From Wed Mar 04 04:23:32 1998

 Newsgroups: alt.slack

 Subject: SPLR Tour of China, Part #2

 From: (Sven Serrano)

 Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 12:23:32 GMT


The following is a second installment of my most skin-peeling journey

to China Feb 20-Mar 2. Any references to "Bob" or the Church of the

SubGenius can be clarified by tuning into

Haibitues of the usenet group alt.slack will require no

clarifications. For security reasons some names and places have been

altered or deleted. THE REST IS TRUE.


 I woke up in my hotel room with a dim recollection of Saturday night

which started in the Irish bar O'Malleys and moved on to the notorious

Shanghai nightclubs Judy's Too and DDs, where at one or the other I

had made the fateful acquaintance of [Miss Wong #2]. What was that

noise? The phone and the voice was hers. "How are you feeling?" I

was OK, a little dehydrated, but I wondered why she was calling me

back so early on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.and what she thought about me

dry-humping her leg on the dance floor. Apparently I had made a good

impression as she wanted to meet that afternoon. We agreed on the

walkway bridge in front of the Shanghai #1 Department Store and rolled

over for more sleep.


 In a little while brushed aside a copy of the eng. language Shanghai

Star newspaper (banner headline LEADERS SELECTED! - Whatta a relief,

the ever gladly smiling mayor Xu Guangdi had been returned to office

with no opposition - HE TRULY HAS THE GRIN) and turned on the tube. I

watched an hour of a wierd movie on the Hong Kong feed, where the

Kowloon Police were fighting Chinese ghosts on a high-rise rooftop.

The TV here has been absolutely wiggy. The previous nights fare had

been serious drama about the 1911 Revolution, the highlight of which

was a party with mperial eunuchs getting drunk and getting down with

whores, the abscence of testicles not slowing things down one little

bit. I checked my skivvies, brushed myself off, and got ready for my



 The walk down to Nanjing Lu was a real eye opener. Destitute girls

from Anhui Province were offering services as maids and amahs on the

bridge over Suzhou Creek. A Tibetian hunter got pissed at me when I

wasn't interested in the antlers and skull of some endangered species

he'd dragged into town for resale. I had to kill an hour because my

alarm clock had been an hour early, still on Japanese time. I walked

into the #1 Dept Store into a womens clothing section where the

mannequins,in rows upon rows, outnumbered the customers and I started

shaking slightly when I suddenly found myself unable to tell where the

stiffs ended and the humans began. I got upstairs to the food court,

a vast sea of oily noodles, scrumptious pork buns, and outta this

world fried rice. But sobriety first. I order a cup of OJ and

swallowed. THIS STUFF IS WARMED UP!!!! Restrained throat panic,

gulped, ahhhhh, not so bad.



Met my little friend and we headed off, marching up Nanjing Road with

a sea of Shanghaiese all ready to continue the personal revolution of

pleasure and consumption that is sweeping China. After a visit to the

world class Shanghai City Museum, seven stories of priceless Chinese

art, ceramics, jade and gold, I suggested the New World Center on 450

Yan An Road. [Miss Wong #2] gave me a look that was straight out of

Alicia Silverstone in CLUELESS. "Why do you want to go there?" I

tried to explain the write up I read of the center, built originally

in 1917 as a giant brothel/opium den complex. sounded like a cheap

tourist trap attraction with a lot of history to boot. We ended up

having a hoot watching the acrobats, a troupe of mostly 12 year olds

doing the standard trapeze and tightrope stuff, the crowning moment

being when I young boy with too much makeup on stuffed himself

through a small tube and then walked around with the thing stuck to

his ass.



Upstairs in the old dens of sin were cheap 20 year old military

training shooting galleries, tea houses, Chinese chess rooms, bars

selling REEB Beer (beer spelled backwards) , and a Guiness World Book

of Records exhibit. A concert hall was filling up and at preciisely 6

pm we were treated to a Cheezy variety show with a outer province rock

band providing background music for a parade of spectacularly dressed

singers and dancers. The dancers didn't dance so much as move

carrying flower arrangements and wreathes. "What's this song about?

