November 2007


 

 In some of China’s remotest areas, well-armed poachers are tracking Tibetan Antelope to harvest their skin for their hair, each strand of which is said to be six-and-a-half times thinner than a human hair. The skins are often smuggled via various mountain passes into India, where the hair is removed and then woven into shahtoosh, which means literally “the king of wools”.

Unlike domestic goats, the hair of which is harvested by shearing or combing, Tibetan Antelope are killed so their fine hairs can be plucked from the hide. This killing has decimated entire herds in recent years, according to biologists and Chinese government authorities.

Each Tibetan Antelope yields around 125 to 150 grams (4.375-5.25 oz) of this coveted wool. To make a woman’s shawl of around two metres long by one metre wide requires some 350 grams (12.25 oz) of wool, which would represent the product from about three Tibetan Antelope. For men, a “doshala” measuring three metres long by one and a half metres wide would require the hair of about five Tibetan Antelope. Middlemen are believed to pay the poachers up to US$100 per hide, while the finished product retails in Hong Kong and other international fashion centres for US$2000 to US$5000.

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* There are things beyond understanding: women and time being paramount on this list.

* Were everything to fit togather neatly, with a present sense of moving forward through this sense; how much easier days would pass themselves by.

* In attempt to make sense of the giberish of time melting, all that is left are the absurd days, stacked on top of boring hours and endless minutes.

* A bus ride. An unknown destination. A conversation with some men from the Punjab. A phone call. A missed appointment. A rickshaw ride in vain. A lunch date with the Hindustan times that can only illuminate the ridiculous attempt of placing things in some sort of order. A cup of coffee and a group of boys asking for a lighter. A rickshaw ride. A stranger who had a fallingout with last night, whose cool homosexuality seems overwhelmingly peircing. Pack the bags. A long walk with a hat and a light bag. A bus ride. A coke on the busiest corner in India. A naked ten-year-old asking for money. A reebok t-shirt that could be pretty good looking with the right pair of pants. Get lost. Get Bearings. Put down the bags. Talk with the manager. Unpack the bag. A small brigade of cockroaches advance. Pack bags. Talk with the manager. Leave the bags with him. Walk in a gigantic circle punctuated by moments of lucid insight, the rest being a blur. Eat with no silverwear. because it is still early, re-walk this gigantic circle, once; twice, and maybe halfway again. get the bearings. Talk with the manager. Sit on the roof with an Italian man with four fingers. His son has dropped out of college, and is dirnking and convorting with women. The day is over. Sleep.

*And this is a day? Perhaps, only because the Earth continues spinning on the slightly tilted axis, it is a day. there is nothing to show for it, and tomorrow will much like this one, except tomorrow will be punctuated be the growth of the worms throughout the intestinal track. At least there will be a reason to stay inside. 

“but do they ever get it Mr. Gumbril?” Mr Bojanus cocked his head playfullyand smiled. “look at ‘istory, Mr Gumbril, look at ‘istory. First it’s the French Revolution. They ask for political liberty. And they gets it. Then comes the Reform Bill, then Forty-Eight, then all the Franchise Acts and Votes for Women – always more and more political liberty. And what’s the result, Mr. Gumbril? Nothing at all. Who’s freer for political liberty? Not a sole, Mr. Gumbril. There was never a greater swindle ‘atched in the ‘ole of ‘istroy. And when you think ‘ow those poor young men like Shelly talked about it – it’s pathetic. Said Mr. Bojanus, shaking his head, “reely pathetic. Political liberty’s a swindle because man doesn’t spend his time being political. He spends it sleeping, eating, amusing himself a little and working – mostly working. When they’d got all the political liberty they wanted – or found they didn’t want – they began to understand this. And so now it’s all for the industrial revolution, Mr Gumbril. But bless you, that’s as big a swindle as the other. How can there ever be liberty under any system? No amount of profit sharing or self government by the workers, no amount of hyjeenic conditions or cocoa villages or recreation grounds can get rid of the fundamental slavery – the necessity of working. Liberty? Why it doesn’t exist. There is no liberty in this world, only gilded caiges. And then, Mr. Gumbril, even suppose a man’s time were all leisure. Would he be free then? I say nothing of the natural slavery of sleeping and eating and all that, Mr. Gumbril; I say nothing of that, because that, if I may say so, would be too ‘airsplitting and metaphysical. But what I do ask you is this,” and Mr. Bojanus wagged his forefinger almost menacingly at the sleeping partner in this dialogue: “would a man with unlimited leisure be free, Mr. Gumbril. I say he would not. Not unless he ‘appened to be a man like you or me, Mr. Gumbril, a man of sense, a man of independent judgment. Ordinary men would not be free …

