+ RENATA PASZTERKO GETS DOWN AND DAMSELS DIRTY WITH SEX LAWS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
+ SKETCHES WITH BALLPOINT PEN MADE NIMBLE BY MONI LEWANDOWSKI
+ BILLYGOAT KICKS THE AUDITORY SENSE WITH MOVING IMAGES
+ REBECCA DADO CREATES FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS WITH A VINTAGE APPROACH
THE HAIRY SITUATION SIBLING RIVALRY I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER JASON SCHEXNAYDER’S PROJECTIONS ISSUE 001 ROOTS A CULTURALLY STEEPED MAGAZINE CELEBRATING DIVERSITY AND THE HUMAN SPIRIT
THE SUM OF ALL PARTS
ISSUE 001 ROOTS
BIOPIC MISSIVES FROM PIQUE CONTRIBUTORS
THE EDITOR’S LETTER WELCOME TO PIQUE! .011 TENETS
MY TAP ROOT, MY MANIFESTO
A PERSONAL TAKE ON PLANTING TREES AND FLOWERS TO CULTIVATE BEAUTY IN LIFE
DEATH, OR MURDER OF CROWS DUALITY OF LIFE AND DEATH .018 .020
RICK ROSS: OPERATION OF FICTION
A HEALTHY OBSESSION WITH THE ILLICIT
MUTED EMOTION AND CONTROLLED URGENCIES WITH A BALL POINT PEN
AN EXCESSIVE TALE OF A DUPLICITOUS POET
TOSSING ROOT THEORIES WITH SONG
BEAUTIFUL DUO DOCUMENTING LIFE THROUGH FILM AND MUSIC FEATURES
JASON SCHEXNAYDER’S PROJECTIONS
I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER
THE HAIRY SITUATION
PHOTOGRAPHED OBJECTS WITH A TWIST
ACROSS CONTINENTS AND CULTURAL DIVIDES, A DAUGHTER DISCOVERS WHO SHE IS
A CURLY CUTIE DISSECTS THE CONTINUAL QUEST FOR BEAUTY AND ACCEPTANCE THROUGH HAIR
LOS ANGELES-BASED ARTISTS AND SIBLINGS DRAW UPON CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES OF CABAGE PATCH DOLLS, ACTION MOVIES AND TOY GUNS
THE SUM OF ALL PARTS
FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS CLASSIC BLOOM MEETS MODERN LUXE .064
PREPERATION FOR FALL/WINTER 2010
PARA ASAR ON AISLE 13
PREPARATION IS THE THEME FOR THE WINTER SEA SON
OPEN LETTER MS. PLUMBER SERVES GOD WITH A ‘DEAR JOHN’ LETTER
ACCOMPANY “GOLDA SCHAUERS “ AS TRAVIS READ-DAVIDSON SHIFTS HER OUT OF GENDER NEUTRAL ON TO THE PAGES OF PIQUE “AS YOU GET OLDER, YOU AIM A LITTLE LOWER,” 2010. GRAPHITE AND WATER COLOR ON PAPER, 24"X 30".
“HOT SMUDGE,” 2010. PEN AND WATER COLOR ON PAPER, 5" X 8". “SHY GIRL,” 2010. PEN AND WATER COLOR ON PAPER, 5" X 8". “IN EVERY SHADE OF BLONDE,” 2010. GRAPHITE AND WATER COLOR ON PAPER, 24" X 30".
“HAVING A BALL, WISH YOU WERE HERE,” 2010. GRAPHITE, WATER COLOR, AND ACRYLIC ON PAPER, 10" X 22".
“WRAPPING IT UP,” 2010. GRAPHITE AND WATER COLOR ON PAPER, 6" X 12".
BIOPIC MISSIVES FROM PIQUE CONTRIBUTORS
CONTRIBUTORS D E S IG N E R TRAVIS READ-DAVIDSON Travis Read-Davidson was born in the Pacific Northwest, Eatonville, Washington to be exact. This makes him extra special, as humans who were conceived and born in this region seem to have a more intrinsic connection to the soul of the world. His spirit animal is a neon green winged unicorn with powder pink wings that scatter little sparkly bits of glitter across the sky whenever he is having a really good day. W R I T E R RENATA PASZTERKO Renata Paszterko resides on the fringe of society with her cat Beebs and her dog Crumb. When she isn’t catching up on beauty sleep you can usually find her at the nearest watering hole wearing apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur, freeloading and getting rowdy. Lately she has cleaned up her act and devotes most of her time to a shrine she created for Michael Jackson. I L LU S T R ATO R JAY DORONIO Born in Waimanalo, Hawaii, to a family whose talents span the spectrum of the creative arts, Jay “OddZoo” Doronio began drawing and painting as a child. From his early exposure to graffiti, his work is born from dusty record bins, bric-àbrac novelties and the aesthetic of “getting up.” Jay currently resides as an honorary San Francisco denizen working as a freelance designer and fine artist. For more information and work, visit Parallel-Play.com W R I T E R SEBASTIAN JOHNSON Sebastian Thomas Johnson, raised in a cult-like community in Sonoma County escaped the clutches of the suburban life. First to San Francisco where he fell in love with the pedestrian street life and tattoos, only to end up in Los Angeles with stars
in his eyes about one day becoming a successful “chip-n-dales” dancer. With age and coordination against him, he found himself slinging drinks and gardening on the side. Almost instantaneously, and with summers of planting in the LA sun, he knew he had found his calling. Making the decision to head back to college and get a degree in Landscape Architecture, Sebastian felt alive. Now after working for himself since graduating, he’s able to look back and have that sparkle in his eyes, heart and hands... Who cares how hot it is outside? He’s tan and doing what he loves, BOO-YAH!!! I L LU S T R ATO R JULIAN CALLOS One summer day in the late ‘80s, a meteor hurtling through space was pulled down to earth and collided with a rainbow; the collision sent sparks flying while tiny specks of space dust and magic slowly descended upon the Philippines. Out of this mystical debris emerged Julian Callos. A nomad by nature, Julian flew (Did we mention he could fly?) to Southern California and continues to explore the many wonders of La-La Land. You can see evidence of things Julian has seen and imagined on his blog: juliancallos.blogspot.com. E DI TO R-I N - C H I E F SINDEN LEE Sinden Lee dug her way out of a North Korean tunnel dodging shady Manchurian communists in cahoots with Dear Leader. She possesses the world’s most expensive receipt, a post-graduate degree, of which she knows not what to do with. Considered one of the taller (and ruder) Han people, she entertains the delusion that she is indeed the fillet of the neighborhood. When she is not silently judging others, Sinden half skips to the sounds of Jackie Mittoo and Black Sabbath. F I N E A RT I S T MONI LEWANDOWSKI Moni Lewandowski is a self-taught master of the bic ballpoint pen, whose life revolves around going on about tangents and improbable hypothetical scenarios that have nothing to do with anything in particular. And don’t forget, she like cats, girls, flowers and of course, composition notebooks. W R I T E R JAMES JOLLIFF Raised in North Carolina, James Jolliff has traded the idyllic surroundings of his youth for the grayer hazy expanse of concrete Los Angeles. His move was inspired by the late English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s injunction to “seek
simplicity and distrust it,” a motto James has followed to the letter. An avid lover of tedium, James spends most of his time temporarily rescuing meaningless phrases from relative obscurity. Frequently sequestered, rarely understood, James Jolliff is in many ways a proof-case for lobotomy.
small brain for a mammal of his size (400-600g). Michael is prized for his mustache; rarely his art. His mustache is made of thickly matted hair that grows from the skull without skeletal support. Michael has acute hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight over any distance.
C R E AT I V E DI R EC TO R JAMES T. GAMBOA James Gamboa loves slurping on whisky and sucking on blood red oranges. Lover of all things feline and femme fatale, this Loco Por Vida sustains himself on burritos and coffee. Never venturing too far from a good shoe shine, James skips to a good sheen on his black leather cap toes. An arbiter of design, design and design, his vision has brought forth Pique—he would like this to be the absolute last time he is spoken of in third-person.
F I N E A RT I S T PEARL HSIUNG Favorite foods of Pearl C. Hsiung include, but are not limited to fried eggs, almost all kinds of sashimi, braised chicken feet, rare steak, glazed donuts, black squid ink paella, crab innards and Jeno’s Crisp ‘n Tasty Pizza. Please be advised when showing her your plump babies or exotic fish tank.
W R I T E R HUA HSU Hua Hsu likes teaching, reading, fermentation, noodles, zines, the Subway Organization, the first Capone-N-Noreaga album, Manchester United, the flatlands of the South Bay and well-constructed coats. Hua dislikes extreme heat, extreme cold, duplicity and dishonor and is ambivalent toward Poughkeepsie, NY, where he lives most months out of the year. W R I T E R OLIVER WANG Oliver Wang obsesses over readings and teaching at CSU-Long Beach where he’s an assistant professor of sociology and over records and writing at home in West LA where he scribes and blogs about music for NPR, the LA Weekly, Wax Poetics and his own humble site, soul-sides.com.
FA SH IO N E DI TO R REBECCA DADO Miss Rebecca Dado, our resident Latina Hanae Mori and haute couture savant, rolls out her positive results when she applies her positive vibe. Like Devo, she’s got a gut feeling about all the decisions she makes. Miss Dado never ever second –guesses herself. Playful and spunky, she doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is. She’s mortified by the excessive time others spend watching TV and surfing the internets. She thinks you should juice greens instead.
W R I T E R TUNA TARDUGNO Tuna was born a warrior. Tuna reigns from Fun City, USA. Tuna can’t stop dancing. Tuna has more records than bones. Tuna doesn’t partake in the devouring of animals and or biproducts. Tuna makes a zine called what’s the jam. Tuna makes cartoons. Tuna can feel it.
WRITER VANESSA PASZTERKO International Gong Ju is Vanessa’s nickname representing her love of luxury and mystery. She spends her free time asking the birthdays of everyone she comes into contact with. As an Aries, she gets bored easily so pet peeves include generic questions like, “What is your favorite food?” Vanessa’s Cancer moon keeps her at home most nights getting cozy and feeling safe. Her Capricorn ascendant gives rise to her more practical and responsible side. Although antisocial and misanthropic most days, she enjoys a big night out every once in awhile: No, she doesn’t qualify for a senior (citizen) discount, not even close.
F I N E A RT I S T MICHAEL C. HSIUNG Michael C. Hsiung is characterized by a large mustache (one of the few remaining facially hairy Asians surviving today) with all of the species capable of reaching one ton or more in weight; herbivorous diet; and a thin yellow protective skin: 1.5 cm thick, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure; and a relatively
WRITER MORGAN READ-DAVIDSON Morgan Read-Davidson constantly finds himself two year s behind the times. He bought his first Nintendo when Playstation made its debut. He joined Friendster when MySpace was fizzling out. He has recently created a Twitter account so that the world may know his brilliance. His mother thinks it’s cute.
