Sunday, April 29, 2007

New York is desire.

And it hurts. It's all beauty and brazen savoir-faire; two young men kissing, or laughing, or talking without stammering; neither one looking in my direction.

Oh, I exaggerate. But it really has been a joyous horror to be back in the city. Once I was a denizen; now I'm a mere tourist, yet I can almost recognise each face in the street - the twisty-haired film students, the gangstas in sports coats, the mothers and nannies and daddies pushing strollers holding babies of another race. I step onto campus, and the kids don't know me; there's no-one in the middle of Low Plaza who waves to me until I wave back. It's like being transported to a parallel universe where you never happened.

My old lovers say it's good to see me and then they have no time to see me.

I go away and New York keeps on running. There is no Yish-shaped hole left when I disappeared. I missed New York but New York did not miss me. Not much, leastways.

I exaggerate. I spent some good times with some lovers and would-be-lovers. We observed 4-20 and ate Thai food and did organic shopping and in some cases fucked. We slept together and apart and in the same bed but in different universes. Victor demonstrated his mastery of the sai (spinning Japanese daggers) and told me how mad he remains at his parents for making him study martial arts. Johnny related how his family's O-negative blood-type on a shoe helped to convict his sister's murderer, and that he may or may not have slept with Jake Gyllenhall. Chuck bought me sticky rice flavoured with crushed cherry blossoms and wrapped in salty lotus leaves. Adam housed me for four days. Ryder stood me up.

The problem is, I realise that in the heat of the moment I still am the desperate, needy yet uncommitted overgrown adolescent that I was ten years ago. I mope in the 4 am subways and send people text messages composed largely of primal screams. Of course, I'm collected and mature when I'm sitting in front of the monitor, updating my blog, but when I leave the computer room despair can still hit me out of left field.

Jason pointed out to me three years ago that I had never had a lover who returned my love. The statement remains true today.

New York is clubs in Greenwich Village and orgies in Brooklyn and happiness ever after at a City Hall civil disobedience action and a Chelsea loft. It's the expanse of the piers and the power of the museums and the glow of the distant lamps in the darkness of the subway.

Unattainable. Which is why everyone's so amazed that I'm back with two published books and a sold-out play within two years of graduation. I suppose I knew it was a rather prodigious accomplishment in Singapore, but I was pretty surprised that even here my friends and profs can't quite believe it; it's the kind of product you're supposed to yield seven years after commencement and an MFA and a back-room job in a publishing company.

Of course, in America it's an uphill struggle to find a publisher who'll view your work as commercial enough for the press or a theatre company that's game enough to ride with a novice. In Singapore we're pretty desperate for new writers, and we've got passionate folks like Enoch and Keng Sen and Loretta and Ekachai who're willing to work from the ground up. Such blessings.

Much better to be home, where you're recognised and relevant and you're more than a drop in the ocean. Why live where everyone mispronounces your name and dumps you in a huge three hundred year-old melting pot controlled by morally bankrupt politicians who betray their ideology with every breath that escapes their recta?

The city of desire beats you up, like the inside of an egg or a sheet of copper.

It changes you. You burn. You suffer. You grow.

P.S. I've given away or sold all the books I brought, which is something. Photos forthcoming.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Short and Sweet

My short ten-minute play "Frostbite" is going up this Wednesday as part of Short and Sweet Singapore, a festival of 10-minute plays. Andrew Lua's directing - he was one of the actors for the staged reading of "The Final Temptation of Stamford Raffles".

Week 2
25 April to 29 April 2007, 8pm
Studio Theatre, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
Tickets here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nyuuyooku e iku!

Do not attempt to call my handphone from the night of April 15 to the afternoon of April 30th.

I shall be in New York City. Promoting my poetry book, last boy, definitely among my Columbia friends but also hopefully at open mikes at the Nuyorican and places like that.

