Friday, January 05, 2007

At the time it seemed like another doomed day in Shenzhen shopping hell. I'd cashed in my chips for a few days making up with C over the New Year debacle and my credit was up.

"Can we take a few minutes visit the outdoor market?" she asked casually midway through an extended trip that had originally begun as a taxi+subway jaunt of 70 minutes to hit Shenzhen's one HSBC ATM machine, buy me a new phone card and us some Western style groceries.

"A few minutes" in C speak is about 90 minutes, give or take 30-40 in real time. Nonetheless there was no mention of malls or new shoes and I sucked it up. "Sure," I said, casually using a flaming tire iron, mace and a spare pitbull to fend off the three guys pushing pirate porno dvds and the foaming, rabid one-armed beggar woman. "Let's rock at the outdoor market, whatever, wherever it is."

Turned out I'd been there before only about 2 years prior to buy bogus Calvin Kline boxers for about 34 cents each that ultimately didn't fit and which now enjoy a place of honor as dish rags in Hong Kong. But the neighborhood had changed and my original focal point, a hotel, was nowhere in sight as we approached the back end. "Hey, wait, is there where I bought the bad underwear?.."

"Yes, yes," she said. "And the two rubber Osam Bin-Laden dolls." I had forgotten about them and the fact that in a weak moment I had wound up giving them to a Thai hooker who had admired them as something her daughter might want. "What did you do with them?" C asked. "Um, er, lost them. Or one of those things, dealies, something, whatever, maybe..hmmm... Hey, look! Shoes!..." I replied.

Subject changed and we wandered aimlessly through the market that was pushing an astonishing variety of crapola ranging from shoddy lingerie to worse jewelry and shoes that could only fit a Hobbit. Until, until we I spotted a half-stall sporting photocopied pictures of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and John Lennon and from which eminated some of the coolest music I'd heard since hitting Shenzhen. kind of Curtis Mayfield meets the Kazechstan-Cuban Jive Sisters in Frank Zappa's basement. Not your usual Shenzhen fare, pictures, music and all.

Intrigued, I crept in pulling C and found two small walls of Chinese translations of books such as Lolita, Howl. and others about French film, American beatniks, Martin Scorsese, Hindu poetry and one entitled Make Money Like the Jews. "What about the music? I asked C. Do they have it?"

Did they. The sullen kid pulled out four thick photocopied notebooks of CD titles ranging from Klezmer music, Yiddish folk songs, a John Hammond collection, Muddy Waters double disc retrospective, Afro-Franco World Beat, Franco-Afro Beat World, Miles Davis, Ry Cooder, Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, Beastie Boys, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Diane Krall, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Blink 182, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Rosanne Cash. And many, many, many I'd never heard of. There was more diverse music in this near-closet than any chain or indy record store I'd ever been to in the US. Yeah, they were all bootlegged and there were one or two John Denvers, but nary an Eagles or Carpenters or soundtrack from The Titanic, thankyewjeebus.

"Ten yuan (US$1.30) each. Buy ten, get 1 free. But really can we afford it?" C translated and asked as I salivated and began mindlessly checking off names and titles, eating up my dwindling savings and about 2 weeks of our planned grocery money in the process.

"We can live on James Brown Live at the Apollo, and Lou Reed Rock n Roll Animal for about two to four meals, maybe more, I'm sure. The energy alone will keep us going," I reassured her.
I hope you got the dealer's contact info. I could sure go for some of the books when my stash dries up. And I could always go for music... listening to the same 700 songs on my computer for a year and a half.
Hey everyday critic, for a fresh infusion of music, download emule...
Funny thing, we got the guy's phone number but yesterday when we called it was either constantly busy or not answered.
Then we trecked back to the market anyway to replace one that was defective and to pick up some we'd ordered that weren't in stock at the time, but we couldn't find the booth.
It's a rat's maze in there plus it was jammed with Sunday shoppers -- we were averaging about 2-3-inches per 40 seconds at times. We'd previously gone on a weekday when there was less traffic.
The new plan is to go on another weekday and take our time trying to find the booth.
I'll remember the "Hey, look! Shoes!..." trick. Tnx for that one Justin :-)
This is the only guy in SZ who can get away with blogging about what every other expat in town has known for years.

The store isn't difficult to find at all. The 'foreign clothing' mall (behind MOI on the west side of Hua Qiang Bei) simply isn't that big, and it's laid out in a simple grid.

