Monthly Archives: July 2004

just do it kang

when i walk into my boss’s office sometimes at work, he just likes to yell out – “just do it kang, just do it.”

sometimes he would just be walking by my desk and he lets me know – “just do it kang, just do it.”

it’s been a quick two months. if any season moves too fast, it’s definitely the summer – especially this year with its more-than-tolerable weather, my prime location in new york city and great friends all around. not to mention a most worthwhile internship at the National Football League – a most unexpected turn in my pre-professional development.

in such sentimental moments when i just sit back and relive the summer in my mind, it’s easy to just go on and on recalling all the precious moments and trying to capture them somehow in short descriptions. some think it’s too “sappy” to resort to such maudlin excesses, so maybe i ought to just talk about today.

i stayed a bit later at work today and discussed my school year part-time schedule with my boss. i did a decent enough job to want them to keep me there, so i will accept. more rewarding however, was a chance half hour with my favorite human resources generalist jessica. as i was getting ready to leave, she asked me to proofread something as a favor. it happened to be an email newsletter for the innovative development network, an organization for young professionals looking to “make a difference” in the world through good works and raising awareness of critical issues. i helped her to make a few corrections and in return, she gave me valuable career advice and helped me to see all kinds of options that were open to me as i near my after-college job search. she opened my eyes to consulting, banking, and just about anything, reminding me that no career path stays the same and that i would be doing all sorts of things, so no need to restrict myself from the start. i came away a bit excited and somewhat assured that if i just try, things will work out fine.

i walked over a few blocks from 49th and park ave. to st. bart’s cafe, which is located on 51st and park. there was a jp morgan chase mixer going on and albert was there, so i decided to go and find him. i saw a bunch of columbia kids there looking to get some face time with jp morgan chase employees. i felt high from having had real face-to-face time with someone who had worked at jp morgan for more than 3 years – whatever was going on at st. bart’s didn’t interest me. albert and i took advantage of the open bar and downed two beers before heading out with tony, who was working this summer at a bank without getting paid. albert, on the other hand, makes double what i make as an IT intern at McKinsey. we walked over to 7th ave. where he met esther for dinner and i found myself taking the 1 up alone, getting a chance to do some quick tom wolfe reading (almost almost done with hooking up).

i come home a little bit buzzed. i soon find myself on the steps with deum and wook after having gotten some food from m2m. we just talk the usual guy stuff – a little about jobs, a bit about marriage and a whole lot of nonsense that i can never remember, but it’s a good time and the weather is nice after being dreary and wet the past two days. it’s a bit sad i haven’t seen too much of deum around this summer, but it was nice to still be able to have dinner with him. both he and wook have been working at ccit this summer, and i remembered back to just last year, when it felt like i never left campus while working for columbia college today. sometimes i let wook borrow my metrocard so he can go around the city without travel worries.

i come back and i’m on the phone for a bit with a web client. i’m feeling good because i’ve just gotten a new client, a women’s organization from harvard, and i’m about to make some progress on this client, the graduate student advisory council at columbia. my plan is to get as much work done in san francisco as possible. how romantic, designing websites with the golden gate bridge as a backdrop or trolleys going to and fro not too far from a cafe table where i’ll be sipping away at coffee in the morning trying to get free wifi to work. speaking of which, i will need to plan for the san fran trip soon. i communicated with warren through gmail about potential things to do there and i especially liked a bike tour although warren warned that the one i chose rode right through gay town, which isn’t anything to worry about considering i hang out in greenwich all the time without a hitch. we’ll see. but yeah, super excited about sf.

albert and christina join me and joyce last minute to watch garden state at lincoln square loews theater. feels like i’ve been there one too many times. garden state, which also happens to be where i am from (jerz). zack braff, in his writing, directing, starring triple-play debut does a great job of creating impressions that feels “off-kilter” as the nytimes would say, and at the same time, there is something so eerily familiar because i happen to be from new jersey and i can remember white boys like some of the characters in there who roamed the halls of my school. of course, this always leads me think about how i would want to make such a movie, but from the asian american perspective. man, does it ever get old for me?

