A Wayward Word's Worth

February 12, 2012

Toying with safety

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 1:46 pm

Why heavy metals are bad for your kids. The Beijinger Monthly Magazine, February 2012

Robin Guo is appalled to hear that her child’s playthings may be poisonous.

The mother of three year old Colleen is one of countless Chinese parents stunned by a new study that found dangerous levels of heavy metals in nearly 10 per cent of the country’s child products.

“It’s so frustrating as a parent when you know you cannot at least provide your child a safe space,” Guo says of the dismal findings researched and published by eco-NGO Greenpeace in late November. “It’s not the first time I’ve heard of lead in toys or something, but this might be the first time I knew about it in such detail.”

Those meticulous details, compiled in conjunction with American NGO IPEN, zeroed in on 500 children’s products like toys, fake jewellery, book bags, and pencil cases containing toxic levels of heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic. The items were purchased randomly at a variety of outlets in five major Chinese cities, including Beijing. Wu Yixiu, a Greenpeace China toxins prevention campaigner, said children like Colleen are so vulnerable they can literally taste it.




http://issuu.com/thebeijinger/docs/the_beijinger_2012_february#download (Starting on Pg. 8)


January 16, 2012

Jump Start: Korean Drama Gets a Kick in the Pants

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 12:45 pm

Actors struggle with mixed martial arts choreography. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, January 2012

It’s never easy to charm your in-laws, but imagine having to woo and subdue them with kung fu dance moves. This is the fate that befalls one man in Jump, the comic martial arts performance that reimagines a traditional Korean story – about a boy courting an entire family to win their daughter’s hand – with the help of thumping music, peppy fighting and manic break-dancing. These fast-paced elements take the place of dialogue, making the show fit for audiences of all languages and backgrounds.

“It is really hard to act without lines,” says Sung- Yul Noh, who stars as the son-in-law. “Instead, I think the words in my mind while performing, so others can feel my expressions through the gestures.”





January 12, 2012

Mohanik mix and mingle

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 12:20 pm

Mongolian garage rockers struggle to straddle cultural differences. By Kyle Mullin for Beijing’s City Weekend Magazine, Jan. 12 2012

Mongolia conjurers up very specific images for outsiders: grass lands, open plains, harsh winds and weathered horseback riders. But that’s not the place Enerelt, bassist for Mongol garage rockers Mohanik, calls home.

“Whether it’s the extreme weather or the air pollution, so many things are part of living in the (capital) Ulaanbaatar,” Enerelt says of his hometown, where he’s packing bags to leave for a Beijing gig at D-22 on Jan. 13. “We wouldn’t say it has been hard growing up there. If you hear our songs, you’ll definitely smell and taste some Mongolian flavors.”

Yet Mohanik’s flavours often seem awfully familiar for us expats. Instead of the rumbling throat singing featured in other Mongolian troupes like Hanggai, Mohanik’s signature song boasts a creaky box spring guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an early punk hit performed by The Kinks. That strumming makes the song, dubbed Moritoi ch Boloosoi, instantly catchy.

But then guitarist and vocalist Tsogt breaks out the chorus…





From Country Bumpkin to Airline Captain

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 6:13 am

Beijing director straddles the space between farming and flight with surrealist film. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Jan. 12 2012

Most farmers tend to their fields, but this one takes to the skies.

In Qiao Liang’s Flying, the eccentric land laborer Liu Baigang abandons his roots in favor of the heavens after teaching himself how to build an airplane. The film soars atop this ridiculous premise and eventually lands on rural China’s quirky yearnings.

See the film at Culture Yard on Jan 13, where the director – a longtime local TV auteur and Beijing Film Academy (BFA) alumnus – will also be present for a Q+A. But for now, please keep your seatbelt fastened and your tray in the upright position. This is your captain speaking, and Qiao Liang will now take our questions.

What inspired you to make a film about a farmer flying? 
It was the screenplay writer’s idea initially. And to be honest, the first time I saw it, I rejected this script. I didn’t think it made sense for a farmer to make a plane. But after researching online I found there are actually many people trying to make planes themselves. It was then that I started to consider this story regardless of the absurdity, and saw the idealism in it.

