Vices we love: May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Asiatown's amazing Korean coteacher contest

So the idea behind teaching at a public school is that a Korean speaker would teach grammar, handle phone calls from parents, wipe runny noses, etc while I work my magic and teach English through osmosis. (As I mentioned many times, Koreans believe that they can learn English by listening to a native speaker.) I do have a coteacher now but she just gave her notice and is leaving next month. Wanna be my coteacher? The requirements:

*Fluent in Korean and English (To deal with parents)
*Female (to conform to social expectations)
*Decent looking (see above)
*Have some idea what you're doing (I'm a newbie so don't look to me for wisdom. Rather, grant me wisdom.)

Martyrs need not apply. Many Koreans, their parents having been dirt poor, their grandparents in concentration camps and whatnot feel that there is a sort of nobility in misery. They take every opportunity to tell me how hard their lives are, how much they have to work, how little they are paid, etc. My family, good Jewish boys and girls, do the same thing. I don't want to hear about it. You want to see misery, go to China. Or the Sudan. Hence, the fifth and final requirement, and the most vital of them all:

*Leave me alone.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Coming home

A man and a woman step off the plane in Los Angeles. They just returned from teaching English in Korea. The woman looks over and says:

"How does it feel to be poor?"

The man glances back and replies:

"How does it feel to be ugly?"

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Still a step ahead of the authorities

Many moons ago, when I was a senior at Memphis State, I worked in the Tennessee state legislature as an intern. This was in the Monica-era so we got stern lectures about keeping our oversexed selves from the legislative body, or bodies as the case may be. I was assigned to a man-no worries there. The gent was called Ulysses Jones Jr. and he was perhaps best known as Elvis's paramedic back in the day when the King had his last peanut buttery treat.
Anyhow, me and Ulysses got along famously and if Nashville itself wasn't such a hellhole, I might have fished around there for a job after graduation. And if I had done that, chances are pretty good I would be blogging from the penitentary right now.

Nashville was "the buckle of the Bible Belt". Whoo-hoo. Fun. To start things off, I couldn't rent an apartment in town, no matter how annoying I became. A sample conversation:

Me: Hello, I saw in the blue book (the city real estate guide) that you have apartments available?
Cracker Bob: Not for for'ners we don't.

It became clear that, in spite of my every instinct, I would need a roomie. Not just any roomie, but one that spoke the Middle Tennessee lingo- the kind who could create vacancies where there had previously been none. I cast my net far and wide, trapping the biggest redneck in Tennessee. Naturally, we secured an apartment in a single hour. There were downsides of course. One fine day, I came home to find that he had shaved his head. He turned, smiled sweetly, and said:


Ahhh, memories. I also got to experience country hospitality from his aunt out near Jackson, TN. Old as dirt, she scrounched up her nose and said: "Jonathan told me you were some kind of foreigner." Whoo, lady you have no idea.
Somewhere between my rural outings, I managed to squeeze in a minimum amount of work as Ulysses lorded over the state and local government committee, a chairmanship he got by basically intimidating the Democrats into it, claiming that all the nice church-going people from North Memphis would sit on their hands on election day otherwise. Ulysses is a pragmatic lad and I imagine he has noticed that quite a few of those involved look like they came from North Memphis. (Roscoe Dixon, who, as fate would have it, employed my roomie, was from South Memphis, an even more delightful place to be.) On a side note, I knew most of the fellas getting mentioned here and with John Ford's chemically-induced exception I would have assumed that they would keep their noses relatively clean. You never know, right? Here are a couple of guys making 18K a year for a part time job that's really a full time hassle. They spend their days being surrounded by other guys who make easily six times that, being on the payroll of Government Shoppers Inc. and those are the guys issuing orders. No wonder that at some time you might want a slice of the moolah pie for yourself. I am sure, dear reader, that you are wondering "Who is the most wretched scum among them all?" Whoo...this is a tough one but in my experience, this guy is the boss hog of them all.

