24 January 2007

Hurtling towards cruelty

Office. I settled into my inbox and saw the nauseating headline on the CNN news: Executed man's head "just snapped off".

I hated the sensationalism of that headline. But yet I clicked to read the article, breakfast threatening to back up on the oesophagus as I read it. (I did stop short of clicking on the video.)


Bar Rouge. I saw midgets dressed in red John Travolta costumes, hired to dance on bar tops. I hated the gaudy objectification of a minority. But I couldn't help but steal furtive glances at their small bodies.

Shanghai Circus. The finale was »the amazing feat of 8 motorcyclists racing in a cage. As I watched them a second time, my heart thumped and prayed for them. Then, in appreciation of their boldness, I clapped as loudly as I can, even though I know I was abetting the race towards the bigger, the louder, the scarier, the more absurd, the more dangerous, the more grotesque.

Magazine. I read this artist's comment in an »exhibition write-up:
I am interested not in the violence itself but in the spectators who watch from a distance. In traditional China it was common to watch public executions, which were lively events.* This tradition has been passed down and assumed modern forms, whether watching a brouhaha in the street or enjoying cop dramas such as Oriental 110 (东方110) and Court Record (庭审纪实). I feel a lot of people watch others suffering. It has become something of a hobby.
- Shi Qing


All around, it is easy to find the Bataillian instinct of wanting to stare at the sun (even though you know you shouldn't). Chinese parents who contort their children on the streets, Thai shows where women stick all sorts of things into themselves, and perhaps, even artists that purport to explore the theme of violence without falling prey to it.

Nothing is enough for us anymore. We are all hurtling towards cruelty.

* But it is not just the Chinese. The French postcard set, Les Supplices Chinois (circa 1912), apparently contains a series of images of the lingchi (凌迟) which were widely circulated among westerners. Lingchi is death by slicing. Some say that the victim should not die before he suffered more than a thousand slices, or else the executioner himself would be put to death.

13 January 2007


两次错过了去育音堂听 char si lang 音乐的机会,我决定这次就算自己一个人去都得去。

碰碰运气给上海的朋友发了电邮, 竟然有人问津。8点30分,三个女生开始打滴寻找重金属的足迹。


我一向钟爱上海艺术与工业融合的成体,也出乎预料地喜欢这 char si lang 的音乐。


06 January 2007

Our victory from 1968

3.30 am, Nanjing Lu
0 degrees, ears cold.
No warm wisp of breath in sight.

3.40 am, Xikang Lu
The women are out on the streets - solo.
Walking home,
Selling noodles,
Manning the convenience store.
Is that our victory from 1968?

3.45 am, Xinzha Lu
Sober from the cold,
Lucid from the walk.
The men are asleep
(even the security guard)
But the women are awake.

03 January 2007

Right foot, wrong eye!

Played my first game of squash in Shanghai (and at 9 am at that for a sleepyhead like me) after arriving for 5 months. Starting the new year on the right foot, I thought to myself as I patted my imaginary shoulders.

Then this guy comes along to the squash court behind us, and in the tiny rest area between the two squash courts, starts changing out of his streetwear. For most people who wear their sports gear beneath their jackets and track pants, this is fine. But as I was picking up the ball and walking back to serve, I saw this guy strip to his bare skin at the top. (No, he was no hunk.)

Raise one eyebrow. Never mind, somebody's feeling hot, and maybe I missed the news that 2007 is the year of liberation.

A few more strokes and I missed the ball again. As I picked up the ball a second time, I saw this guy stripped to his briefs.


Wait a minute, is it now acceptable to treat a rest area like a men's room? Did I just sleep 2 decades away in the night? Sure, you have funky black briefs with sparkly silver stripes across, but seriously,we don't need to know that...

Starting the new year on the right foot, but certainly on a wrong eye...

01 January 2007

Ciao 2006

Having decided not to pay the exorbitant 450 - 900 RMB (S$90-180) for entry into a bar, I decided to cook up a storm for people who were willing to brave it:

Soup of the Day
Piping-Hot Miso Soup

Chilled Amuse Bouches
Hmong Fish Sauce Noodles
Japanese Zaru Soba
Chinese Vermicelli with Sha Cha Sauce

Out-of-the-Pot Spaghetti in Tomato and Mushroom Base
Singaporean Beef Rendang

Lizzy's Amazing Fudge
Lizzy's Even More Amazing Ambrosia

Ross' Gorgeous Cheese, Olives and Breadstick Platter
Jose's Spanish Olives and Anchovies

Fireworks in the taxi on the way to the bund
A beautiful walk down the river for the buildings that kept their lights on for us
Topped off with gin and tonic when the lights went out...