firstly, as i realize hella folks don’t read through the entire post because they’re ridiculo long… i just want to say a few things right quick. i am still booking for the spring season, as well as getting my presskit together for the fall. if you want to see me, get one of your college orgs or local orgs to hit me up, i’d love to come out and see your beautiful faces. secondly, and more importantly, PLEASE contribute to my projects… you can find them on the projects and products portion of this website. i ESPECIALLY need more experiences and stories in my asian am women series.
the soundtrack to this blogpost will actually be coming from a new writing playlist that i created in itunes. these are just the songs that touch me, remind me of the romantic within myself. sometimes it’s hard to remember that i am who i am, that i am an artist who Believes, especially in this place, the city that all too often chews you up and grinds you down. i know you can’t see the playlist, but hey, i’m going to do song quotes and then youtube link the songs as i come to them… hopefully this will work. as per always, i’m trying that new shit.
‘you belong to the gang, and you say you can’t break away, but i’m here, with my hands on my heart.’
- the decemberists, “o, valencia” (great video btw)
it’s kind of ironic that this is the song that’s playing right now, especially if any of you know what i’ve been doing to pay my rent. suffice to say, that life is over… that i’m breaking away. o valencia is an absolutely heartbreaking song, with such passion to it, such strength of feeling. it narrates a romeo and juliet story and does it in a way, that while it does come from the tradition of such stories, it is still able to be somewhat original, and most of all, still touches. it’s kinda like west side story actually, more so than romeo and juliet.
actually, it’s like leonard di caprio’s version of romeo and juliet. which is actually one of my favorite movies of all time. the actors in that movie were so damned believable, the emotion was so strong, the love so real. i think that was my first exposure to the Bard, and i’ve loved his work ever since. hella folks can’t stand him, for various reasons, up to and including the way they shovel him down throats at schools… but i love him.
he has a fucked up, dirty minded sense of humour, a mind that is able to project imagery on multiple levels and most importantly, is able to convey a degree of emotionality through text that is unmatched by pretty much an author, poet or playwright i’ve ever seen. how do you not love a man who can make dirty jokes in a tragedy, who can play with emotions like yo yo ma plays the cello? and dude, shakespeare in love was gangsta.
‘and the grass, it was a tickin’ and the sun was on the rise, i never felt so wicked, as when i willed our love would die, i was your silver lining, as the story goes, but now am gold’
- rilo kiley “silver lining” (god this song breaks my heart everytime)
which kind of leads me into one of the topics that i wanted to discuss today, the idea of having a name, being a man and being up front with yo’ shit.
i love internet culture, i study it for school and study it for fun. being part of the iGeneration, i feel the weight of history on my shoulders every time i facebook or i blog or i hit up 4chan. yes, i go to 4chan. it’s oddly entertaining.
but the thing about is, my presence online, even though i’m fascinated with the concept of anonymity, has almost always been one wherein my name is out there. hell, i’m a member of bullshido.com, a martial arts forum, and i’ve met people there in real life. my face, my name are tied to whatever my screen name is at the time.
… let me restart a little actually.
my father told me, all a man has in this world is his family and his name, his head and his hands. that’s been drilled into my head. if you break down my father’s metaphor, you’ll see the sentiment that has installed itself as a Derridan supplement to my identity.
your family is what is to be protected. it is the ultimate end goal. and more than the actual physical members of the family, which always take precedent, this section contains more. it holds within itself the idea that a man has responsibilities greater than himself. there is something larger, something greater, for which he must be willing to sacrifice or give of himself or dedicate himself to. this may be your country, it may be your art, but it is always something that you must serve. there is no life without responsibility. or at the very least, this is an empty life. your family, your community, those are always at the heart of a man’s character, and must always be, because before anything else, the traditional masculine role is one of provider and protector.
a man’s hand and his head are his tools. those are what he has with which to provide for his responsibilities and to protect his family. these are a relatively simple idea to understand.
but it’s the last item to be discussed, the name, that is the purpose of this discussion. a man must have his honor. to be able to exist in a society, a man must be able to make it known that he can be trusted, that he is able to back what he says.
and more than that, he must be able to stake himself on his ideals and on his ability to fulfill his responsibilities. and yes, i know these uses of the term man are problematic, reductivist in a lot of ways, but bear with me. i am using the terms my father taught me, which are come from a culture that does have very strong gender roles… but i would like to remind folks that the role of women in traditional vietnamese culture is significantly stronger than in most cultures of the world. and furthermore, this is an art blog.
so yes. if i am to take a stand, i must be willing to put my name to it. i must be willing to put my face and stake my reputation on it. if i feel that i am right, that i stand against injustice or in favor of justice, i must be enough of a man to risk myself by being forward with who i am.
which is why internet activism is a problem. because names ARENT tied to physical bodies, so that people are able to troll.
which is why student activists who decide to take a stand by donning masks and having amnesty as their first demand are complete bullshit.
if a man is unwilling to put his name on the line, what does that say about his belief in his cause?