I just perused the legislative site and came upon a few more worthy contenders whom I did not have the good fortune to meet. Mr. Mumpower on the other hand was kind enough to make his presence known as far back as 1999.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pearly whites

Toothpaste? You crazy kids....

Friday, May 27, 2005

You little chickenshit

Hey, I prefer animals to people too but this is taking it too far...the pic is of a chicken (one of many chickens) Christine bought to class today. "They are cute teacher." So they are. Cute little chickens produce cute little chicken poo. Wipe up all that adorable gooey stuff before you leave.

Chickens are people too Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The debate continues

Say, is it mortgage fraud if they don't catch you? What if you think it ought to be legal? What if you are owed reparations because your Cherokee-Irish-African-Japanese grandmother was forced to live in an internment camp on a reservation? What if you just damned well feel like it? What if you go to church? What if you not only go to chuch but also firebomb mosques? What if you THOUGHT it was legal? What if you were under the influence of Randy Newman tunes? What if the mortgage broker didn't look 16? What if you are doing your civic duty? What about your religious convictions? What of your days back in the National Guard between 1964 and 1973? What if your dad is an alderman? What if you are an alderman? What if you know an alderman? What if you could have been an alderman? What if you are a redhead? What if you are a hermaphrodite? What if you were almost aborted? What if the power of Christ compounds you? What would Alan Greenspan do?

I sense this to be bullshit

It's elementary dear Oprah.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Really for suckers

Well hello there. Today we shall talk about your greatest asset. The tin shack you call a home.

Some time ago, I was involved with New York City Cashflow, an organization which was (and is) geared largely to uniting people of all races, genders and transgenders and dedicated to the goal of bullshitting each other with fabricated tales of real estate riches. The internet tells no lies so go and see New York City cashflow . Anyhow, through the group I heard of a Russian-Israeli lad named Lior who wished according to lore to sell his 8 unit apartment building in the decrepit upstate burg of Binghamton for a relative song. Lior sent several faxes to me which showed rent and utility receipts for the prior six months. Armed with said info, I alerted a Mormon fella on Long Island as to the deal of the century. The following weekend, he claimed to have made the 8 hour drive into the frozen wasteland of post-industrial America only to find an abandoned crackhouse. And the beauty of it all is that to this day I do not know who was bullshitting me. (Tho I suspect it was Lior because his phone service mysteriously dissappeared the very next week.)

As part of my capitalist capers, I joined the email list for Cashflow and they have been keeping me entertained for two solid years now with Iraq-caliber fabrications and numerous attempts to claim that screwing you from behind is really just a massage. The latest scam (that is, "strategy") involves an endearingly incompetent government agency called the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD gives low-interest loans to those wishing to buy properties in "urban" (Americanese for "Black and Hispanic") neighborhoods. The catch is that in order to qualify, you must commit to living in the building. As Mormon lads from Long Island ("Strong Island" in white-boy ebonics slang spouted by Junior Eminems from Deer Park to Farmingdale) are generally not keen on going urban, except in fashion sense, many pasty folk (and Asians, being model minorities) have been scheming on the message board for a way to get cheap loans by declaring that they will live in the combat zone without actually doing so. Sample messages:

There is: "The innocent."
"What are the ramifications of saying you will be the occupant when you really won't be?"

There is: "The realist."
"Two words: mortgage fraud."

There is: "The lawyer."
"Not really. People can change their minds about moving in."

There is: "The experienced investor."
"I have 3 owner-occupied loans. Occasion relative stay. Your name on the utility changes for everybody, nobody lives in one place 15-30 year mortgage period. The bank KNOWS."

There is: "Socrates."
"First of all, how can HUD have the resources to check on every dwelling? And even if they do, one can live in it but they can move out while it is being renovated."

And what of Diogenes? He is living in a trashcan somewhere on the south side, eating molded bread and talking to himself, glad to have finally found an honest man to converse with.

