Years in China affirm dignity is overrated. The importance of face convinces me to scar my own. I like to damage my dignity whenever possible. I admit fault, error, and stupidity before others ask me to. The western man often discards face in the land where it matters most. The frustration leads him to don a loin cloth, bang his fists, and keep a harem.
My unfortunate need to not blend-in intensifies, and drives me to stinginess and negativity, as well as utter candor.
Being religiously at odds with society goes over poorly in China. It seems paradoxical for a gratuitous non-conformist to be here.
The heart should be the real guide, though, and recently a stomach full of healthy food has seemed more important than freedom or adventure. The heart will go on.
Here were some of my first impressions returning to the West almost two years ago:
On October fourth, morning was in Berlin. The year in China had ended, unbelievably. My first day and a half in the West was shocking. I had left the barn and entered the bestiary.
My first night was in Camden Town, in London. On the train from Heathrow, I witnessed people and behavior that I couldn’t understand. Through the delirium that follows flights from half way around the world, I fought to shield my pure self from the depravity of my surroundings.
The raw sexuality in the air stunned me. The youths entering and exiting the train this Friday night were in a great mating ritual. All modesty was left back at West Lake. The females promoted their libidos with hyper low-rise jeans – terribly convincing when ass cleavage peaked or glared out. Their behemothic bosoms – such as I had not seen for a year – put forth similar arguments.
In the underground, a boy and girl I had been observing on the platform sat next to me, the girl in the boy’s lap. She had large breasts, a large butt and a large stomach. The skin of the last one was entirely visible. They sat smooching next to me – in full view of everyone on the train – groping and discussing “shagging” and the number of additional partners each had in this sport. The girl periodically whipped me in the face with her long dirty-blond hair. Her belly also brushed my velvet jacket several times.
She apologized repeatedly for these incursions. Her tone was as alluring as a Bigmac attack, but I couldn’t avoid being fixated by the massive expanse of skin and flesh between the low top of her jeans and the bottom of her boob-tube. She had the face of a hog, but her voluptuousness cascading out was a treat I had not enjoyed in China.
All the other girls and boys on the train had the same type of attitude. No female failed to dress provocatively. Some of them even stole glances at me.
Somehow this all seemed so fresh, even though Chinese girls now dress in overly sexy clothes, too. The unbridled lust just isn’t conveyed by the getups in China. The rotund vixens of London desire conquest like Chinese girls never can even with their most vampish outfits. I’m not saying that’s a good thing.
An old Upper East Side lady named Annabelle used to have a huge bash on July 14. The Ugandan ambassador, Parisian actresses entering their second prime, prep school dandies, gay troubadours from Alsace, photographers in Mao suits would all crowd into her studio and its half-bath. She was a literary agent of some kind.
My parents went to these fetes and brought back tales of the fabulous guests and their clever conversation. I never made it. After each time they would tell me of some beautiful Chinese girl working at the UN whom I would have adored meeting. The thoughts of this girl usually succeeded in making me regret not having gone. Tales of these parties convinced me that July 14 was the most important day of the summer.
Currently, I personally know hordes of Chinese girls who feel no summer day is more sacred than the one on which those romantic fools brought down the Bastille. One might not expect that that fire of discontent always in the souls of Frenchmen would enrapture these most practical girls. Like for me when I was a boy, for these girls the anniversary ten days before is a blip.
We were surrounded by rednecks during my youth. On July 4, they would pile into their pickup trucks and drive with flagons of Coors Light to some communal shed . There, with facial hair bristling in the fire light and rifles slung across their backs, they roasted weenies and launched fireworks.
I can only speculate on what else happened at these gatherings because we never attended and I am now far too tired now to invent more. Whilst sipping Sauvignon Blanc in a grove of lilacs, we would occasionally find ourselves distracted from our discursions by the uncouth displays of firecrackers. At eight years old, I finally asked the gathering of dons what the racket was about: “Did I lose track of time? Is Bastille Day already upon us?” This was facetious of course, since I knew these savages probably thought Bastille was a brand of tractor.
“D-D-Darling,” said one, “The less intellectual folk have a different holiday. It’s today, July fourth. They all get very drunk and run around nude with their nieces. This day celebrates the independence of America, source of so much low culture and those wicked multinationals, the place where western culture was perverted and all that was authentic has been packaged, mass-produced, and sent to trash bins around the globe.” My young mind feasted on these words; I vowed to always find a way to use this theory I had heard to make myself feel discontent. Not only the rednecks but the pink wankers and pleated puds also would never be my friends. Their optimism would be my reason for despising them.
These warped ideas still poison me, but I can look with detachment at my country. A recent survey announced that Americans are the most patriotic of any populace in the developed world. If the citizenry is proud to form a country that relies on ideas rather than race for identity, this is a beautiful result. The Germans, the Japanese, the French, and all of the pathetically clawing developing countries are of the old mould, out for the gains of their race. Seemingly, America fights for a positive ideology, though it makes us look foolish. I can’t feel patriotic about our cultural exports. Were America famed for its current status as intellectual heartland of the globe, its need to question, its reliance on a philosophy routed in millennia of Western history, I could be proud to be American. These are among the things that make the United States unique. When I consider the multinational companies, Hollywood sometimes, consumerism, auto culture, and Mcdonalds, I am less “pumped” to be American. But these things are an unavoidable part of our glory, I suppose.
On my Fourth in Beijing, a close friend proposed that we celebrate in a great symbol of my land. It was to the Golden Arches at Oriental Plaza. The only visits to Mcy D’s since those sad drive throughs in my youth have been abroad. And they were all visits to the toilet. In every country, this part of McDonald’s standardization is welcome.
This time we went to eat. I enjoyed the company, and, I hate to admit, my mcspicy chicken sandwich. Having watched “Supersize Me,” it was hard to feel comfortable eating at Mcdonalds. I wanted to be sure it was okay, so I asked the girl at the counter whether it was healthy food. She said that not only was it very healthy, she was willing to “guarantee” that it was extremely good for my body. I doubt one could find such loyalty in the States.
I must say that I didn’t feel too bad afterwards. I am dog tired and have air conditioner sickness.
I didn’t have to pull a crap, but nostalgia conquered my senses. I could hear the feces. The buzzing flies enjoying it carried me back to Samarkand, to Dushanbe, and to the China of my memories. The shithouses that tortured me now symbolize youth gone, possibilities unrealized, and glamorous poverty vanished. A year in Beijing and there have been far too few bathrooms of this classic variety. The morning had already been unusually interesting, and that intense smell, the holes that serve as toilets, the urine flowing out of the front door – the fact that it probably hit my toes – proved life could begin again. Though holding my breath, I delighted in the smell. The vigor and optimism of childhood could return if bathrooms like this still exist. I let go, and let it in. The ammonia and urea filled my lungs and reawakened my soul. I chose life – my life! I choose life!
Let me briefly tell how I got here. Turd is a reoccurring motif in my life. My first memory is a log floating in the bathtub, not long after I learned to stand. My beloved mother entered. I stood and pointed to it with pride and slight embarrassment. It was a solid and healthy looking object.
My interest is entirely academic. The thesis is: “Waste rejuvenates the soul.”
It’s funny that from my first trip around the world I don’t have recollections of too much of this. Yemen, Somalia, the Seychelles, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia didn’t offer much shit to speak of. Ah, but there was the Masai village in Kenya. I was four then, and all I can remember is that the entire place seemed to be constructed from blocks of shit. They must have used mud, but the general smell of the place suggested otherwise.
This is a post-colonial mindset. Being half non-Western in blood does not entitle my wholly western spirit to mock the savages. I’ve become white, delighting in the little that remains backward in the world of color, clinging to dwindling schadenfreude, dreading being forced to eat the shit that I admire. For many, filthy bathrooms are receptacles of hepatitis and death. We tourists can choose to complain about the stink or revel in it, but we can escape it. The developing world will collect their shit in silos and splatter it on the beautiful cities we built with plundered treasure.
At six, I entered the world of poop with a vigor that exceeded that of my peers. I discovered poop was spelled “pop” and promptly wrote the word on every surface I could find, often with an accompanying drawing. It was disappointing to learn that all of my notebooks, the bathroom walls, and the arm of Heather, the blonde girl who sat next to me, were covered with pop and not poop.
When I reached Soviet Central Asia three years, the stuff became all too real to joke about. The relationship changed from love to hatred. It is a fact that shit is a much bigger part of life in the developing world. Many scholars have written on the fear that inhabitants of wealthy countries, especially Americans, have of bodily functions. Toilets are like clinics in the States. In Japanese restrooms, women can press a button that creates the sound of a waterfall while they piss. In Tajikistan few bathrooms had running water, electricity, or toilets. Many so-called bathrooms didn’t even have holes in the ground – there was literally no attempt made to create a receptacle for excrement. Defecators had to suspend themselves above an ever-growing pile. For a small boy, there was the risk of that pile rubbing one’s buttocks. If anyone entertained the illusion that there ever could have been toilet paper in one these facilities, they only to look at the brown walls. I pulled several craps that would have been quite expensive if it hadn’t been for one of the most rapid deflationary periods in history. At that age, I didn’t realize money is one of the most bacteria-laden objects and that it might have been cleaner to pick up someone else’s used paper. My mother’s valuable lesson about always carrying a roll of toilet paper had also not been absorbed.
The most iconic restroom of all was in Samarkand, Tamerlane’s capital and home of the Sogdians. If forced to pick one symbol of my childhood, it would be a tie between the Samarkand toilet and the yellow strainer I wore for three years. It was outside of a Medressa, or religious school, which was being renovated as religious freedoms expanded in the last days of the Soviet Union. Less than two square meters in area, the sphere of influence of this restroom extended for at least twenty meters in every direction. Not limited to odor, the impact of this bathroom was aural also. The armada of flies could be heard and operated throughout the vicinity. Within the bathroom, the air was nearly as dense with flies as the ground and walls were with feces. Suffocating inside, I wished there had been fewer people milling around outside, but felt grateful that I had only had to pee. Had my bowels felt otherwise, I would probably be a different person today. The Samarkandtoilet deserves a more complete description, but I have written about it many times before. That brown compartment is unforgettable.
Back in the USA, most of my experiences with shit were with animal manure, horse and cow. Human waste only floats to the surface in legends about foreign countries and in history books. We wipe hard in the States, erasing all occurrences of the stuff. Shit in America is white and plastic. Encountering a stinky restroom in the USA is an exotic experience. Yes, linoleum tiled rooms in filling stations sometimes smell of piss, but if service is good – and it always is – there will be some blue chemicals to disguise the wreak. Often, when we yank that industrial sized lever and three gallons go down the drain dismissing our wee, a whole fountain of the blue liquid erupts. Some people even opt to supply their home toilets with the blue liquid. Those industrial US toilets sound like a thunderstorm and have drain pipes able to accommodate shits of any size and giant wads of toilet paper. You can judge the strength of a nation by the force of its toilets. They seemed as big as castles (the shape of which reminds me of a dog turd I saw by the gym in second grade).
Not to say that animal manure offers no pleasures of its own. But this story is growing tiresome. I will wash my hands of it for the time being. The second I start going into American Society and those blue sanitizing chemicals, I am becoming bored. I will continue this story at some point, because many more fascinating things related to poop happened to me.
6/26/06 – Peeing Little Girl Allow me to shift spouts. The smog of Beijing momentarily seemed to clear and I saw something as fresh as the blue sky. It was like a gulp of pure oxygen: A sweet little girl peeing outside of the door to my building. Some expatriates actually despise this feature of life here, and the government discourages this kind of thing, while they beautify and gentrify Beijing in preparation for the Olympics. Abolish phlegm, slurping noodles, and smoking if you really must – but please allow little girls to pee in public! She looked to be around six or seven – not really young. She was a darling thing and I couldn’t help but watch the pavement darken. Then she stood and briskly wiped herself with a little tissue.
Is it dirty of me or post colonial or chauvinistic to admit that I would prefer to live in a society in which all women under thirty were required by law to urinate in public? I suppose this is agist. It sounds like that sci-fi movie where everyone who reaches 32 is executed. Those loved by the gods die young. It’s not that I would deny older ladies the pleasure or the glamour of this act. But squatting, urinating young girls seem appropriate; I would hate to offend the dignity of older women. At least I’m not going to propose some kind of looks or weight cut-off for the girls forced to pee outside. There is just something so girly and appealing about a young woman squatting to pee. There is nothing sexual about my fondness for this image. I love the defiance against the city – the pastoral being doing the natural act and through it attempting to escape this concrete landscape. Sit on a toilet and pee and the charm evaporates. The deed abandons its vitality when executed over a ceramic pot. It may be the difference between squatting and sitting. A Mongol princess squats outside of her yurt on the windy steppe. An American material girl sits on the toilet and clogs the drain with a huge wad of toilet paper. I suppose the buttocks are also more visible when girls squat. There are countless office girls that I would love to watch pee on the curb.
