Sogee was waiting for the magic to happen. She was both nervous and slightly angry to be going on the world's biggest bungee jump in the world. At one point, she was asked how she felt. "I am going to kill him," she said to the camera. I thought she was talking to Kaivan, but she said she was talking about me afterwards. I think that's the way it is when you're faced with inextricable odds. Some people go for the jugular of the one they love most, ehile others just bawl their eyes out.
My mother-in-law laughed when she heard Sogee's response to death. Then she quickly reminded me in Korean that her response was very similar to what women do during pregnancy.
I had no response for this besides a resounding, "Mmmm." Then I pictured Sogee screaming in the throes of pregnancy and my life being threatened. "Yes," I told my mother-in-law in Korean. "I think this will be her response."
Of course, we haven't gone into detail about Sogee's actually launch. After threatening me with death, she then proceeded to convince the jump advisor to let her go down backwards.
"Have you ever jumped here before," the jump instructor asked.
"No," Sogee said, biting her lower lip. "But this is my third time, and I've jumped backwards before."
A slight hesitation.
"Please let me do it backwards," Sogee began to beg. "I can't look. I can't look."
You know someone is deathly afraid when they start to repeat themselves. The instructor must have been in on this from having done about 30-40 jumps a day. (I was told the average by attendees later.) He just played it cool though. "Look," he said. "I'll let you jump backwards, but don't grab me or my partner here, or we'll be really upset."
"I won't grab you," Sogee said defiantly. She said it in such a strong way I was rather proud. "You go, girl!" I thought in my head, but then I heard screams shortly thereafter.
From what I was told later (no one could hear anything with the wind that far up - 233 meters), Sogee was not only defiant about not grabbing onto the instructor, but she was, in fact, now, holding onto the instructor, and telling him, scratch that, screaming "No!" to him, every time he started a countdown from five.
"Listen," the instructor said in his no-nonesense-policy talk, "there are a lot of people waiting to go here. We don't want to keep everyone waiting. So if you're going to go, then let's get this show on the road. Otherwise, we'll have to take even more time to get the harness and everything off of you."
"Fine," Sogee said, almost spitting she was so upset, "I'll go!"
Now Kaivon and I were watching from the wings. We were tethered to the flagship, while this whole procession was transpiring. To us it seemed like the guy was doing some serious smooth talk.
"I bet he gets mad pussy," Kaivon shook his head in envy. "He probably convinces hundreds of girls daily. He must be really good at getting the to sleep with him."
Now I am not for "bedding girls" kind of talk. I also didn't want to think of some random guy convincing my wife that she should jump off the 233 meters, and thus, in my mind, be convincing her to also be going to bed with him, so I did what any supportive husband would do during pregnancy, or, in this case, jumping off the world's largest bungee jump, I nodded silent support and gazed affectionately.
This must have been enough for the Sogee. She caught my gaze. Then she was advised to stare at the camera for a final adios. To which she simply shifted her eyes to the right, but kept her head rigidly forward.
"She's going to do it," Kaivon whispered in my ear.
"Of course," I said.
Sogee did a nice graceful jump backwards. I thought it was rather elegant, and I was filled with pride. When it was my turn, and leading up to it being my turn, I was being slightly harassed by Kaivon for being so calm. The truth was that I was slightly nervous, but after I heard that this company had zero accidents since its inception, I figured I would shortly become one of the safe and lucky statistics, so I wasn't overly concerned. My major issue was making that leap. That was when I decided to simply be myself. I saluted to the camera, and dove off like it was the diving board at Westminster pool in Delaware. I felt the rush of air pull my face back, and I tried to see what was happening as I fell. It was difficult. I was moving so fast, and then there was the whole procedure of pulling the cord by my leg, so I would be shifted into a seated position as the instructors lowered me down after I stopped bouncing. I spent a lot of time thinking about the cord, but I couldn't even pull it off. I was a weakling. At least I thought. Later, I was told that people don't realize they need to pull on the cord much harder because of the gravity at work. I don't know though. I don't think I was made for trapeze exercises. I prefer being the humble supporter to other people being daredevils. Of course, I was treated rather well after making the jump. The instructors gave me rock 'n' roll signs and thumbs ups after I made it back up the tower. I suppose it was a big deal that it was my first time and that I did it fairly fearlessly.
