Dispatches From Xinjiang: Wang Meng, Chinese Literary Giant, Uyghur Speaker

Wang Meng
By all standards Wang Meng (1934- ) has had a tremendously successful career. Easing out of his problematic role as Cultural Minister in 1989, Wang was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1994 by the Chinese Literary Society. He has published more than 100 books and was listed as the 24th most commercially successful writer in China in 2010 with a net worth of 1.75 million yuan. This past year a village on the border of Kazakhstan opened a museum in his honor.

C4, Ep.85: ShuoCaoCaoCaoCaoDao

C4, Ep.85 Speak of the Devil
Today on C4: In which two Brits team up against an American for messing up British history, or something. Cao Cao, etc.


Friday Night Musical Outro: Hip To Be Square

Outro - Old Blue Tick - Hip to be Square
Some Old Time American porch music this week, in anticipation of Friday night's big "Roots Rage" show down at Mako Livehouse. The gentleman on the fiddle is Michael Ismerio, visiting us in Beijing from North Carolina. He's been gigging around town, sitting in with the Yellow Hutong Weasels and others, doing roots music workshops, playing shows, and calling square dances. Serious. He was the caller at last night's square dance at the Home Plate BBQ Sanlitun preview dinner. Goes something like this. Dare to be square, man.

Moral Ambivalence In Trash: Junkyard Planet, Reviewed

Junkyard Planet cover
Junkyard Planet, the first book by Bloomberg Shanghai correspondent Adam Minter, offers a look at the often unheard and unseen $500 billion global scrap and recycling industry, which has formed in the shadow of burgeoning Western -- and increasingly Chinese -- consumerism. Minter is himself “a proud junkyard kid” from a Minneapolis scrap trading family that established themselves through hard graft in the post-Depression period. This background provided him the connections to offer an invaluable insider perspective on this unknown trade -- and also informs his somewhat Romanticized, American Dream-inspired perspective.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Climbing The Father Of Ice Mountains

Mustagh Ata-With Muhammad
In his book The Gift the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov describes the mountains of Northwest China as a “transparent and changeable setting” where “the dryness of the air produced an amazing contrast between light and shadow: in the light there were such flashes, such a wealth of brilliance, that at times it became impossible to look at a rock, at a stream; and in the shadow a darkness that absorbed all detail.”

Saturday Night Musical Outro: Djang San

The Sound Stage - Djang San
If music is an international language, French musician Jean Sebastien proves that Mandarin Chinese is becoming one, also. Although he plays in several bands, the focus of this episode is his "Djang San" persona, a folk artist playing traditional Chinese instruments, singing in the Chinese language, and mixing Western experimental and jazz influences into ancient melodies. See what Chinese music is, and can become, in the eyes of a talented outsider.

Here, For Some Reason, Is A Chinese Rap Video About Cleveland [UPDATE]

Cleveland rap video
Here's a laowai who loves his hometown of Cleveland so much that he raps about its charms to a Chinese audience. Cleveland, the city whose football team has had more staph infection lawsuits than playoff appearances since 1999, the city with a sulphuric I-71 cutting through it, the city consistently ranked one of the worst in the US, the city...

Watch: Independent Director’s Debut Film About China’s “Parasite Singles”

Critical film tackles the topic of China’s parasite singles
Our friends at Beijing Today will be swinging by every now and then to introduce art and culture around the city. This week, please meet independent filmmaker Lei Yong, whose debut The Young Play Games, The Old Play Tai Chi tells the life of China's "parasite singles," young people who have enjoyed education and opportunity but remain unemployed and hapless.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Minor Transnationalisms And A Kazakh Singer On “The Voice Of China”

Dispatch from Xinjiang Voice of China
The first time Tasken competed on the TV show The Voice of China, the Chinese version of America’s Got Talent, he didn’t get through to the second round. But the second time, he sang the song “A Lovely Rose” in Chinese. The judges were so impressed, they asked him to sing it in his native language – Kazakh.

Saturday Night Musical Outro: John Carroll – Let Every Tongue

John Carroll - Let Every Tongue
Outro time! We're featuring an independent artist from Limerick, Ireland tonight, John Carroll, who has been singing and songwriting for the last decade. It was a tour that brought him to China in 2007, where he married and settled. He's been living in Hangzhou ever since.

So Many Asian Baddies All In One Place

Awesome Asian Bad Guys
It was more than a year ago (has it been so long?) that we posted about a Kickstarter called "Awesome Asian Bad Guys," in which two Los Angeles-based filmmakers sought to make an action-comedy Web series featuring a bunch of Asian bad guys you might have forgotten.

Finally, Someone Made It Happen: “The Panda,” A Parody Of Ylvis’s “The Fox”

The Panda - parody of Ylvis The Fox
Ylvis's hit "The Fox" (What Does the Fox Say?) was the surprise viral song of the late summer. We can't believe it's taken all of nearly two months, but here, finally, is a parody of that video set in China, featuring that other wonderfully mysterious creature of the woods, by which we mean -- of course -- the giant panda.