I found the best, most authentic spicy Mexican-style tacos at the local Paradise Walk mall by chance because my very busy friend was an hour late to come to dinner. We never know what incredible fortunes may come out of what seems like hassles and bad luck. I hope I can enjoy this place many times this summer, but even if I can go just one more time – I will cherish the memory. In lieu of travel and adventure, authentic spicy tacos go a long way.
There’s a dying cat in my lobby. It looks dirty and smells like something awful. The whole lobby smells wrong; ammonia, poison, and miserable cat. It growls as I walk by, wet-looking fur caked with something awful. Xiaolin told me it probably got into some rat poison at the school and is just looking for a quiet place. It looks feral, halfway out of its mind. She said she’d seen it like that before, and it recovered. Maybe it will live again.
‘Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’ for the lawyers in the crowd. If you don’t know, it’s a Latin phrase meaning ‘false in one thing, false in everything.’ In common law, it is the legal principle that a witness who testifies falsely about one matter is not credible to testify about any matter.
And so it was that a legal jury found that The Defendant was uncredible for lying about donating 7 million dollars to sick kids. She said she gave it to them for her image. In reality, she didn’t. She lied, and the jury found her altogether uncredible. It was announced on June 1, world narcissist awareness day. So rich in irony. Johnny Depp was already in the UK playing a concert with Jeff Beck, living his best life.
It feels like a page has turned, from the 1950s, where society believed no women, to 2015, where an accusation of abuse would ruin someone’s life without a trial, to 2022, where the social umbrella includes male victims of abuse. It seems the social pendulum has found a reasonable middle where perhaps everyone gets their day in court. It took a mountain of evidence and the biggest star in the world to turn this page, but Johnny Depp’s popularity is soaring to record new heights. He’s been thoroughly uncancelled. His ‘This is a song for Miss Heddy Lemar’ song with Jeff Beck is now #1 on the UK charts. D major, A major, B minor, and G major, four easy guitar chords, but sounds fantastic with Jeff and Johnny playing together, and their cover of John Lennon’s Isolation is the rock anthem of the summer. Pain inspires art, and it’s just bloody brilliant.
Heddy Lamarr was born on November 9, 1914. An Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. She has been described as one of the great movie actresses of all time. She also invented and patented the signal hopping technology that created both Bluetooth and Wifi. In 1942, a stunning 78 years ago. Like Johnny Depp, Heddy was a victim of sexism, and although she was one of the most brilliant inventors of all time, she was told to look pretty and leave the science to the boys. Imagine a world where critics didn’t destroy the dreams of so many artists, and as a society, we didn’t let them. We’d be in flying cars and other planets by now if we’d taken Heddy’s work at face value 78 years ago. If Heddy had been a man.
When asked what he lost, Depp said, ‘nothing short of everything.’ Well, now he’s got his whole life back. Sometimes, if you fight hard enough like Santiago fought for three days and nights in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. We must fight like he fought the sharks who came after like our Senior 3’s just fought to get their high Gao Kao scores. Sometimes you can get back your honor, if not the whole fish.
The people who watched the trial rejoiced! In a dystopian Orwellian fashion that goes against everything the ‘Free Press of the West’ is supposed to stand for, the newspapers told you not to believe your eyes and that if you were happy he won, you were a horrible person. Here’s the thing; Mainstream Media, at least in the west, can’t be trusted. They had gambled too many chips on their narrative and were too proud to eat their hats and issue a retraction. Instead, they double down and quicken their race to become obsolete as Youtube sensations and long-form podcast bloggers like Joe Rogan and Russel Brand skyrocket in popularity, commanding a larger audience than all of CNN.
The Defendant, because I refuse to say her name and give a sick narcissist more attention, said she was excited to move on after being found guilty of malicious defamation and on the hook to pay Depp 15 million USD for the inconvenience and pain she caused ruining his good name for all these years. She said she was terrified he would sue her again. But, as Dr. Shannon Curry predicted when she classified her various mental health issues and behavioral disorders, she responds to stress with violent aggression, and so she and her lawyers went on TV to defame him and repeat the lies already disproven in court all over again. Not surprisingly, nobody watched. The NBC Today Show had their all-time season-low for her’ breaking interview,’ less than 2 million people tuned in to check her out. Meanwhile, Johnny joined Tiktok, posted a thank you video, and got 15 million followers in 24 hours. The internet is where it’s at.
