Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Message For Education Secretary Arne Duncan

I doubt anyone was paying attention to anything you were saying today because the only news that made the news was that Wall Street execs gave themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. You know, so they could all buy waste baskets that cost $1,405 and credenzas that cost close to the GDP of Lesotho. But for the record, you did say, "If we want to stimulate the economy, we need a better-educated workforce. That’s the only way, long-term, we’re going to get out of this economic crisis."

Frankly, I'm just appalled by these words. A better-educated workforce? I'm sorry Mr. Duncan, but WHAT THE FUCK PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON? Have you not been paying attention to the fact that the investment bankers who got us into this economic mess, that might ultimately end up costing $4 trillion to clean up (if you believe NY Senator Chuck Schumer), all went to Harvard and Yale and Stanford and got their MBAs from Harvard and Yale and Stanford? How much better-educated do we need our financial leaders to be to get us out of this economic crisis? Better educated than Harvard and Yale and Stanford? Are we not already in a financial hell hole? Or do you not understand this because you yourself went to Harvard and can't afford to offend your classmates? This economic crisis did not happen because our leaders were POORLY EDUCATED, you idiot! It happened because those Harvard-educated minds got twisted by pure unadulterated greed that obliterated all notions of morality and ethicality and legality.

With the government spending $800 billion on this new stimulus package, you'd think there'd be enough money to buy the new Education Secretary a clue.

Now, if the argument you were making was that a lot of the money in this stimulus package is going to help poor, underserved kids in inner-city neighborhoods and keep their teachers from being fired (never a popular sell in Washington D.C. with the Republican assholes), then have the balls to say so. Don't confuse the American public into thinking that it was a lot of stupid people that got us into this mess. Immoral, unethical and criminal, all yes. Stupid? Definitely not. After all, it takes a lot of brains to cause a $4 trillion mess and then find a way to reward yourself for it to the tune of $18.4 billion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike Is Dead

And with him, goes a piece of me. In all honesty, I can't say that Updike's style of writing ever truly won me over. Too spare, too intellectual, too Waspy, too many things that taxed my average intelliegence. But secretly I admired him for speaking a language I could never grasp. Rabbit Run was one of the first novels that I ever read in high school and did not enjoy but was proud to tell all of my friends that I had actually read. Ironically, "Rabbit" Angstrom, with his constant search for truth and peace of mind, has turned out to be a character I appreciate more as I get older.

We live in a day and age where words seem to count for so little. Where numbers are the new words, and all that matter anymore. How old are you? How much do you make? What zip code do you live in? What's your portfolio worth? Will this $825 billion stimulus package do anything more than recapitalize the banks that got us in this mess in the first place? John Updike stood for the integrity of words. Words that soared, and sometimes sunk, but always captured the complexity of human nature. America is infinitely poorer off without him today. I hope it takes a moment to remember.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Ox!

It is finally the Year of the Ox! And according to the Chinese zodiac, I'm in for a very good year! Looking back on my experiences, I can definitely say that some of the best guys I ever dated in Korea were the Ox boys who were four years younger. The Ox were the slow, but steady ones. Solid and reliable. You make plans with them and they never back out on you. They work hard and laugh easy.

The Year of the Ox is supposed to be one of hard work and reflection. A time of rebuilding. This year I'm supposed to have 10 favorable months and 2 neutral ones. I can say that January has turned out to be favorable. I am enjoying work, and have recently been making exciting headway with my screenwriting. I have met two new guys (a couple) who have been really fun to hang out with. Dad's health is doing much better. Just four weeks ago, none of this was true.

I don't want to say I'm superstitious, but I do know that life has its ups and downs. And if the 5000 year-old Chinese civilization wants to tell me that this year will be full of ups, who am I to throw away that fortune cookie?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Three days into the new administration, President Obama held a news conference stating that he was sick and tired of being the President of the United States and that he would serve out his current term and then retire.

