Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Super Moverz

The kids were off school all last week and attended Super Moverz Camp at school. It's hard to describe how much they loved it. This is run by our friend Wyatt, who is moving to San Diego and ramping it up in the U.S. this summer.
Check out the website.
Anna, aka Inferno and Eli, aka Quick Draw are all over it.

Last column

I've gotten slack about posting my columns up here.

Here is my last one, even as I finish up my next one, which will post Thursday late afternoon, EST.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More history

I came across this really interesting, must-read article by Peter Hessler about Han attitudes towards the big T. It is a pretty complex issue with a long and deep history.

Here are two key passages:

When the Chinese speak of pre-1951 Tibet, they emphasize the shortcomings of the region's feudal-theocratic government: life expectancy was thirty-six years; 95 percent of Tibetans were illiterate; 95 percent of the population was hereditary serfs and slaves owned by monasteries and nobles. The sense is that the Tibetans suffered under a bad system, and the Chinese had a moral obligation to liberate them

And this, getting to the heart of something important....

Another aspect of the Chinese duty in Tibet is the sense that rapid modernization is needed, and should take precedence over cultural considerations. For Westerners, this is a difficult perspective to understand. Tibet is appealing to us precisely because it's not modern, and we have idealized its culture and anti-materialism to the point where it has become, as Orville Schell says, "a figurative place of spiritual enlightenment in the Western imagination—where people don't make Buicks, they make good karma."

Friday, March 21, 2008


This story bummed me out. It's all about how C is clamping down on ethnically t parts of the country.. they are some of my favorite places I've ever been in the world and knowing this is going on out there is making me very sad. I haven't been hearing much abut Yunnan, but in the story I read this:

Farther north, the largely Tibetan county of Zhongdian was swarmed by 400 armed police. Many carried rifles and what appeared to be tear gas launchers. Some 30 armed police with batons marched in the main square Friday as residents went about their daily life.

This is the area known in T'an as Gyalthang and now called Shangri La. We have been there twice, once with my parents and once with our friend Tashi and his family. It is his ancestral homeland. I feel a real kinship with the place and just very, very sad thinking about what is going on

I included this picture to help you have an image of the scenes. Last March on our crazy trip to West Sichuan with my in laws, sister in law Jenny and Becky's aunt Judy, we were driving up the mountains in a remote area of T'an China. We were heading towards the big T. Coming the other way, twice, conveys of trucks just like this passed us. They went on for 10 or 15 minutes, hundreds and hundreds of trucks, carrying thousands of soldiers back from T. It spooked me then and does even more so now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More pictures

Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Woodie Alan rocked Frank's Place in Beijing while T land heated up last Friday night. Zhang Yong has a phtoographe friend who keeps coming to the gigs and taking cool pictures. Thanks for that.

More Stuff

It's still pretty exhausting and surreal here. I am really upset about what is going on T-land. Becky, of course, is working round the clock more or less, along with every other real journalist we know ( I don’t count myself in that group). It raises a lot of red flags about the Olympics, especially in the way they overreacted at the baseball game last week and what that portends for how authorities will handle hundreds of thousands of foreigners, 20,000 members of the press and a situation where they just can't exercise total control.

I felt so mixed at the baseball games. On the one hand it was fun and it was nice to have a Major League Baseball game here in Beijing. It was truly exciting. On the other hand, the paranoia and security crackdown I saw were alarming and disturbing. I will be pulling my thoughts on this more together and maybe writing a column, but it just seemed to get at the heart of some of the contradictions and compromises of living here.
On the one hand, it was great to have this event and I wanted to be there and for my kids to be there. It was representative of the opening of China and its importance in the word and the global marketplace if you will that MLB would go through the extraordinary effort of flying a couple of hundred people over here, making sure the field was up to snuff -- no small job -- etc etc. and dotting every Ii and crossing every t to make these games happen. I don’t think you can overstate how much effort had to have gone into that.

