Sunday, August 31, 2008

STAKES WERE HIGH

When's the last time you listened to De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising from beginning to end without break?

Genius. Absolute genius.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

RENNES

When I'm in Quebec I'm usually confused about what to do. Do I speak English? Do I speak French? Depends on if I'm in Montreal or Trois-Rivières, I suppose, but no matter what city I'm in the fact remains that my French is ghastly. In one effort to dispel the arrogance and imperialism of English, I attempted French: "Je veux un... um, une? café avec beaucoup de du de creme et sucre, s'il --." The woman behind the register cut me off with, "Cream and sugar are behind you. Would you like this for here or to go?"

At Vietnamese restaurants the server doesn't want to hear you order "house special noodle soup with rare beef, flank, tripe, tendon, and beef balls". Less so do they care to hear you try to order in Vietnamese. So you say, "I'll have a Number 3." Or better yet, you write #3 on the chit.

For accuracy, for efficiency, for concision -- in the thrilling act of communication, whatever works works. Gestures. Objects. Numbers. English.

***

I met Xavier and Bénédicte on Bedford in Brooklyn. It was 7PM and we were sitting on a patio drinking pints and eating pizza. A conversation started when I asked them for their chili shaker. We remained on that patio until 3AM inebriating and chatting. They were visiting from France. Xavier's English was highly advanced; Bénédicte's English was limited; my French was horrible. But somehow Bénédicte and I managed sophisticated conversations about Truffaut and Rohmer and Francoise Hardy and Jacques Dutronc and Quebec and optometry and Sarkozy. We required Xavier's translation once in a while, but with our Anglo-Franco gestures and slowed speech, we conversed rather nicely indeed. We also drew and wrote in her notebook to illustrate ideas. For the first time in my life since high school, I spoke French with a disastrous accent and didn't feel self-conscious; Bénédicte was empathetic.

Bénédicte sent me an e-mail a few days ago -- a short paragraph in English. The English was quite good, which she and I had already discussed -- we both can write or speak the other language competently if we take our time. I'm considering responding to her in French, but I'm sure I'll make a gang of spelling and grammar mistakes. Still, my French would be communicable.

Or, I could follow the coffee pourer in Quebec who opted for efficiency... I could respond in English.

But that's not fair at all.

Friday, August 29, 2008

X

You know when you run into an ex-girlfriend, or maybe not even run into but pass by on the street and you know for sure she saw you and you saw her, but of course you don't let that be known? The first thing I do is take inventory of the clothes I'm wearing, consider if my sometimes-moustache looks too pervy, ask "Man, why'd I choose today to wear a dumb hat?"

And if I happen to be nicely presentable that day, I psychically shout to her in hopes she'll turn around, "Lookit me! Yeah, that's right... Look some more. Look longer. ...I'm doing good."

LA HAINE


La Haine (1995)
Dir: Mathieu Kassovitz
France

Thursday, August 28, 2008

EAST VAN, Part Two

Mr. Pekrul gave me the chair. Yellow but started out orange. Faded. Orange at the seams yellow where your ass goes. That’s the thing with IKEA I guess, once a thing gets so old we forget it’s IKEA and all of a sudden your vintage IKEA is one-of-a-kind and no longer IKEA. “Take it,” he told me after law class. Government class. Whatever class. Can’t remember but I remember he was teaching us about House of Commons and seats. So I took it.

Drove it home in my family’s Mercury Topaz. Yeah my high school was only five blocks away and the drive was only five minutes but how else you gonna play tapes of OC or Organized Konfusion or Brand Nubian loud enough for everyone on Gladstone Street to nod their heads? Your Walkman? Naw. You drive. I drove. How else was I gonna get this sweet chair home?

I balanced the chair precariously against my thighs as I trudged up the back stairs shuffle shuffle shuffle.
MOM: What the hell is that?
ME: My teacher gave it.
MOM: It’s old.
ME: That’s why he gave it.
MOM: Where you putting it?
ME: Here. (the porch)
MOM: It’s old.
ME: It’s free.
MOM: Whatever. You bum.

Naw, she didn’t call me a bum. I placed it right there (the porch). Overlooking my East Van alley. I sat, aaaahhhh!ed triumphantly. Lydia’s plum tree gracing the baseline of my sightline. I look in the horizon and see nothing but endless rows of tiled roofs of Vancouver Specials. I’d be graduating high school in like a month or two and if that’s not enough to prove that I’m becoming a man, then lookit the fact that I’m now the owner of my first piece of furniture.

Brown metal frame. Canvas upholstered. Stuffing still had life but well well well well well worn. Fit me like a big yellow Swede spooning me.

That chair became my home at home. I wake up and beeline to that chair. For real. Not even bathroom. Bee. Line. To. That. Chair. I didn’t know what the fuck e-mail was yet so why would I wake up and beeline to the PowerBook like I do now? No. Straight to the chair. Sit in that chair. Don’t remove my ass from that chair until I gotta pee or shower or eat or go have a life. But who needs a life when I’ve got my chair? My life was that chair ‘cause I was becoming a Romantic. I was writing poetry (only to learn a year later that I’m not good at it). I was writing plays (I still do). I was writing screenplays (doesn’t everyone?). Some days, after bee. lining. to. that. chair. I would sit for sixteen hours. Yeah, breaks to pee shower eat, but with a mug of tea my pager a cordless phone radio stacks of paper my pen… Why go anywhere else? I wrote. I listened to CFRO Co-Op Radio 102.7FM man that jazz was fucking good and there’s a world outside of rap. Listened to Joe’s dogs go bananas when he got home in his work truck. Listened to Sid holler at his kids as he always did always. Watched the new Indian family neighbours manouevre their humongous construction trucks into their tiny driveway and somehow with eight minutes of beep beeping and one of them guiding in sharp bursts of Hindi and three-point in-out-in-out they always managed to do it man they were good man they were professionals. I watched the sun travel. Shadows shift like sundial. I was facing west so near dinner time I’d hang a bath towel on the laundry line in front of me. There was nothing that could stop me from sitting in my chair. Not even the sun, not even the no sun. Nighttime comes, I drag out one of those stripper pole halogen lamps. Blanket on my lap. Mug of hot tea. Stacks of paper. Pen. CBC. I listened to Patti Schmidt sometimes until 4AM man that strange music and not-music was fucking good and there’s a world outside of rap. It’s Thursday? Fuck yeah let’s put on Doug Lang’s “Jazz Forum” and then Leslie Pomeroy’s “Jazz Menagerie” on CFRO Co-Op Radio 102.7FM this shit is blowing my mind! And I’m so in love with Leslie (voice) and I’m so in love with Patti (voice) and you two are partly responsible for showing me a world bigger than Boogie Down Productions. Peace, Scott LaRock.

And I would write. And begin university. Get older. Become eighteen.

James staying over as usual back in those days, Matt was over too one night. Super late. We watched “Glengarry Glen Ross” or “La Haine” or “The Professional” I can’t remember the reason I can’t remember is ‘cause we snuck out on to the porch I sat in my chair and we smoked weed. Dad came out like one minute after we smoked and for sure the weed was still in the air but he didn’t remark he just kept polite but yo he knew.

I wrote two plays, three short stories, started two handfuls of screenplays, confessed reams of pages into my private book that you should never ask me about. I’m not saying any of them are good but I wrote them in that chair.

I came home one time around noon after a one-night stand maybe it wasn’t a one-night stand ‘cause technically I didn’t really nah fuck it never mind but I came home at noon and Mom doesn’t question me ‘cause she’s mad cool and liberal so I got no hassle, I sit in my chair open my book to start writing about last night and smell my fingers.

That chair got mad faded. Bleached in the sun, rubbed by my ass. In winters I tarped it. I took care of it. Vacuumed it. Couldn’t stop the fading though. Two years after Mr. Pekrul gave me the chair and he has no idea how much I need it. I wake up one morning and beeline to my chair but I stop in the kitchen, Mom looks up from her congee and says, “Someone stole your chair.”

[continues]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ROTFLMAO, IMHO

im disgustd by txt and web shrthand b/c it might b fastr 4 u to type but takes 4eva 4 me 2 read. what r u, a prince song?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

4,5,6 LIKE KOOL G RAP

You know how on your Facebook profile it randomly shows six of your friends, you know, in the column that says "518 Friends" or whatever? I started looking for commonalities between the random chums. Now I have a game, and you're gonna love it 'cause it's so lame.

1. How many of them have I had sex with?
2. How many of them have I made out with?
3. How many of them have I dated?
4. How many of them are mad hottness?
5. How many of them do I wish you never goddamn contacted me I never seen you in fifteen years for a reason?
6. How many of them have I had sex with?

...You get the idea. The categories are endless. Play with friends. Compete. Go ahead and refresh your browser. Lots. Play often. Like Yahtzee or celo.

I'm going for 6/6.


NOTE: ...Now it's days after I posted that post. This game ain't really gonna work. I'm never gonna get 6/6. Not with people like my pal Owen C. popping up all the time. I don't wanna have sex with him or make out with him or date him. I guess he's kinda mad hottness, but still...

Thanks for ruining my 6/6, People Like My Pal Owen C.

Friday, August 22, 2008

EAST VAN, Part One

Me Vince Derrick Niraj Kamlesh Harpal Nick. Our dads' dented Oldsmobiles or green mini van. Cruising down Robson Street real slow Friday nights bumping The Luniz's I Got Five On It. Clowning in car but shut the fuck up and put on the hardcore face when we pass girls. Girls. They don't talk to us but sometimes Niraj calls to them. Then they really don't talk to us. Turn left on Denman, maybe earlier, do Robson again. Bone Thugs, 1st of tha Month... Not sure if a song about welfare's gonna get the girls this time but maybe. Fuck it, let's swing down Richards to Helmcken get some artificial attention from the hookers. Don't play Tupac's Dear Mama they'll think we're pussies put on California Love or fuck it yo put on Warren G. Gawk. Queen Elizabeth Park. Lie on the roof and hood of the Olds. Look up... stars. Smoke some weed. Keep the windows rolled down doors open. Dove Shack. Summertime in the LBC. Bass vibrating our backs. Bump it. Louder. Stars. Sssshhh... don't talk just lie there and listen to the music with your homeboys. It's 1996 we're gonna finish high school we're from East Van we're invincible

Thursday, August 21, 2008


33 New Yorkers
Ink on board
20 x 15 ins.

Currently on display @ curcioprojects, 317 E. 9th St., New York NY

Please don't say funky unless you're talkin' about George Clinton or Limburger cheese. No, your dress is not funky -- it's eclectic. If your charming colourful little apartment is funky, you'd best move out. If your sofa is funky... out the door please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

FUCKIN' MAKE ART

The greatest challenge in my artistic life is reconciling my passion for several disciplines. And they are indeed passions. I practise them with equal care and fervour, the same way a mother cares for her children. I find the term "dilettante" to be dismissive; I hate the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none". Why can't one be jack of all trades, master of all? Luckily for me, no one has called me to my face a dilettante or jack. As befits my argument, I admit that I have no hobbies.

A friend told me that I'd develop slower. His words shook me. Ruined my night. Resonated deeply to the point that I'm recalling his words two years after he spoke. So I started becoming acutely aware of the fact that Beckett wrote Godot in his mid-forties and Haneke made his first feature film in his mid-late-forties. But the point isn't speed -- the point is making work of value. I'm glad I didn't choke on my vomit or plunge one syringe too many at 27 because frankly, I'm not done yet. I've learned to exercise immense patience.

How can one forsake an art in service of another? I've heard different opinions regarding specialisation versus multi-discipline, and arguments for both poles are soundly founded. But I don't believe that I necessarily have to stop writing plays so that I could be a better filmmaker, or stop making films so that I could be a better painter... that's lobotomy. I believe that someone with my sensibilities benefits from practising several disciplines. One art informs the other. One art enriches the other. After all, I'd rather contribute and be remembered as an Artist than only Writer or Filmmaker or Painter (and I can't believe I just publicly declared such a wank statement but this blogging stuff is still new to me and you're probably not gonna read this blog anyway so what the fuck, fuck). I'm interested in the idea of a "complete" artist who can communicate with variety and comprehensiveness. I do suspect that an artist who does EVERYTHING could possibly be spread too thin, which is why I don't make music. I wish I could. I can't. Which makes me exceedingly sad. (But I do make non-music, which is a project I'll tell you about next time).

I'm reminded of pandas. Pandas are usually born as twins and the mother has only enough attention and resources to care for one, so the other one dies. That's one reason why pandas are near extinction. Although one baby panda will be nurtured to the hopeful point of reproducing, the species as a whole is vanishing partly due to the specialisation of the mother. I think an artist with multi-disciplinary abilities would suffer tremendously if she/he severs one discipline. Chop, off goes the lobe.

I'm reminded of eggs. Imagine how shitty life would be if you decided to eat nothing but eggs all your life. You'd become an egg specialist and probably know how to express yourself through eggs better than anyone else, but man... that's a shit life. Not that Writers and Filmmakers and Painters and Dancers and Violists have a shitty life -- not at all -- but in the one life I have, I find happiness through diversity. I wouldn't want to eat nothing but eggs. I'm actually totally keen on eating crickets next.

I envy those who commit themselves to only one discipline. I admire their singular focus and the fruit their focus bears. But I also admire the multi-disciplinary artists whose varied works bear a cornucopia. Perhaps I sound ambivalent, but that's because this is the greatest challenge in my artistic life and who the fuck has it all figured out at the age of not-yet-thirty? Some artists had it all figured out at 27 but they were lucky and deluded. There is one thing I utterly believe to my very fibre, and this I do have figured out: Just make art. Just fucking make art. Let other people try to figure you out.

Ingmar Bergman
Miranda July
Patti Smith
David Byrne
Andy Warhol
Atom Egoyan
Vincent Gallo
Julian Schnabel
Joni Mitchell
Leonard Cohen
Don McKellar
Douglas Coupland
Robert LePage
Daniel McIvor
Bob Fosse
Bill T. Jones
Michael Snow
Vaclav Havel
Puff Daddy
Tyler Perry
Saul Williams
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Hal Hartley
Sam Shepard
Anton Chekhov
Sook-Yin Lee
Ann-Marie MacDonald
Susan Sontag
Henry Rollins
John Mighton
Vincent Lam
Caribou
Michael Ignatieff
Mathieu Kassovitz
Ethan Hawke
Crispin Hellion Glover
John Cassavetes
David Mamet
Wallace Shawn
Peter Greenaway
Mike Leigh
Benjamin Franklin
Michelangelo
Leonardo DaVinci

LINCOLN

Abraham Lincoln suffered from melancholia. He said to his dear friend, "I would just as soon die but I have not yet done anything to be remembered by."

RAW

Sam Kenny's response upon my announcement to him that I have a blog:

Yeah, but you got to make it interesting frequently. And for anyone to read it, you've got to promote it... by reading other blogs and making blog friends in the "blogsphere" so your "Blog Roll" is full of friends.

As you state, you're a private guy, and that private guy would be a good blogger, featuring topics as:

A girl I saw today who I wanted to get raw with
Girls from the past who I wanted to get raw with
Girls I have gotten raw with
Top 9 tracks to get raw to
Pictures of girls from the internet who I would like to get raw with (and how)
Girls that Sam has indicated he'd like to get raw with, but I find unappealing
Girls in high school I regret never trying to get raw with
Getting raw in a post-9/11 society
etc.

