1. It all started in New York City
When entering college, I decided to double major in two fields: one I could make a living by, and another that I actually cared about. So I majored in graphic design and painting. Graphic design would be the fail-safe to insure I would make a living, and painting would be something I cared about. Incredibly, right out of college I had a short-lived career in painting before moving north to New York City.
I always wanted to be a filmmaker, but living in North Carolina with a middle class family income, with no film school anywhere nearby (at this time, later came NCSA Film School), and unable to afford to go to any of the good film schools in California or otherwise, I figured “I will get a job in graphic design and advertising, use that to move to New York City and go from there.” That is exactly what I did.
Living in New York City was one of the most exciting experiences of my life, especially when I moved there in 1997, pre-9/11. The economy was explosive, and I got a job within 24 hours of setting foot on the city’s gritty pavement – at the world-famous advertising agency “Young & Rubicam”. I had zero leads to get the job, that’s just how incredible the economy was back then (and perhaps they liked me too). I just walked into a head hunter’s office without an appointment, had an interview and presented my portfolio, and was asked to start work at Young & Rubicam the same day. I kid you not, I actually asked “who is Young & Rubicam”? That is how green I was. (If you’re a fan of “Man Men”, they commonly call it: Y&R).
I was freelancing as a designer at Young & Rubicam during the day, and taking on other freelance work at night. There was so much work available, I either didn’t sleep or had to turn down work. Can you imagine a world where we have to turn down work? That was pre-9/11 for you. Ad agencies in particular didn’t have normal business hours, they were 24 hours shops, with a full rotation of staff to keep its machine running. Sometimes I found myself sucked into that 24 hour rotation machine, but they paid handsomely for it. While working at Young & Rubicam during the day, I moonlighted as a creative director at a little boutique ad agency in SoHo (at the corner of Prince & Broadway above SoHo’s Victoria’s Secret) that had just retained “Pete’s Beer” as a client. Remember “Pete’s Wicked Ale?” I coined the tagline “Have a Beer, For Pete’s Sake”, which was their tag until Corona bought them out, and the beer was never seen again, at least to my knowledge.
At Young & Rubicam in particular, I was awe-struck by the different personalities, and different folks from around the world all convening at once within the largest independent advertising agency in the country (before they went public and screwed everyone out of their stock options). I was equally as awe-stuck at the wages the freelancers were making, these people were making between $500.00 to $1,500.00 per day as a freelancer! On top of that, nearly all of them came from Ivy-League schools, and here I was—Eric Merola from East Carolina University. When people asked me where I was from, they always wondered why I didn’t have a southern accent — my parents are from New York State, the city of Corning.
In fact, my grandfather on my mother’s side – George Clinton Shay – was an engineer and inventor at Corning Glassworks in Corning, NY. Among many patents he acquired for the company, he invented the “gorilla glass” that is now in all of our smart phones, and is essentially in all of our flat screen TVs, laptops and computer screens you are looking through while reading this. He invented that glass in the 1960’s intended for car windshields, but it was shelved until Steve Jobs called upon them to create a strong glass for the iPhone. While Corning was working secretly with Steve Jobs to develop the iPhone, Corning made stealth invoices disguised as florist/flower shop invoices while they were in development together — as a precaution to avoid the secret “iPhone project” from getting out.
His father (my great grandfather) was also an engineer, below is his blueprint from 1913 for an above-ground subway for Los Angeles he designed (it’s hanging in my home now) until the Goodyear tire company lobbied to have the LA subway idea destroyed to protect their share of the transportation market.
By the way, the show “Mad Men”? Working on Madison Ave. was just like that — not kidding.
The first guy I worked with at Young & Rubicam was Lou Colletti. We all nicknamed him “f*cking Lou” The reason for this is the fact that Lou was a red-blooded Italian who couldn’t utter a single sentence without the word “f*ck” in it. It was to such a degree, that when we’d say, “Lou, come on, watch the language!” He’d respond with “F*ck! I mean Sh*t! I mean, Aw f*ck it!” That was Lou, but he also had a heart of gold.
Lou was the art director for Jello Pudding, when Bill Cosby was their spokesperson.
While at Young & Rubicam, we also launched the infamous “7 UP YOURS” campaign.
Oh, and remember Verizon’s “Can you hear me now”? My friend’s wife came up with that one, she just blurted out “How about, can you hear me now?” in a status meeting, and they ran with it, she got zero credit for that.
I bounced around freelancing at many ad agencies. A few years later, while fulfilling a short stint at TBWA Chiat Day, I remember seeing the original “I’m Loving It” tagline come across my desk for McDonald’s and I remember thinking, “what a silly tagline, they’ll never pick that one.”
2. And then 9/11 hits, and the American Dream devolves…
Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the most surreal events I’ve ever witnessed. I watched the entire thing unfold right before my eyes, while everyone else was watching it on TV.
One thing that 9/11 did was—wake me up, coupled with the bizarre religious-like patriotic fervor that emerged, it really rattled my cage. None of it made any sense. Why would a bunch of guys who are mostly from Saudi Arabia fly a bunch of planes into our buildings? Why, if they were able to pull off such a stunt, successfully evading all our defense systems, and if they wanted to kill as many of us as possible—why not fly them into a bunch nuclear power plants? They stole 4 planes! None of it added up.
And why would we go into Iraq to bomb the crap out of them when the people who did it were not from Iraq to begin with? When it became painfully obvious that the event of 9/11, whoever was responsible, was going to be used as an excuse to go into Iraq to covet all the oil there, and our soldiers who willingly signed up to protect us were merely pawns in a larger power grab, this was a huge eye opener.
The streets of New York were flooded with protests against the Iraq war, and it did nothing. People were being arrested and beaten in front of everyone for daring to question the government’s decision to go into Iraq and bomb them into the stone age. It really made me realize, where is this “we the people” we are constantly being told about? Where the people have a voice?
In addition, is it me, or do we not really live in a Republic vs. a Democracy? A Republic is when a group of people elect other people to represent them, and if they don’t do what the people want, there is nothing the people can do except complain and maybe start throwing eggs at that politician’s home. A Democracy is when the people can actually vote on something as a population. Did we vote for the Iraq War? Nope. The people of Colorado voted as a state to legalize pot — that is an example of democracy, but if that decision was given to the people we elected, I seriously doubt it would ever have occurred. If we live in a Republic, which we apparently do by its definition, then the “Republicans” have already won long ago, and the Democrats are a bunch of disillusioned people running in political races that are already lost. Maybe it’s just me.
I realized that both sides of the political spectrum protect the same thing: they protect the establishment, and voting for more people into office expecting anything to change, is a bit diluted. Just take a quick glance at the how many things have “changed” for the better since Obama took office. I realized that continuing to vote for a bunch of millionaires and billionaires who couldn’t care less about my life was not only ridiculous and a waste of time, but is actually supporting the same system that has thrown us overboard. It’s sort of like Homer Simpson who can’t stop touching the hot tea kettle, “ow, hot!” “ow hot!” “ow, hot!” Yet, people still keep showing up at the polls, expecting a different outcome, while studying history and applying the scientific method to it, the outcome never changes.
In general, for the first time, I began to pay attention to the world around me, and most all of my previous cliche-artist-narcissism was beginning to subside.
3. Then I get audited by the IRS, and my girlfriend gets deported – while trying to sell a silly tv show.
After placing my painting career behind me for now, and having a pretty successful career designing, directing and animating TV commercials and other related motion graphics gigs, I realized, “I am not meant for this, I can’t possibly do this type of work for the rest of my life, I have a much larger calling, and that calling is to make my own work—whether it be films or whatever.”
I had tried applying for grants to make documentaries, I had pitched my own irreverent (sometimes socially-conscious) TV shows to almost every TV network—to no avail.