WELCOME TO PIQUE
Editor-in-Chief SINDEN LEE Creative Director JAMES GAMBOA
Designer TRAVIS READ-DAVIDSON Fashion Director REBECCA DADO CONTRIBUTORS Wilfredo Alexander, Robert Beckwith, Julian Callos, Eric Curtis, Jay Doronio, Michael Hsiung, Pearl Hsiung, Hua Hsu, Sebastian Thomas Johnson, James Jolliff, Athena LeGrand, Moni Lewandowski, Renata Paszterko, Vanessa Paszterko, Ruth Quevedo, Morgan Read-Davidson, Jason Todd Schexnayder, Jeremy Tardo, Tuna Tartugno, Oliver Wang. SPECIAL THANKS Edwina Aguayo, Bi-Rite Market, Matthew Eikelberger, Margo Graxeda, Julia Luke, Peter Relic. COVER Photographed by Robert Beckwith PRINTER
Universal Reprographics, Inc. 2706 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90057 213.365.7750 firstname.lastname@example.org
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
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SEX LAWS TEXT RENATA PASZTERKO
A Potent Dose of Humiliation REMEMBER THAT MOVIE The Mask with Jim Carrey? It may have been a metaphor for American repression. Without the mask, his character was a modest man that watched cartoons and wore children’s pajamas. But when he put the mask on, he transformed into a Zoot suite-wearing Teddy boy; a speed-driven maniac that hung out at bars and seduced women. Why is it that sex is still considered taboo in this country unless it’s masked from the public’s attention and kept behind closed doors? Judging by the content of American movies and advertisements, it’s obvious that our culture has a healthy obsession with the illicit. Despite this, there also seems to be a potent dose of humiliation that accompanies any purchase that relates to the bedroom. Only recently has KY Jelly been moved from the feminine hygiene aisle at the supermarket to the shelf where condoms and spermicidals reside. In Sex and the City, respectable women have to buy their sex toys from places like The Sharper Image. Like a zebra that cannot change its stripes, neither can a vibrator. Calling a vibrator an electric massager does not change its function. It’s the same as people saying “frick” instead of “fuck” to avoid using profanity. Changing a few letters around doesn’t mean that the purpose in using the word is any different. If the word “fuck” is derived from the word “fornicate” and “frick” from “fuck,” the two still share “fornicate” as their predecessor. The only difference is that you sound like an ass saying “frick.” Speaking of ass, the products devoted to pleasing yours and mine are up against some serious regulations, probably for the same reason people have trouble using “dirty” words. The best genes passed down from our Puritan ancestors, namely the ones that involve sexual repression, strongly linger in the depths of American society. States like Alabama are so concerned with purity that selling any product meant for pleasuring yourself (vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, etc.) will land you in jail for up to a year if the item in question is labeled as such. Committing this hideous crime could also leave you with up to ten thousand dollars in fines thanks to the Anti-Obscenity Law passed in 1998, which
bans the distribution of ‘any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.’ The primary consumers of such genital stimulating devices happen to be women and gay men. I smell some sexist/ homophobic discrimination here. It’s no surprise that other Bible Belt states use laws to enforce similar restrictions. I take it they don’t like labels in Alabama, but the first one that comes to mind is prude. How do these people function? They either live in complete denial or they’re a bunch of hypocrites walking around with gerbils up their assholes. There are stranger things to consider in the world of sex toys, however. For example, 70 percent of the world’s sex toys are furnished by China, a country whose prevailing social as well as government viewpoint is that sex is dirty. Despite parts of the U.S. having absurd laws like Alabama’s, we’re still the biggest importer of sex toys manufactured in China, which include products like blow-up sheep dolls to quench even the horniest animal sodomite’s thirst. Well I’m calling our country out on this nonsense. Why are we so eager to mislabel the truth when it’s so blatant? Why are things only acceptable when they become convoluted? I cannot help feeling like there’s no separation of Church and State when places like Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Mississippi upheld sodomy laws until 2003, when the Supreme Court invalidated them. Is that a direct attack on the private lives of homosexuals or the result of some Right-wing conservative avenging himself from the priest that used to fondle his rectum? Perhaps our country is slowly on its way to rectifying its aversion to sexuality. It’s something to consider when Alabama is the only state holding on to its heinous Anti-Obscenity Law. Is it any coincidence that these are the same places that still teach Creationism? At least some of them are beginning to take flight into the new millennium, where it’s legally okay to fuck, suck, and sodomize. There’s no reason to be apologetic for wanting a good orgasm. If that were the case, America would not be importing so many sex toys.
MY TAP MY ROOT TEXT SEBASTIAN THOMAS JOHNSON IMAGE JAY DORONIO
MY TAP ROOT
I WANTED TO EXPRESS my root, my manifesto but realized that like a plant, I’m growing and maturing. So what I have is only partial. The future can add to its growth. As human beings our experiences affect us: Our bodies, our expressions, our point of views. They’re reflected in our interactions with one another. It’s similar in its workings to that of an artery or the veins under our skin, even freeways that were once waterways, walkways, and old rail lines to now major eyesores within the “urban fabric.” Root systems have different thicknesses as well: Tap roots, fillas or tiny hairs. As a whole, we can have different purposes, ideas and thoughts, but also manage cohesion as a society, a community, a tree and a planet. Here would be my artery, my tap root, my manifesto: 01. DIVERSITY OF DESIGN AND PLANTING Use appropriate planting choices with a mix of native plantings that are ideal for microcli- mate, aesthetic and region and within the landscape, countryside and state. 02. NEVER STOP ASKING QUESTIONS Investigate what people are doing; look into your contemporaries—those who lead the way and share. 03. DISCOVER INFORMATION YOURSELF Read, picture, explore and learn. Read maga- zines, books, and scour the Internet. Picture taking your own photographs, but also draw and remember. Explore by going on plant walks, explore the parks, cityscapes and “natural” landscapes, hillsides, mountains, deserts, lakes, oceans…the world. Learn because it’s never too early or late to discover what inspires you. 04. NEVER REPLICATE It’s fine to pull inspiration from another, it’s also fine to do something similar, but always make it your own. Have your own interpretation. 05. ALWAYS APPRECIATE THE CREATIVENESS (TALENTS) Everyone has something they’re talented in; being artistic is a gift as well as intellect and knowledge. Always appreciate the aesthetic differences of each other. 06. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF Allow a client, homeowner, the public and people’s wishes to be heard and integrated into the design, you’ll inspire them to enjoy and respect it by adding to your knowledge to create a living painting.
07. GARDEN DESIGNERS AND LANDSCAPE ARCHI- TECTURE IN ACTION IS AN ART FORM It’s the same as someone who paints both horizontal and vertical with use of form, color, texture, feelings and shadows. In essence, a constant state of change with a “30 –years-in- the-future ideal” as the inspiration, image and concept. 08. INSPIRATION IS AROUND EVERY CORNER Leaving your mark is a signature, but is better remembered by the feelings and thoughts provoked by either images or words. (Quite tagging your name or initials, dick licks!) 09. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES It’s well known that history repeats itself and if so, the question to be asked is, “Why do we continue to ignore it?” 10. WEAVE NATURAL LANDSCAPES INTO URBAN FABRICS Use plantings that don’t harm but enhance and work with the interiors (cooling in the summer; warming in the winter…it’s in the leaves). How can people manage to live amongst nature? By not viewing it as an en- emy to be cut down and controlled but as a friend, to help and lift up. Inspired by the words of Olmstead: “Contact with natural landscapes was essential for human morality, health and happiness.”
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS I’M REMINDED OF THE ethnological folklore and mythology of peoples and their beliefs when I look at all the pieces that make “Death, or Murder by Crows.” And perhaps the title is a blithe play on the adage: ‘murder of crows.’ The dancing poppies, anemones and lotuses, the flock of crows beckoning at the feet of the suited man with a floating sugar skull all elicit notions and ideas that have become my own. I’m inspired by my own being and the duality in life and death; love and pain; darkness and light in this piece by Julian Callos. One cannot be embraced or lauded without the presence of the other in any of these dualities. How can one know what death is if one hasn’t experienced life? How can love hurt so much if one has never felt the euphoria that love can arouse? And what of darkness and its tremors that can crush the best of spirits if light has never been infused? As hope can be erased by experiences of sorrow, it’s sure to eventually return if one can sustain and overcome the other. Complementary opposites must both exist. All opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent. It’s the essence of science and philosophy making it a central principle in one’s own life. “DEATH, OR A MURDER OF CROWS,” 2009. ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 14" X 22”.
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
DAMSELS DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI TEXTLEWANDOWSKI SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
DAMSELS “DAMSEL,” A FRENCH DERIVATIVE of “demoiselle,” can usually find herself in some fucked up situation that requires the chivalrous aid of a man. Moni Lewandowski’s delicate illustrations take a post-modern twist on this classic Medieval literary theme, sans the hero. Her femme subjects aren’t foolish or ineffectual. There’s a simple implied lugubrious peek at muted emotions which are rendered with controlled urgency in the nimble way she holds her ball point pen. While these damsels are obviously still, a frantic impression is exposed by the way Moni sketches with a deft hand. "THROW, " 2010. "K9," 2010. "K13," 2010. BALLPOINT PEN & COLORED PENCIL ON COMPOSITION PAPER.
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
“RUM,” 2009. BALLPOINT PEN & COLORED PENCIL ON COMPOSITION PAPER,9” X 7”. “THE BLUE DRESS,” 2009. BALLPOINT PEN & COLORED PENCIL ON COMPOSITION PAPER,9” X 7”.
“LADY LAY,” 2009. BALLPOINT PEN ON PAPER 9” X 12”.
