Chinese contemporary art and meeting Ai Weiwei

January 2nd, 2009 by jman

Today, Yamin and I went to Cao Chang Di, the newer village of galleries just to the north of the 798 Art Factory, to see an exhibit of Ai Weiwei’s “New York Photographs 1983-1993” at Three Shadows Photography Art Center.

Over the last few months, we’ve taken several trips to various places in Beijing, usually the 798 or Cao Chang Di areas, to visit galleries, usually with no plan but to just hop among them and see if there’s anything we particularly like. Yamin’s reasons are related to her new career as an artist, and my own reasons are that I want to learn art history, to be able to have a conversation about art, and to nurture some uneducated art ideas of my own. Read the rest of this entry »

Beijing Bicycles: tire levers

November 30th, 2008 by jman

After destroying my brand new inner tube last weekend by trying to use a screwdriver as a tire lever, I spent a bit of time searching around for tire tools, and learned a bit about the Beijing bicycle market during the process.

Bicycles aren’t the same ubiquitous mode of transportation in Beijing as they were in the decade after Deng Xiaoping started his economic reforms in 1978, when he said “to get rich is glorious” and when he promised that every household would have a Flying Pigeon-brand bicycle. These days, buses and subways have the greater role in shuttling the masses around this giant city, and as the Beijingnese grow wealthier, they take taxis, electric scooters and even drive their own cars. However, a great number still get around on bicycles, and the bicycle industry still thrives. Although the Flying Pigeon company has nearly quit manufacturing their classic 28″-wheel bicycles, like the one I ride, many other brands have sprung into the market, like Forever (who makes a similar classic 28″ model with enviable luggage racks that the mail carriers ride), Giant (from Taiwan), and many others. And when your bike breaks down, there is always a roadside stand within a li (a Chinese mile) or two who will sell and install new inner tubes, brake pads, pedals and cranks, and other common parts. Read the rest of this entry »

Beijing Bicycles: tire valves

November 23rd, 2008 by jman

Today I tried to replace my bicycle’s inner tube, but because the tire is so tight over the rim, and because I don’t have nice smooth tire tools, I ended up puncturing my brand new inner tube while putting it back on. What a disappointment!

It turns out that the old inner tube’s problem was the valve; the rest of it is still OK. In China, we have two types of valve: the newer style Schrader valve, like we use in the US, and an older one that I’ve never seen before. I was surprised, when I disassembled it, to find how it worked. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday, Yammy!!!

November 16th, 2008 by jman

Here’s a map with 50 art galleries in Beijing, their locations, websites, and other contact information. I hope we can go see some soon!
Read the rest of this entry »

Magic Beard Cream

October 25th, 2008 by jman

This is an old one from last spring, when Yamin and I found this jar of Magic Beard Cream here in Beijing. It was incredible! Just look at the photos of the results! Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, world!

October 25th, 2008 by jman

Thanks for visiting butchwax.com. This is, as of now, an experimental, personal blog for John and Yammy in Beijing. This may move to another domain, so enjoy it while you can!