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By Stewart Nusbaumer

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Squiring Out Of Baghdad
Is the surge ending or dispersing the insurgency?

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Embed in Trouble
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  Dispatch: Bombed in Beijing

China's development is stunning, but not as stunning as the Goddess of Tiananmen Square.
By Stewart Nusbaumer

Beijing, China -- "Hi, me Susie. Where you from?"

I turn to my left -- instantly stop! "Ah, the West End Bar," I stammer.


"I mean New York."

With the slanted eyes of a cat, the delicious legs of a giraffe, the hard curves of a tiger, the moist lips of a snake, Susie radiates the exotic and the exquisite. Raw heat. Jungle!

"Where's that?" she asks sweetly.

"Ah, off the east coast of United States." In strange echo, I hear the ridiculousness of my words, but I'm in no shape for literary deconstruction.


Standing right in front of me is the Goddess of Tiananmen Square. No, I'm not told this, a man just knows these things. From the border of Mongolia to that of Vietnam to the fuzzy border with Kyrgyzstan, that is the Goddess' turf.

When I first heard Susie speak -- this was before seeing the Goddess -- I assumed she was one of the regulars prowling Tiananmen Square guiding foreign tourists across the street to the National Museum and then to the Forbidden City, maybe thinning their wallets more with a trip to the Great Wall. A decade ago the number of tourists in Beijing was small and generally budget backpackers; today there are large numbers of middle class foreigners. And today there is a new tourist destination, for a different type of shopper, in a thick grove of bushes not far from the Square. But that is another story.

"Isn't this where the commie thugs massacred the democracy students?"


Susie is no tourist guide, that's for sure. And she's no working lady of the square, although a little freelancing with tourists should not be ruled out. The Goddess of Tiananmen Square is more than merely a Chinese shyster or floozy but exactly what I do not know. Like many things in China, I never would know. This is not a country that reveals itself easily.

Her Goddess offers me a drink from her pouch, which is covered in silver and brown snakeskin. "You like," she insists. "It's special drinkie."

I should have known better. I have traveled in 101 countries, lived in Europe for six years, in South America for one year, in Southeast Asia for five years, then in China for one year. And now I live in New York City, the pit of danger. I've been blown apart in war and in love, stabbed in the back by an only brother, ripped off by a slick preacher, and tortured in the classrooms of Vassar College. I should have known what comes in snakeskin is serious trouble.

But this was the Goddess of Tiananmen Square -- with miraculously chiseled body from swinging on jungle vines, with saintly voice from the fountain of the holy well -- with 20 percent of the planet's land and over a billion people in her control. Besides, my nerves were rather freakish, my mind sizzled. Jet lag mixed with cultural assault topped with a hellish rush of pollution disguised as black fog had me gasping and operating on less than a single mental cylinder.

I run my hand over the rough snakeskin. Well, it seems innocent. It looks like water, smells like water with a little just a little gasoline. And Susie seems honest; she is certainly a knock out, knocking me out. I accept her offer and take a good American swallow.

But this was not America -- nor Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China of a decade ago, my brother, a preacher, Vassar. No, China is different.

A Chinese Fireworks Display

When the fireworks subsided, I checked my equipment: throat scorched, stomach peeled raw, balls fried black, toes twisted back. It was hard to stand, impossible to think. No cylinders now. But never underestimate the masochistic nature and ingrained stupidity of the American male. I took another swallow, maybe two, maybe who knows how many. I do know that the Beijing sky burst into the most fantastic colors, popping psychedelic designs, which enthralled me until I started weeping. Soon I had more important problems.

Diarrhea gushed down both legs, unfriendly dragons' blowtorched my skull, flesh-eating communists feasted on my smoldering brain, long eyed Gestapo brutes dragged me off and....

Wait, I skipped my crowd-pleasing performance. According to Susie, my precious American head took a sudden and violent crash into the sacred stones of Tiananmen Square. "Like zoom," her arm slashes downward. Susie said my initial head slam produced a very impressive bounce of several inches, which elicited an enthusiastic applause from the gathering spectators, followed by several small head dribbles that the Chinese also enjoyed. Then a rumor spread that the American circus was in town, which may or may not have precipitated the long-eyed Gestapo to drag me off and....

Enough of my trip gone slightly awry. What did you expect, this is China? I'm an Internet Journalist on assignment. Things always go bad for us. But I never expected that snake booze -- enough of that!

This is a whacked country on the fast track to insanity. You have doubts? Wrap your brain around this: China is a rigid communist nation with a Wild West capitalist system, a venerable civilization racing into tomorrow's modernity, a filthy Asian cesspool sprouting gleaming towers of stunning skyscrapers, a compassionate people applauding an American's head imitating a pogo stick.

I have been submerged in the weird before, after all I was born in New Jersey, but China is quickly slipping out of weirdness and into the ugly abyss of incomprehension. Things are getting out of control here.

Advice for a Fellow American

After a good night's sleep, I awake with a better hold on reality. In the lobby is the China Daily News, the world's most optimistic propaganda sheet. Donald Rumsfeld is in Beijing. The man who said Iraq would be a cakewalk, who said Iraqis would pay for the rebuilding of their demolished country, who promised our military was incapable of another Vietnam-type rout is here to straighten out the Chinese. Just in the nick of time, I think.

Then it hits me. I'm an American patriot, why don't I help out. Having recently been nailed to the toilet, I had oodles of time to think through the vicious pitfalls of China. Now that the welts on my forehead are receding, the headaches are nearly gone. I should write our Secretary of Defense a letter and give him the lowdown on these people.

Dear Donald,

Although I have not been a big fan of yours, I do have some advice on how you should handle these Chinese. They're a tricky group of incurable shysters who need to be manipulated correctly.

First, DO NOT INVADE! China won't be a cakewalk like Iraq, and Chinese are notoriously cheap so they won't pay us for destroying their country and ripping their families into guotiao noodles. Also, you may or may not know this, but the U.S. military has a rather dismal record in Asia. So I wouldn't push it.

(If you don't take my advice, please make sure collateral damage doesn't wipe out the Dong Jiao Min Xiang Hotel, especially room 432, the one with the flashing red light in the window and florescent-lit tiger skin rug on the wall.)

Second, you have been looking rather haggard and stressed-out. I suggest you head over to Tiananmen Square and find Susie. You can't miss her, being the Goddess of Tiananmen Square. She has something that will loosen you up.

Third, it was a bad idea to start your visit to China by meeting with that group of overweight, dimwitted American businessmen. They don't know anything, only how to parrot what their Chinese masters tell them. But Susie can help you get back on the track of clear thinking.

Finally, I hear you are suspicious of Chinese intentions, especially since they have jacked up their defense spending to some astronomical level, and are using every trick in the Mafia accountant's book to hide what they astronomical level is. How dare they act like us!

Anyway, I suggest you indulge their fantasies. They're economy is on the skids. The men have no stomach for manly drinking. The women are dogs, certainly not worth fighting for. I strongly suggest we wait them out. By the time you have democratized the Middle East, China will be crumbling. Time is on our side. Trust me; I know what I'm talking about.


Stewart's third dispatch from China, Tongue Tied and Stomach Pumped, will be posted in one week, next Monday.

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email him at

Posted Monday, November 21, 2005


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  Live from China

By Stewart Nusbaumer


Astounded in China
China’s development is stunning and its power is growing quickly; will America become a lapdog for the Asian dragon?

Bombed in Beijing
Yes China’s development is stunning, but not as stunning as the Goddess of Tiananmen Square.

Enigma or Bomb?
It's a weird world with weird Americans making it hard to tell what is really real.

Tongue-Tied & Stomach Pumped
While their language tells us about Chinese society, their cuisine tells us about a very dirty political secret.

Drinking & Driving
Driving in China teaches you to appreciate airplanes; drinking the booze will probably turn you into a tea drinker.

Sexpots Galore
When sex merges with politics, the Big Dog authorities never win.




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