Friday, July 28, 2006

China word of mouth networks, bye-bye Beijing

Well we’ve all safely landed back in the states, or remained in our native provinces of China…never to be quite the same again. We have MUCH MORE info on China bloggers, local flavors, IT expansions to come. So please stay tuned. For the quick minute, let me key you into two groups doing much culture hacking on the new China frontier.

Ben Shipley and his cohort at confuciussays, are about to launch all kinds of new fangled marketing madness.

At the moment find him at

Also, find the pearly words of wisdom from another expat on net culture and China blogs, Sam Flemming’s China word-of-mouth blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Culture and Media in the U.S. and China


throughout our trip, of course, i had been encouraged to post to our blog about everything we were experiencing and discovering each day. i had an amazing time- and i've thoroughly enjoyed the entries of my companions- but, for someone who studies this kind of thing (or maybe BECAUSE i'm someone who studies this kind of thing), i find it a bit difficult to take part in. part principle, part personal preference.

nonetheless, i wanted to be able to contribute something- so now that geoff and i have been back for a few days, i've had the time to throw together some thoughts in somewhat different of a format than that of this sort of weblog. i put up a myspace profile on which to post it, so as not to take up, well, a lot of space here- feel free to take a look. and if you do, please feel free to voice your thoughts- would love to hear them.

and remember, no trucks or trumpets. 5's are ok, though.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hong Kong stylee

Met with Ann Peirson-Smith’s fashion class at by Hong Kong University . They are working on an analysis of Brands, style, as well as questions about innovation and creativity (what is Hong Kong style? What is Chinese style? for example). Great lively group composed of creative media students, graphic and fashion designers, business students and just plain fashionistas. DIY is a critical way that people are thinking at them moment and coincides with Web 2.0 use. We got into rather deep territory on shoe culture ;-)

How information is distributed

Walking through a Russian shopping district in Beijing (Russians come to buy clothes in this part of the city to the extent that much of the signage is in Russian), I saw something that Tara Tranguch had mentioned. (Tara had been introduced to me by Professor Jing Wang , and she has been working in data tracking and telecom industry for 9 years here in China.) We were talking about how the Internet came to be used and grow in popularity here. China right now is the second largest user of the Internet after the U.S. How did people find out about it, I asked. Part of the way word spread was via handbills offering services posted to local bulletin boards––all analog baby. We are just starting to look into this now, but it’s possible that the close community structures that one finds here, even traditionally with urban dwellers made some difference in how info was disseminated on this. Need more info myself on houton (roughly “neighborhoods”) concept and practice.

Shanghai self-service:
On the mobile information side of things, in Shanghia, one can sms to the Guanxi (which can be translated as “network” or “juice”) service the name of a destination, say Pier One “lifestyle” club-restaurant-bar w/ boutique hotel out back…hum, yes, that is how people are living it up in that town. Guanxi will text you back within moments in English or Chinese address, number. It will even specify whether you’re looking for the Minx club in that complex or Mimosa restaurant…or the Monsoon bar. Much handier than 411 in the States.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane.

This is the point in our journey where our team parts ways. Yesterday morning two of us flew off to Hong Kong, and this afternoon the rest of us are leaving Beijing for our own parts of the world. Ironically, expect my blog posts to pick up once I'm back in the States, where I won't have to rely on hotel business centers and Internet cafes for web access!

Before I go, I do want to send a shout out to my new friend Brendan O'Kane, a fellow blogger from Philly who we interviewed earlier this week and then came out last night for drinks to help send us off. There are so many of you guys that I'd love to hang out with if y'all were in Boston, and would fit right in to my social circles back home. Brendan, Evan, Victor, Gabriel -- if any of you ever make it to Boston, I have a couch for you (and an open invite to come speak to CMS – and if you can, try and come out to Texas for SXSW next year. The first Shiner Bock's on me.

