Vices we love: July 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Poetry day

I keep trying to get the kids to write but to no avail. Thankfully, Raging Donkey is an excellent website to teach writing, especially the fine art of poetry. For instance:

Ode to that Flat, Furry Thing I Saw on the Highway

While driving down the highway on a sunny summer’s eve,
I looked upon your visage and I felt a bit bereaved,
For though you once went by the name of hedgehog or of cat,
You now looked like a throw rug or a furry little hat.

And though I’ve seen a lot of things, I never realized
That a hedgehog, or a cat, could look so damned surprised.
I wondered, then, what happened when you tried to cross the road,
And if the car that hit you had an extra heavy load.

I wondered if you’d looked up just in time to see the tire,
And what would happen if I stopped and set your coat on fire.
It’s not that I’m sadistic; I get sad when something dies,
But smelly, rotting furry things attract a lot of flies.

And that is why I scraped you off the road that fateful day,
And put you on a gentle bed of gasoline and hay
It’s why I didn’t drive away and leave you lying there,
But rather got you going with that roadside safety flare.

And that was when the cop came by to ask me how you’d died.
I told him what had happened but he thought that I had lied.
He took me to the courtroom where the judge denied me bail,
So thanks to you, you furry fuck, I’m writing this from jail.

And, in the same vein:

Medical Waste

Medical waste, oh medical waste
You’re fun to touch and smell and taste!
Gobs of human fat are here
And look, I found somebody’s ear!

I poke a pulpy, bloody mass
That might have been somebody’s ass
I poke and prod and poke again
And stick my finger in a brain

Here’s a fleshy aberration
From a sex-change operation
Dirty needles, blood-soaked gauze
It’s worthy of sustained applause!

You’re like a human organ haggis
In a plastic garbage baggis
Oh the treasures that you hid!
I think I’ll sell you to a kid

And finally:(Not really- tons more on the website)

Remembrance of Investments

I remember years ago
I had a little extra dough
And so I put it in some stocks
The week before they fell like rocks

Turns out that these companies
Had lied so markets would be pleased
Ratings changed from buy to sell
While I changed mine to burn in hell

Boy I really got frustrated
When their income they restated
From cha-ching to whoopsi-doo
Their spreadsheets naught but piles of poo

Some of them had lots of debt
And still ain’t made no money yet
And thanks to lying CEOs
They almost all hit six-year lows

Now who owns all of my riches?
Greedy corporate sons of bitches
Most of whom got off scot-free
Let’s hear it for the SEC!

Go ahead! Share your poetic vision!

Friday, July 29, 2005

He totally ruined the roof is on fire song....

Just saw Farenheit 911. (Hey, I'm a late bloomer.) No, there are no burning flags. No defaced crosses. No, Michael Moore doesn't take a whizz on the Constitution or the Liberty Bell. He could lose a hundred pounds, shave, get rid of the raggedy baseball cap and put on a suit but I guess he thinks all that would crimp his integrity.

See, the thing is, you never get anywhere with compulsion. Nobody is going to be happy about doing something if you make them which means 1) they will do a crappy job, 2) they will look for ways to sabotage it and 3) they will stop doing that crappy job the second you turn your back. Just a thought.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rain day

I started this job on May 9th. On May 11th, as we were walking to Gojan station, Michelle turned up her pretty nose and said in her usual nasal tone: "You know Asiatown, I really, really hate this job."

What Michelle really hates is working. The life plan of most Korean females goes like this. K-12, college (major in cosmetology), marriage, 2 kids and a husband whose salary (the part he doesn't spend on hookers and kareoke bars) goes towards her needs- the primary need being a mink coat. And matching shoes. The thought of work galls the young Korean females of today to no end, even though their mothers and grandmothers are basically all that keep Korea semi-functional, be they cleaning ladies, restaurant cooks or secretaries who run the company in the absence of their alcoholic and functionally retarded bosses.

Anyway, Michelle has been on a bold experiment in the science of getting fired. If my boss had a spine....ah well, I can dream. Today she showed up two hours late- a bit galling when you consider that the workday lasts only 5 hours. Her reason? "You know Asiatown, it was really really raining today." (Michelle, like many Koreans, consider the movie Clueless to be an accurate representation of America and she says "like" and "you know" every three seconds.)

