Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Draft Reactions

The New York Knicks' draft

8) Channing Frye - Arizona. We need a big man and Frye will help. I was hoping for either Granger, Warrick, or Frye at this spot so I'm pleased. Hopefully we'll have Frye and Sweetney side-by-side in the front court for years to come.

30) David Lee - Florida. Lee was a disappointment in college, but plenty of players have turned things around. Maybe he's more suited to the pro game. The most I'd really expect from him though is to be a solid bench player.

54) Dijon Thompson - UCLA. I'm actually really excited about Thompson. He's a 4 year player that might fit in well with the club. His college teammate, Trevor Ariza, was a huge pick for us last year in the second round.

Potential trade:
New York gets - Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson
Phoenix gets - Kurt Thomas
Now I love Kurt Thomas. He's my favorite player in the league today. But I knew this day would come at some point. And Sweetney and Frye are gonna need run to improve. Richardson will also help our backcourt's depth. Crawford has shown flashes, but I'm not sold on him as an all-around player yet. In addition, I love Nate Robinson. I don't know how long Marbury will stay a Knick, but if Robinson is his replacement, I won't be upset at all. That little guy can play!

The rest of the draft

I've posted on Andrew Bogut earlier (check the first week of this blog). I'm just not sure about him. I think he'll be a good player, but will end up not reaching a #1 pick's potential.

I really like Marvin Williams. He seems like a good person and has great upside. But where will all the talented wing players fit in Atlanta?

Deron Williams, a good player, but will become anonymous in Utah.

I don't know what it is, but I never liked Chris Paul. I don't think being in New Orleans will help him much either.

Charlotte got two champions, Raymond Felton and Sean May. They drafted another champ in Emeka Okafor last year. They're going in the right direction, even if those two aren't the most talented players. They know how to play ball, simply put.

I can see Martell Webster being a bust. He just has the name for it, and now he has the team for it too, Portland.

Toronto chose Charlie Villanueva. He might be ok, but it was quite a bad pick. Maybe they're trying to copy the Knicks' losing strategy- find as many power forwards as possible, and pay them all too much money.

The Lakers chose a high school big man in Bynum. Kobe's still screwed.

Orlando picked Fran Vazquez and the Clippers chose Yaroslav Korolev instead of May, Granger, Graham, Wright, Warrick, Hodge, and even the high schooler Green. Whatever, they're not my teams.

On that note, my 4 favorite college players were drafted within 5 players of each other. Granger went 17th (I like what the Pacers are doing), Warrick 19th to Memphis, Hodge 20th to Denver, 21 Nate Robinson Phoenix, possibly to the Knicks.

I liked the number of college veterans that were picked in the first round this year. They always seem to play the best out of any group. Sure there are great NBA players from high school, from oversees, and who left college after one or two seasons, but the bulk of good players in the league have college experience.

Atlanta had a good pick with Salim Stoudamire.

There might be a few diamonds in the second round. Gomes, Roberts, and Turiaf should all be solid pros.

I liked when Jay Bilas called the person who told Matt Walsh that he was a first round lock an idiot. There were quite a lot of high schoolers picked in round two. Hopefully their lives are ruined by their choices, but whatever happens happens.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Recap of the NBA Finals and Season

Every year I write a game-by-game analysis of the NBA Finals. However, I will not be posting that here. Instead, I will present the awards given by me and my annual final season overview of the state of the NBA.

MVP - SA Tim Duncan
Unsung Hero Award - SA Robert Horry
Gutcheck Award - Det Head Coach Larry Brown

With all of the young players in the NBA, it is fitting that these two teams tussled for the title. They represent what is good about the sport. Sure, basketball can be a game of stars and their flashy moves, but teamwork, toughness, sacrifice, and defense will get you to the promised land. If teams follow this mold, the NBA will be in good shape.

The All NBA H-duk Team is comprised of the 5 best players from the previous season according to my calculations. Some players may be out of position, but they cannot be unreasonably placed. For example, Shaq cannot be placed as a guard, even if he is the 4th best player that year. Of course Shaq would dispute the entirety of the last sentence, but you get the picture. All of the playoffs are included. I also choose an MVP on my own (the Finals MVP is based on the actual selection). This year's MVP is Steve Nash. I will insert the number of times each player has been selected to the team next to their team. The team has existed since 1999-2000. This is its 6th year.

2004-2005 All NBA H-duk Team
C Shaquille O'Neal Mia (4th)
F Tim Duncan SA (4th)
F Kevin Garnett Min (4th)
G Allen Iverson Phi (4th)
G Steve Nash Phx (1st)

Monday, June 27, 2005

I Went Home Again

I'm now back home in Maryland. My six week journey has taken me to Texas, China, New York, and back home again. I've learned many things. Not least of which is that mullets look bad on any group of people.

I've learned how to be out on my own in another country. How to deal with crooks (yell at them in a language that they don't understand until they're afraid of you so that they only criticize you to your friend afterward, never to your face). I learned how to be myself in public. People in China were going to stare at me anyhow, so I might as well give them something to stare at. I learned the importance of language (there's no simple answer from that lesson though).

I've learned that people have feelings and should be treated as equals even if they don't speak the same language as myself. All too often we assume that because someone cannot articulate themselves in our language, they must be emotionally inferior. But of course, since I cannot speak Chinese, many people must have felt the same way. I remember the 2 and a half year old girl who was a member of the family that we stayed with my last week; I played were her often and she would speak to me in Chinese. She must have thought that I was the stupidest adult in the world.

I've learned that your sense of self should not depend on the people around and their perception of you. There were times when we were treated as if we were the greatest maharajas who ever lived and others when we were dealt with as if we were animals. I attempted to be modest when put on a pedestal and proud when degraded. I am a grown man- nothing more, nothing less.

But I'm not too proud to take a big shit in public, hunched in the bushes, shielded from a busy street. And I have the pictures to prove it!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Last Post in China

So my trip is near its end. Most of it was filled with frustration and bitterness, but strangely I don't want to leave. People make the place. Once I was rid of the riffraff, this place turned for the better.

