Hmmph…

June 30, 2007

I’m can be pretty mean to my mom a lot. Maybe I should stop that.

Just because I have something to say doesn’t mean I should say it.

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Colma: The Musical

June 29, 2007

Today I went to see “Colma: The Musical” with Sophia and Pat. I absolutely loved it. It’s about these three teens who have just graduated from high school and are at a crossroads at their lives. They grew up in Colma, a suburb in the shadow of San Francisco. The song “Colma Stays” shows their angst to get out of this town: “Colma stays, fast as a tortoise/ Colma stays like rigor mortis….Colma stays, but I have to go”. I’m at a crossroads at my life, and wondering if I’ll be stuck in the suburbs too. Though I’m 4 years later, I can still relate of course. Here’s the trailer:

I first heard about this a few months ago when it played at the San Francisco Asian-American film festival (though I was in Claremont at the time, I used to go to this festival in high school and still keep tabs on some of the film). When I heard there was a musical about Colma I got really excited and really wanted to watch this movie. A) I love musicals in general. B) It’s about Colma. Colma is the town next to mine, it’s where I used to go to BART all the time, it’s where one of the two local malls are at (the other is Tanforan, which used to be a Japanese internment camp. Now there’s a little plaque thing that acknowledges it after the mall was remodeled, but before when I was growing up, the mall just talked about how the location used to be a horse race track, and kind of omitted the internment part of its history). The region of suburbs south of San Francisco are referred to as the Peninsula. This includes Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame, etc. We’re all part of San Mateo County. What’s notable about Colma is that dead people outnumber the living. Most of its land is for cemetery usage (the town was founded when San Francisco was getting too populated and didn’t have enough space to bury its dead). Though I’m from South San Francisco, this is the closest thing I have to a film about my hometown. When I was growing up, everyday I passed cemeteries on the way to and from school. My elementary and middle schools was south, and on that way we would drive past a military cemetery. I remember that in particular because there were a lot of gravestones really close together and my dad told me it was because people were buried vertically instead of horizontally. My high school was north, and driving up there I would go through the cemeteries in Colma. From an early age I thought it was pretty morbid that graveyards were one of the first things I saw in the morning everday. Now there’s a musical that kind of addresses that strange feeling of having that as the background of your childhood.

That was the best part for me in watching the movie, seeing the locations important to me be important to someone else. The opening of the film was pretty uncanny. For some reason it first showed images of Oakland’s Chinatown, which was where me, Pat and Sophia had lunch with our friend Timmy this morning. The next images were shots of the Embarcadero, which was where we currently were, so at first there was this feeling that the film was somehow stalking us. We talked about how this was kind of creepy and some mean old white lady who was alone rudely yelled “Knock it off, kids” in order to get us to be quiet. We were all shocked and mad, and at a loss of what to do or say, especially since the movie was now playing. I hold grudges easily, so everytime she laughed (she laughed really loudly, and annoyingly distinctly) I’d imagine how when the movie was over, I would loudly say something like “That old white lady was so RUDE. Bitch” (cuz I’m also passive-aggressive). Towards the end of the movie, she began talking to herself, so I just figured she was just kind of a crazy old lady. But anyways….

The songs in the film referenced things I’m really familiar with, like Serramonte and places like that. One of the lyrics was making fun of how exciting it was that an In-n-Out was built there as was a Krispy Kremes. It really WAS exciting when those things were first built cuz there’s not that much else to do where I am from.

That view in the screencap is something I see a lot! It was strange to see images that are normal to my life be glamourized on the big screen, from footage of the BART route I always take, to the stores I always go to, etc. These are things that are so part of my everyday life that I don’t really get to share with most people. I don’t really have many friends from the Peninsula. I went to high school in San Francisco, so most of my friends from there have never even set foot in Colma. To think of it, very very few of my friends from high school have ever set foot in my house. Neima and sometimes Chris are one of the even fewer number of folks who regularly comes to hang out at my house. My social life away from my family is hella San Francisco-centric. I guess I always have gone to my friends’ houses because in my head I think there’s nothing exciting to do in SSF (South San Francisco), and because most of my friends live there, so why drag them down here. How do I map where I come from in the Bay Area, in the sense of where I feel at home? I sleep in SSF, spend most of my days in San Francisco (am much more familiar with the public transit there), am familiar with Burlingame because that’s where I went to school for three years…All these places feel like home, yet also not. I’m always commuting from everywhere, so though a place feels like home it’s somewhere that’s in the back and forth of my life. Though I’m hesitant to call myself a San Franciscan since I’m not from the city proper, in many ways I know it better than I know where I live. I’m in this weird limbo where I’m a pseudo-San Franciscan. I know the City to an extent, especially since I’m the one who always comes up here to hang out with friends. I have a familiarity with where they are from, their neighborhoods like the Sunset, or the Mission. If I’m not from there, at least I have an idea of what it’s like to live in the city. However, they don’t have any idea or any clue of where I am from, or what it’s like to live in the suburbs, in the Peninsula. There’s something about living in a suburb to a large city, there can be a dead-end-iness to it, a feeling of always looking to somewhere else, etc.

There were some lines in the movie that really made me start thinking about this notion. The female lead was talking to her friend about how when it’s not foggy, you can see the San Francisco skyline. Though Colma’s a small town, you’re reminded that you’re near a major metropolis. She goes on about how she wonders if people in San Francisco could see Colma, would they even look this way? When she said that, I was like “Dude, that’s my life!”. It made me wonder about how there’s parts of me and my life that never gets shared with others, parts that other folks don’t even realize exist. San Francisco is always being celebrated and talked about in films, shows, etc. San Francisco I guess is more like what I’ve always wanted to work towards, I’ve always wanted to live there, people think its an important place, what the city holds is exciting to me, so my mind is focused on that. It’s like I’ve always been thinking more of where I want to be instead of where I am now. I’m from the Peninsula, I live in South San Francisco, first lived in San Bruno, when through puberty in Burlingame. I’m from San Mateo county. Those are places that have largely shaped my life and those are important places to me, even though those names might not be important to others. This film shows how those places that are meaningful to me are meaningful to someone else too.

So, I end this blog with one of my favorite things about South San Francisco. We’re also known as the Industrial City, and have immortalized this in giant, huge concrete white letters on a hill.

After crashing at my friend Tanya’s house where she played me this video, I have had this song stuck in my head nonstop for the last few days, and have had the intense need to burst out singing this song (particularly the lines “Diet coke and a pizza please, diet coke and I’m on my knees”. Anyways if you want to get me, or at least be able to sing a long with me (Because it’s so much more fun to sing along with someone else). The song is “Big girls are beautiful” by Mika. On one hand it’s easy to think that I love the song because I am of the community that this song celebrates. However, honestly it’s just cuz this song is so damned catchy and upbeat.

Mika – Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)

My feet are pretty wimpy. They can’t handle any other kinds of shoes but sneakers and flip flops (oh yeah, and John Fluevogs, but who can afford that unless you’re a middle class kid buying to spite your parents like I did in high school). High heels, no way. I’ve always had an aversion o them. I come from a continent where women were forced to bind their feet for beauty standards. We’ve moved from being physically forced to suffering for the sake of beauty to believing it ourselves that we should do certain things in order for other people to find us attractive. I ain’t going to subject myself to pain, discomfort, and limited mobility so someone else will think I look good. I’m sorry but I look good when I’m comfortable. However, I’m not trying to say that if you wear high heels or something you’re falling into the patriarchal trap, or that dressing normatively makes you not a feminist. How you dress is your choice. It’s totally valid if that’s your aesthetic and what makes you feel attractive. If it makes you feel good to dress like that go ahead. For some people, stilletos represent hot looking shoes, and when I think of them I think of PAIN! Wearing those kind of shoes is simply something that’s not for me. However, even flats can hurt my feet. I get like blisters sometimes, or there isn’t enough arch support, which i guess would be how it’s like to wear converse all stars. for some reason when those shoes first became really trendy I couldn’t by them (I don’t know why), but when I was able to get them on my own, they were bought by Nike so I didn’t want to buy them anymore. However, maybe it’s good that way because I need a freakish amount of support, like what I get from my Saucony’s….as the saleslady told me it’s like clouds below your feet (except not really, but I wanted to write that)

