ROGER SAYS: THIS IS BLAST NO. 3

Hello friends! Two days ago, whole and almost entirely unscathed, I emerged from my precautionary isolation. For obvious reasons, I won’t tell you all exactly where I was, at least not here. But suffice it to say this: it was incredibly scenic, and there were more socks than I could have ever asked for.

The last few weeks have seen foreigners in China taking it on the chin in the media. As the tenor and pitch of the anti-foreigner rhetoric has increased in nationalist circles around the country (and became more and more removed from reality), most foreigners have taken to following this simple rule: respect others, don’t be a total ass, and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, this rule only helps expats who have proper documentation avoid any major inconveniences; basic courtesy will not help me avoid the kind of situation I would find myself in if I was asked to provide passport, visa and residence permit. There is just too much at stake.

So as the local Public Security Bureaus around China amped up their 100-day campaigns against illegal foreigners, I took to the hills. But Knox—my boss, landlord, pal, confidant—came through (as he always has), and got me some new paperwork. It’s not above board, of course, and I’ll continue to evade the PSB as best I can. It won’t get me on a plane, but it’s enough to get me through the more cursory checks on buses, trains and streetside sweeps, which are my greatest concerns.

And so on to the content! As we saw in the last blast, there seems to be a shift occurring in the world of love. Today, we take a look at this Compliment Request Packageâ„¢, as strange a phenomenon in gift giving and love-professing since the introduction of the sweater vest and the mariachi band. No one wants a sweater vest, Grandma. And mariachi bands are incredibly annoying. Anyhow, it seems to be the loving ode of a devoted individual. One can only hope that the sentiment will be returned in kind.

I’ve never been one for zombie movies. In fact, I’ve avoided them almost entirely. Unfortunately, what was once a Hollywood infatuation has now become a real life fear. The zombie-related stories from around the Americas have been deeply unsettling and strange. Here in China, the prospect of a zombie outbreak is particularly threatening; the most obvious reason for this increased threat being the population density and the high concentration of urban areas. Sascha Matuszak is acutely aware of these risks, and has provided us with a China Zombie Survival Guide. Break out your Tibetan short swords everyone—it’s on.

There are few things as disheartening as feeling completely and totally alone in a city of millions, sick of your surroundings and the people that inhabit them. This is a fucking drag. James Weir offers a solution or two in The Any City Blues.

I recently received an audio letter from an old friend in America, Marissa Anderson. Though we hadn’t spoken in years, she remembered my affinity for her voice (I once asked her to read poetry out loud while I sanded my living room floor). The poem presented here, The Autobiography of the Moon, is lovely. And though she spurned my love, her calming delivery has once again cast me under her spell. Whenever I find myself stateside I will, no doubt, again vie for her affections.

I am not a courageous man. In fact, I avoid terrifying things as a general rule—zombies included—and find my life enriched by this lack of terror. But Ryan Headley continues to convince me to push the bounds of my comfort zone with this second installment of Five Minutes of Suspense, With One Arm Tied Behind Your Back.

There is very little more valuable than the realization of the value of the moment. In hindsight, the best memories will always be obvious—the difficult part is recognizing this while you are a part of it. James Weir‘s story, The best part of it all, reminds us to remember this. It also reminds us to watch where we are walking.

I have the distinct pleasure of calling Matt Day a friend. Though we once had a falling out over a contentious arm wrestling match, we have since reconciled our differences and buried the ice pick. I am pleased to introduce the latest in his Naked Musicians series, Marco Benevento: Live at the Radio Bean. Marco wears an excellent cape, and plays with the exuberance of a child on a slip n’ slide, and with the grace of a god of old.

Ever since I read David Perry‘s poem Take China, I have heard one line echoing in my head: No bridge? We haven’t waited this long not to cross, so go. Read it and hear the echo for yourself. Like forward momentum, it is an inevitability.

Shanghai has many things. Here are five of them. And finally, I leave you with Bobby Bland and BB King.

As always, lean into the wind and hold onto your hats.

All the best to you and those who matter,

Roger

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