Here's another view of the fireworks on Chinese New Year’s Eve last Wednesday night, taken by someone on a plane landing over Beijing. In my previous post I wrote, "During no other time, living on the ground here, do I feel like zooming out to become an all-seeing observer." I guess it'd look something like this.
For the first time ever, New York City set off fireworks to commemorate Chinese New Year. It happened over the Hudson and was synchronized and jubilant. At one moment it looked like skyscrapers were melting out of the night. Colorful. Impressive. Yet it was still mere facsimile for the real thing. You see, for my money, the most noteworthy -- if not outright best -- New Year’s celebration happens in Beijing.
A trio of Chinese men armed with baseball bats and metal pipes has been detained, following a violent assault on students at one of Beijing’s best-known universities. The case bears strong similarities to a series of racially tinged assaults alleged to have recently occurred in several foreign-centric districts, including Sanlitun, Houhai and Wudaokou, in which... Read more »
Happy Halloween, everybody. For those of you wondering, the some-years-strong Beijing tradition of dressing up and riding Subway Line 2 on the weekend before Halloween will come to a close this year. Authorities are worried about the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, so they don't want their public transportation clogged with beer-guzzling foreigners doing weird shit and attracting crowds.
If you haven’t made any plans for your Halloween night, consider a trip to one of Beijing’s haunted houses.
Not to be confused with the spooky amusement destinations that pop up throughout the US and Canada at this time of the year, these haunted houses are the sites of ancient murders and suicides.
Tales of wandering spirits, unusual sounds and paranormal activity have persisted for more than a decade at some of these locations...
I knelt at the top of the hospital escalator, partly from exhaustion, mostly out of surrender. My moans and cries recalled childhood Halloween nights spent puking up entire plastic jack-o-lanterns of candy. My tears blurred reality. Loud, distracted, exotic shapes and figures brushed past me, unimpressed by my misery, misery unlike any I'd felt before.
This wasn't how I imagined my first week in China would go.
Congratulations to Ethiopians Girmay Birhanu Gebru and Fatuma Sado Dergo, the men's and women's winners of the 34th Beijing International Marathon that was run today in "very unhealthy" to "hazardous" air. It was so bad that Xinhua even called it "smog" in an article that begins with this incredible factoid:
I work for a sub-branch of CCTV geared toward international video news, and we have several TV screens in the office that run 24-hour feeds of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Al Jazeera and others – ostensibly to keep up with the competition. But I returned from our canteen this past Sunday evening to find six or seven of my Chinese colleagues glued to a screen showing a live-feed from CNN.
We were hit by the sudden cold and absolute blackness. The only light came from our torches. Not a drop of sunlight penetrated the silt and algae above us. It was like entering another world, with all our senses altered -- until we spotted the Wall.
It's a decent day. Outdoors, I mean. We shouldn't be doing this. We shouldn't be checking our WeChat groups as friends report what portals are working and which are not -- "Sweden 2 is okay" ... "...and, not any more!" -- we shouldn't be obsessively clicking refresh on our gmail tab as if the government has decided just in the previous five seconds to unblock the service, and we shouldn't be cooped up in cubicles or monstrosities of home-office complexes twiddling our thumbs like simian slaves of a machine that won't even let us work. We should all go to the park and play Frisbee.
WHAT was missed: The 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF)
WHEN things went down: August 23rd (scheduled to run through August 31)
WHERE films were to be shown: Beijing’s Songzhuang artists’ district, at the Li Xianting Film Fund
HOW MANY films were denied an audience: 76. 76!!
New details have emerged about last weekend’s drug raid in Beijing, which allegedly saw five foreigners deported and a similar number of Chinese detained – sending local Twitter users into collective shock. A comprehensive report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website by correspondent Stephen McDonell explains how he’d headed down to dirty dawg bar Dos... Read more »
Good day, mortals. Enjoy the weekend? Unless you were at the inaugural Expats in Chinese Film and TV Awards, not as much as these players.
Described by one excited attendee as “the stupidest, most Z-list thing ever… a fake award ceremony with fake red carpet,” the “expat Oscars” (as no one is calling it) was hosted by this nubile pair:
It's Friday night just past midnight. You're standing on a curb in Sanlitun after a pint/dinner/book talk/whatever looking for a cab. You see a green and yellow car driving your way, the little red light in the windshield beckoning. Already thinking of that book on your bedside, you raise your hand high and step forward in anticipation.
Okay folks, here's your final reminder that Flash Fiction for Charity is happening this afternoon at 2:30 pm at Great Leap Brewing's Original No. 6. All the details you need are here. On a semi-related note, while Beijing Cream will still post over the summer (Beige Wind on Thursdays, in particular), I'll personally be scaling back for about two months starting next week (travel, etc), so come by and say hi and I'll let you know how you can help us keep going.
We're two days away from Flash Fiction for Charity at Great Leap Brewing's Original No. 6 (friendly emphasis: that's the courtyard/hutong location). The doors will open at 2:30 pm, with the event kicking off shortly thereafter. If you're interested in a seat, we have just a few spots still available for reservation: please email firstname.lastname@example.org. (We'll also take walk-ups, but you might have to stand/lean.)
Thank you for answering the call, Beijing writers. I've anonymized all entries and sent them over to our judges, who now have the truly unenviable task of choosing just five. We'll reach out to each writer individually later this week (Thursday at the latest). Important note: if you submitted but did NOT receive a confirmation email, PLEASE EMAIL US AGAIN as soon as possible. We had an untimely server hiccup over the weekend, but everything is now fixed.
We're extending our flash fiction deadline. Submit stories 500-700 words before 11:59 pm this Sunday for a chance to read your piece over beers at Great Leap Brewing's Original No. 6 courtyard on Sunday, July 13. If you need any inspiration, check out the piece that just went up on the Anthill about the heartache of being alone in a city of 21 million.
Occasionally a man needs to sleep off the heat of a midsummer afternoon. Occasionally a man needs to anchor himself under an opulent shade and forget the perturbations of his life trajectory, which might pull him into the vortex that is the world's collective agitation. Occasionally a man needs to do this while naked, save for one sock.
This via an anonymous tipster: