Grave matters


Comedian Joe Wong takes a page from Late Night: he follows Van Halen’s Jump soundtrack to open his acts. “I had a near death experience yesterday. I walked by a graveyard”. Mind you it’s China where smoking is finally banned in public places. Speaking of public space, I too had a near death experience. I visited Ba Chuc, where Pol Pot’s genocidal bones and skulls were on display. That entire village, population 3,150+ was wiped out except for 2 survivors, one of whom was interviewed for a New York Times piece in 2004. To Ba Chuc villagers, it was “apocalypse now”. This event, along with recent atrocities along the Malaysia – Thailand border- is a strong testimony to humanity’s Achilles Heels. We have made progress, only in fits and starts. Can’t catch them all. ( On a brighter note, Holland has tended to the graves of WW II US heroes for 70 years.) Ethics aside, many of these lives could have been put to good use, like Stephen Hawkin’s. What can be more real or lessons hit closer to home, than seeing bones and skulls. I was glad this genocide had been stopped. Part of growing up is not to repeat the same mistake. Humanity – liken to a grown person – is going through a  learning curve. BTW, comedian Joe Wong, before locked into his new vocation, was a Ph. D. in bio chemistry. He admitted to have read the Oxford English Dictionary 8 times ( yet can’t get rid of  his inborn accent ). He went through his own learning curve.

But, you got to give it to the man, who was on Late Night as a guest. With Letterman’s departure, the chair of comedy department was immediately filled, but an entry-level position is now opened. With syndication and translation, maybe Asian American can someday tune in to enjoy Joe Wong’s acts in China. He’d better not lose the English he had worked so hard for. Jokes tend to get lost in translation e.g. “I had a near death experience yesterday”. For me, nothing was lost in Ba Chuc , with bones and skulls up close. For these are grave matters.

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