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Windhoek, 2021
My last night in Cape Town was spent at 91 Loop Boutique Hostel. Paying $33, I had a rather large, if very spartan, room, with my own toilet. With six beds, it was clearly intended as a dorm space, but tourists were still scarce, thanks to Covid. A filling breakfast was included, and it wasn’t... Read More
windhoek-2021x1125
The most salient feature of totalitarianism is control of movement, which entails tracking each citizen. Before the internet era, this could only be achieved roughly. The state knew John Smith lived on Lumumba Street and worked on Stalin Avenue. If Smith wanted to spend a night at a woman’s apartment, she had to register him... Read More
Don’t be on the wrong side of history, Communists often warned, though of course, they needed entire classes of such people, from the bourgeoisie to landowners, kulaks, reactionaries, decadents, Fascists, monarchists, counter-revolutionaries, unreformed intellectuals, wreckers, diversionists, believers in God and, often, even yesterday’s revolutionary heroes. It didn’t matter if these charges made sense individually or... Read More
windhoek-2021x
I often write about ordinary people and the banal, because each situation is a complex allegory, if not an intriguing painting, and no one is uninteresting. Plus, normalcy calms. When you smell smoke, however, it might be wise to stop waxing about fried chicken, say, and see where the flames are coming from. In case... Read More
This happened in Tirana, Albania. As I walked across Skanderbeg Square one fine morning, a black dog darted across my path. As if this wasn’t disturbing enough, there was a woman chasing after him, shouting, “Nigra! Nigra!” It’s 2021, lady! At least have the decency to call him, “My nigga!” (Consult Rachel Jeantel for exact... Read More
cape-town-2021x1014
Universal suffrage finally came to South Africa in 1994. Not everyone cheered. Many whites hoarded beans, rice, rusks, canned protein, candles and gasoline, etc. They expected societal breakdown, if not mass violence committed by blacks in retribution. Thousands of whites emigrated, but, this is often overlooked, thousands also returned from overseas, so the “chicken run”... Read More
When Ichiro played in the Major Leagues, he was always hounded by a mob of Japanese journalists and photographers, starting with the first day of Spring Training. Sick of this, he told an interviewer he wished they would just disappear. “From your life?” “No, from this earth.” The USA, though, is not being pestered but... Read More
tirana-2021x
Though long-inhabited, Tirana never became a city until after World War II. In 1938, it had but 38,000 people. Further, its architectural heritage has been much destroyed during the Communist decades, so there are almost no historical churches or mosques left. A striking exception is the Et’hem Bey Mosque, completed in 1821. Only shuttered by... Read More
Philadelphia, 2017
On June 24th, Trump said, “I think many of the people that are knocking down these statues don’t even have any idea what the statue is... Now they’re looking at Jesus Christ.” Actually, both the iconoclasts and their backers know very well what they’re destroying, and who they’re humiliating, deracinating and subjugating. Though often messy,... Read More
New York, 2011
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
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
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
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
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
Leipzig, 2015
Our first year in Ea Kly was a failure. We lost quite a bit of money. For the past month, I’ve been in Saigon so we could formulate a new game plan. Even in a low-wage economy like Vietnam, plastic recycling is barely feasible. Seeing people falling is funny. In his magisterial Crowds and Power,... Read More
Hong Kong, 2017
I just got off Skype with Kevin Barrett. Interviewed, I sat in the dusty office of our dustier plastic recycling plant. Truck horns and roosters crowing provided background noises. Though we covered many topics, I want to expand on just one, that of America as a religion. Unless you’re a reactionary, assbackward asshole, you believe... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
Eileen Neff was my professor at the Philadelphia College of Art, and we became friends and even did coke together, though just once. In January, Eileen emailed to ask if I would consider writing a piece about Walt Whitman for the American Poetry Review, where she is a board member. Its late editor, Stephen Berg,... Read More
Presidential candidate Linh Dinh holding a baby
Fred Reed ran but got no votes, so it’s my turn. I’m officially announcing my candidacy for the President of the United States of America. Foreign born, I’m technically ineligible, but the deep state can make anything happen, and I have Jewish power behind me, for I’m not just its secret agent, but a real... Read More
Leipzig, 2015
After Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar made an obvious point about Jewish power influencing American foreign policies, she was forced, by that same Jewish power, to recant, thus confirming, to all those who can still think, the awful influence of Jewish power. Though Jewish power is quite out in the open, as in AIPAC and the... Read More
Trotsky\
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, “Among the ancients, the slave belonged to the same race as his master, and often he was superior to him in education and enlightenment. Freedom alone separated them; freedom once granted, they easily intermingled. The ancients therefore had a very simple means of delivering themselves from slavery and its... Read More
A foreign country seeps into one’s consciousness via large events and personalities, mostly, as in war, earthquake, tsunami, coup d’état, unprovoked bombing, Gaddafi and Assad, etc., but it’s the lesser turbulences that will begin to yield more revealing clues about any society. My two years in Italy, I often combed through newspapers for crime stories,... Read More
Philadelphia, 2018
During a recent gay pride parade in Philly, a transgender woman was arrested for attempting to burn a Blue Lives Matter flag. The charges against ReeAnna Segin were arson, causing/risking a catastrophe and other misdemeanors. After Segin was released, however, her case smoldered on, for he/she claimed that his/her human rights and dignity were violated... Read More
Today\
I was just interviewed by two Temple journalism students, Amelia Burns and Erin Moran, and though they appeared very bright and enterprising, with Erin already landing a job that pays all her bills, I feel for these young ladies, for this is a horrible time to make and sell words, of any kind, and the... Read More
Woman in Fishtown bar, 2018
I’m back in Philly to wrap things up, return my apartment, give a paid talk and say goodbye to my friends. With Felix Giordano, I’ve hit bars in the Italian Market, Point Breeze, Pennsport, Fishtown and Whitman. Soon, we’ll run over to Billy Boy’s in the Pine Barrens, where the owner/cook makes some of the... Read More
Vietnamese church in Chanthaburi, Thailand, 2018
In 1987, V.S. Naipaul was asked by Andrew Robinson, “Have the immigrants from Asia and the Caribbean changed British life?” Naipaul, “I feel that there will be a lot of difficulty. I don’t see how it can be avoided, especially with these immigrants who are not seeking a new identity or a new kind of... Read More
Baby ritualistically abandoned, Saigon, 2018
In Saigon, the foreign tourists stay mostly downtown, where they can patronize American bars, and restaurants serving Indian, Thai, Korean, Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern food, not to mention McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeyes, Starbucks and Lotteria, the last a Japanese chain. With English as the lingua franca, they can be overseas, yet... Read More
New York, 2016
At age 18, Theo volunteered for the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. Based near the demilitarized zone, he saw much fighting and lost most of his left arm in 1968. Post war, Theo learned karate, opened a dojo, married, fathered three children, got his college degree and became a high school teacher. The Philly... Read More
Hanoi Jane urinal target in Cookie\
Two blocks from my front door, there are two signs in a house window, “FASCIST SCUM YOUR TIME IS DONE,” “WHITE SUPREMACY IS TERRORISM.” Seeing them, my 71-year-old friend, Felix, snarled, “I feel like throwing a rock through that window! How dare he comes into this neighborhood and calls us Fascists!” Interesting, Felix’ immediate assumption... Read More
Dresden, 2015
In a few hours, I'll fly to Europe, my favorite continent, and why not? Most of my intellectual and artistic heroes are Europeans, Kakfa, Beckmann, Kippenberger, Siebald, Rabelais, Rimbaud, Celine, Orwell, Kundera, Dostoievsky and Milosz, etc. I've spent significant time in Italy, England and Germany, and have fond memories of a least a dozen other... Read More
Gemma and Lasikar at Their Wedding
Imagine all the people living for today Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too. Imagine all the people Living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, And the... Read More
Tepotzotlán, 2017
One Friday, Jonathan Revusky and I went to see lucha libre. On a night featuring Valiente, Mistico, Misterioso, Rey Cometa, Euforia, Rush, Virus, Fuego, Stigma, The Panther, Blue Panther Jr., Tiger and Puma, etc., Arena Mexico only truly erupted at the appearance of Samuel Polinsky, a 6-foot-4, bleached blonde 28-year-old from Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Before arriving... Read More
Evening Star Pub in Brighton, 2012
A bar featuring $2 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon should never be empty. Granted, it’s a crap beer, but I’d guzzle dish water for two bucks, as long as it had some alcohol in it. So I was in The Dive for more than three hours, and during that entire time, only two other losers... Read More
Karaoke at the Golden Cicada, Jersey City
Years ago in McGlinchey’s, a Philly dive, I overheard a female voice, “I don’t know how anyone can get married, I don’t know, before they’re 45. I mean, hello!” The woman was in her mid-20’s. In 2014, I was at the Golden Cicada in Jersey City when a karaoke session broke out. The participants were... Read More
Obama with GloZell
According to a Nielsen study, the average American adult consumes 10:39 hours of electronic media per day in 2016, up a full hour from 2015. Each year, it increases. At 13:17 hours, blacks expose themselves to the most, with Asians the least at 5:31 hours. During many cross-country train trips, I’ve always noticed that the... Read More
Michele Paccione / Shutterstock.com
Universally, Trump was depicted as an anti-establishment candidate. Washington and Wall Street hated him, and the media were deployed to vilify him endlessly. If they could not discredit Trump enough, surely they would steal the election from him. Some even suggested Trump would be assassinated. Acting the part, Trump charged repeatedly that the election was... Read More
Hank Near Liberty Bell, 2016
America has become an eviscerated country draped in a gigantic flag. Day by day, its culture becomes more grotesque and obscene, a luna park of lunacy. Leached of essence, it burps up slogans, but who’s convinced? What define America, exactly? Paul Craig Roberts narrows it down to the Constitution and Christianity, “All Americans have a... Read More
amanda-zinoman-2016x
Yes, it is a bit odd to include Amanda in my series of obscured Americans. She is a very successful editor of films that have appeared on television and in theaters. Her credits include Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider (1994), Carmen Miranda: Bananas is my Business (1994), The Lost Children of Rockdale County (1999), Drinking... Read More
JStone / Shutterstock.com
First of, what is meant by "deep state"? According to ex-CIA Philip Giraldi, "Every country has a deep state of some kind even if it goes by another name. 'The Establishment' or 'old boys’ network' was widely recognized in twentieth century Britain. 'Establishment' has often also been used in the United States, describing a community... Read More
Detroit Gas Station, 2011
I had spent four days in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Chelsea. This stay allowed me to experience a whiter and more Norman Rockwell Michigan. On two previous trips, I was confined to mostly black and car wrecked Detroit. Flying out from DetroitAirport, I bought two National coneys and, boy, were they sad. Hotdogs, chili, onion,... Read More
Linh Dinh and Eirikur Orn Norddahl in Stokkseyri, Iceland, 2007
Born in Reykjavík in 1978, Norðdahl was raised in Ísafjörður, a fishing village of just 2,623 people in northwest Iceland. Its population has been shrinking for several decades. Norðdahl’s father was a fisherman, and his mother a school teacher. Starting with his first job in a shrimp factory at age 12, Norðdahl has worked as... Read More
My friend George, in his mid-60’s, was a vice president of an insurance company. He’s told me a few amusing stories of fraud. A man with a claimed bad back was filmed lifting concrete blocks and bowling. A supposedly blind dude was filmed driving a car, steering a Jet Ski and examining jar labels in... Read More
Waking up to news of the Orlando shooting, I thought of the possibility that a Muslim shooter would be identified, in which case a Trump presidency would be nearly guaranteed. As with 9/11, the 2015 Paris massacre and the San Bernardino shooting, Islamic terror is immediately fingered, with the purported killer already dead. What lightning... Read More
Philadelphia, 2011.  Credit: Linh Dinh
No presidential candidate should be taken seriously unless he or she addresses these basic concerns: 9/11 Since this is the pretext for our endless War on Terror, it should be examined thoroughly and publicly, with testimonies from pilots, architects, engineers, scientists and eye witnesses, including first responders. Like many Americans, I find the official explanation... Read More
Homeless in New Orleans, 2013
Interviewed by Spiegel in 2005, Lee Kuan Yew observed, “The social contract that led to workers sitting on the boards of companies and everybody being happy rested on this condition: I work hard, I restore Germany's prosperity, and you, the state, you have to look after me. I’m entitled to go to Baden Baden for... Read More
Nowadays, the United States exports almost nothing but weapons, noises, images and attitudes, and among the last, the black ghetto, keeping it real, thug, gangsta life is being gobbled up eagerly by millions all over, from Jakarta to Istanbul, to Berlin. White, yellow or brown, many pose enthusiastically as dwellers of the American black ghetto.... Read More
Banner in Leipzig
Though American dissidents are often branded as “anti-American,” many if not most see themselves as opposed only to their government, not their nation or people. At the Occupy camps, for example, the American flag flew freely. In Germany, however, the dissident crowd are often not just against the state, but their country and, perhaps only... 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.