bullet the gray sky

china2009 travel

good role models, old Lijiang

Shanghai is a hustling bustling frenetic locus of human activity.
As you blast through the city in a screaming taxi with the angel
of death sitting shotgun, dodging lumbering whale buses and zippy
bike and scooter minnows, the future winks back.

Shiny-ancient construction projects sprout wildly, straining up
to the haze-ridden sky; concrete is the new organic; motley
cranes rear their urban brood, standing tall like terrible kings
of our present times, although they’re all arms and no legs,
quite opposite the lizards of millenia past.

Joss Whedon predicated his Firefly universe on a world where east
and west were fired in a cracked crucible heated unevenly, the
resulting admixture a mishmosh of component parts with clear
lineage like Uncle Mort’s lumpy gravy, both gibbetty and floury.
It would be unsurprising if he drew inspiration from Shanghai.

Beijing is stiff and stodgy, weighed down by 5000 years of
tradition — starched collars and Brooks Brothers. Shanghai
dances and prances and embraces shabby-chic. Oversized overpriced
Dolce and Gabbana eyewear with $5 Target flip-flops are a-ok.

I’m writing-riding on the train to Nanjing. We’ve kissed 207
km/h, and I’m mainlining Portishead into my brain to drown out
the 40somthing dumpy looking dude making out with his 20something
girlfriend or wife or whatever.

A few headlines and quotes from the Shanghai Daily:

Hidden dangers of home decorating

More than 91 percent of Shanghai homes tested were found to have
high levels of formaldehyde in the air… “It is too late to
offer advice after decorating so we want to give help
beforehand,” said Li Wei, the [Shanghai Association of
Environmental Protection Industry] vice secretary-general.

Strange case of the eggs that bounced

The man, surnamed Chen, found the yolks of the boiled eggs had
become hard and elastic. They could “even be bounced high like
pingpong balls,” he said. Chen, 67, said the eggs looked exactly
the same as normal ones.

Paying homage to all things pink and Barbie

There is also a gelato bar with special flavors: Barbie, Ken, and
Barbie’s new friend in Shanghai Lynn. Diners can also take on the
Barbie burger complete with beetroot red sauce or the meaty Ken
burger with bacon and cheese.

Mourinho rules out racism in Juve chants

The Portuguese said that if Juventus fans were really racist,
they would also abuse their own black players, such as Mohamed
Sissoko. “If it’s racism, it’s racism for all, not just
opposition players,” he said.

And in yesterday’s edition, we got a story about a counterfeit
store. No, it’s not a store that sells counterfeit items although
there are many of them here. Instead, an enterprising
counterfeiter set up an entire building to resemble a Tesco (the
Euro equivalent of Wal-Mart) with fake signage, price tags,
promotional material — the works — and got people to shop there
for several months thinking that they were really shopping at a

Victor and I walked through the Shanghai shopping district this
morning and it was moderately depressing. It seemed like every
store wanted to sell you a cheap Louis Vuitton or Gucci or Paul
Frank or whatever namebrand knockoff. All I wanted was a plain
leather belt, but apparently the urge to slap on a crap fake logo
on everything is irresistable. It will be a good day when the
Chinese get some brands of their own that they can be proud of,
rather than settling for el cheapo fakery.

Our bargaining attempts were thwarted due to the flashing neon
“FOREIGNER!!!” signs floating above our heads. Apparently we
confused the hell out of them with our Chinese physical
characteristics but horrible Mandarin. Everyone thought we were
Malaysian or Singaporean (two other countries that speak
Mandarin). Our “we’re Americans” reply was something that no
one expected.

The people here are taller than I expected. I was thinking that I
was going to somewhat above-average height, but the nutrition
here must have improved by an amazing amount in the past few
years, and it turns out that like always, I have to rely on my

sterling personality and razor sharp wit to stand out from the

I’ve no clue what Nanjing has in store for us. We’re meeting up
with my uncle for a few days. I’m hoping to get more than 6 hours
of sleep per night over the next few days.

This android does dream of electric sheep.

daily Chinese life, Nanjing