As an ex-pat in China, it’s worth noting that when people realize they can’t trust Western media spin on the trial, they might be waking up to Western media spin in general. When CNN and BBC colorize China footage to look grey, foggy, and dystopian, they might catch on, or when they put some fanatic nutcase on TV to make up stories from mistranslated reports on China’sCamazing poverty alleviation, maybe now people will think twice before they believe it.
I’m still waiting for the contract for my next book to come through, but after a four-hour meeting, things are looking really, really good.
I feel rejuvenated and inspired. I’m 42, and it’s been the best year of my life. Things are happening, and I understand my purpose. I play guitar every day because it’s the battleground in which I can fight my demons. Man has fought the devil with a guitar for centuries now, and sometimes we even win. I like my chances.
Suddenly, a video was posted on social media, and all of China and the world were discussing a violent attack in the Northern Chinese city of Tangshan. Basically, a drunk creep approached a woman in a restaurant. She told him to go away. He grabbed her, and she pushed him. Then he and a bunch of his friends, instead of apologizing for his behavior as a drunken fool on his birthday, instead joined in as they all violently beat her and her girlfriends. I got that from my friends- I find that kind of footage too upsetting to watch. So all of China discussed in millions of chat groups, “what would you have done if you were there?” Sadly, many people I know, even many of my ex-pat friends, said they wouldn’t do anything- that it would be suicide to stand up. That martial arts are useless, one or two of them said. That all we could do was run. Or eat our BBQ with our heads down while a group of men beat a woman nearly to death. No, I said, stand up. Whatever happens, you have to stand up.
It reminded me of one day, a long time ago, shortly after high school. I woke up and had the sudden urge to visit an old friend from math class. I popped over, drank some tea, and we were in the middle of a chess game when he got a knock on the door. It was a crowd of folks led by a troublemaker I recognized from my teenage days hanging around the local mall. The guy would steal designer shades or clothes from people I knew, and I’d tell him to give them back. He saw me and told me that these thugs had shown up to rob my old friend. Someone had told them he was a rich kid, and they were after some easy money. I remember to this day, looking at him cooly in the eyes as he told me that I could take off, that I didn’t have to get involved. I imagined leaving that house and how craven I’d feel as I knew my friend would be robbed, maybe beaten, who knows how badly. No, I said, and I smiled at him slowly. I was a guest here, and here I would stay. He was the one that should leave, as I didn’t believe he’d been invited. He quirked an eyebrow, unnerved by my apparent lack of fear (or good sense). I said, “Look, Mike, you think I’m trapped in here with you? You’re trapped in here with me. Now get out of here before you get hurt.” And he and his ten friends all turned tail and ran. Because bullies are usually cowards. I never forgot that lesson, and it’s served me well.
So what could we have done in the restaurant to help the woman? Stand up, yell, and get people involved. If not, then take the hits. Be a man. We debated all day until Xiaolin yelled at me to put my phone away. It was COVID March 2020, and the mask debate all over again. Too much debating lately. Actually, I haven’t been on Facebook in weeks and am mostly just playing my guitar and writing and finishing up a school year. But I felt very discouraged that I was alone in the opinion that, of course, I would get up and yell at them to stop, to gather the crowd’s support, to stand between them if I must, to take the punches instead of the woman because That is what a good person does.
Perhaps this is not wise, perhaps this is dangerous, but I know that bullies thrive on fear, the idea of people wanting to avoid pain. If everyone stood up and just said, ‘You’ll have to go through me first,’ bullies just run away. Whether in the schoolyard, or the criminal cartels that rule Mexico, they thrive on fear and people not standing up. If someone attacks a kindergarten with a knife one day, don’t run and don’t be scared- throw your jackets on them, and pelt them with boxes of milk until they fall and surrender. I hope that we can all, as a society, work hard to keep China the safest country in the world.
People asked, who are these guys that felt so emboldened, that acted so violently? There are many stories, many theories. Some say they’re gangsters and that they’ve grown bold because they’re protected. I heard that the police came by with some of them, offering the girl 600,000 RMB to not press charges, to cover her hospital bills—the story goes she even accepted, but who knows if she was intimidated under duress, but after the video went viral, the men, all 8 of them were hunted, arrested and face years in jail. Good. Some people say they must’ve been sheltered by local police or officials. Perhaps a larger cleanse on corruption is needed to clean house. So we see, what one brave person can do when they stand up to bullies and criminals. Fear must never win. Sometimes people get hurt being brave, but when people stand up for what’s right, society evolves, and evil and bullies fall flat.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that all attempts to deescalate should be made, violence should only be in self-defense and as a last resort to protect yourself or someone in harm, and proportional to the threat. I would not fancy getting in a fight in China, as kind as it is to me, it’s a foreign country, I’m a foreigner here, it would not be a fun thing to deal with the law after, and I hope they would see my efforts as for the common good. As such, I left some group chats that were making me argue too much, and I find my days are much more peaceful now.
I’ve got one last week of class, and then I’ll be on summer vacation again. I’ve got Amos to finish and a couple of other books to write, a guitar to play, and Xiaolin bought an ice machine, so now we can drink ice water and homemade ice tea, and life is pretty good in Chongqing. I hope next summer I can finally visit my parents and Grandma again, but for now, we’re hanging tough. The difference in realities about the pandemic is still stark though. In Chongqing, I get tested weekly at my school, so we know we’re safe. Almost everyone in China is getting regular tests with their work or school now, and cases are at an all-time low. By comparison, in Canada, my cousin Geoffrey lost his sense of smell and tried to get a COVID test, only to find out no one is even testing in Ontario anymore. So he took a week off work, and my dad’s been avoiding him and their fantastic home gym for a couple of weeks. How will I be able to gracefully from a society that manages COVID to vacation in my home country that acts like the pandemic IS over, because they just stopped testing and looking for it? This is a mystery to me. Meanwhile, Canadian doctors on TV plead with the public to be careful, as nurses and doctors in the ICU are facing unprecedented burnout and exhaustion.
Xiaolin visited a beautiful temple in Tongliang that I’m going to squeeze into an Amos book, it’s inspiring. When foreigners are more able to travel without spreading fear and concern from the locals I’ll go see it for myself.
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I called my dad, and we played a hockey game. He whipped me 5-2, but he played great and deserved it. The Stanley Cup finals are here now, Colorado Avs versus Tampa Bay. It’s amazing to me that places that hardly see a lick of snow are so darn good at ice hockey.
American billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio warns that the global economy and especially, the American economy is due for a real shakeup. IE gigantic, catastrophic economic collapse. Many reasons exist, but a huge one was the inflationary printing of billions of dollars America did during the pandemic. Forbes reports that the 10 richest people have seen their fortunes grow by $821 billion since March 2020. This number is practically identical to the amount lost by the working class during the same period. No tin foil hat stuff, but some people turn catastrophe into opportunity, and the poor and middle class are getting stuck with a huge problem, like the great depression, all over again while the wealthy profit. China, due to protectionist measures by our government and the responsible pandemic handling, is in much better shape and hopefully can decouple from the sinking USD in time to protect us from their meteoric crash. It’s going to be ugly, though…if you can, buy property, it retains value more than cash.
Randy and Jess are moving to Shanghai. Lucky for them, the city seems to be open again. Hopefully, it can stay that way. Experts are saying we might get back to a sense of normality and be open to tourism by 2023. I really hope so. I’d love for my parents to come and visit.
Tomorrow, the Shadowrun Trilogy drops on consoles. I’ve been writing and playing music and teaching like a maniac, and I think I’ll enjoy playing some story-driven cyberpunk games this hot, cyberpunk Chongqing summer. I better turn this in so I have some time. So that’s all I’ve got for now.
The cat is looking better now. It seems the worst has passed. It’s still a little bloated, but it looks to be relieved. The smell of death, the weight of the world, the gullet full of poison… is gone, and even the hallway doesn’t seem so wrong, so terrible anymore. Sometimes all we can do is ride the wave and wait until the worst is over.
Editorial: In breaking news, on June 22, the public news WeChat channel Expat Hub reported that a deputy district commander was dismissed from his post following the violent gang attack on a woman in Tangshan and as a response to widespread public outrage. An investigation has also singled out five other officers, including the district chief, which is ongoing and overseen by the provincial disciplinary watchdog. In an official notice published Tuesday, Hebei’s discipline inspection and supervision authority said it had “carried out in-depth investigations into untimely police dispatch, irregular law enforcement and serious violations of discipline and law” – which Expat Hub says ‘is commonly used as a euphemism for corruption.’ Five officers, including the Lubei district police chief Ma Aijun, had been placed under investigation, and Ma’s deputy, only identified by his surname Li, had been dismissed from his post.