the mortality of jim wong-chu

“did you know jim wong-chu?”

“yea, did he die?”

“yes, two days ago”

“of course i knew him from the RP days and he was also my mailman”

“oh yea, he was a mailman”

“and then he called me a bridge-burning lesbian”

“WHAT?!”

i mean, this was less of a big deal to me than the person who informed me of jim’s passing over text, and jim himself. he definitely had a problem with lesbians.

and bridge-burning.

admittedly, i was always on the outskirts of his legacy, even when i lived in vancouver, and moved into the neighborhood that the ricepaper office was in that also happened to be his route (no accidents). i was a freshly minted women’s studies (under)grad and oh so worldly because i spent a year in viet nam immersing myself in “my culture”-i was ready to claim my place amongst the great magazine writers of the world.

so i got a retail job. because no writer can make it just writing, right?

well, jim started an asian-canadian arts and culture magazine so that we could not only see ourselves reflected, but we also had a platform to create our own culture, and document it as it was happening. it wasn’t perfect, but it was/is.

he also started a grant (that i’ve been meaning to apply for) so that we could ensure our place in the canadian literary canon.

he also had a day job, and stayed at it because hey-writers gotta eat, and he chose one that allowed him to be not only publisher and literal distributor (he put my copies right into my mailbox, and probably saved on postage too!) but also to hang around the office and suggest wild article ideas to any young writer trapped in asian filial politesse he could see.

there were people-editors, directors, managers between jim and me, and most of them at one time or another had an estranged relationship with him, and to be honest, i think i forgot he was the founder and publisher until i googled the death announcement this morning, two days late.

as i write this, i’m in a text conversation with a RP affiliate that i’ve been meaning to see for some time now. this is not the reason that i envisioned that would bring us together. but it is the one that brought us together officially.

i lost track of jim when i left vancouver (presumably to become a bridge-burning lesbian) for montreal, but i thought he would always be there. i would hear about him from time to time, and even asked about him.

he was born two years after my father, so he died at 68.

it would seem that i haven’t asked about him in some time. and i haven’t heard.

but here’s to the legacy of jim wong-chu. i will forever respect his hustle and his humility to disappear into the footnotes, never use his own platform to write all the stories about the bands of acrobatic asian janitors that he met, and all the times he offered his own money to one (or all) of us to eat.

i’m great-full to him for never checking me, as i’m old enough now to know that i should’ve been checked many times over. i’m sure that there are many who can testify more intimately to the ways their lives and careers have been touched by jim wong-chu, but i offer this peripheral blink.

thank you, jim, for the reminder of impact, vision, and the importance of taking up space because it’s not a high school dance.

the next time i’m at main and broadway, i’ll pour out a little congee for you. unless they’ve razed my congee joint too. (sigh).

as much as i was lost in a self-absorbed fog of how i had to leave vancouver, it was perfect at that time of my life, and i was exactly where i needed to be. this reminder comes not a minute too soon, here in this city that i’ve finally reached after idealizing it for so long from there.

things are pretty freaking good here and now, too.

get out-dir. jordan peele

“i didn’t want to say it, but i told you so.”

i can’t lie. when i went to check the game 3 score before leaving the house, i thought the internet was broken. first of all-how do you even score 41 in a quarter, let alone outscore your opponent (my team) 41-17? i’ve been riding with these guys for a minute, so i know we have to be extreme and extra and extremely extra, but bruv.

i was wondering if, in addition to playing the barney theme song, jason kidd was out there stirring tea (and spilling sodas-why was derozan slipping so much?!). shit, i can’t even merge the honey in my chaga without looking both ways.

i took a wrong turn this morning, into outrement, and it felt a bit like the opening scene, though i am thank-full that i was out in plain daylight, and at night, i have a rottweiler.

officially the highest grossing original screenplay, everyone’s got something to say about this movie, and people will continue to have things to say. hopefully, that will precipitate an actual conversation one day, and not just all this idle chatter.

it’s revolutionary just by being an american film about race that is set in the present, and not as another self-congratulatory “look how far we’ve come” pat on the back excuse to show black bodies brutalized in hd as a period piece. because it was made by a black director, and that director is jordan peele, it is a more nuanced look at racism than we’ve ever seen.