But Liu’s situation is far from ideal – his neighbors have always called him a lunatic, and the bullying only gets worse when he tries to build an airplane. 
People are judgmental, especially in the countryside. They think someone is insane as long as they’re different. Many people are stressed out from this and choose a job they don’t like or marry someone they don’t have true feelings for. They’ll often take comfort in thinking, “Everyone is doing the same thing, so why don’t I?”





December 22, 2011

China’s rebel piano virtuoso

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 12:33 pm

Lang Lang takes Christmas Eve – and talks Alicia Keys, remixing Liszt and snubbing the White House. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 21 2011

It’s as if he’s pressing arteries instead of fingering keys – looking not for a melody but a pulse that drives the song. As Lang Lang flails and practically pants at the piano to resuscitate old concertos, fans say the Shenyang born virtuoso makes classical music look as compelling as it’s ever sounded – a sight that hundreds of fans will get a chance to glimpse during his Christmas Eve performance at the MasterCard Center. But in a telephone interview with The Beijinger Lang said his energetic performing isn’t meant to revive aged symphonies or make them fit for modern times. Below he answers our questions and reveals, among other things, why he couldn’t care less whether or not you care for classical music.

Why is your body language an important part of your performance, how does that help you make compositions by Beethoven and your hero Franz Liszt more accessible?
My goal is not to make classical music interesting. When I perform I don’t move my body just because the audience likes it. People find it more interesting when they watch, but when I was a kid I always played this way. It’s in my genes, it’s very natural.





December 15, 2011

Refuse as muse

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 10:36 am

Can trash art inspire us to see junk in a new light? By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger Monthly Magazine, December 2011

The next ice cream wrapped or empty bottle you toss could end up on a gallery’s walls.

From a city perimeter of litter captured by photographer Wang Jiuliang to the moldy garbage molded anew by sculptor Luan Xiao, brimming local landfills have prompted the town’s most creative minds to craft a new genre of ecology: trash art.

Used motor oil canisters are difficult to recycle; even when empty, they are still slick with traces of fuel. Most of us would throw away such containers, thereby contributing to already packed trash dumps. But Luan Xiao collects and strings them together in a bulky oblong tapestry, and then binds them to a tree. The canisters form a shell around the trunk, their colorful plastic glinting  almost as bright as Yuletide bulbs, leaving Luan with a “trashy” abstract art Christmas tree.

“Oil containers cannot simply be regarded as a menace,” Luan said about the canisters that normally clog landfills. “By letting them become a creative resource, they could offer a solution and become themselves
unexpected gifts.”


REFUSE AS MUSE (Starting on Pg. 12)

Tattoos of the Beijing Punk

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 10:09 am

Rock troupe Demerit merges inked skin and raw rhythms.  By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 15 2011

Bold. Jarring. Colourful. Edgy enough to pierce your flesh – be it the pores on your bicep or your eardrums – punk rock and tattoos have much in common. Nowhere in the world have the two bled into each more murkily than China, where such art forms are now free flowing after years of clinching taboo. They both converge on Qingdao-born, Beijing based Spike (Li Yang), who has a sleeve of ink running up and down his arm. Those tattoos are easily visible as he darts across the stage while fronting his punk troupe Demerit, which will showcase that edgy ethos at Yugong Yishan on December 17.

“It looks different from ordinary people,” Spike says of the image overlapping in both punk and tattoo cultures, before summing that idea up in one breath: “Rebel peace.”

Unlike Westerners – for whom such trends are far too common – the kind of tattooed Bejingers that will mosh at Demerit’s show still raise many of their neighbours’ eyebrows. One of the world’s chief ink aficionados says that’s because many Chinese still have a very traditional attitude about the punk image.

“Until recently, most developed societies, including China, regarded tattooing as some form of perversion,” says Chris Wroblewski, a British photographer who has published 21 books full of his tattoo-themed pictures, including 2008’s China Tattoo. “[The idea of tattoos] sat uncomfortably with Confucianism, (which) pronounced against the desecration of the sacred body.”





Meet the filmmaker: George Huey talks prostitution and report cards.

