Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Love of the Color Red

I take a fancy in the color red. It seems to have got me going. This is a comparatively recent discovery, since last summer. That was the time when I became alone again.

I was tasked, for the first time in a long while, to decorate my place with total freedom and authority. The secretive designer me caught a breath and got down to work.

I know what I want for my room, somewhat. I will allow two main colors besides the white washed wall. I already have and love my dark wood furniture, black framed keyboard, black designer leather chair and black leather couch. What would be the other main color? Silver and glass does not count as color for me, since they could be invisible. They state nothing rather than coolness. I meant a solid color that one can not see through and one could not avoid.

I walked around town trying to figure out what I am looking for. I went to Crate and Barrel on Houston and Broadway and added on to the dark wood collection by getting a tall and elegant screen of the same color as my head board of the futon I was sleeping on.

I needed a piece of large carpet in front of the couch and I know I want a single color simple patterned one. I found it in this one little store in Soho. It meant to be there for me to own. A cubic patterned RED carpet made in India, a country famous for colorful Seri and occupying a continent covered with red dirt.

From there on, decisions are much easier. The Carpet set the tone. But what turned out to be a huge hit among my designer and architect friends (I value expert approval) were really the two separate pieces of red silk cloth I got from a small store on west 38 street, also owned by an Indian couple. When I hung them on my screen, and then covered my futon with the reddish 500 thread Egyptian cotton sheet, I finally felt I have build myself a nest that I can calmly savor my newly found loneliness and independence with no fear.

Yes, what else can contrast yet not giving in to the elegant and heavy and absorb-it-all color of black than red. And together they give me some feeling of solidness. Nothing is float in the air. They know what they are and where they want to be and stay there calmly.

And a visit to the new MOMA has shown me that I am not the only one who feel this way toward the color Red, Matisee said: "I can only see things as they truly are with the background of red". I love his Red Studio, albeit I also love all his paintings with blue background.

I kept on wondering why it is Red that has satisfied me and pleased me. I had never liked it in the sense that I would have people see me in it. Actually I don’t own much red outfit at all. I wear white, black and blue, yellow or green for bright days.

So maybe it has suited my mood during a tough time when radical changes were initiated in my otherwise quiet and routine life. It is like a revolution, fast forwarding and rebelling. Maybe that was why I have gone with the color Red. It is a color of revolution and passion. It is also a color that symbols happiness and festivity as well as joy of marital love in the 5000 year of Chinese civilization.

That may have explained it. It is in my blood and it is in my up-bringing and it all comes back in time of need. It is a color that makes me feeling secretly exciting, associated with happiness as well as boldness. Maybe I needed an invisible red banner to lead me when I decided to give it try to march down the path of life alone.

Maybe the color of the room for newly wedded couple in my ancestors land gives me some warmth and comfort when I left something that meant to last forever.

That must be it. And once it comes into life into my consciousness, I instantly rediscover the color red from every bits and pieces of world that surrounds me.

Although I have never realized before, the most and maybe the only indispensable make up for me is to put on my lipstick. The different shades of red covering my lips to prepare the face I am preparing to meet with the world or a loved one. I could skip everything else but not this one step. In seconds, it transforms a face, a heart, the woman who wears it. It is to me the Channel No 5 to Marilyn when it comes to that realm—that could be the only thing I am wearing. So it has always been there after all-red lipsticks and our readiness to kiss and to be kissed. No wonder I take a fancy in red, when I am the loneliest and most vulnerable in my life. I need to see the color that makes woman of all kind radiant for their lovers.

It is the color of robe worn by each and every Chinese bride, in old times, carried in the red Sedan Chair to meet their husband whom they have not met before. It is the color of silk cloth with the most exquisitely embroidery that covers her beautifully powdered young face, a face that shall reveal no sadness for leaving her parent’s home to start a new life at a stranger’s where she has to behave, please and produce a son. The red silk cloth shall only be gently lifted by her future husband at their first night and may that hand belong to a man with a nice looking face and a soft heart.

It is the color of the Red Young Pioneer scarf I had to wear everyday to school when I grow up. We were told the shape of it being triangle is that it is cut off from one corner of a red flag. Born in the 70s meant that I was one of the many children who “were raised under the red flag” when our mind were filled with make believe stories the sole goal of which were to tell us to love the party, the leader but not each other, to be conformist but not individualist. But it is still a childhood with pure heart and wonderful dreams, with liveliest imaginations and tender feelings from the first blush for a boy. There are things of life even the Red Guard of Mao can not kill.

It is the color of the walls of Forbidden City, which stretched for miles with its 1000 chambers that ever housed so many beautiful and young women who wasted their youthful flesh in endless waiting of the visit of one man.

It is also no coincidence the red is the color of our blood. As when it is spilled on the yellow sand of a Bullfighting ring of Servile.

No matter what race we are, white, yellow or black, we have the same color in blood. We may vary in color of eyes, skin and hair, but we don't in the color of blood. Thank god for that so the racists would not have to use a more sophisticated coding system to arrange who is going to sit where. Thank God for that so that we will not have to worry what type are more attractive to us, blue blood Sean or Green blood Steve. We are all red and hot blooded and we are equally beautiful. Yes, let height and size of eyes or some other organs (I am thinking the size of heart if you are wondering) continue to dominate our potential mate rating system. Life is tough enough. One less thing to worry about is always good. And thank God for that so we can even give each other blood in time of needs since our blood are of the same make, like the air we breath and water we drink. It is for sharing on an equal basis on the most primitive sense of being. No wonder red is also the color of love.

And of course red is also the color of the most important organ of all, the human heart. The organ we use to love and to feel sad. Maybe it is the brain that does that, but I tend to believe it is the heart until somebody shows me the proof, like when you have to convince people that earth is not the center of universe. Ancient Egyptian believes that in the after life they can do without brain but not heart. So they hold them dearly during burial to ensure whenever they are, they are not far from their heart so that they can always have a soul. I find that beautiful and credible.

I remember a sentence from the play Closer “Have you ever seen the human heart, it is like a fist wrapped in blood”. Yes, a heart that never is free from struggling, fighting and plight.

And a small painting that my boss hang in her office, made by a co-worker in one of the charity activity our company held, is having an unusual blue background to contrast the color red of the fisty heart, it has this quote: they wept together for what they now knew.

I remember the time when I was reading the story where the quote was taken from, sitting on the bench on 72 street and central park west, I could not stop crying. Tears just kept on coming. I sat there and wept for a long time. But the tears did not turn red as they say might happen.

Yes, color Red as in Rose red. Color red as in the light that shines on top of Empire State building on the day of Valentine. I was being kissed by a man on that night, in front of public library. When I looked south, I saw that deep red light dominating the night sky. I said to myself that I shall remember this night but leave.

Color Red as in Red Cross and Red Sox, it is a color of ultimate victory and triumph of spirit for the wounded and the hurt, but the passionate.

Color red as in that of strawberry and red wine. I remember the red wine that you took from the collection that the friend of yours had and we were listening to Aimee Mann while swallowing the wine and the bitter and sweet moments of a night when your heart was heavy and mine was heavy for you. The stain of wine lingered on my lips and tongue even the longest kiss can not wash them off.

Red Wine, it is what I drink in my studio apartment when I am alone and knowing that I will be alone for the remaining of the night, waiting upon something. It keeps me company when I am missing someone.

Color red as in the decadence red worn by the dancers of Moulin Rouge. Color red as in the red light district of Amsterdam which I removed from my list of place to see since windows with woman posing saddens me deeply.

