Archive for 2016

Vietnamese Traditional Instruments

Dan Nhi Two-string FiddleDan Nhi Two String FiddleThe Dan Nhi is popular among several ethnic groups in Vietnam. It is also referred to as Dan Co in southern provinces of Viet Nam.

Dan Nguyet – Two-String Guitar

Dan Nguyet    The Southerners of Vietnam refer to this instrument as Dan Kim. Dan Nguyet has two strings and the resonator resembles the moon, that is probably why it is named Dan Nguyet, which means moon lute.

Source: Vietnamese Traditional Instruments

Posted in: Vietnamese Theater Music and Dance

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Review: ‘Vietgone,’ a Refugee Tale With Laughs and Rap – The New York Times

“For positive proof that in certain realms of theater, we have moved firmly beyond political correctness, see “Vietgone,” a raucous comedy by Qui Nguyen that strafes just about every subject it tackles and every character it presents. Sure, sometimes it wobbles uncertainly between satire and sentiment, but Mr. Nguyen’s fresh and impish voice rarely lets up as he thumbs his nose at our expectations.

As the character of the playwright (Paco Tolson) explains at the top of the show, the principals are Vietnamese who become refugees in America. The show is set in 1975, but these characters, he says, won’t sound the way you might expect them to. Scanning the audience at City Center, where the play opened on Tuesday in a Manhattan Theater Club production, Tong (Jennifer Ikeda), a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman, observes, “Damn, there’s a lotta white people up in here.”This voice, the playwright reminds us, is more or less the opposite of the Asian one of stereotype, as in: “Herro! Prease to meeting you! I so Asian!” The Americans in the play, he adds, will speak like this: “Yee-haw! Get ’er done! Cheeseburger, waffle fries, cholesterol!” They do indeed.:

Source: Review: ‘Vietgone,’ a Refugee Tale With Laughs and Rap – The New York Times

My friend and director Lauren Keating highly recommends this play.  I haven’t seen it.

Here are two comments after the reveiew:

bkny

nyc 2 days ago

I’ve seen both productions; having been blown away by what I saw at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the summer, I looked forward to a second viewing here. I thought the actors in Oregon rendered the play more compellingly; in particular, I thought Jeena Yi in Oregon occupied the character of Tong more convincingly, helped by her greater command of the rap idiom. The thrust stage in Oregon also put the actors in different proximity to that of MTC’s standard type of stage, and that gave the OSF a certain immediacy that the MTC production loses with its traditionally configured house. Having said all that, this is a play so worth seeing: fresh, emotional, provocative. Highly recommended.

Olof Sander

NYC October 28, 2016

This was the most infantile piece of nothing”.I left during the intermission, because I could not take it anymore.At least 40 people did the same.It was easy to count them as we were all gathering at the entrance waiting for the terrible rain to stop.
Fot the first time in 35 years I was really (!!)tempted to walk by the stage in a theatre and “BOOH”

Posted in: Vietnamese Literature, Vietnamese Theater Music and Dance

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Editorial: Vietnam locks her up – Washington Post in New Haven Register

“On Oct. 10, police in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa arrested a popular blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, who writes under the pen name Mother Mushroom. She is co-founder of a network of independent bloggers who often find themselves in the crosshairs of a regime that strictly controls the news media and does not tolerate dissent. Radio Free Asia quoted the network as protesting that Quynh is an “activist who has advocated for human rights, improved living conditions for people, and sovereignty for many years.”

Most recently, Quynh had been blogging extensively about a chemical spill in April that devastated marine life and left fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless in four provinces. In June, a Taiwanese-owned company acknowledged it was responsible for the pollution and pledged to clean it up, but the spill has provoked protests by Vietnamese who criticize the government for remaining silent about the cause of the spill at the outset and then failing to provide information about health and environmental dangers. Many of the protests were mobilized on Facebook.”

Source: Editorial: Vietnam locks her up

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam

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Nguyen Ngoc Bich- who directed the Vietnamese service of Radio Free Asia- dies at 78 – The Washington Post

Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who directed the Vietnamese service of Radio Free Asia, dies at 78

Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who fled Vietnam during the fall of Vietnam, looks through an old album of pictures and Vietnamese government passes with his picture on them. (Frank Johnston/The Washington Post)

By Bart Barnes April 11, 2016

“Nguyen Ngoc Bich, a Vietnamese emigre who directed the Vietnamese service of Radio Free Asia, translated and wrote about Vietnamese poets, and taught Vietnamese culture and literature, died March 2. He was 78.He died of a heart attack while on a flight from Washington to Manila, where he was scheduled to participate in a conference, said a brother-in-law, John Schwankhaus.

Mr. Bich fled Vietnam after the 1975 fall of Saigon to the Communists. In the period immediately before the fall, he was director general of the Vietnam Press Agency and a special envoy of South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu to the U.S. Congress in a last-ditch campaign for more war aid in the face of the Viet Cong’s last offensive.

Source: Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who directed the Vietnamese service of Radio Free Asia, dies at 78 – The Washington Post

Nguyen Ngoc Bich translated the poem Eulogy for Nguyen Hue, by Le Thi Ngoc Han, according to the late Thomas Barnes’s friend, Dr. Andre Van Chau.

Ngọc Bích Nguyẽ̂n
Teacher

Posted in: The Tay Son Rebellion

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Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government – The New York Times

“HONG KONG — The authorities in Vietnam said on Tuesday that they had arrested a popular blogger who has criticized the country’s one-party government over politically delicate topics, including a dump of toxic chemicals that devastated fishing communities and set off protests.The blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, was detained on Monday in Khanh Hoa, a south-central province. She was accused on Tuesday of distorting the truth and spreading propaganda against the state, according to the Vietnamese news media. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 12 years. No trial date was given.

Ms. Quynh, who writes under the pen name Mother Mushroom, is a co-founder of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, one of the few independent writers’ associations in Vietnam. The country’s news media and publishing industry are heavily controlled by the governing Communist Party, and writers who stray outside the system and challenge the party are frequently imprisoned under vague national security laws.Pham Doan Trang, a dissident writer in Hanoi and a member of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, said that the authorities might have arrested Ms. Quynh to intimidate younger bloggers who have been inspired by her online crusades — via Facebook and independent blogs — against corruption, social injustice and police brutality. But Ms. Trang predicted that the tactic would fail.“She has a lot of supporters,” Ms. Trang said of Ms. Quynh in an interview via Facebook Messenger on Tuesday. “Many of them will replace her or follow in her path.” ”

Source: Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government – The New York Times

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam

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The Hidden Scars All Refugees Carry, by By VIET THANH NGUYEN – The New York Times

“Many people have characterized my novel, “The Sympathizer,” as an immigrant story, and me as an immigrant. No. My novel is a war story and I am not an immigrant. I am a refugee who, like many others, has never ceased being a refugee in some corner of my mind.Immigrants are more reassuring than refugees because there is an endpoint to their story; however they arrive, whether they are documented or not, their desires for a new life can be absorbed into the American dream or into the European narrative of civilization.

By contrast, refugees are the zombies of the world, the undead who rise from dying states to march or swim toward our borders in endless waves. An estimated 60 million such stateless people exist, 1 in every 122 people alive today. If they formed their own country, it would be the world’s 24th largest — bigger than South Africa, Spain, Iraq or Canada”

Source: The Hidden Scars All Refugees Carry – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnamese in the US, Vietnamese Literature

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Our Vietnam War Never Ended, By VIET THANH NGUYEN, APRIL 24, 2015 – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES — THURSDAY, the last day of April, is the 40th anniversary of the end of my war. Americans call it the Vietnam War, and the victorious Vietnamese call it the American War. In fact, both of these names are misnomers, since the war was also fought, to great devastation, in Laos and Cambodia, a fact that Americans and Vietnamese would both rather forget.

In any case, for anyone who has lived through a war, that war needs no name. It is always and only “the war,” which is what my family and I call it. Anniversaries are the time for war stories to be told, and the stories of my family and other refugees are war stories, too. This is important, for when Americans think of war, they tend to think of men fighting “over there.” The tendency to separate war stories from immigrant stories means that most Americans don’t understand how many of the immigrants and refugees in the United States have fled from wars — many of which this country has had a hand in.

Although my family and other refugees brought our war stories with us to America, they remain largely unheard and unread, except by people like us. Compared with many of the four million Vietnamese in the diaspora, my family has been lucky. None of my relatives can be counted among the three million who died during the war, or the hundreds of thousands who disappeared at sea trying to escape by boat. But our experiences in coming to America were difficult.”

Source: Our Vietnam War Never Ended – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnamese in the US, Vietnamese Literature

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Review: ‘The Sympathizer,’ a Novel About a Soldier, Spy and Film Consultant, by Sarah Lyall – The New York Times

“There’s a great comic interlude in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel “The Sympathizer” when the unnamed narrator, a Vietnamese Army captain exiled in Los Angeles, critiques the screenplay of a gung-ho Hollywood movie about America’s heroism in the Vietnam War.

