A Brief History Of Bootlegging In Beijing

Bootlegged DVDs in Beijing
Lately I’ve been thinking about a particular aspect of Beijing history that doesn’t get written about much: bootlegging. VHS never caught on in China as it did in the West. It was only when CDs, VCDs, and DVDs landed that things shifted dramatically from state-sponsored TV and film to virtually anything that could be dubbed to disc. Suddenly the French New Wave, Chuck Norris, and Buster Keaton -- even whole historical collections from foreign national archives -- were available to anyone who had a few kuai to rub together.

Bookworm Literary Festival Events Not To Overlook

Bookworm Literary Festival events not to overlook
Tickets to the Bookworm Literary Festival went on sale on Saturday. This year's program is impressive for both its diversity of content — two journalism panels, stand-up comedy, art, environment, tech, trivia – and the strength of the visiting authors -- Chang-rae Lee, Yasmina Khadra, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Willis Barnstone, Victoria Hislop, Michael Meyer. Many events will probably go overlooked. They shouldn't be.

The Creamcast, Ep.15: North Korea, Or “Do Animals Cry?”

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
Welcome to the reboot of The Creamcast! From the studio of Popup Chinese, RFH and I welcomed Andray Abrahamian, Executive Director at Choson Exchange, and Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, to talk about all things North Korea -- spying, journalism, coffee, reunification, and whether animals cry (this was really a predominant theme).

Announcing: Poetry Beijing At The Bookworm Literary Festival

Poetry Beijing 2015
Hello, poets of Beijing. The Bookworm Literary Festival -- one of the largest bilingual cultural events in China -- has renewed our community poetry event for this year's program, which means it's time to get writing, reading, and workshopping. Last year's event, Poetry Night in Beijing, attracted a standing-room only crowd, and we can only hope to again get that kind of support. Consider this an open call. If you're interested, read on.

Fireworks Usher In Lunar New Year In Beijing

Chinese New Year fireworks 2015i
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.

ARRESTED: Beijing ‘gang’ alleged to have targeted foreigners with bats

Galsworthy (left) takes an image of his injuries shortly after the attack
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 »

No Subway Line 2 Halloween Party This Year, Because You Could Be Arrested

Anthony Tao's homemade Optimus Prime costume in Hong Kong subway
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.

Ancient Murders And Suicides: The Haunted Houses Of Beijing

Beijing Haunted House chaonei-no.81-1
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 Nearly Lost A Testicle In A Beijing Hospital

Painful ball hospital introduction to Beijing
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.

Watching The Hong Kong Protests Inside China Central Television

Watching HK protests on CCTV
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.

Astrill Down, Everyone Frustrated

Astrill down
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.

Foreigners Told: Stay Off The Drugs – And Twitter?

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 »

This Actually Happened: The ‘Night of “Expats In Chinese Film And TV” Awards’

photo (20)
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:

This Week In Douchey Laowai Ruining It For The Rest Of Us

Douchey laowai in Sanlitun MAIN
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.