‘if could start again, a million miles away, i would keep myself, i would find a way’
- johnny cash “hurt”
let me open this section with a quote…
‘ There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. […] Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.’
- E.B. White, Here is New York
i love new york.
i don’t compromise on calling it the greatest city in the world. in my heart of hearts, down in the depths of my understandings of the truth, this kernel will always remain. i have not doubted it since the first time i visited new york, when i was still a lost ass tourist, and i don’t doubt it now that i lived here long enough to consider myself a new yorker.
but no matter how much i love the City with a capital ‘c’, it’ one hell of a fucked up, and i realize this. a friend of mine compared it once to one of those horribly horribly unhealthy, fucked up and abusive relationships. usually not as bad as chris brown and rihanna, but pretty bad. then again i and my friend are both settlers, our relationship with this place is not and can never really be as familiar, as relatively calm, as almost comfortable-marriage like as someone who has been here all their lives. at the same time though, our relationship with the City will never be the flirtation/hook up relationship that bridge and tunnelers have. they’re not as committed i don’t think, the City is a mistress to them, not the love of their lives.
but i am a settler, and new york is my greatest love. no matter how fucked up of a relationship we have.
‘so alone in love, i’m going to haunt you everyday, haunt you everyday’
-weezer “haunt you everyday” (absolutely AWFUL version of this song, but all i could find.)
you love new york, you hate it. sometimes, it’s so good, there’s nothing else like it. it is able to touch you in ways you’ve never been touched before, you wake up in the mornings, breathe in the smell of pizza, corruption and cannabis and know it’s going to be a beautiful day. you eat well, drink hard, live life fully and see sights that will forever be imprinted on your mind. you find truths around every corner, the City caresses your face with its palm, and it’s like the world is made new, that every experience is opened up for you. you wake up and go to a polish deli to get a huge american breakfast, stop by a brasilian place to get some bomb coffee. you’re peckish so you get an empanada for later, head to work or school and see every type of people this world has to offer. get lunch at the dosa man, eat it in the park, as capoeristas play and college kids smoke up and throw frisbees. stop by chinatown for dinner because you broke as heo, eat up, head to your home boy’s show at this hipster bar in the east village. rock out, destroy shit, get fucked up and then do it again.
but then, in the bad times… it’s completely horrible. the City abuses you, adds to the workload and the stress load. doesn’t return calls or txts, acts as if it doesnt love you anymore. or rather that i hates you. you become lonely, despondent, insignificant in this place where millions live. you ache inside, worst than any lover before. nothing goes right, everything goes wrong.
those are the worst times. i’ve seen people break down and cry. i sure as hell have. the City runs you down, makes you feel like shit, does its absolute best to make you hate it… but you can’t, not if you’ve been here for awhile. and you always make excuses for it, in the hope that it’ll get better, even if the landlord raised your rent and you’re about be kicked out, even if you just got robbed, even if you feel so utterly alone and isolated that it seems as if it’ll never get better.
such is the City i love. such is the relationship i have with it. so i am driven to drink, to escape anyway i can… but so too do i feel, in ways that i could never feel in any other place. there really is an energy to this city, to this place that is unlike anything else in the world. so you remain, even through the bad times, the changes, the abuse.
oh new york.
‘breaking rocks in the hot sun, i fought the law and the law won’
-the clash, “i fought the law”
jeebus, i meant for my blogposts to get smaller, but they’ve only gotten longer. my deepest apologies. even more than that, my apologies for being a fuckup… apologies for loving it. and since people seem to enjoy pictures of me in dire straits… for your viewing pleasure. and no, while i am damned short, i’m not THAT short… my homie is just massively tall.
thank you for reading, please comment. and yes, considering my workload, i probably do spend entirely too much time on this blog. but hey, maybe it’s my stress relief, my crutch. more about that later.
oh, btw, i met happy slip last night at sarah gambito’s book opening for her dope, dope book ‘delivered.’ yall should buy it. i can’t believe i forgot to take a picture with her. oh and free food is amazing.
and let me leave you with this video on hip hop in china… too dope for me to analyze right now. too crazy too.
all vid cred to atunes.
life is most awful and most transcendent experiences you’ve ever had and all the bullshit in between.