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Archive for June, 2011

Visiting China–At Tsinghua University

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

In June, I had the luxury of taking a 3-week trip to China, covering a total of six cities, going from the north to south, east to west, and finally back to the north. Over the last 20 years, I had visited China about twice a year. But my short trips were limited mostly to Beijing, Qingdao and Changchun. I was excited about this trip and would love to share some of my experiences and photos.

I. At Tsinghua University (清华大学), Beijing

The old gate, a symbol of Tsinghua University

I arrived first at Beijing, having scheduled meetings with a couple of publishers in the city. Mr. Zhao, a friend’s friend helped me set up the meetings and arranged for me to stay at a hotel on the campus of Tsinghua University. It would be more convenient for the meetings, he told me.

I had worked in Beijing for four years in the early 1980s, but had never set foot on this first-rate university in China, which the Chinese referred to as the “MIT of China.” Mr. Zhao, also a writer, sent a young man to meet me at the airport. As our taxi entered the gate of the university, I was surprised by the enormous size of campus as the young man kept giving directions to cab driver—it felt like a city inside the walled campus! Wide streets with nice landscape, canals with artistic bridges, buildings, old and new, gardens,

A pond on campus cast in the morning light

and walking trails that disappeared under the trees. Not to mention streams of students walking or on their bicycles … I was amazed by the scenes revealing before me.  

Mr. Zhao and his wife graciously took me out for a northern cuisine dinner. I retired early for the night, trying to get over my jetlag. Despite the Melatonin pill I took, I woke up at 4 a.m. the following morning. As soon as the light became brighter outside, I put on my running gear and went out to explore the campus.

A monument on campus

For the three days I stayed there, I ran for an hour each morning, taking a different route each time. Still I was not able to cover all the ground on campus. The various parks, gardens, ponds covered with lotus, with people fishing by their sides, the outdoor track fields, rows of apartment buildings, cars, and bicycles. I got lost in the maze and had to find my way back to a major pond in order to return to my hotel.

I couldn’t help from admiring the young men and women walking on campus—they are the brightest children of China and will surely have a bright future.

 Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. The book has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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If Music Be The Food of Love…

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Italian

Image by Andreas Blixt via Flickr

By:  Ellis Goodman

When the Bard, William Shakespeare, wrote these festive words “If Music Be the Food of Love…” at the beginning of his play, Twelfth Night, he clearly had no idea that the links between music and food would become so compelling in the 21st Century.

I am a lover of food, and I’m also a lover of music.  However, I am certainly not a lover of combining both in today’s restaurant scene.  This may be because of the large generational gap between my contemporaries who ate their restaurant meals in silence or with some discreet classical trio or harp playing quietly in the background.  Those were the days when you could actually talk to people while you were eating.  I’ve found that this has become increasingly difficult of late.

We live in a society today of celebrity chefs, fusion foods, and an ever expanding eclectic restaurant scene, with a growing global contingent of “foodies.”  These are people who purport to love every morsel, to savor every flavor, to purchase every new cookbook, and to worship at the feet of celebrity chefs.  To me, a well cooked meal in a restaurant with good ambience, an excellent wine list, and some interesting company, is the epitome of the social experience.  But how can you combine those elements with the “thump, thump, thump” of amplifiers strategically located (usually over my head), or fast paced jazz or worse rap, while you’re trying to savor the gentle atmosphere and relaxation of an enjoyable meal.  I just don’t understand it.

It is this background music, which seems to be so important in our society at every level that pushes up the decibels of people trying to talk to each other until they’re shouting or screaming.  Most “hip” restaurant customers seem to enjoy this, but not having a strong voice, I can’t join in the shouting without having a sore throat at the end of the evening.  I’ve recently been in restaurants where the noise level has been so high with the thumping of the music in the background that the waiter had to kneel by me in order to hear my order and also where the noise level was so high that the hostess couldn’t hear my request for a table for four, and so we gave up and left.

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it is that generational thing – but as far as I’m concerned, if “music be the food of love…play on,” but I will choose another restaurant.

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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Selling Books at the Farmers’ Market

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

By Nancy Werking Poling,

Author of Out of the Pumpkin Shell and

Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman

 

 

Artists abound in Black Mountain, the lovely western North Carolina town where I live. Now published authors have  joined potters, painters, photographers, woodworkers, and jewelry makers in selling their creative works at the weekly Tailgate Market. Of course the primary attraction is the array of locally grown, mostly organic, vegetables and fruits.

Southerners, I’ve found, are seldom in a hurry, especially on a summer weekend. Locals, most of them known by at least one of our group, stop by to visit the Authors’  Table. Tourists from all over the country, many of them grandparents, are first attracted to the two children’s books for sale (and the wooden dinosaur). They usually look at the rest of the display as well and buy a book from one of us.

So far six writers are part of this endeavor.

Loving Ruby is a true story about a baby female cardinal that author Lois Chazen rescued from the middle of a busy street. The book helps parents and children understand the skills needed to keep a baby bird alive.

Bone Dead, and Rising: Vincent van Gogh and the Self Before God is a recent publication by Charles Davidson. With the aid of van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, Davidson offers insight into the artist’s struggle to become his true self.

On the Road Home-an American Story: A Memoir of Triumph and Tragedy on a Forgotten Frontier, by John Russell (Rusty) Frank, follows the history of Frank’s family in the Philippians, beginning with his grandfather’s journey there from the U.S. during the Spanish-American War.