"I will be able to make more than $3,000,000 per speech on the speaker's circuit. Michelle has already signed a half-book deal with Simon & Schuster for over ten figures. If she goes ahead and writes the whole book, she makes thirty figures. Our daughters already have dolls who look just like them. We're working with Miley's people to do a movie, a book, and a television show. We'll be set for life," the President said.

When asked if he didn't think he was disappointing the American public that had worked so hard to elect him, he replied that he would be even more exposed and available to the public if he rejoined the private sector.

"We don't like living in the confines of the White House. It's a nice place and all, but it's really not a fitting environment in which to raise a dog. The dog can't poop freely on the White House lawn, and I was told we'd have to do Easter egg things on that lawn. We've tried and tried to remove the oldpeople-Bush-stink from the air, but no amount of Febreze has been working. There's only so much you can put up with."

Tourists passing in front of the White House were interviewed for this piece. Asked how they felt about the President's decision, they said, "Awesome! That's so great! That's interesting! Yeah..."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bashful Prince

How do the Japanese come up with these nicknames for their stars? I'm sure there's a reason behind the name Bashful Prince for 17 year-old Ryo Ishikawa though I couldn't find it, not in English anyway. This frickin' adorable megastar in Japan is going to be playing at least 3 times in the States this year, on a sponsor's exemption at Riviera on February 19th, on a PERSONAL INVITATION from ARNOLD PALMER in March and then a SPECIAL EXEMPTION to THE MASTERS in April!!! Basful Prince? Try Freakish Phenomenon! The older I get, the more absurd, more beautiful, more inspiring the force of youth becomes. I haven't seen him play yet, but he could be the golf story of the year. I cannot wait...

John Thain is Now Free to go to Hell

Poor John Thain lost his job today. I blogged about him before, but I didn't know how correct my sentiment was when I said that Merrill's CEO John Thain deserved a one-way ticket to a lake of fire. Q4 numbers have just been released for Merrill Lynch, and it turns out they lost $15.31 billion. Billion. Billion. Billion. Say that fifteen billion times and you will start to get a feel for how painful it is. Of course, lots of people at Merrill still got their year-end BONUSES last year for LOSING $15.31 billion. It turns out Thain's office also got a $1.22 million facelift when he became Merrill's CEO. ($1405 for a wastebasket!?!?) I'm sorry, but that borders on sociopathic behavior. With the median price of a home in America hovering at around $250,000 (and plunging), no one in his right mind should renovate his office at a cost of $1.22 MILLION. If this is how we're going to spend taxpayer money, why not just pay off people's individual mortgages?

Bye bye John Thain. The bad news is you're probably going to hell. The good news is you're not going to be lonely there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So What Happens Next?

He said the right words. With all the right tones. But we've always known that Obama could deliver a speech. Now comes the hard part. Delivering on all his promises. The older I get, the more I realize that words are like the waves of the ocean. Ebbing and flowing with the tides. Real, but elusive, and never quite what they seem. Good ol' adages don't get more trite than "actions speak louder than words". They also don't get truer.

My initial reaction to the Inauguration, believe it or not, was one of foreboding. As a student of Russian history, Obama's fumbling of the oath recalled the coronation of the Russian Czar Nicholas II in 1896 when the chain of the Order of St. Andrew fell from his shoulders in an ominous sign. (The Dow plunging below 8000 was another.) The parades, the balls, the luncheons and dinners--all in excess of $150 million--at a time when people are losing their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, their educations seemed a bit, well, excessive. Again, there was a parallel to Nicholas and Alexandra. When hundreds of people, including women and children, died in a stampede at a celebration of Nicholas' crowning, the Emperor and Empress chose to dance at a ball that very evening, giving rise to criticisms of heartlessness.