Damn, look at me in that photo. So young and crazy (yes I know I'm still young and crazy, but trust me, back then I was so young and so crazy that I was principally a schizophrenic zygote). These are photos from my pal Edward Rueda, now studying journalism. He was a co-founder of the Klaritin improv group, and I was the founding member who kept on slipping up 'cos I didn't know the American cultural references.

Ah, but I wish I had that kind of therapy now. Improv kicks ass, y'all. You walk into the room and you have no idea who you're gonna be five minutes from now.

That, my friends, is the spirit of youth.

Much love, and send me e-mails.

Friday, April 13, 2007

我的朋友 My Friends Kawanku

A multilingual rap from a Muar Chinese-Malaysian. I want a translation! Watch out for the middle when he starts to scold Singapore. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

If you've ever worked in Early Childhood Education, this is bizarrely familiar

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Vostra Mano Tamade

I resolved that, since I'm applying for the NAC Venice Biennale internship (hey, who wouldn't want to go to a foreign city to talk about Singapore art and be away from my folks), I'd prove my intent by writing a review of a Tang Dawu exhibit in Italian.

"Vostra Mano Madre (Your Mother Hand)" è la esplorazione ultima di Tang Dawu del rapporto fra l'uomo e la natura. La centrale al suo performance è il tronco dell'albero di banana, qui usato entrambi come costume ed armatura sculptural. Legato ai gambi della banana e ad una struttura della base del ferro, il artista se torsi come dormentore disturbato, abusato da un assistente mentre il suo pubblico osserva sopra, messo sui banchi taglienti del metallo. La scelta di gambo della banana come motivo è significativa, come l'albero di banana era, fino a che una generazione fa, trovato comunemente nelle giungle e nei giardini de Cingapura, deponenti le uova i racconti non abbondino degli alcoolici femminili che abitano gli alberi di banana, fascini medicinali pieghi composti di corteccia della banana, leggende di un regno antico dell'isola conservato dai pesci spada viziosi da un barricade dei tronchi della banana. A Cingapura postindustriale, tuttavia, i cittadini hanno raggiunto un punto dell'alienazione dei prodotti che i minmizza la frutta della banana in un commestibile banale del supermercato, gli alberi di banana si transformano in manufatti sconosciuto di storia, relegato alla selva. Tang sta riprendendo il tronco della banana come un'icona di mistero tropicale, che spingali, si è coricata in nostre strutture metalliche, nei sogni perturbato di tristezza della civilizzazione.

Aiyah, actually I babelfished it and then corrected what I could using an English-Italian dictionary. Sure got loads of errors. The original reads here:

"Your Mother Hand" is Tang Dawu's latest exploration of the relationship between man and nature. Central to his performance/installation is the banana tree trunk, here used both as costume and sculptural armature. Strapped to banana stems and an iron bed frame, the artist writhes as if in fitful sleep, abused by an assistant while his audience looks on, seated on sharp metal bleachers. Tang's choice of the banana stem as motif is significant, as the banana tree was, until a generation ago, commonly found in Singapore's jungles and gardens, spawning tales abound of female spirits who inhabit banana trees, folk medicinal charms composed of banana bark, legends of an ancient island kingdom saved from vicious swordfish by a barricade of banana trunks. In post-industrial Singapore, however, citizens have reached a point of commodity alienation that trivialises the banana fruit into a banal supermarket comestible, the banana trees become unfamiliar relics of history, relegated to the wilderness. Tang is reclaiming the banana trunk as an icon of tropical mystique, thrusting us, couched in our metallic edifices, into fitful dreams of civilisation's discontent.

The remaining installation is still viewable by appointment at Your Mother Gallery, but it's not much to look at. Curator Jeremy Hiah is fun to talk to, though.

Friday, April 06, 2007

a wonderful weekend, singapore

an interview with Bertrand Peret and Sandrine Llouquet of Wonderful District, by Ng Yi-Sheng. For details of the event, at 72-13 home of Theatreworks today and tomorrow until 3am, click here.

