A Holiday Gift…

The Washington Post‘s “Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide” goes into yaogun, and China, territory, somewhat unexpectedly. Under the guise of that most unhelpful of musical genre names “world music,” the article drops Cui Jian as a good gift for the musically-inclined international news-watcher in your life. But there’s a but here: The author points folks toward the album of young rockers’ covers of Cui Jian tunes, and this author would suggest – insist, really – that folks go right to the source and forgo the cover album.

We’d also be quick to add that bundling any Cui Jian music with a copy of Red Rock is really the best way to get the whole yaogun holiday thing happening.

While this particular blogger would recommend skipping anything remotely related to the Maotai liquor also suggested on this list, we will heartily second the Lao Gan Ma chili sauce recommendation.

Yaogun Can Still Change Lives…

Reading positive reviews of one’s own work is, to be sure, a great feeling. But reading Han Huilong’s recent article was feeling beyond anything that a good, objective reivew might bring. From my recent travels through China and speaking to a few Chinese audiences — not to mention the period I was researching the book, or those living in China prior to that — it is clear to me, like so many elders from so many places, that, in short, “kids today…”

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Toronto: We Are Official UPDATE: Now with Video!

A belated and large thanks to all involved in March 24’s Red Rock launch at the Gladstone Hotel…!

(Thanks to Anna Withrow for shooting pics!)

I did some yappin’ (here, on China’s journey from Mao  to now via Deng Xiaoping’s Journey to the West and beyond)…


Through Cui Jian’s career, and onwards, to the present…




Nova Heart did some playing (here, lead singer Helen Feng and bassist Bo Xuan, he formerly of Hedgehog)…

Al Di, former journalist (ALDTV is something that must be experienced to be understood) and current Live Nation China promoter/booker/man-about-town; Helen Feng, she of Nova Heart; and I did some more yappin’…

…And folk-yaogunners Shanren played a final set, that had the crowd doing what the band called Chinese Disco Dancing.

Highlight of the afternoon: An audience member approaching me in advance of the talk to ask if I was, in fact, the drummer from RandomK(e), which, luckily for both of us, I was. He’d seen us play a few years ago and dug it. Then he found out I wrote the book he was there to learn about and, well, the rest, is history.

Big thanks to the folks at TINARS, as well as those who traveled from China to participate, and, of course, to all who came, in person and in spirit.

Stay tuned for video evidence… Here’s the video evidence, with big thanks to Meredith Wright:

Red Rock from Meredith Wright on Vimeo.

Press Roundup

In the hours leading up to Red Rock‘s Toronto launch on SATURDAY MARCH 24 1-4pm at the Gladstone Hotel (and at Facebook, here), herewith, a rundown of the not insubstantial, if we do say so ourselves, recent coverage the book has picked up:

Metro on jWc’s Toronto book launch

An Asia Society interview with jWc reposted on the Atlantic‘s website

An audio interview recorded after a talk to the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club on Forbes Magazine’s website.

Shanghai Talk on jWc’s Shanghai International Literary Festival appearance.

Bookclub In a Box talks to jWc.

Open Book Toronto on jWc’s workspace in the “At the Desk” column.

The Toronto Standard interviewed jWc.

The Toronto Reference Library blog’s detailed yaogun 101 entry in advance of jWc’s talk there in February.

An account of jWc’s talk at the Toronto Reference Library at Other Peoples Books.

See you at the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto-based yaogunners!

From Motherland, back to Homeland

A long, intense, strange trip, which, in classic fashion, ended before our hero could properly blog about it. Alas…

You were last left in the Shanghai region, where, many time zones ago, I spoke to Lit Fest audiences and university students alike. Then it was on to Beijing, where awaited the Bookworm International Literary Festival. First, though, two audiences, one of grades 6-8, another of 9-12, at the Canadian International School of Beijing seemed to be more taken by yaogun than I’d given them credit for. At the Bookworm, I participated in the Pop-Up Magazine event, in which I provided the gathered readers of the Beijinger magazine a bit of a quick look at whence the yaogun of the magazine’s pages came. The blooze-rock outfit I left behind, Black Cat Bone, reunited for one last gig, as did, in a new form, my other former band, RandomK(e), with a late-nite/early-morning fiesta at the best little rock club in the world, 2 Kolegas

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