February 2006

Not a big deal, I guess, but yesterday was the first time I got to witness Chinese Police making an official arrest.

Just for the excitement factor–it was kind of a sleepy day otherwise–I sort of wish there had been SWAT teams and hostage negotiators and trained attack dogs, but it was pretty ho-hum in the grand scheme of things.

We were in central Anhai, after spending some time at the local park there, where we had mostly strolled around, watched some retirees playing volleyball (try to picture a sedate-looking 70-year old Chinese man with a killer spike going down the throats of the opposing side; I got to see such a fellow nearly take out a line of grannies more than once), and let the kids play on what playground equipment there was for awhile.

Another thing we did was watch a fellow in his 30’s doing some taiqi in front of the memorial monument to local Chinese veterans who died in wars. He gathered a bit of a crowd, maybe ten people, though I think nine of them were there to gawk at us.

Two of these onlookers, though, caught my eye and made me wary. Obviously “Northerners,” they looked more ruffian-esque than anyone else I’ve seen on this trip so far. They didn’t come near where we were, but were obviously watching our every move. We moved on soon thereafter.

After leaving the park, we went across the street to a children’s bookstore, and on coming out, the 2-year old decided she needed to visit the potty, so my Wife took her back in while the 4-year old and I waited outside.

After a bit, I heard a police siren approaching. The police car, lights flashing, pulled up in front of the park entrance which we had exited 5 or 10 minutes earlier. Three or four young officers dressed in dark grey camouflage-type suits got out of the car, just as two others–I’m not sure where they had been hiding–came out with one of the aforementioned young ruffians cuffed and stuffed. I’m not sure what he had done–maybe decided my wallet was out of range and so tried for someone else’s? No idea. But his buddy was nowhere to be seen.

But they brought this fellow down to the car–he was wearing a stoically evil expression on his face, it seemed to me–and stuffed him in the back seat between two officers.

Well, suddenly it seemed the officers realized there wasn’t room for them all to get in the car comfortably, so one more squeezed into the back seat, and another got in and basically sat on his lap. It kind of ruined the machismo moment, in a way, but I suppose that until the local park patrol gets another vehicle or whatever, they’ll have to make due with what they have.

No, I haven’t heard yet from Clyde Drexler (or anyone claiming to be him) since writing the “‘I Love China’: Clyde Drexler Cashes In” post earlier this month, but I did get a note from one astute reader (Thanks, Michael) who pointed me to a January 10, 2005 article (http://english.people.com.cn/200501/10/eng20050110_170098.html) on the People’s Daily Web site that reads:

Clyde Drexler signs with Chinese company

NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler signed Sunday with a Chinese sports promotion company to become the first American NBA player promoting a Chinese sports brand.

Drexler, one of the 50 NBA Greatest Players, signed a two-year contract with Athletic of Fujian Province. The details of the contract were not disclosed.

“I’m excited to be here again,” said Drexler, who came to China for the fourth time. “It’s my ambition to promote the basketball game to more countries, to let more youngsters to like the game.”

The Athletics is planning to bring the Houston University basketball team, which was formerly coached by Drexler, to China for an exhibition game against of China’s Collegiate Super League champions.

“The Houston team is in the Division One (of the NCAA), but I don’t think they have the shot on the Final Four,” Drexler said. “I hope, in the future, we can bring the best American college teams to China.”

Drexler led the Houston Rockets to two consecutive NBA championships in 1993-95. He played 15 seasons in the NBA and retired in 1998.

Well, at least we know now that (1) Mr. Drexler has in fact been in China and (2) he really does have a contract with the Athletic company. I still earnestly would like to learn what he especially loves about China…and whether any U.S. garment manufacturers are sore at him for any sort of unfair celebrity endorsement trade imbalances. (No, wait, I guess that would that be the other way around….)

I’ll keep checking the ol’ Inbox for a message from Mr. Drexler just the same.

Backtracking a bit….

On our first morning in Tokyo, January 20th, we woke to find the city “enjoying” its first major snowfall of the year.

Here are some pictures we took out and about sightseeing in the city that day. The first one is looking down from our hotel room at the Hotel New Otani, and I _think_ the next four are at Meiji Temple and Shrine, but don’t quote me on that. I’ll have to dig the tour brochure out to be sure.

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