Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moral Authority?

Its not hard to imagine how China manages to get away with being one of the more brazenly oppressive nations to hold the Olympics in recent times. The USSR was able to do so, but only with half the world boycotting and in 1936, Nazi Germany's Olympics were held before boycotts were widely used as a means of protest.

Boycotting China does not seem to be in the cards, although a postponement or outright cancellation of some events might be.

In the end, money talks. Rogge and the IOC most likely got paid. And when the heads of state consider boycotting the Opening Ceremonies, I am sure companies like the sports and media giant IMG and British mining concern CMG will take the politicians aside and whisper a few words ...

To Big Business, the will of the people is naught but an annoying buzzing, augmented only slightly by media blitzes and peep-voiced blogs like this one. China pays off the parents of children killed by the quake and corrupt construction firms and compensates Hakka farmers forcibly removed from their home because they know it works. Same goes for "the moral authority" of the West. Free Tibet indeed ...

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What did you think was gonna happen?

The fools of the world who believed Chairman Rogge and the Chinese BOCOG are to blame for their foolishness.

There are several stories out there: The frog and scorpion, the fool and the snake ... whoever thought that the Games would change the nature of the snake, was probably dreaming of dragons ...

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Last Roast

Indeed, I wrote a lot about how perfect my "Leaving" is, as it comes almost to the day when i arrived 8 years ago. I spoke a lot about how everything seems pre-ordained.

Well, now I am beginning to experience what that actually means. These days in Beijing will be a further searing of my soul to the point where i will wonder what exactly it is that i believe. Who exactly I am.

My patna Beanmilk told me today that I have to leave, before i become too Chinese. She said this after that post "The Good News Is" ... what she means is that my original self is American, and the longer I stay here, the more Chinese I become. This Chinese sense of self is, in her words "originally not yours" so I should and have to leave and go back to the US in order to recover that which I am. Or else I will be wrestling with this "foreign" entity in me till it pops out my chest in a bloody mass ... she says me wrestling with myself in that post is proof that i need a rest from all this.

Last night a friend asked me rhetorically: "Who are you?" because I spoke German to one kid, American to another, Chinese to another and so on ...

I welcome all of this. When i was young, Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" had a great impact. I am German and Turkish because the blood of those people runs through me. I can't help any Turkish-ness or German-ness which I display.

America is a state of mind, a set of principles, a way of living that is as much a part of me as any blood relationship I have. But it is because I lived as an American. Surrounded by America, feeding on the tit of America, raised by a True American, I can only be a chip off that block.

Now, after 8 years in China, a whole new set of mind states, principles and ways of living are filtering through my self.

After suckling at the Chinese tit for so long, can I walk away and wipe my mouth with no effects whatsoever?

I think not.

And why would I: In my song of myself I too contain multitudes, I contradict myself and in the end can be nothing but me myself and I.

So these next few weeks will be my final roast above the spit of China.

Grease me up, yo!

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Down in Kokomo

Will the damn Games just start already ...

All day I got BBC hollerin about censorship, human rights and nationalism in one ear and CCTV hollerin about the glory, sacrifice, achievements and bursting pride of the Chinese nation in the other ear.

In the middle, i compile reports. I tell Prof. Han to find the "good news" and Zhu Di the "bad news," then i put it together (compressed like a .zip) and pass it to people who have never stepped foot in China before and want the whole place at their fingertips for the next month.

I have always had the feeling, since day One, that this place has the deepest and most glaring contradictions of any nation I have ever visited. So since day One I have tried to figure out

1) is this in fact the case: is China more contradictory than other places
2) if so why?

I have never really been able to answer question 1 to my satisfaction, so i just skipped it and went to question 2.

(My computer is burning up as I write so i'll make it short and sweet):

Question 2 ends up being answered through a vast collection of observations that in turn substantiate the quest for the answer to question 1. Question one then becomes "the question" for all human society, as each observation on China becomes applicable to every other nation in the world.

Eventually, one gets down to the "molecular" level and puts forth the hypothesis that all humans are contradictory and the Chinese just have had a LONG time to observe this phenomenon, hence the Yin and Yang and all inbetween.

The point being, I cant wait for the Games to start, because I now lay my hopes at the feet of the under-reported stars of the show: the athletes. We all know that sports can bring out the best in us, as mortal enemies hug and cry after a hard fought emotional match ...(was that transition short and sweet or what)

i hear cool rain outside my window and smell it too ...

i will leave you with a picture of Macamaya .. one of the flyest women on the planet, doin her thang in Japan ... go on girl!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The good news is

That the Chinese are ready to do this. Just Imagine:

Your dad grew up smilin if he got some pork in his rice bowl.
Your granddad grew up smilin if he got to shoot the invader that raped his village

You are smilin cuz pork is in everyone's bowl. No one dares invade. You got access to all the music, all the movies, all the clothes, all the books, all the luxuries your parents stare dumbfounded at.

You decide to throw a party and invite all of your dad's buddies, your granddad's buddies and you also invite all sorts of strangers to come. You build huge venues, new hotels, new roads, new metro stations and plant flowers everywhere for all these guests. You cook the best food you got. You tell all the bums and thugs that normally hang out at your place to take off for the week.

You stand at the door and are filled with pride, tears well up in your eyes and you smile as the guests begin to arrive.

Some punks start talkin about bombing your house. The guests ignore you and stroll past, fingering the curtains, muttering about the yard and sneer at your food ...

Your smile falters, but then granddad appears at your side, takes your hand and squeezes. He is crying with you. He's got some pork in his bowl. Its all good.

