Monday, May 04, 2015

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (Month 13)


Welcome Mr. Jeff From London

One of the essential things needed to enjoy life here in China is the attitude of, “Hey man, just go with flow.” This belief has served me well in America, where many random opportunities came my way. “Only you Musser" or “how they hell did you get involved in that?” are common things said among my friends.  It seems that the “Only you Musser” has carried over across the ocean to “Zhong Guo” which translates to “Middle Kingdom” aka China. 

See, my Mandarin is improving!

Early in the month I received a message from my friend Albert via Wechat, which is a mobile app here in China, sort of like a combo of Twitter and Facebook. Albert's friend William was planning a party for the employees of his company Cheryl Sisters and he needed two foreign “models” to attend the party. Would I and Richard be interested in filling the role? Free food, free drinks, cool people at a nice hotel and yes, I would get paid. 

When I messaged William to confirm my involvement, the description changed slightly. He told me that, I wouldn’t actually be modeling; I would be playing the role of their “Online Marketing Executive from London.” The story was, I had flown in for a few days to celebrate a good quarter of sales, and then it was back to London to keep the "Cheryl Sisters Ship" a float in the UK.

Welcome Mr. Jeff "from" London!

What if people wanted to talk about the company and my role in it? He assured me that out of the 70-80 attendees, only a handful of people would be able to speak English. What about my “Non British, very American accent? Wouldn’t people notice?” Probably not. I was going to say no, but then I thought, “Hey man, just go with flow. This whole thing will probably be a good story.” 

William was correct in that almost no one spoke English, but he didn’t tell me how many pictures I would be taking or the fact that I would go on stage to present a novelty check!

Me in the middle slightly confused but going with it.
Cheryl Sisters "Core Strategy VIP Exclusive" Fashion Mister Dinner Party.
William on the left was my "boss."
Rich the "Head of Development and Research" from LA.

Some of "our" products.
One of the many Cheryl Sisters employees that had no idea I was a fraud.
I did a lot of toasting.
One of the perks of the night was the food.
mmmmmmm, Lobster :)
Pre-dinner gathering.

Later on after the party I found this article on Yahoo that talks about how the "Hire A Foreigner" business is a widespread thing here in China. In case the teaching thing doesn't work out, I can always be a "Foreigner for Hire."

These two non Chinese folks are actually real models from Guangzhou. The tall guy I nicknamed "Russian Leo"
Susie & Russian Leo.
More toasting. 

One of the many skin care products "my company" sells.
Product shot.
Posing, quite literally.
I don't know what any of this shit says.
"Focus On Skin For 100 years."

Let Me Buy You A Drink Mr. Handsome

I have lost count of times a Chinese guy has told me how good looking I was. On numerous occasions I have been at a bar or club and a Chinese guy, between the age of 18 and maybe 25, has offered to buy a drink. “Oh you are so handsome. Please come and meet my friends.” My is this guy gay radar goes on high alert, but I don't wan to be rude, so I say yes. And when I meet his friends, I find that his friends ARE ALL GUYS. Not one girl in the group! Now the gay radar system is on high alert, Defcon 5No big deal of course, but here is the thing, they aren’t gay. Or they don't want me to think they are gay.When I bring up the question of being gay or not, they come back with a firm, almost confrontational NO!

I’ve asked many people here about this, men and women, and their answer is, well Chinese guys are just friendly like that. If a man I don’t know says hello at a bar in the states, offers to buy me a drink, and introduces me to all his guy friends, he’s testing the sexuality waters. He wants to know if I play for his team or not. It’s a very clear scenario that I’ve adapted to. Which is fine of course, because no amount of free gin & tonics are going to erase the fact that I’m a vagina only type of man. And who knows, maybe his friends are art lovers? Potential collectors are everywhere! Anyway, I’m like a fish out of water with this “Chinese guys are just friendly like that” thing. 


When it happens, I do the Chinese thing, I act modest, smile and say, “Oh no. You are too kind.” I appreciate it, but here is the thing, I think they are just excited to meet a white foreigner. Foshan is the size of Los Angeles, but it's still considered a small city in China, so foreigners are still a novelty for a lot of Chinese people here. And truth be told, I’m not that handsome. I’m not a twisted hideous freak, but I’m not movie star handsome either. I could never do any type of modeling, despite the "modeling" I did for Cheryl Sisters from the previous paragraphs. Nor am I unusually tall. In the looks department, I’m that happy medium, a 6 on the 1-10 scale. Which is fine because this is the packaging I came in and I love it. Now my friend Micah in Sacramento, now he’s a good looking S.O.B. He could easily do run way or print modeling. As could my friend Ryan, who actually does do some modeling. Both of them walk into a place and women loose themselves to the point they freeze. I walk into a bar and women think, 
“Hey, that guy looks like a younger Ira Glass.”

