Sidebar -- Banana Man, October 1996
Banana Man Speaks
From the pages of KoreAm Journal
DEAR BANANA MAN,
To what do you attribute your popularity? It seems that everyone who picks up the KoreAm Journal reads only you, or at least reads you first. You seem to have developed quite a following. Is it that cartoon drawing of you? Your wit? Your goofiness? Or what? Inquiring minds want to know.
There could be many reasons why Banana Man is so popular. There's his irascible wit and charm. His willingness to say whatever he damn well pleases. His ability to see through the crap and always shoot straight. Or it could be simply the deification of a columnist. It could be.
Honestly, I haven't a clue. Maybe it's just because I'm a likable person in reality. And no matter how hard I try to be a dick, my niceness comes through. You all see through my politically-incorrect, bad-boy posturing. I'm a fake. A has-been. A zero. Then, of course, it could be my ever-present sense of humility. Hmmm. Nahhh.
Banana Man is popular because he says what you're all thinking. The veil of anonymity affords Banana Man the luxury of telling it like it is. And anyone who disagrees is just lost and goes straight to the burning lake of fire. To which, I have been warned by various Jesus freaks, I am most assuredly bound for.
They would say, "What! You don't believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? Aren't you afraid of burning in the lake of fire?" "Nope," I reply, "but apparently you are. I'll be sure to save an exceptionally hot spot just for you, though." Truth is, Banana Man is your Lord and Savior.
Howard Stern is the King of all Media. Michael Jackson is the King of Pop. Elvis was, and still is, the King. Prince, or Victor as he claims that symbol to sound like, is the Love God. Paul is the King of Big Screens, J.J. is the King of Beepers. And there's some guy who says he's the King of Bedspreads.
How are you doing? I would like to let you know that I am a fan of yours and whenever I receive KoreAm Journal I always read your section first. Couple of questions for you: Are you Korean American or someone who thinks he or she is Korean? I ask because judging from a lot of your replies, it doesn't seem like you know too much about Korean culture and the way most Korean Americans think. This brings me to my second question: Are you involved with any Korean American organizations? If you are, that's wonderful. If you're not, it's a shame because you would be an asset.
P.S. I may not share the same views as you, but you have such talent that I rarely see in the Korean American community. Keep up the good work.
I don't know whether I should hold you close to my bosom and call you my best friend or kick the living crap out of you. Am I Korean American or someone who thinks he's Korean? If I were Korean American, how in the hell could I be Korean? And why would anybody in their right mind want to be Korean? Think about it. If you could have your choice, what would you choose to be? Think really hard. It's easy to say you'd want to be Korean if you were already Korean. But you really wouldn't be letting go of reality. The reality that you can't choose. So what's the use in fantasizing. But try. What would you be? It wouldn't be Korean, that's for sure. Or even Korean American. You'd be lying if you said otherwise. The plain fact of the matter is: Banana Man is Korean American. I never lie. If given the choice, I would not be Korean American. What would I be? You're not ready to hear that answer.
I'll bet I know more about Korean culture than you could ever know. I practice Chae-sah and Choo-suk. I have a degree in Asian Studies. And, I was born and raised on Kimchee. I also know when people are so full of themselves that they dare presume to know how any one group of people think. What do you know about the way Korean Americans think? If you think you know more than me, you're not thinking at all. I don't know how Korean Americans think any more than you. So, the next time you phrase a sentence to me, think about it. If you've read me at all, you know I'm a stickler for semantics and nomenclature. Next question.
No. I am not involved with any Korean American organizations, save for this publication. I agree, I would be a tremendous asset. But it seems that the people running those organizations, again, save for this publication, are a bunch of self-inflated drips. Why I can't count the number of times I offered good, solid advice to these people only to be ignored. Now, mind you, this was very good advice -- sans any Banana Man-esque attitude. But, I write this column for free. And this is about all the charity work I can handle. Banana Man has a life, you know. And finally.
Hey! We may share the same view. Mine's ocean. What's yours? And thank you for your support. (Think I've heard that somewhere. Dunno.)
Whatever happened with that magazine guy who wanted to interview you? Did you do it? And if you did, how did it go? Did you reveal your identity?
Yes, I did do the interview. It was with Nicholas Lemann, National Correspondent for "The Atlantic Monthly." And other than Nick showing up at my house on foot and wanting to ride "bitch" on the back of my motorcycle to his next appointment, it went fine. Banana Man really had nothing to say. A few tasty one-liners and off-color jokes were all that the Great Yellow One could muster up. Hope all them Atlantic Monthly readers aren't disappointed. Oh well, such is life.
Although Mr. Lemann promised not to reveal my identity, a few tidbits of personal information will become public when the article appears. But then, you should never believe anything you ever read. Right?
Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
Permission to publish online granted by James Y. Ryu, KoreAm Journal.