Today is gonna be just fine ...

I apologize to all my chinese homies if i am harsh and offensive. I love this place. All the funk and dirt and raucous yellin is music. I know I will be bored in the US at times. and I know I will long for a funky hot pot spot ...

I am entitled to my complex emotions. This is my only defense.

"Even the haters in yer town know its goin down"

mad love atcha!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

busy day

In this small blurb about a photo that made it into a tabloid about the Tiananmen protests in 1989, we see another example of the many people these days who don't know about what happened and frankly don't care, yet face the consequences for their ignorance. I wrote before about a couple of copy editors who were fired in Chengdu because they let in an ad about the protests -- most likely unknowingly. What irony: the white-washing of history forces the past back out into the open ...

There have been news reports about a "new group" of Islamic terrorists that are threatening China with attacks during the Olympics. China has denied that these guys had anything to do with the bombings in Kunming. They have a video up that shows several photos of bombings and explosions that have taken place throughout CHina in the past few months.

It is likely that they are not responsible for many of these incidents, but the fact that they are making a racket about bombing and killing people is enough to set the security apparatus in Beijing churning away. Naturally, the work will be done behind the scenes, as China wants to ensure that the public are not agitated before the Games.

it is interesting to think about all of the would-be bombers who have been caught, behind the scenes, while people went about their daily lives, oblivious ...

Keeping this information secret has its merits: if the people knew all the details, paranoia would set in and racist violence would be its sneering accompaniment.

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My Worm Ridden Hound named "Dog"

I am amazed at how rumors fly around this country. its a thing of beauty to watch a story go from one part of the nation to another -- at the ground level -- finally coming to a feather light landing as an encapsulation of some human condition within a four-character phrase. The phrase dutifully blogged and categorized.

I have done nothing to get a rumor nationwide, but there is a story Sichuan-wide about a certain cracker-laowai that bought a painted dog for 280RMB.


I was about three months into my stay in China, living in the "village" of Beibei north of Chongqing. I was sweatin and such with my goatee drooping out over my wifebeater A-shirt, wandering through the streets of the ... well town ... when i was brought to attention by the most beautiful puppy I have ever seen in my entire life. He was tiger striped and bright eyed, wiggling furiously with worms bulging in his stomach. His "master" had been starving him so when I offered a handful of cookie crumbs the puppy inhaled them and i felt his tiny tongue on my fingertips. I was sold.

He saw that i was struck by the dog, said something and held up five fingers. I could feel his greedy excitement and the hushed anticipation of the crowd. Unsure of what to do, I just grunted and kept cooing at the puppy. He yelled five hundred out to the great pleasure of the crowd, raising his voice and waving his hands. He gave a speech that I am sure will be remembered in Beibei forever. Actually, I am very sure it is remembered in Beibei forever ... I knew deep down that this dog could not have tiger stripes, but i am a gullible man. Once when i was fifteen i argued to the death with my dad about whether or not Spuds McKenzie could talk.

I mumbled a price and he leaned in, a wide grin showing crooked teeth. I was mesmerized by his bulging yellow eyes and hairy warts ... I felt the puppy try and squirm away, he saw me glance at the struggling whelp and squeezed him tighter, eliciting a yelp ... i could take no more.

God sent a messenger in the form of a bespectacled old man who briskly walked up to the man and his painted puppy, peered into the fur with discerning fingers, then straightened his glasses and briskly walked away. The po' folk gathering around watching the man En-sorcell the foreigner spread like the proverbial sea before this Wise Man ... and I knew that the puppy was "fake."

Nevertheless, I screwed up my face, widened my eyes and flashed two fingers ... i felt too brazen -- "wow only two hundred for a painted dog, man that's more than 50% off" -- so i belatedly flashed a half a finger -- kinda sideways ...

Long story short. I bought a worm ridden painted street hound for 40USD ...

But then I raised him to be the Big Man On Campus. I was workin at the Agricultural University there as a teacher and "cultural ambassador" ... ahem ... anyway ...

and this hound shed his tiger stripes and turned out to be a brilliant little black and white hound that followed me everywhere. I took him to class, to town, the river, everywhere. He turned out just like me ... had a girlfriend and a bunch of bigger dogs hanging out ... hated leashes and pooped anywhere he wanted ... it was all good.

Eventually, it came time for Dog -- that was his name -- to R-U-N-N-O-F-T. I knew it had to be. But it hurt at the time and I spent three days walking around the university whistling and callin his name. I must have cut a pathetic figure ...

well fast forward about three years and I'm chillin in a cafe in Chengdu just easin back you know and my friend starts tellin a story about "That Fool of a Laowai out in Chongqing that Bought a Two Dollar Worm Ridden Painted Hound for 80USD..."

I couldn't believe it. I got indignant.

i was like, "YO! I paid 40USD, youknowhatimsayin!" and then sat down and kept sippin. They were shocked for a bit and then that was that ... till the story really got a move on cuz now they had a face for the Fool ...

There is a rumor going round that the Chinese are pullin the old "That Fool of a Laowai out in the Olympic Media Center that Bought a 100 dollar Censored Internet Service for 1000USD" trick again ...

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caterpillar fever

Oh, about 5-6 years ago i saw my first pile of cordyceps in Kangding, Tagong and throughout the Kham area of western Sichuan. Tibetans were slanging the dried worms on the ground for several RMB (like 10 - 20) for a pile of about 250 grams. I didn't buy any, because at the time I had no idea what cordyceps were.