I asked. "It's a memorial hymm to Comrade Deng Hsiao Ping." But the

break dancers were too much and we went to look for food and a dark

place to smooch. We ended up at a perfect spot. A 50cent movie

theatre with a Chinese comedy that only half filled it up. The seats

were high backed compartments with little partition walls with enough

privacy to seriously violate the official Chinese one-child policy.

Between gulps of air I noticed that this was another mental movie.

The Chinese were dressed as US Army boys with People's Liberation Army

tanks as props, yelling at each other (one guy in blackface) in a

parody of either M.A.S.H. or Patton, I couldn't tell which.



It was a sad moment next day when I prepared to leave Shanghai for the

16 hour train ride to the northern capital. I promised [Miss Wong #2]

I'd see her on Sunday night when I flew back to catch my international

flight home. Precious ticket in hand I made my way into the gaping

maw of the Shanghai train station, was shunted into Waiting Room #1

where I was checked I wasn't bringing any 50 gallon drums of flammable

liquids or shipments of fireworks onto the train. Apparently this is

a genuinely serious problem in China. We were then let on the train

and I found my bunk on the hard sleeper, a six person compartment

where the best place is the middle bunk. Everyone and their mother

plops down on the lower one and the upper is hell with a blinding

light, a loudspeaker booming instructions and disco music and clouds

of accumulated cigarette smoke. I holed up in the restaurant car with

my notebook and my walkman with a cassette of the "Mystery Train"

soundtrack ('Sho nuff' It's the Memphis Train!!!'). The prices were

outrageous for China 20RMB a plate-I only ordered one and got a dishte

of warmed up white pig fat in oil. I scarfed it down no problem and

washed it into my intestines with 4 Reebs. Sleep called and in no

time it was 8 am and I was in Beijing!!!!



OK campers, this is where the trip kicks into high gear. I had a

place to stay, but the phones in China drove me nuts. I had to leave

a message at 9 am, then I went off for the standard tourist run around

the Forbidden City (collosal) and Tienanmen Square (monumental, it

goes without saying) But I missed my man at lunch and fell asleep in

the lobby of the Beijing hotel. I roused myself at 230, left another

message for the contact who still had not come back from lunch. At

three o'clock I had just bought a ticket to enter the famed Tibetian

Buddhist Monastery of Yong He Gong when I connected on a little red

telephone in a carpet shop. My friend, who we will call 'Jan,' said

sure I could stay with him but I had to get over to 'the compound' by

5 pm because he had an appointment for that early evening. This gave

me 20 minutes for seeing the temple but I run in and I am treated to a

wild Tibetian ritual dance performance with skull headed Greatful Dead

cover art priests cavorting to the sounds of wild clanging gongs. An

enraged Antler Dance by deer- headed inititates followed, all for the

benefit of a row of monks wearing the giant OVERMAN masks you see on

pg 83,84, and 86 of The Book of the SubGenius. Then it was out the

door, to the subway, to the RR Station left luggage office for my gear

and into the back of a careening Beijing cab for a rush hour enhanced

ride to the North East Embassy District.



Here's where luck, slack, and how much money you have tithed to the

Church over the last 20 years come into play. It is a simple matter of

being in the right place at the right time when the Luck Plane slants

suddenly in your direction. Three weeks ago I was in my favorite Osaka

bar on a strangely quiet Saturday night with a few friends, getting

ready to hit a few dancing spots, when a Spanish bar hostess I had

only met once and rather fleetingly through another very elusive

friend, beckoned me over. "Hi," she said "I'm just leaving but can

you help this guy?" gesturing to her companion, a dapperly dressed

young professional. "Sure," I smiled, "anything for you." Introducing

me to Jan she said he was stuck in town for 12 hours between flights

and could my friends and I show him around? "Sure thing, where are

you from Jan?" He told me. "What do you do?" He told me THAT.

"Where do you live?" "Beijing." "Hey I'm going there in a few

weeks!" Jan smiled "Great, you can stay with me when you come to

Beijing." We did our best to give Jan a good impression of Osaka

nightlife and he caught his flight the next morning from all reports

a happy man.