But….that’s just a rant. What I was really going to talk about was my night last night. I had dinner with some old friends from high school, Marisa and Tanya, Marisa’s friend Sabrina who’ve I hung out with before, and Marisa’s friend from Brown. We ate at this pricey Italian restaurant, where I, along with three others at the table, ordered gnocci with rabbit. It was quite tasty, the rabbit was just like chicken! I was the first to order, and when everyone else ordered I had this really strong impulse to change my order. This is a weird tic I have. I don’t like ordering the same thing as other people, especially if everyone else ordered it. It’s not just be trying to be non-conformist, it’s more my approach to food as a social activity. I’m all about food sharing, and getting to know different types of dishes. If everyone orders the same thing, when you look around the table it’s pretty boring. It’s more fun if everyone as different stuff and you can share and try. That’s also why I have this other neurotic tic, where I get annoyed when people go to Asian restaurants and not order family style, because family style is how it’s supposed like! I guess these tics come from how I grew up eating out with my family, where it’ll be these big family style dinners where everyone orders different stuff and we share and it’s really yummy and fun. Oh well.

After that we went bar hopping in the Castro. At one of the bars it was supposed to be Fratboy night, where we saw few frat boys, and few college-aged men in general. Later on, we went dancing at Badlands. There were all these screens that played music videos. A lot of the music was like random European techno divas like Sophie Ellis Bextor, which was fun-ish (but got old after awhile). They also played techno remixes of fun top-40 songs like Pussycat Dolls and Rihanna. I had a lot more fun than I thought I was going to. It was like remembering a part of me that I had long forgotten (not that long forgotten though). Dancing was a substantial part of my time in Pomona, from late night dance parties in my room to eighties music, to parties like Harwood Hollywood and going clubbing to places like Jewel’s Catch-One. But most of all, especially this year, I think of dancing at our L parties, blasting R Kelly, Ginuwine and Patrick Wolfe. I haven’t been dancing since being at Claremont so being at Badlands reminded me of that.

The next day I got to pretend to be a gourmet for awhile. My friend needed to go to this cheese shop and buy a cheese plate for her mom’s dinner party that night. We went there and there were all these cheeses I had no idea existed and cost more than what I could afford for a week’s worth of dinners. Anyways, when my friend asked the person working there about suggestions and that woman grilled us for the details. Is it before, during or after the meal, and what time of the day will you be eating, what will be the beverages, what will be the main course, etc. etc. Man, totally a way of thinking that is not part of my world at all. I’m just like “Cheese? Yum. Get in my belly.” The fun part was that the lady would suggest cheeses and me and my friend were able to sample it. I never really thought about eating food critically, but I had a great time nibbling things thoughtfully, pausing for a moment, and saying stuff like “i like the texture”. My family’s not really the most appreciative of the fancy cheese plate, and I don’t think my future holds much of a budget where a lifestyle of fancy cheese plates is possible, so I had a blast pretending for a moment. I’m tempted to go back and just tell that lady I need to assemble some cheeses for something, try those cheeses and then leave, however I think you actually have to buy something if you make the employees go through all that…oh well…

I did end up buying a small chunk of blue cheese that is delicious. I don’t know why, I really like things with strong flavors, so I’ve developed a taste for these moldy cheeses. I also really like gorgonzola and goat cheese (goat cheese is not moldy but it does have a strong taste). I want to try Roquefort. When I did a homestay in France, my host dad gave me some roquefort and I was hesitant to try it because it looked moldy. However, I tried it anyway because I always try new things and I thought it was gross….because it tasted exactly how it looked: moldy. But maybe I would like it now that i’m old (which rhymes with mold)…

I was listening to ITunes on Shuffle mode. Most of the music on my new computer, I’m only peripherally familiar with. The song that came up was one I haven’t heard yet, called “Tom Sherman’s Barroom” performed by Dick Devall. This is off a compilation that I borrowed from KSPC. It’s called “Before the Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene – Classic Recordings from the 1920s and 1930s”. Highly recommended.

Anyways, with a squeal of delight I realized that on the Dick Devall track the chorus was “I’m a gay cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong” Hmmmm…… Tragic gay cowboys sounds familiar….Well I posted the rest of the lyrics and you can conjure up the meanings as you will.

