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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Formosa Betrayed - go see it now, don't make me buy you the DVD for Christmas or your birthday because I will

Taking a short break from my writer's block to attempt to write about something important.

Formosa Betrayed

If you are Taiwanese or have any interest in Taiwan, please go see this movie. Excellent historically based drama that attempts to educate the world about little known atrocities which occurred on the tiny island.

In a lot of ways the moral of the story is similar to the story of the reign of various dictators the world over during the Cold War. The U.S chooses what is presumably the "lesser" of two evils and looks the other way while a brutal dictator pretends to be a friend of democracy while coldly slaughtering and terrorizing his "own" people. The story is not unfamiliar, but it has never been told about Taiwan before.

The subject is close to my heart because my mother's family is Taiwanese and believe strongly in Taiwan independence. The ironic thing about Taiwan independence is that historically China actually opposed Taiwanese calling themselves Chinese (they thought those peasant islanders were beneath them)...until the nationalists (also known as the Kuo Ming Tang - Chiang Kai Shek's party) fled to Taiwan during the Communist Revolution. Then, all of the sudden, Taiwan was absolutely part of China!

Also ironic is that my dad's family is KMT, my grandfather was actually a high ranking general, a member of the first graduating class of Chiang Kai Shek's military school in China. After his family fled to Taiwan he was given a prestigious post overseeing the entire port. He waited an appropriate amount of time and then resigned his post because he refused to participate in the rampant corruption and mob ties and was afraid that this would bring negative attention to him and his family.

The scary thing and the reason why Taiwanese are so grateful that this movie has been made is that no one knows what happened in Taiwan. No one knows that on 2/28/1947 the KMT kicked off a week of terror which ultimately resulted in the deaths of 20,000-30,000 Taiwanese intellectuals. The KMT government systemically murdered those who might ever pose a challenge to them, doctors, lawyers, journalists, businessmen, politicians, professors...the father of my eldest uncle's wife was a doctor and he actually had to flee to China (more irony, I know) to escape being killed by the KMT.

The government terrorized people to keep silent to the point where my own mother who was born only five years later said she never even heard about 2/28 until she came to the US. Her parents were too afraid to speak about it even at home.

The KMT was only a small group compared to the Taiwanese population but they used brutal tactics to bully themselves into power. They would not allow the Taiwanese to speak their own language, forcing them to learn Mandarin. There was massive discrimination, Taiwanese were not allowed to hold prestigious positions, those were reserved for the KMT. And so on and so forth...

Before WWII the Japanese ruled Taiwan. My mom always tells me that at first the Taiwanese were very happy when the Chinese fled to their island. They welcomed them like brothers. And then they realized that the Japanese had treated them better and wished they could have them back.

Maybe it's just a general lack of interest that America has for Asian history, but I'm constantly surprised that Chiang Kai Shek is not demonized the way Stalin and Hitler and others are. As President Truman believed, CKS is undoubtedly the reason China was lost to the communists. CKS had strong ties to the triads and was supremely corrupt, working only towards his own benefit. I hope history paints him for the depraved monster that he is.

And as weird as this is to say, I'm really grateful to James Vanderbeek and all of the people who had a hand in creating this important movie. It may not receive critical acclaim, but it is telling a story that absolutely needs to be told.

The truth about the history of Taiwan must be revealed to the world.

Please go see this movie.

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wingless was still breathing at 7:46 PM - 0 comments

Sunday, October 19, 2008

american men are not this comfortable with their sexuality, which is not necessarily a bad thing in my book

Oh, hello. Feeling much better now, thank you after finally being able to sleep three nights in a row! Woot, woot. I've been having some dreams that can only be described as stressful (but not quite nightmares) involving numbers and driving (which I haven't done in nearly a year now) but I'm just grateful that I've been able to sleep in solid three hour chunks.

Anyway, I'm finally starting to feel coherent enough to write about the second part of my Asia trip, also known as The Part After Paul Arrived in Taipei.

Possibly the most entertaining part of the entire trip was when Paul and I decided to check out the club scene in Taipei (Why? I'm not entirely sure, since we've lived a block away from one of the more popular clubs in SF for a year and a half and have been there exactly once). On my friend Jesse's recommendation we checked out Luxy, apparently the "hottest" club in Taiwan right now (and, as luck would have it, was a quick 20-minute walk from my grandparents' apartment).

