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June, 2010

  1. Sister

    June 28, 2010 by admin

    My sister was here last month visiting and it was so much fun to have her here.  She just had a birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY!  We visited the Expo, Shanghai Museum, hiked in Moganshan, we ate and drank everywhere, Lost Heaven, El Willy, Ginger, Stiller’s, Bell Bar, DR bar, El Coctel, Fat Olive, I better stop there I’m tipsy just thinking about it.  I have other sisters and brothers too, 5 of them, but I’m not sure if they’ll be coming.  One won’t get on a plane (you know who you are), another has about 15 other places on her list to go to first, “kids in college”, “work is hell”, “the dog ate my homework”…whatever people, it’s not everyday you have a sister in China!  We’re half Italian and that would be the half that’s working the guilt trip right now.

    Thank you for coming Jenny, I love you and miss you. (and Jenny, don’t mention the “street bun eating incident” or no one will ever come visit)

  2. Q&A

    June 28, 2010 by admin

    Many of my readers ask me the question “what are some of the biggest differences between the US and China”.

    Well, okay, that’s a lie.  I don’t have any readers and if I did, they certainly aren’t asking me any questions.  But in my current state of “pretend”, I will answer that.  I would have to say that besides the pajama wearing thing, the most notably bizarre thing is when you go to a movie theater and order popcorn they ask you if you want salty or sweet and look at you with crazy eyes if you say salty.  Not only that, the container holding the salty popcorn is like the size of my purse while the container for the sweet popcorn is as big as a cement truck.  What is up with that?!!  Who eats sweet popcorn at the MOVIES?!  Don’t even get me started that they don’t sell nachos with velveeta cheese and jalapenos.  It’s just plain weird.

    I’ve also noticed so many people laughing here.  Kids laughing, grandparents laughing, people laughing in the park,  even the guys who have been cleaning out our street sewer for the last week were having a cigarette and a good laugh the other day.

    Remember when we used to do that in the States?

  3. Those plums better be damn good

    June 27, 2010 by admin

    Apparently this week of rain we’re having is termed  the “plum rains”.   It’s not super hot yet, it’s just very humid and pea-soup like outside.  Just getting out of bed in the morning makes my hair frizz.   One of my favorite all time movies is “Apocalypse Now” and on some days I feel like I’m inside that movie set.  All I need is a small motor boat, 3 smoking soldiers and “I can’t get no….SATISFACTION”, playing in the background and I’d be there.  I think there might actually be enough water in the street to use a boat right now.

    So anyway, I was walking Bernie yesterday in this little green area where the Chinese take their dogs at night to play off leash, even though there is “no dogs” sign.  It was late morning and sprinkling a little so no one was really around.  I knew Bernie had to go to the bathroom because if it’s raining out, he will hold it ’til the cows come home.   He goes right away at first sight of the grass, I take out my plastic baggy and pick it up and when I go to throw it away in a nearby trash can, a very old, Shanghainese man smiles and gives me a big thumbs up.   I’ve been watching too much World Cup Soccer because it made me want to do a little dance, an Irish jig, the slide or “rock the baby” move like I had just kicked in a game-saving goal.   Bernie’s poop brought me closer to someone today.

    On a sweeter smelling note, I’ve been slowly potting herb plants out on our back deck.  So far things have been going pretty well.  We have mint, rosemary, thai basil, italian basil, some kind of small rose that you can eat (?) and a TOMATO plant!  If you have any advice on keeping the tomato alive, please send your comments in.

    Somebody loves tomatoes so I’m going to have to keep an eye on him…

  4. Crazy

    June 24, 2010 by admin

    My Mandarin teacher taught me the word for “crazy” not long ago and I’m thinking that may have been a mistake.  I use it constantly and I think I’m driving Mr. Zhai (pun intended) insane.  “Mr. Zhai, na ge si ji feng le!”  “jin tian, tian qi feng le” “nie kan kan na ge gou ma?  tai feng le!!”.  Basically, a driver, the weather and a certain dog are all crazy. It’s just more fun to say than “that driver is no good” or “today, it’s abnormally hot and humid”.

    Really, when I think of crazy and China only two words come to mind, Bai Ling.   You know her.  You don’t know WHY you know her, but you do.  I can’t tell you one movie she’s been in, she can’t sing, she doesn’t date anyone famous but you know her because she’s crazy.  She’s the only person that can wear scotch tape for a top and it doesn’t seem odd.  If she wore a loaf of bread as a hat or had shoes made out of armadillo shells you wouldn’t give it a second thought, she’s that feng le.

  5. Hangzhou

    June 20, 2010 by admin

    We spent this past weekend in the beautiful and very historic city of Hangzhou (hong joe) two and 1/2 hours outside of Shanghai.  It’s famous for all it’s tea plantations, the most famous being the Longjing green tea varietal, it’s beautiful Xihu Lake, Buddhist Temples and tall pagodas.   We both felt driven to walk the entirety of the lake even though the weather on Saturday was 95 degrees with humidity equaling that of a Korean sauna.  It took us just over 3 hours, Ken kept telling me to slow down but I am incapable of walking slowly, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s like I am constantly in a race.  All I needed was for someone to pin a number on my chest and hand me some gatorade.

