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Jan 1, 2012  •  the final countdown

well, it's over. a year of recovery, of unbroken joyous fatherhood (and husbandhood) and of the mundane day to day. one more year wrapped up in china has always granted me a sense of survival, medical complications notwithstanding. it's been written of to death - the worsening pollution, ongoing corruption, tainted food, spitting, censorship, repugnant toilets, noise and death-defying traffic - further crippled by a population of 'drivers' that steer their flaunty tons of tin like fisher-price toys, completely disregarding pedestrians as nothing more than plastic pylons to be knocked over. i'm sorry, did i mention not to get me started on that last point? perhaps i neglected to state that crossing a street in china with a stroller cradling your precious flesh and blood brings a whole new dimension to this malignancy. and then there's the firecrackers.. the firecrackers.. the firecrackers..

so why allude to all this negativity? i had to make a decision. it's over for me. i mean, i'm still here and for a few months more at least, but it's now only a matter of time, paperwork and canadian bureaucracy (which has a unique unscrupulous chinese spin of its own in beijing), along with getting rid of and / or packing up almost a decade of middle-kingdom living. yup, the dream is over. they sucked it out of me.

today was the pinnacle of complete failure of this society on a personal level. today, an american friend and i were arrested. we were 'taken in', fingerprinted and ridiculed by overweight, smelly 'jingxia' (police). why? the charge was for the simple reason of not carrying passports on our persons. though something else is obviously at play here (we were in public view performing music at a shopping plaza launch), two well-meaning, principled family men going about a happy saturday morning were targeted as agitators and subversives, whilst the mess of my first paragraph's issues were spinning around us without interruption. i've been living here nearly 10 years and today, new year's eve 2011, instead of spending quality afternoon time with my family, i was escorted to my home to grab said passport from its secure hiding place (the place that usually keeps it safe from snappy pickpocket hands on the streets of qingdao), only to have it then confiscated by idiots hopelessly presenting themselves as adroit lawmen whilst my buddy and i now effectively remain under house arrest, awaiting final judgements on our respective fines and lives. needless to say this is not a comforting situation to find oneself in an autocratic police state.

there's no doubt today certainly hammered the nail in my decision to get the hell outta dodge but i have to admit it's been a slow, steady brew in any case and without much warning the proverbial bottle cap has just popped. anyway it's not exactly like i could legally reside here forever (if, god forbid, that thought ever did cross my mind) but i did make the best of it. china gave me a chance to start a new existence when my expectations of life had never been lower anywhere else on this planet. for that i must give due credit. then of course there's kitty, my son (who is half-chinese), my in-laws, trusted friends - all of them wonderful, virtuous good folks, along with my editorial and majority of my professional music experience - the latter two of which i was also fortunate enough to meet the right people at a serendipitously naive time. all of it here in chinaland. all of it despite all manner of establishment doing their best to quell it, all the time. unfortunately i can no longer see any glimmer of light in that last sentence and i'm tired of squinting to be honest. and whilst there are a bunch of good eggs here, some in the photograph below no doubt, there is wretched arrogance, oppression, and xenophobia continuously and relentlessly carried out by the chickens at the top of the pecking (peking?) order that has no sign of getting out of the hen house any time soon. this is no way to live and for the subservient masses destined to play out the rest of their lives in china, i feel regret and sorrow.

新年快乐!
'olympic countdown, 08.08.2008' • qingdao, china    © marc montebello all rights reserved

'olympic countdown, 08.08.2008' • qingdao, china

© MARC MONTEBELLO  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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