Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Looks like my luck will change after all

I used to believe in my ability more than luck or fortune. But as one grows up, one realizes he or she can only control certain parts of life, no matter how hard you work it. Free will is a key participant but luck plays a big part too. However, positive attitude and outlook can totally change your luck. And you need luck in some areas more than others. Hard work may lead you to a better job opportunity; luck is more instrumental in sustaining a doomed love relationship. Enough of didacticism, let's move on.

Gazuza on Tuesday nights are swank because you don't get a shitload of people and you don't need to show your cleavage to get a faster drink. Happy birthday to Munish, and I'll see you this Friday at Sequoia.

I've been more selective in choosing movies these days. As someone who loves viewing a film on the big screen and hates missing the opening credits (I sometimes refuse to continue watching if I miss the opening credits), going to the cinema has always been one of my favorite pasttimes. But since I've been burnt by the first Lord of the Rings installment (hated it and walked out after the first hour), I now do a careful cost-benefit analysis before I walk into the theatre. Inspired by Eternal Sunshine, I wish I could erase many hours of terrible movie memories, notably Batman & Robin and anything that stars Stephen Baldwin, Josh Hartnett, or Keanu Reeves (except Matrix & Dangerous Liaisons).

Thankfully, I've made great decisions thus far this year: The Passion, Kill Bill 2, Harry Potter 3, Fahrenheit 9/11. The next two movies I will see are Spiderman 2 and Before Sunset. Let's hope the winning streak continues.

I miss playing music and talking about it. I'm grateful that DC offers a bevy of incredible musicians, especially rhythm players. You don't get a lot of Steve Novosels or Michael Bowies in one place. And I miss playing with Gavin.

I've also begun to realize you don't necessarily have to be "good" to be popular in the music industry. And I'm not even talking about Britney Spears or Hilary Duff on the grand scale. In a not-so-musical town like DC, the most popular artists can't sing or play but they get a lot of gigs because they are either novelty items or just have a lot of friends who come to their shows.

I trust my ears. I know when I hear good music. As Chuck Underwood says, "Henry, you should win the best listener WAMMIE if there were such an award." I take that as a compliment.

[7/1: I have withdrawn my Anthropologie comment. Someone pointed out that it's kinda creepy for people who don't know me. And it's not a good place to start. But I have to add it's good store if you want to buy birthday presents or party supplies.]

My favorite blog idol is taking a hiatus from blogging, and I'm sad.

How come they always have a horrendous magazine collection at the dentist's office?


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Conspiracy theory vs. Realpolitik

Finally, the Supreme Court gets it right. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor delivered the opinion of the court, stating "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens," implying the president's conduct of the fight against terrorism is not immune to judicial review.

As an occasional conspiracy theorist, I entertain the thoughts that Michael Moore's film made the United States hand over Iraq's sovereignty to its new government two days before its scheduled time. As of tomorrow, Iraq will have legal custody of Saddam Hussein. In terms of realpolitik, this is a way for the Bush administration to get sympathy votes. I mean, when U.S. soldiers keep dying every day (3 Marines killed today), that was the least the lame-duck administration could do.

It's encouraging to see people flock to the theatres to watch Fahrenheit 9/11, even in traditionally Republican states. However, I remain pessimistic about November's election. For one thing, I want to keep low expectations so when Bush does get voted out I can truly rejoice. Second, the Republican party still has numerous tactics to manipulate the election like what happened in Florida four years ago. So we'll see. One thing for sure: the American people have independent thinking (though they don't often use it. The bright side is, yes, they did elect Clinton twice). Let's hope they make the right choice this time (well, if there's such a thing).

So the Iraqi government is handed back its sovereignty, where's the world's joy in all this?

P.S. The Supreme Court got it right again with this case, decided today. The Court ruled that a law punishing pornographers who peddle dirty pictures to web-surfing kids is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. The ACLU and other critics of the antipornography law claimed that it would restrict far too much material that adults may legally see and buy.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Sex talk

It's too early in the week to talk about sex, but I'm gonna do it anyway. The inspiration really comes from Brian's piece about breasts and Andrew's piece on the economics of prostitution.

In America, you can pretty much talk about sex openly in public and not having to fear dire consequences, though one should be careful when little children or grumpy old people are around. Such practice is encouraged by the popularity of Sex & The City where the protagonists talk about nothing but sex. The open discussion of sex is healthy because it treats sex as an everyday matter rather than a taboo subject. Last Friday, a bunch of us were hanging out after my gig and Bill said the reason why he sticks with his "doll baby" is because she endures the music of Coltrane in the background when he's giving her pleasure. "She doesn't seem to mind the Coltrane Ballads album with some vicious chords by McCoy," said Bill. Cracked us up.

The best way to discuss sex is to write about it in a classy manner. No one is better at it than Milan Kundera, who turns humor and erotica into literary gold. In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, he writes:

I am now 65. So I have had a sex life of 50 years. I assume - and it's a very modest estimate - that I made love an average of twice a week. That makes a 100 times a year or 5,000 in my life. If an orgasm lasts 5 seconds, I have had 25,000 seconds of orgasm. That makes a total of 6 hours and 56 minutes of orgasm.

On the topic of misogynism, Kundera writes:

Men have always been divided into two categories. Worshipers of women, otherwise known as poets, and misogynists or, more accurately, gynophobes. Worshipers revere traditional feminine values such as feelings, the home, motherhood, fertility....while in misogynists these value inspire a touch of terror. Worshipers revere women's femininity, while misogynists always prefer women to femininity. Don't forget: a woman can be happy only with a misogynist.

No wonder many women enjoy the process of being mistreated by guys and love complaining about it. When I visited the Picasso Museum in Paris three years ago, it bothered me to witness such misogynistic portrayal of women. Kundera's passage clued me in, but I still don't get all of it. Culture and customs play a great part, and environment and painful past experience contribute to the mess (See movie Bad Lieutenant). In Picasso's case, it was the latter.

Someone I fancy says, "I always fall back into kundera's arms, it is comforting and familiar." Can't agree more. It's like returning home.


Sunday, June 27, 2004


What a miracle! Fahrenheit 911 is No. 1 at the box office. Let's make the winning streak continue until Bush is voted out of office this November.

Just came back from my own viewing of Fahrenheit 911. This is Michael Moore's most accomplished movie to date and no wonder it won Best Picture at Cannes. There was a two minute non-stop applause after the show and people at my theatre loved it. They laughed at the right places and were incredulous at others. Moore pretty much based the film's premise on a section of his bestseller Dude, Where's My Country, especially the part about the connection between the Bush family and the Saudis, particularly the bin Laden family. Then he expands his scope to the Iraq war that is presently still going on though it was once believed to be "Mission Accomplished."

I thought Moore was going to jump to conclusions quite quickly (like from A to C, skipping B), but no, he had hardcore facts, statistics, and excellent archive footage (notably Bush's facial reaction in the classroom after he had heard the second plane had struck WTC). Yes, perhaps some quotes are taken out of context and individual stories are carefully chosen for sensational values, but overall the film is coherent, logical, and thought-provoking. I liked it even more than Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine.

In the near future, there will be a Moore-bashing documentary called Michael Moore Hates America. In addition, there are Moore-bashing websites such as This is good because it encourages dialogue and show America still has free speech and an open mind. But I have yet to see if they are going to be as persuasive as Moore's take on America. As of now, the is pretty lame because they confuse and misquote more than educate and elucidate (check it out and judge for yourself).

Michael Moore says Fahrenheit is to an extent a justification of his Oscar acceptance speech. There's nothing wrong with that because what we get is a fun two-hour ride (with some disturbing war images). This movie is more about humanity than politics. When asked whether they would send their kids to help out the Iraq war, some Congressmen dodged Moore's question and walked faster to get away from the camera.

I admire Michael Moore for his courage and out-spokenness. He's America's conscience. He posed the question in the beginning of the film, "After Gore's loss in Florida, has this all been a dream?" Yes, but not until we vote Bush out of the office this November. Let's do it together.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Support the movie!

