February 25, 2011

1. Sent WZ off at the Beijing North Train Station. Dismal place, but next to some very interesting architecture, both ancient and modern. I like these bubble buildings (above) just behind the train station at Xizhimen. Beijing has no problem with mixing architectural styles. It's a nice visual metaphor for Beijing itself: an ancient, yet very modern city. How long it will keep this balance beyond the confines of the Forbidden City and its near vicinity is in question, but for now the eye wanders and is at times perplexed in a way that can't happen in Chicago, for example.

2. Have rediscovered Coca-Cola as a beverage option. The only things weirder to drink in my experience are Dr. Pepper, root beer, baijiu (Chinese rice liquor), and butter milk (which my mom likes and apparently grew up on). And yet, here I am drinking a Coke.

3. In China, there is no NFL coverage outside of the Superbowl. So, I'm now watching the Detroit Lions 2010 season with no known outcomes--it's fresh to me, although I have heavy suspicions, as any Detroit fan (that's a strong word, life-long follower?) might. Thought it would be best if I watched their whole season in the space of a week to cut down on the frustration. That tactic isn't exactly working. Currently watching the Jets at Detroit, halftime score Detroit 7-Jets 10.

4. Which is to say, I've read a fair few books of poetry lately and have been mighty disappointed. Reading poetry is sometimes like being a Lions fan: the talent is there, the plays are there, as a fan in the stands you can see what they are going after, but the execution . . . .


February 17, 2011

Happy Lantern Festival.

It's the 15th day on the Chinese lunar calendar. You're meant to eat glutenous rice to (if I remember the story right from Lu Xun) somehow trick the messenger to the gods (like Mercury) to keep his mouth quiet about your goings-on. Once a year, Latern Day, he comes round and then reports, or something. If his mouth is full of sticky rice, then he can't say anything, and that seems the best thing for everyone.

In Nanjing, folks gather around the Confucian Temple by the hundreds, everyone with a red lantern lit with a candle. It's truly something to see. Beijing doesn't seem to have anything like that.


February 14, 2011

I'm glad I'm not a nature poet, because Beijing would have been the absolute worst place to wind up. That said, I am digging the recent snowfalls (both of them) we've had in the last week.

February 8, 2011

My review of Qiu and Ren Hang's "Inner Ear" show is up now at Artslant.


February 7, 2011

1. Dan Murphy did a real good job of giving us Hai Zi (海子) in English with Over Autumn Rooftops (Host, 2010). Active in Beijing in the 80s until his suicide at age 25, Hai Zi wrote a lot about wheat, standing in for everything from homesickness to lust. Fluid translation, and an important work for anyone interested in contemporary Chinese poetry and poetics.

2. My company is somehow saying that a bill for my time in hospital isn't enough to excuse me for the days I had off. I have to go back and ask the doctor to write me a doctor's note.

3. I've been reading Popular Science. The near future could really be much better.

4. I've lost all contact with Eric King, an artist I knew in Oakland. I hope to remedy that.



February 6, 2011

I'm taking Tiger Mountain by slowly walking up it.


February 2, 2011

新年快乐, Yep, Happy Chinese New Year.