Monday, January 26, 2009

Videos from last night's New Year's celebration

Here's what midnight looked like from Houhai:

And my friend Jeff on what Chinese New Year's about:

The Chinese know how to start new years

This was my first Chinese New Year in China since I was five, and my day-after impression is this: forget about New Year's celebrations in every other country, forget about the Fourth of July, forget even the parties in Brazil on any of their many festivals... the scene that took place last night in every neighborhood and on just about every street here in Beijing was the single most ridiculous, exciting, indescribable, over-the-top thing I have ever seen. The night was lit up. The city was transformed into a war zone, with gunpowder exploding in all directions. You saw folks place their boxes of fireworks in the middle of the street, light them and dart back into the sidewalks of safety, like rebels setting charges. (I had the misfortune of not seeing one of these fuses, and the explosion, just a few meters away, made me jump. People around me laughed.)

I was told last night wasn't as grand as it has been in the past -- three years ago, for instance, the year after the Chinese government lifted a brief (very brief) moratorium on New Year's fireworks -- owing mostly to the bitter cold, which makes me wonder, This thing could be bigger? I will never, ever watch another pyrotechnic show in the same way as before.

Videos to come, but first the pictures:

Xidan and Ginza Mall are never this empty on any other day.

Taken on the steps of Dongzhimen 7/11.

Stocking up.

Many ways of looking at the same red lantern.

Houhai behind us.

The aftermath.

And whatever this is:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year live blog!

It's Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July, and Christmas all in one; rockets exploding in between skyscrapers, restaurant owners setting off fireworks next to 7/11, every local accepting their role in this most ridiculous of celebrations.. The Year of the Ox officially commences in...






Friday, January 23, 2009

Late words and pictures from Obama's inauguration

I got in on Tuesday night feeling sickly and exhausted, with one of my suitcases left behind in Minneapolis, but I wasn't going to miss this...

Pictures from Rickshaw, which was jam-packed with foreigners who had to shush up the Chinese bartenders who spoke during Obama's speech:

It's a proud time to be an American. Obama's unabashed confidence and optimism is contagious, and these uncertain times, our best defense as a collective may just be something as abstract as "hope." Then again -- and this is me writing three days after the fact, as opposed to the day after -- I think it's fair to say we should all be just a little more skeptical.

About the aforementioned sickness: I can't figure out if my current illness is due to some pathogen I bore over from the U.S. or the bug going around Beijing as we speak. I hope it's the former, otherwise I may get sick again, say, next week. Ugh.

POSTSCRIPT: This was a happy sight:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A special announcment

Three more days till this blog reboots. It will, per my former promise, be tidier, more focused this time around, especially since all my recreational happenings have been moved here.

The Internet, eh?

Just to get this out there...

First, thousands of citizens of all backgrounds – peasants, teenage netizens, prominent lawyers, former party members – have added their names to the petition, not just the usual gadflies. They reflect a minority unwilling to accept the party's vision for China.

Second, the Internet has vastly expanded the charter's reach, with no central organization. That makes it a new kind of threat to a government concerned about organized challenges to its rule.

[CS Monitor]

Zhang says more than 300,000 websites now link to the charter...


We'll keep an eye on this.