“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Penguin Little Black Classics with a China Bent

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »

The new series of Little Black Classics from Penguin are short and cheap, but lovely all the same…and a good few have a China aspect to them…

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Wade Shepard’s Ghost Cities of China – Speaking Events for March

Posted: March 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

Bookworm lit fest

Wade Shepard’s Ghost Cities of China  is the latest book in my Asian Arguments series for Zed Books… Featuring everything from sports stadiums to shopping malls, hundreds of new cities in China stand empty, with hundreds more set to be built by 2030. Between now and then, the country’s urban population will leap to over one billion, as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. In the process, traditional social structures are being torn apart, and a rootless, semi-displaced, consumption orientated culture rapidly taking their place. Ghost Cities of China is an enthralling dialogue driven, on-location search for an understanding of China’s new cities and the reasons why many currently stand empty.

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The following are the author’s speaking engagements across China this month:

Thurs March 26, 20:00- The Bookworm Literary Festival, Beijing

 

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Sat March 28, 17:00- The Bookworm Literary Festival, ChengduBookworm lit fest 3

Hometowns and Ghost Cities 家园和鬼城-城市变迁的病斑 Ran Yunfei, Wade Shepard

Sunday March 29th, 16:00- The Bookworms Literary Festival, Suzhou

Hometowns and Ghost Cities

Hometowns and Ghost Cities: Perspectives on urbanization and changing concepts of home in China, from non-fiction writer Wade Shepard and a panel of leading thinkers.

The Final Word: BLF Closing Party (Free Event / 免费入场) 19:00

Authors Wade Shepard, Zennon Kapron, Frane Lessac and Bridget Strevens-Marzo will be on hand to bring the BLF to a rousing conclusion!

 

Tuesday March 31st, 19:00- Royal Asiatic Society, Shanghai

RAS-China

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Taipei’s Railway Workshop to be Preserved

Posted: March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

Shanghai destroys, Beijing obliterates…it’s hard not to contrast the non-policy of preservation in mainland China with the growing preservation movement in Taiwan. The latest campaign to win historical preservation status in Taipei is the Taipei Railway Workshops. This decision from the Cultural Heritage Bureau overrules previous plans to give most of the site to a developer. The compound will now be preserved in its entirety, while the historic workshop itself will be renovated to house a railway museum.

Constructed in the 1930s during Japanese colonial rule, the Taipei Railway Workshop was known as the “hospital” for the nation’s trains, and considered the most important railway maintenance depot in Taiwan. The compound features an impressive office block, an engine room and a Japanese-style bath house, as well as substantial gardens – it ain’t just any railway workshop this one!

Very well done to the Taipei Railway Workshop Heritage Conservation Union; tough shit to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), eager as ever to sell of heritage to grab cash (see the search box under Taiwan to see more examples of the TRA’s venal attempts to dump heritage for fast bucks)

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China’s War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan

Posted: March 19th, 2015 | No Comments »

Parks Coble’s China’s War Reporters is now out and looks interesting . Having looked at the foreign press in China at the period (and those Chinese who worked for foreign language publications), I’m keen to see this perspective….

 

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When Japan invaded China in the summer of 1937, many Chinese journalists greeted the news with euphoria. For years, the Chinese press had urged Chiang Kai-shek to resist Tokyo’s aggressive overtures. This was the war they wanted, convinced that their countrymen would triumph.

Parks Coble recaptures the experiences of China’s war correspondents during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. He delves into the wartime writing of reporters connected with the National Salvation Movement—journalists such as Fan Changjiang, Jin Zhonghua, and Zou Taofen—who believed their mission was to inspire the masses through patriotic reporting. As the Japanese army moved from one stunning victory to the next, forcing Chiang’s government to retreat to the interior, newspaper reports often masked the extent of China’s defeats. Atrocities such as the Rape of Nanjing were played down in the press for fear of undercutting national morale.

By 1941, as political cohesion in China melted away, Chiang cracked down on leftist intellectuals, including journalists, many of whom fled to the Communist-held areas of the north. When the People’s Republic was established in 1949, some of these journalists were elevated to prominent positions. But in a bitter twist, all mention of their wartime writings disappeared. Mao Zedong emphasized the heroism of his own Communist Revolution, not the war effort led by his archrival Chiang. Denounced as enemies during the Cultural Revolution, once-prominent wartime journalists, including Fan, committed suicide. Only with the revival of Chinese nationalism in the reform era has their legacy been resurrected.

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The DIARY OF A SHANGHAI SHOWGIRL aims for Edinburgh

Posted: March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Those with longer Shanghai memories will remember the days of Miss Amelia & Norman Gosney running ‘Gosney & Kallman’s Chinatown’, set in a former Buddhist temple over in Hongkew. Well, now they’re crowdsourcing (which I sort of understand) to take a show based on that experience to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival….