    On Sunday it rained lightly all day and was much cooler so we decided to visit some sights by car.  We stopped by the Chinese Medicine Museum which also still has a working pharmacy on the ground floor.  It’s pretty amazing really.  You can thank the Chinese for lot’s of things you have today that help aid your ills.  I couldn’t help but think about those poor lads that were part of the trials.  I mean, the wrong mushroom can send you to the grave pretty quickly.

    It’s said that Marco Polo visited Hangzhou (1138-1279) at the height of its prosperity and described it as “the city of Heaven, the most magnificent in all the world”.  Not hard to imagine it was back then and that’s even before anti-perspirant.

  6. Where will all the Haibao’s go?

    June 20, 2010 by admin

    I know we’re only barely two months into the Expo but I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the Haibao’s around Shanghai once this is all over.  They’ll probably end up in some sad warehouse where 20 years from now China will need a mascot for their first surfing contest and they bring out the Haibaos, paint on some board shorts and sew a surf board under his arm and that’s that.  But I will always remember our Expo mascot with love, as the happy little guy who always greeted me with a smile and was our reminder to always strive for a “better city, better life”.

    And since we’re on this subject, it dawned on me on the (3 hour!) drive back from Hangzhou that if you take that John Denver song, “Sunshine on my Shoulders” and replace “sunshine” with “Haibao” it makes a really nice tribute to our blue friend.

    So come on guys, sing along…

    “Haibao on my shoulders makes me happy
    Haibao in my eyes can make me cry
    Haibao on the water looks so lovely
    Haibao almost always makes me high

    If I had a day that I could give you
    I’d give to you a day, just like today
    If I had a song that I could sing for you
    I’d sing a song to make you feel this way”

    Didn’t that make you feel good?  You know it did.

  7. Woo She

    June 15, 2010 by admin

    For the last 3 days, Monday through Wednesday, we’ve been enjoying the Chinese holiday known as the Dragon Boat Festival.  The Dragon Boat Festival, Duan Wu Jie, means double fifth as it falls on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese lunar calendar.  Duan Wu commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan. There are stories that follow, one in which Qu Yuan commits suicide by grasping onto a large stone and throwing himself into the river and the locals take out on their boats to find him but as with many Chinese stories there are many versions and I don’t want to make anyone mad so I’ll leave it at that.

    We decided to drive to Wuxi and spend a little time there.  It’s about 2 hours outside of Shanghai with lots of green areas for Bernie to walk.  Upon visiting a park at the base of the hills we came across the longest set of stairs going straight up I’ve ever seen (I’ve never been to the pyramids okay?!).  We took the first 1,000 steps, cooled down and went back down.  On a cooler day we will go back and go all the way up…to where I don’t know but that’s not important, it’s the journey people, it’s all about the journey.

  8. Can one person make a difference?

    June 15, 2010 by admin

    I was walking to Ken’s office to meet him for lunch the other day, crossing the street through a long intersection, when a very large, decked-out Mercedes came barreling through the intersection (against the light) and came very close to hitting my leg.  My endorphins rushing I sprang into action giving the driver “the bird” AND “the Breglia eyes” simultaneously.

    I love this city and I love living here so to avoid these common traffic violations and keep my temper at bay, I would appreciate it if someone could please mail me the Los Angeles Department of Transportation regulation yellow crossing-guard vest, a pair of white gloves and the biggest whistle you can find, I’m going to put this extra time to good use…one intersection at a time.  Oh, and a hat, I’ll need a good hat too.

    I think I’ll start with this one…

  9. Artsy Fartsy

    June 9, 2010 by admin

    There is a wonderful exhibit now showing through July 25th at the Rockbund Art Museum which is a new gallery located in the building of the first museum in Shanghai.

    Artist Cai Guo Qiang presents, Peasant Da Vincis, a collection of pieces from that of the artist and chinese peasants and farmers from around China.  One of my favorite sections was the interactive robot inventions created to “perform” tasks offering the viewer a glimpse of the hard work, pain, humor, urbanization and much much more of the modern Chinese life.

    Another well done exhibition going on is at the Minsheng Art Museum at Red Town featuring contemporary artworks from the last 30 years in China, this exhibition will be showing until July 18th.  Red Town is a great place to spend the afternoon viewing art, having a bite to eat and lounging in the beautiful sculpture garden.

    Red town

    570 Huaihai Xi Lu

  10. But I digress…

    June 7, 2010 by admin

    I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and I want you to slap me if I ever say China is a strange place ever again.  First of all, there should be a law against 20 year old boys traveling in packs of 15.  Even in this day and age there are still short dress and high-heeled shoe combinations that can make even the cutest young girl look like a hooker.  And who on earth said it was okay to make 4 foot long, plastic neon purple glasses that you  fill with a gallon of daiquiri so you can get wasted walking down the strip.  It is by far the scariest collection of people and places I’ve ever seen.  Period.

    and I loved every minute of it.