Right! Wheels up from Beijing in a couple of hours and there's still way too much packing to do. For my friends back in Boston, I'll see you tomorrow, and for my friends here in China – thanks for a wonderful, wonderful time and I'll see you online!

Lost in Beijing!

I'd like to interrupt our usual travelogue here to make a quick comment about being a Western traveler in China. This morning I got separated from my group due to a passport-related mishap (now fixed and completely all my own doing; how do you say "boneheaded moron" in Chinese?) and I had to track them down later on my own. On the other side of town. With no cell phone. And completely unable to speak a word of Mandarin.


This is the point where I send a karmic shout-out to all the Chinese people I met this morning on my misadventure. While I didn't manage to find my party, I did spend a highly enjoyable morning talking to people, wandering through a neighborhood of art galleries (more on that in a later post) and traveling through the city. I took cabs, bought a book, enjoyed a drink at a cafe, asked for directions (!), and shared some laughs, all without more than "Hello" and "Thank you" in my vocabulary. (Okay, so I can speak two words of Mandarin -- but with what I'm sure is the world's worst accent.) I love these guys. The taxi driver got us lost and we still made it to the right neighborhood; the guys on the street that I asked for directions were a great help; the cops I asked for help were all friendly and also very helpful; the waiter in the restaurant even went so far to make gurgling noises with his mouth to try and ask if the water I asked for was still or sparkling. I didn't understand what he was up to until he actually delivered the water, but we both chuckled at the attempt to communicate.

For the most part, this has been my experience the whole time I've been here. I'm sure there are huge conflicts between our cultures that will take decades, if not centuries, to completely bridge, but speaking as one explorer in a strange new world, almost all of my experiences have been completely positive. As Dr. Coleman has put it several times while we've been here, it's shocking how at home it's possible to feel on the absolute other side of the planet.

In short, China's amazing and the people are great. Come to Beijing!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beijing IT OG blogger--tea with Keso

After leaving the Trends media conglomerate, we shot across the city to meet Keso, the well-know blogger , who has been an important voice the Chinese blogspere for close to a decade now. We discussed what role the Internet plays in Chinese creativity and attitude. He says, "When got online for the first time I saw the world in front of me." We asked why is blogging growing like mad here in China. Star bloggers are multiplying (far more so than in the U.S.) and stars are emerging from blogsphere itself (much more like the U.S.). Keso's reply: "This is a subject of great interest right now and great debate in the media. The Web used to be read-only, now you can leave your own mark.” Truth to power from an original gangster of the cn Internet.

check keso's flickr stream

Rocking Beijing.

Someday, when someone asks me what I did in grad school, I will look them in the eye, smile, and reply: "I rode a bike through the Forbidden City." Seriously, how cool is that?

The number of fascinating people we've met on this trip is just staggering. Victor and Eddi and David and, well, pretty much everyone we've met so far - you guys rock. Today the long list of interesting people shot up again after we visited the Beijing Film Academy and their animation division.

These guys showed us around the school, screened a little bit of their work, and welcomed us into their studio. We met a group of about a dozen young Chinese animators-in-training who are hard at work on a feature film for release in China late in 2007, and I can't wait to see it. These guys really know their stuff, and just like most of the conversations we've had here so far, our visit ended way too soon. We sat around a big table for an hour, talking about what it's like to be an animator in China, about inspirations and aspirations (Miyazaki, Pixar and video games came up repeatedly) and about being a young artist in general. According to these guys, their parents are all very supportive - something that I'm sure many young American artists can only dream about.

After that, our troupe caught a cab down to the offices of the Chinese versions of Esquire, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic Explorer, FHM, Bazaar, and a stack of others, where we sat down for coffee and conversation with the editor of China's Esquire. We talked about Chinese fashion and what it's like to be a young Chinese man re-evaluating what exactly a young Chinese man is supposed to do and be. We talked about publishing and international trends and cultures, and about how Chinese style is taking shape.

Not from Esquire, but a fashion tip nevertheless: check out the cool East-meets-West lines of Shanghai Tang, which may be the first real China clothing design label making serious inroads into America...