POSSIBLE RICK ROSSES TEXT JIMMY JOLLIFF
Operation of Fiction
AN IMAGE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: A Maybach Mercedes in every color, glitzy wraparound shades contrasting a rough hirsute face, mansions in Miami, the beach and the lurking shadow of the nearly genteel threat of violence that characterizes “The Boss.” Rick Ross, to the last detail, has perhaps one of the most consistent images that rap music has recently seen. His stage name is borrowed from fabled crack icon “Freeway Ricky Ross,” his vocal delivery hints at Brando in The Godfather, his backdrop is a mythical location for importing cocaine, and his breakout single was “Everyday I’m Hustling.” His time of emergence was opportune as well. He and his Miami (oozing with Scarface-like imagery) both seemed to materialize during a Bush administration that looked a lot like the Reagan administration that gave rise to a lot of these images in the first place. Don’t be tempted by the obvious cynical reaction to these facts, the other thing about Rick Ross—man, image and music—is that he was good. His excesses were just right. You could relate to them, to him (albeit distantly, the way one relates to all gangsters of lore). The content of his lyrics, however unsurprising and circumscribed, possessed an undeniable poetry. Lines like: “I got a v12 sweeter than a female/ it feels like intercourse buckling the seatbelt” Contain an irresistible voluptuousness and vulgarity that contemporary print poetry lacks the mettle to even balk at. Rappers like Ross, aesthetically speaking, often win out on fearlessness alone. All was well, consistent and relatively believable. The image and profile of “The Boss” seemed watertight, an impenetrable citadel. And then certain photos emerged on the Internet. The photos were and at the same time were not of Rick Ross at all. Instead of a flowing cream linen suit, manicured beard, exorbitant jewelry and shades, the man in the picture wore a prison officer’s uniform and a shaven smiling face completely empty of even a trace of gangsterlike threat. But the picture was unmistakably him. The house that Ross built had been blemished with a tiny crack. Would this crack bring down the house? The problem: A chasm opens up between the so-called “realism” (which is frequently and fervently proclaimed) of the narrative and what appears to be the biographical details of the narrator. Rap music for the most part is a discourse wherein the claims made by the rapper—however
outlandish—are insistently posited as true. Within this framework the appearance of photographs of a professed cocaine boss in a correctional facilities officer’s uniform should by all accounts be disastrous. The obvious assumption one should make: “If this narrative is sustained by its plausible veracity, it should come a-tumbling once a rupture in said veracity is produced.” This didn’t quite happen. But it was not for lack of trying on the part of some rivals. The photographs of “Officer Ricky” hit the Internet and out came the proverbial wolves. Ross quickly became the object of lampooning from many of rap’s quarters, perhaps the most notable being that he became a declared public rival of 50 Cent, who has since launched a small-scale multimedia campaign to defame Ross and further undermine his credibility. This predictably has lead to much fanfare and press for the both of them, leading to a flurry of radio interviews and Web content surrounding a volley back and forth of diss statements between the rappers which quickly deteriorated into sexual innuendos about one another’s moms and girlfriends and threats of violence, veiled gently and other times not at all. Rap music, that great WWF of poetry and song, had (for the time being) a new squabble to gather around the ring and watch. Nothing about this is new. Things we all know which barely bear repeating: 01. Rappers in general lie, or at the very least fib. 02. Beef is generally good for the record sales (or, more appropriately, for whatever constellation of “significance in the mind of the music-consuming public” is to be coveted in the wake of the globally diminished impor- tance of sales as such) of both parties, prov- ided no one dies. 03. Just because rappers’ biographies are often make believe and everybody knows it, it’s still required of the rapper to have a persona, and this persona should almost always be larger than life, nearly impossible fantasy. It’s basically not a choice, not a failure of the rapper to lie about his background, not his/her prerogative as such, but is rather a re- quirement of the discourse. Rappers with accurate biographies rarely do well.1 04. Therefore, the rapper is a kind of theatrical
character, played by a person knowingly, onstage and off. The character posits him/ herself as an actual person insistently, and we, the music adoring public desire this theater while simultaneously not really be- lieving in it. This isn’t the same as merely fictive theater, where actors in a film or on a theatrical stage are embodying a set of as- sumed traits as a character for nakedly theatrical purposes. We want the rapper to let us believe it’s real. We want the rapper to lie to us. So what’s in a name? The “Officer Ricky” media event can be taken at face value to be an isolated incident that involved one entertainer’s false claims about his background, the slip of one mustache that revealed a single impostor. In a very small way, this is true. But also from this single example we can draw some conclusions about the function of “the rapper”, their role within (rather than their relationship to) their own— ultimately fictive—creations. The persistence of Ross’ image and its general plausibility and relative success after having been debunked, is clear proof that “the rapper” as such is a kind of fictive unity. This unity, the fictional character swearing up and down that he is ‘true,’ is an operation of a contemporary kind of pervasive realism. This same operation sustains the unity of celebrity in general and is a relatively recent (last hundred years or so) category (or mode) of discourse. If, “Fame is a form of incomprehension, perhaps the worst,” as Borges suggested in Emma Zunz, then the way we relate to rappers specifically and public figures in general is a clue to the role these sorts of “worst incomprehensions” play in our own lives. To be known publicly is to be coined, to become deracinated, reduced to a list of attributes and iconic personal effects. This is as true of Ross as it is of Dick Cheney, and any other super-hero or villain. The rapper exists as an operative part of the structure of his/her own fictions, as the sum total of the descriptive qualities of their utterances. This art form has produced a tremendous amount of masters of the art of persona construction and maintenance, and continues to well into the 21st century. It often feels like a circus, at times a brilliant spectacle and
at times flimsy fantasy. But as often as these guises fail, they more frequently speak to us directly, reach out to us and feel true even (or especially?) when they aren’t accurate. Perhaps the frantic tall-tale biography spinning of these unlikely caricatures are related to the small stories of everyday life we use to construct ourselves; crude statues carved from the multitude of being. 1 I’m making claims about public figures, specifically rappers, whose biographies differ drastically from those of their supposed personas. But what of those instances where this isn’t the case? If the rapper operates within an economy of fiction, could it not be suggested that the less fantastically he/she is presented, the more drastic and total the operation of fiction becomes?
OUR FAVORITE MUSICOLOGISTS TOSS ROOT THEORIES
MIXED RESULTS COLLAGE JAMES T. GAMBOA
SCATTERED PIECES ROOTS, IN A GENERAL SENSE, are always canonical: a lineage, foundation or history, an explanation for a musical subgenre’s unique trajectory or the context for an obscure political struggle. But our personal roots—they defy such coherence. “Know your roots,” we are commanded, and when we are adrift, we are encouraged to return to them. They are histories of our personal taste, a celebration of randomness, unlikely connections and the undue influence of a carefully sequenced mix-tape. These are my roots: turning points, influences, gateways, cherished favorites, scattered pieces of an uninteresting story. —HUA HSU 01 All I Do is Think About You, TAMMI TERRELL 02. Bucktown, SMIF-N-WESSUN 03. California Soul, MARLENA SHAW 04. Don’t Ask Why, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 05. Elastic Lover, REVELATION 06. Falling Up, THEO PARRISH 07. Going Back to My Roots, ODYSSEY 08. Higher Than the Sun, PRIMAL SCREAM 09. I Believe in Miracles, JACKSON SISTERS 10. Jam Love Dub, PRINCE DOUGLAs 11. Kick the Ball, KROWN RULERS 12. Little Fury Things, DINOSAUR JR.
UNO, DOS, TRES IT IS SLIGHTLY EMBARRASSING to me that Latin music, especially boogaloo and Latin soul, is a great love yet my Spanish does not get far past “uno, dos, tres.” However, I always found the great marvel about Afro-Cuban rhythms are they seem focused on one, overwhelming goal - to put your body in motion. Claiming “rhythm is a universal language” sets off cliché alarms but maybe it is enough to say that sometimes, it is not what you hear, but what you feel. —OLIVER WANG 01. A Buscar Camarones, CACHAO 02. El Loco Cha Cha, RENE TOUZET 03. Dolores, JOE COTTO 04. Bang Bang, JOE CUBA SEXTET 05. Micaela, PETE RODRGIEUZ 06. Gypsy Woman, JOE BATAAN 07. Deeper Shade of Soul, RAY BARRETTO 08. Guajira Boogaloo, FEDERICO Y SU COMBO 09. Groovetime, MONGUITO SANTAMARIA 10. Viva Guajira, MAURICIO SMITH 11. Naide Baile Como Yo, BOBBY MATOS 12. Watusi Boogaloo, WILLIE ROSARIO
BEAUTIFUL DUO TEXT TUNA TARTUGNO DRAWINGS JASON SCHEXNAYDER
A vision that precedes sound, Los Angeles duo Billygoat is now Portlandbased labor of love. Their performances showcase a screen with a stopmotion animated film that’s carried by the music. It’s visually stunning, musically comforting, and meticulously absurd. David and Nick, the duo that make up Billygoat, are immediately comfortable and genuinely sweet. They make you feel as though you’re lying on grass, drinking a beer, and watching the stars. THEIR 40-MINUTE ANIMATED film took roughly two years of compiling stop-motion animation. Their work is inspired by everyday life. Their film writes their music, and their music paints the story of their film. Their animation is a document of their life: What it is at this moment. And all of their friends and people are part of the cast and writers. It’s animation that doesn’t have boundaries. It does not try to fit a mold. It’s simply enlightened and refreshing. PIQUE: Based on your musical and artistic influences, how would you classify what you do? David: I was in the bathtub one night, reading this book on color theory and Cecil Stokes. He sort of composed these films around World War I and the treatment of veterans who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome—similar to Disney’s Fantasia, but with different music and instruments. I could relate to it. I had this idea of gluing a camera to the floor and taking photos. Different people walk in and comment, “This should go here,” and “Do this to that color.” It’s very hands-on and when I’m constructing with Nick—my partner and collaborator—we have parties with people coming over constantly. People who don’t possess any artistic interest give me suggestions. It’s the best inspiration. That’s what inspires me the most. Especially with animation, different people make suggestions and offer ideas. I take that seriously, I love to hear what they say. I like to assimilate what is the norm. If it happens to be my way, it’s just my vision alone, but this kind of collaborative effort is more universal, like a documentary. I listen to music constantly when I’m working. It’s definitely a huge factor. PIQUE: Is there a record, a musician, an artist, or someone that opened your eyes and made you listen to music differently or make you feel alive? Pivotal albums? David: Probably Bright Black Morning Light’s self-titled album. That was a record that I was definitely listening to constantly. In an artistic sense, it would be Kate Bush’s record “The Dreaming.” That had a lot of impact on me even before I did any animation. It had so many different landscapes and I could just go back in time. PIQUE: What were your cartoon influences growing up? David: Humor-wise, I watched a lot of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs; visually, it was 321 Contact— that was pretty poignant; and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? It was so generic, but so genius.
