Gold House is a nonprofit collective of diverse leaders dedicated to forging stronger relationships that empower Asians to have more authentic, more successful, and healthier lives to, in turn, advance all of society.
You might know them from their Gold Open efforts to make sure that Asian American movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Searching have strong openings.
“Take a first look at ‘Be Water’, a 30 for 30 film that intimately chronicles Bruce Lee’s life and complex journey, which premieres on Sunday, June 7th at 9pm ET on ESPN”
Bruce Lee is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, Chinese Americans ever to live. His influence on martial arts in the United States alone (much less the mixed martials and the whole world) cannot be overstated. I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s being asked more than once if I knew kung fu or karate (because I was Asian), and I’m pretty sure it was because of Bruce Lee.
“The scope is admirable, and in many ways necessary to fully capture the context of Lee’s growing celebrity throughout the Sixties, his difficulty breaking through in America, and the transformative impact of the handful of films he shot in the years leading up to his shocking 1973 death at the age of 32. We need, for instance, to see clips of white actors being cast in Asian roles (John Wayne as Genghis Khan, Mickey Rooney as Audrey Hepburn’s bucktoothed Breakfast at Tiffany’s neighbor) to appreciate not only how the odds were stacked against Lee, but the attitudes in place that led to Warner Bros. casting white actor David Carradine to play the Chinese-American hero of the Seventies TV drama Kung Fu, which was a project Lee had conceived as a vehicle for himself. A former Warner exec unapologetically explains, “The bottom line was, Bruce’s accent was gonna be a little tough on the American television audience,” and states that the show never would have been made with him as Kwai Chang Caine(*).”
It’s a shame Lee died so young – he could have had a much greater positive impact for Asian Americans and American culture had he lived longer. I’ll definitely be watching this documentary!
First, as the article points out, Filipinos, as part of the global supply chain for medical workers, make up proportionately more of the health care worker pool than their population in the US and beyond, including places like the UK, where a number of Filipino medical workers have died. My cousins are nurses in New York, and the husband of one of them is medical technician who contracted the virus (we are thankful that he recovered and went back to work). I would like to point out that it is not just doctors or nursing getting sick, but workers like my cousin’s husband, administrative staff members, and others. One Filipino maintenance worker we know at the hospital where The Wife works ended up on a ventilator because of the virus – one of 14 maintenance workers who contracted the virus. He also got better.
The article also mentions that many Filipino Americans live in multi-generational households, which adds other stresses, like concerns about bring the virus home to young children, grandchildren or vulnerable elderly parents and grandparents. I have heard that concern from Filipino nurses I know, one who has an both elderly parent and a young grandchild at home. Some ended up staying in “Covid” hotels provided to them so that they don’t infect their family.
Hazel Ying Lee was one of two Chinese American women in United State’s Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program during World War II (Maggie Gee was the other). She learned to fly and later volunteered to fight the Japanese in China as a pilot, but since she was a woman she was only given a desk job by the Chinese Military. She joined the WASP service and worked moving planes for deployment.
Lee died in after plane crash just three days before the Lee family learned that her brother Victor was killed in action in France. The family wish to have them buried together in Portland in a particular cemetery was initially denied since the cemetery was whites only, but the family eventually won out, and she was buried in a nonmilitary funeral.
Thirty-eight WASP pilots died doing military work, with Lee being the last. In 1977, the WASP unit was given military status retroactively.
“In his debut standup special, Good Deal, Jimmy will tell you all about his take on Asian representation, how he learned to speak English from rap videos, dating tall women, and pursuing his dreams only to disappoint his old school Chinese parents. From assimilation to representation, Jimmy O. Yang delivers an absolutely hilarious hour of comedy in Good Deal.”
“Prior to taping, Yang spent four months touring to hone his material. He scouted the venue — Seattle’s Neptune Theater — and worked with his director and production designer on everything from lighting and staging to the colors he was going to wear.
“I toured Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and San Jose, just to name a few cities, and they were all awesome. They were big metropolitan cities with big Asian populations, and a lot of my fanbase was there,” Yang explained to TheWrap.
“In Seattle, one of their big comedy clubs had closed down. I didn’t have a chance to tour there so that was one city that the audience hadn’t seen this new hour. At the same time, it was perfectly a tech hub without Silicon Valley. And secondly, it had a great, diverse population; people kinda just get the representation stuff. So it turned out to be a great decision. Some of my favorite AAPI comedians like Jo Koy’s ‘Live in Seattle’ and Ali Wong’s first special taped there.”
And while there are a fair number of Asian jokes, Yang’s hot takes on everyday situations like dating, apartment hunting, and (not) living up to parents’ expectations, are universally relatable.”
“A Taiwanese factory worker leaves his homeland to seek opportunity in America, where he struggles to find connection while balancing family and newfound responsibilities in this multi-generational drama from writer-director Alan Yang.”
“Once upon a time, a young man wanted to come to America. He’d grown up in the rural countryside of Taiwan with his grandmother, occasionally having to hide in cupboards from communist Chinese soldiers looking for unregistered citizens. The boy was lonely, except for a girl he met in the fields. His name was Pin-Jui, and her name was Yuan. Later, as a teen, his mother brought him to live with her (his father had long since passed away) and work beside him in a factory in the city. At night, Pin-Jui and Yuan dance to ’60s beat pop at a local bar and dine-and-dash at expensive restaurants. Their friendship is blossoming into a romance. But an opportunity to move to the U.S. beckons, so Pin-Jui leaves his mother, and his job, and his true love behind. He has a new life, a new wife and a humble New York apartment. Decades later, he’ll have a family, including an adult daughter who he doesn’t know how to talk to, and an old man’s memories and regrets. Many, many regrets.”