Then I slowly learned about the unique symbiotic relationship between worm and fungus that creates a chemical compound revered by basically all ethnicities living around the Himalayan Mountains. By the time I realized how cool they were, a Sichuanese businessman, surnamed Li, had already turned the market onto its head.

When once a pile of these worms would cost a few RMB, now they jumped to 30rmb a piece or more for the fat ones. Sneaky Li and others like him went to Kangding, Danba and beyond and bought truckloads off the worms off of the Tibetan nomads that had been collecting them for years. Whoa! thought the nomads, this crazy Han is coming up here and paying fifty RMB per 250g!

The kids jumped out of their classrooms and headed up the slopes of the mountains where these worms can be found, old men and women whispered the location of secret worm-collecting spots into the ears of their trusted sons and daughters, tribes vied with each other to get the most worms to the Han as possible.

Kinda reminds me of that part in O Brother Where Art Thou when the Soggy Bottom Boys come running out of the "studio" and say:

"I dont mean to be tellin tales outside o school, but there's a man in there give ya 10 dollers to sing into his can!'


yeah and Pappy's response:

"Ya dumb cracker! I aint makin records, we're mass communicatin!

Here is a story in Asia Times which is interesting, because it is about the worm business on the Nepali and Indian side of the mountains ...

Nomads and crackers makin what they can while the Lis and Pappys of the world ball out of control mass communicatin to the ultimate consumers: the mighty middle class ...

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friedmann has found his issue

He is just hammering away, hammering away at the alternative, renewable energy grid that would bring the US out of its doldrums. No mercy. I remember being annoyed with good ol TF for some of his views on globalization and war in the middle east, but he's got this one nailed. his issue is important and his thoughts are clear: every column rips into the opposition and drops knowledge on what we can do. props.

speaking of getting ripped (i know i link to the NYT a lot, but hey, they got good stuff these days), McCain gets the proverbial "second orifice" from Frank Rich in this one. I laffed pretty hard at some of the statements .. not meant to be that funny, but you know there was more behind the statement that Rich left out cuz he ain't offensive.

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Feelin for Liu Xiang and Obama

Yeah I been criticizing Obama a lot here, I guess its cuz I was so excited and inspired by his nomination run and then to see him do the necessary shuck and jive towards the center of American politics made me lose my fiery optimism. But there is a quote in this here tale that kinda lays it down:

“All of us coming down on him and criticizing him before we give him a chance, you know, that might hurt his campaign — let’s get him in there first,” the caller said. Mr. Ballentine responded, “Brother, I would never criticize him — until he’s in the White House.”

Same can be said for the Beijing Olympics. There is a special every day on Liu Xiang, the 110 meter hurdle champ from China. Not only is he held up as a genetic anomaly by the Chinese press -- unaccustomed to "political correct discourse" on race and sports and still clinging to outdated stereotypes in order to understand things -- but he is one of the symbolic representatives of Chinese sport in the world, like Yao Ming in B-Ball and Ding Jun Hui in snooker. The Chinese tend to have one dude break into a "non-Chinese" spot, then hold that person up as the flag-bearer of China's global presence. It must be hard for them cats. Liu Xiang faces a huge challenge this year in Powell, plus he is a bit injured and his countrymen demand a gold ...

got feel for these dudes, facing the world.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chicken Grease

Played cards with the boys last night and it was good "craic." I think that's how you spell the Irish version -- the lone Irishman at the spot won all the damn money, even though at the end all he could spit out were mumbles and curses, followed by a bellowed "Fiiive!" -- referring to the number of chips he was betting. in our games, five chips is the highest single bet (representing RMB25) and there are three raises, allowing for a total of 20 (RMB100) chips to be bet by any one person in one round.

I sometimes am accused of hating on China. Anyone who knows me personally will not agree, but in my columns and posts and such i know i get angry and offensive. I try to differentiate between the people and the government. Me and Chinese people are down, me and the leaders tend not to be. I suppose what has happened in my eight years here is I have developed a vested, emotional interest in the well-being of China and Chinese. So if you see how rude and vitriolic I am when speaking of the US leaders, then you may understand that I am emotionally attached to both nations.

I wouldn't get so angry if I didn't care, obviously. And for me Said's definition of the intellectual stands: the professional defines patriotism with the administration he works for, the amateur defines patriotic duty with the idea of a nation of people, choosing exile before obedience. I try my best to maintain an amateur-ish voice ...

So, in this vein I will present an article by Tim Swanson here for Lew Rockwell that goes through the common criticisms of China's foreign policy and compares them with what the US does in the same arena. The thrust of the column is what i am about: check your own garden.

Speaking of which, peep Nikki's blog for a sit-rep on her garden ...

But i can't resist a slight sneer: the Chinese Olympic team, driven by political goals, will cheat its little butt off in the Games. No question about it. I cant suppress the red cloud of nationalism that rises in my gut when i read of this drive to beat the yanks ... Its like being confronted in the street by a thug, its hard to take the so-called moral high ground and take a non-violent stance. When confronted with nationalism, its difficult to meet it with universalism. But i do my best. And in moments of weakness, chant U-S-A and throw up a fist ... sigh.

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We exist

Last night was great fun. I met up with Zachary Mexico and Li Du of Kunming Paper Tiger fame. I took along a couple of work associates to see if everyone would be able to mesh.

It worked out fine. my workmates deal with foreigners all the time, are highly educated and the communication lines are open to anything. so no issues when the two crews met.

I told one young female colleague about the "underground society" that exists throughout China. She never really heard about such things and basically has been rollin in the "High School - College - Work" circle with a pinch of English and German thrown in. She comes from a small town in the western countryside, and knows little about the modern poets, writers and social rebels that come from her area.

Of course Du Fu and Li Bai, rebels from back in the day, are known to all. But little do we know that Du Fu rides again ...

So many trails in the world. On every trail a rider with one more silver dollar ... She listened as i told about the Guan 9 bar that i opened with Zhuang Jian, who is a contemporary of Li Du, both of whom are younger brothers to Fu Guang and Fu Qiang, both of who are contemporaries of Tang Lei and the 1980s artist crowd ...there is a chain that goes back to Du Fu ...

Me and Zach came in on the same wave. There is a society of foreigners stretching from Yunnan north to the Du -- loose, but linked -- and up to Beijing. Itinerants that ply the roads west into the Tibetan mountains and go to Shanghai every now and then to get paid. Or to Beijing to be known. Or south through SE Asia to get lost.

We follow in the footsteps of Chinese vagabonds that know all the nooks. This is what I was trying to tell the girl. She said something like: Chinese don't travel, could never make it in the US, only like to stay in their hometowns and other such "gotta cubbyhole myself" nonsense.

I said "Girl, dammit you think all them stories by Jin Yong were about dreams and wishes?"

I tried to get across that there is a society of people across the planet -- that includes many many chinese -- that will be river lake forever. Its like a gene that gets passed on ...

I felt a great need to connect with this girl like i connected with others before. Especially seeing as i gotta tone this blog down on the pol-iti-cal tip till the Games is over ...

needed to somehow redeem myself for deleting posts. Anyway i got through to her, i could see the wonder and realization in her eyes, she drifted off into some vision of herself on a cliff, the wind pulling at her hair, in a white dress barefoot, waves crashing, salt spray tickling her face like phantom freckles ...

While she was silently dreaming, i turned to the owner of the bar we were sitting at and learned that he was hired by the police to act as a John before the Olympics, luring in girls of the night and finding out where the Houses of the Rising Sun were ... the police then took those girls and sent em to Qinghai "re-education through labor camps ..." This is the truth. This cat told me this and then shrugged, i kept the accusations out of my eyes till he finished, because i wanted him to tell the whole story ...

"This is how business is done here man, you know how it is. But i didn't do anything with them ... you know what i mean? ..."

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey Ya'll

... my people will hear me though...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Smoggy day in Beijing

There is a situation going on right now at east gate in Beijing. About 100 people and are in the area. The issues is with the demolition of several apartment blocks to make way for a park. The residents have made a "last stand" in front of the last building.

Anytime people actually get hifey about something, it probably has to do with cheddar. The gov. is notorious for dividing the residents against each other and haggling one-on-one in order to squeeze more profit out of the real estate deal ...

I am sure the media will be on this soon enough ...

Today is also a very smoggy day ... I can't imagine these Olympics going 24hrs without having problems. The good news is, the local volunteers and security forces are going out of their way to be polite and civilized when foreigners are around and the girls are starting to smile a bit more ..

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Picture me Laughing

china gives peeps designated "arrest me" zones to do their thing.

“Chinese people know better than to go demonstrate in a {issue} zone during the Olympics, except maybe a few people with nothing to lose,” he said. “They know the risk of retribution is very high.”

He added: “It is not a step toward allowing Chinese citizens to demonstrate freely. They are using this as a fig leaf to cover the fact that they are organizing the Games in a very {uncool} environment.”

sigh. {double sigh}

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Aint Nothing Changed

Things is hectic in this piece ... for real.

after the K'ming bombings the government made a few changes to security that are putting a crimp in everyone's style.

In the Metro lines the only security they have are cadres of fussy old women -- the same people who yell at bicycles that cross the road when the light is red -- and battalions of young pimply kids who volunteered so's they can look good for the ladies.

The average Chinese seem blissfully unaware of the dangers. let's hope they're right and we dour, skeptical foreigners are all wrong.

In this blog i started out in strong support of Obama, going so far as to call Clinton a demented bitch for not conceding earlier. As time went on, i became more and more disappointed with ol' Barack as he moved closer and closer to the center ie "the liberal hawk faction of the Democratic Party." I said that he should and could rely upon "us" the antiwar, liberal, educated youth that got his ass the nomination in the first place.

Some of my friends said I had "lost the faith" and such. Well I would be surprised if anyone still has faith in the man as a Great Leader now. He is the Black Clinton. He does not have the courage to truly change any of this nation's foreign policy. The War on Terrorism will continue. But my man JSB has put together an ingenious argument in favor of Obama -- mathematically sound and double-checked by several known sages -- that is hard to ignore: Check it out and relieve thyself.

But if yer dour like me and you want to see what our future holds for us, read Robert Fisk's "The Great War for Civilization" which tells the history of foreign intervention in the Middle East. History repeats itself. The US War can result in nothing but a farce of the horrors of before.

And everyone pumping gas today has come to realize that politics, sadly, does matter to the average guy.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When things die

I was in Chengdu for the past two days taking care of some business and I went to check out my old home in Three Gods Village. I have posted here about it earlier -- the place is getting torn down to make way for high rise buildings and the people are forced to move out for two years.

