February 27, 2009

My Living Will

If I am ever in a state of vegetation (coma) where it seems unlikely that I will come out of it, I would prefer to die.

Life Support
If it is short term (less than 3 months), then use your discretion. If the prognosis is bad, then end it quickly.
If it takes more than 3 months, that is too long: end it shortly thereafter.
If my brain becomes dead or a constant vegetable, then don’t try. Give up hope early.

Brain Dread
If I’m brain dread, I am dead. Let me go.


February 23, 2009

my living room in Beijing

Ten things I'm liking at the moment:

1. Milk. Silliman went on about it, but I didn't know about the union support for Milk and vice versa. I mean, I was 8 when he was killed, so this film was something of an education on the gay rights movement for me. I wish it had come out sooner in California to sway the Prop 8 vote.
2. John Berryman's The Dream Songs. A lot of folks really don't like this work, but I think they are completely misreading it. In light of his snoozy contemporaries --Lowell, Ginsberg after Kaddish . . .
3. That my apartment comes with a washing machine. Few apartments have dryers in China, as they recognize the waste of energy drying clothes truly is. Hence, the delicates by the window in the photo above.
4. Single fare subways. Beijing is like New York. You pay the same amount to travel by subway if you are going one stop (in which case you should walk) or 10. BART could learn something from this.
5. Sanjay, my coworker, used to do something TV/film related in England before winding up in China. He knows a fair bit about other forms of writing and wants to talk about it. This is an unexpected development.
6. Exercise. 5 days a week: I listen to mostly Sabbath, the Stooges & the White Stripes on my shuffle as I slowly run 5K on the treadmill at the grotty gym 3 blocks from my place. I dropped from being boarderline high-blood pressure to perfectly healthy in about a month.
7. My job makes me wear slacks and a tie. I'm almost 40 and have never had to wear a tie at a job in my life. At this point, it seems much more like performance. I am literally suiting up for my job. I have been buying the most hideous ties to go with the loud dress shirts I am having made. I am honestly enjoying this part of the theater of it. I am dressing a part, and the students are receiving the part well enough to get on with their own role of language learning. There's a movie's worth of material in this dynamic.
8. Tailored shirts for 100 kuai ($15).
9. I have been busy cooking up new projects.
10. That
21 Grand offered me a show which can't pan out. I pitched a show idea to Darren sometime last year, and he recently got back me. Unfortunately, I'm not in the Bay Area and 21 Grand is --and should be -- all about the Bay folk. It's akin to my losing out on the Bay Area Poetics anthology. But that's what I get for moving so much.


February 22, 2009

you can't be a pimp
and a prostitute too

February 21, 2009

Confessions of a lazy Updike stalker:

Now that Updike has died, I don't hate anyone enough to lie in waiting for--but am on the ready to deliver a good neck punch outside the New Yorker office if someone has it coming to them as much as Updike.

Updike had it coming for his multiple offenses against literature, and here I mean writing in general, not just the stuff they teach in PhD seminars.

He was a bad, boring writer.

The worst part is is there are multiple generations that will follow his flacid model. Not unlike art.


February 18, 2009

James Marsh, Man on Wire (2008). 94 mins.
Nevermind, I had to get over a fear of heights just to watch this film. I got mild vertigo several times watching it just laying on the couch while making sure to keep at least one foot on the floor. But if the event the film documents isn't one of the heights of Art's accomplishments, then I'm entirely mistaken in my idea of art. This is a master stroke of high-wiring, and Philippe Petit took that art further than anyone thought it could go. It makes the whole avant / post-avant discussion seem stupid. He just went and did the most he could do with his medium by walking on a wire between the Twin Towers, and if that doesn't please on so many levels, your aesthetics just might be broken.


February 15, 2009

1. So I am now the holder of a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certificate.
2. The pants the tailor is making me are coming along just fine. I am threatening to become a clothes horse in the very near future.

3. The tempature dropped 20 degrees from yesterday. It's 19 outside with snow coming tonight or tomorrow. I haven't seen snow in years. I need to buy gloves.

4. I am wondering why no one pointed me towards Jonathan Culler's work (especially Structuralist Poetics) back when I was getting heavily into the Tel Quel group. Luckily, the Foreign Language Bookstore on Wang Fujin had a couple of his works & they were having a 20% off sale so I got that and some Derrida. I also got some Checkov short stories because Checkov and cold winter seem to go together.

5. Sha got me invited to the press pre-reception at the Ullens Centre today for Qiu Zhijie (pictured). The character 不 (bu) written across his face in this older piece means "no" or "not", making this a fairly existential self-portrait, thus going against the grain of the then (1994) comtemporary Chinese art scene's fascination with the individual.
6. Still haven't run into Cui Jian but I have my eyes out for him.


February 10, 2009


February 9, 2009

The acknowledgement of the level of rust on my Chinese as I forgot the word for salt in the supermarket--I went up to one of the store assistants with pepper in hand and proceeded to say I was looking for pepper's white friend and a plethora of other vague-ish descriptions. The assistant tried earnestly to help, but it proved futile. After a while I told her it was okay and she left; I then asked a 20 something shopper if she knew English, which she said "very little". I went through the same dialogue, but she just brillantly pulled out her cell phone which had an English dictionary app on it: I input salt and it spit out 盐, to which she said "ohhhhhh, yan!" When she said it, I remembered it perfectly and wondered how I could forget such a rudimentary vocab word. After that was sorted, I went back to the assistant and told her. She gave me that oh-that's-what-you-were-after-with-your-silly-description look & we both had a laugh.


February 5, 2009

view from my new apartment in Beijing
1. Read A. Lee Martinez's The Automatic Detective ( TOR, 2008) on the flight from SFO to Seoul & then to Beijing. It's a sci-fi, dystopian, hard-boiled detective story, where the dectective is a robot possessed of free will. It was that or Stephen King. Pickings were slim.
2. The apartment Sha lined up for me is better than I could afford in Oakland, and the neighborhood has all the essentials (cafe, supermarket, etc. . .) and is close to the subway and fairly central to everything. I'm at the Shuangjing stop on the Beijing Metro (off the third ring road in the Eastern part of the city).
3. Realized as I unpacked that I did a poor job of giving away the remaining copies of my chap Pete Hoffman Days. It's on Deep Oakland though, so my guilty feeling about it is slight.
4. Section 8 of my lease releases me from rent liability if the building or my unit should be destroyed or damaged by fire, bad weather, WAR or force. I've never had war in my lease before or even thought about that as a possibility really. Pretty thorough.
5. Need to make a list of all the things I need to do to set up shop: register with the police as a legal resident alien, get a bank account, get a cell phone number, buy sheets a blanket and some pillows, meet the landlord, etc . . .
6. Have already begun working on several projects.
7. Feeling optimistic about things and taking vitamins.