Now, let me explain a few things. First, this is monsoon season. Which means it will be raining a lot over the next few weeks. Which also means I will not be seeing much of Michelle if this keeps up. Second, the kids are divided into two groups that alternate daily. I have group A some days and when I do she has group B. If she doesn't show, I get to teach group B as well. Twenty-two kids in a classroom designed for ten. (There is a second classroom with extra chairs but it is locked and you-know-who has the keys.) You figure it out. I had the kids sit on the floor refugee style. Hey, I'm Jewish. I'm an expert on refugees and their seating (and eating) habits. I say that if you have not had the experience of fighting thirty Jews for a millimeter wide slice of brisket, you haven't really lived. But that's just me.

Just found out that my cousin has forgotten to mention that when I am supposed to visit him in Hungary he will be in Florida. This guy is even worse than I am- he would starve to death next to a T-bone. This leaves my sociopathic cousin who, god willing will be in Paris then, my anti-semitic alcoholic uncle (who told my grandmother that "Hitler didn't do enough"), my diabetic/alcoholic uncle, my grandmother and perhaps a visit to the American Embassy.

When I was working in China, I was on a tourist visa (which was presented to me as a work visa) and the immigration lads were none too pleased. Prior to my removal from the People's Republic of Cheap Labor, I visited the specter of impotance that is the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Of course THERE WAS NOTHING ANYONE COULD DO but I did speak to some Human Resources people and the salaries offered to even the lowest clerk was amazing (U.S. $ 26,000 may not do much in Chicago but in China you can buy a village on that sum. And doesn't it take a village?) I figure, being bilingual, I may pay a visit to the Embassy in Budapest. Hey sue me- I like living like a third world king. It's like cool. Like, you know?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Welcome to Korea: the place where we have no needs

All in all a typical day of work. Arrive at 8:00. Wait for Michelle to come in at 9:05. Start class at 9:10. The kids are thirsty but there is only one water fountain in the building that has not been disconnected yet. The floor is dirty but there is only one mop in sight and it is held together only by divine intervention. No supplies for the filthy foreigner. Michelle has a big-screen television, a tape player and a laptop connected to the TV so that she can show movies downloaded from the internet. Asiatown has a whiteboard and three markers. But no eraser.

Lunchtime. I'm a bit leery since the food poisoning incident, but free grub is free grub. Today's special: Bibimbap: Eggs with rice, carrots, "hot jam" and some long brown thingies that possibly resemble worm turds but are supposed to be superhealthy veggies. I don't know, because I'll never eat them. And the best part? Desert:

They washed out the rice cooker with warm tap water and poured said water into plastic cups. L'chaim!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Relationship tango

You are about to learn just how asiatown goes through a relationship. First, there is the initial approach. I'm a visual person...the attraction is visual as well. Superficial, sure, but when approaching a stranger the exterior is all you know. So, the first thing that happens is, I see a beautiful woman. Her, for example

Now that She is in my sights, it's time to get serious. I mean, time to drool. About ninety-five percent of my relationships end at this stage. Sure, the worst she can say is no, but admit it, that's pretty bad. Assume however that she says yes. My uncle always did call me a bullshit artist so there is hope. Like many kids from broken homes, I imagine "magical forever loooove" on the spot. This is bad. Bad because I get attached. Women don't go for that. Or is it just New York women? Another downfall is that in a few weeks time, I start imagining the future Now kids, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Women want to go at it just like men. They dislike committment just like men. So usually we wind up something like this

What can we, as a group learn from all this? To wear two condoms at all times- one for your privates and one for your heart. And to take stuff one day at a time. Darn that's hard to do.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Vices we love

I have this theory: When people are pissed off at you, that's when they tell you honestly how they feel about you. A good no-holds barred fight gives them the opportunity to tell you all the things they have wanted to say to you but held back from. When I was a kid, a good fight at home always included references to how stupid, ugly, cruel, etc... the other person was. It was not about the moment- it was about all the things that they had been wanting to say to each other- all the dark things that they had suppressed for the sake of keping the peace. At the end of it, though they always made up, it didn't feel- at least not from my perspective- that they had the same relationship as before. Because now the other person knew what lay in their hearts- what their true nature was. Maybe there is such a thing as too much truth.

I'm not directly confrontational. Instead, I tend to avoid people whom I percieve as having hurt me. My mother calls this avoidance and makes it sound like a bad thing. But is it really? To me, avoidance is the essence of self-presevation. The world is full of people out for themselves. It is packed with users, abusers, leeches, people who will skin you alive just for kicks. I used to work for a woman who once threw a mug of coffee at me. What do I say to such a person? Or how about the high school history teacher who opined that Hitler was a wise and brave man? (Some milder and less emotionally draining examples.) I shouldn't have to sit them down and explain:

"Leslie, coffee is pretty darn hot. If you throw a coffee pot at someone you may burn them."

"Mr. Yeager, Hitler put my grandmother in Auschwitz. Maybe he wasn't such a great fellow?"

No. I choose not to play kindergarden teacher to the world. I figure, Leslie, Mr. Yeager and tons of others already know what is right and what is wrong. Which path they will follow is entirely their choice. If you choose to hurt someone, if you choose to use someone, if you choose to treat them like dirt, that is your responsibility. I have no sympathy for people who have been hurt and then use that hurt as a reason or pretext to lash out at others. It is the most selfish, despicable thing to do in the world.

The one emotion I cannot cope with is anger. I have never found a way to appropriately respond to it and I think most people close to me sense that.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Budapest, Texas, Israel update

Item! It's set. The great Hungarian adventure will begin in 2 weeks. I'll have pictures. Not naked ones tho. I'll romp (not in the nude) through Budapest. On the agenda: Visit granny. Chat up my incredible, unreliable but very good-natured cousin. Avoid my sociopathic cousin. Avoid my alcoholic uncles. Get fresh fruit. real fruit. Check out Oxford Publishing, specifically their local office. I feel torn, as I suppose all immigrants do. I'm not a Hungarian but I'm not an American either. If sufficient lucre is thrown my way I may try to work there for a while. I highly doubt that I would move back- it's just a closure thing. I'm the type that needs closure.

Item! My contract (I hear the laughter of Korean old-hands even as I write the "c" word- yes, I am aware of the meaninglessness of contracts in Korea) runs through May 2006 but the semesters are 3 months each. The next one, if there will be a next one, will start on October 4th and run through December 31st. I should (emphasis on should) get some time off during this period which I will use to visit the Longhorns. One specific Longhorn actually. I didn't know I was the type to miss someone so much. Huh. You learn something new about yourself every day.

Item! Hebrew University in Jerusalem has responded to my request and sent me their application form. Turns out the program (both the MBA and M.A. ones) are in Hebrew. I don't know why I didn't think of that.

Request for help (The mooching section): I have a mobile phone that lets me shoot video but for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to email said video. It's a Cyon/LG thingie. I can email pictures but not video. This sucks. If anyone can help solve this mystery (I'm an 80's child/refugee) they will be rewarded with "The mop: the movie". It's time to jump start my film career.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Blood, guts and Big Nose: a brief history of English education in Korea

Many years ago, when Korea was a monarchy- certainly NOTHING like the thriving democracy of today- there was no need for English teachers. Or Korean teachers. How hard could it be to learn the joys of eighteen hour stretches in the field, picking corn? Koreans were born, went to work, married other Koreans, cheated on them, produced other Koreans, continued to work, retired, and promptly died.

This continued until about World War II. Known as the war to end all wars, World War I promptly bought on World War II. During Episode II, the Japanese (Japs as they were referred to in certain parts of Wyoming) looked westward and saw more land. This was important because, as anyone who has been to Asia knows, people have a tendency in this neck of the woods to be piled on top of one another like stacks of cordwood. The Japanese, busy bees that they were, not only attacked Hawaii (more land!) but also Korea. In an especially astute move, the Japanese allied themselves with a white supremacist who wanted them dead and wanted their (what else?) land. Not one of the better strategies. So stuff happens (I've been teaching here for too long and now am afraid of boring people with too much knowledge) and before you know it, the Japanese and the Koreans retreat to their respective island/peninsula to build televisions. Yes, Grampa Bernie died so that you can watch Fox News.

Sometime around the 1980s' a delightfully corrupt and incompetent government, grandly called "the evil empire" collapsed and Asia, whose population is now about 60% of the entire world got busy pretending to learn English.

At first it was all in good fun. People who didn't speak English instructed those who didn't want to learn and everyone was happy living in their respective delusions. The teacher pretended to teach, the student pretended to learn, and all was well. However, some picky people picked up on the fact that after years of English studies, students still couldn't speak English. And so, the idea of getting foreigners to teach came about.

