March 3rd, 2003


Bek Se Ju Is The Devil.

My girlfriend went to sun-drenched Chicago for the weekend, which meant that I was a free man. So did I shut myself up inside my apartment with a bunch of underage hookers and engage in group humpage 'til Monday?

Day One As A Free Man
Our mom had volunteered to pick out my sister's puppy, but several weeks passed and she still hadn't bought one. She told me she was being highly selective and looking for the perfect canine, but I was getting a sense that she was dragging her feet. My fear was that the longer her search dragged on, the greater the risk that she'd eventually change her mind about getting a dog. I’m keen to the wily ways of the ahjuma. Keen like Afro-Sheen.

So I spent the week scouring the Internet and newspapers for maltese and toy poodle pups. I contacted a bunch of breeders, and on Friday afternoon one of the owners called back with what sounded like a perfect candidate. Problem was her daughter was coming from Japan to pick them up Saturday morning, so I had to go right after work.

Left the office and drove straight into the barrio part of East LA - where you're more likely to find teardrop tattoos than toy poodles. Spent an hour observing the puppies, and wondering if my car was going to get stolen. Seriously, when I was walking over to the place I could actually hear vatos in the dark street muttering, "Yo ese, who'z that?" It was like a line of dialogue straight out of a bad gangbanger movie - a bad gangbanger movie about puppies.

I ended up picking the puppy who wasn't the cutest of the litter, but he seemed the most aware, if that makes any sense. I put him in a small box right next to me in the car, which turned out to be a good move because about several blocks away from my parents' house, the little guy got carsick and puked. That didn’t bother me much – it’s far less disconcerting than the fact that dogs tend to eat their own puke right afterward.

In the end: Sister loved the puppy. Mom more or less finds it okay.

Afterward I met up with Chuck and Rina at some place called Hite. Rina brought along some of her friends, which tends to mean they’re Asian and have something to do with entertainment. This time one of them was this highly amusing white dude. But he was a producer over at Maverick Films ... which, after “Swept Away,” may not be something you’d want to admit publicly.

Remember RingBoy from my previous entry? Well I met his comic book version. Not some justice-loving man in matching spandex shorts and cape – he buys the rights to Japanese comic books and then tries to get them made into American movies. Unlike RingBoy he hasn’t struck gold yet; but at the rate the studios are going, you’ve gotta figure they’re going to run out of American comic book heroes soon. So look for “Ramen-Man: The Movie” at a theater near you.

I don’t remember whose idea it was to order Bek Se Ju - it may have been highly amusing white dude, damn that Caucasian devil - but as soon as I saw the first round of bottles I could feel my liver quaking with fear. It could sense the presence of evil.

Bek Se Ju is actually pretty mild stuff. Not exactly sure what it is, but taste-wise I’d guess it was ginseng soju. It’s just that the last time I was in Seoul in 2001, it was the death blow beverage.

Death blow - as in after a long, hard night of partying at Julianna or S-Bar, we’d end up at some diner at 4 am, attempting to eat omerice or sam gyup sal without falling out of our chairs. Then one of our Satanic Korean friends would order bottles of Bek Se Ju, claiming it had medicinal value, and force us to drink it. Pow! Half-hour later, I’m muttering “Mother of God” while trying to figure out if I’d fallen through some dimensional rift into a world where up was down and left was right.

Two years later, I’d meet my ginseng-flavored nemesis again. And after twenty cold, merciless bottles, “Mother of God” returned. It wouldn’t be the last time I’d see him this weekend. [Entry's gotten way too long. Will continue later.]