Famous pictures of naked people

Don't got any. I got this though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Vasectomies! Get your vasectomies here!

I firmly believe that most people have no business procreating. Dreadful as they are, how could their wretched progeny be any better? Case in point: Roota.

Roota is in 6th grade. She likes rainbows, teddy bears, 'NSync and crying. Lots of crying. Great big buckets of blubber. Now me, I hate crying. It's just the sort of thing that makes me stand around, earnestly examining my knuckles and muttering: "What the hell am I supposed to do?" Todays blow-up came because a kid whom I will call "the unblinker" (See Malachy McCourt for the reference) bought a water gun to class (why? Why ask why?) and squirted her hand while I was writing on the board. This so traumatized the precious youth that she took a break from shouting "game!" (Korean youths believe, as do their parents, that all one needs to do to learn English is to play hangman) to burst into wrenching sobs. I had to get my Korean coteacher to come in (thus interrupting her own lesson) and she finally kicked the two out. On a related note, I had asked several times that the class, which has the collective English language knowledge of a turnip, actually take the initiative and buy dictionaries so that they could learn something. That was on May 9th. As of today, the class is 0 for 14 in the dictionary department.

Oh well. There is always hangman. And ladies, please: Take some RU-486 with you, no matter where you go. Because you never know.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ah the good old days

Let's see....what does South Korea have in store for us in the nostalgia department today? Take a look see below.

Nostalgia... Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005


There is a section of Seoul near downtown called Iatewon, or in charming Korean-speak "the foreigners district." Went there last night and after strolling around, stumbled into a bar called Gecko's. (Greed is good.) Now, I never go to Iatewon because it's more American than America ever was. The white guys look like they just came from the frat house and the black guys keep a spare do rag in their exposed band of their boxers, just in case. Ugh. It kind of reminded me of the so-called "Hungarian village" on an isolated lot in eastern PA where bare-chested old men ate blood sausages on a stick- it was almost like a parody. The frat guys were shouting slurred obscenities at past-their-prime skanks who had a bit too much tan in the bottle. I should keep my mouth shut tho- at this rate, in another five months the Iatewon girls will start looking like beauty queens.

(Hate to say it since I'm supposed to be the standard-issue white male EFL teaching sex tourist in Asia but the Korean girls just don't do it for me. For shame! Can't I at least live up to my stereotype?)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Expat Expert

I got roped into a school trip tomorrow morning to the beautiful city of Incheon, home, most significantly, of an airport that will serve to get me off this godfersaken island. Or peninsula.

My place in Ansan is near Hanyang University so I met up with a bunch of English teachers, lads in their thirties and forties who drink massive amounts of beer and have been here, on average, 10 years each. Will, I, dear reader, be here for 10 years? Only 9 years and 233 days left....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Things to do in Ulsan when you're dead

This is a deeply sick man. I like him.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hamster on rye

I teach five classes and my first (1st grade) and last (a combo of 5th and 6th grade) are the worst. First graders are of course mere babies and have the attention span of a gnat. Thankfully nobody expects them to perform on standardized tests or anything of that sort here (unlike at my old hakwon), so we can mess around and if I manage to squeeze in a little education along the way, I'll be a happy camper.

My last class is a combination of 5th and 6th graders. Teenagers. Ugh. I was a teenager too. Ugh. Ugh all around for those wretched years. The total vocabulary of 5/6 is "no."

"Do you have your book?"
"Did you do the homework?"
"Do you give a damn about anything at all in this class?"

So it went until I got to the board and started an exercise about opening your own restaurant. (The English Time books were talking about restaurants today. BTW, English Time is, surprisingly for an ESL textbook, marginally tolerable.) Finally, after much pleading, they consented to being entertained and in true teenage style, (Korean teenage style), blood and guts were prominent. Menu suggestions included the infamous bosintang (dog soup, supposedly healthy in the summer), 99 people flavored ice cream, blood on toast, and of course hamster on rye. Yummmm.

Capped of the day by sitting around and frowning intelligently during a Korean teachers meeting. I guess everyone wanted to see the new waygook. At least they didn't bother my armhair.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

All I know about teaching I learned while watching Vietnamese porn

An eventful weekend. There was a conference on teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in the port city of Busan and like the budding professional I am, I made the trek down south. Because the train was scheduled to leave at 6 AM, I spent the night in a jimjillbang- Korean sauna. Now, I have been to a few already, but this place was special. What made it so special? This, friends, was the official sauna of old homeless Korean men. A sour mash of soju and body odor hung in the air as aging bone heaps stumbled about au natural. Sleeping was out of the question due to the volume of the snoring so I wound up in the company of fifty-something destitute Korean men and we did the only thing that made sense at the time: We watched Vietnamese porn flicks.

Vietnamese porn is unlike any other- it mixes the delicate nudity of truly breathtaking young women with serene Buddhist ceremonies and throws in the odd rape scene here and there. The rape scenes were a bit jarring- imagine watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and having him host a segment of "America's Most Wanted" right in the middle of it.

"Now children, what did we learn today?"
"To share our toys because sharing is caring."
"That's right. And what else?"
(blank stares)
"We learned that Michael Canuellio of Philadelphia gunned down officer Eddie Young in broad daylight after holding up a liquor store. Canuellio is armed and dangerous. He has a scar on his right cheek. Do not approach Canuellio, a casual LSD user prone to violent flashbacks. If you see Canuellio, I repeat, do not approach him. Instead call 215 MR ROGERS."

After a good night's viewing I took the train to Busan. All of Korea looks pretty much the same, an ode to the soul-crushing conformity obsessively imposed upon all. (A Korean saying puts it best: The nail that sticks up will get hammered down.) Busan did have one thing going for it-beaches. If I stay here another year, I'll probably look for a public school job in Busan. Give me a beach, some curry, Yahoo launchcast, a couple of books and a mobile phone and I'm set.

Oh and the conference was fab. It was the sort of "let's masticate over the obvious in the most pretentious way possible" get together that other professions live for. (Sample session: "Linguistical issues involving Chinese speaking youths from Hebei Province who are members of the Communist party in good standing: An analysis of the prevalance of lisping among party members." Okay, I made that up. But it was pretty close.) I'm glad they are acting just like doctors or lawyers. That may mean that this is an actual profession after all.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I just got an email from a woman I have been blessed to know for 7 years. She is moving to Texas for graduate school and scared because she lived in one place much of her life and isn't very fond of change. Maybe that's one reason I grew so attached to her- I had such an instable, messed up life that I really envy someone who has definite roots and a place to call her home.

It was a very touching letter and all I can say is that I truly thank you. I love you Edria. It's not often that I say those words because I think people throw it around too easily and after a while it loses it's meaning. I'm funny about that- to me words have meaning and so I tend to take stuff seriously when it is written or spoken, more seriously if it's a promise or made by a friend, lover or relative. So know that if I say, or write this, I mean it with all my heart.

I love you Edria.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Vices we love

Sharp-eyed observers may have noticed a debate in the comments section about wether I am icky OR weird due to my postings at Dave's. One was a little poem I wrote, entitled Hawajangsil Ajumma. Judge for yourself:

Hawajangsil Ajumma how I love you so,
Will you help me score some blow?
Before y'all rush to condemn me,
just know that I need to be free
From the role of token white monkey you see,
And now I have earned that sweet liberty
Moving to public school in Ansan and taking my harmonica with me.

Hawajangsil Ajumma how I love you so,
Bring me a little blue pill for the afterglow.
I live in Gyeonggi-Do now,
Where cow-tippers reap what they sow.

Hawajangsil Ajumma how I love you so,
Please Mamma, please don't go
For if the kimchi stains don't show
No one will ever know. (Ok, I just dreamed up this verse.)

