First of all, a few words on the name of this blog. I came up with "Ich Bin Ein Beijinger" as the name for a monthly column I started writing in October, 2001, for the English-language magazine that's Beijing. I'm not German, despite the name Kaiser, and I'm not really a Beijinger, despite living in Beijing for getting on 13 years if you add it all up.
As for "Straight Outta Chaoyang," surely you know the NWA masterpiece it references. But Chaoyang, Beijing's large eastern district, is only "ghetto" in the sense that it's home to the vast majority of expats living in the Chinese capital. I'm comin' to you straight outta Chaoyang.
I'm a native of Upstate New York, second in a brood of four produced by a couple of Henanese who made it to Ohio by way of Taipei. I grew up mainly in Tucson, Arizona, and went to college at U.C. Berkeley.
After college, I spent a year in China, during which I helped found the Chinese metal band Tang Dynasty (Tang Chao). After the unfortunate events of '89, I left China for a long stint in grad school at the University of Arizona, where I did an MA in East Asian Studies ('92) then worked half-assed toward a Ph.D. My abortive dissertation was on the rise of technocrats in post-Mao China. In 1996, I blew it off and came back to China to rejoin Tang Dynasty as lead guitarist. A Yoko Ono problem coupled with political disagreements over the nature of the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May of '99 put an end to that, sadly.
In June 99, I joined the now-defunct ChinaNow.com as editor-in-chief. After the bubble burst, I worked for a couple of wireless startups, always managing to leave before they were acquired (MIG) or IPOd (Linktone). I spent three years freelancing mostly in tech and telecoms before joining the Red Herring as China bureau chief in February 2005. I've since landed a dream job as group director, digital strategy, for Ogilvy China.
I'm still active in the Beijing music scene, playing guitar in an original band called Chunqiu (Spring & Autumn) and bass in an AC/DC tribute band called, in the proud tradition of AC/DC tribute bands, The Dirty Deeds.
I also still write the monthly column of the same name as this blog. The column has been a terrific platform from which I've managed, I'm proud to say, to offend just about every thin-skinned whiner and angry-letter-writer in our fair city.
In 2003 I married a wonderful real Beijinger named Zhang Fan (Fanfan to her friends) and we have two rambunctious little kids, Guenevere (b. 4/2004) and John (b. 3/2006).
NOTE: I work for Ogilvy China, but everything on this blog is my personal opinion, and does not reflect or represent the views of my employer.
reading, cooking, Heavy Metal, progressive rock, collecting antique scraps of iron once intended to kill people, keeping lethal instruments like those out of the hands of my two children