I've learned many things. Of course, everything Chinese was novel to me, but I learned much more valuable lessons about myself. I think I bring people to my level, I treat them as equals. If you think that you're better then me, such as Abbott, the General, and G-G-G-G-Unit, then we are not going to get along very well. But if you lack self-confidence, or are downtrodden, then you are probably going to like me.

I've met many wonderful people that I hope I can stay in contact with. I've also met a few despicable people. People are generally the same everywhere. You have the good and the bad.

For someone whe doesn't speak Chinese and has never been in a situation like that for so long, I think I did pretty well. I discovered that in some cases, language is quite over-rated, and in others I've seen the true importance of language.

In the end, I will take many things with me back home. Experiences, memories, lessons, pictures, and little knicknacks among them. However, the one thing I won't be taking back is a Chinese wife. At least not as of today!

Another Shitty Day of Smiles

Today I taught a class at 8am again. It was actually quite a lot of fun. Then I took a taxi back to watch the second half of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Detroit's back in it. There was actually a lock that covered the keyhole and I didn't know how to open it. So I tried to ask someone, but they all waved me off, which was frustrating.

Luckily for me, Mr Huang and I had seen each other on my way home in the taxi. He yelled at me in Chinese and then rushed home and opened the door for me.

I had a lunch appointment at 12:10 and it was already around noon when the game ended. I had to take a cab, but I didn't have the address of the school written out in Chinese. I tried to explain this to Mr. Huang and around ten minutes later I got what I needed.

Lunch was delicious. I took a nap after and had dinner at Jane's house. The meats that I ate today were sheep, duck (the best two), beef, chicken, shrimp, and dog. Yes, I ate dog stew!

At night a group of us went for a walk. I talked with Jane for quite a long time and she told me about her childhood. She didn't know her father's relatives because they were killed by the Japanese. She was very poor, but now owns several flats, which she rents out, and pays for her daughter's lessons in everything from pingpong to musical instruments that I never heard of.

It was midnight, time to go home. Sherkhan had his bike and I was to run. This was fine for a few miles, but then something in my stomach reached up my hole and grabbed me. At first I thought it was a stomach ache. Then I realized that I had a bathroom emergency. I looked for a dark spot. I found one not far from the sidewalk. It was near the creek. On the other side of the bushes was the street, but the bushes gave me good coverage. So I took a big shit in public. Then there was the problem of toilet paper. Together, me and Sherkhan didn't have many tissues. So I asked for my wallet. I took out what I call a "Wu-Tang." One Yuan is the same as about 12 cents. So a "Wu-Tang" is one tenth of that, or 1.2 cents. I wiped my ass with the two "Wu-Tang" that I had. My dreams had been accomplished. Back in Shanghai, I had taken a shit in the public shower at the hostel, because when I asked where the bathroom was, that's what they showed me. It was only later that I found the real bathroom, discovering that I had shat in the shower. But last night, I shat in public!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Worst Five Minutes Ever

The day didn't start out too great. I spent 25 minutes riding on the back of Mrs. Fu's bike. There's no padded seat, it's just a flat steel surface. One cheek kept sliding off it. My legs were in a constant curl, with nothing to rest my feet on.

Class was great. The kids asked me great questions and we had a lotta fun. After class, I ate with Agatha. At the restaurant I had to poo. So I closed the bathroom door and shat. Some old dude walked in, and he peed while I pooed in that cozy bathroom. After lunch, I felt stuffed. I rested before I went to play ball.

I played ball for two hours in the scorching heat, with no water and no breaks. I was tired. I took a cab home. It was the first time that I rode in the front of a taxi in China. We nearly died 73 times.

Then, Mr. Huang (Mrs. Fu's husband) took me to my night class on the back of his bike. Immediately, my leg cramped up. I screamed, "Ow, ow, oooh, my leg." He repeated, "Ow, ow oooh, my leg," thinking that I was teaching him English. So I just sat there and rubbed out the pain.

We were almost at the office when I felt like I had to fart. I wasn't feeling so good at that point. So I let one rip and I shit my pants.

But I still had a lot left inside. I tried to tell him to stop near the bathroom, to no avail. We stopped and I got off the bike. My legs had become so stiff that I couldn't extend them. Instead, I collapsed to the ground in front of a good number of people. Ten seconds later, I was able to get up. I very explicitly showed the secretary in the office what I had to do and what I needed to do it (toilet paper). Then, I did my little shit-run towards the bathroom. I got there, but I can't read Chinese, so I spent some more time going back and forth trying to figure out which was the men's bathroom.

Finally, I figured it out and took a liquidy shit. It grossed me out so much that I nearly threw up. The vomit came into my mouth and nose, but I swallowed it to keep my vomitless streak alive.

The door was wide open, so in the middle, I grabbed a mop to keep the door closed. But there was no way to block the window from the prying eyes of construction workers. Then there was a moment when I had to decide whether it was worth saving my underwear or just throwing it away. There were only a few squirt spots, so I decided to wash them out and keep 'em on.

My asshole burns now.

Culture Clash

Today I encountered two instances of culture clash. The first occured when I went to lunch with Agatha. We ate duck, chicken, and some mystery bird that I took a picture of before I ate. It was an expensive meal and Agatha has been very nice to me, so I wanted to pay half. I told her and she screamed, "What are you doing?!" as if she were really offended. Then I heard her tell the waiters that I was from America in Chinese (migwa). Presumably calling me a stupid American.

She explained to me that because she invited me to lunch, she was required to pay.

The other instance happened after my night class. I wanted to go to the internet cafe. Abbott told me "now go home." I told him my intention. He yelled, "no! Go home now!" I flipped out. How you gonna tell a fucking grown man what to do, unless I let you (ma, grandma, end of list [until the next girlfriend]). I yelled, "No, internet! Don't argue with me! We are grown men! Grown men," as I pointed to me and Sherkhan.

Back home, if you told a grown ass man what to do, the next thing you'd get is a punch in the face. But here they are very paternalist. That's cool, but this guy is very rude about it. He only knows a little bit of English and I don't want to hear the shit that he knows. First of all, I don't work for you, I work with you. Second, I don't work with you anymore, I 'm done. I'm out bitch. Third, I'm off the clock now. If I want to take a dump on a hooker's chest after work, goddamn it, I'm gonna take a dump on a hooker's chest after work!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What's "Asshole" in Chinese?

