Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘1988’ Category

mcdull02

McDull (1988), or Mak Dau (麥兜) as he is called in Cantonese, is a cartoon character from Hong Kong, a boy pig with a brown round patch over his right eye. In China his films can stand their own against the likes of Harry Potter.

America has Mickey Mouse, Japan has Hello Kitty and Hong Kong has McDull.

McDull does not have beauty, brains, wealth or even good luck. He is slow and fat. His father has disappeared and his mother is bringing him up on her own in some poor part of Hong Kong that is dirty and falling apart. She is stern and expects too much of him. Yet he has a big heart and big dreams.When one thing fails, he tries another,never giving up, never losing heart. His hero is Lee Lai-Shan, the only person from Hong Kong ever to win an Olympic gold medal. McDull’s head may be in the clouds but his heart is in the right place – even if his bowels are always getting him into trouble!

His stories are heartwarming, somewhat sad but full of laughs – even if you do not get the tongue-in-cheek satire on Hong Kong life and the play on Cantonese slang. The stories show a deep, bittersweet love for Hong Kong. Told through the eyes of a boy, they have the wisdom of years.

Unlike Disney, nothing is cleaned up and made to seem better than it is; no smiley face is pasted over life’s troubles. Its sense of the world is urban whereas Disney’s is suburban.

McDull is the creation of artist Alice Mak and writer Brian Tse. McDull started out as a character in the comic books of his distant cousin, McMug. By the 1990s he had his own comic books. In the 2000s he had his own films.

The first film was “My Life as McDull” (2001). The fourth and latest one came out just last summer, “McDull Kungfu Kindergarten” (2009). The films mix together drawings with computer animation and live action shots.

McDull’s teacher is Ms Chan. She looks like a white woman with wavy brown hair but acts like she is Chinese. The same with the school’s headmaster. Even strangers in the streets of Hong Kong look like them. Curious.

One night McDull makes a little man named Excreman out of his dung (there is quite a bit of bathroom humour in these stories). He gives him a scarf of toilet paper and a small cup for a hat. Together in the middle of the night they go to Dung World. There Excreman tells him of his dream of helping flowers to grow. Before he brings McDull back to his room he says:

Remember us whenever you see the humblest, the deserted and the despised.

I found out about McDull while reading about Lou Jing, the half-black singer from Shanghai. People called her “Stupid” when she was growing up. She said that McDull would tell them that she is not stupid but kind.

See also:

Read Full Post »

AmerasiansAtTransitCenter1992

Vietnamese Amerasians are those who were born to an American soldier and a Vietnamese mother during the time of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s. Outcasts in Vietnam, most are now in America living in poverty. Few have ever seen their fathers.

There are about 22,000 of them in America, at least 4,000 of which are black. Maybe 2,000 more still live in Vietnam but there is no way of knowing.

In Vietnam they were called “half-bloods” and “children of the dust”. They had no fathers in a land where fatherhood is strong. They were mixed in a land where almost everyone is pure Vietnamese. To the Vietnamese they looked like black and white Americans, they looked like the enemy of a long war in a country broken by that war.

They were outcasts. They were unwanted. Sometimes their mothers were outcasts, seen as loose women. Sometimes even their own mothers threw them out to live on the streets. Other children called them names, beat them up or were not allowed to play with them. Most only went to school for a few years. Some cannot even read.

When Saigon fell in 1975, about 2,000 of them were flown to America and were adopted. Of the rest many were hidden or made to look more Vietnamese. Any proof of their American fathers, like pictures and letters, were destroyed for the most part to save them from being killed by the army.

In 1988 America passed the Vietnamese Amerasian Homecoming Act. If you went to the Amerasian Transit Center in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), an American official would look at you and if you looked white enough or black enough he would send you on to a camp in the Philippines where you would learn a bit of English and something about America (not necessarily what you needed to know) and then be sent on to America where you would get some help for six months and then be left to sink or swim.

Most sank. Good work was hard to find: their English was bad, they had little education and no car. So most live in poverty.

met_amerasianLambert1Only 3% found their fathers. Partly because they had little to go on, partly because most of these men did not want to be found. Most fathers, when found, refused to see their children. Yes.

Full-blooded Vietnamese who live in America want little to do with them – they do not seem Vietnamese to them. Even to Asian Americans they often look too white or too black. And, because they are foreigners in America, black and white Americans do not see them as one of their own either.

