Sunday, December 2, 2018

I Ever Hated Him

George Herbert Walker Bush has died.  Mixed emotions as I reviewed his tenure and considered that time, thirty years ago when he was omnipresent.  A one-termer, “kinder-gentler”, the wimp factor, the all-too-human scene in Tokyo where, like any of us might have, he got sick and vomited during a dinner.  G.H.W. Bush still evoked a certain unwitting compassion.  And, during his tenure I didn’t like him at all, and absolutely wanted him out, though I don’t think, I ever hated him vehemently the way my peers and I did when Reagan was in power.

I allowed myself an editorial or three.  No one can resist the obvious:  Whatever his faults, Poppy waxed principled, intelligent and courteous when inevitably compared to the current, dreadful occupant of the White House.  Poppy’s son, Ronald Reagan, dare I even say Richard Nixon, is there anyone who I wouldn’t readily swap for the removal of Donald Trump?  I recognize this is a function of rose-colored mist, clouding the rear-view mirror.  But still . . .   

And if this progression, this devolution from arguably intelligent, but amoral Nixon, to less cerebral Reagan, till yet again less intellectually inspiring Dubbya Bush on to Trump, who’s intellect is so flat that he must brag about his IQ, where then America, are we heading?   We are a representative democracy and we reflect some portion of the nation’s preferences.  What do the 2020s have in store for us if some significant portion of America’s tastes are for dumber and dumber and dumber?

Could it be that in ten years the Republicans will elect someone to office who will be so wretched, so amoral and indeed, so dim, that we will long for the days of The Donald and look back at him wistfully?  What kind of person would it have to be for me and half the nation to say: “in spite of all his faults, and there were many, I’d rather have Donald Trump, than . . . ?”  Who is that reptile?  That’s not an American future worth sticking around for, certainly.  

I suppose, upon the passing of George Herbert Walker Bush it is important to remember that while past leaders may have been preferred, future leaders may also wax much, much worse.

Sunday, 12/02/18

Sloppy When You Rap

I baked some chicken for dinner.  And some baked potatoes.  I couldn’t really grill the eggplant so I baked that too. Snow peas.  My vegan older daughter returned ready to eat as well.  She can’t eat eggplant.  Nightshade, it seems.   So, I cut tomatoes and do a classic Chinese dish of eggs, xihongshi and parsley.   There’s a frozen bag of paratha in the fridge and I figure I’ll fry up some of these as well, as it will make the little one happy.

The younger hung out while I prepared the food as I invited her to play her tunes.  She had several BTS songs she wanted me to hear.  Now that I’ve heard this group, and considered photos of this group more than I ever thought I would, I note that my opinions have matured.  I like RM aka Rap Monster.  He’s got the deepest voice.  His mien is sharp rather than cute.  And, though I can’t discern what he’s on about in Korean, his rapping has flow.  My daughter things all that’s fine, but she likes Suga, the other main rapper even more.  He is cute.  His voice is thinner and he seems to inhale a lot when he raps.  She has me listen to one song Cipher, if I recall correctly where she feels he truly rips it up at double-time speed. 

She’s had about eight tunes in a row now and by rights I can now “make” her listen to a tune.  Against proper, parental judgement I think to play her Too Short, the Oakland rapper who is funny, if pornographic, but not for the content of his character, but rather because he is so strong and clear as someone who raps slowly.  Deep, thin, drop-top-Caddy beat from “Life Is” and I try to tell her that, in my opinion, it’s easier to be sloppy when you rap fast.  But when its’ slow, you either speak clearly or you don’t.   She gets the point.  She now needs to leave though, to pick up the older one with my wife before it all gets afoul of Parental Guidance.

Later that night, after the meal, which came off alright, we got into a “she-goes, I go,” exchange.  For some reason, and I wish I could recall the proper catalyst, I think to play her Dylan. I suddenly want her to hear “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”  She takes it in.  When it’s my time again we move ahead a year or so in Zimmy’s career and consider “Masters of War.”  Alas, as I get more animated, during my next turn, when I have “It’s Alright Ma” up the full volume, she begins to ask how long the song is, suggesting it’s clearly a violation as its well beyond the length of your average BTS song.  I must plead with her to stay for “Positively Fourth Street.”  If the lyrics had been registering, they aren’t any longer.  Perhaps not surprisingly I continue to listen to “Highway 61 Revisited”, after she makes her way up to her room.

