Check out my book “Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan”

Over a decade in the making, my book Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan is now available from Edinburgh University Press. The book examines the role that cinema played in imagining Hong Kong and Taiwan’s place in the world from the 1950s to the early 2000s. Here’s the official book jacket description:

How does cinema imagine our place in the world? This book looks at the studios, films and policies that charted the transnational vision of Hong Kong and Taiwan, two places with an uneasy relationship to the idea of nationhood.

Examining the cultural, political and industrial overlaps between these cinemas – as well as the areas where they uniquely parallel each other – author Brian Hu brings together perspectives from cinema studies, Chinese studies and Asian American studies to show how culture is produced in the spaces between empires. With case studies of popular stars like Linda Lin Dai and Edison Chen, and spectacular genres like the Shaolin Temple cycle of martial arts films and the romantic melodramas of 1970s Taiwan, this book explores what it meant to be both cosmopolitan and Chinese in the second half of the twentieth century.

The greatest joy of writing the book was the archival research — delving into the dusty movie magazines at the Chinese Taipei Film Archive, watching VCDs of old melodramas and Shaolin films, re-discovering two generations of pop music — and discovering how outwardly thinking Hong Kong and Taiwan popular culture has always been. My argument that cosmopolitanism has been a dominant structure of feeling in Hong Kong and Taiwan during these decades breaks from other studies that have highlighted their local uniqueness and sovereignty, positions that are essential, especially given the specter of China. But what if we looked at Hong Kong and Taiwan together, separately from China in the usual “three Chinas” configuration of transnational Chinese cinema? What might we gather from the Sinophone sentiments of worldly desires that captured the imagination of post-war generations and those of their children?

Writing this book became, inevitably, a personal journey, one that maps my own family’s trajectory from Taiwan to America to something slipperier altogether, but held together by aspirations, anxieties, romances, awkwardness, and an excitement over the unknown.

Please tell your local library to order a copy! U.S. libraries can order from Oxford University Press. Non-U.S. libraries and universities can go directly to Edinburgh University Press. Or find it at Amazon. The book is currently only available in hardback and electronic editions.

‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Hardly Alone

During Fresh Off the Boat‘s first season, I was asked by the now-defunct KoreAm Magazine to write on the ABC sitcom from the perspective of a seasoned observer. By this point though, enough ink had already been spilled on the show, with takes ranging from the disappointed to the celebratory, and every wonderful nuance in between. Not feeling like I had a ton to add to the chorus, I decided to use the opportunity to write about the show in the context of Asian American independent cinema.

Picture this: a Taiwanese American kid with oversized clothes and a hip-hop vocab. Unlike his cuter, more “decent” brethren, he just can’t make proper friends, let alone attract girls, and he certainly can’t impress his Mandarin-speaking parents whose immigrant entrepreneurism doesn’t gel with his half-baked street knowledge.

Sound familiar?

That’s the premise behind Jessica Yu’s 2007 family comedy Ping Pong Playa, a hit on the Asian American film festival circuit that was adapted from the parody video stylings of funnyman Jimmy Tsai. That it resembles in theme and genre ABC’s family sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, adapted from Eddie Huang’s memoir, has been completely unacknowledged, though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Instead, Fresh Off the Boat has been discussed in terms of its newness and novelty, as bearing the once-in-a-generation status as the lone representative of Asian Americans on television. The online conversation among Asian American commentators since the show’s February primetime debut has been formidable and significant. But that conversation has been limited by the anxiety of representation, as if Fresh Off the Boat was not just the only Asian American network show, but the only Asian American narrative, of the past 20 years.

The anxiety stems from two sources. First, there’s the pressure to support Asian American media, because if Asian Americans can’t support their own stories, then who will? This rests upon the assumption that nobody else is watching, so collectively, Asian Americans must. Second, there’s the opposing anxiety that since everyone else indeed is watching, we better be represented well.

Those anxieties have led to a number of articles about supporting-despite-not-liking, or enjoying-despite-the-stereotypes Fresh Off the Boat, and other responses trying to simultaneously make sense of a national history of racial baggage and one’s own personal, stubborn waverings of televisual pleasure. It’s an unwieldy task.