So they are caught in the middle with no place they can truly call home. “Children of the dust” turned out to be a cruel truth.

For those who are black, sometimes called Afro-Amerasians, it is the worst. They got the least education in Vietnam, experienced the most racism and learned all the Vietnamese stereotypes about blacks, so much so that self-hatred and self-doubt is common.

– Abagond, 2009.

See also:

Read Full Post »

Remarks:

I am not a huge Tracy Chapman fan or anything, but I like this song and “Fast Car”.

Lyrics:

Sorry
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like sorry, like sorry

Forgive me
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like forgive me, forgive me

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine

I love you
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like I love you, I love you

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine

Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine
You’d be mine
You’d be mine

Read Full Post »

African American

African American (1988) is a term for blacks in America, those native-born Americans who look at least part African. Although “black” is still the common word, “African American” has become the politically correct term, the one it is always safe to use in mixed company.

Not everyone who is black in America is an African American. The word does not apply well to foreigners, especially those from the West Indies or even Africa itself, strangely enough.

Maybe I travel in the wrong circles, but of the people I know, most who use the term are white Americans with university educations. They seem more comfortable with it than the word “black”. It fits in with their colour-blind racism, which looks at American society as if skin colour no longer matters – all the while looking down on dark-skinned people!

I know there are blacks who use the word, like Barack Obama. And I know the word is a way to show pride in Africa. But because I mainly hear it in the mouths of well-to-do whites, for me it has come to mean something like “those poor people who cannot help being screwed up because they were born black”. And it is said in a way as if the word was too good for them, like a poor man in a Brooks Brothers suit. It has become a white euphemism for black.

So it is not a word I use.

Although it has been in use for 20 years it is not about to take the place of “black”.

For example, Mildred Loving died last month, so there have been plenty of stories about her in the news. If you search the Internet for “Mildred Loving” and “black woman” you get 20,400 pages. But if you search for her name with “African American woman” you get only 871 pages. That is less than 5%. The word “black” is 20 times more common. (“Negro woman” gives you 65 pages and “colored woman”, 10).

Even the ever-so-politically-correct New York Times called her a black woman. The Economist found a way to avoid calling her either.

The idea behind the word is that just as those whose families came to America from Italy are called Italian Americans, so those whose families came from Africa are called African Americans. So far, so good. But there is a difference because of the One Drop Rule: someone who is only one-eighth Italian would not be called Italian American unless his family name was Italian. But most people who are one-eighth African or more are called African American – even if they are mostly European by blood!

That is because African American is not an honest word. Blacks in American society still function as a race, like it or not, but this word tries to hide that fact.

But what if everyone used the word? Would that help to make them colour-blind? Not likely: after 20 years all it has done is help to make people into colour-blind racists.

See also:

Read Full Post »

I never knew what I was missing
Love with no passion in the kissing
I can’t explain it, how you made me open up
And you showed me things I never thought I’d do
I’d hate to think of ever losing you
Cause there is no one that makes me feel the way you do

You’re some kind of lover
Turn me on, turn me out
You’re some kind of lover
Make me feel, oh so real

Hold me and tell me that you love me
Only with you is where I wanna be
We’ll light a candle as a symbol of our love
Then we’ll move real close like in a perfect fantasy
I wish these moments could go on and on and on
But before you leave I want you to know

You’re some kind of lover
Turn me on, turn me out
You’re some kind of lover
Make me feel, oh so real

You’re some kind of lover
Turn me on, turn me out
You’re some kind of lover
Make me feel, oh so real

See also:

Read Full Post »

L’Trimm (1988-1991), made up of rappers Lady Tigra and Bunny D, was a one-hit wonder known for the song “Cars With The Boom” (1988 ). Nearly 20 years later the song holds up surprisingly well.

Their bubblegum form of old school hip hop never caught on. In fact, it was the complete opposite of the gangsta rap that did take over by the middle 1990s.

Their music was not one bit street. It was completely unserious, but that was part of its charm. Unlike other female rappers, Tigra and Bunny sounded like girls, like airhead high school girls, in fact.

L’Trimm was part of the Miami Bass music scene, which gave us 2 Live Crew. Even though Miami Bass affected later forms of hip hop, like crunk, it never caught on nationwide. That helped to put an end to L’Trimm.

The name “L’Trimm” came from Trim jeans, but made to sound French.

