That of you
That of you caught
this of me in the
midst of us breathing
my lips to your ears
the what of love
My hair upon your
neck back arms
spine curled to the countours
drawn by your finger tips
That of you
kissed this of me to rest.
On Reclaiming Feminism
Excerpt from Betty Dodson’s “Porn Wars,” The Feminist Porn Book
It’s always great when a fashion brand can go beyond the catwalk and fashion week to showcase their collections and tell a captivating story along the way. For the Spring 2014 collection, Kapital did just that with the releasing of their book “Sailor Ninjas” and film “Kapital World” shot by Hsiang Chin Moe. The crew traveled to Paris, Souesmes, and Cassis for a five-day shoot before jumping on a train to the South of France for a nautical excursion. (You can’t ever go wrong by doing anything in the South of France. Promised.)
When I first came across “Kapital World,” I was mesmerized by the beautiful shots that Hsiang captured of Kiro Hirata’s design, Eric Kvatek’s photography, and of the relationships among every crew member against a beautiful French backdrop. The film appealed greatly to the traveler inside me who wishes to jump on the next train to Gare Montparnasse to rediscover Paris for the first time — and hopefully armed with all things designed by Hirata. I would not mind for my travel to be overlaid with Suturee’s soundtracks either.
Through this 60-minute film, Hsiang and Kapital have created their own world where Bohemian styles and French Ninjas (yes, they are real) can blend comfortably in the busy streets of Paris and the tranquil country side. It doesn’t take scrutiny to see that the film is not about selling clothes, but about the friendships one makes while traveling over food, drinks, laughter, and tears.
The screening of the film is on Thursday, March 6 at indieScreen, Brooklyn. For more information about RSVP and learn more about “Kapital World,” please visit their website.
Art Inspiration & Hero
Ruth Asawa in Contours in the Air
Happy Valentine’s Day from the history art nerd.
Chi & René François Ghislain Magritte
Back To Back Embroidery
Work in progress using black and white photos from anatomy books and embroidery threads.
Hey Lucas, It’s Me.
Lucas has dreams and so do I.
Lucas uses the stairs and so do I. My 4-floor walkup in Brooklyn gives me no other choice.
Lucas uses venmo and I do not, but I am willing to go that extra mile.
The first time I saw Lucas on the G train, I was puzzled. My stomach dropped so low I had to take a second to reposition it back to the left side of my liver. He looked vaguely familiar. Maybe we saw each other at Dough, or Bedford Hill, or Brooklyn Bowl? I couldn’t put my finger on it. I stood there mesmerized as his dead eyes gazed far into space and floated over my head.
Lucas, I wanted to say something to you but you seemed to be preoccupied with some very abstract problems. I tried not to be creepy but I couldn’t resist: I immediately googled you the moment I got out of the Carroll stop even though it was freezing outside. My fingers were numb but my heart was – I don’t know – excited?
Lucas, you were a hit! People tweeted about you, made a Tumblr for you, wrote a Buzzfeed article for you. I was overwhelmed with the abundance of information just on the first page of Google so I went to the source. I found your employee profile on Venmo and what we have in common is overwhelming. For one: your last name is my first name (this has never happened before). You like NPR, milk, and burgers. I like NPR, milk, and burgers. You dislike skim milk because it’s just white water. I dislike skim milk because it’s worse than white water. From a scientific standpoint, white water doesn’t sound safe.
I couldn’t get your blood orange shirt, your hair flipped to the side, your stubbles out of my head. When I saw you again on the 7 train, my girl friends and I debated over whether or not you were boyfriend material. So many questions came up: Do you actually like magic? How often do you buy a round? How do you know what I did? Do you just know time or do you know time? And most importantly, would I take you home to my mother?
Maybe I am skipping too far ahead, so let’s backtrack to the beginning – to our first encounter. My stomach dropped then because I have been harping on the idea of pushing for more Asian representation in the media and there you were, front and center, and impossible to miss. I looked around the subway car to find out more about you but what I got were short sentences that could have been written by me when I first learned Spanish. Me gusta Nueva York, tambien.