I went there at night to pick up my cats and a few last things. When we pulled in to my neighborhood, it was 11pm and there were two people, an old man and a young kid with a flashlight, roaming through the houses picking through the wreckage. Everybody had moved out already and the houses were dark with gaping black holes where the windows were. The scavengers reminded my of grave robbers, the neighborhood of a graveyard. My courtyard was strewn with blankets, broken window frames, bamboo mats, piles of rubbish and paint. I smelled vinegar -- someone had thrown a bottle against my kitchen door and black vinegar dripped down. There was a framed picture of Thelonious Monk lying amidst the refuse and I found my old house shoes covered in paint chips.

My cats were roaming around the house. Stony, Crackhead and Gimpy. The other two kittens, Champy and Fuzz, have been MIA for two days. It was a horrible feeling, looking at this place of life and beauty reduced to a collection of dying homes, remnants littering the area, cats wondering around.

Our cab driver stuck around to help us collect the cats and he left his headlights on. I stopped and looked around at my old home by the light of two beams and saw nothing but death. Not even decay left a lingering trace of life ...

We tried to get the cats in, but they fought us and scratched me all over my hands. We tied them, grabbed them, cajoled them and eventually .. left them.

I managed to grab Gimpy and take him with us. The two adult mommas, Crackhead and Stony, might stand a chance on their own and they were too strong and wild for me to get them in the taxi, so I decided to let them live free. But for reasons I can't even understand, i took the kitten and now he is in my new apartment in Chengdu. Beanmilk will be living there while I am in Beijing and back to the US.

Last night Gimpy yowled and cried throughout the night. All the kittens have been skittish about humans, and I am very worried that Gimpy won't ever accustom himself to inside living. But from what other cat owners say, it is only a matter of time.

I dreamt of hundreds of cats and kittens in my room, my own and others, crying and wailing through the night and waking me up. When i awoke, i heard Gimpy.

We call him Gimpy because as a newborn, he had a badly deformed left front leg. At the time, I was worried that he would not be able to make it, he limped heavily, so I considered drowning him. My friends thought i was crazy. But he is strong and spry now and is the only one to make it to the city, the only one that represents the days in Three God's Village when I sat in my courtyard, inspected my flowers, drank tea and watched the sun move across the land.

Last night, after we discussed the fact that the kitten I wanted to drown is the only kitten that "survived," Beanmilk said:

"Never in my life have i experienced so many events that were connected like now. These past few months have been very strange ..."

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Clean Energy

Friedmann has been hammering away at this issue for the past few weeks. I think the nation is ready for a Kennedy-style mission to develop clean energy. talk about killing a flock of crows with one stone:

A US developed clean energy alternative to oil would revamp the economy, create jobs, remove the need to kill and occupy Arabs, remove the dagger from the throat of the environment and bring the nation back into the spotlight as a beacon rather than a dark force of war and imperialism. If yer American, get to the phones and holla at your worthless representatives and give them something worthwhile to do.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bombs in Kunming

Reports came in this morning that at least two bombs destroyed two buses in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province. Although unconfirmed, the word is that suicide bombers boarded the buses and blew themselves up at 7:50 and 8:00am. A possible third and fourth bombing is rumored but unconfirmed. BBC was the first foreign media outlet to have a story on it.

With all the hype about China trying to defeat the USA in the medal count (check the comments in this story) and the ads that are displayed across the city, the actual quality of the heavy handed security measures in Beijing needs to be analyzed seriously before something really terrible happens. China is actually lucky that this happened in Kunming now and not in Beijing two weeks from now: they now have a chance to look at the public transportation system and other gaps in the web ...

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My brother can get you out the clink

In case you do some shady shit and get caught, holler at my brother, the lawyer Tim Matuszak, he'll take care of you.

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Which sky will it be?

views from my window.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


My man Mike the B.

and some info on the Freddie Mac thing, which i said was sinister a few days ago ...

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like i said, communicate

Here is a story that is pretty interesting, in that it shows the polarized views of this country that people have.

I am sure that the woman in the story did not have the right documents. She either did not register, was never registered, had a wrong visa or some other glitch that she probably knows nothing about anyway. I would be surprised if she speaks even rudimentary chinese.

At the same time, the cop she describes is typical in that he would rather amputate an arm than take responsibility for anything. This is the whole top-down commie thing. People dont live in fear here unless they are doing some shady shit...

like working with a tourist visa, living in an apt you are not registered to or harboring a foreigner without the right docs (and getting serious rent offa her ass for sure) ... its draconian and commie, but hey, we all decided to come here.

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No Fun Olympics

Check out my no-fun dork shoes:

China's "top-down" approach to security in the Olympics guarantees that there will be very little mirthful exchanges between the people (in public places at least) and the Games here will be ... well ... all business.

2am curfew. anti-drunken partying behavior by the coppers. random security checks. jumpy cops with instruction to "maintain social harmony at ALL costs."

sigh. This aint no game.

The problem with a the good ole' top down commie approach is that information gets out way too late and changes in the plan happen without any real communication or -- for those who have been planning for a while -- logic.

So problems at the venues when security guards who can't speak English try and take bottle of water from Greeks who can't speak Chinese while a horde of pissed Aussies slowly grow red in the sun and glare at a group of haughty Frenchman ... oh man.

And when people start getting hauled away to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) for getting loud at a bar and forgetting their passports ... then all of a sudden the leaders say, leave some of those foreigners alone, cuz its starting to get hectic, security kinda breaks down .. and BAM! Osama rolls in on a magic carpet and drops a load of poo on everybody.

Basically everybody here foresees chaos and hectic. I mean this is China, there is always some sort of problem that requires flexible, decisive decision making -- the exact skill that so many of the middle level leaders lack (or are afraid to employ), so decisions come from on high. These decisions tend to be overkill, ineffective, contradictory and subject to change as the information trickles in.

