Say Goodbye to Ornamentation

Busan, South Korea 1987

July 26
Yesterday to a party on base. At night to SeoMyeon alone. Today home all day and the weather looks like rain continued.

July 29
MTW all went by the same. A few crisises but they are almost all solved. I got a letter from Brian. He will be here in 20 days. Yesterday I got a few rays. This had better be a good weekend or I might die. I saw Miss Jang yesterday. She was smiling and all. I feel bad. I want to save money. I will try to save at least 500,000 each month. I will use this weekend to become content again.

July 30
More crisis situations and as of now the arbitrations are still proceeding. Tomorrow is Friday and time really flies.

August First
Yesterday after class we went to the casino and it was fun. Mr. Moon had luck but blew everything. Andy cranked 400,000 but lost probably most. I lost 90,000 of my own and 30 that Andy gave me. I was really unlucky. We stayed until after 5 a.m. So I slept 2 or 3 hours and then today wandered about aimlessly. Met some radsters from Seoul. They wanted me to go to the Downtown but I said no. Came home. I'm beat.

August 2
Out for some 보신탕. I feel a bit paranoid after what Mr. An said. Dinner. Home. I was forced to remove my ornamentation for fear of infection.

That's Rad.

The other night, March Madness 2009 found me enjoying hoops and adult beverages with some friends. Honeybear came too.

At one point I made some comment and Ruben responded: "That's rad." Obviously he was taking the piss out of me, but it is obvious to anyone who reads White on Rice that I used the word "rad" more than its fair share back in the 80's.

I went back and counted. So far, in 34 posts, I have used a version of the word "rad" 22 times. But since I am being true to what I wrote in my journal back then, I imagine we'll see it many more times. It must've been the thing to say back then. One certainly doesn't hear it much these days. I know I don't use it as much, if ever.

I think I'll start using it again. After all, that would be the rad thing to do.

WBC: 2 Thoughts

1. MLB might want to consider changing their title series name to something other than the "World Series."

2. The WBC winners used their sideburns to pay homage to the greatest TV series of all time:


Busan, South Korea

July 20, 1987
Class and nothing special. No one noticed my ornamentation*. Good. I got a haircut and slept. I was late for class and afterwards Chuck told me a story about his affair with a married woman. I was fascinated.

July 21
Class and 보신탕 then more class and dinner and 기태 called and he wants to come down this weekend.

July 22
Class and new student was Mr. Choi. He is an "avid golfer." 3 memberships. I was very jealous so I went to Sajik 골프장 but I was hitting terrible and was embarrassed. I left after acquiring a 6,000 "dollar" golf glove for nothing. I should pay for it but I was short at the time. I talked to Vince tonight. He is very cool.

July 23
On the verge of another Friday...Class and I called Miss Jeong to get my tapes. She was on her way to Seoul for a month. I barely caught her and got my tapes, Carrie went with her but she didn't even say a word to me. I think she is lame somewhat. I will try to tell 기태 to come next weekend if possible. I must go to KBS on Saturday.

July 24
Class and I jammed on class to go to the Paradise Beach Casino. It was a rush and I came out even. Mr. Heil lost 50,000 and Mr. Moon 20,000. Right now Mr. Heil owes me 30,000 but he might not pay it all back to me. At night to Bulkogi dinner. 기태 hasn't called or showed but I didn't go to the 역. Sometimes I don't even know.


Standing at the Back of the Breadline

Busan, South Korea

July 19, 1987
Incredible. The 17th evening went to Xanadu with Miss Jeong. Mistake. I think I must receive all of my tapes and sever all relationships in that area. Anyway, she met a guy and I hung out with his friend 기태. We met 해연 (spelling?). She is sexy but 35*. We played, got milked, and went home. We met Saturday and played. We rented a LeMans. It was a blast. We cruised. He picked up a chick and 6 of us went to Xanadu. I thrashed on Carrie because I wanted 수영. She jammed. They both jammed. We drove all over, picked up people in 서면 and took them home--7 people. I stopped and talked to 유진. She is a rad chick. We drove around yelling out the window at people. Today we cruised around, met Grandi (spelling?) and cruised Nampo-dong saying random Korean words to strangers. Home and I feel a bit disillusioned.

