Travel Writing in New York.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28th, 2004 by byronkho

Someone once told me that it was possible to be in love with an idea. A tableau, set on a stage of memory’s devising, with the boundaries ever-breakable, ever-limitless. There are lots of hidden edges, and what we don’t imagine now, gets added, slowly, to that miasma during our dreams. Coney Island – stretching down to Brighton Beach and beyond – I believed to be mysterious, trapped with ghosts of the past century, of the dark undercurrents of immigration clashing with the bright possibilities of a metropolitan city. A beach with ocean views extending to infinity. I imagine that some look out their windows in the morning and pretend there’s nothing between their personal slum (the crowded apartment buildings dotting the Brooklyn skyline) and the rising sun, that the dirty panoramas they call paradise can be scrubbed clean and made exciting again. That riding the Wheel and the old wooden rollercoaster, and playing Shoot the Freak, and hot dog eating contests and Fried Chicken! Hamburgers! Seafood! on the boardwalk, and go-karting and mini-golf – that all these aren’t just attempts to reclaim a lost history that possibly never existed. I’m there at 7 am on a Sunday morning, and it’s just me and the sky. Everybody else – with no exception – is an elderly Russian, out for a run or walk, usually barefoot. They clump together in pairs and trios and quartets, and presumably talk of how good the morning air is, and how the children are, and how they’re getting in better shape since they started the diet. Coming here on the D train, I notice the prevalence of Russian signs on the banners and posters. Even Western Union advertises in Russian. I think I also saw Polish, but I could be mistaken. I don’t even really know how Polish goes. I’m guessing the majority of Russian immigrants took this area as home back when they first arrived here. At Abingdon Square on Saturday, I bought a copy of Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. The Emma Lazarus Immigration Absorption Society that settles newfound immigrants, and where the main character works, soothes the fears and redirects nervous Eastern European immigrants – who live in Brighton Beach. Since the author is a Russian immigrant living in New York City, I assume his descriptions, save for obviously creative statements, are correct. There is a light drizzle, but my face doesn’t get wet, as I brought along the beret. It hides the long hair that desperately needs a haircut, and serves as a good waterproof head covering. Perfect to shade the eyelids when I prefer not to show my face. Still, I look too well dressed – I was decked out in gear that would have done as well going to bars the previous night. Which was the case. I just never changed.

There are a few sleeping bums under the pavilions, trying to sleep where they can; I understand the hardships they go through. After all, I spent Saturday night living the life of a bum. I was nursing a forty, I hadn’t taken a shower in two days, and I did my sleeping in the subway station at Grand Central and within the terminal itself, before getting kicked out by policemen at 5:30 am. I went to a couple bars earlier on Saturday evening, after seeing a couple different things in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Friday night, I had stayed with Anthony and went with him for dinner at the corner restaurant. We later went to Times Square. Just a relief to see life again. The huge toiling mass, pushing in and out, and life goes on. Pit stops at Virgin Records, where I buy the Jamie Cullum cd. He’s the Norah Jones equivalent in the UK, and I like his stuff. He has a very clever rendition of Frontin’ (yeah, the Pharrell piece). Fakes of Mean Girls and Harold and Kumar, but unfortunately, the sound was terrible on Harold and Kumar. Bars with friends of Anthony’s. If we hadn’t been there for only a short time, I would have tried talking to the waitress a little. Yeah, she was a little cute, but it was something to do – I felt out of place because they all were definitely gay, and I was clearly odd man out. Chelsea at night is much different from it in the day time. After helping Anthony move out (watched White Chicks before going to bed, Olympics in the morning), I went off to get down to Abingdon Square. Turns out I didn’t make it there in time, mainly because I walked a gazillion blocks “in search of…” Lunch at Boston Market, browsing here and there, people watching. I was intending on seeing a production put on by one of Grace’s friends, but that fell through for me. By the time I found my way past the pretty little Abindon Square park and the awesome bookstore (with the Shteyngart, I also bought the Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte – he’s an awesome artistic/historical/literary thriller writer, as shown by the huge difference in that book and the Queen of the South, both extremely enjoyable. The latter is about modern-day Latin America and the presence of drugs in the life of several people, including the Queen of the South herself; his other books are more historically based and are who and why-dunnit rather than a more picaresque thing.) I ended up reading in the park for a little while, before heading back to Times Square. I went to see Garden State again, because I dearly love the movie; it was even better the second time around. I also took a second look at Virgin Records, and ended up buying two more cds: Snow Patrol and Rachael Yamagata. The latter is a mixed-blood whose songs are incredible, especially Be Be Your Love and Letter Read (the song titles are not all that wrong-sounding). She has a typical guitar, drums and piano/keyboard set with her singing vocals. Snow Patrol is definitely more mainstream, and has several catchy songs. For kicks this afternoon, I put together a mix CD that was supposed to be my soundtrack for this imaginary movie. The music evokes a lot of pictures, which was why I was excited to insert my new purchases onto the thing.

