Remixed Tribalism and Gomorrah

Weekend reading, passage from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. Living a life where I could easily unmoor myself from my different roots if I wanted to, I’m only fascinated more about how tribalism continues to permeate and remixed itself in our psyches despite our modern global lives. Maybe in the end we all have a desire to 落葉歸根, to return to the source. I’ve always lived in port cities and in a country where we’re rootless and encouraged to be so, to be Strangers on a Pier. Maybe it’s why Americans have a fascination with Joseph Campbell Mythologies, super heroes and Star Wars, especially because so many of us increasingly lack common tribes, stories, and kinship with each other. I won’t shake off the ones I belong to, and I realized a long time ago I can’t anyway and don’t have the patience for the respectability politics to accommodate discomforted others. It’s everyone’s unconscious obsession, on this part of my pretty closed life despite always being on the soc meds all the time, I am transparent about that.

Weekend reading, passage from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. Living a life where I could easily unmoor myself from my different roots if I wanted to, I'm only fascinated more about how tribalism continues to permeate and remixed itself in our psyches despite our modern global lives. Maybe in the end we all have a desire to 落葉歸根, to return to the source. I've always lived in port cities and in a country where we're rootless and encouraged to be so, to be Strangers on a Pier. Maybe it's why Americans have a fascination with Joseph Campbell Mythologies, super heroes and Star Wars, especially because so many of us increasingly lack common tribes, stories, and kinship with each other. I won't shake off the ones I belong to, and I realized a long time ago I can't anyway and don't have the patience for the respectability politics to accommodate discomforted others. It's everyone's unconscious obsession, on this part of my pretty closed life despite always being on the soc meds all the time, I am transparent about that.

A post shared by Bessie Chu (@bessie626) on

Advertisements

Trump and Daily Living: Can Americans Take It?

Charles M. Blow ‘First They Came For…

“This has come as a great shock and demoralizer to many Americans, not necessarily because they didn’t think Trump was capable of such depravity, but because they simply were unprepared for the daily reality of living a nightmare. There is an enduring expectation, particularly among American liberals, that progress in this society should move inexorably toward more openness, honesty and equality. But even the historical record doesn’t support that expectation.”

This is my fear about America, most people do not having a living or even a collective memory of what it’s like to live under a daily assault to your senses, dignity, and even for those that do, this is a different animal. There’s a belief things will turn out okay, and that’s just not true. I generally like being positive, but experience teaches me otherwise.

Why Women Aren’t CEOs… and Women of Color Though?

From NYT:

The Lean In survey shows a pervasive sense among women that they face structural disadvantages: They are less likely than men to believe they will be able to participate in meetings, receive challenging assignments or find their contributions valued. The bleakest perceptions are from minority women; only 29 percent of black women think the best opportunities at their companies go to the most deserving employees, compared with 47 percent of white women.

There’s also an interesting intersectionality bit here that’s been better explored in not brief NYT Sunday edition article. I would say a lot Women of Color in general have had to learn to fight and advocate for themselves, suffer no fools, because we always existed in innately hostile environments, even in our own communities. We’ve always known life is not fair.

It also highlights a point here about bleak assessments of meritocracy compared to White women, whose assessments are already pretty bleak, because your assertiveness and success combined with another layer of identity becomes a liability and a threat.

Let’s be real, people are not okay being lead by a White Woman (53% of White Women voted for Trump), let alone by an Asian Woman, a Latina Woman, or Black Woman. Work twice as hard for half as much. And it’s worse outside of US borders in many places. It also begs the question, when to bother with spaces that aren’t made for us for success? I’m asking a different question than quitting for less ambition, when does it become about building own capital and markets – and how?

Side note: It’s interesting on the East Coast because I love hanging out the follow transplanted West Coast tribe of Asian women out here we’re a bunch of aggressive non-assimilationists, and people have no idea what to do with us or what we are here (I’d say in business, life, and love). We do it for the culture.

A Dust of Life with a Crazy Rich Asians Budget?

Thinking on that Hundreds post, it would be great if after Crazy Rich Asians wraps, Jon M Chu or someone out there could shoot a high production value LA (or SJ or OC) film about 90s Asian American life in those places, because it was this different seminal time, especially given in many ways a lot of those stories would really relate and say a lot about 2017, particularly policing, refugees, immigration, and alienated youth.
 
A lot of this is just personal baggage, but sometimes now back in SGV, I like how it’s super nice now, but all these bobalife kids also don’t know nothing about when it was barred windows, pool halls, linoleum floor restaurants only, and how hated we were and how much we hated each other and others. It’s better now and for the best, but a lot of stories
deserve to be told.
 
I’d love to see a high budget Dust of Life, Bang Bang, or some of the other arthouse indies that have been made, but with a Crazy Rich Asians production scale with a female lead, but that’s quite possibly the most un-makable movie pitch ever.
 
But I hate how so much of the representation is the story about the banana Asian dudes with the same overplayed identity struggle that isn’t even that representative in my opinion (I feel a little this way about Hasan Minhaj or Aziz Ansari even though I love what they do, but they’re definitely being true to their stories) or run-of-the-mill immigration fitting in story or the throw in an already famous Chinese star to sell movies to China. Other stories out there that are just worthy, but I don’t think audiences are really ready for that level of play and acceptance yet. 

Resistance Art: Immigrants Getting the Job Done

 

*The mixtape video we all needed. It’s a hard time right now, can’t understate that. Philando Castile, the healthcare bill, the deportations, targeting of Muslims during Ramadan, the environment destruction, the list is so long it’s almost paralyzing. It seems like the politics posts on Facebook at least in my filter bubble have waned a bit, bc it’s like, we know it’s not gonna get better anytime soon, but I know that there are so many broken hearts with a dose of toxic anger all the same from all the offline conversations.