Lady Tigra (Rachel de Rougemont) and Bunny D (Elana Cager) lived in Kendall, a suburb of Miami, and became friends in high school. They appeared as dancers on the television show “Miami Teen Express”.

The rapper Mighty Rock used to drive them home from school. One day he had to stop at Hot Productions. There Paul Klein heard the girls rapping. When he saw how pretty they were he thought they would make a good act. They recorded some songs.

Then one day they heard a song of theirs on the radio. They were shocked. They called Klein. He said, “What do you think we did all this for?!” and hung up.

The song “Grab It!” (1988 ) did well in Miami. Soon after “Cars With the Boom” came out, which was a hit across the country. I remember seeing it on The Box in New York.

L’Trimm came out with three discs of songs:

  • 1988: Grab It
  • 1989: Drop That Bottom
  • 1991: Groovy

Only the first one is still in print. It has both “Grab It!” and “Cars With the Boom”. The other two were not as good.

While making “Groovy” L’Trimm wanted to move in the direction of house music but Hot Productions had other ideas. So L’Trimm walked off, never to record again. Hot Productions already had enough for “Groovy”, but it did not sell well.

Bunny moved to Indiana, got married, settled down and had four children.

Tigra moved to New York, where she helped to run a nightclub. In 2007 she came out with some new songs, which you can hear on her MySpace page. She also did “The Pinkberry Song”, which you can hear on pinkberry.com. Sounds just like the old Tigra.

In 2005 Jay R came out with the song “My Other Car Is a Beatle”. It has L’Trimm rapping “Cars With The Boom” over Gary Numan’s new wave rock song “Cars” (1979) with a bit of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” (1965) thrown in. Who knew that three songs about cars could sound so good together?

tumblr_o0z0chgc2n1qa5hjco2_400.gif

Bunny D and Lady Tigra, 1990.

See also:

Read Full Post »

The image “https://i0.wp.com/images.derstandard.at/20060326/aung-sang-suu-kyi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Aung San Suu Kyi (1945- ) is the leader of the movement for democracy in Burma. Her name sounds like “Owng Sahn Soo Chee”. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

In 2007, as I write this, she is under house arrest. She has been in prison or under house arrest for 11 of the past 18 years. Even when she was free in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the government still watched her closely and would not let her leave Rangoon. They would not even let her husband into Burma so he could see her one last time before he died of cancer.

The generals that run Burma will not kill her outright: her father, Aung San, is a hero to the whole country, even to the generals. In the 1940s he fought to free Burma from British and Japanese rule. He was murdered before he could become prime minister. Suu Kyi was two years old at the time.

Like her father, her courage is bottomless. Once she walked right up to a line of soldiers who all had their guns pointed at her ready to shoot.

To her the root of Burma’s troubles is not one of power and violence. They are just side effects of the deeper issue: courage and fear. Because the generals fear the people, they are violent. Because the people fear the generals they do not stand up to them strongly enough to overthrow them.

Her Buddhist faith makes up the heart of her thought, but she has also taken on Western ideas about human rights and democracy and Gandhi’s ideas about bringing change without violence.

Most of her early life was lived quietly abroad: her mother was an ambassador for Burma. Later she went to Oxford University (St Hugh’s) and then married Michael Aris, an English scholar, an expert on Tibet. They had two children.

She raised their family and continued her studies, studying the history of Burma, especially the life of her father.

They had a quiet life in England, but she warned her husband that one day she would have to return to Burma. That day came in 1988 when her mother became very sick. Suu Kyi went back to Burma to care for her.

While she was there huge protests sprang up against the government. The generals sent out their soldiers and killed thousands. She knew what she had to do.

She sent an open letter to the government, demanding a move towards free elections. She spoke at the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Rangoon to hundreds of thousands. She crossed the country speaking for democracy. She became the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The generals put her and other NLD leaders in prison and let the elections go ahead in 1990. But even with their leaders in prison, the NLD still won a huge victory. The generals never let them take power.

The generals still rule Burma to this day, but her story is not yet over.

– Abagond, 2007.

Update (February 19th 2021): The military allowed limited democracy, starting in in 2010, with Suu Kyi becoming the de facto leader of Burma in 2016. She had no control over the military, yet defended its actions when it ethnically cleansed Rohingya Muslims in 2017! In 2021 the military had her arrested for illegally importing walkie-talkies, which removed her from power.

See also:

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: