On Monday morning, Hong Kong media reported that the barricades around Admiralty would be removed after two-plus weeks of bulwarking pro-democracy protesters in their concrete campground near government offices. The evidence was right there on the tele: moving pictures of police clearing the roads! And so, after lunch, I found myself in a friend's dad's car going from Wan Chai in the direction of our final destination in the western Mid-levels. We had just gotten onto Queensway and could see Pacific Place, a luxury complex of business and commerce, when we encountered... a barricade.
Many of the barricades near Occupy Central began coming down this morning, but not without resistance. I took the above video at 1:40 pm today on Queensway in Admiralty, just below Hong Kong's police headquarters, a few blocks from the main protest grounds. A group of older men, apparently frustrated that the two-week Occupy Central protests have blocked their streets, rip down the barricades while others chant, "Open the roads." Some quick-thinking Occupy protesters immediately plant themselves in the middle of the street for an impromptu sit-in.
Driving in China can be a pain, for reasons I hardly need to list here (but will, since Web Logs were created for just this sort of venting) -- traffic, severe traffic, traffic caused by fights between traffic cops, traffic regulations, traffic accidents.... Luckily, China's Ministry of Public Security has an extensive test to prepare this country's would-be drivers for the stress, frustration, and Weltschmerz of the road...
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.
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.
Our charity for tomorrow's community fiction event is Educating Girls of Rural China, which provides financial aid and other support for deserving young women from rural areas (principally Gansu province, but also Qinghai and Guizhou) to continue their educations. Since its establishment in 2005, EGRC has awarded 435 university and high school scholarships. The organization boasts a 100 percent graduation success rate.
Called "the stupidest movie of the year" and "one of the most atrocious movies I have ever seen in my life" -- so bad that even Peter Travers, a man who loved King Kong, urged viewers to not watch it -- Transformers: Age of Extinction just might be the frontrunner for worst movie of the year. Funny thing: it's also the frontrunner for highest grossing movie of the year, after Chinese audiences just made this film the No. 1 movie in China of all time.
On Saturday morning, a middle-aged man boarded Bus No. 7 in Hangzhou and lit a package of flammable liquids. The ensuing flames injured at least 32 passengers, with 24 in critical condition. You can watch the frightening scene above, and also check out the scene from the street, outside the flaming bus.
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.
Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to mainland China, and in the midst of growing concerns over CCP meddling in local affairs, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets for a democracy march that was the island's biggest rally in a decade.
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:
Last September, when Literary Death Match swung through Beijing, I performed a poem called Things That Taste Like Purple about the devilry of baijiu, a.k.a. sorghum liquor (dust of the attic, wine of the gutter... with a long finish into the fetor of fragrance). Unbeknownst to me, one of my friends in the audience, the artistic and talented Amy Sands, would go on to create a series of watercolors to accompany my words. The video, which she shot, I post here with deepest gratitude and humility.
Some clever Taobao vendors have decided to capitalize on Luis Suarez's penchant for human flesh by creating what appears to be a bottle opener fashioned from a likeness of the Uruguayan striker's jaw. And look -- it can be had for only 17 RMB!
Chen Guangbiao, fresh off handing out $100 bills "to suspicious New Yorkers," as the New York Post put it, has done a much greater, more charitable thing for all of us. Please watch the above video, in which he attempts to sing "We Are the World."