Monday, September 13, 2004

The Asian Persuasion

I live 3 stops north of the Downtown Berkeley BART Station--or as one train operator calls it "The home of the University of California AT Berkeley." On my morning commute during the school year, I invariably end up riding in a traincar with at least one or two bleary-eyed students trying to make an 8 o'clock class. What I've discovered over the last couple years is that these students I commute with are predominantly Asian males.

Berkeley has so many Asian students it could probably support its own little Chinatown. When I was there from '96 to 2000, they were the largest ethnic group on campus by a good two or three percentage points. Most of the Asian kids I knew lived as close to campus as they could and squeezed 4, 5, 6 people into a two bedroom apartment (it sounds bad, I know, but it was the Four Fucking Seasons compared to the shipping container they came over in with THE REST OF THEIR PROVINCE!).

Because Berkeley suffers from a chronic shortage of student housing both as a city and as a school, it is not uncommon to see groups of friends find houses in adjoining towns like Oakland, El Cerrito, Kensington, Emeryville, and Albany. It is these kids that commute to and from campus on BART and, like the other day, sit across from me in the morning half-asleep. They fall into one of two categories:

A) short, skiddish, pale-skinned, Chinese or Korean super dorks with backpacks that weigh at least half as much as they do strapped to their backs like baby Howler monkeys. They are computer science or engineering majors and are getting to school so goddamn early either because they want to be at the library RIGHT when it opens or they have an 8am Chinese for Chinese speakers class that they are taking because it's an easy A that will help pad their GPA when it comes time to apply to Cal Tech and MIT for grad school.

They smell funny. I can't quite put my finger on exactly HOW they smell funny, but if I had to guess I would probably say it's a combination of $2 Chinese take-out, long sedentary hours in front of the computer, a less than regular shower schedule, and an oral hygiene regimen that consists of a 4yr old toothbrush, water, and Altoids.

They usually have glasses (because technology has not advanced to the point where scientists have invented contacts or Lasek procedures that could possibly help their vision problems) and wide,thin moustaches that they never trim because razors and shaving cream would require them to spend money that they are saving up for the next Final Fantasy release.

B) I see this second category of the Asian Persuasion much more often on my morning commute. These are the non-Chinese, non-Korean, first generation, Americanized Asian kids. Filipino, Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, Myanmarese...who the fuck knows...these are the guys who want more than anything to be NBA point guards.

They play in every intramural basketball league on campus with team names like "Rice Rockets" and "Racin' Asians." They never win the league, of course, because they're all under 5'8" and insist on dribbling like Skip-to-my-fucking-Lou before they either hoist another in a long line of ill-advised three-point shots or try to slash to the hoop where they will, invariably, call a foul when they get brushed by a defender coming out to guard their ridiculous attempt at a layup.

They all have names like Danny or Ricky or John or Henry because they are easier to say than their ACTUAL names which are more like Kwok or Hyung or Hoa or (insert sound of silverware hitting the floor). Ricky(Hoa), like his Vietnamese fishermen uncles, loves to gamble even though he's horrible at it and should be saving to pay the fines he received for illegal street racing. If he's not playing poker at the local Indian casino, he's in any number of fantasy leagues with $100 entry fees. If he's not scouring ESPN.com and the Sports Guy's columns for fantasy sleepers, he's playing Madden or Streetfighter on his PS2 until 4am with the rest of his techno music-listening, Smirnoff Ice swilling Asian buddies.

I sat across from a Ricky(Hoa) on Friday morning. I didn't think much of him at first until he nodded off to sleep and hit his head against one of the poles that attaches to the ceiling.

Ricky(Hoa) was wearing a Michael Vick jersey because Vick was on the cover of Madden 2004 and led his Madden team to the Super Bowl. He wears the Vick jersey even though he throws like a girl, runs like a special olympian, and has no idea where Atlanta or Blacksburg, Virginia are on a map. His older brothers Danny(Kwok) and Henry(silverware hitting the floor) were the guys--10 years ago--wearing the Bo Jackson jerseys because he was the best Tecmo Bowl running back for Nintendo.

Ricky has blood shot, glazed-over eyes and crusty white build-up at the corners of his mouth. I think he might have a "condition" but it's more likely that he only got 2 hours of sleep before he had to get up for the 8am O-Chem class he was forced to take because it is required for Molecular Biology majors whose parents have been pushing them from birth to become "famous-a doctuh!"

