Everyone's got China on the brain lately.
Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit here a few weeks ago was tainted by the expected gaffes and inconclusive chit-chat that have dogged this administration's (lack of) foreign policy, to say nothing of the fact that Hu visited Microsoft and Boeing before arriving in Washington, a clear demonstration that he knows who really runs this country (or was simply following an efficient Eastward itinerary.)
On a lighter note, my favorite blog humorist Brian Sack is currently in China, and has been posting some hilarious dispatches about his adventures there on his Banterist site. Topics include the Terra Cotta Army, the squat toilet, lost train tickets, food, cabs, beggars and the Liv Tyler Store.
As you read, listen to these mp3s from the film The Hole (dir. Ming-liang Tsai, 1998). The songs, by Shanghai-born Grace Chang, a film star and recording artist of the 50s and 60s, are employed as colorful, choreographed interludes in an otherwise bleak-humored tale about a plague in Taiwan at the end of the year 1999. The Hole (aka Dong) was part of a collection of films by different directors called 2000 Seen By....
Also for your listening enjoyment, here are 4 mp3s from my new favorite Communist uniform and fake beard-wearing Beijing band PK14. Their sound is a heady, foot-tappin' mix of rock, post-punk and avant-garde influences. Note: these tracks are served up "as is," with no titles (sorry to the information addicts):