Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Ay, yi, yi, Katie
It's a typical night at MoonDance, a new watering hole that I've begun to favor because the first time I drifted by I could hear the sounds of Canadian cowboy balladeer Ian Tyson's Navajo Rug coming from the outdoor speakers. That brought me up short and sweetly. In a country where it's a virtual lock that you'll hear at least a snatch of Unchained Melody and/or My Heart Will Go On daily and where the Carpenters and Air Supply are still superstars, this was a major cultural find. Hell, most Americans have never heard of Ian Tyson and it's a safe bet that a lot of younger Canadians either haven't or consider him an rustic museum piece.
“Aye, yi, yi, Katie, shades of red and blue,” sang Tyson. Aye, yi, yi, indeed. Momentarily Shenzhen faded away and I was happily ensconced in my rathole Louisville, Colorado apartment, sipping bourbon with my dad or a Guiness with my friend Paul while adrift in Tyson’s epic 1986 release Cowboyography and its a songs of lost love, Western landscapes and cowboy icons and outlaws like artist Charles Russell and fugitive survivalist Claude Dallas.
Bluesman Robert Cray followed in the mix and I was on my way to becoming a regular before darkening MoonDance's doors.
MoonDance is owned by a Canadian man with a Chinese wife, so the Tyson was easily explained. He's also a legal consultant to a Shenzhen law firm as well as a frustrated screen writer. She says she's a former dancer and singer and her voice and legs don't bely her story.
And, as usual, there are a lot of stories here tonight.
MoonDance is next to a major Shenzhen hotel frequented by Chinese and international businessmen as well as various human pilot fish, foreign and domestic, whch feed off the crumbs.
And central casting or Warren Zevon couldn't have assembled a bunch of rogues, roguettes, con men, lost souls and liars at the tables around me.
There's a flaming queen from Arkansas wearing an oversized pewter gothic cruicifx and a white cotton shirt bared to the navel. He speaks red-neck and fluent Chinese with a strong southern accent and says he's in the “entertainment production” business – “Everything from porn to off-Broadway Beijing, baby!” but he's a bit vague about any recent (or notable) productions. Near him is a trio of twentysomething Russians, two men and a woman, talking with a young Nigerian man and an aging Chinese businesswoman who is (uncharteristically for a Respectable Chinese Woman) pounding shots and chain smoking Marlboro Lights made in Hanoi while they all discuss setting up a Russo-Afro-Sino import export deal involving what sounds like plush toys, sexual devices and soy beans. Or maybe it's plush sex toys made from soy beans. Hard to tell.
At another table a German who hasn't been back there for years and claims to have just snared a job working for a legit business owned by the KGB is chatting up a Scottish stockbroker with three homes in east Asia and none in Scotland.
MoonDance's assistant manager, a 24-year-old Chinese woman with snake hips and hair like black ink spilling over her silk white bare shoulders, is working the tables, shmoozing and pushing drinks to two middle-aged French women and their sugar daddy for the night, a fat Taiwanese guy with the world's worst comb over – three or four single strands about 10-inches long that he keeps pushing and rearranging across his sweating, gleaming bald pate.
I'm a little buzzed, singing along softly to Tyson's Summer Wages and sitting with the Canadian, his wife, a Korean IT whiz and his Chinese mistress, a Chinese Hong Kong businessman named “Jenkins” and a very drunk Shenzhen Airlines pilot who is celebrating his birthday and looks like a demented clown what with the white cake frosting smeared liberally on his cheeks. He has been whooping it up since 5 p.m., it's nearly midnight and he says he has to fly to Chengdu in 10 hours. We wish him luck and happy birhday as he gets and up and promptly falls down on his way out. I briefly wonder about Chinese flying regulations and if “Plane Crash Killls 223” will be the main story tomorrow but then shove the worry aside.
At the moment, I've got good music and the world's best free entertainment. I'll let tomorrow take care of itself.

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