March 18, 2009
When I read entries like that, I think: "Who is this person? Who writes like that"? But I guess that's looking at things through the rosy bifocals of my early 40's. I was living the dream, right?

I don't remember even the faintest thing about 해연, 수영, or 유진. One was "sexy," another "I wanted," and the last was a "rad chick." One would think I'd remember something. Anything? Nothing.

I do remember 기태, however. He was a Korean-American kid (younger than me I believe) who was summering in Seoul and partying in Busan on the occasional weekend. He didn't really speak any Korean so were united in our foreignerness. Possibly worse for him than me. We met on a Friday, hung out all day Saturday driving around in a rented car. Went to the Club on Saturday night, and stayed in touch for at least another week after he returned to Seoul. Of course, I wouldn't know him if we passed in the street today.

I also remember he put his Crowded House cassette tape in and we sang at the top of our lungs as we drove around. Great album that. I impressed him with my knowledge of how they evolved from Split Enz, and, tit for tat, he turned me on to Hunters and Collectors. That in turn later led me to multiple blissout sessions (in the Roboseyo tradition) to this excellent track:

*If I were writing this bit today, I am sure I would use the word "and" instead of "but."

"Fraternizing in Hell"

Busan, South Korea 1987

July 17, A.M.:
Up late. It's Friday, no class, a holiday. The night before was the rad typhoon but I was fraternizing in hell*. Then yesterday was class and then we went to The Bistro. I met Miss Shin. She was rad I thought. Then at night I went to the downtown with some students. it was packed and full of plenty of roxies. I met Hye-Jin from Seoul. She was staying at Hangook Condo. I was deeply impressed but to no avail. After separation my heart was full of her and this morning too. Now I have today and tomorrow to blow.

*Here's what really happened on July 16. I'm not thrilled about including this particular portion, and have tried and failed to write it several times. Apologies.

The forecast called for an overnight typhoon. Not uncommon in Busan but unheard of back home. After the last class of the evening, Mr. Moon (a Korean dude with a Canadian passport who taught a couple classes at our institute), Andy (an American--married to a Korean gal--who also taught a class or two), and I went down to the casino. The casino was a sort of getaway for us, a place where Koreans were not even allowed unless they held a foreign passport. Hordes of young Korean agasshis worked there, eager to take orders (one could even get a dish of ice cream brought to their seat at a Blackjack table) and deal cards. We escaped there, had a few drinks, played some table games, and killed a few hours while the typhoon gained strength.

By the time we left the casino, the wind was blowing pretty hard and the rain was starting to spit. We piled in a cab but instead of heading home, we went for a nightcap. Andy directed the taxi to what was clearly a regular stop for him. The Ajumma greeted him by name and walked us through the empty place, out the back door, and into a small room that stood off from the main structure. We sat and waited.

After a bit, a side door opened and in came a young woman with a tray of fruit and several tall bottles of beer. She placed the tray in the center of the room and left. Before we could get the bottles opened, three young ladies entered. One was a bit older than the other two. She greeted Andy familiarly and they both giggled. The other two sat on either side of Mr. Moon and myself.

They dimmed the lights and plied us with drinks and fruit. Mr. Moon asked me if I liked the girl who was feeding me bites of fruit. Since none of the girls spoke English, I told him she was wasn't very cute. It was more hurtful than necessary, and probably spoken more out of discomfort than anything else, but I certainly didn't expect it to be translated. It was translated and she was hurt. She left the room in a huff.

Her replacement was quite a bit larger; I'm pretty sure she outweighed me. But I wasn't cruel enough to send her away too. She cozied up to me and immediately worked my shirt off. Next came hers. We danced an odd kind of slow dance without music, her bare breasts and belly pressed against me. Andy and his partner sat fiddling and giggling over in the corner.

