smoke free class of 2000

A photo project on what it means to turn thirty to a generation of Americans.
www.kevintruong.com

Interview and photo by Kevin Truong
Ikes.  David Douglas High School.  Portland, Oregon.
KT:  All right, Ikes, how do you feel about turning thirty?
IP:  Oh, do I get to say my line?  Laughs.
KT:  Go for it.
IP:  I think thirty is where youth and wisdom meet.  Smiles.
KT:  Very profound Ikes.  How were your twenties for you?
IP:  They were good.  They were great.  I think growing up through your twenties in today’s world, it just goes by really fast, and the next thing you know you’re thirty and you feel like it’s time to wise up.
KT:  Do you feel old?
IP:  No I don’t feel old.
KT:  Any defining moments?
IP:  Defining moments?  Can you give an example?
KT:  For me, coming out of the closet or moving to Los Angeles the first time…
IP:  Those are really big things though; I think most people don’t have those kind of big things.  Laughs.
KT:  Laughs.  Or any time that really changed your perspective.  It doesn’t have to be specific to you, and can be something that happened to a friend, or our country—
IP:  I guess the one defining moment I had was when I was studying abroad in Greece, I think it was in 2002, and this was when the president was drumming up the Iraq war.  And I believe that he invaded March 17th, 2003.  And so I came back in December of 2002, but leading up to it there was such an international protest against the war—I had a hard time traveling to the inner city in Greece, because everybody was protesting in front of the U.S. embassy constantly.  And they would show so much footage on protests around the world happening—
KT:  Against us going to war with Iraq?
IP:  Yeah, and the whole idea of weapons of mass destruction.  And then you got Hans Blitz saying, “We can’t find any, we don’t know where they’re at,” and then our president saying, “Oh they got them, we know where they’re at.”  I was under the impression that to go to war was an impossibility to happen, because the international Atomic Research group couldn’t find anything.  It wasn’t even something to worry about, and it was only when I got back to the states, I was like “Oh shit, this is really going to happen.”  Because before, when I was in Greece, everything was fine.  I believed the media there—well maybe it was more open—where I was seeing all these protests in Rome, Britain, Paris, all over the Middle East and Asian countries also—and then I come back here and everybody’s talking about when we should invade and how bad this guy is.  That was kind of an eye opener, going from one extreme to the other.
KT:  Well having spent time in Greece, do you having any insight into how people outside of America think of Americans?
IP:  Like most countries, they like Americans, they just don’t like America.  Laughs.  But you know, they’re very Western.  They’re not very radical against the West or anything.
KT:  Well when you hear the word America, what does it mean to you? IP:  It means to me people from all different backgrounds in the world came here and created something great.
KT:  And being the child of Greek immigrants, do you have any insight into what life is like for an immigrant in this country?
IP:  I think that, take it as it be, you can have your disagreements about how immigrants are treated here—but there’s probably not a better place to be an immigrant in the world than the United States.  Even with discrimination and racism and what not—yeah we have that, the rest of the world has that—but taking all that into consideration I think immigrants are treated the best in the United States.
KT:  Do you think things are different than when we were children?
IP:  I think it’s changed slightly to where it was once assumed that you’d live a better life than your parents did, and I think we’re reaching a point where that’s just not going to be generally true.  And it’s going to be more like fifty-fifty.
KT:  So what do you think of our country in it’s current state?
IP:  Well, I think it’s in some crossroads—you know Kevin, I’m having a hard time not talking about politics with these questions.  Laughs.
KT:  It’s all right, it’s good.  This project is about politics.  It’s tying into the thirty theme, but it’s more so about Americans and how their lives are.
IP:  So the current state, I think we got here by indebting a nation to a point where it can’t afford its debt anymore.  And the plan is now it’s time to cut the social spending.  But it’s not the social programs that indebted us in the first place—like it did in Greece currently.  It was going into multiple wars and having no real strategy of what to do when we’re there, and how to get out of it.  Call it what you may—about what’s right and what’s not right—at this point in the game we’re getting broke. At some point we need to change our mentality in thinking we can drone attack a country here and massive Billy-bomb this country, and invade troops in another—and thinking that the financial costs and blood costs aren’t going to catch up with us.  To the point where we’re teetering on bankruptcy.
KT:  Are you hopeful things will turn around?
IP:  Sure I’m hopeful.  If I wasn’t hopeful I’d kill myself.  Laughs.
KT:  And finally do you remember us being called the Smoke Free Class of 2000?
IP:  Yes I do.
KT:  And did you stay smoke free?
IP:  I’m smoke free now. 