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 9:50 am

Producer to host screening of lauded Sundance  feature.  By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 14 2011

A typical day at home for young Ernest Chin would be anything but normal for the rest of us. Down the hall from the 13 year old’s bedroom, hookers get down to business. Beggars barge up the stairs. Then there’s his stern Chinese mother, who’s more judgmental of her son’s every test score than her guests’ biggest transgressions, literally handing those shady strangers keys to the front door.

The Motel tells the story of a traditional immigrant family renting out rooms to their sleazy New York neighbours. It’s a unique glimpse of immigrant life through second-generation teenage eyes and has garnered nominations for the Independent Spirit Award and the Humanities Prize at Sundance. Watch the film and meet one of the producers, George Huey, at The Culture Yard on Friday, but in the meantime, pull up a chair as we chat with Mr. Huey himself.

The producer (who also contributed to the screenplay) is between films right now, working as a sports consultant in Beijing. But he hasn’t abandoned show business, penning fresh scripts and hosting events like this weekend’s screening of the breakthrough film. Here he answers more of our questions:

This setting in the film, is it based on reality?

We scouted over 100 motels in the New York area , and almost all of them were run by South East Asians. The one we chose was busted for prostitution a year before we shot there. It had low income families getting kicked out while we were shooting.





Sailing closer to the truth: An interview with Kinky Friedman

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 8:49 am
Multi-talented raconteur Kinky Friedman turns again to music after entertaining forays into writing and politics. By Kyle Mullin for Albuquerque’s Local IQ, Dec. 8 2011
It was under the scalding Southeast Asian sun that Kinky Friedman became a true redneck.
He was there on a Peace Corps stint from 1966 to 1968. It was the first of many odd jobs for the now 67-year-old novelist, animal rights activist, politician and singer, who will showcase the latter talent on Dec. 10 at Sol Santa Fe. As an enlisted man, he traveled to the island of Borneo in the South China Sea. While there he worked for 11 cents an hour with the Dayak aboriginals.
“I was supposed to be an agricultural extension worker,” Friedman says in an interview with Local iQ. “My job was to teach these people who’d been farming successfully for over 2,000 years how to improve their methods. It was daunting; I learned a lot more than they did.”
Those locals would invite Friedman onto their flimsy rafts to drift along the glassy rivers, the jungle steaming with humidity behind them, schools of yellowfin tuna and barracuda sloshing rhythmically just within earshot.
“Their idea of fishing translates to visiting the fish, because they (the aboriginals) get drunk on this jungle wine and make a lot of noise, so they rarely catch anything,” Friedman chuckled at the memory, before adding that the Far East setting soon made the United States seem exotic. “It’s a real healthy thing to look at America from thousands of miles across the sea. That’s when I started writing country music.”



Adam Carolla’s heedless high speed

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 8:40 am

World record breaking podcast host denies accusations of racism. By Kyle Mullin for The Sacramento Press, Dec. 7 2011

Adam Carolla’s wheels aren’t spinning. In fact, his engine has literally stalled.

“I’m down in the garage trying to get a Lamborghini 400GT to start. And I narrowed it down to the fuel pump or the fuses right before I came up here to call you,” the comedian, podcast host and amateur mechanic says in an exclusive phone interview with The Sacramento Press. He’ll perform his stand-up routine at The Crest Theatre on Friday.

In some ways, Carolla’s career has switched to high gear. A decade ago, he co-hosted goofy fare like “The Man Show” with Jimmy Kimmel and “Loveline” with Dr. Drew. Now he’s taken more creative control on projects like Fox Sports’ “The Car Show” and his own wildly popular podcast, which won the Guinness World Record for most downloads. But the flack Carolla’s been hit with because of his edgy jokes and social commentary, especially on the unrestricted podcast, just might send him into a tailspin.

“It drives me nuts… when you put your opinion out there, people grab it, turn you into whatever,” he says of all the ire “The Adam Carolla Show” has drawn. “Back in the day, in order to be a racist, you had to be in the clan or you had to light a cross or lynch somebody. You had to do something to be a racist. Now, just make a Pollack joke and you’re a racist. You can have gay friends and black friends and never have laid a hand on a woman in your life, and still (be called) a homophobe and a racist and a misogynist, and never (have) done a f—kin’ thing.”





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