Yet that task has hijacked the conversation around the show, diverting attention away from issues of comedy, family and community, and instead on ratings and representation—two concepts that couldn’t be further removed from the creative impulse. Sure, certain stereotypes, like “ching-chong” accents or tiger moms, do matter and they can certainly be perpetuated. But we’re talking mainstream network television here: it’s doomed to compromise, and to obsess over those details is to miss the opportunity for other kinds of conversations.

The articles about Fresh Off the Boat I find the most meaningful have been personal accounts about how the show has brought Asian American families together or inspired individuals to think about identity in fresh ways. In other words, the most productive articles have been about recognition, not misrecognition.

81wQYMGP4tS._SL1500_Parallel Asian American works such as Ping Pong Playa have been generating these other possible conversations for decades. Watching Yu’s comedy again post-Fresh, I’m struck not just by the similarities in characterizations and themes, but by how liberating it is to enjoy the film without worrying how much my eyes are worth to a network, or how others’ eyes are watching the film. I’m free to enjoy it on its own terms and dig further into questions of Asian American masculinity and blackness, ethnic comedy, racial pride or parent-mocking.

Such questions arise because they constitute the joy of figuring out what the Asian American community can be for me. I can laugh and identify with smack-talking hoopster C-Dub’s on-and-off-court banter with his black friend JP Money without worrying about how white or black audiences might misread such scenes. I can nervously chortle at the film’s gag about getting a Ph.D. in Asian American studies without wondering how it perpetuates stereotypes of Asian militancy or Asian geekdom.

As a viewer, I’m emboldened by the semi-public space of Asian American independent media, where creativity is celebrated and audiences can be inquisitive about form, narrative and representation in ways they can’t when they’re worried foremost about what other audiences are thinking. A network show like Fresh Off the Boat is a lot easier to stomach when you know not everything is on the line because there are alternative forums for self-expression, like the Asian American film festival circuit.

For instance, the issue of accents sported by young Eddie’s immigrant parents is one of the most vexing and controversial aspects of Fresh Off the Boat that has drawn Asian American ire. But here’s the thing: Unrealistic, even minstrel-ish Asian accents are a feature of indie Asian American cinema, too—only, in that space, there is frank conversation about the context of production: a limited acting pool (especially for older characters) or intra-Asian (mis-)casting.

The result has been feature after feature where parents speak in wonky accents and children talk back in offbalanced English that awkwardly attempts to capture the linguistic code-switching of the Asian immigrant household. I call these the “1.5 generation Asian American films,” a reflection of the fact that Asian American cinema has arrived but not quite emerged on the wider film stage. Like 1.5 generation immigrants, these films don’t seem fully Americanized because of circumstance—but we get and accept it because, as members of the community, we understand that assimilation is a luxury that not everyone has access to. This is a type of cinema that’s accented in ways that are sometimes indecipherable to both earlier or later generations of Asian Americans, but that represents a fuzziness of identity that we should be proud to embrace.

If we’re simply drawing a line from Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, which aired in 1994, to Fresh Off the Boat, these broad-brush representations of Asian American cultures and families on network television can be maddening. But if we draw the line from Ping Pong Playa (or Sarba Das’ Karma Calling, Chris Chan Lee’s Yellow, Kevin Wu’s KevJumba, or Leslie Tai’s Superior Life Classroom, all indie productions) to Fresh Off the Boat, the sitcom is liberated from the “rep sweats.” That’s because the show can be appreciated as just one of many cultural accents dotting a history of self-representation.

Fresh Off the Boat is hardly alone if we look beyond the mainstream—if it sinks, we’re buoyed by the sea of stories from independent media makers just below the surface.

Cinema Little Saigon: A Retrospective

In 2015, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, I curated a retrospective of films directed by Vietnamese Americans. The hope was to steer commemorations away from narratives of American military heroism and toward the experiences of those who experienced, critiqued, and remembered the event and its after-effects as refugees in the United States. The package, entitled Cinema Little Saigon, included feature films, experimental work, documentaries, and short films. After premiering at the SDAFF Spring Showcase in April 2015, the retrospective traveled to the Houston APA Film Festival (June 2015) and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (Nov. 2015). To supplement and enhance the Cinema Little Saigon film series, I also compiled a list of feature films directed by Vietnamese Americans, as well as a bibliography of suggested readings about Vietnamese American cinema.

