United Daily article on Taichung’s Central Book Store 中央書局

The article itself wasn’t much, but I found the historical reference to Taichung’s Central Books to be of interest. Basically the millionaire guy who founded pchome.com and who is from Taichung, Jan Hung-tze (詹宏志), wants to organize a reading group at the old Central Book Store (中央書局) building. According to him,「中央書局是1927年台灣中部仕紳們共同成立的一個帶有強烈浪漫文化色彩的書局。」Err, so I guess in the same extremely romantic spirit he wanted to form a reading group to contemplate works of (mainly) Western literature. And he did.

The book store, which is almost 100 years old, founded when Taiwan was still part of the Japanese empire, was recently reclaimed (I think it used to be a clinic) and re-opened to much fanfare last October (2020). Pic above, from this detailed CNA article, is canonical image of the founders.

 

The story of “American Po”

American Po (林博文, 美國博仔), so called because he was the son of an American GI and a Taiwanese nightclub hostess, was a mixed-race Taichung gangster active in the 1980s  (Heijin, Chpt 5, p 89). His deadbeat father was in the US Air Force, and his mom, who was 16 at the time, abandoned him or left him to live with his grandmother (uncertain). At a young age he became a member of the 15 Divine Tigers (十五神虎幫), a triad gang that had been active in Taichung City since the 1960s. After that the story is a bit muddled, but after a shootout with Yan Qing-biao’s men (the well-known thug who runs the Ma Zu temple in Dajia) and the police, he was executed by state. There was a film made about him in Taiwan “槍擊犯變英才” (臺灣電視公司, 1985/05/22: Wiki) and one in HK called《美國博仔》 (1991/full film, which is terrible, in mandarin). Found this crappy TW documentary about him too, and also this article is informative.

*Interestingly, there is also an online book called <中台灣黑道風雲> (in 105 chapters!) by a guy called Yue Zhongxing (岳中興 which I assume is a pseudonym) documenting organized crime activities in my adoptive city.