshop is an organization developing and promoting creative writing by Asian Americans.


110-112 West 27 Street, Ste. 600,
New York, NY 10001


Event specific.


Event specific.


The Margins, Open City, CultureStrike, Page Turner, etc.


Tel: 212-494-0061
E-mail: [email protected]

McDonald’s Vs. The Elderly: The Battle Over Seats

8A-2014-01-27-NYT-McDonaldsVsElderlyIn Flushing, Queens, McDonald’s employees have been battling the presence of a revolving group of elderly Koreans who sometimes sit at the fast food chain’s tables from dawn to dusk. In the past few months, police have been called in a handful of times to usher the seniors out. The seniors then defiantly walk around the block and plop themselves back on McDonald’s benches minutes later.

According to the New York Times piece:

And though they have treated the corner restaurant as their own personal meeting place for more than five years, they say, the situation has escalated in recent months. The police said there had been four 911 calls since November requesting the removal of the entrenched older patrons. Officers have stopped in as frequently as three times a day while on patrol, according to the patrons, who sidle away only to boomerang right back. Medium cups of coffee ($1.09 each) have been spilled; harsh words have been exchanged. And still — proud, defiant and stuck in their ways — they file in each morning, staging a de facto sit-in amid the McNuggets.

There are a number of senior and civic centers in the surrounding area and there are even other Burger Kings and McDonald’s in the vicinity, but none hold the draw of this particular McDonald’s. So why there?

Continue reading “McDonald’s Vs. The Elderly: The Battle Over Seats”

8$: Tested: Documentary about Students Preparing for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT)

UPDATE: This project successfully raised its funding goal on 10/25/2013

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

WHO: Curtis Chin

WHAT: Kickstarter project: Tested: A documentary which follows the struggles and challenges of a diverse group of students, many of them immigrants and working class, as they prepare for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (the SHSAT).

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Friday Oct 25, 10:27am PDT.


From Curtis:

“Tested” follows a diverse group of 8th graders from throughout New York (Asian, black, Hispanic, Jewish, etc.) as they prepare for an-all important test that will get them into one of the city’s few elite public schools. The problem is the racial make-up at these schools doesn’t reflect the city. While blacks and Hispanics make up 70% of the city’s school-aged population, they represent as little as 1% and 3% at these schools. Meanwhile, Asian Americans comprise as much as 72% and Whites 25%. This has led to the NAACP LDF charging racial discrimination and filing a legal complaint.

I wanted to make a documentary about this subject because it focuses on two areas I care deeply about: social justice and public education. I hope this film will address issues of diversity, equality and equal access to high-quality public schools and help dispel some of the stereotypes and myths we have.

Continue reading “8$: Tested: Documentary about Students Preparing for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT)”

Asian American Family in SUV Chased and Attacked by Motorcycle Gang

8A-2013-09-30-alexian-lienAfter a fender bender on the road (in which a biker cut off the SUV and was accidentally hit), 33 year-old Manhattan resident Alexian Lien, his wife Rosalyn Ng, and their baby were chased in their black Range Rover by a group of motorcyclists. Alexian was eventually dragged out of his car and assaulted by multiple bikers on the pavement.

The original video, which was also uploaded to LiveLeak, is evidently from another one of the bikers.

The incident is being cited by various blogs as a reason of why people should be allowed to carry guns.

From NY Daily News:

Alexian Lien’s Range Rover was surrounded by several bikers on the West Side Highway on Sunday. One biker apparently cut the driver off and slammed on the brakes just before the SUV bumped his rear tire. But when Lien — who was driving his wife, Rosalyn, and their 2-year-old child — stopped, several bikers began to damage his SUV. Lien fled, striking one biker. But the group caught up to him and pummeled him before cops arrived.


More at: Daily Mail, The Epoch Times, Metro.US, Hinterland Gazette

h/t: Anonymous 8Asians reader

Image credits: Jalopnik and Alexian’s Facebook

Asian American Journalists Have Space to Shine In The Changing Industry

Former anchor of The Today Show Ann Curry spoke at the 2013 national convention of Asian American Journalists Association in New York City about keeping faith and passion in the changing industry. Before a flight to the edge of Syria, Curry took the stage of the AAJA gala with MSNBC anchor Richard Lui. She gave her support to the community of Asian American journalists and reminded young journalists that “the job of a journalist is to give voice to the voiceless.”

Curry said “I am always Asian American,” in response to Lui’s question, “When are you Asian American?” Recounting the days when she felt lonely as one of the few Asians in her community or in the newsroom, she said to other Asian American journalists “I applaud your success and I cheer for you.”

I was part of VOICES, the student newsroom program of the convention, and the 13 of us student journalists flew in early in the week and started reporting for the convention with our mentors.

Students had shown high level of professionalism. Student journalist Mega Sugianto had witnessed a terrible car accident on her way to report another story. She quickly pulled out her camera and started shooting the tragic scene as one woman was seriously injured. Sugianto said she was traumatized by what she saw, but the instinct of a journalist pushed her to take on the difficult task. She made her name on the New York Daily Post that day with the valuable footage that no one else had. As I had reported a crime story related to two dead victims and been in a campus shooting rampage myself, I understood by first hand how traumatizing it can be, and how difficult to be a journalist, especially a professional journalist, in situations like that. My heart goes to Sugianto and I applauded her true professionalism.