So it was with beaming pride and still utter disbelief that I ordered

the cab to stop in front of the PLA soldier standing at guard in front

of the Embassy of (a Northern European Monarchy), pulled out my gear

and walked into the Chancellery. The secretary paged my friend Jan

and he came out to shake my hand and offer his apologies. "Sorry I

have to go to this Cheese promotion dinner tonight, but just make

yourself comfortable," he said smiling as we walked out and up a

lovely cobbled walk to the resident apartment section, stopping at a

newly contructed brown hardwood door. "Here you are, I decided that

we will just leave the door unlocked all the time." And with that he

was off and I was settling in (for my next four nights in Beijing) as

an informal guest of his Embassy. The fun part got to be walking in

and out of the front gate any time I Iiked, giving a little salute to

the green clad and red starrred guard every single time.


To be continued



The Shining Path of Least Resistance Ministries


Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University


2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan


tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244







From Thu Mar 05 08:27:51 1998


Newsgroups: alt.slack


Subject: SPLR tour of China, Part #3


From: (Sven Serrano)


Date: Thu, 05 Mar 1998 16:27:51 GMT


With Jan off at his Cheese promotion I just had to go out and make my

own fun, which really wasn't that difficult. He told me me there was

a street full of sidewalk bars and restaurants (Sanlitun Road, North

of Gongren Tiyu Chang Beilu Boulevard) and he wasn't kidding. But

first it was fun getting acquainted with the neighbors, you know, the

other embassies.



There were stylish places just down the block, like Spain and France,

where flash limos and little black Renaults would be zipping in and

out of the gates. And then there were real basket cases, like the

Afghanis, who fired all their female Chinese staff when the Taliban

took over last year, and then taped paper over all the windows I

really felt sorry for the Sierra Leone legation which was in an

obvious state of decay. Their West African homeland was in the second

year of a civil war and if they did get a phone call from home it was

probably collect. Usually the streets were quiet but there was always

a big crowd of Chinese, some with suitcases, in front of the Hungarian

Embassy. I learned that Hungary, in a leftover of the old East-bloc

unity days, was the only country in Europe that did not require a

visa for Chinese (apparently their is a new thriving Chinatown in

Budapest). Every gate had a soldier and in the mornings and evenings

groups of six to ten squaddies would march out from the nearby

barracks to relieve the guard. I would softly hum "Bo we oh, be

ohhhhhhh wo (from the Wizard of Oz)" every time they passed.



The bars were great. There were some brewpubs, new to Beijing, a Hong

Kong themed place, cappucino joints (no Starbucks, yaayy!) and a

rainbow of restaurants, again with wierd English ("Orthodox Taiwan

food 50 meters" - Orthodox JEWISH Taiwan food??) I settled for a

Teutonic meal of sauerkraut, wurst and potatoes with a fine stein of

suds. AAAAHHHHHHHHH. Then I took out a handful of the multi-colored

Chinese currency, laid it on the table, and went out, savoring my

toothpick. Life is hard isn't it? Thank you "Bob," thank you Jesus,

thank you Nhee Ghee.



I ran into Jan and his American friend Gary on the street after

dinner. As Joe says in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil:

"Always stay around for one more drink." So that is what I did. And

it paid off big time. At the next watering hole, a loud place where

the Chinese yupps were drinking and loudly gambling in some cardgame

for 10RMB a hand, I mentioned casually that I knew one other person in

Beijing, my brother's best friend Norm, who ran a giant membership

discount warehouse. Gary and Jan looked at each other. They had been

trying to meet this guy for months as he was the most elusive new

mover and shaker in town. I thought Norm was a bit standoffish too

because when I met him at my brother's place last Christmas in

California he grumbled about Beijing and didn't want to talk about

Asia at all. This was partially due to the fact that his superiors

had not given him time off for the holidays but he had bolted anyway,

instructing the secretaries to merely tell all callers that 'he was

out of the office.' This was opportunity was perfect because Norm had

been pretty icy when I told him I was coming. 'Yeah, give me a call

when you get in,' meaning 'I'll give you about 5 minutes of my time

and maybe bail you out of jail if you get arrested, you lightweight.'




But lunch was doable and it was with no small satisfaction that I

showed up at Norm's bustling warehouse/supermarket in NW Beijing with

Jan and Gary (who did catering for a 5-Star hotel) in tow. Norm made

us cool our heels but we window-shopped under the towering pallets of

TVs (no VCRs, the Chinese are all jumping to the next level of DVD/VCD

players!) Kit-Kat Bars and Huggies. Finally Norm makes the scene.