Ricky(Hoa) doesn't want to go to med school though. He wants to open a high-end car audio store with his buddies Donny(Phan), Zach(Xia), and Ronny(sounds of swords clashing). It makes sense considering the thousands of dollars they've spent to pimp out their lowered Honda CRXs...they HAVE to be experts by now!

When Ricky(Hoa) hit his head I thought he would jolt from his slumber because of the pain. Surprisingly, he just leaned against the pole with his mouth slightly open and his stale Asian nose and mouth stench wafting at regular intervals in my direction. As he rested his head against the pole, I was taken by the fact that he hadn't reacted to slamming against it.

I noticed almost immediately that it might be due to the fact that his head was shaped like a Rolo...or the inside of a plastic bucket you can buy at Walgreens to use at the beach for making sand castles. The shape was almost perfectly symmetrical--like a Mayan temple but with rounded edges. I guess maybe that's the natural shape of a head when it is breach-birthed from a sideways vagina...

The other disturbing thing about Ricky(Hoa)'s head--if there weren't enough things already--was the goatee he felt compelled to grow. I've never seen such a spotty, wire-thin, unkempt goatee in my entire life. It looked like the hodge-podgge arrangement of metal filings you get when you throw the tiny pieces of metal randomly at a high-powered magnet...like that display at the Exploratorium. I guess Ricky(Hoa) doesn't think to trim because at this point in his life he's just glad he has facial hair that's not the product of hair cut trimmings, commercial epoxy, and an industrial cooling fan.

Ricky(Hoa) was conscious enough to hear the call for the dowtown Berkeley station just minutes after he slammed his Rolo-head into the pole. He sort of rousted from his half-sleep, collected himself, wiped the sleep from his eyes, and rose to move toward the doors.

N: Hey man, nice jersey. I hope that Madden jinx has worn off
R(H): No kidding bro, he's my QB on all four of my fantasy teams.
N: Have fun in O-Chem. Hopefully all that Madden 2005 playing you did last night isn't going to take its toll
R(H): Yeah, thanks.

Ricky(Hoa), semi-confused, departed the train with a bit of a stumble and a stutter step. I watched him shuffle toward the escalator as the train pulled away from the station--assuredly on his way to get an iced espresso drink at Tully's and to pass out 15 minutes into lecture. Silly Asians.

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in an area with a large population of Vietnamese shrimpers. The names...wow, you hit it....hilarious man. Keep it up.

September 14, 2004 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was brilliant. I'm glad to see you took a break from posting creepy family memories and got back to making prejudicial assumptions about minorities. Heil Parker.

September 14, 2004 at 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminiscent of a bad episode of the Family Guy. Or is it a good episode...

September 14, 2004 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger LayLadyLay77 said...

NP said...
It looked like the hodge-podgge arrangement of metal filings you get when you throw the tiny pieces of metal randomly at a high-powered magnet

This is funny
a) b/c who in the hell has ever done this *
b) b/c it captures the image of the scraggly goatee perfectly

* except for stray Exploratorium goers

September 14, 2004 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You fail to mention the glue that these guys put in their hair that leaves it standing from a week before. Kinda the opposite of dreadlocks. Gravity defying, short, spiky, and could cut paper.

Or is that a seperate category that rides the train at a different time?

September 14, 2004 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mexicans are funny too, but for different reasons. They'll be funny this weekend when groups of them wearing cowboy boots, hats and oversize belt buckles are paying me the $2350 dollars we have riding on the Hopkins-De la Hoya fight. Note to any gamblers who have access to roofing crews: they will each bet you $50 that De la Hoya will beat Bernard Hopkins, not because he has a chance, but because he speaks Spanish. Take the Executioner---Oh, and take the over in the Minnesota-Philly game; they'll hit it before halftime. Trust me.

September 14, 2004 at 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cook enough garlic at one time and the smell becomes strong enough to permeate the ventilation system of an entire apartment building, effectively forcing the evacuation of all the inhabitants. So strong is this smell that it doesn't even resemble garlic; more like burning rubber. This smell will cling to everything it touches for weeks. Add this and the complete lack of oral hygiene to your description of Asian stench and I believe you have it.

September 14, 2004 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Asian analysis is spot on. I go to UCLA and it is pretty much exactly the same here. Good job.

