August 11th, 2008 | by Ian Gillingham News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

BEIJING STREET REPORT: Simms Trades Photo Ops for Interviews, Declares Chinese Karaoke "Not Lame"

Jason Simms sends a new dispatch from Beijing, where he's roaming the streets with a crew from the Portland-based website English, baby! during the Olympic Games. (Read Simms' first emails, including his experience of the opening ceremonies, here.)
Anyone can be famous in Beijing. All you have to do is dress like an athlete and convince one person to take your picture (sometimes people just will anyway) and before you know it, there will be a crowd of hundreds of people taking pictures with you.

The English, baby! team has two objectives on our trip. One of them is to document the culture surrounding the games and the other is to host our own games. So we tool around town dressed in tank tops and short shorts with matching wrist and headbands.

I didn't really know what was going on when the first person asked to take a photo with me—I thought vainly that I had been recognized from the website (I'm in English lesson videos that a lot of people watch)—but when a crowd gathered and we had to flee, I realized there had been a mistake.

Seriously, this happens all the time. Sometimes we're not even mistaken for athletes, apparently being a foreign journalist is enough to prompt mass photo ops. Whenever we bust out our fancy Ebaby! newscaster microphone, people ask to take photos with us. We ask to interview them. It's a nice trade off.
Interview shot—the crowd was politely behind the cameraman:
Simms in Beijing: Interview

Night before last we had a party for our members in Beijing. We thought maybe a few people would come, but there were like 30 and they all wanted photos and wanted to party. Afterward, when everyone was drunk we went to private karaoke.

I recall some sort of WW thing on private karaoke in Portland and it being generally lame. In China, it is not lame. You can drink and smoke and people come out of their shells in the private environment. We awarded a English, baby! gold medal to a Chinese guy named Gerard, who can't actually say "Gerard" so we suggested he change it to Jerry for his rendition of "My Heart Will Go On."
Simms in Beijing: Karaoke Stars

Next time I write: Updates on events both official and not official, including women's road cycling, men's field hockey, and shot put rotating.
 
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