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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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Flag in realtor's office on 8-3-15--Fishtown








Real estate office. The old Fishtown is disappearing fast. Yesterday, I met Joe, 53. For 7 1/2 years, he had a Vietnamese girlfriend, Tien, but for four of those years, he was in prison for credit card fraud. Inside, he subscribed to two porn mags, Forty Something and Asian Girls. When Joe got out in 1984, Tien bought him a pretty good used car and a $1,000 Rolex watch, and it wasn't like she was rich. Tien was only about to get her nursing license. Tien means "fairy," by the way.

"Tien was not just the best girlfriend I've ever had, she was also the best person I've ever known."

Years after he had broken up with her, Joe saw Tien walking up the steps of an L station, "I was with this prostitute but I said, 'Go over to that park and wait for me,' then I ran to catch up with Tien. I felt this small, man," and he kept his hands about six inches apart. "I said to her that I was broke and really needed money, so she gave me a twenty. That was the last time I ever saw Tien."

Joe observed, "With Asians, they're like really nice and family oriented or they're, like, completely crazy. They'd join gangs and do home invasions and shit."

After Tien, all of his girlfriends but one were at least a decade older than him.

"Now that I'm 53, I don't want to date a woman in her 60's."

"Why, what's wrong with that?"

"I can't afford the money for the lubricant."

"Oh come on, man, they can still get pretty juicy."

"I'm sure there are exceptions, but... like my friend said, it will be like rolling a hot dog down a hallway."

"I've never heard that one."

A junkie for most of his adult life, Joe was jumped once in Kensington for $30. The muggers broke his skull, both forearms and several fingers.

Out, he rented a room but couldn't get along with a housemate who often played loud music all night long. Asshole thought Joe was a pushover since he was a wreck and even walked with a cane, as he still does, thanks to blood clots in his legs. During a fight, however, Joe punched the guy just once but broke his eye socket, nose and cheekbone. "There was so much blood, it was like a slaugherhouse." Joe spent a month in jail before the judge dismissed the case.

The old Fishtown is disappearing fast.



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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.