Category Archives: Music

Today’s Earthquake: The Day China Entered the Twitter Era

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the earthquake that hit Sichuan today. It was so big that we even felt it in Shanghai.

When it happened I was sitting at my desk working on my computer. I felt a little dizzy and I thought it was just from some eating some bad food at lunch. Only when my colleagues rushed by saying in Shanghainese that something had happened did I know it wasn’t just me. Within a minute my Twitter Feed jumped to life with people asking if anyone else felt the earthquake in Beijing. It was then that I knew something was up. A few minutes later we evacuated the building.

But we were given the all clear 15 minutes later. When I got back to my desk I was able to follow everything on Twitter and answer questions from different colleagues as the people on my feed fed information on the earthquake from all over the country. And we were able to help each other and filter out rumours. People who had access to televisions were able to keep people like me, who were in offices and working, up-to-date with the latest developments.

I can really tell that Twitter is coming into it’s own in China. Today really proves it, especially since the Chinese media did not release news right away and there is very limited access to foreign news sources such as CNN — I’m lucky in in that I have a satellite dish that gives me foreign programs but it’s on the fritz at the moment. Twitter filled the gap for me today and thanks to crowd sourcing I think that it’s pretty accurate. Two articles on the situation can be found on Danwei and China Herald.

As much as I feel happy for the role that Twitter played in the event, I fill sorry for all those dead and injured in the quake. My heart and prayers go out to them.


Update (May 17th 2008): I sent a note to Jesse Brown, the host of CBC Radio’s Search Engine about Twittering the earthquake. They featured me on their blog here and here.


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Filed under China Society, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Music, Personal, Television

The Sound of Beijing

 Note: Apologies for the large gap in posts. I’ve been suffering some post-New Year’s laziness and now I’ve come down with an eye infection which has slowed me down a bit. I hope to post more frequently starting next week.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Chinese underground rock music lately — mostly Beijing punk and underground rock. Hang on the Box, Carsick Cars, Snapline. And I noticed one thing. The bands’music sounds more raw live than it does on record. In fact, the bands sound like pop bands on CD. Still good but not that raw punk attitude.

Check out any artists Modernsky and Maybe Mars Records and let me know if you agree.

Beijing is a capital but it’s also a working-class city and I think the rock music of the city should reflect that both live and recorded. The band shouldn’t sound raw live but like poppy flowery mush on a record. There is enough of that in Shanghai. Much of old Beijing is being destroyed and being replaced with modern glass skyscrapers like Shanghai and I wonder if that is changing the sound of the music from great raw sounding rock to more commercial and less cutting edge pop music.

I hope not.


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The 4Live Surprise


On Friday I went to see Carsick Cars, Snapline and Muscle Snap at 4Live. Overall the night was really good. But I was kind of surprised with what was the best part.

I was certain it was going to be Carsick Cars — and they were good — very similar to the Ramones in terms of sound and appearance, but not a good band to see live. The lead singer and bassist play like typical shoegazers. I was standing on the second floor looking at the stage when they came on and I could see that the band had to check the set list they had taped to the stage every other song to make sure they were all following the same song — sounds like a bit of uncoordination to me. But I shouldn’t knock them that much. I still bought their CD and a T-shirt. Unfortunately, the CD isn’t playing in my laptop so I can’t upload it to my iPOD — I know this sounds whiny but you should still go see this band.

The highlight of the night for me and again the next afternoon when I saw them play live at ENO, was Snapline. The lead singer worked an 808 drum machine while being accompanied by a guitarist and a bassist. He looked like that Asian kid from high school who you thought got into MIT but later turned out secretly had ADD and had either gone to a liberal art college somewhere on the east coast and dropped out or just not gone to school at all and somehow formed his own band.

The guy jumped all over the stage and everyone else in the audience did too. If you compared how the audience reacted to Snapline with how they reacted with Carsick Cars you really saw the age difference. The older people (that means those over about 25) preferred Snapline and moved to the second floor when Carsick Cars hit the stage. Whereas the younger kids bopped along to Snapline, but really started moshing when Carsick Cars hit the stage.

Maybe I’m just feeling my age.


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Why Hasn’t CNN Been Talking About The Lack of Press Freedom in It’s China Coverage?

I’ve spent this week watching CNN’s Count Down To Beijing Series everyday before I go to work. And I’ve been impressed by their coverage of the construction boom, the displacement of people and the pollution and environmental problems. What I think has been lacking though is the coverage of the fact that Beijing hasn’t really been living up to its promise of press freedom. In fact on Monday morning, Kristie Lu Stout was talking about how the press was able to work more openly here. But coverage from Imagethief and Richard Spencer plus a host of other media show that isn’t the case. Why oh Why is CNN not putting in its two cents?


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Filed under China Society, Music, Television

My Weekend Trip Around The Web

I was supposed to take a trip with my office this weekend to a natural area outside of Hangzhou, but I ended up coming down with a magraine on Saturday morning and ended up spending the day in bed. When I recovered a bit on Sunday, I was able to get up and do somethings like watching Dr. Who and sufing the web. Here’s some of the interesting stuff I found:

  • Howard W. French has a new Letter from China in the International Herald Tribune about how IPR issues might destroy China’s development progress.
  • The Washington Post has a piece on how market forces are altering China’s prostitution market.
  • EastSouthWestNorth translates a piece from Chinese-language media about how to do a sex survery in China.
  • Danwei has a two-part Podcast on China’s two big video sharing websites Youku and Tudou.

And finally, I’ve been getting into China indie rock scene a lot recently, so I thought I’d add a couple of Chinese indie rock blogs to my blog roll, so I’ve added and Rock in China.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


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Filed under China Society, Music, Personal, Reading List