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Fine Art America
Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Khene in Laos

Musician and his handmade Khene in Nong Kieu, Laos.

He said they are played at funerals and flutes are played weddings. He said it is difficult to impossible to make and only ten men in Luang Prabang can make it. Neither his grandfather or uncle could make it.

It has a haunting, beautiful sound.

 Playing his flute.


Passions Torture Humans

From the Verba Seniorum (The Word of the Ancients): Two wise men who lived in the same chapel in the Sahara desert, were talking one day. "Let's fight so that we don't become disassociated from the human being, or we will end up not understanding properly the passions that torture him", said one.

"I don't know how to begin a fight," said the other.

"Well, we will do the following: I am putting this brick here in the middle, and you say to me: it's mine. I will answer: no, this brick is mine. Then we will begin arguing and we will end up fighting".

And so they did. One said that the brick was his. The other argued, saying it was not.

"Don't let's waste time over this, keep this brick," said the first. "Your idea for a fight was not very good. When we perceive that we have an immortal soul, it is impossible to fight over things".


Year of the Bore

The Chinese locusts have invaded big time.

All of SEA is feeling the effect of their economic power, leverage and appetite for development and profit good, bad or indifferent. They promote and develop the “new” Silk Road. They need ports, railroads, electricity and access to markets while creating monster debt diplomacy.

The Chinese are here to stay with currency exchanges, grocery stores, hotels, tour agencies and casinos.

Many need a refresher course in polite public manners. It’s like Big Brother the zookeeper forgot to lock their cages one day and they all escaped to wreak havoc on unsuspecting citizens in other countries.

When I see them wearing cheap farmer straw hats, talking louder than an exploding volcano, browbeating shopkeepers to lower the price on cheap souvenirs and following the leader down the street like good communist party members I remember sitting with Bozo, an English major at Poetry University in Fujian in 2007.

We’d share noodles on “old” student street. Hundreds of students passed by going or coming from cheap eats.

She turned to me. “See all these people? They are all peasants.”

Confident with marketing and language skills she found work with a multi-national in Beijing or Shanghai joining the rising middle class.

Happy new year!

Fresh street food

Draw the dead

How did I get here? 


You Are Blank

It says nothing.

It reveals deep dark silent secrets, heart pulsating memory.
It is a short string of letters with blank white face spaces in places. It says nothing.
Nothing is filled with _________ . (fill in the blank)

You are blank. You draw a blank. The blank is created by your subconscious dream machine. 
Eye - mind - hand - heart. Your machine is fully functioning and capable of emitting highly charged radioactive electrons.

You are a spinning swirling mass of electrons existing in space.
Space is empty. You are a vacuum in space filled with absolutely nothing.

I have nothing to say and I am saying it.

There is no final exam or grade. However, the elemental particle grade may be a little warped in space places so please watch your step near edges. Nothing is clear.

"We are all born mad, some remain so." - overheard on a Chinese bus filled with pigs going to market.


Building A Chinese Wall

English teachers unite in Fujian, China.

Let's get dressed and gather our Moleskine notebook filled with poetry, drawings, dreams, stories and visions. Collect one fountain pen filled with green racing ink.

Remember water. You've gotta have H2O where you go. It's gonna be a hot one. Seven inches from the mid-day sun.

Let's go to a classtomb on the old university campus surrounded by luscious green trees straining to light. They are a canopy of welcome relief.

Rose petals wither on the ground.

Smile and greet your compatriots, your stalwart educational guides. Take a seat. Look around. Engage your senses.

Gaze out the window toward the lake. It shimmers blue.

You hear scraping. What is it? Local workers are building a wall. A new Great Wall. Exciting. History in the making. How do they do it?

It's simple. Materials and raw labor.

Ten local village men and women - who do most of the heavy lifting -  bags of cement, trowels, shovels, plastic buckets, water, piles of gray bricks, empty drums for support, boards, and two wheelbarrows.

Step 1. Build rickety scaffolding using drums and boards. Remove the old steel fence. Discard to side.

Step 2. One team mixes cement and water. Shovel into buckets. Another team puts bricks into a wheelbarrow and pushes it to a dumping area.

Step 3. Men wait for women to hand them bricks and buckets of cement. They slather on the goop and align bricks. Brick by brick the wall goes up. It blocks the green sward, blue lake and wild flowers.

Only the sky is safe.

Step 4. Another team coats the exterior with a bland gray mixture.

It's never going to be finished. Art is like that. It's so beautiful we feel like crying.

Someone steps to the podium and starts speaking - using exquisite language - about the value of education. Cost benefit analysis. Profit and loss statements. How we have a huge responsibility to our shareholders.

Inside a brief silence you hear a shovel, a trowel and laughter. Another day in workers paradise.