"Hi Norm, Howyadoing? Meet my friends, Jan, trade rep for the (...)

Embassy and Gary from the (...)ski Hotel." As we walked off for our

tour I jibed at an amazed Norm "Didn't think I was so well-connected

in Beijing, did you Norm???" NEEENER! In China everything moves due

to 'Guanxi,' connections. This same word in Japan is the English

'Pipe.' YES, PIPE!!! And there was some good pipe today. In the dairy

section Jan ask Norm if he was interested in some fine Cheese. Gary

elbowed in later asking about a corporate rate for his hotel.

'Howabout sponsoring this St.Patricks day thing?' And so it went.

Finally towards the end of our walk Norm remarked casually 'Oh by the

way, we're actually owned by the PLA.' And at that moment (this really

happened, campers) who comes around the corner pushing a shopping cart

filled with spirits, frozen trout and jumbo bags of Starbursts??? A

People's Liberation Army Four-Star General.



Yes, the fate of the universe was sealed that afternoon, thanks to my

'pipe'-guanxi and my friends wheeling and dealing We scarfed an

enormous pizza in the snack bar and then we all posed for snapshots.

In the parking lot on the way out I had to do a double take. Back in

Shanghai that Chinese comedy, with the Patton parody, had had another

scene where an actress in a Mercedes tried to do some shopping and got

mobbed by her fans. "Hey Norm, you knew your warehouse lot here was

used in a film?' 'Yeah, it's pretty popular. That building over

there,' pointing 'that's a major sound studio.'



That afternoon the weather had turned lovely and Jan suggested a swim.

I thought he meant at his health club. 'No, right outside.' and we

walked out to the lovely little pool lined with little white cabanas.

Ahh bracing. Underwater for a few laps I surface and saw Jan chatting

with an elderly couple walking their bicycles. I waved and said

hello. "Where are you going?''Oh we're just taking a little ride to

Tien An Men Square. After they left Jan looked at me and smiled

'Well, now you have met the Ambassador.' And he's met the Shining

Path of Least Resistance!


to be continued


Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University


2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan


tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244







From Sat Mar 07 01:24:25 1998


Newsgroups: alt.slack


Subject: SPLR Tour of China, Part #4


From: (Sven Serrano)


Date: Sat, 07 Mar 1998 09:24:25 GMT


There are many scientific theories concerning the ebb and flow of the

Luck Plane. Especially in an El Nino year like this one. On

Saturday, February 28, in the year of the Tiger when March comes in

like a Lion, we had one such wild roller coaster roll of luck that

will not soon be forgotten.



Prior to that day it had been a standard tour of Beijing's up and

coming nightlife. Jan and Gary told me over dinner at Paulaners

Brauhaus that China's capital had still been a dump as little as 2

years ago but had remarkably improved and from what I had seen I had

to agree with them. Peasant poverty and piles of garbage had been

removed from the city streets under a commie regime that was becoming

tolerant in other areas. The old carrot and stick. Here's on

example. I'm in a food court, chowing down on pork dumplings,

watching karaoke TV on the monitor. It's a pretty risque love song,

the camera pouring lovingly over the bikinied Chinese girl's legs

tummy and hooters. Just when I'm mentally begging for more the very

next song is a PLA march with strutting troops, bayonet thrusts and

proud glares across the border. Perfect. Show 'em a little skin, get

'em excited, then remind 'em who's in charge. "Bob" probably included

the method in the manual when he sold them the whole video system.



Friday was great too. Earlier that day I was walking around the

Temple of Heaven complex, minding my own business, when a beauty

beyond compare just chats me up! Not Chinese. Australian. Of

Vietnamese desent. Named Jasmine. Nineteen if a day. We spend a

lovely afternoon sightseeing together and she accepted my offer for an

early dinner. Sadly we both had appointments that and tomorrow was

her last day in China but we exchanged addresses. When I learned it

was her first time abroad (from Oz) I asked her what country she

would like to visit next. She smiled and said "Japan." Be still my

beating heart! I had to hurry and get back to compound and to make

matters worse I was on this clunking bicycle I had borrowed, weaving

through pedicabs and bike carts loaded with giant bales of cotton.