Thanks, Sam.
New York City
August, 2008















Wooster & Grand
















Ludlow & Stanton
















Ludlow & Stanton
















Grand & Wooster
















Wooster & Grand

Monday, August 18, 2008

I don't know. I'm not sure why. Someone as reticent as me shouldn't be writing a blog. I'm pretty damn guarded about my life and my privacy is a priority. People often don't know what I'm up to because I don't like answering questions with, "This is what I'm gonna do"; I'd rather say, "This is what I'm doing" or "This is what I did." I'm not trying to build mystery. I'm not calculating my enigma. I simply like to shut up about myself and listen to others speak. I often prefer doing social things in threes or more so I can let the other two or more do the talking. I'm content to observe. I don't speak at the dinner table with my family (for a few reasons that I might or might not tell you about... remember, I'm a private guy), preferring instead to listen to my parents and sisters do the chatting.

But you know what? I'm pretty damn fucking arrogant and all I need to keep me occupied forever and ever is a drink, a chair, and my thoughts about myself. My introspection paralyses me; it's the reason why it can take me a decade to finish reading a novel -- every five sentences make me pause to daydream about how the text reflects on my own life, conjuring up memories akin to the stuff in the text. When I read a book, I spend more time daydreaming than I do reading. I like short stories.

About ten years ago -- I'm not yet thirty -- I was spending some time with a girl from work. She said, with knitted brows and squinted eyes, exuding examination, "I don't know anything about you." I said thanks.

So why the fuck start a blog? Who the fuck is Norman Yeung? You're not gonna find out here. Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not sure how personal I'm gonna get with this blog. I'd resisted starting a blog for years because honestly, I'm not interested. I can't contribute an entry every day. I can't even respond to e-mails or Facebook this-n-that for weeks or months at a time. Why? 'Cause I'm busy and lazy and irresponsible. So why start a blog? I dunno... Maybe to advertise my website, kinda like a supplementary vitamin to aid the absorption of another, like D and A in milk (I think). Maybe to fortify one, buttress the other. Maybe to share my work, which I sincerely enjoy doing. Maybe to share my thoughts, which may or may not be personal. Or maybe to just goof off with my ongoing project -- artistic and otherwise -- which is an inquiry into identity and notoriety and self-made celebrity, like The Captain in Vancouver whose commercials and sail-on-top-of-car turned him into our favorite oddball pawnshop seaman.

Maybe this is a turning point in my life as I mature -- I'm not yet thirty -- and my relationship with myself has become less damning. Maybe I'm a bit looser now and accepting of frayed ends and broken narratives; I now realise that I cannot manipulate everything in my life to become pat. About ten years ago -- I'm not yet thirty -- I was happy to say that I'd never had a falling out with friends, my disappointments and regrets were few, and all my secrets remained secret. Now I am older and some friends have drifted like flotsam, I regret my disappointment, and for my artistic work to be honest I necessarily have to confess publicly. As I leave my twenties I feel an increasing affinity to China: obsessively controlling of how I'm represented, vascillating between gregarious bravado and modest/fearful clandestinity, and opening up. Selectively.

Coincidentally, my favourite person with whom to debate about China and empires is Gareth. He is English, which explains everything. And in regards to me, he also explains everything:

GARETH: ...and so we... Never mind.
NORMAN: What happened?
GARETH: I'm not telling.
NORMAN: What happened?
GARETH: I'm trying something new.
NORMAN: 'Sup?
GARETH: I'm gonna be like you.
NORMAN: Like me?
GARETH: Not saying anything.
NORMAN: I say stuff.
GARETH: You never say anything. I tell you everything...
NORMAN: I tell stuff.
GARETH: ...And when I ask you, you say nothing.
NORMAN: I say stuff.
GARETH: Naw, it's not fair. You don't like people asking you about you.
NORMAN: Dude, go ahead and ask me anything you want. Anything. I just might not answer.

WHO THE FUCK IS NORMAN YEUNG?