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Jeff Quinn's "Man On The Scene: Kaliu"--Insights into Taiwan and East Asia

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Quinn, Jeff. (2011) Man On The Scene: Kaliu , U.S.A. : Create Space
Books, pp. 282  http://www.manonthescene.org/index.php/kaliu/  

" Kaliu" is a word in the Matsu/Fujian dialect--and also used in Taiwan--which means to enjoy one's stay or enjoy one's self. According to the author, Jeff Quinn, visitors to the Matsu region of Taiwan are sometimes told to "kaliu their stay."

With Man On The Scene: Kaliu, Jeff Quinn has taken time to write and publish another important work of his--as part of his series entitled "Man on the Scene".  One can see other examples of  Jeff's publishing links at:




Before I begin a review of Jeff's newest Man-on-the-Scene work, I would like to allow Jeff to share a bit, in his own words, about his memories and the reflections on his corners of Asia  as revealed in one of the historical interpretations of life & in both the  Matsu Archipelago and  Taiwan, i.e. in the legends of the Little B. People.


Concerning founding myths of Taiwan, Jeff Quinn shares, "[c]onsensus has it [that] the first occupants of what would later be called Taiwan arrived 5,000 to10,000 years ago. It is surmised that the northern tribes hailed from modern-day Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia, while the southern aboriginal groups display Mayalo/polynesian roots. But then, nobody seems to know for sure."

Quinn then raises the question in his own rye-humor, "Five to ten thousand years simply "lost" to history. What went on? Family bonding? War, peace, and the occasional headhunting outing? I don't know about you, but I've always found these "lost" years intriguing. Lacking documentation or a written history, these people, who lived for thousands of years receive a paragraph or two in the annals of history, while those living in Taiwan for brief blinks of an eye, such as the Spanish, receive ten times the inky output. After saying this, I'm about to do the same, as I know squat about these mysterious hunter-gatherer types who presumably lived wild and exciting, albeit short, lives, scampering around the island doing their best to stay alive."

Jeff proceeds in his stream-of-consciousness style, observing that there is "an amusing historical aside concerning a group known as the Little Black People (no I didn't make that up) to share. It is speculated that the group were descendents of the Negrito race, dispersed widely throughout the world at the time. I must confess up front that there is a fair amount of debate whether the Negrito race ever made it to Taiwan. Furthermore, there is also a fair amount of debate whether there was actually a tribe known as the Little Black People (sometimes referred to as the Short Black People) living on the island of Taiwan at all."

Interestingly, "[I]f you ask the aboriginal Saisiyat people, there is no doubt as to whether the LBP ever resided in Taiwan. The Saisiyat biannually celebrate a raucous ritual known as Pas-ta'ai, said to appease an ancient curse placed on their tribe by the LBP centuries earlier. The curse was believed to cause crop failure and to inflict general misfortune and ill will on the Saisiyat. Accordant to Saisiyat lore, the LBP once dwelled within the caves of a certain steep ravine in central Taiwan. It was said the LBP were extremely knowledgeable in the ways of agriculture. They were also allegedly keen at throwing bashes and partying. Much to the Saisiyat's sorrow, the LBP also had an uncanny pension for accosting young Saisiyat women by making lewd advances and flirting whenever they got the chance. One day, it was said, a certain faction of the LBP went too far by "molesting' (what I infer as raping) a young Saisiyat princess and her handmaidens."

            The story doesn't end there and the Jeff Quinn continues to interview about half the population of Taiwan to get at the truth on this early history of his new-but-temporary  homeland. Eventually, after various anecdotes and alternative historical narrations have been shared and pursued,  Quinn asks the big question, " So, did the Little Black People live in Taiwan or not? It seems doubtful that we'll ever know for sure. In 2004, Taiwanese Vice President, Annette Lu, made the bold, if not misguided statement, that an extinct race of "black pygmies' (the LBP) were the original race to inhabit Taiwan. As you can probably imagine, this didn't go over very well with some of the other aboriginal tribes still living on the island. Goofy or not, the celebrations continue today, taking place every two years during the 10 th lunar month, with larger festivals held every ten years. The celebrations last three full days and are said to resemble dance marathons."

NOTE:  Jeff notes, "It appears the Little Black People also roamed around China for a time. Known by the Chinese during the Three Kingdom Periods (AD 220 to AD 260) as "black dwarfs", these people were said to possess dark skin, curly hair, and broad noses. Whether they were related to the LBP or not remains a mystery."

            Another great sample of the  writing genre created by Jeffery Michael Quin is provided in the chapter in Man on the Scene, Kaliu on "beetle nuts" --a topic I never once covered (nor observed) when living in and writing on the Matsu Islands and in Taiwan. In short, like any fly-on-the-wall perspectives on Asia, we (I)  ignore what is being spit on the sidewalk in front of us.

This acknowledgement that I did not personally  observe the usage and abuse beetle nuts does not mean that I did not  have the awareness and the eye for the signs of this sort of substance while living in Taiwan.  I read, in fact,  quite a bit in Amy C. Liu's, TAWAIN A TO Z: The Essential Cultural Guide, about the commonness of this addictive chewing habit  in Southern  regions of Taiwan

As well, I would have to say that the Taiwanese were more likely to hide or be quite  secretive about their habits in front of us school teachers on Beigan island, where I lived 7 miles north of where Jeff Quinn did.  (Likewise teachers have had to hide all-kinds of  bad habits, such as smoking or excessive drinking, from their pupils and others on the same island.  Such is the life of those living and working in small town.) The silence of peoples on the northernmost island of Matsu, where I lived, reflected  a desire to not appear too self-critical of their own nation or peoples in the presences of a foreigner.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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