Art or Exploitation?


Look! An authentic Chinese person! Get the camera!!!

Look! An authentic Chinese person! Get the camera!!!

I’m walking home the other night after the debates and see a not uncommon site:  white people brazenly snapping pictures of Asian residents. These hipster youngins and an old dude have their tripod set up across the street from Columbus Park, where elder folks like to kick it at all hours. Giving them the stink eye, I walk in front of the camera and this flash goes off in my face.  I stand on  the  corner and watch them move their camera closer to the park where a group of women are sitting, and their flash lights up again when these 2 old Chinese ladies walk by, which seems to startle them.  I go over to them and hence follows this pleasant exchange:

Me: Excuse me, did you ask them if it was ok before you took their picture?   

Old Dude: Huh?

Me: They’re not animals in a zoo.

Old Dude: Uh…we’re just getting pictures of some scenery.

Plaid be-donned Girl: *Glare*

Me: No, you’re taking pictures of the people here. You need to ask people’s permission before you just go and take their picture.

Old Dude: Uh huh. Yeah. Thanks. *rolls eyes*

I walked half a block away and stood there and watched them. They watched me back. I took out my cell phone. Then the plaid sack girl manning the camera starts prancing around giving me the finger, yelling “Fuck you! Fuck you!”

Me: Fuck Yourself! What are you doing here! Exploiting People!

Grizzly Girl: Eyyyy fuck you! Fuck you!

I stomp over to the precinct and talk to a cop. He said he would send a patrol car down there. I was tempted to go back to see if really did come while smirking at the bastards, but I was done for the night. Plus I was paranoid they might follow me back to my apartment cuz they seemed like entitled types who would be outraged and retaliatory that I had disturbed their “project”.

I see shit like this almost everyday around here and I’m sick of it. If those old ladies could tell them to fuck off in English, they probably would have – or Chinatown residents are so used to having their personal space invaded by gawking white people they just deal with it. 

These folks are not putting on a show here, just going about their daily business. At least with street performers , people give them money  for taking a picture with them. But tourists, “artists” and other brats come from Williamsburg, NYU Tisch, and other hipster havens to take images for free- to exhibit, to sell, to marvel at the “exotic” freaky streets of Chinatown. Because they think they have the right. I’ve seen a old homeless lady with a cart full of aluminum cans push it hurriedly down the street trying to get away from tourists rushing after her snapping pictures; people nonchalantly take close-ups of an elderly man leaning on his cane, barely able to stand upright (he musta looked “really Chinese”); a sidewalk shoe repairman try to do his work while some scruffy student adjusts his $3,000 camera an inch from the man’s face. Would they do the same to some old Jewish grandmas on the Upper West Side? To me it’s just basic respect.

I’m gonna start carrying a camera in my bag to shove in tourists faces when I see them they pull that dehumanizing bullshit. Then I could post their mugs online for everyone else to gawk at, and maybe make a buck while I’m at it.  Everyone can join in! How about naming it


To the Greatest City in America

San Jose, California, I salute you. Never did I ever imagine as a native San Josean, born and raised, I would ever be able to compare my city to the heavy weights of the country like El Paso, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama, or Little Rock, Arkansas. Never could I ever think that San Jose would grab national headlines as big as the day its residents provoked the last public lynching in California. But today I can. A recent survey done by ranked all the gender inequality gaps in U.S. cities. Top of the list was McAllen, Texas with 28% more women. What a crappy place to live don’t you think? Another equally crappy place? Heaven. But of all 10 cities ranked, ONLY San Jose had a gender inequality that favored MEN over WOMEN. Awesome you might say? Agreed. 

  1. McAllen, TX (28% more women)
  2. El Paso, TX (27% more women)
  3. Memphis, TN (17% more women)
  4. Bethesda, MD (17% more women)
  5. San Jose, CA (17% more men)    <———— My Hometown!
  6. Birmingham, AL (16% more women)
  7. New York, NY (16% more women)
  8. Baltimore, MD (16% more women)
  9. Little Rock, AR (16% more women)
  10. Columbia, SC (15% more women)

Asian-Americans vs. AzNs

This one will get me into some trouble I think. I’m going to be dissing my own people on this post, and its going to hurt many of my delusional friends. But maybe it’ll hurt first and then help eventually?

