Tricky Dicky’s Tet Offensive

February 10, 2008

Well, I spent Saturday night at the Sandown Park Tet Festival (held around the same time as Chinese New Year) and it was a lot of damn fun. Celebrating Tet, the most important Vietnamese holiday, it is a three day festival held out at Sandown that must have had close to 15,000 Vietnamese Australian’s in attendance with a smattering of interested on lookers like myself. I was there shooting a Malaysian friend’s concert on the main stage and as you might guess, it wasn’t my first choice for a choice Saturday night out. I remembered also the excellent Tet offensive scene in Full Metal Jacket that had me grinning all evening.

On arrival, I told the ticket box manager that I was here to shoot the concert. The manager inside the box was as belligerent as one of the referees in that Russian Roulette match in The Deer Hunter… not believing my story, then refusing to even speak on the phone to an official from the concert area. I hunted down a non Vietnamese security person, who spoke to the official and got me inside the venue… alpha bravo charlie.

The place was packed. It was like a mini Melbourne show. Rides, show bags, markets, clowns. I tried my luck at the food stands and had delicious Bang Chung and a meat on a stick deal that was tasty. I then made my way to the stage and worked out the shooting details with the two cameramen. Then I moseyed through the mini Saigon market and bought some pirate DVD’s, mostly crazy Asian action stuff at 5 bucks a pop but with Lust Caution there too for five smackers. I couldn’t help noticing a lot of Madman Eastern Eye titles being happily pirated by the less than copyright abiding stall owners.

I hung out with some Aussie security dudes killing time and heard this come over their intercom speaker system, no shit – “All we need now is some Napalm”. The security guards laughed and looked at me, in suspicion, as if I would report them and I just laughed at their sick humor. It further confirmed my own observations of the racist nature of most Anglo Australian’s. We shouldn’t forget (..and I don’t) that Australia was at war with Nth Vietnam when I was born and I guess some Australian’s remember little things like that and might hold a grudge. I don’t though, of course.

The Vietnam war was a interesting move in the grand chess game between Russia and the US and not entirely in vain. Ho Chi Minh too is cool. I find him interesting and the war in general was fascinating, from French Colony to American pawn in the Cold War to finally Communist State and victory against the US… then detente post cold war.

Anyway, the concert went well and I had fun shooting the antics of performers and crowd. Two Us Vietnamese singers had the crowd eating out of their pocket. I then looked around some more at the festival until the second performance of my friend closed out the night. The Tet festival is on again tonight at Sandown. Good food, crazy atmosphere, check it out.

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