This was not the first notion of its kind. The first recorded sighting of a paleface can be traced to an anecdote of an English teacher in Saudi Arabia in 1970. Prior to that, of course, missionaries filled the void, but their version of English was somewhat limited. Classes in the Pacific went like this:

Missionary: "Pray that Jesus will save you."
Native: "Go away. Is boring. Stop stealing me gold and touching me women."
Missionary: "Gimme your gold and women."
Native: "No. You bad man."
Missionary: "Bite me."
Native: "Okay!"

Soon, classes were cancelled en masse. This promising field lay dormant until the 1980s and 1990s when Koreans and Japanese (along with Saudis and some others) got the idea that if you have 1) white skin 2) good looks and 3) a passport from a Western country, you should teach them English. Scores of unemployed, unshaven, unskilled whities answered the call. Some took one week long classes to become "certified". In any case, a large segment of the English teaching population bore a striking resemblance to this guy. Certain folks discovered that they could make huge amounts of money by conning other folks into thinking that they were learning. Books? Lesson plans? A strategy? A business model? Goals? Who needs 'em! Just get wide butts into airplane seats and the rest will take care of itself.

Over time, foreigners and natives developed a symbiotic relationship as the former group ingested large amounts of rice wine and heroin supplied by the latter and paid for by monies also supplied by the latter. Asia was like a well oiled machine: Teachers pretending to teach, students pretending to learn, business owners paying teachers the monies which would be spent on drugs and alcohol and in this manner refunded to the business owner in question.

But all was not well in the land of drugs and linguistics. These foreigners, the ones hired explicitly for their foreign-ness, would prove much too foreign. As with any situation where you idolize a peculiar thing, the reality would prove to be inadequate. East Asians wanted Ken and Barbie. They got Homer Simpson and Selma. This would not do at all! So it was that Homer and Selmas hosts decided to make them as miserable as possible, from inpenetrable labor and immigration laws to corrupt bosses and students who could only charitably be described as human. The Westerners responded by writing hateful things about their hosts on internet websites and message boards while guiltily, yet desperately pocketing their meager rations.

True, a few managed to educate themselves and advance to the point where their rations are not so meager and they are given a chance to leave for extended periods of time, a grand thing indeed. But for most uneducated, unskilled youths, the value of their existence, as seen through East Asian eyes, can be summed up thusly:

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Welcome to Asia(n)town Posted by Picasa

For those who may need it

I saw this on craigslist about a year ago and just saw it again. I used to have depression (and sometimes still do) and thought it may help some of you.

An interesting New Year thought
I swiped this off CL (Craigslist) I had my share of depression and thought this would help those who may be fighting it.

one year ago today i wanted to die.

Reply to:
Date: Tue Dec 23 06:49:08 2003

On December 23, 2002 I was at the bottom of the barrel. I was in my 10th month of jobless desperation. I had enough money in the bank to make one car payment. I had no way to pay my rent in January. My wife was now my ex-wife, and I spent the morning desperately begging her to take me back, desperately begging her to give me another chance to no avail. Just me. My car. My dog. My gun. I got into my car and drove. I wanted to find a quiet isolated spot because I had just about given up on my life and all I wanted to do was die. My heart was shattered into a million pieces and all I could think about was the relief that death offered.

I ended up crossing over the George Washington Bridge and found myself in a park along the Palisades. I wrote a note to my family and my ex-wife. Took a swig of Black Bush whisky, said good bye to the dog, pressed the muzzle of the gun against my temple and I pulled the trigger. Click. Nothing. The gun didn't fire. I left my car and fired against a tree, and a bullet exploded out of the chamber. The gun was fully loaded, yet it only clicked when I tried to shoot myself.

I got back into my car and drove off. I had gone straight to the bottomless pit of my despair and I had landed, and I was still alive. There was no place to go but up.

I went home and checked my mail. In my mailbox was a new credit card with a $2,500 limit. I used it to buy food. And a week later, got a cash advance to pay my rent.

Then a job interview materialized. I had some credit left on my card, and went and bought a new suit. I got the job.

Then I started coming back to life.

I stopped drinking. Clean and sober since January 21.

I stopped smoking.

I started running. I started getting out.

I met a girl. I fell in love.

And now I just got another job offer, making 50% more then I do in my present job.

And to think that one year ago today, I put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. Click.

Life has so much more meaning then we ever attach to it.

