Friday, December 21, 2007

Heroes with spray cans

I recently received Wall and Peace by Banksy, a subversive English graffiti artist, from a good friend (Thanks Trang!) and I do believe I've found my newest hero.

Here are some explanations of a few of his works:

-On a blank wall in a few different locations, he tags "By order; National Highways Agency; This wall is a designated graffiti area; Please take your litter home; EC REF. Urba 23/366."

-Calling the wall separating the occupied territories of Israel and Palestine "the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti artists," Banksy went on a spray painting spree on the Palestinian side with images of paradise behind imaginary windows and breaks in the wall.

-Cows, pigs, and sheep can also be walls.

-Jumping into zoo pens because those places also have walls that could use some decor.

-An Apache helicopter wearing a giant, girly bow at the rotor.

-Fake paintings smuggled into the Tate, Louvre, MoMA, and New York Met. Fake artifacts placed on the walls of various natural history museums.

-Planting shark dorsal fins in lakes to freak out the kids. Good times.

-"People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. People in glass cities shouldn't fire missiles."

-Replacing Paris Hilton's CD release with her face replaced by a chihuahua's head.

And the greatest thing about this guy is that he's anonymous. Effing anonymous! Not to avoid being arrested and being fined thing by authorities, I'm sure he wants it this way to avoid being arrested in another sense entirely. A revolutionary of a different kind whose philosophy fits perfectly with today's urban societies. A Deep Throat who tags awesome shit. A modern artist who doesn't have to explain his work and hide behind through god-awful pretentious interpretations. A true to life V. A Dennis the Menace whose Mr. Wilson is the man.

You have your heroes like Spiderman, Bruce Lee, and Al Gore, and then you have your heroes who change the world with spray cans wherever he damn well pleases. Man, sheer malevolent genius.

Oh, and on the back of the book, a quote by a Metropolitan Police Spokesperson: "There's no way you're going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Indisputable proof that I graduated high school


cash advance

Who needs an effing diploma. S-M-R-T.

In other news, I'm currently deciding what else to do with this blog until I take my next great adventure. Maybe I'll just bullshit until sparkly gems come out of my ass.

Monday, November 19, 2007

After all is said and done...

... I'm back to where I started, but definitely not in the metaphorical sense. Traveling alone was a great decision and I loved that I left without a plan.

Flying into London sitting cozy in first class was an incredible stroke of luck and kickass omen of the events that were to come. Going wherever I pleased unencumbered by, well, anything is definitely how I want to live. Admiring city history, style, architecture, and the womens... there's just so much soul, beauty, and class to experience in this world. Memorizing bus and metro lines gave my sense of direction a punch to the face, but I eventually got used to it. But then getting lost half the time was part of the experience. Staying at hostels was great. Staying with family was great. With the former, I met people from all over the world and touring cities with these strangers felt entirely natural. With the latter, I finally had the chance to be a proper nephew and cousin by actually existing. And now, reminiscing like this is something I'll be able to do whenever I like. Oh, and two weeks vacation a year is absolute bullshit.

Before I left, world traveling was always my ideal of how to live a great life. The six weeks I spent in Europe was an absolute reaffirmation. Needless to say, I'm addicted. Of course bouts of loneliness would hit me every now and then when I wasn't with family, but I also appreciated the times when it was just me and my camera. And here's the work I have to show for it. Enjoy and cheers to mortality.


Brussels & Belgium:

Berlin & Munich:

Florence & Tuscany:



Paris, Annecy & Antony:


Monday, November 5, 2007

The last days

Thursday: Barcelona beaches and parks. Walked the awesome La Rambla again as well. Night train out back to Geneva where I traded travel stories with a Spaniard working man.

Friday: Arrived at effing 5:30 in the morning, took the number 9 bus back to my favorite place in Geneva, and went back to sleep after my cousins left for school. From there it was a day of play.

Saturday: Back to temple in Ecublens to commemorate 100 days since my uncle's passing away. Found out a lot about my mom's side of the family and I'm grateful to have had the chance to listen to the stories I would never be able to hear otherwise. From there it was a quick visit to an uncle's office before heading back to Geneva to shoot a round of pool, lose at multiple games of table hockey, and showing my cousins who rules the ping pong table.

Sunday: Big breakfast, small lunch with the family from Geneva before saying the inevitable adieus. Quick flight back and rested up at the hostel. Afterwards was meeting up again with Michel, who I met at the start of my trip. Glad to see he was doing well. Arranged plans for the next day and walked the night streets of London alone with my D40 and thoughts. Two such thoughts I'll get deeper into another time: if time is money, why are so many people focused on the latter? Also,

Monday: Woke up entirely too early before heading out to stock up on the best shower soap ever. After that was another free tour. Turns out though that the tour had been revamped a bit, so I didn't get to see everything as advertised, but still a good time was had. Also met Ellie on the tour, a fashion designer from Seoul. The two of us ended up walking Covent Garden, Picadilly Square, and other shopping areas before parting ways. From there, I met up with Michael again at Viet Grill. We ate entirely too much with another of his friends before going to a coworker's place to eat and drink some more. Nice quality time with Vietnamese and observing how my peoples fare here in London.

Tuesday: Woke up, made my way to the airport, bought a few books, had a British breakfast, and boarded the plane. No first class this time and I didn't want to press my luck again, but it was an empty plane. I passed on four seats along the aisle and chose two seats near the window as I stayed up all the entire time and watched movies then entire flight, including an awesome Hong Kong shooter called "The Exiled", a Japanese time travel comedy, and the vomit-inducing "Spider-man 3". I landed, met my mom and the rest of my family at the airport, and arrived home.

My time traveling, this time around, was over.

Next up: Thoughts on traveling alone, highlights, pictures, and figuring out what comes next.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Can´t get enough of Switzerland

Blazing fast update before I check out of my room here in Barcelona.

Saturday: Finally met up with Melody despite the ongoing strike. Take that you socialists. Mel and I walked around the Luxembourg Gardens before I took off my own to explore Paris after sunset. We met up and took another walk through the streets of history.

Sunday: Ate a whole bunch with Melody and her friends. Tried to leave Paris for Switzerland but failed.

Monday: Woke up to catch the first train for Lausanne and succeeded! Vegged for the rest of the day with the aunts and cousins.

Tuesday: Zermatt and the Matterhorn! Short train ride that night to Geneva.

Wednesday: Tour through Cologny and hanging out.

