Friday, June 08, 2007


Not Fade Away
And so it's time to say goodbye. I was hoping to make 400 posts in nearly four years, but will settle for 397 and the memories. Shenzhen Zen is retiring, and relocating under a name to be announced later.

The Dead's "what a long, strange trip it's been" by-now cliched line doesn't begin to cover my feelings. Mostly gratitude though for the people I've met and the places they've shown me both in their hearts and the occasional bar.

In random order I'd like to thank as many as I can here, beginning as many as I am able to remember from the Shenzhen beginning.

Everlasting thank yous go to foreign-barbarian coworker Jeff (current whereabouts unknown); Peter "It's my fate" the-SZ-Fixer; James "The Temple Guy/Laughing Buddha" Baquet; Gary, Lanni and the long scattered crew at the late, great Moondance; the Shenzhen Daily staff, particularly Helen (the first Communist Party member I ever partied with); Jennifer, Sally, Lan, Alfred, John "Flame" Woo, Mr Tan, Michelle-the-comics-lady, Lulu, Lilly, and most of all editors Alex and Jeffrey who had the mistaken, but well-meanin sense to hire me.

Also gratitude to former (and current) Shenzhen expats, scholars and wastrels, ladies and gentlemen give up the love to Patrick, Isaac, Sam, the Estonian dudes, the drunk guy from Ghana who dressed as Santa Claus one night and a few others I can't recall at the moment. Though he won't be seeing this I also owe thanks to "Skull Man," the corner store keeper who supplied me with noodles, fishballs, fractured English conversations and fireworks during my time at the Lucky Number.

In Hong Kong, John Berthelsen and Lin Neumann who hired me despite the stain on my resume that is Weekly World News and the protestations of a couple of burned-out Pom wanker hacks still cultivating their arse callouses and gin blossoms at The Standard.

On a more positive note, others who enhanced the Standard experience include Wendy, Winnie, William Sparrow, Olivia, Dr. Wu, Chester, Andrea-the-Canuk bombshell, Leslie, Teddy, Chris D., Zach, Zubair, Paris "best byline ever" Lord, Rob G., Tyronne, Mike C., Roger, John, Jonathan C., Doug C., Timothy, Michael, Una, and the Meemster. Dennis N., thank you, if only for the entertainment value your raw copy/HK experience much smoother than I ever deserved include "Katie-Katie," Elaine, Kari, Rose "Pole Dancer" Tang, Jo-Jo L., Albert (and Donna) and Judy at SCMP.
Others in HK whom I owe a debt and more include Roland Soong, Spike, Hamish, Andrew, The Three Simons (Song, World and bc), Lawrence Li, Dee the prosecutor and my faithful, nameless laundress in Telford Gardens. Outside the area but close to my heart, especially on deadline, are Jeremy Goldkorn and the crew at in Beijing, Mssr. Running Dog last-seen-in-Shanghai, and Dave at Mutant Palm.

And most of all thanks to the faithful readers who've mostly stuck with it despite SZ Zen's many downs and woefully few ups, particularly Cristobal R., L. Kim F., amiga Jean, Matt & Deb, Ben and brother Steve, Don C/, Leland, Gillers, Chuck S., Huddle ("Tanya"), Matty Dred, Tomas Fogarty, Sherry-in-Almost-Lost, NM., Rob R. (thanks muchly for the George Strait and more discs), The Dunham clan, mi familia, Nate, Da7e, Ty, and all at daverockstheuniverse, Danish Peter, Fred, Bob, Susan, Michelle, Jeeter and Devil Dog at WX, the anonymous Euro researcher at the Antarctic ice station, a dogged reader in Hungary, and a couple of English-speaking mainland Chinese readers who followed me when Blogspot wasn't being blocked by China's Great Firewall and whose names I've also regretfully lost.

The pictures here are almost equally random. Most probably meant more to me despite a lack of photogenic appeal. Anyone wanting to follow the sequel, tenatively titled "Son of Shenzhen Zen, (or something like it) is welcome to e-mail me at average underscore guy26 at yahoo dot com for a link when I finally get it together.

And yes, thanks to C. Our song will continue, just in a different format. In my life, I've loved you best.
Good luck Justin.

Keep us posted when you land.
sayanora, Justin.

good luck to you and my offer to have you write freelance stories for the magazine still stands.

