California dreaming through Chinese eyes<blockquote>For years I’ve been dragging bemused Chinese friends round picturesque teahouses which to them are miserable hovels, and backstreets that I find charming but they think should be demolished immediately.
And here I am, to my surprise, paying homage at the temples of Western consumerism and the American Dream.
On our last day together, the chefs want to buy some gifts, so we go to a famous department store. But as we stroll around, our quest takes a desperately comic turn.
Everything we pick up - leather wallets, fashion accessories, beauty products - turns out to be made in China.
We literally can’t find anything that is locally produced.
“And it’ll look really stupid,” says one of the chefs, “if my friends notice their gifts are Chinese after all.” In the end, we leave without buying anything.
As the days go by, I realise that the chefs have a travel plan that is more alien to me than I’d thought.
They are just not interested in exploring American history and culture, and they don’t want to see spectacular scenery, they’ve got plenty of that at home.
What they do want is to see how America measures up to the American Dream.
They’re all familiar with the stereotype of the United States as the richest and most advanced nation in the world, its lifestyle as the holy grail of development.
And they want to see it in all its brilliant modernity, to understand how far China has to go to catch up, and whether the struggle will be worth it.
Given their high expectations, it’s not surprising they are disappointed.
Even lovely San Francisco doesn’t fit the bill.
“If that’s going to be the end result of China’s development,” says one, “then I’m really in despair.”
The extravagant mansions and leafy avenues of Beverly Hills are more promising.
“This is what we should be aiming for,” says one of the chefs.
But perhaps it’s a shock that the gilded life of the Hollywood elite is such a tiny part of what we actually see. The rest is simply ordinary: people going about their lives, vagrants begging on the streets, cheap consumer goods.</blockquote>
Call me naive, but I was actually hopeful that the eBay auction for the Unauthorized iPod U2 vs. Negativland Special Edition would come to pass without any legal threat. Of course, I've been excessively optimistic before. At 4:35 p.m. EST today, the auction was shut down, and eBay sent me an automated email that read:
…………….<blockquote>I put up an archived copy on the site, so people can see what the fuss was all about. And then I sent Apple an email asking them kindly to explain themselves. More to come…</blockquote>
Original Manuscript Of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. $1,630.55. Time left: 4 days 8 hours.