Thursday: Hanging out.

Friday: Hanging out.

Saturday: Hike through the woods, bounce house with the best view ever, a hot spring bath that unfortunately did not include falling snow, and big family dinner.

Sunday: Walk though Lake Geneva, tea, and bowling.

Monday: Walked my cousins to school, packed up, and said my see you laters before a night train out to Barcelona.

Tuesday: Woke up to a gorgeous sunrise along the Spanish coast while on the train, slept for a bit more, arrived in Barcelona, and toured the city sites, coastline, eateries, and bars with hostelfolk. Also struggled to find a flight back to London to catch my fight back home. Original plan was to get to Sevilla and fly from there, but tickets would cost me 300 euro. This is because the city is having its holiday season and hostels across the city are shutting down and people are flying out. Lesson learned here is at the very least to plan the escape route. So I looked up flights from Madrid or Lisbon and they ended up costing the same or more. Current and cheapest plan is now to catch a night train back to Geneva and fly out on Sunday afternoon. Third time to Switzerland and I´m happy.

Wednesday: Gaudi Park, tour of Barcelona Stadium (where Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry make their stand) on an off day, hanging out with hostel people, night walk to the top of Montjuic, and more bars. Mambo Tango: best hostel this entire trip.

Next up! Last time through Geneva, remembering, remembering the 5th of Novembering, and returning home.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another strike day in Paris...

Today, I mowed my aunt's backyard.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Taking it slow in Paris.

The French metro workers are on strike today, and as much as I would like to join them with my bad French, I can't get to where they are without using the trains. That means its time for an update.

The rest of Saturday: Annecy with family. Very different from traveling alone. Especially when there are hovering adults with wandering children to look after. Children being me. Man, my younger cousins are so obedient it makes me look bad, which means its time to be a bad influence. Went back home, packed up my things, and took the last train of the night to Paris.

Getting off the train, I walked to the end of the platform, and greeted my uncle, who took me right upstairs to Le Train Bleu (, before heading home. Right away though, I got a sense of his personality from the way he walked around a place as decadent as Le Train Bleu: it was like he owned the place.

Sunday: Tour through Paris by car with my uncle, highlighted by illegal parking and driving, open air markets all over town and walking through Montmartre during the Fete des Vendanges. We saw pretty much everything else in a blur, but I was able to have an espresso at his bar/restaurant and meet a few of his friends. Got home for dinner with my aunt before taking off to tour through Paris at night, but he received a business call as we were leaving the house. He dropped me off at the Bastille with a map and a good luck. From there, I used my incredible skills of getting lost around town. Definitely and by far my favorite thing to do.

Monday: First day in Paris on my own. Free tour where I received a history refresher course of Paris and met a few more peoples. Went to my uncle's office near Tuileries, did some more wandering, and met my uncle and aunt back at their home. I packed up my things and moved to stay with my other family outside Paris in Antony. Dinner of couscous, catching up with my cousin, whiskey on the rocks, and remembering my uncle.

Tuesday: Tour through Paris with my aunt. Trip to Versailles was postponed due to weather and Louvre was closed so we went into the Petit Palace, walked down the Champs-Elysees, saw ugly people shop at the Louis Vuitton store, visited the Arc de Triomphe, and climbed the obligatory Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday: Second day in Paris by myself. Pompidou Center, inside and to the top of Notre Dame, a lot more wandering, cafes, the Louvre bookstore after passing on the Louvre, and then back home again.

Today: Sticking it out in Antony. So far, it's been grocery shopping and the mall. Suburbs are suburbs, I guess. Not much planned for the rest of the day either, but this downtime will do me some good to sort through all the sensory overload from the past few weeks. At least that's how I'm fooling myself into not complaining too much. I take it back; I got to walk through town with a baguette. Another highlight of my trip.

Ah well, I've still got two and a half weeks left. Hmm... More time than that even if I extend again? Who knows...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Swiss Family Rob-Nguyen-son

With a title like that, I'd gladly take a punch to the face. I'm a proud Tran, but my mom's maiden name is Nguyen.

Monday: Arrived in Lausanne and spent a quiet day roaming the city with my aunt. We walked around Lake Geneva, went into the Olympic Museum for a bit, and visited her old university campus. Went to the city shopping center, did some grocery shopping, came home for dinner with my uncle, and had some relaxing downtime to recoup.

Tuesday: Pilatus at Luzern! Met up with my aunt's friend and now my friend, Hien, in the morning and headed out for a two and a half hour drive to Luzern. Parked the car, had a small picnic on the edge of Lake Luzern. Half an hour later, a boat coincidentally marked for Pilatus pulls up alongside our bench. We rush to buy tickets, board the boat, look at the time, and wonder how we're supposed to get down the mountain once we get up there. We land at our stop where I met a New Zealander who joined us as we took the world's steepest cogwheel train (48° angle) up to the top of Pilatus at an elevation of 7,000 feet. The day was still a bit cloudy, but the view overlooking Luzern and its lake was breathtaking. If only I could put up pictures to show everyone... We stayed as long as we could before taking a panoramic gondolin down the mountain, (passing by toboggan tracks and suspension rope park that I will definitely go to the next time I'm in town) and riding the bus back to the starting point.

From there, we did some siteseeing before walking into an absolutely gorgeous Chinese restaurant that was owned and operated by Hien's good friends. Shanghai 3 is the name. There was marble flooring and statues, huge bonsai trees at every turn, decorated ceilings with Chinese lanterns, and a salt water fish tank that must've been taken straight out of the Great Barrier Reef since it cost $300k for the custom L-shaped design, live coral plants, and huge variety of fish. If only I could put up pictures to show everyone... Food was damned good too. And to end the day, we talked for a while with the owner who ended up not letting us pay for what must have been at least a $200 dinner. Gotta say, that day was a good day.

Wednesday: Valorbe and it's underground river! Another day with just me and my aunt. We arrived at the town of Valorbe (pop. 3087 and some cows) via train, hiked through a serene and postcard-like forest, and arrived at the mouth of a cave. And like any good tourist destination, we paid for admission, received a walkthrough guide, and followed the path to the sites of beautiful stalactites, stalacmites, and a roaring river beneath our feet. We took another path back home to an even more postcard-like section of the forest and headed back home where I met with another aunt for dinner. Oh, and I forked over 200 bucks to stay an additional two weeks to be an international hobo of mystery.

