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hedgehog

January 2012

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Jan. 5th, 2012

hedgehog

I MOVED!

Homely Planet has packed up and done moved house. You can now find me HERE!
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hedgehog

I'M OUTTA HERE!

Dear Livejournal,

It's been a gas, but all good things must come to an end. It's time for me to evacuate the embassy.

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When I started this blog over seven years ago, I had no idea it would blossom into the beautiful little drunken flower it did. I actually forged friendships through this site, built up a respectable readership, and even procured a book deal outta the whole affair. Not fuckin' bad. But other writing and Facebook took its toll, and more importantly, Livejournal itself atrophied like Christopher Reeve's legs. This place is a wasteland. There are only about three people who ever post on my friends' list, and daily I am inundated with Russian spam. Nyet, thanks.

But, all is not lost. I am not ending this blog, per se: I'm moving it. You can now find me over at Wordpress, which, prima facie, seems to be an infinitely better site for self-publishing. Livejournal is the Myspace of blog sites. It had its day in the sun, but now it's time to put Old Yeller out of his misery.

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Okay, I'm being a bit harsh... I'm sure this site is fine for those who continue to cultivate a relationship with it, but sadly, I have moved on. I am sorry.

It's not you, LJ; it's me.

I hope we can still be friends.
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Nov. 20th, 2011

hedgehog

MY THOUGHTS ON OCCUPY WALL STREET

For that past many years now, as I've seen things unfolding at home - as I've sat down at the computer and watched the videos and read story after story of regular Americans getting fist-fucked by the uber-rich and powerful - I've thought to myself: When will Americans have had enough? When are they going to get sick of eating shit sandwiches? When will they finally say 'fuck this shit' and fight back? So you can imagine the elation I've felt all fall as I've watched - from a very big distance, mind you - the Occupy Wall Street movement not just grow in numbers, but catch the collective imagination and angst of the nation.

Sure, there are the typical haters: The angry old Tea Party screamers and the servile, thick-tongued morons who mainline Fox News and talk radio have been laughingly predictable in their "critique" of the movement:

"Get a job!"
"Dirty hippies."
"Communists"
"Go back to your mom's basement."
"What a bunch of spoiled rich brats."
"They're just jealous of the success of the 'job creators'"
"Freeloaders just looking for a handout."

Yawn. Straight out of the Archie Bunker phrasebook. These are the same old lame, tired, and just lazy accusations that the same people leveled against the young people who stopped the Vietnam War. The supposed "liberal media" have been no better, with a never ending succession of plastic, condescending talking heads rolling their eyes at these misguided young people, gasping aloud while delcaring across the airwaves that this motely band of agitators "has no clear message".

No clear message?

This has always set my bile on fire, since the message couldn't be any clearer: Arrest and convict the fat cats who torpedoed our economy in order to line their own pockets! End the brazen attacks on the poor and middle classes by the mega-wealthy! And to quote a flash-in-the-pan 90's workout diva: STOP THE INSANITY!!!

And where have the police been in all of this? Where they always are: on the side of capital, enforcing the status quo. There have been countless incidents of police brutality and absolutely unprovoked attacks upon not just the peaceful demonstrators, but also anyone else unlucky to be standing in the vicinity. This doesn't surprise or shock me in the least, however, since cops in America have always been like this, and are rarely held accountable for their actions.

As for the protestors themselves, I have witness several of my "progressive" friends of late complaining about the the Occupiers, even going so far as to applaud Bloomberg's paramilitary raid of the Zuccotti Park. These middle class friends of mine bemoan the "tactics" of the protestors. "Shouting at the police impresses no one," one friend of mine sniped. Another facebooker decried the acts of civil disobience, pleading with them to "Create change by voting!" (haha). Another recently posted this on her facebook, which tells you all you need to know:

"The occupiers had my support for a while. They really did. I still support their reasoning but their methods are ridiculous. Time to shut up and go home."

Really? Are people so ready to throw in the towel just because things get inconvenient and messy? Guess what? Change is ALWAYS messy, and people get put out. That's just how it is.. Black folks in Montgomery, Alabama walked, bicycled, or caught rides to work for over a year before they got what they wanted. People go to jail. Traffic gets snarled. And sometimes, sometimes, things get broken, people get hurt, and shit burns.

I'm sure some of the protestors and their leaders can be big fat douches at times. I've seen this overly-earnest righteous type at many street demonstrations. Yeah, some the Occupiers are "professional protesters." Some are of them are probably just there to party and fuck shit up. Some of the chants and tactics are cheesy, uninspired PC cliches. And yes, some of them ARE hippies and probably do smell.

But the message is clear and this thing shows no sign of dying. It's bigger than the people in the streets, as it's resonating in the kitchens, living rooms, and water coolers of the whole damn country, as well as beyond. I may live in Korea now, but I have put my ass on the front line in the past, and I wish I were home right now to do it again. In the meantime, I'll keep screaming from the outfield bleachers.

I am the 99%.
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Nov. 6th, 2011

hedgehog

TOP 10 MOST RIDONKULOUS THINGS THAT KOREANS HAVE ACTUALLY, REALLY, SAID TO MY FACE

10. "Korea is the Switzerland of Asia."

9. "Chinese people are loud."

8. "Hangul is fast becoming a global writing system."

7. "'Pajeon' is Korean pizza."

6. "Haeundae is the French Riviera of Korea."

5. "Korea's seasons are the most distinct seasons."

4. "Kimchee cures the cancer."

3. "As you know, the white man heals more slowly than the yellow man, because the white man has the WEAKER TISSUE."

2. "You swam in the river? Weren't you afraid of the water ghosts?"

1. "Teacher I am happy: Yesterday there was earthquake in Japan, and many Japanese people IS DIE."
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Sep. 28th, 2011

hedgehog

IT'S OUT! (blatant book pimping post)

My book, "Dispatches from the Peninsula: Six Years in South Korea" has officially been released. I would have never gotten the opportunity to write the book if it wasn't for this for the years I spent slogging away at this blog, so it's terrific to announce it here.

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It's available at most major bookselling websites, including AMAZON. It should be making it into some stores in Korea and the Northwest soon, so look out for it. I'll be doing a small US book tour in early December stopping in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland and will post details here.

Reviews have been great so far. Check 'em out:

BUSAN HAPS raves!

This popular Korea blogger gives is a BIG THUMBS UP

...and the personal responses have been just awesome.

So.... BUY IT!!!
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Aug. 29th, 2011

hedgehog

RIDING THE HOUND (on board with the poor)

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The Greyhound bus station in Boise, Idaho is as sad as any other in America. It sits on a neglected corner of town, outdated by the newer and more useful buildings which surround it and practically scoff at its existence. The inside is populated by smatterings of broken and desperate people - passengers and workers alike - all of whom are poor. Like all Greyhound terminals, you feel the need to shower as soon as you set foot in the place. It's a rundown, profoundly unglamorous place - the very opposite of cool - with one mantra echoing off the lockers, dirty benches, and vending machines for every ear to take in:

"You are only here because you HAVE to be."

GET THE HELL ON BOARDCollapse )

Aug. 24th, 2011

hedgehog

BUY MY BOOK!

Though the official release isn't until the end of next month, the Kindle version of my book, "Dispatches from the Peninsula: Six Years in South Korea," is now available on Amazon.

CHECK IT OUT!
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Jul. 29th, 2011

hedgehog

WATEFALLIN' IN LAOS

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Laos. I've come four times now, which is a bit sad, really, when there are other countries in the world that I could check out. And I will, in due time, but Laos keeps calling and I keep coming. There's something about this country that is just so pure, that I just gotta get my fix.

I brought my fiancee, Minhee, along for this latest jaunt. We flew from Changmai, Thailand, to the old colonial holdout known as Luanprabang, which is definitely the most gentrified place in Laos (read: expensive), but so fucking lovely that I'm willing to forgive the overpriced jewelry shops and bourgeois day spas. I've been to Luanprabang a couple of times before and felt like a bit of an expert compared to the obvious greenhorns debating which tuk-tuk driver they can trust, and used it to my best advantage.

READ MORE HERECollapse )

Jul. 12th, 2011

hedgehog

THE MIDDLE OF THE MONSOON (I want my bag)

I'm sitting here at my desk anticipating sweat. I turned off my tiny air conditioner a couple of minutes back and opened the window, letting the moist summer air in, as well as the hiss of the city below. I live on a very busy urban street, which is pretty much awful, since it's nothing but the constant sound of cars. I hate cars. I hate how people complain about smoking, industrial pollution and a variety of other ills, yet drive around in their cars as if the right were bestowed upon them from God on high. I was recently in Nampo-dong, the harbor area of this city, where they have a kind of cobblestone shopping street, which now, on the weekends, they actually close to cars. And guess what? It's fucking terrific. You can walk unmolested and unhonked at, which is saying something in this country, where the right of the driver trumps that of the pedestrian every time. In Korea, crosswalks are just places where drivers might think about SLIGHTLY SLOWING DOWN. There are no traffic laws on the peninsula - just traffic suggestions.

It's been a cunt of a rainy season this year, pouring forth from the sky in relentless waves. Last Saturday was the worst, with the whole of the country enveloped in a deluge so bad that scores of people were killed. These deaths no doubt happened in the countryside, where the flooding is most severe and the residents are mostly elderly. No running away from the flash flood when you're 89 with extreme scoliosis. It's amazing how aged the rural population of Korea is. Who's going to farm in ten or twenty years, when all of these people are gone? It's gotta be a serious concern.

I was supposed to head to Daegu on Saturday, but cancelled my plans because of the storm. I didn't feel like riding a bus over a cluster of mountains when the city streets had turned into literal rivers. It felt like a good day to stay in, rather than become a road-death statistic. Yikes. I was going to Daegu to retrieve my green bag - my badass travel bag that I bought in the Philippines. I took it up to Daegu over two weeks ago when I performed in a comedy show, opening for Danny Cho. There was an emaciated British dude at the bar who could not handle his gargle. He'd been drinking all day and was straight-up stagger and slurring drunk. He hung out for the show and very messily attempted to heckle, getting shut down hard by Danny Cho throughout his set. After the show I hit the pisser, and when I came back to my chair, I noticed that my bag (which contained my little laptop) was gone. The staff showed me the CCTV and lo and behold, the really really drunk guy left with it. At first I was incensed at the naked theft, but it was soon discovered that Mr. Britdrunkypants and left HIS bag at the bar, which, while very different from mine stylistically, was also green. He'd mixed 'em up, but it was too late: He was long gone by the time I ran into the streets after his ass.

I managed to track him down on FB and after some cajoling and threats, he contacted me and brought my bag back to the bar, without so much as an apology, may I add. How hard is it to say "I'm sorry" after being a complete, drunken twat? So, I was now in a pickle. The bar had my bag, but the bar is in Daegu, a city which is 90 minutes away from where I live.

I sent a message to the owner to see if he could sent it to me, but I was summarily ignored. He did respond to a second query this weekend, saying he could sent it, but I've sent him my address and information and have yet to hear anything. I just want my bag back. I need my fucking bag. I'm travelling next week and am running out of time. I didn't leave it at the bar. It was taken by a fool. I was a guest of the bar, there as a performer, so I should hope they help me out and SEND ME THE FUCKING THING. I'll pay for the delivery, I don't care, just give me my bag.

What I don't understand are these douchefucks who get really drunk and take OTHER PEOPLE'S SHIT. It's happened to me before. A while back a very drunk girl - British as well (I sense a pattern) - was cold and wanted to wear my big ol' parka so I said "yeah, put it on for a couple minutes." Again a went to the bathroom and when I came back, she was gone. Her friends told me that she jumped in a cab during my absence. It took nearly twenty-four hours and about thirty phone calls (my cell phone was in the coat) to finally get the thing back.

Okay, I know, I'm not in a great position to wave my scolding finger at other people when it comes to drinking, but what the fuck gives? I get drunk. I yell and drool and sometimes I even fall down, but I NEVER, EVER disappear with stuff that doesn't belong to me, "accidentally" or not. DEATH TO SUCH DRUNKS.

I also think my back right molar is on the edge of going nuclear. Hate.

Yeah I'm in a shitty mood today. So what?
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Jul. 6th, 2011

hedgehog

WHY I'M GLAD SHE GOT OFF

One of the nice things about living outside of the US for years on end is that I don't have to sit through the annoying bits, the "Why should I give a fuck?" moments that one is constantly barraged with by the TV and on the covers of magazines in the check-out lane at Safeway. Aside from recognizing names I see mentioned in news articles, I can tell you next to nothing about Lady Kardashian, Snookers, or even the Dustin Beaver. My finger is definitely nowhere near the pop-culture pulse of the nation. I also get to miss out on those events that somehow manage to grip to whole of the population by their private parts and cause everyone to go into a collective, sputtering fit. These usually come in the form of sensationalist court cases (OJ, Jon Benet, Lacy Peterson) and can cause even the most humble American to wave a righteous finger and froth at the mouth.

This most recent spasm of rush to judgement came in the form of a woman named Case Anthony, who I honestly never even heard of until two or three days ago. The CNN we get over here is CNN Asia, and thankfully they omit such atrocities as anything hosted by Nancy Grace. Larry King used to mine some of the same soil, but he's now off the air, thank fucking god.

I know next to nothing about the nuts and bolts of the case against this woman, but evidently her kid went missing and she didn't report it. She also got a tattoo instead of mourning, which makes her very bad in the eyes of a lot of people. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to her killing the tot so she could go to the beach and drink mojitos every day. After all, girls just wanna have fun, right? Unfortunately there was one little hitch: nothing directly tied her to the crime.

From what I read (and it was admittedly not much), the whole of the nation was screaming for blood. The housewives of America, whipped up into a frenzy by the shrill harangues of uber-hag Nancy Grace, wanted this bitch's HEAD ON A PLATE. Ms. Anthony became the newest in a long line of scapegoats, a 21st century Hester Prynne. The jury was out but America had already delivered its verdict, cheered along by an endless parade of "legal experts" who knew a cut-and-dry case when they saw it.

I jumped on the internet this morning and perused the headlines, as I'm apt to do, and whaddaya know? They jury let her off. NOT GUILTY. Maybe she was an awful mother, the very portrait of neglect and willful irresponsibility, but the prosecution, for whatever reason, didn't prove its case, and now Hester Prynne has been released from the pillory.

I couldn't help feeling a little satisfaction - not because I have any opinion about Case Anthony's guilt or innocence (I don't) - but because the most hated woman in America was given a reprieve. She dodged the knife, putting egg on Nancy Grace's bitter, craggy face and the rest of the herd-like mob that followed her, torches and pitchforks in hand. I despise this kind of group think, this rush to pass judgement and ostracize and let blood that is so rooted in the American psyche. It is a remnant of the dark days of the Puritans, and one of our uglier traits. If flares up here and there like a bad case of shingles, and is easy for even the most critical minded among us to succumb to.

As expats we've built up a bit of immunity to this sort of thing. I'm still very American (whatever the fuck that means), but I can observe the travails of my country with more objectivity than before. I am not exposed to the caustic radiation of the 24-hour American news cycle, and feel like I've managed to hold onto a few more brain cells because of it, though these will no doubt be lost soon to the ravages of Korean beer and soju.

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