I had this rather ridiculous animated series I created called “Fly Boy“, sort of like “South Park” on acid, and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles decided they wanted to help me sell it. So, I was paying rent in NYC and living and paying rent in LA at the same time, driving up as much debt as possible.
“Fly Boy” was a bizzarre creation that came out of a little project we called “Low Rent Rat”. I conceived of it with Leo Curbelo, a friend from Young & Rubicam. Partly inspired by South Park, I had this idea to create an animated show based on photo-collage animation, even before “Jib-Jab” came to be. We somehow wound up in the New York office for Comedy Central pitching this show. They liked it, and asked for a budget. They had in mind adding our “Low Rent Rat” to Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” which was still in development at that time. Apparently Smigel didn’t like that idea, and wanted his “TV Funhouse” show to himself. So, it didn’t work out. (For those who don’t know who Robert Smigel is, he’s also the person behind “Triumph The Insult Comic Dog” from the Conan O’Brien show, and did animated shorts for Saturday Night Live.)
Nonetheless, this experience left me excited, and determined to sell this show in some form. I then rearranged the show a bit, using the same photo-collage idea, and called it “Fly Boy”, where the main character was literally a fly.
The “Fly Boy” pitch bible I used with CAA can be read here. It’s really silly, and digging it up again to add to this blog post after not reading it for nearly a decade, wow, I have a bizzarre sense of humor.
Needless to say, “Fly Boy” didn’t work out. I remember sitting in a sublet in Santa Monica (while also paying rent back in New York City) watching the 1 year anniversary of 9/11 on a crappy TV that was left in the apartment. For furniture, the apartment I sublet had only one bed, and a huge table for my computer equipment so I could animate. This was all during the year of 2002.
Shortly after, “Fly Boy” wound up on the desk of Heather Kenyon – the Vice President of Cartoon Network at the time. She wanted to turn it into a kids show. So I made it more “kid-like” and called it “Dynamite Salad”. It was in development for about a year, and then Heather left Cartoon Network, and the incoming VP didn’t want to pursue it further.
Meanwhile, in 2003, the IRS decided to audit me for my insanely in-debt year of 2002! The IRS came to my home(!), and asked me all sorts of surreal questions about a hand drum sitting on my shelf that had been purchased off the street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, accusing me of being some sort of importer-exporter selling hand drums (!). They accused me of being a gambler, a drug dealer, or perhaps a terrorist? It was a surreal string of nonsense. In the end, after a year of this — after the IRS requested all my bank statements, credit card statements, and receipts, they called me into their Brooklyn office. They sit me down and literally say, “We have found nothing in the years we audited you, so you have a choice: you can pay us $1,500 to make this go away, or, we go back a farther.”
I said, “let’s go back farther!”
They clearly didn’t want to do that, and recommended that I consult with my accountant. So I called him up, told him this, and he said “pay the $1500 and get out of there!” He reminded me that I am essentially dealing with a legal mafia, and that $1500 was extortion money, no different than the illegal mafia. So, I reluctantly paid it. They apparently couldn’t justify whatever they had to pay the auditor to audit me and come back empty handed. This was my first real fight with our government, and I won, because I had nothing to hide.
Just around the time my financial chaos was all coming to a close, I met a lovely young woman named Kate, who I am now married to for over 10 years. She’s half German, half Polish, with Polish citizenship. Well, we hadn’t been together a half-a-year living in NYC, when she decides to go home to Europe, file for her final semester of classes for Grad school and visit me for 2 weeks before completing her final semester. So, she comes back into NYC at JFK, ripped out of line by immigration, placed in the basement and interrogated for 6 hours (while sitting next to genuine drug dealers and terrorists in handcuffs) and told “you must sign this confession saying you have been working here illegally, or you spend the weekend in jail and answer to a judge on Monday.” So, she did at the end of the 6th hour. (Later an immigration lawyer told me that they couldn’t hold her for more than 6 hours without a confession, hence the 6 hours).
