Friday, November 26, 2004

turkey day oh turkey day

hope your thanksgiving was as weird as mine. I sat in wang wei's parents house in beijing on thursday eating noodles and listening to a story about how the night before his parents had some friends over. The drinking and conversation became so rowdy and animated that neighbors called the cops. In addition, they scared their mynah bird to death. Yes, that's right, it DIED the next morning. They kept blaming the mynah bird for having such a weak constitution. The best part was that they were all trying to act like it was perfectly normal to scare a bird to death. I'm cracking up right now in my little office cubicle just thinking about how completely bizarre the whole thing was.

We're making it up though on sat. we're going to a friend's house for real turkey din din. I will try to eek out a pumpkin pie from my surprisingly versitile toaster oven.

Happy "opressing native peoples in the name of liberation" Day. Happy "I've eaten enough on my own to feed a village in a third world country" Day. Happy "inflatable commercial icons led through the streets of New York City" Day. American culture is amazing isn't it? Ahhh, I love what we can come up with when left to our own devices. Gobble Gobble indeed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

country roads

Happy Birthday Tam!

Went last night to hear a group of bluegrass musicians jam with a Chinese Erhu player in a French cafe in Beijing. A very excellent and surreal combination of circumstances. The musicians were headed by Abbey Washburn and her group of kick-ass musicians playing banjo, guitar and bass. They were joined by some local luminaries like Time Magazine's Matt Forney on the mandolin. String instrument wackiness into the wee hours of the night. It was a fantastic example of American folk fusion: great voices, beautiful and simple tunes. All I can say is that is was just some very honest music. The lack of pretension was refreshing in this town of mando-pop musical theater. Ahhhhh...

Speaking of music, can I just say that the muzak that is pumped out into the very corporate garden at my very corporate day job is some of the most insipid and evil muzak I have ever heard. I am not prone to hyperbole, and I have suffered through plenty of muzak. Makes me want to take a sledgehammer to the stupid little green metal mushrooms that house the offending speakers and beat each of them to a pulp. I think this is justifiable grounds for a performance art 'happening' which will occur on some auspicious day on the lunar calendar. I hope to dress like a tattered Easter bunny in a dirty tutu and go hopping across the fabricated grassy "knoll" with a sledgehammer slung over my shoulder, and take out each of the stupid mushrooms one by one. Yes, there is more than one. I will probably be wrestled to the ground by the Chinese security guards with the drones of corporate worker bees just standing around during their lunch hour wondering what happened. After I get dragged off to the management office the worker bees won't even mention the incident and will resume talking about the mindnumbing features of different credit cards or where they will take vacation this year. Makes me want to jump up and down while simultaneously shouting and spewing airborne vomit.

Monday, November 15, 2004

the usual frenzy

Too long since my last posting. Apologies. What with the shock of the election and the frenzy of trying to remodel a place and organize an exhibition, my little pea brain is pretty much fried. Well, what's been happening these days is...

For the whole of Nov 3 (I'm 12 hours ahead) I was glued to the refresh button on my browser window hoping that one of those center states would go blue. Then, I walked around for about 48 hours in shock and horror as friends who are currently living in the states emailed me one by one asking what I thought about moving to China. The saddest thing was that the results just demonstrates the sense of fear running through the country: fear of terror, fear of gays, fear of Muslims, fear of extremists, fear of everyone and anyone different. Tolerance? Pish, out the window. Now the pressure on the global fundamentalists gauge is rising faster than ever. The conservative government in power just pits extremism with extremism like 2 bulls interlocking horns. It doesn't matter the flavor of extremism, be it Christian, Muslim, Judaism, it's just going to keep spiraling up. What we really need are some extreme Buddhists to throw into the mix.

The word is getting out about this upcoming exhibition. I know because I'm getting random phone calls from strangers asking if they can participate in the conference. Not only are they asking to participate, they are asking in the most cryptic and polite way possible (in Chinese) and it took me 10 minutes of talking to them before I could figure out what they wanted. What a bizarre language. I know it's not fashionable to talk about linguistic determinism, but damn, it is so hard to draw a line of thought between A and B? Probably had more to do with this one individual than an entire culture, but sweeping generalizations are so much more grand and fun.

Knock me down a wall! Yes indeed-y bob, we are sledgehammer central at this new place. We've got this production going where 5 different workers bees are buzzing away hammering, drilling and sawing. All have questions. All are shouting at the same time (what was that about the Chinese language as unable to drop below a certain decibel?) The worst is that the rooms are bare so the echo in there is intense. They all are from Jiangsu province and sport thick southern accents. I'm surprised we can actually communicate at all. We've made progress: We bought a bathtub. We bought a sink. We bought slate for the floor. We bought some bathroom tiles. I make it sound simple, huh? You're thinking, it took you 3 weeks to buy 4 things? You, my friend, have not had the pleasure of design by committee. Not the best of all possible worlds, but in lieu of actual drawn plans and samples, I suppose we all balance each other out.

Oh, and in addition to that I've become completely obsessed with palm scrabble. I'm losing sleep. My justification is that it helps my word power, but I still have yet to use XI in a sentence.