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My family fled war-torn Vietnam in June of 1975 by secretly hopping aboard a freight ship meant to carry textiles. Someone tipped my mom’s brother off to the opportunity and he immediately rounded up the rest of the relatives. They hastily collected their meager belongings, then hustled to the dock. My family was joined by about 200 other people on the shore. The ship docked and everyone quietly boarded the ship, tucking themselves into the dark nooks, while dozens of jumbo bins were loaded onto the deck. The ship left shore once again, and after a number of miles some of the bins began to move, as 150 more people emerged from underneath. They all went to America.
Every time my mom and I talk about this particularly fascinating bit of their story, we clash over one point.
I say, “So that’s how you came here!”
She says, “Yes, we came on a boat.”
I say, “Right. So you were boat people that came–”
She cuts me off and shrieks, “WE ARE NOT BOAT PEOPLE!”
I say, “Didn’t we just talk about the boat you came on?”
She says, “It was a freight ship!”
I say, “Isn’t a ship a large boat?”
Then she stops talking to me. Moms are so weird.
Today, I saw photos of those womb-rumbling cutie patooties Maddox and Pax Jolie-Pitt cruising coolly around the canals in a sweet speedboat:
…and all I could think was, “Mom! Boat people are so AWESOME!”
Filed under: Amazian Jr., Awesomeness, Boat People, Boats, Cool Kids, Cool Photos, Hardass Asian Moms, Maddox Driving, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Pax Thien, Pride, Refugees, Speedboats, Synonyms, The Almighty Jolie-Pitts, Venice, Vietnam
Respect for sports arbitrators are typically structured into the game itself. In baseball, for instance, respect for the umpire is built upon a tacit understanding; a player unhappy with a strike call can grumble all he wants, but the minute he turns around to confront and disgrace the ump, there’s gonna be T-R-O-U-B-L-E. In basketball, technical fouls can take a person out of the game, screwing up everything for the remaining lineup.
Still, I’ve always worried about the safety of sports refs–who at all times are making unpopular decisions in somebody‘s viewpoint–which is why I’m so glad that in American football, the refs (like my favorite python master, Ed Hochuli, pictured below) tend to be as burly as the players themselves.
Perhaps my conditioning to relatively good behavior in the company of referees explains the shock I felt eyeballing this CNN video– a clip of Tianjin football players pursuing and basically attacking a ref after a match in Beijing.
Thank bejeezus the man in blue had some legs on him–but the players in the vid could really stand to learn a lesson about sportsmanlike conduct. Sore losing is just shameful. Hell, I know Asians love to win, but shit–don’t we also care in excess about honor and pride?
So this is what it looks like at the 1st Annual Totally Fucking Shameless [In the Woods] Convention:
What’s worse: having everything to be ashamed of, or nothing to be proud of?
Kinda boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
When I was a kid, I hated my last name: Nguyen. Not because it was Vietnamese, or because it looked funny–just because it was hard to say. It was difficult for telemarketers (“Can I please speak to Mister Engoovknen?”). It was tough for teachers (“Next to read her essay, Diana N–N–win.”). It was even a challenge for me (“New-yen. Well, that’s how I say it. Okay, there’s a proper way to say it in Vietnamese, but that requires accents, and this isn’t, well… this is just how my family and I say it…”). The name was a fucking drag. My name was just a goddamned drag.
As an adult, however, I fell in love with Nguyen. I love the N on both ends. I love when bartenders try to correct me on the pronunciation. I love that folks who take meetings with me prepare to tell me that they know other Nguyens, or share that they had a favorite Pho restaurant when they lived in the Bay area. I love the way Nguyen sounds when said aloud (whether you pronounce it like my parents, like my friend Jenny, like CNN anchor Betty, or like me), and how it looks in my fancy cursive handwriting on textured stationary. On paper, I think the six letters look strong (unlike more delicate Viet surnames like Do or Le, though those are also nice), and they remind me that I’ve got plenty of blood in me from my father’s pragmatic, thoughtful, gentle family to balance out the high-strung, prideful, wacky-but-fun dysfunctional blood of my mom’s side.
It makes me wonder then, how a name that brings me so much pride and joy is starting to feel more like a growing source of such painful, awful shame–as a result of others that share my beautiful moniker doing a bad job of reprzenting. This kinda thing happens all the time. I’m sure it’s hard, for example, to be so-and-so Nixon, Gilooly, Madoff, Palin, or Bush (kind of the reverse of how it’s great to be a Kennedy) and hold your head up high.
For the last three years or so, it’s become increasingly difficult to be a Nguyen, what with that famous “bisexual” of the same last name running around town, sullying all of our reps. Tila Tequila doesn’t even bother to use “Nguyen” in interviews unless she’s telling some sob story about her parents being immigrants (a subject easily trumped if someone prefers to ask about her tits)–yet still, that tiny bit of shared identity holds the capacity to pain all of the other Nguyens so deeply.
And to think it could get worse.
One of our readers unleashed a terrible truth on me today: the nameless ginormous boob skank (Wait, don’t call her that!) that shot to anonymous fame via one unfortunate Michael Phelps photo-op actually has a name–and that name is… Nguyen.
In fact, Naomi Nguyen, apparently a former fighter/now actress, has her own official website, replete with more ginormous boob photos:
But there’s more than just a name! You can actually get to know her in this charming, candid interview:
Okay. She’s no genius. She’s got some crazy fuckin’ circus boobies. But you know, I wouldn’t exactly state that I have anything against this not-ginormous boob skank per se.
…I just really, really, really, really, really wish we didn’t have the same last name.
If I read another boo-hoo out of you (“Vogue, I can’t buh-lieve what uncool Angelina said in another magazine!” “EW, I can’t buh-lieve Vogue printed what I said about Angelina! It’s not like everybody’s slobbering in wait for me to breathe the word Ang–” “I’m the victim here!”) I promise that I will send each one of my overbearing, stubborn, outspoken aunts out to your house to hunt you down and give you a good old-fashioned Hardass Asian talking to.
Y’know. Like the kind you get when you’re getting divorced and they explain to you that you’ve suddenly made it everyone’s dishonor problem.
Y’know. Like when they tell you that your career goals of becoming an engineer are stupid and worthless, and that if you loved anybody but yourself, you would just go to medical school like your mother wanted you to.
Y’know. Like when they say that you should exercise more. Because you look fat.
They’re mean as hell. But they’re honest.
Trust me, at the end, you won’t feel pretty, you won’t feel cool, you won’t feel good about the fact that you’re still dating that cooz John Mayer–but you will understand (hopefully) that there’s no pride in airing your relationship dirty laundry through PR channels over the course of five years. That in order to maintain your dignity you’ve can’t cry out loud–just keep it inside, and hold your head up high, and make a goddamn good movie for Chrissake.
Please. Have a little pride.
Last night, the people (or at least, 64 million of us) spoke–and sent the world a message: America is ready for change. We are ready for progress. Shoot, we’re even ready for a new-and-improved national rhetoric. We want to be hopers, dreamers, teammates, idealists, rational thinkers, good-doers, try-harders, beacons-of-light, wealth-spreaders, planet-huggers, lovers, achievers, Americans. We want this country to reflect opportunity, equality, multiple perspectives, varied backgrounds, different choices, and forward thinking. We want to salute a “President Barack Obama.” Wow. What a mouthful.
Especially when you consider that in that same confusing breath, millions of Californians expressed the desire to discriminate against citizens, deny them fundamental rights, and regress to the mindset that unfair, unequal treatment of gays (at least we’re not being racist!) is perfectly acceptable. At last count (and we should still keep the faith, because roughly three million votes still need to be counted), the decision to pass Proposition 8 in California was leading at 52%, and if the numbers stick, gay marriage will be banned in the state–meanwhile, leaving the validity of legal unions performed over the last six months up to the courts.
So this is what it’s like to feel proud to be an American again. And at the very same time, I am supremely filled with shame as a Californian. If we’re going to be part of the Obama-era of a better mankind, this state sure as hell needs to get its “kind”ness shit together.
In the current issue of Vogue, Zhang Ziyi says that she doesn’t understand why people have been protesting the Olympics.
“I don’t see why people are so negative. The games are about friendship,” she says. “I’m Chinese and I’m proud of my country.”
Listen, lady. I’m Chinese and I’m muthafuckin proud of my mother ship, too. A lot of people like me are. But just because I’m juiced for the Olympics and ready to lock myself in my house for the next month doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people are “negative.” Yeah, it hurts me when people conflate the Chinese government with the people, and I’d like to think that if your average American lived one day in your average Chinese’s shoes, fighting their way onto a public bus, shitting in a dirty public squat toilet, watching every word they say, they would get why the Olympics matter so much to China. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Chinese government does a lot of shady shit. The Olympic Games are putting China on center stage and, for better AND for worse, China’s detractors. Don’t act like you don’t know the score, Zhang Ziyi. That’s plain stupid. And stupid, girl, ain’t very Chinese.
We were crushed to hear the news about Sen. Ted Kennedy’s diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor today. Almost as heartbreaking were these response comments, delivered by Kennedy’s friends in the Senate:
Hearing Sen. Byrd break up while talking about his friend hit me like a wall of bricks today–it reminded me of seeing my parents cry, which has only ever happened about 5 total times. Even my mom, who usually sees weeping as a weakness, would say that there is more pride in loving someone than in pride.
So our thoughts are with Sen. Kennedy and all of his proud, loving friends, simply hoping for the best.
If you refuse to (you are, after all, wearing an ill-fitting suit with a pink oxford, while shopping at a very icky second-tier Hello Kitty store) … just show a little tech-savvy.
What do you say to your buddies at the bar, later in the evening, on the night this happens to you?
“Yo dudes. Tonight was whack. I mean, I was swingin’ that hot bitch Cheryl Burke around. On Dancing With the Stars, you know, like the network TV show I star on. They’re thinking of changing the name, I think. Anyway, we were like, doin’ the salsa and shit. It was hot, man, boner city. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I’ve banged her. So like, we’re like shakin’ our hips or whatever–yeahhh–like that–and I’m wearing this fluorescent silky tank top, and suddenly, my arm just feels like a friggin’ knife is ramming through it. I can’t deal, I’m like, sweating. And I can’t even focus on my hips anymore and I’m just like, yelling inside, I grab my arm and she keeps dancing. And then she spins over to me for a dip and I just drop her on the ground. It turned out to only be a muscle cramp, guys, but it hurt. It really hurt though, guys. Seriously, like worse than any football injury I ever had. Um. So who wants another round of beer?”