Thursday, August 7, 2008


Still the 7th here in the USA, but it's the 8th where it matters.

And as excited as I am for everyone over in Beijing, I'm scared too.

The air is a worry.

President Bush is a worry.

AM talk radio is a worry.

But the internets tell me the party has started, and I think that's great.

I want so badly for the Olympics to go smoothly. There are plenty of reasons to complain about China, but there's so much about that place and its people that I love, I can't help but root for three weeks of constant smiles.

I want things to be real. I hope and trust that international visitors will see the dirt behind the facades, but I also hope that they experience the beautifully human pieces of that place too.

I hope they hear the old men talking to their pigeons. I hope they visit the college campuses after dark and spot the couples making out in every imaginable partially private outdoor space. I hope they eat the real food. I hope they see the grannies dancing in the morning. I hope they go sing karaoke with people whose thing it is to go sing karaoke. I hope they step into cluttered alleyways and get in on late night Yanjing beer, watermelons, and hot and tingly soup (麻辣烫 - hilariously unsanitary looking submerged street kabobs). I hope they go to the knock off name brand goods markets and haggle for fun. I hope they notice the dogs in the bike baskets.

And I hope they see that everybody over there is just as idiosyncratically weird and complicated as we know ourselves to be.

I recommend that anyone looking to experience Beijing these next few weeks without being there reads both the James Fallows blog and another, lesser known publication called John Gordon's English Weblog. Fallows is a seriously insightful journalist that's just getting used to Beijing. And John Gordon is a good friend of mine, one of those rare China foreigners that has truly started becoming a part of his adopted culture.

*Note: I'm rooting against all USA and China athletes because I say down with the powerhouse athletic countries and go Trinidad and Tobago. Except for the USA basketball team. I am rooting for them. Which is clearly a ridiculous thing to do, but, apparently, I can't help it.