Riding on the back of Abbott's moped to school is now becoming a habit. Almost dying on the way is now old news. My class today was at 8am. I'm not exactly sure why I had to wake up at fucking 6am and why Abbott had to bring me to school 45 minutes early, but whatever.

So I was tired. The class I was teaching was very difficult. There were two execptional girls in the class, a few decent English speakers (decent has a much different definition here), and a whole lot of kids who just don't care. Since no one was speaking up, I talked with the two girls, because I knew they wanted to learn.

During the break, the normal teacher wanted me to get more students involved. What he didn't tell me is that most of the students have been taking the English class all year and do not know a single word. I'm not equipt to teach someone who knows no English, because I don't speak Chinese. Plus, I can't teach someone that doesn't want to learn. No one can.

So I had the two smart girls ask the dumb kids questions and help them along the way. One kid (when I say kid, I mean they are between 17-20 years old) knew absolutely nothing. I got frustrated. I asked one of the girls to translate, "I don't care if you learn English, it's up to you." What I really meant to say was, "It doesn't matter to me if you learn English or not, but if you want to, I'll be happy to teach you. If not, don't waste your classmates' time." But I don't care, I was frustrated.

I requested another kid, who was sleeping in class, to ask me one question. I gave him 1 hour and a half and he couldn't do it. Not one! So I made him stand in front of the class until he asked me a question. A little bit into it, he decided he wanted to sit down and not be made a fool of. Maybe he should have thought about that while he was sleeping in my class. The regular teacher and I both yelled at him to get back up there and listen to my directions. The other teacher was less polite about it than I was. These kids have an opportuntity to succeed and some of them just won't take it. And by this age, they should realize how important school is. Like I said before, I can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn.

I don't go shopping, never have, never will. But today was Buyin' Shit Day for me. On our way home from my Buyin Shit Day, we walked through a very peaceful park. We were both enamored by the kites flying high in the air. Then as we walked by, I heard "bla, bla, bla Lo-i, bla, bla" the derrogative term for foreigners, if you remember. So I turned and glared. Some fucking old dude flying a kite in a beater then began to point and scream, "LO-I" at us repeatedly. I wasn't all too happy about that. I started pointing at him and screaming, "Asshole" repeatedly. By now, the whole fucking park was staring at me yelling at an old Chinese man in English. A few yards later a motorcycle rider (many motorcycles are taxis here) honked at us. No big deal, it literally happens all the time. Then he honked again. Then again. Then one long honk. I was again displeased. I started gently yelling at him and screetching "BEEP!" at him.

During the evening I played with the family's 2 1/2 year old daughter, Yo Yo or Ya Ya or some shit. She loves me. It's great fun to play with her. Great fun, who the fuck says that anymore?

Then the five of us (Mrs. Fu and Mr. Huang and their daughter Yo Yo and us) went for a nice walk. Today the pollution was so bad that I could hardly see because my eyes were burning so intensely. My mouth and ears also became scratchy. The pollution has always been present, but today the fabled Chinese air appeared for the first time.

Best of all, I got to see most of Game 3 of the NBA Finals! Luke Walton was on CCTV5 at halftime, because he's here in China. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Can I Just Chill Please?!

Finally, an uneventful day!

We spent Monday on a bus from Shanghai to Lianyungong. Sure we had no place to live and no phone to call the people that were going to show us where we were going to live, but hey, that's been the whole trip! The bus ride was pleasant, no big deal. We said goodbye to Ginsu once we got off the bus, no problem. We walked to the school where we teach and met a man who called Agatha, the sister of Laverne, no problem. We picked up our bags and went to Laverne's (Mrs Fu) house. Then we played with her 2 1/2 year old daughter for hours. Everything was great. She listened to our requests for working with us and everything was fine and dandy.

Then Abbott came.

He wouldn't give me the small amount of money that I asked for AND a train ticket. It was either a train ticket and less money, or the money that I asked for. I flipped out.

I talked it out with Sherkhan and then got the story from Agatha. Evidently, I shouldn't blame Abbott for getting fucked by the General and stutter-step. So I apologized. I don't like Abbott at all, but he's not as bad as the other two. I hope.

Tuesday morning I woke up in Ms. Fu's house to Abbott (who doesn't live there) screaming at me to hurry up. Apparently, we only had 2 more hours to get to school, which is about 15 minutes away. That ass!

I taught class and it was all good.

That evening I was sitting in an office of another school. A young Chinese man was talking to me. He told me in choppy English, "I have a secret. Can I tell you my secret?" I said sure. He told me that he was gay. I was thankful that he shared this secret with me and not Sherkhan.

He described the lonliness that he faces being gay in China and the sadness that he feels from being treated as an outcast. I tried to console him.

A little bit into our conversation, some more people came into the room. One was a 7 year old girl named Amanda. She spoke the best English of any Chinese person that I've come in contact with. The young man starting talking to her in Chinese and then to me in English about his hopes and dreams and his pain. Then I realized what was happening. This little girl was translating a very deep conversation about being gay. The situation made me want to laugh, but for the young man's sake I didn't.

About an hour into talking to these two, I realized that I was teaching a class. There were two other girls listening to the three of us talk. They were about my age. They could understand English, and write it, but they couldn't verbalize in English. I wasn't sure that I was supposed to teach them until it was too late. Oh well. Hopefully I can catch most of ther NBA Finals tomorrow (morning) but since everyone's English is bad, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Shanghai Visit

Saturday, we walked more than 20 miles around Shanghai. It was pretty cool. We looked for the former president of China's, Sun Yatsen, house for about three hours. He was really the leader of the destruction of the Qing Dynasty, but was offically only president for a brief time. We also walked around the bund and the French Quarter. I argued with street venders who were offering DVDs, watches, and whatever. I would yell at any vender who yelled at me, or give them the look if they grabbed me, or just argue with them in English that they couldn't understand. We ate McDonald's twice on Saturday. Then, exhausted I watched the last two minutes of the Game 1 of the NBA Finals on replay. Thanks for the analysis Mike.