I put my faith in the bright hospitality of the Chinese PEOPLE. Screw the authorities, just like they screw us. If only the Aussies, French, Greeks and Chinese can figure out some body language and get drunk together. I am telling you: Chinese are down to smoke cigs and drink all night long with a foreigner, take his ass out to eat and help him find a girl ... its all good. Just gotta communicate.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Beijing 2008

I am finally in Beijing. After several months of talking about it and changes to the plan on a weekly basis, I am now officially part of the whole "one world one dream" experience in Beijing.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone all day, the sky was blue and white lazy clouds hung in the still air. The dozens of new glass buildings sparkled. I saw some of the crazy buildings they put up here for the big party: the birds nest, the CCTV Tower and a few others on Chang An Blvd where the heart of the party will be. I live right off of Chang An Blvd in a pimp pad on the 17th floor.

Today i bought more dress clothes and some shoes and such. I bought some already, but I guess i have no sense of suit-class cuz my boss took one look at me, shook his head and took me to the genuine copy market down the road to buy some almost real threads. I got two pairs of geek pants, three nerd shirts and some dork shoes for about USD140. I blabbed with the Anhui girls that run the market and convinced them i wasn't gay. I think i did anyway. They kept bringing these shy young boys up to me and saying "try on! try on!"

Peep it:

Today is a typical China day: gray and oppressive, slightly drizzly, stankin, humid, hectic. My preliminary perspective is that Beijing is a big Chengdu. There are a lot of Westerners here and they have a Hooters, all the restaurants of the world, all the banks etc. but this city is still a huge small town. I have to say, Shanghai has Beijing beat in terms of worldly pimp-ocity and straight baller-ism-fication. (translation for non-Americans: shanghai is better.)

but let me just say here that I am down with Sichuan and the Dirty Du for life. I represent peasant pimps in the SW hills. I ride with sichuan hua spittin, sunflower seed splittin, hot booty hittin, moonshine sippin, funky pipe hittin players from the Land of Abundance. Chengdu is the bomb. Its a village and such and provincial and all that and everybody is a damn farmer no matter what they do or what they drive, but I am down with it. If i could throw up gang signs in Blogger I'd be reppin right now, fo real. Shit. I am ready to jump out of this cubicle and kick a Beijing-er in the jaw for actin funny and not respectin Chengdu like he should.

Ahem. Excuse me. Just had to let ya'll know how it is.

But for now I have to listen to this garble they call "Beijing Hua" and wear super dork clothes for a while. Its a small price to pay for bein in the middle of the mix in 2008.

here is a good lil blurb
about the complexities of life and the importance of history.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Impeach Bush

This was posted as a comment, I am re-posting it so everyone can take a look.

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In Memory of Aintwortha, the Original Fleabag.

We had a cat when i was five years old that was called Aintwortha Shit. We just called him by his first name. My earliest memories in life are of my dad chasing this cat down, in speedo underwear, throwing couches around, cuz aintwortha reached up and clawed his toe while he was napping.

My cats all have fleas. Big time. its so bad i can't pet them anymore and it happened basically overnight. One day i saw a couple fleas scurrying across their bellies out of the light. The next day ... man it was out of control. Now, where ever there are lounging felines or cat poo, fleas lurk waiting for ankles to bite. I was chillin by my window near a corner where the cats sometimes poo, and all of a sudden i had about a hundred fleas on my feet, biting.

So i wore my black speedo calvin klein underwear all day. I was paranoid that they would crawl up my legs and get into an area where i really don't want them. there are three spots in the house i am not able to kick it: near the lawn chair in the courtyard and the two upstairs corners.

It doesn't matter anyway cuz i am gone for good, to Beijing tomorrow. As for those who are wondering why I am not already on the torch run, holler and i'll fill you in.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

We have seen this before, and its always sinister

In today's NYT, the "demise" of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is treated with the soft gloves of supposed objectivity.

The article begins by saying that the tumultuous tumble in stock value of the two mortgage giants is inexplicable and at the same time potentially devastating for the US economy and, above all, taxpayers.

"There is a real panic about these companies on Wall Street right now, and sometimes a blaze like that grows almost without reason,” said Tom Lawler, an economist who worked at Fannie Mae for over two decades before leaving in 2006 to become a consultant. “There wasn’t really any new news to set off this crisis. The stocks just started falling, and didn’t stop.”

Typically, "the Market" is blamed for being skittish, crazy and prone to stampeding through the economy, destroying as it goes. Few have the idea that this may be deliberate or that the destruction of FM&FM might have consequences that are beneficial to some, while hurting the many. And if they do think that, they are dismissed as conspiracy theorists with an anti-American agenda.

Well, this isn't the first time we have seen the antsy investor crowd pinpoint a sector of the economy, "lose confidence" in it, then ultimately take it over when it lies bleeding in the dust.

The Great Depression in the US was an orchestrated event. The Depression was initiated by JP Morgan and Friends and when the dust cleared, they stood alone in the financial sector, with the American banking system in its bloody grip. This is the truth and i urge you to check it out.

The Asian Crisis of 1997 was orchestrated and led to the firesale of assets in Indonesia and Thailand, riots in South Korea and slumps in Japan, Singapore and the Philippines. The investors poured their money into the countries to develop them, "lost confidence" in their investments and the currencies they were to be re-paid in, then launched an attack that left many of these countries in economic tatters. Here is the Oracle on the crisis. the blame is often laid on the corrupt nepotism of Asia, hence the IMF's ill thought out bailouts. Anyway, check it out(pdf). The NYT figured it out at some point and produced a series after the fact -- 3 part -- that pointed toward the Western aka US banks as the culprits, not the Asian economies who had been following the the US economic wake since WWII. T

Can't find that link though, if anyone can please post.

here is some more good info in the current crisis.

