Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Facebook profile pic!

This sign used to just read WILL in blazing red letters on a segment of spikey wrought iron fence.  I thought it was a Nazi cafe because the sign gave me a triumph of the WILL or WILL to power sort of vibe.  Now, with the festive trim, I get a Jimmy Buffet sort of vibe.
I'm certain I've mentioned Hongdae in previous posts.  I recall a specific one in which I described an evening I spent there all suited up with nowhere to go, hungry for kebab, an evening which found me at its close intoxicated in public after a run-in with Makgeolli Man, a local character who arbitrages convenience store makgeolli from a peasant cart he pulls around the neighborhood and who praised my sartorial excellence and enthusiastically professed his love for me.  Well it happened again last Friday!  Except I wasn't wearing a suit and was already intoxicated when my path crossed Makgeolli Man's.

The evening began with delicious dalk galbi (chicken barbecue).  The white things are potato slices.

Once the chicken was well underway vegetables were added.

Eat this.
As is customary in Korea, libations were on hand and toasts were made at dinner.  Soju, makgeolli and an empty stomach joined forces to deliver me quickly to Drunky Town.

I should say something about myself and alcohol here.  I was just being affable at dinner.  I don't find drunkenness an interesting experience and I don't like alcohol because it's dreadfully high-calorie and one shouldn't drink one's calories.  Drink does little more than ruin my balance and my diet and where, I ask, is the fun in that?

Nevertheless, I had entered a spiral of accelerating drunkenness.

This chicken joint tries to be helpful.
After the chicken we made our way to Hongdae's park, which I've also mentioned previously, probably with special mention of its general scumminess, which is as yet undiminished.  The park's scumminess is a universal constant one could use in formulating physical equations.  It's still worth peeking in on every now and again just to see what's going on, like it's a carton of milk you've left out of the fridge for two weeks.  Happily, it was a silent disco night.

Hongdae's silent disco.
Silent disco is a post-modern dance club.  There's a live DJ spinning mindless hip-gyrating thumpery for the kinesthetic pleasure of a gaggle of tipsy under-30s grinding their way through late-20th century youth culture's chaotic mating dance, as you'd find in any club, but with an ironic twist:  no speakers!  Everyone's wearing headphones.  This clever trick adds a new wrinkle to clubbing as spectator sport; here the spectator is well and truly alienated.

Hey, it's Makgeolli Man, liberating the crowd's self-conscious members.
Biology gives us two incontrovertible signs spring has sprung in Korea:  blossoming cherry trees and the first appearance of Makgeolli Man.  But if he sees his shadow when he emerges from his hovel it means six more weeks of winter.

I wonder about this guy.  Is the makgeolli business his only source of income?  What does he do all winter?  For that matter, what does he do all day?  Where did he learn American geography?  (He's pretty good at it:  "American!  I love you!  New York Chicago L.A.! ")

Makgeolli Man sold our group a bottle of his special sauce.  I felt this entitled me to a selfpic for my scrapbook.  A comrade offered to take the picture for me but I was like "No, this will be way better as a selfpic."  Operating the camera was a bit tricky, me being quite drunk at this point, but I managed to frame the shot perfectly.  Check it out:

A picture of Makgeolli Man featuring yours truly in a cameo appearance from an episode of Cops.  He looks a bit like a peat bog corpse here but the dark complexion is perfectly healthy and his cockeyed stare and creepy rictus are well within his normal parameters.
And that's how I got my new Facebook mugshot.  After the park there was some intoxicated shopping for eyeglass frames (Hongdae's eyewear boutiques are open until nearly midnight because hey, you never know when someone will need to purchase eyewear at midnight) before we trundled over to LP Bar for some dancing.  A purchase of liquor was necessary to gain admission to the floor and I shortly found myself drinking long island iced tea and gyrating foolishly.  The former was not good for my BAC but I learned from Dr. Gonzo that sometimes one must doggedly follow the logic of an experience to its utter end, no matter how ugly or absurd.  This meant continuing to whirl around the spiral of accelerating drunkenness in ever tighter circles.

LP Bar was full of Koreans and it was a sausage fest on the dance floor but that's okay in Korea because the men here enthusiastically dance with each other in ways that would provoke a great deal of staring in a straight USA club.  Lots of hand-holding and embracing and even the occasional swat on the bottom.   The Koreans ceded the floor to us, a mere handful of waygooks, and it felt a bit awkward because it had been so densely populated with them when we arrived.  When we made as if to leave they took over again and I threw off my coat to join them in a final dance, a circular hopping affair everyone seemed to enjoy.

When I got home I discovered I was capable of operating my body only in an upright or prone configuration, having lost too much poise to make use of the in-between modes.  On my way to this discovery I accidentally headbutted my lovely companion and suffered an embarrassing fall.  Fortunately only my dignity was injured.

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