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Friday, January 22, 2016


Vietnamese eatery--Gorlitz

There's another Vietnamese joint on the same block. These eateries, so common in eastern Germany, practically disappear once you enter Poland, and kebab places are rare too. It's not just that Poland has fewer immigrants, Poles simply don't eat or drink out as much as Germans.



Ian Keenan said...

There's a huge Vietnamese neighborhood in Orlando, FL. I got $20 bus tickets there because I had to see the Danish Hell-horse/ Asger Jorn show in Ft Lauderdale but the place I stayed at on the beach, I discovered last year, had price gougers controlling food sales, so I made a special effort to stock up in Orlando including a five for the price of six banh mi at Nha Trang Subs, best I even had. She put the proteins on each variety and left me to put the veggies on, which I relished doing, but forgot when I had access to a microwave to warm the meatballs on the last one ("Thirteen second!"). Actually she talked me into ordering the fish sandwich, I ran across the street to grab vermicelli and spring rolls with peanut sauce, soaked from the morning downpour when I was waiting for the bus in Winter Park, and another Caucasian (black hair) with the same glasses who read Yelp showed up in my absence and she greeted him "NO FISH! YOU WANT MEATBALLS?" When I returned he said "Oh you're the guy with the fish." Eventually I realized I didn't need to sneak into a convenience store and microwave the meatballs, I could eat them cold, but when I was on a bus station bench assiduously assembling the veggies onto my last sub a ten year old boy with his big Spandex mom sit down next to me and the boy starts coughing. I was so into what I was doing I was in denial about how he was being directed to stop coughing instead of covering his mouth. That was Saturday evening and it's Friday here and I just coughed. The next morning I went to Our Lady of Lourdes 10am mass in Atlanta, first US black Catholic parish, day before MLK day, congregation 1/3 white, but started to feel feverish halfway through the service. The sermon by the white assistant pastor (who got a degree in journalism) checked off a lot of mainstream liberal boxes except for treatment of Muslims, and included statements that when we got to Babylon it was rubble, when we got the Western Wall back it was rubble, which raised my eyebrows. He talked about how black and Jewish experiences where similar which I think the black guy in front of me gasped at, and I was initially thinking about how this was said in the context of what was said about Islam. Then I got home and stated catching up on the US election and it has become clear White America has finally figured out that Hillary is a lying crook who would start ridiculous wars, but she's counting on 'people of color' to pull out the nomination, which means that the only thing preventing a president who openly said in a debate she's "against the Iranians" (imagine if she said that about another ethnicity) and in the previous cycle she would "obliterate" Iran is the fact that Cornel West can't get through to enough Africans to switch to Bernie (who's not without imperialist ambitions, but most likely better). In other words the US is about the same as when you left it. There were about 14 gospel songs in all, wonderful, I hope no one got my cold.

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Ian,

I haven't seen a banh mi joint in Germany, though I know there's at least one in Berlin. I'm sure there are others.

I thought I would have a Poland article by now, but my mind is tired. Also, I only visited three towns by the border. I'll probably come up with something...

US elections are charades. Trump, Sanders and Hillary are there to distract an angry public and give the appearance that, yes, American voters can make a difference this time.


Ian Keenan said...

Party 1: Improve national image somewhat, win initial trust of Middle East/ North Africa so they will attempt to transform their society and NATO can clamp down further, destablizing more villages.
Party 2: Old school, shoot first and suppress the hearings later.

LJansen said...

Linh, could not agree more on the billion-dollar kabuki going on here. Unfortunately, we are (as Gore Vidal said) the United States of Amnesia. So we have to go through this every 4 years. People fall for it every time! #feelthebern? Yeah, you will feel the bern when he throws his votes to his pal, Hill.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi LJansen,

The military banking complex will do what it wants, no matter which puppet is "President," but led by the cynical media, half of the country will pour all of their passion and rage into this voting farce.


Ian Keenan said...

You'd think Banh Mi would have potential in Germany with all the local meats available and to cut into the Turks' hold on cheap meat entrees, but I guess banh mi turns a profit when there's low rent and other Vietnamese buy it in volume. The doner kabab is hot, smells good, and the seasonings are less complicated.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Ian,

I had a Turkish baguette sandwich in Istanbul that was pretty damn good. It had a variety of tastes similar to the Vietnamese banh mi, though I must say the Vietnamese is more complex.


Linh Dinh said...

P.S. By that I mean the Vietnamese push your taste buds in more directions.

Ian(not Keenan) said...


About elections,Charles Bukowski came to mind:You get to choose whether to eat turd hot or cooled,something like that.Another quote:

Had there ever been any fair time for the little guy? All that
shit they were fed about democracy and opportunity was just to keep them
from burning down the palace. Sure, once in a while a guy climbed out of
the rubble and made it. But for each one of them there were hundreds of
thousands down on skid row or in jail or in the madhouses, or suicided or
drugged or drunk. And many more working pitiful low-paying jobs,
throwing away their years for the merest subsistence.
Slavery had not been eliminated, it had only been expanded to include
nine-tenths of the population. Everywhere. Holy shit.

Rudy said...


This ( ) recently came to my attention.

The motif morphs from a representation of the US flag to a flame curling skyward.

Flames, flames.

During their escape from Egyptian bondage a pillar of fire led the israelites through the wilderness to their promised land. At Auschwitz, according to the state religion, flames belched from crematory chimneys, and when the ovens could no longer keep up, flames roared from huge pits where vast heaps of bodies were burned, some of them thrown onto the pile alive. And… flames destroyed the World Trade Center.

Now, from the promised land an eternal flame beckons to americans inviting them to visit a place of peace and solitude where they can contemplate suffering - the unique eternal suffering of the jews, and even their own. Thus suffering merges the destinies of america and israel, and americans can finally begin to understand the meaning of the holocaust memorials scattered around and about in their own country.

Examining the inscription is instructive. There we read that “the Twin Towers … imploded in the September 11 disaster.” ‘Implosion’ and ‘explosion’ both relate to destruction, but they differ. Use of ‘exploded’ in the inscription would have been a tactical mistake, since that is what we actually see in videos of the event, and so would risk rousing suspicion. The choice of the less violent sounding ‘imploded’ can be explained away as just a more dignified alternative to collapsed and so is less likely to disturb cognitive dissonance.

It’s also of interest to note that unlike the Twin Towers, Building 7 did not explode; it actually did implode. So memory of the building that imploded is left to recede toward the horizon unmentioned.

As a piece of propaganda the thing is worthy of admiration.

Finally, the memorial gloatingly reminds members of congress - vice regents in the classical framework of colonialism - who is really in control. So vote for anyone you want to, including no-one. It won’t affect the program.

Linh Dinh said...

Interviewer: I see that the quarrel between right and left does not excite you very much.

Milan Kundera: The danger that threatens us is the totalitarian empire. Khomeini, Mao, Stalin - are they left or right? Totalitarianism is neither left nor right, and within its empire both will perish.

I was never a believer, but after seeing Czech Catholics persecuted during the Stalinist terror, I felt the deepest solidarity with them. What separated us, the belief in God, was secondary to what united us. In Prague, they hanged the Socialists and the priests. Thus a fraternity of the hanged was born.

This is why the stubborn struggle between left and right seems to me obsolete and quite provincial. I hate to participate in political life, although politics fascinates me as a show. A tragic, deathly show in the empire to the east; an intellectually sterile but amusing one in the West.


Rudy said...

Thank you for pointing to that interview.

I also share Kundera’s dismay:
“For me, indiscretion is a capital sin. Anyone who reveals someone else's intimate life deserves to be whipped. We live in an age when private life is being destroyed. The police destroy it in Communist countries, journalists threaten it in democratic countries, and little by little the people themselves lose their taste for private life and their sense of it.”

“Life when one can't hide from the eyes of others - that is hell. Those who have lived in totalitarian countries know it, but that system only brings out, like a magnifying glass, the tendencies of all modern society. The devastation of nature; the decline of thinking and of art; bureaucratization, depersonalization; lack of respect before personal life. Without secrecy, nothing is possible - not love, not friendship.”

To me, Julian Jaynes’ discourse (“The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”) seems at least as reasonable as the hypothesis that the universe began as an explosion of something that took up no space at all and had been around for no time at all, since nothing, including space and time, existed then, whatever ‘then’ might mean in that context. While thinking about that, I found myself idly wondering whether the nearly universal availability, accelerating development, and voluntary embrace of instant communication technology is channeling society toward the slavery of something like collective social bicameralism.

Anonymous said...

Information technology and privacy. What could have been mostly a tool to enhance privacy is mostly not. Let me whip some things out.

Americans want to go to work with one of the top employers in the US, now their blog postings are being taken into consideration as to whether they can get paid. Credit ratings ain't no secret either. The thing sticking out is the desire for privacy is equally strong all 'round. However, if a business or a powerful group of individuals are behaving like assholes in my town, I have no problem (especially after a few drinks) of publically excorciating the son-of-a-bitch, undoubtedly he the same to me. He has access to better information, privacy be damned, he generally wins.

Linh Dinh said...

From my Chicago Postcard:

"Started in Argentina, escrache has spread to other Latin American countries as a popular movement to oust, shame and ostracize retired generals, politicians and other powerful figures who have committed unpunished crimes. After locating the criminal in question, the organizers would inform his neighbors that here lives a state-sanctioned mass murderer or torturer, or a looter of public funds. Later, thousands of people would converge on this man’s house to publicly indict the blood-drenched fat cat. Though this Latin American version of a Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush or Obama is never physically attacked, the monster will be shunned by many of his neighbors, with local businesses even refusing to sell him a meal or a newspaper.

Critics of escrache have denounced it as a form of vigilante justice and, as the outburst of an angry mob, should be declared illegal, but the protesters are only reacting to acts that are themselves clearly illegal, not to mention outrageously immoral. The protester’s public harassment does not compare to their targets’ torturing and/or raping, then throwing their victims from airplanes into the ocean, or kidnapping their children and erasing their identities."


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 a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), 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). 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.