On the other hand, it felt sort of creepy to be there participating while a part of our extended world seemed to be exploding. And it was definitely creepy to see all the police at the stadium and to know that they had freaked out and canceled all the pregame activities, canceled even the singing of the national anthems-- they played prerecorded music instead. The supposed-to-be singer of one of the anthems was a friend of a friend and I know for a fact she was sitting in the dugout waiting to sing, but not being allowed to. The actor and marital artist Jet Li was in the same boat. I’m not sure what he was supposed to do, but the next day they let him out of his cage to throw the first pitch.

And in the stands a Cub Scout troop and their families sat waiting for the promised opportunity to go down and run the bases and meet players. It never came; they were apparently deemed too much of a security threat. This included lots of my friends. The Dodgers did send two players into the stands to shake hands and sign autographs with the Scouts so they did their part. But all of it left me feeling.. blech.

One thing that I don't think has been all that well covered is that Chinese seem to feel pretty unanimously that Tibet is part of China and the Tibetans are ungrateful for all they've received.

This story in the FT covers that well.

I'm not sure people outside of here understand that. The history is deep and long. They’ve been fighting and arguing over the place for 1,000 years. I think their general attitude is something like, when the U.S. wants to give Texas back to Mexico or Utah to the Utes, they can call. When the Aussies want to let the aborigines have the country back, drop us a line. And this comes on the heels of the Darfur stuff, which has most people here totally befuddled and feeling defensive.

Now I am not being an apologist, I ‘m just trying to shed some light on how people think about this.

There was also a about some of the internal T politics behind what is going on. The D.L. is not necessarily in an enviable position. There is a really good story on the front page of today’s WSJ tha explains that well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dixie and Dave: Colorado dispatch

Ah, technology. David Kann is in colorado with my folks and brother and his family. He snapped this picture after dinner on his Iphone, sent send and here it is, for your viewing pleasure. Dixie is truly the six million dollar man, just wrapping up a month or more of daily powder skiing, with his new hip, bladder and rotator cuff.. not to mention is single wing form, as he needs another rotator cuff operation. Wish i was there!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 baseball story

Still crazy and exhausting here. We had our first sandstorm of the year yesterday, always a pleasure. I felt really bummed out yesterday morning, beaten down by the events and feeling really bleak. I have to admit part of it was our internet was down and I was convinced we were targeted as journalists. I felt better when I realized most of our compound was out.

here's my baseball story for
My story in the magazine is out now. so go pick up a copy of SI. I'm pretty excited about this, my debut in SI.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Well, it's been a crazy few days around here. I'm sure all of you know about the troubles in T land. Anything with the T word stands to get banned here. I have no idea how this could play to this blog or anything else I do but I don't really feel like finding out.

We're all trying to figure out what is going on. Becky has been working round the clock. I'd suggest reading the WSJ and other news sources to get a grip on things.

I spent the weekend working, tool but my work involved baseball games. There was some impact there, with tighter security, police all over the stands, metal detectors and patdowns at the entrances, and canceled pregame activities -- no public gatherings, apparently.

I just turned in a piece for SI and will have a longer one up on soon. I'll post up there when there's anything to link to.

Only other impact here right now is internet seems to be running slow, lots more things are not, um, available easily and gmail has become totally unreliable and often unresponsive. I can still use my backup, yahoo account no problem.

Baseball story on

Hre's my story about the basebball games.

I am covering today's game for Sport Illustrated and also writing something up for I can't believe how many words I am going towrite about this event. Going as press today and a dad tomorrow with the whole fam.

Friday, March 14, 2008

On the Wall with Padres

Wet to te Great Wall with the San Diego Padres today. Had fun and there were some good dudes. I am writing up a piece for WSJ so more details to come... but all-time MLB saves leader Trevor Hoffman is a cool guy. We rode a slide down together. See pic. Rest are pretty self explanatory. That's Dave Winfield, now VP of the team and one of my favorite players as a kid. Other two guys are Friars' starting third basemen and fifth starter.

These guys have no profile here. No one knew who anyone was. But the Friar mascot was a big hit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yao's injury -- Slam post

The reaction to yao's injury over here has been interesting.. a near panic.

