Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stupid-ass bitch (crazy bitch) ol' dumbass bitch (crazy bitch)

Yeah. The subject heading refers to these twats on the law-democrats listserv who spend all their precious time ticking out polemics against GSOC, the grad students organizing at NYU. Yes, *against.* What the fuck is wrong with these people? They recycle the same stupid-ass arguments (grad students are privileged, grad students have job security, grad students are cry babies who spend too much money on lattes, having a grad student union would demean "real" unions) and then get all huffy because "their" values are being "co-opted" by those mean, unaccommodating GSOC strikers.

For example:
As long as we're articulating reasons, I'd love to see someone articulate why my
liberal values should prompt me to support a corrupt Union that's lost its
mission and has come trolling for revenue and a bunch of people with every
social advantage in the world complaining about what I can only see as generous
funding of a good education. I'm sorry, but in this case, I feel that liberal
values and ideology have been disingenuously co-opted for a self-serving and
petty cause. To me this campaign feels, at worst, like a very painful satire of
a movement and of values that I care about deeply, and at best like a horrendous
waste of time.

Oh my god, if ever one has deserved a swift sidekick to the crotch, then that one is him and that time is now. I love how these law-dems get so defensive about their precious "values," which must be safeguarded and judiciously wielded only by the wise, the prudent, and Joe Lieberman, but then retreat to their little library cubbyholes, sit on their hands and while entire careers away furiously thinking up ways to beautifully contort words so as to excuse themselves from ever having to act on aforementioned "values." And then there is this whole defending one's values from the values-misappropriating barbarians trope, which comes out of a fundamental insecurity over one's grip on one's values. You wouldn't be afraid to share your values if you weren't afraid that your own adherence to your values was at risk. You wouldn't be afraid that people who aren't on DLC message will ruin your utopian values vision with their messy chanting and homemade posters, incurring (gasp!) not-exactly-on-DLC-point publicity for you, if you had any faith in those values in the first place. There's a neat name for this: SELF-LOATHING. As one ex-girlfriend said to me in one particularly messy break-up, "Where's your balls?"

Fucking eee-diots.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The first thing that comes up when you run a Google image search for "cute puppies"

For every cardinal (turn, turn, turn)

In some ecclesiastical courts, to convict a defendant of a crime, the prosecution would have to hale more than one witness into court. These witnesses were given credence in accordance with their spiritual status. To contradict the word of one cardinal, you would have to drag 44 non-cardinal witnesses into court.

Oh my.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Taking Down

Three things.

Deep Thought #1) "We wish to take down what will continue in all events to rise. We wish not to be erased from the picture. We wish to picture the erasure." I'm re-reading Jorie Graham's "The Taken-Down God" and finally, after a head-scratching first reading, understanding the titular double/triple entendres: "taken down" referring to the removal of a Jesus sculpture from the wall of a chapel; "taken down" as opting out of faith, declining the sculpted Jesus, the hand-made representation of the possibility of ascendence; and "taken down," meaning Jorie Graham sneaking into a chapel on Easter Sunday and surreptitiously documenting the removal of the sculpture, taking down the event on a pad and paper, finding alternative means for apotheosis through the creative act of writing. Whoa. All of this is meaningless to dear reader, but I needed to write it down. Remember, blog = journal and journal = languishing in disuse!

Deep Thought #2) Thinking about Eric Murphy-Chutorian’s terrible misreading of a poem in 12th grade. He constructed a tragically poor analysis of the line “In the pocket/shingles” (or something like that) as an apostrophe to a moth named Shingles, whose texture and flightiness resembled that of the dollar bills pressed into his pockets. No he di'int! you say. Yes, he did. Reading poems and thinking about Eric Murphy-Chutorian (who is now lining his own pockets with Shingles, I mean, with fat wads of Internet cash) got me thinking about using poetry as group therapy. Or not as group therapy, but rather, as an ice-breaking game during a corporate retreat.

Here's how it would work: Someone (not even necessarily a Poet!!!) would write an exquisite corpse poem. Everyone would then gather round, pore over this meaningless string, and each person would give a quick interpretation of those words...and the breaking of even the coldest of metaphorical ices—dry ice, even—would ensue! It’s like a Rorschach, except the author of the string would have even more fun than the author of the inkblot. Plus it’s easy to remove inkblots from signification but with language you are forced to contend with prior meaning and context, so the author has to be clevererer. Like, you can draw a round mound and reasonably expect a large proportion of your subjects not to associate that round mound with words like “mammary” and “purple nurples” and “brassieres.” However, if you write the words “red-breasted robin,” you can imagine the puerile majority responding with big-boobs associations.

This seems convoluted, so perhaps the best thing to do is simply try it out. For example,

Prometheus go habit item school ministry line carded best creamy boxy pinprick

Executive A (mergers and acquisitions) says: This is a story about the fall of man, his origins in fire and his end in bloodshed.

Executive B (human resources) says: The moral of this story can be loosely translated: ‘The early bird gets the worm.’ Let’s blue sky with this one, people.

Executive C (the CEO) says: Why must it always come to this? Why must his every move be hounded and criticized? Leave him alone, you animals, let the man live! Nothing is perfect! Let he who is without sin! Let glass houses! Let goddamn! Goddamn!

Executive D (the vice president) says: This is an inappropriate exercise for a professional retreat.

Deep Thought #3) I wish there was a slender but tough fiber glued to each one of my epidermal cells. And there was a threshold tension at which a cell, when pulled, loses its bond with its neighbors and is pulled off the body. And all of these fibers were simultaneously pulled to just below this threshold point. I just want to feel what it’s like to be about to burst.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage the life cycle of insects. Currently at that stage of courtship where I spend all my time loading old music into a little black contraption that plays it back to me, pushing a grocery cart in the produce section pausing in front of the parsley to assess whether it's worth it to run my fingers through the crenellations, falling asleep under uncomfortable sheets in the mid-afternoon to Richard Bruckner lullabies, waking up and feeling a strong urge not to read Contracts, dawdling until way past dark, and then loathing myself for not trying harder. It's finals, folks, the time to test one's ability to endure anxiety!

Current ability to endure anxiety is low and ebbing. Uh-oh.

Four years ago

Here's a half-hearted attempt to recapture what was lost when Microsoft ate my last attempt to write an unwriteable story. It's just a clatch of images, but sufficient time has elapsed so that I remember nothing other than a clatch of images.

