The official site of author Ed Lin.

Return to Columbia University!

Posted by on Apr 10, 2008 in Asian American, Ed, Writing | 2 comments


This campus looked like crap when I was here. Now it’s all clean!

I had been by before to walk through campus, hit up Koronet for a jumbo slice and some bad service attitude, but Tuesday was my first day back in an undergrad class in 17 years.

I got things going right by stopping at Tom’s Restaurant for a Broadway Special, an off-the-menu shake they make with coffee ice cream, some mint (I think) and other stuff. You order one of those and they know right away you’re an old-timer, pre-Seinfeld, maybe even pre-Suzanne Vega!

I walked into the class and introduced myself to Gary Okihiro. “Oh,” he said slowly, looking at my face like it was melting, “You’re here today?”

“Gary, don’t do this to me, man!” I thought. Turns out he had been sick, recovering from a cold, was a little disoriented.


The class seemed a little sleepy off the bat, so I hit ’em with a selection of Waylaid that was chock full of F-bombs. That loosened them up. Then it was a few chapters of This Is a Bust, followed by a fun and fancy-free Q&A.

I mentioned how this asshole professor at Barnard claimed that I was making mistakes in my papers that a “native English speaker” wouldn’t have made. That was 20 years ago, but I heard from a number of students that similar incidents happened to them or people they knew just last year or this year.

I was psyched that there were three engineering majors there, but no Taiwanese or Taiwanese Americans. Why? “Are you Taiwanese but you buy into Chinese propaganda that you’re really Chinese?” The only responses were snorts.

It was strange being back as a lecturer to a school where I was such a lousy student (attitude-wise, not grade-wise). While I enjoyed talking with the eager participants in the class, I think I related best to the grumpy dude off to the side who slouched in his chair.

I’m coming back to Columbia, this time on the Barnard side, on April 30 for this thing.


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  1. G.S.

    hey Ed, you went back to the old stomping grounds! Congrats on the awesome book (I have it out on the coffee table at all times, so people will ask, which they do since the cover is so cool… I knew it was a Corky photo immediately). Have fun at Barnard tomorrow & say Hi to Alvin for me.

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