A New Take on Beijing
Published on August 11, 2011 by Sara Foss

I enjoy Tom Scocca's writing. He's sharp and sarcastic, and unafraid to challenge mainstream reporters and assumptions. His new book, "Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future," about his experiences living in the city at it prepares to host the Olympics, has been released, and Deadspin has printed an excerpt, which you can find here. In the meantime, here's a taste:

"Getting to know Beijing was like doing archaeology with someone shoveling new dirt and rubbish down into the pit on top of you. Old Beijing itself was a phantasm—a name for certain elements in an ever-churning city: hutongs, poverty, eunuchs, public lavatories, cabbage piles, bicycles. Constituent parts of something inherently unstable. Two hundred years ago, a courtyard house was an aristocrat's mansion; now, it was cluttered with the possessions of fifteen families at once. Real, bustling life. Or you could see another house on another lane, restored, its gate repainted, a garage door set in the wall for the new owner's Audi. The huddled former inhabitants moved on. Or you could go to the Wangfujing shopping street downtown and see a replica of Old Beijing, with mannequin inhabitants and real goods for sale, in the basement of a shopping mall."

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