So this is what I remember from November 27, 2001: Casa del Sol, the abandoned tenement turned almost-adverse-possession squat on Cypress in Mott Haven/Hunt's Point, Laura's former home, eventually taken over by young crusty punks after the RNC last year but shut down after the FDNY and NYPD set it on fire December 2004; crazy guy named Bueno, crazy guy named Bernard, an angel named Lisa, a saint named Harry; stumbling off the 6 train looking for the Cherry Tree Garden; chopping up logs in the South Bronx with a dull ax and moving all the mulch in a wheelbarrow; a single toilet bowl in the center of an otherwise empty room, water flowing in a stream from the ceiling, a bare bulb next to it; Culebra the cat and her kitten Unguento; a kitchen sink rendered useless when a crazy guy accidentally boiled a chicken in candle wax and poured the wax down the drain in an attempt to save the chicken; no electricity but an old European payphone and candelabras; a dried elephant's leg used as a wastebasket/umbrella holder/hat; six floors of abandoned belongings, suitcases full of porn, 26 tuxedos, Naked Color Spectacular; dozens of rooms with nothing but drafts, rooms shuttered in plywood, rooms with homemade stoves and vents; a four-seater bicycle car in the vestibule; a "gallery space" with no illumination; a day-long fast; an abstinence from water; Sam's silver fixed gear with brahma bars; a dusk to dawn Navajo tipi ceremony led by two Arizonans named Keith and Melvin; a tipi no bigger than a bedroom seating 52 with a blazing fire in the middle of it and a tiny hole at the apex for the smoke to escape; two concentric circles of 26 each; starting in the inner circle but hating the heat; moving into the outer circle and losing my shirt and freezing next to Laura; watching a heat blister the size of a baby corn bubbling up on Aresh’s bicep as he endured the fire; kneeling until kneeling was no longer possible but being bitched out by Keith for being unable to overcome physical pain and instead all of us sitting sidesaddle like weak women; 52 wingnuts in a tipi projecting their own misfired visions of Native American religiosity onto actual Native American religiosity; 52 fools taking turns saying what was on each of their minds while a troubled man beat a drum filled with water; pulverized peyote by the fistful, spooned out of Skippy jars with a tablespoon, the powder reaching under your teeth, into your throat, up your nose, gumming your mouth, difficult to swallow, impossible to disgorge, clouding your judgment, echoing the water drum, protracting that strung out woman across the fire’s rendition of “What the World Needs Now” between four and six in the morning; politely bypassing every opportunity to chant or say prayers; watching the Latin American guy heave and vomit next to the fire, which we learned then was a sacred symbol of “ancestors,” watching the same guy later reach dazedly for an ember only to be swatted away by the huge Jamaican man tending the fire and reprimanded by Melvin—in his own defense the Latin American man saying, “It ‘twas a FEE-ling”; Lawrence, dirty old white man with white beard and white hair, laughing at Keith’s militarism, hooting at Keith’s declarations of patriotism and his support for the war in Afghanistan in which his daughter was fighting; Keith screaming at Lawrence and implying the whole history of European-on-Native American violence; Keith screaming at us and implicating all of us in the same history; a break at 3 a.m. standing swaying in the garden with Aresh sprinting around the block for energy and yelling “Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!”; Melvin leaving the tipi during a lull to pray aloud outside, his voice pitching, breaking, howling some kind of high lonesome toward the Bruckner traffic, trafficking in redemption, begging forgiveness for the 52 idiots crying in the tipi and all the people they’d ruined; all of us sending prayers to unreal things, me included, overcoming skepticism to see the unstoppable momentum of faith, nothing but faith, faith naked and blinding, faith as a speech-act that invokes itself and makes itself true; Lawrence laughing in spite, Lawrence and Keith again fighting; Lawrence standing up in tree pose, saying nothing, holding the pose, then leaping out of the circle for a derisive dance around the sacred fire, and plunging through the oilskin hatch and guffawing in the garden and 52 suddenly depressed idiots feeling then that all the collective goodness we thought we thought we believed in were illusions masking unstoppable isolation; the night continuing into pre-dawn twilight, into dawn, into day; breaking the fast with venison and corn palmed out from pewter bowls; drinking water for the first time in twenty-four hours and consequently feeling as if flying; mouthing prayers, thinking prayers, trying so damn hard just for one moment in a lifetime of moments to live prayers; thinking the unthinkable thought of leaving the tipi; drawing out the ceremony until seven; then a processional around the fire and through the oilskin hatch; a giddy processional outside around the tipi; racing with Laura into the building, up past the sixth floor, onto the rooftop, past the skylight Amy ruined a pair of secondhand overalls attempting to caulk, leaning on elbows against the sloped tar of the roof berm and watching Aresh contort and flex and turn cartwheels and yelp with pleasure and watching the slow Thanksgiving boats pass under Hell’s Gate and the parade of shining cars on the Bruckner hurrying to feasts and families, seeing New York in slanting light from Yankee Stadium to the Gowanus to office canyonlands to wake waves lapping on the Jersey shore, shivering from the unexpected generosity of a late November sun, thinking this is it this is it this is it, this is the closest I’ll ever be to transcendence; the unmanageable urge to hold everything in my arms, in my mouth, streaked in the fibers of my muscles, laced into my eyelashes, balanced on the bunched up tips of my fingers; leaning over the edge of the roof and monitoring the bustle in the triangular wedge of urban agriculture below; returning to the garden, sampling a root roast, beaming, hugging, and finally taking a reluctant leave to the 6 train again, first stopping by Laura sleeping in a wheelbarrow to pat her feet goodbye, heading to the Lower East Side, to Rivington Street, to a 24-hour bagel store to search for Cynthia from D.C. but instead finding her outside on a bench facing an empty basketball court littered with potato chip bags, taking her back to the apartment; and finally, sleeping the deepest sleep ever slept in a filthy sleeping bag on a borrowed bed in a tiny room in a shared apartment in a noisy neighborhood in a wild city in overfilled with love.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A typical conversation with my dad

Dad, taking a break from random handiness around the house, stopping in doorway: Who cuts your hair?
Me, sitting at computer puzzling through Contracts Part II: Um, I do.
Dad: That's so sad.
Me: I don't mind.
Dad: You should get someone else to cut it. Thin it out. It looks like a hat. It's like Queen Elizabeth.
Me: You say the nicest things.
Dad: [returns to rooftop to rummage around with pipes and hammers]
Me: [immediately starts blogging, hanging hair/hat in shame]

Mother@#$%! Microsoft!

Goddamn, I just spent forty-five minutes finally writing down the Thanksgiving 2001 story I've been attempting to write for four years, only to have my grand plans thwarted by a crashed computer. So now all my pretty words are on some undiscoverable part of a silicone chip somewhere in this computer, and my adoring fans will never learn about the closest I came to adult spirituality, in a tipi in a garden in a squat in the South Bronx. Goddamn. Maybe if I try to write about the closest I came to child spirituality, with eight uninterrupted years of daily prayer and a missed Host that ruined it all, Microsoft will be more amenable.


The Problem of Indefiniteness [Rest. 2d §33(2)]

I’m really goddamn tired and not confident in my own ability to write or think clearly. I got home about two hours ago from second Thanksgiving at Emma and Brian’s in Oakland. Their latest obsession is nurturing the little life forms in the aquarium that they bought with money accrued during six weeks of full-time work. Everything about the aquarium is otherworldly— the devotion of the owners maintaining it, its gigantic pedestal, its coral ecology, the shrimp (whom we named Angus) that snuggles against your hand like a well-loved border collie when you plunge your hand into the brine. A textbook accompanying the aquarium suggested that blue blennies were especially “droll” fish; I then spent a significant portion of the evening wondering how the hell, exactly, a fish could be considered “droll.” We sat around a table that trebled when its leaves were extended to accommodate all the food Emma and Brian had spent the weekend preparing. They had invited two other friends who had raced back from SoCal to make it—a sign printrix/graphic designer who (I could tell from the way she was dressed) was very good with her hands, and another woman with whom I exchanged less than ten direct words but who regaled us with amusing stories about the Cuban/Mormon side of the family forcing prayer from the atheistic side during a pre-Thanksgiving dinner saying of grace.

I ate myself to nausea with assorted vegetarian namkeens then still managed to impel another slab of peach cobbler into my distended belly. Ex ante and ex post weigh-ins on the bathroom scale suggested that I successfully gained five pounds over the course of the evening (see “Goals for Today,” below). But I was 138 lbs with my jacket and boots before the meal and 143 lbs without my jacket after the meal; where are my structural engineers to tell me what that means? After the binge we warshed the dishes, warshed the tables, covered the remaining cranberry sauce, stroked the cats, examined the coral for signs of the emerald crab, and returned misplaced things to their proper homes, including me and Laura via a long midnight drive from Oakland to Palo Alto down I-880 to the Dumbarton Bridge across the saltwater flats of the mid-Peninsula. The drive felt more familiar and poignant than it ought to have, though all my heart throbbing was broken up by loud, imperfectly pitched twin renditions of “When Doves Cry” and Erasure’s “A Little Respect” (that you give me no that you give me no). We came home, cradled our respective newborns (hers an iPod, mine a little less sleek but more bang-for-buck) and lay side by side in bed listening to Edith Piaf and the Pixies until Laura fell asleep. I transitioned into Modest Mouse, which prompted me to climb out of bed and post the latest entry in this public/private conflation I like to call Bananarchist.

The lessons drawn from the day (or, as my Contracts outline would put it, the takeaways) include: 1) I don’t need conservative queers in my life [re: a brunch conversation about “growing [one’s] money”]; 2) the promise of a digital music library in one deck-a-cards-sized contraption unleashes rabid consumerist urges in me; 3) honest and kind people continue to defy all odds and exist in this fucked up city/state/country/etc., and I am blessed by something, possibly the Cuban-Mormon God, with being friends with them; and, finally,

4) I have all but given up writing in my journal for writing on my blog, which is all well and good until it comes time to document things that I don’t want broadcast over the Internet. The easier option would be to just write in my journal instead of or in addition to blogging, but de facto what happens is that I blog faithful literal descriptions of my sensations—the weather today was chilly, the sequence of events I experienced today was X then Y then Z, I saw shoulders with tightly-corded muscles and lapsed into a pleasant train of thought—and then struggle for ways to encode the actual aggregated meaning of these sensations within my blog. Instead of keeping the public public and the private private, I make the private public but write in mirror script. (I thought about writing in C++ or LISP but both are widely understood languages and besides, I’ve forgotten all about programming anyway.) What this means is I leave markers that I think only I will understand in the hopes that they will trigger those neurological sequences that lead me to my desired memory, and here I will cop and misuse a word I did not understand until a week ago and call this autointertextuality, happening somewhere in the liminal space between my head and my blog. What’s bad about this approach is that it is a house of cards because I’m embedding memories into trigger words but without documenting what those trigger words mean, recognizing the strong likelihood that I’ll forget all these inside jokes for myself. So here we go again with the physiology of scars and memories that erase everything worth remembering, and here I am again complicit in the shittyness of my documentary.

Now with this uncalled-for exegesis on proper methods of remembrance, I’ve forgotten everything that I wanted to write about/encode on this post.

Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm just a simple lass with modest goals

Today's goals:

1) Gain five pounds at Alternative Thanksgiving in Oakland.
2) Open Contracts book and appear productive.
3) Fill new MP3 player with poppy hits.
4) Avoid ramming dad's car into any more curbs.
5) Avoid drinking, driving.
6) Avoid putting off writing today's goals until 4:52pm.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Insect Scares on Elsinore Street

I’m amazed I’m not more of a panicked horse than I am, considering my upbringing. My parents have been running around all night releasing room-filling pesticide bombs and stuffing their clothes into black plastic bags because my mother discovered a couple mysterious bites on her leg. (“Lice!” they initially screamed, until I pointed out to them that lice do not attack hairless ankles and do not leave mosquito-bite-sized welts.) Just now they were scuffling outside my door because my mother had squashed a frightening new bug. I opened the door to my mother’s disgusted wails and my dad’s frantic exclamation: “Snake!” I kid you not, it was a little black inchworm, a less-than-an-inchworm curled and dried up like a denigrated shrimp. Now my dad is interrogating my mother on whether she has washed her hair today. “The smell of oil is very strong,” he says.

Not sleeping

One more thing. I wish I had the balls to say things like, "You sure had your tits in a twist over him!" Maybe it's not balls but the feeling of illegitimacy when trading in American vernacular that prevents me from saying things like that. (Cf. my inability to greet the Bronx Leadership Academy custodian with the greeting that my more socially fluent friend Karin used, "Mikey-Mike, hot pants!" and instead stiffly extending a "Hello, Mike.") Whatever it is, goddammit I don't have it.

The immigrants' child once again casts herself as victim, hangs her head begging sympathy, and keeps an eye peeled to make sure she's getting it.

And a bingo, too

And not to let myself slip in the blog-as-bingo-recollection-forum: OBSCURE, 73 pts.


Finally made it to a Hu family Thanksgiving, after two years of conspicuous absence. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d seen my family until they started asking me things like “So, I heard you were teaching!” (I haven’t been in the classroom for a year and a half), started saying things like “You’ve lost weight!” (weight hasn’t changed since Fall 2002, when I was roly poly from a year of living in exerciseless Kathmandu, Delhi, South Bronx) and I vigorously avoiding introducing my platoon of non-Chinese friends because I couldn’t remember the names of my cousins (there’s either two Stephens or two Andrews—which one is it? I think this was an LSAT puzzle). Eventually I remembered everyone’s name and had a bunch of awkward conversations with the cousins with whom I’ve spent almost every Thanksgiving in memory: “You’re” and “You study...public health?”

To catalogue:

  • Grandma, 83, the matriarch from Ningpo in whose house we feasted and watched Chinese historical fantastical soap operas, who taught me the literal and metaphorical Chinese translation of “Thanksgiving” tonight [cue poignant music] as I sat next to her in the corner spooning her rice porridge into my mouth, and her five sons:
  • Dà bó [check out my awesome attempt at pinyin, a totally foreign language to someone raised on bopomofo], the oldest uncle, of whom my earliest memory is my mom saying “They have a whole acre of land in Los Altos Hills!” and me subsequently scratching my seven year-old head in consternation at the foreign measurement terminology
  • His wife, dà bó mu, a woman who paints neo-Surrealist landscapes that hang up in the living room of her Los Altos Hills home
  • Their sons:
  • Peter, the oldest cousin, who kept the family gatherings lively for me, Richard, and the others of my generation first in the 1980s by making up Dungeons and Dragons-esque labyrinths on graph paper for us to move characters through, and then in the 1990s by giving us math puzzles (e.g., white hats and suicides on Hatland island) to think about between dinner gorgings. Peter is currently winning the coolest job competition with a plumb FPS video game programming job in Palo Alto.
  • Dip, his South Asian-via-West Virginian doctor girlfriend
  • Stephen, who is one day younger but got 40 points higher on the SATs than me, who is second place in the coolest job competition with a plumb spot at Google, where apparently the staff is treated to, among other perks, a volleyball court. Stephen has grown his hair out and is also growing a short goatee. The exact words his mother used to describe this weird phenomenon were “yang fa,” which means not to grow hair but to nurture it into existence, like an herb garden; then his mother said that Stephen’s next move in the growing-things-on-his-face plan was to “yang bí tì,” or nurture snot until it hung in tendrils down his face. My fourth uncle asked him how long the “Jesus Christ Superstar” act was going to last.
  • Alan, a senior at Berkeley who tells me, fingers crossed, that he doesn’t know how to read but wants to be a lawyer
  • èr bó, my dad’s second older brother, a really funny skinny dude, of whom my earliest memory is him doing twenty-five pull-ups without stopping on the chin-up bar in the hallway to the kitchen (which I eventually broke with an acrobatic flourish in 1996)
  • His wife, èr bó mu, whose name is “Sue Hu”
  • Their son, Anthony, the youngest cousin who I barely know whose birth was preceded by much hand-wringing re: his parents’ fecundity. I was to “tutor” him in “English,” not the language but the art, while I was in high school and he was in middle school, but that never panned out and now I don’t know him at all.
  • My dad, the spry middle guy in the Hu family tree, who told me on my wedding night how his father was an abusive gambler who sent him (and only him, among the five sons) away to live with strange relatives in Kaohsiung when he was eight because he was so disliked by his father, who begins stories by saying things like “there was a Chinese guy with a Ph.D. who drove his car off a cliff in Yosemite and they didn’t find him for three days,” who taught me the meaning of improper sleep patterns and who comes to my room when I’m working bearing cubed Korean pear bits so that I won’t starve in front of the computer screen
  • His wife, my mom, who I so stupidly and misogynistically dismissed for so many years as a hysterical worrier but who has stunned me a thousand times over with her perspicacity and sensitivity, who is also a really great cook and a person whose happiness I want to preserve at all costs
  • Her sister, my aunt, a yí, who looks exactly like my mom except about fifteen pounds skinnier, a retired high school teacher/administrator who just this year moved to the Peninsula while her husband and two kids remain in Taiwan (they’re not separated, she’s just the first to cast her line to America)
  • NOT Richard, my older brother, who is finishing his second year of dental school at U. of Sydney in Australia with his Taiwanese-Australian girlfriend Aimee in tow, who is also 5’3” and really into FPS video games
  • A fumbly, malodorous, perpetually disaffected homunculus named Mandy who can’t ever seem to find a comfortable place to put her hands or the right anecdote for the occasion
  • My life pardner Laura, possibly the most virtuous human being who hasn’t been sainted, radio producer extraordinaire, triathlete, well-coifed androgyne, Scrabble champ (at least one of every three times), all around nice guy who instructed all the interested cousins tonight on the function of “royal jelly” in beehive maintenance
  • My college pal Deepa, a new Californian, an intrepid and prize-winning education reporter for the renowned Sacramento Bee, a siren with a siren song, a fluent Tamil speaker with whom I once rode un-A/C’d night trains in Kerala looking for the lentil cutlet monger or the statues of Kannyakumari, whatever comes first, who tonight added “Grotesticles” to the line of erotic cereals we’re scheming, which includes “Fellati-Os,” “Cunniling-clusters,” and “Penis Flakes”
  • My college pal Bernadine, the former “hooker” and captain of the Radcliffe Rugby squad, a fireplug whose laugh coaxes even grumps to laugh, who came from Oakland bearing a huge box of “Korean” pears that later elicited a lengthy discussion comparing “Asian” to “Korean” to non-Asian/Korean pears (presumably the former two are better at math?), who played four hands piano with me today using pieces Mozart wrote at age six for two baby hands, who also looked at a picture me sweatshirt-clad on the piano from 1995 and declared that I looked like “Jabba the Hutt”

  • Her college pal Sam, a Deep Springs guy (the designation sticks for life, I think) who wore double-kneed Carhartts and a backpack with hiking boots dangling from the bottom (for the Yosemite hike tomorrow) and a pair of orange boxers of an indeterminate pattern (Deepa: “Pumpkins? Shark bites?”)
  • sì shū shu, the fourth brother, the only person whose family lives in Los Angeles, the last brother to stop smoking, the guy who accused Stephen #1 of looking like Jesus Christ Superstar
  • His wife, sì shěn shen, someone with whom I studiously avoided conversing because I am not confident enough in my Chinese to communicate nuance and I was afraid I would have to
  • Their daughter, Jen, a Stanford grad with a masters in English who commutes to the Peninsula from San Francisco to teach English to spoiled brats at a private school in Palo Alto, whose politics are more closely aligned with mine than anyone else in the family. She said tonight, “It’s just us cousins here, plus significant others and boyfriends, they come and go, etc.”
  • Her younger brother Stephen #2, a junior studying who knows what at Berkeley, who seemed really interested in bees tonight, who when asked why there were two “Stephens” in this generation of the Hu family said, “Dunno, I think my mom was playing mahjong when I was born and she just said, ‘Oh! Um—“Stephen”—whatever!’”
  • xiao shū shu, the youngest brother with the second largest head (after my dad), of whom my earliest memory is petting his twin terriers in his Fremont home
  • xiao shěn shen, his wife, who is extremely young-looking and beautiful despite being nearly fifty, about whom my grandmother told me, “She looks young because she exercises a lot. She does group dancing—and they travel overseas together. They took a cruise to three Mexican islands last year!”
  • Their daughter Alice, a junior at Berkeley, who is taking her MCATs in April in order to do a M.D. with a public health focus in order to work in a clinic or for Doctors Without Borders, or something, she says, to whom I mailed Beloved and Dharma Bums right before I left for college in an effort to expose her to the right half of the human brain for fear that she was turning into a left-half kind of Hu, who sat on the floor of the living room tonight and made funny remarks about the historical fantastical Chinese soap opera that was running on the widescreen TV all night
  • Her brother Andrew, who must be in high school now, maybe in his first year of college, who the hell knows?