Man, so much else to report. I'll check in again tomorrow - stay tuned!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Biking through Beijing

We went on a bike trip through the city on Sunday with final destination Tian'Anmen Square and the Forbidden City. Moving through the streets of Beijing in that manner felt super. Shanghai is more of a scooter town–everything there feels speedy in fact––but to go down the embassy road toward a popular shopping district, where we had lunch at a local wonton shop was relaxing and fun. Rena had charted a great course for us.

Tian'Anmen Square itself was amazing. The scale of the place, the monumental aspect of the architecture and art, and of course, the deep history. I was surprised to see so many Chinese nationals visiting, almost as if it were a haj to the holy city…which in fact it might be. Rena had said the feng shui of the site is very serious: the road between the square and gate to the Forbidden City is the central axis of Beijing itself. According to principles of good alignment, this is strong design. Liwen had not been there before, but she told me she has seen this area many times on TV. Is it different to see it in real life, I asked. No, she said. I think we'll make her write a paper about the difference (or not) between the mediated image and the actual. Tee hee ;-)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"I,China" Da>Space visit with Eddi Yip

We walk into the doorway of 84 FuJian Zhong Lu, off of the Nanking road on our way to visit Eddi Yip, custom toymaker. The scene is straight up urban China mix where we literally have to excuse ourselves as was walk through a family's lunch, heading to the stairs.

Up on the second floor, we find frosted glass doors with a customized graph signature that leads us into the domain of Eddi Yip and the adFunture posse. If people remember the fresh energy of youth culture lifestyle destinations such as Triple 5 Soul or Liquid Sky in New York during the '90s, then Da Space is both a beautiful continuum of this kind of creative design and energy, but also something entirely unique and new for Shanghai. Da>space, as Eddi describes it, is a gallery, playground, and meeting point–a place for the likeminded to find each other.

What is in the space is a new exhibition of action figures and attached art works such as posters and installation. The show is called "I,China" and it is off the dingalinger. Super fresh and fun and, by my lights, the flavor of more things to come in Shanghai city.

Here's background: Eddi has been producing collectable custom action figures that he produces in collaboration with individual artists. Moving from Hong Kong to Shanghai four years ago (Eddi is half Chinese and have Hong Kongese), he created the concept and production infrastructure for the adFunture startup. The action figures he has made up to now are limited edition, no run greater than 2000, and targeted straight at the international graph, sneaker pimp, custom t-shirt, skate rat nexus (so we're talking Tokyo-New York-Amsterdam-London-Paris…someone let me know if Dubai is already on this list too). With this new show, Eddi makes his opening salvo to put Shanghai on that list of global network destinations. He says he wants people to stop thinking about China as just a place to manufacture and to start thinking about it as a place of vision and original design.

About half a year ago Eddi Yip opened da>space, where local heads can come and commune, see the work and international heads have a destination. London Police graph crew recently did a three-week residency there that culminated with a show in the space and mucho tagging city wide—hey, that's what they do.

"I, China," with Beijing-based artist WZL, is the first show (and action figure) created by Chinese artists, in China, and for Chinese youth culture. The style of the figurine is specific to the zone from which it comes: strong posture with arms folded across the back, super stylized half-moon slits for eyes, Pillsbury dough boy like body. Each graphic or motion graphic artist invited to participate in the show got one figurine to modify and space to produce a poster or installation with the figure. Take a look at the images (more on the photo page) and check out the interview with Eddi on the video page, which will be loaded as soon as we can get a minute to offload & upload.

Eddi's blog + other adFunture bloggers:

Images from da>space opening party:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Old Shanghai, New Shanghai.

Day Three found our intrepid travelers once again splitting into multiple teams. My group found ourselves wandering through Shanghai on a truly fascinating tour of "Old Shanghai meets New Shanghai". There's so much to say, but as jet lag is seriously smacking me around a bit (and as it's currently 8:45 AM here and I have not yet had my coffee) I'll keep this short.

