Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Manassas, VA: Scooter Libby has entered into my daily conversation...

There we were, watching the Sunrise Channel on HDTV. A stand of aspens appeared.

They all turn together because their roots connect them...

(Scary, since I'm not exactly an inside-baseball politics person. I'm not even near the stadium parking lot.)

Then we turned the channel to "Cops." Amazing how HDTV captured every fiber of the perp's wife-beater.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beijing: In honor of Chinese New Year...a Park in Beijing, Nov. 2005

Near sunset, everyone gathers to practice tai chi, play chess, walk around and listen to a band playing "Jingle Bells."

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Beijing Zoo: Panda-monium

Really, he's back there, chomping bamboo at the back of this football-arena-sized pen (and me without a zoom lens). At the Beijing Zoo and in the countryside, zoologists are having good luck restoring the numbers of this endangered species.

A tricky task, because - like adolescents in the innocent days before the Internet and Cinemax - pandas have some difficulty figuring out the logistics of sex. Specially made "panda porn" has been produced to address the issue, with mixed results. (boom chicka-chicka boom, whomp whomp)

Before we could visit the other animals, we were shuttled off to the bus to our next stop. "The condition of the rest of the zoo shocks Westerners," one of my fellow tour-mates whispered. She was the one who demanded to know the provenance of every meat product that crossed our plates, yet dove into the Peking duck without question - this at the height of avian flu season.

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China: Don't Tear Down THIS Wall...

Because it's a great place to buy a Mao messenger bag and a $3 pashmina. And, from the top, you can look over into Inner Mongolia (or so the tour guide told us).

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Friday, February 16, 2007

China: Welcome to Tiennamen Square

This was the first stop before the great wall. Our fully bilingual tour guide possessed both vast knowledge of his country and an interesting sense of humor. "You can take pictures, but not of anyone in uniform. Or any protestors. And, if you see someone setting himself on fire, DON'T take a picture...or else they'll take you to the OTHER forbidden city." Fortunately no one set themselves on fire during our tour.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Smithsonian (Washington, DC): Denied Again...

...the opportunity to see Mr. Bjork (aka artist Matthew Barney) and some lady from the Guggenheim speak for free at the Hirshhorn last night.

As had happened a few months ago, I arrived at the front door to join frozen, huddled masses who'd also arrived too late. The donors and board members were being seated first, they told me.

That's it? That's the donor special?

That ain't right, I thought.

I'm assuming that Smithsonian level of donor-hood involves more than a $35 check spurred by childhood memories of the Air and Space Museum. I'm assuming some serious coin is required.

So, if I was a donor contributing a chunk of change to host a famous avant garde artist, I'd expect a bit more than a free lecture open to all.

Where's my private VIP champagne reception? A personal portrait crafted from seaweed and discarded tubes of Preparation H? Formaldehyde suspension of a favorite deceased pet?

Because supporting the arts should have its privileges.

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