The following is the introductory essay for the series.

For the refugee, anniversaries are just numbers.

For governments – whether of the southern Republic of Vietnam which lost, the northern Socialist Republic of Vietnam which took control, or the United States which retreated – the Fall of Saigon was a pivotal day and this year’s 40th anniversary a moment of reflection, celebration, or commemoration. There will be tributes to heroes, living and fallen, and flashbacks to the critical events of April 30, 1975.

But the refugee knows that there were pivotal moments that preceded that day, and the refugee knows that turmoil did not end with the capture of Saigon. Wars within families continued to rage even when the bombing ended – some in prison camps, some on U.S. military bases, some in the Little Saigons all over the world. For the refugee, 40 years is not as significant as time measured in months held in detention centers, weeks stranded on boats, hours spent in English classes, or those critical seconds that replay over and over in the mind – seconds that made the difference of family unity or survival itself. For the refugee, the 40th anniversary is but one of many anniversaries that dot a life thrust onto multiple continents: birthdays that mark endurance, graduations that certify achievement, and moments of silence that bear witness to the private grief of the living.

This year, flags will be hoisted as they have been on every anniversary. The victors will celebrate, the anti-communists will mourn, and the U.S. will continue to remember their humanitarian efforts in “saving” refugees. But these events must also remind us of the narratives that go silent, namely those of refugees who are now Vietnamese Americans, participants in civic culture and neighbors in areas like San Diego’s City Heights. Their narratives draw attention to the lived and ongoing experience of displacement, narratives that represent Vietnamese Americans as lively, desiring, and imaginative, and not simply as collateral damage or as confirmations of the American dream.

As is expected whenever trauma is so near, much of this silence has been self-imposed. Refugees often want to move on and not dwell on a tortured past. So it has been the 1.5 and 2nd generation Vietnamese Americans who have started interrogating family silence or America’s version of events. This generation includes documentarians like Doan Hoang, who turned her camera on her parents, asking questions about unspoken extended family. Her resulting documentary OH, SAIGON is a powerful first-person account of her U.S. family and its relationship to home.

This generation also includes director Ham Tran, who, after completing a number of acclaimed short films at UCLA, brought together Vietnamese American artists, financiers, and community members who wanted their story finally told on screen. The resulting feature JOURNEY FROM THE FALL is an epic patched together from dozens of family stories – the sort of stories usually only half-told and half-remembered, now made permanent on celluloid for the entire community.

That imperative to tell one’s story, to gain command of film style, and to produce films that bring people together has made Vietnamese filmmakers some of the most visible and accomplished of all Asian American storytellers. Their films have played around the world, collecting film festival prizes and impressing audiences from Sundance to Berlin. Many of these filmmakers, especially those hailing from Orange County, have banded together as regular collaborators. They work on each other’s films, they help get the word out, and through the support of estimable organizations like the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA), they have created a network to nurture new voices and further conversations about film and community.

So this year, Pacific Arts Movement highlights the so-called “Viet Wave” with “Cinema Little Saigon,” a film retrospective that celebrates the cinematic achievements of Vietnamese American filmmakers, in particular those whose films complicate the usual narrative of refugee rescue and the great success of a model minority. In film after film, history refuses to close its doors. In CATFISH AND BLACK BEAN SAUCE, JOURNEY FROM THE FALL, and OH, SAIGON, reunion only unearths ripples in ingrained notions of family and home. The U.S. is not represented as merely a refuge, but also a space of further obstacles, rejection, and alienation. Culture in the diasporic sense is revealed in all of its mythic strangeness, as in Nguyen Tan Hoang’s COVER GIRL. Nearly all of the films consider the Vietnamese American experience cross-racially; for instance, Adele Pham’s #NAILEDIT explores the phenomenon of Vietnamese nail salons as they exploded with the help of African American partners and clientele.

