La Jungla

For many years, my mother owned a women’s clothing store in a swap meet,
southeast of LA.

My mother was one of a few Koreans in an area of mostly Latinos, who worked
under the metal roof of an abandoned warehouse converted into a shopping
emporium—car stereos, healing potions, sneakers, gold jewelry, toys.

The pet store named La Jungla specialized in small animals—rodents, fish and birds.
The largest—a dazzling macaw—spent his days in a cage, squawking and screaming,
“Help me! Help me!” I laughed. He spoke English!

But, one day, I heard him say, “Ayúdame.”

He had finally figured it out. And only then did I realize he meant it.

from Notes on my father

Popeye and The Three Stooges. My favorite
Stooge was Shemp: replaced, forgotten.


“They seem happier when you're not around.”