Notable highlights from yesterday are as follows.

Sprite Icymint

Sprite Icymint is a bizarre soda that is my first discovery of Asia-only subbrand of an American product (please correct me if any of my Western readers have seen this Stateside). It tastes sort of like Sprite but with a fistful of Altoids dissolved in it. I hate to admit it, but I totally loved it - I'm going to miss this stuff when I get home.

The Yu Gardens and Bazaar

The Yu Gardens and Bazaar are a beautiful, beautiful old temple area and further supporting evidence of my opinion that Shanghai is one of the greatest design cities of the world. I need to do some more background reading on this, and I'll post more about it (with pictures!) when I do, but this ancient site had more interesting design elements per square foot than any American equivalent I've ever seen. Each area of the place used different door shapes, different ornamental tiling approaches to their windows, and different tile approaches for the cobblestones in the floor. Curves, swoops, boxes, diamonds - Michael Graves, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry would all have felt right at home here.

Three on the Bund

Speaking of Michael Graves, Three on the Bund is a high-scale shopping area that Michael Graves helped to restore a few years ago, and it's jaw-dropping. I want to go back and spend some more time here examining his work - we only got to peek our heads into the Armani store on the corner, but the presence of that store (and the Dolce and Gabbana store going in next door) are clear signals of the high fashion scene that's roaring in Shanghai. What I found interesting, though, was that the Armani store didn't seem to be doing much market tailoring (if you'll pardon the pun) for Shanghai. The models in their photography seemed Italian and the clothes all seemed to be fairly identical to the Armani line you'd find anywhere else in the world, which has made me start to wonder about whether these lines ever should alter their offerings for different geographical locations. What would the market for Armani in Shanghai be? Chinese people who love Italian fashions? American or European expats hungry for a little bit of their home style? More thought is definitely required here.

Starbucks Shanghai

Speaking of geographical fashions, I am now the proud owner of a Starbucks Shanghai t-shirt. I saw two Starbucks yesterday - one at the Yu Gardens (no joke) and another that I'll talk a bit more about in a second. The Starbucks we went into was an amazing whirlwind experience - hyper-fast service, super-friendly staff with largely impeccable English, and packed to the gills. I can't wait to see the one in the Forbidden City in Beijing.


The other Starbucks I saw was a gorgeous two-story affair in the high-fashion district of Xintiandi, where my friends and I had a long debate over global design culture, global mall culture (so to speak), and preservation of architecture. I'm a huge fan of how Xintiandi handles this - they renovated a bunch of old buildings into new boutiques, taking beautiful old architecture and modernizing its interiors. This helps preserve the buildings for the future while still integrating historical style into contemporary life. Of course, I grew up in a renovated farmhouse built before the Civil War, so I'm biased. :)

Again, much more to say later and hundreds of pictures to upload, so stay tuned... Right now, coffee calls.

Stupid jet lag.

Shanghai bloggers

We met with 13 (oops, unlucky number), hardcore local bloggers this evening to focus and explore on the subject of why we blog, how we blog, and who is this imagined local and international community of respondents. It is full on here, whether or not gets blocked or not. The group ranged from 18-25 and as representatives of the new generation of Chinese, and yes in it’s super specific way, Shanghainese citizens, they all said their parents had not only no clue about what they were doing in their off hours….and that the pervious generation had very limited tools by which to understand the locally –global reach of individual communications. Rad.
Rene, Kevin, and Lewin will have more to say on this subject.