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‘From the man behind New York’s burlesque revival in the mid- ‘90’s, and the iconic Slipper Room; And the couple who operated the legendary, illegal speakeasy, The Blushing Diamond, brought cabaret to China and performed the first burlesque shows in a Muslim country… Comes their sexiest, funniest, and most daring show yet!

DIARY OF A SHANGHAI SHOWGIRL is a 2-person variety show that tells the real-life story of the couple who took on the Communists and beat the odds to open China’s first burlesque nightclub in Shanghai. Miss Amelia & Norman Gosney are finally ready to share their amazing story with the world, starting with a debut at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and they need your help.

For three years, Miss Amelia & Norman Gosney lived in fear of saying the wrong thing in the local or international press, as people who say the wrong thing in China are known to ‘disappear’. Now, for the first time, they expose the astonishing story behind their pleasure palace, ‘Gosney & Kallman’s Chinatown’, where they introduced nightly, new-vaudeville, risqué performances to the Chinese.

Chinatown quickly became a decadent oasis of fantasy and escapism and the hottest nightspot Shanghai had ever seen. But with fame and success came problems for the foreigners, from local jealousy to government spies, escalating to a night spent in jail, bank accounts frozen, and being forced to escape overnight or else face a long, unwarranted stretch in Chinese prison.

Showcasing their unique and masterful show style, Gosney & Kallman share their amazing – and often hilarious – story through a variety of cabaret, burlesque, and projections, giving audiences a peek into the DIARY OF A SHANGHAI SHOWGIRL.

more details here

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Need a hat in 1940 Shanghai? La Union Hats is the shop for you

Posted: March 17th, 2015 | No Comments »

1940 and hats are de rigueur in Shanghai. The La Union Hat Company probably had what you needed in terms of head wear – Panamas and Borsalinos as well as obviously some charming ladies bonnets. They were down on the Nanking Road (Nanjing Road). The Borsalino and scarf would have given you a very chic Jean Gabin as Pepe Le Moko look strolling the Bund….and you can’t get cooler than that!

La Union Hat Co ad 1940

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RAS Shanghai – Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China – 17/3/15

Posted: March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

RAS LECTURE  

Tuesday 17 March 2015

7:00 PM for 7:15 PM start

Radisson Blu Plaza Xingguo Hotel, Tavern Bar

78 XingGuo Road, Shanghai

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Jemimah Steinfeld

on her new book:

 Little Emperors and Material Girls:

Sex and Youth in Modern China

China is the world’s fastest-growing economic powerhouse. Everybody knows this. But behind the headlines a once-in-a-generation sexual and cultural revolution is taking place – all in the bars, cafes and streets of China’s growing mega-cities. Welcome to this new China.

Writer and journalist Jemimah Steinfeld meets the young people behind the world’s fastest-moving nation to unveil their attitudes towards love, life and sexuality. Young Chinese have new words to describe the world they live in: ‘little emperors’ – single men who have grown up under the one child policy – they’re bossy and selfish; ‘bare branches’ – those without children; ‘leftovers’ – women over twenty-six who aren’t married; ‘comrade’ – how the gay community identifies itself; ‘love markets’ – weekend gatherings across China where parents attempt to find husbands and wives for their children, and others show up to match-make young singles and even offer boyfriends for hire.

Jemimah Steinfeld introduces the people at the heart of this world, from the woman starting China’s first online dating agency to the mistresses of the rich and powerful; from the company trying to sell sex toys to China’s middle-classes to the sino-punks of Beijing’s bar scene. Little Emperors and Material Girls is the book which will change the way you see China.

Talk Cost: RMB 70.00 (RAS members) and RMB 100.00 (non-members). Includes glass of wine or soft drink. Those unable to make the donation but wishing to attend may contact us for exemption.

Membership applications and membership renewals will be available at this event.  Those unable to make the donation but wishing to attend may contact us for exemption.

RAS Monographs: Series 1 & 2 will be available for sale at this event. RMB 100 each (cash sale only).

 

To RSVP:   bookings@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

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American Hell-Drivers in Shanghai – 1937

Posted: March 15th, 2015 | No Comments »

Perhaps this is where Shanghai’s atrocious driving began? In 1937 Barney Oldfield’s American Hell Drivers brought their show to Shanghai. It was May 27th and the Second Better Homes Exhibition was being held on the Race Club track up on Bubbling Well Road. It didn’t go particularly well – one of the drivers, Dick Acton, hit an incline at 40mph, swerved into the side of the course and killed seven foreigners watching the show including Shanghailanders who worked for the China Motors company and the Heinzering car dealership ironically. Still they were a big show and loads of people turned out to see them, including a young JG Ballard and his father. The Hell Drivers were part of the Chrysler Corporation (or at least Chrysler hired them to show off their cars), who got sued in the U.S. Court for China in Shanghai and compensation was paid to the families of the dead and injured. The Hell Drivers were on a Far East tour and got down as far as Australia in 1937 and performed before 30,000 people in Melbourne. The point of the whole thing was to dramatically demonstrate the strength of Chrysler’s new all-steel bodywork.

1954 001 The Hell Drivers in action

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