Archive for December, 2009

Beating children in the toy aisle

Although it’s Christmastime, around here some of Jesus’ miracles don’t seem so miraculous. “Jesus walked on water!” Yeah, great, so could I right now, it’s frozen. I need to go somewhere hot, someplace burning, maybe a civil war. I noticed the other day that the jail in my town is next to the airport, which seems kind of mean. The airport is just a small private airfield, so it probably doesn’t have a departure board, which is too bad, because I always thought of them as being the things most symptomatic of optimism in any airport. I used to wonder, though, since flights are always listed according to their destination, if there couldn’t be, hidden between the lines of the departure board, a limitless ghost army of planes taking off with no destination, as invisible bureaucratically speaking as the angels climbing Jacob’s latter even if they are hulking steel cans like any other.

One of my best friends from high school who is also frequently possessed by fits of wanderlust has just come back to Colorado from that depraved den of iniquity London, though he only remains among us for a couple of weeks, probably fearing that to absent himself longer would give the mold growing on his walls time to colonize his floor and perhaps take up arms against him. I think he should leave it be: with little money and jammed into some back-alley, it’s probably the only way he will be able to cultivate the famous British love of gardening. He’s only been away from here for a few years, but he has already become detached enough from the genius loci to deliver himself of such judgments as he did the other day when he said something about how Mexicans make “good food.” I had to remind him that in this country Mexicans don’t just make “good” food, they make all the food. Nonetheless, he has the irrepressible compulsion to make invidious comparisons of a man comfortable only in open relationships. He started going on about how strange it seemed to drive or ride a bike when going out at night, since in London one generally walks or takes public transportation. I implored him to tell me more magical stories of the exotic East. Whatever, his idea of a nice city is St. Petersburg, where you risk being menaced by the depradations of wandering noses and disgruntled statues.

Ill with the future

I came back home last week, and after taking a couple of runs through town everything seems to still be more or less where it was before. Apparently my running like a maniac back and forth in front of the trees and statues all last summer didn’t make any converts. I noticed signs of more gradual slide though; I’m glad that I’m not going to elementary school in these times, since I ran past my old elementary school and saw that the marquee in front said: “An Evening of Sharing.” A night of sharing…what? Venereal diseases? Vicious rumors?

I think I left China just in time though. I suspect imminent economic dissolution as the entire structure collapses into the vortex of its own lies and made-up employment statistics. And of course it still faces the near-annual Christmastime tradition of the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys containing dangerous toxins, unless the manufacturers try to take advantage of the ever-present popularity of exoticism among Western customers and the growing brand nationalism of Chinese buyers by promoting toys containing lead paint as Childhood Fun With Chinese Characteristics.

Also, my body had reached saturation in many different ways. For example, before I went to Shanghai in August I hadn’t even heard that it was hosting the World Expo next year, and actually, after two months of relentless advertising bombardment, I’ve almost returned to a state of being unaware of it, as I think my brain has begun expelling undigested chunks of Expo-related propaganda, just like my intestine has stir-fried food. Many people seem to fear swine flu mutating to create some kind of super-pathogen, but I worry more that the Chinese government will seek a more efficient means to infiltrate its passive subjects’ brains by weaponizing Expo propaganda, combining it with the flu to create what could then quite literally be called Expo fever. I will know to be afraid if I hear people coughing and expressing enthusiasm for magnetic tramways and ecologically responsible sidewalks.