July 31, 2010



  • Nice interview with Raf Simons (WWD via HB)
  • Lengthy inverview with David Andrew Sitek (BV)
  • Awesome interview with Bill Murray (GQ)
  • Telling interview with Penn & Teller (Telegraph)
  • Decent interview with Ari Marcopoulos (Dossier)
  • Hip interview with Pedro Winter (Busy P of Ed Banger) (OC)
  • Strange interview with Spike Lee (Gothamist)
  • Passable interview with Rafael de Cardenas (S×H)
  • Brief interview with Tara McPherson (PSFK)



  • Urban China, ever the work in progress (NYT)
  • China’s Banks: Great Wall Street (The Economist)
  • Bad PR for the nouveau riche in the PRC (WSJ via Gawker)
  • The other oil spill (NYT / Salon)
  • A green movement grows in China (The Economist)
  • The Economist also draws an ophidian metaphor for China’s growth / lack thereof.


Media & Technology:








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July 21, 2010

The Fabled Chinese Hipster – Parts 2.1-2.3

See also: Part 1, One Point Five and 2: Reprise.

PBR: three letters that spell the beginning of the End for Eastern Civilization.


However, as with just about every Chinese variant, the adjective ‘bizarro’ prevails: Evan Osnos of the New Yorker applauds Danwei‘s eye for PBR’s PRC rebranding as Blue Ribbon 1844 (蓝带啤酒), a premium craft beer.

That reliably blue-collar Milwaukee lager, later adopted by unbearable hipsters on the coasts, has turned up in China. And P.B.R., best known in the U.S. for being the cheapest beer on the grocery-store shelf, has—like so many expatriates before it—taken the move as an opportunity to change its image. For a beer, that appears to involve an elegant glass bottle and a fantastically ridiculous price tag. One bottle: forty-four dollars.

–Evan Osnos, Pardon Me, Would You Have Any Pabst Blue Ribbon
Letter from China blog on The New Yorker, July 19 2010

Osnos, ever duly diligent, also includes this link to PBR [advertising] through the ages. In fact, the story is so fascinating that he has just posted a follow-up post with a few choice quotes from PBR / BR1844 Brewmaster / Chief Representative – Asia Alan Kornhauser. Short of outright plagiarism, the relevant excerpt is reproduced below:

I formulated a special high-gravity ale called “1844.” It’s all malt, and we use caramel malts from Germany. The initial aging is dry-hopped rather heavily. Then we do a secondary aging in new uncharred American oak whiskey barrels. We bought 750 brand new barrels to the tune of $100,000. This is a very special beer; it’s retailing for about over $40 U.S. for a 720 ml bottle.

–Interview with Alan Kornhauser, All About Beer, July 2010

Indeed, Osnos’ colleague (New Yorker Beer Correspondent) Jesse Rodriguez notes that:

Traditional P.B.R. is light and fizzy with a distinct cloying malt profile, while the B.R. 1884 [sic] has a rounder mouthfeel with a notable hop presence on the front palate and finish. Is it worth the money? Probably not, but it’s definitely not a P.B.R.

–Jesse Rodriguez in Pabst in China, Continued,
Letter from China blog on The New Yorker, July 21 2010


The interview continues with a few more telling tidbits:

There’s an audience there for it?

There’s the nouveau riche, and in China, perception is everything—look at me, I’m rich. Then also, there is another group that may be part of our market, and that’s state banquet dinners. Normally, you’d drink brandy, and this beer kind of has the look of brandy—it’s a reddish-brown color, but it won’t hurt you as much.

The beer combines a new flavor and a Western status symbol. Apart from the prestige, how are you selling these new tastes?

It’s new on the market, so I’m not sure exactly how it’s going—I have very little to do with the sales side. There is a TV commercial that’s quite attractive, that uses old still photos of the early days of Pabst, back when they used wooden barrels there.

What’s Pabst’s story in China?

We were the first foreign brewery in China, since the liberation in 1949—as it’s called there. We’re doing about one and a half million barrels there. Our first brews were, I believe, 1993; I didn’t get there until 1998. At that time, the largest-selling foreign brand in China was Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Read all about it

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Possibly more related than one might think: the hipster fashion cycle.


I would hypothesize that Chinese fashion fundamentally differs from Western trends (to which the infographic applies) at the mainstream and conservative stages, where the former tends to correlate with (said) nouveau riche and the latter is either mainstream in the Western sense or more traditional Chinese. Nostalgia, then, would be informed by Western trickle-down imagery, while the ironic stage is virtually non-existent.

Though there are examples of ironic style on display in China—Mao’s face, red stars, military regalia are today worn with something less than earnestness—there is also more at stake in young people’s fashion choices.

–J. David Goodman, Are There Really No Hipsters in China?, Slate, April 21 2010

Flavorwire via PSFK

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Why the FCH is still a rare breed: Smart, Young and Broke; insert bad pun about higher education not necessarily being hire education. (Thanks Eugene; cf.)

