Thursday, June 30, 2005

My tribute to Percy Heath (1923-2005)

Just can't believe it. I just saw him at around this time at Iridium, NYC when he was as healthy as a lion. The nicest of all the Heath brothers passed away quietly. 81 years old; didn't look it at all.

May God rest his soul.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Do you speak English?

Duff and I were saying that there's a general bad vibe going on in DC. Ever since I came back from New England, I'm once again surrounded by this vibe, though I'm still in a good mood due to my strong will.

I was in Alexandria last Thursday night. This light-skinned black female in her early 20's approached me and began her opening line.

Her: Do you speak English?

Me: Yeah.

Her: I'm three months pregnant, and I need money....

Me: Hold on. Word of advice. Next time you ask somebody for money, don't start off with an insult. Because I really was considereding giving you money until your opening line hurt my feelings. Now I'm giving you nothing.

This was not the first time I encountered the line, "Do you speak English?" I may have an accent, but I speak English fine. Thank you very much.

Racism is still alive and well. It is just in a different form.

Not even beggars are humble in DC.

I gave up!


Stuff that is awesome

This is the best website ever. Especially the article "The Curse of the Asian Men." It's hilarious (yet true to some extent).

F-ing awesome!


Monday, June 27, 2005

Blogging and eating

I've realized my blog entries lately have been mostly positive and sunny, in contrast to the dark and skeptical ones in the past two years. I've also discovered many people read my blog but fail to leave comments. That's OK. Most of these people are harmless ones who are curious about my largely boring (but sometimes exciting) daily life. However, some of these people have ill or vicious motifs and hope to find something in my blog, take it out of context and try to defame me in another medium. I'm not going to name names, but an incident occurred last Thursday night somewhere in DC makes me well aware of this situation.

"So I heard you have a blog, right?"
"[Someone] told me you wrote something bad about me. I've never read your blog, but I just want to verify from the original source that this ain't true."
"I never wrote anything bad about you. Why would I?"
"Just heard it through the grapevine."
"In fact, I don't think I even mentioned you once in my blog, let alone write something bad about you."
"I only write something bad about people who dropped the bomb on me first. Self-defense, you know?"

But my blog is not about people-bashing. I praise people more than I criticize them in my space. Cyberspace breeds cowards. People now can enter a forum or a BBS with a pseudonym and start posting inflammatory messages about someone and not be responsible for it. Or they start a fake e-mail address and start telling people to go to hell. Yeah, sure you can trace their IP address and stuff, but the point is, they don't have to be responsible for their speech. Similarly, people read my blog and they defame not on my blog but on other bulletin boards. If you have the guts, debate me here (there's a comment section) or better yet, debate with me in person. I assure you that you will lose, because you're a coward.

I'm gonna end my negative vibe right here and start saying something more sunny.

The weather's nice, do yourself a favor and hang out by the pool and listen to Bob Marley. These days I have few worries. I'm not angry any more. I sleep like baby every night. Summer's here and I'm taking advantage of the pool, sunlight, reggae music, and everything nice under the sun.

I hear Chad & Jeremy.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My good luck continues

Been invited to two 4th of July parties as opposed to none last year. Somehow everybody's nice to me now. It's a cascading effect. I'm feeling summer now because it's the first day of summer. Was listening to Louis Armstrong's version of "Stardust." Still the most romantic version, with the trumpet piercing through the odd percussions in the background. Somehow nostalgia is heard through the muddled sounds. I still like the Nat King Cole and Aaron Neville versions, but the Louis version gives me the most memories, as if I had lived in the 40's.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

You just have to hear it to believe it.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Look for the silverlining

It's funny how I went from angry to an incredibly good mood in just two short weeks. I'm still on the top of my game, constantly smiling, and feeling so much sunshine. I'm spending a lot of time in the sun, too. I love it. Also got a couple of really nice, unexpected e-mail from those who care. What a warm feeling! I think my luck's gradually changing. There's poignancy in Chet Baker's song "Look for the Silverlining." I believe the winter has gone, and my summer has finally arrived.

Friday night, I went from hanging out with Meredith and Chan outside of the Parthenon Lounge enduring eavesdroppping people to cruising and lounging at their new house on Connecticut Ave. What a cozy atmosphere! I'm gonna spend my 4th July weekend there too. Watch out folks!

Saturday I proved myself once again to people who have never heard me but constantly criticize my name or subject me to ridicule. The results were totally formidable. I got praise from people who are complete strangers to an old legendary veteran like Dru Lore. "You're wailing on that harp. You've come a long way." Yes I have, sir! On top of them, all our CDs were sold out. All of them!!! The second time it has happened in two weeks. The band is just kicking ass everywhere we go, proving our critics wrong. Henry Tate from BBS walked up to me and said, "I hope you guys come back to Baltimore this year. You guys were robbed last year." I said, "Unlikely because we're done with competitions. No more contests for us. Also, we were not robbed because apparently we received the lowest score from the judges." Mr. Tate just shook his head and whispered, "I don't believe it."

Clarence also made headline in the local Greenbelt newspaper. Greenbelt was a cool place; I dig it. Nice surprise to have Gene Meros play with us again! We rocked the place. No doubt.

Saw two good movies this weekend. Discussed Batman already. The other was "My Summer of Love." My youth's slowly coming back to me.


Friday, June 17, 2005

DJ Hank - a name I haven't heard in a decade

And someone called me this name during my reunion weekend. It was nice to know that some people still remember that name. I didn't spin or scratch or anything in high school. I just hosted a radio show with MC Rob at WNMH 91.5 FM. We played oldies, classic rock and blues, and talked non-sense for about 2 hours a week. People at Gould used to listen to it when they were in line for Saturday brunch. And Matty Dunne called up and said we're the funniest people ever. I also jockeyed at a couple of school dances, and I played cool rap music. Me and rap music? Can you believe it? Those days were fun.

Not to be sentimental or anything, but that period of my life was golden. I had no real worries or financial burdens. I cared about getting good grades and making a good impression out of faculty members. I would've invested a little more on people had I had a more outgoing personality. But would people still remember me as "DJ Hank"?

Saw "Batman Begins" last night. It was unrecognizable as the DC Comics franchise. The first 60 minutes could've been the beginning of Jim Jamursch's "Ghost Dog," for Christ's sake. And the credits didn't appear until the end of the movie. A lot of people thought they were in the wrong theatre. Chris Nolan has transformed the cult comic hero into an anti-hero - What a brave choice using "American Psycho's" Christian Bale as Batman! Bale is still the same character in "American Psycho" but with a bat suit on. Cool supporting cast as well. However, I find the star-glittering cast a little too distracting and underused. What a waste of space when you have Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe on screen together? Cillian Murphy stands out as "Scarecrow." In fact, he's scarier without his mask on. Reminds me of my friend Sven. Katie Holmes was wrongly casted - she should play Tom Cruise's daughter in "War of the Worlds" instead.

In short, "Batman Begins" was simply Chris Nolan's excuse to use Warner Bros' huge budget to make another "Memento." For pure movie buffs, it was a treat! For others who look for a prequel to Val Kilmer's or George Clooney's dark knight, well, they better go watch the new Hilary Duff flick instead.

I failed to mention I had fun in East Brookfield, MA and Fort Lee, NJ on Sunday. My friend/bass player extraordinaire DK set me up a mini-gig in Frank's Pub. He's wonderful and heard something special in my playing. Played with some final local musicians and had a blast. The Massachusetts blues listening crowd is more enthusiastic and encouraging than the DC blues jam crowd. It was a great feeling. My friend James showed up too and we had some good fish and chips at the Clam Box.

This weekend was just beautiful and I didn't want it to end...


Thursday, June 16, 2005

I usually don't do forwards, but...

...this one from Munish is quite hilarious. So here it is.


So Wacko Jacko is innocent after all. Brilliant. Now I am going to have 5 kids and send them all to Neverland. I always knew he was such a wonderful role model.

I can see it now; he can dangle them over the terrace, hug them, kiss them, sleep with them, and drink wine together... it all brings a tear to my eye. What is particularly pleasing is that it all has such a happy ending - even the jurors, all clearly good wonderful examples of the American people have become the closest friends, as one juror pointed out. They were so diligent because they took notes until their thumbs were tired - that is convinving proof he is innocent.

It touches me right to the bottom of my heart. Ohhhhhhh, I am swelling up, hang on, I just got teary eyed, no hang on, I am now totally overwhelmed and balling... now I am crying with such joy. "I love you all" - I have this urge to share my joy and love with all the "PYT" children in the world. Like Michael said, "the girl is mine." Then I'm going to bleach my skin... after all it doesn't matter if you're black and white...

Take care all


PS just in case this email gets in the wrong hands and I am sued for defamation: The opinions expressed in this opinion are not my own and are purely created for comedic effect and I accept Michael Jackson has been cleared of all charges... LOL.

"Don't stop till you get enough"
Michael Jackson


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

O Alma Mater!!

I haven't been so happy in a long time.

I went back to my 10th year HS graduation this weekend, and boy, was that fun! It was a weekend of endless drinking and partying and catching up with some fine folks. In fact, I first got to know some folks during this reunion only. I feel like I have redeemed myself after 13 years. I finally received the respect/admiration/recognition that I deserved. It was long overdue, but it made me feel that I haven't wasted my 13 years in the US doing my thang. And moments like this make you realize there's some reason to keep doing what you do.

On an even more positive note, all these pretty girls who wouldn't talk to me during HS hung out with me a lot this weekend. We shared some very nice moments together, albeit shortlived. This also happened before I told them I was a lawyer and a harmonica player. Damn, that felt good! I wonder if girls mature faster than men. At our age, girls are probably thinking about settling down, starting a family, and acquiring top quality male species as their husbands. We men still think about how to pick up girls at a bar and getting drunk and wasted. "Dude" is still hip; it's depressing. Anyway, I feel like my mojo's definitely working again, thanks to these amazing ladies.

I left my home early Friday morning and drove about 8 hours. Arrived in Northfield at 7:30 p.m. and just missed the dinner. So I grabbed a couple of bananas from West Hall and joined the hymn worship on the Mt. Hermon Chapel. Wow, that pipe organ was so spectacular. It's almost a shame that when I used to come to this chapel, I didn't admire this pipe organ enough. What a beautiful chapel! Then we went back to East Hall and the fun began.

Some people suggested that we should crash the Class of 2000 party at Marquand, and we found out they were having a pool party at one of the parents' Beverly Hills-esque home somewhere in Northfield, MA. So we went uninvited and took over the party and showed them who was the cooler class. The weather was hot and muggy so jumping into the pool was the logical thing to do.

Saturday was an all-day party. Lunch under the tent. Class photo outside East Hall. Re-watched the class video (though some of us got bored). Opened the time capsule and found some stupid stuff I wrote. Also found a piece from the Bridge Adiyasa wrote (sadly he didn't come back for reunion). He said, "I like MH better than Northfield b/c MH is more beautiful. It's more beautiful because the most beautiful girl lives on this campus." I know who that is too.

Saw some of the very aggressive and competitive ultimate frisbee game. Went to Greenfield. Went to the ice-cream store. Went back to Northfield to prepare for our class dinner. Sat in with the Ben Shippee for a couple of songs. Impressed the hell of my classmates. More chicks flocked to me. I was the talk of the town. Went back to East and drank and chat and partied a little more. I was exhausted and went to bed. I heard some people partied until dawn. Whatever!

Sunday was farewell time. I didn't try to make it too sentimental. "See you in five years" was my motto though they are a few people I want to keep in touch with in the next months or so. But a reunion isn't a reunion without certain cool people. It was very meaningful to me. NMH was a very special place and is always reserved in the VIP compartment of my heart. Memories are truly made of these.

The rest of weekend was excellent too. Boston and Fort Lee and then some. I drove back on the NJ Turnpike with a big grin on my face. Listening to Coltrane, Cypress Hill, James Taylor, Digable Planets, etc. never was more joyful. It's interesting how a weekend can do that to you.

I know right now I'm very happy.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Some shows worth catching

7 pm Nick Hornby at Olsson's Arlington/Courthouse reading from and signing "A Long Way Down."

7:30 pm Cephas & Wiggins at Silver Plaza Ellsworth Dr between Georgia & Fenton Silver Spring MD, Free concert

6/18 Saturday Gator Fest Featuring Bobby Parker, Jesse Yawn, Roy C., Lee Fields at Lamont's

6/18 Saturday Greenbelt Blues Fest Featuring Clarence Turner, Rich Sampson, Matt Kelley, etc. at New Deal Cafe, Greenbelt MD

6/23 Thursday Big Four Combo at 219 Restaurant, Alexandria VA

6/26 Sunday The Reverend Al Green at 9:30 Club

6/30 Thursday The Fabulous Thunderbirds with new members Nick Curran and Jimi Bott at Rams Head Annapolis

7/6 Wednesday Digable Planets at 9:30 Club

7/9 Saturday Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Jill Scott at Merriweather

7/14 Thursday Dave's True Story at The Westside Cafe, 1A W. 2nd St. Frederick, MD

7/16 Saturday Doc Watson at Birchmere

7/25 Monday Rickie Lee Jones at Birchmere

10/30 Sunday Rod Piazza & Mighty Flyers at Rams Head Annapolis


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The downside of anger

Well, Russell Crowe sure needs anger management. This is a man who thinks more highly of himself than he actually is.

I'm so out of the loop in celebrity gossip that I don't want to comment on any of those topics.

Got a couple of very encouraging e-mail from old friends and a photo journal of a friend who just went to the Netherlands, Luthuania and Egypt. Nice photos. It's important that there are people who lift you up while everybody's trying to drag you down, including the couple of Northwest attendants at BWI, and other poor service industry people I encountered lately. DC's notorious for its poor service industry. Don't know why. But why should an educated/sophisticated person like me risk losing my brain cells trying to argue with these people whether the photo on my ID is indeed me?

