Ramblings

Puke

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by Eli Toast

My first poignant memory of the day almost made me puke. I was eating breakfast as I watched a homeless Southeast Asian man limping down the street. He was all matted hair, missing teeth, blackened skin from collected street filth, a humpback bulging beneath his rotten black jacket, scrawny, with an angular face, puckered in the way years of alcohol make some people’s faces look as though they’re slowly imploding; balls of white foam eddying in each corner of his mouth. An insult to death, really.

In his hand he held a lime green drink in a plastic cup. We were in Northern Thailand, where that kind of drink was served at all hours of the day. I noticed him, trying my best to size up the entirety of his destitution, which was nearly complete. Death, I suppose, being the whole shebang. I imagined the life trajectory that brought him to such a nadir; the complexity of his filth. If you let yourself go too far you’ll get to the subject’s undercarriage, the balls and ass and in between. This was not your average cookie-cutter bum. I couldn’t decide if my devoted study of him was a symptom of compassion or callousness (still can’t). Either way, doesn’t matter.

I was sitting there in a café , having just finished breakfast, drinking coffee and watching this guy lope down the street, when he takes a drink of the lime green jungle juice and a second later vomits. A heavy slap of nuclear-fusion-green refuse from the guts of an old vagrant. A hot burp: “blurg”—”fwap;” thin and green with soft chunks of bread or tofu. He seemed unfazed as he carried on, scuffing a soot laden foot through the acrid slurry. THAT’S what got me! Watching him drag his foot through it. He carried on, flexing his lips once or twice over his upper teeth in recognition. It was really gross, so I decided I’d write about it.

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5 Things I Specifically Hate About Korea

complainingBy Larry Lawrence

“Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.” ~Samuel Johnson


Like fans of a bloodsport worthy of Caesar, a great many expats residing in Korea find immense pleasure in complaining about all the things they hate about being here. Whether minor or major, “troublesome” or “alarming,” nearly all who pass through the turnstiles soon carry some sort of gripe, and they anxiously await entrance to the pissed off parties being held at the local bar, the myriad blogs or in the howl-led halls of the Facebook Colosseum.

It’s really quite the thing, you know?

I might well have exceeded the age where trends are a concern or current style is more than a wink and a nod, but I refuse to miss out on this one. So, with your indulgence, I would like to gain admittance to the party.

The Top 5 things that I specifically hate about Korea, in no particular order:

1.  Nothing
2.  Nothing
3.  Nothing
4.  Nothing
5.  Expats complaining about Korea

There you go.


Let’s examine my top five one by one.

Number 1: There’s nothing particularly bothersome about everyday life in Korea that I haven’t been bothered by elsewhere in the world. Be it the full demographic of citizens standing in my way on the escalator like it was a geriatric thrill ride at the amusement park; morning vomit in the elevator, obnoxious drunks who created the vomit the night before, cigarette burns in the stairwell, pools of spit on the sidewalk, pushy people on the subway, insane bus drivers, racist glares or blind nationalism. I’ve seen it all before, at home and abroad, and there’s nothing I hate about it more in Korea than anyplace else I’ve been.

Number 2: The strikingly shoddy journalism sometimes witnessed in the Korean English media is anything but unique. Crappy reporting and writing disgraces the pages of news outlets around the world. Much like here in Korea, I have elsewhere been peeved by “unnamed sources,” a lack of context, ideological slant, sensationalism and by a complete absence of objectivity. I have also witnessed such a worldwide abundance of bad grammar and piss-poor prose that I expect any day now the entire planet will break out into a chorus of We is da World.

Number 3: Fashion and style are, of course, amongst the many “beauty in the eye of the beholder” concepts. Being as I am said “beholder,” I find nothing any more “hateable” in Korea than I have found in other places I’ve traveled. Be it couple outfits, short skirts in the winter, bandannas, heavy makeup, facial reconstruction, lens-less glasses, obsessive dieting, overdone piercings or metrosexual males, I share an equal distaste for them all, no matter where they are.