"You rocked, dude!" one of the instructors told me at the top.
The countdown begins. I've just run for a long time. I did sprints. I'm trying to train to help both South Korea and USA win in their elimination rounds. I did extra pushups today just for the occasion. I'm hoping that my exercise will reach the feet of both Koreans and Americans. In all honesty, I think both will be tough matches. I have a feeling that USA will advance, but Korea may not. I am not sure. I cannot see the future. I am excited to watch the game though. 10-9-8...
Hong Kong is like a piece of gum on your shoe. It looks good from far off, but you don't want to really chew it. At least not in the open air of its incredibly humid summers. I could barely breathe it was so hot in the city. I think I walked about five feet before I was ready for a shower when I got there on Friday.
Sogee, on the other hand, was determined to improve her math scores by squaring her wardrobe several times over. I was used to the experience by now, so I joked that I was one of the best personal assistants on the planet.
"Paris Hilton couldn't do better," I said.
"Ha-ha! That's funny," she joked. "Now I want to go to this shop."
"That one!" she said and pointed to a shop we were passing fairly quickly in a rickety taxi cab.
"Well, let's get out," I said.
"If that's where you want to shop."
Sogee got some shoes straight off. Then we headed into the Times Square area of Hong Kong. I got an unfortunate haircut, while she managed to hit French Connection. I continued my duties as chief assistant. I carried all the bags and made my requisite comments after each entrance and exit into the women's dressing room: "I like the line!" "You're boobs are too small!" "That says hooker with a capital G."
"Hooker doesn't begin with G."
"Exactly," I said.
"Sometimes you are so weird."
"That's okay," I said. "I still like the orange dress better."
We went for a massage later. Then we were off to Macau. From what I had heard, Macau was some type of resort area of China. It's actually just a mini-Las Vegas. You check into a posh hotel, order room service, walk through smokey casinos, and get cold from all the air conditioning.
In order to get to Macau, we took a ferry from Hong Kong. Kaivon warned us every step of the way that we needed to remember our passports. I remembered mine, so did the Sogee. But he forgot to remind his girlfriend. She got stuck in some cubicle, while Kaivon had to fly back to Hong Kong by helicopter to get her passport. I thought that was pretty James Bond, until I saw the car outside our hotel.
Can you believe this? An orange Lamborghini! Just like the Slipshod album. I think this will be my new Facebook profile.
I'll talk a bit more about Hong Kong and bungee jumping in a bit...
Today I hung out with Loren. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant, had tea, and went grocery shopping. I gushed about Pearl S. Buck's "The Good Earth." I am really enjoying reading it. Thank God! It's such a relief to find great books. I've read a bunch of duds lately. "The Good Earth" is picture-perfect thus far. I'll talk a little bit about it when I'm done. For now, let me talk about the rest of my day.
I came home. I ran for a long time. I think I went a bunch of times around the track. It was a little scary. There were all these baseball players practicing pitches on the track. I thought I was going to be killed. I would get close to them, and then book my ass between them before a ball was thrown. A couple times people laughed at me. That's typical of Korea though, so I didn't think about it. (People could laugh at you for wearing a blue shirt, or something else that's less consequential, like your face. If you're a foreigner, you're a minority in Asia, and will get pointed at even if you're doing nothing at all.) I was a foreigner. I got pointed at. I kept running.
After a while, I got tired. I had bought this liter of water. Then I poured it on my head. It hurt a bit a t first. Like I had one of those headaches from over-exerting myself. Then I walked home. When I got home, my father-in-law told me it was too hot to go running. I told him I would go in the morning next time. He nodded his head. Then he got a bottle of Makoli (Korean beer). He drained the thing in three minutes.