The next morning on the way to work, the streets were littered with debris. Tree limbs blocked the road, signs, and all kinds of trash were strewn all over. It looked nothing like the place I knew when I went to bed the night before. But July 17 had only just begun...

'Tis the Season for Foot Fungus and Dog Meat Stew

Busan, South Korea

July 9, 1987
Class and I sent one package. Went to get my shoes but they weren't what I wanted plus they were big. We'll see. I went and had 보신탕. I bought some 무좀약. It stung worse than anything in the world.

July 10
Class and down to Daeshin to get some papers documented and then to have some 보신탕 and evening class. Tomorrow to KBS and no more plans.

July 11
In the morning to KBS and back. I had planned to go golfing and then go play at the Bistro but on the way to the green net driving range I met Lee Me Ja. She offered to buy me a drink so I accepted. I offered to take her to a movie, she accepted. Then we had dinner. We saw 안개기둥. The sound was terrible. My Korean is very poor. I should practice, study, and concentrate... Only about 6 hours with a student I hardly know. It was fun though.

July 13
Mr. Shin's mother is very sick. Lung cancer. That's too bad. Today to Wendy's.

July 14
Class and the Bistro alone. I saw some rad videos. Class and no Han Mi Hap Dong. I called Carrie. It was a mistake to get involved. I almost feel a little used to aloneness. I ate 주물럭* alone today.

*Jumulleok (주물럭), beef short steaks marinated with sesame oil.

Who is Captain Preston?

July 4, 1987 Busan, South Korea
Independence Day. Went to the Chosun Beach Hotel and ate an expensive small American breakfast then a Wendy's hamburger. It was fair. I met a young woman. I met Mr. Lee and Miss Cha. We chatted while I saw some rad videos*. I would be content almost to come home. I got a haircut. It should work. Seeing the Heaven 17 videos was the turning point in deciding to move the hair back. Also helpful was the movie on TV including Captain Preston. Mr. Shin bought me a fan. The weather is hot.

July 5
Vince called. He is cool but he seems much different. Tomorrow is payday.

July 6
Class and a nap. Payday. Take home was 850,000. Not much else.

July 7
Class and after it I met Mr. Moon and his class. Some radsters. I am privately digging one called "보경." She is only 18. But fair. Mr. Moon tried to shove us together but she wouldn't have it. Heaven 17 is rad. I opened up a savings account and paid for my stereo. Brian** called and said he will come. I hope all works out fine.

July 8
Today I learned "hoyden." Today a letter from Mom and Brian. Not much. I saw the second half of Platoon today. It is so intense. I am bored with my morning classes already but my last class is very talkative which is nice.

What I left unwritten:
*Near the Institute, I found a 다방 (the place was called "The Bistro," more on it later) that plays music videos on a huge TV. The place is practically empty in the afternoons when I have breaks from classes. The VJ has a sweet collection of videos that I really enjoy. Obviously Heaven 17 figures prominently in there. He lets me sit in the VJ booth and choose which ones to play. It is like my safe haven where I can sate my tastes for home.

**A friend from home who is planning to come work with me at KHI Institute. This process was set in motion before I left the states, but gained earnest momentum when Pat bailed.

It's getting hot in here

Busan, South Korea

June 25, 1987
육이오. 6-25 and all that jazz. Saw relatively little. Class and all. At night Miss Jeong called and said let's go to Xanadu. I said OK. Then I called to see if Carrie was invited. She said, "No." She was upset for that and some other things. She saw me after class. I didn't see her. She said, "기분 나쁜일 한두가지겠나?! I said I don't know and hesitated for a moment and hung up. I almost thought about getting upset but then realized I didn't come here to get screwed over. This is my vacation.

June 28
The day after the above entry, Carrie brushed me off after class. I came home thinking I would never see her again but was content. She was waiting on the porch. She came in and we talked, apparently it was only a game. We went shopping and I spent a fortune but it was fun. I was tired. We saw the famous Miss Yu. She is fat and ugly. She and Miss Jeong were going to Xanadu. Carrie and I were shocked. Anyway I went to the famed Xanadu first day. There were many rad chicks. They played a few good songs but I wasn't interested really.