In other words, a massive Hu gathering, with friends and more. I would enumerate our numerous dishes but I’ve exhausted my capacity for outlining, what with my above participant list and the three minutes of Contracts outlining I managed today. After the festivities, me, Sam, Laura, Bernie and Deepa walked the half block back to my parents’ house where we sat on the only sit-able piece of furniture in the whole damn freezing place (my bed, eliciting my dad’s “We should get a bigger bed!” comment) and told jokes about girls named Eileen and guys named Skip and told stories about teachers name-called “Princess Wrinkles” and guys who threatened to chop preachers with axes in Washington Square Park. All in all, not too shabby.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Not sure what subjective identity is formed by this particular desire:

You Remind Me of Something

You remind me of something
I just can't think of what it is

You remind me of my jeep, I wanna ride it
Something like my sound, I wanna pump it
Girl you look just like my cars, I wanna wax it
And something like my bank account
I wanna spend it, baby

It's something about your love that's got me going crazy
Baby, you know I want you real bad
And girl I really like your freaky style
How can I be down with you?
So get a little closer to my ride
I wanna get to know you lady
And hip me up on how to get inside you
Listen, pretty baby

Criminal Jurisprudence in the A.M., take 2

Since all of my adolescent and some of my adult identity floated/floats on a thrum of anomie, much of it based on sexual alienation, it only makes sense that for the second time in three days I'm waking up to stories about sexual seduction as a justiciable problem. That is, what's punishable about a guy who pretends to be a psychologist and tricks a college student into having sex with him as part of his "experiment"? A friend tells a story about a guy in Washington Square Park who ran up to her excitedly and asked her to watch him masturbate through his shorts in the southeast corner of the park next to a sycamore tree, claiming to be collecting research for a book about exhibitionism; though obviously a lie, his story was nonetheless interesting enough for her to sit under an adjacent tree ten feet away from him on a spring afternoon as he made a mess onto his shorts.

Whoa! In unrelated news, Circuit City is telling me that stores will be open at 5am tomorrow. I love that the only time that daylight savings time is applicable to the lives of workadays (and nocturnal students like me) is Black Friday. Now it is time for me to eat some steamed vegetable buns. Sorry for the incoherence of this post. I'll make more sense once my glucose levels return to something simulating normal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Right now I am watching a television show

about which Laura says: "Chemistry porn--it's so chemical--chemically hot!" A blonde actress who is dressed so that the viewer can infer that she went to Vassar, possibly Williams, maybe Haverford, is in a frenzy of cross-cuts upending vials and filling test tubes and applying viscous lacquers to dirty poupees to find clues to find leads to find fictitious criminals to satisfy the viewer's appetite for justice breached, adjudicated, then served. CSI, I think? My parents have rearranged the sparse furniture in this little Eichler so that my former bunk bed, denuded of its titular top, is facing the television-cradling third of the entertainment center wall unit formerly found in the living room. So despite my best efforts not to watch television while reclining, I and L have thus far already succumbed to half an hour of comedies, dramas, dramedies, and chemistry porn in the guise of "forensic pathology."

It's early in California but late in New York. I've been falling asleep in all the wrong places today--waking up to a fortutiously preset alarm clock at 1:57pm, three minutes before Contracts, with the imprint of the corduroy of two crossed jacket sleeves herringboning my face and a thin film of drool spreading on the study room table underneath my head, imminently confused, looking for daylight to give my fucked up circadian rhythms a point of reference, finding context-free fluorescence and a laptop screen filled with haphazard notes on something called "impracticability" instead; sleeping through four consecutive hours of infant howling on Continental Flight 427 on a folded airplane pillow I kept thinking was a piece of cocobread in a dream of Jamaican patties eaten on an unseasonably warm autumn day in Washington Square Park with someone I loved to the point of agony on a patch of grass next to the public restrooms where the stalls have no doors and the rats have free reign. [I'm full up on prepositional phrases because I'm in a movement-filled phase of the insect life cycle. Now fill your head with images of chrysalises rent and new wings unfolded.]

Sleep, sleep, sleep. Delirium plus. I am too lazy/stupid to write acrostics now but believe me, I'd write them here if I could. Instead I'll leave off for now and leave the pornographic catalog of my predicted Thanksgiving foods for tomorrow afternoon. Here's the unpornographic, totally appropriate catalog of expected feasters--me, L, my folks, my dad's four brothers, their wives, their eight children, my grandma, hopefully my cousin's South Asian girlfriend, hopefully my favorite two people from college, hopefully Jesus Christ the only child. I'll also leave you with the words of wisdom my dad just imparted upon me: "Brush your teeth. If your teeth rot, that's really the end."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I've been thinking a lot about shit recently because I seem to be the only person who ever needs to shit at this shit-free law school; everyone else just seems to be taking a long, suspiciously quiet time to pee. I've long believed that one's identity is formed and then performed in public bathrooms. I'm one of those people who takes a long and suspiciously quiet time to pee. I'm also one of those people sufficiently in love with herself that she will dredge up files from years ago, when she worked at House and Garden magazine in the Conde Nast building (4 Times Square, folks! It's lean, mean, and avocado green!) and thought about shit all day long because the bathrooms were immaculate and huge and the women who used them were immaculate and tiny and were paid in the bajillions and yet they still seemed to parts of themselves on the toilet seat. Look at what I found in "My Documents/New York 2001-2002":

The upchucked bolus of half-eaten asparagus, the Diet Coke-cum-urea, the coppery tampons and post-party diarrhea, then, all come spilling into the bowl. Some are especially careful never to sit on the seat, some acrobats only flush with their feet, and some enter and exit bathrooms having touched nothing more than toilet paper and, through that thin piece of two-ply, their own asses. We wipe what’s left on our bodies with sterile paper. Everything is flushed through the pipes and disappeared. We emerge, surreptitiously avoid eye contact, wash with antibacterial creams, dab our pinkies at the corners of our lips where our makeup has smeared. The door closes loudly behind us with satisfying, ironclad peals of assurance. We are purged and perfected. We are.

That is, only if we have not accidentally left shit on the rim of the toilet.

Two more reasons I love my civ pro professor

1) She speaks in complete paragraphs.
2) She uses words like "prolix" so as not to be prolix herself.

But nonetheless I am blogging from class. Hm. Competing loves.

Criminal Jurisprudence in the A.M.

Woke early to fill my mind with horrible stories from my Crim textbook. I'm hungry. It's cold and dark and wet. The bodega across the street has been shuttered for a week. My dog continues to not recover from a mysterious, unknowable, potentially bankrupting spinal injury and cannot move and whines periodically when he tires of staring into the ether from his square of foam. My girlfriend is swaddled in sheets, baffled in goose down, exposed only at the top of her head. My body yearns for my bed. It's one of those languorous fall mornings that make you feel pulled out like a taffy. I'm in love with it all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Woe! I mean, whoa!

Why does this pile of unread Contracts readings stretch on und on? Oh, goddammit. Ah, goddammit. I gotta get my ass in gear. Nevermind all the whining, folks. I'm just in low law period. But it's so pleasurable to whine! And I do it so well! One whines because one must! Believe in the power of the high-pitched whine! Acknowledge the value of the well-timed complaint! OH MY GOD I need to get to work now.

So weird! I found a magnetic poetry generator! (Gentle readers, read on gently):
Though hail is sluicing into streets, my yellow self perserveres. Every existentialist collects, harnesses, and collates time: let only vagabonds escape!

Puzzled? So am I. Now y'all know what Contractz is like.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Plodding through blogging

Sitting down and writing a little note to the Prominence Fund (money money money money) before finally, finally, finally starting my outline for Contractz. Reading’s getting a little academic. I’m just trying to make sense of things. All I have to say, thank God the law school is not the academy. What the fuck are all these words about? I’m reminded of what my favorite pillar of virtue Blanche Weisen Cook once said: “Every time I hear the word ‘epistemology,’ I reach for my gun.” I’d reach now but I surrendered my holster in a Lincoln-Douglas debate about the 2nd Amendment in 1995. Why can’t those goddamn overeducated Ph.D.’s just write monosyllables for stupid law-talking guys like me? Why do these motherfucking goddamn fucking motherfuckers have to use words like “diacritics” and “intertextuality”? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN? I’m just a simpleton trying to grope my way to meaning.

AO, gimme some of your Ivy League Ph.D. insight here. Define: diacritics; intertextuality; ontology; discursive management; neo-Marxism. Wouldja? Do “deontological” while you’re at it, because that one’s a real doozie too. (Unrelated: DOOZERS, L's bingo for 94 points last night.)

I think I’m going to read about simple things, like homicide, now. (Then I'll make sense of intertextuality in a less embarassing, less public forum, she promises herself.)

"I immediately heard snickers. Immediately! I just was appalled and, and and hurt!"

A supermodel makes conjunctions a new form of art. Thanks to Meredith for pointing her slavering fans to the weird phenomenon of beautiful women donning fat suits then spouting bromides about superficiality.

Tyra Banks experiences obesity through a fat suit; Vanessa: A day in a "fat suit"!