It was so bad that it was good. I grew up in the Midwest and TV for me was stuff on Fox Network. There are definitely times even now when I YouTube Tiny Toons and it still makes me laugh. Stuff like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin—it was like a Renaissance period that Disney had. It kind of became my dream, although it’s not what they do anymore. Sitting in front of a computer screen loses the natural flow and the theatrics just aren’t there anymore. PIQUE: First, I listened to your music then I saw part of your video. It made so much more sense after that. How do you feel about calling it a soundtrack to the piece? It’s almost like the music doesn’t stand alone but rather, it’s an entire performance piece? David: Yeah, it’s tough. It’s as though the music is the soundtrack. It’s part of the performance. But the visuals are the same way. I couldn’t imagine seeing the visuals without the soundtrack. It’s the video and we play the live music. You’re seeing the live music, but also a film, but it’s not a film. It’s about the evolutionary process. I worked on the first video we did by myself and composed the music as it was coming along. I projected it and made music to it. Nick kind of added more of the low-end sound to it and we were able to make a 17-minute show of experimental animation and music. He has definitely been more involved—even the music part of it. The new one that we’re working on isn’t as much of a soundtrack so we’ll see where it goes musically. I guess we would like to make it a little more organic and less electronic, maybe add a drummer, add a woodwind ensemble, add a bassoon—lots of ideas to get it away from ‘just a soundtrack.’ PIQUE: Would you even think of adding vocals? David: No. With the ideas, there’s no room for vocals. We’re trying to keep it language-free. There’s something about music with no vocals—it’s for the audience. It speaks to them. The actual videos stand on its own with the music. There’s no room for words in our live performances. PIQUE: When it comes to music that drives a film and vice versa, do you compare yourself or draw influence from Ennio Morricone or David Axelrod? David: Oh, that’s a good comparison because I remember hearing that soundtrack (The Mission) and just wanting to compose the same music that’s equally as passionate. I love both of their work and I definitely listen to their stuff as I work. It all plays a part in the process. PIQUE: What instruments do you play and feel most connected to? David: Piano. And I play a lot of harp. I guess I wanted to be able to play multiple instruments. There’s a guitar shop in Los Angeles called Mc Cabe’s with a lot of hand-made instruments. It’s been around since the ‘60s. I bought a Hammerred Dulcimer. I just couldn’t use it live or incorporate it with animation. So I went back, bought a harp and got to work on it really well. It’s a lot like the inside of a piano and that just made sense to me. The strings are lined up like strings in a piano. Tori Amos plays instruments simultaneously with both her right hand and left hand. That makes a lot of sense to me—playing two instruments at once— one hand on the harp, and one hand on the piano. PIQUE: Tell me about Nick and how the two of you met. David: I had this crazy reoccurring dream about him. Basically, it was Armageddon. I didn’t know his name,
but I knew his face. We were tied together in a three-legged race and one of my friends brought him to the Echo [a nightclub in Los Angeles]. I asked him if he wanted a beer and he said, “Sure!” Nick is really happygo-lucky. That was three years ago. He was in a Grunge band at the time and they were amazing. But they slowly fell apart and they ended up breaking up on good terms. PIQUE: Nick, how did you guys start making music together? Nick: Within the first week, I brought a bunch of my instruments over and we would just get extremely drunk on whiskey and play. David sometimes played keyboards in a band I had, sometimes at our live shows. At that time, he was about eight to ten minutes into his first film. Then my band broke up and I focused more on our project. David is the ‘lead singer,’ as they are his words and ideas. I’m the editor, if that makes any sense. He has these grand ideas and I kind of say, “Well, that would be great but it’s really expensive and very time consuming.” But we make it work. For us, it’s exciting to get a minute of animation per month. We have a lot of time to write new material as the film is progressing and we are adding the music to develop it, as well as add details. PIQUE: What are your main instruments? Nick: Bass guitar. I was really into the idea of a cello, but it didn’t really work out, so I use the cello bow on the bass. It’s not super ambient, it goes all over the place with lots of keyboards, Glockenspiel and an accordion. PIQUE: Are there any pivotal albums either now or when you were growing up, that kind of made you just say ‘holy shit’? Billygoat: Hole changed my world. I’m such a fan. But I’m not a huge Courtney Love fan. I’ve met her and she’s nuts. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be like her or anything. You know, when you’re 13 or 14 years old, you’re not listening to the coolest music in the world. PIQUE: David talked about potentially adding more musicians when Billygoat performs, would you ever change the medium of your performance? Perhaps have a piece with interpretive dancers or some other performance aspect? Nick: I feel like the film stands on its own. Element-wise, not so much. I guess if we could get more time, we’d like to do more with lighting. Get the stage lit up really well, but that’s secondary, really. David is all for incorporating other musicians, but if it were up to me, just the two of us would be nice. PIQUE: What was your first cassette? Nick: Oh God…Green Day’s “Dookie.” I didn’t even really like them. It was either that or Collective Soul? I was thirteen years old. It was 1994, you know. David: Ace of Base.
Billygoat is working on a tour scheduled for later this year. It would be a travesty to miss. You must check out their newest animated piece coming to life that’s set to music as the dialog…If you walk away with anything, let it be that Ace of Base spawns brilliant minds.
JASON SHEXNAYDER’S PROJECTIONS TEXT SINDEN LEE
PROJECTIONS “There are those idiots who define my work as abstract; yet what they call abstract is what is most realistic. What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.” -Brancusi AFTER BEING REJECTED BY NYU Film School, Jason Schexnayder set out for California because he wanted a warmer place than Virginia. Man Ray’s biography inspired a free-floating appeal that was unimaginable for someone who was confined at a boarding school. Photos by Helmut Newton laced with promises of sex and shine propelled him to get a degree in Photography at Otis. Jodorowsky made it permissible for him to toss around the playful ball within stories. And the potent Ingmar Bergman inspired in him the idea of translating things from text to visual with a strong appeal of being on stage rather than on screen. Jason wants to capture the same amount of emotion that can be summed up in just a single shot that an entire movie sometimes requires. Perhaps paintings, sculpture and even photography to some degree celebrate this theory better than any other form. And perhaps that’s why he started photographing objects. But with a twist. ‘Projections’ is a hybrid medium that deals with scale, surface and translations. With each object, plaster is used seamlessly but with a heavy
density that looks simple and restrained. These sculpture pieces don’t have the Brancusi feel of pristine molds and they certainly don’t have the fluidity and lightness that Rodin pieces possess. But what they do have is a certain playful cheekiness of an unfinished, maquette quality. It gives you a sense of where the artist is with his development or conception of an idea. His stack of literary picks is an assortment of au fait—with the modern father of Russian realism Gogal stacked in between a Victorian sci-fi classic by Jules Verne, noir writer Gresham and the mother of all modern dystopian classics, Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange.” An indisputable icon—this time in the realm of condiments—the Best Foods jar of mayonnaise has a resonating thud of recognition, yet an amorphous identity that no longer is what it really is. “MAYO-FRONT,” 2008. Projection on Plaster Moled, on 35mm film.
Lo o k
Oposite:”Books — Front,” 2008. Projection on plaster. Above:“Books—Side,” 2008. Projection on plaster mold, 35mm film Below: “Books—Side Plain,” 2008. Plaster mold 35mm.
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER TEXT SINDEN LEE PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF AUTHOR
AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER pique .043
I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER
The first time that I got my heart broken wasn’t from a grade school crush on a boy. Nor was it the first time I ever fell in love. It wasn’t from a fight with my best friend where our friendship ended because it turned sour. It was my mom who first broke my heart. IT WAS AN EXCEPTIONALLY unforgiving cold winter day. My mom was coming home to visit. Grandma with the smell of rice cooking awakened me. Squirming at the table with anticipation, I soaked up the steam from the newly cooked bowl of rice, unable to eat my breakfast. I couldn’t contain myself from the excitement of seeing my mom. I couldn’t wait to crawl up on her lap and smell her and play with her hair. “Ai-yah. Sit still and eat your food,” my grandma chided, “Be a good girl and you can walk to the bus stop to see Ama.” She handed me a tangerine as a treat and said I could eat it on my way to the bus stop. I grabbed my trusted treasure chest made out of an old shoebox that contained all my favorite things: marbles and paper dolls with mix matched clothes and missing legs and placed my tangerine in the box. The brisk air stung my eyes. I caught my breath immediately as I stepped outside. I could see the afternoon sun beginning to wane with golden lights reflecting the cement sidewalk. I knew the course to the bus stop by heart. It was my favorite path to walk in the neighborhood. Tucking my box under my arm, I set to course with determination and glee. I arrived at the bus stop and plopped down at the bench. Although I had no way of telling time, I knew instinctively how to time the arrival of my mom’s bus. I promised myself that she would appear by the time I finished eating my sweet tangerine. Ever so careful to peel away all the rind and veiny strings, I counted down with every bite I took. I kept looking over to the side where the bus would pull up.
