The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 BlogviewLinh Dinh Archive

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In a recent article, “Smashing Culture,” I briefly described a scene in Philadelphia from 30+ years ago. Sitting in McGlinchey’s, I was drinking Rolling Rock. This trivia triggered a most curious yet telling response from a commenter, “Rolling Rock? – really? Were you listening to the Eagles too? Nice street cred attempt, but it’s either... Read More
Busan, 2020
Near my guesthouse in Busan, there’s a Mongolian restaurant, Chinggis Khaan. On its sign, there’s a portrait of the conqueror, looking stern, with a lineup of archers on horseback, behind him. Though I had walked by Chinggis Khaan many times, I never entered because I thought it was probably some jive joint, run by Koreans.... Read More
Statues of Sun Yat-Sen, Churchill, Lincoln and Plato in Singapore, 2015
At the start of French Revolution, Bertrand Barère declared, “The revolutions of a barbarous people destroy all monuments, and the very trace of the arts seems to be effaced. The revolutions of an enlightened people conserve the fine arts, and embellish them […]” Soon after, though, thousands of French statues were wrecked, and many heads... Read More
Philadelphia, 2011
A guy with who once pointed a gun at the belly of a woman during an armed robbery was actually “a gentle giant,” according to ABC News. It quotes one of his buddies, “Anybody who knows him will tell you he’s not confrontational.” At George Floyd’s funeral, the mayor of Minneapolis, Richard Frey, knelt by... Read More
Felix Giordano at Friendly Lounge in Philadelphia, 2016
On June 4th, Common Dreams’ lead story is titled, “‘This Isn’t Going Away’: Defying Curfews and Police Brutality in Relentless Push for Justice, Uprising Over Killing of George Floyd Keeps Growing.” The same day, I received a mass email from Jee Leong Koh, a Singaporean poet living in Harlem. In an 800-word statement about the... Read More
[the below will be translated into Farsi and published at this website] The Iranian people would like to know how would you interpret Floyd’s death: an isolated case of officers mistreating criminals or a sign of systematic anti-black racism? -As we can clearly see in the film, Floyd was murdered, for an officer knelt on... Read More
On April 29th, an American friend wrote from Spain, where he’d lived for 20 years, “The government announced new (legal) abilities to track and monitor people’s telephones. My youngest [son] asked if we could go to the U.S. if Spain moves towards communism. I didn’t know how to respond! Frightening where this could go.” I... Read More
Busan on May 23rd, 2020
Although the compulsion to travel is universal, nearly all of it is only done virtually, and I’m not just talking about the internet, of course, but reading books, looking at photos, telling and hearing stories, or just thinking. We can’t stand to be confined to one miserable or paradisal spot while knowing everything else is... Read More
Coming to South Korea on a 90-day tourist visa, I never thought I would need to renew it, but thanks to the coronavirus, I had to, just last week. Encountering bureaucracy anywhere is usually stressful, but thankfully, the process here was quick and straightforward. Koreans know how to be efficient. Buses and trains always run... Read More
From the moment I was born, I’ve wanted to write a 20,000-word tribute to Barbra Streisand, but this is not it, unfortunately. I’m still not ready. Instead, I want to talk about how we routinely distort, embellish or simply erase much the past, so what’s preserved and presented is not so embarrassing. It’s a universal... Read More
Busan on May 6th, 2020
Five months into the coronavirus crisis, there is no consensus about anything. When this virus was mostly limited to China, I tried to get as close as possible, so for two weeks, I stayed in Lao Cai, Vietnam. Nearly each day, I walked along the Red River to look into Yunnan, and what I saw... Read More
With the world becoming so stupid, by design, there is no mind or focus left to pay attention to any of the arts, so beauty is increasingly perverted and language sickens, by design. Numbed by nonstop media sewage, just about every man is divorced from his own thoughts even, so of course he can barely... Read More