You see, Lucas, I am not saying that your ad is a race issue. It’s not. The bone that I am picking with your posters is their vagueness and hollowness. The marketing campaign falls flat next to the empty slogans, the minimalist white background, and the cleanly-photoshopped edges of your photo. The calming blue font of venmo floats next to you like a stamp of approval, but says nothing other than we-hired-a-graphic-designer. Train commuters are left to wonder what the eff is Venmo anyway? A dating app? A sentence generator? The new Facebook? We are not annoyed by you but we take our frustration out on you.
What I am trying to say is: I wish our connection were not so superficial. I wish you didn’t bring up yoga and climbing to show off your athleticism and oneness with the earth. I wish you didn’t mention having dreams without any specificity to prove that you have aspirations. All I wanted and all I am asking for is to see you, as one of the only few Asian men in the media, to have a strong voice behind those lovely stubbles so you can speak for the real Lucas Chi.
Letter to My Mother
I woke up this morning and felt nothing different from my regular morning routine of turning off the alarms, sleeping in for another five minutes, then taking a quick shower before heading out the door for another day in front of the computer. While doing my round of social media checking, I stumbled upon my mother’s essay on Facebook entitled “Being So Far From Home, Do You Miss Vietnamese New Year?” She must have trouble sleeping last night because it was posted at 6:56 this morning.
I read it again and again as I sat in front of the computer crying. It dawns on me that we are three days away from the Lunar New Year, yet nothing in me rings an ounce of excitement.
It has been eleven years since we moved to New York. Being so far from our family, my mother tried to replicate the atmosphere of Tết during our first few years in the States with home-cooked meals, webcam sessions though 8568 miles of cables, and lucky $2 bills inside red envelops. However, for the past nine years, this short-lived tradition was quietly phased out to make things easier for my mother, brother, and me to independently spend lunar new years apart.
My mother’s essay immediately transported back to my seven-year-old self who was so excited at the prospect of wearing the traditional áo dài on New Year’s Eve, spending lì xì money on fire crackers with the other children in the neighborhood, and waiting impatiently for the family feast at my grandfather’s house. My aunts and mother would pull up the sleeves, squat on the kitchen floor to fold miles of spring rolls and cook countless holiday dishes. The cold morning air would be a mixture of the sweetness from the sticky rice, the fat from the boiled chicken, and the sourness of the sauté bamboo shoots. As children, we would be in the back of the house counting our red envelops — screaming for fairness if one kid got more money than the other.
New years now doesn’t mean much to me or I just try to not think about it. No one would ever ask if I miss new years in Vietnam. I seem to be too far removed from my own country to fully answer the question. I see now that my Vietnamese does not have the capacity to explain the sadness that comes over me each time I imagine my father lighting incense sticks to put on my aunt and grandfather’s alters. My Vietnamese escapes me when I try to talk about how much I miss being on the back of my mother’s scooter as she picks out the best candied fruit for Tết. My Vietnamese falls short when I think of what my mother has left behind in Ha Noi to come to a barren New York of no cherry blossoms, no kumquat trees, no family, no friends, and no children to celebrate the New Years with. My Vietnamese fails me today as I can only write this letter to my mother in English.
Being 8568 miles away from home, I wish to trade in all January 1st for the sporadic lunar new years.
for when you leave
for when you leave, i want
bodies against metal barricades
wire frames squarely on your
lips touched by the polarized heat
your whats and whys come over mine
with signals of flags needing me
for when you leave, the surface
of my skin turns red river
for when you
leave it churns routines passing through
the conveyer belts of mechanical whatifs
your eyes see mine saw
for when you leave, bring
along the metal barricade
wire frames i once wove
for when you
I went to Strand the other day looking for the poetry section. I asked one of the workers to show me where it is since they have moved it away from the small corner in the back of the store. He looked around and said, “Poetry begins where fiction ends.”
Here is to the kind of fiction I was searching for.