The secondary source:Green Days


So, I bought a new coat yesterday. As diligent readers will recall, my old one had been ingloriously nabbed from the back of a pickup truck in Oakland, and since then I have spent at least ten minutes per day disinterestedly entering and exiting stores near NYU looking for something to keep out the chill, failing mostly and relying without much success on old holey fleeces and layered sweaters instead. I finally found one yesterday. This new coat is eeriely similar to the last--a light corduroy short jacket with a faux shearling collar--with the exception of minute changes (to my chagrin: no epaulettes, deeper pockets, fumbly buttons) that I loathe but that Laura thinks makes me look "more classic," which I read as "less grotesque."

I felt pinches of disappointed self-discovery when, after the first day of fruitless hunting, I realized that I was just pursuing my old jacket and was still imagining scenarios for its return to me--maybe under a dumpster here? Maybe the Oakland police? Maybe it'll be swept up in a Bay Area updraft and carried by a flock of migratory birds to the East Coast, where a hot gust of gulf stream will startle the birds, who will serendipitously drop my old coat into my arms as I hold them out in coat-desiring prayer? Stupid, vain, unimportant thoughts. Here the regular host of anti-consumerist messages crowds into my superego and stomps around: why buy new things when used things abound and new things are crafted by the supple fingers of enslaved Asian children who make $.001 for every $35 the manufacturer makes and shipped by ununionized workers and stocked by the unhappy urban poor and the UHO folks ringing the bell outside the store doesn't get my money but this cordoruy jacket gets a bunch; why join the pre-Thanksgiving throngs on 34th Street, why put myself among the ranks of those folks who, on the subway ride uptown, comb jewelry catalogues pointing to the fistfuls of stripmined monopoly diamonds they wanted to stud their teeth with, why give a damn about the way this jacket looks or feels or keeps or doesn't keep out the cold? And more metaphysically, why desire material things? And why hold onto lost things?

All those questions were quieted by the Big Broom of Capitalistic Fervor, which swept out every dirty kernel of these thoughts in favor of more pleasant thoughts, like the smoove holiday jazz playing in Old Navy, or the artificial watermelon scents emanating from the Body Shop, and I got my jacket anyway and laughed my way to the bank. But the hand of God also strikes with perfect comedic timing. A little later, while biking in a frenzy to the South Bronx to see friends and the cutest, smartest, friendliest punk rock 2.75 year-old ever, I rolled over a plastic bottle and went flying onto 114th Street. No, no, that's too magnificient. I was neither biking in a frenzy nor flying. What I was actually doing was slowing to a stop a 114th and Lenox when I ran over the bottle, watched in slo-mo my tire sweep sharply to the left, attempted in vain to put down my foot, fell anyway, thudded onto my elbow and rolled onto my shoulder on the asphalt. The dozen or so teenagers standing fifteen feet away from me offered assistance in the form of comforting exhortations, including "HA HA! HA HA HA HA!" and "AHHHH HA HA HA!" In classic nerdery, I bolted upright, said something blustery, patted my pocket protectors, checked my tail and headlights and biked away with my face burning in shame.

I didn't check my body until I got to Amy's. I was perfectly fine. My jacket and gloves absorbed most of the fall. Skin was neither broken nor bruised. The jacket was scuffed but that only added to my [butch] authenticity. My bike is making funny noises, but then again, it's always made funny noises. God bless winter spills.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oops, my bad!

I did not explain! The post below contains the lyrics to my atonal Gerard Manley Hopkins tribute album, "Pitched Past Pitch of Pitch." (A double, triple, quadruple entendre, gentle readers!)

I think I'm being sennimennal because it's easier than attempting to "write" a “memo” to a “senior partner” at the “law firm” where I am “employed” presumably for “starting salary $125,000/year.” Them Lawyering exercises are so gay.

[goddamn gerard yr azn words talk so pretty]

Relationships of Accretion

I’m afraid the same physiology that scabs cuts and erases scars will smooth away my memory of beautiful things. I keep writing reminders on my hand and then wiping them off in fits of self-loathing. The trouble with these words is that they wash away so fast. But tattoos are unthinkable: decisions are so risky. Before I went to college, I didn’t know about “risk aversion.” Back then it was just called fear.

teen age heart throbbing

One way to distract yourself from the tasks you are distractedly doing is reading and rereading the fifth canto of the Inferno for insight.

Ne marche pas.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I think I'll rededicate my blog to postings of the sexy things my Civil Procedure professor says in class. Today she used both "heuristic" and "penumbral." Pure, pure pearls.

Yow! Be still my beating heart!

I just looked up penumbral and it has a real legal meaning, not just the metaphorical one I thought she was implying. Penumbra: "a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution."

I am feeling inappropriate feelings toward that word.

Things that make you really feel sexy

I feel sexiest when I'm experiencing excruciating, uterus-ballooning cramps and can do nothing except double over on the toilet clutching my knees, expelling what feels like chunky bloody viscera into the bowl, expelling all manner of ancillary body fluids and solids and sounds just for yuks too, trying not to groan or cry so as not to panic the neatly-pressed law students sitting in adjacent stalls who never seem to shit, only to politely tinkle, trying not let the tail of my shirt touch down into the bowl, trying not to feel guilty while minutes pass and no reading is done, feeling guilty anyway, then feeling guilty enough to get out my crim law text book and my four-color pen and proceed to read, highlight, and scribe marginalia while undergoing all the aformentioned expelling, moaning, and noise-making.

That's HOT. That makes me feel SEXY. Here I am, sexily off the sexy toilet, still doubled over, not shitting, not bleeding, not reading, just blogging. Whaddya say, ladies? No need to fight, there's enough of me for all y'all. (917) 536-SEXY, gimme a jingle.


Homoeroticism in the woods, my turn:

Paul was an Eagle Scout. Paul is an Eagle Scout: these things stay with you for life. So he tells them what they should carry, he catalogues the food, he slings a compass from a string around his neck, and he carries the map. At a trail junction thirty minutes up the trail, he reaches up with one hand and unzips the brain of his external frame pack. He doesn’t take the pack off. He brings out a laminated map of the Appalachian Trail and flattens the creases against his knee.

The brain? Goody asks.

Paul replies, That’s the zippered pouch on top. You keep the map and the flashlight in it – where to go, what to see. The brain.

Where are we? Jitski says, shifting the pack and wriggling his shoulders.

Here, Paul says, pointing at an obscure topography of snaking lines. We’re heading toward Ethan Pond.

Jitski leans toward the map dangerously, the top of his borrowed backpack – Paul’s old 4,000 cubic inch green monster – tilting like a windmill. Where are we trying to get to? he asks.

Paul moves his thumb toward a tight ring of concentric circles. Zealand Hut, he says, Hopefully. It’s nine miles from here, with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain. But, you figure, average hikers are babies. The trail guide estimates seven hours, but we can do it in four.

They trust him to lead because they don’t have his experience. They don’t have the same weathered patches that Paul has sewn onto his pack; “Pacific Crest Trail,” “Appalachian Trail,” “NOLS.” Jitski is the indoorsy type, contented with his DVD/MP3/rumble pack and the undulating plasma of his wide-screen HDTV. He is dull, suburban, and adult, but comfortable. He hikes with the unsteady gait of a sleepwalker, knocking his heavy boots together as he trips along. Goody’s experience outdoors doesn’t come from organized activities but from his love for solitude and for long walks on secluded beaches holding hands with himself; his attention to the wildflowers in the state park across from his childhood home in Pennsylvania gives him a wide vocabulary to express his wonder at the pistils, stamens, and petals of the New Hampshire trail.

Paul knows the backcountry as though it were his. He can tie a clove hitch with his tongue. When he clambers skillfully over the bare granite on the first peak, familiar muscles knot in high relief along his legs. But he is no teacher. If they want to learn, he reasons, they will watch him and imitate. Follow the white blazes, he says at the trailhead.

The State of the State

The emotional state: I'm hearing Edith Piaf sing "Ma Vie En Flux." I hope everyone's well. School is interminable. Here, to illustrate, since I am incapable of expressing emotion within the strictures of my adoptive language (A LIE! A TERRIBLE, SELF-VICTIMIZING LIE!), I'll quote my favorite passage from Alice in Wonderland (said with false confidence, as if I know any other passages in that book):

'Now! Now!' cried the Queen. 'Faster! Faster!' And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy.

The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, 'You may rest a little, now.

Alice looked round her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'

'Of course it is,' said the Queen. 'What would you have it?'

'Well, in our country, said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else - if you ran very fast for a long time as we've been doing.' 'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, 1 see. it takes all the running you can do, to keep in ;he same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

'I'd rather not try, please!' said Alice. 'I'm quite content to stay here - only I am so hot and thirsty!' 'I know what you'd like!' the Queen said good naturedly, taking a little box out of her pocket. 'Have a biscuit!'

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An argument about plea bargaining

The liberal argues with someone a bit more prosecutorial. We have legitimate reasons and mutual respect. Here's what we're talking about. Read from the bottom up. (Note: this thread was started after we watched The Plea, a Frontline documentary about several people who have been pressured, in some way or another, to accept plea bargains despite their belief that they are innocent.)


I don't disagree with most of what you say, specifically what you say about the abhorrence that is rape prosecution. All of this is fucked up and I agree that we ought to recognize the suffering of the victim. But I guess we will disagree and continue to disagree about what the
criminal justice system owes to those people who are not legitimately proven guilty, who might well be innocent.