David Madden is author of eleven novels. At the Tailgate Market he’s selling Abducted by Circumstance, which explores the mental unraveling of a middle-aged woman when she learns she is the last person to have seen another woman alive.

In Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman I imagine heroes of Hebrew scripture as women who bring an extra portion of feminine wisdom, suffering, and courage to the biblical narrative. I’m also selling Out of the Pumpkin Shell, a laugh/cry novel about menopause and friendship.

Jerry Pope wears many hats: co-creator of Serpent Child Ensemble, leader and teacher of community-based theater, documentary film producer, illustrator and author. He’s author/illustrator of  Madeleine Claire and the Dinosaur, a children’s book.

I figure that even when I don’t make many sales, I’ve made a host of contacts. Women take information about my books to pass on to church retreat committees and book groups. Sometimes they’re out of cash and return the following week.

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

 

 

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Modern sculpture from Shanghai World Expo to be placed in Chicago

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

by Jian Ping

Stone Talk by Yu Jiyong

A Chinese sculpture, which serves as the good will and relationship between Shanghai and Chicago, will soon find its way to a new home in a park in Chicago.

Stone Talk, a sculpture of column made of stainless steel and granite, is the brain child of well-known artist, Yu Jiyong. It was one of the sculptures displayed at the Shanghai World Expo. The City of Chicago has recently accepted a sculpture as a gift from Shanghai, one of its sister cities in China.

“The sculpture has the elements of earth and metal,” said Bill Spence, Co-chair of the China Committee, Chicago Sister Cities International. “To me, it symbolizes a mix of the new and the old, a dramatic combination of the new China and the old cultural tradition that dates back to five thousand years. It’s a representation of modern China.”

The discussion of having one of the sculptures from the Shanghai World Expo installed in Chicago started when former Chicago Mayor Daley visited Shanghai in September last year. Stone Talk, a straight column that represents “unity, harmony and growth” is selected among five pieces of sculpture that were offered for consideration by Shanghai.

“It’s a very beautiful artwork,” said Jerry Fogelson, Founder and President of Fogelson Companies and Co-chairman and CEO of the Central Station Development Corporation. Fogelson, one of the most successful real estate developers in Chicago, has offered to cover the transportation to move the sculpture from Shanghai to Chicago.

Fogelson plans to place the sculpture in a park in the Central Station area of the city.

“The sculpture has many features that will go well with this area,” Fogelson said. “It’s vertical, the tower of strength. It radiates the right, powerful feeling, and it’s welcoming.”

In recent years, the Central Station has become Chicago’s premier lakefront neighborhood. Many Asians, especially Chinese, have moved into this area.

 “The sculpture symbolizes the relationship between China and the United States,” Fogelson continued. “We’d like to turn the Mark Twin Park at Indiana and 16th Streat in Central Station into a Chinese garden that will be designed to prominently feature the sculpture.”

The sculpture Stone Talk is currently on display at the site of the Shanghai World Expo and will soon be shipped to Chicago.  

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com or www.moraquest.com for more information. Mulberry Child has been turned into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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Swinging Shanghai Gala

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

By Jian Ping

Bill Spence (left) and Steve Fisher and Lisa Xia, co-chair of the event, speaking at the Gala

The Swinging Shanghai Gala, an annual fundraising event organized by the China Committee, Chicago Sister Cities International, was held at Maxim’s last Wednesday, May 25. It was an evening of fun and networking. Many Committee members and their guests attended the gathering.

The China Committee gave recognition and honor to the University of Chicago for its “wisdom of establishing the Beijing Center.”

“University of Chicago is a major Chicago institution,” Bill Spence, Co-Chair of the China Committee, said at the Gala. “The Beijing Center not only serves as a center for scholars, but it can also be used for business and cultural exchange programs and meetings.”

Louis, Lisa and Jennifer posing for a snap shot at the Gala

Spence praised University of Chicago’s (UChicago) long history of involvement with China. He pointed out that the reputation of UChicago would help draw renowned scholars around the world to the Center and also attract Chinese policy makers and scholars to Chicago.

Judith Farguhar, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, received the plaque of recognition on behalf of UChicago.

“University of Chicago has rich and deep connections with China for many years,” she said. “The Beijing Center is a wonderful conduit to widening and deepening these connections and exchange programs.”

The annual gala was a great success. Many members and local businesses donated items for auction, which include luxury hotel stays in Shanghai and Chicago; tickets to concerts, sports events, and golf outings; classes for language and cultural studies, including a 10-week, 3-hour/week course from the Asian

Members and guests enjoying an evening of wine, beer (including Tsingtao Beer from China), and delicious food at Maxim's

Classics Program at the Graham School, UChicago. Proceeds from the auction will support the Committee’s activities in “strengthening the partnerships among business, government, cultural and educational institutions” between Chicago and its two China sister cities, Shanghai and Shenyang.

Tabitha Mui played Gu Zeng (古筝), a traditional Chinese music instrument, throughout the evening. Artists from the Hip Hop ChicaGO, organized by the Center for Asian Arts and Media at Columbia College, also entertained the guests with their performance.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. The book has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011. Visit www.moraquest.com, www.mulberrychild.com for more information.

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