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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Little Leo


Swallow wallow fallow follow.

“You have a criteria for beauty,” said an austere hard nosed, lock-stepped powerless, lonely, angry and frustrated female Chinese university teacher one day, adding, “You should just blend in.”

She was afraid, like 1.2 billion of being singled out, purged, tried and executed for proletarian intellectual ideology in a harmonious Marxist society.

“I’ve learned,” said the teacher, “to keep my sweet delicious mouth shut, unless I’m eating or laughing at the stupidity and laconic narrow-minded ways and means of our leaders, these old stupid despotic men, sitting behind their big blood stained teak desks chopping seals and dolphins and whales without prejudice or malice, to be silent.”

“I see,” said Leo, a 14-year old, one sweet, delicious day when he and a traveler were out exploring on their bikes and stopped in an old query to play in dirt. It was an abandoned foreign country.

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there. Keep it simple. Get to the verb.

They stood deep inside excavated lands. A new planet. High dirt walls bordered by pine, evergreen and blue sky were lined with sharp deep gashes where earth machine teeth had gouged down soft dirt. Workers harvested soil for construction projects at the university where 15,000 trapped, lonely and bored students struggled to survive in a harmonious society.

Where they mastered the art of eating, sleeping and exploring casual sex hiding from security guards wearing olive drab green recycled army uniforms.

They were at the bottom of a large bottomless pit.

“I have a theory they are spies,” whispered a student.
“How do you know this?” said Charlie.

“Because their job is to keep an eye on us. Think about it. We have too any people here and so, to monitor our behavior, attitudes and thinking, they recruit students and teachers to be spies. To be informers.”

“My father was an informer during the Cultural Revolution,” said Shining Star.

“Yes, he was a member of the Shining Path Young. This is our new generation, with a new generation of informers and spies. They make good money. They keep their mouth shut and know their place.”

Leo and the nomad made it into the hills with a diamond in their mind.




I am the tax man...


One for you, nineteen for me. I am the tax man. You'd better declare those pennies on your eyes before you die.

If you walk I'll tax the street and if you're cold I'll tax the heat.
I am the tax man. One for you, nineteen for me.


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Her chance

the woman at the metro
with a burned leg - you remember her clearly
how she sat after dragging her bad leg
into the car, into the compartment
this image of her
in pain
how did it happen? why is she alone?
on a late night in a flimsy sweater

her skin below the knee
running to her ankle
all burned away
exposing blood red lines

her abstract expression
her sacred scared distracted face
watching night fly past windows
where blue televisions and children kept an eye
on each other

how the woman kept going
on the metro past a stop
where the expensive private hospital on a Roman
hill gleamed its extensive intensive pensive care
ward and her treatment was delayed,
forgotten, useless
because she is poor
so she stayed in her seat
anxious now feeling her pain
wondering where she would go
where she would end up on this night

as a stranger studied her anxious, passive
expression feeling burns, violent burns
inside sensations fire and heat
nerve impulses darting through, along sensory
channels where signals are blocked by
neurotransmitters shutting down
her chance

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The Burned Woman


He saw her through a window when the metro pulled in.
Alone and cold, she waited for the green metro door to open.
It was late. She wore a thin black sweater and long gray skirt.

She was slight...olive pale skin, black hair pulled back, around 45.
She limped into the car dragging her right foot. Her left foot was normal. Her right foot looked like a case of elephantiasis. She sat twenty feet away.

She bent over and slowly raised her skirt from around her ankles. The burned and bloody skin damage ran three inches across and ten inches high. Either first or second degree burns. A layer of skin was exposed, red, lined with white. Bare and exposed. She needed medical attention.

Two men across from her stared and diverted their eyes.
She sat, fingered a phone and grimaced. No tears, just a stoic face.

The metro rolled through night. It passed a river, a neon bright Everest furniture store, fast food emptiness and an expensive private hospital filled with antiseptics, bandages, lotions and potions and patients with money.

She inspected her ankle, touching an edge of fried skin with a white tissue. Clear cold air sent shivers through her central nervous system shutting down pain receptors.


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Shame on You!


My name is Li Bow Down and I am in charge of the Tibetan Monastery Re-Education Through Reform (TMRETR) program.

My masters called me out of retirement while I was playing mahjong and enjoying tea with my friends at the Shangri-La resort and told me to get my old ass back to Lhasa and take care of THE problem. Back to the future.

Here's an uncensored image of what we do to people in the TMRETR program. This woman is denouncing her family, friends and most importantly, herself in public. We are big on shame. "Shame on you!" yell the people.

"Shame! shame! shame!"

This is one of our more popular methods of creating a harmonious society. It works wonders, because if memory serves me correctly and it does, mind you, serve me well, we've been coercing people since the Middle Ages, or, to be precise, for the last 5,000 years. Pick your favorite dynasty.

We used to put them in wooden stocks with their crimes painted on paper necklaces and parade them through town.

They confessed. We call it self-criticism, re-education and reform. Big important buzz words.
They were denounced in public. Talk about blatant social disapproval!

Maybe you think I am joking, making this up. Well, I didn't make it to the top of the scrap heap by bowing down to the big nosed foreigners trying to tell me how to maintain control in Tibet and keep the monks and citizens in line.

As you know the monks in Tibet provoked the armed, young, naive, scared People's Reactionary Liberation soldiers on March 10th. The rest is history, well, not really history because we can and do rewrite that when it suits our propaganda purposes. It's so easy and convenient.


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