Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Its all bad; its all good

My landlord Nikki V is doing a piece for KBOO Radio about austerity measures people (may or may not have learned from their parents/grandparents) are using to get by in "this nasty economy."

I listen with mild interest, because so far my economy seems unaffected by Wall Street's 777+ drop this week after the big bailout failed to get past the taxpayer. I mean, please, does any of those bankers truly believe we are THAT stupid? Supporting a war for oil is one thing, but supporting the big wig banker down the street -- the same guy working on your foreclosure -- naw man. no love for the banker.

I wonder how long I will be able to sit and observe all of this going on before i have to work the strip again just to pay rent ...

Is anyone out there tightening the belt? I know that there are now about 100,000 yuppies wondering what to do with themselves in NYC. They better start learning Chinese and drinking baijiu with some corrupt greedy bureaucrats in Beijing ... Joint Ventures will need their "help" trying to get lying ass Chinese partners to do the right thing ...

The right thing ... the Shenzhou spacewalk is to the Sanlu milk scandal what Palin is to the Republican Party is what Cruise missiles are to Lewinsky is what TV is to woes is what a religion is to the spirit.

There was an insert in last Sunday's paper called Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West. It caught the attention of a few people ... as it is some pretty uninformative scare-mongering propaganda. The basic goal of the DVD is to equate Radical Islam with Nazism both as anti-Semitic and anti-Western.

Now a few people have pointed out that the Treaty of Versailles did help to bring about Hitler, but no one would go so far as to excuse the Nazis for what they did because of WWI. The Treaty of Versailles took land from the Germans and brought about massive economic collapse in that country .. is that an excuse for genocide? never.

So if we keep playing this relativist game, then we have to equate

the conditions in Germany during the 1930s
the causes of those conditions
Germany's response


the conditions in the Middle East since the end of WWI
the causes of those conditions
and Islam's response

it gets a little messy and circumstantial. But i think if you read the history of the Middle East since WWI and replace the Middle East with, say, the US, then you will (if you are American) most likely find yourself contemplating mass rebellion and guerrilla warfare. The Arab states were partitioned and controlled by outside forces (Britain, France, US) and pitted against each other and eventually placed under the control of the most iron-fisted despots in the region. Of course an ideology of rebellion will arise out of those conditions ...

I suppose the true link between Nazism and Radical Islam is the Jewish State of Israel. The Nazis (and their many many European collaborators) felt guilty enough to give the Jews a state, but they did not feel guilty enough to give them Switzerland or Luxembourg or Prussia or some other swath of territory from the people who slew them.

Instead, Europe made the Arabs pay for their mistake. And used the Book as justification.

What will arise, eventually, out of America's economic crisis and the wars around the world is a new appreciation for History amongst a people (Americans) who have been taught to believe that history died during the boat trip to the New World. If it means re-learning what Grampa did to get by during the hard times, or what exactly hobo glyphs are or just the aftermath of the Great War ... it will be a maturing of our young nation. Maybe I will live to see it.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Village People in the Twilight Zone

On the night of the Fall Equinox, in the hills of northern California, beneath an ancient oak tree, surrounded by leaves, herbs and Tribe: I slipped into madness.

I unlocked an old familiar riddle and chased the smirking moustached man through the mazes Between. I found countless paths through the madness, countless countless paths that all turned twisted and leapt through the fabric landing inevitably at the feet of the only Answer. I danced with the leaves and trees, invoked shooting stars and returned to the gathering around the hurricane lamp to show my Tribe what planets I had plucked from the whirlpools of light, sound, time and space.

At times, i reached out and grabbed a chair next to me, to bring the swirling time and space and sound back to a single point. I went from being me under the oak tree to playing dice games with figments of my imagination: the Sun, the Moon, my friends, the dice ...

I was too weak to conjure up the sun myself, and too scared to extinguish my self to bring back the sun. I am attached to me. In the dark night of my soul, the oak tree became a buxom woman and my man Big Scott and I wrapped ourselves up in each other, convinced that we were lost in the madness Between. We believed that the sun would never rise again.