So, do boys get to pee outside? There is nothing that I like more than pissing out in nature, and I think many of my comrades feel the same way. There is a great vigor and nobility to the act, and it is a pity that it must be kept behind doors or even indoors. I can imagine worshipping Antinous or Alexander captured in marble, urinating. Once in Chicago, my brothers Tang and Juju boldly charged out of the Checkerboard Lounge, a jazz club, and peed on the sidewalk in front of an office building. It was 2 a.m. and their dates were only paces behind, watching. So was I. I didn’t join them in that most boyish of acts, and I regret this. The force, the torrent, the freedom. Actually, I like seeing little boys peeing also. Anybody who has been to China has seen that adorable slit in the trousers children wear. Several times in very public places, I’ve observed a grown man holding a baby in his lap and vigorously fiddling with the tiny penis. It’s a touching sight; I resist any modernizing child psychologist who would ascribe vile effects to this enchanting habit.
Boys should be allowed to pee outside too, but perhaps – after a certain age – only the more creative types. When I consider the pleated pink wankers and crocodile belts working in offices, I’m loath to grant them any sort of pleasure. Their anal attitude and depraved rectitude; their insistence on this world of concrete and Burger Kings; their status consciousness and love of the automobile all prevent them from truly appreciating a whiz in a field. Ah, it’s sad that proximity to the corporate world has transformed me into such an anti-establishment bleeding heart. It’s embarrassing to still be such a boy and appear to admire people like the Rolling Stones. At least I’m listening to Beethoven.
My mindset has really changed. While conservatism is still prime, it seems that my isolation has led to a greater willingness to indulge my baser tendencies. This is all practice for when my big break comes and I force myself onto worthier topics.
Skinny Lee played guitar at bars like Nameless Highland and What? Bar. Perhaps because China offers little potential for fame to its rockstars, Skinny Lee now displays his talent at another sort of venue, also imported from the West. Now he performs at church services. His attitude toward rock and roll and Christianity are not clear to me. I don’t know if the change represents a major shift in spiritual orientation. Skinny Lee is two inches taller than me and appears to have a waist that is two inches narrower. He sports a short beard. He hopes to become a religious father of some kind.
I encountered him in the guitar store that my friend Xerxes Peng owns. We exchanged numbers, and he later contacted me through text message. He thanked the lord on high for our chance meeting, saying that it was truly a blessing for him. I showed others his heartfelt message and they seemed to feel it was over the top. I was quite touched, though, and determined to pursue further contact with a man of such faith.
Though education rendered me incurably agnostic, I still cherish encounters like this while residing in a godless land. The question of how the Chinese spirit will respond to the extreme obsession with economic matters, the demise of nature, and the absence of a way of thought is now on everyone’s mind. Let me just summarize my prosaic thoughts on the matter. This is from a rather U. Chicago perspective. I find here that most young professionals do derive a surprising degree of satisfaction from shopping. This is only on the outside of course. Possessing such extreme intelligence and learning, Chinese inevitably question their dedication to materialism. I seldom meet a Chinese person who reveals no shame while elaborating upon his or her acquisitive ambitions. In the same breath as boasting of their Siemens refrigerator or their new Channel perfume, the young white colors also bemoan the plummeting of their ancient culture into this abyss of plastic and brand names. This is a populace that is rapidly becoming self-aware. They will only tolerate this brand-obsessed, status-obsessed existence for a limited period of time. However, it is regrettable that fixation on face and social position are the traditional traits that appear to have weathered the Cultural Revolution most intact. These traits lend themselves well to consumer culture and all of the negative aspects of globalization.
Women will lead the way out of this. They will lead the way in everything in the future. I mean Chinese women, who, as a group, I admire intensely. Though they are the most practical and acquisitive currently, their unique blend of femininity with drive and astuteness will enliven the future. We should dread and welcome their dominance. More on this in the future, I didn’t mean to digress, but now I am tired. In fact this is supposed to be about spiritual disease and Christianity in China.
6/22/06 Guns are one of the most common subjects of conversation between less-sophisticated Chinese and Americans visitors. After hearing I am American, cab drivers ask first how many guns I have. They comment that America is a dangerous place with so many guns around. I reply that most of the people with guns are in the Midwest and that they are generally minimally educated and obese vermin. In urban areas of the East Coast, only blacks wield firearms, and these are only for intra-racial tribal conflicts – normal people, particularly intellectuals, are not really involved. One gets a high from firing a gun, though. I first fired a pistol at a firing range in California, while visiting my friend Dagny. She had done it before even with an AK-47, but I know for a fact that she didn’t really know how to operate that thing. It was only in China that the differences between a pistol and a machine gun became apparent. I didn’t really know before, and I am not sure that I understand the full ramifications of this even now. Firing ranges have become extremely popular in the affluent coastal cities, and young people especially are very eager to experiment with the new fad. The issue of whether or not one has a shooting license has become irrelevant to many people. They just do it and don’t seem to worry about the authorities finding them, or society disapproving. Firing ranges are especially popular with the expatriate population of Beijing. Some people go shoot at several different ones in the space of a single weekend. I suspect that relatively few people actually fire machine guns though. They just don’t know how to operate them. I’m not entirely confident that I do either. Some kids spend hours pouring over gun magazines when they are little, but not me. From just looking at the gun, it is often impossible for me to tell whether it is a rifle or a machine gun. To tell you the truth, even when I am firing, sometimes I can’t tell the type of gun, that is whether it is a machine gun or a rifle. I brought the subject up with a cab driver, and he laughed. Such secrets are apparently tightly guarded. The world would be a dangerous place if everyone had access to machine guns. I told him that the truth is that, despite what one hears, even in America very few people have access to machine guns. They are still a new thing.
Imagine a 5’10 Shanxi girl with mysterious eyes, primal lips, and Titian bod, wearing a wool mini-skirt, trench coat and a scarf she knit herself out of Tuscan cashmere. Her clothes match perfectly and her makeup took half the morning to perfect, but she is a farmer and that past still shapes her features and sentiments. Her skin has the color and texture of the loess flats of the Yellow River. As big as that of a negress, her lower lip is as honest and simple as clay. The contours of her face contain the stories of stolid folk with thick ankles harvesting sorghum and telling jokes about flies and cucumbers, while squatting by the entrances to their caves. The grandmothers cleaned their loin clothes and earthen woks with horse urine; the granddaughter double majored in finance and public relations and wears a silken cord as underwear. But her look remains primitive; she is a woman close to what the original men might have worshipped, though most moderns have discarded her sort of beauty. Her body could be represented by a rough statue, formed from the yellow clay of the land that sired her, and then presented as a fertility goddess to the steppe tribes, even more backward than her own kin.
Her big lower lip protrudes with pride, but no insolence. After centuries of protecting livestock and crops from the harsh, dry winds of the Gobi, she now surmounts the hurdles presented by a wilting island and its fat, pink inhabitants. Her spirit started to unfold millennia ago under a golden sky. The tiny eyes of her ancestors were a blessing in a land of little water and ever blowing sands. She finds herself in a damp country, a land past its golden years, appearing to carry forward with a stiff upper lip. She discovers it is really a land of weakness and excess, this tiny dot that once humiliated her behemoth nation. Now the empire pays its decrepit citizenry to reproduce and imbibe the opiates they used to dump on her slumbering dragon. It is a land of whores and transvestites, oblivious to the vengeance approaching. Still hoodwinking the world with its monetary machinations, gravitational pull soon plunders the reserves, and a beautiful pageant of castles remains, producing nothing.
Yet the island charms her with its decadence and wit even as it overpowers her with its pointless discontent. She defines harmony, selecting the style of her temporary dwelling without rejecting the concreteness of home. Harmony will triumph, and yellow females will be its champions.
She walks past quaint old stone structures, pondering confused loves, wishing she were in romantic Paris, while missing friends in her own yellow land. But it is Sunday morning and the rain has stopped. Suddenly, a flurry of lilac blossoms and rain drops fall on her, covering her swath of black hair. The pedals and rain wash the endemic desperation of the rich isle from her spirit. She rejoices that she is in London.
When a large, drying, piece of snot is lodged in my nose, I feel irritated and helpless. Frankly, beyond trying to dislodge it with my pinky, few options exist. Right now, I hope to grow the nail on my pinky finger longer so that I can reach the snot without further increasing the size of my nostril. This would be a way to blend in with my surroundings as well. Many Chinese men have long pinky fingers for the purpose of cleaning ear wax and snot. I used to think it was a sign of aristocratic, non-laboring status, but apparently the purpose is more practical. People here tend to be practical, and unromantic in their statements, though the movies and pop songs suggest othe rwise.
While my friends write for famous journals, start businesses, record albums, and saunter around the Isle of Capri, I escape to the shitter. These are the only times during the day that my mind can be free of pressure, where nobody can find me, even though they aren’t looking for me. The pressure is mainly my own creation, but somehow sitting on the toilet alleviates it.
Some people are compelled forward by the glimmer of success. The one thing making me blindly stumble forward is the fear of still greater failure. I was just thinking…but then my mind began sleeping or closing, and I could only focus on the obscene things around me. My belly roles are like Etna’s lava covering statutes of nude virgins. My sweat is tickling my temples and itching in my one-dollar hairdo. One drop is inching down my cheekbones that aren’t high and onto my cheek that isn’t inverted. The pitter-patter and chords of Schuman that I received today. And my sweat is still flowing down my face with some collecting above my lip. It is as salty as the “muddy eggplant” covered with sesame sauce looking like excrement that we ate tonight.
I crave the moments in the bathroom. Sometimes it appears that the joy of life will be largely on the toilet. This joy could be making love, but one rarely has the chance to when at work. The toilet is a preserve – do we all know this to be so? It’s best when the man in the next stall is smoking. He makes both of our shit so much more bearable. Smoking on the can possesses undeniable charm, though little glamour. There is something upright and manly about being on the toilet at work. I feel like I’m on the waterfront or hammering on a railroad track. Defecating is a bit like working, though at my age it still doesn’t take so much effort fortunately. I wish I could say the same for working. The unity and masculinity of shitting is undeniable. Even though women shit too, and men have the more unique and empowering method for urinating, there is something singularly masculine about shitting. One sees the other people who need to shit, who are in the bathroom as well, and they are all men. Actually, I tend to try to minimize my contact with them. It’s hard not to notice them though. We all have to be thinking about the same thing at some point during the experience. We all think about something fecal for some of the time. Shitting are drivers, businessmen, foreigners, Chinese, teachers, and neurotic wastrels like me. There is the man with the thick glasses and the yellow repp tie that always goes two inches below his belt buckle that has a crocodile on it. He also wears a dark blue shirt and black pants. This same outfit, everyday. Slouching in his walk, always, he holds himself, and glances into the urinal for an average length of time, and then stares at the tiles, with his fat lips slightly ajar. He does what he must do in a straightforward manner, but one senses an aura of egotism about the man. He pisses when I shit, and vice versa, almost everyday, but when he is pissing at the urinal and I have to piss too, I go the stall. People who knew how to network and rise into the upper reaches of society would piss next to him. I’ve only observed him from the sink at the times when I am washing my hands, as he enters the room. His confidence and the blaise way he looks at a foreigner show him to be an important man, within his world. At the least, he could connect to something else, even if he himself isn’t holding the secret key to my happiness. I do make one concession to his crocodile belt; I wash my hands after excreting when he is present. For lesser souls I dispense with this show that just serves to attract more germs to my hand while gripping the door handle. The sweat is becoming more and remaining in certain places. The feeling of it trickling and the sensory imprint it leaves when stationary bring on a relaxation of sorts. My forehead is shining I’m sure. Being a sweaty person is not good, though they always try to say that it means you healthier. I’ve also heard that it means you are more stressed out. Now a drop flows down the left side of my ballooning stomach. I officially join 90 percent of my countrymen in obesity. Another drop flows down my stomach. I know where they’re coming from: my armpit! But what about that hegemonic act that we do and have used to extinguish fires since time immemorial? How could it possibly be more manly to shit than to piss when women shit in much the same fashion that we do – everyday. Actually, my uncle’s wife once didn’t shit for an entire two weeks. There is something womanly about that. She might even indulge in this lack of crapping on a regular basis. It might improve the bowels or one’s luck in reincarnation. But she is half bald before sixty and her husband, so it seems it could also be promoting hair loss. She is also literally as wide as she is tall. Poor woman. I feel sorry to be speaking about her this way. But she has great faith in the Buddha, and she is surrounded by family. She is probably far happier than I am as I sit here making a mockery of her. I am already being punished for the way that I have mocked her. I am punished everyday for mocking her and many other people. Pain from my silent mockery is nothing next to the suffering from guilt and the general discontent I feel with my existence. The mocked are, well, sitting pretty in their granny underwear and rayon blend shorts. I would go pop the pimples on their asses if I had the chance. Then I would apply cream to sooth the wounds and encourage a healthier, smoother ass – this to assuage my guilt. Do you really want to hurt me? I am only fifteen, though it is my tenth year at this age.
