Sunday, December 31, 2006

NYE's Eve Reunions

Went to Spaceland last night to catch Mystic Chords of Memory and The Minor Canon. It was a night of reunion of sorts, a lot of old friends catching up on old times... some things never really change...

This is Mystic Chords of Memory with Nobody.

Chris & Jen: newlyweds, musicians, health enthusiasts, rad people.

We went to Josh's studio afterwards to continue the party and "jam." We played Destroyer & VU songs which was great fun for me. Josh made us chant, yoga style which wasn't really flowing with my smoke and Jameson-induced state.

Some random people showed up and there was this kinda cute girl in particular whom I was really interested in. She looked like she just shopped at Forever 21 from head to toe (which isn't so bad) and started playing drums (alright) and then picked up the acoustic guitar and started playing & singing "Under My Thumb" (alright) and then wanted to play Yes songs which everyone put an end to right away (like instantly). If we had let her continue, she probably would of busted out some Pearl Jam hits or something awesome like that...

I slyly took this of Trisha rocking it on percussion. BUT the real focus is on that cheetah-like guy in the background - what is Chris Holmes doing in Josh's studio all of the sudden?!?!? Chris Holmes (of W.A.S.P) is notoriously known from the rockumentary, "The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II: The Metal Years," where his mother, present in the background, listens to her son discuss how much of an alcoholic he is. And I think he still is considering he had a big gulp bigger than the size of my head as we were anxiously waiting for the sketchy bathroom at 3am while this "lady" was putting on her "makeup",... or should i say "fixing" her makeup...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Day in the Life (FOB, Part II)

I was told that I followed my dad everywhere; here we are with his male friends drinking soda (as alcohol wasn't permitted).

Third World hut construction: I like that saw being used to cut the bamboo and the man with the cigarette.

The "Angelina Jolie" of her day hanging out with us.

Check out our Sunday Best.

When we first arrived, we made a traditional prayer offering, a thanks.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I've been scanning old faded photos of my parents' wedding and having them reprinted all nice and glossy for the family room. I'm surprised how many they still have considering they brought them on a Chinese Junk from Vietnam. Speaking of which, I came across pics of my family when we were at the Songkhla Refugee Boat Camp in Southern Thailand in 1980.

Since I was in a coma during that week we were on the boat, fleeing for our lives, I have no recollection of any memories until I came to America. The story that was told to me was that my dad decided for us to leave Vietnam after he had visited his cousins in Hanoi in 1979. My parents loved Vietnam and never intended to leave after the War but after seeing how worse the conditions were in Hanoi than Saigon (and it didn't look like it was going to get any better), my parents made preparations for the family to escape soon after.

We fled in the middle of the night, dressed as peasants (with newly coiffed boy's cut) pretending to head off to the central farmlands. My parents left everything behind, material possessions didn't mean anything, just the opportunity for their two young daughters to have a future. We were on a boat for a week with no food; my mom gave me her water ration while she drank her own urine! (whoa, yeah it was heavy). Pirates raided our boat and took anything of value but luckily, no one was murdered or raped like so many before us.

We landed in Thailand and the government officials didn't want to take us in (this was during the high tide of the boat people flight from Vietnam to SE Asian countries and they couldn't accommodate everyone) but an American journalist interjected on our behalf with some international human rights law so thus, we ended at the Songkhla Camp for 6 months as we waited for my Grandfather to sponsor us to America. Of course, there were a lot of religious proselytizing in these camps and my parents converted to Catholicism from Buddhism during this time.

Here is a shot of our sizable group who survived the escape. I'm the little survivor in the middle right with the hot red shorts.

Here I am with my uncle, aunt and older sister with a scowl on her face. Obviously, these were not the best of times for us. I had a biafra belly and an excessive tan; I don't recall sunscreen as one of the amenities available at this camp.

I noticed that there were a lot of photo ops in front of the boat. I guess we're just proud and feel very lucky that it didn't sink on us.

There are loads of books out there on the Boat People but I highly recommend Sr. Chan Khong's "Learning True Love: How I Learned to Practice Social Change in Vietnam" which is when I first really learned about the Vietnamese Diaspora. Oh yeah, the author and I are both tigers.