Paul still doesn't believe this happened because he just happened to be off buying himself a cigar at the time, but I swear to you it did.

Taiwan's club scene officially out-gayed the French club scene and this is how:

So I sat there, amused by the fact that the rest of the world seems to be somewhat rhythmically challenged, Paul was off searching for a cigar (I HATE that you can smoke inside clubs in other countries, hate) and a Redb*ll/vodka, when suddenly I saw something that made me rub my eyes and wonder exactly what sort of club we were in.

Two well-muscled guys had hopped on stage - well Guy #1 was on stage and Guy #2 was standing on the step right in front of him. Guy #2 was facing Guy #1. Then Guy #2 proceeds to slowly unbutton Guy #1's shirt, periodically turning around towards the crowd and lifting his arms up and down as if to get people to cheer. Eventually Guy #1's shirt is completely off (thanks to the efforts of Guy #2) and then Guy #2 jumps on stage rips off his own wife-beater and the two of them proceed to cheer and shout...

Now I wouldn't have been the least bit shocked by this (I mean, c'mon I live in San Francisco) except that it did not appear that the two guys were actually gay...I'm pretty sure they were promoters trying to pump the crowd up because I recognized at least one of the guys from the video that the club had looping behind the DJ's. It didn't appear like they were attracted to each other, more like they were doing this to excite the crowd? I don't know, I was extremely confused and could feel my mouth hanging open and my face contorted into a perplexed expression. I looked around and everyone else seemed to be reacting as though it was business as usual.

I thought it was weird in France when guys would push girls off the little stages so they could dance up there themselves (which by the way, I also saw this occur in Taiwan), but this was just way beyond anything I saw in the French club.

So there you have it, Taiwan has officially out-gayed France. Not an easy feat.

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wingless was still breathing at 10:40 AM - 0 comments

Thursday, October 09, 2008

home, sweet home (almost)

Paul and I are flying out of Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon. After almost two and half weeks in Asia, I must say, I'm very ready to be heading back to good ol' California.

Don't get me wrong, this has been a memorable and amazing trip in so many ways, even if it wasn't always fun (though it mostly was) - I just really miss the comforts of home at this point. Us Californians are some truly lucky folks.

I can't wait to be back in a place where I'm not desperate for a shower after ten minutes of walking around outdoors (even though we've barely seen one sunny day here, it's still so ridiculously hot and humid! Hello Mother Nature? It's October for goodness sake!). I'm also really excited about being able to once again walk down the sidewalk without fear of being plowed over by a scooter (although to be fair, that hasn't been a concern here in Hong Kong, only in Taipei) and cars actually slowing down for pedestrians who are crossing the street.

I'm just kind of homesick in general, longing for my own bed and not having to live out of my suitcase anymore. Even though I'm happy to be heading home this really has been a great trip and I'll write more about it when I get my pictures uploaded!

Just a few more hours and one long flight left to go!

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wingless was still breathing at 9:07 AM - 0 comments

Monday, September 29, 2008


So after finally being released from my soggy prison, I feel kind of bad about what I wrote yesterday. My grandpa is a sweet old dude and it's not his fault he has Alzheimer's and is driving me nutso - someday that could easily be me right so who am I to say anything? I also think I figured out the psychology behind his fear of me being another "helper" - his kids (my step-uncles and aunts) totally suck and he's afraid that getting another helper is just another way for them to pawn him off on someone else.

I came to this realization last night as I watched him dial his kids phone numbers over and over and over again for a half hour. The caretaker Ahnee told me that they never answer because they have caller ID and screen his calls. She also told me that his daughter never comes to visit despite literally living around the corner and that a couple of times she actually walked him over there to visit...one time the daughter wouldn't even answer the door and the other time she wouldn't let him come up but came down to chat with him for a little while. His two sons come once a week to give him his weekly allowance, they take them out to lunch but never stay and chat no matter how much he begs them to. On the other hand, my mom and assorted aunts and uncles take turns coming from the US to make sure they never go too long without having at least one of them around.

Ahnee told me in Chinese that "his kids don't care about him, not like grandma's kids." Even my grandmother with her Alzheimer's is aware of the difference and when he asks who I am she'll answer, "This is my grand-daughter, she's come to visit me, unlike your kids and grandkids who never come visit you." It comes off as pretty mean so I'm glad he can't seem to hear her most of the time. It bothered me so much after talking to Ahnee that I had trouble sleeping and ended up calling my mom in the middle of the night. She said they never even went to visit much when their own mother (my grandpa's first wife) was dying of cancer so she doesn't expect much from them now.