Just reading through the list of people and places (Lucky Number, for instance) I've realized what an odyssey we've been priveleged to travel with you. (you may edit that sentence to be proper grammar if you'd like)

In reference to your mother you said "The light and shadows. You put it on canvas and I've tried to put it into words." I've enjoyed your word paintings, Justin and do look forward to your next landing spot.

If you're in L.A. on the way to anywhere, stop by.

Hey Justin,

reading your blog this morning and finding out that it has come to end, i owe you a big thank you.

Thank you for providing A+ grade procrastination reading material for those sleepy mornings at work, sleepless late nights at home and wherever i had internet.

I started reading your blog at the end of 2003, before planning my first trip to China to visit my college roommate Rick. I was googling SZ info, and pretty much read through your blog in one sitting (5 months worth of stuff, it would be a lot harder to do that now).

Then we actually met up for drink in SZ, but missed a trip together to HK. I returned to Boston and continued reading your blog in grad school, graduated, moved on to an MBA program in Paris, but was still reading your blog. I now moved back to Budapest and taken a job on the dark side (stealing the terminology from your blog) working for an american management consultancy.

Keep writing and best of luck Justin with life. Oh, and I officially declare the results of the

Justin vs. 1.3 billion Chinese game: YOU WON!

Shaken not stirred... That’s not my favourite drink, but just the way I feel after reading this post.

For me being on the other side of the planet this stop of Shenzhen Zen came very sudden. Unexpected I might even say. I guess your IRL buddies knew about this, but to me it’s a shocker.

You already know this, but you’re the reason I started blogging. I stumbled across your blog after my own visit to Shenzhen, and somehow I was caught. By then you were already way ahead of me, and had hundreds of posts already. Your writing captured me, and I incidentally read them all over 2 or 3 days. Afterwards I emailed you for some questions and for reasons unknown I decided to start blogging too. I never regretted it and can thank you for your inspiration and support the first months.

Thanks for sharing your pictures and a look into your life in Shenzhen. I’ll send you an email to get a link to your new coming blog. An era is over and a new will start.
Hasta la vista. Enjoyed your blog. And nice lady you have.
Hi Justin,

Good luck for whatever you do and thanks for the final pictures.

Cheers Fred
All good things come to an end, but this one was a little unexpected. As you know I started reading right after your first teaching assignment started. Has it really been that long!
You really do paint wonderful word portraits. If you get to LA one your way to somewhere else or to write a script for Spike - send me a message so that we break the fast.

Take care of yourself and those who are dear to you.

Don aka connectr
How sad it is to see you go! Where am I to go on whiskey soaked nights with a desperate desire for hilarious cross-cultural musings? How will I ever find my own "world's best bum boy"?

Here's to the son of SZZ being as great as the son of JM. Here's to the originals for which the son ofs could never be.

Best of luck Justin, it has truely been a pleasure.
You've been a great friend to me for the past two years, and I thank you for all the memories, music and inspiration.

I know that -- poignant though it is -- the end of SZZen isn't the end of the fun and excitement. I WILL be seeing you in Thailand....

All the best to you while you settle in. Don't do anything completely outlandishly crazy, eh?
Aw, Justin, with so many communication/economic and physical problems you've dealt with living in Szenzen and HK, I oftened wondered why you stayed. Now I know. The people. What a lovely, bitter-sweet tribute you wrote. Especially the last line.

Looking forward to bringing Dad to you in Thailand and seeing you in the next chapter of your amaing life. Who knew my big brother would become such a well-loved world-traveler and adventurer...
Hi Justin,

Thanks for the laughs, looking forward to the next chapter in the life of your blogs. I'm sure i'll see you in Brooklyn again soon.

Chris, husband of Vicki, Father of Katherine & ChipShop!

I can't believe we connected again in such a strange way . . . through a blimp flying over China. I've enjoyed your blogs, and hopefully will continue to in another form. It will be most interesting to see if your style adapts to your new surroundings or if your new surroundings adapt to your style. Knowing you I would guess it will be the latter.

I'll email for the link, of course, and look forward to the sequel.

I have enjoyed your blog the last two and half years or so, great stuff, thank you. Probably not so easy to move on, or maybe it is, I don't know.
Too young for medicare
too old for the girls to care (almost).
Bye Justin

The China coast won't be the same without you.
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