Tattoo You

I just realized it. Everybody has tattoos.

Okay, I’m kinda exaggerating.

Everybody but me.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but tattoos became mainstream.

When I was a kid I remember my dad saying stuff like “Only sailors, bikers, and longshoremen have tattoos, don’t get a tattoo, you’ll regret it.”

Since he grew up in L.A., I’m guessing he was referring to San Pedro and Long Beach from his era. Definitely a lot of sailors, bikers, and longshoremen there.

During the ’90s heyday of Grungeapaloozas it seemed like every dude had a tribal arm band tattoo on his bicep and every chick got a tramp stamp of some really meaningful artwork perched above her ass. Piercing through lips and noses became more common and ordinary earrings gave way to African tribe style megadiscs to stretch out the earlobes.

I had some friends who were really into the Grateful Dead and got some different Dead iconography tattooed one day. Today tattoo shops are rivaling Starbucks, but back then there were less quality artists around. When the three of them returned, they instantly regretted the shoddy work that now adorned their skin. I laughed and was glad I missed out on that one.

Today’s 20 somethings who grew up after us have found an even more accepting attitude towards body art. Even the most tame looking, skinny nerdy guys seem to be covered in full arm sleeves like they front hardcore punk rock bands. White boys with Japanese Yakuza gangster art, girls next door with knuckle tatts and 666’s and daggers, I’m not even sure who to believe anymore. I mean, to a degree you must be pretty hardcore to spend the time and money getting pricked with a needle, but it’s all just an image. A hard image to change.

Maybe I’m just jealous. I never came up with anything that creative and original that I wanted to show the world. Maybe I feel that’s just tipping them off too much. Not my favorite band. Not my favorite football team. Not my favorite brand of beer. I once saw a guy in Portland with a PBR elbow tattoo. That was on the East side of course.

Out here I recently saw a kid with a canoe on his forearm when I was riding the subway. Certainly unique. And I really appreciate the work some people do. Really that’s why I’m staring. I’m trying to figure out if that pattern on your cleavage is a rose or a heart.

I’m not sure about the rest of the country, or the world, but Portland and New York definitely have lots of tattooed people. My roommate who just left was working as a tattoo artist in New York for the summer. He’s from Spain and was covered head to toe with tattoos. Okay, neck to shin.

Like I said everybody has tattoos, ‘cept me.


Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

Wasn’t it not so long ago the NYPD shot a man right near my work and I wondered if that wasn’t a risk to public safety?

Bad Times Square

Just yesterday, a guy went to his former place of employment, next to the Empire State building and shot to death his former co-worker. A person who saw this action take place pointed him out to the police, who then took him out and injured 9 bystanders in the process. I know they were just doing their jobs and keeping the public safe, but we’re talking the Empire Freakin’ State building. In Manhattan! New Yorkers in and out of work, tourists everywhere. Lots of damn people milling around the sidewalk. I can barely get through the gawkers of Times Square on my way in to work sometimes. I can only imagine the chaos if everyone were suddenly inspired to run in random directions.

There was also a little rant about a certain social networking site going public and how I thought it was way overpriced, overrated, and overhyped.

Saving Face

And yes its price continues to sink, one of it’s largest initial investors just cashed out, and people are wondering more and more if the Zuck wants to step up and be a CEO or just a really awesome programmer.

But most important of all, I know table tennis.

Olympic Update: Chinese Dominance

PRC sweeps all gold medals.

The only white guys to even get to the podium were the Germans with bronze.

“Ein, Zwei, Drei, Fear. Now vee drink a lot of bier!”

Anyway, I’m not quite at Nostradamus levels of predictions yet. But remember you read it here first. And when I’m right again you can call me by my Japanese fortune teller pseudonym.


Random Thoughts About Post #50

Cinquenta! Wuh Shzz! Oh Ship! Funf Sein! Fitty! That’s 50 spelled poorly in five languages. It doesn’t seem like that much until looking back and realizing I’ve been doing this since February. If you think about it, I couldn’t have just come up with fifty posts overnight and made them this awesome.

It reminds me of a sociology class I had to take in college where we had to find a newspaper article each week and write a page summarizing how it related to the class. I neglected to do this until the night before the final and then realized I had absolutely no desire to go back through ten weeks of newspapers, find articles, and write about them. After consulting the course guide, I figured with the “A” I received on the midterm, if I got another “A” on the final, I would make up for the “0” on the project side and still be able to pass the class. When I received my grades, I was disappointed to find that I instead received a “D”, despite getting an “A” of a high enough percentage to work with my calculations. I only miscalculated the professor’s disgust in my slacker underachieverness that swung me from C- to D+. Is there really any such thing as a D+? It’s all D for dumbass.

Do I regret being a bad student? No, I was just purposeless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Not all my classes turned out that poorly, but that’s a good example of my feelings of busywork. I understand practice and preparation. And I have extreme confidence in my ability to perform. Game time. On stage. In case of Emergency. I feel the rush of a pressure situation and can keep a level head when everything around me is falling apart. It’s the slow times I apparently don’t deal with so well. But I’m dealing with the persistence of blogging and I’m proud that I made it this far.

Back in 2007 I made a three week trip to China on my own, able to speak maybe 50 words of Chinese. I intended to try and import products to start a business. Eventually I settled on buying about 100 guitars that I sold individually though ebay and other channels. The most fun part of the trip was chronicling my experiences in China as I sent group emails back to friends and family. Apparently, people were entertained by my misadventures and enjoyed the updates. One friend even told me I should be blogging. I had heard of blogging, but I didn’t really understand it. Actually, I’m not sure if I do now. But I got home and thought, yeah I’ll start blogging. And then I sat there with nothing to write about. Honestly, life in Portland was, well, boring. I had nothing to differentiate the days that I spent there. Nothing of significance. No crazy encounters with massive burn victim beggars, or Philipino tranny hookers like I had seen in China. Life was safe, vanilla, and rainy and I had nothing to write about. I would put myself more fully into the whirlwind of the past five years by heading off to Alaska, but that is a tale for another time.

My point is I have had the persistence to put up 50 posts. Definitely being in New York City has been much of the inspiration for what I have put down here. The good, the bad, the decadent, even if you only know a fraction. If anything, this blog has been a way for me to celebrate three great loves of my life. Travel, writing, and music. They have all been vehicles for inspiring and reinvigorating me. As I said earlier, I was slightly purposeless when I was younger, but it has slowly begun to come together. To steal a line from Tolkien or the back of some hippie’s VW bus, Not All Who Wander Are Lost. Not forever at least. I’ve been feeling a change in the air. Or maybe I was just listening to David Bowie.




Random Thoughts, Follow Ups, Celebrities Are People Too!

Summer is ending soon. That’s how I mark my years. January 1st, you’re still stuck in the middle of winter. Even though I moved to New York in early January of this year, it seems that fall is the new beginning. Maybe it’s the start of school, football season, or my upcoming birthday, fall is always the time of renewal for me. Say goodbye to lazy days hanging out with the friends, camping trips, wakeboarding on the river. Oh wait I haven’t done any of that lately. I guess it’s just ingrained in my psyche. I’ve been out of high school since before anybody knew what an internet was and yet it seems I almost annually have a back to school dream. Usually it involves something ridiculous like being there with the football team and my old coach is asking, “Haven’t you used up your eligibility by now?”

Maybe I’m just revealing my unwillingness to grow up, and grow old.

August has actually been a fairly pleasant month, considering how hot it was at the beginning of summer. Everyone was saying how it was going to get up to 130, and I’m thinking “130, is that for real or are you just pulling a number out of your ass?”

Instead, August has ranged in the 80s, which is fine, considering the humidity still adds to the discomfort factor, and as I complained a few posts back, there are lots of thunderstorms after the humidity builds to intolerable levels and then one nice clear day and it starts building again.

Speaking of complaining, I just want to say one more thing about NBC. I kind of got bored with the Olympics by the end. By NBC’s coverage I mean. It just seemed too difficult to find when something I wanted to watch was being broadcast, tape delayed or not. It was more something I just read about. It seemed they did very little to hype Ashton Eaton, winner of the decathlon and University of Oregon Duck. I missed Usain Bolt winning the 200, and running the 4×100 in which the Americans took second with what was the former world record.

Remember when you just thought Jamaicans smoked ganja and made groovy reggae tunes?

I would love to see Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and Asafa Powell grow some dreads and burn everyone on the track. Twice.

When it came time to show the closing ceremonies, NBC cut away before the end to premiere their new stupid tv show and once again earned ridicule on Twitter at #NBCFail.

What kind of moronic douchebag do you have to be to run a tv network? I’m sure I’m qualified. Underqualified?

Haven’t they ever heard of the Heidi Game? Have you?

The Heidi game is only the greatest moment in live tv coverage eff ups that happened before I was born and changed the way live sports were shown. During a period of bitter rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, the tv network showing the game, a certain NATIONAL BROADCASTING CORPORATION, had plans to air the movie Heidi. In the days before cable tv and VCRs, people had limited options. Showing Heidi was a big deal for families, and Timex, they used to make watches, had bought ALL the commercials for the airing of Heidi.

The executives said that Heidi must air on time, and of course the football game ran long and involved multiple lead changes, so just as things were getting good, legions of Jets fans and degenerate gamblers had their gridiron contest invaded by a little girl in pigtails. Everyone began frantically calling the tv stations and tying up phone lines, the ending was not seen on the East coast, and NBC looked the fool.

After that, tv shows and movies were preempted by sporting events, unless they only happened to be closing Olympics ceremonies.

I promise to not mention NBC until 2016. Unless I hear from their lawyers, or they offer me a job.

I’m still doing the Times Square sushi thing. It pays the bills and can be entertaining. For instance, I took it for granted that people know how to eat with chopsticks. Maybe my friends are more sophisticated or I have a bad memory or they’re just Asian and that’s what they know, but I thought most Americans had been exposed to Chinese food as well as Japanese, especially sushi, considering how many sushi restaurants are around New York.

Of course there was a time when I was a young kid of about six and my parents took me to San Francisco to visit the Lu’s. Now the Lu’s were friends of my grandmother and they emigrated to the USA around the same time, although my grandmother moved with my dad and his sister to Los Angeles.

So years later my dad is married, with a not Chinese wife and a half Chinese kid who has never used chopsticks before visiting the Lu’s and their whole extended Chinese San Francisco family and we’re having bowls of noodles and this inept kid, me, is trying to figure out how to make the chopsticks work, and even knowing it’s wrong, trying a two handed technique just so that I can eat.

So last night a group of hedge fund guys was in drinking at the bar and one of them was a little wasted and ordered some sushi. He was the quiet one of the group, possibly because of his state. I saw him warming up with his chopsticks before the sushi arrived and it was really entertaining. He was trying to get the ends to meet and was having a lot of difficulty, but his persistence kept him fed when the food arrived. I felt like giving him a noogie and saying “Way to go sport.”

At least its better than having to ask for a fork, or trainer chopsticks. After my San Francisco experience, I vowed never to be humiliated or go hungry again and I made myself learn. Years later as an English teacher in Korea, there were nights when groups of us would get kicked out of the bars at 2am and go to the Pojungmacha, or Soju tents, which were basically bright orange tarps hung by the river, with an older Korean woman cooking food and serving beer and soju. It was a great place to keep the party going. Part of the fun was eating communal squid stir fry and if you weren’t good with those slippery Korean metal chopsticks, you would starve. We would deliberately steal food from the other’s chopsticks as either a drunken challenge or a way to flirt. And if you couldn’t keep up, you definitely weren’t in the gang.

So if you’re one of those people who fear that the Chinese are going to take over the world you had better learn to eat with chopsticks.

Cindy Lauper can eat with chopsticks. She was eating at the restaurant just the other day. Isn’t it amazing! Cindy Lauper eats sushi. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Actually I didn’t even recognize her. My first thought was, “Who’s the crazy lady with the giant glasses? She’s so unusual.” Then somebody in the kitchen mentioned it and I went back and looked at her and thought, ‘Cindy Lauper, huh, how old is she? How old am I?’ And then I heard that voice. Yes, that was definitely Cindy Lauper, and she’s definitely from New York.

But I didn’t bother her, because what’s the point? Celebrities are people too and they eat, sleep, and breathe just like us nobodys. Cindy, thanks for being my first celebrity I’ve sighted in New York.

On the J

Riding the J train home after work at midnight and I’m trying hard to stay awake. There are more than a few stops to go, so I close my eyes and get some microsleep. It’s been a busy month with six day work weeks and late party nights with the roommates and the houseguests staying at our hostel/refugee camp/apartment. Any sleep that can be had will help at this point. A couple of stops later I open my eyes and see that someone has brought a potted plant on the train. Emphasis on the pot.


Wait! Is that for real? Somebody brought their ganja on the train?

I gotta get a closer look at this.


Okay so it wasn’t some dudes weed, but that was pretty funny to wake up to. It made me do a double take.

Shortly thereafter the mysterious plant exited the train unseen by me and disappeared into the night.



Bad Times Square

I’ve noticed a lot of cops in Times Square lately. There’s always lots of people, so it probably makes sense that there’s lots of cops around. Just the other night I walked out of work and almost was run over by a rickshaw bicycle that a guy was running down the sidewalk. Another was right behind him being chased by a female officer in hot pursuit. She managed to catch the second guy and the first made in through the cross walk before a crowd of people converged behind him and covered his tracks. Lady fuzz was pretty pissed off at the guy she caught, I’m not sure what the violation was, maybe they didn’t have permits, but it was definitely a bad night for the guy that was caught.

The next night two young guys are stopped by a cop outside of the restaurant next door. Not sure what this one was about, they looked pretty drunk, maybe the were pissing on the building.