Obama came to power with a mantra of change. I really want to like this President. I really do. But so far, the only change that I've seen is the way he raised money for his campaign through the Internet, something no other President had done before. I've seen his picks for his Cabinet. They're mostly people from the Clinton era. No change there. He's had to hedge his promise to end the war in Iraq right away. That's not a good change. And now he's about to embroil us in Afghanistan for the next five years, an issue he managed to effectively skirt on the campaign trail, but which endorsement now seems not just a little disingenous. (Did the Russians getting their asses kicked by the Afghanis in 1980 not teach us anything?)

I doubt I'm raining on Obama's parade. After all, I'm just one voice. No one's going to hear this amidst the throngs of cheers and cries of jubilation. But tomorrow those sounds will be gone. And the sounds of the stock market crashing will continue. I remember people genuinely liked Bush when he was elected to his first term. Honest. Approachable. Folksy. Down-to-earth. These were the things people were saying about him. Today he looked like an old, defeated man disappearing into the cold, winter day. I seriously hope Obama gets through his tenure in better shape. As much as he stood for a symbol of change today, I can honestly say that I honestly don't know--nobody knows--what he will stand for tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This Is What I Was Talking About in my Previous Post...

I can't argue that the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. stole my idea for their new series "Canada's Next Prime Minster" because as far as I know I have never had any contact with them, but their idea of a reality show to pick Canada's NEXT TOP POLITICIAN is one that I had conceived quite some time ago. Of course, my idea was a joke mentioned during the course of a dinner, not a serious idea pitched to television producers and executives. But all this is neither here nor there. It was only a matter of time before Project Runway met the Political Process.

If the challenges are set up realistically and correctly, I am sure this show will highlight what political novices are able to accomplish given limited time and resources. In other words, this show will be exactly like the U.S. Congress, but with one major exception. The word 'limited'. At the rate Congress is printing out money, we may have to ask Zimbabwe for advice on how to print out a $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bill. (I guess we'd have to put Bush's face on the currency.)

The danger with this type of program is that politics will now have officially entered the rarefied world of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson and all the other schlocks who came to fame through reality TV. Is nothing sacred anymore? Is our democracy turning into IDIOCRACY? Or am I overreacting? Is this show nothing more than a platform for Alex Trebek to be the next Senator of New York State? Governor of California? Antichrist of the World?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

OMG, Barack Added Me on MySpace!

I am becoming very annoyed with the way the media is portraying Obama. It's beginning to feel that McCain was right--that Obama is nothing more than the biggest celebrity in the world. Is this the way that people want to see him, or is this the media's perverse idea of packaging and selling? The inauguration has taken on the air of a Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes where the Prize Team drives up to your door with videocameras, balloons and the oversized invitation informing you that YOU WILL GET TO MEET THE SAVIOR! I am sorry. You can crucify Obama on Capitol Hill with a crown of thorns, with Bush and Cheney hanging on crosses on either side of him, but that man is not going to save anybody. And when he does not, we are all going to go into lynch mob mentality demanding that McCain be set free from the Senate prison.

Politics has become one big reality show. Is there really any difference between Project Runway and Politics as Usual? On Project Runway, the designer has two days and $200 to make an evening gown for the new First Lady. On Politics, the senator has two years and $700 billion to create an economic rescue package for America. At the end of the challenge, several contestants will be given the auf wiedersehen. As Heidi Klum says, "One day you're in, the next day you're oblivion."

This country needs to come to its senses. There are very real issues out there but you wouldn't know it. Who cares that Zimbabwe is imploding? That Afghanistan has gone to hell? That Eastern Europeans are freezing to death because of lack of fuel? The media must think people are no longer able to digest real news, which is why they keep giving us baby food crap like 'How well will Obama dance at the Inauguration?' Or maybe it's time to pull the plug of life support from the media.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This Is Me Before (130 pounds)...

My pet peeve is diet commercials. Diet products. Diet books. Oprah, any time she starts going off about her weight. I would seriously like to see her do a show about people who just can't gain weight. Did it ever occur to her that these people might be suffering problems of image and self-worth as well? That these people are frustrated by the lack of small size clothing? That it's humiliating to be told to go to the boy's department when you are pushing 40? That people don't take you seriously because you are in fact, the size of a growing boy in his teens? Do skinny people have anyone to blame other than themselves for allowing themselves to remain a perpetual chopstick? I suppose not. I just think it's time we had our own show on TV as well called The Biggest Winner. We could weep as we no longer get sand kicked in our face at the beach. We could cry as we no longer get trampled in gay bars during happy hour. We could stand up with pride in our faces as our bony asses sit down and claim ALL of the narrow New York City subway seat that the big-assed mommas next to us are trying to encroach on.

And this is me After... (to be continued)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And Speaking of Indians... Just Let Me Live to 2013

Every now and then, especially when I feel down, I look at the picture of this man, Dr. Sudhir Paul. A scientist at the University of Texas at Houston, Dr. Paul and his team last summer discovered what he claims is the Achilles Heel of the HIV virus--a part of the virus that does not mutate. Dr. Paul engineered something called an abzyme that binds itself to the non-mutating site of the virus and destroys it. In lab tests with animals, he has met with consistent success. The next step is to start testing in humans, but that's only if funding becomes available. And even were money to become available, he said that it would be at least five years before his research would be able to help humans.

I wonder what I would do if I were free of HIV. Would I live abroad again? Would I stop being afraid of approaching guys? Would I dare to fall in love? I know I am very lucky, lucky to be living in a country that affords access to HIV meds. That allows me to keep hoping for better times. Better times that might arrive in 2013. I'll be waiting Dr. Paul.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank God for the Indians...

...'cause otherwise there wouldn't have been any Asians represented at the Golden Globes last night. Seriously, the producers of the show couldn't have found one Asian-American to at least present an award (since none of them were up for any)? For that matter, last night looked very white, with the exception of one black guy, Eva Mendes and Selma Hayek, if I recall correctly.

Of course, a few of my Asian acquaintances today were sounding off about how Indians are not really Asians. Oh boy, you know there weren't any Indians around when that was being said. I did have this conversation with a couple of Indian doctors at a dinner party recently, and they voiced their disapproval about how they are often not considered to be Asian by other Asians. To be sure, Indians certainly don't look like East Asians. But after I saw last year's The Namesake, I was surprised by how very 'East Asian' Indian home culture was.

Back to the problem of no Asian-Americans at the awards show last night. There just don't seem to be many Asian-American actors working these days. I can think of John Cho. Sandra Oh is a Canadian. There's always Margaret Cho. I am striking a dead zone here... Ah yes, Rick Yune had a couple of movies and I thought he was going to break out, but since Die Another Day, haven't seen his face around. OK, there are the two actors from Lost but I don't follow that show. Too bad the show I did follow last night, up to the very end, didn't showcase any Asian-Americans.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

3 Reasons to Love January

1. Professional golf starts up on TV again! (I am aware that this could be a reason why I can't find a BF... I have never met another gay guy who gets into golf as much as I do.) Anthony Kim is such a cutie pie, too.

2. Professional tennis starts again! The Australian Open is probably my favorite of the Grand Slams. I get to see Australia, one of my favorite places on earth, on TV and it's nice to see that it's summer somewhere on this planet while it's freezing cold here in NY. And I relish staying up until 3am to watch the matches live.

3. The Golden Globes are tonight! I love movie award season for the sheer pageantry of it all. After seeing Slumdog Millionaire yesterday in Chelsea with Ed, I now know why people have been hyping it up and why it will win Best Movie at the Oscars. Revolutionary Road might be more in line with the high-minded tastes of the Academy voters, but hey, if Shakespeare in Love can win Best Picture, Slumdog can as well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hangin' With Mom and Dad

Tonight I finally watched this documentary on the Korean War that I had been meaning to see for some time. Mom, Dad and I made it a night with microwave popcorn, pillows and peaches. (I am not trying to be alliteratively cute here--I really did have some canned peaches to balance the saltiness of the popcorn.) Anyway, I knew what to expect before the DVD went on--Mom was going to tell me all of her war stories, and Dad's too, as if I had never heard them before. Tonight I didn't mind. I let her bask in her storytelling.

About how she as a young teenager escaped from the Communist North under gunfire to reach the safety of the South; how she had been separated from her mother for more than three days and how against all odds they reunited by the train tracks.

How my father had been imprisoned in the South, charged with being a North Korean spy; how a Japanese soldier with the U.N. helped uncover evidence to prove that he was a civilian; how he wrote letters on old newsprint to American schools asking for an academic scholarship.

The documentary wasn't the most stimulating. But that didn't stop me from feeling.

Life is mysterious; life is miraculous.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Heart is Breaking

Here I am living far away in New York, and I am weary of the Mideast conflict that never seems to end. But in Gaza it has finally ended for many. In the loss of homes, schools, places of worship. And of course, life. As a human being and a citizen of this world, I feel it is incumbent at the very least to try to understand the conflict. But of course I cannot, much in the way I don't understand all the animosity between the Indians and Pakistanis, and the British and the Irish, and the Spaniards and the Basques. Is there any point in trying to understand when those closest to the conflict say to me, "Oh, just stay out of our business, you'll never understand." Is that what we're supposed to do? Just mind our own business? Watch on helplessly as millions of lives get displaced and destroyed? Is death the only solution to discord?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Embarrassed Again To Be an American

So we're finally closing Guantanamo. After more than six years. And now we're asking the rest of the world to offer asylum to prisoners we said were so dangerous that they couldn't be released, or tried in a court of law. For six years. I don't know if this amounts to chutzpah, or stupidity, or arrogance. It's certainly unfathomable. There very well may have been dangerous people imprisoned at Guantanamo. On that point I'm in no position to debate. But for America to convey to the world that these people were the worst of the terrorists out there, and then demand of Australia and Europe to take them in, give them housing, jobs, health insurance and citizenship, and then pretend that the last six years never happened is more than criminal. It's illogical. It's immoral.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


This year I am determined to figure out the answers to some important questions. Namely: who? what? when? where? and why? As in, who am I going to tell about my HIV status? What exactly am I going to divulge? When, where and why is this information being shared?

Though I often tell myself that I really don't need another person in my life, the truth is I have been wanting to get married since I was 25. I have had two boyfriends, but this was before I was HIV+. Since becoming poz, not a single guy has been brave enough (or honest enough) to take me on as I am. In the five years I've been in NYC, I have found myself usually telling someone I like about my status on the second date. I can honestly say I have never had a third date with a guy in over five years. This year, I am determined to get to a third date. So perhaps the most important question, the one I omitted above, is HOW?

I have been given a dazzling array of advice over the years, everything from "Tell him right away" to "tell him after sex the first time" to "tell him only after you are officially dating". Most people say the timing should be somewhere between "right away" and "before sex". But frankly, it's terrible advice. I can't remember the last guy I told about my status who wanted to have sex with me, and I intend to have sex again before I die. I am leaning toward "after sex the first time" (but taking care to have safe sex). Of course, I'm not sure if that's quite honorable either.

Of the guys I have told about my status before there was any sex, they all invariably exude gratitude. Which is nothing more than a cheap mask of relief. Whew. Glad I avoided this guy with HIV. For once, it would be nice if a guy could just take my hand and tell me that it's OK. That everything will be all right. That did happen once. Over five years ago. But he lived in Hawaii, and amazingly, we still communicate from time to time and I even went to visit him there once for 10 days during which time I thought that was the happiest I would ever be in my life. I would like to feel that happiness again. The question is how. And who? And what, and when, and where? What I don't want to ask is "why" anymore.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Answering the Challenge to Write a Happy Post

Psh... one of my readers Luuworld challenged me to write a happy post, as if I couldn't write a happy post. Well, here it is. First off, today Dad was discharged from the hospital. But not before waiting 9 hours for all the insurance paper work to clear. In the meantime, I was wanting to eat a little more than the hospital food. So I crossed the street and went to the corner diner that I had been wanting to see for some time. I absolutely love, love, love diners. They are cozy, warm and unpretentious. The waitresses call you "honey". The cooks look like they learned how to cook in the military. The customers have tired, but honest, faces.