It's done. I'm gonna catch the 8:20 pm show on Sunday at Loews Georgetown 14. Check out today's USA Today article.

I love Mike!


Tuesday, June 22, 2004


I may just be ignorant, but are there any Republican vegetarians?

Wait, I just found one.


Clapton concert reviewed

Eric Clapton delivered a fabulous concert last night at MCI Center. My fans know that EC remains a major influence in my music career, and this was the first live Clapton concert I've gone to. The unimpressive Robert Randolph & Family opened for them (I believe the Westcotts opened for them at Ram's Head. Right, Jeff?). Robert plays a lap steel, but it was too loud and obnoxious.

Clapton went on stage at 8:30 pm. No signs of Andy Fairweather Low, Jerry Portnoy, and Billy Preston (they were probably sick or went on other tours). "Hoochie Coochie Man" never sounded the same without Portnoy's wailing harp rhythms and solos. Clapton kept his usual members: Nathan East on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, Chris Stainton on piano, and a very good Tim (didn't catch his last name) standing in for Preston on organ and keyboards. Two background singers. And the new addition Doyle Bramhall II on slide guitar. But why Bramhall? Him inexperienced and his solos shy and uninspired. And he's not really into the blues. I scratched my head all night trying to figure out why Clapton hired him for the tour.

Then, EC did a tiny tribute to Ray Charles singing a jazzy "I Want a Little Girl." Did an acoustic set promoting his new CD Me & Mr. Johnson, with the band shining on "Kindhearted Woman Blues." Again, the absence of Portnoy made this set a little lacking in feeling. The highlight of the show was a Clapton favorite, Freddie King's "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" with fantastic solos from everyone in the band (though it takes Bramhall four verses to get there). He did all his famous songs too: "Cocaine," "Sunshine of Your Life," "Badge," "Wonderful Tonight," and "Layla" (thank God it wasn't the unplugged version). A wise decision to end the concert with Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" with a screaming (yet annoying) Robert Randolph lap steel solo (You can see the annoyance on Clapton's face).

Overall, a tight concert with no bullshit or small talk. It was pure music with heart and energy. It's funny how people in the audience reacted most positively to the blues except I'd wager that a lot of them don't even know they're listening to the blues. The people behind me screamed, "Clapton is God" but didn't realize Clapton is actually making a blues statement.

The American audience needs to be educated. Thanks to Clapton for keeping the blues alive.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Black people love 'em

WOW! Now THIS is brilliant! This has got to be my favorite website in a long, long time.

Reminds me of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which Larry David and a bi-racial nurse have the following conversation:

Nurse: We should keep fucking each other so we become one race.

Larry David: Let's pray for that.

Echoes John Lennon's lyrics "...and the world will be as one."


The unbearable lightness of being thru my window pain...

It was the most meaningful weekend I've had in a while. The weather was beautiful in NJ. Friday was pretty much all driving and catching up with my sleep. Met up with a friend Saturday afternoon at the hip Cafe Orlin in East Village, Manhattan. Had talks about identity change, expectations, and crazy signs. It was brief and superficial but I got my points across.

[Time out! It's hard to write an entry after a weekend full of action. So bear with me and don't be offended.]

Getting my points across has been my practice lately. Hate to beat around the bush anymore. Did a lot of people watching too, and yes, New York people are a lot hipper, dress nicer, but at the same time, have a lot of problems with their identities. There are still people who are into the whole grunge, rave, chain/car-keys scene, though it is not considered cool anymore.

Met with my favorite Chinese family at Tanaka Sushi Saturday night. They used to take care of me when I went on vacations in NY during my Cornell era. Just reminiscing old times and catching up. It was very pleasant. I was surrounded by genuine friendliness and comfort. (Wow, I can't believe this is what I'm writing...corny and uninspired. Somebody shoot me now!) Didn't go to Smoke Club after all.

The meeting with Adam's family on Sunday couldn't have gone any better. It was very comforting to find everyone in such good spirits. I learned more about Adam by visiting his room. Brian and I finally got together and played a few songs that Adam would've liked us to play. I felt that Adam was there with us the entire time.

The feeling of loss is like a pillow, tangible yet soft. You can lean on it when you need to lie down and you can lift it up when it's time to get up and go to work. And often you find traces of tears on it. Instead of feeling pain, I sensed hope, and it was the message I brought home with. The Father's Day theme resonated too. Everyone commented that it was a good gesture for me to be there on Father's Day, though it was unintended. I hate taking credits for stuff I didn't plan. Perhaps it was just symbolic or a coincidence.

Jeff wrote an entry celebrating Nap Turner's legacy, but it really was an ode to the good ole Jesse James. Gavin wrote a sentimental piece on how he wanted to play with Bill again after Elvin Jones' death. Similarly, my only wish is to play with Jesse at least once more in my lifetime. Indeed, those Toulouse nights were the perfect nights. To those people who have never heard of Jesse James, ("Jesse who?") forget it, you'll never get it.

P.S. I popped an oldies CD in my car stereo and I couldn't help but feel sentimental when Bobby Vinton's "Roses Are Red" started playing...


Thursday, June 17, 2004

A humbling Asian experience

I've been reading pretty closely lately. I must say Dykse san is the first Asian American person I've agreed with more than 90% of the time. Of course, I respect my brother's unique view of the Asian culture, too. He's the one who created the famous quiz "How Hong Kong Are You" that is now getting international attention.

People who know me well know I had seemingly superior arrogance toward Asians and Asian-Americans in general, mainly because I think they're sophomoric and materialistic and don't understand the meaning of life. (In recent years, I've been more tolerant and open-minded towards Asians who possess the sophomoric and materialistic qualities.)

In high school, I had been accused of being a self-hating Chinese by my fellow Chinese classmates. I may be a self-loathing harmonica player (because I hate other loud and obnoxious harp players), but I'm certainly not a self-hating Chinese. I embody and respect Chinese culture and heritage. Though I have lived in the US for more than 10 years, I have not forgotten one word of Chinese and I still read Chinese newspapers and study Chinese history on a daily to weekly basis. I'm a big fan of Cantonese pop songs and Hong Kong movies. Chinese culture is an integral part of me.

However, I do find some Asians in America annoying. Their reluctance to speak English and small social circle confine them to myopia and close-mindedness. Their refusal to be globalized or educated in a well-rounded way prevents them from achieving intellectual growth and maturity. That is not to say to lose your identity. My brother hangs out with Asian friends all the time because he feels more comfortable around them, but he still learns about "what and what not to do" from white, black, and Hispanic people.

Dyske's website is a combination of wit, statistics, and reliable personal experience. We share almost identical feelings on topics such as the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, the superiority of old people, the trivialization of Christmas by Jewish people, Bill Murray's character's snobbishness in Lost in Translation, and why Americans don't appreciate jazz (and our shared hatred for Cecil Taylor). I don't know whether he or I first came up with the idea that Chow Yun Fat bridges the gap between Asian men and white women, but I'm convinced that it's true. Also, his theory about online dating really makes me change my mind on the subject (because I was previously resentful of such a forceful mechanism). Now I don't look down upon people who are on or the Onion's personals.

I used to be very proud, but recent experiences have made me humbler than ever. My Asian friend Justin Ko wrote the following Friendster testimonial about me that best summarizes this entry:

DJ Hank was what I would call an extreme case of an eccentric person in high school. It wasn't until later that I recognized, appreciated, and respected his love for music and film. His talents in the arts have led to multiple successes in filmmaking, film critiquing, musical performances, and his website. This was all accomplished while he was on his way to becoming a lawyer. Before, I merely thought the natural high he got from life was annoying. Now I bow down to it with the utmost respect. Thanks for putting up with me and educating me in the important stuff, Sonny Boy.


More random thoughts on my mind

Just came back from a FOIA seminar which took place in the Ronald Reagan Building this morning. It was very symbolic. The seminar was very informative but a little bit too long. There was comedy involved but it wasn't my cup of tea. The food court was pretty classy. The Michael Jordan restaurant has been replaced by Aria, an Italian restaurant. Things in DC change rapidly without telling you.

My Mom told me my aunt's funeral went as flawless as possible. My cousin led the prayer; my brother sang; another cousin played the piano; my Dad recited my aunt's biography. My Mom said if I were there, I'd play the harmonica. My Mom and the praying cousin organized the event. She says our family is very gifted and fortunate. There are many talents in it and it was good to see almost everybody there. The atmosphere wasn't too sad. I am grateful that I have such a supportive family.

So many people died recently: Adam, my aunt, Reagan, Ray Charles...Today, DC blues legend Nap Turner passed away. I got Wayne Kahn's e-mail and he says he's really sad about it because Nap contributed so much to the DC blues scene. My fellow comrades Bill Heid, Clarence Turner, Rusty Bogart, Arthur Gerstein have all performed with Nap before. I've never met Nap personally but I've listened to his radio show enough to know that he was passionate about the music. My thoughts are with Nap's family and friends.

So I'm going to New York City this weekend. The main purpose is to see Adam's family and personally offer my condolences. I also want to see some friends and a Chinese family I haven't seen for two years. I was very close with that family because they used to take care of me when I went to New York. It's time to pay my tribute once again!

If I have a little time left, I might even check out the trumpet summit at the Smoke Club on Saturday night. If you happen to be on 105 Street and Broadway at 11 pm on June 19, come look for me!


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Asian fever

This is the best thing that happened to me today. I hate it when people say all Asians look the same. I used to pride myself on being able to distinguish among different Asian races. But this quiz kinda got my ass kicked. My score was 11 out of 18. If you can beat me, I'll worship you. Try it.

Upon further investigation, the guy who created the quiz, Dyske Suematsu, has a fascinating website. Worth checking out his thoughtful articles about (1) how online dating tears down racial barriers, and (2) how Chow Yun Fat brought Asian men and white women closer together, reminding me of my own article about Asian actors never score with their Caucasian counterparts in Hollywood films. Simply amazing!

Sam Hui is currently having a successful concert tour at the Hong Kong Coliseum. My whole family went last Saturday (too bad I couldn't go). Sam Hui is a legendary pop star who put Cantopop on the forefront of the Hong Kong music industry. He entered the scene in the 60's covering songs by the Zombies, the Beatles, and Elvis Presley and had a hit called "Interlude." To learn more about Sam and his 2004 concert series, go to this amazing site.

If you don't get enough Asian fever still, sample Wing's "Dream Lover" and "Close To You." I guarantee it'll put you in a good mood.


The gender bender

Focus on the Family's website has a curious article entitled "How Parents Can Prevent Homosexuality." Well, I tried to editorialize it, but actions speak louder than words. Enjoy!

My favorite Focus on the Family topic is its chapter on "Spanking." The following are excerpts from the chapter:

Question: There is some controversy over whether a parent should spank with his or her hand or with some other object, such as a belt or paddle. What do you recommend?

Answer: I recommend a neutral object of some type.

Question: It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Tell me why you think it is healthy to spank him or her.

Answer: Corporal punishment, when used properly and lovingly, is beneficial to a child because it is in harmony with nature itself.

Question: On what part of the body would you administer a spanking?

Answer: It should be confined to the buttocks area, where permanent damage is very unlikely.

You've got to love the freedom of speech.


Monday, June 14, 2004

God bless America

Again, instead of hitting hard on the issue, the Supreme Court was being evasive. In the case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, in which a California atheist challenged the constitutionality of phrase "one nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Court voted 8-0 with an abstention from Justice Scalia, ruling that the petitioner lacks standing to bring the case on behalf of his daughter.

Rather than focusing on the constitutionality of the Pledge, the Court claimed that Newdow does not have sufficient custody of the child to qualify as her legal representative. This is not the first time the Court acted like a wimp by sidestepping the issue. What good is it to say "You can't bring this lawsuit and we're not discussing this today?" That's why I think Rehnquist was more gutsy by writing a separate opinion to say that the pledge as recited by schoolchildren does not violate the Constitution.

And it's probably true. This country was founded upon Christian values. While we should respect the separation of church and state, customs and tradition go a long way. If we used Newdow's logic, then we should get rid of "In God we trust" on all the dollar bills, refrain from saying "God bless America," and stop saying "My God" after witnessing a startling event. That is pure nonsense!


Who's your daddy?

A couple of good news:

1) My brother's How Hong Kong R U quiz has been cited by Northwestern University's HKSA newsletter. He told me more than 50,000 people took the quiz. Maybe he'll be on Jay Leno one day.

2) Euro 2004 is around the corner. France beat England 2-1 yesterday. Zidane scored two goals and Beckham missed a penalty kick. Can anyone tell me which channel it's on? I don't know if we have ESPN at the apartment. We don't even have CNN.

P.S. The 60's Dop Wop song "Daddy's Home" by Shep & the Limelights is actually a response to its 50's counterpart "A Thousand Miles Away" by the Heartbeats. Shep is Shane Sheppard, who wrote both songs, employing the bassline used earlier in Ritchie Valen's "We Belong Together" and the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl," kinda a lullaby melody. Great songs.


Sunday, June 13, 2004

More on Ray Charles, MIA, life and Paris reunion

The MIA continues. It seems like everybody is doing pretty good and in a good mood, perhaps because it's summertime. Ed sent me a tiny missive informing that he's back in the USA and he has a new cell number. Somewhat surprisingly, Dawn sent me this lengthy (which I like) and long overdue e-mail outlining her recent activities, including her return to Charleston, SC, and digging the lifestyle because everyone's so laidback there, albeit somewhat unintelligent. I have to add, DC has some intelligent people but they're not too exciting (more about that later). At the end of her e-mail, she asks, "I'm looking for Utopia. Do you know where it is?" Being a smartass that I sometimes am, I am almost tempted to reply, "It's on U Street." However, I do know it's not in Jamaica, unless you're stoned all the time.

Guess what? Alex's in town and we hung out Saturday night. People who know me know that the summer of 2001 was one of my favorite periods because of the tremendous time I spent in Paris. In a state of mellowness and drunkenness, Munish and Alex were ready to re-live those moments in Paris: study by day, play by night, Jack & coke on the rooftop deck of the foyer, etc. I've never seen Munish so naturally high before; he was happy. Greg, Raj, and Hugh joined the group too, starting from Munish's pool to rooftop deck to his apartment room, then proceeding to the overrated Leftbank at Adams Morgan. Raj was smooth with the ladies, while Munish and Alex would be periodically missing for 15 or 30-minute intervals. It was good to see Alex again, and it was a great Paris reunion.

Still planning my NY trip this weekend. I've managed to pin down a dinner meeting with some family friends I haven't seen in two to three years in a Japanese restaurant that they own in NYC. Also meeting some dear friends in midtown in the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday.

My brother joked that we should get a day off to mourn Ray Charles, too. Good point. Ray Charles remains one of the most influential figures in shaping my own music. He represents soul, blues, jazz, funk, country, all in one. My father introduced me to Ray when I was about 13 by playing "I Can't Stop Loving You." His album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was a groundbreaking statement in music history, opening the door for more tolerance and improvisation and getting me hooked to "You Don't Know Me." After that, it was history. Besides Ray Charles, I've been listening to some of the old 50's Doo Wop songs like "Daddy's Home" that are utterly incredible. I love black people.

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines


Thursday, June 10, 2004

I've got random (and Georgia) on my mind

It's been an uneventful (but highly productive) week. Day in, day out at the library. Though quiet, I am enjoying it cuz no one disturbs me. Kinda the polar opposite of Negril, Jamaica. Many of my friends are moving, either across state lines or just changing apartments. Been MIA in terms on contacts, and my reward is the MIA in my "Comments" section. Someone's gotta be reading my blog, right? But no one wants to leave a comment.

Discovered that someone's stalking me all the way from France. Must be my Paris legacy. Half-flattered and half-annoyed, because the ones who stalk me aren't the ones I want them to stalk. The ones who I want to stalk me never stalk me because they have other people stalking them. The world is just a big stalking paradox.

Congrats to Gavin on getting into the Amsterdam Conservatory. Enrique from Mexico sent me a surprise text message. My brother seems to be having a good time in Hong Kong (and I can't wait to hear the details of the long awaited Sam Hui concert). The whole Reagan thing is blowing out of proportion. While Bush declared tomorrow a public holiday, everybody's flocking to the Rotunda at present (including my various co-workers).

Right now, I'm trying to find somethin' cool to listen this summer from my music collection. The Beach Boys and Chad & Jeremy's "A Summer Song" are a good starting point. Any suggestions, people?

P.S. I just found out that another music icon Ray Charles died as of my writing this entry. It's really the blues. This one is for you, Ray.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

What do Natalie Portman and John Kerry have in common?

Steve Cohen sent me this hilarious e-mail invitation today:

Great news! The Kerry Campaign and the Clinton folks decided to make this a more inclusive event, so they have drastically reduced ticket prices (and changed the time). Rather than have us all waiting for President Clinton to leave the dinner he will be attending, his people have decided to have him come speak to us before that event. So the event is now at 6:00 p.m. He is expected to speak around 6:30 or shortly thereafter. The VIP event will be at 6pm. In addition to having Natalie Portman at that event, there is a limited chance that Clinton will stop by that reception (NO PROMISES), and -- perhaps most important -- the line to get in will be much shorter. Second, ticket prices are now $50 in advance by Sunday, otherwise $75 at the door. The VIP reception with Natalie Portman is now $150. Those of you who already gave $150, please let me know and I will ensure that you are "upgraded" to the VIP list.

OK, reading between the lines, it seems like Natalie Portman draws better than Bill Clinton, granted that she is after all, Queen Amidala, an important Senator in the galaxy far, far away. If you want to see or talk to Natalie, you pay $150, which is $75 more than just meeting ex-President Clinton. I think it's really a bargain because how many times do you get to meet a celebrity? And for such a good cause (i.e. boosting John Kerry's candidacy)? I'd pay $200 if I were rich. After all, I did pay $75 to see Prince at MCI Center in August.

There's a price for everything. Welcome to the capitalistic world!


Booties everywhere

I told you after coming back from Jamaica, I'd smack anybody who plays reggae in my face. Well, here's an amendment to the early rule - with the exception of the song "Rudies All Around." When we were enjoying the all-inclusive (read: diarrhea-induced) option at the almighty Hotel Samsara, this song was being played many times to a point that we almost memorized all the lyrics. With that funky pronunciation, we originally thought the name of the song was called "Booties Everywhere" because given the circumstances, it made sense at the time. Jamaica is synonmous with booty. And yes, there were booties everywhere.

Greg did some great research and found out the song is actually called "Rudies All Around" sung by Joe White, a semi-known reggae singer. What struck me is that the Jamaicans focused much more on rude people than the little boy's basketball itself. Jamaicans emphasize on the concept of "respect" a lot, or just the idea of it. To them, respect means money. Money first, respect second. They use "respect" as a greeting just like we say "Peace" or "Take it easy." RESPECT MON! You hear a lot of that. The song itself is ironic because Jamaicans are the rudies themselves and they are truly everywhere.

Greg's research also touched upon this candid account by a BA called the Great VaVa Voom who gave the best description of Negril. Our good friend Indian made a cameo appearance in the photos, but J-dog is nowhere to be found. I find VaVa's following testimonial completely accurate:

[E]xperience the real Jamaica in Spring Garden. Play ludie, drink Red Stripe and, maybe you can light up in the back. Negril doesn't strictly fall into the category of THDBs anymore. It is too developed and has too many package tourists. But it still has the best and most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, and is still the easiest place in the world to score weed (some of the sweetest and freshest in great amounts and many varied tastes)...Jamaica is very expensive...There is always something happening here (pure loony tunes).

So to make the long story short, I won't return to Jamaica again unless it's free and someone like EG is willing to stay at H2 with me. Just kidding! No, I won't go back.

There are many festivals this summer in DC. Unfortunately, I'll spend most of my time in the library. But if I do make an appearance say in the National Mall or a museum, I expect to see "booties everywhere."


Sunday, June 06, 2004

There's no limit for good cause

There's another benefit for Moses Munene organized by his Kenyan friends. The event will take place at St. Stephen's Church Auditorium, 1525 Newton Street, NW, Washington DC 20010, at 3 p.m. on June 12. Featuring Smith Hempstone, former US Ambassador stationed in Kenya and author of the book Rogue Ambassador: An African Memoir, who will also be signing his book at this event. I won't be performing in this one but my spirit is with Moses. To learn more about Moses and his needs, visit this website.

Speaking of good cause, Jeff's 5/27 post about Peanuts made me very happy. I don't know if it's the right philosophy, but Charlie Brown's nonchalant outlook of life is an interesting take on humanity. I question myself a lot lately. While Charles Shultz uses Charlie Brown as his alter ego to reflect his philosophy, what's my own alter ego? Is "Sonny Boy," the blues harp wailing fool, a version of my persona? Or is it the suit-wearing, opera-going mongul that I once was? At the end of the day, after all is said and done, we still have Guaraldi to blame for our stupidity. Thanks Jeff for sharing something so entertaining yet intimate.

Right now I dig: Charlie Brown, Vince Guaraldi, the scene "I'll have what she's having" in When Harry Met Sally, the out of style yet strangely erotic clothing Bethesda girls wear, and my favorite Pastor P.K. Li's fabulous old sermons.


Saturday, June 05, 2004

Is America funny anymore?

Bush says that Reagan's death is "a sad day for America." I think it's sad not only because American has lost a great man, but because America has lost someone (one of the last few) who had a good sense of humor. His memorable quotes range from "Send Rambo" to "Honey I forgot to duck." Check out some of Reagan's great quotes here.

What has happened to America's sense of humor? Even comedians' quality has been systematically lowered over the years. We used to love Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, etc. Now, people think Chris Rock and Chris Tucker are comedy icons. Politicians are not as humorous as before - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz - none of them have cracked any good jokes in recent memory.

The lack of sense of humor is very telling about a nation. Let's elect somebody who can restore good humor in this age of crisis.


Friday, June 04, 2004

Breaking News (just the name of the movie)

Love the poster. This new Johnnie To film was premiered at Cannes when copies of 2046 were still being delivered from Bangkok. Breaking News opens in Hong Kong on June 10, 2004. Check out its website here.

Has anybody seen Shrek 2 or Harry Potter 3 yet?


Thursday, June 03, 2004


First thing first, seven days of Jamaica were more than enough. Lots of begging, bugging, bothering, and conning. The whole country was set up to rip off foreigners. It got annoying and old after four days. The all-inclusive option was designed to give you diarrhea. If someone starts playing "Three Little Birds" or "Buffalo Soldiers" in my face again, I'll punch him in the face.

If anything, the trip was a good laugh. The people staying at our resort were a wild bunch and we had nicknames for all of them, notably Charcoal, Michael J. Fox, The BB's, Randy Jackson (George) and his bird, EG and her bloke, and of course, numerous FT's falling out. Charcoal takes the cake for being our hero. He never leaves the resort, stays in the same chair to sunbathe, and drinks Real Rock for nourishment. The nickname Charcoal is a result of his countless days in the sun - He turned into charcoal. We also met some nice people: a couple of English couples, two young female doctors from London, Larry and his bird, etc.

The beach was nice. A couple of cab drivers were hilarious. We went to almost every night spot nightly. It was just like college - you see the same people every night and you run into the same people in the dining hall (or the resort's dining area). It was unreal. But all in all, the place was not for me. I was on vacation but I was never in peace. The bugging and scaming have to stop. Or else the word of mouth is just that Jamaica is not tourist friendly anymore - well, with one exception, if you are a single white female who wants to get your groove back, you can always go there to benefit the Jamaican steel industry. Now I know what it means when people tell me "I hang out with Jamaicans."

And if you hear me say "YAH MON," "Irie," or "No problem," just tell me to stop and remind me that I'm back to civilization!


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