September 14, 2004 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey funny stuff..but you left out the part where all Asians do martial arts too...guess what I am all those stereotypes, including the martial arts, i would kick your ass, beat you with my rice cooker, wait until you regain consciousness, and then crane-kick you on the side of the head, so what's up now, bitch...not to mention that i would work your fat, lazy, sorry ass in hoops, so anytime you want to step up to a REAL public university, or as i like to call it "the University of Michigan AT Ann Arbor", I'll do you like Ali did to Frazier in the Thrilla in Manilla...so you can go back to your gay, hippie, yogurt eating, northern California community, wondering why your dutch boyd-wannabe self can't be me in poker, nintendo, hoops, and everything else that i'm better than you at, because you know it's my world, and you just be lucky that i'm letting you pay rent...so go fuck yourself and your dog...oh wait you already did that...nice fucking pictures fag....

September 14, 2004 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger no211312312 said...

Somebody's a little touchy-feely. Was that an attempt at building your sorry Asian ass up? I personally don't have a problem with you people (yeah I said "you people") but dude, that shit you just said just makes you sound retarded. "...because you know it's my world, and you just be lucky that i'm letting you pay rent...so go fuck yourself and your dog...oh wait you already did that...nice fucking pictures fag...." - That must have taken you all of the three seconds you had away from your Madden 2005 to come up with that shit. And dude, that shit about the dog - sounds SO fucking reminiscent of shit kids say in the 3rd fucking grade - when people's IQ didn't allow much more wit than "you are". Seriously, get that sand out of your vagina.

September 14, 2004 at 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nils,
Nice blog you have here. I apologize for chocolate covered banana eminem. Your sterotype is dead on. And yes I am Asian. keep up the funny stuff.

JonDoms.

September 14, 2004 at 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He just wants to EAT the dog.

September 14, 2004 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger deanne said...

Heh heh! Such antagonism in the comments! I love it.

"4, 5, 6 people into a two bedroom apartment": Try 15 stinking Aussies & Kiwis crammed into a 3 bedroom place above a Jewish bookstore in North London, with one bathroom. 11 guys - 4 women - good times my friend, good times. xxx d.

September 14, 2004 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are completely making his point for him, fucktard. And holy shit, did you honestly threaten to crane kick someone? PUT HIM IN A BODY BAG, JOHNNY, YEAHHHHHHHHHH.

DBlock

September 14, 2004 at 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...not to mention that i would work your fat, lazy, sorry ass in hoops, so anytime you want to step up to a REAL public university, or as i like to call it "the University of Michigan AT Ann Arbor",


According to US News and World Reports on College Rankings, CAL ranks #1 of public universities in the United States.

September 14, 2004 at 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah do you know why CAL is "#1", it's because of all the asians, you fucking dumbass...

September 14, 2004 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great writing, this is why I check your blog everyday hoping for a new entry.

September 14, 2004 at 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was spot on about the terrible gambling. For every Men Nguyen out there there are 1,000 Tuan Nguyens sitting around at 3 in the afternoon calling every single bit of action that comes to them. They won't raise a hand, but they'll call absolutely anything because to them it's all about ruck.

I ate off of Kyungs and Suns and Kims who played like that all through college, and am sure one or two little Ricky's had to sell their violins to keep up with Uncle Kim's habit.

September 14, 2004 at 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

could you, maddox and tucker all give up your day jobs and start writing full time, please?

September 15, 2004 at 4:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tucker has a day job?

Great entry, as usual.

September 15, 2004 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maddox recently quit his job too, so now its just Nils' here with that pesky little thing called a job.

September 15, 2004 at 9:54 AM  
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Anonymous said...
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September 15, 2004 at 12:01 PM  
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 16, 2004 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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September 16, 2004 at 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shut up whore.

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September 16, 2004 at 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Nils, I'm not Asian, but I still see why the person is mad. Even with this satirical content, with your group's reputation for making fun of people, the cards were dealt differently and it seemed that you were really hateful about this group.

Sure, I have some stereotypes about Asians (mostly Oriental and brown), I know it is wrong for me to say things. I might be too pussy to say it outloud except to close friends, but hitting on this racial group just kills it. You were fucking making fun of their names, you could not leave it at their actions.

Dude, you knew you were going to get some flak for this, so I bet you tried to cover it up with a Mexican story.

Bill Sidis

September 17, 2004 at 4:50 AM  
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