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2003-04-13 - 5:10 p.m.

this was the letter i sent to my peeps. n-pole asked me to post it and becuase i would do anything for her...

in many cities, as this is obvious to most, there is a subculture made up of of intellects and artists, whether pseudo or legit, profound or superficial. they exist inbjust behind the galleries and just beneath the radar. cities like san francisco and amsterdam don't really have this clear of a division. there are pros and cons and we can talk about why another time. but new york does. and paris. and florence. and i've heard berlin does in a big and beautiful way. and well, i am happy to have discovered that beijing does too.

my new friend julie, who will soon leave to aid iraq's reconstruction, introduced me to a man who took us to a remarkable little restaurant and the end of a crooked street called south sanlitun. it was buzzing like the the cafes do lining an italian piazza(square courtyards, not round snacks), and it was gently crawling with interesting foreign and chinese faces. as we sat down in the restaurant, i was overwhelmed with a sense of deja vu. not an exact deja vu. a culturally shifted one. when i lived in italy, for the majority of my stay i only knew italians. they took me to small cafes built inside the door of the old wall surrounding the city and we would drink wine and rant until four in the morning. and at these bachnallian tables sat poets, sculptors, painters, grappa distillers, musicians, and of course, lovers. my heart would soar as i stumbled to keep up with the language. so back in beijing, we are sitting down at our table and i can not stop shifting my eyes to the table beside us. it is a chinese version of the above description. my friend ming says hello to a few of them and whispers into my ear, she is an amazing poet...and he is a writer...and i smiled deeply, way down inside. and we ordered two big vats of boiling liquid where you dump in different ingredients of your choice. a kind of chinese sichuan hotpot fondue. and we all dipped our SARS-coated chopsticks back into the same liquid and drank lemon-flavored beer. we were swedes, chinese, english, italians, americans, and filipinos. we were entrepeneurs and expats, poets and scuba-divers. this was the first time in almost three months that i have actually accessed any kind of tribe. and later, when we went dancing where a san francisco dj spun, i realized i might be here as long as i had hoped.

earlier that day, after i sat in my own little recording studio, pretending i was not doing 30 voice-overs, but rather recording the vocal tracks for the release of my highly awaited cd(i joke), i returned to the office only to be greeted by my producer saying, "i told you the war was good. now the iraqi people will be free." and i said, "look, even if the iraqi people DO end up dancing in the pants of liberation, those pants have a big oil stain on them."

and ladies, you know it is impossible to get out oil stains.

< yeah >