Here' my take.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Exhibition Baseball and Otis Rush

The Padres and Dodgers are playing two games at the new Olympics baseball stadium this weekend. I'm going to both, Saturday as press, Sunday with the whole fam. We are going on a bus with or two with almost 90 other people organized by a friends' sports bar.. actually the same place Woodie Alan is playing Friday night. It should be an eventful weekend. I'm kicking it off by riding out to the Great Wall with the Padres tomorrow morning. Strange but true.

One cynical friend snorted to me, "Could there be a more meaningless sporting event than an exhibition baseball game?" but I say it's all good. I'm actually really looking forward to the games.

I wrote a preview for That's Beijing magazine. You can see it here. The press conference was fun. I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Dave Winfield and Joe Torre but I was really surprised how much I enjoyed speaking to Gene Orza, who was downright poetic about baseball.

Check out this clip of Otis Rush. It just slays me. Make sure you take note of the crowd at the very end. That slays me, too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Woodie Alan chugging along

We've had gigs the last three weekends -- have I mentioned how patient my wife is? -- and they've all gone really well. Lots of fun. One more this week before we have a little bit of a break.

I put new blog posts up on the band website if you want to check them out.

A friend of our bassist Zhang Yong took these pics at Yugong Yishan, our biggest venue. Video clips I've put up recently came from this show.

Olympics gig and update

I can finally say that I ll be working for NBC during the Olympics as their "Beijing blogger." Details to follow. I am excited.

In other Olympics news, this is a little disconcerting. Could it be harbinger of things to come?

Friday, March 07, 2008

All the news that fits the stereotype

Boy, this one is delicious. The New York Times wrote a fawning review and then an even more fawning profile of a book by a half Navaho/half white woman raised in a foster home on the mean streets of LA. She witnessed horrors, bought a burial plot when she sold her first drugs at age 13 and has now rehabbed herself to have a happy home life in bucolic Eugene, Oregon.

Except it was all bullshit. She actually was an upper middle class white chick who went to an elite private school in suburban LA. Her sister turned her in. and, oh yeah, the editor of her book is the daughter of an NYT senior reporter, a fact never mentioned in all these thousands of words of strokage.

If this all sounds amusing enough, wait until you read some of the actual writing.

From the profile:

The house smelled of black-eyed peas, which were stewing with pork neck bones — a dish from the repertory of her foster mother, known as “Big Mom,” whose shoe box of recipes she inherited.

Of course her foster mother was named Big Mom and she just happened to be stewing up some pork neck bones when the reporter for the NYT arrived. This is priceless stuff.

And then this:

Is Ms. Jones still a gang member? “If you make a choice to do it, it’s forever,” she said. “Once a Blood, always a Blood. Am I an active member? No.”

And finally this because it just keeps getting better:

“The first time my o. g. visited me here” — meaning original gangster, the gang’s leader — “he slept 20 hours straight. In L.A. your anxiety is so high you sleep three hours a night.”

That visitor, whom Rya calls Uncle Madd Ronald, is now in prison in California.

Uncle Madd Ronald! I wonder how he and Big Mom got along.

Seeing the writer lapping it all up, the fraud kept going:

She keeps up with gangland style, slang and people from her old life, many of whom are in jail. Until two and a half years ago, she said, she bred pit bulls and sold them locally and in Los Angeles, where red-nosed pit bulls are the favorite dog of Bloods, largely because of their reputedly aggressive nature.

And the review is just as funny. NYT chief critic Michiko Kakutani was as gullible as a guppy, writing

Ms. Jones… saw a gang elder named Kraziak, who’d patiently taught her about the history of L.A., gunned down by rival Crips. She saw her next-door neighbor Big Rodney, who used to give her books to read, grabbed by the police in a violent raid.

Both her older brothers, Terrell and Taye, were sent to prison, and after his release, Terrell, who’d talked of getting a straight job so his children wouldn’t grow up in the ’hood, was shot to death by Crips as he sat outside Big Mom’s house, waiting to meet his son for his weekend visit. Ms. Jones’s friend Marcus, a brother figure with whom she used to drive around Los Angeles, dreaming of what life might be like “beyond the lights” of the city, was shot and killed, she says, and her boyfriend, Slikk, was arrested for an attempted murder he didn’t commit.

