Xianyang China, in Pictures

I just spent the last ten days in Xianyang, a small city of five-million people, located right next to Xi’an in middle China. This is what they call a third-tier city. It’s connected by a subway line to Xi’an and has grocery store chains that sell some international cookies. There’s no Starbucks but they have Duncan Donuts. Here’s some of my favorite photos from the trip, all taken by my gf cause I don’t have a smart phone.

This first one comes from a day in the park on the first day of the new year. The park has everything, from decrepit roller coasters now out-of-operation to an outdoor roller-skating rink where boys show off their hot moves in a pretty homoerotic manner. Not much grass in this park.

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Here’s that roller skating action. These dudes can skate like no one’s business, often while holding hands or even skating around in the spider position. Eventually they pulled some girls into the action too, so my guess is that while they look gay, they’re actually just really fashion.  rollerskating

Went to the KFC tonight cause I couldn’t eat another meal of Chinese food. Met a nice guy from Omaha, Nebraska who was there meeting his fiance, whom he met on the Internet. This was his first time in China, and the first time meeting his fiance. The whole fam, all up in KFC. Nice dude. Foreigners in smaller-tier cities tend to be way chiller toward other foreigners than people in places like Shanghai. After KFC we hit the mall.

I don’t know why, but when I see these two ladies, I just think of Waka Flocka Flame saying “I got a whole lotta money, bitches count it for me.”

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In the mall we found a shop with a lot of military gear and Hitler memorabilia, one shelve above a stack of Family Guy sew-on patches that said “Fat Chicks Need Love Too.”

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Just an American infantry bro chilling in the middle of the mall in a third-tier Chinese city, with a sign that says “Freebase” in the background.

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“I am this type of person.” So…the type of person who jumps off buildings?

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Speaking of fashion, this is my new favorite brand. Just wish they sold some quesadillas too.  mexicaneverywhere

For real though, I need all my international sexy girls to stand up.

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And we’re out. Shout out to C for all these photos. See you in Shanghai this weekend.

Hunting For Art In The Beijing Ghetto

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The day after the Popasuda party at Dada Beijing last month, my girl received an urgent mission – buy some art from up-and-coming Chinese painters and sculptors in the city. Sounded like a task from Elaine’s boss Mr. Peterson on Seinfeld so naturally we extended our stay in the Hanting Express, a rockstar hotel with an above-average 18RMB breakfast buffet. Toast.

After seeing the Duchamp exhibit and paintings by Wang Xingwei including his “Grandma In Window” series, we taxied deep into the hood to find some studios far from the comparatively pristine 798 Art Zone. Beijing cab drivers so chatty. The public toilets on this narrow street of rubble were just basins in an open room, not even squatters, and offered no indication that a studio with millions of RMB worth of art lay just around the corner.

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Old stairs led up into an aged warehouse where the affable Chen Xiaoyun (陈晓云) and Ye Linghan (叶凌瀚) showed us around the studio space they share with Jiangzhi (蒋志), who wasn’t present. Here’s a bit of what we saw:

Chen Xiaoyun’s pieces were the darkest of the three. Water, shapes, and creatures of the deep stared ominously from giant canvasses all around the room. I don’t know if having something like this is good for a home’s feng shui, but I dig it. Actually this guy primarily works in video.

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The youngest of the three, 叶凌瀚/ Ye Linghan makes some really dope videos with a  stop-motion hand-drawn/painted technique. The drawings feel almost like MC Escher at times and the animation is choppy but beautiful. Stills for videos were laying around the room, plus paintings like this.

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And finally, Jiangzhi, the most famous of the three, and probably my favorite overall. The big blue painting was inspired by computer viruses and how they can open up an infinite string of dialogue boxes to crash a system.

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Love the cover on this magazine. Reminds me of trying to draw in perspective, which I suck at. heatwolvesbeijingart6

And this – dude managed to paint what looks like still from a melted VHS tape. This one also by Jiangzhi.

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I have no idea where this studio was. Even if you dropped me off on the same street I couldn’t find it. Sometimes I get caught up in all the Shanghai bullshit and forget about what’s going on in the rest of China, or in scenes besides my own. Luckily in Beijing and Shanghai, as opposed to gritty American cities with art scenes like Detroit or Baltimore, you can actually walk around freely and without much worry. Gotta do that more.