Then yesterday, I apparently missed this one by about an hour.  Watch this video, it goes right by my work, you can’t see it, but it would be camera right. This guy was apparently smoking a joint, stopped by the cops, pulled out a knife, then chased down and shot. Crazy.

This guy made some bad decisions, but it makes you wonder why they couldn’t use a taser or rubber bullets, especially considering how many people are always on the street.

Tape Delay Time Machine

Usain Bolt is once again the fastest man in the world. I knew this at 5PM in New York yesterday because I checked my Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, in NBC land, Usain was just waking up and having breakfast, getting ready to run the 100 meter finals later on that day, because in NBC land, things don’t happen until they let them happen.

NBC, the network with a stranglehold on American Olympic coverage since Al Gore invented the internet. The network that says, “Nobody cares about results until we give them results”, and promptly shows a Today show promo that Missy Franklin had won a Gold medal in swimming, but hey! They hadn’t shown her swim yet.


Is there any other sporting event that comes to you in tape delay?

I understand the dilemma, we’re in different time zones. You see London, is like, uh, ahead of New York by 5 hours and New York, and the East coast, center of the Broadcast Television Universe is uh, ahead of the West coast by 3 hours because people on the West coast are like real slow you know?

So the programmers always worry about putting on sporting events when the West Coast people are out of work and the East Coast people are still awake. This reminds me of one of the reasons why I hate Fox baseball/football broadcaster Joe Buck. You see, for most of the last decade, Fox has been the network of the baseball pennant races. In baseball, the teams are playing best of seven series, and often the games are scheduled on consecutive days.

Now this is my first year living on the East Coast. When I was watching these games on the West Coast they were starting at 6pm, which means that in New York it was what time?

If you said 9pm, you are correct. Add three hours from West to East. If you can’t understand that, please eliminate yourself from the gene pool. NOW!

Back to my ol’ buddy Joe Buck. The game was running long, and trust me it doesn’t matter what game because this happened multiple times. But the game was running over three hours, which is kind of a long game, but baseball is pathetically slow sometimes, do you know how much time they spend between pitches? ANYWAY, at three hours and one minute of game time it’s 9:01pm on the West Coast and OH MY! 12:01am on the East Coast. And at that point Joe Buck would get all cutesy and say something like, “It’s now Tuesday morning, we’ll be playing here in Boston later today for game 6.”

That was the point where I wanted to reach through the television and strangle that little weasel for saying such stupid crap. Don’t tell me that when the clock strikes midnight its tomorrow. Are you still awake? Then it’s the same day you woke up on. Does a bartender go home at midnight saying he’s not scheduled to work tomorrow? As far as I’m concerned, when it’s New Year’s Eve you can get all crazy when the clock hits 12, kiss your significant other, take another shot. But when you wake up with that awful hangover, that’s your real welcome to the New Year bub.

The world doesn’t shut down, things are always happening, U.S. stock brokers wake up and check what happened overnight in the foreign markets to see what’s coming their way, and sports fans watch their game when it’s on. In 2002, thousands of Koreans gathered in downtown Los Angeles for a 2am local start time to watch South Korea during the World Cup.

So why does NBC feel the need to hold this over our heads like we will consciously live in a bubble and hope no one spoils Olympic results for us? They’ve heard of Twitter and Facebook right? People love to gossip and be the first to tell others of news. Think of all the dead celebrities you found out about on Facebook. It’s nearly impossible to not find out.

So here it was a Sunday at 5PM when Usain Bolt became the fasterist man in the world with his second 100 meter Olympic Gold. It was 2PM on the West coast. Perfect times to watch the event LIVE. We’re talking about Sunday afternoon. The Kentucky Derby, Golf, and Football are shown on Sunday or Saturday afternoons, but it was 11:10PM in New York on a Sunday night, and most of my customers had gone home when I finally got to see the race on the bar TV.

Yes NBC, you won that battle, I still watched.


And how many kids were asleep, and how many people didn’t care because the coverage of other events went on and on and on, and they went to bed or maybe DVR’d the event to watch it even later?

The 100 meters is a marquee event. There is nothing that compares to the crowd’s focused energy. Even the most scattered ADD mind can watch 10 seconds of running. It’s exciting to watch and did I mention it doesn’t even take 10 seconds? Sell one big commercial before and one big commercial after.

When it finally came down to it, this was the collection of the fastest runners in history. Bolt set an Olympic record with 9.63. Fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake ran 9.75, American Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist won Bronze with 9.79, and Tyson Gay just missed out at 9.8, even though it was the fifth fastest Olympic time EVER. It was the greatest 100 of all time.

I only hope that the next Olympics can be covered by ABC and ESPN or NBC will finally pull it’s head out of it’s ass.