The bus finally appeared in the horizon. My heart started pounding. The anticipation and build up was too much. The door opened and only a handful of people stepped off the bus. But none of them was my mom. I wanted to believe that she probably just fell asleep and was in the back of the bus. The bus door closed with a heavy thud and its wheels began turning slowly. I was confused. Where was my mom? Feeling defeated and angry, I walked back with a sulk to my cold bench. I resolved myself to sit there until she appeared. If I wished really hard and promised to always listen to grandma, I just knew my mom would be running down the street, calling my name. She would scoop me up as she always does and peck me with kisses and laughter. The sun was setting and my fingers were now frozen purple. Tears welled up in my eyes. My grandma appeared and said, “Come on, let’s go home.” Kicking and screaming, I tossed the biggest fit. I couldn’t be consoled no matter how much she tried to reassure me. It was the longest walk back to the house. I must have cried well into the night because I got it from all ends: my uncle came home from work and admonished me. My aunt came in from the kitchen because she couldn’t endure my howls anymore and swatted me on my butt. My grandma had nothing to say. Since then, I’ve had extreme difficulty and issues with trust. I cannot fully explain the indelible impact that the experience at the bus stop did to me. I didn’t grow up with my mom or dad like other kids. It was just my mom and I in America. Having no formal education and being illiterate in English made it difficult for her to get proper work that wasn’t backbreaking and labor intensive. She worked on a migrant farm picking broccoli and strawberries with Mexican migrant workers in Santa Maria. Her fingers always bled from this backbreaking work. My beautiful Mommy, who appeared just like a Korean Angie Dickinson with immaculately polished fingernails, always looked weathered and beaten. She left me in the care of her older sister and moved to Hawaii. I felt irrevocably betrayed. Finally, I thought, we are in America without the distance hindering our union like it was back in
Korea. She promised me that when we got to America we’d be together. Unable to speak English yet, I was isolated and afraid when she left me. I weathered through almost two school terms before I saw my mom again. When she finally returned, her fingers were beautifully polished. She was aglow just like in Korea. She took me back with her to Hawaii and once again, I hoped to have my mom to myself. I envisioned us playing together all day, every day without the interference of judgmental family always telling me to stop pestering her. My mom worked from 2pm to 4am daily. I never saw her. The only time that we spent together was in the mornings. Too tired to hold a conversation, too exhausted to even feign interest in me, she drove me to school with eyes half shut. I came home from school to an empty house and remained alone until the next morning when we would start our routine all over again. She always had Sundays off, but there was no playtime to be had. That day consisted of house cleaning, chores, errands and cooking added with complaints and criticisms from my mom about how tired she was, how the house was a mess, and how I wasn’t doing enough to make life easy for her. Our house was a crash pad for everyone in her family. First, she brought her sister and brother from Korea. Then it was a niece. Then my grandma finally arrived. Every summer, my two cousins from California stayed the entire duration of their summer vacation with us. At any given time, it wasn’t uncommon for ten people to be in our house. The only time I received my mom’s attention
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
was always peppered with negativity. I suppose that’s why I associate love and affection with negative attention. When someone is kind to me, it makes me uneasy. My mom’s admonishments for my negligible transgressions were met swiftly with banishment to my room. She’d ignore me until she felt overcome with guilt at which time she’d call me to come eat. I learned to ignore her knit picking and criticisms by escaping with books, music and art. In my own little world I could pretend to be anything and anyone I wanted to be. I listened to mixed cassette tapes to drown out her screams. I read Kerouac and Henry Miller and day dreamed about falling in love with unapologetic, selfish men like them. No amount of her screaming and yelling deterred me from escaping into my own mind. I found new and innovative ways to do whatever I wanted without her finding out. Those formative years laid a path that I walked right into my adulthood. I still love men who are emotionally unavailable. I endure pain from those I love because I’m afraid to fight back. Yet it’s this type of man that I’m drawn to. I vie for the attention of that man who refuses to give me what I require to feel loved and adored. My relationship with my mom became even more strained when I went away to college. She wanted me to remain at home and go to University of Hawaii because I disappointingly didn’t get accepted to Harvard. I couldn’t think of anything worse. She didn’t understand why I wanted to major in English and Creative Writing. Her immigrant mentality wouldn’t allow her to wrap her
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head around it. She didn’t understand why she was wasting money for me to study something I should already know implicitly. She tried to bribe me to go to business, or law, or medical school. I refused. My mom, whose entire life has been about coming up and making money, wasn’t able to stomach the fact that I was throwing away opportunities she never had to be self indulgent and creative. The word creative wasn’t in her dictionary. I wanted to move to New York shortly after grad school. I knew she’d be upset. She even threatened to disown me. I wanted to be as far away from her as I possibly could get without hopping on a space shuttle mission to Mars. My mom converted from being a life-long Buddhist to a Bible thumping Christian. The worst kinds of Christians are the new converts. Proselytizing until she was blue in the face, she attributed all my unhappiness and discontentment from being a non-believer. I avoided her phone calls. This would rouse guilt trips that would go on for weeks, sometimes months. Accusations were hurled about how I didn’t love her; how selfish I was; how I will die lonely if I didn’t get my act together and find a husband to marry. If she didn’t get her way, she made dramatic declarations with yelling and caustic fights. I did my best to ignore and snub her. Then my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She was alone in Hawaii. I had to go take care of her. I lost my job in New York. Every day, I fed, bathed, and groomed her; tended to her every need while she never shut her mouth—not once—the whole time she was dying for six God-awful months. If you just closed your eyes in my mom’s presence while she droned on, you wouldn’t believe she was terminally ill. The energy this woman had in her last dying moments was demented. There were times when I honestly wanted to put a pillow over her face to shut her up. Where were all these nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters that she fed, schooled and housed? These people who were infallible to my mom, where the fuck were they now? I finally had enough one night when she laid into me at the hospital while I was feeding her. She badgered me about wasting my life and bypassing the chance to be a doctor or lawyer. At the very
least, she wanted me to be like Connie Chung on TV. The chemotherapy was obviously affecting her sanity. I had to check her. “You know Mommy, you’ve never been happy with me or anything I’ve done. All my life you criticized and complained. You know how many parents would be thrilled to have a daughter like me?!” She looked at me like I had just told her I murdered someone and was wanted in five counties. My mom, with her broken Engrish, said to me, “What the hell you talk about?! Not proud? I only hope. Nothing wrong with hoping.” I sighed, “You think you did your best, but you never loved me how I needed to be loved.” “Something wrong with you. How you can say this to Ama. How you can say I don’t love you?” my mom asked incredulously. “Someday when I die, that’s when you really alone. I mean really alone. Then you understand Mommy. Not now. You think I’m so bad?” she let out a defeated sigh as tears flooded her eyes. I really hated her at that moment. Shortly after that exchange, her condition became exponentially worse. She asked me to contact my dad. She wanted him to step up and take care of me. My mom couldn’t sleep at night from the cancer pain, worried with anxiety that she was leaving me alone in this world. “How I can go when you don’t have nobody? You call your father. Tell him I die soon. I cannot die if you alone.” Reluctantly, I set about to call my dad in Korea. Two years previously, I met my dad when he came to America to take his mother back to Korea. I didn’t know that I had an aunt, an uncle and a grandmother living in Los Angeles. Apparently, my dad contacted one of my mom’s brothers in Korea to ask about me since he was about to make his way to America. My mom called me in New York, crazed with excitement, “Ya! You daddy call your uncle in Korea! You go meet him. This you do for me. I take care of you all this time, now his turn.” This man had been vilified all my life by my mom and her family. I had to question whether this was a set up of some sort. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable. How was I showing my mom devotion and honor by meeting this man who abandoned us? She always spoke about what a philandering piece of shit he was; how he left her
in the dust with me. I’ve heard incessantly from her family how he ruined her life. I didn’t want to betray the years of commitment and dedication my mom bestowed upon me. I felt it’d be a tremendous insult and an act of the highest treason if I did that. But she insisted. My uncle (dad’s brother) wanted to meet up before my dad’s arrival. He picked a coffee shop in Koreatown. I walked into Piper’s Cafe to a packed room full of Koreans. How the hell was I suppose to spot my uncle? As I descended down the steps into the dining room, I saw a handsome fresh-faced man stand up and look at me. I instinctively walked over to him. He spoke Korean, calling me by my Korean name that my dad gave me, “Na Young?” I took his hand and he began to cry, “You look just like my brother. I knew your mom. You don’t look anything like her.” I’ve heard that all my life. My mom’s side of the family happens to be round-eyed Koreans with squat bodies and very fair skin, whereas I’m tall, with slanty eyes and my complexion is darker than the rest of her family. I always saw parts of me in my mom, but she always insist that I looked like my dad. My new uncle and I discussed the details of my dad’s arrival. He insisted that I go with him to the airport to greet my dad. I didn’t want to, but any objection on my part could be construed as rude and I didn’t dare give him an opportunity to castigate my mom for raising a bad girl. I obliged and said we would meet at LAX. I couldn’t find my uncle anywhere at International Arrivals. Two Korean Airlines flights had landed simultaneously and out through those frosted glass sliding doors poured out hundreds of Gooks that looked just like me. Then I saw my dad. I SAW MY DAD. He was a splitting carbon copy of me. It felt like I was looking into a mirror. His eyes, the shape of his head, his gate, even his mannerisms—everything about him completed me. I told myself all week that I wouldn’t ask stupid questions or break down and cry. How can you yearn for something you never had? I was stoically sure that I wouldn’t have any emotions when I saw him. I had no idea where those tears came from. When I saw my dad, we unconsciously walked
towards each other as if some invisible tether connected us. I bawled like I never cried before. I was that little five year old all over again, sitting at that bus stop in Inchon, with snot dripping out of my nose, feeling anguish and so completely abandoned. “Did you ever think about me? Did you ever wonder what happened to me?” I demanded to know. My dad sighed so heavily it shook me, “Every day. Not a day has gone by where I didn’t think of you or wonder what you’re doing.” My dad unleashed what he had been holding on to for 27 years. He told me that he was already married when he met my mom. His situation was an arranged marriage and while of course, he loved his wife; he wasn’t in love with her. He already had two sons when he met my mom. He declared that she was and still is the love of his life. He promised her that he would find a way for the three of us to be together. He told his wife about my mom and insisted she go and ask her parents to sign their divorce decree. His wife’s parents absolutely refused. He asked his parents. They denied him as well. For years my mom waited and waited and waited—for some sign from my dad that he was coming for us. In the meantime, she had to go into hiding because she had a baby out of wedlock. She had to leave me in the care of a friend until my dad managed to get my mom and I out of North Korea. Shortly after we arrived in Inchon, my dad said that she stopped returning phone calls. Then his letters to her came back unopened. He contacted a family friend only to be told that she and I went to America. He said I have a half-sister. His wife became pregnant with their third child the same time my mom did with me. I was in utter disbelief. All my life, my mom and her family told me that they were married and that she left my dad because he was a cheat, a liar and just simply ‘no good.’ My mom was an extremely proud woman. If nothing else, she always had her dignity and value system in tact. Who was I to go back to my mom and accuse her of being dishonest? For whatever reason she felt was justified, she decided to go with her story as the truth. I couldn’t take that away from her and humiliate her by exposing her lies. When she asked me after I spent two weeks with
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE SCATTERED PIECES ILLUSTRATION Text by Jane Doe JULIAN CALLOS
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my dad how everything went, I could feel tension and nervousness in her voice. I reassured her that everything was fine and that I had a good time with my dad. I declined to expound upon anything in great detail, and I especially didn’t divulge what he told me. I could tell that she wanted to press for more information, but thought better to leave it alone. I didn’t tell my mom that my dad claimed everyone—my two half brothers and sister, as well as his wife—knew of my existence. He made ambitious future plans with me when I would come visit them in Korea. I didn’t want to burst his bubble, but truth be told, I really had no interest in pursuing any relationship with these strangers. I did, however, want to maintain something substantive with my dad, but there was a twinge of contrition within me about how that would all relate to my mom and how that would affect her. She scrimped and saved all my life, made great unimaginable sacrifices to raise me the best should knew how. I don’t know that I could emigrate to a new country, without speaking a word of that language, let alone with a child in tow and make it. Her tenacity and resolute fearlessness was something to be reckoned with and I commend her for it. I’ve since developed a fond sense of respect for this woman. I recall my dad repeatedly telling me how proud he was of me. He was so grateful to my mom that she kept me “Korean.” He said he was worried that we wouldn’t be able to communicate once we met each other because he was uncertain if I could speak Korean. While others may have felt gratified and somehow even validated from their father saying how proud he is of them, I became quite angry. How I turned out and what I am, had nothing to do with my dad. He had no part in any of it. It was all of my mom’s doing. And I somehow felt he was taking away her credit. We parted ways amicably and promised to see each other again. And we did—twice. Fast-forward two years at the hospital with my mom persisting I call my dad. For her, I mustered up the courage and dialed his number. The phone rang for what seemed like an eternity. I immediately recognized his voice. “Dad, um... Mom is in the hospital. She has cancer. I’m sorry to bother you but she asked me to call and tell you—”
I AM MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER
And before I could finish my sentence, he said somberly, “Please don’t call here again.” It was unnecessary to exchange any more words. I got it. I apologized for troubling him and hung up the phone. He probably went back to Korea with a renewed sense of joy and hope in our reunion. He probably told his wife naively thinking that after all these years—27 to be exact—that she would understand and accept me as his own. It probably opened wounds that never healed for her. Perhaps he told his children, too. I don’t know. And quite possibly, they freaked out. I never believed him when he said that they all knew about about me. Korean culture is so steeped in “saving face” and outward appearances; it’s unimaginable that his family would accept me as one of their own. There’s no way I was going to beg and plead with my dad. I am my mother’s daughter and like her, I too have pride. What more could be said after being told never to call him again? To ask why would be indecent of me. I understood his situation. I wasn’t about to rock his boat and capsize his life. And there’s no way that I was going to allow this coward to break my mom’s heart for the second time. He made promises to her that he failed to keep. She suffered terribly the remainder of her life because of the bad choices she made in falling in love with him. My mom lived with the consequences of her choices, but did so with aplomb and grace. I went back to my mom and reassured her that everything was fine. I told her that my dad promised he would take care of me. She seemed so comforted by that. How could I be truthful and feel good about it when I knew it would break her heart? I’ve never regretted that choice. It’s been a long time since my mom died. I now understand everything she ever said to me—all her hopes and dreams that she poured into me. Her criticisms and nagging, while they may have damaged my self-esteem, have instilled in me the need to rebuke mediocrity. When she used to say, “You will see someday, nobody loves you like Mommy loves you” I never knew at that moment just how profound those words would come to mean.
