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Archive for June, 2015

Americanah

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

cover225x225My book group, which meets once a month, selected Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for June, a novel, published in 2013, tells the story of a Nigerian woman who comes to the U.S. to study and eventually returns to her native country.

It’s a love story between Ifemelu, the female character, and her high school boyfriend, Obinze. Through her experiences and blogs in the U.S., she examines and writes about racial discrimination and explores identities of people striding between cultures.

It took me a while to get into the book, however, partially because of the narrative structure at the beginning, but a third into the story, or maybe earlier, I found myself mesmerized by Ifemelu’s blog and story—her blogs sharp, reflective and brave, though not without humor. Through her comments, racial issues that would make many people cringe are addressed, and people’s hypocritical behaviors, both in the U.S. and back in Nigeria, are exposed explicitly.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’m delighted that the author didn’t stop when Ifemelu embarks on the journey back to her native country—the story continues to explore the life she sees and experiences as a returnee, now with a different perspective. She continues to be critical, about those “returnees” who were nostalgic about their experience abroad and complain about Nigeria, and some locals, including some of her friends or colleagues, who live as mistresses to rich men and appear to relish their borrowed lifestyle. Racial issue losses its pivotal point back in Nigeria and Ifemelu turns her blog to day-to-day life.

The book is fun to read and compelling in ways that make readers ponder deep into racial and identity issues. Highly recommended.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning doc film. Jian, aka Jennifer Hou Kwong, is directing a doc film on Art Paul titled The Man Behind the Bunny: Art of Playboy.

Lakefront trail, a blessing and joy

Saturday, June 13th, 2015
City capped in fog

City capped in fog

I experienced the saying that “if you don’t like Chicago weather, wait for ten minutes” for two days in a row.

I went out for a jog early yesterday morning. A slight drizzle caressed my face when I got out, making the air cool, moisturized and refreshing—a striking luxury for my throat and lungs after a long trip to China. By the time I jogged behind the Planetarium, the drizzle became small drops of rain. I watched the geese and ducks in the lake staying put without a fuss and continued on my route. The rain went on and off, and by the time I made a loop and got on to the stretch toward Monroe Street along the lake, the rain came down hard. I turned back but got inspired by other joggers, or I should say, runners who didn’t seek shelter. I got home soaking wet, a mixture of sweat and rain, but felt great. In about an hour, when I rode my bike to my office, the sun was peeping out.

Higher level of water at my favorite beach

Higher level of water at my favorite beach

Early this morning I went through another drastic change: when I started jogging around 6:30 am, a heavy fog enveloped the lake and the buildings nearby, making them vaguely visible. There was no wind, and the peaceful surface of the lake made me long to dive into it for a swim—I could hardly wait for the outdoor swim season to start. I ran over to my favorite beach and touched the water to feel the temperature—not as cold as I thought it would be. The water level is very high this year, reaching almost to the staircase at the beach I used to swim. This morning, only a lonely goose was there. Hope I will be able to join the goose in the Lake in a week or so. Maybe with the rapid change of Chicago weather, I don’t have to wait that long.

The lone geese

The lone geese

What a blessing and joy to have the lakefront trail and park, extending about 20 miles, all to the public!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning doc film. Jian, aka Jennifer Hou Kwong, is directing a doc film on Art Paul

titled The Man Behind the Bunny: Art of  Playboy.

Pulled back by desire and perhaps, discipline

Friday, June 12th, 2015
SAMSUNG CSC

Talking to Art and Suzanne at the Art Paul exhibition

It’s hard to believe that the recent busy schedule, at least, it feels like “recent,” has been going on for months and I haven’t posted any blog since last October when I was covering the 50th Chicago Int’l Film Festival for Xinhua News! It’s time to get back and be disciplined to write with consistence.

A lot has happened over the last eight months, among them, the most important:

With George Lois in NYC, after interviewing him for the doc film on Art Paul

With George Lois in NYC, after interviewing him for the doc film on Art Paul

  1. I’ve embarked on a challenging and yet exciting project: make a feature-length documentary film on Art Paul, an iconic figure in the U.S. or I should say, in the world. He is the bunny logo creator, the founding art director for Playboy for the first 29 years, and a fine artist in his own rights. Among the prominent people I’ve interviewed, up to now, include Hugh Hefner (at the Playboy Mansion in LA), George Lois, Steve Heller, Brad Holland, Richard Hunt, Roy Schnackenburg, Bob Lostutter, Lanny Silverman, Kerig Pope, and of course, Art Paul and his wife Suzanne Seed, and many more;
  2. Interviewing Lin Zaiyong, President of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music during the SSIFM in Shanghai

    Interviewing Lin Zaiyong, President of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music during the SSIFM in Shanghai

    I’ve successfully brokered a groundbreaking cultural exchange programs between WFMT Radio Network, my client as a consultant, and several parties in China, including the Shanghai East Radio, the Shanghai International Music Festival (SSIMF) and China Radio International (CRI). Concerts by major U.S. symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, have been broadcast on Shanghai East Radio (Classical 94.7 FM) since Jan., and a series of eight two-hour programs based on the latest SSIMF (held in April and May) will be produced and broadcast in the West. And we are fortunate enough to get Abbott underwriting these two programs.

  3. I spend three weeks in China in May, attending the SSIMF (one concert a day for the 10 days I was in Shanghai!) and meeting with management teams at several radio stations, symphony orchestras, and the Beijing Int’l Music Festival, exploring several other major cultural exchange programs! All very exciting.

The list can go on, but I’ll save some for later when more development is made.

Even in the U.S., if you download an app called Qing Ting, and listen to the broadcast of U.S. concerts in Shanghai at prime time: Friday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. local time. The app will broadcast the program for 24 hours, and the radio station’s website will stream it for a week. Enjoy and Chao for now.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning doc film. Jian, aka Jennifer Hou Kwong, is directing a doc film titled The Man Behind the Bunny: Art of Playboy.