On October 3, 2010 I became Facebook friends with Buzz from the film Home Alone. I’m not talking about the “Buzz Fan Page”, I mean the actual dude. His real name is Devin Ratray, a 35-year-old huggable round man who has since retired from acting to pursue film production. Buzz is best known for eating the last slice of cheese pizza coveted by Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), leaving McCallister to sleep on an empty stomach with bed-wetter cousin Fuller. Below is the only exchange I ever had with Buzz/Ratray, which was clearly a ploy for him to accept my “friendship”. Brett Newski: “Devin, thanks for the autograph last weekend. You’re the man!” Devin Ratray: “No problem. Anytime!”
Ratray has since “unfriended” me from Facebook for reasons unknown. I did not find this out until today, after spotting a bootlegged copy of Home Alone at a Vietnamese DVD stand. It was a reminder that my only online celebrity friendship has fallen from glory. On this day, I too feel to have fallen from glory.
AGENT ORANGE is probably the greatest travesty in US war history. The War Museum in Saigon is brutal, but you don’t have to go there to see its effects on the Vietnamese people. Children and grandchildren of Vietnamese exposed to Agent Orange in the Nam War are born with deformities to this day. Short, crippled arms and legs are a common sight around the city, using a skateboard as a wheelchair. Sorry, I know it's a BUZZ kill.
After two hours of intensity at the Vietnam War Museum, I joined a tour group to the war fields of suburban Saigon. On the bus, we were briefed on the history of the Vietnam War in broken English over a broken Karaoke system that cost about 1,000,000 Vietnam Dong ($48).
Having a tour guide you cannot understand is like having an overweight personal trainer. I slumped back in my seat, hiding my headphones under my hoodie as not to offend Joe, our 4 foot nothin’ Vietnamese tour guide leading the bus to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. These tiny, underground holes were the Viet Congs base of operation for the Tet Offensive in 1968. They are about the size of an ass crack. Not even half an American person could fit in some of these tunnels. Since the war, the tunnels have been widened to fit Cheeseburger shaped American bodies for tourism purposes.
As you know, tourism gift shops are generally tacky, overpriced, and encompass Webster’s definition of “terd.” But not this one. In the Cu Chi gift shop you can forget about novelty T-shirts. Here, one can literally buy tickets to the gun show. For just $1.50, you can shoot an AK-47 or an assortment of other Rambo artillery from the war. (In Cambodia, you can blow up a cow with a Bazooka for $200). One can also buy sandals made from a Goodyear tire for $2 (USD).
We complete the tour. Our guide Joe is pumped up about his job, rattling off his war knowledge at 300 mph in Vietnamese English. I try to concentrate, but can’t look away from the four-inch long solo grey hair dangling from his chin (it's bad luck to cut your mole hair in Vietnam) Despite communication barriers, I love this old guy. Joe informs me that his two favorite bands are CCR and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both of which he discovered during his time as a hippy intellectual during Nam. No fightin’ for Joe. Truly a fortunate son.