Mind you, I was sitting in the airport lobby for half this time waiting, and finally convinced an employee to find her. About 3 hours into this ordeal, he tells me, “she’s being sent back to Europe, I think”. Of course when I asked why, he had nothing to say.
One lawyer I spoke to about this told me, “immigration can’t catch the ‘real’ perpetrators, so they intentionally pull people out of line that seem like easy targets, force them to sign confessions, in order to meet Homeland Security quotas.” My blinding rage continued.
My eyes were wide open as an American citizen after this series of events, and frankly, at this point, I was ready to leave the USA altogether.
Shortly after, I got a job working for Polo Ralph Lauren’s advertising department as a freelancer, explained to them my situation—and spent 3 weeks in NYC, and 3 weeks in Europe for the duration of 2004 visiting my then deported girlfriend and soon-to-be fiance, Kate. Spending 50% of my time outside of the USA was perfectly fine with me. Perhaps the universe knew what was coming for me, and threw me this bone.
(By the way, Ralph Lauren’s real name is Ralph Lipshitz, not Ralph Lauren. Not sure of its spelling, but it’s pronounced “Lip-shits”.)
In short, we did all the legal things we needed to do, got married in Poland, and within a year she was able to come back to the USA so we could live together full time. Why a year you ask? Why if you are married, can’t she just come back? Well, because she had the absurd tyrannical “offense” of being deported in her records, now we had to get that removed! So, get married first, then remove the fake offense. During the wedding trip, we ironically visited Auschwitz, another example of a government gone totally wrong. I guess I was happy the USA didn’t throw my fiance into a gas chamber.
We go to the embassy in Warsaw, Poland and file to have my wife’s fake deportation offense removed. The lady behind the bulletproof glass takes our papers, and returns 10 minutes later with her green card! We of course asked, “I thought we had to apply to have the offense removed?” She said, “oh no, we looked at your case, she can go back to the USA today if she wants.”
If we weren’t so distracted by this unexpected turn of events, I would have known better to think it was this easy. So, what happens? She enters the USA at JFK shortly after, they take her downstairs and interrogated her again for another 4 hours!
Yep, they couldn’t understand how she got back into the country. The lady in Warsaw apparently felt so sorry for us, knowing how absurd our situation was, she broke the rules and just gave us Kate’s green card. Needless to say, the next 2 times she tried to get back into the country, the same thing happened. Hours of interrogation, until finally immigration on the USA end broke their rules and just deleted her “offense” from the computer! Everything has been fine since. Funny how easy it is to make or break someone’s life with a simple click of a mouse.
By the way, before this, every immigration lawyer told me, “she’s never getting back in”. So, I never hired an immigration lawyer and did all of this on my own. I read everything, and did everything by myself.
This is what we call, “determination”. If our relationship wasn’t going to work out, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be because the United States government wouldn’t allow it, our love would be on our terms, not our government’s terms.
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, anything, including beating Homeland Security’s warped and corrupt facade of a “system of protection”.
In the words of Bill Hicks, “my third eye had been squeegeed quite cleanly”.
4. Discovering “The Cancer Industry”, by Ralph W. Moss
So, after this incredible feat of beating the corrupt IRS, and beating our corrupt Homeland Security — Kate and I were enjoying life, and I was setting my sights on making my own documentary film. But a documentary film about what?
As anyone like myself experiencing a similar awakening of how corrupt this world in which we live really is — I began reading every historical book about our government, watching every documentary I could get my hands on about the same… and one day, while walking by The Strand Book Store in New York City, I saw a book called “The Cancer Industry” by Ralph W. Moss — sitting in the $1.00 bin on the sidewalk.
I thumbed through it, and bought it. It seemed right up my alley: government covers up effective cancer treatments, that sounds about right considering all the corruption I’ve seen the last few years.
This is where my life took another new turn. I was enthralled by Ralph’s own story working at Sloan-Kettering when they were covering up their own positive test results of Laetrile. The corruption didn’t stop at the health industry. It was always sort of a running joke among friends that effective therapies for cancer are likely being covered up – but to see it plain as day, I couldn’t believe our own government would intentionally cover-up safe and effective therapies for cancer in the name of protecting its industry’s bottom line. Especially when virtually all current cancer therapies didn’t work to begin with. Who was I kidding?
After numerous attempts to get Ralph to cooperate in making a film about his personal story, he turned me down. After all, who was I? I had no documentary film credentials other than some animation work on Michael Moore’s films. See the clip below, the animated guy running past at the 45 second mark, and again with his butt on fire at the 58 second mark — that’s me, I animated myself into the clip 🙂 I did this while working for Flickerlab, in New York.
Here is my entire animation demo reel from those days:
Here is my full animation portfolio website
I then set my sight on another subject that was in Ralph’s book, The Cancer Industry — a chapter on Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. After spending about 6 months badgering Dr. Burzynski in an attempt to gain his trust, he let me in.
Once again, I gathered what little savings I had and charged up all my credit cards to make Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business in hopes it would work out.
(Read Part II of this blog entry – I explain the details of gaining Burzynski’s trust, what I learned from this experience, and how I finally convinced Ralph into letting me make “Second Opinion: Laetrile At Sloan-Kettering”).
“Second Opinion: Laetrile At Sloan-Kettering” had its World Premiere at the San Luis Obispo Film Festival, CA on March 6, 2014. This posting also includes additional clips from the film.
About the film:
Harold P. Freeman, MD
Past National President, American Cancer Society
Past Chairman, President’s Cancer Panel
The War On Cancer, launched in the early 1970s, set the stage for a massive influx of new ideas in fighting the disease of cancer. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, America’s leading cancer research center at the time, was assigned the task of testing an unconventional therapy called “Laetrile” in an effort to curb the public’s “false hope” in the alleged “quack” therapy.
Ralph W. Moss PhD, a young and eager science writer, was hired by Sloan-Kettering’s public relations department in 1974 to help brief the American public on the center’s contribution to the War On Cancer. One of his first assignments was to write a biography about Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, one of the Center’s oldest and leading research scientists as well as the original co-inventor of chemotherapy.
While meeting with this iconic scientist to pen a biography on his 60-year career at Sloan-Kettering, Moss discovered that Sugiura had been studying this “quack remedy” in laboratory mice, and with unexpectedly positive results. Shocked and bewildered, Moss reported back to his superiors what he had discovered, only to be met with backlash and denial from Sloan-Kettering’s leaders on what their own leading scientist had found.
Fueled by respect and admiration for Sugiura—Ralph W. Moss attempted to publicize the truth about Sugiura’s findings. And after all diplomatic approaches failed, Moss lived a double life, working as a loyal employee at Sloan-Kettering while also recruiting fellow employees to help anonymously leak this information to the American public— through a newly formed underground organization they called—“Second Opinion”.
Watch the theatrical trailer:
Eric Merola’s Trip to Ghanzhou, China
So, I spent a week in Ghanzhou, China to cover a couple of alternative cancer therapies. The main event was the 32nd Annual Conference of the International Clinical Hyperthermia Society (ICHS) at the Clifford Resort & Hotel.
Its focus was in Hyperthermia and its relationship to cancer therapy. A proven effective therapy, that the entire world is paying attention to—except of course (you guessed it) the USA & UK. The Lancet has published numerous articles about this proven effective modality.