Despite these common thematic threads, what makes the Vietnamese American film scene such a dynamic one is how diverse and adaptable its voices are. These films refract memory and experience through a number of creative modes and genres: cross-cultural comedy, historical epic, intimate drama, first-person documentary, experimental video. Spatially, they follow footsteps unencumbered by circumstance – across continents, from private into public spheres, from ethnic enclaves into the mainstream and back again. This is well-exemplified thematically in many of the independent films, but also on an industrial level with “Viet Kieu films,” productions helmed by Vietnamese Americans but produced in and for Vietnam. The Viet Kieu films represent a new cosmopolitanism enabled by the normalization of US-Vietnamese relations in the 1990s and the coming-of-age of a generation once-removed from the thorny politics of war. Films like the Dostoevsky adaptation GENTLE, directed by Le-Van Kiet and starring Dustin Nguyen, boldly imagine haunting, death, and memory in Vietnam through a diasporic lens and via a parable of world literature.

Inspired by the pioneering new scholarship of Yen Le Espiritu and the continued cultural work of VAALA, this retrospective draws attention not only to the classics of Vietnamese American cinema, but to the cities and neighborhoods that have inspired these works, places like City Heights in San Diego, where Vietnamese Americans now share spaces with newer refugees from Africa to the Middle East. Hence “Cinema Little Saigon”: like “Chinatown” as much a frame of mind as it is a geographic designation, as much a well of cinematic creativity and aspiration as it is a megaplex or community theater. Whatever the anniversary, this cinema measures its vitality through the communities it’s bridged, the audiences it’s awakened, and the artists it continues to inspire.

A letter to the San Diego Opera regarding yellowface in their production of “Nixon in China”

In 2014, the San Diego Opera reached out to us at Pacific Arts Movement about helping them promote their production of “Nixon in China.” We had a meeting with them during which they explained to us that Mao would be played by a white actor. With that, we declined. To their credit, the opera invited us to write a letter to their staff and board about why we could not support yellowface. Honestly, I groaned at the whole thing and wondered why we had to waste mental energy on this age-old debate. But I wrote the letter, and years later I’m pleased that it became an important document for our organization internally.

At Pac Arts, we had originally toyed with the idea of publishing this letter publicly, but decided not to. Well, in case it’s useful to anybody today, here it is.

To the staff and board of the San Diego Opera,

First off, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to express our thoughts and concerns about the San Diego Opera’s upcoming presentation of Nixon in China. It tells us that the Opera is open to dialogue about issues important to the Asian American community, as well as to diversity in the San Diego region more generally.

Much of what I have to say is probably very familiar to the Opera, as it touches upon some of the central debates of American theater of the past few decades. That debate first came to a head in the late 1980s with the casting of Miss Saigon. Eyes shaped slanted by prosthetics, skin yellowed by bronzing lotion: Broadway saw the collision of yellow peril visual culture with the sordid history of blackface. More recently, we have seen similar controversies over the Nightingale at the La Jolla Playhouse, in which yellowface was defended on the grounds of artistic license, and yet the power dynamics of “color blindness” were clear: whites could play Asians but not the other way around. This year, a performance of The Mikado in Seattle sparked debate over whether yellowface could be defended on the grounds of historical preservation.

The very recourse to “historical accuracy” or “color blindness” indicates that by now, the theater community knows that yellowface is a stain in American theater that needs a new framework to think about acting, makeup, casting, and adaptation.  The conversation surrounding Nightingale and The Mikado raised important points about how this new framework might look, and all parties, including Asian Americans, understand the importance of artistic license and cultural preservation.  However, tensions still arise because the playing ground continues to be uneven.  Why are white producers always the only ones evoking artistic license?  Why are the only histories being preserved the histories of white theater?  This new framework cannot simply be devised to protect the interests of white theater artists, their stories, and their traditions.  Non-white communities like Asian Americans can feel when their voices aren’t taken seriously, even when they are offered a seat at the table.

Whether on film, on TV, or in the theater, the history of Asian American performance in the United States has been one of erasure.  Superstar Anna May Wong was denied a role in Hollywood’s high-profile adaption of The Good Earth, and was ultimately driven to Europe and Asia to seek out work.  Budding actor Bruce Lee was passed over for the lead in television’s Kung Fu in favor of a white actor with eyes taped back.  And repeatedly, Asian American theater actors see the most high-profile roles – especially lead roles – go to white counterparts donning yellowface.  This history is as tiring as the controversy that’s trailed it over the decades.  It reminds Asian Americans of their larger erasure from American life: Japanese American incarceration not being taught in schools even today, the significant populations of Asian Americans under the poverty line kept in the shadows thanks to mainstream perceptions of Asians as the “model minority,” the so-called “bamboo ceiling” that continues to keep Asian Americans out of positions of corporate and civic leadership.  Put in this context, any evocation of “color blindness” is as laughable as any proclamation of America being a “post-racial” nation.  Asian Americans groan at the thought of color blindness because every day they are the object of a racialized gaze.