In South Korea, you can still get on buses and trains, or just wander around for miles at your leisure, so yesterday, I was in Gimhae. Like all Korean cities, it unashamedly flaunts nondescript, skyscraping condos and sterile, soulless churches that surely prove there is no God, for there’s no way he would tolerate so... Read More
Pohang, South Korea, 2020
There are coronavirus cases in at least 185 countries, with none reported in North Korea. As Western Europe’s infection rate slows, Turkey’s and Russia’s accelerate. Africa’s death toll remains a remarkably low 1,136, but reliable statistics are impossible to get anywhere, not just in Africa. Coronavirus deaths may be wrongly attributed or simply uncounted. In... Read More
Yeosu, South Korea on April 7th, 2020
My freshman year in college, I had an English teacher, Stanley Ward, who said, “All writing is about sex or death,” which drew laughs from us idiots, for it sounded like a joke, but if you consider how everything falls within the continuum between the generation of life and its negation, then of course Mr.... Read More
All our lives, our sadism is masterfully jerked by movies and newscasts, so we’re giddy at the sight of other people being blown up or swept away by giant waves, anything, really, as long as it’s not us being napalmed or nuked. This coronavirus crisis is so disappointing, however, for there’s not much to see.... Read More
This is the third installment of Coronavirus Missives, a series in which I survey people in various countries about this emergency. Though I believe there is a global health crisis, most of my respondents think it’s just a giant hoax to enable increasingly totalitarian governments to shackle, cripple or even murder them. None of them... Read More
Hanoi\
When I left Hanoi on February 28th, its streets were still choked with traffic, most restaurants and cafes were packed, and there were only a few minor signs of the pandemic threat. There were more facemasks, especially on waiters and shopkeepers. At some dumpy pho joint, I spotted a sign requesting customers to not smoke,... Read More
busan-2020-x-3
In Singapore, you can be jailed for half a year for failing to keep “social distance.” The same offense in New York will only get you fined for up to $500, although an 86-year-old woman has just been killed when she got too close to someone at a Brooklyn hospital. Out of masks, Tennessee doctors... Read More
Outrageous events are avalanching, so any analysis risks becoming immediately obsolete, and even quaintly so. Just two weeks ago was the good old days. Remember when you could perform extraordinary tasks like loafing in a bar just to shoot the shit, walking down the street unperturbed or saying to a diner waitress, “Over easy, please,”... Read More
busan-2020x-1
As a chicken chomping, coke snorting species, we have three main foes. 1) Beasts more ferocious than us, such as tigers, lions and, well, just about all other animals, since we’re such wimps. 2) Living organisms we can’t even see, such as viruses. 3) Other men, of course, since man is clearly man’s most lethal... Read More
Incheon, 2020
Perhaps I have really bad body odor, but these days, I mostly eat and drink alone, sitting in completely empty restaurants and cafes, like right now. This casual yet elegant joint is called Ottchill. It has solidly built wooden chairs padded with homey cushions. The two baristas are young, attractive and courteous, and they’re here... Read More
Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, 2020
Of course, borders are sexual, at least for men, for you’re about to enter a normally forbidden territory. This buildup, anxiety and euphoria is lessened if the border is a mere formality, or if you have a strong (and stiff enough) passport. For women, border crossers can promise adventure, for they may deliver you to... Read More
Dien Bien Phu, 2020
Nothing is equal to anything else. In 1904, Jack London traveled from Korea to China. As soon as he crossed the border, he saw what he thought was a much more energetic, resourceful and resilient civilization, Gushing at length over the Chinese, London concludes, “The Korean is the perfect type of inefficiency—of utter worthlessness. The... Read More
So now I’ve been to the Plain of Jars. Among places, it has among the most evocative of names. It sounds so plain, yet so poetic, because we simply don’t associate any plain, or meadow, with jars, and we’re not talking about Mason ones here, but stone, and huge, with the largest ten feet tall... Read More
