Culture

Your Greatest Piece Of Art

Emily and I went to the LA Art Show this past weekend. The show was 200,000 square feet of eclectic paintings, sculptures, mixed media pieces, and live performance pieces, both foreign and local, traditional and contemporary.

In general, I was pretty impressed with the art. Of course, there were a number of how the fuck did this get here pieces, but overall it seemed like the caliber of art was high.

Art. What is art? It’s one of those super-vague, overly subjective questions that can bring forth answers akin to nails on a chalkboard.

Perhaps What is art? is not the right question. Perhaps the real question is, What is the purpose of art?

Art, if I may pontificate, is meant to elicit a response. The viewer should, in some form, connect with the art, and as a result, a feeling or a thought should come forth. If I look at a painting and think, I have no idea what this is, then the painting isn’t for me.

I bring all this up because there was one piece that elicited such a response, so much so that I’m still thinking about it now and, in fact, am writing about it in this very blog post.

Here it is:

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat. What can I say about this man that hasn’t been said already. His art transcended. He brought a new perspective and unique style to the world in a time where the New York scene was bubbling with the fullness of punk rock and the infant stages of Hip-hop. He dated Madonna before she became Madonna. He left this world too soon.

Basquiat. Yeah, his art was great, but look at his life. He was a slave to his addiction. As singular and one-of-a-kind as he was as an artist, he was also yet another heroin addict.

I have to say, that’s pretty weak.

When we think about art, hardly do we ever solely focus on the art, but instead we also view the artist with a watchful eye. It’s as if the artist is just as much a part of the art as the canvas and oil. There should be some congruence between the art and the artist’s lifestyle, shouldn’t there?

So what do I make of Basquiat? Yes, his art was awesome, but his life kind of sucked. Being addicted to heroin sounds pretty god-awful to me. Reading a bit on his personal history, his childhood and adolescence was full of turmoil and strife.

Should I be inspired by Basquiat, for all the timeless pieces he created, or should I look upon him with sorrow, wondering what could have been had he been able to conquer his demons?

And this leads me to my actual thought: For any creative person out there, the greatest piece of art should be life itself. If the art is badass, then the life should be badass as well. What’s the point of creating the next Mona Lisa or composing the next Bohemian Rhapsody if life sucks? At the end of the day, where did all the great art lead to for Basquiat, or Kurt Cobain, or Amy Winehouse?

Don’t get me wrong, I still find Basquiat’s art to be invaluable, but he’ll never be someone that truly inspires me, because he couldn’t figure out how to compose the most important piece: life.

It’s just a thought. Fucking art.

 

Chris.

Electrick Children

I don’t go to the movies often.

Most of the time, the movies playing at the theaters are all regurgitated versions of the same story. I don’t really like action movies, I hate the horror genre, and is there really going to be a better rom-com than When Harry Met Sally or Sabrina (the Audrey Hepburn version, of course)?

But it’s not like I never go to see a movie. I’m in a relationship, after all, and that’s part of the job description: going to the movies with your significant other. But I am very selective about what movies I choose to see at the theater.

Independent movies – that’s my shit.

I know, it’s a super art-pussy thing to say that I love indie films, but it’s true. I like seeing different. I like seeing creativity. I like seeing movies that take chances and aren’t diluted by the multi-billion dollar Hollywood entertainment industry. Give me something done by a struggling artist; it’s in times of struggle where art really transcends.

Which leads me to Electrick Children (2012). I got to watch this a few days ago when I was home alone. Emily really hates my taste in movies because she has an overall lack of imagination when it comes to the big screen. Yeah, that’s right I said it.

Back to the movie. No spoilers here, but it’s about a young Mormon teenage girl who runs away from home after finding out that she’s pregnant. That’s all I’ll say about the story. Hopefully, you’ll see it for yourself (It’s on Netflix, so even the laziest of you blog-reading slobs can muster up the effort to put it on your TV).

This movie is the directorial debut for Rebecca Thomas, who also wrote the screenplay. She was in her twenties when it came out, and she was raised up as a Mormon herself. What does this mean? Being young, Thomas was just dumb enough to make a movie like this, and it came from a personal perspective.

Think about that last sentence – I could have replaced Thomas with Scorsese to describe Mean Streets or Coppola to describe The Godfather. That’s all I need to know about this movie – I’m in.

The movie itself was, well, odd. But I like odd. Odd is good. Not in the “Oh this guy approaching me at the bar is a super weird creep” way but in the “Oh this guy approaching me at the bar isn’t throwing me the same ‘ol stupid pickup line” way, kapish?

One of the main actors in this movie is Rory Culkin. That’s right – I didn’t say Macaulay Culkin, I didn’t even say Kieran Culkin – it’s the third fucking Culkin brother. I am always team lesser famous sibling – Kevin Dillon, Elizabeth Olsen, and Frank Stallone come to mind.

Music. There’s a song that’s featured prominently throughout the movie. It’s an obscure new wave rock song by The Nerves called “Hanging On The Telephone.” Certain songs can really make a movie, can’t they? When I think of the movie Drive all I hear is the great song by College, “A Real Hero.” “Hanging On The Telephone” has the same effect with this movie. The version that gets played ends up being a cover by Flowers Forever:

An indie film made by a first-time writer/director featuring a C-List actor and a kickass song. I realize this post was a massive advertisement for this movie, but I really did enjoy it.

I mean, c’mon, let’s see some other shit than the typical Hollywood dross.

– Chris

 

All Asians Look Chinese

Be honest.

We all look Chinese to you, don’t we.

You probably went to our About Us page, saw our photos, and said, “Great, just what I need – another Chinese blogging couple.”

But I don’t blame you. Shit, I’d say the same thing. Aren’t there enough Chinese people in this world already? Do we really need another Chinese couple to make more Chinese babies? Why are Chinese men so bad at pulling out? Don’t Chinese women believe in birth control?

Here’s the thing: I am not Chinese.

Is it racist of me to hate that most people assume that?

Look, to the Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, etc. – I get it. We all look the same. Who cares if someone’s Vietnamese or Japanese. It’s all the same shit to you. Y’all got untrained eyes. That’s fine.

It’s when my fellow Koreans and other Chinese people think I’m Chinese that I get bothered.

When I step into a Korean restaurant, they’ll start speaking to me in English. In their minds, they say, “Psh, I gotta speak Engrish to this Chinese motherfucker.”

The other day, I was at the market when an old Chinese lady came up to me. No hello, no excuse me, no asking if I was Chinese; she just started speaking to me in what appeared to be Mandarin. Granny might as well have been speaking in Dothraki – I didn’t understand a damn thing. Luckily, Emily came to the rescue and helped her with her questions.

This is my existence: while most non-Asians think we’re all Chinese, even the Asians think I’m Chinese too.

I’m right about at that point in life where I’m done correcting people.

Am I Chinese? Yes.

Am I American-born Chinese? Sure.

Am I half-Asian, half-white? How’d you know?

You must be good at math, huh? Look at my face.

And if anyone asks me, what are you? My response – Can’t you tell I’m black?

 

– Chris.

Facebook Unfriending Is Awesome

I hate Facebook.

At least that’s what I thought. Over the years, this social media platform has become a wasteland of SPAM, meaningless status updates, and photos intended to promote one’s coolness.

Social media. It’s such a strange phenomenon – we can share ideas, photos, and events with friends, yet nowadays it’s a measuring stick for popularity, or unpopularity, as is the case for most of the world.

Thirsty? Go on social media. Want acquaintances to FOMO? Go on social media.


The other day, I was on Facebook and clicked on the “People You May Know” section.

I was quite horrified at what I saw.

How. The. Fuck. does Facebook know that I may know these people? The group was a weird mix from all over the place, mostly those that I don’t care to see.

It was like seeing a bad dream on my laptop screen.

I hate how smart the Internet is, oh but I love it too. C’est la vie.


It’s funny how an attitude adjustment can change the entire outlook of something.

My disdain for Facebook had gradually crescendoed into full-on loathing over the years. Then, at that moment, as I was on the “People You May Know” section, it hit me. The proverbial lightbulb went off.

Facebook was shit because I made it shit.

Why do I have all these friends? Why am I connected to so many people who I couldn’t care less about? What’s this need for everyone to accumulate more and more friends?

The solution was easy.

That night, I purged my friends list, unfriending over half of my so called friends. The ones I unfriended were a combination of: assholes, people I no longer cared to keep in touch with, people who polluted my feed with all sorts of bullshit, boring individuals, my family, etc. (just kidding about the family, I am so glad my parents are computer illiterate)

What was the result? Apparently, I have way less friends now. But c’mon, who really has hundreds of friends? Show me someone who does; I almost guarantee that I’ll hate that person.

But, my Facebook looks exponentially improved. There’s a lot less selfies and baby pictures now, which is great.

I’m not opposed to someone showing photos of their child, but every damn day? (Emily has gone over this already.)

God bless Jimmy Kimmel. He’s already celebrated National Unfriend Day for 5 years now. But I didn’t want to wait until November 17 to start cleansing my social media.

Over the years I had grown more hesitant to share anything on Facebook for the simple reason that I had so many friends that I didn’t want to share my shit with.

I actually enjoy people sharing photos, opinions, and ideas on Facebook, as long as they are honest and uncontrived.

I posted this message with my remaining friends after my purge, which felt amazing. It was a simple effort to control my content and to eliminate any unnecessary baggage.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 8.25.29 PM

What if everyone was friends with their actual friends? Imagine that.

– Chris.

 

#StopYulin2015 – China’s Thanksgiving

If you have been on social media the past few days, there is a high chance you have seen the social media campaign #StopYulin2015. When it first popped up on my news feed, I glanced at it and shrugged, this must be an anti-China propaganda hoax. It wasn’t until I read CNN articles and watched this short VICE documentary that I realized, Holy shit. This is real.

Before I share my opinions, I think I should share two things:

1.) I am a dog lover and a dog owner.
2.) I am of Chinese descent.

I share this with you because I’m tired of reading comments like, “Chinese people are barbaric.” “Avoid all things and people from China.” “Chinese people are so disgusting and horrible.” “Chinese thrash race really should be driven extinct, kill all of those motherfuckers.” (I’m not quite sure what this last comment means. But it was ranked as a top comment.) If you can’t tell, I have a low tolerance for ignorant generalizations and racist remarks (and bad English).


As a dog lover and a dog owner, can I picture my Kang Kang being Thursday night’s dinner? I named him. I bathed him. I walked him. It would be unthinkable. I winced at least 25 times throughout the 17 minute documentary, feeling sad that these cute, furry animals were being skinned, boiled, burned, and stewed.

As a Westerner of Chinese descent, could I be angry at the people my parents could laugh and converse with? No more than Indians spite those that eat the sacred cow. When is the last time you ate beef or bacon or pork? (If you are a vegetarian or vegan, good for you. You truly stand on higher moral ground.) As a Westerner, I know I have consumed countless pounds of meat, even with the knowledge of how unethical farm factories are. Much like the dogs in these videos, the cows, chicken, turkeys, and pigs Americans consume on a daily basis often come in similar conditions: crammed, diseased, parched, starved, mass slaughtered. Whenever I see a juicy burger I often think to myself, “Out of sight. Out of mind.”  Its presentation is packaged so aesthetically that I forget a fattened, malnourished cow sacrificed its life.


In many cultures, dog meat is a delicacy. Countries like Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Switzerland, Canada, to name a few, also have records of human consumption of dog. Many countries view it as a gourmet cuisine, a cultural tradition, and an affordable dish filled with health properties. It is important to understand why people do the things that they do instead of attacking one’s culture or imposing one’s cultural values on another. VICE did a great job documenting the justifications of locals in Yulin:

  • “Beef is more expensive” = Dog is more affordable to consume.
  • “Dog is healthy” = Throughout various cultures it is believed that dogs provide nutrition.
  • “What am I supposed to do, be a whore?” = A dog seller’s economic response as the dog trade is a major source of income to feed her family in a developing country.
  • “If people want to eat dog who am I to stop them?” = Basic principle of supply & demand: drugs, organ, sex trafficking – all illegal and immoral but a black market exists.

According to ASPCA, there are about 2.7 million animals euthanized each year in the U.S. (1.2 million or 31% being dogs; 1.4 million or 41% are cats). These dogs are often cremated because they are diseased or homeless. If another culture thinks they could be eaten instead of cremated, then to each his own. Like the host mentioned in the documentary, at least they are wasting no parts of the animal. What I don’t agree with though is dognapping a master’s companion. If it is true that these dogs are pets that have a loving home, then I agree with the uproar. Dognappers are no less evil than kidnappers and human sex traffickers.

The second part I don’t agree with is the handling, or should I say torturing, of these dogs. At least when a dog is euthanized in the States, they are given a sedative and/or given the solution that is supposed to be administered fairly quickly and painlessly. If the supply and demand of dog meat never diminishes, then my only hope is that there could be a way to make already deceased dogs available. But I suppose this is no different than how pig pet owners feel towards carnivores like me who devour pork and bacon.

Factory Pigs.

I think it is time to officially convert to a Pescetarian (baby steps),

Emily

Hair Is Life

We can thank Mindy and her post about hair for this one. By the way, have a go with her blog, it’s worth it if you want to laugh. And if you don’t like laughing, then you probably don’t like music either, which means I hate you.

I am writing this at fifteen minutes to eight. Do you know what this means? It means I only have fifteen minutes until The Bachelorette comes on, so I have to hurry my ass.

What’s more manly than a man who watches The Bachelorette? It’s not even The Bachelor – it’s The Bachelor-motherfucking-ette. One woman and twenty four men, or as I like to call it, every goddamn bar in the greater Metropolitan Los Angeles Area (hey-ohh). I can even make the distinction between Ben H. and Ben Z. for Christ sakes.

Actually, what am I saying? I have DVR, I can take my time here. Calm down.


I want to write about hair. Not Hair, but hair.

We’re not talking about the super campy musical from the 60’s.

By the way, I love The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It’s Apatow’s best movie. The Bollywood dance number to Hair’s “Aquarius” and “Let The Sunshine In” in the end is pretty spectacular. Just think of the actors in that movie: Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Catherine Keener, Romany Malco, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Hart, Jonah Hill, Mindy Kaling. What a cast.

Here’s the clip. The guy finally gets laid. I don’t feel remotely bad for spoiling this because not having seen it by now is criminal.

But I digress.

***

Hair truly speaks to the human condition.

It’s a barometer for what’s popular. For men, faux hawks were in a few years ago; now it’s the side parted undercut look that’s in.

It reveals a part of one’s character. If a car can indicate something about a person, then so can hair. Asians especially – the hair is dead giveaway when determining if that person is a FOB or American-born.

For men, proper grooming can make up for a lot in the looks department. If a man considers himself a 3, he can easily move up to a 5 if his haircut is well-done and his face is well-shaven and clean. If a man considers himself a 10, well then fuck that guy anyhow (who has the audacity to think they’re perfect??).

It’s also a way to express ourselves. Those of us men who are still blessed with a full head of hair (trust me, those days can be numbered for any of us) have the freedom to form our hair in any way we desire. Do we want to look clean cut? Messy and rugged? This is rather important, because at first glance women tend to look at our faces a little more than we look at theirs, if y’know what I’m sayin’.

***

There’s a thing called fresh-cut confidence. It’s the reason why we get a haircut on Friday evening so that we’ll look our best in the clubs and bars. It’s why we make a pitstop at the barbershop right before Coachella. It’s why we make sure to get it done before we go on that date.

It’s amazing how men can feel completely better about themselves with their hair looking good. We may not even dress well, but good hair will carry us through. Men will have an extra hop in their step when they know the hair is on point.

Hair. It’s about life.

***

Actually, I can never quite get my hair to do what I want. That last bit of hair never stays put. And I haven’t even gone into body hair, and dare I say, pubic hair.

On second thought, I hate hair.

Such is life, however – we can love and hate the same thing.

I guess I was right. Hair really is life.

– Chris.

 

 

Why Women Love Don Draper

Emily is currently binge watching Mad Men and she is making one thing abundantly clear:

Don Draper is hot.

He’s so dreamy and manly.

So, he’s everything I’m not? Just kidding, I have my moments.

But therein lies the crux of the matter. We mortal men have but moments, while Don Draper is always on: a man who knows who he is, what he wants, and sees to it that he gets his way.

Chris, you’re talking about a fictional character played by Jon Hamm. Did you see him Bridesmaids?

No, I know, but the ladies love Don Draper. When women are telling men that Draper’s the shit, men should take notice.

It would behoove us to analyze this further.

***

Don Draper. I don’t get it.

Full disclosure: I’ve only watched Season 1 of Mad Men. Based on that, when picturing Don Draper, the things that come to mind are:

  1. Binge drinking.
  2. Binge smoking.
  3. Heavy doses of sexual harassment and discrimination.
  4. Promiscuity and infidelity.

On second thought, I totally get why women love Draper – he’s an asshole, and women love assholes.

***

Okay, I’m being facetious. These are superficial elements that serve to illustrate the overall socioeconomic climate of America in the 1960’s. Mad Men is a period piece, after all.

So why do women really love Don Draper? One word:

Control.

He’s not in control of every situation (i.e. Betty), but he comes across as a man who’s always in control of himself.

The obvious is that he’s well-dressed and well-groomed.

The not-so-obvious is, to be frank, rather powerful.

Most communication is nonverbal, is it not? Don Draper’s posture is always immaculate. He never appears to be rushed or disheveled. He even looks in control when he’s drunk, which is a scientific marvel in itself. If I were downing whiskys like him in the afternoon, I’d end up talking like Lucy trying to sell Vitameatavegimin (do kids even get this reference? If not, how sad).

The eyes, as they say, are the window to the soul. Draper will always look you in the eyes when he speaks. He’s not looking down, kicking the floor. He has the constitution to maintain eye contact, which is quite a desirable quality.

Never before have we required less eye contact than now. Texting, Emailing, Tweeting, Facebooking. It’s like we’re doing everything we can to avoid eye contact.

This is kind of screwing men over. Let’s start looking at each other’s ugly beautiful faces.

Of course, verbal communication is important too. The speech is deliberate and intentional. One will never hear Don say, “So, I was thinking, do you wanna maybe, I dunno, if you wanted to, like, I dunno, go out and maybe get a drink with me sometime? But only if you’re free.”

He’ll bash a woman over the head with a club and drag her to the bar by her hair before he says that.

Body Language. Eye Contact. Strong Voice. All signs that Draper’s in control, and the chicks dig that.

Got it? Good.

***

Anyways, yeah so, maybe uh, you’ll sort of, I dunno, like this post, and umm, if you’re not too busy, uhh, like, maybe you can, I dunno, leave a comment or umm, sort of, give me a like maybe if you wanted to, umm, errr, uhhh, ummm, mmm, yeah.

– Chris.