Before I get into the details around the reasons for my trip, I want to say some things about my impression of China. I had to get a Visa to enter the country, so with two letters of invitation from two separate groups, I was granted a business category F visa. I am a documentary filmmaker and my reasons for going were to film many things during the conference, one-on-one interviews with some of the doctors, and the hospitals I toured. Everyone scared the hell out of me for wanting to bring big video cameras into the country. First, the Chinese consulate told me “be sure to declare your cameras, and they will be charging you money to bring the cameras in – they will also check to see if you are bringing the cameras back – and they might want to watch any video tapes that you record before they let you leave the country, etc”. Well, none of that turned out to be true. When I landed, and was waiting for my luggage at baggage claim, I found an American who had been to the country many times. I explained to him my concerns, and he said “No way, just walk out through the “nothing to declare” exit. You’ll be fine.” He was right. There was zero issues with the cameras, going in or out of the country.
China is highly populated. Ghangzhou, being the 3rd largest city in China, was very populated. I don’t mean this sarcastically when I say that I understand why they issued a “one-child policy”. When asking one of the locals about this, he explained that you are only allowed one child, if you come from a family where you grew up with a brother or a sister. So, if you had a brother or a sister, you are allowed one child. But, your only child can grow up to have two children. Then, both of those kids are only allowed one child. So, it’s 2 kids, one kid. Driving by schools where parents are waiting for their kids was intense, since most parents can only have one child, that one child means a lot to them. If you illegally have a 2nd child, you essentially have to pay gigantic fines to first have the kid, and then in order to get that kid an ID, go to school, doctor, etc – you have to pay even more fines.
“Communist China”? Hardly!:
While there, in the hotel room looking to see if the typhoon that hit the Philippines was going to come my way, I had English CNN on. Sure enough, a news report came on and opened with “Today in Communist China…” This is just absurd, and made me laugh out loud. China is far from communist. It’s the most capitalistic place on earth. In fact it’s an American capitalist’s wet dream since they have zero regulations, from environment to labor—the average American capitalist could only dream of having China’s unbridled capitalism.
Given there are no regulations, the air was quite polluted – in fact I never saw the sun once due to the smog. The sky was just one big white umbrella, with sort of a “glow” where the sun is. You can definitely smell it in the air. While touring the hospitals (which I will explain later in this blog) I was told that lung and liver cancer are super high there – which makes sense as the lungs are breathing in highly toxic air, and the liver has to detoxify the rest of the pollutants. Also, a form of “nasal” cancer is also high there, while being extremely rare in the USA, presumably due to the pollution. Overall, with the tropical climate in southern China combined with the pollution, being outside quickly became an uncomfortable sticky experience. Overall, anyone that uses the term “communist” to describe China either (a) has no idea what he is talking about, or (b) has no idea what he is talking about.
One Party Political System:
Perhaps since China has a one-party political system, some equate that to communism. Yes, there was a time up until 1979 where Chinese residents were not allowed to leave China, that has all changed today. Yes, it is true that Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, most blogs, etc were unable to be viewed on the internet there – but all you do is buy what is called a “VPN” – to gain access to the entire internet. Like any good capitalist society, money will buy you anything!
Does the USA have a multiple party system in comparison? Not from where I sit it doesn’t. Whether we vote democrat or republican, regardless of who is in office we will also be ruled by the “one party,” which is MONEY and corporate control. Perhaps both countries would be better defined as a plutonomy: Citibank Memo The Plutonomy Symposium Rising Tides Lifting Yachts. Taking a good look at the Obama administration with the whole “Hope For Change” bullshit – will tell you the USA’s “two-party political system” is a big fat scam. At least in China, they aren’t lying to the public by pretending that there is freedom in their politics. They at least tell you the truth “The State owns the party,” instead of bullshitting its citizens as we see all day in American media and politics.
And, if you have any cognitive dissonance over the fact that China imprisons its citizens for standing up to the state, and the like—take a big fat look into an American mirror and remember Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and the rest. Do they have prison labor camps? Sure do. But America does too! America is equally as guilty as China for its political climate. Again, at least China is upfront about it.
I personally get a little tired of the USA claiming they are any better than China. The only thing that the USA has over China is an EPA. I am happy we do have an EPA, but like all of America’s regulatory institutions, it’s a matter of time before Industry highjacks and purchases that agency too – as they have the FDA.