I know he had a hand in raising them and so perhaps it is partly his "fault" that they are the way they are, but from what I know of him (he's been married to my grandmother for 16 years so I knew him for a long time before his mind started to deteriorate) he's a generous man who loves his family very much so I'm not sure how his kids turned out to be a bunch of heartless vultures who are just waiting for him to die so they can divvy up the booty. My mom said one of their main objections against him marrying my grandmother was their fear that he would die first and she would inherit the apartment - nevermind the fact that he helped all of them buy their homes and they're all pretty well off on their own now. And nevermind that my grandmother gives him companionship when they would rather leave him to die alone and lonely.

It just really shocks me to see people treat their elderly parents this way...especially in Asian culture where not only are you normally supposed to take care of your parents when they're old you're actually supposed to take care of them by living with them. Ah well, what goes around comes around right? I'm sure their own kids are learning a lesson right now in how to treat them when they're old and fading mentally.

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wingless was still breathing at 11:57 PM - 0 comments

I survived my first typhoon and all you get is this stupid blog post

I've officially made it through my first typhoon. Lucky me, I made it to Taiwan just in time for the biggest one of the year so far.

I have literally spent the last three days trapped in an apartment with my grandparents (both of whom have Alzheimer's) and no internet to speak of. And then my laptop battery died and I realized none of the plugs in their apartment have the extra pluggy thing that laptop chargers have (Why they must have this extra piece I have no clue? So I would want to kill myself when I discovered I wouldn't even have music or old episodes of Scrubs to get me through the typhoon? Perhaps).

My grandfather literally can't remember who I am most of the time and keeps accusing me of being there to work as their helper - which he gets really pissed off about because they already have a helper and certainly don't need another one, blah blah blah. I try to patiently remind him that I am Ah-Fen's (my mom) daughter and I'm there to visit my grandmother (he's technically my step-grandfather but they've been married so long I don't even usually differentiate). Of course being accused of trying to be their maid (and not even making the cut!) ten times a day gets pretty trying and I'm starting to feel like if I have to have the conversation one more time I will lose my mind too. Like my mind will snap and I will go completely ape-shit crazy because NO I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR F*CKING MAID, EVEN IF I WAS UNEMPLOYED - WHICH I MIGHT BE SOON - I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE YOUR GOD D*MN MAID. Especially not for $100 a month (which is what they pay the girl from Indonesia who takes care of them right now, really sweet girl, probably the only reason I haven't thrown myself out the window yet). I'm like dude, you couldn't even afford me if you wanted me old man. Shiet.

Sigh. As you can see, cabin fever is setting in. And it's hot and humid here too on top of the god forsaken rain, which OH MY GOD, when will it stop raining? Will the sun ever come out again?

I was so afraid that the internet cafe next door would be closed again today (it was closed yesterday either because of the typhoon or because it was Sunday, I'm not sure which) that I walked around the streets for an hour this morning with my laptop and umbrella...wandering into every 7-11 and McDonald's I could find asking if anyone, anyone? knew where I could find the internet. I felt like that guy in those commercials where he's in a swamp looking for the internet except he found it and I, on the other hand, failed miserably. At one point I actually had some hope because I saw a white guy walking by and I was all WHITE MAN HELP ME!!! Except he was a euro and didn't really know what he was talking about either. Fail.

So I went back to the apartment wanting to kill myself, because WAH, I WANT INTERNET...only to find that hah, the internet cafe next door was open after all, just not until noon. At that point, I really didn't care that I had just spent an hour walking in the rain and was soaked in sweat and rain and totally dehydrated. I just wanted to kiss their plugs and maybe their wifi. Of course it would have been really helpful if they had posted their hours on the door. Whatever...

I have been here in this cafe for like two hours now and I'm really kind of dreading leaving. Like I'm afraid if I leave it'll disappear and I'll be internet-less forever.

Paul will be getting in from Singapore tomorrow and the rain is supposed to stop sometime in the middle of the night tonight so things are looking up...Perhaps it is time to go back to being accused of being not good enough to be the maid. Sigh.

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wingless was still breathing at 1:30 AM - 0 comments

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