Sunday, June 21, 2009
The first track ‘Aghartha’ starts off much like any other Sunn O))) album, with nice drones and rumbles, but soon we have some string section overtones creeping in with some haunting spoken word from Atilla Csihar, who sounds strangely reminiscent of the emporer in Return of the Jedi. Soon, the horns and brass build to a satisfying climax, then we go to the second track. Unfortunately the first track is the only one i seem to go back to for repated listens.
‘Big Church’,starts with some pretty predictable cheesy choir, juxtaposed with speaking-in-tongues babble and a tolling bell , but it doesn't seem to be convincing enough for these ears. The choir part could've been so much more damaging if they had worked it out more. They should've listened to some Ligeti for inspiration on that.
Track 3, ’Hunting And Gathering’ grinds away with some classic Sunn O))) primitive riffage mixed with horns and brass arrangements which remind me of Celtic Frost a bit. But again, it doesn't quite do it for me.
Eyvind Kang is the guest arranger on Track 4 ’Alice’, and even though I love Kang as a performer, arranger and composer, this track again falls short of my expectations.Maybe I was expecting too much because of all the hype surrounding this album, but me thinks they missed the mark on this one.
Personally i enjoyed the Pentemple album that came out a few years ago better than this. How far they can take their drone/doom stylings will be something we'll just have to wait and see about. I think they should add a permanent drummer and perhaps vocalist and make an actual band. Maybe a new version of the band could add the other dimension they need.
I still work at a Yacht Club. And I actually enjoy it. It's summer, I'm keeping a great tan, using my muscles everyday, get off at 3:30 every day, no overtime. I got no complaints. I ask myself daily whether or not I should get back into a design job full-time, working in some box, generating useless ideas for clients with narrow self serving objectives. I think maybe no. I look at the jobs people post on craigslist and it is a complete fucking joke. The design scene out here is at an all-time low, companies are looking for people to do websites and logos in exchange for cases of beer, if you DO find a full-time position, they only want to pay you 12 to 15 dollars and hour and have you do secretarial duties on top of your other stuff. These people and companies are scum and they should be ashamed of themselves for making such a mockery of a highly trained profession. YES. We actually have to go to school for this shit. What I've figured out in the last year is that anyone with any ounce of talent here will simply not make it out here. The odds are against creativity and all for being a sedate little follower. Originality, uniqueness, individuality are bullshit words that are thrown around a lot but I don't see much of it going around. I haven't seen a decent piece of creative come out of this city since I came back. There's some cool stuff being generated by some of the smaller 2 to 3 person shops, but they're probably just scraping by. It's a shame that Vancouver is so goddamn conservative. There is a lot of talent here, but it has little hope of going anywhere. So I think I'm better off working at a Yacht Club for 15 dollars an hour. No stress, no mess.
Something else I need to address is how bad and rude drivers and cyclists are here in Vancouver. First off, in my opinion, all cab drivers should be blown up. They are all assholes who deserve slow death. I'll just give you a few examples of situations I've been in.
a) I'm walking across the street, the light is green, cabby tries to get by, honks his horn and tells me to fuck off, even though I have the right of way
b) Cab drivers coming out of an alley or blind spots without looking both ways, going over the speed limit, almost scaring the shit out of you, and, killing you.
c) Cab drivers soliciting their services at bus stops. Yes, this has actually happened to me. I'm waiting for the B-Libe Bus, Indian cabby drives up and opens his door, looks at me and says "Are you getting in or not?" When I told him "No, I'm waiting for the bus", he tells me to FUCK OFF and drives off, tires screeching. Indian cab drivers think they own the show out here it seems. Well, fuck you.
Drivers in general are assholes, including most cyclists. They always cut you off, they yell insults at you like it's your fault, they screech their tires when they take off if they don't make the turn before you cross the street, etc etc. FUCK YOU. If you can't wait 10 seconds for people to cross, then tough tit, you shit.
Service in Vancouver? You rarely get a smile. You rarely get service at all. What you do get is shit, arguments, you-are-the-gulity-party-not-me looks. I sure do miss Japan that way. Nobody ever fucks with a customer over there. If they do, they usually get canned. Here, it's the norm.
I'll write some more rants about Vancouver as they come to me, but this is it for now.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, December 14, 2008
So the solution is easy. Just don't pay. Here's how. The machines on the bus are still not made to accept bills. So just tell them you don't have any change or not the correct change. Just get on the bus like you're some confused tourist and have a 5 or 10 dollar bill ready to put in the machine. The say "Do these things take bills?" with a dumbass look on your face. They cannot turn you down if you have money. I've done this a million times and they never once rejected me.
Here's another thing that I do. During busy times, like rush hour, I just enter through one of the back doors after people get off. They never say anything. I got this idea from watching other people do it. Many people. It's difficult to do this if you're the only one being picked up or there's no one getting off. Like I said, the time to do this is in the morning or around 5 or 6 in the evening. It's especially easy to do this on the longer buses, like the B-Line Buses.
And as you know, it's easy to get on the Skytrain without paying. You just have to check as well as you can to make sure there are none of them pesky Skytrain officers waiting for you at the top. Those guys act all tough and shit like they're the police or something, but they actually have no authority, so if they ask you for ID, just tell them you don't have it. They cannot force you to show it to them.
Fuck paying for the bus. Ride for free baby. Yeah.
Monday, December 08, 2008
It's quite a mess and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But in my opinion, the G n' R name should not be attached to this, because it's not a band. It's Axl Rose w/ a ton of guests.
There's a few great songs, a few good songs, and a few not so great songs. That's it. Axl's voice still sounds great. Buckethead's on it, and he shreds. My only real complaint is the cover, which is easily the worst cover of the year, if not the decade. Why? Just.... why did he use it? Anyway, it's not an album you need to buy and I think many people are just downloading it anyway, so screw Best Buy. I guess that's why it hasn't been selling as many copies as originally anticipated. Long live G n' R!!! Welcome to the motherf##kin' jungle. Yuk Yuk Yuk.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I've had nothing much to write about anyway. My life stinks right now, but it could always be much worse, so I shouldn't complain, but I'm going to anyway.
I've been in Vancouver for the last 5 months and still no job, despite plugging away every day, looking at job sites, sending numerous emails, and hounding people on the phone. It's been a long arduous road and not much to show for it other than a few jobs here and there. Doesn't help that sites like shitlist...er, I mean, craigslit, get all these bogus fucking posts from cheap cocksuckers looking for free work or next to nothing pay. A typical ad will be looking for a marketing saavy print and web graphic designer/art director / receptionist / coffee maker who can also do bookwork and spreadsheets in Microcock Excel. For 10 bucks an hour. I just got offered a job doing general clean-up and outside work at Stanley Park for 15 bucks an hour. No stress, good clean air, no ass sniffing invloved.
I swear to shit it must be something in the air out here in Vancouver. People just have their head up their ass most of the time, they're afraid to challenge anything or try anything new. Or even go out. People just do their dumb jobs, and come back home and play wii and watch the tube.
People are worse here than before. Nobody seems to have any get-up-and-go. You have to call people about 60 times before they even acknowledge your existence, especially when it comes to work. Designers out here seem to think they're shit doesn't stink. Why so much attitude and ego in this business? I'll never figure it out. As one of my friends put it, it's a big cultural vacuum here. People are not interested in much but their own boring life. There's more excitement going on in Halifax culturally. At least people are doing things. Here there's a handful of well-rounded creative people, but they are largely ignored. (looooooooong sigh...)
I think I may open a cold beer and wine store. In this so-called economic crisis, you know people are going to be drinking their misery away, so there's sure to be profits there, even if we went into a depression. So maybe I'll just research about how to open up one of 'em. Drink and forget, that's what I say. Fuck the economy.
