When I first heard photographer and regular Street Boner contributor Vincent Dermody had moved to Korea, the first question that popped into my head is, “Why?”
When I first heard photographer and regular Street Boner contributor Vincent Dermody had moved to Korea, the first question that popped into my head is, “Why?” Asia blows, all 17 million square miles of it. They like each other about 2% more than they like animals and they fucking hate animals. In China for example, they believe the more pain an animal suffers before it’s death, the more delicious it is. They also say, “If it moves it’s food.” Ew.
I’ve traveled all over Mainland China and Japan and Korea. I also lived in Taiwan for about 6 months and despite having way more money than the Mainland, it was equally gross. Sure they’re smarter than us and the girls are knockouts, but they see Westerners as Chewbacca meets Booger from Revenge of the Nerds so your only hope for poon is to pick up some of the abandoned white girls who are sick of being ignored. The men are nice and allergic to crime but who the fuck knows how they feel about anything? Here’s a notion, how about you tell me what’s on your mind? Who fucking cares how much face you save? Life’s too short, short guy! I’m Scotch Irish and our whole existence is based on losing as much face as possible. If we don’t like a stranger’s shoes for example, we’ll go up and ask him, “Here, you. Gonnee explain them bloody winkle pickers by the way?” In most of Asia you don’t even know if you’re talking to a ninja who’s been hired to assassinate you.
Throw in tile floors, a disdain for heat, deep-seated racism, gay music, no sleep, pollution, meat hanging out the window, workaholism, no drugs, way too much traffic, and an inability to booze, and you have a continent almost perfectly designed for not visiting.
Street Carnage: So yeah, Vincent, what were you thinking?
Dermody: I like that Boner about the Koreans collapsing all the time. They literally do fucking pass out. They also have no peripheral vision and stare so unabashedly; it makes one feel like prey. That bone helped pay back the little loss of self I’ve found in this culture. It’s like America in the fifties without jazz or greasers.
Go on. You read my intro. What are you doing there?
My parents are Irish by birth, and I’m a plastic-paddy. Living here is the opposite of punk rock. I’ll be lucky if I make it six months.
I’m massively sick from the air pollution with a raging hot sinus infection at the moment. Called in sick half an hour ago, and I’ve received five phone calls from my bosses in the last fifteen minutes. I’ve already blown my top at “management” so many times that my immediate supervisor doesn’t speak to me anymore, she just sends me inter-office emails in Hangul that I poorly decipher on the internet.
My brother just lost his job there for leaving to visit a friend who was dying in Thailand. The friend died. When my brother came back they told him it wasn’t a good enough excuse. How can you possibly meet their standards?
My recruiter fucked everything up so bad that they failed to mention I would have a piss test the day after I arrived. Of course I was riding dirty. After making the weirdest phone call of my entire life, me and a Swede headed south to his little brother’s place to pick up some pee. The cab went over ninety miles an hour, sustained for an absolutely unruly and gleeful twenty minutes, a bag of ice holding the Swede’s brother’s DNA between my legs. Like we robbed the piss bank. Several lights were blown, switching lanes as if they weren’t there in neon yellow. Almost fucking dying on the expressway because it’s after midnight, and the cab charges double then, triple when it goes really fast (that makes sense). Not a cop to be seen anywhere. The next day my sickly little severe-faced boss ironically wishes me “good luck” on the way out the door to the health exam, the icy piss duct taped to my belly.
So that’s how you meet their standards. You cheat. What about that fucking food? It’s nothing like Asian food here. It’s inedible.
Yesterday afternoon I go to the grocery store on my lunch break to find something to supplement the scary squid and uncooked rice with stinky egg casserole that looked like off-white Jell-O, settling on bananas. Koreans get concerned over the most bizarre minute details and buying ANYTHING is such a chore, the clerk at the register jogging off with the bananas. And the guy in line behind me sternly tells me to wait. No shit Sherlock, I need those bananas. So I start giving him the business knowing full well he won’t have a flying fucking clue as to what I’m talking about. “Do you like bananas?” in my best teach-the-second-graders voice. “They are my favorite!” I tell him like a big goof. I almost started singing the Banana Song, the irony completely lost on this culture. Duh. So I ask him what the Korean word for bananas is. He’s like: “Ba-na-na.”And I go, “banana? It’s the same word.” He’s like, “No. We say BA-NA-NA. Not banana.” The clerk comes back like 10 minutes later with the BA-NA-NAs all gift-wrapped up. No one in the now ten-person line seemed to mind. I was flabbergasted however. If I were at a grocery store in Chicago, somebody would have pulled out a gun, or at least punched somebody in the face.
And I haven’t even addressed the morning commute. I’ll be lucky if I don’t go to prison for assault.
What do you do for “fun”?
If I’m not at the Martial Arts school down my block, I’m watching action movies from the nineties on cable. Steven Segal every night. He looks like an old Korean dude, especially in his late work, all paunchy and sunburned. I’d kill to be home right now — and by “home” I mean with my family eating turkey and being only a tiny bit annoyed. Oh wait, I got some jokes…
Hey, how do you catch a unique turkey?
How do you catch a tame turkey?
OK that’s it. I gotta go. Happy Thanksgiving.