Savannakhet, 2020
The first white I met in Laos was a man of about 50. He was hunched over on a couch in the shabby lobby of a mini hotel, by the Savannakhet bus station. Not a big tourist attraction, the city does have an elegant Catholic church and dinosaur bones in a museum. When I addressed... Read More
Vientiane, 2020
I’m in Vientiane, a sleeping beauty just starting to wake up. I’m typing this at Spirit House, because it’s quiet. Three tables away sit two middle-aged monks. Checking their smartphones, they’re just chilling. Puffing a cigarette, one flashes his purple nipple episodically. In his cage, a crested bird whistles, while others, flying freely, chirp. The... Read More
From 10AM to 11PM, Hoi An’s old town is choked with tourists, so just get there just after sunrise if you want to admire its architecture, and it is magnificent. How did this slice of old Vietnam survive? During the Vietnam War, Hoi An was the administrative center for the entire province, so it was... Read More
nha-trang-2019-2
It’s always good to get up at dawn to walk around, for you’ll see a less guarded, composed and worn out version of humanity. They’ll still have the rest of the day to blunder, lapse, commit a crime or jump off a bridge. Passing a Nha Trang park, I spot middle aged broads dancing the... Read More
Nha Trang, 2019
Last month, I frowned on those who are drawn to the vagabond, rootless lifestyle, who think it is ideal to move from hotel room to hotel room. Guess what? I’ve joined them. Life is goofy that way. After my mother-in-law threatened to stab me more than ten times, I left Saigon and stayed in Vung... Read More
Vung Tau, 2019
I’m renting a hotel room in Vung Tau for $130 a month. For just $22 more, I could have had an air conditioner, but I don’t need it. Even the electric fan is often turned off. I have a TV, which I don’t watch. I’ve always preferred silence. I’m two minutes away from Mulberry Beach,... Read More
Allentown, 2012
My writing on society and politics has made me quite a few friends, some I’ve been able to visit on their home turf, from Scranton to Burgazada, to Leipzig. Others have come to me. In July of 2018, just before I left the US for good, I had a few beers with Bill, who drove... Read More
the-lighthouse-2017
In 2017, Chuck Orloski’s 27-year marriage collapsed. Chased from his home and broke, he had to take refuge at Lighthouse, a Scranton group home run by a blind, 54-year-old nun, Lindy Morelli. That Thanksgiving, I took a four-hour bus ride from Philly to stay five days with my friend, Chuck, at the Lighthouse. The rolling... Read More
hong-kong-2019
I just spent a week in Macau and Hong Kong, the West’s last two possessions in Asia. There, I heard an Indian joke from Filipino writer Charlson Ong, “You Brits think you can just come and take our chicken biryani and chicken tandoori? No, we’re coming with you!” A great irony of colonialism is that... Read More
craig-nelsen
Please introduce yourself to the readers. My major in college was Western philosophy and, after graduation, at the suggestion of one of my professors, I took a position teaching English at a university in Shanxi province, China for the opportunity to immerse myself in a society informed by Eastern philosophy. I went for six months... Read More
Vung Tau, 2019
In Saigon, I can easily go a week without seeing any white person, but today, I ran across two white Mormons on bicycles, with one having this paper sign on his backpack, “TIẾNG ANH MIỄN PHÍ” [“FREE ENGLISH LANGUAGE”]. I also passed a young white man pulling a suitcase down the street, his face showing... Read More
Writing about Kafka in a Saigon McDonald\
A Saigon McDonald’s is hardly the ideal place to muse about Kafka, but that’s where I am, because I crave ketchup this morning, and I have just enough free time to pose as a writer. Running ragged, I spent this past week hosting two Korean salesmen. They’re in Vietnam for Metalex, a trade convention of... Read More
shutterstock_1066808576
In 2018, the publication of Albert Einstein’s travel diaries was greeted by newspaper headlines lamenting his politically incorrect views of Asians, particularly the Chinese. Most egregious was Einstein’s verdict on Chinese women, “I noticed how little difference there is between men and women; I don’t understand what kind of fatal attraction Chinese women possess that... Read More