Notes: I should point out that it’s not like we just stumbled upon this studio – my friend studied art in Hangzhou where these artists either studied or have connections. Also, no one has decided which work to buy yet. Finally, I’m not an art expert so please feel free to call out any inaccuracies in the comments!

 

Top ten differences between HK and Shanghai

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So i’m stuck in HK for a few days. Could be worse. Could be Iraq or Afghanistan. Been passing the time by swimming, chilling on islands, hiking and dodging giant spiders, eating milk + peanut toast, sippin proper milk tea that doesn’t taste like chemicals, and surprisingly not spending much money. I highly recommend coming down here if you need to escape mainland China for a minute. This feels like a totally different world, but it is still China – let’s examine some key differences.

10. Hills – Shanghai so flat; HK is almost San Francisco status. Proper topology. Just walking around will burn mad calories and leave the legs sore.

9. Clean water. Omg you can swim at the beach. And there’s real beaches, unlike Shanghai’s sandbox. Just watch out for those “dangerous sea animals of Hong Kong,” especially those on the “avoid completely” list, with their razor-sharp teeth and venom.

8. Cantonese and English. Pretty much everyone here speaks some English, even convenience store clerks. So refreshing. And they can probably understand and speak Mandarin too, so that’s three languages. I don’t really care about this in the mainland because I speak Mandarin, but it’s nice to bullshit in English with a friendly convenience store clerk.

7. More value for your money. Life here costs more for sure, but that HK Dollar goes further than those RMBs. There’s good draft beer at reasonable prices, even in tourist areas, cheap diner food on almost every corner, and proper sales on real brands at department stores, not some wack 高级村 brand you’ve never heard of but claims it’s a “famous American brand.”

6. People follow laws. Sure, some peeps jaywalk at appropriate times, like in any major city, but I haven’t seen anyone spit or smoke cigs in non-smoking areas. The police carry guns and enforce the law. I even saw some English books about Hong Kong law in the bookstore.

5. Freedom of speech and press. I’ve been reading the South China Morning post every day since I got here and thus know all about the current protests over landfills in the city, not to mention all kinds of bad news from the mainland. Plus I’ve been all over Facebook, YouTube, etc., with no VPN.

4. Proper Turkish Food in abundance. Actually, just proper ethnic food errrywhere, at reasonable prices. Thai, Vietnamese, Indian – whatever u want they got it.

3. No swimming caps in the pool.  Every local pool in Shanghai makes patrons don a swimming cap. Totally ridiculous considering I’ve seen people in Shanghai with swimming caps hack, cough, and spit flem in the pool on numerous occasions. I just came back from Sun Yat Sen park’s enormous pool and guess what – no cap-enforcement, totally clean water, well-behaved kids, state-of-the-art locker rooms, and only 19HKD for the whole afternoon. That’s like RMB16 or something ridiculously cheap.

2. Courtesy/civility. No Ayis bumping into me on the street, loud nail-clippers on the subway, food wrappers strewn on the street, drivers running red lights and almost wiping out pedestrians, or peeps screaming on cell phones. I hate to use this word, but it’s hella civilized down here.

1. No one stares at you cause you’re a foreigner or asks fucking retarded questions like “wow, can you really use chopsticks?” “do you own an apartment here?” or “What do you think is better – here or your country?” It’s peaceful to just blend in, in a place that still feels super Chinese.

Still got love for Shanghai, but Shanghai is changing fast and I’m not sure it’s moving in the right direction. HK could be the next move.

edit: you can also sit on the grass in the parks, some of which stay open 24/7. also, rent in HK is wicked expensive if you wanna live right downtown but pretty affordable if you wanna stay on an island or somewhere slightly off the beaten path.

This One Goes Out to Bow E3

When Love Bang/Super Ayi Cleaning team went to London last month, we stayed on our friend’s couch in an ex-council flat near Victoria Park, right on the edge between Hackney-Wick and Bow. Post codes in London are kinda like city blocks (or census tracts) in a big American city, especially in terms of gangs and their allegiance to certain neighborhoods.

Apparently the area we stayed in was pretty hood like five years ago, and walking around the Roman Road Market (chicken shops, gambling spots, bodegas) at night still felt  sketch. The sun goes down, all the shops close, and the streets empty out till the block feels like Resident Evil 2. One night a car full of dudes pulled up on us in an old Honda with no headlights and we thought for sure we were about to get robbed/stabbed but nothing happened.