My desire to make the criminal justice system accountable to these people goes back to Weber's description of the state as having a monopoly on the legitimate use of power. This is a terrifying power and it is an abused power. The victim has no resources, you say? Notwithstanding the fucked up notions of sexual stigma and permissability surrounding rape prosecutions, the victims in other crimes do have a tremendous resource: this forceful power of the state. Who brings the prosecution? Not the victim, you mentioned, but the state itself. The victim doesn't sue a criminal in tort, he or she invokes the state, which then moves its resources and attacks the alleged criminal as a moral monolith embodied with the legitimate power, in 34 states, to kill someone convicted of certain crimes.

You seem to have no sympathy for this, but I do, perhaps because our experiences may be different. I've been wrongfully arrested, kept in jail, and then exonerated. I've known many people who have been wrongfully arrested; I watched a five-foot tall woman get pushed and
twisted by a bunch of cops because she was pointing her videocamera at the site of these arrests and then get charged with felony assault on an officer. You know that statistic where 1/3 of all black men are, at any given point, being processed through the criminal justice system?
Well, I saw the effects of that on the high school where I taught, where you get fucked up kids who see fucked up things and then get their fucked up parents taken away from them and then they just become fucked up themselves. Amadou Diallo's nephew was a student at my high
school. I was friends with two women who were hitchhiking in Maine when a man who picked them up held them up at gunpoint and raped them; these women decided not to report the crime to the police not because, as in the cases you described, they would be repelled and shamed and doubted by the criminal justice system, but because they were radicals who did not believe that our retributive criminal justice system could do anything to prevent or remedy crimes.

So I think the power of the state is awesome, terrifying, and often misapplied. And I've seen it happen. So tell me, how do you know with any certainty that "most" plea bargaining cases don't involve innocent people? From where do you get this certainty in our million times over
fallible system? But nevermind that, I'll even cede to you that most, perhaps the majority, perhaps a large majority, of people facing plea bargains are guilty of whatever crime they were arrested for. Let's even pretend that all those people we saw in the video were completely
guilty. Let's just restrict this inquiry to the 121 people who have been exonerated after sitting on death row for decades. And then I'd like you to write letters to these 121 people telling them that they should have died for the state's mistake, that the state was too generous in reading them their Miranda rights, too generous in not making evidence up about them, too generous in not allowing police to barge in on any suspect's house without probable cause, too generous
in assigning them defense attorneys, and too generous in allowing appeals. How about that?

I write that because I see that as your proposal. Would you prefer a criminal justice system with no safeguards for the defendant? That's only a decent proposal if you're lucky enough to never to encounter the criminal justice system as a defendant, which is easy for us in
the highly educated, culturally conversant, low-crime, upper-middle class ivory tower to believe. If you're a defendant in the Kafkaesque system that you propose, however, too bad, so sad.

I think we're stuck trying to figure out an apparently unresolvable dilemma: advantage the prosecution and you risk locking up innocent people; advantage the defense and you risk not adequately punishing a criminal for a crime. I think you have too much prosecutorial zeal;
you think I'm a Willie Horton-loving liberal with my head dangerously in the clouds. Now I'm not sure where to go from here.

Still, thanks for having this conversation with me. At least on my part I'm finding this really a useful and necessary issue to write and think about, and I hope I'm not pissing you off too much. Let me know if we should stop before we never speak again.


----- Original Message -----
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 9:35 pm
Subject: Re: RE: hey

I disagree with your portrayal.

You write: "And it's simply not true that the victim does not have resources. The victim has access to a city of police, all of whom do investigation on his or her behalf. (Who investigates/does discovery for the defendant? Himself? His drunk or sleeping lawyer?) The
victim has access to a prosecuting attorney who is versed in the system. The victim has the huge advantage of being able to detain the alleged criminal, to deprive someone of liberty without proving a damned thing."

Do you seriously believe that the "victim has access to a city of police, all of whom do investigation on his or her behalf"? Do you really think that the victim is telling police: "You, George, go knock door-to-door. Sam, you check the alley for clues..." In fact, the police do not work on behalf of the victim. Sometimes victims of rape are not even believed by the police. Most of the time the police have little time to spend investigating the case. Even when they want to investigate, they often have more pressing issues. Hell, DNA testing is backed up for months even for the most serious cases, and you think the police are seriously at the beck and call of a victim?

Further, the police are not "against" the defendant. The police investigate a crime and sometimes they are able to identify the person they think did it -- that is the defendant. But they don't begin investigations out to get a specific individual (unless you believe OJ, who got
off anyway -- and despite 911 calls from his ex-wife as he came to beat her -- ask that dead woman if she felt the police who asked OJ for his autograph as they sent him away were at her "beck and call").

Similarly, the victim has no "power" to detain the alleged criminal. The victim absolutely does not have this power. The prosecution and the police do not work on the behest of the victim. The victim has no power to do anything, and in fact, does not even have the power to force the prosecution to bring charges, much less to detain people at will. So I strongly disagree with your characterization of the power of the victim.

Moving on -- you cite a case of a DA who might have made up evidence. (I don't know this case, but I'll take your word on it.) How common is that? Are we seriously comparing that to the situations that happen every day with victims of crime? I am talking the typical case, not some bizarre example used by a documentary as a propaganda tool to influence viewers to adopt a pro-defense towards the justice system. Rapes happen every few seconds -- the stuff I'm talking about is happening all the time.

To even get to a trial, a rape victim not only has to choose to go forward, the doctors, the sociologists, the rape counselors, the police investigators and the prosecutor must all be convinced of the truth of what happened to her. (This despite the fact that victims of
such trauma are often confused, sometimes block out portions of their memory, sometimes can't speak straight -- this is in court too, they often can not concentrate or answer questions clearly out of their ongoing terror.) Whatever the law may be, we should tend to believe
the woman who says in court that the man raped her. What's more, rapists tend to be repeat offenders; they enjoy the power of what they do. If they are not stopped, they will do it again.

So: Are there innocent people unfairly locked up in prison? Yes. Is this the typical plea bargaining situation? No. Was it presented that way? Yes. On the other hand, was the typical plea bargaining situation presented from the perspective of the victim? No.

Our documentary and our class lecturer and our role-playing exercise all pretended that innocent defendants were the norm. Are you kidding me? We role-play five cases of counseling clients, and every one of these clients is a supposedly innocent defendant? We watch a
movie about plea bargaining and we hear nothing from the perspective of the victims? All we've heard about in this school is from the perspective of defendants. When did any professor or anyone in an official capacity in Crim Law or in the Lawyering class or during the movie, at
any point, ever speak seriously on behalf of victims of crime? Do they even have rights?

You mention racist juries -- at NYU, I often hear about the plight of minority and impoverished defendants. Somehow the people in this school don't know or don't care about minority and impoverished victims. Last statistics I saw showed 42% of US homicide victims were black. Rape, kidnapping, molestation, stalking -- these are primarily perpetrated against women or children. Victims are minorities too, and in almost all cases they are more vulnerable minorities than the thugs committing the crimes.

We have endless safeguards in place for defendants; there are no safeguards to protect victims. Do you feel that the current system is correct in not allowing evidence that the defendant raped 24 other people after this alleged rape? Or that the system is correct in not allowing a retrial when evidence surfaces (such as videotapes, confessions and DNA) showing that a defendant who "got off" is actually guilty? Or that the system is correct in paying defense attorneys to badger rape victims and argue on behalf of rapists even when they know the client is actually guilty? Or that the system is correct in allowing courts to toss out evidence because the police
didn't follow meaningless technicalities in collecting it? (Actual example: Last month the Connecticut Supreme Court tossed out blood- soaked clothes that had been key evidence in a murder conviction. The killer was living with his parents, and police got the signed permission of the father before searching the home, where they discovered the bloody clothes in the killer's room and in the washing machine. But the court ruled that they should also have gotten
the killer's mother's permission to search the home, so the clothes can not be admitted in trial, and the killer will almost certainly go free. Fair? To the murdered woman? To her family? To society?)

