George Takei image via Shutterstock
Yesterday, I celebrated my first official Father’s Day. And what an amazing 8½ months it’s been raising my first child, a baby boy named Dominic.
So far: I’ve fallen asleep in my car outside his daycare. Put a clean diaper on him while a nasty dirty diaper was still trapped inside. And just two days ago the coup de grace, while holding the boy and watching TV I looked down to find a surprise carrot fondue all over my hands (Note: It was not fondue). (More like fon-poo :( ).
Comedian Chris Rock says all daddy gets is “the big piece of chicken.”
However, in honor of my first year of fatherhood, I decided to add some side dishes to that chicken, acknowledge the other Asian American daddies out there doing work, and give them an award (because you know we will put that on our refrigerator and still brag to our mommas about them, even when we’re well into our 40’s).
Without further ado, I give you the finalists for the 2011–2012 Asian American Dad of the Year:
Jimmy Phan, UFC fighter Nam Phan’s dad: Though MMA fighter Nam Phan is not the biggest or baddest dude in the UFC, he is one of the brightest and most oddly charismatic fighters in the organization. And with a starring stint on the TV reality show “The Ultimate Fighter,” two Fight of the Night awards in just four bouts, a devastating body shot, and his Vietnamese heritage, Phan is one of my favorite cage fighters.
Nam Pham image via UFC.com
None of that would be possible if Phan’s father hadn’t escaped Vietnam by boat in the late 1970’s, gone to a refugee camp in Malaysia, raised three sons in a liquor store and then video store, and enrolled Phan in martial arts classes as a youth.
Phan’s next fight is scheduled for August 2012 and will air on national television.
Mike Chang, Sr., Glee dancer Mike Chang Jr.’s dad: So he’s fictional, big deal.
Through the “Asian F” episode, where aspiring professional dancer, Mike Chang Jr. (Harry Shum) gets an A- on a Chemistry exam to the feel-good ending where Mike Jr. gets a dance scholarship to the Joffrey in Chicago, Mike Chang, Sr. (played by Keong Sim) does a full 180-degree reversal during the show’s third season.
Keong Sim image via IMDb
First he wants Junior to quit glee club and his girlfriend, Tina (“the original Asian”) and apply to Stanford’s pre-med program. But after being moved by his son’s dancing during sectionals and some prodding by his wife (Tamlyn Tomita), he changes course and encourages his son’s artistic dream.
Ahhhh, if only it could be so easy as it is on television. Oh wait, this is television. Perfect.
George Takei, Star Trek Legend & Internet Sensation: Though not officially a dad, George Takei would most likely be voted Man I’d Most Want to be My Dad. How many 75-year olds practically own the internet with 2 million facebook followers and consistently crush it with memes like this?
George’s caption: “They’re lion in wait.” Nuff said.
However, there can only be one winner and our winner of the 2011 – 2012 Asian American Dad of the Year, in a landslide vote, goes to:
Gie-Ming Lin, NBA baller Jeremy Lin’s Dad: Linsanity: Are you freaking kidding me?
Six months ago, if you would have told me that an Asian American basketball player (who did not look like Herman Munster) would be dominating the NBA and headlines, I would have taken away your crack pipe.
In Lin’s short 35 game run in the NBA with significant playing time he: averaged 27 points and 8 assists in his first four starts, was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, made the NBA Rising Stars All-Star Game, torched the Los Angeles Lakers for 38 points on national television, hit a game winning three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors, signed major endorsement deals with Volvo and Nike, got a signature sneaker (no small feat in my book), resuscitated the carcass known as the New York Knicks, appeared on back-to-back Sports Illustrated covers, and made Asian Americans feel like they had their very own Christmas holiday every time he played.
Like right now, looking at that Time cover above, it still does not compute in my American Racial Glasses. That might as well be a dang Unicorn shooting a layup it's so unreal.
All the way back to when he was watching grainy tapes of NBA games in Taiwan or learning to play basketball from a book or taking his three sons to the local YMCA, Gie-Ming Lin loved a kid’s game and simply wanted to share that passion with his three sons.
In an ESPN interview when Jeremy Lin was still playing at Harvard and way before the onset of Linsanity, the elder Lin said, “All this time he was growing up, I never thought about Jeremy playing in college or professionally. I just enjoyed watching him play. I'm just so proud of him and so happy for him. I told him my dream already has come true."
When I read that for the first time in 2009, to be honest, I teared up because I had heard of and experienced so much of the opposite coming from an Asian family.
But make no mistake about it, without Gie-Ming Lin there is no Linsanity. And that’s why Gie-Ming Lin is our Dad of the Year.
K-POP is Hyphen's newest blog column, and it’s short for Ky-Phong on Pop Culture. Ky-Phong Tran is an award-winning writer and teacher based in southern California and he’ll be writing about music, art, literature, Los Angeles, fatherhood, and other musings.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!