Monday, March 06, 2006


...a backlog of posts to come, as THE TOUR HAS STARTED and it's helter-skelter, in a disturbingly sober way....

DAY TWO IN BEIJING a band called Reflector invited me to rehearsal. When I met the guitarist, TJ, driving a plastic imitation Vespa on some random street corner, he told me he'd thought I was Taiwanese from talking on the phone. Course my Chinese is not good enough to fool anyone in Taiwan, so it must be the accent that's confusing. I heard a similar story about a Beijing white guy coming to Taiwan.

...Reflector's guitarist is out of jail now, actually has been for some time, but for those POTS readers who remember Andy O'Brien's first article (before we even began posting English language content online), he got locked in the hoosegow for hitting some Beijing oldskool punk over the head with a beer bottle. Like his bandmate TJ said, "He knows kung fu."

What happened is this, and I bring it up because there's still a lot of misinformation floating around Taiwan rock circles about the motives behind the attack - nationalism? "Not at all": This is Lee Peng talking, the guitarist who got thrown in jail, and I will assume he's pretty damn sure what the fight was that he got locked up for. "Those fucking punks, they stole a drum pedal" - from Fire E.X., a Taiwanese punk band from Kaohsiung - and that's pretty much the end of the story.

Pretty much. TJ said the Taiwanese kids also brought beer in the bar from outside. "It was fucking stupid. Fighting over small shit." And then there was some backlash involving mafia going to the bar where the fight happened after it was all over, and Reflector got blamed but said they had nothing to do with it. TJ: "Look, we're famous, we don't have to do that. I said to the bar owner, 'Who's more niubi, you or us? Us.' Man, he's the one who looked like a fool."

So Lee Peng was held, detained, jailed, or whatever for half a year, and it was not prison, just the city jail. I can't really claim to understand the penal system here, so I'm just taking his word for it. He said he was in a big communal cell and had to stay there basically until his case went before a judge, at which point he was let out. That took six months, and he said he had to pay RMB 50,000, "mostly for lawyers, but of course a little for the judge. Ha ha."

I asked him what it was like inside, and he just kind of shrugged and called it an experience. "It was not so bad. And of course it was good to get out." I've talked with now three Chinese who've done recent jail time and read several more accounts, and it seems pretty common that those who've been through prison, work camps, and the like don't bitch about it much. Complaining about human rights just means more trouble I guess, so sealing it inside becomes a habit.

After band practice - Reflector is very tight BTW, one of the hotter bands on the circuit, and unlike any underground band in Taiwan they can actually live off music - Lee Peng invited me back to his place, which is a very cool mini-courtyard home in an old Beijing neighborhood, Dianmen. He's got a baby still not one year old with his French girlfriend, a sweet little family and they love the little dude. We drank tea for a while and the cold, clear winter sky went from pale to dusky outside the plastic sheets that covered the windows....

....I walked into a record store near there and asked if they had any Pangu, and the girl told me they'd sold out. She had nothing bad to say about the band, said they'd get the CD in again soon. I was like 'Really?' The interesting thing is that not as many people as I'd thought actually know that Pangu is in exile or that they even played Taiwan. Reflector had heard vague rumors but wasn't really sure till I told them. The woman in the CD store didn't seem to know much either, and I don't think I told her...

...dinner was high grade teppanyaki with a crew of American-Chinese guys plus associates, most in finance, one working for Microsoft, two for a cable network, and one for a cell phone content provider that had just cancelled a contract with the said cable network, making for a drama that went nowhere but a minorly interesting discussion on intellectual property - I say minorly interesting mostly because the people who were having it actually worked for big companies that owned intellectually property. The only real Nazi was a South American guy from the cable network: "No! If you Swingbox our content from the US to your computer in Beijing, you are stealing!"


Fortunately this ended up somewhere else, at a rundown hotel ballroom called the Hollywood something which was full of Russian and Mongolian prostitutes that were so scary me and the banker boys all flocked to the pool table, which cost USD 12.50 an hour on top of the totally ridiculous USD 5 cover charge we had paid. But after all, there was the ambience. The Monglolian prostitute that ended up trying to talk us up was named Anu, and she spoke both bad Chinese and bad English, but at least she had fake tits. We asked her various things: where are you from? what do you speak better, English or Chinese? and, the only interesting question, can you ride a horse? The answer was "yes."

At one point, when nobody else was listening, I pointed at all the bankers boys and asked her, "Hey, which one of them do you think has the most money?"

I don't really like talking to prostitutes because all they really care about is are you going to fuck them and pay for it, so I figured I'd at least ask something we could speculate on, her probably better than me. Cause really, shouldn't this hooker be able to smell Amex platinum?

She pretended she didn't know what I meant, so I repeated it slowly in Chinese, then in English. Then she wrinkled her face and got up and left.

After that a Russian woman named Olga handed me a card listing her title as "Fashion Designer" and said it would cost RMB 800 "to take a girl out for a short time."

"Gee thanks."

"Just keep my card."

"Yeah right."

"Put it in your pocket."

Then we left.


Post a Comment

<< Home