Friday, July 25, 2008

From Erotic, to Aerobic

At first, I think I'll let the picture speak for itself...

If you want to understand the picture, look below to read an excerpt from the New York Times article that accompanied this picture:

BEIJING — Clad in knee-high leather boots, spandex shorts and a sports bra, Xiao Yan struck a pose two feet off the ground, her head glistening with sweat and her arms straining as she suspended herself from a vertical pole.

“Keeping your grip is the hardest part,” she said. “It’s really easy to slide downward.”

Ms. Xiao, 26, who works as a supermarket manager, is one of a growing number of women experimenting with China’s newest, and most controversial, fitness activity: pole dancing.

“I used to take a normal aerobics class, but it was boring and monotonous,” Ms. Xiao said. “So I tried out pole dancing. It’s a really social activity. I’ve met a lot of girls here who I’m now close friends with.  And I like that it makes me feel sexy.”

A nightclub activity mostly considered the domain of strippers in the United States, pole dancing — but with clothes kept on — is nudging its way into the mainstream Chinese exercise market, with increasing numbers of gyms and dance schools offering classes.

The woman who claims to have brought pole dancing to China, Luo Lan, 39, is from Yichun, a small town in Jiangxi Province in southeastern China. Her parents teach physics at the university level.

Ms. Luo said she struggled in 20 different occupations — secretary, saleswoman, restaurateur and translator among them — before deciding to take a break. She traveled to Paris in 2006 for vacation. It was there that she first saw pole dancing.

“I wandered into a pub, and there was a woman dancing on the stage,” she said. “I thought it was beautiful.”

Those who embrace pole dancing for fitness are a snapshot of urban youths whose values are changing from those of their parents.

Jiang Li, 23, a pole dancing student; "A lot of people expect Chinese women to be subdued and faithful, that we should marry and take care of kids at an early age,” she said. “But I don’t think that way — I want to be independent. I’ve been studying traditional Chinese dance for many years, but this is totally different. I feel in control when I do this.”

-by Jimmy Wang

God bless fusion cooking, rule breakers and rule breaking, and cultural appropriation from all sides and in all things... and special blessings today on Luo Lan who took erotic performance art and turned it into a profitable aerobic exercise concept in a socially repressive country, bravo! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So I survived my first crash...

There I was... heading down Bergen Street to get myself to Grand Jury Duty in the Borough Hall area. Just as I was crossing 4th Avenue, I looked left, and the van that cut across my path looked right, and we didn't see each other till we smashed together. I rolled to the ground, unhurt and full of adrenaline, and after we assessed each other we went our separate ways. It wasn't till later that I realized the back axle of bike was broken... but I walked away from that crash, so I have no complaints.

Bike riding in the city is a wonderful thing... if only there were no cars.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The New Me

Reading the NYT this morning, I found myself swept away in unbridled enthusiasm for a new sport... no, a new way of living.

In Adrspach (an area in the Czech Republic) there is a long history of real men living real lives... and the way they prove this to each other is not through the purchase of the latest technical gadget, nor through an ability to spawn numerous copies of biological self from the beleaguered wombs of their women folk, nor in the more typical fashion of participating in carefully modulated and commercialized and homogenized sports traditions like basketball, football(soccer), baseball, jai alai, football americano, cricket, etc. 

No... these men prove their truth by taking rock climbing to the next level... they climb to the top of tall rock towers, and then jump from one to the other, always striving to find the most difficult and most dangerous jump to perform... they jump, that is all, just jump. But take a look at this jump....

They jump when the situation is most dire, when the possibility for injury and death are most pronounced. This is no elfin-dance Triple-Jump like they perform at the Olympics... this is a jump of manhood. 

Boys climb the rock towers, and Men jump...

So... who wants to put their life on the line to prove themselves to a bunch of Czech adrenaline junkies and death-wish afficinados who have nothing better to do with their time than get drunk and dare each other into life-threatening situations? Will you risk it all to gain the socially constructed concept of "manhood", so that you can affix that title to the masthead of your personalized stationery/webpage for the rest of your life?

I'm on the next flight to Adrspach... are you with me?


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The People Spoke, the Company Listened

We Are Keeping Netflix Profiles

Dear Robert,

You spoke, and we listened. We are keeping Profiles. Thank you for all
the calls and emails telling us how important Profiles are.

We are sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused. We hope the
next time you hear from us we will delight, and not disappoint, you.

-Your friends at Netflix