"Another bottle?" I asked him, as he walked back to the kitchen where I was cooking some salmon.
"Appetizer," he smiled.
"Ha!" I laughed and smacked him on the back. Then I went back to cooking. I made salmon and a turkey burger. Then I ate them both. I went to my room. I wrote e-mails to friends. Then I started doing a power point on Greek tragedy. Then I wrote this. Now Sogee just walked into the room. I am going to talk to her.
Today I went to a Turkish restaurant with Ken, Loren, Grace, and the Sogee. We ordered some hefty plate of kebabs and hummus. Then we just sat and yapped about our middle and high school drudgeries. I told a story about faking a knife fight for a fellow acting buddy to get a girl.
When I was a kid, I did a lot of acting. I mean morning and night acting. By the time I got to high school, I had already done my fair share of community theater and what little private workshops I could do in my small state of Delaware. I was ready for the big time in mind, so when one of my buds from a summer acting workshop asked me to do an improv piece with real people, I was totally down.
"Listen," he said. "I got this girl that I totally dig. The only problem is that she's with this douche of a guy. I just need you to like be a gangster or something, show up while we're all hanging out, and I'll beat your ass up. Then this douche that she's with - this freakin' coward - will be seen for what he is, and she'll totally be with me."
"That's crazy," I said, and laughed. "I'm totally in."
"Good. Rehearsal. Saturday."
Now my buddy (he will remain anonymous) and I worked that Saturday, and basically all I was supposed to do was shave my head - to look tough - and swing a knife at him a couple times, until he kung fu'd the thing out with what he said was his black belt left foot. To my surprise, after a few practice windmill kicks, he was knocking the knife out of my hand, so I figured it'd all be alright.
"You are not bad with this kung fu shit," I said.
"Dude!" he said defensively. "I'm a black belt."
"Okay. Well, you're pretty good."
"I'm telling you. This thing is in the bag. That girl is as good as mine."
I wasn't so sure, but I didn't say shit. I just wanted to see what would happen. I knew my buddy would do alright with the acting, and now, with that kung fu action. But I had no idea what it would be like to have a girl and guy there who weren't in on it.
Back when we did the theater camp together, we had pretended to dislike each other for a whole week before we had an all out choreographed fight in front of a university dormitory with the rest of the high schools invited to the prestigious program in attendance. It was quite a theatrical event - complete with screams from the audience as I took a few fake body blows to the stomach, and then knocked out my buddy with a wild right hook that he violently shuddered away from while biting down on a blood capsule. It was seriously the stuff of legend. I mean, seriously, it almost got us expelled.
Anyway, back to the fight at hand. We had decided to meet at his posh school on the other side of town. I was supposed to roll up in my car and meet him on the football field where we were supposed to get into it. I was supposed to get there around 330 p.m., but those dang after school activities in high school kept me around a bit longer, so I rolled up into the school parking lot around 3:40 p.m. That was a bit too late. I was pulling into the place, and I saw my buddy pulling out. I didn't know what to do really. I just froze a bit. Then my buddy gave me the bird and we were off.
I sped after him down these back roads. I didn't know exactly how we were going to pull over and have the knife fight, but I figured adding an improv car chase was pretty bad ass, so I just rode his ass down some mean back roads. We were weaving back and forth around the center line, trying to edge each other out, when I saw a familiar car in my rearview. It was Kaivon! My buddy since ninth grade. He had no idea about the improv car chase or the knife fight, but he recognized my car, and was now joining in on the car chase, but just thinking we were joy riding. It was some serious shit.
Then my buddy - the one with the kung fu and the girl and her boyfriend in his car - pulls over on the side of one of these random back roads. I pull over too. And then so does Kaivon! I didn't know what to do at this point because the driver's side of my door was smashed in, so I couldn't just step out and get the knife fight going. It was totally stuck. I just sat there for a while, until my buddy came running up, yelling about not coming for the knife fight.