Sunday, I woke up to loud banging on my door. Some lady was screaming at me in Chinese. Then she got a woman who only spoke a bit on English to try and translate. They asked me where was the girl that sat next to Sherkhan on the bus (lets call her ginsu) and I said that I didn't know. (Are you confused? You should be.) Then my "translator" called the girl who sat next to me on the bus (Cici). Her English is very good. She told me not to worry.

Then that girl came back and so did Sherkhan about two hours after the ordeal began. We walked across the street and called Cici again. Ginsu speaks no English, so Cici translated for me. Evidently, the hostel that we were staying at did not house foreigners. This was odd, because they decided that was the case after we had stayed there for two nights.

So we took a bus down to Shanghai's bund by the river. We walked all the way to the Jade Buddha Temple, eventually dropping no-English Ginsu along the way. Then we were supposed to meet Cici at the giant Dong Fang tower at 6pm. Six came and no Cici to be found. Sherkhan stopped a girl and borrowed her cell phone at around 7pm. About 30 minutes later, that girl and her friend took us on the subway to People's park where Cici was waiting. Then they took a picture of us. That's what happens when you shit like money.

Later that night, Sherkhan and I were walking up Nanjing Road, a very touristy area. Two girls said hello, Sherkhan stopped and started talking to them. Soon, these two girls were leading us to a bar. The girl with me had her hands all over me and then grabbed my hand and we walked holding hands. We sat down and saw the menu. Let's just say 40 yuan for an orange juice is outrageous. It's equivalent to $5, which is unbelievably high for America, but China is much cheaper to start with. So this was beyond belief. Then we left and the girls got mad.

Basically what happened, was these two girls tried to scam some foreigners into buying an extremely expensive meal for them and then having sex with them. Cici's words of "Be careful," were quite prophetic.

Walking away from that situation, we were exhausted and starving. Then every street vender walked up to us and said, "Ladies? DVD? Watch?" Some whispered, "Hashish?"

Now I write to you from Ginsu's friend's apartment. Tomorrow we go back to Lianyungong. Who knows what's in store for us there.

Friday's Happenings

First, please let me apologize for my last post. I was in the internet cafe, saving the post along the way when my time ran out. So I've finished the post today. Please feel free to read the finished version of "Roller Coaster."

We woke up on Friday not sure what the day would bring. Sherkhan took his bags off to class with Laverne, who had come to pick him up. I went out to get money from the Bank of China. It felt like a movie as I was very paranoid that one of the General's henchmen may be following me.

I watched two minutes of the NBA Finals before I had to leave to teach the class. I took my luggage. Because Laverne came and got me, I figured that I didn't need to bring the General back to give him the key. I'd just give it to Laverne.

When I got to the school, Laverne's sister, an English teacher at the school, told me that Sherkhan and Laverne had struck a deal. We'd stay in her apartment, with our own rooms, until she could find an apartment for Sherkhan. as I'm leaving in a week. We wouldn't have to deal with those two idiots and we'd be paid for our services. It seemed like a good deal. Another English teacher also assured me that Chinese people are generally nice and to not get the wrong impression from these two fools.

We didn't have to worry about all the James Bond stuff and just took our big bags to Jane's apartment. Then we took a bus to the big bus that would take us to Shanghai. I sat next to a sweetheart of a young woman and Sherkhan sat next to a very different young woman...


We checked into a hostel, where, let's just say, I was faced with another one of China's cruel adventures. All I can say is that I found myself wandering through the ghetto of Shanghai for a couple hours after an 8 hour bus ride. It was not my happiest moment. Perhaps I can email the story more clearly if anyone's curious, but that's all I'm willing to publish.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Roller Coaster

Many of my friends back home have been very nice in their concern for me and my mental health. They're worried about me dealing with the culture shock and help me to understand business practices here. But I've realized something, my happiness in this country is directly tied to the absense of General Dipshit in my life. He was gone for a few days and I loved being here. Everything about this place, the stares, the attention, everything. He came back today, I didn't even see him, and my mood went down the tubes.

I may have been late to class on Wednesday. Perhaps my watch is 4 hours and 21 minutes slow and not 4 hours and 15 minutes slow as I had thought. Sherkhan just found the watch for me on the floor, so whatever. The schedule that I have only has a bunch of random numbers that have meaning to maybe 4 people in the whole world. I would've liked a schedule that has the room number written in Chinese. That way I can show a student and they can direct me to the class that I'm supposed to be in. I showed a student my meaningless schedule. He took me to one office. Then I went to another office. Then another. So, instead of being maybe 1 minute late, I was 30 minutes late.

The rest of the day was cool though. I took a long nap and woke up in time to meet with an English teacher at the school. She is a middle aged woman who took Sherkhan and I out to dinner with her private English students. She is an awesome woman. She lived in Kuwait and Jordan for a few years. Since Chinese people couldn't travel freely at that time, she gave up her successful job as an English teacher to work as a house maid and at KFC because she could only travel through a work contract. So she is quite humble. She has been very generous to us.

Then she (Jane) told me to sit on the back of her bike and took me back to our apartment riding next to Sherkhan.

I woke up Thursday to Laverne's knocking. Then I rode on the back of her bike to school. I was actually offended that she took me to school. I'm a grown man, I can get there myself, I don't need anyone checking up on me. Plus, give me a fucking proper schedule and this shit wouldn't happen. But I wasn't mad at Laverne. She was just following orders.

Class was fun. I yelled some more and the students loved it. But I was a little aggravated in general. It's the first time it's rained since we've been here. The toilet doesn't work (excuse me, our shit hole won't drain), so I can't take a shower. You read that correctly!

I shat in a nasty ass grocery store bathroom. If you've never shat in a Third World bathroom, then you just wouldn't understand. Two guys saw my ass (all the girls are jealous), because there's no door. Then walking back to the apartment, groceries in hand, some guy said some shit to me. I have no idea if he was yelling at me or that Chinese word just has that intonation, but I just wasn't in the mood. Then a car nearly ran me over. I yelled, "I'm fuckin' walkin' here!" No one understood, but the sight of a foreigner yelling is enough to draw a lot of attention.

Then I took a nap.

I awoke to Sherkhan storming into the apartment, screaming "That's it. Let's go!" I responded in a half asleep haze, "What?" Sherkhan clarified, "I think I just quit, let's go." I answered, "Not right now, I'm tired."