Thursday: Jungfraujoch! An elevation of 11, 782 ft. is pretty cozy by train, I have to say. My aunt and I boarded a train bound for Interlaken in the morning and took the Jungfraubahn the rest of the way. I met a Thai brother and sister on the train and we all smiled and waved as our train was being filmed from an old-school helicopter. Probably for the next Swiss movie smash hit. Or a tourist video. I have a hard time telling them apart. We arrive at the top and explore. First up was the panoramic deck that froze every one of my expletives off. But it was worth it!

The Aletsch glacier to the south, the view, breathing above the clouds... Amazing. Second was getting to the bottom of the observation area and walking around. Amazing times two. Third and last was walking through a tunnel dug through the glacier complete with ice statues. Amazing divided by two, plus 23 for effort. Made our way back home after a stop in the town of Thun, and slept very, very well.

On a side note, my ATM card had expired at the end of September. Forgot to get this taken care of before I left, but what can I say, I live on the edge. Thanks Sister for providing me with means to buy stuff like food.

Friday: My grandma's temple where she used to be a Buddhist nun and Geneva. Really brought back some great memories from when I was last there in 1995. Afterwards, my aunt and I took a boat out to Yvoirre before taking another boat the rest of the way to Geneva where we met up with my uncle, aunt, and cousins (2, the oldest one of which was recently married) for dinner.

Saturday: Met up with more family (uncle, aunt, and four cousins) for a trip to Annecy in France. Way too tired to write the rest of this now, but my cousins are as awesome as mountains.

Next up: Je parle Francais but not really and other such adventures in the land of Pareeeee.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Berlin, Munich, and Florence (Part last)... now with more Rome

Alrighty, I finally have some downtime to catch up on my trip up until today, so here goes:

Oktoberfest! It was a wonderful thing, really. Had more than enough with a litre, but I cheered with strangers and the business was squarely done. Sobered up with more great food at the top of a hill overlooking the festival, headed back to the metro station and somehow ended up at the city square where all the stores were closed and street performers were making their rounds. I caught my night train to Florence and slept like a person who slept well. Man, my similes are just too awesome. Considering there were six of us in that dinky space, I'm rather proud of my sleeping skills.

I woke up to the sound of one of my bunkmates telling me I was now in Florence, so I packed up and made my way to my hostel while still tired as a tired person who just woke up from sleeping on a train. I checked in, showered, and hit the streets. Before I saw any of the major tourist sites, I bought my first of too many gelattos. I couldn't stop eating those godamn delicious ripoffs. If I ended up homeless, I would be forced to sell my body so I could keep eating gelattos instead of spending it on cheap booze and cheaper crackwhores like a proper gentleman of class. In any case, I saw the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Dei Pitti, and Pizzale Michelangelo. I walked back to my hostel and ended up meeting Rick and Jackie, a set of friends from Hong Kong. We chatted for a while and they told me all about what they had done while I was siteseeing and talked me into following their day plan.

So the next morning, I woke up and met up with a group of eight others, including a friendly couple from San Jose and six girls (!) studying in Florence and Spain for a bike tour through Tuscany from 10 until 5 with guides Andy and Keith. A bus ride to the countryside was followed by wine tasting at an 11th century castle and winery, a downhill bike ride to an idyllic Italian restaurant, a grueling uphill climb back to the castle, and bus ride back to the starting point. I can't begin to describe the scenery, so the pictures will have to talk for me, but as you've all noticed, there's definitely a lack thereof for the time being. Check back at another time, but I wholeheartedly recommend biking through Tuscany with six college girls to everyone. Met up with Rick and Jackie for dinner where I had the best lasagna of my life, met a few more people back at the hostel, and chilled before getting to bed.

Rome followed the next morning after a brief but beautiful train ride. Checked into my hostel and Romed around. Did everyone get that pun there? Yes? Good. I now officially give everyone the right to punch me in the face if I ever say anything like that again. First up was the Piazza Venezia, followed by the Fontana di Trevi, Pantheon, and back to the Piazza Venezia and then back to the Fontana di Trevi. Completely different sites at night. Went back to the hostel exhausted. Highlight of my first day in town was the weather. It was cloudy, rained for a bit, and warm, which made for perfect conditions for a thunderstorm. Watching lightning streak across the sky while sitting underneath the Pantheon... amazing.

Second day in Rome started with a trip to the Piazza di Spagna before crossing town via the metro line to Circo Massimo. From there, I made my way to Trastevere where I stumbled on an Italian farmer's market filled with free samples. Delicious free samples. Walked back north to see a few street performers at the Piazza Navona, walked east for a third trip to Piazza Veneyia to take an elevator to the top for the best view of Rome, and then walked southeast towards the Collosseo. As the first major bummer of the trip, the Colloseo had closed 15 minutes before I got there. Godamn delicious gelattos... Oh well, gives me an excuse to come back. Took a night train out that night where I was promptly and temporarily adopted by a Swiss German family. But it's okay since I get confused for Swiss German all the time anyway.

I didn't get to meet many people while in Rome, but it was fine and I still enjoyed myself. Thus concludes my thoughts on traveling alone. I'm thinking I shouldn't say anything conclusive about this until I get back home so I'll return to this topic whenever that time comes.

Train arrived in Zurich the next morning (today), I said goodbye to the Haegglig clan, and made my way to Geneva where I met up with my aunt.

Next up! My trek through the Alps, my expired credit card, and confirmation if I extend my trip long enough to be back in London to remember, remember, the fifth of November or end up going home on schedule.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Berlin, Munich, and Florence (Part 3)

Ok, I've got some time to kill from my free 30 minutes worth of internet use to catch up on my trip. I'm starting to forget things from all this sensory overload, so I better get this all out before the days blur too much.

After the free tour, people were encouraged to tip, since I guess these people have to make a living and eat or something like that. Whatever. Had some dinner with a few more friends (Jono and Kim from Vancouver, Sy and Zoe from Australia, and Stewart from Glasgow) that night before hitting up another bar.

The next day was spent wandering the city again, the highlight of which was drooling over the Audi R8. Met up with bar mates from the night before and rolled out to Brandenburg Gate again to celebrate the anniversary of the reunification of Germany. Free concert, great food, good German times.