I fell in love with diners back in my college days in Los Angeles. I didn't go to many diners when I was in California; I learned to appreciate them on the many road trips I took, especially the ones where I would drive cross country from California to New York. They all look different. They all feel the same. They make me feel happy. Like I'm really welcome and will always have a place to stay. Walking into the diner across the street from the hospital, all those old feelings of happiness came back. I took my time looking at the menu. I took in my surroundings and breathed a sigh of relief. It felt good to be out of the hospital. It felt like I was on a road trip. Maybe I even felt a bit young again. Wait a minute, I am young, damn it. I'm only 39, and I'm sure I don't look older than 30.

OK, so this post isn't exactly brimming with heart-pounding happiness. Actually, I had a dream last night that DID make me supremely happy. I almost forgot about it, the day was so hectic. I was with two Asian guys that I had never seen before. From the way we were interacting, I knew that one of them was a very good friend. The other was a guy that I was totally infatuated with. We were all getting on a train. Going somewere, I don't know where. But it felt so real. So fresh. So exciting. I wish I could have that dream again tonight to see where we ended up.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Five Years Gone By

Today I celebrate five years since my return to New York. To think, five years ago to the day I was sitting in a holding cell in police headquarters in Seoul, having been informed the day before that I was HIV+; then handcuffed; then driven to the airport; then begging the immigration official to remove my handcuffs before he escorted me onto the airplane. What an endless New Year's Day that was. I was put on the plane early in the morning and then I crossed the International Date Line, so it was still the morning of January 1, 2004 when my plane touched down in New York. What memories.

Last night, New Year's Eve, I sat in a chair in a hospital with Dad. Old episodes of Law and Order were on. The really old ones. My favorite ones. The ones starring Sam Waterston as the District Attorney. I loved his character. New Year's came and went very quietly. Literally.

This morning my mind reflexively started to contemplate the possibilities of new beginnings. Clean beginnings. Such is the extent to which Western minds have been brainwashed into thinking certain things on certain dates. Well, this year started with no clean beginnings. This year started with me collecting my father's feces sample for the nurse. Normally she would have done it, but since I was there, would I mind so terribly doing it for her? As I sat there in the bathroom doing what I needed to do with the sample specimens, I burst out laughing. Thinking about all the times my parents said they changed my smelly diapers. How they didn't mind since it was their own child, their own flesh and blood. I can't say I felt the same exact emotions (I don't think children love their parents in the way that parents love their children), but it was not such a terrible ordeal. Just the realization that on certain days, we all literally deal with shit.

And contemplate assisted suicide. I never really understood what that was all about. Why the infamous Dr. Kevorkian went to jail to defend his practice of assisting terminally ill patients end their lives. After two weeks of visiting the geriatric ward, I got a very unpleasant glimpse into the future. I think growing old is not a pleasant prospect. I think the physical pains do not compare to growing irrelevant. The humiliation. The degradation. I know that the nurses on the floor are tired and overworked, but I did not see a whole lot of love or sympathy for these old people in their care, some of whom never had visitors. As I get older, I can see myself turning more and more into my mother and father. God willing, I will get to end up old and gray in a hospital bed. I just won't have any son sitting by my side. Watching old episodes of Law and Order. Taking care of me. The greatest problems of this world have no technological solutions. No one will ever patent a machine that can mend a broken heart.