oakland-2013
As writer or thinker, Jack London can’t touch George Orwell, but he’s nearly the Brit’s equal when it comes to describing society’s bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just... Read More
vietnamnet-dang-van-hoa-with-friends-in-angola
First, the good news. Yesterday, I spotted a new Wife Cafe, not three miles from me. Who says Vietnamese hicks aren’t innovative? With this marvelous idea, lonely bachelors the world over can stop ogling and whacking compulsively, and with their next morning joe, choose a black, white, cream or cappuccino life mate. Eternal happiness, understanding,... Read More
ea-kly-2019x-2
There is a dearth of writing about work, its variety, tedium and grind. This is understandable, since most writers have devoted much of their time to writing and reading, and not painting houses, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, planting crops or performing mind numbingly monotonous tasks on an assembly line, etc. This blind spot or ignorance... Read More
fatherandsonwithwives
How long have you lived overseas? First I solo’d my yacht across the Pacific, then settled in the Philippines. It is close to 20 years ago now.   What made you decide to leave North America? Canada: It is cold, with lots of rain, and the sun never gets high in the sky. US: After... Read More
San Jose, 2013
Last month in Saigon, I hung out with my friend of 40-years, Giang. We were freshmen together at Andrew Hill High School in San Jose, then I had to move to Virginia to escape my psychotic stepmother. A screaming machine, she’s still daily enraged, I’m sure. A horrible marriage will do that. In the late... Read More
Philadelphia, 2012
With its eschatological Bible, the West is constantly haunted by its death and hypothetical rebirth. Its apocalyptic imagination is unmatched. Christianity promises a frightful ending, as in, “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of... Read More
aeon-mall-in-saigon-2019
My last three years in high school, I was in Northern Virginia. I hung out at Springfield Mall and Wakefield Recreation Center. Though I had lame handles and an erratic shot, I still managed to get into pickup games, and each time I hoisted up a brick, my buddy, Kelvin Nash, would holler, “Riceman!” I... Read More
Philadelphia, 2011
Voting or protesting, Americans don’t just achieve nothing, they lend legitimacy to their criminal government, for it can declare to the rest of the world, “See, we are a democracy! Our citizens do vote, and they can even protest!” It’s an obvious point I’ve made repeatedly, though clearly into the void, but in my last... Read More
Democratic National Convention, 2012
To represent anything is to reduce and deform it, obviously, for even Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is but a stick figure compared to the witty, voluptuous and redolent broad, whose repartees, smiles, jokes and burps, from moment to moment, can only increase her charm and terror, and that’s why man never allowed himself to be engulfed... Read More
ea-kly-2019-07-18
Most of the towns in Đắk Lắk I have never heard of until I’m in them. A few days ago, I was in Yang Reh, which has just 4,100 people, and founded only in 2002. Coming in, I spotted a tiny, dark woman of unclear ethnicity, pushing a junk bicycle that had assorted bags dangling... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
After ten weeks away, I’m back in dusty, remote Ea Kly and the plastic recycling plant. Coming up from Saigon in our new truck, we avoided Highway 13, since my brother and sister-in-law are very superstitious. Last year, they got charms from a shaman to stick on our plant, yet our business still floundered. In... Read More
My Grandma\
In December of 2011, I was on an Amtrak rolling through North Carolina. Sitting in the lounge car, I gazed mostly at trees and fields, with their isolated houses or trailers. Every so often, a town would flit by, Smithfield, Kenly, Elm City... Though all these names meant nothing to me, each settlement appeared sweet... Read More
Linh Dinh
About Linh Dinh

Born in Vietnam in 1963, Linh Dinh came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. He is also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and he has been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US, and has also published widely in Vietnamese.