And its not about the jobs or the money or the love.

Its about who we are and what we make of ourselves and what kind of world we leave behind.

I live for that now. I live to honor my parents. I live for my past. My present and my future.

I live for the woman I love.

I live because my life was meant for me to live.

I don't care about the petty bullshit that occupies this list day in and day out.

What I do care about is that each and every one of you looks in the mirror and finds it in your own hearts to give yourselves a little love.

Because sometimes, thats all we have -- ourselves.

Remember that the next time you are down in the dumps and you feel like your life has no meaning.

Become your own best friend. Save your own life. And LIVE.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

All about me

From now on, when I say "Trust me. You really don't want to know." you will not hesitate to agree.

Vital stats:
-Male. (I just checked!)
-27 years of age.
-not married. (As of yet.)
-5'2" inches tall (155 centimeters.)
-73 kilos (which is about 158 pounds.)

Who am I? Dunno.
What am I doing here? No clue.

What was I doing 1 year ago? Teaching paralegal school at CUNY. (City U. of New York. Motto: "We're letting everybody in these days.")

What about 2 years ago? In a gray haze. (No, not the Clinton kind.)

5 years ago? Ahhhh..geez...that's 2000 right? I just finished college. Moved up to New York from Tennessee. Tried to make myself marginally useful, or, failing that, wealthy.

10 years ago? Final year of the eternal firey pit of hell known as high school in the town that shall not be named.

15 years ago? Wow, that takes me back. To 1990. That was 2 years after I moved to the States from Hungary. I remember nodding a lot for no good reason.

20 years ago? Getting ready to storm the Kremlin with Trotsky's bones between my teeth.

25 years ago? Teething. Drooling. Not chewing my food properly. All the things I will be doing again in 60 years, proving that life is really just a big circle.

30 years ago? Thisclose to reincarnation. In the past life I was a banjo strumming, betel nut chewing carpet salesman in the greater Mumbai area. Explains why I may go back. (See

Future aspirations? To make it through tomorrow.

Future plans? Marry you know who. Adopt a few kids. Go respectable, or, failing that, wealthy. In Mumbai. Or maybe not. Maybe Ghana. I haven't decided yet. Austin is a prime contender, although it is in the south and I loathe the south strictly on principle, Atlanta and Miami excepted.

Nicknames? I'm still lobbying for Assassin but may have to settle for Congressman. Or Convict. They sorta rhyme. Until then, it's usually Z. Or Zoli. Or something phonetically related.

The one place on this earth you want to see: Geez, just one? huh? Oy, decisions, decisions. Well since I'm oying and miss the beaches, I'll go with Eliat, Israel. Yeah it's a tourist trap and who doesn't need to be trapped every now and then? But that said, on my very long list are:

Monogoro, Tanzania- gosh, I hope I spelled it right. It's one of the sites for TanzEd, which is like the peace corps but a lot better organized, at least from what I have seen.

Iceland- I'm a hermit. I have to.

New Zealand- Because the power of Peemil compounds me.

Brazil- The south coast. I daydream about it constantly.

Costa Rica- AKA Gringolandia.

Ghana- I have a friend from Arizona (we met in Israel) who is going there to work for an NGO. If I get all my malaria shots, I would get there.

Cambodia- The last place on earth where you can buy a Qualaade and an Uzi from the same store. What a combo!

Madagascar- Lemur, lepers, leafy veggies oh my!

The one place on this earth you never want to see (again): Humboldt, Tennessee. Believe me, after the first time, the place kind of loses its charm. It's a great destination if you want to confirm every stereotype about white southerners and then some.
Also, Miskolc, Hungary. Scary. Deliverance scary.

Favorite song: Changes all the time. The song I mean. I have 64 artists in my launchcast station- can't play favorites. hmmm....the piano solo at the end of Layla is brilliant.

Favorite food: I've been hankering for Hunter's stew lately. (Old Hungarian dish.) Also a philly cheese steak. And above all, a lifetime supply of fresh, ripe raspberries.

Philosophy: It could be worse.

Motivation: It has been worse.

Ambition: Nothing less than the presidency will do. I don't want to be President mind you. I'm just insanely driven. Besides, we all know that George W. will be president for life. Let's not kid ourselves.

Least Favorite food: Anything involving mushrooms, ketchup or pickles.

Least favorite song: A contest between a) fortysomething country music stars talking about incest and b) fortysomething rappers still going on about scoring and dope. And scoring dope. Bastards! They're living my dream!

What I would do with a hundred million dollars: Give it away. I don't think I can deal with being a 100 millionaire. We can discuss five million. Maybe.

Float like a leaf on the river of life; and kill old lady

First, take a look at the best travel site ever:
My name is Brian and I hate you.

Until recently, Korean public schools were open Monday-Saturday. Now it is only Monday-Friday. You may think the parents welcome a chance to be with their kids. You would be wrong. Newspapers carry story after story of parents who do not know what to do with their kids. There is nothing to do in this country, they wail.

I'm glad to hear this- because it means I'm not the only one going crazy during my downtime. As I mentioned, I only teach about five hours a day. (Ahhh, the perks of student free classes!) This leaves 143 hours a week to kill. Sleeping takes care of 33. And the remaining 110 hours? There are only so many parks, saunas, temples, pool halls, kareoke bars and portions of grilled meat one can aspire to. Since foreigners are viewed as a walking leper colony, human interaction is usually non existent. This is why Buddha created the aptly named DVD Bangs.

Yes, they are what they sound like. Obsessed with maintaining a June Cleaver image, good Korean girls don't go at it in public. (Why not, Lord, why not????) Rather they get together on cheap leather couches inside video parlors. For me, they serve another purpose. Paranoid that I will forget what the language I am paid to teach sounds like when spoken properly, I catch up on my movies in there. Tonights show was the Ladykillers with Tom Hanks. It reminded me that there are people out there other than Koreans. Useful in the hermit kingdom.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Going home

Death makes me uncomfortable. Squemish. I remember sitting on the family couch for hours as my parents narrated the black and white photos spread out over the course of 4 albums. With rare exceptions ("this is your dad in medical school"), the narrations consisted of eulogies. ("this is your uncle. He was beaten to death at a slave labor camp in Russia.")

I don't get close to other people. Not only because most people are deeply loathsome creatures but also because I know that, be it by moving, the passage of time, a change in interests, or whatever else, I will wind up losing them. One of the few people I allowed myself to embrace is my grandmother. While her daughter wallowed in Boomer self-pity, emerging only on the rare occassions when she wanted to lash out at me for, well, being me, my grandmother took a more philosophical approach. Yes, she wailed endlessly like many other 80something Eastern European Jewish women. But through it all, there was a steely determination about her that her self-involved offspring lack.

Life isn't fair. It wasn't fair to target my family for extermination. It wasn't fair when I was being harassed at high school on a daily basis for being Jewish (among other things.) It isn't fair if someone's mother becomes a drug addict and pursues her own selfish indulgences over the welfare of her daughter. But I watched as the daughter of a woman who survived hell drifted further and further into self-pity and victimhood- and I couldn't stomach it.
One of the strangest things about America is that an apology makes everything okay. "showing remorse" as the lingo goes. There seem to be no limits to what you can do if, afterwards, you are sufficiently apologetic. At some point, my parents bought into this pleasing scenario. And why not? It's the ultimate dodge. Fuck anyone over, any way you damned well please, as often as you'd like and at the end of the day, wipe some tears from your eyes (onions help- buy some before going on television) and everything is okey-dokey again. If, by chance, someone is unmoved by this performance, they are accused of "holding a grudge"- which is made to sound like a bad thing.

I hold grudges. I hold grudges going back sixty-odd years. I hold grudges against an entire nation (several nations, actually) who enthusiastically embraced the idea of exterminating an entire race of people. I hold grudges against their descendants, wrong as that admittedly is. I hold grudges against the doctors who botched my mothers' delivery and then left me to die for two days while looking for ways to cover their asses.

Holding grudges is a healthy thing. The memory keeps the mind alert. You learn about people- the good and the bad- and file away what you learned so that you never make the same mistake twice. But it does wear you down.

I'm the sort that needs closure. I need to see my grandmother so that I can affirm the strength of our relationship and make sure (again) that she had lead a decent and fullfilled life in spite of it all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Operation "time to see granny"

My grandmother is 89 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm trying to be a realist and accept that the next time I see her will likely be my last.

This is hard for me because she is the only person in my family that I am close to. She loved and accepted at a time when her offspring did not.