The events of today and my current state of mind are forcing me to “take stock” yet again. How am I supposed to respond to having a life like this? How would anyone respond to this kind of life? When I think about how the people around me actually do respond to my life, I can only be grateful. The few people that I know respond to what can only really be described as a mess, with great forbearance. Nobody seems ready to blame me, and – for the most part – my parents and others close to me don’t seem to want to scold me for this. Perhaps I have only myself to thank for this, since I make it abundantly clear that I hold myself entirely responsible for the long-term quagmire dotted with lava pits into which I have transformed my life. They must see that since all I feel is guilt, making me feel more of it would not be particularly productive. Which means that, again, I must be thankful to my parents, Lydia, and maybe even Tom for not making me feel worse about a clearly unpleasant situation. My negativity seems to be affective in that it forces others to look on the bright side. So they blame me for complaining, but clearly I am doing a good deed in keeping them from slipping into a counterproductive mindset.
If this silly and implausible byproduct of my bad attitude could ever be called an accomplishment, it is my only one. Naturally, nothing can cancel out the terrible tedium of being around me. The real truth can only be that I bring down their spirits by bringing down my own. I must applaud them though, for here again the support of others that I have received is noteworthy. Even though all I hear is encouragement, I am discouraged. Others always try to help me, but I fail in helping my self.
I would even say that all of the exterior influences in my life have been positive. Every person and every circumstance that any human being living in the modern world could reasonably expect to be in their favor has been in my favor. I am probably in the ninety-eighth percentile or higher when it comes to receiving blessings. I just want to make sure that no one, including I, ever says that Nels Frye blamed others for the unfortunate state of his being. Though everything I say reeks of that much derided thing, self-pity, it is not of the sort that arises out of feeling benighted and crushed by the world. I do feel that way sometimes, but in the end I take entire responsibility for everything that has gone wrong or not gone right for me.
Nothing beyond what can be expected by a person in such a high percentile of good fortune has “gone” wrong for me. The “wrong” in my life is entirely of my own creation. I have willed it in to being.
The manifold “right” in my life is the work of others. Am I being to extreme? It seems almost arrogant to say that I should have had such an influence over my own identity as to have created everything that is now so. It seems likely that it is not so much that I have made the wrong choices, as that I have not made any choices. So the “wrong” is probably not a willful act of creation so much as the consequence of a dedication to non-action.
I often tell myself to just give-up. When nearly every week brings new crises, perhaps the answer is simply not to care too much about this world. This means to follow the dreaded path of my taciturn half-brother, whose Sikh name, Sad-Porka, even contains the word “sad” in it. Here is the man whose life never made it, the man who lived a seemingly free-spirited life and ended up screwing things up in various ways, eventually turning to asceticism to escape. Both of my parents despise him for this, though his unpleasant personality and particularly sordid brand of philandering may also be involved in any dislike of the fellow. In any case, we have the man who abandoned life in this world, to pursue a life in pursuit of spiritual things. Following conventional values, this has led to a life neither moral nor materially successful. The latter is of course not required when one’s main preoccupation is the spirit.
It seems funny that I brought up good old miserable piglet, because of all of my unimportant relatives he is the one that matters least. He is the one whose specter reappears as I warning against failure. When you throw away the real world, you end up like sad pork.
There is also the example of my uncle Dante, the lotus-eater. He’s another person to avoid being like. He wants no part in the responsibilities and perils of living in modern day America. Living and working in the economy of abundance is supposed to be the highest life an entire population has been able to enjoy. Previously only the nobility enjoyed a lifestyle now in the reach of the masses. In addition to material comfort, life in today’s world allows self-realization and creative previous generation didn’t even dream of. Reclining on leather and silk, dining on sushi, and creating personal websites, our lives move and improve at lightning speed. Dante rejects this. Life for him is slow and as interesting as the life of a teenager on repeat.
For me his life is attractive of course, and not entirely unimaginable for myself, since it is in Asia. He is the non-special American who becomes special in Asia because he is more virile, more charismatic, and, most of all, foreign. Such a life is certainly a constant lure, but it is certainly not as attainable as it seems.
In a round about way, I have observed how two of my relatives have “given up”. One could also go all the way and be a monk, though that would be a strenuous way of giving up. It may be that “being a monk” is a completely abstract idea, in that these people do have real responsibilities. Perhaps being a graduate student is really what I mean.
But let us clear our head after going through all of these digressions. Giving up may not really be an option, or at least it is not an option while living in America.
The problem for me when coming back here is that I am never actually moving forward while I am here, but I am moving backward. Both of my elongated stays in Cambridge have had as a major feature series of setbacks. These setbacks are not huge, but they seem huge when there are no real successes. My life is on standstill while I am here, except for some crises, which would be minor if I had an income and a life. Instead they threaten to consume everything and define my life, since there is no tangible evidence of any successes to cancel them out.
For some reason or another, all of the setbacks, the minuses from my overall well-being, are caused by the car. It is not the fault of the car. Again, I don’t want to shift responsibility off of my own shoulders. Indeed, I feel bad about what I have done to the car. I almost see as the member of my family who has suffered the most from my incompetence. It’s life has been similar to my relationship with my parents and Lydia, but on a smaller scale. This white Mazda MX-6 is the canvas upon which I have sketched my failures.
My seventy-one year-old father and I were out on the lawn, standing eight feet apart. He was tossing a big softball to me. I was ten. Each time I caught the ball, he cheered, and so did my mother who was sitting on the sidelines watching.
They had decided that I needed to go back to the fundamentals. Even at the young age of six my inability to perform as an athlete had started to stunt my social development as well. Stinking at sports, excluded me from other activities, as well as friendships. Now at ten, my inability to catch and throw had become daily sources of humiliation for me.
The classic example of this was the team selecting. For some reason, nearly PE class I attended from the time I was six involved a selection of teams. There would be two captains and the order in which they selected people to be on their teams virtually equated to social standing in other areas as well. It would always be a toss-up to see whether me or one of two nerdy kids would be the last person to be picked. More often than not, one of the nerds would be preferred. I would watch as kids that struck me as lame would be deemed better athletes than me. And I really was useless to the team. Whatever sport we happened to be playing, my presence would usually be more of an impediment than an aid. My body often became a barrier, slowing down the progress of the game for both teams. Often, I just stood and watched the ball get kicked by me and the other players just whiz by. My body responded too late when action occurred in the game. In soccer, by the time I realized the ball had come to my end of the field, it would usually already be well on its way back to the other end. Self-conscious, I would ineffectually jog a couple yards as if to show that I had registered that the ball had been nearby. After that I would resume my statuesque stance, watching but not the unfolding of the game. If my teammates ever acknowledged my presence it would be to tell me to stay out of the way.
Even the teachers seemed unsure of what to do with me. Sometimes they just told me to run back and forth behind the goal. Or if we were playing basketball, they would just have me try to shoot hoops at an un-used basket while the rest of the class played. They did give me an ego boost periodically by making me a team captain, and giving me the responsibility of making sure I adhered to the normal pecking order, when choosing my team. It was disappointing to see my importance as team leader slide to zilch, immediately following the selection process.
The worst part was that I didn’t make up for my inability to play sports, by being exemplary in academics. Especially in Middle School, the top athletes also got higher marks than me. Of course, they were also the kings of the roost socially, which created even greater feelings of inadequacy in me when the issue of girls began coming up. Around seventh grade, I started to like girls, and all of the attractive ones were miles out of reach for me. All of the girls that I had crushes on were very athletic themselves. They were also the ones that began “going out” with the athlete/scholars who ruled the school.
I did have contact with the popular girls. Perhaps more than any comparably athletically deficient individual can expect at that age. These girls who spent most of their time in the airy company of Cyrus, Tucker, Josh and other popular guys, would also follow me around some times, for the soul purpose of humiliating me. It became a real routine during sixth grade. Vicky, Christine, Mia and the rest putting their arms around me in class and following me around during recess, saying: “Nels, do you want to go out with me?” To which I would respond “well…probably” or “definitely” and then watch them all run away. I enjoyed that period of being taunted by the hot girls. Sadly, it was my only substantial contact with them, throughout middle school, and indeed I rarely came into contact with similar people during high school. Intervention by the principle of my small private school brought this section to a close. He commanded all of the cute little girls to stop making fun of me. They obeyed, and ignored me for the rest of my time at that school.
Or at least they never talked to me. Sometimes, I saw the pretty girls walk by the field where we were playing sports, and I noticed that they would always be giggling. I was convinced that they were laughing at my inability to hit or catch the ball. Once we were playing baseball and I came to bat. As I picked up the bat, it was like somehow had just started telling a long joke. The big and burly PE instructor, Mr. O’Brien, ordered the pitcher to move closer. The pitcher threw the ball. I missed. Mr. O’Brien told him to come even closer. I missed again. All the players were laughing. The pitcher was now less than ten feet away. He pitched again, and I missed again. Finally, Mr. O’Brien invented some technical blunder that the pitcher had supposedly made, and allowed me to walk to first base. Mia and Courtney were standing by the side, cheerfully watching this episode.
The fact that I was not short or small made my inability all the more humiliating. I was one of the taller kids in the class, and neither fat nor scrawny, and still, many nerds were better athletes than me. My mother intensified her drive to make me functional athletically during this period. She filled me with fears of being flabby later and being out-of-place because of my inability to catch when I joined a country club. Over several summers, I went to basketball camp, soccer camp, and several lacrosse camps. Though it is violent and no less challenging than other sports, it was seen as something that kids who didn’t really have a background in sports could easily pick up. I never could. I just remember standing around feeling weighed down by my thick plastic armor. A few times I was also shoved in my private organs. In high school, I pretty much gave up on sports all together.
It is regrettable because I think that my inability to ever feel at ease with my physical being might stem in part from not being good at sports. Whenever I walk into a new situation I feel my body is blocking things and I just don’t know where to put it. Half the time I pick up a jar, it ends up in pieces on the ground. And worst of all, the same thing happened to my foot when a little bit of nimbleness might have prevented it. I think many of the problems I have driving might owe to my slow reflexes and lack general dexterity. It may be that my hatred of watching sports caused my inability to play sports.
There may be too great of an influence placed on sports in our culture. I imagine obese men sitting with beers watching the game. They claim this is a large part of pop-culture in America, though I have heard that the role of TV in the life of the average person is gradually fading. The difficulty I faced socializing because of not being sports-minded was not limited to playing sports. I could never participate in that world of baseball cards, commentary on the game, and solidarity with one’s fellow red socks fans.
A few months after September 11, 2001, I was riding in a taxi through Phoenix. It was during the super bowl. The driver asked which team I supported. I responded that being from Massachusetts, I had no choice but to cheer on the Red Socks. What with my Middle Eastern appearance, she was about to report me to airport security.
Alcohol is a vital social lubricant. It is hard to imagine society moving forward without it. So much of socializing is tied to the bar scene, just as is mating. Most people perform better when they have had something a drink or two. It’s hard to see anything wrong with drinking in moderation. Recently, the administration of Colby College chose to start serving wine to students over 21 with meals. Though this is most controversial, it seems a wise thing to prepare students to drink responsibly. They must be fighting against a great pressure in the opposite direction, since they are in Maine.
Marijuana, on the other hand, offers few benefits to the average person. Artists might claim that it stimulates their creativity. It may help them transcend the bounds the confines of normal human thought. It also helps some shamans travel to the afterlife and come back. The controversy on medicinal marijuana rages on.
All the while, countless youngsters begin sampling this drug while they are still in high school. Though all the potheads will repeat again and again that it is not chemically addictive, I have met several people who remain religious smokers of the stuff into their forties. Butch, the former marine, was an example of this. He would smoke a joint in the morning, go to work, return home for lunch, smoke a joint, go back to work, and then come home after which he would smoke several joints throughout the evening. This was his routine, which he felt proud of.
He was one of those people who had built up such a tolerance to the stuff that he seemed like a perfectly normal, if extremely repetitive and dull, person even when high. Moreover, it was the fire burning at the center of his mental life. No subject could inspire more passion his voice than these dried leaves.
