Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fishing With Dynamite

The television screens projected images of NBA Basketball playoffs, the showdown between Seattle and San Antonio, throughout the club. Through the fog of cigarette smoke, you could see a crowd around the pool table and a mass of people on the dance floor moving to the sounds of Snoop Dogg and Black Eyed Peas.

We arrived at Windows night club still stuffed with yummies from the Brazilian BBQ. On the way to the club, we roamed through a swank shopping area where people were lingering and a few people on our tour busted out the hackey sack. Beginning with our tour compatriots and later joined by some locals, the hackey sack is a great cultural bridge.

And so is NBA basketball and hip-hop. You would never think you were in China inside Windows (which, by the way, has no windows). It was a mix of locals and ex-patriots trying to find their way in China. The ex-pats, who all seem to be 6' tall 20/30 something white men from the States and the UK, are stars here. They are taller than everyone else and are usually oozing with money, financed with expense accounts from the corporate employers that convinced them to move to this strange land. We stepped out to get some air as two ex-pats, still in their button-down dress shirts and loosened ties, jumped on stage and hammed it up for the crowd to Eminem. "Two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside...."

On to the next destination, Mao Ming Street, where you can find techno, blues and jazz, hip hop or a quiet lounge. And a boatload of hookers. Anything that a bored ex-pat with more money than he can spend could possibly need.

We settled on the Blue Frog, a quiet bar with no hookers. There were three ex-pat Brits drinking away, sounding like they were having the time of their lives. Next to them was a Chinese girl who was with them, but didn't appear part of their party. I watched them, completely fascinated at what it must be like to live in Shanghai and truly have so much undeserved adoration. Trey called it fishing with dynamite -- having so much power by virtue of your skin color and loads of cash -- everything is too easy. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Apparently, there are Chinese women who make it a point to latch on to ex-pats and become their live-ins. They get to milk the corporate expense accounts and they follow their "boyfriends" around on their nights out.

The music in the Blue Frog was mixed, pop to Chinese to hip hop. Fifty Cent came on and the three Brits, in unison, bobbed their heads and put their hands in the air, yelling "I don't know what you heard about me, but I'm a mother fuckin' P-I-M-P."

Maintaining her blank smile, the Chinese girl remained utterly clueless as to the meaning of that song and why that line represents the power wielded by three geeks who wouldn't stand a chance of pullin' so much tail at home.

Today is Trey's 29th birthday and we celebrated with massages. We're going to party it up on the train tonight. Off to the liquor store and supermarket to stock up for our 26-hour journey to GuiLin and YangShuo.

14 Comments:

At 6:38 AM, May 19, 2005 , Blogger chad said...

Is it not absolutely fascinating how popular the NBA and hip hop (in particular gangsta rap) are around the world.
I mean, I don't listen to much country music, but the country music I will listen to is a well sung song that I can relate to. (By the way, is it just me or did you think Tim McGraw was saying “I smoked some reefer” instead of “I spoke sweeter” on that song Live Like You Were Dying).
Anyway, how in the hell do those three buttoned downed British geeks relate to Fiddy… Have they been shot a few times and now they walk with a limp?
In addition, unless you speak remarkable English and have been trained in the urban vernacular, there is no way you understand what most of these songs are about if you are Chinese.
I guess it comes down to image. The image of Eminem with his middle finger raised to all who would judge him. I guess people the world over love a James Dean type rebel without a cause. And with these guys dying (Tupac and Biggie), they know that the stakes are at least somewhat real.
As for the NBA, I have one word…Michael Jordan. What his image did for the NBA is unprecedented. And although he seems corporate now, you have to think back to the 80’s when that bald head and that swagger were a statement. With the exception of Muhammad Ali (who was another me against the world type), he has probably enjoyed more world fame than any other athlete in recent history.
Well that’s my theory…the world loves the image of a don’t-give-a-fuck rapper/athlete who plays by his own rules. Somebody should tell David Stern, so he can make Ron Artest (who is a rapper by the way) the new international spokesman for the NBA.

 
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