Writing this at 12:03 past midnight although it is lifted from something called 3AM Magazine dot com. Not really writing just cut-pasting:
In the mountain town of Tam Dao, a man in the market points to the Chinese character tattoos on my right forearm – which are the ancient characters for my given name “Tiêu-Dao” – and says: “Not good.” I ask him why, try to indicate that they are my name, that they are “Hán script,” or chữ Nôm in fact, which, technically, is still Vietnamese. He says, “No good, this Vietnam.” I understand he is only citing the long well-known animosity – the resistance – the Vietnamese have harbored against China, due to the previous thousand years of invasions and warfare they have waged with the Chinese. But my understanding, as the daughter of former writers and scholars, is also that the Vietnamese language borrowed from the Chinese, and, even if it was controversial and at times not welcome, some of this intermingling was poetic and productive. Before Vietnam had her own written language, her scribes adapted the Chinese script into a form called chữ Nôm, or chu Hán. The Vietnamese also borrowed words and phrases from the Chinese; my given name, Tiêu-Dao, is one of those. My mother has said it is an unusual name to give to a Vietnamese child because it derives from a philosophical phrase about “wandering” – something Vietnamese people, who like to keep their families together, would not wish upon (especially) a daughter.
Check out the larger context here. Read her books. Some day I will , too. Maybe a tat too. Odd for a Jew.
The photo above makes Dao look a little tougher and meaner and sleazier than she is. She is channeling some kind of archetype Shirley. I will zip around my computer archive here and update this in a minute with a nicer photo, from our 2009 tour to Chicago, Springfield and for her Okemah.
Schuba’s (opening for Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel), Chicago IL
Hoogland Performing Arts Center (opening for Robbie Fulks), Springfield IL
12th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Okemah OK
bound for glory u betcha!
edit to addao: dao strom is arguably the muse of Plastic Alto in that it started shortly after our official business relationship ended and I’ve mentioned her or wrote about her about 35 times. Better would be fewer than 1,040 posts slightly edited, I admit. Even E.B. White would say it: omit needless words. Thanks for the email exchange today, Tieu-Dao.
(“edit to add” and “and1” are common to Plastic Alto structures wherein I add footnotes or some afterthought. Terry’s sister Grace who was big in SheBlog movement said people use that term. And 1 is sort of a basketball thing, an extra shot if you are fouled during the making of a field goal; here I add gratuitous and silly ao)
Sounds like it’ll be a fun event there. Tell Curtis I said hello and big congrats to him – I’m listening to his music now and he’s done well. Very cool to see that happening. 🙂
Small world. Sorry for my moodiness last time you called, just a bad day or something. Hope you’re well.
I’m working on recording and finishing stuff. I’m going to finally mix that Two Rivers song and include it on this EP album I’m slowly pulling together. & I just had an essay in this online mag this week if you’re curious what I’ve been up to:
Hope you’re well!
its not really that important to note that Worlds of Wonder was a toy company in the 1980s that made Teddy Ruxpin talking doll and LazerTag and my first job out of Dartmouth was an intern for their ad agency, fall, 1986 in San Francisco, the title steals from. When I visited Baltimore I left a Teddy Ruxpin pin on Poe’s grave
shortly after viewing Rory Kennedy’s documentary about Fall of Saigon I rang Dao out of the blue and we chatted briefly; I kept trying to spot her in the movie although my timeline may be a bit off; earlier she was circulating a photo from Newsweek of that era showing her brother in the crowd at a refugee camp here. A.O.Scott of the Times, in September, 2014.