I also harbor no bias in my disregard for people who dress up their dogs, dye their fur or carry them around in the streets—regardless of what street they are on, in whatever country it may be, and whether they plan to eat them or not.

Number 4: Bad driving exists everywhere I go and, from my experience, the difference between Korean drivers and the rest of the world is negligible. Be it senior citizens’ lack of familiarity with the rear-view mirror in Florida, pistol-wielding commuters on the LA Freeway, meth-infused Tuk Tuk drivers on the streets of Bangkok or piranha-like swarms of cyclists in Vietnam. And yet, cries ringing forth from the cheap seats in Expat Arena make it sound like the Korean roadway is in the midst of an automobile apocalypse.

Number 5: Much like the previous four above, expat bitching and moaning is neither unique nor special to Korea—people will turn nada into whine no matter where the podium rests. But, as I am living in Korea, and my stream of media is mostly based here, I am immersed in Korea-themed bickering on a regular basis. “I hate this!” and “I hate that!,” “Why can’t they do it this way?” or “Why don’t they do it that way?”

At the risk of stumbling on the metaphysical tripwire: You are they, they are you, we are all each other. And, as best I can assess, the aliens are likely waiting for a higher-evolved monkey before dropping in for dinner. In short, according to the universal scheme of things, we all kind of, you know, suck.

* * *

In retrospect, if I could add a sixth category, it would be my loathing of locals who say, “If you don’t like it here, then go somewhere else!”

The source of my distaste for this common utterance, heard the world round, is my belief that it is wrong to inflict upon the inhabitants of “somewhere else” another voice in the continuing chorus of global bitching by people doing the same damned things everywhere.

Get over it, because overall, life is mostly quite good and we’re mostly all the same—no matter where we are.

Actually, I hate it when people say that, too.


Top 20 Rejected Names for This Blog Making a Pun on the Word ‘Seoul’

seoul

By Mr. Motgol

Oh, Seoul, you tentacled leviathan! Your tendrils reach into every valley, islet, and far-flung corner of this nation. Nothing goes down in Korea without your stamp; every other prick in the country shrivels with shame. No one comes close to sizing up.

Where would we be without you?

When titling this blog, it was so tempting to pay tribute to your magnificence by turning a nifty pun from your glorious name! After all, you sound like so many words and syllables in English, that the temptation proved ALMOST too great. I mean, how hilarious and clever would it be???

My collaborators and I met to discuss the matter. We squabbled heatedly, with much jostling and even fisticuffs! In the end, such a tribute was denied. This was not due to lack of effort on my part. I, Mr. Motgol (always your humble servant), constructed a voluminous list of Seoul-related names, but alas, my cohorts (being utter rubes and Philistines) rejected them all.

But droop thine divine visage not! They live on in written form! Please allow me to happily present them right here and now for your (and everyone else’s) perusal:

1. HUFFING GASEOULINE

2. CONSEOULIDATED LOANS

3. SEOULITARY CONFINEMENT

4. INSEOULENT PRICKS

5. NEO-ISEOULATIONISM

6. SO SEOULLY, MISTER

7. THE FINAL SEOULUTION

8. NO SKIN CANCER DUE TO THE PARASEOUL

9. SEOULSEOUL DISTORTION

10. TEN MINUTE DRUM SEOUL-O

11. NOT WATER SEOULUABLE

12. ADDICTED TO SEOULVENTS

13. CYBER SEOULILOQUIES

14. DISSEOULVED IN URINE

15. TIERRA, VIENTO Y SEOUL

16. SEOUL’D INTO WHITE SLAVERY

17. ONWARD AGNOSTIC SEOULDIERS

18. WE SEOULED OUR SEOULS FOR ROCK AND ROLL

19. SEMISEOULID STOOL

20. COMPLETE AND UTTER ASS-SEOULS