As an artistic director, I take artistic license seriously. It is the lifeforce of creativity and a bastion for freedom of speech. But so rarely is the spirit of artistic license used to push the limits of expression; instead it has become a refuge to hide behind and justify what is actually artistic regression. I’m excited about the possibility of cross-racial casting. The centrality of race in the conversation of American life and history means we should find ways to evoke race that are playful, incendiary, strange, or impassioned. But the conversations we’ve seen with Miss Saigon or The Nightingale don’t excite me. They make race less interesting, more status quo. They aren’t artistically adventurous and demean what it means to have artistic license.

The case of Nixon in China doesn’t get me that worked up, in part because the San Diego Opera hasn’t resorted to claiming artistic license and has, to us anyway, owned up to the fact that the final cast is a compromised one.  But given this long history of erasure and the continued suppression of Asian or Asian American voices – even when Asia is being presented, as is the case of Nixon in China – we are unable to extend our support of the production, nor are we in a position where we can in good faith encourage anybody to see it.  The history of western opera is full of orientalist discourse (Madama Butterfly, most famously) and it pains us to think that the only contemporary productions revolving Asians do little to change that.

Again, many thanks for hearing us out.  We support the Opera because we love opera as an art form with the potential to bring people together, enlighten and entertain, and thrust us into some of the most awe-inspiring music humanity has ever known.  So let’s keep this dialogue going so we can further understand what terms in which the greater San Diego community in fact wants to come together and be transformed.


Brian Hu

Drive-By Cinema

Back when I first started at Pacific Arts Movement, then-Executive Director Lee Ann Kim would laugh recalling how the former Associate Festival Director George Lin used to joke about buying a mail truck and driving it around San Diego projecting films. Lee Ann just wanted to highlight George’s madcap ways. I, on the hand, steeped in film history, experiential art, and political performance, saw in George’s inspiration something that was not just doable, but fundable and exemplary of what we as an Asian American media arts organization can and should be doing. So Lee Ann and I whipped together a grant application to the James Irvine Foundation’s Exploring Engagement Fund, and got the project, entitled Drive-By Cinema, funded for two years.

Part of the grant was to publicly present our experiments in arts engagement, so we published a hardback picture book with a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide in mobile film presentation as well my curatorial essay, reprinted below. It’s just one of many forms of writing Drive-By Cinema took, which also included Tweets by poet Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi and our legendary three-line press release that announced nothing and everything.

U-Haul trucks were made to move. Even in their post-corporate afterlives, as empty scrap metal boxes sitting on worn rubber in need of a tune-up and a makeover, movement awaits their rusty gears. The haul: an HD projector, multiple makeshift movie screens, a popcorn machine, assorted witches and gurus, lab coats, and a generator. The route: a Marauder’s Map full of secret passageways and ghosts who sometimes take the passenger seat. The goal: moving minds through flashing lights and creative cartographies.

Drive-By Cinema takes its cue from the fabled (the pied piper, the flying circus, the ice cream truck jingle, Bakhtin’s carnival, Takeshi Kaneshiro’s soft-serve-mobile in Fallen Angels) and the historical (the traveling shows of the silent days, the legendary “cinema vans” of mid-century Britain, the mobile film units of 1950s China that brought cinema to rural populations). But DBC really came from the jungles of Thailand where our mad scientist cut his teeth (and who knows what else), the streets of Oakland and Chicago where our digital nomads built schools and formed guerrilla educational initiatives, and in the spidery poetry that our social media guru morphed into 140-character breadcrumbs. The motley crew of know-how and guile not only knew how to make a truck move and how to assemble a movie space, but they knew what movement was for: to bring folks together, to soak in stories, to paint a town in lights, especially neighborhoods that have for whatever reason (but probably racism) gone dark.