the hairy situation
THE HAIRY SITUATION TEXT RENATA PASZTERKO PHOTOGRAPHY ROBERT BECKWITH
There’s a common and accurate saying that can be applied to hair: We always want what we don’t have. What drives women to alter their hair so drastically? None of us are strangers to the grueling methods of hair alteration. I’m curious to discover our need for it. Why does our hair cause us glimpses of self-loathing? PERHAPS WOMEN ALTER their hair to garner attention. Hair is erotic, so receiving attention by modifying it can be sexually gratifying. The downside to this is having no belief in your hair’s natural sex appeal. When I was in high school, everything from Marilyn Monroe to my golden-haired best friend convinced me that blonde hair was superior. I was fed up with being the dark brooding, eccentric curly-haired one. I felt my hair represented everything that men were not attracted to. Discussing blonde hair can be complex because its representation is so varied. There are the good examples like Marilyn’s, and then there are bad ones. More specifically, the type of bad blonde hair that’s so prevalent in (to use the American pejorative) White trash communities: stringy, degenerate, overbleached, root-exposed hair with no envy-inducing properties. Just to be clear, no one aspires to look like Britney or Chloe’s character in Gummo. The universe’s message to me that lighter hair had more sex appeal didn’t include this category of women. That confusion aside, by the ninth grade, the flat iron became my constant companion and I begged my mom to let me dye my hair. It only seemed “natural” to change my hair color since most of my friends were doing so on a monthly basis. Fortunately, my mom forbade hair dye so I was never “edgy,” “punk rock,” or most devastating of all, blonde. Hair experimentation had a lot to do with “finding” ourselves in high school. Although everyone was doing it, many were under the impression that altering their hair would enhance how “unique” they were. Using hair as a vehicle for expression is fine, but the problem with coloring your hair at such a young age
is that it damages it—the sooner you begin messing around with your hair, the more vicious and possibly life-long the cycle becomes. As my mom said, “If you’re not covering up your grays then you have no business dying your hair.” And judging by the texture of some of my friends’ hair now, she may have been on to something. Beyond experimentation, however, I believe there’s more to hair than meets the eye. Hair can represent so much—our heritage, age, personality—even our sexual persuasion. So I find it troubling when people alter their hair to such an extent that it disguises who they really are. It may reveal either how uncomfortable or confused they are with their identity. Hair dye usage doesn’t necessarily represent animosity for our genes, but it does represent a type of identity crisis. Until I experienced the trials and tribulations of others, I didn’t realize how extreme were some women’s penchant for perfect hair. This half Black/half Jewish girl was bombarded with thick, unruly curls from both sides of her family. She would spend three labor-intensive days each week washing, brushing, curling, and blow-drying her hair. The bulk of the work was done Sunday. She initiated this masochistic ritual with an extensive shower. After blow-drying her mop, she put it up in curlers and sat around for hours, only to blow-dry it again and re-curl it using a curling iron. Her pillowcases were satin and she always went to sleep wearing a shower cap because her hair was “superfine” and split easily. Who should have garnered my pity—my friend, for having to deal with her hair or her boyfriend, who had to wait until Thursday for her to break down and fuck him? There were more rigid rules when they did fuck, all to prevent her hair from getting messed up. Witnessing her nonsense, I turned a new leaf in my hair’s life and I stopped using my flat iron. There are a whole slew of women who probably bleach, highlight, and perm their hair with the same ferocity my friend had towards hers. Treating your hair or “getting it done,” is especially important in the Black community. I’m curious about AfricanAmerican women who dye their hair blonde—which is biologically near-impossible—and who consistently use “creamy crack” to chemically straighten it. This applies to Asian and Hispanic women as well. The most common place to find this phenomenon is on T.V. Just exactly what are TV networks telling us when
they “diversify” their news anchors, but whiten their features? Is it a reminder that Caucasians still dominate American culture? Are ethnic women trying to emulate Caucasians or do they really find blonde/ straight hair more attractive? With Oprah as one exception, it’s common for wealthy and/or famous Black women to “treat” their hair. Beyoncé is a prime example. Her hair is curly at times, but almost never in her “Feria by L’Oréal” ads. There’s been some controversy that L’Oréal allegedly lightened her skin with Photoshop for the print ads. There’s a notable difference between the shade of her skin in their advertisements and elsewhere. What’s the intention behind this? L’Oréal is perhaps trying to reach a certain demographic by using Beyoncé while simultaneously suppressing the characteristics that make her suitable for that demographic. If Black women want to embrace “whiter” hair, I’m not here to stop them. However, it would be nice to see more prominent Black women wearing their hair in natural styles or cosmetic companies embracing different textures of hair instead of marketing primarily Caucasian hair. Beyond the fundamental problem I have with hair relaxing is the more immediate damage it causes. Scalp irritation, scalp damage, hair loss and breakage are just a few effects of this treatment. The first product that claimed to have a straightening effect on hair was G.A. Morgan’s Hair Refiner Cream, created in 1910. The fact that its invention was the by-product of research done for machine needle lubrication should’ve been a good indication that it was harmful for hair, but instead it seems to have spurred a long history of chemical relaxers. Sodium hydroxide and Guanidine Hydroxide are the main tenants of creams that straighten hair, working their “magic” by changing the basic structure of the hair shaft. The former is marketed as “no lye,” making it less damaging but no less dangerous. A lot of women refer to them as “creamy crack” in Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair, which investigates Black women’s addiction to hair straightening. One explanation comes from a man wearing a giant Afro wig who states, “If your hair is relaxed, White people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.” I think his point is legitimate considering the Afro’s big comeback coincided with the Civil Rights and Black Pride movements of the Sixties.
A solution to these creams is hair extensions also known as weaves. They’re used to add length and volume to hair without causing pain or long-term damage. Unlike chemical hair relaxers, there’s no risk of burning your scalp or over-processing your hair. The disadvantage is the cost, which can range from the hundreds to the thousands for a single session at the hair salon. Additionally, a lot of maintenance comes with using them, but I’m under the impression that maintenance means nothing to women who have spent a lifetime dedicated to their coiffure. There’s quite a range in quality and application of hair extensions as well. One can choose between synthetic or human hair and whether it’s braided, glued, weaved, or clipped-on. The most valuable type of hair extension is called Virgin Hair, which was originally explained to me as the hair of a virgin. After a little online research, however, I discovered the term ‘virgin’ is only used because the hair has never been chemically treated before—the most popular kind comes from India. Something about buying another women’s hair to give body to your own mangy locks really creeps me out. I can imagine an epidemic of short hair in India because of all the women selling their locks for a little chutney. My imagination cannot be that far fetched considering human hair is one of India’s biggest exports. I also wonder if hair donations to organizations like the American Cancer Society and Wigs for Kids are starting to wane because people can make a profit selling their hair now. Despite the qualms I’ve made about hair alteration, it can have positive representations as well. Hair can be an outlet for lesbians to express their sexual orientation, activists to challenge the status quo, or average people to simply feel more attractive. Hair has become a sign of challenging authority and body hair has become a sign of gender liberation. Personally, I prefer my legs and armpits hairless, but it’s difficult to tell whether that’s my inherent preference or the result of social conditioning. I’d like to believe the former, as it’s so much more pleasing to caress a smooth, hairless leg than a prickly one. The same applies to my experience with facial hair. No matter how much my heart swoons for a good moustache, there’s nothing more painful than making out with one. For this reason, I believe it’s only fair for women to keep her pubic region
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
THE HAIRY SITUATION
groomed if she expects a guy to make out with it. That doesn’t mean I advocate shaving the entirety of the mound; unless you have the money and stamina for a Brazilian wax, daily shaving can be incredibly painful and burdensome. It’s just more attractive and hygienic to keep it trimmed. To put things into perspective, if a woman asks her man to shave his beard I think she owes it to him to take care of her muff. On the same token, I totally endorse hair and women who defiantly keep theirs. Flipping through some old Playboy magazines a while ago, I was shocked to find so much pubic hair on display. The bush began to disappear in their magazine around the mid-Eighties and the shapes and sizes of women’s vulva began to appear more homogenous, too. It’s offensive that female genitalia in the magazine now
look nearly pre-pubescent and shapeless. Playboy didn’t influence the start of pubic hair removal though; it has a long history that’s shared by both prostitutes and Muslims. Removing pubic and armpit hair was advocated by Muhammad for hygienic reasons. Hygiene motivated prostitutes to shave as well, since pubic hair advanced the spread of lice and shaving it was once considered a cure for syphilis. To disguise their lack of pubic hair, prostitutes and other sexually promiscuous dames would don merkins (or pubic wigs) to cover up signs of syphilis and other diseases. It never reached the apex that hair extensions have—no one was importing hair from India to cover up their shortcomings, but the merkin has had its place in
hair history. The current trend of shaving pubic hair didn’t come during a pandemic of syphilis, but it has spanned past my formative years to become deeply ingrained in me. The fact that my first reaction to my pubic hair was to shave it speaks for itself. So why are men shaving their legs and chests now? There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fuzz to run your hands through. If anything, it seems men are beginning to embrace their masculinity, not abhor it. For every hairless twink on the street, there are at least three mustached men to match. It’s very disconcerting when men have ample facial hair with no body hair to back it up. Are men forming the same complex about their bodies as women? There’s an erroneous myth among men that shaving their pubic hair adds visual length to their junk. Unless you’re a swimmer or an old, grizzly man with back hair,
I think it’s a little unnecessary to buzz the fuzz. Unlike women, there usually isn’t a sea of hair to comb through before finding men’s privates. I suppose the razor has become the old ball and chain for everyone these days and with the insurgence of “metrosexuality,” men have to pick up the slack with their body hair. I won’t deny that it’s comforting to see men spend as much time plucking, waxing, and tweezing themselves as we do, but I prefer the days when men’s eyebrows weren’t perfectly sculpted and their chest hair billowed out from their shirts with pride. I guess I’m just a sucker for old school masculinity. The underlying message here isn’t some corny affirmation like “shake what your mama gave ya.” I just want people to appreciate themselves a little more. There’s so much to celebrate once you ring your hair free of hatred and shame. Why put so much negative energy into our manes? There are days when I want nothing more than to buzz mine off like Britney or Sinead, but if I calm down for a second, I realize how much I would miss my curls. Going to the hair salon is a happy and beneficial ritual for a lot of women, but asking for corn-rows or a simple trim instead of hair relaxer wouldn’t hurt. Neither would a little encouragement from society to accept our roots—both hairy and cultural. While the biggest trend ntow is going “green” and “natural,” why not apply that to our hair as well? But don’t go dying your hair green. I guarantee it won’t make anyone green with envy.