* means "fresh off the boat"

Monday, December 25, 2006

Chuc mung Giang Sinh

Feliz Navidad. 聖誕快樂. frohe Weihnachten. веселое рождество. vrolijke Kerstmis. 즐거운 성탄. Buon Natale. メリークリスマス. Joyeux Noël. Καλά Χριστούγεννα. Merry Christmas!

This is what it looks like this Xmas in Southern California.


Downtown HB

Friday, December 22, 2006

To Protect and Serve

LA's Finest have crossed the line between cop and criminal... How did LA's Finest fall so far so fast? Here's the evidence:

The perpetrators: Mouse, Wiggles, Owley, Munchkin and Little Boo Hoo

Little Boo Hoo shows us how to put the record back in its proper sleeve.

iPod usage only if you're on the run from Yale.

Munchkin, feeling it. This is how we do it... cutting it up.

The Wiggles dance party.

[Side Note: Wiggles has an excellent shop, Ooga Booga, located in Chinatown. For those who can't physically shop there, she has just created a webshop filled with treasures she carries in her shop. Please have a look, it's pretty ultimate...]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

LA's Finest

After 1.75 years of hibernation, back in effect... the finest of LA... "LA's Finest"... returns...

Full DJ crew line-up: Ann Do, Anna Sew Hoy, Nanette Sullano, Amy and Wendy Yao

This Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mandrake Bar
2692 S. La Cienega Blvd., LA, CA 90034

LA's Finest...where they treat you like a King!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Owley Patrol: The Holiday Edition

Bonne Fetes! Gift season is here, holiday parties are abound and a few of those are the unavoidable but welcomed Pink Elephant parties. These are fun, at times cutthroat, and calls for creativity. But alas, in these exorbitantly fast times, one doesn't always have time for imagination so thus gift certificates are sadly, the norm these days. I'm not saying these are bad; my Sea Level Records gift certificate that I kindly received at Frosty's party has already been put to good use and that gift certificate for Dermalogica Spa is anxiously sitting on the desk.

The Bou-Clapp Annual Xmas Party: I was in charge of dessert so that's my flourless chocolate mousse cake.

This is the coral that everyone wanted. The probability of me getting it was slim since the number I had drawn was so so low. Nancy had a really good chance of getting it but she got too greedy and Christopher ended up with it to her dismay. And she was the hostess! I'm telling you, these parties are cutthroat!

Frosty's Annual Pink Elephant Party: I had originally gotten a nice bottle of Maker's Mark (omg, my favorite!) and really did think that I was going to get to keep it but at the very end, Frosty took it away from me! Grinch...

Cuties Erin and Jimmy. They got good gifts but don't exactly remember what they were...but they were good...

I baked a Snow-Topped Santa Spice Cake and was very proud of it (see foreground). Then Chloe comes in with her perfect double-layer Black Forest Cake. Damn, I can't compete with that! She is a master.

Jenny's spur-of-the-moment gathering. Though the heater was on the fritz and the firewood wasn't catching on fire, the wine, good company, Godard's "Contempt" and Jenny dressed as a Christmas tree made it all warm and festive.

Here's a relevant and celebratory song for Christmas:
Nina Simone's "Ain't Got No - I Got Life.mp3"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Everyday is like Sunday

I wished everyday was like this past Sunday. I saw good friends and ran into those old ones I haven't seen in forever...

The Wong sisters, Chrys & Linda, at their clothing label, The Battalion's sample sale. Sisters are so rad. I love sisters like the Wongs, the Yaos, the Bous, the Wittys and my own sister.

This is Jenny, my style idol, my Vietnamese soul sister. She said that she believes in magic. I said that I believe in fate.

Then my band played some Smiths covers (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Jeane and Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want) at Part Time Punks' special Smiths Nite. Here's Bennyshambles, the host, all Moz'ed out.

Ezra celebrating Smiths' morose introspection through freaky dance moves.

Miss Folkhands, my other style idol, believes that it'll all end in tears.... It always does...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Destroyer (Part II)

Egads!!! I just found this on youtube. I'm so pissed at myself; Destroyer played on my birthday! What the fuck was I doing not being there?

Destroyer (don't let the name fool you)

I think I just found the band for my 30s. It's like when I first discovered The Smiths and The Stone Roses in my teens, and Felt and Belle & Sebastian in my 20s. I've had Destroyer's new album "Destroyer's Rubies" for quite some time now from a friend but never really bothered to listen to it until it kept popping up on the iPod on tour (it's very intuitive, my iPod). And now, a month later, Destroyer is all I listen to. I downloaded and bought all the other LPs once I got home. I've never been into one particular artist this intensely in a very long time. Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer) is a brilliant poet and his music are works of art - dense, literate, referential, melodic, sweeping. It's like the perfect soundtrack for me at present, it says everything I'm feeling now, have felt and want to feel. You see, I get very affected by music, especially lyrics... Some painter girl must have really hurt him in the past... And it's not just about love and despair; Mr. Bejar throws down the gauntlet for other writers, challenging them, especially East Coast ones to step up their game, to be ready for the bout.

And the asinine thing is that Destroyer recently played in LA but I hadn't "discovered" him yet; I was probably at home working on this silly blog.

Here are two of my favorite songs from his 2001 album, Streethawk: A Seduction -
Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Sea of Tears).mp3
The Bad Arts.mp3

Monday, November 27, 2006

I am a bad-ass feminist

I went to Anna's studio for her LTTR (Lesbians to the Rescue) Tying party. Along with other friends, I tried to help her complete the edition of 1300 Bloody String necklaces for the forthcoming LA release of the Fall/Wtr LTTR V/Issue 5/Positively Nasty. Basically, I came to drink some wine, gossip, and tie some knots.

The LTTR release party is on the 9th of December at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. I think that LA's Finest Crew will be djing at the afterparty which will be at the Mandrake.

Here's Anna's blurb about what this is all about.

A piece of red suede cord, knotted 13 times. the number 13: "Joie" (joy; the usual use of this number is as general luck or gambler's luck). The knots are the drops of menstrual blood which would be placed in the drink of someone you desire in order to make them fall in lust with you. An eyeball or ring is tied to the cord as "eye" of the cervix.

An amulet "an object that protects a person from trouble" (Greek) or a talisman (from Arabic tilasm, ultimately from the Greek word "talein" which means "to initiate into the mysteries.") consists of any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner. Potential amulets include: gems or simple stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc.; even words said in certain occasions – for example: vade retro satana – (Latin, "go back, Satan"), to repel evil or bad luck.

"The blood of Isis, the virtue of Isis, the magic power of Isis, the magic power of the Eye, are protecting this the Great One; they prevent any wrong being done to him." Thus reads a portion of the 186th chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was engraved, often with other invocations, on the Buckle of isis amulets. Great faith was placed in the magic power of this buckle or tie. It was believed that the wearer would be protected and guarded from every kind of evil for ever and ever.

The tying party

Anna (the hostess) & Pearl

As you can see, we are wearing many cervices and are drunk with power in the magic of the Eye. Beware guys (and gals), you won't be able to resist us!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Art of Vietnamese Haggling

Been hanging out with the folks a lot lately in Little Saigon, it's holiday season afterall. Anyhow, my very long gold necklace chain broke last year and I've been too lazy to get a new one. I was inspired last night about making one of the sea shells I found on the beach in Cabo earlier this year into a pendant. But first, I had to get a new chain. So we had a family outing to Phước Lộc Thọ, known in English as Asian Garden Mall.

When buying gold, I always bring my mom, she is an expert haggler, it's a sport to her and she always win. I'm just her apprentice. For the Vietnamese, 18k is supreme, 14k is too meager, and 22k is too soft (totally acceptable but a bit too yellow gold for my taste). This is because our history has been one of unstable currency and gold is seen more valuable (which it is). My mom has always told me and sister to invest in gold cuz' "you can always sell it when you need money." Yep, that's the rufugee mentality. But it makes such sense right?

