Tay Ba Lo’ing Through Viet Nam 2.0

In the old days before youtube, vimeo, HD DSLRs and iMovie, you (and by you I mean European tourist with a big ass bag travelling through Asia) would pass through Viet Nam and be done with it. What happens in Viet Nam stays in Viet Nam. These Tay Ba Lo’s, which translates to Westerner with a big ass bag, would be everywhere and anywhere. Bangkok, Hanoi, Hong Kong. Passing through. Sometimes they were good folks, sometimes they were assholes, but mostly they were Australian. So why am I blabbering on about these folks? Cause I don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed their presence in any of the countries I’ve ever been too. They were always drinking way to much, or not understanding something someone was saying, bargaining 2 cents off something worth 50 cents, or taking pictures of people without their permission. And now, with the invention of DSLRs that take some sick ass HD video and vimeo, followed up by a Macbook with iMovie installed, everyone can be Francis Ford Coppola filming the infamous Me Love You scene in Apocalypse Now. Which means this whole blog post is a very long explanation of why I’m part mesmerized and part annoyed by this video:

If your first thought while watching that video were any of the following:

  • Oh shit those girls are HOT!
  • Oh shit that food looks good!
  • Oh shit that shit is exotic!
  • Oh shit, that song is straight out of a Gilles Peterson compilation!
Then you’re most likely the 80% of the view count who don’t really understand what Asia really is about. Maybe its because I’m old or I’ve lost the flame to care enough to get angry. But mostly I just think its because I’m going to be doing the same thing in Scandinavia this year, so maybe you can call it reverse racism or a payback for Colonialism. I’ll probably even lay a sweet Sigur Ros track on my video and take some nice candid shots of blue eyed/blonde haired girls eating fermented shark. revenge.


Thanks to Lac Su for pointing Mondega out to BcB. This is the first part of a two part blog post on the Asian American rapper from North Cackalacka. The next installment will be an interview with Mondega by cbruhs. This gem of a review by AzN is on his latest LP: For the People.

I guess the first thing to say about Mondega is he’s been through a lot. Take the worst of the worst origin story of a rapper from the drrrty South and add the refugee experience and genocide and you got Mondega. Why else would he name his first album I Am the Best Asian Rapper Alive?  The man grew up an ethnic minority in the highlands of Viet Nam, how many other rappers could say they grew up without an official country?

The second thing I would say about Mondega is his lyrics are inspirational as hell. The man rhymes about the  refugee experience while growing up in a community that was 75% African American. Not many of us can relate to that context and its important his voice gets out to our folks. Mondega is looking to the Asian American community to support not only his music, but also his message. And that’s what makes him the Best Asian Rapper Alive.

Mondega’s lyrics rip through anyone that has ever remotely been in contact with the refugee experience. One look at his documentary and you’ll understand why:

But what about the music you ask? I think Mondega has a lot of potential, and I definitely feel the music in his latest album, For the People. Cop it at Black Lava dot net. Especially the first single, titled Listen to My Song, which pretty much sums up what its like being an Asian rapper trying to make it in a predominantly African American industry.

Some other favorites are Rise Up, a song about third-world living. Another notable song is Living in America. I think this is the first rapper who didn’t take living in America for granted, judging by the lyrics… Also check out Love Will Remain ft. Semi-Auto, which is worth it for the title and featured rapper alone (the slowed-down 90s DJ Premiere-like beat is my favorite on the album). And if you wanna see his lyrical skills, Me and My Rhyme has the best flow (Nas should probably listen to this track and learn some breath control).

So for folks that wanna hear a story and support a lyricists, cop For the People. For the rest of you, the Far East Movement album gives you some AsAm street cred, but not as much as this album!

I Wish I Liked Vietnamese Music, I Do.

I really, really do. I want to enjoy my parents’ Asia and Paris by Night videos. I do. And I want to listen to the hot Vietnamese American Ca Si‘s out there singing ABBA remakes cause that’s what my parents love:

Cause life would be SO MUCH easier for me. It would mean I could spend that much more time hanging out with my parents watching Korean dramas Vietnamese music concerts when I’m at visiting home instead of sitting upstairs cutting my wrists, listening to an Elliot Smith radio station on Pandora listening to the new Drake collabo with a Young Money Millionaire.

I admit it, it must be some sort of self hate issue I have that allows me to enjoy (tongue firmly in cheek) a J/C/T/K-pop concert while at a boba tea place, but dammnit, do not make me sit through lipsyncing, lypo’d, collagen yietnamee songstresses doing a dance routine to Madonna’s vogue 20 years after it was in vogue.

And congrats to Xtine, 1/2 of Purity, for making it big in the OC concert video game. You’ve come along way from Karaoking my graduation party.

The Return of Vietnamese 80’s New Wave

New Wave Guy Smoking

GO TO THIS BLOG: Amoeba Music’s “Keep on Music New Wave and 80s Reunion Party – The Vietnamese New Wave Revival

Were you ready for that? All those PICTURES and VIDEOS of the height of the 80’s Vietnamese New Wave experience! Well, its coming back apparently. My first thought is, “did it ever really leave?”, cause just looking at my aunts and uncles nowadays, you wouldn’t have known it died and resurrected as this new kitschy, so ironic let’s put it on an Amoeba blog post phenomenon. My second thought is, I can’t believe people outside of Westminster and San Jose’s Viet community might actually recognize this subset of the New Wave pop culture of the 80’s (or this subset of the Vietnamese American immigrant experience, depending on your lens). The fact that this generation of Vietnamese Americans came over to the States and immediately and wholeheartedly adopted this genre of music and lifestyle still amazes me today, decades after sharing a room with my older cousin with the largest OMD and Depeche Mode posters I have ever seen in my life. Maybe its all the excess hairspray I swallowed as her roommate, but if this is coming back, and the girls look like this, sign me up for them marbled jackets and fishnet gloves.


Tran Van Hay, the Man with Longest Hair in the World Dies

Tran Van Hay, who stopped cutting his hair 50 years ago because he always got sick after hair cuts, passed away this week. He was 79 years old and his hair was long (22 ft) and sticky (resembled a boa constrictor). The man didn’t washhis hair in over a decade.

9021Pho in Beverly Hills

judging by the menu, they might need more "tuong den" on that table. actually, a LOT more.

I’m not entirely against Vietnamese pho restaurants using puns in their names (Pho King in East Oakland comes to mind). And I’m not  against Vietnamese spots that don’t use accents in their menus; they confuse English-reading folks and are superfluous to folks who can read Viet, given some context of course (see 9021Pho menu). But you damn well better serve some good pho! Not that fusion crap (usually fused with more water and less MSG fish sauce). Cause this is the one dish that Americans don’t like when its watered down and prepared in a French-style bowl (ie. small portion in a giant white dish). So I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt 9021Pho in Beverly Hills, California. But judging by the Thrillist review, I have DOUBTS. EXTREME DOUBTS:

From the former chef of Michela comes this nook-like, modern casual soupery dedicated almost entirely to brothy Vietnamese deliciousness, with variations including Pho Ca (sliced tuna, onion, bean sprout, basil, and chili w/ chicken stock) and Spicy and Sour (shrimp, sole, straw mushroom, pineapple, baby corn and noodles in lemongrass, chili and tamarind broth); there’re also a few traditional entrees, like prawns wok-tossed with cilantro, garlic, and sherry vinaigrette over sliced tomatoes, and a peppercorn sauced filet mignon that’s cubed — so bring your TI-86.

Thanks RyRy.