So, barring famously Korean last minute changes, I will go to Budapest on the week of August 8. (My week off.) The airfare is around US $1500 roundtrip, or about 75% of my income. I am going to do it, even if it blows my savings plan to hell and make me live even more like a hermit. (Is that even possible?) However, if you know of any good alternatives, please leave a comment. I can only travel between august 8 and the 15th. Now...about the money. This is not a fundraising letter. I feel uncomfortable soliciting strangers...I feel uncomfortable soliciting, period. But if you know of organizations that donate for things like this, leave a comment as well.

I will write more about her one day. Have a good night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Rafael's timely entry

As asiatown77 recuperates from his daily degradations, Rafael has been kind enough to step into the breach, in hopes of taking our readers to levels of vindictiveness the likes of which they have never experienced first hand. But first, an introduction from Asiatown:

My father always said that hatred was a valid emotion. Often he would ask me: "Do you hate me son?" and would reply to his own question, much like a more self-involved Aristotle "That's okay. Hatred is an emotion too." I pour my meager energies into hating people on an individual basis. Racial or religious hatred is not only petty and immoral, it is also lazy. Think of all those people- like me- who go the extra mile to explain why they despise a certain person: "I loathe Terry with a passion because he openly defies me at every turn." "I despise Michelle because she hasn't lifted a finger in the last three months and has no respect for me." Of course, the reverse is also true. While some (Koreans come to mind) blindly pledge allegence to their own version of the West (read- mid- twenties, female, white, blonde, minimum 36DD, high quality booty and an accent out of Orange County, CA) or others think a specific group is the best there is, I love (yes! I too am capable of love! Don't ever mention this to anyone offsite) not groups but individuals. Minna is the sweetest little girl in 1st grade. She goes a long way to making me feel non-suicidal about my predicament. The principal of the school happens to be a really nice guy. Edria is a better person than she is willing to admit. And so on...
Koreans, by and large, do not do this. They have a very specific idea of the world and it goes like this: White people with blonde hair are great. Young white people with nice bodies are awesome. Mexicans are dirty. People from the Phillipines are beastly. Africans are ugly and stupid. It makes the world a much simpler place except for moments like this:

"You are Christian?"
"Ummm.....not percisely." (Why can't I just lie?)
"Huh. So what you are?"
"I'm Jewish."
"Chewish? What is Chewish?"

Now, ordinarily, we would go through an atheistic Jews' shotgun version of history. There was a calf, a desert, a brush, a couple of pyramids, some kid in a lake, a guy getting hammered (in a bad way), some Spanish stuff, a bad guy with a mustache and one testicle, and before you know it my uncle is running around some beach talking in a funny once-dead language while scratching the bullet wound he got back in '73. Not necessarily in that order.

But with Koreans, this would be a pretty useless excersize. (How do you spell excersize? Is it like exorcism?) So instead I just say "We eat really good cuts of beef." Problem solved.
This is a rather extensive lead in to today's topic with 5th grade (the only ones I can actually teach), which was pen pals. I use the Let's Go books and the pen pal for this exercise was Rafael from Mexico. Oyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

"Teacher, Mexico no!" Mexico dirty!" (Dirty is the most overused word in the Korean student vocabulary.)
"Mexico ugly!"
"Ugly Mexico!" (Points for original linguistic twists.)
"Living La Vida Loca!" (I made that up. Sadly.)
But now, Rafael is finally here. He will be making intermittent appearances (timed to coincide with Asiatown77s' laziness) to help Korean youths understand the world that is Not Korea.

Q: (This question, like most submitted, was not written by a Korean student. Rather, his imbecillic grunts were transcribed by Steven Russo. Steven is a proudly non-recovering alcoholic from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is forty-three years old and has been living in Korea, as he likes to point out "since before the IMF crisis". Before coming to Korea, Steven sold cigarettes from the back of his buggy to rebellious Amish teenagers.) Rafael, you eat riceee?

A: Hey fuck you. You think we all sit around eating rice? Fuck you, I say. (Bear in mind, Rafael is making his debut. Nervousness is understandable.)


My escape plan involves an indeterminate sum of moolah and a Masters in Linguistics. To that end, I am looking at universities in Israel- one each in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It seems that for those under 30 (yay! as i rapidly approach that milestone of degeneration) M.A.'s are free. Very close to their actual value?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Author! Author!

Were it up to me, I would live in Tahiti or Hawaii or some such tropical spot (Jeju Island doesn't count, but Netanya does), walking around in my swim trunks (fruit smoothie in hand) and soaking all day in the ocean. The means for accomplishing this ought to be through writing. I would fire up my laptop, send out my hateful screeds and watch the money roll in. There is only one hitch in this grand plan- though I have been writing a variety of hateful screeds since the tenderly bitter age of twelve, I have made a total of approximately 900 ever depreciating U.S. dollars from writing. 250 of those dollars came from New Voices Magazine which just updated their site. I write all this in case anyone (you know who you are) wants to run a search on my name to find out more. Be warned that the final product, involving Satan, yeshiva butchers and "Nasty Nachum Noodlebaum" has little resemblance to what I originally submitted.

Before that I was a copywriter for The project involved thinking up "catchy" slogans for profiles of different places of employment. I contributed such standbys as Nike ("fifteen cents an hour ain't half bad"), the Kentucky legislature ("dip your toe into the cesspool") and of course Planned Parenthood ("promoting irresponsibility since 1973"). Now that was a fun job.

Alas, for now I am on teaching duty. To enliven proceedings, I asked my Special Friend to talk to the kids. I don't know about them but it was surely the high point of my day.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Thoughts? I'm curious what you guys (and gals) think. What is it? What does it mean? How do you gain it, keep it and lose it? What is good love and what is the bad? Discuss.

No whining day

Yup, life is good. In love with a wonderful woman. Found a nice lake nearby. Have a tolerable job. Will be getting paid on Monday. I'm set.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The World's 6.5 billion most influencial people

I think it's karma but a) I may (eternal emphasis on may) be finally rafting on Sunday and b) we got a fan for the classroom today. Also today I spoke to my boss. It was like the negotiation from hell:

Me: So my salary is 2 grand a month, right?
Him: How about 1800?
Me: ~after much gnashing of teeth~ Okay
Him: ~most recently~ Let's make that 1500 a month. And no housing.

And this from a guy praising me to the stars. What do I have to do to fuck up around here? On the other hand, he is more ethical than most bosses I have known. He is telling me straight that he doesn't have the money. By contrast, most of my previous employers were something like this:

Monday: Terrific work!
Tuesday: The best I have ever seen!
Wednesday: Fab, fab, fab baby!
Thursday: Mr. Asiatown77, you are the greatest!
Friday: You are shit. Your ancestors are shit. Your progeny will, in all likelyhood, be shits. Have I mentioned what a shit you are? Guard! Take him out of the building! (No, not really. I have only been questioned by federal marshals once.)

As to Peemils' question about joining the commies, feast your eyes on this:

Get out, be proud, await your overthow patiently

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

If I ever get into the movies again....

If I ever break into the movies again, I would want a career in animation. Yes friends, I was briefly a movie star. Young and broke, I pursued roles as extras with a vengance. I managed two jobs- one on the set of a Brooklyn indy movie and one on a porn flick. Ahh the good old days.

So what is next on my plate after my boss screws me? (Prediction- on October 4th, 2005, the commencement of the 5th month at the school, I will become unemployed. I make this prediction because Korean labor laws only apply at or after the 6th month on a job so a favored "industry" pastime is to fire you during the 5th month. Also, the 5th month will be the end of this semester. It would be the perfect time.) Well I'm not liquid enough to go back West so, after much consideration, and the desperate need for Korea-free time, I have chosen Nepal.

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 04, 2005


On my way to work I passed by this particular cage. This is fairly common in Korea- they have no regard for animals here so dogs wander the streets without leashes, eat out of trash bins and are often kept in "cages" like this (basically just a fence.) This guy had a gash on his left side, probably inflicted by the owner.

The bandage, if you can call it that, was used to cover a two to three inch gash in his left shoulder. Koreans are notorious for a delightful summer treat called bosintang (dog soup) which is supposedly made from dogs raised specifically for this purpose but I'm guessing that with profit being the Korean (and other) God, they are not above picking up strays off the streets. If I wouldn't feel so iron-deficient and exhausted, I would go back to the veggie ways I tried to stick to in China.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Reason number bazillion to hate Koreans

I signed up for a rafting trip today. Since I live in the middle of nowhere, I called up the trip organizer.

Me: "You know, I live in noplaceville so i may be 10 minutes late this morning. Would you be kind enough to wait for me?"
Him: "Oh...well then, just don't come."

Mussolini made the trains run on time too. I think he was Korean.

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