Color Red, as in the lovely robe of Santa Clause, as in the little hat worn by the little girl crossing the forest to visit her grandma and as in the red shoes worn by the girl who danced until she die. Stories of such lighted up my childhood with the descriptions of places which exists beyond the Eastern China Sea, beyond the ancient land with temples, beyond the teaching of Chairman Mao and ancient Chinese characters with its endless strokes. They described things that happened in a nether land one day I will visit and call it my home.

Color red, may you continue to light up my life with all you splendor and strength while I am walking down the chosen path with a smile.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Blush of Victory

In many animal species red coloration in males--a sign of high testosterone levels--is associated with fitness and dominance (in one study even red leg bands were enough to put male birds at the top of the mating order). The color may also be linked to prowess in human athletes. Two English academics examined four "combat sports" (boxing, tae kwon do, Greco-Roman wrestling, and freestyle wrestling) in the 2004 Summer Olympics; participants in these events were randomly assigned either blue or red attire. The athletes in red won 55 percent of all the competitions--and when contests in which the competitors were deemed unevenly matched were eliminated from the pool, more than 60 percent of the winners were found to have been wearing red. A similar phenomenon obtained in Euro 2004, a soccer tournament in which five teams alternated shirt color from game to game; all five did better when wearing their red shirts. The researchers speculate that because red is associated with anger and violence, competitors may be subconsciously intimidated by opponents dressed in it--and that wearing red may boost an athlete's testosterone levels and thereby improve his performance. None of this, of course, explains why the red-and-white-clad Red Sox spent so many years playing second fiddle to the blue-and-white-clad Yankees.

--"Red Enhances Human Performance in Contests," Russell A. Hill and Robert A. Barton, Nature

As quoted in "Primary Sources," The Atlantic Monthly, September 2005, p. 54

3:20 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...

Anonymous, thanks for your insightful comment! I learn a lot and enjoy it tremendously.

That explains a lot. Life is not unlike a competition and the color red is stimulating bulls for exactly the same reason, they are intimated but also excited.
Gush, it is a radical color after all.

The way you described the test make me blush for my lack of analytical thinking and research in my writing. This is the Venus vs. Mars all over again.


6:45 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...

I assumed you are a man. Sorry about that.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny. I didn't take from your response that you thought I was a man.

I'm not.

But the people who wrote what I quoted are men. So maybe that's what you reacted to.

11:59 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...

It is for the Venus vs. Mars comment I made. ;-)

Also, I was thinking that Red might be one of the colors that are easier to dye when means are limited, since flowers are often time bloom in this range of colors.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is interesting. I stumbled upon it when I misspelled "NewYorkered", as in the past tense of a madeup verb, as in "Because I know the best route to take out to Laguardia I guess I've been New Yorkered."

I love the way you write. It's elusive and intriguing and exotic (and I don't have an "Asian Fixation" (LOL!). Maybe it's because, as you claim, you don't have command of English that the writing feels poetic. I doubt that. There's real feeling here.

Glad I came across you.

1:19 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...

Thanks for your feedback. That is generous and re-assuring.

I am glad you misspelled so that we can meet here. I am glad you enjoyed what I wrote and I do very much enjoy what you wrote back.

It is out of strong feelings that I wrote up some of these. And I worry that it is too personal or girlish to readers. But so far, since I have not released this to anyone yet, you are the first reader besides myself. I am glad it did not bore you.

;-). Hope to see you around.

2:49 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...


Also, glad you don't have Asian Fixation, (but you are not a man). That makes me laugh.

FYI,,you can find my e-mail address in my profile.

Enjoy rest of the summer....

8:37 PM  
Blogger The Retropolitan said...

Perhaps I'm a tad late in commenting on this, but I'm glad that someone else knows and understands how I feel about red. I've endured endless teasing about my fixation on red, but it's comforting now to find someone else that feels the same.

8:10 PM  
Blogger New York Red said...

Retropolitan, thanks for the comment! That explains the red background on your blog!

Have started reading your blog only recently. Enjoy it tremendously....love of the red just might explains part of it....;-)

3:05 PM  

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