Last night the one and only Eddie Huang spoke at Town Hall Seattle. He is currently doing book lectures for his memoir Fresh Off the Boat. Last night he was joined by Seattle’s own Blue Scholars, Sabzi and Geologic. The talk was a good one. I write this in the least critical way. He spoke on topics from his life, culture, identity, technology, Hip hop, and food to critics. Eddie talked about how we as Americans can be so engulfed in our judgments and miss the moments that we are supposed to enjoy while loading pictures of food on Instagram. (Interestingly enough I’ve been having the same feelings and thoughts specifically after seeing the film Jango.) Everybody has an opinion of why they either like or don’t like something but at the end of the day its just art that is to be digested. Hate something or love it, save the criticism for the critics who get paid to criticize.
The one hour Q & A format hosted by Gio (and later the audience) delve into his upbringing in Orlando. He talked about how the city was married to “The Mouse.” This concept never really crossed my mind. Eddie spoke about how Disney World basically left Orlando cultureless. He said there was a danger in having a city being ran by a corporation and used the example like Seattle being married to Microsoft (or Amazon for that matter), or how Portland is to Nike. Eddie noted this concept is dangerous when a corporation gets so big that they become larger than the government itself.
*Disclaimer* Start Tangent…
Interesting enough on the way to the show from Beacon Hill my girlfriend and I were talking about her culture and the diverse background of her parents being Chinese coming from Cambodia moving to Thailand and eventually to America where her father would be assigned a Vietnamese last name and they would eventually attend a Vietnamese Christian church. We spoke about her trying to make sense of it all while creating and forging her own Chinese-American identity that she hopes to share with her younger sisters. Very heavy and a lot to think about, but nothing easy is ever memorable ;).
My girlfriend and I also spoke about the gentrification that is taking place right before our eyes as we passed through Yesler here in Seattle. It’s shocking that large parts of Rainier and MLK have been gentrified and the same thing is happening currently to Yesler before our eyes. Is the International District next? While there is a lot of history, the same can be said about the previous places here in our city. I hope we can all wake up and get active about keeping Seattle’s rich culture before Paul Allen owns the entire city and leaves it cultureless.
The audience Q&A was better than I had expected. Aside from the disappointed female that wasn’t to happy about him having a girlfriend, most of the questions were good. He managed to give good answers to the ones that were not. Eddie said the goal of an artist is to bring the audience into your world and let them see what you’ve created, they will judge it, break it down and indulge, but the hope is that you can let them out so that they can create a world of their own. He compared old school hip hop to the WWF in that it always had its characters that were fun with big personalities and ego’s. There were rappers that had the illest fantacy’s and created their own worlds like Harry Potter books. He compared his cooking style to the likes of a Kendrick Lamar who managed to make the world fall in love with him for showing a different side of a familiar story. A quote that stick with me is, “Always mix some sugar with the medicine to go down because Robitussin is some nasty shit.” His spin on Mary Poppins.
When speaking about food Eddie said that he would tell the youth to put their health first and make them read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (about the Chicago meat packing industry). Understand the impact of a slaughterhouse, and teach nutrition. Most importantly be creative.
Also Eddie was big on JUICING. He reiterated that was what he was into was juicing! He stressed the importance about not being swayed by critics and yelp reviews and to make your own decision about what you like and to learn the real history behind these foods and just to enjoy. So much of his talk could be related to so much that we do in life.
In closing one thing Eddie said towards the end is that he was never afraid of being broke. The thought is an interesting one to think about, because based on your background broke and rock bottom can mean really different things. However, in all definitions that lack of fear and a lot of dedication to yourself and your art is what makes legends. This superior belief in yourself that nothing can stop you is what will fuel your passions. While there may be different dynamics and layers to this, life is nothing without sacrifice, hard work, belief in the impossible, and dedication.
Thanks for inspiration Eddie Huang.