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July 14, 2010

Dinner: Captain Lawrence St. Vincent's Dubbel Edition

Despite the ever-impending thunderstorms lurking in the troposphere of late, I decided that I needed to at least get out of the house with a short ride to Brooklyn Beer & Soda (as well as a stop at Greene Grape Provisions). I’d already settled on dinner based on leftover pork belly from the 4th: a hearty bacon mushroom orzo with a bit of smoky earthiness.


The beer pairing was a gametime decision: it was between a summer-y hefeweizen (Weihenstephaner or Ayinger’s Bräu-Weisse) and Captain Lawrence St. Vincent’s Dubbel, which called my name from BBS’s ample, well-stocked shelving.


Suffice it to say that I was very pleased with the darker brew: St. Vincent’s slight tartness, opened up with a brilliant, fruity (in a good way) maltiness that complemented the sweet richness of the meal perfectly.


At risk of sounding too proud, the photo probably doesn’t do the dish justice—I was going for overarching porkiness, so I caramelized the shallots and garlic (always!) in bacon and the last of my pork fat, not to mention drippings in the orzo. Mushrooms and reserved pork belly went in later as the pasta neared al dente completion. I seasoned the sautée and the orzo with a little S&P, plus a bit of basil, nutmeg, garlic powder and red pepper flakes in the latter.


Naturally, I topped it off with parmesan romano. Sans other courses—a simple Caesar to start would have sealed the deal—I ended up with a slightly oversized portion, though I was rather pleased with the meal on the whole. In fact, a cigarette (alongside the final delicious glass of St. Vincent’s) made for a curiously fitting dessert.


Most of this was consumed on the 4th, but I saved a good bit for myself...

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May 3, 2010

Will Oldham × Robot (=Dogfish Head)

“That is an impressive thought pattern for a human.”Sam Calagione Robot

Will Oldham plays a human being opposite a robot brewmaster—more Conchords than Daft Punk—in this chuckle-worthy 11-minute promotional video for Dogfish Head Brewery’s “glee-increasing product.”

Sample interaction:

Robot: Knock knock.
Jonathan Smart: Who’s there?
Robot: A robot… Oh shit.

Robot Brewery Tour, (5:45)

Not-really-a-spoiler-at-all: brewmaster Sam Calagione plays the robot, who nonchalantly skims over profound issues such as whether it is possible for robots to believe in anything (2:09).

The Awl via the Daily Swarm

While the Delaware-based craft brewery doesn’t spend any money on advertising, this marks their first foray into digital/viral territory: as per Burkhard Bilger’s brilliant 10,000-word, borderline-hagiographical 2008 profile of the ever-charismatic Calagione for the New Yorker: “He designs many of Dogfish’s labels and cites Andy Warhol and Coco Chanel as inspirations—’that fusion of commercialism and art.’” Truly fascinating stuff.

Also: Calagione in his own words (Inc., July 2009)

Related: “The more intelligent, who scored high on a vocabulary test, would drink more than the dumb…” –Razib Khan, People of Class Drink Alcohol, Discover Magazine, May 2 2010

Coincidentally, I’m looking forward to enjoying Dogfish Head’s Red & White, which I picked up at Brooklyn Beer & Soda yesterday.

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December 7, 2009

Vandeweghe or the Highway

So as of this weekend, the New Jersey Nets are no longer winless: they lost just enough games (18) to set the NBA record for most losses to start a season and have since improved to 1-19 (going 1-1 against the Bobcats and Knicks over the weekend).

via The Situationist

via The Situationist

I bet they would have won yesterday’s game if Yi had come back as planned.

All of which is a long way of saying that I’ve finally caught up with the American drama series known as the National Basketball Association. CCTV5, the sports network here, airs several games a week and it’s nice to watch games in full, with the added appeal of trying to decipher Chinese basketball terminology and slang (The Sixers are called “76 People”! Hilarious!). Unfortunately, the live broadcasts typically take place between 8AM and noon, perhaps the one time of day when it’s tough to justify cracking a beer… even if it is the official beer of the NBA in China.


Of course, I do not aspire to in-depth analysis or hard-hitting investigative reporting—my level of expertise is unapologetically vacuous and derivative. If you want something more substantial, I will refer you to Bill Simmons’ recently published magnum opus. I have yet to see it here in China, much less read it, but its one of several books I hope to acquire with my holiday windfall, as I’m sure I will receive a bookstore giftcards from unimaginative relatives. I’m excited for the footnotes, all 1,032 of them.

Also, is it just me, or does Kiki Vandeweghe sound like some bizarro version of George from Seinfeld; cf. Koko Vandelay. [EDIT: Holy shit there is a Coco Vandeweghe. Due diligence as always.]

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December 1, 2009

Assorted Links

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