Jan dropped into the apartment from work and told me [Miss Wong #1]had

called and left her number (I had secretly hoped she wouldn't) .

He was pretty grumpy as he was told he would have to come in tomorrow

on Saturday to work. "Now that's communism." I told him. "I see

you've decorated the place with Mao's successor," Jan observed,

pointing to the Dobbshead I had taped to the wall. I gave him the

standard Asian angle , that he was like the lucky Kitchen God Ka Shun.

But I was bored with preaching (hell, we're elitists, we don't need

anyone to join - let's be like Skull and Bones at Yale, ACCEPT OR

REJECT!) and chose instead to reveal the truth by example. "Well,

where's Gary, let's party.!" And it was off to a racuous student

disco, a welcome party and mixer for this years' exchange students and

the grads who, like my two friends, had found real work in Beijing. I

made friends with a Russky from Vladisvostok who had been working for

six years in Beijing for an American moving and storage company. The

two Finns I met were mental, like me,after a few sangrias. I got them

to stand up and belt out the national anthem which endeared us no end

to the other Western women who (one of those nights) were dressed up

solely for each other. The one Chinese girl I saw (she wasn't sitting

but was walking briskly across the room) I accosted "Hey, I want to

dance with YOU!" and she happily complied. Turns out she was Doris,

the bar manager and was eager to take a break from the grind. She

handed me an envelope at the end of the evening. It was a voucher for

dinner for two and a complimentary bottle of wine at her bar and




Saturday dawned. Woozy, both Jan and I set off on our respective

missions. [Miss Wong #1] had told me to meet her at the gate of the

Soviet-style Friendship Hotel on the other side of town at 9:30 a.m.

Over coffee we talked about how things had fallen apart between us,

she confessing that she had thrown away all the gifts I had given her

(including the wool overcoat styled a la the Little Prince) and

trashed all the snapshots of me. 'Honey,' I said, noting our current

detente," it's like a great American sportsman once said. It's not

over 'til its over."



We went straight to the New Summer PalaceGardens which radiated in the

Spring sunshine. Those who know Beijing agree that this is the most

beautiful place in the city, if not all of Northern China. Covering

severalf square miles the the complex was built by the Qing Emperors

in the 18th century, notable Emperor Qianlong who dredged out Kumming

Lake with a little help from 100,000 laborers. The Empress Dowager

(the model for ALL past 'Dragon Lady' characters) rebuilt the palace

in 1888 with money earmarked for modernizing the Chinese navy. She

did bulid one boat, a marble steamboat/pavillion which stands by the

lake edge today. Seven years later the Japanese sank the Chinese navy

and China's spiral into chaos begain.


[Miss Wong #1] and I walked through red and green temples and viewed

with delight the Pavillion of Precious Clouds and the Temple of the

Sea of Wisdom. I would play hide and seek with her but she would

always find me crouched behind some wall. "See, it is impossible for

me to escape you." Lunch was a magnificent experience at a culinary

landmark locatedi n the residence complex, the Listening to the

Orioles restaurant. [Miss Wong #1] expertly ordered from the menu and

before long a scrumptious spread was laid out, a whole fish in a sweet

sauce, pork and veggies over crackling rice, a hot and sour soup, beer

and Chinese sweets. I eagerly dug in. I breathed deep, took a

mouthful and closed my eyes. I could almost hear the Orioles...

("There's the pitch.... Eddie Murray swings.. STRIKE TWO!). Towards

three o'clock we headed to the exit, stopping long enough to buy two

Mao Tse Tung lighters, the ones that play "The East is Red" when you

open the top. [Miss Wong #1] held my hand and smiled sweetly and

asked 'Can we go back to your place??'



I had the cab drop us off a block and we walked through the compound

gate past the glare of the guard, talking loudly in English"'Yes, Miss

Wong I think the trade figures you gave me are correct." No one else

saw us. I showed her into the room and she tip-toed off to the

bathroom. I tapped on Jan's door. He was napping but woke up. "Hi

Jan, how are you doing?''"Fine."Jan, I have a guest." His eyebrows

rose "A girl?" "Oh yes, just so you know," and I closed the door. A

few minutes after I joined my friend in the bathroom I heard the door

slam. Jan, in true college roommate fashion had vacated, and we had

the apartment to ourselves I vowed to eat only his country's cheese

for the rest of my life.