One good thing is that the wife and I are moving to a much better place with a landlord who has something that's pretty rare these days: human compassion. The cocksucker we're renting from now is pure evil, a typical lazy Chinese landlord who does the bare minimum and charges and arm and a leg. We've written 5 letters in the last 5 months asking that shit be repaired, and very little of it has been done. So we demanded a rent decrease and flat-out refused, so we told him we're leaving. Simple. I know our situation is no the worst of its' kind, but it's pretty bad. Why do landlords have more rights than renters in BC? Why don't more people question these things? I'm trying to get the city inspector over here and try and get this prick in trouble but they haven't even called me back. Anyway, his name is Raymond Hung, his father's name is Henry Hung and his whole family SHOULD be hung up by their genitals. Anyone renting in the Vancouver area reading this should stay well away from this family and their fucking apartments. Mine is 2754 West 4th Avenue, stay away. They own other buildings, but I don't know where. You've been warned.
People are just useless here and it's fucking tiring. Maybe I was in Japan for too long and got used to good service and a friendly smile. Maybe I'm just over exaggerating, but people here just do not give a damn. You're lucky if you even get the right order when you go to a restaurant, let alone that nice smile.
Wake up from your eternal sleep, Vancouver. It's time to stop smoking pot and get in gear.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The new issue contains a whole shitload of interviews with random fucked up people like two coke dealers, an ex-heroin kingpin, 2 mexican squeegee punks, a guy who follows hobs and writes about them, a puppet master, a schizo, a chaos magician, a psychic spy, a lasy who made a documentary about vaginoplasty, a lady urologist, a sperm donor with 46 kids, a test-tube baby guy, Eric Wood from Man is the Bastard/Bastard Noise, a black metal band, a swedish jazz singer who sings weird, Italian hippies that talk to plants, an Orthodox R&B Jew Singer, one of the guys from Monty Python, and 3 couples who were interviewed right after they just had sex. Great issue!
The printing is also getting better, they're using some nice uncoated stock for the inside pages now, which is nice, nice smell too! Can't believe this magazine is still free. I remember picking this magazine up in Halifax in its' humble beginnings when it was still in newspaper format. It sucked balls then, even though it covered some cool underground shit that needed coverage. Now VICE is one of the most interesting, varied and readable magazines on the planet. My only complaint is still the dumb waste of space comics and the shitty album reviews which are not really even reviews. Review some real albums for fuck sake instead of fucking shitty garage bands who no one cares about but hippie VICE readers who smoke too much crack.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
The other funny-as-shit thing is the lyrics. The rumor at the time was that all these dudes were medical students so they lifted a lot of the difficult words out of textbooks.
Available once again after many years out of print, Reek Of Putrefaction is the fourth of the five CARCASS albums to be reissued and is out now as a limited-edition DualDisc (combined CD and DVD) housed in a deluxe digipak with extra artwork. It includes 13 unreleased bonus tracks from the Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment demo, along with part 1 of a mini-documentary series entitled “The Pathologist’s Report” as bonus video material, all specially packaged in a white medical bag which conceals the shocking original cover art. I still don't know why they have to separate the whole documentary into 5 parts, it would've been nice to have it all on one disc. Anyone who doesn't want to buy the shitty Swan Song album will just get that part of the documentary from a torrent download, boys. So stop being so fuckin' stingy.
Anyway, the documentary consists of interviews, filmed in London and Liverpool at the end of 2007, featuring the members of CARCASS exploring their humble beginnings and lifting the lid on the controversy that brought the band to a wider audience.
Carcass has been touring recently too if you're interested. They came to Vancouver, but I skipped out, I was broke for one, and I'm not really interested in "reunion" tours.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Then I remember that after I turned about 12 or 13, I started getting into Stephen King and Clive Barker, and a few other notable horror writers. Read almost everything by Stephen King right up until Dark Half. My brother was always reading a hell of a lot more than me, mostly travel shit, National Geographics, Hardy Boys, and James A Michener, never could figure out why he liked Michener. Don't get me wrong, Michener's stuff is definitely well-researched, but he ain't much of a writer. He's just plain boring. He just never did it for me, I'd rather read Penthouse letters anyday.
Comics and magazines were the other things when I was growing up. My old man gave me a buck for my allowance from about 6 until 8 or 9, I can't remember exactly. So every fuckin' Saturday morning, just as my dad was still in a Friday night after work "fuck-this-work-week" half-alcoholic mid-dream haze at about 7 in the morning, I'd be prying 'is fuckin' eyelids open tryin' to get my buck, so I could go blow it on candy and comics. I'd repeat "Dad." 20 seconds or so, he wouldn't respond at all, then a second "DAD", a little louder, then he'd rouse a bit and by about the 4th or 5th time he'd be pissed that I woke him up and mutter something like "Holy Jeeeezus, Mitch, it's fuckin' 7 in the mornin', fuckin' stores aren't even open yet. Didn't matter, just wanted my damn dollar. When my dad finally fumbled outta bed and gave me my dollar bill, I'd be happy as a wedding cock.
After a few years, my weekly allowance got raised to 2 bucks and eventually I stopped prying his eyes open at 7 in the morning and just waited until he sat down with his coffee around 8:00 am, then it got raised to 5, then maybe 10 for a bit, then I started getting too old to get free money from the old man. I had to start going around town askin' people if I could mow their lawns or do odd jobs.
I started getting into metal when I was about 13. This kid down the street bought Motley Crue "Shout At The Devil" and I had to have it too, because it was the heaviest thing I'd heard up to that point. I had a few metal albums around like Twisted Sister and a few other things, but I remember this being the first metal album I listened to on a daily basis. Before that, I'd only had an LP collection of about 20 albums, including Loverboy, Cheap Trick, CCR, Dr. Hook, Alice Cooper, J. Geils Band and some other shit.
Crue was the whole start of the rebellion thing for me, not just the loud obnoxious music, but the attitude and the image of these cats. And that's about the time I just lost interest in reading anything, except for horror comics and metal publications. My grandfather had been working on renovating one of the local grocery stores, so he carted a few magazine racks, a candy rack and a bunch of other crap home. Anyway, I talked him into giving me the magazine rack which i used to proudly display my metal magazine collection, as well as my beaten up issues of MAD, CRACKED, CARToons, FANGORIA, etc. Had pictures of glam rockers, album jackets and gore soaked scenes from splatter films all over my walls, so many that my mother wouldn't dare enter my lair.
So from about 14 to 20, my high school days and college days basically, I hardly read any books at all. Only comics and magazines, the odd horror or sci-fi novel thrown in from time to time. I'd always felt like reading a chore. How I missed out on all those years. So much of the stuff I've read in the last few years has blown my mind and I still don't know how it could've been, that i hadn't taken an avid interest in reading until just awhile back. But I do understand a bit now. Maybe my generation was a sort of pre-hipster culture, or maybe it was where I came from. I mean, fuck. Nobody under 20 reads books anymore. How many do you know? Kids are just not interested in creating anymore, they're just into technology and gadgets and recycling culture. They are not creating anything new. They're just busy getting fucked up on the latest designer drugs, engrossed in TV, video games and crappy pop music.
Anyway, the last few years i've been reading all I can get my hands on, finally discovering all the classics, old and new. I'm not sure what the spark was. I just remember being in a bookstore on day thinking I wanna start reading something again, so I picked up a few non-fiction books, one was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and the other Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn of ADBUSTERS fame. They both took me about a month to read. Bu then I suddenly felt hungry for more, so I started Googling the fuck out of writers like Charles Bukowski, Thomas Pynchon, and Roddy Doyle, went and picked up some of their books, devoured them and continued my search. Then I got into some Sci-Fi stuff like Philip K. Dick and Iain Banks that a friend sent me, more Pynchon, Nicholson Baker, some science / physics stuff like the works of Richard Dawkins, Darwin and Stephen Hawkings. I was feeling so good about reading shit again, it was like I had discovered this whole new world that had been out there, but was just too lazy or uninterested to dig deeply into it.
This past year or so has seen me getting heavily into the classics. I managed to read Tolstoy's WAR & PEACE in a month, I want to read more of his, especially the epic classic ANNA KARENINA. I've read books by Somerset Maugham, D.H. Lawrence, Alexander Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Harumi Murakami, Mordecai Richler, Wayson Choy, Knut Hamsun, Cormac McCarthy, Michel Houlleberg, Voltaire, Henry Miller, etc etc. But it's not enough. I'm craving more. I seem to be a book junkie now where as 5 years ago, I hardly set foot in a bookstore, only when I did, to look at design books or titty books.
So all you young fuckers out there who think reading is a waste of time, think again. Feed your mind good stuff, not a diet of hip hop culture and FRIENDS. It'll do you good.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I used to have a pair of Bose 301 shelf speakers hooked up to a NAD amp and I had a ROTEL CD deck, pretty simple setup, nothing extravagent, bu it did the job. I have to say that these cocksuckers blow those Bose speakers right out of the water. I only had 2 of them hooked up for the last few months, then i just got a splitter for my laptop so i could hook up the other two, and the 2 extra speakers make a big difference. I just have them set up on my coffee table at the moment with the subwoofer on the floor, but they sound great. (I don't have a PC desk yet)
This is one of the first desktop speakers to receive Lucasfilm's THX certification with the ProMedia's output rivaling that of a THX theater sound system. Even thought these are not new anymore and there is now a 5.1 system that probably make these look inferior, these little fuckers put out a staggering 400-watt amplifier, monster subwoofer, and lease-breaking volume levels that will leave you floored. I was anyway. For computer speakers, these are the shit. And I got them for 100 bucks used on craigslist. How lucky is that?
These speakers generate a very clear but thunderous low end that extends effortlessly into the lowest registers. It's rarely boomy, and it clearly reproduced challenging bass details like tympani reverberations. To test that, I listened to John Zorn's "Redbird" and it sounded magnificent. Sound like mallets on skins, rather than the undefined, dull thuds produced by most bottom-heavy speakers.
Even thought the lows and the highs are very flashy, the midrange remains very prominent. The 4.1 generates enough headbanging output that will satisfy hardcore gamers, metalheads and knock the socks off the most anal desktop-theater enthusiasts. Too bad these are discontinued (i think). But you can still get the 5.1 system (I think). These are well worth it if you listen to a lot of music, play a lot of games or watch a lot movies on your desktop computer.
Now that the evidence is gone, witnesses are silenced, and a real thorough independent investigation never happened, it's hard to bring the real criminals to justice. We've been fooled over for so long, no one is willing to accept the real truth about what happened.
You can find tons of links out there debunking the myths surrounding 9/11, so I'm not going to write anymore. You read on and decide.
Watch the 2nd and 3rd part of this movie, ZETGEIST. Actually, watch the whole movie.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
BORAT: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Incest, rape, gay rape, prostitution, statues with boners, fingering goats "anoos" (as BORAT puts it), bestiality, stalking women, extremely ugly women spreading their legs, it's all here. Bad taste at it's baddest. A book to share with the whole family this is NOT. If the contents of this book were to have made it into the film, it would've been banned in every country. I'm actually surprised this made it into normal bookstores. This is not just an extension of the movie, this goes far beyond it. I think because of the enormous success of the movie, Sacha Baron Cohen can get away with whatever, and he did.
I don't think the general public is ready for just how wrong and depraved this book is. I love it personally. I don't think I have laughed so hard in years. There is just so much perfection of filth in this book, it's hard to put down. As you turn the pages, you think to yourself it can't get any worse, but it does.
Fans of the movie will want to pick this book up fore sure, but even if you didn't like the film, you might like this. It's 10 times better than the film in my opinion.
The primary distribution method is via the old style newspaper boxes so it’s available 24/7 to anybody looking for it. The magazine is also distributed in select shops around Asia and North America. The concept is really fresh and I hope it will take off. The goal is to create a destination for the reader by having one box per city in a select location — like a flagship store. And it’s only two bucks.
You can find the Vancouver box at the corner of Water & Abbot Street in Gastown. New York City’s got theirs at Lafayette & Prince Street. Los Angeles location is coming soon.
I have always had a soft spot for large oversize publications, and this is no exception. I remember a very unique oversized fashion / culture magazine called FAD that is no longer published, to my knowledge anyway. I wish it still was.
