Posted from: Beijing
I’ve never really been able to capture Chinese New Year on camera. I’ve tried. But silly little SLRs don’t do continuity well, and it really is the continuity that’s so beautifully overwhelming. Imagine putting a hundred bags of popcorn in microwave, and imagine that some of the popcorn was actually thunder, and then imagine the explosions lasting for a week, until the noise became almost comforting, a low-level thread in the static that makes up your earspace. (more…)
Posted from: Beijing, China
I love toys, but I never really got into gadget reviews. Really, five hundred words deconstructing relative processor speeds and obsessively measuring product thinness in millimeters? What, are you trying to give your phone body image issues? Jesus, so it likes to eat bandwidth, leave the thing alone.
But the XiaoMi TV 2, launched in China in 2014 and not commercially available in the West, isn’t a gadget. It’s a lifestyle choice that signifies your commitment to never again leaving the uterine warmth of your living room. It’s a conscious, collective step towards the final singularity. It is, in a word, a game-changer.(more…)
It’s been all digital with me for 18 years. Since I was 13, digital digital digital HTML internet, and then one day I’ve got InDesign open and I have this from-the-gut need to make things I can touch. I want someone to show me paper samples. I want to understand bindings. I want data sets to call the cops and complain, breathlessly, that I visualized them in ways they never dreamed. (more…)
In Turkey, there’s a mountain made of bone. It rises right out of the valley, a few dozen miles of grapes and dirt and then this out-of-place colossus. The guidebook said its color was due to a mineral spring heavy on the calcium deposits, but sweetie, please: those are the powered bones of the damned, and Pemukkale is the view from Lucifer’s living room. (more…)
Everyone warned me this would happen. They told me over and over, and yeah, I was kind of excited, but I just didn’t understand. Pete, Lauren, My Khanh, Nancy: you were right. I don’t care about culture. I don’t care about hamams, or buying carpets, or hand-painted mosque tiling, or the stupid billowy Mediterranean breeze. Siege of Constantinople? Whatthefuckever. I just want to eat. (more…)
“Local XiongXian Man Marries Beautiful Swedish Bride, an International Romance is Consummated”. I didn’t notice any reporters in the ravening fracas of 400 wedding guests, but there was the headline, writ large. And pictures of all fifteen of us, overdressed in the plaza. (more…)
Turtle Guy is finally gone. Every day for two weeks, he stood near the exit on Dongsishitiao, holding a dead snapping turtle in the air and fixing passing cars with an accusing, dead-eyed stare. I guess someone got wise and bought the thing off him, because he’s gone, and he didn’t look like a quitter. (more…)
I still don’t know who killed Pamela Werner. There’s two more chapters until that big reveal.
Midnight in Peking, by Paul French, is one of those quintessential China reads. It follows the true story of a 1937 investigation into the murder of a young expat girl, Pamela Werner, daughter of British envoy E.T.C. Werner, who was butchered, mutilated, and dumped at the base of the Fox Tower (now Dongbianmen) on her way home from the French Legation ice skating rink just a few months before the Japanese occupation of Beijing. Most of the streets, buildings and monuments from that time still stand in one form or another, and Kyle picked up some champagne and the official walking tour map for a gruesome grey Saturday following in Pamela’s last steps.
Three days into what has turned out to be the most scrumptiously adventure-free trip I’ve ever taken, Kyle and I had a conversation about the differences between traveling and being on vacation. Travel, we decided, involves night market tasting excursions and the word “intrepid” and when you read then immediately forget the entire Wikipedia entry about the Dutch occupation of whatever pile of picturesque stonework you’re staring at. Vacation is when the only way you can tell whether it’s Monday or Thursday is by trying to tally up how many times you’ve had to tear your sticky fingers out of the mango bowl long enough to open the door for the champagne delivery guy. I guess we’re on vacation. Hashtag tropicalxmas, bitches.
Seoul, South Korea
A friend of mine recently told me that no one had ever thrown her a surprise party. She’d never been to one, either. “That’s such a movie thing,” she said, baffled. “Does that actually happen?” Yes, yes it does, and whenever I hear someone say that, I have to suppress a giddy urge to break into their house and jump out from behind a potted plant with a cupcake. (more…)