So here are some rules you should adhere to if you're ever in the mood to buy some jewelry at a Vietnamese mall:

1. know what you want
2. find it
3. compare it - it's always good to know the proprietor; at this mall, my parents know between 4-5 which makes it quite easy for us to get a realistic initial quote.
4. discuss, negotiate, chit chat (be friendly) - this is the truly fun part of this experience. I love it. I'm getting to be really good at it.
5. walk away - unless you know that the price is really reasonable, walk away and compare again. I love walking away; like I'm all snotty and bitchy; I make this great face.
6. decide - go back to the lowest price and make a last ditch effort to bargain some more, you can always go down just a little more but you gotta know when to stop. There's a fine line; you don't want to insult the proprietor.
7. commit - once you agree on the price, there is no going back, you would be losing face if you back out now. It's like the item is yours once you commit so be decisive and confident of your decision.
8. buy it - it's yours and you're better for it!

This is the third place I went to but it was more than the second place. Nice selection though.

Back to the second place where I
finally committed as it was the best price. I got him to go down just a little bit more which felt good; like I accomplished something major. That's my gold on the scale!

This is the repair man who made my sea shells into pendants with very nice gold hardware. He works hard.

After shopping, we were hungry and decided to go get some balut downstairs. Just kidding, I'm adventurous but not quite enough, too scary for me. We opted for sugarcane juice instead.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Grievous Desert

Got the opportunity to travel to Joshua Tree for work earlier this week. Perfect timing, perfect weather, perfect escape.

Made a pilgrimage to Gram's spiritual site, it was more adorned than I've ever seen it. There was an empty bottle of Patrón Silver, a "Fallen Angels" DVD, a compass, a harmonica, guitar picks, some pennies including a Canadian coin dollar, and graffitied love messages.

Hilz against the desert sky.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pie Season

It's pie season and for Thanksgiving this year, I've decided to make pecan pie. I did a test bake this evening and I think it turned out pretty alright. I used one of the recipes from the hillbilly country cookbooks I recently purchased at a Civil War store in Tennessee. To fancy things up, I added Jack Daniels for a more grown-up flavor. It's pretty tasty.

Good for a first try though I have to use one of my smaller pie dishes next time as there's too much crust here. More pecans too I think.

These cookbooks are the best! I've been looking for something like this for a while now. They're so precious, eggs is spelled "aigs." Next time I cook, gonna have to make "Squirrel & Sweet Taters" and "Clinch Mountain Vinegar Pie." Yummy.

To Find Me Gone

Then I went see Vetiver at the Jim Hensen Rec Center. "To Find Me Gone" is one of my favorite records this year. Was pleasantly surprised to see that Farmer Dave was playing pedal steel with them. The show was amazing, Andy's voice is beautiful, Dave made aural magic. There were some lovely freaky folky peeps there which was comforting to see; I'm back in LA.

w/ Farmer Dave. This is the shortest my hair has been in like 8 years. Got it cut the night I got home from tour. Such a good feeling. Now I'm thinking I should go shorter? Should I?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bò 7 Món

Once I was done with the museum, I drove to Little Saigon to visit my parents, whom I haven't seen in months. Turns out they already had dinner plans with old friends but hey, I was invited to join (of course). The best part was that it was Bò 7 Món (7 courses of beef) at Pagolac Restaurant, a traditional Vietnamese culinary extravaganza, a glorious celebration of beef. Sounds too beefy? It's actually quite healthy for you, lots of veggies and protein, prepared 7 different ways. Some restaurants also serve Cá 7 Món (fish) and Chó 7 Món (dog) but that's only available in Vietnam. :)

Not eating any Vietnamese for a month, I was eagerly waiting for the gluttony. My favorite part of this dining experience is the dipping sauce, mam nem. It's not fish sauce (though my parents prefer this), it's fermented shrimp with freshly chopped lemongrass and pineapple, very specific to this dish. Sounds gnarly right? It's so damn good, I go through it like it's nobody's business.

The banter during dinner was of the usual sort: "you look cuter now," my mom's friend would say to her, or "she has good sweat," referring to my jade bangle which has become quite green of late, or "you should tell jokes in between songs, the audience will love it!" my dad's friend was advising me.