LIT: CULTURE: Fa Zi's Chinese Rock & Roll History
DIRECTIONS TO FA ZI’S HOUSE:
Go down a country road under a full Autumn moon.
After the buzzing yellow taxi-packed streets end past Bei Da (Beijing University) near the crumbling ruins of the Old Summer Palace, turn down the alley at the small market where the farmers lay their vegetables out on the flatbeds of their tricycles.
There’s an expensive private Communist Party hotel hidden there overlooking a row of populars beside the lake where old men wave around swords practicing martial arts into their retirement years.
The path now is only dirt which has been grooved into a few ruts by Fazi’s jeep (which for 1994 is an astounding personal luxury).
On the far side is the one-room brick house of the tofu bakers who will stand and stare while stoking their coal-blackened ovens and drying their cakes in the fields, accompanied now by fireflys bobbing along with you.
As the Chinese countryside night envelopes you, you’ll approach a glen where the high frequency pulses of the ciccadas pierce the dark. It’s their warning to you: “Ghosts here! Wei guo ren (foreigners) be careful!”
Don’t be afraid, keep going.
You’ll hear a distant gong explode with a shimmer into the evening air. It’s then that you’ll make out of the pitch blackness a gate on the far side of the field, behind it a community of cabins.
At your feet look for a thick black power line threading through the grass. Keep your eyes on it as you step onto Fa Zi’s farm property. (Fa Zi’s dogs and sheep now bleating to greet you).
That electric cord goes over a wooden corral fence, through the door of a mud-brick house, and into the throbbing 100 watt Marshall stack of Fa Zi’s 1959 sunburst Gibson.
As sweet a guitar as anyone would ever want, you can see it as you open the door.
In FaZi’s hands it is jangling out the chords to the sly historical song and metaphor for China’s changes, “Fly Like An Arrow” 箭一样地飞翔 , which he is singing for a crowded party of painters, musicians, foreign students, expat American businessmen, television producers, writers, university students, computer whizzes, heavy-metalers, record executives, friends and family.
They are all there warming themselves against the bitter cold of the encroaching Beijing deep freeze with beer, boiling tea and Fa Zi’s band kicking into the final chorus of this rock with-Chinese-characteristics tribute to the place they call their home, the Yuan Ming Yuan Arts Colony, Beijing, People’s Republic of China, circa 1994.
Welcome to Fa Zi’s.
“Yuan Ming Yuan” is actually Chinese for the “Old Summer Palace” though it might be translated as Garden of Perfect Brightness by some.
And if there is one person who should be singing the theme song for a pleasure garden built jointly by the Jesuits and the Chinese for the Ching Dynasty emperor of the 16th Century (sacked by an army of Europeans eighty years later), it’s Fa Zi.
With his foreboding girth, towering figure and flowing black beard, he is something to behold.
He looks a lot like one of those famous old stone warriors who were buried along with the Chinese Emperor Huang-Di in the ancient tombs of Xian several thousand years ago come to life and wearing flannel. One with with Elvis Presley’s sideburns.
In fact, perhaps this describes Fa Zi succinctly– the Chinese Fat Elvis. A few years after his 67 comeback prime, beloved, with a hearty appetite and still possessing a way with a song.
Fazi Music and Chinese Rock and Roll History: Fazi content created as part of the Extablisment family of bands. © 2014 Extablisment (A division of Salvus Corp.)
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