Leave the Kiosk after inhaling a spicy chicken sandwich and a soda, a little out-door eatery in Sanlitun which boasts the best fast food in Beijing. It certainly kicks any of those famous fast food joints which shall remain nameless. Walk past a group of Spaniards just sitting down to order and make my way past a guy who is always selling DVDs in front of Jazz-Ya, a little jazz club next to the Kiosk. The sounds of construction ever-present. I head down Bar Street on my way to The Bookworm for my usual Wednesday night affair.
"Lady bar." Two tightly-attired and well made-up young ladies approach me. The phrase is part of the atmosphere. I pause, look them in the eyes, and turn up the street lined with chairs, tables and people. Bar after bar for one long city block, all of them with giant glass windows, neon lights and scantily-clad women on little stages singing Chinese pop hits. Groups of women dressed to impress stand around and chat, young boys invite passers-by inside for drink specials, vendors sell glow-in-the-dark pins and rings, others sell tobacco, ice-cream, DVDs or flowers. Traffic is an incessant crawl of tinted windows and cabs. People sit on the sidewalk and drink or talk. Construction workers on the other side of the street watch all of this. On Bar Street, the dens of iniquity aren't even disguised as beauty salons.
Relatively strong winds and a brief bit of rain over the past few days has made the air quality brilliantly clear. Beijing seems new and clean in the vivid light and blue sky. Walking home, we admired the stars, which are rarely visible from the hazed and dusty surface of the capital city.
Check out my new poem in Hamilton Stone Review. Less and less time to bring you up-to-speed during the week, but I think about you as often as possible. Who's coming here from Tajikistan!? Portugal!? I don't know, but it feels good...