Next morning out was a train ride to Munich and this party they have called Oktoberfest. Apparently the whole festival was started as a wedding anniversary party that went overboard. I arrived at the train station, stashed my pack in a locker, took the metro one stop south to the party. It was effing huge. Germans were dressed to the nines in their traditional garb, carny rides and foods were German flavored, and the beer tents were rocking; and let it be known that there's nothing quite like witnessing a beer tent band play '99 Luftballons'.

Ack! Time's up!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Berlin, Munich, and Florence (Part 2)

Ok, I have about 15 minutes to try and cram my past few days before this hostel starts charging me for internet use. On top of all that, I had some wine. And by some I mean too much. In any case, the story continues:

... panoramic view of the city. From there, it was the Berlin wall, Holocaust Memorial, and then to Brandenburg Gate where the marathon finished and where I had bratwurst, fries with mayo, and great beer. Next up was the Reichstag and the absolutely gorgeous spiraled walkway that leads up to another view of the city. Later that night was a pub night out with Lei, a Chinese fellow living in Oxford who finished aforementioned marathon, and Maibe and Lorazo, a Spanish set of sister and brother.

Next day was free tour day. Now Berlin at first wasn't exactly the prettiest of places, but going through this tour really opened up the city for all the history behind all the sites I saw the day before, from WWI to the reunification of East and West Germany.

Bah... time's running out. I'll try continuing this tomorrow or in Switzerland.

Cheers, all.

Berlin, Munich, and Florence (Part 1)

I'm writing this in the hostel basement with Florentinian traffic whizzing overhead. Not exactly the most serene of places to write an entry, but I better get this out quick so I can hop on a train to Rome.

After my stay in Brussels, I headed out to Berlin via night train. Couldn't get a sleeper train, so I got another uncomfortable night's worth of sleep in a standard second class seat. I chatted with a Palestinian primary physician living in London before stepping out and getting promptly lost. I eventually found my way to my hostel after learning ze underground. From there, I dropped off my things, met Ofer and Jess, and we walked around town from there. There was also a marathon that day, so we got to see a bit of that before we went to the Jewish Museum, to the top of the Daimler-Chrysler building using the fastest lift in Europe that offered a ...

Hold on, people are waiting to use this thing, so I'll continue this in Rome!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brussels and Bruges

After arriving at my relatives' house along the outskirts of Brussels, I had a quick breakfast of toast and pate and dropped off my pack in my room my uncle converted from a garage. Having enough time to catch my breath, my aunt, my cousin, and I took tram 4 back past the main station to see the city sites. We immediately heard music coming from the city square stepping out of the station and it turns out that the president of Congo was in the city that day. And I was too, but it wasn't as if I made a big deal out of it.

We took a break for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant before visiting a comic book museum. I would've been geeked out of my mind except the museum covered more European and less American. We visited a few more sites, I drooled over the artisan chocolate, waffle, and beer shops, and arrived home. My uncle and younger cousin had come home from work and I caught up with them for a bit before we left to visit my great-aunt a few blocks down. In short, I was told to be good. Dinner that night was mussels and fries. Amazingly delicious mussels and fries in amazingly copious amounts. Now when I talk to myself, I can reminisce and wax poetic about that dinner.

While I was getting ready for bed that night, I was reminded that growing up without a big Vietnamese family around really sucked. But all the way out here in Brussels was an island of comfort and warmth I was able to call home, if even for a pinch of time. I was fed entirely too well, my clothes still smell of their laundry detergent as I write this in Berlin, and the conversations we shared were especially meaningful for all that distance that lays between us.

The next day was Bruges, a small town an hour's drive away. I already know that I'll spend a lot of time talking about this town when I get home, so look out for pictures when I can get them in. We did a lot of walking, had frikandele and fries for lunch and waffle for desert. I picked up a box of chocolates from one of those artisan chocolatiers and a kickass scarf since my Southern California ass didn't pack the winter clothes. I mean, what the heck are winter clothes anyway? Drove home, picked up some groceries from a Carrefour, had super-yummy chicken au gratin for dinner, and passed out.

The next day was spent with my cousins. I said goodbye to my aunt and uncle that morning and we rolled out. First stop was Waterloo and the 226-step hill overlooking the battle site where Napoleon was pwned. Second stop was the Atomium and Mini-Europe. In between was lunch at Quick, the Belgian fast food of choice. I took a tour of my older cousin's house, rested up a bit, and went to watch my younger cousin play indoor soccer. Dinner of crepes, drop-off and goodbye at the train station on the sleeper train, and I was on my to Berlin.

When I first arrived, I only thought I would be there for a day since Belgium was such a small country and I didn't know much about it. But the knee-jerk reaction I received when I first told my aunt how long I would be staying led to an immediate change of plans mid-sentence. As a result, I ended up staying three days. With every day I travel, though, I'm finding that I'm really glad I didn't plan this trip. I miss out on ridiculously good deals, but I'm earnestly spending my time. I realize I won't see everything I want, but I know I'll be back. But with warmer clothes and possibly a blow dryer to heat up toilet seats in the morning.

Next up: my stay in Berlin, including thoughts on traveling alone, wurst, and beer of course.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Getting to Brussels...

So instead of going to sleep after dinner like I planned, I ended up going to a pub with a new set of international superfriends. Fast forward to an army regiment of Stella Artois and Corona bottles and you can see why I missed my train. What I had to do instead was take an adjacent train out followed by a cab ride for the rest of the way while slightly buzzed. Surprisingly enough, I was on time for this train. The ride itself, like the movie "Crash", wasn't anything special. At the train station, I decided to share the cab with a pair of young English drunks. The stories they shared were of the typical "I was so drunk..." variety, but they were peppered with enough English colloquailisms and accent to make them hilarious.

I arrived at the airport at around midnight and saw all these people lounging around. And by lounging around, I mean sleeping in the most uncomfortable of positions. Except for this one couple who somehow had been hit by the preparedness stick and had the foresight to bring an air mattress. They wouldn't share so I picked a spot between the check-in counter and the restroom. I know, my real estate skills are unsurpassed. Surprisingly enough though, I passed out. But let me tell you, it wasn't as glamorous as I make it sound.

Three hours of sleep later, I woke up, bought a cup of coffee to shake off the chills of sleeping on tile, checked in, flew out out of London, and landed near Brussels. I hopped on a bus to the main train station in the heart of the city. I then picked up a map and realize that (a) I can't read French, (b) I don't know where I am to begin with, and (c) that I'm a bit delirious from the whole not sleeping bit so it would be best to try neither (a) nor (b).