By this time, a lot of things have already happened. Saigon has fallen. Chaos has closed in. The captain has secured the bloody, terrifying extraction of his boss, a pro-American general, on one of the last flights out (were there any other kind of flights in Saigon in 1975?). Working as an aide and sometime hit man for the general, now a California liquor-store owner, the captain applies himself to his real job: spying on the general, and other members of the Vietnamese diaspora, for the Communists who seized power back home.”

Source: Review: ‘The Sympathizer,’ a Novel About a Soldier, Spy and Film Consultant – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnamese Literature

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For Viet Thanh Nguyen, Author of ‘The Sympathizer,’ a Pulitzer but No Peace – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES — Viet Thanh Nguyen has been wrestling with “Apocalypse Now” for most of his life — as a boy, a college student, a scholar, a writer of fiction. The movie was initially a source of pain, then a puzzle to be understood, and finally an inspiration for his novel about a Vietnamese spy, “The Sympathizer.”

Even now, after a rapturous reception for the novel, his first, that included the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Mr. Nguyen’s feelings about Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war epic are still somewhat raw.“‘Apocalypse Now’ is an important work of art,” Mr. Nguyen, 45, said in an interview at his house here. “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to bow down before it. I’m going to fight with it because it fought with me.””

Source: For Viet Thanh Nguyen, Author of ‘The Sympathizer,’ a Pulitzer but No Peace – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnamese Literature

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Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam – The New York Times

“Los Angeles — EVEN today, Americans argue over the Vietnam War: what was done, what mistakes were made, and what were the lasting effects on American power.This sad history returns because of Bob Kerrey’s appointment as chairman of the American-sponsored Fulbright University Vietnam, the country’s first private university. That appointment has also prompted the Vietnamese to debate how former enemies can forgive and reconcile.What is not in dispute is that in 1969 a team of Navy SEALs, under a young Lieutenant Kerrey’s command, killed 20 unarmed Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, in the village of Thanh Phong. Mr. Kerrey, who later became a senator, a governor, a presidential candidate and a university president, acknowledged his role in the atrocity in his 2002 memoir, “When I Was a Young Man.”Those in the United States and Vietnam who favor Mr. Kerrey’s appointment see it as an act of reconciliation: He has confessed, he deserves to be forgiven because of his efforts to aid Vietnam, and his unique and terrible history makes him a potent symbol for how both countries need to move on from their common war.I disagree. He is the wrong man for the job and regarding him as a symbol of peace is a failure of moral imagination.”

Source: Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam – The New York Times

I have not made up my own mind on this yet. I am still collecting information, and processing it.

Here is a comment thought, one of many from the NYT comments which I think is helpful and significant:

Ted Hanoi

Vietnam 7 hours ago

“As I long time Vietnam resident (23 years) I cannot agree with Bob Kerrey’s appointment to the Fulbright University. It is a divisive issue here and I am at a loss to understand the lack of sensitivity in this appointment.
I understand Mr. Kerrey has been supporting fundraising for this project for a number of years. A role he can continue to undertake, but not full-time in Vietnam.
I can understand that Mr. Kerrey is trying to atone for past deeds, but his past actions will always be in the background during his tenure at Fulbright which will make his task more difficult and perhaps less effective.
I see the major benefit of the Fulbright as not just delivering “free-market values” to Vietnam but also being an open education model that will slowly force the State higher education institutions to reform and adopt teaching methods that will produce graduates with enhanced innovative thinking capabilities.
I do not agree with Mr. Nguyen regarding a memorial to the Thanh Phong victims at the Fulbright as this idea is directly related to Mr. Kerrey’s appointment. In my opinion, and if there is to be a memorial, the Fulbright should consider erecting a “generalized” memorial to all atrocity victims from this period so that the Fulbright stands as a symbol of reconciliation.
Similarly, Mr. Nguyen’s scholarship proposal should not just focus on Thanh Phong, it should assist as many disadvantaged students as possible from all over the country.”

 

I think that young men of both sides committed atrocities, and they all deserve to be forgiven, if they show regret and remorse and become agents of positive growth. In the end, it for the Vietnamese, not the Americans, to decide if they can permit Bob Kerry to continue his noble acts of repentance inside of Vietnam, as a university president.

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam

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