I had the opportunity to interview Laura Ling and Lisa Ling before I came to the convention for a story I did for VOICES. Both of them, including Ann Curry, said that although the journalism industry is changing, and there may be fear about the tough job market, that passion in journalistic storytelling that can pull you through.

There are many amazing Asian American journalists in the country like Ann Curry, Lisa Ling, and Laura Ling. As the newsroom become more diverse, young journalists like Sugianto will find their place to shine.

See the future stars in the journalism industry.

DISCLOSURE: Shako Liu and Jocelyn “Joz” Wang are both members of AAJA. Joz also serves on the National Advisory and Governing Boards of AAJA, but did not assign this story to Shako. Shako submitted this story to 8Asians for editorial consideration without prompt.

New York State Outlaws Shark Fin Sales – July 1, 2014

This past July 1st, the ban on shark fin soup took into effect in California. Now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law the banning of the possession and sale of shark fin:

Shark-Fin-Soup-300x240“New York is the second most populous state to ban the fins, after California, whose ban took effect earlier this month. All told, eight states have bans in effect. There is also international opposition: Last July, officials in China announced a ban on the soup at official banquets. New York’s ban takes effect in July 2014, which should give restaurants and banquet halls enough time to use up their stockpiles of fins, which are dried and bleached for sale.”

New York not only joins California, but also six other states in the ban of the sale of shark fin, including: Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

12 Year old New York Filipina Cites Cyberbulling in her Suicide Note

gabriellemolina12 Year old Filipina American Gabrielle Molina committed suicide last month,  citing cyberbullying in her suicide note.  She joins Audrie Potts and other teens and adolescents around the world for whom cyberbullying was a factor in their deaths.    One doesn’t hear about Filipino American suicides that often (one report claims that they have a lower suicide rate), but this one hit home because another young Filipino American, the brother of one of my sons’ classmates, also recently killed himself.  News of Gabrielle’s death made it across the Pacific with this report and video from the Philippine’s GMA News.  What can parents do to prevent these deaths?

Continue reading “12 Year old New York Filipina Cites Cyberbulling in her Suicide Note”

2013 Open City Fellowship For Writers

Open City magazine and the Asian American Writer’s Workshop are looking for emerging journalists and writers of color to apply for their 2013 Open City Fellowship through the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. They are looking for five new Fellows for their Open City Fellowship:

Open_City_AAWW“Open City, an online magazine published by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, documents the pulse of metropolitan Asian America as it’s being lived on the streets of New York right now. Covered by the Wall Street Journal and NPR, a collaborative partner with the New Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, Open City grants a $5,000 fellowship, career guidance, and publishing opportunities to five Creative Nonfiction Fellows to write and produce both short-form and long-form editorial content on the vibrant immigrant communities of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. If you’re an emerging creative nonfiction writer looking for financial support, a place to publish and career mentorship, apply to become a Creative Nonfiction Fellow. Past Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellows have gone on to publish in the Atlantic, the Nation and the New York Times! This could be you, next. Application deadline is April 8th!”

Application in link here.


New York City Comptroller John Liu Annouces Bid for Mayor

New York City comptroller John Liu announced recently that he is running for mayor, which is not a surprise, since he has always seemed to have openly expressed his ambitions for higher office. As the first Asian American to be elected to city-wide office, it’s no surprise that Liu has such ambitions. He’s currently in 4th place according to Democratic polls.

The major issue overshadowing Liu’s bid for mayor is a federal investigtaions of some of his close associates:

“Virtually every question was about the federal investigation into his fund-raising. On April 15, two associates, including his former treasurer, are scheduled to stand trial on fraud charges. And though Mr. Liu, 46, has not been accused of wrongdoing, court documents have left little doubt that prosecutors have questioned his conduct. On Sunday, Mr. Liu maintained his defiant posture, saying, “People have said there’s a witch hunt; the problem is, there’s no witch.”

Something that 8asians has questioned and blogged about. I’ve never met John Liu nor follow New York City politics nor Liu that closely, so I can’t say I have an informed opinion on this. But in general, I am tired of the stereotype that Asian American politicians are corrupt fundraisers that was fostered by some real incidents in the 1996 campaign by a few bad apples.

After San Francisco and Oakland electing their first Asian American mayors, I think it would be great if an Asian American were elected mayor of New York City; whether that is John Liu or not is for New York City to decide.

Jason Commisso Identified as Suspect in Attacks Targeting Asian Americans in East Harlem

8A-2013-01-28-JasonCommissoThere has been a series of violent muggings in East Harlem that appeared to target Asian Americans, and the suspect is named as Jason Commisso.

In all the incidents the suspect followed the victims into their elevators, violently attacked them, and robbed them of their phones, purses or wallets. Commisso was caught using a credit card from one of the victims approximately 40 minutes after the attack.

The list of assaults:
Continue reading “Jason Commisso Identified as Suspect in Attacks Targeting Asian Americans in East Harlem”