SB, tmd, I just. don't. get it...

ESWN has put together some interesting sites on the whole 京骂 "controversy". I'm sorry, I just don't get it...Swearing is part of being a passionate sports fan, I know its not the most cultured, but the sports stadium, despite the odes about soccer being like art, is a battle and people are sure to get angry when in a battle. In my days as a Chicago Fire supporter amongst their most rabid fans, there used to be a chant we would sing that would end "kiss our ass and fuck off home." Okay, granted its not the most mature, but its terrace humor, it was written to a famous children's song and it worked, it was kind of funny and it was profane, everything a classic chant should have. It wasn't like the whole stadium got up and started screaming "FUCK" and its not like that with the catcalls of SB at Guoan matches. Sure, a few guys in a section or maybe even a group of 10 might start screaming out SB, but, so what, you are at a soccer match, its like a rated R movie, you have to expect that kind of environment and decide if its appropriate for you (and your child) or not. A connection between "cursing" and hooliganism? You're having a laugh!

I want Beijing to be a cultured city, I want the city to leave a good impression on all foreign (and fellow Chinese) who come to visit it, however I could care less about a few hundred or even a few thousand people showing passion at a soccer game by yelling SB. This is not a bad thing and doesn't reflect badly on the city, it just shows we have the best, most passionate fans in China. Once again, by making such a big deal out of something so minor, its causing unnecessary negative attention to be focused on the city. Wholly embrace the 京骂 and make Fengtai Stadium an unwelcomed place for visitors. I even like the idea of a "Welcome to Hell" banner if you can really create an atmosphere worthy of that monicker. It's a lot better than Workers Stadium's overly polite "工体欢迎您!", SB, I always wished that could set a little more fear in the heart's of opponents....

Another Good Old Blog Wrap Up

Having spent so much time abroad, I understand that when it comes to certain things, especially understanding sarcasm, Chinese have a hard time with comedy. That said, I don't get what others, including Zhongnanhai, who I also recently praised, find funny about the f.u.c.k.u China line of tshirts some enterprising idiot came out with. The "designer" offered the excuse that the line stands for the "fascinating & urban collection: kiss you China." Yes, Chinglish for the Chinese, umm...except, I call bullshit. Further, I don't see how its meant as a "joke on China's rampant pirating of the fashion company's products." I have no idea who Phillip Plein is, nor have I heard of his "fashion company." Perhaps what was meant is China's pirating of the products of famous fashion companies, though one of those wouldn't be Mr. Plein's company. I don't agree that its "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people," but it is extremely insulting and not at all funny.

On another note, I have long though that Wang Zhizhi didn't get the respect that he deserved. In the Dazhi-Yao Ming sweepstakes, I was always for Dazhi and believed he would be an NBA star, boy was I wrong, though I still remember fondly watching him play Jordan and the Wizards and Dazhi "going off" for something like 8 points. In any case, I'm glad to see that somebody else at least thinks he should be back in the "Association" and getting some minutes.

Guangzhou Bang is an up-and-coming new blog that I've really enjoyed reading lately, I also find their speculation that the CCTV firings has something to do with the newly released Labor Contract Law very interesting, as the law is something I've spent a lot of time researching recently.

It's not a blog article, but Shenzhen Daily reports on the stories that have set the Chinese language blogosphere alight in the early part of 2007, I wonder if the early exit from the Asian Cup will make the year end wrap up.

Having just read the very interesting and insightful Yan Geling book "The Uninvited" and understanding a bit about the "money for your troubles" that goes to journalists, I found the comments of China Economic Review on a recent FT article about money and journalists in China a great read.

That's all for now...

Money, Meet Toilet....

Earlier this year I talked about Guangdong Television's purchase of the rights to broadcast the English Premiership. They were going to set up a subscription-only station called Tian Sheng and were going to charge a shitload as a way of recouping the US$50 million or so they spent to buy the rights.

Well, two weeks ago I was in Hong Kong and on every corner it seemed like there were people signing up people for whatever station you need in Hong Kong to watch English soccer. When I returned to Shenzhen, I figured I would see what was available here, despite the rumors that Tian Sheng would charge RMB188 a month. Since the majority of people reading this are expats (who are rich) and foreigners (who are richer and if in the US, own guns, isn't steoreotyping fun?) because this site is still blocked, despite rumors to the contrary, RMB188 doesn't seem like a lot. Yet right now I pay RMB120 and get HBO, Cinemax, Star Movies, Star Sports, ESPN, and a host of other channels.

That isn't the issue, even if it is RMB188 a month (which it turns out IS indeed how much it costs in Guangzhou) or even if its RMB588 a year (like in Wuhan), I'm willing to pay it. But...

It seems that in their infinite wisdom, after spending US$50 million, Tian Sheng failed to complete licensing agreements with all the local providers and so they are only up and running in a few "second-tier" cities. Beijing? Nope. Shanghai? Not yet. Shenzhen? Sorry, go to Hong Kong. Hmm...So the three richest cities in China, the ones that have the most number of people who would be willing to spend an outrageous amount for something trivial like soccer and the ones where people actually could afford the channel are the ones where you can't get it.

As a fan of the EPL, I'm outraged I still can't see it in Shenzhen. As someone looking in from the outside, I can't help laughing at how Guangdong TV tossed its investment, at least for this year, down the drain by horrible planning, I just hope that doesn't come out of the taxes I pay to Guangdong Province.


Live From Shenzhen: Photo Edition III

kcr luohu station
deng xiaoping billboard

sorry if the last photo comes up on its side, I'll blame it on the typhoon. If anyone knows why that happens in blogger and how to correct that, I'd greatly appreciate the help!

Live From Shenzhen: Foreigners Wanted, Apply at Your Local PSB Bureau

I like reading the Shenzhen Daily on a regular basis, it usually has good information on the goings on in the city and had some interesting and often times (unintended) humorous articles. This article on the local police looking for foreigners to work for them as "undercover shoppers" in Luohu Commercial Center really caught my eye.
The idea is that some sellers won't showcase the main counterfeit goods in their store, but will present a catalogue to foreign customers that includes all of the fake designer goods. It will be very interesting how this effects business there and how many fines or closings this will bring about. Will there be foreigners interested in doing it? Hell, a weekend strolling through the mall and getting paid isn't so bad, but then you have to deal with people pulling you every which way and offering you everything under the sun, maybe I should rethink trying for the job.

That said, I'd still love to see an all or nothing approach instead of this "we'll ignore it, but occasionally take action when the mood (or the campaign) calls for it" attitude that exists. The problem is that its such a big part of the economy and it employs so many people that it is impossible for the police to shut it down, but at the same time, if they don't appear like they're doing something, they'll be attacked by foreign companies and governments, so the middle road is all there is.

Oh yeah, and just to show how informative Shenzhen Daily is, the day after the article reporting the "foreign shoppers" there was this article about a new breakfeast place called "Ihope" that has a logo (and name) eerily similar to a famous US chain that also offers all-day breakfeast. Though whatever Ihope stands for, the P definitely isn't for pancakes, as it seems (at least according to the article) this breakfeast place doesn't serve them.

Less Than A Year To Go...

I'm not retelling my 7/13 story because I'm starting to feel that its like a "when I was your age" kind of story. In any case, a lot of time has passed since that evening, a great one for the city of Beijing and China as a whole and for me personally, a night that was at once wonderful and yet horrible, but that is neither here nor there. By the way, the picture above isn't from 7/13 (I don't think any of those were digital pictures or, if so, they are long since lost), but instead its from the 2004 Asian Cup, but it does a good job capturing the madness and the patriotism that was seen on Beijing streets that night.

So now there is officially less than one year until the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. As usual I came late to the party and didn't submit an application to be a volunteer or for tickets, but hopefully I'll be able to pick up the garbage in the 2nd round of bidding and perhaps get some decent ones for the Paralympics or something...

In any case, there is much to be optimistic about, in most ways, Beijing is already ready to host the games, though there needs to be some changes in how the government/police handle protests and a loosening up about certain things, I have no doubt the Beijing games will be a huge success.


Live From Shenzhen: Saunas (No, not that kind, get your mind out of the gutter, though THAT might be available...)

I don't mind a nice massage from time to time and I'm willing to admit it (okay, stop it already, I'm just talking about a massage!). This is not something that is possible to enjoy in the US due to the expense, but here its a relatively cheap indulgence and after a weekend of drinking at Lan Kwai Fong, causing my credit card grave pain at IFC, and having carried many large, heavy bags around HK and then into Shenzhen, I figured a massage may be nice. A blind friend who knows the lay of the land in Shenzhen (and basically everyone in China's blind community) and who happened to forget his key in HK took me and a female friend of his to a sauna near the train station. As it happens, Luohu, and especially around the train station is where over 1,000 blind masseurs work, yet unlike in other cities where “盲人按摩" (Blind Man Massage) signs are ubiquitous, its a very rare sight in Shenzhen, as most work at large saunas.

I've never had the "sauna" experience in other cities, so I can't compare, but have heard the experience is a little special here. You start out by picking a masseur, there is literally a book of male and female photos, of the blind and sighted, and for those who pick a sighted individual, there is definitely the chance of a happy ending if required. Of course those regular readers would know I went with a blind individual who I trusted my two friends was one of the best they had (stop it!). You can then bathe and relax for awhile before getting the massage. The massage usually lasts for 3 hours (or more) and you can order drinks and snacks. There is a common room where you can sit and watch tv after or you can choose to have a private room with tv where you can actually spend the night. A good option if you travel to another city but don't have your passport or are looking for cheap accommodations (about RMB200 for the night, not including massage).

The massage itself will set you back around RMB80 for the three hours, at least in Shenzhen (due to the HK influence), you should usually tip, its common to give around RMB10-20 per hour.

THAT kind of place is unfortunately very ubiquitous in Shenzhen. Well, I've never been inside, but when you see a bunch of scantily clad girls lazily laying around in a "barbershop" without chairs or scissors, well, if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck...While I know these kind of places exist in other cities, typically attempts are made to at least cover them up a little bit, whereas here it is so open and obvious. Not sure how the little places survive, the saunas are making good money and either owned by gangsters or paying protection to them (as well as the police in most cases).

Anyways, massage is a great way to relax, it also helps to support the blind, and its cheap. If you're looking for a sauna, they are all around the train station, but if you're looking for a good massage spot, go to the 2nd floor of the Luohu Commercial Center.

A New Month, 80th Anniversary of the PLA, and Time to Clean Out the

There is so much out there that its too hard to keep track of on a regular basis. I'll often come across an article or blog entry that I really like and save it, but never bother to deal with it, so here's my effort to clean out my links and write on a variety of topics.

I also want to send out a big thank you for everyone who supported me in the Chinalyst China Blog Awards. While I was able to get over 100 votes, it was never going to be easy going up against Sinocidal and its spawn, a late charge by two other blogs meant I finished 5th in the general blog category. Well, its only going to motivate me to make this blog bigger and better, next year we'll have an even stronger showing! Here we go:

Good News Bad News - China Hearsay
Its always interesting to hear a bit of gossip about another of China's firms, but the past few months have been full of drama, first with Zhong Lun and now a little bit of a look at Lehman, Lee & Xu. I wish the author good luck with DLA Piper in the future.

West of the Tracks - New York Times
Has anyone seen this documentary yet? Tie Xi is sort of famous all over China as the Chinese version of the west side of Chicago. It is also known for having produced a number of great soccer players, including Li Tie (at least I'm pretty sure about that). This is an area that has been depressed for a long time and has only gotten worse as Shenyang develops and the rich get richer. I really want to see this, but I know that its highly unlikely I'll come across it in China...

In China, Fame Comes Easier With a Foreign Face - Christian Science Monitor
God, why? One Dashan is enough, save your last shreds of dignity and run!

Oh Canada - Zhongnanhai
A man of my own heart, take whatever little annoyances and problems that come your way, but when they mess with the hockey equipment, its time to rise up!

30 Seconds With Patrick Kane - New York Time
Loves Friends, cried during Pursuit of Happyness, enjoys the music of Natalie Merchant????? This is the future of the Blackhawks? Damn, we're in trouble!

Fake Name Brand Goods Seized at Silk Street - China Daily

This was just before a raid on Luohu Commercial Center in Shenzhen, I just don't get it. The government knows these places are full of fakes, they arrest a soccer fan for the mere intent of booing and yet instead of just locking the doors and arresting everyone inside, they do these meaningless mini raids from time to time. Either close your damn eyes and just let it all go or shut it down, period.

The Smuggest $15 You'll Ever Spend - Slate
Slate at its best, and it involves law firm gossip, you know I'm all over that, a great read!

Religious Cleansing - World Magazine
I'm sorry, but good, get rid of them all!

A Couple Quick Thoughts - Lao Wai Wen Shen
& De Facto Colonialists - China Expat
Lao Wai is talking from a more youthful vantage point and I detect a bit of b-boy in him while Expat focuses more on economic issues, but at the end of the day, they are both saying the same things. This sort of behavior is why I tend to avoid expats...

Wal-Mart Plots Bid for Chinese Retail Giant - Telegraph
Can you imagine the power Wal-Mart would have if this goes through?

China's Chicago - Economist

Interesting, but I just don't see it...

China's Disposable Athletes - Time

An interesting read, while I think this is a problem with athletes all over the world who spent most, if not all, of their youth focused on the pursuit of athletic excellence (and nothing else), China's training methods and singular focus make the situation very bad.

Phew, we're done for now, all clean now!