Friday, June 22, 2007

Party at Jianghu!!

Now that I'm back in the states, I've got the time and the connection speed to make a post about my birthday party last week. Thanks to everyone who came, and all those who gave me liquor and made me look like an alcoholic.

The staff at Jianghu were great, basically giving me the space for free, knowing that we'd drain them dry (we sure did).

Tunes were supplied by a Chinese/French Jazz band, and Kro showed up halfway through the night with a big stack of fresh pizzas. I gotta start charging this guy for product placement.

As you can see, a good time was had by all. I hope to see everyone again next time around.

By the way, it's not really your birthday unless you get proper plowed and wear a crown:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mekong River Folklife Festival

I'm heading back to the states next week. It's been almost a year since my last visit, so I'm looking forward to uncensored reading material and gaining lots of weight.

But this trip isn't all about fun and games. I am travelling to DC to take part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year's theme is Mekong: Connecting Cultures. Folk artists and craftsmen from across the Mekong Region (Yunnan, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) will be descending on the Washington Mall for about two weeks to present their traditional cultures and folkways to the United States in a face-to-face live exhibition.

The Mekong River begins in Tibet and winds its way through Yunnan and all of Indochina before reaching the sea in Saigon. With dozens of cultures, languages and religions along its banks, the Mekong has been called the most culturally diverse river in the world.

I've had the opportunity to play a small supporting role in translating and planning with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife Studies and the government of Yunnan Province over the past few years, and now I will take part in the festival as a presenter (and babysitter) for the folk artists during the festival.

Some hilights of the Yunnan segment will include performers He Jinhua (Naxi), Gen Dequan (Dai) and Luo Fengxue (Yi), all of whom travelled with us on the Yunnan Revealed Tour in 2005. Also in attendance will be He Xiudong, a young Dongba priest of the Naxi People, who is descended from a long line of such priests. He is one of a small number of dedicated youths in China working to preserve the ancient living traditions of Yunnan's ethnic groups. In all, there will be performances of the traditional music and dance of the Yi, Naxi, Dai, Pumi, Jingpo, Lisu and Nu Peoples, as well as the craft traditions of many of the above, as well as Bai and Han. There will also be food presentations from all over the province.

Let's not forget that this festival is about the whole Mekong Region, and that the other countries will be representing with just as much force and diversity. I don't want to spoil all the fun, so just come out and check us out. We'll be on the mall starting June 27, and out there until July 8. Be there be there be there...

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