Go pick up a copy of this and check 'em out online at Sneezemag.com
The only thing that I didn't like about the film were some of the "cute" C.G. moments like the groundhogs and the monkey scene. I'm sure these scenes were the brainchild of Mr. George "fuckhead" Lucas, who we all now know lost his mine long ago.
Then there's the story itself. Great adventure and breathtaking scenes, as expected in an Indy flick, but the end just went all fuckey ducked, just took me by complete surprise, not knowing anything about the film before seeing it. I'm not going to spoil too much for you, but we seem to have an adventure story which turns into a paranormal sci-fi thing. X-Files meets Indy Jones anyone? Slightly disappointing, but totally unexpected.
If I had to put all the films in the order I like 'em, I'd say Raiders, then Lost Crusade, Crystal Skull, then Temple of Doom the last in order, with CS and TOD being pretty close. Take it or leave it I guess. I don't imagine they'll be another one, but if there is, keep Lucas far away from it.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Source: Vice Magazine Steve Schofield takes photographs of Brits obsessed with American popular culture. His fanatical subjects are usually shot sitting in their living rooms or making a cup of tea in their kitchens while dressed up as sci-fi characters, cowboys or Elvis. See selected images from this series of documentary portraiture after the jump... check out more here
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was perhaps the greatest Japanese composer of all time. His music "wed the western aesthetics of impressionism and expressionism with the eastern aesthetic of meditation and contemplation. The resulting synthesis was an elegant exploration of musical chromatism, with little or no interest for dynamics." (source)
He also wrote a crapload of excellent film scores, for many famous directors (see below). This Japan-only, 7-volume re-issue box set compiles some of his best and most popular work for film and is very difficult to find here in the west. The original issue of this was a 6-volume set, which became almost impossible to find until a few years ago when the re-issue was released w/ a bonus disc full of excerpts from other scores and interviews w/ Takemitsu himself.
If you're a fan of film soundtracks at all and just plain good composing, you had better track this down. Some of this music will make your hair stand on end, some of it will bring you close to tears, some of it will make you overjoyed. It's all here, so dig into it.
English titles/track listing for the films:
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
1-1 Kwaidan/Ghost Stories
1-3 Glowing Autumn
1-4 The Inheritance
1-5 Hymn to a Tired Man
1-6 The Fossil
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
2-1 The Petrified Forest
2-3 With Beauty & Sorrow
2-4 The Assassin
2-5 Samurai Spy
2-6 Ballad of Orin
2-7 Clouds at Sunset
Directed by Nagisa Oshima/Susumu Hani
3-1 Empire of Passion
3-2 The Man Who Left His Will on Film
3-3 Dear Summer Sister
3-4 The Ceremony
3-5 Bad Boys
3-6 A Full Life
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
4-1 The Face of Another
4-2 Summer Soliders
4-4 Shiroi asa
4-5 Woman in the Dunes
4-6 Jose Torres
4-7 The Ruined Map
Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Toichiro Narushima, Shiro Toyoda, Mikio Naruse, Shohei Imamura
5-2 Time Within Memory
5-3 Illusion of Blood
5-4 Scattered Clouds
5-5 Black Rain
Directed by Kon Ichikawa, Noboru Nakamura, Hideo Onchi
6-2 Alone on the Pacific
6-3 Twin Sisters of Kyoto
6-4 Nijuissai no chichi
6-5 The Kii River
6-6 Once a Rainy Day
6-7 The Call of Flesh
6-8 Wonderful Bad Woman
7-1 Beast Alley (Eizo Sugawa)
7-2 Saigo no shinpan (Hiromichi Horikawa)
7-3 Sabita en (Masahisa Sadanaga)
7-4 Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (Masahiro Shinoda)
7-5 to 7-17 Conversation with Toru Takemitsu
Monday, August 25, 2008
The authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have put out what I think is a pretty well researched and accurate account of the life of this mad bastard. Mao was a man willing to do anything and everything to make his way to the top. He conquered China but that wasn't enough, he wanted to conquer the world and he would've stopped at nothing to do it. Chang and her husband were shocked at what they discovered during the 10 years they spent researching this book. Halliday was able to access Russian archives on China that were inaccessible until recently. Some of his more shocking claims have not been examined by other historians as of yet. Chang travelled several times to China during the course of her research, interviewing many of those who were close to Mao, as well as alleged eyewitnesses to events such as the crossing of Luding Bridge.
People who've read Chang's prior work, WILD SWANS, are familiar with the woman's family history, that both of her parents were victims of Mao's Cultural Revolution, and that her father suffered permanent physical and mental damage from being routinely tortured while he was imprisoned. As a result, there has been much scorn and negative criticism against this book, calling her a fraud, etc etc. In the end, many people concluded that the book is factually and intellectually unreliable. Some people also say that it reads like an anti-communist propaganda book. Maybe, but I don't have a problem with that at all.
Even though he was born into a poor peasant family, Mao didn't give a shit for the welfare of the Chinese peasantry. He avoided work at all costs and pretty much just read books and attended different schools during his childhood, wasting his father's money. Mao became a Communist at the age of 27 for purely pragmatic reasons: a job and income from the Russians. According to the authors, Mao was responsible for the famine resulting from the Great Leap Forward and he actually made it worse by giving the OK to continue to export grain even though it was very clear that China did not have enough grain to feed its own people. Mao killed or tortured pretty much anyone who got in his way or tried to oppose him, whether they were political opponents, personal friends or peasants. Didn't matter. Another claim is that Mao's decisions during the Long March were not really as heroic and ingenious as people have generally believed; Chang and Halliday state that Chiang Kai-shek deliberately "let Mao go" because Chiang Kai-shek's son was being held hostage in the Soviet Union. Communist China was not a funpark to work and live at all during the Chinese Civil War, such as the Jiangxi and Yan'an soviets, were ruled through terror and mass murder. Mao willingly sacrificed thousands of troops simply in order to get rid of individual rivals from within the Communist Party, such as Chang Kuo-tao.
The Crossing of Luding Bridge? Didn't even happen according to Chang and Halliday. No raging battle nor "heroic" crossing against impossible odds like most of the history books have written, it was all Communist propaganda. There was apparently a witness, Li Xiu-zhen, who was still alive at the time this was written. She saw no fighting claims there was no fire on the bridge. That also made it into historical accounts until recent years. Nationalist Kuomintang's battleplans and communiques that indicated the force guarding the bridge had been withdrawn before the Reds even arrived. Another eye witness, a local blacksmith who had witnessed the event said that when the opposing troops were coming towards the Red Army, they pussied out and ran away. Not much of a battle. Other Chinese journalists will also attest that the Luding Bridge battle was greatly exaggerated.
Estimates of the numbers of deaths during this period vary pretty heavily, but Chang and Halliday's estimate is one of the highest. Sinologist Stuart Schram, in a review of the book, noted that the exact number of deaths under Mao's rule "has been estimated by well-informed writers at between 40 and 70 million. In addition to exporting pretty much every crop that China had, causing the greatest famine in history (The Great Leap Forward) Mao also grew mass quantities of opium for export. Most of the food and grain was exportied to Russia to buy nuclear and arms industries: close to 38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61. Chang and Halliday argue that this period accounts for roughly half of the 70 million total. An official estimate by Hu Yaobang in 1980 put the death toll at 20 million, whereas Philip Short in his 2000 book Mao: A Life found 20 to 30 million to be the most credible number. Chang and Halliday's figure is 37.67 million, which historian Stuart Schram indicated that he believes "may well be the most accurate. Professor R. J. Rummel published updated figures on world-wide democide in 2005, stating that he believed Chang and Halliday's estimates to be mostly correct and that he had revised his figures for China under Mao accordingly.
The book is banned in China, because the current Communist regime is fiercely perpetuating the myth of Mao. Today Mao's portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, and the regime declares itself to be Mao's heir.
On of the funniest things I read in this book was that the bastard refused to take a bath for 27 years, he apparently didn't like baths. Maybe that's another reason no one wanted to get near him. Just imagining how hot and humid China is, especially in the summer months, I can only imagine how the fucker smelled.
Read this book and draw your own opinions.