When he met someone else that gave some sort of outward signs of adoring marijuana like he did, he felt immediately drawn to them. Indeed, he did seem to recognize the sorts of people who would be weed smokers. Not that there are so few of them in our society. They were his coreligionists, and it seemed the only people to whom he truly felt bonded.
His life was simple. With no belongings beyond clothing, no wife or girlfriend, and no serious career, his only true attachment was the leaves. This would be apparent though. He was an extremely fit forty-year-old, who lifted weights and worked very hard at his low-paying English teaching job. Aside from being muscular, he was extremely clean-cut and nearly dowdy in his personal style, with pleated pants and button-down oxford shirts as his uniform.
Nor were his conversation or ideas very weird. His politics were liberal but not impractical. His ideas about China were ordinary. His loneliness would strike anyone. He didn’t seem to have friends beyond the people that went to smoke weed with him, and his soul female contact was with prostitutes. Whenever someone wanted to smoke a joint with him he was more than happy to oblige.
Overall, his great dedication to weed had not created an extreme or wacko individual. At times I even wondered why he smoked so much if it didn’t have any effect on him. My reaction to the stuff was always far more dramatic. It tended to destabilize what little semblance of discipline I had started following.
My time as a pothead was fortunately short, though I constantly long to return to that period. It came during the final two months before I graduated from college when I had already opted to not take courses. Unlike most people in a situation like that, I did not take up a job. I made some half-hearted attempts to do so, but didn’t succeed. It was partially because I was unsure about how long I would be remaining in Chicago and also because I didn’t know what sort of job I should be doing. Here I was at a very crucial point. During those two months I should have been reviewing my directionless college career and trying to determine some kind of direction for my upcoming entrance into the real world.
Instead I determined, not so deliberately, that this was the last time before the noose of life as a responsible being was slipped around my neck. I had always craved free time as much as the Nazis craved free space. Now I had no classes, no job, and no plans for the future. I wasn’t calm and waiting to see what would happen. I knew that the last four years had taught me only how to avoid work. Skills were not my forte. Keeping my apartment rodent free was even beyond me. I didn’t even like playing an instrument, drawing, or sports. No keen pressure to support myself or pay back college loans hung over my spine. The one thing that made me unsatisfied was the success of my peers. I watched enviously as my best friend got a job at the New York Review of Books and another joined AID insurance. That great plummet into the abyss of responsibility and work, following graduation, was now less than two months off, and everyone had bright prospects, except for me.
My future seemed empty. I imagined myself lying on a bamboo mat in Saigon with troops of cockroaches marching past. Or perhaps on a raft in the dragon islands, dressed in rags, soaked to the bone, with a beautiful woman starving next to me. I knew the reality would be the less romantic image of me, simply sitting in a room somewhere, eating a grilled cheese sandwich and trying not to get fat. Marijuana helped me escape these thoughts. I bought a half-ounce of it the very day that I finished my senior BA thesis – or I should say turned in the unfinished version. My fate for the next few weeks had been sealed. And it was a glorious fate. Though weed was no new, I had never realized how wonderful being on it for most of the day, while alone, could be. I abandoned all of my other regrets, berating myself only for not having smoked so much marijuana during my previous four years in university. Before I went anywhere I would smoke some of it, and usually I was just going to sit on the roof of an abandoned church or to walk along the lake. These walks would be magical journeys that seemed never-ending. Each step I took resounded, and the joggers who went by seemed like they were on a great mission.
When I stayed in my apartment, smoking out helped me have more interesting thoughts. One thought would lead to another without any real connection and without my having to will them into being. The wrapping of ideas was constantly being undone, and I was constantly moving toward some deeper meaning. Deeper layers always remained to be unpeeled, but the journey itself was beautiful. The images would cascade by me, I would be falling down a waterfall and landing in a space city, in the midst of which was a girl I had once had a crush on. Her eyes would immediately grow long and so would her other orifices, so that soon I tractor beams pulled into her nostrils. Inside was her face again, contorted, but now without a body and animated by wings on the sides of her head. A whole succession of my friends faces, contorted and winged would then flutter by, causing me to fear that somewhere deep inside I didn’t like them. I would realize that they also probably did not care much about me. Then, came reassurance: they barely mattered or even existed anyway. The winged heads would flutter away and I would be ushered into paradise in a deep cavern. Slowly a dream-filled sleep would be overtaking me.
My residential complex has two illustrious neighbors, both within a three minute walk. The first is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pictured below. It sits overlooking the Second Ring Road.
People have commented that it looks like a crematorium – or at least a storage space for ashes. On the inside of the Second Ring Road is the brand new headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), China’s third largest oil company.
CNOOC gained fame for bidding on Unocal, a US oil company, and later losing to Chevron.
CNOOC building’s form is intended to evoke “images of offshore oil production: the prow-like shape recalls an oil tanker’s bow and the tower elevated, above the ground on piloti, suggests an offshore oil derrick”.
A sweet, very thin, boy from Socal informed me that the cycling of fashions in weight-loss remedies has reached a logical point: starvation. This should never have been in doubt. No carbs? Give me a break. I follow it, but I’m often behind the times. This makes sense. The no carbs look makes you beefy and irritable. If you can’t go the whole way to death defying anorexia, this article offers an interesting perspective on how culture shapes our stomachs:
The China Daily wins my heart like no other publication. They continually offer stories that break beyond the usual “policy entangled by rising price of oil” and “slumping sales take big toll” and, of course, they never ask“is China a threat?”
With a government that backs content like the following articles, how can China be a threat?
“Hu Deng, a psychologist from Renmin University of China, explains two reasons why such a phenomenon has become popular in recent years. The first is a psychological factor. Men usually have Oedipus complex when they are under the age of puberty, but it would become abnormal when they still hold such feelings in their twenties. Some of them are unwilling to take up their social responsibilities, and tend to rely on people older than themselves. The other factor is from the media. TV series advocate that husband is the first child of his wife, which deeply affect men’s psychological feelings.”
The new man will rely on a wife to ease him through the pangs of entering adulthood. He needs this because the growing-up process protracts further with each passing year. A thirty year old man in the developed world is still a child. The comforts of childhood ill prepare him for the life of responsibilities lying ahead. The materialistic, hedonistic life of early adulthood also does little to set the stage for the obligations and hardship that exist. The twin prisons of career and money, the, albeit still distant, risk of fatherhood, and the rest are unpleasant shocks that generally inspire in him a desire to scamper back into the womb. The protective female can help the new man negotiate this unpleasant process.
The following article shows why in a nation where over half the adult males smoke, women would be wise to grab the men while they’re young:
The China Daily selects the best articles from the foreign press as well. The next article highlights a situation that I have long expected to be problematic. Prostitutes are just too expensive for the ordinary worker. So how do poor migrant workers find satisfaction? Some solutions are laid-out here as well, but this is a challenge demanding creativity. I recommend that my readers join in brainstorming solutions. The openness with which the China Daily discusses this reveal the more constructive, less repressed, attitude that Chinese society has toward sexual issues. This is a hopeful sign. I think their society will avoid many of the hang-ups and problems that we have in the West. My read on the situation is far too simple though. I’ll go into this at a later time.
Today is Chinese Valentine’s Day. I have a conference call tonight and will not be able to do much to celebrate. Luckily there are two Chinese Valentine’s Days this year due to the lunar calendar, and one still remains. Read the following article to get an idea of the background of this holiday:
Perhaps I belong at the China Daily. The pay must stink and the management is probably unreasonable, but at least I would handle and present interesting information. Or my site can offer running commentary on the most interesting articles appearing in the paper. If I worked for them, I believe I could present all of these issues in a way that better draws in Western audiences. It already seems to succeed in drawing me in, though.
I must work hard to find the position in life that best suits me, though, living in China, I feel too old to be saying this. Many Chinese are thinking of for retirement at fifty and feel that you should be well on your way by twenty-three. It’s always funny to visit a factory or meet the heads of a company and find a sixty-year old man being treated like some kind of elder. With a father who is approaching ninety and still active in his field, it is hard to take this sort of thing seriously. He is an encouraging figure.
But anyway, I must not succumb to the belief that I am too old, even if it seems that to be so lost in life is excessively immature. There must be some advantages that I possess. I must find a way to relocate to an industry with content that entertains me. Rather than just complaining about working and the necessity of being professional, I must identify those irritating features of this job that can actually be changed. It comes down to content. Only drones can sustain long-term interest in highly industry-specific subject matter or financial analysis. These things are gray and made of cement and glass. Though the subjects I investigate in this job can seem interesting at first, long-term involvement in any project is stifling. I fear that my unwillingness to go in-depth prevents me from succeeding.
On the positive side, the overall picture of the Chinese and global economies gained in this job is beneficial – more as general knowledge that as something I would want to pursue over the long term. It is useful to know about as a backdrop to other, more intriguing, happenings, rather than as a focus in itself. For those who would succeed in business here, those more intriguing happenings might involve a specific industry. For me, the examining the specific industry or an individual company is the really stultifying thing.
My challenges are identical to those of so many frustrated desk-workers around the developed world (in the developing world, the young are happy to land a white-collar position). The usual result must be realizing some time in the late twenties or early thirties that such is life and then bending down to accept the grind, and working hard to advance. The challenge confronting the multitude is the amount of effort and confidence required to make a jump into something less humdrum, dealing with interesting content. I only became aware of this challenge recently. My defiance toward the future may have stemmed from an implicit belief that my glamour, body, and style gave me a natural advantage in this struggle.
The fields that seem more interesting to me are the same ones that everyone wants to pursue due to their perceived glamour. They probably require even more effort, due to the competition, and with my thorough lack of a background in anything, it would be hard to enter them. Naturally, it is probably only an illusion that these other fields are more stimulating. Maybe the hope that there is something better out there is all that I need. A happy childhood crippled me. If only I could be designing Lego sets. A glance over my selections from the China Daily might also suggest that I am now becoming a sex-crazed teenager.
Maybe I’m just not a very unusual person and the only thing that distinguishes me is my refusal to accept a tedious life – a refusal that blocks the success of many others too. So it comes down to this same boring problem facing the suburbanites of the Western world. They either have to really strive to do something interesting or accept that they will live a life much like their parents. The problem for me is that I came from a background and grew up in an unconventional way. I never wanted to be a regular person in a job, concerned with economics, personal and global. It seemed to be assumed that I wouldn’t have to face this vexing future, the fate of normalcy.
This is punishment for all those years of not actively seeking something better and feeling that I was among the anointed. Now, I will have to break my head along with the suburban and bourgeois kids to think of some way to liberate myself from the grind. Those kids knew early on that they had to work hard to escape being a lawyer or corporate android, so they used their imaginations and applied themselves. Seclusion from the real world shielded me from the knowledge of the teleconference, memos, and overtime. My non-action plunged me into it, and now, too late, I must follow the tedious course that they followed. I even have to write pieces like this. Life for the last five years has brought one humiliation after another. Every Monday offers a new realization bringing me to my knees.
Grand and vague expectations bring miserable lives for mediocre human beings. Compromise brings happiness, but emotionally spoiled little boys reject it. Unbearable to myself and others, I stare out the window during my long exile. At nine, I concluded that life was useless, blaming my parents for bringing me into the world. For those who wouldn’t accept the meaninglessness, I felt disdain. In the fifteen or so years since I have not grown up. Over the last five years, I have achieved what I set my heart upon as a boy. My life has next to no reason for being, and I rarely enjoy it. I am simple, juvenile, and perpetually discontent. I scowl at the practical world around me, wishing for a foolish life. My fetid longings never evolve.
Longing for complexity, I make the most boring statements. Longing for interesting people and beauty, I live in the land of concrete, physical and spiritual. Longing for color, I am surrounded by gray. Longing to be an artiste in charming Europe, I write reports in a purgatory between corporate America and economically booming China.
I must achieve a life guided by competence and efficiency to achieve happiness.
They don’t teach how tedious life will be in school. There should be some kind of warning. It would have been so helpful to meet the 25 year old me back when I was 15.
You have accomplished what you set your heart on as a boy? Posted by dalcibiades4 on 07/31/2006 10:41:03 PM
What of existentialism class with the illustrious Thomas Hodsdon. I think we got a bit into the dullness of existence in that class. Posted by Pescatore on 08/04/2006 06:46:31 AM
The problem is that back then it seemed life was meaningless for everyone. I now know life is particularly boring and empty for me. Others are out achieving their dreams – or at least enjoying their youth. Posted by stylites on 08/20/2006 02:15:39 AM
What are some potential private uses for the “public sanitizing kettle”?