Quick question

I'm painfully pale. I'm a wayguekin par excellence. Within three seconds, your average Korean will deduce that my Korean language skills are even more marginal than my Russian language skills (I took three years of mandatory Russian classes when we were all going to be good little Commies. Hungarians, craven back-stabbing shits that we are also took English classes, albeit illegally, just in case the whole USSR thing didn't work out). At least I learned enough Russian in three years to say "Go fuck your mother." (Idi minis praty, nicht to ye maty is the rough translation.) No such luck after nearly six months in Korea. So why, oh why, do Koreans, ever-smilingly blather on in their admittedly native tongue for 15-20 minute stretches after I exhaust my vocabulary with "Anyong Haseyo"? Is it because, just as they believe their kids could learn English just by rubbing elbows with a foreigner, the foreigner could learn Korean the same way? (Fucked up sentence, I know. Gimme a break, I don't speak English, I just teach it.)

Oh and one more query: If you are a Korean employer, and you rent an apartment for your newest employee, shouldn't hot water be pretty high on the list of things that apartment should have? Does it not make sense that said employee, who shall be nameless lest some Ajumma come to him in the dead of night (hint, hint), might get a smidgen aggrieved at not having hot water for a solid week?

Common sense boys and girls: Use it, don't lose it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bend over again mon cherie....

My second physical. My second chest x-ray. My second panic attack at the sight of needles. Only this time I got to pee pee in a cup too, and pay 55,000 won (about U.S $60) for the privilige. And why the second physical? Because I now work for the government of the Republic of Korea, by virtue of being in the public school system. So does this mean life tenure or something? Probably not but I'm notably less homicidal these days, in contrast with my Ivy Chun San days.

My father, ever a beacon of support wants to know what I will do "when I get fired."

Monday, May 09, 2005

I write letters I: An open letter to Korean parents

Dear Korean Parents:

I have had the pleasure of the company of your children for nearly half a year now. I have also, in that time, had the honor to meet a great many of you. Please permit this "foreigner" as you refer to me a few brief remarks regarding the state of your children's education and your own parental philosophy.

Many of you are keen for your children to learn English. This is understandable since English is slowly becoming the common language of the world. (Unless the Chinese democratize their current capitalist dictatorship, in which case all bets are off.) I take no quarrel with this aim, as your desire to learn English is how I make my living. It is however no life to be esteemed.
Driven partially by a desire to have your kids learn English, partially by the never-ending quest for bragging rights, and largely by your wish to have as little contact with your offspring as possible, you spend considerable sums sending Kim Junior to private English schools. These schools, you will be shocked to learn, are primarily designed to seperate you from your money. Your children's education is not a consideration. However, since directors are beholden to your wallet, the ooze phony sincerity and (as you know) are attuned to your every miniscule mood shift and treat you as demigods. (This would be the fourth reason to send your kids to private schools.)

The majority of you are in near-sexual throes of ecstacy at the notion of holding power over a program director. This is because most of you are women and have zero rights (and few non-domestic responsibilities) in Korean society. Your husbands are too busy sleeping at work and consorting with prostitutes in karaoke bars to look after you and your child. Thus, having considerable time on your hands and a craving for status, many of you make the most asinine complaints and regularly threaten directors over them. Just today, one of you let loose with the gem that "there are too many boys" in my first grade class. For this, I apologize. I will immediately kick out half of them and my director will selflessly sacrifice his income to placate you. Another of your cabal, having insisted that her daughter, a first-grader, be enrolled in a class of fourth-graders now feels that the material presented is too difficult and (shockingly enough), the children her daughter is with are much older. At my previous place of employ, many of you have objected to my armhair, which you thought was excessively dense. An equal number of you had been hoping for a teacher with blonde hair. Your children, it seems, merit no consideration. Please permit me to discuss your children, if I may.