In any case, I ended up walking back to 8th Ave on 42nd and catching the E train downtown to get back to Chelsea, where Anthony’s apartment was. No idea why I really wanted to go, but I found the diner across the street from the one I went to with Anthony on Friday night… Moonstruck. I found the food to be third-rate, the cheddar in the cheese omelette not as good as the cruddier-looking place across the street, and the minestrone soup to be more a potato stew. OK, but not very good. It was raining, but I ended up making my way back to Times Square station and into Grand Central for my amazing night. Being restless, I couldn’t sleep very well, and finally said, “to hell with it” and made my way to Starbucks (where I loitered for 30 minutes before it opened) to get a grande mocha frappuccino. I don’t know if this is policy, but the last three I got don’t have the choc/fudge sauce any more, which I loved to eat with the cream (cream costs an extra dollar when getting Starbucks in Asia). Then, Coney Island. The D went straight there, though it took a long time. On the way back, I fell asleep and got all the way to the last stop in Queens… I was a little disoriented, but went for a walk around Queens anyway. I’m aware this wasn’t the safest trip I’ve ever made, having brought around some valuable stuff and going into dark alleys at random times in the night and away from contact with most people. After Queens, I stopped off in Harlem, and then decided I needed a shower real bad – thus, I made my way back to the Chinatown bus stop. Getting to and from the Chinatown bus place, I always get lost. I find my way back, but only after I find subway stations with their convenient maps. And sigh, I came home, showered, and am tired. Sleep.

Hope and Fear.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2004 by byronkho

One more week – that’s all the barrier I have between the easy carelessness of today and the frantic pace of the school year. I am frightened: moments like now are hard to recapture. I stepped on an ant yesterday, slowly watching it die. It was hard to watch, just like all those scenes I wince at in movies where we watch people die. But they always have some cool exit lines, or else, they’re just cannon fodder and we aren’t really supposed to care about them. But what if you don’t get an exit line? I’m not necessarily talking about death as permanent institution; I’m just referring to the passing of the moment. Of vibrancy, whatever. You’re free, and then suddenly you’re tied to the ground, your spirit trapped in a small wooden box in the ground. Or in another round of classes. Ugh.

I’m going to Williamsburg this weekend. I hope it’s fun. In other news, I felt truly awkward at this gathering of 28 year olds, the talk of tomatoes and herbs and different weeds and how to properly stake such and such, and how much time to spend in the spring, summer, winter, fall and how much matter and where do you get your seeds, it was just… I felt this immense age gap until I hung out some more with them in the subway at 3 in the morning. It’s cool to finally find a rapport, even if it’s a little later. The New York streets don’t seem so barren then.