Let's dance >
Bertrand, Sandrine, why did you decide to structure Wonderful Weekend as a party? We like to mix art and life in our project; or art and party. Bertrand is more in the life part and I'm more in the «boring» art part :) One of the most exciting and creative fields of this last decade is situated around electronic music and its contexts >>> thinking a space and how people will move into it You've been boyfriend/girlfriend since 1998, and began the Wonderful project in France in 2000 It was the natural continuation of our work. In my art work I question the locations of exhibition, the context, the public I started in 1996 in my apartment in Bordeaux. Every month for 2 years I was inviting one "project" (artist or group) to invest my space 72 hours non-stop... By existing, artworks demonstrate that everyone can choose to get his own point of view, even if it seems «abnormal» I like to use Hakim Bey's famous idea of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, utopian insofar as it believes in the intensification of everyday life, or, as surrealists would have put it, «a penetration of life by the marvellous».

Why did you decide to move to Vietnam in 2005? To give a new impetus to our activities. My parents are Vietnamese and I came for one year as a student at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University. I felt a enormous dynamism, an energy, a desire to progress that doesn't exist anymore in France yes!!! I think the difference is that in France, people are looking at the past that's it!!! and here they are looking at present, looking at the future... Here in VN, the traffic, how people are driving their motorbikes helped me to understand their way of working, thinking, moving forward; they never use their rear-view!!! So you formed Wonderful District, to stimulate contemporary art in Vietnam. But you've had setbacks: Rendezvous, the first incarnation of Wonderful, was cancelled for sponsorship reasons we have to ask for licences for every kind of art event. It is also very difficult to convince a sponsor to pay for something that has no precedent (that was the last answer of our sponsor).

You'll be showing French and Belgian as well as Vietnamese artists The contemporary art community we know here is very multicultural. The group we formed (Mogas Station) is representative Friendship is so important in any situation >>>> (8 artists including Vietnamese, German, French, Viet-French, Viet-American, Viet-Japanese) I believe in small groups, tribes, crew...>>> We want to bring new things to see and hear in Asia, we start with what we know... This is the exchange zone I do not believe in any nationalism; in our digital civilization it has less and less meaning...

Wonderful is an experiment of situation, of moments, of meetings We believe that there are a lot of people who doesn't care about contemporary art only because they have never seen contemporary art mixing architecture, design, music, Contemporary creation mixes competences ephemeral contexts the border between these forms is less and less clear graphism, communication , video, life, light, food...

Your life's work We realise that doing small things can have a big impact. Curating is necessary to enlarge choices, to multiply points of view and their representations. We still believe that art can change the world. We believe in a wonderful one...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nietzsche + Family Circus = Why I Am So Wholesome?

For more DIY combinations of Family Circus illustrations and quotes from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, click here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Five Foot Broadway Unplugged

Due to our heavy advertising, everyone already knows that my play 251 is being staged this week. What you probably don't know is that excerpts of my musical Georgette, based on the life of pioneer Singapore painter Georgette Chen, will be presented for free at the concourse this Wednesday and Thursday evening. See below:

This week, from Monday to Thursday, Musical Theatre Singapore will be showcasing the products of its new musical incubation programme. We'll be performing half-hour excerpts of the musicals at the Esplanade concourse, open to all, for free, naturally. :) Come by and clap a bit. Here's a schedule:

7:30: Alex Yang's "Believe/Crash and Burn" Pt 1
8:30: Alex Yang's "Believe/Crash and Burn" Pt 2


7:30: Marcelly Suhaili's "O Crystal Ball"
8:30: Alex Yang's "Believe/Crash and Burn"

7:30: Jack Tan's "Tuesdays with Joe"

8:30 Ng Yi-Sheng's "Georgette"


7:30: Joshua Greene's "Esther"

8:30: Ng Yi-Sheng's "Georgette"



Writer/Composer: Joshua Greene

A young queen's decision to risk everything foils the murderous plot
of an arrogant chief minister against her people. Based on the Biblical story.