Lucky for me though, I call up my family here in Brussels and they tell me what I need to do. I bought a metro ticket, got confused as hell deciphering the metro map, called my aunt again, went "ohh", got on tram 4 towards Stalle, and got off at the Wagon stop to a warm greeting from an aunt and cousin I hadn't seen in 12 years.

Next up, my stay in Brussels, another moment of personal profundity, sitting on the coldest toilet seat I've ever sat on, and eating too many mussels... Waaaaaay too many mussels...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On my time in London...

Today would be my fourth day in London and it's definitely been an entirely worthwhile launching point for my first tour through Europe. I've picked up a lot of tips and recommendations from all the people I've met and done most of the main tourist attractions. I better recap before I forget all the things I've done:

Friday/Saturday: Flew first class after missing my flight. Arrived at Heathrow Saturday afternoon local time. Took a 45 minute trip to the Swiss Cottage stop along the Jubilee Line and promptly got lost looking for my hostel. Found said hostel a little while later, dropped off my things, and started wandering. Ended up at a local supermarket, witheld a strong desire to whip out the camera, but was still amazed at everything on the shelves. Right along the road was a small shopping mall. I have a very strong interest on how locals go about their days and what more of a microcosm of local society than markets. Ate Indian, headed back, and passed out.

Sunday: Woke up, had breakfast and met my first of many Aussies. Studied the Underground and made my way to Brick Lane, a popular flea market, and then to the British Museum. I was also lucky enough to be close enough to the Gherkin and Lloyd's Building so I had a great time drooling between the two spots. Was still suffering through jetlag so the British Museum was much too rushed. Found an awesome comic book store on the way home so I had to make the detour. Crashed and then befriended Michael, a French Vietnamese, after waking up. He had just come in from Paris and he was in town to look for a job as a waiter. We ended up going to the Soho district in a quest for Vietnamese restaurants in the Chinatown area and I ordered a bowl of chow fun noodles in beef broth passed off as pho. Oh well. Had a few drinks, played pool with an Italian brother-in-arms comp sci student, Marco, and met Constantine, a super-energetic and jovial German, and Talib, a San Franciscoan studying in Amsterdam.

Monday: Breakfast and befriended another Aussie, David, who was 4.5 months into his 6 month vacation. Lucky bastard. Got plenty of travel advice and we ended up heading out to Tate Modern to meet up with his friends he met while touring Asia. Walked along the River Thames, spotted the Globe Theatre, the Millenium Bridge, and then Tate Modern itself. We went in, went out for lunch, then I met Patti and Ben. Had tea at a cafe overlooking the London skyline, rode the London Eye, and walked past Parliament and Big Ben. I parted ways with them and headed back to the hostel while they went to watch Spamalot. Met up with Michael again and he had a good lead on a job at another Vietnamese restaurant. We headed northwest to a rather dodgy part of town, but ended up at a great dining spot. The food was amazing and I was seriously surprised. I had no idea there were even Vietnamese people in London. There was, however, a slight glitch with Michael's opportunity, but we were told to go to a sister restaurant a few blocks away. We sat down and talked with the restaurant owner who ended up giving Michael a shot at a waitering gig and even offered him a place to crash until he could find a place of his own. Showered, passed out.

Tuesday: Checkout day. Had breakfast, packed up my things, said goodbye and good luck to Michael, and headed to the station where I met Jin, a Chinese girl from Beijing who had finished studying international business in Scotland, published romance novels, and had just come from Palmer's Lodge. We ended up spending a majority of the day together and had a lot of fun walking around since she was much more familiar with town than I. First stop, though, was my second hostel, Ace Hotel. Got lost on the way, found it, dropped off my things, and headed out. Took a gander at St. Paul's Cathedral, walked the Millenium Bridge, took my second trip through Tate Modern, bought a kickass messenger bag, ate the best tuna and cheddar sandwich ever at Eat., toured through the Tower of London, walked across the Tower Bridge, posed in front of Platform 9 3/4, went inside the British Library, got locked out of the Underground, and walked a disgusting amount to the next-nearest tube station. We parted ways as she went to see a classical music concert and I headed back to my hostel. Met a Spanish girl named Joanna, had dinner, and you guessed it: passed out.

Today will be my last day in London, and I've pretty much done all I can do for now since I've run into a slight complication with my flight out to Brussels. More to that in a bit. Today, I had a failed venture to find Wimbledon before going to the Design Museum. I checked out some awesome pieces of architecture done by Zaha Adid ( and there was also an exhibit here of anti-consumerism and design with a greater purpose other than catering to big business. After that, what did I do but end up in a shopping quarter. One of the stores I really, really loved was Muji, an English/Japanese design company (

Anyway, I booked my flight to Brussels for 6:10 AM to save about fifty bucks, I also found out that I should be leaving for the airport at around 2:00 AM to catch the train. Problem is, the underground closes at 12:30 AM and I have to somehow learn the bus system. So what I'm going to do instead is go grab some dinner, pass out, check out at around 11:30 AM, take the tube and train to the airport and bum it until I'm on the other side of the English Channel. In the worst case, Ryanair will create a first class and thereafter upgrade me if I miss my flight.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On missing my flight...

I missed my flight and was really bummed while waiting on standby for the next flight. But apparently if you miss your flight, you get bumped up to first class on the next flight out. Google search for images of Virgin Atlantic upper class, and picture me in one of the seats and that's how it went.

Flight was amazingly comfortable. Met a few people in line, watched Ocean's 13, had a 4-course dinner with a Heineken, converted my seat into a bed to sleep for a few hours, watched The Namesake during breakfast, and checked out of Heathrow under VIP classification. Pictures will come up as soon as I can upload, my friends.

It took me about 45 minutes to get to my hostel through the tube system, but I'm alive, jet-lagged, and ready to explore. More than that though, I think I've already found what I set out to look for: getting past the fear and anxiety of not knowing what to expect and where to go at each transition.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On clearing the static...

Dear Europe,

I sold my family's house of 10 years. I bought a smaller house. I quit my job. I invested. And now, I'm free.

At least for the moment, so I'm making it count.

I'm leaving in less than two days on my own and I'll be gone for a month or more depending on what your local lawmen have to say. I have no plan and don't plan on making one. All I know is that I'll be under a different slice of sky and that I'm going to find something with your help. Not sure what it is yet, but I'll know it when I see it.

Funny thing, though, is that I'm not feeling that this is really happening yet. I was nervous for a while because I didn't have a plan, excited for a different while for the same reasons, and now... I'm just hungry.