Sherkhan and the General had a fight, which Sherkhan can describe much more accurately than I can. I only heard what happened from Sherkhan.

Then Sherkhan talked with Jane for awhile until he got me. The three of us ate, discussing the situation. She enlightened us to what really has been going on with G-G-G-G-Unit and the General. Then she offered us a flat that she owns (she owns several) for free. So as of then end of Thursday night, we had quit and were planning moving to another city.

We planned to visit Shanghai for a few days. We were going to leave after we taught our final class Friday afternoon. We discussed the prospects of the General following us to the bus. Also, we were going to leave our luggage with Jane, but she didn't want the General to know that. So she laid out a James Bond-like plan for us on Friday. Sherkhan would first leave for his class and take both his bags with him. Then I was to walk to the General and the stuttering fool's office and get one of them to come with me, where I'd give them back the key and they could watch me move out. Then I was to take a taxi to the school and teach the class. From there, depending on the situation, we would take our luggage on one bus. That bus would take us to another bigger bus, which was going to Shanghai. The little bus would take our luggage back to Jane's apartment.

Talk about a roller coaster!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

One of Dem Days

Unfortunately date rape is a far too common occurance in society. Last night I think I was actually rape dated though. I was chillin, watching some tv, when Sherkhan came into my room. He popoped in Bridgett Jones II or some shit, took his shirt off, and crawled into my bed. After 5 minutes of utter shock on my part, I mustered up enough to say, "What the fuck?" Then we watched the movie with this bum eating snacks in my bed shirtless. Somebody help me.

An NBA game was actually on tv today!!!!! And it was Game 7 on the Eastern Conference Finals no less!!!!! Of course, today was the day that we finally started teaching our classes on a consistant basis. Oh, and with my luck, of course our classes were right during the game. So I missed most of it.

Later that night I went to turn on the tv and of course, nothing. The shit didn't turn on. So I tried to fixed it the Jewish way. I threw the remote on the bed, smacked the tv, fiddled with the plug, and then spewed cuss words in Yiddish. Strangley, the tv still didn't work. In fact, the dvd player no longer worked either. So there went any hope of maybe catching a replay of the game.

When Sherkhan came back to the apartment, he was able to fix them both, thankfully.

It was also a day of more firsts. I rode on the back of Abbot's moped, scared out of my mind. When we requested helmets for our bikes, they laughed at us. There was no helmet for the moped either.

I also learned how to ride a bike. I think I learned pretty quickly. In 15 minutes I went from not being able to balance at all (just bailing from the bike as it crashed to the ground) to being able to ride around and perform circles. I had quite an audience watching me make an ass out of myself too. I didn't care for some reason. This place has stripped me of any potential feeling of self-consciousness. You can't feel self-conscious as a foreigner here, or you have no chance of being happy. Every move you make is watched and critiqued. Even my shoes. I've noticed that many young people check out my shoes as they pass me. They're in for quite a disappointment, because my shoes are about a year old and are quite worn out.

I saw another midget today. I liked him much better than the mean one.

One aspect of my Jewishness came out at dinner. I was comfy in my chair when the waiter asked to take the empty chair that we had. I went to lift it over me when he told me "no." He wanted my chair and asked me to move over. That chair was cold and uncomfortable. So I started hollering whenever he passed by. Of course, he had no idea that I was talking to him. He also rinsed out his rag in our trash can. Each table had their own trash can. I yelled at him in my sarcastic bitter way over that too.

Classes were cool. I really enjoy teaching the kids English. They range from 17 years old to 19, I think. Of course, I'm 24 in China, so who the hell knows what that means. I run around the classroom like a kook trying to peak their interest somehow. We talk about basketball, school, anything that they can talk about. It occured to me during class, "am I really the teacher talking in front of 60 kids who are not much younger than myself?" "Yep, it's me," I told myself.

My shyness is gone when I'm prancing around in class. Or out of class for that matter. You can't afford to be shy here either. Many people scream "hello" at us as we walk down the street. This may be their only interaction with foreigners, maybe ever, so we have to be polite and answer back.

Well I have class at 8 am tomorrow. 8pm back home. If anyone's gonna be in the Liangyungong area tomorrow around 7am, please stop by and wake me up for class. Thanks.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Signs of Communism?

During this trip to China, I have learned less about what communism is in practice, and more about foreigners' perception of what constitutes communism.

China is supposed to be a communist country. But capitalism thrives here. There are markets on every other street in every city that I've been to. Designer stores and designer knock-offs are plentiful. There is Quordan 23, with the basketball outside of his left hip, instead of Jordan brand products. But there have been no communals. As one foreigner said, there is often not even a sense of community. I would agree, outside of the nightly dances and festivals where a park may be filled with dancing and singing residents. Basically, there are simply a lot of kind individuals, but no real sense of community.

If communism requires some sense of community, then paradoxically, communism is most prevalent in the countryside. From Xuzhou to Liangyungong, we took an extremely slow-moving commuter train, filled with peasants dressed in their weekend best. They all had their goods ready to be sold in one city or another. It was only on this train that I felt any sense of community. You could allow your two year old child to be picked up and fed by a stranger, or even more bizarre, play with a foreigner.

If communism is industry over agriculture, I have not seen a communist country. Any train ride shows a plethora of agriculture. Factories are present, but out of view. In fact, China has followed other countries, with an increasing number of jobs in the service sector.

Capitalism is everywhere. Venders sell there goods on every street corner. Most of the time, they are selling little knick-knacks, not anything particularly useful. This is the black market of capitalism. It is in plain view of everyone. The police ride by without a second thought. This is life.

If communism equals inefficiency, then I have seen mixed results. Private companies may be required to hire a certain amount of officials in order to eradicate unemployment. This creates a scene where you have a worker for each aisle at the grocery store or five employees crowded around each other over one small section of a department store, gapping away without concern of interuption by customers. However, the trains are extremely efficent. The leave right on time and even arrive at your destination exactly on the dot.