"Yo!" he shouted, and started flailing his arms around in a postured mad rage. "This is me being really angry because we're about to have a knife fight!! What's wrong!!"
"Dude," I said. "I can't get out of the car. The driver's side's stuck."
"Go through the passenger!" he continued shouting.
"It'll look shady!"
"Come on! Do it!! I got the girl waiting! I need to have a knife fight!"
I climbed out of the passenger seat. I was about to head over for the knife fight, when Kaivon started yelling for me. Well, he wasn't yelling. Back in those days, his typical call was to bleat like a goat, so I heard "Baaaaaaaaaa" in a super high-pitched shrill. I ran over to him as quick as I could.
"Listen," I said in fast talk mode. "Buddy and I are having a knife fight because he wants to get a girl and prove that her boyfriend is a douche so don't freak out and just chill because shit is about to go down."
Kaivon's eyes literally popped out of his head. I think the only thing he heard was "knife fight." I had to skedaddle though. I headed straight for my buddy. He jumped out of the car, did this Bruce Lee windmill kick and knocked the knife out of my hand. Then he up and jumped into his car though the driver's side window Dukes of Hazzard style and sped off.
All I could hear besides the revving motor was Kaivan in the background bleating like crazy. I was guessing that he approved or just thought that was crazy shit. I wasn't about to argue with him. I was hungry. I figured the theatrical event was a success, so I just headed home with him for some sandwiches and to talk out how this all came to be.
I didn't talk to my buddy with the kung fu again for a couple weeks. I finally called him to see how things were going.
"Dude," I said. "It's me. You get the girl?"
"Totally, man. I'm with her now."
"Get the fuck out!"
"No, it worked. You know her boyfriend was even considering shooting you with a paintball gun that he had in the backseat."
"Thank God he didn't."
"So you're good?"
"Yeah, everything's good. I'll chat more later."
My buddy never called me after that. I figured things went well with the girl or whatever. I was busy with my own life. It wasn't until I got to college that I thought about that whole incident again. I was doing the freshman tour of dormitory life with a bottle of Popov vodka when I ran into a kid that went to my buddy's high school. I wanted to talk about the knife incident right away.
"Yo, so and so," I said. "How is my buddy? Did that knife fight get talked about at all?"
"What knife fight?" the kid said.
"You know the one to get that hot girl."
The way the kid said "what" made me feel like not talking anymore, but the cat was out of the bag.
"That was you!!"
"Listen, man, I was just doing my buddy a favor-"
"Dude, man! I'm his best friend and he didn't even tell me."
"What do you mean?"
"Buddy told everybody about that knife fight. It was all over the school. He rode that thing all the way to senior year, man! He was getting like mad pussy because he came off like this guy that fought this gangster. Man! It was you!!"
"Yeah, man...I'm sorry. I didn't know he wouldn't tell you."
The kid didn't say anything after that. I felt real bad that I had been part of something that went sour. I was down with doing a little imrpov stunt, but I didn't know the guy would keep it going for years. That's pretty crazy. After I re-told this story to Loren & co., I thought about my buddy again. I wonder if he's still living off the laurels of our fake knife fight. Maybe it's been so long in his reality that he actually thinks it was real. That would be something. I don't know. I think I'd probably do some more improv fights if I hadn't ever met that kid in the dorm room. Who knows? Maybe I can find this buddy with kung fu on Facebook and out him.
Ah, it's been too long. I also admire the guy in a way too. He was like the real life "Talented Mr. Ripley."
Yesterday I went to a reading at Yonsei University. Then I headed back to watch the World Cup soccer match of Korea versus Greece with my in-laws. It took about two hours to get home because there wasn't a single taxi on the streets. I had to walk about 45 minutes to get to the subway station, ride the rails for another 45 minutes, and then pick up ice cream for everyone as I was requested to do so, which took a bit more time, as I got lost after I got off at a wrong exit in Seocho. All in all, it took me way too long to arrive. My in-laws were definitely curious as to how I could be an hour and a half late for a major soccer game that involved Korea.
