Asian American Little Magazines 1968-1974: By Amardeep Singh

Bridge 1.6 (July/August 1972)

"The Magazine of Asians in America." 

Table of Contents: 

Guest Editorial: Contradictions and Paradoxes in the Chinese Community in the U.S., by the Reverend Paul Tong

Impressions of China, by Ida Chung

A Wartime Odyssey: Recollections of a Relocation Officer in an Internment Camp, by Leighton Dingley

The Chinese Benevolent Association: An Assessment, Part II, by James T. Lee

Where is the Slopehead Huey Newton, by Steve Pressfield

Chinese in the United States: A View from Peking, Part III, translated by Odoric Wou

The Arts: Flying Fox of Snow Mountain, Part III. A Novel of Martial Arts by Chin Yung, translated by Robin Wu

The Arts: Childhod, a reflection by Pamela Eguchi

Reviews: Gold Watch and Ghosts: Asian Reality in America. A play review of two plays by Rockwell Chin. Review of Mako's There is No Place for a Tired Ghost and Momoki Iko's Gold Watch, both of which played at the Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles in the spring of 1972.

An excerpt: "In the foreground of the dimly lit stage, an old Japanese man and his wife are playing cards. They deal without desire, going through the motions, impatiently passing time. A young Japanese-American soldier cries out in pain, not yet knowing he has lost a leg. Defending his country, Grace Yagi's fiance was a soldier. he died in Asia. She refused to be forced to sign a loyalty oath and chose suicide. An eccentric blind Japanese general of the Imperial Army stumbles around the stage giving orders. No one is listening. A voices comes over the loudspeaker announcing the day's activities.

"These ghosts of the concentration camps, caught somewhere 'between here and heaven,' are the substance of Mako's intense one act play, There is No Place For a Tired Ghost. [...]

"As Asians, the internment must be understood within the context of more than a century of American racism directed against first hte Chinese, and ultimately against all Asians. The concentration camps must also be understood within the context of racism and oppression in America today, and perpetuated by this country across the globe. Fear of the 'Yellow Peril' still pervades American policy and the general American public, and the principal Constitutional case upholding the Government's 'right' to intern the Japanese has yet to be expressly overruled (see Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214).


[Article contains two quotes from Gidra pertaining to Manzanar.]

Reviews: An Indictment of White America. A play review by William Wong of 'The Chickencoop Chinaman' by Frank Chin

An excerpt: "A play of enormous importance to Asian-Americans was presented in June at the American Place Theater in New York. It was called The Chickencoop Chinaman, and was written by frank Chin, a 32-year old American of Chinese descent. Born in Berkeley, California, he was reared in the Chinatown of San Francisco and Oakland. 

The play's significance to Asian-Americans can't be overemphasized. It is the first play by an Asian-American that is fashioned out of uniquely Asian-American sensibilities -- sensibilities that, unlike those underlying Flower Drum Song, penetrate and refute the myths that have enshrouded and romanticized Asian-America. In Frank Chin's Asian-America -- in the real Asian-America -- a hundred million miracles don't happen every day.

[...]

The play is set in Pittsburgh and takes place one long evening in the life of Tam Lam, the play's lead, who is a Chinese-American documentary filmmaker from Oakland, California. Tam Lam visits Pittsburgh to research a film, and while there, he stays with an old high school buddy, Kenji, a Japanese American who is now a research dentist. 

As the evening wears on, as Tam and Kenji renew their friendship and retell old stories, as Tam looks up a key interview subject for his film, the message of the play becomes clear. It is an indictment of white America's racism towards Asian-Americans, a racism that resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act and in the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It is also the kind  of racism that has gutted countless Asian-Americans of any feeling of self-worth, for we grow up believing that what we are isn't really good enough. 

The play confronts the issue of the self-contempt we all feel at one time or another. It is a self-contempt that has been nurtured by white racism. We seek to deny our origins because, in white America, they embarrass us. 'We grew up bustin' our asses to be white anyway,' Tam Lam says. 'Don't wear green because it makes you look yellow son,' or 'Don't be seen with no blacks.' Now there's Confucius in America for you.' Thus, to survive, Asian-Americans strive to be white. 

[...]


Another hero was the Lone Ranger, who, for a time, Tam believed may be an Asian because his hair is black (as depicted in the comic pages) and because he wears a mask (possibly to cover up his Asian eyes?). But in the play's funniest scene, which featured a paunchy, decrepit Lone Ranger, Tam and Kenji discover that the Lone Ranger is nothing but an old white racist.

'China boys,' says the Lone Ranger patronizingly, 'you be legendary obeyers of the law, legendary humble, legendary passive. Thank me now and I'll let you get back to Chinatown preservin' your culture.' Happy to see the Lone Ranger ride off, Tam laments, 'The masked man ... I knew him better when I never knew him at all.' 


Reviews: Executive Order 9066, by Maisie and Richard Conrat. Book review by bill Wong.

New Periodicals: 

Yellow Seeds: "to inform the Asian Americans in Chinatown, in the suburbs, and on the campuses of the prevailing problems and conditions immediately confronting them." (Philadelphia Chinatown)
Asian Family Affair: "contains, among other things, stories on community events, poetry, photo essays, discussions of identity" (Seattle, Washington)
Powell Street Review: "originated by third generation Japanese Canadians and designed for the entire Japanese community. It intends to deal with and pose questions about the character of our community by publishing the viewpoints of our members" (Toronto, Canada)
Tora: "to promt positive self-awareness or being of Japanese origin and to accomplish this as a step toward the vaunted ideal of a multicultural society." (Toronto, Canada)
Chinatown: "a multidimensional magazine of vital interest for people who want a first-hand look at both Chinatown and China today." (New York, NY)

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  1. Bridge 1-6. Frank Chin Chickencoop Chinaman Performance