The bottom line is just that. Most people are here to sell their goods and make a profit. The numerous taxi drivers that honk incessantly and drive like madpeople just for your business are doing so for your yuan, not to provide a necessary service to society. So, is China just nominally a communist country or is it so in practice? It depends on your definition of communism. But the legacy of Deng Xaioping's reforms is easier to find than that of Mao's.

Not Thinking Straight

I'm not sure if today's post will be coherant or not because I'm surrounded by screaming teenagers. I'm in between two huys playing the same computer gaem together yelling aty each other through their headphones. Shut the fuck up, da both of youse!

We left the apartment today to go meet some parents from our school and hand out some flyers. The one guy (I call him Abbott to the principal's Costello), he might have been the vice pricipal or something (nobody speaks enough English in order to tell me exactly what the hell he'd doing there), wanted us to work about 5 or 6 hours today, instead of having a day off, like we were supposed to.

So we told him that we'd do as much as we felt like. We didn't get very far from the apartment when we met Laverne (Shirley wasn't there this time) and Abbott. Abbott told us that we would not be meeting parents and in fact had no idea that he had ever told us to do that. Instead we were going to teach a class because some teacher was "sick." When was this class? Right then!

I told him that we were not scheduled to teach on Mondays so that we didn't have to. That's the way they do business here. If you don't say "no" they exploit you as far as they possibly can. After I told him that we weren't scheduled to, he said, "No not you. Only him go," pointing at Sherkhan.

I've been much more forceful in my demands than Sherkhan. He is staying much longer and wants to maintain good working relations with these bums. I don't care so much. My attitude is fuck 'em. They've lied so much to us that I don't care about them at all anymore. But I'm glad that they now know that I don't fuck around. Whenver I speak up against some injustice that they're trying to pull, they always say, "no, not you, him go." Clowns.

I saw the elderly lady who gave me back my shirt. I said "ni hao" and then she explained something to me in Chinese. I didn't get it. Moments later there was a knocking at the door. It was her. I can understand a little bit of Chinese. She was searching for the "drip drip drip" that she kept hearing. She went into the kitchen and said, "hmm, meo (nothing)." Then explained to me that it was the air conditioner. I understood a little bit of what she was saying. But now she's creeping me out a bit.

As far as anything Jewish, I'm pretty much it. Back in Shijiahuan I saw a Hassidic Jew walking the other way at the train station. He didn't see us and we were in a hurry or I would've said something. I have little doubt that we were the only 2 Jews in the city at that point.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The People are Nice

I must say that we have met many kind-hearted people here. Most people are willing and happy to help the retarded foreigners. The staff at the McDonald's are very nice and patient. We point to what we want on a menu. It becomes more challenging when we want to make a special order, like Sprite, no ice. I might get no ice, but a Coke instead. Or I might get a Sprite with ice. On rare occasions I get a dead hooker instead. That's not even close to Sprite, no ice!

Today Sherkhan did laundry. We don't have machines though, so he washed his clothes and then hung them on hangers in our indoor patio/kitchen. He hung a couple of shirts on the outdoor clothes line as well. I hung the shirt that I use as a towel out there too. When we looked out there again, my shirt had fallen down one level and Sherkhan's was nowhere to be found. He started conversing with an elderly lady about the subject. Of course she spoke absolutely no English and we very little Chinese. She understood what he was saying though and the next sound we heard were her heavy feet pounding up the four flights of stairs.

She came into our apartment with a long stick with a metal hook on the end. She tried to grab my shirt, but it was just out of her reach. It was funny because the whole time she's constantly talking to us in Chinese and we're responding in English, nodding like we know what the fuck she's saying. She's reponding like she knows exactly what we're talking about. Meanwhile none of us have a fucking clue. Then we asked her to talk to the people down one flight, but they weren't home. So we asked the people one floor below. The guy takes the stick and next thing I know I got my shirt/towel back!

Then she invited us to her place on the ground floor. We looked in the backyard for Sherkhan's shirt to no avail. The whole time talking to each other in the two different languages.

Next I performed the duties of a wingman. The double date went well, but of course mine didn't speak English too well, but whatever. Whenever we had a chance, Sherkhan would whisper to me some cockeyed plan about saying goodbye to the young women. He wanted to give them both hugs. He asked me to initiate it. But when it came time to say goodbye, Sherkhan lept into action too early. My date went to retrieve her bike, when Sherkhan tried to hug his date. It ended up turning into a thug-like hug. A handshake with one hand and the other arm over the shoulder. Then he went to give the other woman a hung, but she accidently rammed her bike into his crotch. Of course, considering that I'm a normal person, I hugged them both normally.

One last thing. Sherkhan has stolen some phrases from me and not given me credit. The line "it's like we're celebrities without the positive connotation," I said that. That's what that star by that phrase on Mr. Khan's blog ( means. Another that he thought of using was "Phlem Fatale" to explain the constant spitting that ranks behind basketball and ping-pong and in front of drinking straight vodka as Chinese pastimes. The phrase "shit like money" originated when Sherkhan misunderstood something I said. It should be used yo refer to someone who is arrogant.

The way a Chinese supermarket closes:
The workers run around like chickens with their heads cut off, screaming at people to leave. One yelled "go home! Go home!" at me. Do I really have to go home? Can't I simply leave the grocery store and go somewhere else? It was bizarre.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Answers I Wanted to Give

During my two days as a celebrity in the back woods (the cities only have a couple of million people in them) of China, I answered many questions from Chinese students and teachers. These are the answers that I gave and those that I wanted to give.

Do you like Chinese culture?
A: (Actual) Yes, I like the food and the people although some things have been hard to adjust to.
W: (Wished I had answered) Maybe if you all stopped hocking and spitting, if their wasn't garbage everywere, if you wiped your asses, and if you stopped eating chicken face, I wouldn't be too grossed out to think. Then maybe I could appreciate its beauty.

What are your hobbies?
A: Basketball, running, and watching tv.
W: Wiping my ass. You should try it.

Do you like American Country Music?
A: No. I like Hip Hop.
W: Fuck no.

Do you have a girlfriend?
A: No (blush).
W: Take off your shirt.

Do you like Chinese food?
A: Yes.
W: Eh.

Sing us an English song.
A: No, no, no. I am a bad singer. You don't want that.
W: Take off your shirt.