Oh well. I'll see you soon and thanks in advance.


P.S.: Stop being so damned expensive. I know the conversion rate really isn't your fault, but give a brotha a break.

Friday, August 3, 2007

On the DC18...

We've all heard stories about how women inspire men to become great. Painters create priceless works of art. Wars are waged. Songs become classics and everyone knows the words. Heroes become legends. Stalkers receive restraining orders of epic diameters. All for the women they love. Well, girls don't seem to be interested in me presently, so I gotta rely on good ol' superficial pleasure to distract me from things that should really matter. And let me tell you, it's amazing.

I've had my eye on the Nikon D40, a new computer to throw on Linux, a 50" plasma with more contrast than Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson, a nice blazer to attract the ladies and inspire the stalker scribe in me, the Audi A3 sportback (the R8 would be nice too) in silver and a new pair of sneakers. So what did I buy? Let me introduce you to the Dyson DC18:

OMG, so awesome. And like all things awesome, Dyson has a story that I've copied and pasted from Wikipedia just like every junior high schooler is now doing.

"As a six-year-old, James Dyson had to help his mother with household chores. He noticed frequently as he vacuumed that he had to stop to clean out the sweeper. As with all vacuum cleaners, the bag got clogged and the vacuum lost suction."

See? This otherwise mundane activity ultimately inspired James Dyson to create the slickest line of vacuum cleaners in the world and eventually became knighted. Knighted! Not only that he, as a frickin' six-year old, knew what suction was. Eat your heart out, Oreck.


"A Dyson cyclone works by employing cyclonic separation, which spins air at high speed. Dirt and dust are thrown out of the airflow and collected in the bin, not on filters or in bags.

Cyclone technology works by building on dual cyclone technology. On top of the vacuum chamber, seven funnel-shaped channels were added that force air to travel in higher curvature cyclones than in the initial cyclone, creating higher centrifugal force, allowing smaller particles to be captured before the air is expelled."

Cyclonic separation. Centrifugal force. How could I not buy this vacuum? Why doesn't everyone have one? What the hell does a vacuum have to do with anything? So many questions in this world I'll never understand but simply searching for such answers is what makes life worth living. Thank you for showing me the path to enlightenment that never clogs, DC18.

It brings me a lot of happiness to appreciate aesthetic design. I mean, I could just look at this thing and simply smile. A proverbial boner, if you will. Likewise, I enjoy having a clean house, so if the advertising is true, this won't be a complete waste of money by my relative definition of "waste." Furthermore, I like to justify things in my head so I don't feel like such a tool who actually spent a fistful of bills on a vacuum. All I know is that I'm going to vacuum the hell out of the new place I'm moving into. Not only that, hell will be HEPA filtered and has a Quick Draw telescopic reach to watch out for.


Shit. I wonder if I'll regret this.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Where I'm eating: Creative Sushi

2518 Main Street in Santa Monica with the Shirley. Their chopsticks are branded like my palate. Translate that into Japanese and I swear it sounds much smoother.

Tuna Carpaccio with sprouts (Tastier than it looks)!

Home-smoked mackeral and yellowtail with jalapeno-lemon sauce.

Grilled calamari with cool baby tomato and parsley thing.

My favorite sushi thing in the world: Tiger eyes! Salmon, avocado and carrot around calamari in mystery sauce.

Complementary fried fish thing! That chef is a nice guy.

One of my favorite sushi places, recommended by Deepa. The restaurant blasts reggae and the mirrors are tricky. If you go, don't believe your eyes. It fools the best of us unless you look at it at the right angle.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Where I'm eating: Tsuruhashi

18798 Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley with Tuan, Jane, and Jenny.

This is Kobe beef.

This is Kobe beef on drugs. Delicious, delicious drugs.

Tuan's pick of the night, marinated beef with egg and sprouts and apples.

Jenny's stellar choice, pork cheek.

Mmm, glistening short rib.

We also ordered a few other dishes that escapes my memory at the moment. Total bill for the four of us: $62.71 (!)

If anyone wants to go, let me know! Super-cute waitress is awaiting my return.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On Green Eggs and Ham...

In many ways and in many levels, the story of my life may be represented by one of my favorite books, Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Among my bookshelf stocked with the works of Conrad, Cervantes, Twain, and their cohorts, this piece stands out as a route to my past, my inner child, and my personal experiences. My mom was the first to show me that “I can read it all by myself,” (the trademarked seal on the cover of many of Dr. Seuss’ works). That has brought me here, to this point turning point in life, where I’m currently lost in the plots of Shakespeare, the diction of Dickens, and the vernacular of Verne.

Whenever I reminisce of reading my first books, I can always recall Sam-I-Am’s perfunctory persistency and skills of persuasion, and the opposite character’s (who was not never named via sign-on-a-stick or otherwise) ability to accommodate, lessons which have been taught the proverbial hard way. Like a photograph in my mind, I can see wordless pages comprising the picture of the furry, unnamed, yellow creature in the water, with a countenance of doubt and a fork in his hand, preparing to eat the green egg while the other characters look in with anticipation; he ultimately eats the egg, green yolk and all.

As a 5 year old, Green Eggs and Ham had tremendous appeal: its bright orange cover and simply vivid pictures boggled my mind. So at that particular age and an estimated height of three feet, I walked into the library, the labyrinth of a world I had yet to be formally introduced to. I eagerly avoided the larger books for the time, or the ones sans pictures, and found myself in a safe haven where the tables and chairs accommodated the people of my stature. Here I found Green Eggs and Ham.

Thirteen years later, approximately two and three quarters feet taller, and a mind much more enriched through the passing of time (I would hope), I bought the book again, having lost it while moving. It was a much different experience then before. As my dad remarked, I was the biggest kid in the children’s section. After purchasing a book required for my English class, I strolled over to the familiarly foreign area of the children’s section. I searched in vain for a small amount of time before recalling that Dr. Seuss had his own section for his works alone. I purchased my two books at the cost of around twenty-one dollars (to my lament) and a strange look from my sister (to my expectations).

All in all, I rediscovered a relevant element within the book: my childhood. The character that had rejected the green eggs and ham throughout the first half of the book was consistently avoiding it under no justifiable reason. As the famous lines reiterates, “Not in a box/ Not with a fox/ … / I do not like them,/ Sam-I-am./ I do not like/ Green eggs and ham.” Only after Sam-I-am coerces this character to actually taste the green eggs and ham after much deliberation and refusal, does he ultimately gain a new interest, a new taste, and a new outlook. The green eggs and ham alludes to many things: a belief in continuous effort, a desire to experiment, and a willingness to think outside the aforementioned box. Maybe it’s just me, this Green Eggs and Ham Theorem I have.

Whether this give and take hypothesis of life holds true or not, I would wish leave this world saying something along the lines of: “I do so like/ Green eggs and ham!/ Thank you!/ Thank you,/ Sam-I-Am.”


Circa 2000. My momma was proud that my teacher was proud.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On the Cheetos lady...

I visit a convalescent home on a frequent basis. It's an interesting place, but not exactly in the good way that adjective is often used. It's not necessarily bad either, but it definitely takes some time getting used to. And then there are things I don't think I'll ever get used to.

The old folks home is split up into two sections, the sub-acute ward and everything else. The sub-acute ward houses people who are stable enough to be released from hospitals but still require a good amount of attention. The people in this part of the home are in various degrees of comas.

The rest of the home is made up of shared rooms. People there are a lot more diverse. Well, actually, they're pretty much all Vietnamese, so maybe diverse is the wrong word to use. I could go back and just simply change that word instead of writing all of this, but here we are. In any case, many of the people here are old. Like, really really old. Case in point: the Cheetos lady* in that picture up there. She's 98. More on her in a bit.

These are a few of the other residents: A 60-something year old man who's at high risk of having +1 heart attack on top of his current 4. A cranky old lady. 20 or so other cranky old ladies. Tony, A paraplegic who was a former gang member, shot through the spine; he's a mouth painter now and takes good care of his fish tank. An avid reader who is unable to speak but I slap him an air five whenever I pass by. More cranky old ladies. My mom. A thief on wheels. And Mexican man sporting a unibrow.

For those who are able, the game of choice is bingo and the stakes... are dimes; painting is frequent and Paris by Night seems to be playing all the freaking time. The thief on wheels stocks up on towels and water pitchers and Tony's watching an action flick. And for any passer-bys (ie. me), the Cheetos lady is talking up a storm.

Mostly about her life. Or how tall I am. Or that someone's out to get her, especially that suspicious mustacheod man. It's funny because she's all smiles until he has his back towards her and her face scrunches up and makes that "he's out to get me" expression. Now I definitely don't buy into the whole treating old people like fucking children, but she reinforces the stereotype, everyone loves her and she definitely knows it.

She's a tiny lady for sure. Her screechy voice is far from grating and her eyes have grayed from something medical students would be able to explain. She's warm and has no teeth, which unfortunately makes it really hard to understand especially because I want to. Oddly enough, I never see her sleeping, so instead, she's always parked in her chair at some high-foot-traffic intersection in which she can hail down any passersby (ie. me). Or maybe she's looking out for that mustacheod guy. She's mysterious like that. Oh, and she doesn't eat Cheetos anymore because the give her coughing fits, but she doesn't let that get her down.

She also talks about death and how she's ready for it. A bit ad nauseum at times, but the poignancy in her demeanor is never absent from her sincerity. Her children visit as often as they can and she always has pictures to let any passersby (ie. me) know how proud she is of them. As a Catholic, she prays for the life she's lived, for the time she has left, and for any passersby (ie. me). She's at peace and she's happy.

So I wonder to myself, if I ever get to that age, if I'd be as dignified in old age as her. No, I could never go without Cheetos. Never.

*I'm using the alias "Cheetos lady" to protect her identity from internet stalkers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On smiles and bullshit...


That's all I have. There's too much to be said across too many subjects. Cop out... I know... but this runs across my mind frequently enough that one post isn't enough.

Monday, June 4, 2007

On finances...

I used to hate money. I used to excuse it simply as a wedge that drove friends and family apart, an immoral power that corrupted politicians and businessmen, and an elusive idea that drove the poor to live in luxury despite their income. Turns out I'm still right.

But I was also stupid and before I knew it, I had no concept of what money really meant and therefore had no reasonable understanding of how to control it for my own sake and for my own future. With each passing paycheck, I would ask myself "I'm cheap when it comes to strip clubs and pretend to be uninterested, so whiskey tango foxtrot, why do I have no more money?" The concept of savings, of investments, and of managing a basic budget was lost on me, so when I was hit with circumstances, I played my hand blindly like a chump. For the next few months, nothing really got any better until it got worse and I started losing more than just money.

It was shameful, but having something that kicks your ass into gear is always a good motivator to remember to be better than you were yesterday. With help, I finally saw my situation for what it was and it was deploringly daunting and downright depressing which is what money does to a lot of people it seems. Understandably so, but what else can you do except take control?

First, I got uncomfortable. I stared at my situation and let the guilt run through me for what I passively allowed to happen. I understood my circumstances for what it was truly worth. And then (finally) I started doing what I could to turn myself around. For reals this time.

Not to be anticlimactic, but I'm not there yet. It's a work in progress...

But! I'm getting there. I've been reading The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing, an easy to read introductory guide to investing (particularly mutual funds) and, more importantly, realizing when you're ready to invest. Sure I only understand about 60%, but the way I see it, the point is for me to read and prepare so when I finally do get past my circumstances, I'll be better for it.

As a firm believer that the internet will save the world, I've also been reading financial blogs in order to aggregate different perspectives to form my own opinion. Here they are!


And this is what I've learned so far:

- Follow the path of filling your emergency fund bucket available for 6-8 months before moving on to an investing bucket. There's still a lot I don't know about investing, but I know that's where I want my money to go because of compound interest. Starting young makes compound interest that much more worthwhile.

- Live beneath your means and be entirely conscious of where your money goes to avoid living from paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of ways you can manage your money, but there are infinitely more ways to let it go buck wild. Be frugal, not cheap and stay in control.

- Money is not equivalent to value. If it fulfills you to buy Prada bags or get your nails did like it does me and can afford it, go for it, guilt free. At the same time, having a Starbucks coffee every day at about $4 adds up to $338,991 a year. I didn't really do the math because I'm lazy, but you get the idea. Same concept can apply to prostitutes.

- Debt incurred from credit cards to pay off shit you couldn't afford in the first place makes you a jackass. You can barely afford to clothe and feed your kids, but hey, at least you look nice and impressive, jackass.