Que bono?

this is all we need to ask each other. Who suffers is the silliest question you can imagine. Those who suffer the most are the poorest, the regular Joe who has to pay more gas, whose house is worth less, who can't lend a damn thing no more, who can't afford nights out with the wife no more and just sits there staring into the distance while he listens to this guy:

“I don’t think anything has happened in the last week to warrant the kind of anxiety we’re seeing,” said Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida and a former secretary of housing and urban development. “But the market does what it wants,” he added. “All we can do sometimes is grab on and hope we don’t get thrown off the ride.”

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Most High

Next time they ask you what the deal is, just be like ......

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It can't happen here, can it?

Engdahl drops some more knowledge ... check out his site i have it listed under digable (to the right and down)

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Sucked in

Every week or so i find a new web tool for this blog. I am trying out the "share me" button, even though I myself have not signed in to any Diggs, Blinks or de-lish-us sites. i am interested to know how many of you actually use and are familiar with these content sharing applications.

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Indocrination II

My good friend and patna Fraggle Beanmilk has just been hired by a large daily newspaper here in the Du. They signed ol' Beanmilk to a three year contract and the training began yesterday.

So far, she has learned that Marxist Theory on the media is right in line with the current Party theory and with all the other red theories inbetween.

"A propaganda tool has no freedom."

this was bluntly put to the new reporters today. Yesterday they learned that the media is the servant of the people, the society, the nation, the Party and the government. As such, there can be no bad influences emanating from the pages of any outlet. Nothing that may damage the interests, plans or work of the government may be reported. Nothing that may hurt the feelings of the people or upset the harmony of society may be reported. Nothing that deals with bums, child labor, corrupt officials, dirty sewers or ridiculous traffic can be reported.

There are a host of topics and themes that must be reported in an appropriate manner. Taiwan must be labeled an area and all its "officials" must have "quotation marks" around their titles.

You can not put Islam and pigs on the same page. You cannot in any form or manner report on anything that might be bad for the Party. The priority of the news is as follows: Party politics, timely events, news.

and so on. Any infraction will result in getting fired immediately.

One good example that the "professors" gave them was of the two advertising production guys who let an ad through that commemorated June 4, 1989 (6.4 as it is known in China). Those two guys did not know about 6.4, so the government's indoctrination program had actually been successful, but they were fired anyway. For not knowing any better.


(snicker snicker)

(cackle cackle)

The death of traditions

It is so hot and humid in Chengdu right now that my brain is bathing in its own liquid, humming strange tunes to itself and sending me images of massive artillery guns firing into the distance.

Spengler is a columnist for Asia Times who has derided the Europeans for lacking the courage to face the modern world, upholds the Christian belief in salvation through God's grace as the answer to the world's crisis of faith and who is certain that traditional societies must change in the face of today, or perish.

And many other themes, some of which he touches on in this latest column about America's special place in the world and what he believes is Obama's deepest desire: to rid the US of that which grants us this special place, modernity.


I lament the demise of funk streets the world over. I have been actively seeking out the jabbering markets where chickens are held up for inspection, approved, beheaded and plucked before your very eyes; the courtyards of stone and their rickety wooden enclosure, with door gods and drying tobacco leaf; the delicate dance of a family-supported courtship and marriage; the one stringed wailing and the gourd flutes; family charts, bamboo weaves and dog-hair sandbags.

But they are dying the world over. In some places quicker than others and a few places not at all, but their fate is sealed by the progress of the modern world.

In my own neighborhood, the old Hakka traditions are resting in the cataracts of an 80 year old as he sips tea and fingers his mahjiong pieces.

Every time I meet my man Zhuang Jian for tea, we trade bitter reports of this and that place lost forever to the modern hordes and whisper of the few that still survive. These conversations always end in silence, whereupon we turn to money issues and quote Candide:

"... one's own garden ..."

My heart aches when i read of this prognosis for the world: Modernity and the lonely quest of the individual for solace on earth and grace from heaven. Is it said any differently in Eccliastes or the Dao De Jing? I think tribalism is immortal in us and community is our last gasp to ward off death, but in the end i am my only keeper -- I suppose i lament what is gone until i am a part of what will endure.

Dammit, Spengler is right. Wherever I have gone in the world, people are choosing, being forced to choose and just plain drifting into the real world. The only way to reconcile the two worlds is to create things which cause others to dream. Make wishes and see them come true ... Aha! i finally know what the Auryn means!

And so the lamenting pray and hope for God's retribution before his grace. Only the ghosts of the dream world actually spout Mayan prophecies of 2012 to each other, discuss the civilizations that existed 10,000 years ago and that we are doomed to meet their fate.

2012 allows us to be there for it and have the last laugh on guys like Spengler when God's grace falls on those who longed for what's lost, instead of those who embraced what is. It is the Great Dream of all dreamers.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Surprise! Beijing is a polluted city!

Sigh. The truth the world has refused to confront always comes out in the end, be it war for oil, Bush is a fool, we need alternative energy or China is polluted ...

it funny how long it takes before people admit the truth to themselves. I think it takes at least three large stories over several months supported by small arms fire in the form of articles such as this one right here ...

and it looks like Friedman has been reading my blog (naturally) cuz he is talking about the Green Society ... bout time. How long will it take before pigmen like Karl "Hi, I am a Fascist" Rove wake up and smell the muffler exhaust?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Neighbors

Here are some pics by photographer Andreas Mueller of the village i live in and some of my neighbors:

Friday, July 4, 2008

America the Ridiculous, America the Glorious

Today is Independence Day, and I suppose it is a good a chance as any to re-hash all of the things that i feel and believe about America. I am so eager to head back to the States. I miss so much about the place. But the things I miss are absent from the public discourse. Instead, I get this to look forward to:

Politics by the corrupt for the ignorant

Economics by the corrupt for the desperate


But I have been to so many 'hoods and towns in America that are vibrant, dynamic and creative unlike any other place in the world. So many people have a misconstrued notion of the States. They see our monkey politicians and watch our cracker TV and wonder to themselves how in the hell did the US become Numero Uno?

Well. Its cuz DESPITE these crackers and their incessant grasping for control of the nation, the people -- unleashed -- have made the world a better place. Americans today are reacting to an image others have, but in reality, the naive headstrong adamant moral American has the uncanny ability to wipe ignorance off the face of the blissful. (For better or for worse, through righteous acts and blundering greed alike ...)

The Yang to this benevolent Ying is that this same American can claim "inside every gook, is an American waiting to get out" and storm into the ancient places of the world blindfolded, wielding a club.

When i was a kid I played the game Fortress America a lot and I loved the idea of an America bent into itself, loving itself, cherishing itself and channeling the collective brilliance of a thousand ethnicities into a vibrant attempt at Eden on Earth.

I brushed away the idea that Russians, Chinese and Mexicans would storm across oceans and deserts to savage such a country. Because in my dreams Fortress America was no fortress but a Garden

"heavy laden with fruit that I might gather and give unto my friends"

I guess thats why i want to come back. I have some foolish notion that me and my little tribe can DO SOMETHING about it. I refuse to give up my dreaming ways, so i expect to be wife-less and periodically broke for the rest of my life. Very well then.

(Plus ... although Obama is not the man i hoped he was, he is still the best choice for President we have had in a long time. I think he is basically a Black Clinton, raised in a global village. Haha.)

Patterns of Development in China

Francesco Cisci is the Asia editor for La Stampa and a frequent contributor to Asia Times. Here is an essay of his that does a good job of tracing China's cultural changes and is also invaluable for me in that the patterns he describes course through my story about the Hakka.

Three God's Village and The Hakka - lil Update

I have gotten a glimpse of the historical record of the Hakka that settled in Three Gods Village where I live. They arrived in Sichuan during the reign of Kangxi -- first in Longquan (not far from where I am) then eventually in this village. The trip took 4 months from Guangdong where they are from and the original Li Clan is now split amongst 12 generations and "middle names."

The generation that has children now -- the adults of the village -- are Clan Li, middle name "Guang." My neighbors are Li Guang Wen and Li Guang Xi. Their older brother is Li Guang Cuan.

But the middle name only extends to the male heir, so any girls are "exempt" ... so Li Guang Wen's daughter is Li Tian Tian. And Li Guang Xi's younger brother eschews the whole thing altogether and named is son Li Chun Tao. They barely speak the old language -- they might claim to to impress visitors and emphasize being unique -- but the truth is that after 1949 the culture began dying and as of 1980 it was almost completely dead.

In 2007 one of the elders put together a description of the family history and laid out a map of their travels and pointed out the location of the grave of their common ancestor, near the Technical College in Chengdu.

I will meet him tomorrow and give you a transcript of his essay and a pic or two.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hakka in Sichuan


I am doing research on the Hakka people in Sichuan. The Hakka are sometimes referred to as the "Jews of China." They reportedly originated in the Yellow River Valley and migrated south to Fujian and Guangdong to escape wars and famines. They settled in and around the Pearl River for many centuries, retaining their unique culture and language. They are also known as "Kejia" which means guests or guest family in Chinese. They have been on the move for 2000 years.

They migrated across the globe after the Taiping Rebellion -- a Hakka led rebellion against the Qing -- and many of the Chinatowns we have come to take for granted were founded by Hakka people.

For me, the interest lies in their migration to Sichuan during the Ming and Qing Dynasties after Sichuan was decimated by constant warfare. Settlers were encouraged (8 pieces of silver for the men, 6 for women and children) to move across the nation to Sichuan and build a life here, in the "Land of Abundance." They did, and have flourished to this very day.

What interests me the most is the connection between the Taiping Rebels that were decimated at the Battle of the Dadu River in 1865 by Qing Imperial forces and the gong fu river lake people of today. Legend has it that the rebels fled into the hills and settled near present-day Yaan. Those rebels were trained in martial arts and passed on what they had learned, eventually leading to the school in Hanyuan that I train at.

My home is getting torn down next week, as some of you may know, and the village that is being razed is also an ancient Hakka village dating back at least 200 years. My neighbors are all Hakka and some of them still speak their own langauge. Almost every family has a book of records that details their migrations across China over the past 500 years. So the story of "farmers getting pushed off their lands" has now developed into something much more interesting: another move for the harried Hakka.

its not just how farmers adapt to the city, but how Hakka farmers stay Hakka in the face of urbanization and modernity. Its not just how gong fu adapt to the commercialization of culture and the dissipation of the "noble warrior," but about the legacy of Han-Hakka rebels reaching from beyond the grave to leave their imprint on Modern China.

Please, feel free to comment.