When it did, I felt like a newborn. I wandered around the woods and saw God in the bone white deadwood, in the crimson leaves, in the damp green moss, in the flock of turkeys that descended down to the valley next to me, in the rays of the sun that warmed my fearful heart.

I was born again under the oak tree, in the hills, surrounded by leaves and Tribe, during the Equinox in Autumn. I have now spiritually returned to the this land where the old American gods, the demanding gods, still live on underneath these new American gods, who came to be just recently, in this last century.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

If you're going to San Francisco

Get yourself a Mission Burrito. Have an Izze soda -- my favorite is Sparkling Blueberry. Head to ChaChaCha and drink some Sangria. Put on a gimp suit and head to Castro or Folsom ... check out the piers and strippers down on Broadway.

Get a tattoo at Goldfields: I did.

It says Equality in French. Sammy and Rippey have the other two ...

Go to to North Beach and punch out an Italian. Then go have some pasta. Head out to Sunset and chill out on the beach, smoke Buddha and talk about the demise of the Federal government.

Laugh at Hipsters every chance you get. Truly, these outgrowths of the alternative "we love the Cure" community keep me in stitches. i mean the females of this tribe -- and every other tribe actually -- are tolerable and even quite attractive at times until they fix you with the "i hate men" glare. But the dudes. jesus. I guess that's part of living on the west coast. I hear Portland is overrun with these people. Make fun of them without pause.

go to Oakland and peep the real life. have some chicken or BBQ somewhere and walk around. Try not to be scared.

Do all of these things and more. Give money to a bum, watch crack whores shoot up, wink at American Born Chinese/Japanese/Koreans, watch old Cantonese women waddle around and finger produce, have some biscuits and gravy, grow out yer 'stache ...

Look at billboards in rush hour and laugh out loud. bump yer music and trade sympathetic shrugs with the cholo as the traffic gets thicker. Forget about all that when you cross the Bay Bridge and peep the ocean ...

I love the USA baby.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back in the US of A

The first thing i noticed was the sun. i got off the plane, gathered my stuff and waited for Sammy B to roll through and pick me up, its was 6pm. The sun in San Francisco was so bright and so strong i had to hide behind a pillar at first.

On the drive back to Oakland where we were to meet up with Big Scott and Co., the sun searched me out where ever we turned, wherever i looked. The sky was so blue and clean i didn't really know what to say for the first hour. Sammy was blabbin away anyway, so i just kept starin at the sky.

My first impression when i got to china was of countless people in action, selling, buying trading, interacting. My first impressions coming back to the US are of quiet expansive skies. political graffiti and good good food.

I been eating real good, hanging with my gemologist crew, learning about the inner workings and having visions of Portland.

Tomorrow my man Matt Rippey comes into San Fran ... the school he works for in Chengdu is putting together his working Z visa, and that requires Matt to leave China and re-apply here. usually we would go to Hong Kong or Thailand to do this, but in the wake of the Olympic Crackdown on Wayward Laowai, some schools are taking it very seriously. So Rippey will be here tomorrow then we head north to camp in the woods for a while

It feels really good to be back.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Go Longhair!

I was in Hong Kong during the WTO Ministerial in 2005 -- here is part one of a four part series I wrote while i was there -- and in the end i believe "we" defeated the "Establishment" by breaking through the police lines and making it to the the Convention Center where the suits were and disrupting the meetings.

I saw a suit look down at us as we rushed the building, he was maybe on the fourth floor, and one second he was there, the next i just saw a bunch of papers fly up into the air as he ran for his life. I laughed so damn hard ...

The Ministerial was unable to solve many of the problems the WTO faces and the protesters felt responsible in a significant way for that. I am not sure if it was the drums or what. I know i felt an elated sense of victory, even after being tear gassed.