Just like Chris Rock and his infamous line which I dare not repeat here, there is a big difference between Asian-Americans and AzNs. If you know the difference, than you are more than likely the former. If you’re still reading this and contemplating whether you are the latter, guess what, you are. Here are a few handy tips to figure out if you are AzN:

  • If you dress better to go out at night on Fridays and Saturdays than you do Monday through Thursday in the daytime.
  • If you wear a blazer (minus the rest of the suit) more often than you wear a hoodie (and no, blazers with built-in hoodies DO NOT count. They automatically make you a douche, but not necessarily AzN). And you dig wearing striped shirts and boot cut jeans. 
  • If you have a background in finance, real estate or bio chem (and you’re not a doctor). Especially if you majored in any of those fields in college, but you took an Asian-American Studies or Ethnic Studies class in college looking for an easy ‘A’, but you got a “B+” instead.
  • If ALL your friends are light skinned Asians named Mike Kim, Jerry Nguyen, or Terry Chang.
  • On a scale of Honda Prius to Johnny Tran’s suped up Honda S2000, your car is making sounds dangerously close to illegal.
  • You get the Johnny Tran reference I just made.
  • When you hear the word “bike”, you automatically think of a motorcycle and not a bicycle. 
  • You have a Banana Republic, Bebe, or Armani Exchange credit card (or store credit) in your wallet right now. I’m not saying if you shop there you’re AzN, I’m just saying that if you shop there often enough to necessitate a credit card for points, you’re AzN.
  • You enjoy the “one word dance clubs” (Dragonbar, Dulce, LAX, Blvd) that I know the writers of this blog enjoy (Yea I said it! I saw you at Blvd and I’m sure there’s photographic evidence of it too!) Or better yet, the one syllable clubs (Hyde, Raw, Tao). And you like the aZn party promoters like Climax, VisionShock, or Set for Life.
  • Your initial gut reaction towards Ed Hardy clothing is not disgust.
  • You’re a fiscal Republican/social Democrat cause you like to party but you’d like to continue spending your parents money. 
  • Its 2008 and yOu sTiLl fReQuEnT aOl ChAt RoOmS aNd TyPe LiKe ThIs. nO oNe sTiLl TyPes LiKeS dO tHeY?
  • You are currently wearing a bluetooth headset while reading this post. 
  • You hate me right now. 

And if you still don’t know the difference between an Asian-American with an aZn, maybe a photograph will help. Photos are priceless.


John Cho Tribute

Its true, I have a man crush on John Cho. He is everything I am not. Smart, funny, charming and Korean. It all started when I saw him as “Asian guy with wife shopping for a house” in American Beauty. It only went straight up from there when he invented the term MILF in the whitest cast of a Hollywood film, American Pie. He not only came back for the sequels, he curtailed that role with the directors into a TV show where he played Chau, a lovable, yet goofy Vietnamese-American Pho Restaurant owner. A sitcom where the characters sit around and eat Pho rather than drink coffee in a cafe in NYC with no minorities? Which is more realistic? Honestly?

There was a slight dip when I saw you in Better Luck Tomorrow, only because I expected so much more. But Harold and Kumar Go to the White Castle followed by the equally genius of Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam sealed the deal. Throw in your role as a chef specializing in seafood in No Reservations, and my mancrush blossomed into full bromance. When I found out the show was going to be cancelled, I was stunned. But when I found out you were leaving the show after a handful of episodes, prior to cancellation, I called FOUL by Hollywood! RACISM! Fire the ONLY Asian cast member why don’t you! Only to eat my words later when I found out you left to develop your OWN tv show with the network. But where are you now? How can you possibly come back from being so high up? Is there anything higher than the stars above? Higher than the sky? The ozone? That weird bluish-blackish area between the earth’s atmosphere and space? Yes. Apparently there is.

There. You did it. Your next movie is STAR FREAKING TREK. The only things I love more than Star Trek are my parents, followed closely by Star Wars. SULU. You’re playing SULU in the year 2009. Sulu didn’t get the girls like Kirk did, and he didn’t get in fights like Scotty. He wasn’t as smart as Spock, and not as funny as Bones, or crazy as Chekov and definitely not as hot as Uhura. But YOU JOHN CHO WILL COMBINE ALL THE GREATEST ELEMENTS OF THE ABOVE CHARACTERS AND STEAL THE MOVIE. F’ Eric Bana, he was the WORST Hulk ever. And who’s Chris Pine and why does he think he can be Kirk? Sylar from Heroes ain’t got nothing on the MILF dude that got Maria at the end of H&KGTW. Simon Pegg? Please. Who even UNDERSTANDS those blokes to even get British humor?

The only faults I see in you John Cho are the following:

1. You graduated from Cal one year too early to meet me. 

2. I never saw the voice over work you did on Kim Possible. 

3. You played a douche on How I Met Your Mother named Jeff Coatsworth (but i like the adopted Korean kid reference. Very socially conscious those writers are). 

But all those faults are just me being picky. Two more things:

1. My love for you is completely brotherly. You are my hyeongje, as I am yours. 

2. Out of all the references above, only one came from IMDB and not from the back of my head. And that was the Kim Possible reference. Does anyone have an AVI of that episode? 

Wait, I just realized I wrote this whole thing without bitchin, as this website was fully intended. I originally wanted to talk about how John Cho was the only Asian-American actor to NOT sell out to make a show or movie (but then I got sidetracked). Cho never had to do any of the following: learn karate (Dustin Nguyen/Kelly Hu), get nekkid (Tia Carrera), play an effeminate straight man (B.D. Wong),  play the best friend that will never get the girl (Nathan Nishiguchi), or play an Asian slave trader or refugee (all the Asians in the movie Crash). Congrats on that John Cho.