Interview and photo by Kevin Truong

Ikes.  David Douglas High School.  Portland, Oregon.

KT:  All right, Ikes, how do you feel about turning thirty?

IP:  Oh, do I get to say my line?  Laughs.

KT:  Go for it.

IP:  I think thirty is where youth and wisdom meet.  Smiles.

KT:  Very profound Ikes.  How were your twenties for you?

IP:  They were good.  They were great.  I think growing up through your twenties in today’s world, it just goes by really fast, and the next thing you know you’re thirty and you feel like it’s time to wise up.

KT:  Do you feel old?

IP:  No I don’t feel old.

KT:  Any defining moments?

IP:  Defining moments?  Can you give an example?

KT:  For me, coming out of the closet or moving to Los Angeles the first time…

IP:  Those are really big things though; I think most people don’t have those kind of big things.  Laughs.

KT:  Laughs.  Or any time that really changed your perspective.  It doesn’t have to be specific to you, and can be something that happened to a friend, or our country—

IP:  I guess the one defining moment I had was when I was studying abroad in Greece, I think it was in 2002, and this was when the president was drumming up the Iraq war.  And I believe that he invaded March 17th, 2003.  And so I came back in December of 2002, but leading up to it there was such an international protest against the war—I had a hard time traveling to the inner city in Greece, because everybody was protesting in front of the U.S. embassy constantly.  And they would show so much footage on protests around the world happening—

KT:  Against us going to war with Iraq?

IP:  Yeah, and the whole idea of weapons of mass destruction.  And then you got Hans Blitz saying, “We can’t find any, we don’t know where they’re at,” and then our president saying, “Oh they got them, we know where they’re at.”  I was under the impression that to go to war was an impossibility to happen, because the international Atomic Research group couldn’t find anything.  It wasn’t even something to worry about, and it was only when I got back to the states, I was like “Oh shit, this is really going to happen.”  Because before, when I was in Greece, everything was fine.  I believed the media there—well maybe it was more open—where I was seeing all these protests in Rome, Britain, Paris, all over the Middle East and Asian countries also—and then I come back here and everybody’s talking about when we should invade and how bad this guy is.  That was kind of an eye opener, going from one extreme to the other.

KT:  Well having spent time in Greece, do you having any insight into how people outside of America think of Americans?

IP:  Like most countries, they like Americans, they just don’t like America.  Laughs.  But you know, they’re very Western.  They’re not very radical against the West or anything.

KT:  Well when you hear the word America, what does it mean to you?
IP:  It means to me people from all different backgrounds in the world came here and created something great.

KT:  And being the child of Greek immigrants, do you have any insight into what life is like for an immigrant in this country?

IP:  I think that, take it as it be, you can have your disagreements about how immigrants are treated here—but there’s probably not a better place to be an immigrant in the world than the United States.  Even with discrimination and racism and what not—yeah we have that, the rest of the world has that—but taking all that into consideration I think immigrants are treated the best in the United States.

KT:  Do you think things are different than when we were children?

IP:  I think it’s changed slightly to where it was once assumed that you’d live a better life than your parents did, and I think we’re reaching a point where that’s just not going to be generally true.  And it’s going to be more like fifty-fifty.

KT:  So what do you think of our country in it’s current state?

IP:  Well, I think it’s in some crossroads—you know Kevin, I’m having a hard time not talking about politics with these questions.  Laughs.

KT:  It’s all right, it’s good.  This project is about politics.  It’s tying into the thirty theme, but it’s more so about Americans and how their lives are.

IP:  So the current state, I think we got here by indebting a nation to a point where it can’t afford its debt anymore.  And the plan is now it’s time to cut the social spending.  But it’s not the social programs that indebted us in the first place—like it did in Greece currently.  It was going into multiple wars and having no real strategy of what to do when we’re there, and how to get out of it.  Call it what you may—about what’s right and what’s not right—at this point in the game we’re getting broke. At some point we need to change our mentality in thinking we can drone attack a country here and massive Billy-bomb this country, and invade troops in another—and thinking that the financial costs and blood costs aren’t going to catch up with us.  To the point where we’re teetering on bankruptcy.

KT:  Are you hopeful things will turn around?

IP:  Sure I’m hopeful.  If I wasn’t hopeful I’d kill myself.  Laughs.

KT:  And finally do you remember us being called the Smoke Free Class of 2000?

IP:  Yes I do.

KT:  And did you stay smoke free?

IP:  I’m smoke free now.