DEATH,OR SIBLING RIVALRY MURDER OF CROWS TEXT TEXTSINDEN SINDENLEE LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
C. A. PEARL HSIUNG, “TOTEM (FRIGIDSTEIN),” 2005.
ENAMAL ON CANVAS,
30” X 24”. ALL IMAGES OF PEARL HSIUNG’S WORK COURTESY OF STEVEN TURNER
B. MICHAEL HSIUNG,
“THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE FISHERMAN’S SON,” 2007. PEN ON PAPER, 8” X 11”.
C. PEARL HSIUNG,
“TIDAL WRETCH,” 2005. ENAMEL ON CANVAS, 84 X 64”.
D. PEARL HSIUNG,
“HELLO (STILLS),” 2009. DIGITAL VIDEO 3’:30”.
LIKE ALL GOOD SIBLINGS, Los Angeles-based artists Pearl Hsiung and Michael Hsiung are fiercely supportive of each other’s antipodal artistic styles. Both convey emotional observations of their respective surroundings of day-to-day life by anthropomorphizing their work. Individual childhood experiences influence their art that notably parallel where and who they come from—immigrant parents from Taiwan. Growing up, Pearl had a lot of creative interactivity with her mother. They built book report dioramas and dollhouses and drew together. “My mom made us our own Cabbage Patch dolls that she brought back from China. But they had blue and pink hair. So that we’d feel like regular American kids with regular Cabbage Patch dolls, she removed their hair and replaced it with yarn that she sewed. We’d always get the ghetto version of Nintendo, too—always the Chinese version. Our mom happens to be a real over-achiever, to this day, I think that really affects us.” The Hsiungs explain that they were raised on TV violence. As kids, they watched action movies and played with toy guns. “There’s a photo of me where I’m wearing a ski mask dressed in full camo, holding a toy silencer with my glasses sticking out of the silencer,” says Michael.
“Our paternal grandfather, Hsiung Shih-Fei was a military prodigy, Governor of Jiangxi Province in mainland China and a Kuomintang general. ‘He was the Right Hand Man to Chiang Kai-Shek,’ as our father used to say. Our father’s biggest hobby was reading up on war strategies, collecting miniature tanks and military planes as well as taking us to gun shows. He would buy Michael detonated grenades, gas masks, rifle replicas and other military paraphernalia while I would just buy cool-looking military pins and crystals. I wonder if Michael’s interest in demystified and humiliated Hitlers is inspired by playing war with real weapons as a kid and growing up to be a creative civilian,” says Pearl. In junior high, Pearl drew Dungeons & Dragons characters that Michael wanted to play. Pearl majored in Fine Arts at UCLA. After graduating, she worked for a few years at a graphic t-shirt company before attending prestigious Goldsmiths College in London for her MFA. She shares the distinct roster with fellow alumnus Lucien Freud, Mary Quant, and Damien Hirst. Michael returned to Los Angeles after getting his Bachelor of Arts in English at San Jose State University. His drawing turned serious after many jaunts to a local dive bar the Cha Cha where he would sit at the
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
bar, draw on cocktail napkins and shove them back into the dispensers. Sporting a serious soup-strainer moustache accompanied by an almost Fabio-like shag haircut sheared by his sister, Michael claims to have been drawing dinosaurs, stegosaurs, and moustaches even before he was born. Pearl talks about “growing up and to this day, our parents never had ‘the talk’ with us. Sex was an invisible subject that we would learn about way later than most. My father would playfully cover our eyes when there was kissing in movies and we’d have to leave during the sex scenes. However, violence was acceptable and even celebrated.” Pearl observes, “This attitude isn’t culturally specific but I wonder how many first-generation Chinese parents talked to their children openly about sex?” In much of Michael’s art, violence is central and familiar while sex and sexuality is suppressed and reshaped. Michael considers the inspirations that fuel Pearl’s creativity: “Most of Pearl’s art brings up unconscious memories and associations with how we were brought up, specifically as weird Asian people in America. In her video “Hello,” the character presented in this piece dons a specific ‘80s style perm that was popular with Asian women absorbing American
trends, in particular with my mother, but also humorously enough with my father. There’s that distortion or lost in translation type of interpretation—perms for Asian men are okay, too. There’s actually a photo of Pearl and my father sitting on a couch with matching perm curlers. I remember them asking if I wanted one and I knew even then that that was way too weird for me. When my father went to work at the bank, his coworkers called him ‘Buffalo Head.’ This is what I term as Pearl’s “Buffalo Head” imagery. “The ‘Totem (Frigidstein)’ piece stands out to me, yelling out ‘Chinese’ and ‘lower middle class’— [referring to]the concrete block and the Halloween finger,” o bserves Michael. “These two contrasting images reiterate to me just how much our parents’ aesthetic and upbringing are the roots to our artistic imagery. The concrete slab and wood combo was something my father used in his study and bedroom for shelving while the green Halloween finger is reminiscent of the cheap plastic toys we used to get at the dentist’s office. I suppose it’s the combination of these two childhood items that represents a sort of eclectic cultural mess.” To look at Pearl’s vividly animated paintings, installations and sculptures is a piquant
E. MICHAEL HSIUNG, “THE KNIGHT OF TEMPLAR FROLICKING THROUGH THE FRIELD WITH THE HOLY GRAIL,” 2007. COLLAGE, PEN ON PAPER, 11” X 17”.
journey into a mind which runs deeper than the Congo River that Joseph Conrad speaks of in Heart of Darkness. She takes the grim and the ugly and renders them beautiful. Boils are found in many of her pieces—shiny cherry-like bulbs in varying sizes with prickly hairs playfully emerge. Feminine puffy bows placed in unsuspecting rocks and boulders are also prevalent. “I just like to dress them up, make an occasion out of it.” Lots of geysers, eruptions and ruptures happen in Pearl’s art, too. In the midst of all the salient mayhem, there is a contrast that she calls “repulsive attractive action.” It is delectably luscious. At first glance, one would err to dismiss Michael’s art as simply conspicuous. Look again at its oblique depictions of violence to animals: Manto-animal and animal-to-animal combat is quietly out of place and serene. There is something willfully contrary in his depiction of father carrying his son who has a mermaid tail in place of feet. It is tenderly playful and even profound without being corny. Michael garnered a lot of curious attention with his series of malapropos drawings of Hitler. “I draw him in a setting you wouldn’t expect because he’s holding a flower that’s a swastika. It’s a joke. He’s enjoying nature, but he’s bad and evil. Later drawings are of him in Vienna as a struggling artist. That’s a fantasy I createdm wondering ‘what’s he drawing? What’s he like?’ In my head, I picture him being an idealist drawing unicorns, castles and magic because he’s so bummed that he couldn’t accept this world. I would’ve wanted to meet Hitler before he was a Nazi. I would start a ‘zine with him. Someone asked if I’ve offended anybody with my Hitler drawings. I just draw him to be funny in an offensive way.” Pearl makes note of Michael’s “On the Firm Friendship Between Two Gentlemen:” “I can’t tell if this kid is being punished or having fun. If he’s being punished, then he’s really not very much like our father. The only way he would punish us was by making us stand in the corner. Later when Michael was older, my father would make him kneel in front of the toilet and stare at his poo. Luckily, I was never punished like that, as I really never got caught for stuff. If the boy in this photo is having fun, then I’d say that’s more like our father. Still to this day, our father is a child at heart. He jokes
that he celebrates his 19th birthday every year. “I’d say that much of Michael’s imagery of knights, mythical monsters and other magical entities are definitely inspired by all the time we played Dungeons & Dragons as pre-teens. Our parents were very supportive of our imaginations by supplying us with toys and allowing us a lot of time for creative, inventive play. However, we were also left alone a lot after the mid ‘80s when both our parents were working. The figure in ‘The Knight of the Templar Frolicking Through the Field With the Holy Grail’ seems slightly lonely, or is at least on a solitary quest. This reminds me of when Michael walked home alone from the bus stop when we lived in Northridge. He was probably 10 and had to walk through the neighborhood park to get home. That park was large, strange and full of surprises. I think those lone journeys left an impression.” While the Hsiung siblings may differ in style and method, the influence of their Taiwanese parents and upbringing bridges a connection to their roots despite having been raised in Los Angeles. There is always something wholly suspicious and unfortunate when someone denies his past and heritage for the sake of blending in. The Hsiungs not only embrace theirs, but give credit where its due. F. MICHAEL HSIUNG, “ON THE TEACHABLENESS OF CERTAIN AIR TOSSES,” 2010. PEN ON PAPER, 9” X 12”. G. MICHAEL HSIUNG, “WHAT REALLY WENT DOWN ON BUNKER HILL,” 2010. PEN ON PAPER, 8” X 11”. H. PEARL HSIUNG, “SAINT PERPETUUM,” 2005. ENAMEL ON CANVAS, 84” X 64”.