So, no, I disagree with you completely about the system. And the culture at NYU is out of wack. We have a club in which people volunteer to teach law to prisoners, but we have no club for helping victims of crime. I didn't hear anyone speak up today about victims until I did. Correct me if I'm wrong.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Mandy Hu
> Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 7:51 pm
> Subject: RE: hey
> > R---,
> >
> > Hm, I see your point. But I guess this goes back to what we were
> > talking about earlier. Society has made a calculation here. It says
> > that convicting an innocent person--depriving a single mother of
> > two of her liberty and condemning those children to a lifetime of physical and
> > sexual abuse and neglect in foster homes, executing an innocent person
> > because a racist jury was looking for any black man 5'9" to 6'2" to pin
> > their insecurities upon, allowing an innocent man to be repeatedly
> > raped and tortured by his cellmates because someone had a vendetta
> > against him and proffered false testimony that a hack DA (see
> > who wanted to look good and
> > was absolutely convinced of his own righteousness and concocted even
> > more evidence to nab this innocent person, etc., and I could go on
> > withstories as grisly and violent as yours--society has calculated
> > that the injury committed by convicting an innocent person is so great that it
> > requires those safeguards that you listed.
> >
> > And it's simply not true that the victim does not have resources. The
> > victim has access to a city of police, all of whom do investigation on
> > his or her behalf. (Who investigates/does discovery for the defendant?
> > Himself? His drunk or sleeping lawyer?) The victim has access to a
> > prosecuting attorney who is versed in the system. The victim has the
> > huge advantage of being able to detain the alleged criminal, to
> > deprive someone of liberty without proving a damned thing.
> >
> > So, yeah, I understand that it's a grotesque miscarriage of
> > justice when a criminal is not adequately punished for his crime or is punished
> > for a crime that does not properly capture the severity of what he did. But
> > you must understand, and this is the point the movie makes, is that
> > injustice is not a one-way street. You tell the mother, or child, or
> > wife, or even victim's family for that matter, of the person executed
>> for murder and then exonerated post mortem that this defendant got too
> > many safeguards. You tell the person who just spent 25 years in jail for
> > a crime they didn't commit and got news of their parents' death only
> > through a collect call and whose children got dumped into the public
> > system and then became criminals themselves--you tell that person that
> > they shouldn't get the right to appeal. You know that's utter
> > bullshit.Both sides are grisly--it's disgusting when a criminal is
> > not punished, it's disgusting when an innocent person is punished. I just don't see
> > how you can't accept that there are cases in which the latter is just as
> > unjust as the former, and that's our disagreement. Am I correct?
> >
> > And my opposition to the plea bargain in general is predicated on the
> > desire to avoid both scenarios described above, since it is too blunt a
> > tool and potentially exonerates the guilty while pressuring the
> > innocentinto confession of guilt.
> >
> > Tell me if this makes sense.
> > M
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 7:18 PM
> > To: Mandy Hu
> > Subject: Re: hey
> >
> > Mandy,
> >
> > I'd be happy to talk with you more at another time. I wouldn't go
> > so far as to say that I am necessarily opposed to all plea
> > bargaining. However, I strongly feel that plea bargaining is usually cruel to
> > the victim. I believe that the cases shown were highly atypical.
> >
> > I believe a typical case goes something like this (sorry to be grizzly
> > here, but this is reality): A man breaks into your home, beats you
> > bloody (perhaps leaving permanent scars on your face), ties you up
> > and rapes you multiple times, threatens to come back and murder you if
> > you tell anyone, steals your belongings, and disappears. When people
> > discover you later, you are naked, bleeding, humiliated, horrified
> > and scared. Your faith in people is destroyed, your feeling of safety
> > in your home is gone, you can't sleep, you are terrified by men of
> > the attacher's race and at the same time feel guilty for feeling that
> > way, you are unable to concentrate, unable to date men, unable to be
> > alone -- and yet are afraid of being with others. The police and
> > hospital have to do rape tests on you, and they take photographs of your
> > genitals to show the bruises. You spend months taking anti-AIDS
> > drugs (just in case) which make you constantly nautious. Your injuries
> > are so bad that you can barely walk. You take anti-pregnancy drugs
> > but fear becoming pregnant anyway. You constantly fear the man will
> > return and attack you again.
> >
> > After months -- during which time you lose hope the man will ever
> > be caught -- the police finally catch the attacker. Perhaps you're
> > even lucky and they have a DNA match. At this point, the attacker is
> > assigned a lawyer (you are not), who tells the police that you
> > actually agreed to rough sex. Or maybe that you had consensual
> > sex with him before. Or maybe you're a prostitute who got beat up by
> > her john. Or maybe you're a drug user and you agreed to sex for drugs
> > and later things got violent. Or maybe he'll tell the press that you
> > had sex with three other men that day, despite no evidence of it. Or
> > maybe he'll try to get the judge to drop out the DNA evidence
> > because the police obtained it the wrong way. Maybe the police mishandled
> > it (used the wrong kind of bag to carry it or some other stupidly
> > legalistic technicality), and now the defense attorney is trying
> > to get the DNA evidence thrown out -- he is definitely not, mind you,
> > asking for the prosecutor to obtain a new DNA sample, he is asking
> > to get the DNA thrown out forever. This criminal destroyed your
> > life, and yet he now has a full-time lawyer fighting to take advantage
> > of every legal loophole in the world to get his client free. Oh, and
> > you learn that the attacker has been accused of raping 6 other women,
> > but none of that will be mentioned in court because it might
> > be "prejudicial" to the jury.
> >
> > This man destroyed your life, and yet he is assigned a lawyer --
> > paid for by the state -- who will attack you in the press and in the
> > courtroom, implying you are a slut, that you deserved it, that you
> > are a liar, or that you are a golddigger. Where's "innocent until
> > proven guilty" when it applies to rape victims? If we truly say that
> > accused rapists should be considered "innocent until proven guilty," that
> > means that the public at large should consider the rape victim "lying
> > whore until proven otherwise."
> >
> > You spoke to me after class about how impoverished defendants might
> > have an incompetent defense lawyer. But defendants at least have
> > the opportunity to hire their own lawyers; they get a lawyer free if
> > they can not hire one; they have opportunities to appeal with a new
> > lawyer if they wish; in extreme cases, they can have a conviction
> > overturned due to attorney incompetence; they can ask for clemency or parole;
> > in short, they have numerous never-ending options to get redress.
> > You, the victim, have no lawyer representing your rights. Furthermore,
> > the prosecutor and police and jury might also be incompetent, but in
> > your case there is no appeal, and you have no way to replace them with
> > somebody better. If the police mess up their evidence collection --
> > sorry, your case is done. Too bad. You just get to live with the
> > aftermath of the rape and nothing will ever be done about it. If
> > the prosecutor sucks -- sorry, but the defendant will be found not
> > guilty. Not guilty. He's back in your community, and you appear
> > to be a liar. Even your friends will wonder if you were "really"
> > raped. If the jury are idiots -- same thing. Double jeopardy is against
> > the law (no new trial under any circumstances -- even if he later
> > confesses, even if the police later find his DNA someplace they
> > didn't notice earlier, even if they later discover that he videotaped
> > himself raping and assaulting you while you were blindfolded -- too
> > late... Hell -- they might have found all of that only to have the judge
> > rule it inadmissable). In other words, there are remedies for a bad
> > defense lawyer. There are no remedies for a bad detective, bad
> > prosecutor or incompetent jury.
> >
> > Yes, occasionally innocent people end up punished. I am opposed to
> > that, just like anybody else. But the system is definitely not set up
> > against the defendant. The defendant has an endless series of
> > protections in place. The true victim of our court system is... the
> > crime victim.
> >
> > That's my thoughts.
> >
> > Sorry if it is rather rambling.
> >
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Mandy Hu
> > Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 5:24 pm
> > Subject: hey
> >
> > > R---,
> > >
> > > I just wanted to make sure we're on the same page. I was very
> > > interested in arguing about plea bargaining with you, and I think
> > > your comments helped me flesh out a little better how I feel about this
> > > practice. I absolutely see where you're coming from. I think from either
> > > perspective-from the victim's perspective or from the innocent
> > > defendant's perspective-plea bargaining is a seriously fucked up
> > > proposal. I'd venture to say even that the whole idea of plea
> > > bargainingis disgustingly actuarial and totally out of wack with
> > > ideas of justice. I mean, who makes these calculations? Suppose a guilty verdict
>>> for a rape is 20 years, and the trial would cost $25,000. Does
> > >offering a plea bargain of 10 years mean that the state calculates that the
> > >victim's pain isn't worth that $25,000? Or that the rapist has done only
> > > $12,500 in injury? This is ridiculous. An ideal system of justice
> > > would try every case upon the belief that the victim's adequate relief and the
> > > innocent defendant's right to a judgment on full facts cannot be
> > > boughtor sold. Do you agree? That's the point I'm ultimately
> > > driving at.
> > > Anyway, hope all's well. Thanks for talking,
> > > Mandy
> > >
> >
> >
> >

You know when you're being circumscribed because you're convinced that someone is going to spy on your words and incriminate you for something awful?

That's how I'm feeling.

Spy v. Spy, etc.


Need a driver to drive me somewhere other than to distraction. Got watermelon on the mind. School and other vitals are suffering. I'm regressing, fucking up, making enemies. It's all so inappropriate. I flubbed an interview this morning probably worse than even the great Root Tilden flubbing: What interest have you in Kibondo? "None." In Bangkok? "A passing student's interest." In human rights? "Qu'est-ce que c'est 'human rights'?" I wish I were exaggerating, but I think I've forgotten how to do even that. (<-- an exaggeration! The gods of self reference look down in disapproval.)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Greetings from Oakland (FUCKERS)!