Writer : Marcelly Suhali Composer: Clement Yang

A light hearted love story that involves a young girl next door, a charming rich boy and eccentric fortune teller. It reminds everyone about the power of true love, how it can transcend all obstacles and overcome destinies. It is set in modern day London, England.


Writer/Composer: Jack Tan
A musical about a love story revolving around a popular radio DJ,
and a girl living in the same apartment block who finds solace in listening to Joe's radio program. As their paths cross, they do not realize who each other really is, but instead only see the other's stubborn outward behavior.

Writer: Ng Yi Sheng Composer: Clement Yang
A biography of Georgette Chen, the pioneer Singapore artist, as she
struggles to be accepted as a painter in a time of prejudice and war.


Writer/Composer: Alex Yang

A school musical about a teenage gangster and his struggle to
break free from a society that sees him as a loser.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Reno Balloon Race 2006

One of the more splendiferous things I've had the fortune to see.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The real phantoms

A few weeks ago we were at the Esplanade when we met some of the Australian crew who were here for the staging of Phantom of the Opera. Remember: tech people are not like other people: they see in the dark, they move without sound, they know how to use cable ties for tourniquets.

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March texts!

This month, I've apparently taken on a predilection for Singaporean and Malaysian women's writing and an interest in public health, as well as a reduced interest in film (possibly due to having to watch Eating Air overandoverandoverandoveragain.

+Terry Jaensch and Cyril Wong's "Excess Baggage and Claim"
+"John Keats: Poems selected by Andrew Motion"
Charlene Rajendran's "Mangosteen Crumble"
+Sharanya Maivannan's "Iyari"

+Marquis de Sade's "The Misfortunes of Virtue and Other Early Tales"
Catherine Lim's "The Woman's Book of Superlatives"
+Shan Sa's "The Girl Who Played Go"
+Dave Chua's "Gone Case"
+Shalom Auslander's "Holocaust Tips for Kids and Smite the Heathens, Charlie Brown"

+Jocelyn Chua's "Restless and Other Plays"
+Euripides's "Alcestis, Hippolytus, Iphigeneia in Tauris"
Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh"

+Bob Dylan's "Chronicles: Volume One"
Tan Khoon Kiat's "Beyond the Screen: Nurses' Reflections"
"More Than a Calling: Nursing in Singapore since 1885"
+Anthony Bourdain's "Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical"

+Bill Amend's "Encyclopedias Brown and White"

Hwa Chong Junior College's "YAWP"
Action Theatre's "The Swimming Instructor"
+"The 2007 Life! Theatre Awards Presentation
+Action Theatre's "Theatre Idols", including Ovidia Yu's "Hitting (on) Women", Desmond Sim's "The People in the Mirror", Chong Tze Chien's "On Sundays the Kites Come Out to Play" and my own "The Final Temptation of Stamford Raffles"
+Sing'theatre's "No Regrets: A Tribute to Edith Piaf"
+Toy Factory's "Titoudao"
Theatreworks's "Drift Net"
+Ho Tzu Nyen and Fran Borgia's "King Lear: The Avoidance of Love"

Lots of Dani Spies's "Quickbites"
The Substation's "Matters Close to Home", including Li Xiuqi's "Seletar Airbase: Singapore's Secret Garden", +Liew Seng Tat and Zan Azlee's "Tudung", Mauri Pasanen's "Traces", Bran de Rijcker's "Township Jive"
+Todd Stephens's "Another Gay Movie"
+Jack Neo's "Just Follow Law"

NUS Museum's "Objects and Desire"
+Reflections: Paintings by Thomas Yeo"
+Jasson Moss's "Imitative Polyphony: I Am Only Music"
National Museum of Singapore's "Families & Friends: A Singapore Album Exhibition"
Raghu Rai's "Maestros: Masters of Indian Classical Music" and "Earthscapes"
+Sandra Lee's "The Plight of the Ever After"
+Pearl Yang's "Peace of Mind"