As a Taiwanese American, there was a lot I could relate to this film and in some ways, see how my parents’ journey to the United States reflected in this story. Much of the film is in Taiwanese (which I don’t understand but can recognize) and Mandarin, subtitled in English as a lot of the film have flashbacks to the past in Taiwan.
Since we’re still “Staying in Place” and socially distancing ourselves due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s CAAMFest is going online:
“The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is pleased to announce a reimagined festival experience. From May 13-22, 2020, CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home will be providing an online alternative in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Now, more than ever, CAAM is commited to bringing communities together through the power of storytelling. With the theme of Heritage at Home, CAAMFest provides community and engagement while maintaining the physical distance necessary during this time. CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home features over 20 digital events, ranging from online film screenings to interactive panels, watch parties and house parties featuring live performances, all free of charge.”
Asian Americans, a new PBS series, premieres on May 11 and 12. A quick synopsys:
Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate personal stories, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played.
“When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend — or fall for his crush.”
I had only heard of the film maybe a week or two before it’s release – which surprised me since I am a big fan of writer/director Alice Wu‘s first film, ‘Saving Face,‘ that came out in 2005. At an after screening party in San Francisco, I met Alice Wu and had her sign a movie poster (it says “John, write!” – in reference to my desire to write a film based on a semi-biographical idea I had) that is still hanging in my home today:
“Picture a modernized, queer-teen version of Cyrano de Bergerac, in which the title character is a closeted Chinese-American girl who’s hired by a tongue-tied jock to write love letters to win the heart and mind the high-school queen they both secretly love. That’s the starting point for Alice Wu’s sweetly subversive The Half of It, a romcom (streaming on Netflix starting May 1st) that undercuts Hollywood formula at every turn.
Instead of Paris, where Cyrano is set, this revisionist take on the classic transpires in bluntly un-romantic Squahamish, a dead-end town in Washington state where conformity is king. Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is a social outcast and dutiful daughter who lives with her widower father (Collin Chou), an engineer with a PhD and an immigrant now reduced to the job of local station master. To help improve his halting English, he watches classic movies on TV. Ellie’s adored mom believed that every song, movie and story had “a best part.” To Dad, the best part of his favorite movie Casablanca is the ending which points to the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That seems out of reach for Ellie, who rides her bike to school while students shout racial slurs and whose life in Squahamish is her own personal version of Sartre’s No Exit. Literary and cinematic allusions are this young woman’s specialty; it’s not every YA comedy that begins with an animated prologue about Plato’s origins of love.”
Overall, I enjoyed this “young adult” romantic comedy, but not as much as Saving Face. The setup for a high school love triangle is quite familiar, but this film definitely has quite a few twists and turns. The film kind of reminds me of ‘Juno,’ another quirky young adult romantic high school comedy in terms of genre.
The performance by Leah Lewis, who plays Ellie, is fantastic. Actors Daniel Diemer playing Paul and Alexxis Lemire playing Aster Flores are good as well – but it is Lewis that really carries the film and is in every scene. Collin Chou, who plays Ellie’s windowed father, does a decent job – but I felt his character wasn’t really developed that well.
My biggest disappointment was the climactic scene where a lot of loose ends get very quickly tied up coupled with some plot elements that also didn’t quite make sense to me. But I agree with the overall conclusions to the ending of the film – which felt realistic rather than a traditional “Hollywood” ending.
Overall, I recommend the film and I hope is “successful” internally to Netflix so that it can fund whatever other project Wu might have lined up. Wu has a unique vision and I enjoy the stories she has told.
It was really great to learn some of Wu’s thinking about the film as well as her overall journey since Saving Face – a lot that I could personally relate to. Since Wu is based in the San Francisco Bay Area like myself, I’m hoping to see her at some future event when the Shelter In Place quarantine order is over.
When patient M.M. died during her shift, Emergency Room Nurse Laura Ng didn’t feel much at the moment. Only after she had a day off did she have a chance to do some justice to that death. Of the accounts out there about the life of medical workers in COVID-19 battle zone in New York City Hospitals, this piece by Laura Ng has stuck out in my mind. We see so many figures and statistics about cases and deaths. Those numbers can blur us to the fact that it is individuals who are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and grandmothers and grandfathers that are dying.
M.M. was an 87 year old patient who Ng knew wouldn’t survive. The best the ER department could do was make her comfortable until inevitable. Her family had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and Do Not Intubate (DNI) order, which Ng says is the kindest thing that they could have done.
Ng wishes that M.M. had a death with more dignity. What came to mind to me is that we probably have little control over the time of our deaths, but we have some control over our lives – make sure we live life fully, say the things we want to say and do the things we want to do, as we never know when the end might come. What also came to mind is the need for Advanced Directives. We might not know the time of our deaths, but we can set some directions how we want to die. Make your wishes known should you be in a situation where resuscitation is a question – best to document that and make it known to your loved ones. Forcing them to decide would be a cruel addition to learning about your own impending demise.
That’s my short summary of the story and some lessons that come to mind. It’s better read to read the whole thing – a short nine minute read that is, in my opinion, worth your time.
Just how extraordinary is she? You can find out more about her in the Runners’ World video above. This grandmother has broken numerous marathon age group records, most recently breaking her previous record in the Berlin Marathon by running it in 3:24:48, a 7:49 pace. I have trouble running that pace for a whole 5K! I find it inspirational that she can continue to get faster even in her 70’s. So many people accept physical deterioration as a given as they age – she is doing just the opposite.
The 2020 Boston Marathon would have been her 122nd marathon. Instead of that race, she ran 11 miles with a friend.