i am not a fan of the horror genre, i’ve never really been interested, but i do appreciate the homages to the tropes paid here. but the fact that the true horror is just lurking beneath the surface (and in gated communities) is the scariest of all. in fact, i would argue that the scariest person in the film is the young white woman, and the horror isn’t that she’s not aware of racism, the horror is that she’s complicit while masquerading as an ally.

the humour in the film comes from the conspiracy theory that these white folks are snatching black bodies to use as “sex slaves”, but the horror is when we discredit the grain of truth that lies in every conspiracy theory, and when we laugh off that feeling that “something isn’t quite right here”. even when the cops are all coloured, they’re still police. the institution is bigger than the faces. and the black people that are a bit “off” because their bodies have been snatched (and scientifically manipulated) by white people, and they are the proof that something’s up. perhaps that’s the silver lining-you can never fully hide your dirt, your deception will catch up to you.

and so there is the fear of white inferiority and the problems that exist in resource distribution that allow the imbalance of science, medicine, and legal impunity to just
“go and get” the bodies with the traits that you need for immortality. the issues of appropriation-“we want your skills but we don’t want you” as well as banking on the fact that all lives don’t matter, since nobody’s going to ask about the black ones that have been missing.

the point of technology as a weapon is an interesting one, as the phone is what keeps saving chris, and it’s what they tried to disarm while he was in the house. the recordings of recent police brutality and protests is a beginning to turning the tables on apathy and blowing the gates off our communities.

the lure of the white woman, which is driven home when he’s looking through the box of photos (of the “deer” that rosie has helped to eradicate), is one that is also laughed off, but the sociopath is real. this bitch is pure evil, as she’s able to show a human side from the beginning, and go through the motions of feeling the outrage that the cop that pulled them over was racist, or running away from the racist white people party and being the comfort to draw chris into a false sense of security, to transitioning fully into a dirty dancing watching single froot loop eating cog in the family racism wheel. and presumably, she got (and enjoyed) all that black dick (and possibly pussy) along the way. this was the white woman that people feared that hillary clinton may have been, and she may still be, but what’s the point in getting lost in coulda beens, when the reality is a whole next level of sinister?

it would seem that the raptors are emerging from the sunken place, as i’m halfway through watching game 5 (thanks mikey, for the league pass), and that the youngsters are starting to lose their grip on the ball.

also-what a difference norm powell makes in the game. it’s not a coincidence that when he’s starting, we win, and when he doesn’t play (which, WHY THE FUCK IS HE NOT PLAYING?!) we lose. i was starting to feel waves of deja vu to the past two years before this season when i was begging for james johnson to be traded so i could see him play somewhere (and now look at him in miami), but coach seems to have come to his senses, at least for the time being.

your lineups are still on scrutiny, though, dwayne.

get your exercise in.

meeting sook-yin lee*

“don’t get mad”

but, she never remembers me. and i’m not mad, per se, i’m just bewildered. but it just goes to show, we don’t all have the same priorities, and the things that stick out for us are different than the things that stick out for others.

here are the significant “first-time” meetings of sook-yin lee from my perspective:

-i was probably 8 years old when i saw her on tv, on this magical new station called muchmusic, and not only was i captivated by her asian-canadian face and presence, she was sitting on the edge of a desk talking about eating chicken feet (my favourite dish that i ate with my grandma) and then she took her foot in her hands and mimed eating that. i was incepted with the drive to fill this space in popular culture that was being carved by this woman

-15 years into this quest, when i printfiltrated my way into being the music editor at ricepaper, i pitched a story/interview about the above experience to uncomfortable faces because they had already done a story and had a large beef with her over it-oops. not only did i miss that, i missed that whole part of research into the magazine i was contributing to (which in itself is a large part of the asian-canadian narrative). a rookie mistake that is quickly rendering itself obsolete now that people seem to be caring less about legacy and more about texting than text.

-when i finally moved to toronto ten years after that, i was at the reference library when noticed a woman cloaked in a heavy aztec poncho in the dead of summer, made eye contact with her, and before i could talk to her about the garment that was somehow working (my unspoken understanding is that we are west coast sartorial sisters)-she gave me a handbill of her movie year of the carnivore (she was flyering like spike lee!) and i told her the chicken feet story and told her that i intended to stalk her and be part of her then radio show, DNTO. her response was “not if i stalk you first”. i was smitten.