The economy in China is booming to say the least. The average 2 bedroom condo in the area where I was staying is selling for $400,000 USA dollars. No one lives in houses that I could see. They all lived in apartment or condo buildings. These condos were selling faster than they can be built. China is more than obviously going to quickly rise up to outshine the USA’s economy. Many people in the USA seem to hate China for “taking all our jobs,” but we must remember that it’s the American politicians and corporations who are sending our jobs over there, not the Chinese. Again, that’s capitalism – the true capitalist will take the least expensive route to turn the highest profit, and if it means selling out its own citizens to do it (as the USA has done) that’s what will be done.
Not far from where I was staying is the famous “Apple iPhone parts factory” that has the giant nets outside to keep people from leaping off the roofs and killing themselves due to hating their jobs. Most of us think it’s some kind of forced labor, but it’s not. Those people have a choice to quit those jobs if they wish—yet another misconception. Frankly, most every office job I have ever had, I have at one time or another imagined throwing myself through the plate glass windows to splatter myself all over the sidewalk in disgust of what I have had to tolerate in my past “wage slave” jobs. All jobs suck, period. I thank my lucky stars every morning when I wake up that I managed to escape and make a living as a documentary filmmaker.
Also, apparently, the Chinese banks are beginning to fully back its currency with gold. So if the Western economy crashes, China will be just fine. I met an American there who has moved all of his money into Chinese banks for this reason.
“China is taking our jobs!” They aren’t taking our jobs, our jobs have been taken (past tense)! We have to remember, it’s the USA’s fault for opening China up to the WTO, and it is the 57,000+ USA factories fault for moving their factories to China. They didn’t have to, but they needed to in order to compete. It’s just capitalism folks. If you don’t like it, perhaps you need to lobby for a new system. I am not saying it’s “right,” just pointing out the glaring reality. You can’t say one thing and do another – you gotta call a spade a spade.
Note on photo below:They must think the average Westerner is still a complete militant racist. I was reluctant to post this photo, but anyone that knows me knows that I am the most liberal open-minded person they will meet, and certainly not a racist – but holy cow how RACIST is the watermelon statue? Yes, these were in the GIFT SHOP of the 2nd 5-star hotel I stayed in! Stunning. You have to see the humor in such absurdity.
Overall, the people were pretty nice. Finding people that spoke English was very challenging, however. You can tell the males dominate, with females being slightly less superior. It seemed evident in their demeanor. Bicycles are everywhere, many of them with three wheels like giant tricycles. It wasn’t uncommon for 3 to 4 people to be piled onto a bicycle barreling down the street. The Chinese didn’t seem to care about adhering to any sort of traffic laws either – cars drove the wrong way down the street, bikes and people and cars would somehow seamlessly interweave in and out of each other without collision. People walking couldn’t care less about “don’t walk” signs, in fact often they would walk right in front of your car, hold up their hand as to say “stop!” and walk right across the street into full-blown traffic. People driving seemed to accept this as perfectly normal.
As far as it being a “Police State,” I sure didn’t see many police. I see 10 times more cops in the USA in one day in our so-called “free country” than I saw in China the entire 7 days I was there.
My biggest complaint was the food. With the exception of one private dinner with Clifford Pang, a local billionaire, the food was less than desirable for me—even at both 5-star hotels I dined in. To start, every meal I had was “buffet style.” Therefore, everything was way overcooked. The seafood was nothing like my palate had ever tasted. Every single morning for breakfast I had rice, noodles, iceberg lettuce, baked beans, and what appeared to be McDonald’s chicken McNuggets.