ARRANGEMENTS CLASSIC BLOOMS MEET MODERN LUXE
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
All Clothing and Accessories VINTAGE, purple suede peep toe by VINCE BY VINCE CAMUTO
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
Mustard leather sandal ALFANI SHOES
Hair JEREMY TARDO Beauty RUTH QUEVEDO Model LAUREN at Vision Photography WILFREDO ALEXANDER Style REBECCA DADDO Special Thanks MATTHEW EIKELBERGER
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
PARA ASAR ON AISLE 13
All Clothing and Accessories DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS VINTAGE TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
.076 pique .076 pique
DAMSELS TEXT SINDEN LEE DRAWINGS MONI LEWANDOWSKI
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS
Hair ATHENA LE GRAND Photography ERIC CURTIS Style REBECCA DADDO Special Thanks BI-RITE MARKET
PREPARATION FOR FALL/WINTER 2010 TEXT VANESSA PASZTERKO
ARIES The first half of this year has been all about your ability to fearlessly seize opportunity-no matter how daring or venturesome. You may have been deep in slumber last year, frozen or locked into immobility but these past few months have been about throwing caution to the wind and grasping opportunity. This activity is apparent due to Mars— the planet of physical energy—occupying Aries for the beginning months of the year bringing with it adventure, risk taking, and exploration. Just as Mars leaves, Jupiter the planet of optimism steps in to support whatever choices were made. Aries are accustomed to rushing into everything and getting themselves into trouble, but restassured, you have Jupiter backing up your move, blessing it with good luck and success. Just be mindful that although blessed by Jupiter’s presence, taking that leap of faith won’t make you impervious to confrontation, discord, and conflict.
TAURUS This year is about overcoming your inhibitions. Over time you’ve developed serious complexes that dictate to you, squeezing you into a knot that won’t stop tightening. You’re bearing the brunt of everybody’s burdens and you’ve had enough! There’s something that is holding you back from letting go and it will only getting worse this year as tensions will build until a final eruption that will aid in releasing you from your stifling/negative perspective occurs. It’s not that you don’t have the will to make the changes that are long overdue, but as a Taurus, your stubborn nature perpetuates the situation. The light at the end of the tunnel is a strong T-Square alignment that’s developing, involving Saturn, Uranus, Jupiter, and Pluto. This alignment will be the force that will shake you out of any sort of uptight, fearful, or all-consuming situation.
GEMINI Career, education and the relationship you have with your mother are sure to be important factors in your life right now. This is a year of transformations and transitions for everyone, but for Geminorum in particular. Although the changes won’t be apparent now, you’re making decisions and changes that will be affecting you for years. For quite some time now, you’ve been asking yourself what the purpose of your life is and where you fit into the big picture. This year will be about a spiritual or selfless journey for you and the answers to those pertinent questions will be shown to you through education and travel. The summer months are going to be particularly important for expanding your social network to include people who are completely different from anything you’ve experienced before. Networking during this time will prove beneficial in expanding your perspective on life. You may suffer some let-downs at the beginning of the summer due to finances or conflict, and there’s a lot of indecisive energy—which as a Gemini—you’re certain to be familiar with, and it will afflict you in the months following.
CANCER These past six months have given you a focus on financial security and family matters and this is due to Saturn’s presence. Cancer being the ruler of security and matters of the home make this placement especially potent. Pluto and Saturn will also be shedding light on your love life. You will either see a potentially damaging relationship for what it really is and make the necessary change, or you will unexpectedly find love. You’re normally an excellent judge of character so you may have had your pride hurt by putting your trust in the wrong people, tolerating them for far too long. This effect may have an isolating tone for you but take comfort in knowing that now is the time to evolve your communicative skills. This is also a good time to focus on your education. If you’ve been thinking of returning to school then do it now.
LEO Mars is impatient, it wants movement and it wants it now. For Leos, Mars is in retrograde and has spent an extended period of time hovering over them and pushing for motivation and action. Over the past six months you may have felt an inescapable urge to complete your daunting to-do list once and for all. It’s also possible that this energy has worked adversely, laying on the pressure a little too thickly and making you feeling inexplicably checked out or burned out. That overwhelming sense of urgency that afflicts you will soon be on its way out and you’ll once again feel capable. You may have experienced trauma in the past year that’s made you feel inadequate and lost, but do your best to have faith in your strengths and your ability to persevere.
VIRGO The past year has left you thirsty. You’ve been intrigued and seduced by a thought or chance at something that you haven’t been able to grasp. You’ve had to learn from past mistakes and use what you’ve learned to make it happen. During the fall months, your ruler Mercury will spend a lot of time in Virgo assisting and sanctioning your venture. You have to recognize the importance of how things are lining up for you and channel the strength you need for improvement. Another blessing this year will come in the form of making amends with people or strengthening your current personal relationships.
LIBRA Out with the old and in with the new. This year will be all about evaluation and elimination. What can you live without? What has been burdening you? Once the necessary changes have been made, you will see your life filling up with opportunities and people. You have to be particularly mindful not to swamp yourself. Take things one step at a time: Of course, life will be exciting and carefree once you free yourself from redundant burdens, but pace yourself. Another thing to be aware of this year is the tendency to be overindulgent. Along the same chord, check yourself if you’re doing too much of anything. Don’t overextend yourself.
SCORPIO You can’t watch from the sidelines any longer. It’s time for you to step in and take a stand. Around the late summer months you’ll be faced with an opportunity to become more self-aware whether physically or psychologically. There’s a clear message with your yearly projection: It’s time for you to make a major change. This change could be about career or a relationship but either way, you need to shake yourself off of your daily routine. This could either come in the shape of a drastic career change or giving up the single life to start a family.
PREPARATION FOR FALL/WINTER 2010
SAGITTARIUS With Pluto going through Sagittarius, these past years have been difficult for you to say the least. Everything that could go wrong, most likely did. If your health and sanity remains intact, then think of yourself as lucky. The end of spring may have brought with it a turning point for you. It’s now your time to pick up the pieces and start anew. Although it won’t be easy sailing the entire year and there will still be a lot of highs and lows to contend with, this year will be somewhat of a healing or cleansing process as you start to experience stability.
CAPRICORN If nothing else, this year will be revolutionary and momentous for you. Throughout the summer months you will have a lot of reconciling to do concerning your past either with family or the home. The beginning of the summer indicated a turning point for you marked by the release of a build-up in tension. With Mercury in retrograde during this time, you’re likely to experience setbacks with travel, communication or business. With all the obstacles set for you this year, take comfort in knowing that you’re supported by the cosmos: When faced with a challenge, you’ll find that you’re prepared to handle it. When things get tough this year—which are bound to happen—you will find that there’s a guardian angel looking after you.
AQUARIUS Last year you got the big break you were looking for and made the most out of your opportunity to change your life around. You also may have become mindful of the disparity between the idealized you and the real you. Your goals may have been out of reach and a dose of reality forced you to compromise with your current situation. Don’t be discouraged for your time to shine will come. For now, brace yourself because at some point this year, you’ll be faced with a major obstacle that gets in the way of your plans. Just remember that life is balanced: How can you appreciate having it so good unless you’ve paid your dues?
PISCES This year will be about healing and self-discovery. Last year you let go of something that was hindering you. As so often happens when we change a situation that was detrimental for us, the minute things get tough on our current new course we immediately start longing for the old, comfortable place we were in; although it was only comfortable because we knew it so well. Don’t dwell on the past; look forward to where you’re going and what opportunities await you. Resist the urge to turn into yourself, be moody and spiteful, or swim away. Be strong because halfway through the year you’ll have a big decision to make.
MS. PLUMBER SERVES GOD WITH A ‘DEAR JOHN’ LETTER TEXT MORGAN READ DAVIDSON
Dear God, I’ve reached my breaking point. I know that a letter is the worst way to do this, but we both know how your temper can be. I’m breaking up with you. So there it is. You shouldn’t be surprised after everything that’s happened over the last year. I’d like to say that it’s not you, it’s me, but I’d be lying. It is you. You’re not the man I fell in love with all those years ago. Sure, you saved me from a depraved life of drugs, sex in airport restrooms, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. And I can’t say we haven’t had some good times…great, really. We brought our savior Dubya to office, started a crusade against the heathen Muslims, washed away the filth of New Orleans, and tortured the hell out of all those commies and towel-heads. But then something happened. You changed. I’ve realized that there isn’t a future in this relationship. We’re both going in very different directions here. I’ve invested in some pretty long term goals—prayer in schools, the creation of a Christian theocracy, the destruction of Islam—and you’ve made it very clear that this isn’t the direction you are taking. And just for the record, I know about your little indiscretions. You’ve had your eyes all over that Nazi Obama from the moment he incited the masses at the Democratic National Convention. At first I thought that you saw what I saw, that the anti-Christ had finally come to earth and I prepared for Armageddon—believing that you would finally come down in the flesh to destroy sinners once and for all and lead the faithful to your kingdom. But then people began to say he was the Messiah, and you did nothing. No, it was worse than that. You made him president. A black Muslim. A savage heathen. President. I thought I knew you. What happened to all the fire and brimstone? You used to punish sinners, now you reward them. I can only conclude one thing: you’ve gone soft. I want someone who is willing to stand up for his beliefs and destroy his enemies. So I guess I should just come out and say it. The real reason I’m breaking up with you is because I’ve found someone else. And he’s so much better than you. Better looking, stronger, more passionate. He has the power to fight against all that is Evil, and he’s willing to do it day in and day out. When you allowed the gays to soil marriage, he stepped in and inspired the faithful to fight back. When Obama nominated that Mexican to the Supreme Court, he wasn’t afraid to call her what she was, a damn racist. And even now, as the anti-Christ attempts to install his Death Panels and force everyone to get a sex change, my man is fighting for our freedom. His words are like a wildfire running through the hearts of all those who are good and true. I just want you to understand why I’ve moved out of your house. Maybe you’re just going through a mid-millennium crisis and experimenting, but I can’t wait any longer for your empty promises of Judgment Day. In fact, I actually want to thank you. If it hadn’t been for your complete neglect over the last two years, I might have actually followed right along and become one of those mindless drones constantly chanting “Change, Change, Change!” No, ironically you saved me for the second by inadvertently pushing me away to my true love, the real savior of America. Rush.
Sincerely, Ms. Josephine Plumber
DEATH,OR MURDER OF CROWS TEXT SINDEN LEE ILLUSTRATION JULIAN CALLOS