        — Aldous Huxley, Antic Hay, Pg. 137

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…. Joseph doesn’t know, or can’t identify everything that swirls past his pretty face this evening. His brain struggles to recapture some sort of logic, but in the end finds itself at the point where the same conclusion of meaningless idiotic consumption.
Joseph doesn’t know about the tectonic shifts in the world. How this way of life, this youthful exuberance and excitement for every coming day cannot last. Not because he does not want it to, but because the body weathers. Paunches develop. Nasal passages collapse. Planes fly into buildings. Real estate prices interesting people off the island, and out of suburbs, until every borough is either filled with investment bankers, or the people that they buy things from. The 21st century is around the corner; and with that the promise of flying cars, space travel and a million other stupid devices makes them believe or to imagine a place that will be unrecognizable. When in truth, the future is like now, but better or worse. Joseph doesn’t know about his future, part of his sixteen-year-old-ishness is the constitutional deficiency in this respect. He can consider the future, like when the new Wu-Tang album is coming out, or the party after the week after next, or even that high school will be over soon. Five more semesters. Which isn’t that far away, not really.
NAFTA has been signed; the economic reforms in India have already begun. Diao Xiaoping is working on shrinking China’s military budget in order to focus on the infrastructure reforms that will soon allow the blossoming of China as the worlds’ major economy; already they have had three straight years of 10% economic growth. Vietnam has become the main production center for Nike basketball shoes. The Gap is somewhere in Asia too, Cambodia? Germany unified a few years back, perhaps issuing the single largest metaphoric symbol of a world plunging into the new millennium, a world that has ended these ideological debates over planned economies versus free markets. Puff Daddy had brought the Mercedes S500 off the golf courses of Boca Raton to the street of Manhattan. The S5 had entered the general lexicon of every kid under twenty. In fumes of exhaust of the S500 were the social imperatives of wearing the right clothes, the right clothes being the ones endorsed by large brands. Had Donna Karren and Ralph Lauren walked into Concrete Jungle that night they would have seen two hundred zombie billboards, spaced out and moving in the flashing lights just enough to create the total market awareness within this controlled environment. The teams of demographers already identified Joseph, he was deep within their market planning. The only illusion was the one of being an active participant in a counter-culture. Kurt Cobain already shotgunned his face off. And there was nothing really to learn from that; except that the only escape is total, or that heroin is addictive, or that one can be a voice that resonates with millions as a stoking light to dig into the depths of self aggrandizement; or that beside being able to move a nation of lazy suburban whites, he was in fact, just another angst ridden white boy junky. Joseph could use some angst in his life. Something that would stoke a passion, or cause him to act like a jerk. But he is nice to his parents. He is nice to girls that don’t give good blowjobs. He is nice to his parents who constantly encourage him to be the best he can be. No, none of that inner Cobain can be located. He has got it too good.
So then, what can really be said about this Joseph? This boy who trails the outer edges of central park early in the morning with sneakers on in the snow, this boy is to become the modern man; well versed in literature, successful at his investment bank or hedge funds, married, all the superlatives that incite the demarking of what it is to be the modern man. This future is unimaginable at this moment. Only the desire to be inside is present. And with that comes the willful neglect of everything else that goes on in this world. Let it all be ignored. Joseph knows that his intellectual contributions to any debate are clichés, especially when he was posing questions about the possibilities of universal healthcare. What did he even say? It is good that the snow has died down and the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up – Joseph can now only remember how to get home, and he is freed from the horrors of the regret of something said in an attempt to sound wise.

{EXPLICIT CONTENT DELETED}

And then the millennium will be here. Impending doom. The computers will crash. The internet will auto-destruct. Indian computer programmers are for the first time outsourced and with their noses nearly touching the computers they save the United States of America. The States march forward into the 21st century; the jobs continue to get moved abroad in the search for finding the cheapest wages, in searching for new ways to maximize profits. And the internet matrix’s the entire population.
There is home. Joseph smiles and pats his ways through the ten pockets he has, between the Nautica jacket, the Helly Hanson sweater, the Ralph Lauren Jeans, there are many places for a single key to be hiding. He should buy that key chain he saw the other day at 72nd street, at the Polo mansion. The key is there and the darkness of his parents house is waiting. His computer screen is glowing a bit and sits to look at the internet, which in some ways in pretty advanced; but still highly stigmatized as being the domain of geeks and nerds. There isn’t much to do on the ‘net, look at some pictures from the movie Fist Of The North Star, maybe find out about some new anime that he would like to see. There is the .gif file of the hero from Fist Of The North Star; he has long blonde hair and wide eyes – he is what every Japanese child wishes they looked like. In the picture he walks through this post apocalyptic city that as oil tankers jammed through the seventieth floor of skyscrapers. For what ever reason his powers are strong, and he knocks down a building on top of himself. Joseph wonders about this, and if he would do the same if he could. He decides that he would. Before falling asleep, deliciously worn the seriousness of his contemplations, Joseph remembers that his dad had told about the story of Samson, whose strength came from his hair, and how this cartoon was an obvious allusion to that. It was only striking to remember because his dad hardly talked about god, or the bible, or anything really spiritual. Maybe this was the whole of Josephs’ heart being weighed …

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