Saturday, 12/01/18

Away in Roughhewn English

A two-hour commute isn’t uncommon in Beijing.  But a seven-hundred-and-fifty-mile commute is another matter.   They’ve announced this flight will be landing in thirty minutes.  Two-hours vanishes like it was no time at all, on a flight.  Two hours in traffic, on a road, grinds like a dentist drill.  I nodded and smiled when the first young stewardess suggested I should close my laptop in Chinese.  Now a stern, middle-aged stewardess has glared at me and told me electronic devices need to be put away in roughhewn English. 

“I’ll meet you at the Cadillac sign.  This seems is the Di Di meeting point I’ve been trained to use here in Shanghai.  It’s the place in the airport parking lot where everyone seems to go to wait for Di Di’s.  In Beijing always suggest I’ll go to “Di Wu Qu” because there is a sign that says that.  But not every driver knows nor recognizes it.  I call my driver and he says he’s already there. 

I got most of the way to where I’d instructed the guy to go, before I realized I’d entered the wrong location.   This was the location for the subsequent meeting.  I’d cut and pasted the wrong spot.  One call.  No one there.  Another call.  No one there.  “Hey just pull over for a second.”  Texting, calling now, trying to find the name of the destination.  I called myself a “dumb-egg” in Chinese and explained to the driver that our destination would be another location, which he confirmed would be thirty minutes from here.

Later in the afternoon I enter another address in the app.  I’d thought I was going towards the Bund.  It has me sailing up and over to Jing An Temple area.  One thing and then another has meant that I haven’t eaten all day.  On the ride over I pass one and then another neighborhood where I have a mental picture of where I could eat.  But I must start another conference call and decide I’ll get something in the lobby of this hotel. 

I don’t recognize the name of the hotel, but as we arrive I understand that this PuLi hotel is a place I’ve been before.  I met a dear friend here, last year, as I recall.  There’s a long bar in the lobby that approximates a serene view to a garden, though it’s the middle of the city.  I keep muting and unmuting my phone to speak and looking at the menu, I don’t really see anything I can eat discretely while occasionally chatting.  Fine then, a glass of Cotes de Rhone and some olives till I’m done with this call and can organize my thoughts.

Friday, 11/30/18

She Just Grabbed Them

Ain’t no cans of tuna in the cabinet.  Two days back there weren’t none, neither.  I decided to slather peanut butter and apricot jam on one and then a second and then a third rice cake.  I cut up a banana and put the slices on the top.  Sprinkled some raisons all over the sticky glop and woofed them all down with a glass a grapefruit juice.  And then felt full and guilty about this high carb, midday munch down. 

Today, I considered hopping on my bike and securing a few cans of tuna along with some other groceries.  There were plenty of salad fixings but simple-salad wasn’t working in my hungry mind.  Ahh, yes, but there is a bag of steak slices in there.  That’ll do.  Last evening my wife brought home four steaks, each wrapped in its own plastic tray and tampon.  She’d also gotten some cauliflower and tofu as well.  I glanced at the price per packet and as my man Johnny Guitar Watson said when he was shopping in the “baloney section” and “I had to give myself a close look.”  They were essentially US$ 10.00 per.  “Hey honey . . . 

“I’m on the phone.”  Later, she mentioned that she’d just grabbed them.  I often do the same.  But beef is surely something to watch out for.  Some fool was making damn good money on that dead cow.  This may have been imported but wasn’t grass-fed Wagyu. 

I cooked them and the cauliflower and the tofu.  They were good.  But I couldn’t enjoy them thinking about the forty-dollar price tag.  They weren’t that good.  Today the remaining bits certainly worked to fill out a fine tasting salad.  But when I was done I still went ahead.  I couldn’t resist and had myself a rice cake with peanut butter.  And jelly.  Cause it was sitting there and it was only just one.

I was in Shanghai Monday.  I’ve got to go back again tomorrow.  But I’ve cajoled things and the meetings won’t start till 11:00AM.  I’m going to fly down in the morning and fly back at night. Inshallah we won’t have any delays.

Thursday, 11/29/18