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The Amercian Friend

I used to serve in Taiwanese Marine Corps. Except for the typical stories that you would remember in military such as swimming with sub-machine guns, sleeping in the jungle, working like slaves and being brutally treated, one thing I clearly recall are the American advisors.

Due to the ‘special relationship’ between the US and Taiwan, every once in a while, there were some American advisors who came to pay a ‘visit.’

Unlike European colonizers, the Americans always tried to be your ‘buddies.’ They had lunch in the canteen with other low rank soldiers. They patted on your shoulders like you were the best mate. If they were happy, they would give you some chocolate bars and chewing gums in the pocket.

If you ask them about the casualty in the war on Iraq, they always told you ‘oh, that’s the job of the people with suits, we, the persons of uniforms, only care about carrying out the missions.’

In fact, they always skipped the part of real combats and particularly emphasised on the supply system: ‘When we send a cheese burger from the US, it’ll still be hot upon arriving Baghdad!’

I always wondered have they ever send some shishi kebabs on their way back to the US?

Would they still be hot upon arriving Washington?

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New York colonizes every global citizen’s imagination

When I see a blonde woman, I think of Kim Gordon.

When I see a group of blonde women, I think of Sex in the City.

When I see a man with silver hair, I think of Jim Jarmusch.

When I see an old Asian woman with strange hats, I think of Yoko Ono.

When I see business man, I think of Mad Men.

When I see teenagers with skateboards, I think of the Kids.

When I passed by Hotel Chelsea, I think of Nico.

When I see a rooftop, I think of Trisha Brown.

When I see anything with a shining surface, I think of Jeff Koons.

When I entered an Italian restaurant, I think of Francis Coppola.

When I see the beach in New Jersey, I think of the Pixies.

When I am taking the D train heading to Coney Island, my mind pops up “glory of love”.

When I am in a Mexican restaurant, the only Spanish I say is ‘yo la tengo.’

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The Tour

The second day of my travel, I went to the Circle Line Tour. It was a beautiful double deck ferry with a bar in the back that sells coffee and hot dogs.

The idea of floating on the water with several dozen of tourists, each one with a camera hanging down on the chest and chewing fat in the mouth, reminded me of Ships of Fools in Foucault’s Madness and Civilization.

During the tour, the guide was explaining the way city was built up and the history of its architectural growth. He talked about the stories of Singer building, the Woolworth building, Empire State building and Crysler building. Manhattan is the arena of corporate power, business venture, and private sponsorship.

What makes New York New York is that she was built by privatization, fed by enterprises and therefore is the center of global capitalism.

While we were in the middle of the Hudson river, the financial zone was shining its golden light under the sun of the early spring:

This is the center of the world.

This is the heart that pumps money flows.

This is the origin of the global crisis.

We live from it and we suffer from it.

The city skyline sparked every tourists’ hunting instinct. All of a sudden, the ferry was in an orchestra of camera shutters.

I wonder how many fishy things are going on inside the buildings.

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Enlightment

Everyone has her/his own religious experience at least once in her/his life.

My mate Matt told me that when he was in Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautama Buddha attained unsurpassed and supreme Enlightenment, he had the most intense religious experience ever.

He felt dizzy. He had hallucination. He puked out his breakfast. He saw some mysterious patterns of the future.

Likewise, I got my spiritual occurrence in the supermarket of Union Square.

The first night in New York, I spend my first couple of hours in Whole Foods Market. I found myself surrounded by a world of commodity, blueberry muffin, white chocolate cookie, ginger bread, baby spinach, cereal, turkey leg, Norwegian salmon and etc.

They even have 30 kinds of peanut butter. CRAZY!

In my local Sainsbury, there are only two kinds: value and taste the difference. And they taste exactly the same.

In Britain, people often talked about youth drinking problem and the crumbling health system. Maybe the reason is purely simple: comparing to the general bad food, alcohol is the only variety in life.

In here, Whole Foods Market provides the answer: who needs NHS and your GP anyway? Just go to your local supermarket!

You will find everything in there.

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Before the travel

When I was waiting in the boarding gate. There was an announcement that the military personnel and the ‘global services’ please start boarding in the priority entry. Then several guys with military jarheads stood up and entered.

I like the openness of the American secret agency, and how the phrase of ‘global services’ sounds like an amazing pizza delivery business.

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Lori

Two of the good things of taking long distant flights are:

A. you get alcohol for free (which is only illusional, because they already charged you a huge sum of money in the first place.)

B. you get to watch the latest movies ( you can also do it by simply downloading at home, and you don’t have to fasten the seat belt on your own sofa )

When my airplane hit through the depressive London clouds and roared into the sky. I was watching the movie Side Effect, in which Jude Law playing a psychiatrist in New York.

(Ever since I came to the UK, I found out that most of my favorite Hollywood actors/actresses are actually British. Paradoxically, the reason is not the Britishness they kept, rather, is how American they are and how fake their accent could be. )

Jude Law reminded me that, I am actually flying to New York—in few hours, I will be standing on the streets of Manhattan—the city will jump out of the screen and become a matrix of reality. This fact deeply shocked me.

*

One of the flight attendants looks strikingly similar to Lori from the Walking Dead.

“Sir, can I get you anything? ” Every time when she came to me, my mind always pop up images of zombies chewing human flesh.

This is my travel to New York, my surrealistic adventure: I am physically approaching New York in the speed of 600 mph, watching New York on the screen which is shaking by the jet engines like a vibrator, and Lori charged me 7 dollars for a glass of wine.

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