Now, looking back, I was an observer. I had never been involved in anything like these protests before and I wanted to see everything and learn as much as possible. I was carted off to jail with about 900 other people and stayed in a cell with a Korean, a Japanese and a Cantonese guy who became one of my best friends. I couldn't understand him, but the first thing he did when i walked into the cell was share his blanket with me. It was December and pretty damn cold. The Korean took an apple and broke it into four pieces with his bare hands -- pretty bad ass -- and passed it around.

I was impressed with the power, determination and effectiveness of an organized protesting mass of normal citizens. The Koreans were farmers and they led the whole thing.

Anyway, three years later "Long Hair," a maverick politician from HK, has managed to gain more seats in HK's Parliament and keep the dream alive. Here is a story in the Economist about how Longhair is

"annoying businessmen by campaigning for a minimum wage"

I remember Long Hair was there during the protests, talking to peeps on the street and reporters. I dont now if he got gassed or not, but it doesnt matter. We walked by a group of cops after getting gassed and Longhair led a chant: "Pigs Go Home!" I thought that was pretty brave seeing as he is a HK resident and public figure ...

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Real

I am gonna come out and say it: McCain is a smelly old fish and Palin is a pig with lipstick. There. I said it.

Now can we get on with what this man is talkin bout right here?

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The Coming Storm in Xinjiang

This post here (with accompanying IHT article) tells of the latest heavy-handed policies used by the Chinese government to win the hearts and minds of the Uighers in East Turkestan/Xinjiang Province.

Here is Reporters Without Borders with more bad news.

Has everyone forgotten or ignored the fact that during the Olympics the Uighers used tactics they have never used before (storming and bombing police stations, suicide bombers) at a higher frequency than ever before? The Uigher Islamists returned from Pakistan and Afghanistan with a renewed sense of vigor and the training to go with it. By crushing the populace under a repressive fist, China is playing into their hands (they being Al Qaeda-esqe radicals hoping to bring once chilled-out Uigher Muslims into their fold).

The US also played right into Al Qaeda's hands by attacking Iraq, curtailing freedoms at home and driving the economy into ruins by artificially keeping the natural course of capitalism (boom bust) at bay ...

Here and Here are two interesting stories on the China-India-Pakistan relationship. Neither of them take the Islamists very seriously ... are they still a threat?

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Picture me Laughin

Political ads ... why am i headed back to the US again? the McCain girls are great for a morning pick-me-up ...

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Old News and Forgiving Old Friends

Although we may already know that Bush's policies on pretty much everything have been resounding failures, this in depth analysis of the incompetence and duplicity of the Bush Administration is a good place to look if you want to get angry. Remember: McCain will be the same type of leader, haplessly sure of himself in a world that left him behind decades ago.

i had a conversation with my man Su Wei last night at his small bar on the outskirts of Chengdu. Its a beautiful place called Orange -- if you are in Chengdu go to the Hemp House and ask about it ...

He said that China's development has been all brain and muscle, no heart. He said Deng Xiao Ping mentioned back in the 1980s that China needed concurrent "civilizational revolutions" -- as in an economic one and a spiritual one. So far the spiritual has not manifested itself across the nation the way the economic one has, and Su Wei lamented this.

I played devil's advocate and said the government had provided one "religion" in the form of China itself -- the patriotic love of an ideal motherland.

He brushed this off slightly and spoke of "forgiving the culture of the past ..." for him, the resuscitation of the Buddhist and Daoist religions would be the greatest step forward. Right now, most temples and monasteries are tourist attractions and the "real" Buddhists in Tibet are under the thumb of the Party.

Su Wei looked wistfully into the night and said, "Imagine if all of the temples were alive again, and people went there to worship like they did back in the day .. how beautiful would that be ..."

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Sunday, September 7, 2008


I have been talkin about getting portland and china together for a long time on this blog, and look what Mayor Adams is up to RIGHT NOW ... its pretty exciting. Too bad he isn't coming to Chengdu ...