And finally my favorite turn of phrase:

She finds love with, of all men, a Crip who “changed every detail of my life” and who taught her that “we are not each other’s enemies,” we “were just born into different streets and neighborhoods.”

Of all things a Crip!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cover boy

Jacob and his friend Max are on the cover of this month's TBJ Kids magazine. It is widely distributed around here. I went into school today and saw them strutting around with copies.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Woodie Alan original

"I Don't Care"... I wrote the lyrics on the back of a Hong Kong Disney map while waiting for Jacob and Eli to come off of Space Mountain. Also from last Saturday at Yugong Yishan. I'm happy that we finally got videos of songs I feel good about.

RE: Hebner

Since I can't respond in the proper place, I will do so here.
Fat Al,
To set the record straight, Myron, Murray Chase, myself and others in-fact started out as TA Forward sports editor.
Don't remember having you call Myron re: Richie Hebner but...
Richie Hebner is the 54th all time greatest Pirate according to the Pittsburgh Pirate Encycolpedia (Finoli and Ranier, C2003.) Richie is just ahead of Rennie Stennet at number 55 and well ahead of Ripper's favorite Doc Ellis at 59 (Sorry Ripper.) Although hard to believe Richie is number 54, Jose Lind is number 91 and Kevin Young # 89. I hope Myron, grounded in in Allderdice roots, had the foresight to answer your question in the affirmative.
With Love,
Brother Delaware Dave

I say this list is proven flawed by the mere fact that Hebner is ahead of Stennet. He was great until he broke his ankle. Where does Al "Scoop" Oliver rank? One of my all -time favorites. Gene Clines? Bill Robinson? Omar Moreno? Frank Taveres? Mike "Hitman" Easler? Tim Foli? Dave Guisti? I need to see this list.

I'm sure there are more Foreword sports editors who have made an impact out there... maybe Larry Luchinno of the Boston Red Sox? Howard Fineman of Newsweek?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yet another new song

Video from the Yugong Yishan gig the other night. This was the first time we played this song live. "Got Love If You Want It"

Monday, March 03, 2008

R.I.P. Myron

If you're not from Pittsburgh or have never lived there, you probably couldn't understand this.

I got so many emails forwarded to me about moments of silence for Myron and the famous 21-yoi salute. Here's a good example from the legendary Craig Nayhouse...

Steeler fans all over the world should pause today to remember the joy and pleasure that Myron Cope brought to us. Myron was a special man for a special time and a special team in a special place. Even though it's February, and your Steeler stuff may be in mothballs as we prepare for yet another losing Pirate season, pull out your Terrible Towel today and give it a whirl in honor and memory of its creator. Sadly, Myron has passed away.

We give him a twenty-one "Yoi!" salute.........

yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi

It's hard to imagine another city having such an intimate relationship with a broadcaster. hen I learned that his sister was married to my dad's cousin I was thrilled. She was at my brother David's bar mitzvah and I stood and stared at her -- Myron's sister! At our family event! We were almost related to the great little man and no one had ever told me. It was almost too good to be true. Like my brother, Myron began his career as the sports editor fo the Allderdice Foreword, a fact David still likes to point out.

Actually, what I remember Myron for more than his Steelers broadcasts were his nightly radio call-in shows. I think my first on-air experience came when my brother called in and handed me the phone with instructions to ask, "Do you think Richie Hebner is worth six figures to the Bucs?" I don't know when that was or how old I was but the fact that six figures were a question for the Bucs starting third basemen tells me I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9.

In later years, I called in to Myron often, sometimes with my brother egging me on, sometimes with Gregg and Evan Michaelson doing so and sometimes on my own.

Not much more to say... except
yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi yoi.

Big gig Saturday night

We played Yugong Yishan, the big club downtown on Saturday night. It was part of Blues Night and there were four other bands. think Dave and I were the only non Chinese musicians of the bunch. It went well. We played an all-original set of six songs and then did Little Milton's "That's What Love Will Make You Do" for an encore.

There was a photographer there and he took these.