They say people don’t watch movies in theaters anymore and I’m sure “they” have data to back that up. But it’s possible many neighborhoods don’t even have theaters anymore, and equally possible people in those neighborhoods don’t have the hardware or the broadband to stream films in ways the experts say are the trend today. The rush toward “new media,” both in the for-profit and non-profit worlds, sharpens the digital divide in the name of progress. It also uses the concepts of interactivity and digital community to obscure opportunities to build and elevate actual communities. There’s R&D money now in developing and tracing the aesthetics of virtual spaces. But what of the brick-and-mortar neighborhoods? They’re relegated to 100-year-old solutions like the mural. The driving principle of Drive-By Cinema is to reinvent these spaces with the cinematic, even if it means reinventing the cinematic in the process. Let the passerby, the area businesses, and the neighborhood community associations decide what to do with a 1970s sci-fi film or an Asian American sports comedy. The rule was always that there were no rules. Patrons could talk and eat, come and go at will, even ignore the film altogether. It’s not necessarily a lawless space, but one where the rules of engagement – and indeed the social meaning of public art – are structured by those curious enough to step into the flickering light.  The traditional concept of the movie theater was built on upper-middle class discipline (silence, stillness, consumption), and the digital community is being rebuilt today along the same lines. DBC finds inspiration in pre-theatrical cinema, when films were cheap inner-city entertainments consumed by immigrants and the working-class. However, the intention was never to return to the past, but to figure out how digital technology can awaken analog pleasures deemed backward, unengaging, and primitive by the trendsetters and experts.

One of the best drive-outs took place at Linda Vista Plaza, allegedly the first mall-type shopping center in the United States, and now one of the most important retail plazas for Vietnamese Americans in San Diego County. The DBC team cautioned the area restaurants and security personnel, and caution-taped a couple of spaces in the parking lot. A Vietnamese restaurant offered chairs. A security guard took interest in protecting the space. At sunset, DBC projected a mad-cap mahjong comedy, the sort that Hong Kong studios used to mandate had a set-piece per reel. Popcorn was set up, though it couldn’t compete with the area banh mi. The usual DBC followers showed up and stayed for the entire feature. Cars would slow down to peep the antics. And as retail hours ended, grocery workers, waiters, and neighborhood restaurateurs stopped for a second on the way to their cars. The film was a blast, but it was the sense of impromptu festivity that turned a mundane weekday night into something else, be it a momentary diversion, an art-school oddity, a family night out, a tribute to a neighborhood, or a better Tuesday than last.

Some nights fared better than others. The Korean comedy didn’t work under the palm tree by the beach. A security guard foiled plans for a surprise serenade of Filipino lolos hanging out at Starbucks. We slowly learned how short films could be the medium of the streets, just as they had become the medium of YouTube. We also learned to program Asian cinema outside of the safe space and self-selected audience of the Asian film festival. How do you use Asian and Asian American content to spark pedestrian interest in the streets of San Diego without playing only Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies? Action, experimental, and animation played the best in most environments. Once again, the “cinema of attractions” beat classical narrative, as they have since the silent days, especially once cinema was liberated from the confines of the theater.

And if the streets were the theater, then the truck, illuminated in green and magenta, was usher, concession stand, and projection booth in one. The DBC crew named the vinyl-wrapped hunk of metal “Humb’lin,” after Pac-Arts’ late associate festival director George Lin, who first imagined a fleet of cine-mobiles when he saw a USPS truck for sale on eBay. Humb’lin’s most famed ride was the one where he shared the spotlight with another giant urban monster. During Comic Con, San Diego’s rowdiest event of the year, the DBC team secured the rig so that the projector could run while the truck was in motion. It was a tricky set-up, with wires through windows and blu-ray players in laps, and an even trickier route to map, with one-way streets, inebriated pedestrians, and height clearance warnings. Traffic was at a crawl, which was horrible for commuters, but perfect for Godzilla to roam the streets on Humb’lin’s back, and perfect for onlooking geeks to stop, point, and cheer as Tokyo’s monster made its way around San Diego’s skyscrapers. Godzilla screamed through the tinny loudspeakers like a Taipei politician campaigning out of an old jeep. Cars honked, celebrities tweeted, and cops sighed. For a truck better used to riding incognito in less prominent parts of town, it was a rare treat to be on the yellow brick road. And for the DBC team that gave this tin van a heart, it was a sweet victory lap – at least until the next adventure.