Ladies and Gentleman, fellow subsgenii and mutants, all those in

range, let it be known when I am old and grey and on my deathbed and

about to speak my last I will beckon those near to me over, raise my

face to their ears and say:



"We.... did ..... it. We - did - it. WE DID THE WILD THING IN THE

EMBASSY! We messed up the sheets and the carpets REEEEAAAALLL




Give us even an inch of Slack and we will abuse every last mile of it

right into the ground!



A few hours later we did the same act at the gate "Thank you for your

help on this project Miss Wong." and then went down to SanLiTun Road

to have a last drink at one of the gaijin watering holes. I told her

to call me when I got back to Osaka. I also let slip more about [Miss

Wong #2] in Shanghai. "Honey I was trying to forget you!" She nodded

understandlingly, I showed her to the door and that was that.



My luck slowly reversed and then twisted down some black hole in the

Van Allen Belt after that. Jan and Gary were busy until 11 on a

Saturday so I was stuck alone back at the German restaurant where the

worst of the expats were out in force. When you are abroad sometime

all you need to do is open your mouth, your accent is revealed and

people IMMEDIATELY HATE YOUR GUTS. At the Hard Rock Cafe I asked a

young lady if I could just wedge past and stand in a corner and some

fat clod started screaming at "No! Get out! Fuck off!!" I retreated a

few steps and then answered his curses in kind. Sure enough a half an

hour I'm at the urinal and he walks in gets to work a few stalls down.

I shake my head and say to the wall "Man, I'm going to pretend that

didn't happen." Animal grunt. "I'm from Japan, we're very polite

there, " I said zipping up and leaving. "I'm from Wales" he barks.

"Well good luck to your rugby team." I avoided the fight and I still

had something nice to say. Amazing.



It got worse. At the next club DDs Beijing, I was supposed to give a

message from one of the O'Malley's barmaids to Freddie, the manager, a

guy I had never met. Freddie was so pleased to hear from her that he

started to pour me complimentary shots of tequila. (NO BWANA NO!

TABOO! TABOO!) When I drunkenly weaved into one of the cavernous

booths and tried to chat a group of young Canadians they all looked at

each other and bolted, leaving me alone. I passed out at around two

and of course missed Jan and Gary who came in to the bar, saw the

place was dead, and then left. At 6 a.m. I was awaken by a index

finger snap on my left nut, jumping up straight as a ramrod surrounded

by a smiling Freddy and the remaining waiters who got me in my cab,

almost a new Chinese eunuch.



The next day at around noon I rallied for a friendly breakfast with my

two friends at Subway sandwiches. The Subway in Japan has dropped the

Italian meatball sandwich because the Japanese couldn't get into it

but there is was in Beijing. Bella, bella, mozzarella! After I

watched Jan and Gary play a few rounds of squash at the health club I

said my goodbyes. "Gone but hopefully not forgotten!" "No way Sven!"

I thanked Jan profusely for his magnificent hospitality, ("I owe you

bigtime dude!") and promised to show both of them a better time when

they came to Japan again.



But my luck was about to take a major bump. During all the excitment

I still had not reconfirmed my return flight reservation. I finally

reached the airline office less than 24 hours before the flight. In

Japan your ticket and the time printed on is solid as stone. But this

was China and I was dealing with Air China, the PRC's Aeroflot. "I'm

sorry sir, you reconfirmed too late and you have lost your seat."




To be continued.




Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University


2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan


tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244




From Sat Mar 07 23:32:13 1998


Newsgroups: alt.slack


Subject: SPLR Tour of China #5


From: (Sven Serrano)


Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 07:32:13 GMT



In all my years of travelling I don't think I had ever f**ked up this

royally. It says right in the ticket 'reconfirm at least 72 hours

before your flight.' But there I was, blurred by Chinese sensuality

and pleasure, oblivious to the fact that I had one responsiblity - to

be back at work in Japan on Tuesday March 3. My cash flow depended on

it. The loss of face would be tremendous, especially as I was

covering a class for one of my senior university professors. A quick

check of my new '98 notebook revealed I had not even copied down the

crucial phone numbers from all my different employers. And to top it

off, if I arrived back 3 days late on March 6, my Japanese visa would

already have expired and I might be barred from entering the country

(even placed on the next plane OUT).