Now I know why Russell Crowe struck the telephone at the hotel manager.

Anger doesn't have a name. It just occurs.

Then when you rest your soul on a comfortable couch or beach chair, all your troubles seemingly go away. Patience is an art.

So I can't wait to leave for New England again. There's an unwelcoming vibe in DC right now coming from the service industry people and people who are jealous of others' success. Not to mention cab drivers.

The cab drivers of the world are waging a war against me and peaceful people like me. Now take this: peaceful people do not like being taken advantage of.

Just like Greta Garbo: leave me the F alone!


Friday, June 03, 2005

Miracles happen every day

You better believe it.

The past year has been a somewhat important one for me. I've learned to be good at a few things, including cleaning my bathroom floor and changing water at the water cooler. While my life is usually consumed by neurotic items such as credit card bills, car insurance statements, and junk mail from Safeway, I've started to save money so I can spend economically. Ebay turned out to be where I shop the most: I even purchased my yoga mat there.

As society becomes more technologically advanced, our troubles have also doubled. I know people who waste their brain cells trying to figure out whether they should buy a $500 couch from Anthropologie or a $475 chair from Ikea. The point is: If one of my boxes from the storage room disappeared, I wouldn't know what I was missing.

The last two weeks were a revelation to me. I always thought I understood it all, but it came little by little. I've often neglected the simple pleasure of life when pursuing the seemingly more grandiose purposes. A couple of pigeons are currently building a nest underneath a cupboard in my brother's deck. The wonderful afternoon I spent reminiscing my old times at Harvard Square. Attending my cousin's graduation in New Hampshire and actually encountering people who are genuinely kind and unpretentious. Watching Al Gore walk from the podium into his limo during my brother's graduation. It could be anything: a song, a memento, a ticket stub. It's those small moments when you realize the world just stops that remind you that you're living.

I'll be New England bound again next week. My rebirth is gradually happening. There is always somebody who drags you down when you attempt to return to the Chitlin Circuit, but then you realize a great actor like Paul Giamatti is underpaid for his impressive work in Cinderella Man, you know you're not alone.

For me, it's tough to balance between sticking to my principles and being a nice guy. The way that I stand up for myself may be seen as "arrogant" in the eyes of others. From time to time, I've learned to overcome others' criticisms on me. But I've yet to learn to stop criticizing others. It's part of my nature to be a perfectionist. It's not easy to finish every job in an art form, but it's worth a try. The happiest people in the world are both self-confident and don't mind if others truly suck. I just take things a bit more personally.

If you sleep particularly well at night, you're a step towards being fortunate. So rest your heart on a bed of lettuce and keep your fingers crossed.



Thursday, June 02, 2005

Time for an update

Seems like lots of people (both invited and uninvited) have been reading my blog, I feel that it's probably time to give an update. I was gone for four days, but it seemed like forever. And it's a good feeling. I'm well rested and recharged and ate so much. And I feel refreshed.

My brother graduated from Hopkins last Thursday. Al Gore was his graduation speaker. While the first 5 minutes of his speech were mildly amusing when he compared to his treatment now vs. when he was VP (he claims he has to take off his shoes to get through airport security), the rest of his speech was pretty dull. He pretty much used up all the graduates' and the spectators' time to talk about global warming, a topic that is important yet not appropriate for college graduation. I would like to extend my congratulations to my bro and wish him the best success in his future endeavors.

We flew to Logan Aiport on Friday and met up with my uncle. Then we headed towards Wolfeboro, NH to see my cousin's graduation at Brewster Academy. The Commencement was on Saturday, so we arrived one day early to get ready. I also met up with one of my good friends from Hong Kong and NMH, Yu Lui, who's now a Math teacher at Brewster. It was great fun. We had dinner at Garwood Friday night and my brother sat in the bandstand for an unexpected "Heartbreak Hotel." Saturday was gorgeous. Took many pictures. My cousin's graduation was also very inspirational. Good speech from valedictorian who had a pie on his face after he finished his speech.

Then we headed to Boston on Sunday. Spent some time on Newbury Street, Chinatown, and my favorite CD store Stereo Jack's at Harvard Square. My five-year absence from New England turned out to be worth the wait because I still remember my way around the city. The stores seem to be all there without alteration. Caught Sax Gordon's cool jazz trio at the Top of the Hub Monday night.

Came back Tuesday morning. Still New England bound. I'll be back next weekend for NMH reunion and a Frank's Pub appearance. Can't wait.


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