Where in China have you visited?
A: Beijing, Xuzhou, here.
W: Beijing, Shijahuan, Xuzhou, Liangyungong, Xuyou.

Where in China have you visited?
A: Beijing, Xuzhou, here.
W: Holy fuck you stupid dumbass! I just fucking answered that question! What the fuck is wrong with you retard! (Then I walk over to the little girl and punch her right in her fucking face, hock and spit)!

Do you know Chairman Mao? Tell us something about him.
A: Yes. Blah, blah blah, Long March... great general... blah bla blah.
W: 30 million people starved to death in like 2 years under his watch. Stop worshipping him you mindless boobs!

A: Next question.
W: Taiwan should be independent.

You are lovely and handsome.
A: Thank you.
W: Meet me after class (wink, wink).

Do you know Yao Ming?
A: Yes, he is very tall.
W1: Of course I know of Yao Ming, what have I been in a cave for the last three years?
W2: Yes, all Americans are close personal friends with Yao Ming, jerkoff.

You are very humorous.
A: Thank you.
W: You talk like you're from the 1920s. Nobody talks like that numbnuts.

I'm glad to get that off my chest. I taught one lesson on a "great man and woman" in American history. I chose Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman.

I was asked who my favorite actor was. They had never heard of Denzel Washington.

They've all heard of the NBA, but not too many know of the New York Knicks. I've been promoting them heavily. Pay me.

In one class, I was asked which school I went to for college and which I go to for grad school. I wrote Goucher College and George Mason University on the black board. Pay me or at least do something for me. After all, I shit like money.

The last thing. The Chinese school official that talks like James Earl Jones was talking to Sherkhan about the fact that their skin color is similar. James Earl Jones told Sherkhan that he should travel to Africa. Sherkhan asked why. James (ironically) said that it was because Sherkhan could then be proud that his skin was lighter than the Africans. It took me a second to understand what he was saying. I whispered to Sherkhan, "did he just say..." Sherkhan answered that he had said what I though I heard, but told me not to argue, because he wouldn't understand. Sherkhan should go to Africa because his skin would be lighter than the Africans. What the fuck?

Sherkhan also told me that one student told him "I thought that Americans were tall, white, and handsome." He wasn't so offended, except for the handsome part. He complained to me, "What, I'm not handsome?"

You are Sherkhan, you are.

Celebrities For A Day Or Two

We woke up Saturday morning to General Dipshit's orders. Then we had a fansy Chinese breakfast (see a pattern?). We pulled up to this school and we saw a banner, professioally made that read "Welcome to Our School Mr. David and Mr. Sherkhan." I was like holy shit!

There was another tv camera, only one though. They told us that we'd be on the local news because of our visit to the last school yesterday. In fact, the interpreter said that our visit "put his school on the map." So one camera is no big deal for us (ha!). We were greeted by two students who gave us flowers. The flowers would become a burden.

Next, we were separated again. I was taken to a meeting room where I answered questions about the differences between Chinese and American students. Even the teachers doubled up on some questions. I was asked what students do during their free time maybe 8 or 9 times.

From there we went down to the school's little park to "have a rest." It started out innocent enough. Some students asked me some questions after taking some photos. They were very curious as I am the first foreigner that they've ever met. I answered their questions, many were repeated, in good spirits. Then it happened.

One kid asked me to sign my name on his paper. So I wrote out "David" just as I had on Friday. Then another kid asked. Then another. By this time, there was a steady stream of autograph seekers handing me their notebook, a scrap of paper, their arm, or their shirts. At this point I was still able to answer the steady fire of simple questions spouted my direction.

Then more and more paper was flung at me. It got to the point where I couldn't even finish writing my name on any single piece of paper. I was getting pushed, shoved, and smacked in the head with notebooks from desparate autograph seekers. Did I mention that I live with my mom and sleep with my "Mommy Pillow" that I've had since I was 2, like Linus has his blanket, ladies?

I couldn't even look up or write anymore because of the density of the papers in front of my face. By now, my flowers had been trampled on. I would not see them again. I decided to get up and move away from the mob of admirers. What a great day in Jewish history, a day when a short, nothing Jewish man must flee from an adoring mob of Chinese teenagers! During my bolt toward freedom I was grabbed by several students who jumped on me. I dragged them a bit until I ran into a one-tile-tall fence that circled off a dirt patch that will later house flowers or something. My foot got caught and I fell to the ground on the dirt patch. A school official grabbed me and escorted me through the mob. I signed autographs along the way.

Then I sat in the gazebo and signed some more until I was mobbed again. The school offical then took my pen. I answered questions for some more time.

Next, I did another run around several classes answering questions. One class didn't believe that I could hoop, because I'm short, so I challenged them. They gave me a ball and I shot some of the most nerve-wracking shots of my life in front of hundreds of students. Luckily, I made a good number of them to roaring applause. Then they got a fat kid to challenge me and I mopped the floor with him. But I was a little tired, and when an awkward athletic dude stepped up to challenge me, I knew I was done. He salvaged some of the fat kids' failure.

That was pretty much the end of our two days of celebrity. We really felt like we shit like money. On the ride back, I was able to fall asleep for a bit. I was awoken by Sherkhan, who was leaning over me, reapeating "Oh my God!" Drousy, I peaked outside the window of the "Magoo-mobile." There was an old dude who had fallen off of his moped. There was blood spewing from his head. He had died.

Later, we walked around until we found a McDonald's. Outside of the McDonald's we ran into another crowd surrounding the 2 foot tall guy. We gave him 2 yuan for a picture with him, but he got upset. Apparently he wanted more. When he saw the camera, he tried to turn away, but Sherkhan took the picture in time. Then I found myself arguing with a this Chinese midget and the crowd around him. Of course I was speaking in English and they were speaking in Chinese. Of the entire two days, I think the argument with the Chinese midget over what amounts to $1 was the most bizarre.

Thankfully, General Dipshit will be away for 5 days.


We moved into our shithole of an apartment Friday morning. A professor of mine once said that he distiguishes between the so-called "First World" and the so-called "Third World" based on if a flush toilet is present. In our apartment, after you shit, you must pour water down the drain because there is no flusher, its literally a shithole. After we left our things in the apartment we traveled to a school to teach a class, no big deal.