On the private use of “public sanitizing kettle”, what about eliminating baby fleas hidden under that corporate hair do? I mean those powerfully blown dry ones, the equivalent of skyscrapers for hairstyles. In other words, a capitalistic version of Kim Jong Il… Far more sleek than Donald Trump’s tornado swept style, undoubtedly… 隐藏在“摩天头发”里的小跳蚤，听起来很像我们自己，不是吗？ Posted by Y Y on 07/31/2006 04:18:04 AM
Note the urgency of the previous user, my ass? Are you a Texas redneck? Like it never happens in the US Posted by Shang on 08/02/2006 07:31:06 AM
@Shang: This is rather odd. What made you think I was suggesting that such scenes don’t occur in the US? I simply took a rather boring photo, put an innocent caption underneath, and aroused your anger. I sometimes leave the toilet paper roll looking like that myself. But maybe it is “Texas Redneck” of me to be so interested in toilets and such things. I’m 100 percent vulgar. My dear old fellow, you might have a point! I hope people will be able to forget George W. Bush and give the poor Texans some peace. @YY: I’m more partial to this comment, which reveals a greater sense of humor as well imagination. This is more what I had in mind. References to the appearance of our dear leader always bring a smile to my face. If only he were my uncle. Eradicating fleas (and dandruff) from that windswept or towering corporate hairdo is a fine use for the public sanitizing kettle, which is really not so public. Posted by stylites on 08/02/2006 12:07:00 PM
Older and lower class Chinese men prize a spotless member. Half of men wash their hands after voiding and half do it before. A small percentage of those who wash before also do after, thus washing their hands twice. Pudgy middle-aged fellows will rush in, wash their hands, and pee. I often wait at the urinal, feigning pissing, to see whether these fellows actually wash afterwards. Most of the time, they don’t bother.
After peeing, wealthier middle-aged men push open the stall with a shoulder and grab a wad of toilet paper to use while touching the door handle. These men fear the germs on the sink lever and door handle – probably with good reason.
The lower their class, as determined by clothing and demeanor, the more urgently men piss. Drivers really hurry in and shake with strong movements.
Yesterday I didn’t push myself far enough into the urinal, and a young worker, after washing his hands, took a minute to stand and stare directly at what was in my hand. He had a satisfied smile on his face. Maybe it was because he had discovered something new - that the two of us have a thing or three in common. Perhaps I should be less satisfied because he was satisfied.
“The lower their class . . . the more urgently men piss.” That’s genius. Posted by dalcibiades4 on 07/28/2006 02:45:28 PM
But I must say more on the issue of the Europeans. Their continent may be the only pleasant one, but their attitude toward the US is irresponsible. As juvenile and undiplomatic as the neo-cons are, they did not create these problems. They just aren’t handling them well.
The Continentals slaughtered the Jews and the British drew the borders in the Middle East. Before Europeans cast stones at the United States, they must consider that they laid the groundwork for all of these problems. As the current big empire, we must face these challenges, and it would be more responsible of the Europeans to refrain from further blackening the name of our country, and being snotty about everything when entering a conversation with an American.
I would like to say that to everyone actually. The image of Americans as a bunch of bible-thumping rednecks who overuse “like” is too widespread. Europeans and others don’t realize that Americais the intellectual center of Western Civilization. We are an experiment that carries on the torch of all of the great thinkers. We live and advance Western thought and beauty every day. At least I do. And it’s tough – such mental anguish. So many headaches and sleepless nights. This is being American. We write the new mores with our lives.
I hate to be overly nationalistic, but allow me this once. Being a pretentious, Europhilic pomo should give me the right.
–and others don’t realize that Americais the intellectual center of Western Civilization.– You fucking yankee bastard! You are the center of war, death, garbage, corruption and stupidity. root less, culture less, a disgusting mixture of all races of the world. 9/11 was great! They brought you just a LITTLE of what YOU are bringing to other people since decades. Europe and USA: We have NOTHING in common with elements like you! by the way: Why you call yourself “American”, you asshole. America includes Middle and -South america as well. You are a north american USA citizen, NOT an american. The continent america is not your property, so use the proper term! Posted by European Nationalist on 07/27/2006 02:15:03 AM
The comment above would seem to confirm Stylites’s hunch that Europeans aren’t quite as charming & beguiling as they used to be. But how astute our dear European comrade is about the etymology of “American”! Many thanks for the refreshing clarification! Posted by dalcibiades4 on 07/27/2006 03:06:01 PM
I refuse to believe someone as rude as “European Nationalist” is from the only continent with beautiful cities. Main Entry: 1Amer·i·can Pronunciation: &-’mer-&-k&n, -’m&r-, -’me-r&- Function: noun 3 : a citizen of the United States Merriam-Webster But both North America and South America are our property. In fact, I welcome citizens of China, France, Germany and other countries to describe themselves as American also – or at least USian or “Citizens of the United States.” We are a global empire. Isn’t that obvious? Posted by stylites on 07/28/2006 02:06:15 AM
I know it’s vulgar of me to have even acknowledged European Nationalist’s comment, but this is my first time to really start running a blog. I must learn the hard way that you can’t give those with foul mouths and coarse sentiments a podium. Sadly, this site doesn’t seem to allow for monitoring of comments. It may be that I will have to switch blog sites again. Or finally just start my own website. Posted by stylites on 07/28/2006 02:26:24 AM
Allo, actually, in today´s time, europeans feel in fact as Europeans and not a member of a specific country within the European Union. The european constitution will be realized as well as the european passport in the future and more which is going on in the schools and education. I think you should study the current political situation and the feeling in europe firstly before talking like that. An European. (france) Posted by sdsdsd on 07/28/2006 02:50:39 AM
Perhaps you could recommend some online resources that would help us in better understanding the current Europe. It would be much appreciated. The American has historically wanted in education regarding the intricate system of politics and the delicacies of culture across the pond. This is an opportunity for me as well, since Europe is largely a construct of my imagination. It exists only as an oasis in a vast desert of pollution, brandnames, and generally uniform ugliness. I have spent my life living in places dereft of the culture and sophistication that I always believe exists in Europe. It is this belief in Europe’s superiority that keeps me going. Maybe some day I will finally make it to the continent that does not devour its own history. I would be so honored if on that day, I was welcomed with an embrace. Posted by stylites on 07/28/2006 07:56:47 AM
Firstly – ‘European Nationalist’ – an a-hole with a keyboard. Secondly – sdsds, sorry, not all Europeans feel more European that they do Nationalistic, in fact I’d bet very few do. No way the Brits, French, German, Italians, Spanish,…etc, will tell you they are European first. Nels – good of you not to delete that post of EN’s – when I get posts like that I always leave them as well so the whole world, or at least the small part that is watching, gets to see the fuits of an a-holes labours. Posted by sunnysideup on 08/02/2006 07:34:05 AM
Yes, perhaps it was best to leave that comment up. It defeats itself and strengthens my side of the argument, whatever side that might be. Posted by stylites on 08/02/2006 11:48:09 AM
Nice post nels! Don’t worry about the national-less bastard. Posted by chinamoon on 08/03/2006 05:30:34 AM
well I really appreciate your support, Admiral. Recently, I’ve been thinking that Americans abroad should really try to develop a coherent PR plan. Our country badly needs (and deserves) one. Our country’s image has deteriorated, but there is no good reason for this to continue. We need to work hard and think carefully about how to present the country. Posted by stylites on 08/03/2006 06:55:28 AM
Oddly enough your comments here basically were the same as those of Chris Patten the former HK governor, who gave a large amount of credit to the Pax Americana for a fairly large amount of good things that have happened in the world in the last 60 years or so. Posted by Pescatore on 08/04/2006 06:43:33 AM
Tell me one thing…u really believe in what u write????? hope not…otherwise u’re in serious need of help… take it easy and open your mind a little more cheers Posted by ahaha…that’s really good…who writes your jokes? on 08/17/2006 08:48:35 PM
u…u…u…u just don’t understand me, but u’re right. Can u help me? Posted by stylites on 08/18/2006 06:11:56 AM
The tone seems a bit shrill, but I agree with the following sentence:
“I predict that future generations of Indians and Chinese will literally worship George W Bush and Osama bin Laden for having pushed the West into a disastrous conflict with Islam.”
Knowing grins already appear here when the topic of conflict between Islam and the West arises. If only we could wash our hands of the whole situation and focus on the real problems. It’s too late of course. It will be interesting to document the Asian perspective, while watching this frustrating history unfold and the West shoot itself in the foot through a useless conflict with barbarians.
The demise of Christendom will be in Israel. The Germans and, to a lesser extent, the French caused our guilt and must shoulder much greater responsibility in forestalling this sorry decline, rather than just bitching about America.
The present state of Socrates is unknown – even the Chinese have no information. We all speculate. He could be burning eternally or basking in the rays of the absolute good. Theologians and prelates wrangled over this question in the forth century and let’s pray they will still in the twenty-forth. Surprisingly, the future of the debate could be in the East. Ms. Xu, the minister, gave the ugly thinker his due, exempting him from certain damnation. His fate is unknown, she conceded. In the midst of all those definitively in hell for their unbelief, Socrates may be alright. He may have seen ahead in a way that the Buddha, Zoroaster, and others did not.
I was happy to hear the old boy mentioned at all, here in the land of Burberry plaid and coin-operated abortions. It had been a long time since we had crossed paths. Church seemed like the place to be even if meant worrying constantly about Satan’s wiles. That Ms. Xu knew of Socrates’ multifaceted connection with Christianity heartened me.
She had just spent an hour railing against those who place the body before the spirit, prophesying their damnation. Now came initiation for the new converts. Obviously, I was the only foreigner at this church. Some little women ushered me and the other two new comers into a side area, behind one of those office-style partitions. Momentarily, I was face to face with Ms. Xu. Here I noticed for the first time the narrow scars running across her face – there were about three of them. They gave her not-unattractive face some definite character.
The initiation process involved much repetition and holding hands. Ms. Xu took pains to express the importance of faith over good deeds. Obviously I didn’t understand everything that was transpiring with the utmost ease. My progress in this language has been pathetic. But, the opportunity allowed to pick up a good deal of new vocabulary related to religion, which was a nice thing, no doubt. One fellow initiate hailed from the mighty Qinghua university, China’s MIT, where he was working toward a doctorate in physics. His knowledge of Christianity, or at least his ability to express it in his mother tongue, impressed me. He proved that scientists respecting religion do exist and can articulate their complex relationship with faith.
The China Daily is one of my favorite publications. It shapes my view of China and the world. My understanding of global popular culture comes from this source. I urge all foreigners living outside China to check its website frequently:
It will help you understand the Chinese culture and economy during this period of epic transformation. Glancing through the websites and blogs of other foreigners, I have noticed that my positive view of the China Daily is not widely shared. People speak of it in ironic and disdainful terms. They say it is a window into China, controlled by the Communist Party, and thus filling the minds of foreigners with rosy propaganda about the country. This is a naïve (and passé) view, based on some religious adherence to “reality”. Hahaha! The most important lesson I learned in college is that Thucydides is nothing next to Herodotus. The exaggerations and myths of Herodotus tell more about how people of the day felt and what they valued than the anal recitations of “fact” Thucydides gives. It is for the same reason that I prefer the China Daily to the BBC. By now, we should know to look beyond vain attempts at providing the truth. At least we know the origin of the China Daily’s views. It offers an straightforward look at the things that the Chinese government-controlled media believes matter, with the packaging they think works best. This is highly instructive material. In terms of material deemed worthy of coverage, I share many preferences with the government-controlled media. No boring schlock commentary on world events like you find in Western media. The China Daily is the sort of publication future historians will study to understand the broad emotive thrust of events and trends in the early 21st century.
Forget the Economist and the New York Times. In the China Daily, you find interesting stuff. The following article is required reading for understanding our times:
I think they have the correct idea. They are the most progressive men in the world. There are many other fascinating questions here, but I don’t have time to go into all of them at this point.
(While I snicker at “reality”, the drummers and runners focused on it sprint ahead. Tediously jumping through the imaginary hurdles erected by like fools, striving to erect higher and higher smokestacks. If it weren’t for the annoying fact of disease, I could vanquish these frenetic robots)
The Protestants of China speak as much of Satan as they do of Christ. Satan and his demons are awaiting all those who worshipp idols, all the virtuous but irreligious Chinese of history, all the intellectuals, even all of the Catholics. Confucius, Sakyamuni, Lei Feng, revered perfect communist hero of the 1950s and 60s, are burning in hell. She uttered the last name with subversive pride. How brilliant a man is, how good a man is, how kind and faultless a life he lives – none of this matters when judgement comes. The worst sinners will be forgiven if they embrace Christ. The minister noted that many intellectuals had brought up the logical problems with faith. They had declared their doubt to the world, seeking to end the hold of Christianity. But what had happened to the man who declared god dead? This is what this scar-faced, middle-aged, Chinese woman asked. He lived alone and died in an insane asylum.
