If You Can’t Find It In Chinatown

I have an iPhone 5. I pre-ordered the phone when they were first released. I didn’t receive my phone for 3 weeks after that. After my first exciting week of being douchy new iPhone guy, I dropped it on the tile bathroom floor of my work and shattered the glass face.

This was the day before Hurricane Sandy closed the subways and the MTA was already practicing their emergency train route. As I mentioned in a previous posting, the J train ran to Hewes stop in Brooklyn and then everyone had to exit and take the shuttle bus across the Williamsburg bridge to Manhattan. That Saturday morning was chaotic because the entire eight train cars had to exit one set of stairs from the platform, exit the turnstiles and emergency exit, grab a ticket from an MTA worker, exit another set of stairs to street level, walk about a block and a half past the line we were all searching for the end of, then turn around and slowly work our way back to the shuttle buses lined up to drive us to Manhattan.

In hindsight, it was the MTA knowing they needed to shut down the rail system ahead of the approaching storm. I had no idea this was happening, and it was a rude awakening when I was just trying to get to work. When I showed up forty minutes late I was flustered by the trip and I hurriedly changed into my work clothes in the cramped bathroom. I went to put my brand new, slick aluminum, way thinner than my previous iPhone 3, practically a credit card in my hand, did I mention brand new mutherfuckin iPhone 5 into my backpack and it slipped right out my hand, face down on the tile. I knew I was fucked. I picked up my phone and the face was trashed. I can still use it. But I can barely read what I’m texting and my thumb is being carved into sandpaper.

I’ve been trying to find a replacement screen but nobody has one that will fit the iPhone 5. Everyone is telling me places to check out, but when you go to Chinatown and they tell you they don’t have it, where can you go?
This is where fake Rolexes, cheap noodles, and first run movies on DVD for a dollar live. If you can’t find it in Chinatown then you’re screwed.

So yes, I feel like a douchebag for buying a new iPhone and breaking it a week later, I didn’t even have time to buy a case, and no I didn’t take the insurance. I didn’t need it for 2 and a half years with my previous phone. I had a month to change my mind after I ordered the phone. Only problem was I waited for three weeks to get the phone from Apple and then UPS, and then I had the phone for just over a week when…well you know. Where October was a great month, November has been mediocre in comparison, even if the hurricane and the broken phone happened at the end of October, the hangover lasted through November. I left out the disappointing part of my college football team waiting until late November to lose their first game of the year, and eliminate themselves from playing for a national championship. That added to my foul mood.

Kind of like last year, I had a great birthday in Vegas with friends and family in October then came back to find out I was getting laid off at work. I spent November contemplating the future and ended up moving to New York. So I’m saying that happened for a reason. I’m not sure breaking my iPhone will make me a better person, unless that means I stare at it less in pubic. Here’s to a better December and hopefully the world isn’t about to end, but I will rant more about that next time.


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.

Early Medal Count

So far the Chinese, much to no one’s surprise, are leading the way in Gold medals with 13, while the USA has 9. There are many more events to go and these numbers will only increase in the superpowers’ bid for supremacy but I found something very intriguing as I went down the list. France is third with 4 Golds and South Korea, North Korea, and Kazakhstan are tied for fourth with 3 Gold medals. Way to go Kazakhstan! I didn’t even know you were a country until I saw the movie Borat.

But wait, apparently the Chinese are claiming that the Gold from women’s weightlifting champ Zulfiya Chinasanlo actually belongs to China because her real name is Zhao Changling and she was born in Hunan province. Apparently the “Changeling” wasn’t the best weightlifter on the Chinese squad and went to Kazakhstan so she could have a chance at the Olympics.

Then she proceeded to win Gold and set an Olympic record. Oops! My bad.

China, I’m sorry your talent scouts weren’t doing their job. But the truth of the matter is that Olympics has become more about borders than ethnicity. Consider this:

Middle distance runner Bernard Lagat was born in Kenya, competed for Washington State University in the ’90s, competed for Kenya in the 2004 Olympics, and enters London an American citizen who lives part time in Germany with his Canadian wife of Chinese descent and their son and daughter. When one of those children wins a Gold at the 2024 Olympics in Azerbajian, who claims the medal?

I guess DNA testing is the next step along the way.

So let Kazakhstan enjoy the victory and stop the sour grapes, or stinky tofu if you will. As someone whose family left, no fled during the communist revolution I can only say, “Your loss.”

Olympic Update: Chinese Dominance

Last night I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on the bar TV at work. The sound wasn’t on, so I missed what looks like a lot of songs by Britain’s greatest rock stars. Including Mary Poppins, every bit the rock star in her day, flying around on tour, showing up and leaving when she pleased, and indulging that out of control laughing gas habit.

There were lots of cute kids moments, I suppose which is mandatory for Olympic openings now. Mr. Bean also showed up with a great Chariots of Fire sequence where he hails a cab to get to the front of the pack and trips the leader to finish the race in first. The genius of Rowan Atkinson is how funny he can be without any sound at all, he’s a modern Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

The best part had to be James Bond parachuting the Queen into the stadium, which I caught the tail end of as a group of bar customers commented how serious Her Majesty looked. Wouldn’t you be a little more excited if you just parachuted into a stadium full of thousands of people with THE James Bond? Not if you’re British royalty apparently. She didn’t smile, she didn’t wave, she didn’t even seem to be breathing heavily. She stood there very stoic and British. I replied she should do the Raise the Roof gesture and shout “London’s in the hizouse!” and everyone laughed.

I found the video posted here:


Check it out if you missed it.

The parade of nations is always a good geography lesson as well as a quick indicator of the nation’s wealth. If there’s 30 million people and 3 made it to the Olympics, it’s a safe bet that most live in poverty.

American Samoa and Cameroon had the best uniforms that I saw, very culturally representative. I just hope they weren’t made in China.

Speaking of the Chinese, they are off to a flying start in Gold medal dominance as female 48kg weightlifter Wang Mingjuan has gained one of their first medals.

But the true Chinese dominance will be in table tennis. I guess it’s no mystery that the Chinese are good at a game that’s also known a Ping Pong, but let’s take a closer look at things.

Representing team Canada: Andre Ho, Grace Gao, and Mo Zhang.

Representing team USA: Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Timothy Wang.

Representing team Austria: Jia Liu

Representing team Poland: Zeng Yi Wang

Representing team Dominican Republic: Ju Lin

Representing team Argentina: Song Liu

Representing team Croatia: Yuan Tian

Representing team France: Yi Fang Xian

Representing team Australia: Jian Fang Lei, Justin Han, and Miao Miao.

Yes Miao Miao. Also known as Hello Kitty to her friends.

Add in China, and Taiwan, and the odds are pretty good someone of Chinese descent gets the gold.