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Eli Sweet, An American Rapper in Chengdu

Here is Eli and my main man Kaffe doin their thang on NPR. Peep it and pass it on. Its the real deal ya'll!!!!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

peep this

Yo: I urge you all to check out this video by the Hanyuan B-Boys ... they put it down for their town and have all of China writing to them about the merits of breaking amidst the rubble ...

here is an edited version of what i have been writing here on the Brave New Traveler site ...

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Monday, September 1, 2008

The Aftermath

This will be my last post with Olympic connotations.

The Western AND Chinese media are starting to evaluate for themselves what the meaning of this vast spectacle that went down in Beijing really is. I will just lay down a bunch of links and let you get down on it:

This article in Time is actually pretty good and lays down a few of the real issues that China has to face now that the party is over.

The other night i watched the movie Little Red Flowers about Chinese kindergarten. Beanmilk sang along with all of the little kids and told me that -- except for a slight improvement in amenities -- nothing has changed. This movie is an adaptation of the book by Wang Shuo. The book is widely read in China, but the movie can only be found amongst the pirates slanging them DVDs from out of the back door ... This article here talks about the growing courage of the Chinese art community and the government's tacit approval (or ignorance of) the works that speak out about this society. This interview with the famous crime novelist Qiu Xiaolong also touches on these issues ...

Some people are unsure about what the true aftermath is: some believe that the Chinese are already "affected" and will take their business into their own hands, while others are sure that this is the continuation of the CCP's drive to crate an Orwellian society based on their "experiment" in Shenzhen ... the experiment aint working, as this article tells us.

The reality is too complex for me to comprehend and I am sweating n the Sultan anyway. So here are some more links for ya, keep reading and wonder how this has anything to do with you:

Here are some "reflections" by a favorite target of the ChiCom trolls Geoffrey York. I like what he says: it happens to be true. Thats why ChiCom trolls hate him so much. It probably also has to do with the hard lean of the Western media toward China bashing, but I argue that the hard lean is a function of the Chinese media's overall lack of courage and freedom in covering their own affairs. Other than the Southern Weekend, of course ...

So thats why the media is filled with stories about China's corruption, the Bank of China's nefarious dealings, the insecurity of the government and on the other end: uplifting stories on how the city with the second-most cameras in the world will stage a better Olympics by highlighting .. democracy ...

Here is some interesting commentary on The Fat Teacher and Dongpo Pork (which I have eaten and relished in its hometown of Meishan -- actually a small village outside of Meishan) ...

And last, for no reason other than i could not find a proper category for it now: an idea of "what happens next," in this story about China's forays into the Dark Continent.

Mad love.

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Back in the Du part Du

So I am back in the Du and it feels all right. As soon as I get here and start meshing with my real people again i realize that my work in China will never ever be done. There is so much to write, create, document and promote ... I am tied to here forever. But as I decided a long time ago -- I can do these things best from afar, bring that which i know to people who aren't in the know.

anyway. I spent two days in Qingdao ostensibly to attend the showing of a collection of Qingdao and Chengdu paintings. The art was pretty amazing.

There was one piece in particular.

a gray city scape of your average Chinese town: rickety stone staircase leading down down down through stacks of shamble houses with aluminum garage doors on either side. An old man is squatting on the left hand, just a few concrete blocks above a prostitute all in red, smoking a cigarette as she stares at nothing. further down is a man in shorts, looking down and rubbing the back of his head as he stares at the oven that makes him his living. He is skinny enough to have his ribs stick out, but hardy enough to look stacked not thin. the wires that bring them their daily opium from the TV coil down the staircase into the shadows below, tangled impossibly until they reach a node, where they are attached expertly, then tangle again as they head down pell mell to the next node.

I thought of the city of Hanyuan immediately. Hanyuan is where my gong fu brothers live, The place was hit by the earthquake in May and is a den of gangsterism, corruption and random ass beatings. Here is a video of the local cats doing their thang amidst the rubble .. peace to my man Faryao ...

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