A great many strange things have happened in the past few days ... perhaps not as many as may be transmitted by the feeling that accompanies one or two strange happenings, but nonetheless ... something is happening.
I was sitting with my friend Himmler one evening. His woman Jodie and roommate Wu Tong were in attendance and we were focusing hard upon the twin challenges of the Primary and Starcraft. My phone was dead. Wu Tong comes into the living room, smells our sweat and says:
"sascha, call for you ..."
Its my girl, Yu Shi, on the other end, crying and very upset. Her dog had been confiscated by some cracker-ass peasants in my neighborhood. For those not in the know, i live in the sticks outside of Chengdu and for me cracker denotes anyone with buck-teeth, tendency to yee-haw, funny hair, smothered in innocent moral failings aka ignorance etc....
So i call up these peasants and ask them how they want to solve the problem.
They say: "Gei Qian Saa!" which means, gotta pay me fool!
Two or three dudes take turns on the phone. I can tell its an assembly of quarter-intellects. Discussing anything with crackers is tedious at best, infuriating at worst. I lose my temper after the fourth or fifth unanticipated yee-haw burped into the receiver and slam the phone down.
I call Yu Shi and be like: chill. call up your media people and have them meet you tomorrow at 11:30. I'll call the police and have them roll through my house right now (i was in the city, she was at my home) and we'll have the crackers meet us at noon. We'll tell them we got the money and they should bring the dog.
So I boogie home and meet the cops. They are pretty much useless. I should go into "China style cops and robbers" shit here but basically imagine a corrupt and lazy force that is only motivated by fear from reprimands emanating from the murky heights of the Party. And they love paperwork. Anyway they take her down to the station -- its midnight by now -- and after all sorts of bullshit, including asking her what she's doing with a foreigner (typical) they tell her alright, you can walk home now.
But these men are cowards. So i get on the phone and say: you dumb son of a bitch bring her home. So they do. (I know I sound like a badass, but its my blog suckas).
The next day the media show up and they are all geared up Spies like Us style. Its great. They have a camera in a bag and they pretend to be Yu Shi's buddies. I disappear, because my work is done. If a foreigner presses to hard here in China, xenophobia rears its ugly head.
The crackers show up with their wives and old mothers. A whole Yee-Haw gang. They say point blank: if you don't give us 1800RMB (250USD), we'll keep the dog. The cops show up. The media reveal themselves. Now begins the bullshit session.
Now a bullshit session in China is really something to behold. Logic and reason have no place in the session. Its ad hoc improv style arguing with the combatants bringing up Chairman Mao, the Three Represents, The role of the Peasant vis a vis the role of the Young Girl in building a New China, word play (by crackers no less ...). Anyway in the end, the cops say give the crackers 100RMB and take the dog. The crackers point to their mom and say: she spent so much time taking care of this dog. They point to the wives, they made special dog food for him. They demand a gratitude fee for not slaying and eating the dog. They haggle. All this is on camera, by the way.
The dog's name is Lei Feng, who was a Communist Hero: the model man in the socialist society. The cracker served in the Lei Feng Regiment of the 8th Route Army. He brings this up, gets emotional and decries the decadent path of the New China.
I am currently trying to get a copy of the report that aired two nights ago to put it up here. You won't need to understand anything.
On the way back to our house, dog in tow, a call comes in from another hysterical girl who lost her dog in the neighborhood as well. She says maybe Yu Shi found her dog, switched his collar, then lost him again. For real.
Yu Shi decides yesterday that she can't take care of Lei Feng anymore, because she has no time or place for him and so she calls this woman up. She happens to be a translator of English and German and I need a translator. We bond over doggie biscuits and tea. The translator might take Lei Feng home in a day or two.
Last night, another girlfriend of mine calls up hysterically and says her home was broken into. She lost her computer, camera and wallet.
Meanwhile, Yu Shi is back on the job, as a reporter for the Economic Daily. She has two jobs: to infiltrate the traffic police by pretending she is a small child trying to cross a busy street. The traffic police tell her that they have to first consult with the leaders before they can leave their offices and head to the street to control traffic. This is all caught on tape and reported the next day. Today there is a picture of those same pigs out on the street, attempting to do their job.
Her other job was to attend a meeting about the small protest in Pengzhou against a planned chemical factory that will affect the water supply. The meeting -- held by the leaders of the paper -- was to inform all reporters to stay away from Pengzhou, not to talk about it, send SMS about or do anything. Because the project is a pet of the Provincial Governor Zhang Zhong Wei.
International media and Cantonese media reported on it instead.
Sichuan is the epicenter of all that is cracker.
Meanwhile, my homie Boogie is back in town with his mom. He is looking ot me to aid him in a visa hunt. The guy we all used to go to for visas had his office in Beijing raided and all passports, including Boogie's, were confiscated. There has been no word as of yet.
A German photographer and an English writer asked me to help them with visas over the past few days as well.
Another Econ Daily reporter called me up and tried to get me to agree that CNN's "apology" for Jack Cafferty's statements wasn't actually an apology at all. I said: "Bitch we got the First Amendment!" Unfazed, she pressed on till I finally said: Yes, it is an apology, but I know it doesn't suit well with the nation's victim campaign, so write whatever the hell you want. She said thanks and offered to buy me dinner today. She didn't quote me in the paper and the headline said: CNN: "regret, does it mean apology or sorry?" In Chinese there is a slight distinction between some of these phrases. What they want is for Cafferty to kow tow. I just shake my head sometimes. there truly is no lack of bullshit in our world.
Meanwhile, my cats gave birth the other night, outside in the rain. I didn't realize until this morning when i walked downstairs and my neighbor said: hey, yer cats gave birth, pointing to a wriggling furball in the grass. I trip and take the three kittens and spend the rest of the morning trying to find them a safe place. They end up in my closet, wrapped up in my chupa -- a very useful fur-lined Tibetan cloak. I have two cats. The one that gave birth watched the kitties, while the other attacked male cats in the area with a ferocity I have never seen. She is also pregnant and gave birth to one giant kitten last night that died. The two cats are taking turns nursing the three kittens.
Last night as I took a break from all of this craziness with my pipe and some Buddha, a fourth kitten comes squirming out of the grass and mewls up at me. I trip some more and take this Lucky lil bastard up into the closet. He immediately went for the nipple. He is doing fine.
There is more going on. Really, I haven't even told half. But this is enough to let you know that this week has been very eventful -- and I feel the pattern coalescing around me, even if I am clueless as to its purpose, design or frame of mind.