Blackbird, Hanoi, Vietnam


Blackbird, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2019

On my first walk through the unrestrained streets of Hanoi, everything was a whir. Sound moved as mopeds, breezing by like an unconfined wind.  Engines, emancipated from entire cars, revved powering more than two wheels, more like millions of citizens through its old and imperial districts.

Through this hum, I found a Blackbird singing in the light of day. It said it was singing in the dead of night. Upon arrival, it didn’t look like a vulnerable home for coffee and culture. Its outdoor benches, high interior ceilings and drink menu betrayed its aesthetic strengths. 

Blackbird singing in the dead of night. The Beatles. I knew of them, from history books

Black birds sing like coffee shops sing. They sing among hundreds of others of their kind. They sing to express themselves although thousands of others cry for company, our company.  They sing knowing we might never hear. 

Two weeks ago, I was driving 300 miles North to Los Angeles, powered on a flat white, three supple red vines and a wind from my driver side window. I attempted to harness that emancipated wind – periodically rolling the window up, down and then all the way up again. 

Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Gregory Porter. I heard him, on the radio.

I heard whir. I felt Hanoi. I saw not a highway in front of me, but antiquated streets that seemed to roll into one, if only because of my once unfamiliarity.

To see one thing sometimes is to see many things. It is to see culture, perched in broad daylight, asking for attention. In our current world, a sundry of coffee shops are muted, their wings are clipped, their benches empty, their doors shuttered. Yet in still, others are finding inventive ways to to rev like a motorbike in Hanoi. 

Black birds singing in the wake of life. We are.