after the movie, which we all like to a degree although i think joyce and i expected something a bit more. speaking of joyce, natalie portman’s spontaneous motormouth character reminded me of joyce, who demonstrated in tower records shortly afterwards by dancing around and acting all wild. the four of us found ourselves at fiorelli’s, a nice looking italian restaurant with a bar. i ordered some random port which tastesd way too carmelly and syrupy. we all shared a plate of proscuitto and cheese with olives and a piece of garlic, of which i ate half and can still feel resonating in my breath every time i taste my tongue. it was nice to just sit and relax, talking about random things with people, thanks to the forces of summer, came together to share drinks and hang out on a cool wednesday night. my favorite moment came when joyce was impersonating her 94 year-old grandfather on a motorcycle and then talking about how healthy he is. she said something about how her grandfather could “outlift his son-in-law” and i thought that was incredible, a 94 year-old benching more than someone younger than him! but of course, she meant “outlived,” and i leaned over to albert and laughed at how our summer lifting obsession had us thinking in strange ways. joyce used her shameless “charm” to get us small slices of watermelon, which truly did help me feel that summer essence – the cool sweetness in my mouth that only summer evokes – but of course i am trying to sound poetic and not doing a good job. bert, headed you-know-where, and christina, who lives in an absolutely beautiful apartment on 38th and 5th ave, took a cab downtown while joyce and i stuck it out in the subway waiting for the 1. we got the 2 instead and we had to trek from 96th. it was a quick walk thanks to the weather and joyce’s entertaining company. i think she should become a serious actress because she is just so good at being expressive. she works at the rare books/manuscripts center on the 6th floor of butler and always talks about hating her job.

i’m back in my room and i close the night with a small aim convo with josephine about summer coming to an end. she tells me that she will be leaving for home (wisconsin) on august 7th, a week earlier than planned. guess she misses it a lot and she must be tired of all the frog research with her SURF program. of course, such talk about home and end of summer only has me more nostalgic and sentimental than ever, but i guess in a way, it’s some sort of happiness, just like that time last year coming back home from the beach with warren, nigi and face when we couldn’t stop playing dashboard confessional’s so long sweet summer. i miss the moment and the people so much, and i’m going to miss the characters of my summer story so very much as well. she was right – just when you feel so comfortable and you can be yourself, it’s time to move on let those bonds reset. will we meet in a month? well, as my boss would tell me without hesitation, just do it kang.

[7.20.04] books.films

since the last checkup – i’ve finally finally finished bonfire of the vanities and it was just great. as i mentioned in an earlier entry – status, at least according to mr. tom wolfe – is everything. we do everything because of status and for the sake of status. and because i tend to adopt the ideas of any book i’ve most recently read, i agree. filmwise, the most residual image is from cool hand luke starring a young paul newman. never has a film made life seem so pointless and tragic. but i loved how being “dealt nothing” and still “playing it cool” was reiterated throughout the film – like when luke runs away multiple times but is caught again and again – he doesn’t show frustration or resignation, but he just keeps “cool” and does it again and again… ’til he dies of course. and to those who’ve been hating on anchorman, i don’t know – i thought it was entertaining and it gave me the necessary laughs. i think i just loved the 70s costume and the cultural spoofs and of course, will ferrell did not disappoint. so what if it was a bit campy?

oh – and just to go back on a previously read book – the metaphysical club by louis menand – i found a website online that has an hour-long video lecture by him about pragmatism. i don’t normally link things from my site, but because this is educational, i will break some rules: go here to watch – he pretty much sums up his book, so if you’re not gonna read it, this is a good way to say you did.

but yes, the list! how can i forget:

the bonfire of the vanities by tom wolfe
currently reading:
the invisible man by ralph ellison
hooking up by tom wolfe

spiderman 2 (2004), cool hand luke (1967), bottle rocket (1996), before sunrise (1995), my boss’s daughter (2003), unfaithful (2002), hero (2002 – Chinese), ghost world (2002), anchorman (2004)

a yellow boy starts a ruckus

note: fiction! summer short #2

They let me off work early on a Wednesday evening – it must’ve been around 6pm – and I happily got on the uptown B to get to my apartment on 86th. I found an empty seat between a large black woman and a hairy white man. I took out my book – East of Eden by John Steinbeck – and started reading. At the 4th St. D stop, I spotted an Asian guy with spiked hair dressed much like myself – cream button down shirt and brown slacks with a black messenger bag – walking in and standing next to the metal pole a few seats away from me. He looked like he was a summer intern just like me at some bank downtown. Near him, I saw a thin thirty-something black woman with what appeared to be her child, a boy about seven or eight years old. I continued to read my book, but when I heard “Asian” from the mouth of the black kid, I found myself looking.

“Mommy, you think he Asian or Chinese?” he asked, pointing at the Asian guy.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?” the mother replied.

The black kid, who must’ve been bored out of his mind, inched closer to the Asian guy and made eye contact.

“Hey, are you Asian or Chinese?” he asked, cutting straight to the question.

“Um,” the Asian guy looked a bit confused, and I didn’t blame him. As an Asian myself, I don’t know how I would have set the black kid’s ethnic terminology straight.

“I’m Korean,” the Asian guy said. I approved of the answer because I am Korean as well. Also, while I’m sure me and the Korean guy are both Americans in our own right, saying “American” would probably have raised eyebrows because that’s just the way this damn country still works.

“Where’s that?” the kid asked.

“It’s a country next to China,” the Korean guy said, sounding like he didn’t want to answer anymore questions. The boy didn’t seem to satisfied with the answer.

“But you got them chinky eyes,” the kid said, “like this.” He pulled the corner of his right eye so that his eyes appeared slanted. I shook my head to myself as the black boy’s naivete had put the Korean guy, and myself, in an awkward position. “So what’s the difference?”

“Um. I don’t know. Koreans are better, I guess,” the Korean guy answered as he rolled his eyes and tried to turn away.

“Don’t you guys have small dicks?” the black boy asked. Suprisingly, the mother did not intervene and seemed to zone out as she looked out the subway window into the dark. I wasn’t too offended by the question because I’ve heard black dudes make fun of Asians about it before, but that a kid would say something like that to a total stranger was a bit surprising. I eagerly waited my fellow Korean dude’s reply.

“Um, I guess,” he said, remaining cool. I was a bit disappointed that the Korean guy didn’t defend himself, but I guessed that he had made a more “mature” decision to answer in such a way. But all of a sudden, he turned right back towards the black boy.

“Let me ask you something,” he said to the boy, “I could never figure it out. What’s the difference between a black person and a monkey?”

“What?” the black boy seemed taken aback.

“Yeah. You asked me if I was Asian or Chinese. I want to know, are you a monkey or black?”

The black kid was confused. Then he looked upset. He stared momentarily at the Korean guy. He tugged at his mom’s shirt.

“Mom! This fool just called me a monkey!” the black boy yelled. The mother turned towards her son and took a few seconds to process the statement and then another few seconds to react.

“What you call my son? How dare you?” she asked, as her volume began to rise.

“Whoa, relax. I was just asking him a question,” the Korean guy said, trying to calm the woman down. No use. I looked around the subway car, and I could see heads turning his way. I noticed that more than half of the car was black. Boy, was he fucked.

“This man here thinks blacks are monkeys!” the mother yelled. The little boy nodded and threw a mean look at the Korean guy.

A few teenage black guys wearing their XL t-shirts, baggy jeans, skull caps, and Timbs began walking towards the Korean guy. The fat black woman next to me gave a mean look at the Korean guy as well and almost looked ready to give up her seat to go confront the uncovered racist.

“You calling us monkeys, you fuckin chink?” one of the teens, about six feet tall but on the skinny side, tilted his head and sought an answer.

“No, man. Take it easy. I’ve got nothing against black people,” the Korean guy said, now looking a bit threatened. I wondered if I could have helped him, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth the risk.

“We let you chinks come to America and y’all think you white already? Calling us monkeys and shit. Well, fuck that. I ain’t taking shit from nobody,” the mother was now spitting expletives in front of her child. The kid seemed to enjoy the confrontation. I wondered what was going through the Korean guy’s head. Man, he was in such a bind! I wanted him to bounce at the next subway stop. He straightened his back and assumed a serious expression on his face.

“Fuck this. How dare you call me a chink? That’s like me calling you a nigger. You need to teach your son right – how the fuck you let him call my eyes ‘chinky’ and ask if my penis is small?” the Korean guy delivered with eloquence. Damn. Balls, I thought. All the black people seemd super surprised by the comment, but it didn’t look too promising for the Korean.

“Fuck you asshole. You called black people monkeys. That’s as bad as nigger in my book,” the tall teen said. “You better watch yo back. We’re gonna fuck you up.”

Just as the teen warned the Korean guy, the subway came to a stop at the Columbus Circle stop. The Korean guy seemed to walk backwards towards the door. A few people got in. The conductor announced the next stop. The ding sounded.

“Son, in my building, they don’t let niggers like you come near,” he said, just as he slid out the subway car walking backwards. The door closed as soon as he got out. The black teens, absorbing the full extent of the comment, tried to run out the door, but it had closed on them. The Korean dude flipped a bird that seeemed to touch everyone near the door – the two teens, the little boy, and the mother.

“That fucking racist piece of shit!” the mother yelled.

“Ain’t never seen a chink like that. They usually quiet and don’t speak English much,” the other teen, of a shorter, stocky build, remarked.

I returned to my book having witnessed a very bizarre incident. A million thoughts raced through my mind. I wondered how the Korean guy had such courage to confront igorance with such bold, politically incorrect language. In my mind, was he a racist? I don’t know – I bet he had black friends (probably from his college or maybe at his work), and he probably didn’t advocate things like segregation or discrimination. But then again, his words proved very flammatory and his last comment was the ultimate condescending remark someone could make to people who probably lived in the projects. I couldn’t quite figure it out. I was glad the Korean guy wasn’t passive and wasn’t afraid to reply to being called a “chink.” But then again, I was annoyed that such a huge deal had to be made because the little kid was so damn ignorant. Damn. What the hell do they teach at these schools anyway? No wonder rich white people always take taxis everywhere.