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i see white people

While everyone’s focus is fixed on Iraq, the Western world appears to be staging a silent takeover of Shanghai. I don’t have any concrete data to support this claim, but the population of pale faces looks to be on the rise. There are sections of the city where such sightings are to be expected, but such sightings seem to be more frequent now than even last fall. I sense that I’m getting stared at less and less — or maybe my skin is getting thicker and thicker. I sense that what I’m doing is not so novel anymore.

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02.27.2003, 2:00 AM · Observations · Comments (7)

mayer for mayor?

This has nothing to do with Shanghai. This is just a story about a guy who won a Grammy.

Three short years ago John Mayer was playing cover tunes in my friend Brian’s basement in Atlanta. On Sunday at Madison Square Garden, Mayer won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, beating out industry “lightweights” like Sting, James Taylor and Elton John.

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02.26.2003, 1:31 AM · Music · Comments (5)

md or nba?

My students may know me better than I think.

More than a few of them accused me of canceling classes last Monday so I could stay home and watch the NBA All-Star Game on TV — not so I could go to the hospital and have a doctor check out my bum ankle.

I did go to the hospital. I promise. Of course, before I did, I watched the NBA All-Star Game on TV.

02.23.2003, 12:06 PM · School, Sports

i’ll have the hugh grant, please

Are there any other straight guys out there who carry around photos of Hugh Grant in their pockets?

Every time I visit my neighborhood barber — US$0.63 per haircut — I never say a word. I just hand him two photos of Mr. Grant from About a Boy, point to them and then point to my head. This strategy has worked well so far.

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02.23.2003, 12:05 PM · Humor, Observations · Comments (2)

smooth moves

After six months in Shanghai, I have finally found a good smoothie. And it’s at a noodle joint in Xintiandi, of all places. Nooch has a RMB 28 banana, honey and soy milk smoothie that I believe still would have tasted fantastic had it not been the first real smoothie I’ve had since August. And it’s called the “b.h.s.” — which also happen to be the initials of my high school back in Bloomsburg, Pa.

My smoothie tolerance — built up thanks to my one-a-day habit back in Georgia — has disappeared, however. So now I must start over. But the b.h.s. is worth a few brain freezes.

02.23.2003, 12:03 PM · Observations

i hate firecrackers

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

02.23.2003, 12:03 PM · Observations

dismemberment plan

When a white guy on crutches hobbles through the elevator door, the attendant automatically pushes the button for floor No. 15. Because that’s where all the white people go at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai. They speak English up there. Well, kind of.

I was on crutches for the second time in a month. The first stint was due to a badly sprained ankle from basketball. The second stint came because I never gave the original injury proper time to heal.

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02.23.2003, 12:02 PM · Observations

ad nauseum

Feeling down? Need a laugh? Well, all you need to do is peruse the job ads at www.thatsshanghai.com. Here are some of my favorites from the past couple weeks:


Ben Kinglsley Look Alike?
Do you look like Ben Kingsley? Remember Gandhi, Schindler’s List, Dave and many other movies he acted in? We need a double for him in an upcoming movie to be filmed in Shanghai. Please contact me and include a photo. Let’s meet and talk…

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02.23.2003, 11:57 AM · Humor

super bowling

I was in Nanning, China on Jan. 26 … and I couldn’t watch the Super Bowl for the first time that I can remember. Granted, the Super Bowl started at around 7 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 27 for me, but for some reason I still thought I might be able to catch the game on TV. (We Americans tend to think that the Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world.) The TV in the $12-per-night “hotel” I was staying in had Star Sports and what appeared to be ESPN Asia — although the information on the station appeared to be a couple days old — but there was no Super Bowl to be found. The closest thing? The Asian Bowling Championships. And I watched every last frame. Would you believe a white guy won?

02.23.2003, 11:51 AM · Sports

shanghai: city of cranes

By Heather Shayne Blakeslee

blakeslee02.gifThere are images and ideas of China that I have only from visiting Shanghai, and then there are those things that seemed immediately familiar to me when I arrived because I had already read them in Dan’s diaries. What I wasn’t prepared for was how completely those dispatches of everyday life epitomize larger themes about Shanghai: the city’s mad flirtation with capitalism, the back alleys of Chinese tradition that seem to have survived ruthless development, the almost unseemly mix of Eastern and Western culture. If that sounds violent and maybe a little seedy, you’re getting an idea of the character of the city, of its pace and its density. Even after living in New York for many years, I was still unprepared for the cultural and economic extremes I witnessed in the very short time I was there. I was surprised daily by the sheer volume of people that Shanghai holds in its sprawling arms. It is the only city I have ever been in, at home or abroad, that rivals New York in its “city-ness” Shanghai moves with a kind of severe flow, a churning that will either pull you under or throw you into unexpected splendor.