But one thing I’ve noticed though in NYC, since the election, it seems like immigrants have been kinder to each other. Going to stores, Lyft/Uber drivers, walking in these streets, going to work, there is a strange gentleness to each other that I don’t think was quite there before. We don’t speak the same languages, we don’t share the same skin colors or cultures, we don’t really even have the same struggles (I’m totally cognizant of the fact I’m a light-skinned Asian whose is a natural born American citizen with a White collar job and what that gets me – I walked through customs in under 3 minutes with Global Entry yesterday – which gives me a responsibility to do a damn thing), but it seems we’re in this reality where we need each other’s kindness because of Trumplandia and a lot of the White Liberals who quite frankly seem to be want to be there for their racist cousins than for us, I get that tribalism, but we’re responding in kind with our kindness to each other in response to what is effectively state-sanctioned violence.

For some of you out there, I know you don’t feel this, but feel me for a minute when I say this cruelty out here is undeserved, and it’s real, and if you’re not fighting it, you’re complicit. Let’s get on with it. Save your kindness for those who deserve it and need it. We’re America’s ghostriders, and the former colonized in Europe built those empires. The credit is only borrowed. We’re going to cash those checks, sooner or later, one way or another.

*One thing I do want to call out some friends pointed out on FB – the misogyny in the lyrics and in hip hop in general, :(. Also, let’s not forget in the American context, most Black Americans weren’t immigrants and were forced to build the country for free and Native Americans driven off on the land that was theirs.

Shout out to Lali Restaurant

Crosspost here from ViewingNYC.

To add: I really appreciate a place like this since it can feel like these places, the honest neighborhood eats, the simple diners, and delis, the holes-in-the-wall with good food at a fair price and character are disappearing in Manhattan and many parts of NYC, pushed out by ever skyrocketing retail rents and bougie tastes. Lali’s is not far from the Times Square drag in Hell’s Kitchen if you have visitors who really want something that is no frills local.   

I can only describe eating at Lali Restaurant like eating home-cooking at an auntie’s house, if I had an auntie who is a Dominican lady named Lali. The restaurant calls back to what feels like a different time. The counters have an old-school diner feel, regulars seem to know each other, and comfort food is what’s on the menu.

Lali and her friendly crew prepare selected dishes depending on the day of week. Most of the clientele is Spanish-speaking along with other locals who are frequent customers (myself included). Seating is mostly counter space and a few small tables in the back that seat two or three…. read more

What to Order at Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is not a place that needs much introduction, especially in the Taiwanese food world. What is new is its expansion of locations outside of Asia. Started in 1948, Ding Tai Fung gained its fame with perfecting Shanghai Dumplings or xiaolongbao, excellent customer service, and extraordinary consistency.

2016-10-17-11-40-30

This restaurant empire stands out from other establishments for making simple Taiwanese staples exceptional. It’s not one of those fancy seafood banquet places but rather has perfected the pedestrian with the best of ingredients, preparation, and hospitality.

What I’m writing about today is what to order other than xiaolongbao – though I’ll say if you have enough diners/appetites with you – get both the pork and the pork with crab.

First, the Hot and Sour soup here is finely made, just look at how delicately every ingredient in this soup has been chopped and prepared. Normally, hot and sour soup can be kind of throwaway dish, but this is one of the best items here:

2016-10-17 11.51.25

The Seaweed & Beancurd in a Vinegar Dressing appetizer are another must get item here, a mix of fresh bean curd, seaweed, and sprouts are meant to be a cold dish complement the meal (does it real well).

2016-10-17 11.56.54.jpg

Another item that I love to get is the Pork Chop. This is ubiquitous Taiwanese staple but done way more upmarket here, your equivalent of getting a burger at a fancy restaurant.

2016-10-17 11.56.50.jpg

The Noodles with Spicy Sauce, again are simple and delectable prepared with a sesame sauce that would leave you feeling greasy and MSG bloated at other places.

2016-12-20-11-53-25

The Shrimp & Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce has a version in many Chinese provinces, this is the Taiwanese Din Tai Fung version that does not disappointment, with the complex flavor of many aromatics in its preparation.

2016-10-17 11.53.42.jpg

Dessert is an underrated part of Din Tai Fung, but is probably my favorite part of the meal.

I love love love the Taro xiaolongbao, featuring fresh taro grounded into a sweet paste steamed in the same shell used to make the savory dumplings. I took a Chilean friend here and she called them “Taro dumplings from Heaven.” If you love taro like me, you can’t live without these. It’s probably the most Taiwanese-influenced item on the menu.

2016-12-20-12-19-35

Two other desserts I’d get: 1) The Red Bean Rice Cake is a fluffy steamed bread stuffed with red bean that is not too sweet. A lot of non-Asians tend to not like red bean, but it’s because they’ve eaten high fructose corn syrup loaded pre-packaged stuff rather than the real deal like here. 2) The Eight Treasures rice is a true classic of Chinese cooking, a sticky rice prepared with with raisins, dates, red bean, longan, and other dried fruit and nets. This is dish typically eaten during Lunar New Year and other special occasions done masterfully here:

That’s the ideal Din Tai Fung meal for me.

For another look at Din Tai Fung more from a cultural lens similar to mine, check out Eddie Huang’s introduction on his Viceworld show:

Couple more pics of the Din Tai Fung location at the Santa Anita Westfield in Arcadia CA: