Monday, July 21, 2008

Are we feeling "Olympic" enough yet??

Less than three weeks to go now before the Olympics, and the craziness of the preparations ramps up each day.

Since the middle of last week, we've had dozens of police and militiamen milling about on the sidewalks of just about every major street in the northern half of the city. Does this enhance a visitor's sense of safety? NO. It just gives the (most unfortunate, highly misleading) impression that China is a police state.

Over the weekend, all the bars and restaurants around the Workers' Stadium were closed down - for the next two months. Three of the city's most popular live music venues - 13 Club, D-22, and The Stone Boat Bar - have been closed down since earlier this month (at least for music performances; failure to hold a type of permit that nobody previously knew existed was cited as the convenient excuse), and the other music bars are keeping their heads down and desperately hoping nobody 'notices' them. Another victim, reported by bar reviewer Beijing Boyce a few days ago, is Propaganda, a disco that's hugely popular with the foreign student set in Wudaokou (apparently they've decided to close down of their own volition, figuring that this would be an ideal time to get in a month or two of renovation work - yeah, right).

Most of the city's street food sellers seem to have been banished as well. I was hoping to grab a quick bite at lunchtime on Liudaokou (where I do most of my recording work); the little street is usually buzzing with activity, offering dozens of filling 'fast food' options for just a few kuai. Not today. It was deserted. Very sad. (And it's not as if any Olympic visitors are going to go anywhere near this place: it's not close to any of the venues, it's not on the way to anywhere; it's a shabby, inconspicuous, pothole-infested lane. But at least it had character; until the authorities decided that this was 'unharmonious'.)

The grass is green, the flowers are blooming, and even the weather has finally started to turn sunny again. Ah yes, and all the beggars and street hawkers have disappeared.

Oh my gosh, yes, Beijing is READY.

Well, I don't think the Olympic subway line is operating yet, but........

No comments: