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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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June's blues


June is leaving. June was so beautiful, soft and kind with temperamental tears. She walked through red dust back to the slum inside the smell of burning rubbish looking for her mama. Her poor heart skipped a beat. Nothing but June blues, living in the space between sharp currency notes, between strangers.

June sleeps with her sisters in a village. Danish soldiers showed up after dark. They were on a serious international peace keeping mission. They were hungry animals wanting real serious action.

Mr. Lonely Denmark found an attractive one playing in his fantasy who was super aggressive. His instinct said no. She’s crazy. A tall thin demure soft one sat down, eating fruit. Great angelic face. She worked for her “mama.” We're short of time, ask mama how much for a few hours, he said to his translator. $50.

Ask her if she wants to escape, said LD. Yes, she said, skipping away to change. The angry one thought it’d be her. She spat angry words and gestures. The fury of a woman scorned. 

LD paid mama and they left. They ate fish, vegetables, rice and went to bed. LD was the fish. Normally her customers were short jobs so he helped her slow down. Take your time. She was flat and flat on her passive back. No hurry, sweet thing, said LD. She had an extensive vocabulary. Boom-boom?

LD needed to get back to his unit. June accepted his unit on a short term lease arrangement. Always on, always connected in her passive universe. All for mama, loving the Danish and doing her best for international relations. Heat and serve. Ready to eat.

Don't you just LOVE the smell of Rubbish in the morning? Yes, you do.



Laughter fears sex


It is 9.11 in the morning. Only numbers. Do the math. You attach your personal meaning to 9.11.

Another lousy day in Asian paradise. I work for the Fun Police. The reality is I am surrounded by idiots. The idiots are the foreigners. They live on death row.

The local people remain traumatized by their history of genocide. It will take another generation to see clearly. Disconnected. Unfocused, easily distracted. Watching other people make things happen with dead eyes. 

I said this once to a couple of native teachers in Asia Minor. They may have thought it was: Rude. Impolite. Scary. True. A reality to be avoided like H1N1. They didn't feel comfortable facing this UNpleasant Fact. I love facing unpleasant facts because these facts are great lessons in humility, honesty, compassion and foolishness. 

Human intelligence on Earth is a rumor.

Daily survival business is nothing but wear and tear on people.

Children, adolescents and adults are rounded up and taken in for questioning. The SYSTEM is well designed for these interrogations.

RUBBISH! screams a 25-year old English woman coddling her disturbed, distraught English boyfriend. She is his secret mother. He doesn't know or realize this fact. 

They've created their own personal fiefdom. It's like an NGO. They get the money and create jobs, opportunities for people with disabilities, empowering people with dignity and respect and value.

He is afraid of intimate emotional sex. In fact, he's so afraid of sex he changes the subject, avoids her sharp piercing eyes inside the swirling chaos of her rusty loudspeaker. She pushes her voice down the broken street yelling RUBBISH! RUBBISH!

This highly intelligent and slightly evolved life form expression is all. Everything clear and direct. When you love RUBBISH setting fire to human lives is easy. She is afraid of emotion truth and authenticity. Their life is one deep black hole. They have so much in common, like a mutual fear of sex. They need more practice.

Do you want an example of my recent practice? he asked her while cramming eggs into an orifice. If you must, she whispered, but hurry up, I'm late for work, work, work. I'll be brief, he said. 

She reclined inside the blue hammock on the porch as twilight filtered through leaves of time. Shadows danced in her 24 childlike freedom. He gestured they go in. He explored her neck, lips, ears. She didn’t like kissing. Kissing in her culture was the ultimate sign of intimacy. He roamed small hills with his tongue down to valleys. 

She gave him her passport to heaven and he slaked his thirst with her essence. She was more relaxed and passionate. They were familiar with each other’s bodies. Her boom-boom demands were muted. The vocabulary of touch. Sleeping, her face was a calm Apsara dancer, refined elegance, soft cheeks, brown glow.

He walked her through the morning garden down to a moto, smelled her long neck, tipped her bye-bye. She returned to the slums waiting for night. Waiting for strangers. 

His flame grilled girl friend started screaming, RUBBISH! RUBBISH!

Calm down baby. Give a person a match and they'll be warm for a minute, he said.

Set them on fire and they'll be warm for the rest of their life, she said. I am the mother of all RUBBISH!

Take them in for questioning. Get the answers. 

What's the next question?




Root word


One illuminating little story about humans and their very short tribal life is carved on this Sumerian clay figment with someone's imagination.

It describes, in flowing vivid ecstatic gripping elusive detail, using as few reed strokes as possible given the parameters of clay space, their adventures wandering here and there across fertile plains, scorching deserts, through valleys, up and down mountains, along rivers and making camp. They carried water and chopped wood.

They domesticated wild horses. They memorized animal sounds, trails, tracks, smells and scat. They ate, wove clothing, traded shells, feathers and simple possessions, played music, danced, meditated, shared stories and rested. 

The female shaman dreamed. She dreamed visions of their journey. She transmitted her dreams to the tribe through poetry, drama, music and art.





Sam and Dave sleep


The bent nail gets hammered down, yelled a Chinese teacher next door to my classroom. 

The Maija artist accepted the photo from the grieving relative set up his easel, using a magnifying glass to see the face, using a pencil to capture the 8x10 likeness. On the chipped plaster walls were examples of his work; peasants, farmers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives and young and old Pioneer communist members with tight, tight red scarves knotting their necks suffocating their passion. 

Today he was sketching an old unsmiling stoic woman. A sad resigned peasant. These were people who had suffered. They’d suffered at the hands of the nationalists then the communists, then the new economic revolutionaries. The indignities of old age.

An old three-string wooden musical instrument hung on the wall near red streaks of paint inside this fine art museum. A black fly on the left shoulder of the artist rubbed its feelers together. Tasty. 

An old man with his emaciated skeleton face and paper thin arms carefully opened a bag of tea and poured tight compressed leaves into his bony right hand. He dispersed this into an old chipped blue pot and added water. We shared tea watching the artist work. The artist was good. The likeness was close to perfect. The tea was delicious.

The same kind of images decorate the altars in Vietnam. They sit in various temples around the cities. Death is a big deal. Ancestor worship. 

Do all the ancestors hear, understand and acknowledge all the yelling? Yes. Do they open their mouths and request a little peace and quiet? On anniversary death days they meet all the other ancestors inside narrow mazes of alleys where piss, drain water, used cooking oil, daily slop and vicious liquids drain into punctured cement holes flowing along narrow passageways slanted toward the middle where voices become echoes? Yes. 

The dead formed a rubber stamp committee to address family noise. ‘It’s come to our attention dear comrades, dear people, dearly beloved family and friends...that we have a communication issue here in the neighborhood.’

‘Silence! We are trying to sleep. The long peaceful and restful sleep. Leave us be.’




Sam and Dave Part 4


Inside every family’s deep dark Hanoi space was a main room and altar for dead relatives, candles, fruit, burning incense a spirit food, and the black and white and color images reminded me of the Chinese artist in Maija, the poor pig village near the Fujian university where I lived for two years riding my bike across hills up and down narrow dirt back roads,

watching butterflies mate in the dust, old people threshing rice in fields, a woman lugging piles of white cauliflower to market in her bamboo baskets suspended on a bamboo poles, down long small tight dusty paths past athletic shoe shop sweat shop factories filled with morose girls and women hunched over threading clacking Butterfly machines making uppers, lowers, tongues and seamless survival wages until I reached a narrow street to sit drinking Chinese green tea with a man in his little shop. 

Further up the hill were small wooden shops with appliances, family market stalls, street food, electrical stores and butchers. In a small mud and brick place was an artist. His job was drawing pictures of dead people. 

After someone died a relative gave him a common small black and white image, the kind from 1949 when the country declared itself free, independent, and open with 3 Represents and benevolent Chairman Mao (our grandfather bless his heart) smiled at the masses.

Before he told the peasants, “Eat Grass.”

It was an image used throughout their life: in documents for residence, work, school and party politics. The people had the three iron rice bowls. A guaranteed living space, guaranteed work unit, and guaranteed rice rations. It was a great deal. Everyone was treated the same, wore the same clothing, said the same thing and followed the leader, like kids playing a game. No one got out of line. Comrade.