Or so I thought.

I staggered out of the van, unkempt simply to spite the General for dragging me on this trip, I was sick, and still wearing the shirt that I sleep in, a hat over my eyes when I raised my head.

Two rows of students, hundreds long, television cameras, and every school official greeted Sherkhan and I. We walked by the welcoming students with our mouths hanging open. All this was for us? Then we entered a small room packed with students. We sat at a round-table as two students MCed. The welcomed us with the cameras rolling. Two more students sang for us. Then we were asked to speak. We did, and answered many questions. When we sat back down, the school officials asked us some more questions. I was asked whether Bush's "No Child Left Behind" was simply political propaganda, and I said that I felt it was. After that, we took tons of photos. Pretty girls grabbed me to have their picture taken with me. Guys grabbed my ass for some reason. We thought we shit like money.

Next we had a fansy Chinese lunch. After lunch we were checked into a hotel for 30 minutes. That's classy! You know you've hit the big time when that happens! They actually wanted us to "have a wash" (take a bath in a bath house) and made constant remarks about prostitutes and the beauty of Chinese girls. Walking up to the hotel room, we were quite nervous that there be hookers awaiting our arrival. We shitted-showered-and-rested.

Our visits to each and every class was another ego-booster. They whisped Sherkhan from my side and I would not see him for several hours. I visited each class, amounting to about half the school, for ten minutes each, giving the same introduction and answering the same questions again and again. Each person in each class wanted to get a picture taken with me. By the end I had a headache from all of the flashes. One photographer with a digital camera needed to change the batteries twice.

Then we were taken to another city and had a fansy Chinese dinner. After dinner, the General offered to take us to "get our feet washed, heh heh heh." General Dipshit is very creepy. Then a school official who talks like he's James Earl Jones (the black actor, not the guy who shot Dr. Martin Luther King), talked about how beautiful Chinese girls are, with a smirk on his face. Great, another possible hooker situation! Luckily, they simply washed our feet and massaged our feet and legs.

The first school only has 2,000 students, the second school has 13,000 students. Sherkhan thought that we'd be celebrities again on Saturday. I figured our day in the sun was over.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Chinese Lessons

Lesson 1: Ni hao means hello. Use this term only on rare occasions because after you say "Ni hao," to a Chinese person, they start talking to you all crazy-like in Chinese. Remember, this is only the first lesson, you don't want that!

Lesson 2: Shi shi (xi xi) means thank you. Use this a lot, because you can say it when you're leaving. That way you don't have to deal with people speaking Chinese to you. Be prepared for people to laugh at you, presumably because they are shocked that you can speak Chinese at all.

Lesson 3: I know some random numbers. EE = 1, Arrr= 2, san= 3, tz or somethung is 4 maybe, ohoohoho or some crap is 5, leo =6, tzi might be 7, ba = 8, i never remember 9, anbd sher is 10. Only have sex with people who are at least 18, but this can be difficult because everyone looks like they're the same age. So you're going to have to ask. Listen for their response in Chinese. That is either ba-sher, or sher-ba. You'll either get an 18 year old or an 80 year old, but it's all good.

Cultural lessons: Hocking and spitting is ok and encouraged. People look at you weird if you don't smoke like a chimney. It is not rude to stare, unless I stare at a Chinese person, then they don't like it. Bikes everywhere. Depending on where you are, garbage everywhere.

Chinese driving is very different from American driving. Here, lanes are simply suggestions. They also have no problem driving against the flow of traffic or on sidewalks (mom knows about both of these). The sounds of a Chinese city are fulled with horns. It took me a while to realize, but half of them are taxis honking at us foreigners. Even without those half, there is still plenty of honking.

Today we saw a bunch of firemen running down the street in unison. I said that I hoped that they were just in training and not running to fight a fire. They had no water. What were they gonna do, throw themselves onto the fire in hopes of eventually putting it out? Did I mention that it's hot as a witches tit here, and they were fully dressed in heavy firemen's gear?

We had another fun class today. Luckily there were fewer students, mostly girls, and they all were eager to learn English. We may be traveling tomorrow to some other cit to teach with the General. I salute you, you ass.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Luangyungong is Chinese for Shit

Not literally, but this is the town that we are staying in. It is the worst city that we have visited. It is very Han Chinese. About 99% of China's population is Han. They have had very little exposure to real-life foreigners. The stares are piercing. The laughter is crushing. The stench is the worst.

On a lighter note, Sherkhan and I just scream out crazy shit in English and no one's the wiser. My favorite is "Damn, my balls are sweaty! Hey you, wanna some sweaty balls on your face?" It's an interesting mindgame with these people. They don't realize that we know that they are making fun of us. We are much more slick about it making fun of them. Of course, we don't make fun of everybody, just those that instigate.

Today was the big showdown with the clowns, G-G-G-G-G-Unit and General Dipshit. We demanded that they show us our apartment. Finally they caved. It was an absolute shithole. We flipped out a bit. Ole Crazy Dave came back to life. I was pissed off that they promised us an apartment two days ago, and then yesterday, then today, and so on and so forth. But nothing.

So we "expressed our displeasure" in many more words and they promised to take care of shit. The General said, "You better believe us. We believe you, you believe us." I said, "You should believe us, we've done our part! But you have not been honest. We don't believe you." I wish I could record this dude's voice. It's so ridulous.

They showed us the apartment after we taught another lively class. (We are damn good teachers, if I can be modest for a second). They were fixing the place up and we kept making demands. Finally, we have hope now.

One last note about being in China. My Chinese is probably equivalent to a retarded elephant's, but my English has uh, what's the word, got much more badder since being here. I can hardly express myslef to Sherkhan, and making a joke is now out of the question. I constantly pause to think of words that I know just because that's how everyone talks to us. Hopefully my next blog will be lighter and more coherent.

How bout that Deep Throat uncovery (is that a word?see what I mean). Mar Felt, the No. 2 at the FBI was Deep Throat, the anonymous source that confirmed Woodward and Bernstein's information on Watergate, which forced President Nixon to resign.

Calling out Bhavna, what's up with your to do list? I'm coming back States-side in less than 3 weeks, how's everything progressing?