E3 nothing like Shanghai, that’s for sure. You could walk for fifteen minutes in E3 after midnight and not find an open convenience store, but you might find some trouble. Still though, I like this neighborhood. It’s real, and not-yet gentrified. Two pounds bought me a much-needed winter hat that some hipster girls in Shoreditch thought was really fashion. However, by the looks of the “Artisan Waffles” for sale on the edges of the Roman Road Market on a weekend morning, this place may look quite different in five years and that hat may cost like fifteen pounds.

Reverse culture shock is the strongest. Really weird, after five+ years in Asia, to see a working-class street market with all non-Asians working and shopping there. Like, bargaining with a 70-year-old white guy over the price of a cheap hat.

To the best of my limited knowledge, this is the ultimate Bow E3 track, by Eski boi Wiley. He shouts out Candy Street, which is right next to where we stayed. Shout out to Alta for putting me onto this track.

Wiley – Bow E3

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I don’t understand the “no ball games” signs everywhere. Yeah balls make noise but what else are kids gonna do? Maybe that’s why there’s so many youth stabbings in the UK.

 

UK TRIP DAY ONE: TWO HOURS IN DUBAI

Spent two hours in the Dubai airport yesterday, and dem got my money. Ate a Spicy Chicken Big Mac and bought a New Yorker + Foreign Affairs, for a total of about $40.00. Also copped some rare, Dubai exclusive colored pencils. I’ve been waiting for some new colors to come out and Dubai came through.

This place has the ethnic diversity of Singapore, but with Middle Eastern rather than Asian flavor. We saw smoking rooms filled with Sheikhs smoking long, skinny pipes filled with fine green tobacco, full-on jewelry/gold dealers and waterfalls in the middle of the terminal, and people washing their feet in the restroom sinks before prayer (prayer rooms for sure).

From miles above in our excellently piloted Airbus 388, the city looked like seeds scattered throughout pure dessert with the occasional patch of manmade green. After some heavy turbulence, we got the smoothest landing ever. Felt like we landed on pillows.

Starkey – Command

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LOVE BANG LONDON, PART ONE

I’m super excited to announce that next Tuesday morning, DJ Caution and I are embarking on a journey to the West. We’ll be in London and some other undecided cities for about two weeks, just chilling, going to nights, shopping for vinyl, and spending that China money. If you’re out there, make sure to holler at us on our Facebook page.

Here’s the poster for the first of two Love Bang parties we’re doing out there. Special thanks to my homegirl Erin for setting this one up. BOX HOUSE WUT.

Speaking of London, this finally dropped after much anticipation. Hopefully we’ll get to check out a Night Slugs event while we’re in town.

Girl Unit – Double Take Part II

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From the Night Slugs Allstars Volume 2 comp that just dropped. Buy it here.

 

 

hitchhiking down a mountain in a walnut van, in hangzhou

Went to Hangzhou a few weeks ago. This small city of six million peeps an hour from Shanghai boasts West Lake, a feichang piaoliang // majestically beautiful place. True, but you can’t swim there. Growing up forty-five minutes away from Lake Michigan at South Haven, I can’t understand this. Like, if I just had to walk along the beach at Lake Michigan (basically like the ocean/差不多) but not go in the water…that’d be fucked up.

But Hangzhou does have mountains, something you won’t find in Shanghai, not counting mountains of 发票s/fapiaos or cash. On a Sunday walking around mountains and blue ponds. Don’t know why this pond is blue.

And met a lovable dog with a crooked face at a 农家乐 restaurant. 农家乐 = nong jia le, country home happiness restaurant/possibly hotel, in the owner’s house.

These restaurants are dank and affordable, like RMB100 – 200 ($14 – 28) for two – three people to eat really well on some home cooked Chinese food. Especially eggs, always try the eggs at country home happiness restaurants. So fresh. Chill owners too.

As daylight was packing up we still had an hour walk back down the mountain. Luckily an old grey sliding-door van crept down the hill by our outoor table, blasting an advertisement for 核桃 (hetao – walnuts). We negotiated a kilo of walnuts and a ride down the mountain for RMB60 (about $10). No seats in the back, just sacks of nuts and digital scales. I shouted out the window “赶快来买世界上最好的核桃,” but no one bought any. The uncle driving the van got out and patted me on the back when we reached the bottom.

Some songs for hitchhiking down a mountain in a walnut truck -

(1984) Horace Ferguson – Sensi addict

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(1996) Redman – Pick It Up

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