"What happened?" my mother-in-law asked.
"Where have you been?" my father-in-law inquired.
Each question came from a different perspective. One was concern, while the other hinted at possible indiscretions I might not want to share.
"Ice cream!" I said, and heaved a black plastic bag filled with an assortment of plastic wrapped pops and cones.
My whereabouts were soon forgotten. We all sat in front of the television, yelped together, and occasionally jumped out of our seats. A couple of times my father-in-law silenced everyone, so we could hear the shouts and screams from neighboring apartments. "Oh-ho-ho! my father-in-law smirked proudly. Then we were back to our own vocal acrobatics, ooohing and guffawing our way to a Korean victory over Greece.
Russel Brand is a funny guy. I got this link from Ron, who posted all seven parts of the BBC documentary featuring Russel and his best mate following Jack Kerouac's route across America in "On the Road."
Harmony Korine's new film, Trash Humpers, is a pretty cool concept: dress up as old, dirty men and then do sexual things to trash cans. Sounds exciting and a bit within the "I'm too cool for school" angle that most of his films take. I'll have to see it before I can lay down an absolute judgment, but I'm definitely interested. I have enjoyed Korine's films. They have all influenced me in some way. I also like that he used VHS on this one. I would like to go lofi as well with a film, especially in this economic environment. I would like to make films with Polaroids if I could.
I thought it was pretty cool that Drag City, a music label, helps put out his films. That's a great concept.
Not much else going on these days. I'm writing daily. I'll try and release some of this material once it's done (see excerpts in various older posts). As far as the new Slipshod album, it is half done. It'll probably be completely finished when I'm back in L.A, and can get Panauh to mix everything down in August. I'm too lazy these days to do everything. Who knows? I might feel more chipper once this cold finishes its course.
(I got this killer of a cold - a Korean one - for those of you that can feel me on how intense something like that is - they just don't go away - you might think that they are at their end but they go forever - anyway I'm done writing like Jack Kerouac so let's just forget the cold and let it be gone simultaneously.)
Some people have asked about The Human War, so here's the dilly. We're trying to get everything finished this summer, so we can hit the film festival circuit this year. We'll see what happens. So, yes, that's right. It'll be a 2011 release.
Can anyone say Jackie Chan? I am going to go meet Jackie Chan in one week. I have a lot I want to ask him. I hope he's willing to see me. I also hope he's in Hong Kong next week.
(FYI - The Jackie Chan meeting is a joke - I'm going to meet Kaivon - he is a severely perverse friend from high school who likes to race motorcycles and practice Mandarin - I know he sounds like a secret agent - therefore my thinking that he's my Jackie Chan - get it - okay - bye.)
Mr. Musaki stared at the bulbous, green lights that glared above the GORGEOUS sign of the brothel next to his apartment and stretched far beyond Gotanda into the heart of Tokyo City Proper. The lighted orbs were a visual reassurance that borders were secure and no threat was imminent. A shift in color to red or blue would designate a breach in borders (red), or a need for evacuation (blue). The Tamatsu Corporation was in existence to prevent the latter. The last breach below Samgakji resulted in a city lockdown, as IP teams from Tamatsu and federal agencies were deployed to remove offending trespassers and secure the border. Government officials mentioned the possibility of mutagens within the city walls during the press release the following morning. Mr. Musaki had suggested to Mr. Tanachi and others present that citizens should remain in buildings until chemical or physical debris was extricated from the breach, but this information was not made public because of fear of inciting mass exodus or hysteria.
I am going to Hong Kong in a week. I think I will meet Jackie Chan. Now I am in bed. Sogee is watching Korean talk shows. I am about to watch "The Last Unicorn." I have never seen it, but I see that a lot of people list it as their favorite movie. So far, I would say it's a pretty bad 80's animation film. Rikki Tikki Tavi was better.