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2008/06/16

Bylines at Customs

Its hard to imagine, but now the Olympics are little more than 50 days away. With them will come reporters from around the world. Every writer, “freelancer” and even some bloggers will suddenly find themselves getting bylines in major papers.

That seems to be the situation in the New York Times recently where 2 features section articles focused on China. The first in the dining section was about strange meals in China and how one father’s children raised here are far more willing to eat all kinds of things (and not just their vegetables) that US children avoid like the plague. There doesn’t seem to be any real point to the article, just that kids should open their minds to different types of food.

An article in Sunday's NYT looked at the Beijing nightlife scene and specifically high-end luxury clubs Suzie Wong, Block 8, and Lan. I can't say I've been to Lan, though its a favorite of one of my other writers, I typically end up at Mix, as I prefer their "hip hop" to the techno played at some of those other places. I don't have much to complain about this article, because unlike the food article which really doesn't say anything, this one is informative if you don't live and go out in Beijing every night, but for those on the ground, doesn't add much to the conversation. This statement did get me to raise an eyebrow:

Today, the Chinese seem to be discovering simultaneously the last 40 years of
pop music, not only house and techno beats but classic rock, salsa and punk. The
chaotic fusion of influences gives Beijing night life a creative, if hectic,
tang.

This statement may be true if it was 10 years ago, especially when it comes to classic rock, punk, and techno, which have been around for a long time, but the quality has improved (this is definitely an arguable statement, the punk scene may have gotten worse, but people like Miao Wang, who is quoted in the article, have definitely raised the game of the house/techno scene here).

The one quote I did really like from the article was: "Indeed, on any given night, rows of BMW’s, Porsches and black Mercedes S.U.V.’s, many with government license plates, line up outside nocturnal hot spots, often in the shadow of imperial temples and Communist monuments." This is very true (though the government license plates part is wrong). At any night in front of Mix (before the tents went up), there would be a line of cars in the front row that would go Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes, Cayenne, BMW, Cayenne, Mercedes and on and on.

The floodgates are opening, the warning siren has gone off, there will be some good reporting on this city and country in the next 2 months and a lot more bad reporting, and I'll be here to analyze it all.

4 comments:

Dan Harris said...

Since when did Suzie Wong's become "high end?"

b. cheng said...

yeah, that's questionable, but it does have relatively expensive private rooms and other options...

Michele said...

I don't agree that the article about adventurous palates in children was pointless or "bad reporting". If you want to pick on The NY Times for bad style/culture reporting there are far easier targets (and many of them), but, as they aren't usually China-related, I guess they don't slot nicely into your thesis.

b. cheng said...

To me the article is bogus, it could be written about kids in any foreign country at any time. The only reason it found its way into the paper is because its written about China in the months before the Olympics.