-i saw YOTC on opening weekend, maybe even twice, even though i was broker than broke that first year, and was blown away by how complete and completely amazing it was. i immediately went back to the library and took out shortbus, because i hadn’t seen that, and squealed when i saw that i had the same vibrator that she was using on the bathroom floor. (i still miss that vibrator and still haven’t been able to find it).

-last year on mother’s day, after a week of getting myself ready to see the apology, i was in the building with so many amazing women, and talked to her extensively afterwards, and she asked me if i also worked in the industry.

-last week, with the cbc director that uttered the opening quote, she introduced herself (again) and though she was comfortable enough to let me stroke her rabbit fur head lining (and i was comfortable enough to do it), she asked me if i was working in the building.

over the last seven years, we have crossed paths many times, and have shared nods and smiles, which i thought were of recognition, but maybe were just of friendliness or mutual style appreciation. or perhaps they were of recognition, not of me personally, but of the fact that we have people and realities in common, and that’s ok.

i sense that people might have a similar kind of experience/expectation of me as a result of the work i do that leads to long-term shallow deep interactions with folks. i am very great-full for the opportunities to be extremely present with people, from whichever side they come. i am sorry for the woman that insists that she knows me (and my “twin sister” who told her i was “going on a trip to china”)-i didn’t see you at yoga because i take my glasses off and i’m there for yoga.

i’m very glad that i keep arising to meet my s/heroes, and that new ones that i haven’t met yet are making more art and music and doing the good work every single day. the matriarchy is possible.

*in reading this over after it went live, it seems that i’m a bit obsessed with syl. i am not. i just have a very efficient card catalogue of a brain, and though i focused in on this person and our interactions to write this blog post, i do not constantly have this running on a loop. i am obsessed with everything, and can basically pull this up for anything that has made an impact on my life. example categories: favourite black thought lyrics, scottie pippen statistics (including clyde drexler‘s height because, you know, the 1990-91 blazers vs. the bulls, obviously), the motorcycles that i’ve been on in every city that i’ve lived in, dogs of the junction, apples i have tasted (oh, juliet, i still remember you), so many details about so many things.

everything we make…

is love.

happy 2017, everyone.

i am great-full for the recent foray to the wet coast, where things were slow and i didn’t think about work or money for a whole week.

i lived out of a carry-on and slept on an ottoman.

i saw myself in the mirror and saw the inspiration for going the other way.

i now understand what a lane home is.

i ate too much and didn’t exercise at all.

i watched more television than i have in the past three years.

i am glad to be home, where my projects and my clothes are.

i was so delighted to fall asleep on my own couch, and sleep in in my own bed.

i love that the first computer resurrected, and how much prince the itunes is playing.

i love that dufferin street is fixed (for now).

i love that i gave myself the chance to finish projects and enjoy my home.

i am looking forward to going back to work.

just not tomorrow.

massages and congee

carrie brownstein says in her brilliant book (post forthcoming) something about wanting to shake things up and put herself in an unfamiliar situation to find comfort in adapting to that new situation, and finding home (i paraphrase to identify).

today’s post is a shoutout to two of my favourite little things that have become constants in my toronto life. the first is the sutherland-chan school of massage. i don’t even remember who told me about them, but i’ve been like the guys from high fidelity for at least three years-i just kept coming back. their $40 expert student massage is unbeatable, and now that i am so blessed to have such comprehensive benefits at work, i can at least go every month, and at any given time, i’m holding a free massage. the punch card is the truth-your fifth one is $5, your tenth one is free, and every time you refer someone, you get a stupid discount. jane is amazing, and it’s lovely to spread the love. the students learn so much that you can be confident that if you see them more than once, they’ve learned a multitude of things, and will adapt to your needs very quickly. every two weeks, i walk out of there grinning like a loon and massage-high. (also, if you’ve gone a really, really long time without getting laid, massage is a great way to experience non-sexual sensual touch).

the second is the preserved pork and thousand-year egg congee at gold stone. i don’t think i’ve gone two consecutive months in the past six years without eating this-it’s the ultimate comfort food. as noted tonight on my second date with horace grant, there are so many other things to eat at this cornerstone, but i always have to think twice, and 85% of the time, i end up getting this. the waitress with the leopard-print short hair is my favourite.

