"The camera can photograph thought."
~ Dirk Bogarde
26 April 2009
Shanghai's music scene leaves a lot to be desired. Admittedly, there are a few great jazz clubs in town, but my hunger for great, live indie-rock has gone unfed during my two years here. Every few months the authorities will 'allow' a big-name music act to play a show here, though its usually nothing to get excited about. And then Bjork comes to town and screams about a certain province in west China, which pretty much guarantees that we won't get any music-of-interest any time soon.
A friend of mine in town just got turned on to a internet radio station that streams music from local bands. He passed on one of the bands he came across that actually sounded ... good. They are from Beijing but were coming to Shanghai to launch their first album, so we (and our wives) agreed to meet for the show.
A bill of five bands took part in the show at Zhijiang Dream Factory, a medium-sized club in the Jing An district. Not all the bands 'did it' for me, but it was great to take in a live show for the first time in a while. Our newly-found band, 'Gar', came on last, following sets by local Shanghai groups and got a mixed reception from the Shanghai crowd as they ripped through a loud set. Its been a while since I went to bed with ringing in my ears...
25 April 2009
To say that Shanghai is car-crazy is an understatement of the highest order. Consider this ... to drive a car in Shanghai requires a license plate ... a license plate with a price tag in the range of RMB 40,000 (or about US$6,000). Despite this, the streets of the city are choked with cars of all shapes, sizes and brands. People here like their cars ... the freedom they represent and how they reflect their social status.
So it is no surprise that when the Auto Show opens in town, there are more than a few people who come out to have a look. So it was that I paid a visit myself this week ... purchased a ticket for the so-called "professional" day. I arrived about 30 minutes before the doors opened and found a huge mass of people already waiting outside. Lets just say that I was surprised to see so many groups of "professionals" under the age of 10, over the age of 70, wearing 4-inch high heels and trying to sell me a Rolex.
The show hall was massive. It took me the better part of the day to snake my way through the 700,000 people that reportedly visited the show that day. It really is quite a sight ... everywhere you look you see beautiful show cars gleaming under bright lights, bracketed by unbelievably tall models and surrounded by dozens of camera-toting men. Quite a sight indeed
21 April 2009
Living in China at this moment in its history is really an amazing experience ... it truly is an inflection point, in which opportunities that never existed in the past are now open to hundreds of millions of people. I often think about the older generations that lived through the Cultural Revolution ... what an amazing sight Shanghai's skyline must be to someone from the countryside.
When I am out in the morning, sometimes I will see something that really drives home that contrast between old and new. For instance, this morning I passed by the park on my way to work, as I do every day. As usual, the older folks in the neighborhood were out doing their calisthenics. One man in particular that I watched going through the slow, graceful moves of tai chi suddenly broke his pose, reached into his pocket and answered his mobile phone! Its this kind of juxtaposition that I find really interesting
You can also find some interesting mash-ups of old and new in the Chinese language itself. One of my favorites is the Chinese word for elevator ...
'dian ti' ... or ... 电梯
the word literally translates as 'electric ladder'
Its not only a great mnemonic for remembering the meaning of the word, but it also exemplifies well the way China meshes the old with new
18 April 2009
gorgeous day today ... sunny and warm ... streets packed with people ... including us. walked down to the Taikang Lu neighborhood, found a great cafe to sit at, and people watched for a while.
we noticed the disturbing trend toward people dressing up their lap dogs in clothes, shoes, etc continues. c'mon ... shoes? ... seriously???
16 April 2009
11 April 2009
With brighter mornings, warmer weather and longer afternoons, the city is finally springing to life after a long winter. Walking through Fuxing Park over the weekend, I found it full of families flying kites, kids fishing for goldfish and couples dancing to country western music being blasted out of a boom box.
Not surprisingly, the people I come across share a smile much quicker now than during the cold months. A "nong hao" shared with one older women turned into an exchange where she wanted me to hold her lap dog. nice. Wandering down a small lane in the Old Town, a woman quickly rushed inside her house to bring her son outside for a photo with me. My complementing his English brought a huge smile to her face.
Just as spring follows winter, there is certain to be growth & prosperity to come after this long recession ... and that will bring a smile to all of our faces
04 April 2009
Another weekend ... of cold, rainy weather. I am ready to throw on my flip flops, grab my camera and explore Shanghai this spring ... but Mother Nature is not cooperating.
So the first day of my three-day weekend is going to be a lazy one ... start a book, make some coffee and crawl under a blanket. banana pancakes will make for a good lunch