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02.18.2003, 10:17 PM · Guest Diaries

on the menu: interesting “english”

Interesting English translations at Shanghai restaurants

(there are no misspellings on this page!)

AFanti Delicious Food Public place entertainment
That’s what it says on their sign! Their menu* calls the place “Apandy Uygur Food 8 intertainment City.”

Click here to listen to “Georgie Bush,” the Turkish guy who cooks lamb kebabs in front of the restaurant. (1:43, 1 MB)

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02.17.2003, 11:08 AM · Humor

audiophiles: the sounds of shanghai … and beyond

• A teenage girl plays the erhu, a traditional Chinese string instrument, on a street in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded February 7, 2003.
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• A blind man is a one-man-band on a street in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded February 7, 2003.
672 KB
• Two guys jamming with a banjo and an erhu in an open room off the main drag in Ningming, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded February 2, 2003.
956 KB
964 KB
• A guy playing a leaf like a harmonica at the Huashan Hotel’s nightly performance of traditional singing and dancing. Recorded January 31, 2003 in Panlong in the Zuo Jiang Scenic Area in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
900 KB
• The staff of the Huashan Hotel during its nightly performance of traditional singing and dancing. Recorded January 31, 2003 in Panlong in the Zuo Jiang Scenic Area in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
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• The first female soloist during a Beijing Opera production in Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded January 28, 2003 in Beibuwan Square.
600 KB
• The opening music for a Beijing Opera production in Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded January 28, 2003 in Beibuwan Square.
1.2 MB
• A big guy holding flowers singing at an outdoor video karaoke booth in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded January 26, 2003.
1 MB
• A guy with a harmonica on the streets of Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recorded January 26, 2003.
428 KB
• The call of the final point of the Australian Open women’s final between Serena Williams and Venus Williams as heard on CCTV-5. Recorded January 25, 2003 in Room 512 of the Le Hu Guesthouse.
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• The recorded voice you hear when you enter a Jinjiang taxi — the nice white ones — in Shanghai. The English part starts after 16 seconds and says: "Hello passenge. Welcome to take Jinjiang taxi. We will provide service for you with all my heart. Our call number is 62155555 (inaudible). Wish you have a pleasant journey." Recorded January 21, 2003 on Hegnshan Lu.
312 KB
• Dan and his Chinese instructor Peter sing the Chinese children’s song "Zhao Peng You," or "Looking for a Friend." Recorded Jan. 1, 2003.
240 KB
• New music from Heather Shayne Blakeslee. Recorded in Room C319 at Shanghai University on Dec. 12, 2002. The song is called "I’m All Right." To learn more about Heather, visit www.heathershayneblakeslee.com.
2.2 MB
• The chants of Buddhist monks during a prayer service at Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, China. Recorded Dec. 10, 2002.
3.4 MB
5:47, 3.3 MB
• The odd high-pitched call of "Georgie Bush," a Turkish guy who cooks lamb kebabs in front of AFanti Delicious Food Public Place Entertainment, a Xinjiang restaurant in Shanghai. Recorded in December 2002. I forget the day.
1 MB

02.15.2003, 1:51 PM · Audio, Multimedia


Shanghai Diaries is a website about Shanghai, China ... and lots of other stuff. Voted Best Mainland China Blog in the 2004 Asia Blog Awards.

Editor: Dan Washburn

Related: Shanghaiist and Mudan Boutique

Dan is a freelance writer living in Shanghai. More about Dan.

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10.08.2005 (127 new)
Fujian Power!
Visit an old colonial island in Xiamen and huge earthen roundhouses in rural Fujian. Scenes from my National Day 2005 holiday.

10.08.2005 (41 new)
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10.08.2005 (57 new)
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Get some sweaty culture at the Asian Gaelic Games. Gaelic football comes to Shanghai!

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Jam with Xingfu 13 at the Shanghaiist.com launch party.

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Take a stroll through the Second Annual China International Adult Toys and Reproductive Health Exhibition, also known as the Adult Expo or the Adult-Care Expo.

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