That’s right, someone is selling the exact same McNuggets to China’s hotels. Same shape, same taste, same texture, right there in the buffet line. Except these nuggets were soggy like a sponge. After being in China, I don’t want to see any Chinese restaurants, or any Chinese food for at least a year. I frankly wonder why anyone thought it to be a good idea to open a Chinese restaurant in the west. The Chinese food in the USA is nothing like the Chinese food in China. All the beverages were in big vats with a spout. They even poured Coca-Cola into big vats with a spout, which of course makes it entirely flat. I don’t drink Coke often, but I had to try the “vat Coke” to see what it was like. One day I ate “Cantonese” chinese food, and I couldn’t tell the difference between that and “other” Chinese food. When they serve meat, they just chop it up with all the bones and cartilage. You have to fish through each bite not to injure yourself on the bones and cartilage. The only thing that saved me was plenty of fruit (watermelon, dragon fruit, etc) and their version of “Udon” soup, where I’d point to the noodle type, and ingredients, with bizarre round fish balls and broth. Anyone that thinks they are going to China “for the food” should reconsider. Japan was not like this, Japan’s food was some of the most memorable meals I have had in my life.
Unless of course, you get a chance to eat in the private dining room of Dr. Clifford Pang, which he only opens for the likes of the Vice Premiere Of China, and somehow us 🙂
Clifford Pang, engineer, medical doctor, philanthropist:
Dr. Clifford Pang was sort of our “guide” though the first leg of my trip. He recognized the proven benefit of hyperthermia when used with standard of care, and brought it to China. Not only that, he literally built a hospital that includes this therapy. Originally from a peasant family, he got a degree in city engineering and went back to get a medical degree. He bought a large plot of farmland, moved a mountain out of the way (he literally moves mountains), drained a swamp, and built a huge gated community with 50,000 homes, selling for an average of $400,000 each. He is set to build another 150,000 homes. He gave us a tour of this community, and it was a bastion of happy people. Kids running around playing in the parks, parents playing with kids, cooking outside, etc. Hardly the “repressive” vision we are all taught back home. His real estate is worth over $10 billion today, and growing. When Dr. Pang passes, the entire thing goes back to the people. He was also offered to make his corporation public to the stock market and refused, knowing how making such a move would only lead to corruption to serve its stock holders. Dr. Pang is hardly the average hard-nosed capitalist. Oh, and by the way, for a 30 day stay at this hospital, with Stage IV cancer (left to “go home and die” stage), you get a VIP room for you and your entire family to stay in, standard therapy, hyperthermia, ozone therapy, acupuncture, non-sugar organic diet, China seems to recognize that sugar feeds cancer, unlike the staunch denial from the USA doctors: “What? We inject radioactive sugar to allow the tumors to light up in a PET scan? That has nothing to do with sugar feeding cancer! Drink that milkshake! You need your calories!” 🙂 — restaurants, all the bells and whistles that come with Chinese medicine to help keep a strong mental state – for a mere $10,000 for the entire 30-day stay. Dr. Pang said that since the hospital has opened, he has a 30% cure rate for all Stage IV cancer patients who check into its program – regardless of cancer type. This wasn’t just a top-notch hospital, it is a 5 star resort, with billiards rooms, hair salons, movie theaters, crafts, outdoor parks, meditation, yoga – everything.
2000+ years of incredible technology:
On my last day there I visited a 2000+ year old tomb that was discovered in the 1980s. “The Museum of the Nanyue King of Western Han Dynasty.” This tomb was over 2000 years old, with most everything found in it in pristine condition. Anything made of wood was of course gone and disintegrated, but anything made of stone or metal was in near perfect shape. I was shocked to find that 2000 years ago, before the “birth of Christ,” they had crossbows, oil lamps, forks, spoons, knives, guitars, chariots, umbrellas, medicine, garment hooks, games, pot and pans, steamers, shoes, paper and fabric printing. You name it—they had it. Short of electricity and the internet, they were doing everything and had everything we have today. All of which had the upmost of aesthetic visual beauty, with incredible craftsmanship. When we think about the times of the “birth of Christ” 2000 years ago, we all imagine people wearing rags, and clubbing wild animals to death. This might have been in the western world, but in China, they were apparently light years ahead of the rest of us.