i am full and content, collected $13.25 and a perfectly-folded origami shirt out of my dream fund today, baby tate clearly said “i love you!”, and we won our exhibition game in the uk today.

overall a win over the mild disappointment that i think the spurs fan is a robot/catfish/14-year-old girl who never wants to meet up because they’re a sham-whomp whomp.

here’s to a decade…

“i was out of the country, but came back just for this”

if you got any extra financial energy that you’d like to see invested, do it.

i got the love for manifesTO because they’ve got all the love for me and mines. put that on everything.

the education of kevin powell-a boy’s journey into manhood (part won)

“lots of *igg*s go to prison, how many come out malcolm x? i know i’m not.”

“During one of our interviews, I had gotten the weirded-out feeling that Tupac knew he would not live long. He had said to me, ‘I want you to be Alex Haley to my Malcolm X.’ Of course, I thought, What if I want to be Malcolm X too?” (220)

“But I did find it troubling that Minister Farrakhan only met with me, ate dinner, gave a speech without a question-and-answer session, and was gone immediately after he spoke with that $10,000 check in hand. All that work on his behalf and he had offered no interaction with the students. This, coupled with rumors swirling that year that Reverend Jesse Jackson, my other hero, was having extramarital affairs during his second run for president, left me disillusioned about Black leadership in general, and about these two men in particular.” (163)

“I howled after setting the book down. Nothing I had ever read in my life had had that kind of impact on my mind, on my soul, on my body. I cried tears of depression, of grief, of loss for someone I had never known. I wept because it was Black men who had cocked the guns and squeezed the triggers that murdered Malcolm.” (143)

the only philly rapper more slept on than black thought is dice raw. well, except maybe bahamadia.

this one came to me via the old twitter mention/tpl lookup one-two punch. i am ever great-full for both, as well as the library deeming this as necessary, and the author favouriting (oh, the modern verbs we’ve built) my tweet thanking him for writing it and being so honest about the part that he has played in the ongoing atrocity of violence against women. he is the feminist that i will respect and work with, and he is also the one that i’ll watch like all those “conscious” 90s hiphop cats that hid behind dashikis and incense just to keep slippin’ the dick in a new way. with great freedom comes great responsibility.

“Being out front terrified me, but I had earned this new role. I decided to create a bold agenda by purging the organization of men I thought were weak leaders, and of Black female students who too often brought up how we men treated the women in the organization. In closed-door meetings, I and some of the other male leaders went so far as to tell these women that they must be ‘lesbians’ or have ‘deep emotional issues’ given how much they complained. Slowly, but surely, quite a few drifted away from the organization.” (161)

“The only steady male figure Anthony and I had in our lives was each other. Everyone else around us were women.” (40)

“I was devastated. We had protested police brutality together for years, and this woman-my big sister and mentor-was telling me that she would call the cops on me if I ever contacted her again?” (184)

the coldest souljah ever. a lot of this book was really hard to read, because it was so visceral, but it is so undeniably necessary, and gave me a lot of insight into the lives of the complicated mens that i know who have grown up in similar mental and geographical places. it made me understand just how equal of an impact we as women have on the lives of our men, and that gives me hope because we can always add our influence to that of the dominant present and historical narrative. kevin powell shows and proves that it’s never too late to grow and move.

“I had survived Jersey City, and Rutgers University, and Newark, and my mother kicking me out, and Sister Souljah kicking me to the curb. I had survived the death of my grandmother. At long last, I was going to do something for myself. I was moving to New York City to be a writer.” (185)

“Nothing in my life, not even getting kicked out of Rutgers or getting jumped in Newark, New Jersey, prepared me for the extreme reactions to my ‘character’ on The Real World.” (214)

i remember when i had just joined twitter-it was around time of the political campaign, and i retweeted because i am not an american and don’t live in new york, but he definitely has my vote. i must have freshly read some article or the book or something to have started following him, and i’m glad. i’m going to look for the open letter to his father for essence and the dave chappelle article for esquire, and if i can’t find them, i’m going to ask the source directly, along with some other questions. get ready, mister powell, and thank you.