If you don't like K-Pop then Fxxk You

Three or so weeks into my Thai language class, khruu went around the hong-rien, asking we six or seven nak-rien the same question. By now I'd developed a strategy--sit in the middle of the semi-circle so as to not be called on first. Much less stressful to hear others first since Thai class is tough

Look kids, it's Internalized Oppression of the Patriarchy Barbie!

But this question I was ready to answer.

“JaMEE, khun chaub pleng a-rai?”

“Phom chaub K-Pop.” I said.

Laughter followed. (Fun fact: in Thai, the number 5 is pronounced “ha”. So when texting, instead of “lol” Thais write “555”.)  

“Like Gangam Style?”

“Mai. Gangam Style’s okay, but I like April, Blackpink, Brown Eyed Girls…”

Now the roar of laughter and surprise. But jing jing, it’s true--I am a 40 year old farang with tats and a full beard who likes K-Pop. How did that happen? Here's the story in words.

And here's the video version: 

But the pizza’s happiness wore off long ago and still I love K-Pop. Here are some examples:


Dream Candy

These girls made me fall in love with the genre. The sincerity, the emotive expressions, the hand gestures (little hearts at 3:16!), the wholesome sweetness--watching them I feel like Linus in the pumpkin patch. 

And the story is just delightful. The flowers. The instantaneous outfit changes (clogs!). And I don’t want to ruin the surprise in the forest, but when the girls see it and how they react, it tugs at my jai. I want good things for them. 

And the chorus is infectious! Ba da ba bah, ba da ba bah!


Sun, Moon, Star 

Blue. Soda. That’s all I have to say.

Okay, I have much more to say about this video, This is New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys and all the rest taken to its ultimate destination. This is the teleological boy band. I don’t understand a word they’re saying, and that makes it even better. They dance, they emote, they understand ennui better than any American band I’ve ever seen.


As If It's Your Last

These girls are huge at the moment, and clearly the K-powers that be are putting mega-bank behind their production. The lead looks like Korean Sarah Hyland 30 seconds in, and she clearly knows she’s hot shit. The kind of girl in a club who will, with terribly put-upon disdain, point away and insist that you “go dance over there” (not that that’s ever happened to me, of course). In spite of the little hearts they flash at 40 seconds in, they won’t hesitate to break yours into littler pieces. And for some reason their rapper wears her bra on the outside--call her Left Breast?

But beyond the hyper visuals, the song is damned catchy--and with enough English to make you think you’re signing along.


4 Walls

First of all, the band name: f of x! How cool and nerdy and sci-fi is that?

Second, K-Pop is not all bubblegum--some of it gets downright dirty. 4 Walls is not the dirtiest I’ve seen, but it’s damned sexy nonetheless. And classic K-Pop tropes are in full effect: the rapper with dyed blonde hair, the androgynous look from one of the members, another surprise in the forest. K-Pop is teaching me much about Korean culture, though I can’t tell you what, exactly--except, perhaps, that weird things happen in these peoples’ lives. Don’t drop the teakettle.


Fxxk U

Speaking of dirty, when the opening shot of your video is dude trying to get his face up underneath her skirt, we’re getting into Sugar Walls/Little Red Corvette territory. The pull me/push you visuals remind me of relationships I’ve had that left deep emotional scars I treasure. By the end, I think someone’s been murdered and a birthday has definitely been ruined.

And the song is pretty hot, too. In other genres this would be the primary requirement, but K-Pop is a visual art as much as a musical one.

But here’s what I love about K-Pop the most. There’s a lot of bad shit in the world right now and so many people are angry.

And you just can’t be mad watching K-Pop. It’s physically impossible--and so much better than arguing on facebook about kneeling football players. And if you want more K-Pop recommendations, and/or you have happy pizza to share, feel free to message me.

Border run #2: a greener shade of Cambodia

I'm now starting my third month in SE Asia, and on day 4 (of 12 scheduled) in Cambodia.

Tempus fugit, Ferris.

I've also posted lots of food porn here but not provided a proper restaurant review. Until now.  


Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pizza is big business in Siem Reap (at least, as big as business gets here), with some surprisingly high quality pies on offer.

That's not Happy Siem Reap Pizza. No, they--along with four or five other joints in town--specialize in happy pizzas. Thus, my must-do travel itinerary for Siem Reap was the following, in no particular order:

  • Visit with stepbrother
  • Angkor Wat
  • Happy Pizza

The interior of Happy Siem Reap Pizza is rustic, with dark wood and brick throughout. This is no doubt helpful for hiding bloodshot eyes. The service is quick and the staff is knowledgeable. When I ordered my small mushroom pie, priced at $3.50, I was quick to remind that I wanted it happy. My waiter informed me it’s $2 extra to make it happy.

Now, one might argue that paying extra for happiness, at a place with “happy” in their name, amounts to bait and switch. But I remembered mai pen rai, then remembered I was in Cambodia, not Thailand, and so remembered que sera sera.

“No problem,” I say. “Ah kon.”

that green ain’t basil

that green ain’t basil

My pie (and milkshake) came quickly. The taste? Eh. Reminded me of Chef Boyardee pizza kits I made as a teenager (which, if I’d made those "happy", would’ve made my friends much happier too). But the flavor isn’t what I savored of those three slices--no, this was a pizza that truly lived up to its promise. And I spent the rest of the afternoon in my room, flipping channels and grinning a fool.

By the way, K-Pop is amazing:

It was also a valuable reminder that the Nate Dogg way of Life was a valuable one to mine, but ultimately, was unsustainable. Good as it is to take care of head, without a little good, fine, hard work, I'll never not be workin on that novel.

But with all that said, I was also a fan of Happy Siem Reap Pizza’s to-go boxes--because they have them. I got one, and am looking forward to cold pizza for dinner. And breakfast.

Overall rating: 4.20