Travails, Books, Film Critic For a Day.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2004 by byronkho

missed going to vermont, and montreal, because of that silly no ID thing. while i could have chanced and just used the driver’s license to get across the border, i’m concerned about not being able to get back in. so there went a wonderful weekend in canada. doesn’t mean can’t have no fun – i’m going to be running the hava nagila round downtown Brooklyn and shooting malts straight to my brain all Saturday night. bk’s having a partay partay partay.

phone’s busted. that’s a pain in the ass. lisa called, i think to ask if i was coming, and i “hung up” on her. actually, my phone died. can’t charge the fucking thing, man!! still working on that epic, how to be dead. it’s easier to write than any of my past attempts at fiction. it just somehow flows – much easier to get an author’s tone when i find my characters more compelling. they have histories – wildly different histories, widely different motivations, widely different impetus to get into this messed up relationship that costs them more than a couple years of their life. it’s a journey into the pains of knowing why they’ll never work out, and a paean to all those who live the rest of their lives in their memories.

just want to give a holla to my old-ass friend, assad. i’m like sooo late in the happy bdays, but i’m getting round to it. (sound of slap) there, self-punishment for forgetting. happy now? happy birthday, octagenarian.

somebody described frou frou, the shins, nick drake, as emo. is that quite correct? i mean, i thought emo was little bitch music made by girly men (yeah, yeah, harsh, but then i also love some emo stuff… call me crazy). i found this wonderful singer, maria mena (you’re the only one). she’s pretty awesome, in a girl standing on her lawn in the clean well-kept suburbs singing her lungs out and just happens to have a little band behind her way. then there’s katie melua – she’s norah jones with much more guitar (she plays guitar, duh). she’s a little more blues-oriented, and british. crawling up a hill is a great song, really blues-oriented. has that little harmonica riff in the background. “my life is just a slow train, crawlin’ up a hill…” jamie cullum’s twentysomething is a great testament to the problems i’m gonna face pretty soon. haha, the words make me laugh – “the world don’t need scholars as much as i thought”… all about how he’s useless pretty much and still has to find himself. ends up going to drink and wash all that indecision down with a pint. zero 7: passing by. yum.

just read this little gossipy book called the second assistant about the perils of hollywood, and all that fakery. and how one simple girl gets to love it all. she gets to have affairs with hot actors, producers, gets a script through to the studios, launches the career of a young auteur, survives a hostile takeover… yeah, yeah. sure. also read donna tartt’s the secret history. how an odd group of friends commits murder (they are entirely guilty, but is fucked up a good excuse to get off the charge?) and how their friendships start to crumble away with their “secret history.” i appreciated that they seemed a little out of time and place, but maybe that’s new england for you. it’s a good book. kept me up until i finished. that was a bad idea.

watched zatoichi with steve a couple nights ago. strange movie. they had a glee club-esque tap scene at the end, as the ending festival… weird. bloody, bloody action, but kind of weak story buildup. is it just me or do some of these foreign movies got to have more tight storytelling? they dwell on silence as emotion, pretty uneffectively. i mean, there are some great practitioners of the art, but this pretense of moving slow without maintaining interest is getting old, man. i mean, not only asian directors, but also some of those european guys. fine, we have amelie and city of god but stuff like red, white, blue, the horseman on the roof, swimming pool, monsieur ibrahim, la dolce vita, even amores perros… lack something in the “i’m just a simple guy trying to enjoy the film” area. yeah, call me a low-minded runt, all you film buffs, but give me something like the sweet hereafter or the cider house rules or riding in cars with boys or boys don’t cry or even garden state. slow, building, has something to say, leaves me unbearably sad. pretty good work, guys.

Annie Jacobsen, Dirty Tricks, Ranting.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17th, 2004 by byronkho

One note concerning Annie Jacobsen (if you remember, she was the hysterical white woman who believed that 14 Syrian musicians acting a little weird were terrorists, and she was outraged that airport security let them go after thorough background checks):

Let’s say there was a reason to be suspicious. Why not, after all these heightened warnings from President Bush’s voice for Republican scare campaigns, the Department of Homeland Security? Of course, he’s not doing anything to help prevent actual terrorism by his recently announced plan to remove soldiers from places like South Korea, when North Korea is an active enemy actually a threat and actually developing nuclear weapons. But never mind that. Let’s say Arabs of a dark-skinned nature – we can disregard white-skinned Arabs, those blonde honeys from, ha, Syria, won’t do no harm, and who knows, maybe Annie herself is one of those, masquerading as an American chump – let’s say they are planning outrageous terrorist attacks. Like all the non-Arab crazies who before 9/11 routinely hijacked or caused violent commotions on board aircraft for paranoid, manic or terrorist action. But those were before, and this is now, it’s only dark-skinned Arabs now. Forget that the DHS is also looking out for al-Qaeda recruits who are non-Arabs, that doesn’t matter. Oh, and forget that the percentage of terrorists on any flight, or even Arab terrorists on any flight, is less than 0.00000001% of tickets sold, ever.

The fact is, 14 dark-skinned Arab men sitting in an obviously suspicious Z-pattern had to go to the bathroom many times, including one episode in which one passenger was in the loo for ten minutes. Enough time to put together something of true carnage – or maybe just a leaky bowel taking too long to pass? Nah. Can’t be. Of course, it was the last straw when he came back smelling like bathroom chemicals, which is definitely the first step in making a bomb. Maybe a manure bomb, god knows those things can be powerful. One even looked at Annie funny. I mean, who does that, give you the evil eye? I mean, they must be planning something. Normal people just nod at you! Even when you probably gave them the evil eye first.

I mean, we can ignore the fact that the air marshals noticed nothing wrong, because their two years of experience doing this means hogwash. Annie’s experience as a paranoid, hysterical freak that could cause more damage by spreading panic to the rest of the plane than this potential terrorist could with his pinking shears (taken by airport security) or nail clippers (also taken by airport security). God, this makes me want to smoke so bad (lighter taken by airport security). We can’t forget the fact that Annie’s backup testimony is extremely reliable. Good wholesome people, of the Flight Air Marshals Association, who hijack KLM logos as their own (without the KLM letters, of course) and are made of disgruntled air marshals from the regular air marshal association. Good that the other woman noticing the same things was a woman Annie interviewed and who said almost exactly the same things. I mean, we can’t forget the fact that on later retellings, some guy appeared out of nowhere doing the finger across throat motion. She must have been in huge shock, because she forgot to mention that in the first article.

It’s absolutely shocking that after meeting the 14 men at the gate, interrogating them for a couple hours, exhaustively researching their backgrounds, calling the hotels and places they would be playing at and finding nothing wrong, that they were let go. Come on, these musicians could have a link to al-Qaeda. Maybe their third cousin on their mom’s side’s nephew’s second wife is the daughter of a suicide bomber, and that means, bam, terrorist. Gee, only a fool couldn’t see that one coming. Look! They even have expired visas! No matter that immigration law let them in legally and that the expiration date on the visa has no bearing on their status at that moment, that’s just letting them off easy. I mean, we should hold them for as long as we need to prove their terrorist connections, because God knows holding people without charges is fully democratic, especially for those that are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Just like Israel these days, setting good examples as beacons of freedom. And it’s perfectly all right that Annie should be whining about this weeks after the event with rejoinder after rejoinder. Is it her fault that the meanies in the American public haven’t given her the 15 minutes of fame she warrants? Of course not. Just as it isn’t her fault that it would be almost a joy to see her punched once or twice – fine, three times. A joy to me let alone the 14 guys that had to go through so much shit for her irresponsible and juvenile fantasies. She probably plays terrorist-and-corporals as her new sexual cowboys-and-indians.

Whew! There goes my rant. Over and out.

Will Republicans play dirty during the RNC in New York? I’m sure they will. Here’s an easy way to use liberal anger for your disposal:

“A 1978 CBS broadcast reported that, according to Army sources, as many as one in six protesters at the Chicago ‘68 protests were really undercover military intelligence agents. There were local police and FBI agents planted throughout the antiwar movement, often urging their cohorts to ever more daring feats of resistance. Richard Nixon’s White House relished riots, knowing they only helped the Republicans. On a larger scale, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program used its agents to provoke violence in antiwar and civil rights groups throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Passacantando sees the current administration as capable of similarly dirty tricks. “You don’t have to be that much of a strategist to see huge potential for that again. You’re dealing with an administration that has seemed to stop at nothing to accomplish its ends,” he says. “Certainly you would not assume that the Bush administration is more moral than the Nixon administration.” There have already been some incidents of agents posing as activists and trying to ratchet up confrontation. In Denver last year Darren Christensen, an undercover policeman working with the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, joined an antiwar group planning a peaceful sit-in and shocked them by suggesting that they charge a line of armed policemen.

“In a supercharged emotional situation, provocateurs who mean it and provocateurs who fake it have a natural alliance,” says Gitlin. “It’s not always easy to know who’s who. It doesn’t take a lot of sparks to ignite people who hate Bush.” …

“I think the Republicans will probably do what they did in 1968 and make television commercials of people rioting in the street and then promote their guy as the superintendent of order,” he says. “I sure wouldn’t want to be explaining to my kid how it turned out that Bush won election by three electoral votes because of some last-minute surge of opinion in West Virginia where that commercial played three times an hour.”

– from a article by michelle goldberg

I wrote a post at home concerning my awesome, awesome weekend but my computer is having Internet problems. So that will have to wait.

Republican National Convention comes to New York City… why did they choose New York, where Dems outnumber Republicans 5 to 1 and every corner has some sort of anti-Bush, anti-Republican slogan/sticker/poster. They know they’re gonna get nothing done, and pranks are going to be pulled, probably on national TV. We’ll have mayhem and more police brutality (because naturally, people are going to do much more) and hundreds of thousands of protesters everywhere (I especially like the world’s longest unemployment line idea). In fact, I wish I could be there to see it in action.

Trapped in a MRI! Movie of the week.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13th, 2004 by byronkho

Bad Wal-Mart:

There was an incident at a free standing open MRI on August 16, 2002.Someone accompanying a patient was locked inside the room during a procedure, and asked to be let out three times during different cycles, without a response from the tech. This was asked from next to and far away from the treatment head/patient head. Once the individual screamed. No response from the tech. The patient spoke. No response from the tech. The tech said afterwards that he heard the non-patient vaguely. Which regulatory agency should this be reported to?

A: Interesting one. I would first check with the manufacturer to find out where the microphones are located and if they can pick up sounds from someone not inside the magnet. I would also perhaps check with the Chief Tech in MR. This may be a personnel issue. Other than that, I’m not sure there is a regulatory agency to report this to. There is not any rule that says that a companion of a patient should be heard, to my knowledge.

These are your doctors speaking: from a medical panel with members from Yale, Johns Hopkins, NYU and USC. I don’t know any MRI room where you can’t see into the room from where the tech operating the thing is. Besides, how do you lock a person in the room and not let them out? Common courtesy. That’s bullshit that people can’t report it to a regulatory agency, because that’s still an abuse or at least hospital incompetence. Fine, you couldn’t hear the outside guy, but the guy in the MRI speaks and no response? What if you were claustrophobic and stuck in there, and wanted out? Please. Fix the mics, respond to cries for help (remember, the tech vaguely heard something!), and allow the patient free choice (that includes letting people hear what he has to say).

A movie based on Che’s early years is in the works (not the pictured one). In other movie news, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, writers of “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”, are working on “Harold and Kumar Go To Amsterdam.” I’m excited… if the sequel is as good as White Castle, there’s yet another movie I can watch on a night like this. I had dinner at Buca di Beppo’s with Sim and a bunch of people. Really good times – I met this BBB major named Rebecca who has big plans (coincidentally… like mine!). Finally, someone else who potentially wants an MPH and maybe go to Columbia for it. Competition, she said. This girl that was in Philo and ran the art gallery when I played for it was there, as well as Youngstrom, Ken and this other girl, who apparently lived three doors down from me. It’s a little embarrassing to see neighbors you’ve never ever seen before, and such close by too. Anyway, I came home instead of going barhopping (as I needed to wait for my check to roll on in, and I am going on weekend trips the next few…). I got to chill with Eugene and Laura (it’s been forever). Laura got back from Peru yesterday, and Eugene is leaving to California for a week. Some leaf, and lots of Everybody Loves Raymond. He’s absolutely ecstatic about the Counterparts CD… sounds awesome. Should be, I hear it enough through the floor, and it sounds pretty damn good.

I’ve really got to stop playing this Frou Frou song, it’s getting kinda scary. I do want to see Garden State again. The party scene is just so perfect, as is the unending sweetness of Natalie Portman. Peter Sarsgaard is endlessly expressive and perfect in his best buddy role (yeah, not too demanding, but still the picture of that guy sitting in a town back home and waiting for things to happen, and always waits for people to come back to him). Zach Braff is enduring in his role: where mere vapidness is called for, he delivers an effective recovery from a childhood of numbness and shut-away emotional pain. They play the Shins – while not my favorite band, it’s a pretty good choice for “feature band”. It’s part love story, coming home story, personal realization story, family ghost angst story, power of friendship story… a big package for something that is effortlessly funny. The only gimmick seems to be the scene where Zach has the same pattern shirt as the wallpaper; the joke is made clear by a Jersey aunt. But, even as it is a see-through attempt at humor, it’s still funny. Probably because it’s understated when any other director would palm in an American Pie of Friends-size pause and piped-in laughs. The other thing was the last few lines in the movie. “because I love you…” or something to that effect. That was sweet but really did seem to break the flow of smart and/or realistic dialogue, kind of ending the movie on a sour (tho mostly sweet) note.

Usher and Kanye West are coming into town with John Legend. So is Norah Jones, Bebel Gilberto, and John Mayer, among others. If I didn’t have Maine and Montreal plus New York to pay for, I would be SO there. I miss having the Philly Orchestra concerts; maybe I should have gone to the Bobby McFerrin concert because I certainly could have gone.

REALLY Random Shit.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12th, 2004 by byronkho

An annoyingly catchy song, “I’m A Mormon”:

original Buffy…. all riiiiiiight:

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass go to hell (frankly, these are all disturbing):

Tonight, I have heard the sounds of lovelorn balding men singing “Wind Beneath My Wings”, the accordion guy from Lawrence Welk playing disco polka, over-enthusiastic housewives belting Porter-esque show tunes way off-key, a song about fucking known as “the king of fuh… all hail the mighty fuh-king”, Kate MacDonald being such a great schoolgirl it’s not even funny, how to (not) pick up a girl in the women’s clothing department (in ten creepy steps – an audio excerpt of a bestselling 70s book on picking up chicks, with an ugly guy as the author), a Beach Boys reject’s jingle for KFC, “tastes like bad ass” Utica Club beer promo songs, crazy Christian rock musicals with such hits as “God’s Like That” and “It’s Contagious”, an anti-abortion epic by a (castrated-sounding) ventriloquist fatass named Lil’ Markie that contains the line “why did you kill me mommy when god made me special for you?”, Captain Kirk doin the base spoken word sketch that Stewie does on Family Guy (“she packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour. 9 am. And I’m going to be high…”), Ukrainian cowboys, terrible a cappella from the Netherlands circa the 1960s, Family Feud man (not Louie, the old one) singing stilted folk music, a young Dick Clark trying to tell old people about his generation’s music (“you think we’re just rebel whippersnappers”), a nondescript Kirsten Dunst talking about doing Jake Gyllenhaal in public, some Thai kid singing a real Swiss-style yodel with funk and disco overtones in Thai about the beautiful people of the Kuntai Isan, the Brain (from Pinky and the Brain) doing an Orson Welles with “green pea-ness”, a live New Jersey wedding from the 80s (think Wedding Singer… but worse), Van Morrison doing “Ring Worm”, “our table food is not Jesus” from Catholic teachings for the retarded, the Phil Phillips clip that starts off Sublime’s “Two Joints”, a radio ad for “the modern – the SAFE – laxative for CHILDREN”, and Anthony Hopkins singing a cheesy love song (it only sounds scary to me because I can only picture Hannibal Lecter singing it). Good times.

No Knock Raids

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11th, 2004 by byronkho

no-knock raids, where cops can invade your house without knocking on the pretense that you have drugs and will attempt to hide them or flush them if the cops knock, thus removing your right to privacy as protected under the fourth amendment, and where if you reach for something, anything, the cops can say you were reaching for a gun and shoot you; and yes, it’s allowed by the supreme court. john ashcroft backs them up, saying it’s backed up by a warrant, but what is giving out warrants these days? ashcroft has never been one to allow anyone privacy – read his insistent support of the patriot act and other liberty-removing actions (against terrorists, he claims, as well as all those old people that died of shock by mistaken no-knock raids). or, as a drastic parallel, think of what the NKVD and the KGB did in the good old days of Communist Russia. They thought you were causing trouble? They came in without knocking and either took you away or shot you. No defense. It’rs murder, plain and simple, and there are enough cases to build a substantial case against no-knock raids. you see it all the time on COPS, but what happens when it’s just an innocent? saying “i’m not the guy” doesn’t really help you.

and it’s scary how many people are in favor of less gun control and think that this will actually deter crime. unfortunately for the NRA, america has the worst violent crime rate in the world for the size of its population. worst crime rate and worst firearm crime rate. other places where guns are for the most part banned, like canada and australia, still do have firearm crime but to a much lesser extent and an extremely low percentage in comparison with their populations. reading posts and talking to people i know, they say “i feel safer having guns around” or things of that sort. but personally, i find it unnerving. it puts the power of life and death in your hands when it shouldn’t be your decision, and knowing if someone was a little mentally unbalanced (for whatever reason) and owned a gun, i wouldn’t want to hang aorund them, ever, just in case i accidentally made them angry or panicked. gee.

another thing about having guns. say the cops bust in on you in a no-knock raid. you reach for a gun to protect you against robbers, but you don’t know it’s the cops. they shoot you, bc you’re exercising self-defense.

Boys Don’t Cry

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10th, 2004 by byronkho

A confused transsexual is raped after forced to reveal her gender identity; in retaliation, she is murdered, along with two other innocents. This is the premise of Boys Don’t Cry, the movie where Hilary Swank (hot when she doesn’t have her boobs taped and her hair in purposely mannish cuts) plays the transsexual. Chloe Sevigny plays her/his hot girlfriend. Of course, they are much prettier than the actual people were. But there are so many interesting aspects to the case: how small enclosed towns deal with gender identity, how law can choose against rape victims and let the rapists off (who had criminal records, and shown to be mentally impaired in the past), how two nitwits can plan a murder and announce that they would “get rid of the hands and head so no identification can be made” to anyone who will listen, how death penalty appeals can continue (even on spurious basis) for 10 years after the fact, and how hard it is for transsexuals to explain (imagine, hypothetically, you in that situation) that they aren’t lesbian or gay, but a FTM or MTF. Whether or not the movie (or the book) stays true to life – there are still charges of LGBT and feminist propaganda – doesn’t really matter, for the fact is, intolerance is intolerance

True Crime report:


Athens, Dreampop, Video Games, the Mahdi.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9th, 2004 by byronkho

Don’t go see the Olympics this year… they’re turning it into a circus rather than a celebration of sports and internationalism.

An excerpt: “Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.

Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out. High on the list of blacklisted beverages is Pepsi, but even the wrong bottle of water could land spectators in trouble.”

That seems fucking ridiculous to me.

Similarly, in schools:

Got hooked into dreampop after hearing Let Go by Frou Frou, from the Garden State soundtrack. Joining forces with All the Waiting by Zero 7 and other trippy songs like Beautiful and Deep Love from Mandalay (whom you can find in the Cafe del Mar collabos or at any spin joint down Europe way) and The Album Leaf and Heather Duby, Emilie Autumn, Postal Service (with haunting number On Great Heights), Supreme Beings of Leisure (on any superbarca lounge-r compilation near you) and more recently, Emiliana Torrini. Others come to mind – Portishead and even Paul Oakenfold – as the magic of this genre is the electronica beats and hooks that meld with the soaring female vocals. In some instances, there are good male practitioners – Faultline, for example – but those lean much more toward the mainstream.

A good sidebar after an exhausting weekend. Eats at Xe Lua, Ocean City and Jones Restaurant, with Rachel. Picnic in Rittenhouse with Grace, bbq with Dr. Doty and the Smell and Taste crew, drinks with Ben at LT’s, mourning the beach, too much beer, poker night at Mel’s, Collateral, the afternoon with the old guy in tight biker shorts who knew this guy from Indonesia, the Jewish graveyard across from Pennsylvania Hospital, the sunny spot that kept moving (and the girl in blue who moved with it), the Corrections and losing concentration because this scary guy is trying to make eye contact (jesus…), then this girl across the fountain is playing look at, look away, look at, blush. I can’t get that red.

GameSpot to buy Nightfire and Manhunt. Spur of the moment purchases, just like how I bought the Heather Duby album online for 8 bucks. But that was only 8 dollars, not 50. Spending a surplus transaction that I got mysteriously. Manhunt was pulled off the shelves of certain department stores in Britain because it was too violent. NC-17, it’s rated, and the gore and darkness and the sound of your own heart are all right there. It’s kind of gross that way. You’re at the whim of this director guy who makes snuff films. People getting murdered on camera, and the director goes “Cash, people will be SHOUTING your name after this!” So far, I’ve taken out the garbage with a plastic bag, a glass shard, a nail gun, a baseball bat and a crowbar. Pretty vicious ways to die, here. Decided on that instead of Doom 3, which could be scary, but felt like just another run-around killing aliens. Which is fine by me, really, because I’m planning to get back into Half-Life 2, but the Doom series was just different. No story, no mystery, just blam blam and run. Yeah, I might look a maniac, just a little. But what country has all those kids who watch enough television to see thousands of people die every year (though it’s, for the most part, faked)? I am absolved of all guilt.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — The governor of Najaf cleared the way Monday for military operations around the Imam Ali Shrine, the most holy place in Shiite Islam, where fighters loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are holed up, said a commander for the U.S.-led multinational forces. Al-Sadr has promised a fight to the death against the American-led forces by his Mehdi Army militia.

According to Islamic theology, the Mehdi is the “directed one” or the “divinely guided one”; therefore, his job is kind of like a prophet. Abdullah ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s most learned companions, said that the Prophet asked, “how would my family perish when I am at its beginning, Jesus, the son of Mary, is at its end and the Mehdi from my progeny is in the middle?” al-Sadr thinks he can claim Mehdi-ship (Mahdi, an English bastardization, has been used to depict crazed fanatic leaders in many a thriller novel… read Ludlum’s The Icarus Agenda)? No wonder Iraqi leaders can allow war on the guy; he must be a fool to try and persuade the Islamic world that he himself can be in any way holy – or even protect the holy cause.

Thinking about the future. While broke.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8th, 2004 by byronkho

I’m going to be a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, and as yet, I still don’t know whether the plan that I’ve made for myself is the right one. Call me indecisive, but I still can’t figure out what pros I’m willing to sacrifice and what cons I’m willing to accept. Take writing, for example. I love doing it, yet my current aim to get into medical school doesn’t have too much of a place for writing, or the study of history. True, I could go into science history, but more often than not, it’s a throwaway field with little in the way of practicality. Unless, of course, I become a famous author on the subject. Be a Stephen Jay Gould kind of figure, with less evolutionary anthropology and more history. I’m doing a diplomatic history minor at the same time I attempt to finish my biology major. Not to say that I wouldn’t want to fulfill all my academic ambitions… but being penniless at the same time doesn’t have quite a draw. And I should know. While I’m not quite penniless now, I’ve lived on the edge for a long time. Paying my tuition and all my bills doesn’t leave me or my family with very much, so I see the need to be practical.