What's next? You'll tell us we can get Taco Bell at MixCity - or maybe you haven't been there yet?
Steve, can you please direct me to your blog? I would love to have a read.
What gets me about this one is that the author openly states he's currently unemployed, while at the same time he's eating western food (not cheap in China) and buying copy cdr's of stuff he could either download for free or simply buy later - when I visited SZ last year I happened to see the same shop, and don't expect it to disappear anytime soon.

This when he also admits in the previous entry that his girlfriend is young enough to be his daughter, and that they're fighting about money. Golly gee, looking at the age difference, I never would have expected that.

This is everything we need to know about what types of people constitute the majority of expats in China. I feel sorry for the Chinese....
At least "Steve Mahfouz" left what sounds like the reproduction of a real name, unlike my other new pal, "anonymous."

If either of you clowns have got your own more informative shezhen blogs, go ahead and link to them in the comments. And I'll be happy to link them to the main links in mine. I don't claim to be an expert in anything Shenzhen and the more the merrier even if you are squeamish about exposure.

And what, if anything, do you ever "openly state" "anonymous?" Not even your real name. Pathetic. "You can cover up your guts, but when you cover up your nuts you're admitting there must be something wrong..." - P. Townshend/Naked Eye.

And oh, please, what is this MixC you speak of? Is it a wonder of beyond-freshness dated, overpriced Hong Kong-owned yet Shenzhen-located supermarket delights?

Oh, but please and thank you, sir enlighten me. Then let me watch you blow a monkey.
@ the snipers:

The only reason you have the targets you shot at is because Justin showed them to you. He isn't somehow obligated to publicize his foibles on his blog; you might want to consider why he does so.

To me, it indicates that he wants his writing to retain a certain integrity, and I consider this worthy of respect.

It's not particularly difficult to criticize when an author provides you a clear shot. I suggest that you might find it more rewarding to read more of Justin's blog, to get a better sense of his range. You might even find yourself starting to like the guy.

What I personally like best about this entry is that, in the context of a life that can be messy, frustrating, absurd and even tragic, Justin shows us something he loves.

In the entry, the reader can feel Justin's exaltation when he discovers a cache of treasure during an expedition he had fully expected to be dismal. The fact that he bought some cdrs when he knew it wasn't financially prudent is simultaneously ridiculous and triumphant, and very human. Following one's impulses can sometimes lead to unfortunate consequences, but a life without following them at all seems pointless to me. The way I read this entry, Justin wants us to share in his celebration of something he considers more precious than food.

Is it stupid? Probably. But it's also beautiful. If you think about it, that fact that you spent your valuable time to criticize the author for his openly confessed indiscretions can also be seen to claim its share of stupidity. Can the same be said for beauty? I leave that for you to consider.


Du Yisa (still working hard to build a private monopoly of stupidity)
PRC Shenzhen
Any word on bird flu in your area? Or is that only a disease for asian countries other than China?
du yisa's comments are way overblown. it's just a blog for god's sake. stupid rants by a stupid big fat gweilo. i'd rather watch paint dry than reading this guy's grievances and so-called adventures. Yes, that CD store is not hard to find at all. The blogger must have a poor sense of direction. Or go check your brain to see if you have Alzheimer's or something!
Justin - If you could "baby"sit me for all of those years you have proven your level of integrity!

Flaming haters....
The anonymous flame is such a pussy move. And it seems that one person has come back again and again to see how much shit his flame has stirred up, to enjoy the fruits of his labor. So insightful, so courageous.

It IS just a blog! And it's Justin's life! Perhaps the guy has had better things to do over the last few years than go shopping all day long. I lived in Shenzhen for nearly 4 years and never stumbled upon the location in question.

Get back the the drudge report, asshats.
Justin - where are you anyway. I need my fix!
Hey! Justin! You OK? Don't let anonymous commentors take the wind out of your sails. Forge ahead! Break Wind!

Hope your first paycheck arrived and you're just too busy shopping to blog...

But, blog. If we don't hear from you we may send in the Calvary...or Cavalry...your choice.

I hope he will never come back again!
"du yisa's comments are way overblown."

They were written for Justin, not for you.

Thanks for your criticism!


Alas for poor Justin!!! Of Course he will come back!!

Justin! Justin! Justin...come on, everybody....Justin, Justin, (hold up your lighters)...Justin..
he's too busy figuring out what to do with his stupid life. leave the poor guy alone!
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