Maybe divine intervention brought me to this dull office building and this little room. The church was on the forth floor of an office building right to the south of the Third Ring Road. It is a barren and utilitarian section of the city, high rises and roads like everywhere else. The office building is right next to a Gome, the leading home appliance chain in China. The room functioning as the church was about five by ten meters. There was a white board and upright indoor air conditioner at the front of the room. Folding chairs served as pews.
My friend, the rockstar who I had met briefly once before, provided music with his guitar. He is about 1.95 meters and weighs much less than me.
Around forty people filled the room. There were perhaps slightly more women than men, but the difference was not substantial. About sixty percent of the people were under thirty. The others were in their fifties, with three or four very old people hobbling around.
The preacher with long scars running along her face was named Xu Chen. She made reference to these scars at one point.
Her sermon, long and delivered with feeling, kept me rapt. It related to the life of the spirit versus a life that values only corporeal existence. She mentioned the difficulties in China today where people think only of material things, and also commented on the problems in the West where people find a spiritual vacuum. The most interesting point she made was about Japan. Japan is a country where every single person has mental disease. Her main comments were on the men whose work obsessed life leads them to the most peculiar practices.
Japanese men are known to avoid returning home if at all possible, since their home life is so bereft of spirituality. They sleep in the park, or their office, or hotels just to avoid facing the discomfort of home. Far stranger are the things they eat, which include both dirt and feces, drawn directly from the toilet bowl. These practices are, purportedly, just the tip of the iceberg. This manifestation of the Chinese hatred of Japan even in a Christian setting was notable.
You have to love Hugo Chavez. Mr. and Mrs. Big (look at photos of the pair) are in Ukraine and they will visit Iran soon. No stop in Zimbabwe is planned for this trip. Ukraine is a loyal ally of Venezuela. It’s an important geopolitical economic relationship; bilateral trade stood at a whopping $16 million in 2005. On this world tour, Mr. Chavez is also swinging by Russia, where he will pick up 100,000 AK-47s, expected to tip the balance in the struggle against the Great Satan.
Mr. Chavez’s brother is discussing still closer military cooperation with Cuba, and Bolivia might supplement this formidable alliance.
Sadly, considering the rate that the US sheds friends, these foes have to be taken seriously.
“A survey in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen shows that 22 percent, 73 percent, 34 percent and 32 percent of white-collar male workers, aged between 28 and 33, would be prepared to do the housekeeping if the conditions were right.”
More on the weird dichotomy of Chinese men later. What some are willing to say and hack up in the earshot of young women continues to shock me. It is a question of differing habits between classes and generations, but the bums and muggers on Chicago’s Southside have a better idea of how to conduct themselves in the presence of ladies than many businessmen in China.
All the same, I’m starting to see that the men are the ones faced with the real challenge posed by rapid development. I admire the women who appreciate this fact.
Beijing sunny days can be vile. Visibility is no higher than on a rainy day. There is no illusion of gloom, just pure pollution, with the sun’s rays illuminating. I growled out the following nearly a year ago, but unfortunately it matches this month’s weather:
Snobbic fools, like me, steal the word “Europe” to symbolize their dilemma. I seek comfort from the notion of the old continent, unwilling to abandon their mess of unfortunate attitudes barring success in the Sino-American capitalist murk. To survive, I assume the false smile and “attitude is everything” by day. When night falls, the cherished nihilism, that self-defeating system, beckons. I reflect snootily on the ugly men in shapeless suits encountered during the day.
Must a definition of self have to be rejected if it is meaningless? That seems the only way to get by, but then what is there to embrace? Without mental war with ugly surroundings and a worthless future, what remains but the artificial work personality and a vague fight to feel ambition? It’s so difficult to embrace the neon grey modern world without smugly despising it.
The fantasy of Europe powers and saps me, as I venomously peer around this aesthetically cursed terrain: choking rather than breathing, ugly cinderblocks covered with billboards, their rooftops lost in the fumes, and youths craving bills with a portrait of a fat mass-murderer, so that they can buy an auto-crazed, luxury branded lifestyle.
Be careful, what you set your heart upon, for it shall be yours to endure.
I’ve despised what is practical, but the choice that determined my current surroundings seems the most practical one of my life, though that was not the intention. Studying the language had nothing to do with the engine of the world’s “growth”. Now the limitless growth figures involve me everyday.
Nascent at university, the fantasy of Europe fuels all my defiance. Now I fear the Sino-American hunger for profit, and pursuit of expansion.
Wretchedness consumes me as I watch the cranes and welding guns, and polyurethane and sulfur fill my lungs. The present is damned by the unattainable dream of old buildings, green trees, fresh air, little cars, intellectual scarves, and fatalistic defiance against the future.
A thin and gorgeous youth walks the empty street, breathing crisp, cool air. The sun shines bright and the sky is blue. He wears a long scarf, an Edwardian velvet coat, tight jeans, and Milanese shoes. His hair is a mess. He grasps an old book – it has been so long since I’ve read one that I don’t even remember the name. Oil is so expensive, environmentalism so strong, that only tiny electric vehicles drive the streets, and few at that, since mass transit is so good. He is heading to a concert, with a flask in his hand.
He doesn’t have a wife. He can take any one he wants and kiss their lips. Life is long and uncertain.
After walking the clean streets, unclear on what he should have been doing, he returns to his tiny cell, in the spire of a monastery. With his oil lamp for light, he tries to write, but there is not so much subject matter.
You look cracked out in that picture, lay off the ice! Posted by Pescatore on 08/04/2006 06:58:09 AM
This is one of the first males I’ve seen in China who has a really natural sense of style:
Those shopping in the luxury emporiums may not be seeking this look. The style ideas they do arrive at seem contrived compared to what this man is doing. Sadly, the picture does not capture his shoes, which looked like vintage Reeboks – very hipsterish. This gorgeous man was reluctant to have his photo taken, and he didn’t want to chat. I told him that he was handsome and had good taste, which made him finally budge. This is on Changan Avenue, the main street in Beijing, and maybe the world.
If you aren’t in China with all of the plasticy outfits and general ”utter spanking newness”, you may not appreciate what this fellow has achieved.
At the intersection of Dongsishitiao and the Second Ring Road. Here is a guy off from work, heading home for the night, or maybe out for some lamb on a stick.
Last night, my tiny flat was a swank bar, Gallic lounge music seeping out like honey, the singer’s husky voice sultry enough to melt the iron door shut before me. I couldn’t help wondering what my dainty flatmate was up to, playing such inflaming music at so late an hour.
She had borrowed my key that morning, so I hoped she would hear me knock. She didn’t, so I banged. In the end, modern technology offered a solution. I contacted her by cell phone: “Princess, open the gate”. Three or four more minutes and the door opened. Wavy hair falling over her flushed face, bathrobe carelessly tossed on, and in the background, a man’s suit jacket neatly placed on the sofa in the dimly lit living room…she’s on an adventure. She tried to tie up her bathrobe, only to find it was inside out.
I cleared my throat and said, “Well, sorry, didn’t know you were busy”. She bit her lower lip, squeezing out an angelic smile, “I’ve brought my friend over…”. “Hmm… you may want to give my key back since I’m leaving in a bit. I would hate to disturb you and your guest again.” She giggled softly and returned to her room. With the faint light coming through her door, I could see her duvet all ruffled, but no sign of her friend. Glancing nervously back into her room, my flatmate handed me the key. Before I could say thanks, she fled back to her room and shut the door tight as a young lady of her tiny build could.
This Mongolian princess was not one to bring home strange men. I had to find out what breed of prince drove her to so giddy and uncivilized a state.
Under cover of the crooning ballads, I inspect the living room for clues. First, of course, one can’t miss the suit jacket. Some say you can tell everything about a man from the suit he wears. If that’s true, I hope this man at least has a tender heart. Navy with a blend of gray – corporate drone, tick! Wool mixed with loads of synthetic fibers – stiflingly sensible, tick! No label for the brand or fabric used, just two spare buttons sewn underneath the inside breast pocket, and the lapel is ironed flat – made at a local tailor shop catering to bargain-seeking expatriates, tick! Lying next to the suit jacket is Mr. Man’s loyal Samsonite computer case. Recently accused of being picky about everything, I still can’t resist commenting that, despite Samsonite’s latest efforts, including hiring Isabella Rossellini to promote its chic new suitcases, most of us still know the brand for its quality and dull style. Would it be too daring to suggest that Mr. Man’s choice of suits and bags might reflect his personality? Let’s not be so arbitrary… or at least not yet.
I thought the investigation was ending, but the victorious little smile developing on the right corner of my mouth instantly disappeared when I was struck by two dark objects sitting calmly by my flatmate’s door, next to her rose leather peep-toe pumps. Innocuous enough: a pair of black leather lace-ups – plain, matte, large, nearly Dr. Marten style. I don’t mean those ornate ones for rockers. The Sex Pistols and The Damned would not have donned these clunkers. I feel bad saying this, since my own beau hails from the Mighty Stripy Nation, but do consider the kind of shoes an average American dude wears to match his synthetic suit and hard computer case, and you may just be able to picture what I saw. I hold no grudge against these shoes. They are comfortable, economical, and will be loyal companions for years and years to come. Compared to stilettos with heels sharp enough to kill an army of sumos and price high enough to give the most notorious brute a heart attack, these black leather lace-ups give me such an earthy feeling. What I adore the most about this kind of shoe is that they look pretty much the same from purchase till the day you abandon them. Maybe it’s the durable leather, maybe it’s the matte finish. I adore them so much that I even gave them a nickname – Broad Bean Shoes. These shoes resemble those lovely little plump beans.
As I was giving a tender last look at those black lace-ups, the French sweetheart finished her last song and some vague sounds came from the love nest. Even the most romantic nation had to close its show for the night. I sat down next to the synthetic suit and started looking through the CDs on the coffee table. The soundtrack of The Tango Lesson caught my eye. On the cover, a lady in a flaming red dress and a man in a white shirt and black trousers were holding a highly professional dance position, both with left legs bent, right legs stretched to the back and backs erect. Their hands clasp with such intensity that, even without watching the movie, it’s easy to experience the bursting passion and entangled emotions.
I changed the CD and turned up the volume. The night was young for my emancipated princess and her earthy new lover. What drew these two individuals together, I lack a clear answer. But I hoped that since the Francophone honey had retired, at least the Latino passion would get the pair through the steamy night.
Today, I heard our man works as Executive Solutions Wizard at a leading IT consulting firm. I smiled knowingly, thinking of broad beans, and rejoiced for my little triumph.
Broad Bean Shoes- how classic. Posted by Mr. B.Y. Jia on 08/04/2006 07:04:56 AM
The West can never rest again. Leisure, our reward for advancement, was fleeting. To maintain our current standards, we must run ever faster. We must remain vigilant, guarding our advantages. Now the West pours funds into China, so its talented, industrious labor force can suck down our wages.
The China cost advantage will remain for another half-century. The profit margins of our multi-nationals will continue to grow, and they will reinvest this money in China. Soon, their ranks will be filled with Chinese girls.
Globalization benefits the few on both sides of the Pacific. But at least the Chinese masses, particularly females, have the potential for advancement. Most Westerners, especially males, will only see their position erode.
The pressure from China harms me specifically. The female Chinese white collars run hard all the time, mastering English, adopting professionalism, and adapting to socializing on Western terms. How can a lazy half Middle Easterner like me be expected to keep up?
I don’t really understand any of this of course. My position is influenced by the sound of high heels banging on a wood floor and an omnipresent smile. Let’s leave analysis of globalization to the experts. In some ways, it is only worthwhile for some one of my stature to only say silly things on such vast subjects.
This is an excellent source of articles on globalization from a wide range of perspectives:
The challenge of being independent – starting a business or freelancing – is gladly doing boring deeds. Without pressure from a supervisor, to do boring tasks or write on boring topics demands real effort. Even in a job, success comes from self-motivation, eagerness to do boring things.
Society only pays for boredom, or at least what spoiled boys see as boredom – others have different ideas. Rambling young dilettantes could write for days on things no one else finds useful, enjoying themselves thoroughly, but profits would not flow in.
Boring reports on ugly products generate revenue. Only one or two interns read these reports. The top dogs want to chomp two or three bullet points and an investment target. The full report is too boring for them. The middle guys read reports, but only if they are composed entirely of bullet points and charts. They can devour hundreds of bullet points. They are all pacmen.