Damage control. I packed all my stuff at Jan's place. Before I left

I put away my bedding, took out the garbage and did the dishes,

admiring the shiny Danish faucet and fixtures as I scrubbed . I left

a thank you note, a copy of my one academic article published last

year ("Alfred Hussey and the Drafting of the Japanese Constitution)

and a copy of the latest Stark Fist of Removal. I saluted the guard

one last time, grabbed a grateful cabbie (airport!) and settled back

for the ride out to the strip.



Domestic Chinese air travel had come a long way from when guys like

Earthquake McGoon would scratch their stubble and fire up their DC-3s

for the supply run to Hangzhou. In the late 60s and 70s CAAC

stewardesses would acutally recite Mao's thoughts in chorus to

passengers in the waiting room. Today the domestic departure area was

clean and efficient, passengers shuttling to their gates without too

much fuss. A nice business center offered internal long distance calls

so I walked up and placed a call to [Miss Wong #2] in Shanghai. "Hi,

I'm in Beijing and I'm flying to Shanghai tonight.""I know, I'm going

to meet you at the airport." She already knew the flight number.

"That's wonderful but there's a problem," and I explained the

situation. She said she would help when I arrived.



Actually the crisis made things work out rather well as least as the

last night in Shanghai (and China went). I had originally planned to

leave my bags at left luggage and do one last all-nighter on the town.

But with my waning funds and the need to be at the airport at the

crack of dawn to bribe someone to get on my flight killed this

irresponsible option. She met me at the gate and we were immediatly

besieged by a small army of cab and hotel hasslers. Two aunties got

us. "Oh, the airline office is closed in international departures.

This man can help you. this way." dragging me and [Miss Wong #2] 50

meters to the adjoining airport hotel. The travel guy at the desk

confirmed that everything was closed for the night. But we were here,

the room rate was right so I checked in, another victory for the hotel

hasslers who finally left us alone.



Rule #1 in China. Do not take a Chinese woman into your hotel room

unless you are 100% sure you can get away with it. The penalties can

still be arrest for her and permanent expulsion from China for you.

But [Miss Wong #2] helped me with my bag and no one noticed as we

closed the door behind us.



It was a tender moment, one I won't long forget. Being with her again

I realized that this was the woman I wanted to marry and have a family

with. She simply radiated a inner kindness that was so fresh and so

different from the other vampiresses I had come accross in my life..

We breathlessly proceeded, worried that at any moment there would be a

knock at the door and the dreaded Public Safety would exact their

revenge on the foreigner for 'insulting a Chinese woman.' But our

actions were of the innocent variety anyway as the previous week I had

asked my Shanghai girl a personal question that I already knew the

answer to. "Honey, you're saving yourself for marriage, aren't you?"




We straightened our clothing, but none had been fully removed anyway.

I glanced at my watch. It was midnight and we had been in the room

for nearly an hour. We walked out unnoticed (again!, luck had

returned!) and made our way to the 2nd floor bar where over glasses

of mango juice we discussed our future. I could be back in Shanghai

as early as May for a short trip, Also a letter of invitation could

bring her to Japan to see if she would like it there. "I'm not sure

if my family will let me go." "Don't worry," I counselled, holding

her delicate hand. "We'll give them time." And then another goodby

on an empty Shanghai street, the cab's window fogging over as she

tried bravely to smile.



The final morning dawned and I was up and out the door at 6:00 a.m.

Sunrise broke over Shanghai and the departure hall where the porters'

work units were lined up to hear the morning message from the team

leaders. With some effort I found the appropriate desk, bare and

empty. The TV was showing a man doing Tai Chi exercises and to the

amusement of the cleaning ladies I did a few myself to chill out,

including the only one I remember, 'Moving Heaven and Earth.' And

thus the slack plane was aligned correctly at 6:45 a.m. when the door

opened and a young uniformed Air China receptionist of uncorruptable

demeanor stepped out and fired up her computer. I stepped forward and

politely explained my case. I apologized for my tardiness buy

repeated that I must be back in Japan today. Tap, tap, tap on the

keys. Yes, I was still waitlisted. She told me there was space on a

China Eastern Flight, but she pointed out that the ticket read 'Air

China Only.' She gestured vaguely toward an upper tier of silent

offices, saying that I might personally beg to be allowed on another

airline's flight. I gritted my teeth. Not good enough. "What about

business class?"



