Tags: busan

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.
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!!!
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 It sits on a neglected corner of town, outdated by the newer and more useful buildings which surround it and practically scoff at its existence.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."

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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?
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.
hedgehog

CONFESSIONS OF AN ATTENTION WHORE

It's been a while since I've done this - since I've blogged too late, after too many drinks.  The fact that it's not even midnight and I'm making such a claim speaks to the fact.  I used to type 3am drunken confessions regularly; I'd slither up to the keyboard and let loose full force the agonies or joys of my Korean life, but at one point I stopped.  Perhaps it was facebook,  or maybe the act of growing up, or more likely the fact that I managed to vent the steam of ten years worth of expat life within the span of three.    I blew my wad, though I look most happily upon those old raw, confessional posts, the ones that attracted any errant eyes to this rant-land in the first place.  They were the ones that folks often reacted most viscerally toward, and that always made me glad.  But this elation has now metastasized into a dull sadness, as such things can now only be viewed as souvenirs.

But here I am and I'm typing and I may as well face the day.  It's Wed-nes-day but a day (or more accurately, night) nonetheless.  Midweek and drunk on expensive beer and soju, thanks to a monied ajosshi who sometimes takes me out for English and camaraderie, but always leaves me well-lubed.

Things are rough with me and M, after a weekend that saw us in Seoul, Bundang, Mokpo, and other points in between.  I was on a "comedy tour," playing a couple shows in bars outside of Busan, and... I took her with me.  This was a catastrophic idea, as my drinking life was already driving her to the point of suicide bombing (she ingests nary a drop due to severe a severe booze allergy - not unknown among East Asian peoples).  The tour was fun  - too much fun - too much boozy  revelry  than she was prepared to shoulder, and what should have been one of my happiest sojourns on the peninsula turned into three days of utter combat.  Ugliness ensued.  Nasty things were said.  Old wound were re-opened, clawed-at and pissed on.  At one point she jumped off the train in a rural backwater, only to reboard it and join me in the destination, albeit with triple amount of the bile that she had possessed originally.

I don't blame her.  She's a good woman who has been tree-trunk loyal since the day we exchanged hearts.  But she wants a man who will give her at least five days a week of wide-eyed dedication.  Instead she was handed me, with shows every weekend, punctuated by all-too-frequent bar sessions with my tragic friends.  She wants a romantic weekend in the mountains: instead I take her on a survey of the drunkest foreigner booze sheds that this nation has ever managed to muster any tolerance for.  Is is any wonder why she's managed to lose hers?

Too add shit atop the coil, consider this:  I also play in TWO weekend warrior rock and roll bands, have begun recording episodes of a comedy radio show, and am now in the early stages of pimping my upcoming book.

Ah, yes.  The book.

While I am without a doubt stoked that I do have a book coming out, I am constantly gnawed upon with doubt:  Is this thing worth a shit?  Even if it is, will anyone read the fucking thing?

Now we all know this is natural.  I used to produce original theater and these same questions festered every time a new work was being produced.  After all, real objectivity is lost early on into the process.  At one point you just gotta commit to the the thing; you have to tape yourself to the bottlerocket and enjoy the ride.

And I'm trying to do that, but I'm a proper "Who the fuck is this guy?" who is now having to beg any name or entity larger than me not just for the all mighty "blurb," but also for the privilege of being sold by their company/store/website.  And pretty much ninety percent of these skidmarks can't even be bothered to answer an email.    Things are plodding along and I think the book is good: but I know there are those who dismiss my story as that of yet another privileged white boy moving to exotic Asia and spoon feeding us his trite observations.  Fair enough, there is a bit of that, but other than by virtue of my passport, I don't think the "privileged" moniker sticks.  I was recently denied a blurb form an established writer who actually had the courtesy to look at a few chapters.  His excuse - as passed my way - was vague and polite, but I'm pretty sure he just wasn't into the gig, for the reasons stated above.

Fuck it., though...  I'm doing it.  But I'm doing way too much.   My super Korean life is busting out of the padded room, and I love it.  But I plan on going to America this summer and steeping in family, old friends, mountains, river, and roots.  I will then come back and strip the fuck down.

Let us hope my relationship can survive until then.