Without fear driving, producing those small dots would be tough. For fear of superiors, parents, and lacking a mate, we devote ourselves to boring things. Even with these fears, starvation can seem more desirable than boredom.
To be self-reliant – liberated from the grind – we must create boring things, without outside pressure. That means we must be either very disciplined or very fascinated by boring things. People from the developing world exhibit both of these characteristics. Now they also have initiative. Westerners should worry.
Lovers of boredom will dominate the future. The victors will be able to endure boring things and channel what they’ve learned from them into creation. The vanquished will write on blog websites designed by the victors.
The boring thing is really me. Or, at best, I am just too boring to navigate my way out of boring things.
We know of heroes and artists, but cannot become them. We possess the intellect and the emotional education, while lacking control of our lives and understanding of a world that grows more homogeneous but more complex. Several books and movies suggest escape is to appreciate the small things. The answer is apparently to delight in the silliness that nature and man inadvertently create. Only by savoring the small, can we banish vague dreams of the grand.
This polyester shirt has playboy logos and the word “playboy” all over the back and front. The middle-aged man wearing the shirt showed a notable absence of haughtiness. He didn’t seem to think wearing the shirt meant that he was a playboy himself. He also had on plastic sandals and khakis, and his face could have even had a mole with hairs coming out of it. I’ve been trying to locate a nice shirt with the playboy bunny on the chest. It’s a logo I would wear. Irony of this kind never gets old. I could take it to a tailor to be slimmed down, since, like other polo-type shirts, Playboy ones are cut to fit sumo-wrestlers. The problem is all of the Playboy shirts have disasterous colors and stripes like this one.
Supposedly, the playboy brand in China is licensed by the original magazine company. It is a high status brand and is freqently pirated. Determining whether or not this shirt is an original is challenging because genuine playboy products are also very tacky. The majority of Chinese recognize only the clothing brand and have not heard of the gentleman’s magazine or Mr. Hugh Hefner. Mr. Giorgio Armani commented that in China his company’s most direct competitor is Playboy. Western luxury brands like Armani must struggle to differentiate themselves from quasi-local competitors of this type. Shanghai Eastern Crocodile Apparel Co., Ltd. (Crocodile) is another key domestic luxury goods company. The ubiquitous (and frequently copied) Crocodile belt buckle can be considered a symbol of China’s rising middle class. The Crocodile logo bears a striking resemblance to that of Lacoste.
Whenever I write on something more concrete or China-oriented, I find that someone else has already done it better. Taking the photo was still a good idea. This article tells the whole story of Playboy in China:
Should you stay home playing bridge on a Friday night?
A horde of Korean black wannabes poured from the maw of Dic’s. Their youth or crudeness denied them entry. Perhaps better luck lay ahead for them at Pix. They shoved through, bellowing about rap, booze and hot chicks, three vulgarisms abounding on the dance floor below.
My dearest friend, who once passed through Beijing, suggested I examine Dic’s and Pix. He described them as the city’s loci of expatriate activity. Had he ever been to these two dens of sin, my friendh, a fine and delicate dilettante, would not have recommended a trip. But curiosity killed me, and my companions, a corporate prince and a bevy of golden temptresses, felt no site could better enliven a Friday night.
Lights were low. Sweat poured. Groins pumped. Hip-hop beats deafened, preaching Gucci and disobedience. The thoughtlessly young, the menacingly horny, even the deliciously plump vied for the favor of squadrons of oriental fawns preening on a stage. These braves clutched beer bottles, tensed their muscles, boogied, and feigned cocky smiles. Their hair was gelled to erection. No one could speak and expect to be heard, so communication was limited to tense glances between adversaries and backslaps between allies. Like in the world outside, status mattered most. But here no conversation tempered the brutal gazes and fashionable outfits of rivals.
Identical rituals occurred that night in London, Milan, New Delhi, and Lanzhou. The glamour of the coming dark beckoned throughout Friday. In all cities outside the Axis of Evil and a few Arab countries, urban youths awaited the same melody-less songs, revealing tube tops, and overpriced beer. The objectives and outcomes were the same also: victors would drag home a stud or writhing beauty.
Mothers in Boston, Mumbai and Chongqing wondered why this, of all mating rituals, had gained currency in the four corners of the globe. They lay sleepless, weeping for their daughter’s abbreviated maidenhood and womanhood devoid of charm. They recalled their own days of lovely flirtation and elicit paramours, feeling a certain schadenfreude toward the modern girls.
The mothers failed to grasp that songs about expensive cars and polygamy express universal truths. The new cycle of pelvic thrusts and dollars unites the most primitive with the most modern. The effect is base. Music made like a product, glorifies products. Serfs mass produce clothing that encourages status envy and lust.
Our culture of convenience and the splintering of family and community mean there are few better cures for loneliness on a Friday night. The young boy who rejects the beauties of the club turns to the ones on the internet. Maybe I’m just envious, unable to relate to all this. I missed a cultural step somewhere and feel out of place in a club.
Sunflower seeds slow my typing.
This catches the nostalgia for a past understood but not experienced and a fright of a present little understood. Cross generational stuff is hard but love creates emphathy. Posted by Golpashan on 07/14/2006 03:36:43 PM
Last week, Thomas Friedman wrote and article about pollution being China’s most pressing problem. He declared pollution to be the greatest challenge that faces China. Another NYT columnist echoed this view, calling Beijing the air pollution capital of the world. It is shocking for Americans getting off the plane to see and breath the air. Walking home from work, I wonder how I remain alive and how there is enough oxygen left in Beijing for 15 million inhabitants and 4 million migrant laborers. One of these articles described the air I breath as “very dangerous”. Chinese studies show that 400,000 people in the country die prematurely from respiratory illnesses every year. I can only hope that many of those were also smokers, and ordinary breathers of the air are in less danger.
I looked out the window and the smog is still there. Beijing doctors recommend that people don’t leave their houses on days like this. The locals claim that this is not pollution but mist. The mist must have always smelt like car exhaust in Beijing. Of course, I understand that this is an issue of face and I should be more sensitive. The omnipresent sulfurous air is probably a subject that one shouldn’t even raise. Acknowledging the post-apocalyptic conditions in Chinese cities might cause people to doubt the merits of the economic miracle, the new greatest of China.
Chinese weather forecasts say that Northern China is experiencing heavy levels of mist these days. Online foreign weather forecasts say that today is bright and sunny in Beijing. I don’t know what this discrepancy means. What is that stuff outside of my window that obscures the view of the tall buildings on Changan Avenue.
On many days I have been thankful for the view that my fifth floor apartment grants me, but waking up to the gray expanse poisons my attitude for the day. Hangzhou was polluted, but it never bothered me so much. I never had such a commanding view of the deadened air in Hangzhou.
The air seems okay in the rooms themselves, but out on the patio there is a foul smell. I must keep that door closed. Outside the window there is a bird flying. Either it is a remote-controlled propaganda robot, or the locals are right about the mist.
I will be an obese corpse before no time with this air, with this alcohol, with
these pervasive sugars and meats. If it could all be erased, then
I would be happy.
And what can I do? Where can I go? More imporantly, how can I breath? I suffocate on “GDP growth at all costs”.
They say comrades Hu and Wen recognize these problems. We enter an era
now of “scientific growth”. Every opinion will be legitimate now
if it is “scientific”.
Let the age of science commence!
And may we stop our choking! Please let me exit my room without
inhaling seven packs of cigarettes in one breath…Please let me stop
pretending that while I am inside sleeping my lungs have been
saved. Some of you must understand this new insanity I
feel. I have felt so many different kinds, so many of them
unjustied, so many of them so teenage.
But will any of you deny the fear of suffocation? It is a standard
nightmare. One can’t breath. Nothing is more common for
dreams than flying and suffocating.
I am a complainer. It is too much, and it drives people away from
me. I know, I drew a line between me and them. I carved out
an exile. Now I smile. But being depressive already and
five days of flith in my lungs, and an irascible insanity is
I look out every morning, and I hope that my
windows are too dirty or fogged up. That is not the case.
The moment I wake up I see the gray field. I have prayed for five
days to see a speck of blue. I need for it to happen.
I look across a field of gray with concrete blocks peering out. I look down at the cars emerging from the mist.
Nightfall is a relief. It comes fast but without drama. The grayness of the day yields seamlessly to the darkness of the night. And the blackness somehow tells me the carbon monoxide and sulfur have
vanished. At night, from the nineteenth floor overlooking the Gate of Heavenly Peace obscured by smog for nearly a month, I see only car headlights. In the day, I curse the cars for their crime against my lungs. They are vulgar little insects emerging from the haze they have created. They are hateful, but barely visible. In the night, the car headlights reassure me. The trail of their headlights extends all the way to the gate that I never see. They become beacons that deceive me into thinking that the pollution evaporates with nightfall.
When I finally leave my work unit, I experience the falseness of this hope. My first breath upon exiting the Henderson Centre convinces me that 15 million Beijingers will be dead tomorrow morning. In this windy city of the manmade desert, there has been no wind for five days. How many days of no wind will it take for everyone to die?
The funny thing about all of this pollution, is that my skin is better than ever. Maybe there is some anti-aging agent in low-grade crude or sulfur. Maybe I should thank Capital Steel for my beautiful youth.
Maybe the perservatives in the food help a bit? Posted by wang on 12/22/2005 09:47:15 PM
Readers must have decided this blog will not ever again display new material. Life is busy. It is hard to have time to post. I have been very lucky over the last two weeks to have my parents in town. My mother in particular loves Beijing and is planning to visit me again in the Spring. I hope that my father also will feel well enough to come then.
So it has been a happy visit and they have brought energy and order to my apartment.
I have a great deal of new material to post once I complete editing and the like. So keep checking back. My parents are leaving on September 27. I will have ample time to write and post after that.
Have you been Beijing long enough to be a good guide? I beeen Beijing several times and I think autumn is the best seaon of a year for Beijing. Posted by webdai on 10/18/2005 09:24:38 AM
Reading my writing or reflecting on conversation, I often find it execrable that I always refer to the “Chinese” as if they are one big group of identical people, with identical perspectives on the issues.
I believe it is shameful to even speak of a people as a group, but anyone who has been in China should understand why it comes so naturally to me. We are always regarded as laowai here, and Chinese refer to themselves as zhongguoren especially in contrast to us. Upon first arriving, one might want to avoid the tendency to group all Chinese together. The fact is that most people, outside of the educated ones or some who have been abroad, force me to represent the entire foreign world – in addition to the United States.
Writing these this, I feel as though I just arrived here, and have just noticed the most obvious things about the country. Readers from China keep in mind that people reading this may not have been here before.
I don’t want to seem elitist or culturally insensitive. In China, foreigners deal with levels of people that they normally wouldn’t encounter in their own country. Half-hour conversations about politics with the bicycle repairman just don’t occur in the States. Even if they did, the bicycle repairmen in Hyde Park, Chicago, didn’t just emigrate from a stone-age village.
I would argue that even more educated people tend to want me to represent the United States, at least at times. In Germany even, being an American, you sometimes find yourself in the uncomfortable position of defending the entirety of US foreign policy (not that you shouldn’t rise to the occasion).
My point being that considering most Chinese see themselves as a big happy family, feel extreme nationalism, and view foreigners as largely identical, I feel entitled to speak of “the Chinese”. I always feel a little bit of multiculturalistic disappointment in myself when I do it though.
aaaaaaayyy fuckin mennn how many times have i heard: 1)”you foreigners XXX” 2)”we chinese YYY” …a good portion of the people in the mainland seem to think that they are some sort of UN delegate for China… I always want to look over my shoulder everytime I hear “你们外国人” and make sure there isn’t a gang of people following me around that I hadn’t noticed… That and of course if your face is white: “there-ain’t-no-way-you-can-possibly-speak-Our-Language-or-know-anything-about-Our-Country” Or the extremely annoying: “speaking mandarin with the tones all fucked up so that the dumb monkey can understand” In my experience, most of these things go on in the mainland and are probably unavoidable in the near-term as China is still a developing country… I find Taiwan and HK to be infinitely better in this respect. I tend to purposefully refer to ‘Chinese’ people as 大陆人or 内地人in these kinds of conversations-with-idiots these days. just my 2 cents… Posted by Pescatore on 10/09/2005 09:29:01 AM
pescatore, you don’t have to be so vicious, you’re no better. Posted by molls on 11/22/2005 01:34:29 PM
This will be the first of many installments on “streetwear” here in China…Once my digital camera arrives, I hope to do a website with pictures.
I met an extremely thin, not in the least bit unattractive, girl, wearing hot pink knee-length pleated shorts, in New York who worked promoting various high fashion brands – notably Dior Homme.
She was an American-Born-Chinese from the West Coast and she surprised me by saying that the young men in China were “so hot”.
Please don’t accuse me of being racist, but there aren’t many women I’ve met who say this. It turns out that I agree with her, at least in some cases.
In her eyes, they far surpass their American counterparts. She said that these punk and alternative youth had captured the spirit of Hedi Slimane’s designs without even having heard of him, let alone being able to afford his stuff. And of course they have the super slim physiques, wild-color dyed hair, and vacuous looks to really master this look. That this look is so homegrown in China made it all the more appealing for her.
Those of you who visit China or live here may be surprised. Most expats just add the Chinese fashion sense to their list of aspects of the country to bitch about. A group of white males all clad in a uniform of tapered jeans with black tee shirts tucked-in will sit around condemning the Chinese male for his bad taste in clothing. Their attitude of superiority usually transcends the sartorial, but it is interesting that a bunch of pleated puds would criticize Chinese dudes for their fashion sense. People who appear not to give a damn about clothing suddenly wax indignant upon arriving in China, and seeing people with a more distinct sense of style.
Granted most people in China don’t have the money or the interest to care about clothing and they tend to look as though they just came in from the village, which they often did. But the expats are usually complaining about the fashion-sense of the new middle class or the extremely style-conscious youth.
And our concern here is with streetwear anyway, so peasants and laborers don’t count, though they do choke the streets in my part of Dongcheng Qu.
I. The Hair Salons and Ducks
Even more than in the West, hair salons are a locus of style. This is where all the young dudes congregate to preen about and try to outdo each other in extravagance of attire. Tons of rail-thin boys in skin-tight black jeans and silver shirts or sleeveless white blazers haunt the doorways of the hair salons, chain-smoking, adoring only their own gaudy youth. Techno turned louder than the cheap speakers can stand is the soundtrack to their posing. Any shoe less than twice as long as their actual foot can never worn by these stone-faced jesters. With the number of roaches here, their choice of footwear makes some sense.
Enter the salon and you will see the master. He is “the Mongol”. His long silky hair with pink streaks, his refined beard, his chiseled features, his wolf-like eyes all reveal that his origins are on the steppe. He is the one who sculpts atrocious masterpieces on heads. His attire also introduces him. His sleeveless top is a combination of black web and silver rings. His shoes are pointy like those of his minions, but they are patterned with skulls and cross bones, repeated in a rainbow of colors. Overwhelming, but fascinating.
To the Mongol’s right stands an assistant. He wears all white, very tight. To his left is another assistant. This fellow has extremely long hair, a handsome face, a shiny floral shirt, black bell-bottoms – outlawed as symbols of western decadence during the seventies – and gold pointy shoes.
In the winter, the attire becomes extremer with the weather. In the middle of the gray and pollution, I see three dainty lads displaying all degrees of brazenness in their strut and attire. Bleached blond hair, ass-tight black jeans, and Jackie O glasses were prerequisites for joining this precious little clique. One dude had on a knee-length leopard print fake fur coat, another a matrix style black jacket with a mandarin collar, and another a tight green zebra-stripe suit with a red skull-pattern scarf. I tried talking to them. Though these boys were under twenty and dressed to the nines, there were no sissified antics to be found here. They had tough voices.
These were ducks. Ducks are the callow youths who throng the Karaoke bars and dancing clubs looking for a rich married women to buy them for the night. Though foppish, these were mean men of the night, who had a mission. And the women who paid for their service were often minor beauties themselves. They had apparently married overweight pig heads with BMWs, but needed the ducks for their non-monetary needs. These pretty little mallards were always impeccably dressed, in their special way.
Inability to connect with everything around won’t vanish. Brief are moments of toleration for the concrete and people, the gases filling the air, the hawker’s coarse yells.
The insurmountable walls rise again. Conversations with a Chinese bring back that familiar distance. Talking with an American reinforces seperation too. Both races are so commercialistic, naively optimistic. The past is forgotten for them; they look unreflectively and boldly ahead. Coarse acquisitiveness boils over in their souls, dissolving all philosophical spirit.
It’s tough being European. Raised by scholars, schooled in the classics, a spirit easily drifts across the Atlantic. When this well-groomed being then ends up on the other side of the Pacific, it might be doused with a wok full of boiling fish oil, orange and thick.
A grand history that can never be matched again weighs down Europe. The venerable continent fashions spirits that start life wise but fatigued. American rightists taunt Europeans for their streak of nihilism. This lifelong nihilism also dashes hopes of friendship with the upbeat, unreflective Chinese. This most practical race, they waste no mental space with decadent hopelessness. They make rational calculations aiming for the top spot, even if corruption and inefficiency sometimes dog their steps. History has ended for most Europeans. No national will to ascendancy fires their spirit. Europe has already been number one. They sadly step aside now, making way for those with rawer ambition. With luck, the new emperors will forget the wrongs their former lord committed and retain him as arbiter of elegance. Europe might even set itself up as Greece to China’s Rome, and let the United States go the way of Carthage.
We can still sneer a little at the concrete blocks the Chinese erect everywhere, and their excitement over BMWs and Mercedes Benzes. It is hard not get a jolt of superiority seeing all the billboards, fast food joints, and the ubiquitous Chinese panty-lines standing out under tight jeans. This is our only comfort. They may be building the greatest economic power in history, but it will not be beautiful like Europe was.
Joining the business world has meant forsaking lovely enervation and putting on a tie. A mask must be donned. One has to pretend to be the same as the capitalistic Chinese and Americans. These two races represent obsession with professionalism, superficiality, and contentment. Essentially: vulgarity. The European spirit is separate, but the only defense is labeling them “base”. A man of taste and virtue cannot speak with children struggling for electric gadgets and gas-guzzlers. The carefree, unashamedly simple spirit, the absence of the grave or heavy: these are the things that impede communication. Here, no one hides their quest for improvement of nation and self. Most Chinese – and these very intelligent ones – aren’t afraid to position themselves in a larger organism, rejoicing when it succeeds, defending it from any perceived slight. There is no sense of failure or disappointment in China – just a sense that the future will be brighter.
The dilemma is: Can we abandon all of our unfortunate attitudes in order to succeed in the capitalistic, Sino-American, world? I play their smiling game of “attitude is everything” by day, but when night falls I gleefully return to my cherished nihilism, that self-defeating system, and reflect snootily on the ugly men in shapeless suits I have met. Must a definition of self have to be rejected if it is empty? It is difficult to embrace the neon modern world without smugly despising it. (0) Comments | Post Comment
My old blog at blogcity is inaccessible. It took a long time for me to realize that this was because the entire site, blogcity, has been blocked in China, and not because of content on my specific blog. I was wondering what could possibly have been objectionable. There was nothing critiquing the Chinese Communist Party in that blog, and there won’t be in this one either. In fact, this blog will do quite the opposite. I can only beg the scrupulous men who scan the web for evil pollution to not block blogsource. That would be inconvenient for me. The move would also be regrettable from the perspective of the Communist Party, as my interests correspond to theirs. Allowing my blog to live is a win-win proposition.
Nothing in this blog will be politically subversive. My issues with life and the world and even China have nothing to do with the Communist Party. I think the old boys are doing a swell job. There is no need for regime change, widespread elections, or any drastic political reforms. Drastic and rapid political change is always deadly, as the French Revolution and the Cultural Revolution made clear. For that reason, I don’t support any huge alterations in the status-quo in China.
My own feelings and impulses may often appear aggressive or subversive. But I don’t claim that changes in the nature of things that would improve my life would also make the world a better place for the majority of people – or anyone besides myself. Any reactions I have to society are selfish and my suggestions are too often self-serving. Empathy has always been a challenge. Without it, it is impossible to grow, or at least, to write something worth reading.
I was diverted into a dull monologue on myself, but now let’s talk about the far more interesting Chinese Communist Party. They are fine people. One can easily see that Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are earnestly trying to improve things, and they should be admired for that. They have a lot of difficulties before them, but I know they will prevail, and so will China. It has for the last nearly three decades, and prospects are good for the next three.
Opposing the Communist Party is senseless. I challenge anyone to show me a regime in all history that has more rapidly brought prosperity to a nation. The fast success of China has not been only due to domestic policy: development here has clearly benefited from foreign investment and an era of globalization. However, the brilliant policies of the Communist Party have allowed China to exploit the full potential of these trends.
Like many Westerners, I am often frustrated by the system of government here in China. “How can these people be content to live under a dictatorship?” This viewpoint is natural for a Westerner to have, but it is immature and one-sided, not accounting for real conditions or the needs of this country. Recently, I have grown-up a little, and now revised my thinking. I now acknowledge the strength and glory of the Communist Party. They should not accept any silly demands made by the West.
A well-known China specialist from the United States who I had the honor of meeting the other night commented that if China were to have a popular election today, Mao would be elected. That is to say, the peasants would elect Mao. The underlying meaning is that populism would have the run of the day. True democracy here would lead to redistribution of wealth, sapping all growth. Bringing democracy to China would mean a step backwards in development. The United States might claim that democratization is in China’s interests, but it is easy to see why many here believe that US pressure for democracy is aimed at stifling China’s development.
If anyone suggests that China implement democracy, I should hope they mean of a very limited type with property qualifications. Chinese must only point to the India example, to refute any argument that China should adopt thorough democracy. Despite that the “miracles” of China and India are often grouped together, looking at the standard economic indicators and their recent growth trends reveals that China has succeeded, and that it remains on a better course. We had property qualifications in the United States, in the beginning.
The problem with these calls for democratization the United States makes is that they don’t account for the reality in China. We imagine a people enslaved to merciless despots. The patent-leather boot of oppression eternally planted on the emaciated stomachs of a billion writhing coolies is often what Westerners imagine the situation here to be. Those who dare breath opposition are roped to the ground or slowly murdered with a thousand knife-wounds. This stifling society is the one that the West concocts as it preaches democracy and liberalization of the press. Anyone who lives in China knows this vision and reality are at odds.
I see a billion smiling coolies. They are watching their lives improve. The ones that are protesting should learn patience. Once their children have education, they too will live in beautiful homes and face computers all day. They will have a healthy appearance after eating much fatty meat. The number of people that have already made this dream their reality proves that the policies of the Communist Party are correct.
This has been my plea to the guardians of righteous thought and moral discourse. I say to them:
Observe all of this that I have said. Is my heart not in the right place? I am your ally. I cherish purity – just like you.
I want to crush pollution. This is my great campaign. Pollution seeps into more than just the air and water. The spirit, the heart, the way we think can be polluted. This can be a broad infiltration stretching across an entire society. This is cultural pollution. And this is what I have always devoted myself to combating. I have always wished to eradicate poison of the moral and intellectual discourse. Everything I say and write relates to this grand project.
I pledge to aid all others working toward the same goal of moral purification. I believe that my allies include the Chinese Communist Party and many others. In this one case, even though my writing is normally selfish, I believe that my new goals correspond to what is in the hearts of the majority of people. I sense a widespread dissatisfaction with the high levels of pollution in society. The average person wants to live in a purer society, so I pledge to subvert all of my usual ulterior motives and irony, and help them to scrub society clean.
Love your ally. Preserve me. Allow me to access my blog.
Unfortunately, it was my blog that ultimately caused blog-city to blocked in China. Look no further than the China Daily for evidence: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-07/22/content_462460.htm Posted by Gordon on 10/02/2005 04:27:41 PM
To be honest, i agree more with ‘china-lover’ moreso than ‘gordon’… gordon’s writing seems mainly the rantings of a disillusioned english teacher who came to china without knowing enough of what he was getting into… Posted by bai ma fei ma on 10/09/2005 09:39:04 AM
It’s funny. I read that article, but I never put two and two together. So, we have Gordon to blame…The “China Lover” article was rather transparent in its propagandistic intentions, but there is a definate tendency among expats to be unsympathetic. I know that Gordon has interesting and extreme opinions that should not be blocked. The opposition they generated is surely just the sort of nationalism the government wants to encourage. Any foreigners criticizing China are probably helping the Party. Posted by nels on 10/10/2005 02:41:10 PM
I like your blog. I wish I could see your previous one as well. I am just curious, did you ever backup your blog? or is it feasible to do so on blogsource? BTW: It would be great if you can break one long essay into several smaller pieces if possible. Posted by webdai on 10/17/2005 04:13:05 PM
I am glad to have a pleasure to view your Blog, as a Chinese,I have a srong feeling about our motherland and thank you for your help.We can believe China Gov. to settle them_whatever they are.Yes? Be glad to your friend,for I am studying Anthropoly and you can help me recognize China from a foreigner angle My English is poor,I am sorry.Can you catch my meaning? Posted by hiriver on 11/15/2005 10:22:04 AM