TOM SHERMAN’S BARROOM
(Traditional)

As I rode down to Tom Sherman’s barroom
To Tom Sherman’s barroom one morning in May
‘Twas there I spied a gay, handsome cowboy
All dressed in white linen as cold as the clay

I knew by your outfit that you were a cowboy
That’s what they all said as you go riding along
Come gather around me, (you) said the jolly cowboy
And listen to me, comrades, said he

It’s each and all may learn and take warning
And quit your wild roving before it’s too late
It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing
It was once in the saddle I used to be gay
First taking to drinking and then to card playing
Got shot through the breast and now I must die

Oh bear the news gently to my grey-headed mother
And whisper then lowly to my sister so dear
And don’t forget the words that I’ve told you
For I’m a gay cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong

Oh beat your drum loudly and play your fife slowly
And play your dead marches as you carry me along
Oh take me to the graveyard and roll the sod o’er me
For I’m a gay cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong

Six jolly cowboys to balance my coffin
Six pretty girls to sing me a song
Oh take me to the graveyard and roll the sod o’er me
For I’m a gay cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong

Oh bring unto me a glass of cold water
A glass of cold water, that poor boy cried
And when I returned, the spirit had left him
And, gone to the Giver, the poor boy had died

A special shout out!

June 18, 2007

Hey y’all. I just wanted to give a special shout out to Sam Stromberg. He’s an awesome guy whom I suspect may be the one and only person who reads this blog! As a result he gets a special reward…a shout out from me! Are you jealous? I’d be too!

I felt weird about posting a picture of him without his permission, so instead I typed “Sam Stromberg” in Google Image and this is the first pic that came up:

Here’s the website it’s from. Keep on reading, Sam!

Hey. So my post-grad life (and to be quite honest by pre-grad life as well) has consists of incessantly cheching out facebook (with the occasional MySpace there). I’ve used other networking sites such as Friendster and Downelink but none of them held my interest quite as Facebook did.

It’s been a good way for me to keep in touch with people. That’s not entirely true. It’s been a good way for me to keep people in the forefront of my mind. I’ll see someone’s pic on Facebook and remember that maybe I should send them and e-mail or something cuz I haven’t seen them in a long time. Usually nothing comes from that impulse because a) I end up forgetting by the time I logoff and b) in general I am terrible at keeping in touch with people.

Facebook has changed incredibly since the first times I used it as a sophomore (I think it was Laurie that made me sign up for it, though I probably inevitably made an account), I can’t even remember what it was like. It must have been incredibly bare bones. Some new features were awesome, such as posting photos. Others I found annoying and unnecessary like the Newsfeed. It was way too overwhelming and made stalking an unavoidable activity. However, I am so used to it now that I don’t really mind it anymore and can’t really remember what it was like before. Now I’m trying to formulate my opinions of the application features. Some applications I am highly in favor of, such as the Graffiti one (PLEASE DRAW ON MY WALL!!!!), while others again seem dumb. I’m hesitant to download them unless I really like them because I don’t want to overload my profile, and because I am wary of downloading random things (from having an often Virus and spyware laden PC) though it’s only fake in the world of facebook downloading so it won’t really mess up my computer (or will it?). It just seems weird that these applications are being made from outside sources and are being incorporated into facebook, and also crazy that there are so many of them.  How did people start making this applications?

Oh and gifts. Paying a $1 to send a gift is silly. though I am sad that no one has sent me a gift yet. 😦

In general, I think it’s interesting to think about social networking sights like this one and MySpace. I feel like it breeds connection and distance. For me, now that I can facebook message someone, that to me is like the most casual way of just saying hi. I feel like if I want to e-mail someone or call them there needs to be a purpose of it. For me, advances in technology in terms of communication, make what already existed seem so formalized. When I was a kid, I used to call my friends all the time just to talk. We would sit and just have silence on the phone. In high school, once AIM came out I felt like AIM is where I could casually talk to my friends and that the phone was for important things. With cell phones, once I started text-messaging, again that made actually talking on the phone seem more important. Like I should save it for an particular occasion, like if I needed information right away. Now with Facebook and Myspace messages, I feel like that’s the space where I can have completely casual encounters and say hi to them out of the blue. Maybe in the back of my head e-mail seems more formal since it has been established longer. Anything that has existed longer seems more formal, and maybe it’s also because it involves less degrees of distance?

Social-network sites seem to be full of contradiction. With MySpace, for example, it allows for people to easily have a website, a space if you will, to express themselves easily. You can post a song, list your favorites, etc. Though Myspace is somewhere you can express your individuality, how you express that is formulaic. You pick a photo, a song, a background (off of websites like pimp myspace or something like that). You can list your favorites, but what kinds can you do? Maybe you’re someone where knowing your favorite foods is more relevant to getting a grasp of who you are instead of your favorite movie.

It’s also interesting to think about the timing of these websites. In the earlier part of this decade, where these sites were emerging and beginning to become popular, we dealt with the impact of 9/11 in terms of security and privacy, and we were quite publicly on the brink of being on full scale Big Brother mode with shit like the Patriot Act (not that I don’t think we are not in Big Brother mode, for all I know there’s a CIA operative in my room now. But I hope not because I was about to whip out my vibrator later tonight). Invasions of privacy and being on constant surveillance became important issues to talk about and to fight against. Yet interestingly enough, with these websites, people willingly put themselves out there to be seen, to be surveyed. On one level, you’re signing away your information to these sites when you make an account. We fear that people might pry into our info, but online we give it away! With users, we let people know what we’ve just done, with pictures we posted we allow people a window in how we are when we are drunk, what we do in our personal lives, etc. Though we may do so because we think only people within our acquaintances will ever see this, in reality unless you put up the privacy settings, you’re letting anyone see it. This issue is coming up a lot in college campuses. At RHS we talked about the ethics of Facebook as evidence of past and future transgressions. People felt like it was shady, it’s an invasion of privacy. Facebook is where people express their personal lives. I do think that OCL should use Facebook and such sites for policy enforcement. However, the idea that students have that facebook inherently is a safe, private space is not true. When you’re posting a picture online, despite your intentions of being private, unless you put up any settings, you’re putting your pics on display for everyone. at its default, sites like facebook are public spaces.

anyway, let me go back and check my profile for the gazillionth time today.

I promise…

June 14, 2007

I will learn the art of writing a shorter post. Or if it is long, it will only be because I insert lots of pictures and videos.

Look behind you

June 14, 2007

Have you ever done that at a concert or a movie theater? Look behind you to see if you’re blocking someone’s view? Have you ever thought about it or even cared? How tall are you?

This post might sound a little bitter. A few days ago I saw this awesome show that featured progressive hip hop acts like the fantastic group Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Gabriel Teodros (whose CD I immediately bought after the show!). In the end, I was able to muscle my way through the front of the stage and saw the show up close, mostly inhibited. All’s well that ends well.

At the beginning of the show, I was worried. As I was pushing my way through the crowd, I saw that at the front of the crowd was this really tall, slender teen, who was over 6ft. tall. You could tell he was a big fan and was really enjoying the show. However, I couldn’t helped but be slightly miffed since his pure unadulterated enjoyment of the show, of being right in front, had to come to the price of me not being able to see anything. I’m 4’11”, that’s right not even 5ft. tall. Some people say I should just fib and say that I’m 5ft. tall but hey, i’m short and I got no reason to be ashamed. Other notable people of my height include Shakira (that’s right, she is that short), and Kristy Yamaguchi. Anyways, that’s for another day. Anyways, this dude was hella tall and I was hella short. This illustrates it:

See? The guy didn’t do it out of any malice, he was just oblivious, having no idea he was blocking anyone. I’m annoyed but not that mad. As I was walking through the crowd, there were other guys who were much taller than me, who turned around and must have seen me, but I guess it never registered in their minds that I am much shorter than them, and that I can’t really see any of the show. All I see is this:

I paid just as much money as tall people to see the show. I know the answer is too just deal with it and come to the show hours early and stake out a spot in the front and never ever leave or go to the restroom just in case someone will come and take it.

But why should I? Can’t everyone be able to watch the concert and be able to see? Does it really matter if you’re 2ft. closer to the stage or not? You can still fucking see if you’re standing behind me, whereas I see absolutely nothing! There’s nothing wrong with being considerate of other people. I love live music, but it’s hard when I have to shove my way through the crowd into the front just so I can see, and usually that involves me separating from my friends, who are uniformly taller than me, so I have to enjoy the experience alone.

As a tall person in front of me, when you turn around and see me how does it not occur to you that I can’t see? This is what I tend to angrily think in the crowds. However, thinking about it, your body type, how you look shapes how you view the world. If you’re tall, it probably wouldn’t occur to you that you are blocking someone because you’ve probably never been blocked. I’ve had discussions about this in terms of race and gender. Like how when you’re privileged it’s difficult to pick up on instances of racism and sexism because you’re not used to taking the brunt of it. However, after the Blue Scholars show, I was interested in thinking about other basic physical characteristics impact one’s personality. The way others view you impacts how you are like to an extent. As we can see with race and gender, how you look can gravely affect how you’re treated from whether a cab driver will pick you up or not or if someone will respect what you have to say. Height, weight, etc. also has an impact of how you’re treated and how you may view yourself.

I remember one time in class, we had this guest speaker, Del LaGrace Volcano, who’s this amazing photographer and artist. Here’s zir website with some of zir artwork. Zie is genderqueer, but passes as a man. In the class, we were discussing masculinity I think??? Or something about how zie passes or if people can tell and if that impacts how others treat him. Zie said that if anything his height had the most influence on how other’s treated zir has a “man”. Since zie is short, people don’t see zir as having the same amount of authority and masculinity as someone taller.
How would this impact you? If you were short, would you become more meek just because people always thought you would be like that? Or would you go the opposite extreme and be super aggressive to assert yourself, to command that respect? If you’re tall, do you feel oblivious to all this? Do you have a greater sense of entitlement, that the world was made for you because you can reach anything with ease? Would you have greater confidence because people look up to you (literally)? This is all very gendered too.

Weight is also an issue too. Skinny to fat, attractive to ugly, if you’re on the wrong end of the spectrum you’re virtually invisible. I’ve been fat most of my life and am still trying to understand how that may have shaped my personality. Am I shy because I felt so invisible? Sometimes you don’t notice how people are viewing you this one way, until someone different from you comes along and everyone suddenly pays attention to them, and only then do you realize that you were being invisible. What is normal to you is not normal to everyone else. Maybe I’ll rant more about this later, but this entry is growing and growing so maybe I should just post it now.

Rambling rantings

June 4, 2007

Recently, I saw the film Journey From the Fall with my parents. For those of you who don’t know, it’s written and directed by the Vietnamese-American director, Ham Tran, and it documents the aftermath of the “Vietnam War” (the American War if you’re living in Vietnam), and the experience of immigration. The title references the fall of Saigon, April 30th 1975 (known as “the Day of Liberation” if you’re living in Vietnam), when the war officially concluded. The story follows Long, who decides to stay and fight for his country instead of fleeing. He ends up in a re-education camp with brutal conditions. His wife, son, and mother escape by boat eventually coming to the United States.

The film has been playing in major Vietnamese enclaves, such as Westminster, Houston and San Jose, which I must give mad props to. So, I’ve known that this film has been out for awhile, I haven’t seen it partly due to the fact that I’ve had to miss it the other times people have gone, and also because I wanted to watch it with my parents. Often I felt that I ended up learning about Vietnam not through my family but through books and films, placing a distance between myself. I didn’t want this to be another case of me learning about my people through a movie and not connecting it to the people in my life.

Watching the film was an overwhelming emotional experience and was making my brain go idea overload. So here are some thoughts I am harboring on it.

– During the film, there are these references to Vietnamese history, folklore and popular culture that was absolutely foreign to me. The narrative of the story is wrapped up in this story the character of the grandmother tells to the grandson, about Le Loi and Le Lai. These names are barely familiar. I only know them because they’re streets in Saigon but I don’t really know the stories behind them, and it’s one of those things that is part of the mental landscape of most vietnamese folks, that’s been drilled since school. Instead I have a sense of familiarity with Paul Bunyan, Paul Revere, Johnny Appleseed and other random white folks. Just like writers like Nguyen Du may signify literary canon, and historical significance in Vietnam, for me as much as I wish it didn’t, Shakespeare and Jane Austen are those figures for me. When I think of history I think of European history. Even as I consciously try to undo that, to tell myself these histories have been imposed upon me, where the stories of my people have been suppressed from me in the process of assimilation, I can’t change my initial impulses to identify with the West. Western history and culture will always be a part of me because it is what has sculpted me, though I do not see myself reflected in it (or when I am, it is in the role of the Other). With Vietnamese historical and cultural references, I may research them, learn more about them so I can recognize them, but I’ll always view it as something that I’ve learned, instead of as part of a cultural vocabularly that is now naturally a part of how I think. Not that the Western cultural influences are natural, they were learnt too, but at this point it is imbedded in the way I think, it’s not just what I know. Will I ever reach that level with Vietnamese culture and history? Where it becomes a part of how I see and understand the world?

– The film was a cathartic experience. Even though to an extent I had an idea about re-education camps and boat people from what I’ve read and what I’ve heard from family, etc. it was completely different to actually see the film. It just reminds me of why I was a media studies major. I can’t talk about how film is a universal language, blah blah blah and happy go lucky corny ass shit like that. There’s something about watching something on the big screen and getting wrapped up in a narrative story that impacts me in a very different way than just hearing about something, or even seeing something in a documentary. Narrative films get you inside of what is happening into the characters, while documentaries are presenting something. It’s not only about representing something that happened in history, but represent the emotions behind it.

– There is a need for more films like this about this subject matter. Though this is an amazing film, it reflects only certain perspectives of what happened on April 30th and what followed. The next bit of what I’m going to talk about is a delicate subject matter. On one hand it is easy to say the film is one-sided. The film could be seen as presenting all communists as bad, corrupt and cruel towards the prisoners in the re-education camps, and glorifying southern Vietnamese. It’s true that is showed that one perspective, and that not all communists were like that, but it is a perspective that is true, and is accurate of the experiences of many people. Not all were like that, but a good number were. I don’t think it’s the role of this film to show all the sides, but I think it’s important to not make this into the definitive film. Vietnamese communities have waited so long to have their experiences legitimized in representations, but this film should be the beginning, the text that opens the doors to other filmic depictions. Just as films about WWII come out ever year, yet still present new aspects of the history, what happened in post-war Vietnam and the experience of immigration has a million different nuances, enough to be the fodder for countless films.

It’s interesting to think about political happenings in terms of situations with players. History is constantly repeating itself, only with different sets of actors and in different types of contexts, but always showing the same stories. While watching the depictions of the re-education camp, I couldn’t help but think of all the similar/worse things that the American government has done. After the movie, my mom said “See? Now you now know why our community hates communists so much”, and I wanted to retort that that’s exactly what we are currently doing to people in Guantanamo. How can we not be doing anything? Also, watching the parts of the film about the refugee experience brought up similar questions about why aren’t we doing anything for Darfur? Since the Vietnamese community has had this experience of having to flee, why don’t we ever sympathize, no empathize with what’s going on with other communities? Why do we stay so singular in remembering our painful history and not link it to what is going on elsewhere?

-a final thing I was thinking about while watching this is why didn’t I force my friends to see it. I mentioned it, talked about how I wanted to go but never pressed the issue with my non-Vietnamese friends. With the VASA folks I was excited and motivated to go (but ended up unable to go due to various prior commitments). Parts of the reasons why I didn’t, was that it was so far, bringing people to Little Saigon. Also, I don’t know, it goes back to the issue where Vietnam is so important to me and it’s hurtful to think how to many it doesn’t matter, even to people who I care a lot about. To my non-Vietnamese friends, not consciously but maybe in the back of my head, that desire to please and have people like me which makes me a spineless pushover, thought that to these friends this film is just a long, depressing movie with subtitles. That notion is wrapped up with some internalized racism. Yeah they might think that but they shouldn’t have and it’s my job as their friend to beat it out of them and make them watch this and learn about this. I mean, to know what my community has gone through, the history of my family, friends and people, is a major part of knowing me. so friends, if you are reading, look up “Journey from the Fall”, find out where it’s playing and go watch!