Friday, July 29, 2005

little, pink, tasty

For many cultures the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and is believed to have been the fruit that hung from the biblical 'tree of life'. Beckoning Adam and Eve with its bejeweled seeds to commit the original sin. It has also symbolized immortality and resurrection. When split open it looks like a gaping vagina. Still, we cannot deny the evocative power of a gaping vagina. I suppose that's really how the sinning first got going. But these Zakura Balls promise me so much more than a life of exile outside the Garden of Eden. They promise to cure me of mood changes, depression and yes, can it be at last, yes... vaginal dryness! In no time at all I had my head back tossing in a handful of these surprisingly delicious pink balls of goodness throwing all caution to the wind. Now here I sit, with the remaining balls in hand, wondering how the ancients came to figure all this out, how they knew then what modern science only just realized now that pomegranates actually contain 'phytoestrogens' that promote women's health, and how the Japanese are so very clever in repackaging it all into something even a skeptic like me would be willing to put in my mouth. Unfortunately, in the absence of a warning label against becoming a Zakura Ball junkie, I have already exceeded double the recommended dosage. Will report back if any significant changes occur. Ah, the things I do, all in the name of science.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

dear professor

This post has been removed after reading the chilling article mentioned in the following comment I received:

dan choi said...

does it send tingles up your neck to be addressed "professor"? i don't think i'll ever know that feeling.

btw, be warned that blogging about students landed at least one phd/prof into deep doo. see here

Here's an additional article from the Chronicle of Education on why academics should not blog, or for that matter have any opinion of their own outside of the party line: Bloggers need not apply.

Sidenote: I'm not a professor, not yet anyway, and at this rate maybe not ever.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

radically uncool

About a hundred years ago, back when I was in college, I remember an afternoon sitting in my friend's apartment on a day that I probably should have been in class instead of smoking cigarettes with Kelly, one of those girls who was infinitely cooler than I would ever be, just because she was born that way. I don't know what it was about her that made me intimidated by her. She was pretty yes. Very fair and blond with grey blue eyes that always looked like she needed just a couple of hours of more sleep. And had sort of an Angelina Jolie body that was lean and curvy at the same time. Boobs that guys would follow you home for. But it wasn't her physical appearance that struck me so much as she was just a straight shooter. Called a spade a spade. She would look at me out of the corner of her eyes, squinting as she took a drag off her cigarette, and I would feel her cool blue eyes piercing right through me, seeing me for what I was, an insecure girl of the sheltered Korean-American variety where rebellion meant not coming out to bow to my father when he came home from work. I wonder if she ever knew I was awed by her. That I was trying so hard. That my bawdy wit and accounts of partying and other deviant acts were all attempts to make her think I was cool too. Like her. Anyway, what I remember about this afternoon was leaning forward in my chair, proselytizing about how I had joined an anti-graffiti league. Trying to convince her to join it with me. I thought I was doing something important, painting over graffiti, putting up murals, doing my part to elevate the ghetto from a social nightmare one street corner at a time. My vision of radical activism. She didn't say a single word throughout my spiel which I took as encouragement to say more. I got all puffed up. But when I was done, she just looked at me and casually said "Why would you want to paint over graffiti?"

There are moments like this when someone utters a single sentence that wreaks complete havoc on your worldview. This was such a moment. Of course. How suburban of me. Thinking within the limited confines of normative society. I just felt so. . . exposed. Such a poseur. Since that time I have never looked at graffiti again without thinking of Kelly. In fact my whole view of the city was completely transformed by that single interaction. Now I find graffiti to be impossibly beautiful. It talks to me and tells me a story of sadness, oppression, creativity and defiance. A rich narrative that I would never have considered without her. I saw Kelly a few years back at my friend's wedding and she was still cool. Not the same but older and even cooler in a way that made me realize that while I may never catch up to her, at least I can even out the playing field by just being myself and being honest about how radically uncool I really am. Because if nothing else, it takes true guts to accept it and I think I'm almost there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

contact high

Summertime at the Hollywood Bowl is one of the few redeeming things about L.A. The undulating hills. The Hollywood sign in the distance. And at any given night 'the bowl' attracts the largest congregation of white potsmoking hippies and interracial couples to ever grace a 20,000 seat open-air stadium. This particular Sunday, Mos Def was performing some sort of experimental 'big band rap project' which is really just euphemism for "I'm just too famous and lazy to rap anymore." Now don't get me wrong I'm a big Mos Def fan. I've even been following his blossoming film career. His breakthrough performance in Brown Sugar (2002) should've taken him to the Oscars. But has it really come to this? Mos say it ain't so. After his set ended, Nigerian born Femi Kuti came on stage and started jumping around like a condom of cocaine exploded in his anal cavity. Ouch. Then as the sun finished casting its final rays before extinguishing itself behind the mountain, it seemed as though by some silent prearranged signal everyone began passing around fat spliffs, their burning ends flashing in the deepening night like fireflies. But the real highlight of the evening was when I lit a cigarette in languid defiance of the no-smoking signs and my friend turns to me and says in a rather school-marmy voice, 'That's illegal you know." Yeah, I thought. . . okay. Like, maybe they'd bust my derelict Korean ass if they could only see through the mushroom cloud of potsmoke hanging over our heads. And never mind the jittery freakshow still doing the jackhammer on stage. You gotta love straightlaced people. They bring such delight to my otherwise mundanely deviant world.

Just another badass derelict waiting to get expelled.

This picture isn't blurry. I am.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

i stand corrected

For chrissakes. This is what I get for having other Ph.D. students as friends, friends who should be writing the third chapter of their dissertation instead of procrastinating by reading and fact-checking the illiterate nonsense I post here. As Fehlleistungen so aptly pointed out, there is indeed no such movie as Booty Cop. It is actually titled Busty Cops. Though I think my version is arguably more provocative and enticing, I will allow that it is a matter of subjective judgment whether a person prefers the booty to the busty. But who pray tell if given the choice would not be of the booty persuasion? And while all this may put into question my capacities as an accurate historian, I venture to say that it does not compromise my unfailing good taste in movie selection!

dining out on the westside

By Dan C's insistent request I'm posting more flesh on these pages though I don't know if this was what he had in mind. I think these ladies may be the kind that could take a man and eat him for breakfast on a slow day. But come to think of it, some guys are probably really into that kind of thing. I for one would not want to mess with the woman on the left. She looks like she's packing some WMDs in her hair. The moral of the story is, be careful what you ask for.

I'm thinking this little lady may be more up his alley.

Friday, July 22, 2005

can't see the forest for the trees

Number of channels on new satellite dish: 200+
Number of watchable channels: 4
Movies watched since installation:
  • Troy
  • Anchorman
  • Bulletproof Monk
  • The Firm
  • Boomerang
  • Jeepers Creepers 2
  • Booty Cop
Movies enjoyed: 2
Movies ashamed to have watched: Troy

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

mackadociously verklempt

I think about language a lot. Mostly because I somehow chose a career path that requires me to understand classical Chinese, a language that is pretty much totally unintelligible to me. Let me tell you, my Kungfu's a joke. I've also been plowing through a translation for the past week. A translation that reminds me everyday how shabby my grasp of the Korean language is. All this makes me wonder at what point language acquisition becomes fun. And what is the difference between fun and funny? Take for example the hilarity in the fobby misuse of language. To native English speakers, there is nothing more delightful than hearing "I am fat boy, it's be cool!" Is it the latent sense of cultural superiority? Is it simply the mistransmission of signs and meanings? I don't know the answers but I do know that it is possible for language to be a joy to learn. That happened to me last night on (snaps to my BFF2 in nyc for the link). This site is an example of the evolution of language in its purest form showing us with the greatest clarity how language is an expression of our changing cultural identity. For lack of a better word, it leaves me totally and completely verklempt and shit. Respeck.

Here are some gems of the verbal stylings going on in our English speaking world today:

g to da bizzears
Ayyo foo don't be trippin'...give me back that bag of G to da Bizzears befo' I bust a cap in yo ass! (They're talking gummy bears here yo.)

i be goin thru bitches like rags to riches
Dayum, i be goin thru bitches like rags to riches.

Iatoala Gomainy
I would go paintballing with your group, but last time that guy name Poulen went Iatoala Gomainy on me and shot me in the neck 4 times. He is crazy.

Last night I got totally kablastafucked.

Mackadocious Sweet was lookin' mackadocious again in his $2000 suit, velvet hat and Gucci shoes.

A bitch got to understand that you ain't in love, like a square. This ain't matrimony, this is mackrimony.

And my personal favorite...
na mean
Yo I stuck a fuckin cucumber right up that slut's asshole, na mean?
Sup dawg. I got dat girl na mean and we went to mah house, na mean? And we got our fa-reek on na mean nigga? Shoot i wanna hit dat ass uno mo time na mean nigga?

Monday, July 18, 2005

let it ride

The Wynn Hotel and Casino is a testament to the longevity and ultimate absurdity of Vegas culture. Steve Wynn the former founder of the Mirage casino and conceptual genius behind 'themed casino parks' (think Circus Circus, Luxor, NY NY...) is now the proud owner of the newest casino, a relatively elegant place, right on the strip. It was at the Wynn that I witnessed this unremarkable pool of water suddenly turn into a devil's bathtub. The devil being the big head pictured here. Already a little woozy from a glass of wine and enveloped by a penetrating death heat, I saw this and subsequently came up with the ingenious idea to rename Vegas as 'Satan's Ass'. Those interested in signing my petition, please email me at Donations will be humbly accepted in denominations of $100 casino chips. So, I'm not here to tell you any lurid tales of Vegas which I think are best left to the truly bad men who ply their trade. What I can tell you are some basic do's and don'ts to remember when patronizing this glittering desert oasis:

Do: Drink more in free beers than you are betting.
Don't: Make any eye contact... with anyone. Except the waitresses bringing free beers.

Do: Take a romantic drive to see Red Rocks, a natural configuration of beauty and wonder.
Don't: Bother to get out of the car.

Do: Take a nostalgic journey down memory lane and visit The Little Wedding Chapel where Nammy got hitched.
Don't: Spontaneously recreate the moment.

Do: See a classy striptease show at New York New York.
Don't: Go onstage and dry hump the performers.

Do: Throw down a $1 bet at the roulette table and yell "Let it ride!"
Don't: Touch your winnings prematurely if you treasure your fingers.

And never ever forget to pray to the gods of mechanical engineering for coming up with the gift to mankind otherwise known as 'air conditioning'.

Follow these simple guidelines and Vegas will be the blast for you that it was for me.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I'm going to Vegas today on a 'research' assignment. But since whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, instead I leave you with the following apocryphal tale.

Some nights you get ridiculously drunk and do stupid things. This story is about getting stupidly drunk and doing a ridiculous thing. I'm referring to the night that my good friend H walked home from the airport. Now looking back, I should have known something was wrong with him from the time we left Toppers, a bar on top of the Radisson in Santa Monica that serves up one mean ass happy hour. We had spent a good hour or two drinking bottomless margueritas and watching the sun dip into the ocean. So now H is sitting alone in the backseat of my jeep, head back and arms outstretched, his fingers touching the sides of the car, making some weird gargling noise as the wind rushes over him and we speed to S's house to pick up her suitcases and take her to the airport. Perhaps having cocktails before driving to the airport wasn't such a good idea. In any case, it must have been the drive that sealed it. Something happened to him on that long drive down the highway in that open car with the wind in his ears. That's where I truly lost him, before we ever physically lost him at the airport. But I get ahead of myself.

We arrive at the airport barely in time for S to catch her flight and as she's waving H blithely jumps off the back of my car and says, "I'll be back. I have to piss." The infamous last words as he leaves never to return again. Now the thing is, this was pre-911 times, when the world was a safer friendlier place. Had he pulled something like this now, I might have alerted Homeland Security on his ass myself and reported him as a suicide bomber. Launching his own private jihad one piss at a time. But back then, I just imagined that he was passed out in one of the bathroom stalls. Oh how he must wish right now that he was. A massive manhunt was launched via pay phone between me, our friend Nammy and H's wife that involved me standing by the car waiting lest H return, and Nammy roaming from stall to stall looking for a body. By the time two hours passed we had given him up for dead. Or figured he was sipping pina coladas in Mexico. But one last call to his wife brought us this unexpected information: "He just got home. But coming by wouldn't be such a good idea right now."

If H could fill in his part of the story for you it would be this. When he emerged from the bathroom, my car wasn't there. He waited. Then he took off for home without his wallet or any personal items which were still in my car. He was wearing steel-toed shoes. They were extremely heavy. He had to walk through Inglewood. A tough neighborhood. He's white. He feigns he wasn't scared. He most certainly was. He had to take another leak along the way. He used the only money he had to buy a soda so he could use the bathroom at a fastfood joint. He could have used that money to call home. He didn't. He arrived home weary and angry, sustained on the way only by the sheer venom with which he cursed me every loathful step of the long walk home for abandoning him.