This is me in about 15 years.

Irs'a not a bad looking dude, but in the looks department, he's no Clooney. I do however look decent in well-tailored suit and I’m not a complete bag of shit, so it bumps me up to a 7.5. 

Plus it could be worse, people could say I look like a young Gary Busey!

Busey's portrayal of Buddy Holly in 1978 brought him fame.

What about the Chinese ladies? What do they say?
Women don’t say a goddamn thing here! 
It’s just like in America in that 99.999999999999999% of the time the man has to make the first move in order for the courtship to start. There are the drunken exceptions, but that’s never a good thing. 

And the non-drunk assertive ones here in China are prostitutes:

Beware or women that message you on Wechat with a picture like this.
They will ask if you are good man and will say, "Dear Brother I buckle." 
Which doesn't exactly make sense in English, but you get the idea.

Speaking of hookers, saw I this loving lady at the ATM, 2 o' clock in the afternoon either before or after a shift.

I guess she dropped something...
Hookers need to put their money somewhere.

And I'm not sure if she was a working girl, or if she just had a wardrobe malfunction.


If You Want Kids To Behave, Give Them Chocolate

I have learned that if I want my students to be focused and well behaved, they have to compete against each other for some sort of prize. To keep them from going off the rails, I use a team vs. team, points system approach. But when I introduced chocolate imported from America, I saw an enthusiasm in their eyes I have never seen before! The following weeks Easter projects were a breeze with the promise of chocolate for the best behaved.

Thanks mom and dad for the lovely treats.

American chocolate! Fancy as hell!
Easter fun.
One can never go wrong with Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut.

Jerry makes me crazy sometimes, but I love him.

Vivi and Angel.
Finally, chocolate time!
More next month :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (1 year)

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year! 

Where has the time gone?


When I first arrived, I wasn’t sure if this was smartest or dumbest thing I had yet done with my life. At this moment in time, I’m still not quite sure. Actually that is not true. The Chinese language is still a huge barrier for me, and I beat myself up because I haven’t absorbed as much I think I should have. I have the nasty habit of comparing myself to other people who have been here about the same time. But I finally found a decent Chinese teacher and I have signed up for 1.5 hour classes three times a week. So hopefully it will help. Aside from the language issue, I’ve really grown here. 

When I visited home over Chinese New Year, it was of course great to see my parents and old friends, but I am so happy I left. 

A group dinner with the peeps. Thanks for taking the pictures Dad.
Me explaining to Ryan how difficult it is to learn Chinese.
Dear friends, Dan (on the left of me) Bob and Mark on the right.
Fellow friend and artist Raul. I don't recall what his date's name was.
Fellow artist and lady killer Micah and art patron Michelle.
Old school friends! From the left Yvette, her daughter (whose name I can't remember) Laurelin, me, Dave.
Front row Todd and Dave & Laurelin's daughter Olivia.
Me and a baby! His name is Ezra and he burst into tears moments after this was taken.
Dear friend Kari and her daughter Olivia.
My friend Lyn is still crazy as hell. Now she's engaged! Lord help her future husband!
I've known Erron and Steve since 2nd grade!
It wasn’t a bad place, as I stated in earlier blog posts, my life in California was good, but I wasn’t content. When I visited, there were some things that had improved, like the WAL Project on R Street. The whole Jeff Koons, Sacramento Kings Arena debacle made the usual boring art scene exciting. I was even quoted in an ArtNet article about the proposed, now approved Koons project. But for the most part, life in my old circles had stayed the same. Had I stayed, I could for see my trajectory, and it wasn’t good. So much about my outlook has changed, in predictable and non-predictable ways. More on that in the future.

My painting has really expanded into a new, exciting direction. I can say in about another 6- 7 months, the tattoo aspect will be completely gone from my work. 
But I still have a few more compositions in mind.
Here are some pictures of my studio here in China with some new work and new friends :)

New works on paper plus some prints.
Biggest painting to date!
I think the title for this will be, "Your heart is in the right place."
Me using my super sales powers...
Lilly an I.
In progress.

St. Patrick’s Day Fun! 

Happy St. Patty's Day from 3-1 :)
Julia seems happy about her crown.
Me giving guidance.
Making the crown.
Who doesn't love gold chocolate coins?
Lucky Shamrock.

King of St. Patty's Day!
Look for the April update in a few weeks.