Well, apparently I have more than one fan! Who is Poo Head? Who is Poo Face? Who is Poo Vulva? EEEEEWWW

Just quick notes from the conference:

1) Got so badly drunk last night, stumbly. Went to lezzie club. Had wonderful time. Danced. Came back to find that car had been broken into, friend's laptop gone, my backpack, digital cam, MP3 player, coat gone. Fuckers! Didn't this exact same shit happen to me in San Francisco in 1998? FUCKERS! Scoured dumpsters looking for a coat. Who would take my fucking coat? Now I have no coat. Everything else sucks but is replaceable. The coat was the only thing I had that didn't make my body look like a dinner roll. Sigh, vanity of vanities. Drove back to hotel stacked up with five other folks in the back of someone's pick up truck. In drunken lapse in judgment, tore off clothes and dove into hotel pool and then leapt out screaming of frozen nipples and racing naked back to my room; passed out and woke with extreme light sensitivity and inability to speak above a whisper.

2) Gave talk on Social Security. Went swimmingly. I managed to ape a phrase from Emerson that my brilliant professor snuck into a class last week: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a little mind" turned into "public benefits programs are the hobgoblins of the conservative mind." I think I did okay. I said that one idea floated was the "biggest, steamiest pile of shit I've ever heard." Ooops. The rest of the panel was dazzling. Fun, fun, fun. I'm so narcissistic I love speaking in front of crowds. Ah, me.

3) I kept my water cup empty on the table during the panel on Social Security just because everytime I spoke I felt as if my head was going to pop and I wanted to make sure I had a place to puke into.

4) The conference has been FUUUUNNN. I have not slept over four hours a night since getting here. I'm staying with high super femme J. Stern and we play flashlight games instead of sleeping. I've touched a bunch of chest hair. I've waded through interminable hours of queer API touchy-feeliness, suppressing the urge to beat the crowd of UC students who totally inappropriately call people racists and whine ALL DAY LONG. Tell me why I had to attend three hours of meetings with them yesterday?

More later. Off to dinner!

(Poo fans, please identify yourselves!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Google: The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Sitting here with Contrachktschs spread around me, but instead of reading, I'm Googling nerds who are obsessed with their own sexual/gender identities uber alles. They're stupid, it's stupid, I'm stupid. I'm building up resentment for people who I haven't met yet, but will meet...tomorrow! I'm going to the Creating Change conference in Oakland, tomorrow through Sunday!

Hooray! Hooray for visiting parents in Palto! Hooray for gay by the bay! Hooray for California! Three cheers for me! Hip hip!

[I am trying to mask my internal disquiet through effusive external displays of enthusiasm. Does it work?]

Monday, November 07, 2005

Meet Brian

Brian is the name of my brain. I only call him by name when I need to exhort him to produce. As in, "C'mon, Brian, you can do it! Work!"

Brian is performing very badly tonight. Brian is spouting bitchiness at random. Tonight, he observed thusly: just because you are from a different continent doesn't mean you can't be shallow!

Brian is reacting to a certain houseguest situation in his host body's apartment. Brian's host body is spending as much time as possible at the NYU law school library in order to avoid "conversation" with his aforementioned houseguests. Brian reviles criminal law reading, but he reviles interminable inanities even more. Brian chooses law.

Brian is also the entity that directs me to sit in one particular place in the library. I have to stake out the spot when the private prime study rooms in Furman Hall are taken. The library is entirely subterranean, as if to emphasize that law students are sallow, gaunt, underground moles with poor vision and a tendency to scurry. There are about twenty tables aboveground, on the first floor, but this floor also happens to be one of the social hotspots of my overly cramped school, and here people like to steal candy from the Lexis-Nexis table and then blather at TOP VOLUME into their cell phones. So the only option for me--she who desires natural light but little noise, who already wears earplugs for 12-15 hours of the day (seriously--for sleep and study), whose eyes are rotting in their sockets from the fluorescent lighting and the poorly prescribed contact lenses--is to find the spot under the skylight, turn off all the lights around me, take out my 100 pounds of books, take my laptop from its protective neoprene condom, plug in my laptop, remove my 4-color pen, highlighter, and pencil from my backpack, locate my earplug cannister, put in my earplugs, take out the foldable reading stand that Lo bought me for my 25th birthday, put one of my textbooks onto the reading stand, check my schedule for my night's homework, and then, after this is done, start reading.

This is award-winning nerd procedure, but I have clearly embraced my nerd-dom. The nerdiest part is that I profoundly prefer reading my books [UPDATE: the first edition of this sentence explained that I "profoundly prefer eating my books," which you and I know is a lie. I eat only magazines, not books, please. I'm on a glossy diet.] to chitter-chatting with my classmates, and am grateful for Schulhofer's Criminal Law for protecting me from the most awkward manifestations of my social retardation. ("I think he's trying to say that I don't have breasts!" I blurted, attempting a joke, very professional-like, during a conference call last week. Silence ensued.) (Then: S: "I'm ordering the avocado-hijiki roll." Me: "That's great. [beat] [very genuinely interested] What are you planning to order?" Silence ensued.)

That having been written, I have now successfully blogged for half an hour in lieu of studying. Way to go, Brian!

From the Fucked-Up Files of Mrs. Law E. Lawyer

Here's another fucked-up legal question to scratch your head to:

States cannot execute an inmate if he is found to be insane. Can states force an inmate to take anti-psychotic medication so that he is no longer considered insane, and then execute him? (The answer is no. See State v. Perry, 610 So. 2d 746 (La. 1992). But it's pretty fucked up that this case got to the Louisiana Supreme Court, isn't it? I mean, had they already tried to forcibly administer the meds before the suit was brought?)

Blogging substitutes for studying. All in good fun.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ryan Larkin

Saw Chris Landreth's Ryan for the second time last night. I would pay a lot of money to have a coffee table book that reproduces each frame of this 14-minute animation. Too bad the screen at the American Museum of Natural History was too small for the audience to see its sublime detail. Oh well.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Creation Myths

I wrote a bunch of creation myths this summer. In the absence of better things to post, here's one of them:

Creation Myths


In the beginning, a heavy point spontaneously emerged in the middle of an infinite nothingness. All the steel in the world was not as heavy as the point. If you wet even an industrial strength paper towel and put the point in the middle of it, the point would plunge through without a moment’s pause. Even the man who won all the world’s world’s strongest man competitions three years running, and all his fellow competitors, could not budge the point with their otherworldly quadriceps muscles.

Then, just as spontaneously as it had come into existence, the point exploded, erupting outward in a widening spiral of matter, speeding toward the edge of the infinite nothingness whenceforth it came. It was so noisy. The spiral slowed at the outermost edges until it moved so imperceptibly that only several billion years of evolutionary ingenuity could produce instruments to measure it. The point became a disintegrated constellation of rocky outcroppings, dangerous gases, and hot fourth states of matter. The infinity of space was being filled with the diffusion of the heavy point, to the point where eventually a fine, weightless mist would cover every bit of space imaginable.

In some places, chemicals converged coincidentally and cells would wriggle and then, after a while, stop wriggling. In some of these places, cell wriggling was abortive. In other places, cells would continue to wriggle in increasingly complicated configurations. In one particular place, maybe in many, chemicals roiled in a thick stew, things crawled out of the stew, gave birth to some things that died and some things that survived outside the stew, and these things gave birth to things that gave birth to things that gave birth ad infinitum to paws, feet, wings, claws. Eventually, one of these things invented synthetic press-on nails that became incorporated into the convoluted mating system of a cluster of bipedal mammals.

Gunpowder was invented. Scientists conclusively determined the speed at which light moves in a vacuum. Constantine drew crosses on the shields of his soldiers and convinced the entire Roman Empire to stop their fanciful imaginations about one set of special fictional non-beings and to develop their fanciful imaginations about another special fictional non-being with a long beard and a beatific confidence in its voice.

The arms of the spiral swung wider and wider, and slower and slower, until it slowed to a stop. With nowhere else to go, the spiral began tucking into itself, like a figure skater accelerating into a spin, pulling in her arms until she is cutting tiny circles into the ice. Meteors smashed rocky outcroppings; hot fourth states of matter extinguished like wet wood campfires. The world’s strongest man drowned in a freshwater wave. Press-on nails burst into powder. Wriggling cells stopped wriggling. The universe spun like a top, then spun itself shut. It condensed into a hard heart, and then a congested nut, and finally, again, into a single heavy point. Everything became quiet. Again, there was an infinite nothingness and a heavy point.

Inside the point was Constantine, crushed into the shields of his soldiers, into the stone of the Milvian Bridge, into the plasma that lit his eyes with a vision of the Lord, into the darkened eyeglass lenses of a history student who had read Roman histories on an undergraduate campus poorly shaded by desiccated elms. Inside the heavy point, inside a half-drunk glass of communion wine, inside the cells of the pointer star, parts of Constantine killed time with everything else, waiting to rupture.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today's bingo

SEVENTY, for 85 points.

That is all.


In bed by 8:20pm. LIFE IS GOOD.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


1) "The law of natural immutable justice and equity." How can a judge write that without giggling a little bit into the baggy sleeves of her robe? I guess it must be hard to giggle when you know that you dole out the law of natural immutable justice and equity, a very weighty responsibility.

2) But then the human rights activist in me says, yes, this immutably natural and naturally immutable law does exist.

3) You are attractive when you are young and hideous when you are old.

4) My email address is actually monometer, not trimeter. Is that so? Scansion friend, where are you?

5) I am fucking tired. I need to pee. My lips are chapped. And I left my chapstick on the dresser. If these aren't good reasons to freak out, I don't know what are.