Author Archive

Tibetan Monk With New Life In US

December 12th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

by Tuan Nguyen

On a late night back in December 2007, Tenzin Norbu, a Tibetan born in India, arrived in New York in a Dhachay, the traditional red robe of a Tibetan monk. After 25 years of being a Buddhist monk in different institutions in Nepal and India, after a dispute with the monastery, Norbu had decided to make a new life in the US.

In the soundslides below, Norbu talked about his new life as street vendor on the streets of Chinatown, New York.

Another clip about the monk:

Richard Hughes And The Shoeshine Boys Of Saigon

December 6th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

by Tuan Nguyen

When he received the draft 42 years ago by the army to go to Vietnam, Richard Hughes, an actor of 24-year-old, then decided to defy the order, which, in essence, put him subject to being jailed. He then still went to Vietnam with borrowed money from a close friend, two sets of clothes and a press pass from his college paper with view to do something different about the war. He ended up setting up “Shoeshine Boys House” for street kids in Sai Gon and Da Nang, two largest cities of the Republic of Vietnam then. After 8 years (1968-1976), Hughes’ organization has helped around 2,500 street kids with houses and education.

Returning to the U.S. after the war, Richard Hughes continued with his acting career, featuring in films like “the Departed”, “Salt” and comedy shows like “30 Rock”. He also continued working with different humanitarian organizations to help Vietnamese people to overcome the legacies of the war.

In the soundslides below, Richard Hughes talked about his experience in Vietnam and his reunion after 25 years with the street kids in 2001.

NYC Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

November 28th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

by Tuan Nguyen

NYC’s Favourative Cinema Map

November 21st, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

by Tuan Nguyen

As a movie buff, I have a special penchant for classic and foreign films, which usually offer new perspectives and are much better than Hollywood types of instant-noodle-film you may see week in, week out at AMC cinemas.  The map below shows the locations of my most favorite cinemas in the city:

View NYC Cinema Map in a larger map

+ The Houston Trio: On Houston Street, there are three cinemas famous for showing foreign films: Landmark Sunshine Cinema, Angelika Film Center, Film Forum cinema.

+ Lincoln Plaza Cinemas: the multiplex on 63rd St. is right near my living place. I can easily reach the cinema within 10 minutes of walking.

+ Cinema Village: a 3-screen cinema on East 12th Street specializing in foreign and independent films.

+ IFC Center: on Avenue of the Americas (between West 3 and 4 St.), a center for independent film and classic movies.

View NYC Cinema Map in a larger map

Ticketmen At Times Square

November 14th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

by Tuan Nguyen

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New Yorkers vs. Noise

November 7th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

By Tuan Nguyen

An international conference held late last month at The New York Academy found that, in many parts of Manhattan, people were exposed to decibel levels of over 70 decibels, which would create hearing damages over time. Besides hearing loss, daily exposure to these types of levels can lead to stress, heart disease and sleep disruption.

I put up a survey among friends of J-school, Facebook and other work contacts that I know here in New York to find out about their awareness of the issue as well as their solutions to the problems. After three days from Nov 4-7, the survey received 32 responses. Follows are what I’ve found so far:

  • Just as indicated by the report at the conference, the majority of the respondents (56,25%) are unaware of the risk.
  • In terms of irritation level (from 1-5), inclination towards the higher end of irritation is much higher (graph attached).

  • Irritated as they are, most of the respondents (26 out of 32) said they would prefer to stay in Manhattan rather than to move out or change working place. The glamorous, jewel-like traits of the borough still bite.
  • Of the four noisiest places (Times Square, First Avenue above 14th Street, Broadway in Inwood and the Upper East Side), Times Square stands out as the noisiest. With regards to sources of noise, subway and car honking trump.

  • To deal with the problem, most of the respondents prefer either noise-cancelling headphones or staying away from the public spaces. Many of “Others” respondents include both of the choices.

    You can have a look at the detailed report here.

    Acting in essence, seasoned actor reveals all

    October 17th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

    By Tuan Nguyen

    After more than forty years working as an actor both on stage and movie, Richard Hughes, 67, has the insider’s knowledge to the business. He sits down with me this weekend and shares some of his thoughts on fundamental principles of acting, the importance of experience as well as the difference between acting on stage and on movie.

    The Essence: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
    Richard Hughes on the essence of acting by Tuan_Nguyen

    Experience and acting
    Richard Hughes (experience and acting) by Tuan_Nguyen

    Stage vs. movie acting

    Richard Hughes (Stage actor and film) by Tuan_Nguyen

    Clip of Richard Hughes and Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Departed” (as ambiance)
    Clip from “the Departed” by Tuan_Nguyen

    Hope absence from first international summit on bedbug

    October 3rd, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

    By Tuan Nguyen

    The first ever international bedbug summit was organized last week in Chicago, Il. Organizers called it a success – it was sold out five weeks in advance with the attendance of hundreds of bug experts, exterminators and scientists – but all bug connoisseurs were puzzled over how to deal with the pest.

    Some findings from the summit didn’t sound like good news at all:

    • Bedbugs are not only associated with squalor. Recent infestations were found in upscale hotels and resorts. Bedbugs spreading, in fact, have been assisted by air travel.
    • Bedbugs are not picky about the blood they swig and they can suck three times their size.
    • Starving isn’t a good tactic. Bedbug can endure long periods in cramped environments without eating or even moving. Yale scientist Joshua Benoit has a live bedbug he has fed once in the past two years and eight month.
    • It’s not cheap to call in professional to deal with bedbug. Home inspection can easily hit $1,000 and there is no guarantee that the insect won’t return.

    This is not a good news for New York City, where bedbug complaints have risen 20 times over the last five years.

    To make the case for MTA’s fare hikes

    September 26th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

    By Tuan Nguyen

    New Yorkers are not happy with MTA’s plan to increase fare starting January next year. MTA officials have been received with frustration and anger during hearings with straphangers of five boroughs so far.

    Populists have reasons to blame MTA to increase fares during a difficult time of economic downturn. If the proposed hikes take effect it will result in an over 30 percent increase over the last five years. The situation is like a nagging pain that has been going on and on. Still, a look at the whole picture, MTA has its reasons for the increase.

    How reasonable is MTA’s plan of fare hikes?

    George Carrano, former senior Vice President of New York City’s Transit Authority and the official responsible for swapping the MetroCard for tokens, explains that NYC’s subway fare is still among the cheapest of major cities worldwide.

    New York City’s subway is also the only one that runs 24/7. In big cities like Tokyo, Berlin, Paris or London most the subway system stops after midnight. In New York, you can return late from party or work at 3 or 4 am in the morning and can still take a subway home. The cost for around the clock travel is a mammoth cost. Construction or maintenance of the system is more intricate: it takes twice as long at least. There have been cases of workers hit by trains during construction as the trains run day and night.

    In a not far away memory, during the 1970s, the subway system of New York derailed or collided on average every 15 days. From the late 1970s, MTA issued bonds to upgrade this wrecked-system and now New Yorkers have the most extensive network in the world with over 660 miles of track. A collateral result is an outstanding debt of more than $31 billion to date.

    According to Carrano, current fare only covers 70% of operation cost for MTA. The rest comes either from federal subsidies or bond issuance. No New Yorker wants to return to the old bad days of a decayed subway system and it’s time for us to accept the inevitability of the hike.

    The bird feeder

    September 19th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

    By Tuan Nguyen

    Paul Zig, 57, has been feeding the birds in Washington Square Park for the last nine years. Every single day, even if it rains or snows, Zig comes here to cater foods to the birds and a squirrel. He gives names to all of them, a flock of 50 All the birds of the Park gather at the exact corner where he usually sits. To Zig, the gift he gets from this is “trust” from the small fowls.