Btw, the Asia addition of the Wall Street Journal reported today that youth groups in China, the pre-teen set are BBS-out, blogging, and emailing about the tyranny of childhood they perceive at the moment. Too much parental stress on what is since the ‘70s the legally allocated one-child per family.

more images contemporary chinese art, yeah ma

Yang Fudong’s sexy lovely video noir piece...and Shanghia Living.

chinese contemporary art--shanghai

in our Shanghai contemporary art foray, we had started at Biz-Art, a not-for-profit gallery and design studio. Alexia, the gallerist, gave our party a warm welcome that included a tour of the gallery, where they have a summer video exhibition, as well as some conversation on the recent events in contemporary art in China. The Morgenshan art district is pretty cool. On one end of the street working people hang out their laundry to dry on the other one finds swishy modernist steel structures and refurbished warehouses––all the signs of a pomo art scene stepping up to the plate. Here are images from Yang Fudong’s sexy lovely video noir piece, ShangArt, the first contemporary art gallery in Shanghai, and the view out of the Eastlink gallery. Painting by Zheng Giang. If want a translation of the poem cited in the painting email us, with a cc to supergirl Liwen. Btw, the “Shanghai Living” project by Hu Yang, where he documented over the course of two years 500 Shanghai households is off the ding-alinger. Available at the Pudong airport mes biches.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lucky numbers

Word from those who live and work here is that one cannot flow without a cell phone. This seems to be the case in general, and perhaps particularly if you are a teenager anywhere and time, but it was driven home that Shanghai is a city on the move…so you’d better get a wiggle on as the grandmere of our very own How2 used to say.

So went shopping with Rena, Liwen, Geoff, Stephen and myself @ a mid-level mall on Nanjing Road. Has been a historical tourist district off of People’s square but at this point it was looking rundown and tatty in a way that was neither here––bright designy new Shanghai––nor there––charming older Shanghai. Stuck in the middle, the ambivalence, or perhaps one might say the transitional, aspect of the zone was emblematic of the whole course of the day (soon come on Moganshan road contemporary art zone escapade).

So we are at the counter and I am asked to select the phone number that will go with said phone. There are at least three categories of price ranging from 100 RMB to 300 RMB. I ask, “What’s the difference within the numbers offered,” assuming that access, long distance, something about mobile IT would figure in here. No. the difference is that some numbers, those containing more 8s and 6s, are more auspicious than other, particularly those containing 4s. No kidding. The variable on price of the phone number was determined by some ratio between appearance of lucky numbers and the memorability of the number itself. And it was common enough for people to pay a premium for this god luck charm that it was built into the regular service. I myself went for a modest amount of good luck, opting for the 120 RMB number with three 8s and two 6s over the bare bones luck.

Liwen, who had translated the transaction for me and noted my look of incredulity when it came to the price variance on lucky numbers, had this to say. “Yes, it is true. It’s very old this tradition and it comes from Cantonese where the pronunciation of 8 is “fah,” which means “a lot of moneys” and the sound of 4 means “die.” It is a bad number. Six sounds like successful. Who pays attention to this? Modern young women like herself? No, no really, but people with money do. Also, she let me know astrology is currently all the rage in Hong Kong with the under thirty set.

The Art of the Phone.

Day Two of our expedition to the East began with a great buffet in the hotel restaurant, where we sampled everything from dumplings to lychee muffins while seated at this big round table with oversized, super-tall plush red chairs. I wouldn't have been surprised if Lancelot had shown up with a tray loaded down with dumplings and donuts-on-a-stick. (Yes, donuts-on-a-stick. One of my great regrets from this trip so far was that I didn't take my camera to breakfast this morning.)

After that, we broke into two teams. One team headed off to conduct interviews with Chinese consumers, and the other dove right into contemporary Chinese culture. As a member of the second team, I found myself in a taxi rocketing across the city into the Shangzou Creek Art District, where the taxi dropped us off in a wide industrial courtyard. Back home developers are building all kinds of new pseudo-industrial lofts for some lucky people to call home, but here was The Real Deal - gritty concrete buildings with enormous steel fire doors and huge towering ceilings, all of which had been converted into galleries, shops and artists' offices.

Shanghai: The Next Great City of Art?

As Shanghai rises again, there's been a huge influx of artists attracted by the (relatively) low cost of living and the opportunity to participate in a new hot art scene. We spent the next couple of hours wandering through galleries like the ShanghART Gallery and the Art Scene Warehouse. At one point in the afternoon I found myself wondering whether it was an insult or a compliment to think, "I don't care if this was made in Shanghai or New York - this is great work!" There was some art loaded with political imagery - several works in one of the galleries made oblique criticisms of the new East-Meets-West type of lifestyle - but there were also many works that were simply stunning uses of color and composition. One piece showed a tree beside an overpass in the middle of winter, rendered in cool whites and browns, and the result was just captivating. I found myself hoping that this artist would someday exhibit their work in a larger gallery home, like the Met or the Guggenheim, where they're more likely to sell prints or postcards in the gift shops to us poor grad students.

Based on what little I've seen, I imagine that Shanghai is a huge, largely untapped gold mine for Western art collectors. Currently American art museums tend to lump most of this stuff under the generic label "Contemporary Asian Art", but many of these artists could easily carry solo exhibitions. Within the next five to ten years (if that), I think China is going to set our American art world on fire.

Well-Traveled Tea and Coffee, Indeed

After that our group grabbed coffee and tea at this beautiful little coffee shop called Traveled Tea and Coffee, which my Designer Mind found absolutely mindblowing. I took a bunch of pictures there, which I'll post to our Photos page as soon as I can get them off the camera and uploaded to Flickr. Everywhere I looked in this place there was some inspiring new design element - from the patterns in the floor to the lightning to the colors they used on the walls. Imagine a sort of contemporary fusion between Asian styles and, well, Starbucks/Cosi/insert-high-design-restaurant-here, and you start to get an idea of the place - but it definitely had a style all its own. Wait until I post the pictures - I could easily blow several thousand words on that cafe alone.

Adventures on the Cell Phone Floor

Moving swiftly on, we walked across town down to a shopping district, where we entered into a massive department store. We walked through the men's floor, up across the women's floor, and then to the cell phone floor.

Yes, the cell phone floor.

Were I a millionaire, I would go back to the States, go into my local Sprint store, cackle at their meager offerings and then grab the guy at the counter by the ear like some 18th-century school marm. I would haul him out of the mall, onto the T, down to the airport and straight back here, still dragging him along by his ear, right back to this floor of this store, where I would finally let him go. I would dump him unceremoniously on the floor and yell, "See? SEE? THIS is how it should be done!"

In the States, any given cell phone store only carries a paltry few models of phones. This is because so much of the market back home is totally segmented - the carriers try and convince people to switch by only offering particular models. As a consumer, this bites because it absolutely shatters the amount of choices we have, especially when every time we buy a phone we're basically committing ourselves to a new contract. Ugh. Here, though, you buy a phone and then you insert a SIM chip into it, which contains all of your user information. No matter which phone you buy, most of them will take any SIM chip. This means you can choose from any phone currently being manufactured, and allows for much, much greater choice - including opening up the market to a bunch of cell phone makers that you've never heard of. When you walk into this floor of the department store, you are faced with booths from the different manufacturers. Each one of these booths, from Nokia or Motorola or Sony-Ericsson or Anycall or a dozen others, offers more selection than any cell phone store back home. The phones aren't cheap, but many of the offerings offer seriously tantalizing options.

I'll admit I was a little disappointed by the lack of anything truly revolutionary - they didn't have the Nokia videocam-phone that I'd been eyeballing for a while, but they did have several others offering similar functionality. Videoblogging services are going to explode when people can create their own little moblog entries from anywhere, recorded at DV-level quality and then uploaded wirelessly to the web, which their friends can then download from anywhere. Imagine an RSS feed on your phone where you're sent a text message anytime a friend uploads a new videoblog entry from their phone, and with a click or two you can download that entry straight to your own phone to watch wherever. This is where I think mobile media is headed, and it seems like several manufacturers are leading the charge. Nokia is right out front - as they are with the design market as well. Motorola has a couple of contenders flitting about the ring as well, but Nokia's L'Amour Collection is a set of leather-trimmed phones with laser-etched (I think) floral patterns right in the metal. On the store floor these models were being displayed on pedastals with items like a Victorian mirror, a mock Tiffany lamp, and a little Asian treasure box, and they fit right in. These phones may be designed for women, but I want one - it's refreshing to see a phone design take a new direction than simply painting the sucker pink. As the RAZR proved for Motorola, the market is teeming with demand for great phone design - according to a BusinessWeek article, Motorola sold more RAZR phones last year than Apple sold iPods. Whether or not American cell dealers are being boneheaded and stingy or not, with markets like China opening up the worldwide mobile media landscape is going to become extremely interesting, extremely fast.

The End of the Day, and Your Homework

After that, we came back to the hotel where I, uh, passed out. Ah, yes - there's the jet lag I know and love. It's now about 10:45 PM here, and by some great miracle I've managed to stay up to a respectable bedtime to try and keep that jet lag at bay. I'll let you know how that works out tomorrow. ;)

So, enough of my yammering - now we have some questions for you.

Where in the world are you?

What phone do you use?

What do you want in your phone?

If you had the technology to do so quickly and cheaply, would you use a phone to make videoblog entries from interesting places in your world?

Please use the "post a comment" link below for your answers!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

feeling lucky?

what signs indicate an auspicious event for you? Or do you think that luck is good planning + timing, which is the more traditional Western view when we were still living in a predictable universe (perhaps a long time ago, pace Descartes). We want to know the signs of good luck from various places. Please go to the download page and get the cell phone screen saver/sticker that the wonderful Vinnie Ray designed for our trip…up load your own images.

cloud city

Shanghai city here and it is like walking into a warm wet cloud leaving Pudong airport. the synchronicity is pretty mad, or maybe it is the full-court "china fever" as my friend Emiko put it that's making for the coinciding. let it suffice to say it's as if we had many little yellow arrows pointing “you should be here now." which we are. and happy to arrive safe and sound. first forays into the various zones in the a.m.

Safe in Shanghai!

For various reasons, 2006 has been the Year of Asia for me. I spent Spring Break touring through Japan, and then, early in the evening of July 11, 2006, I set foot for the first time on Chinese soil.


All those stories you've been reading in the media about China exploding? If the little bit of Shanghai I've gotten to see so far is any indication, they're definitely to be believed. Everything here is big, bright, beautiful and ultramodern -- even the roads. The "upcoming curve" arrows on the freeway are made up of blinking red lights, there are tiny little blue lights in the pavement by exit ramps, and the sides of the freeway itself were dotted with glowing lights. The Shanghai skyline was similarly illuminated, stretching from horizon to horizon and made up of all kinds of breathtaking silhouettes and lightforms. One building has its outline traced with red lights, another is actually two twin buildings set up like mirror images of each other, and our hotel, The Shanghai Westin, is topped by what appears to be a gigantic lit-up lotus flower. The lightshow continues inside the hotel lobby, with a grand staircase with lights inside every step that change colors every minute, gracefully fading from red to blue to green to purple and so on. Add to this the somewhat bizarre experience of listening to a Brazilian lounge singer crooning "Fields of Gold", a song by a British pop rock star, in the lobby of a Chinese hotel and the result is completely otherworldly. (A sensation that I'm sure isn't helped one bit by the jet lag.)

I'm posting this from the business center of the hotel and I have yet to visit my room, much less grab a shower to wash off the road dust, so I'll bid you adieu here. I'm sure we'll have much, much more to report tomorrow - with pictures! - once we're all properly, ah, "reoriented".


Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm currently sitting in the plane on the tarmac at LAX, waiting for takeoff. Shanghai, here we come!

This is a test post of the moblogging functionality. It's almost 5AM EST and I'm getting ready to head to the airport, both stoked and anxious.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fashionista MMS to coordinate outfits

It has been reported that the young women attending the Ming trimode pop-up store event had worked out an international MMS mob to get their hair, phone accessories and nails the same color as the phone.