June 29
Class today and I napped away the afternoon. Last class and I went for tea and then dinner. I am sweating right now. No class tomorrow. But I will be busy anyway.

July 1st
No class yesterday but I had to go out with Mr. Shin and the "others." I hated it. Today was busy with the first day of classes for July summer vacation. I have six classes of my own. I help Mr. Shin with 4 for free. It seems like it could be pretty fun with many people around and stuff. Carrie didn't come but I didn't call her.

July 2
Second day of class. It is very hot. The start of 장마. Mr. An is a geek. Carrie came over much to my regret. She gave me a book to learn the Japanese writing*. I should study. I need more self-discipline. Surprisingly enough I have been jogging a bit recently.

*March 6, 2009
Yes I still have it:

Don't ask me why 'cuz I have no clue. Before today I hadn't even opened it in probably 20 years. It looks like I used it for a while but quit barely a few letters into the alphabet. My handwriting was terrible; childlike scratchings. I did study Japanese for 2 years at University, but we had textbooks for that.

One might expect Carrie to have given me Korean study books, but she was a bit Japan-obsessed. I already mentioned I have a picture of her in a Kimono standing in front of a Japan Travel poster. Years after we separated, I heard a third-hand rumor that she was in Japan working as a "hostess." No idea if it's true or not.

March 7, 2009

My five-year-old son called me into the bathroom where he was urinating. "Look dad," he said, "My gochu is like a puppet. I can move it up and down without touching it."

I was so proud he was practicing his Korean...

June 21, 1987

What I wrote in my journal for that day:

June 21. Thursday Carrie came. Friday night met Carrie for a late night. I enjoy just being with her. Saturday haircut and to Kyoungju with Mr. An too. To the Condo and about. Lots of Japanese. Miss Hwang came. She seems like a good friend to them. A little easy. At night to the night club. Absolutely no one there. Back and I was pretty bored. Sunday up late and came right home.

What I didn't write:
Three adult married Korean men from the SamChullyHo factory (a subsidiary of Kia), one younger single Korean maiden(?), and one whitey (me, the only non-smoker) piled into a brand new Kia Pride and made the drive up to Kyoungju.

I rode shotgun. We made it onto the freeway and I had a moment of anxiety when I looked over at the speedometer and saw we were going 100. Surprised the little Pride (later bought by Ford and sold in the USA as the Festive) could go that fast. Panic. Math. Number crunching. Another look at the speedometer. Big numbers. Little numbers. Relax dude, the big numbers are KPH and the small numbers are MPH. Going 100 is only 62 MPH. Ok.

We stopped along the way in the middle of nowhere and went into an old looking restaurant. We ate some meat and had some Soju and Makeolli. Even the driver. Then we got back in the Pride and pressed on for the capitol of the ancient Shilla Kingdom.

We visited a traditional village at some point that day. The guys got together and bought me a hand-carved wooden mask of the Yangban. It probably goes without saying that I still have it:

A Slippery Slope

Busan, South Korea

June 15, 1987
Class. Home. Carrie came over. She gave me Hawaiian shorts. We talked and kissed. She was nervous and inexperienced. I dig her. We left and I was to be late for class. Trying to take a taxi. Mr. Shin came and I was shaky. I rode off. She loves me which I want for now but later who knows.

June 17
Carrie came again. She is cool. She wanted to learn the French Kiss. After some hesitation...Today I went to Mr. Park's nice house. Went to Haeundae with him and his sister and Mr. An. We may go to Kyoungju to play.

June 21
Thursday Carrie came. Friday night met Carrie for a late night. I enjoy just being with her. Saturday haircut and to Kyoungju with Mr. An too. To the Condo and about. Lots of Japanese. Miss Hwang came. She seems like a good friend to them. A little easy. At night to the night club. Absolutely no one there. Back and I was pretty bored. Sunday up late and came right home.

June 22
Class and spent another day with Carrie. She is rad. Next month it looks like I will get all new students. I will miss some of my cooler students. I wasn't excited when I first heard it but I am OK. Recently I have felt like going to America but today I felt like I could stay for the time. Also I felt Mr. Shin is milking for the joint class concept (한미 합동).

June 23
Class and Carrie and I cruised downtown and around. Nothing much. She is cool. I lost control once today on Miss Kim [institute secretary]. For no reason. I was sorry.

2009. March 5. What I wrote and what I didn't write.
There was a little convenience store right across from my apartment building. I would buy the occasional Ramen or Choco-Pie there (secretly I ate tons of Choco-Pies, but only the Orion brand; not the Lotte brand). What I bought at that store was never enough to please the really old woman who ran the place. She often asked how I survived, what I ate, who cooked for me, etc. I never understood most of what she said, but I tried to use her for local knowledge; looked like she had nothing better to do...

I asked her where to get my comforter washed and she told me to just give it to her and she would take care of it. The next day she returned it. Not only was it washed, but she had hand sewn a matching pink sheet onto it to work as a duvet cover. She never asked for anything in return, just to shop at her store more often. Too sweet.

One day I walked over to the store and she was plucking the gray hairs out of another woman's head. They cackled out loud without covering their mouths and took great joy in trying to teach the foreigner how to say: "새치를 뽑다."

One afternoon Carrie left my apartment and I went across to the little store. The old lady was holding her bible and looking very concerned. The gist of her message to me that day was that if boys and girls spend too much time together, eventually their skin will end up touching and it's all downhill to hell from there.

My Best Friend is a Pioneer

Staring at my laptop. I got the 80's music channel on the TV. I only turn it to the 80's when the Alternative channel plays a song I don't like. Just now it was The Raconteurs Live from London and sounding terrible. The 80's channel welcomes me with a true classic: Stone Roses singing "I Wanna Be Adored." Excellent. I a sip on an iced mocha I made on my espresso machine downstairs. In 1987 in Pusan, Coffee was instant and Espresso was unheard of.

June 7, 1987
Sunday. Slept in and went to the 학원 and cut out a rad ad from a magazine and then went to the base and enjoyed a hamburger (delivered to the gate). Went to Haeundae and cruised. Home and spent it in.

June 8
Monday to class. The dude brought my stereo.* It is OK.

June 9
Class and lovely weather. Carrie came over for a while. She is really smart and attractive** and I dig her but she has too many secrets. Lately Mr Moon is a dick and he pulled dick and told me in class that he needs me to be better. I think he is a dick. I was pissed. I mean nothing to them, why do I worry so much for them?

June 12
Went to Young-Do and around there. Mr. Moon hasn't been to class since Tuesday. Hmmm... There are serious demonstrations going on in front of the university these days. Korea Times had a headline with "미국놈들". I don't care. Went and played some table tennis. It was fun. Last night Carrie and Miss Jeong and I went to a dance place. We talked and danced. Carrie and I danced together slow and she is rad. I wanted to rifle her but I couldn't. Tonight we talked for a while on the phone. She tried to tell me she and Miss Jeong are "bananas." Interesting theory. "Yellow skin, white on the inside."

June 14
Yesterday no time. Met the rad duckies and changed tapes, dinner and the "downtown." Expensive but fun. We danced. There were many radsters. I am really impressed with Carrie. I called her and we talked and are apparently hung up on each other. Am I hung up? I think so but why? And is it OK? I don't know. She asked me why I came. Why did I? I would love to love her. But for how long? I've only been here one month. I don't know. Tomorrow is hoop. She said she was coming.

*Yes, I still have it. It's nearly 22 years old:I bought this stack at the Lotte Pioneer store just down the street from my apartment. It was expensive at the time. But I really needed something to listen to music on. Tapes were cheap and CDs not available yet. So I bought a dual cassette deck, a graphic equalizer, and those two big speakers that would play louder than would ever be acceptable in my apartment complex.

**Secretly I wonder what the protocols are for posting pictures of somebody one hasn't seen or heard from in over 20 years. Somewhere I think I have a super cute picture of her in a Kimono standing in front of a tourism poster of Japan.