Your male offspring, and I say this without an ounce of hyperbole, are the most aggressive, swaggering, insensitive, obtuse, violent beasts to have stalked this planet since the days of meat-eating dinosaurs. This comes as no surprise, given that many spend their childhoods, teen years and "adulthood" playing a variety of violent video games such as WarCraft, StarCraft, MindFuckCraft, etc. Quite a few are also rather overweight (I believe "cherubic" is the proper term) and they tend to be the biggest punks of them all. Your male children have kicked me, spat at me, called me fat, called me ugly, attempted to trip me in class, tried to stab me with pencils and have asked me several times to fornicate with myself, an act of such pompous egoism that I rarely engage in it. In short, your sons, both young and old, believe that a temper tantrum, often accompanied by violence, is a perfectly acceptable solution to any impasse presented by life.

Your female children are, until about sixth grade, sweet, almost angelic specimens who will accept anything their male peers dish out. I have noticed this tendency in adult Korean women as well and must say that I find it disturbing. Perhaps if you grew a spine and told older Korean men to fuck off when they were being unreasonable, violent, or just plain unpleasant you would have far fewer frustrations in the course of your daily lives and could exist as independent entities with thoughts, hobbies, careers and social lives of your own, thus not needing the psychological release holding a school director hostage now provides for you. Just a thought.

Finally, some thoughts regarding the study of the English language. English language ability is a skill. You can either use and develop it, or not use it, let it atrophy and die. The choice is yours. Having your child go to a fifty minute class twice a week, usually at night when they are exhausted, does nothing for language development if the child does not read English at home, watch English TV, speak English to her friends, etc. All of this necessitates a level of acceptance of "foreign" influences that you are not psychologically capable of. How you will resolve this inner conflict is up to you but resolve it you must.

Very truely yours,
Yours truly.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

In a town far far away....

Finally finished moving. I live in the middle of nowhere in a town called Ansan. Actually, it is worse than the middle of nowhere- a huge, confusing, sprawl, car dependent suburb. I broke down and bought a tricycle to maneuver around on. I can now say, based on first hand experience, that commanding any form or transportation in Seoul other than your feet is not recommended. I may actually wind up selling the damned thing because Koreans, self involved bunch that they are do not look anywhere when walking and often do not heed the bell I frantically ring as a warning that, in our imperfect universe, other people exist who may in fact want to pass them.

Oh and if you ever want a Korean to stop staring at you, just ask him a question in English. That's the cue to start their annoying nervous laughter. (Distinct from the annoying brain-dead teenagers laughter.)

Jeebus- I live in diaper nation.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

PWI- Posting While Intoxicated

Koreans are drinkers. I am not. The whole "lets all get shitfaced" ritual is not my cuppa soju. The reason (really, pre-text) for this binge was my hakwon farewell dinner. Dozens of people, including those who supposedly complained about my classes, lined up toasts in honor of yours truly. I had, I would guess, four pints of beer- really more water than beer, but still. I stayed until the insincerity of it all became overwhelming.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Loneliness and aloneness

I'm an only child and because of a childhood stroke spent years in and out of schools, hospitals, etc. I got pretty used to not fitting in, being weird and generally having a grand time by myself.

As I got older, I noticed that most people- people who professed, as one fella on Long Island did about five months after we met- "I love you man!" actually could give a shit about you. When push comes to shove, you have no one in the world to turn to but yourself. I remember coming back prematurely from China (where I was on a tourist visa and too dumb/ignorant to demand a work visa) and calling the 110 numbers I had stored in my cellphone. I finally managed to find a place to crash (a religious commune) but not before dozens of "Sorry man" "Tough break man" "Wanna help but can't help man".
So I grew to accept that wether it's just my own peculiarities or because of modern social ethics, I'll likely be alone for good. Still, that wears on you sometimes-like it did today when I sat on a park bench wondering about life. (Never a healthy preoccupation).

Join | List | Previous | Next | Random | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Skip Previous | Skip Next

This RingSurf EducationalWebRing Net Ring
owned by ***Super-Shopping-Mall***.
sponsored by ***Super-Shopping-Mall***.
Sign Up Here: Click Here.