Sunday, August 24, 2008
Whole Lotta Love
Just a distinct sense of relief that the Beijing Olympics are finally over last night, coupled with a spasm of joy at seeing Jimmy Page's wizened visage wailing on his Gibson atop a double decker bus as I watched the closing ceremonies on a large flat screen beamed outdoors in a small, sweaty hutong (alley neighborhood) with a gaggle of Chinese and sprinking of foreigners.
"Who is that old man playing a guitar?" asked a 20something Chinese woman standing next to me as we sipped lukewarm Tsingtao beers, batted mosquitos and ate watermelon slices.
"Jimmy Page," I said. "A famous English rock musician. Sort of like your Cui Jian (the first Chinese guy to play homegrown rock here, circa 1986). But older, and more controversial and popular in his time, perhaps."
"Nobody listens to Cui Jan anymore," she said.
"Too bad. I bet he knows this song, though," I replied as Page ripped through an 8-minute lyrically neutered version of Whole Lotta Love to the joy of rockin' foreign fossils like me and the bafflement and indifference of most of the Chinese around me. A camera shot panned a group of high level Chinese bureaucrats - including former president Jiang Zemin in his clownish oversized spectacles - trying their best to look like they comprended Jimmy Page. David Beckham, who was also prancing atop the Magic Bus, yeah, but a former Satan-worshipping, druggie, multi millionaire white bearded guitar player? Who let him into the country?
"Yeah! Zep RULES!" shouted a Canadian. I dropped a watermelon rind high fiving him and started talking to an ABC (American Born Chinese) woman who was hosting the block party.
"I'm glad to see this," I said. "You know London has enough self confidence and style to host Games without worrying about controversy and micro-managing every detail. No worries about blocking the Internet or boasting that they've installed air-to-ground missles next to Buckingham Palace or Wembley." She agreed, but added that the edge of tension that had accompanied the Beijing Games had also made them what they were.
"All part of the mix," she said. "It's what keeps me here. You, too, I bet."
I couldn't disagree.
Posted by Justin at 10:08 PM