And thus in the clouds over Shanghai a tell tale mouth widened into

the trademark grin. I was back in the saddle, snatching the last

available business class seat on my flight, for a mere 600 RMB for

the upgrade. She printed out the new reservation and I thanked her

profusely. I was able to go back to my hotel, enjoy a complimentary

breakfast of black tea and dim sum, and, almost as an afterthought,

write out a letter-style travel article for my local English language

magazineback in Osaka, which if published, would essentially pay for

upgrade. I called [Miss Wong #2] before she went to work and told her

of my good fortune apologetically, for I knew she would have been more

than happy for me to have been stuck here for a few more days. At the

airport bank I changed my T/Cs to pay for my upgrade. A Korean woman

came up and tried to change 20,000 devalued won. The Chinese guy said

in English "No change Korean won" The woman shouted back "I have no

money! What can I do?" The bank clerk ignored her I sympathetically

muttered "it used to be good."



And so I had a spectaculary comfortable flight back to Old Japan,

blissed out in business class away from the masses in economy. The

smoked salmon was lovely and in the right light the Dynasty (Chinese)

white wine was drinkable. After the meal the no smoking light

actually came off and I was able to light up a 555 with my goofy Mao

lighter. From my window I could enjoy a clear view of Kyushu's Mt.

Unzen volcano and the island of Shikoku. I could actually see a tiny

fishing port, Yawatahama, where waiting for a ferry in 1987 I had

enjoyed karoke for the first time in a tiny fisherman's hostess bar.

I sighed. My life had turned into something out of a "Terry and the

Pirates' comic strip and all in all that wasn't so bad. Some people

go to India for spiritual enlightement but I found mine in China.

Everything had gelled together and somehow my previously fragile

self-confidence had been reforged in a new form which would never

leave me again. I was ready to get home and kick some ass. Slack was

mine. The wheels touched down briskly and I stepped out of the plane

first, ready to fufill my true calling.


March 7, 1998



To be continued with an post-trip epilogue


The Shining Path of Least Resistance Ministries,


Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University


2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan


tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244




From Mon Mar 09 06:38:42 1998


Newsgroups: alt.slack


Subject: Post China trip epilogue


From: (Sven Serrano)


Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 14:38:42 GMT



The good luck and Slack which I found China has continued here in

Japan (at least until Friday the 13th!)



  1. The first phone call I got was from my landlady who said that the empty
  2. upstairs apartment was free for any of my friends who would want






  3. I held court at Murphy's bar with the oral debriefing of my trip

before an amazed group of punters.



3. Sat down and wrote four 'love letters' in a row, can't remember

the last time I ever did that.



4. Lily [Miss Wong #2 real name, now you know] called me on on her

office phone from Shanghai. When I asked if she would get into

trouble for doing so she scoffed and said not to worry.



5. Went back to work for only two days, one of the substitution

classes paying me $100 (12500 yen) in cold cash for a mere 90 minutes

of talk



6. My wonderful deadbeat friend acutally paid me another $120,

something I had no right to expect him to do



7. When I went anywhere all my train connections were perfectly timed

as if a divine hand was holding the doors open for me.



8. Cooked some incredible food with leftorver ingredients almost by

accident. Realized I could be a champion chef if I really wanted to




9. Called Akiko, who I thought had left the country and she amazingly

answered the phone.



10. Saw the Spanish bar hostess who introduced me to jan by accident

(500-1 odds I would see here this soon) and told her about the trip.

She said she would like to go to Beijing too and see Jan. When I

e-mailed this to Jan he replied "maybe I should believe in "Bob" too."



11. Realiized I had a posslible career as a writer if I can churn out

copy like this.



12. All week long I've kept up this internal brag (a la Mohammed Ali)






13. I helped an old lady across the street and I calmed a manic

Racoon in an exotic pet store. I was starting to feel like St.

Francis of Asissi for a few hours.



14 I realized that life does begin at 40 and that I can let life come

to me.



Thank you all for reading and I would love any feedback on any of it.




Shining Path of Least Resistance Ministries


Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University


2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan


tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244