Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (Month 3 & 4)

So much has happened I decided to combine month 3 and 4 into one blog post. Enjoy :)

The Dragon Boat Festival

Ah the Dragon Boat Festival. I was looking forward to maybe going to Taiwan or traveling to another city within China. But because it’s a National Holiday, EVERYONE TRAVELS OUT OF TOWN so the roads, hotels and airports are jammed packed with people. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t like to spend my vacations stuck in traffic or in an airplane terminal. It wasn’t an ideal plan, but I stayed here in Foshan and celebrated Children’s Day with some of my students. Children's Day (こどもの日 Kodomo no Hi?) is Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month, and is part of the Golden Week.

It is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It was designated a national holiday by the Japanese government in 1948 but is celebrated here in China.

Making me proud! Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.

In edition to performances put on by the children, the school allows the children to partake in a giant water fight! Water balloons, squirt guns, throwing buckets of water, it’s all fair game. The weather that day was hot and humid so it was perfect! 

Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Wang.

I would have taken more pictures, but I was drenched and I was afraid the camera would get soaked as well. I tried to explain “Don’t get Mr. Jeff wet, he’s trying to take pictures,” but they weren’t having any of it.

Dr. Tater Salad

After the water fight I went to a club in Dali, which is a section of town about 20 kilometers west. The owner if this club is a very rich and gracious man who has befriended a few people within our expat group. As a result, whenever we go, we get a free table, free food, free beers all night, free access to the karaoke room, AND a free hotel room for the night! It was a sweet deal until Dr. Tater Salad fucked it up!

I'm the worst person alive.

Dr. Tater Salad, DTS for short, is a former wrestler, football player from Arizona State University that loves, I mean loves to get shit faced drunk! Don't get offended if you attend ASU of play football or wrestle, but I think you can picture the type of guy I'm talking about. He loves to imitate the “make it rain gesture” in the bars and clubs. He has no awareness of his surroundings or seems to care. It seems impossible for a human being to care this much about recreation, to care this much about celebrating something so tiny, so contrived, but that is why he is alive. He is a party animal bro down to his bone marrow. Every time I see him out he’s a hot mess. Being flagrantly offensive, irritating people, making noise, commanding an audience— he is so intense, he needs another country to sustain his biological need to be awful. I don’t know where his nickname Tater Salad came from, but the "Doctor" part was born when we found out about his post China plans; sometime in the Fall he will return to the states and pursue a Ph.D in sports medicine!

So there are about 20 of us at this club, drinking, dancing, having fun etc. Most of us, by us I mean all the guys, were hypnotized by the performance of this lovely young lady:

It wasn’t quite a strip show, all her clothes stayed on, but the bikini barely covered what she had going on. What I didn’t get on video, sadly no one else did either, was DTS trying to get on stage and dance with her! The look on the girls face was priceless. The look was similar to prey in the wild, that look a dear gets when its’ made eye contact with a wolf. Luckily security intervened, but surprisingly they didn’t ask him to leave. 
But throughout the night, DTS was asked time and again to “not stand on the speaker” and “please don’t shake your beer bottle and then spray it at people.”  The last time I saw he was making out with in the corner with some poor girl, who looked like she was 15 years of age!

His behavior made me squirm a bit in the club, but I have seen plenty of expats act like total jackasses before. But this, was just too much: 

You're cut off DTS!

This moment brought me back to 2004 when I was in Rome Italy. I was working with We Are The Future, a foundation started by music legend Quincy Jones. It was a magical time in my life, but for myself and other Americans abroad, it was also a dangerous time. Why? George W. Bush had just won a second term as the most powerful man in the world. As a result of our American hubris in Iraq and the perception that ALL Americans were bat shit crazy, people I worked with were denied entrance at airports, denied service at restaurants, questioned by police for no reason, and even assaulted. One of my coworkers told me a friend of his was hit with a bottle by some drunk, obviously angry, Italian men. Even though his friend was Canadian, he spoke English, and therefore deserved to get beat. I’ve always been proud to be an American, but the political situation in 2004 had me asking, along with the rest world, “What the fuck is wrong us?” 

The same feelings of embarrassment I experienced in Rome came rushing back when I saw DTS passed out on the couch. 
“Why must you fuck it up for the rest of us? We are guests in this man’s hotel and this is how you respond? Why must you be a walking scorched earth policy?”

I don’t know if the hotel staff didn’t want to be rude, but when we woke up for breakfast the next day HE WAS STILL THERE; still on display for everyone to see! Perhaps they thought moving him would be like trying to move a sleeping bear. A sleeping bear that loves to rape and pillage and do keg stands. Perhaps they let him be because he was in “Our Ex Pat” group and that group was in good with the owner.  Whatever the reason, he stayed put. Buuuuuuuttttt guess who can’t go to that hotel anymore? Us! Because DTS made an ass of himself, ruined a couch, AND embarrassed the owner, aka made him loose face in front of clients, we are all banned from his hotel and club!

Damn you DTS!

Part Meth Addict, Part Dragon Fly, Part Robot-Spider Creature

My art lesson plans have been kind of stale as of late and I have been short on ideas. Well not short on ideas, but short on ideas that they could understand in English. So an easy, fun, no real work for me, solution was “Draw The Teacher.” 

Below are some of the amazing and hilarious results from my grade 1 and 2 classes: 

I look a bit like a turtle.
I look like I'm Black. And balding.
I have some sort of weird growth on the side of my head!
More bat creature than human!
Not bad actually.
Hairless except for what look like ferns growing out of my head.
Kind of hipster-ish hair.
I'm sort sort of general with badass skull medals!
Some sort of turtle/fish combo.
A goatee!
Me saying my own name.
Me as some sort of devil creature, complete with minions!
I'm part meth addict, part dragon fly, part robot-spider creature!
Not bad for grade 2 right?
I think that's a gun in my left hand!
This contrast is hilarious.
For once, these two were good!
She's shy.
This has kind of a Taliaban feel to it.
I'm part pig!

Hold them up high!
My personal favorite. It's me surrounded by angry ghosts!

It’s White, It’s White!

During one of my, “Everyone in this row got the answer right, so you all get high fives” sessions something hilarious and painful happened.

One of my students said, “It’s white, it’s white,” and pointed at my chest. So I looked down to see that she was pointing at one of my exposed, and yes white, chest hairs. I guess in my rush to get to class, I didn’t button up my shirt as high as I should have. As I looked down, she grabbed the white chest hair, and because we were so close to each other, and because it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to say “No” or push her hand away. So my reflexes told me to “pull back”, but she didn’t let go, and of course, out came my chest hair! My immediate response was “Fuck!” but she and the other children around her were so mesmerized by my Santa Claus White Chest Hair, they didn’t seem to notice what I said. And lucky for me, my Chinese teaching assistant wasn’t paying attention.

The school year is almost over for me and it’s amazing how fast it has gone by. What am I doing with the rest of my summer you ask? 

Look for stories from my artist in residency program at the Pantocrator Gallery in Shanghai, sometime at the end of August!