Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Watching the Detectives
It looks as though Shenzhen Zen and I may soon relocate to Hong Kong. I can't post details here at the moment because it seems that, though it's blocked in China, this blog has acquired a powerful SZ reader or two not exactly comfortable with some recent posts.
It's a damn shame and I was damn foolish to feel as insulated and yes, even as smug as I sometimes did. Trust no one here, soon-to-be-ex-foreign-barbarian-coworker Jeff warned me upon my arrival.
I did and it's come back to bite me.
Meanwhile, if the rest of you are interested in details e-mail me at average_guy26 at Otherwise, watch this space and I'll update with the salient details when the storm clouds clear. The good news is that I have a job nibble from a HK paper.
On a lighter and less controversial note, however, classical music and golf lovers may be interested in knowing what I spotted on a large poster last night in the auditorium lobby at a piano concert by a young virtuoso named Lang Lang.
(A concert, it should be noted, that was punctuated with frequent camera flashes and featured the sight of several blatant audio and video tapers, one of whom had the tripod set firmly in front of him - meanwhile China wonders why it has a problem with arts and entertainment piracy...)
It was a picture of Lang Lang walking in front of Carnagie Hall with his name on the marquee. Below the photo was a blurb in Chinese followed by "Tiger Woods."
"What's Tiger Woods got to with Lang Lang?" I asked a friend who had come with me. "He's not a musician or a critic."
He studied it and then translated: "Tiger Woods says Lang Lang plays beautiful music."
And Shaq says: "Tell yo mama, 'Don't miss Yo Yo Ma!'" I thought.
It's only one of the many weird marketing connections all too common in China, though. I saw a newspaper ad for an upscale apartment development last week that depicted an array of wood-cut portraits of historical western greats ranging from Copernicus to Freud. The theme, according to a coworker, was "great thinkers" who would presumably be the kind of folks to live in a 35-floor luxury condo in Shenzhen, China.
Initiially, one fantasy tenant in particular jumped out at me. Between Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Graham Bell was their neighbor, Robert E. Lee.
"What's he doing here living next to Abe Lincoln?" I asked. "He lost our Civil War. Lincoln won. Otherwise, he was a great general but do you know who he was?"
"Yes, that is Thomas Jefferson," she replied.
I looked closer at another face. It was a young man in overalls and a newsboy cap beside the grill of a 1920s-era Chevrolet.
"Who is that?"
"He made steam machines."
"James Watt? That's an old American car. Watt worked with steam engines in the 18th century!"
She shrugged.
Then I spotted Charles Lindbergh and the date 1903 under his mug.
"And that's a Wright brother, right?"
"Yes. He invented airplanes."
"No. It's the man who was the first to fly across the Atlantic by himself nonstop."
She looked a little chagrined, shrugged again and then brightened
"I bought an apartment there. They're very, very nice."

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