- Invest in your 401k and open a Roth IRA! Do it now! And then tell me how.

- Pretend to be uninterested at strip clubs.

The end. Good night everybody!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hmm, do we really lose anything if we give ourselves away?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On good food...

I changed my mind on this post. I'll be doing ongoing restaurant reviews on here too when I remember. As always, check out the links under the restaurant listing. If you don't have one, make one! Sharing is caring unless its herpes. Then you're just a jerk.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On graphic novels...

I've only just started reading them, but man, so awesome make lose grammatical agility. I was a big Marvel comic book kid growing up... well comic cards anyway. They were like cliff notes for the already-short comic books and I was lazy and liked pretty pictures. I followed what was summarized on the back of the cards and pieced the stories and timelines together, but avoided the Marvel cartoons like peanut butter because, well, I'm allergic and it makes me nauseous. The biggest problem I had with the TV versions of my childhood heroes was that the quality didn't do them justice. Decade and a half later, the movies made me feel the same barfy way.

I hated X-Men because Magneto had a stupid helmet. The Hulk was emo and had daddy issues. Fantastic Four made the hottest woman alive invisible. Daredevil had Ben Afleck. Spiderman was ok, but Mary Jane is supposed to look like:

and not: .

Disillusioned with the hackneyed filtrations, bland dilutions , and plebian marketing of my heroes, I started looking elsewhere. Sin City hit me up at the club and I said "hmmm" really, really loud so she could hear how interested I was. V for Vendetta gave me her number and told me how much ass she kicked while making alliteration hip again. 300 pretty much clubbed me over the head and told me I was coming with her.

Intrigued and concussion-ed, I checked out the graphic novels and let me tell you, the boobs are real. The story-teling that begins and ends, but doesn't really, the graphic-ness of unapologetic violence and sexuality, and the feel (of the graphic novels, not the boobs). It was all there, bottled straight from the source. And as I read more, I finally realized that these graphic novels were the comic books that had grown up with me.

Here's a brief list I've picked up:

Fables by Bill Willingham: Fairy tales that live tucked away in New York City, but this isn't as cheesy as it sounds. The Big Bad Wolf is the town's sheriff and isn't so bad. Pinocchio can't get laid because the fairy screwed him over. Snow White and Prince Charming hate each other. All of 'em, who have to live together because their homeworld was taken over. Find out what happens fairy tale characters stop being polite and start being real. (Read the first chapter here and I have rest if anyone wants to borrow.)

Ex Machina
by Brian Vaughn: The world's only super-hero who becomes the bipartisan mayor of New York City. I only have the first two, but this one is becoming really interesting. I also hear it's becoming a screenplay to be adapted into a movie.

Watchmen by Alan Moore: This is the guy who made Adam West uncool. Also another upcoming movie. This one is about crazy people who become superheroes.

Y: the Last Man also by Brian Vaughn: All the men in the world are wiped out except for a man and his monkey. The oooh-oooh ah-ah kind. I'm picking this set up soon.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman: This one is the Shakespeare of graphic novels that all the other guys try to be like. Still interpreting, but it's about Dream who controls dreams. Uh.. trust me that it's more complicated than that.

Wanted by Mark Millar: Think Fight Club if Project Mayhem was made up of super-villians. The upcoming movie will have Angelina Jolie, so... you know.

That's it! Graphic novels are "an acquired taste, so you better acquire some taste."*

*complements Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

On hip hop...

I've always found the evolution of hip hop music to be an interesting subject and how it relates to the African American community. As an outsider looking in (and as a disclaimer), I come with the complete understanding that I will never truly understand the community, but I also believe that my opinions are worthy of consideration. Of course there are exceptions and of course other genres of music are equally guilty of sexist and considerably offensive language, but I wonder how mainstream hip hop can get any worse. Brings to mind a quote from the Boondocks, in which Martin Luther King awakes from a coma to present day : "BET is the worst thing I have ever seen."

More often than not, music videos featuring rap artists are rife with incessant images of materialism oftentimes overlaid on a background of urban poverty. Alcohol is forever flowing and the parties never stop. Finish off with bountiful amounts of scantily clad women serving purely as servile objects of sexuality and you have the basic formula for the everyday rap music video.

The problem I have with this isn't that these images are merely "offensive," but that too large of a percentage of music videos follow this formula without the balance of the other side of hip hop that reinforces socially positive messages and ideas. In response to the recent Imus debaucle and the ongoing usage offensive language, Russel Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam records, and members of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network have publicly asserted that they are pushing to have the words "bitch," "ho" and "n----r" bleeped by the recording industry and radio and television stations. This is an interesting gesture, but I seriously wonder how it will affect the industry.

Peronsally, I believe that Imus' use of the language is not equivalent to rappers using the language simply because Imus is not black but a rich, white male. It's great to hear that discussion about the language used is now happening, but Imus not being black makes all the difference. People who agree to the statement that "black people said it, therefore white people are justified in saying the same things" must also honestly believe the statement that "black people, as a whole, are on the same social level and have the exact same opportunities as whites, as a whole."

Don't get me wrong, I love the genre, but I follow a rule of thumb when deciding which hip hop artists to support: if he's got more platinum teeth or more jewelry than my mom, forget it. From there, I follow up with a rule of index finger: talent.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On Asian American stereotypes

These stereotypes are ideas Asian guys have known and have lived. It's beaten many to the point where they feel they have no chance and use scapegoats like the media and white guys. Most Asian women also perceive this as the truth and likewise feel they have to turn to other races in order to position themselves higher on the social ladder and Asian males be damned. The cycle continues.

For both Asian males and females, their Asian-ness becomes the cause of their social ineptitude, so the only way out, many feel, is to conform, assimilate, and ultimately abandon their Asian-ness. Make fun of the fobs who haven't learned the ways of America. Idolize pop culture and ditch the history, language, and culture of your parents, grandparents, great-great-great grandparents in one fell swoop. Teach your kids the wonderful ways of America by blending in because 4.2% means nothing in this melting pot.

Fuck that.

This is what Asians need to do: Define what it means to be Asian for your own sake instead of buying into what other feed you, me included. Take pride in your differences and ideas and connect with your parents' culture because you're old enough now to appreciate it. Stop being so godamned shameful in who you are and how you carry yourself. Recognize that you are one of many diverse Asian voices that collectively make up a misunderstood minority whose individuals need to speak the hell up.

Do all this, and then talk about it to Asians and non-Asians alike.