What we eventually pieced together was that H upon leaving the bathroom was a little disoriented (read 'drunk out of his bleeping mind'). He came out at Arrivals while we futilely waited at Departures one floor directly above. A David Copperfield ending if there ever was one. Since then, he's been remorseful for cussing me out so badly. But being the unforgiving bitch that I am, I like to pay him back for that night by mercilessly repeating this story over and over to anyone who will listen. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

like coming home

Like a lot of Korean American kids out there, when I was young my parents told me that they found me on the side of the road. I don't know why parents think this is funny. And even though I am the spitting image of my mother, the possibility that I really was an abandoned child always lingered in the back of my mind. Well, now I believe without a doubt that my brother and I really are blood related. This heartwarming realization took place at one a.m. at the unlikely location of Pink's hotdog stand, a Hollywood institution that serves the finest dogs I dare say on the planet. It was there that I ordered a spicy polish dog with chilli, mustard and onions, a dog that in its simplicity belies the near religious ecstasy contained within. So it's the four of us, my brother, his wife, and my BFF, eating our dogs when my brother who has managed to swallow his dog in three clean bites, gets a glint in his eye and disappears only to return holding the same spicy polish dog that I was still eating. The guys running the stand waved him ahead of the long line like a VIP when they saw him coming for seconds. And it was there under those fluorescent backyard lights on a still Los Angeles night, as we were both chomping down on this dog, spicy enough to give me the runs today, licking our fingers with gusto in complete syncronicity, that I knew with sudden clarity that we were born of the same womb. Some things just can't be faked when you're eating at Pink's.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

last night i dreamt of san pedro

An hour south of LA is a little industrial port town where the only thing to do other than watch cargo ships come in is to go to the boardwalk where they serve seafood heaped atop plastic trays. One lobster, one giant fish and some shrimp later my synapses were reset to fire to the beat of the itinerant mariachi band. My brain is still rattling around up there like a dried walnut in its shell. So I will keep this brief and simply note that in the excitement of imagining myself in the markets of Tijuana I somehow allowed my brand new Leica Digilux 2 to be baptized in beach sand.

Tropical island breeze. That is where I want to be.

Friday, July 08, 2005

the blue series

I don't see what's not to like about high art.

But, the Getty museum has such a crappy collection.

If only they'd spent as much time on the art.

As they did on the architecture.

Then I might pay more attention.

To what's on the walls.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Some people spend their Fourth of July weekend at picnics, grilling dogs, watching fireworks. Our family, the same one that on Thanksgiving has been known to roast a whole suckling pig on a spit over an open fire instead of turkey, chooses to play a punishing 54 holes of golf over a two day period. This course was the most expensive course I've ever played at. The telltale marker of a nice course is that the greens are wicked and the fairways swallow a lot of balls. But for that kind of money I expect a full body rubdown with a complimentary martini waiting for you at the clubhouse. While golfing may seem like an elite activity, especially when you're forking over a couple of benjamins just to be hitting a little white ball into sand traps, I realize that it's actually a game of the masses as evidenced by the severe redneck tans that we were all sporting by the end of the day. Pass me a chicken wing and a PBR. For most people, golfing also inspires a good dose of humility. All except for my normally self-effacing brother who saw this photo and said to me "Look, perfect stance, perfect backswing, perfect form. There's not a single thing wrong with this picture." I guess all those years of therapy finally paid off.

Friday, July 01, 2005

becoming l.a.

At what point does a person know they've assimilated into the place they live in? At what point do we take on new lifestyles that transform us? At what point can I begin to say, "I'm from LA"?

Yesterday afternoon I played 9 holes of golf with a typically LA couple (while pondering some very important issues in my dissertation). Typical if having plastic surgery is a marker of calling LA home. The woman's face was frozen in time, placing her anywhere from 30 to 70 years old. Her skin a beautiful glowing porcelain that had been stretched like a canvas invoking an elasticity my own skin never had. But then her neck was withered as a sequoia tree and her hands were haggard claws. Never having been up close and personal to someone who's had so much work done before, I couldn't help but inch a little closer, engaging in bantering conversation, complimenting her swing, then stepping back in horror at what I saw, my pupils nearly burned off by the collateral damage. It was like rubbernecking at a really bad traffic accident. What I didn't expect was that she was from New Jersey. Hmm. So did LA transform her values and sense of identity or did she come to LA because she wanted bad plastic surgery? It's the proverbial chicken and egg question. While I'm grateful her scary face had no effect on my golf game, I'm wondering if even now as I speak I am falling prey to the idea that appearances matter. That plastic surgery is good. Wrinkles baaaad. Will this face of mine be pulled taut come 20 years time if I'm still living here? After all, I'm finally starting to enjoy Hollywood nightlife. What's next, botox?

(Oh and a happy birthday to Harry. . . not the guy in the picture but someone with a passion for fast cars and mariachi bands.)