Jazz at the JZ Club                                                    October, 2009

Went with Jonathan Gong Wei, one of the IIT students from four years ago, to the JZ Club, a jazz club on Nanshan Road next to West Lake.  I invited two of my fellow faculty members, Wu De Gang (Dominick) and Zheng Li, to join us.

Nanshan Road is the place to see and be seen in Hangzhou.  It runs adjacent to West Lake, so the views across the river are beautiful.  Think of the view of downtown Chicago from the Fullerton Avenue bridge over the pond at night, or the view of downtown from the Planetarium. Except that the lake here is small enough to see across, and in the distance are hills lit up with lights from houses, and the moon is out, and the city has worked very hard to make this area attractive to the "gold collared workers" that my friend Bob Yovovich talks about.

The Grade School Performance Gap                                                                                                                             

April, 2010

Vicky invited me to the opening ceremonies of the 3rd Annual Hangzhou Reading Festival.   She promised me a visit to the new Hangzhou main library, a gift of books from the No. 1 in Hangzhou, dancing girls, and a chance to be on TV.    Stronger men might have been able to say no, but books and dancing girls were just too much.

The new main library is in the new Central Business District, the new CBD, as everyone here call it.   Predictably wonderful.   New building, of course, with a grand interior atrium and nice blending of marble and wood for accents on walls and detailing on doors.

 Into Clean Air                                       October, 2009 

 

Steven Shen Kanming and his wife and son and I went to Anji, which is in Huzhou, a small city in Zhejiang Province.  A couple of you will like this one, because it is an adventure, not hiking through Afghanistan for sure, but an adventure nevertheless - hidden dragons, many waterfalls, and how face can be made in China (sometimes).

Jane, Circa 2009

 

Al should have been there.

Most of you know Al Day as the local musician who made good.   He does more than keep a hand in, playing with his own trio around Chicago and Evanston, and he knows more about music and musicians than I know about anything.

So Al should have been there when I attended the first anniversary at MeToo Café in Hangzhou.   MeToo is an art gallery, despite the Café in the name.  It is one of dozens of show spaces for young Chinese artists, and it is a gem.   The look of New China is … new.   There is very little that is more than thirty years old.   Every hotel, every highway, every office building, every school, every store, every urban tree (almost) has that New Suburban look.   Schaumburg, circa 1970 or … anytime.   So the MeToo is a real find.

Chen Dongfan at MeToo, Fall, 2009
Chen Dongfan at MeToo, Fall, 2009

At the Alamo in Hangzhou                            Summer, 2004

 

One of the fun things to do in Hangzhou is attend the Romance of the Song Dynasty Show.   The Song Dynasty extended for about 300 years, ending in about 1275, with the conquest of the Mongols.   Now I don’t think there are many people in the US who would attend a show titled the Romance of the late Dark Ages, or the Romance of the Era of the Imperial and Magnificent Church.   This was the 1200’s, and we all believe in the progress of history.  But Barbara Tuchman subtitled her famous book about the 14th Century, the next century, the Calamitous 14th Century.    So this emphasis on romance just feels …. sort of misplaced, to me, the westerner. 

 

Alice                                                                        June, 2010     

 

Anybody in Chicago who has met Alice Zhou Xiaofang remembers her.  She is the number 2 government person in the urban planning department in Shaoxing, but she is a mayoral advisor and all-around whip smart, dedicated, open, public servant.  Who asks questions and tells you what she thinks.  Who is also an electrical engineer and knit me the blue scarf I wore all last winter.   I was in Shaoxing to look at another ancient town, called An Chang, which is on both sides of a narrow waterway on the outskirts of Shaoxing.   It is now surrounded by modern buildings and cars and development, but some of the old town still remains.  Old, in this case, is late Ming-early Qing dynasties, which puts the buildings at about 400 years old.   This is based on fading inscriptions in stone, and on what I am told by Alice and others. 

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