Saturday, May 17, 2008

Holding it all in..... for the Olympics

There have been some slight signs of 'progress' in the campaign to eradicate some of the less appealing behavioural traits of Beijingers prior to the projected influx of foreign tourism in August: blatant queue-jumping at the ticket window in the subway is much reduced, queueing for buses is becoming much more orderly, and just occasionally you even find people allowing passengers to disembark from subway carriages before piling through the doors themselves.

But public spitting? I can't say I've detected any significant reduction in this; but it is supposed to be a key focus of the campaign - the powers-that-be having recognised that it is one of the things that most grosses out us sensitive foreigners. I think there really is an expectation here that there will be no spitting at all during the Olympics, that Beijingers will somehow overcome the habit of a lifetime and restrain themselves for a full two or three weeks.

It seems a crazy, unrealistic dream, but...... this is a country where social engineering of this kind really is possible. Perhaps we really will see a gob-free August.

But can you imagine what it will be like as soon as the Games are over and the tourists leave? An enormous collective, synchronous SPIT, a cathartic release of weeks of retained phlegm!

This strange, terrible image got me to wondering what this might actually sound like - 10 million people doing a huge simultaneous hawk-and-spit.

I think you could probably generate a reasonable facsimile of it by recording a representative sample of, say, a hundred or so Beijingers spitting in their different ways, and then multi-tracking each one scores of times to produce the requisite depth and texture and volume.

If only I had some decent sound equipment! I mean, some people make good money off ideas like this. If you hear of anyone else doing something like this, remember - you heard it here first.

Yes, THE BIG SPIT - the first in an occasional series of My Crazy 'Art' Ideas.

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