It’s not easy starting your own business, especially in China. Between the language barrier and the intricate regulations that can overwhelm even the most adept laowai, registering your business in Hangzhou can be a nightmare, and that’s just the first step.
Case-in-point: Turner Sparks has come a long way since he arrived in China as an English teacher in 2004. From that job, the entrepreneurial Sparks pivoted into other pursuits, including bringing Mister Softee to China, before starting China’s first stand-up comedy group in 2009. In anticipation for his upcoming show at Shares Bar this month, we sat down with Sparks to discuss comedy, his views on China, and everything else in between.
According to a “comprehensive business index” formulated by CBN Weekly, Hangzhou “is now recognized as a super city with comprehensive capacity and potential.” Fourteen other municipalities are in fact now recognized as ”new first-tier cities” including Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan, Tianjin, Xi’an, Chongqing, Qingdao, and Dalian.
Wang Wen is one of the few rock bands in China that consistently surprises with every new album release. They are one of the bands that shaped the Chinese indie scene for the last decade and they have been the most prominent instrumental rock band in China. With seven albums released over the past 15 years, they have definitely put in the time. They’ve already toured Europe twice and their music has been featured in films and advertisements, including a very successful Nike campaign. I had a chance to catch up with them ahead of their spring tour, which brings them through Hangzhou, playing at 9 Club on June 21st.
Outside the workshop, a motley aggregation of fiberglass molds throw shadows upon the concrete walkway, which is grey and cold but punctuated at random intervals by bright green weeds. There are giant warriors with thick hands holding tight their weapons. A small flock of life-sized sheep. An enormous stag. Some figures are distinctly Greco-Roman, pulled from the pages of Bullfinch’s Mythology, others, from The Romance of Three Kindgoms, making this perhaps the most international mingling Hangzhou has ever known.
She doesn’t have a name, but she is dear to me. White and shiny, with gleaming faux chrome and fake LV upholstery on the saddle, this is my battery-powered plastic pinto. Ever-ready to whiz through the city streets with speed and style, the 60-volt, 1500 watt motor of my Duracell Ducati hums like an electric typewriter on an aluminum tabletop. Sprightly as an arthritic leopard and as nimble as three-legged mountain goat, she cruises through the metropolitan tangle of spokes and shoes with the grace and power of a largemouth bass swimming in vegetable oil. She is sexy. She is illegal. And she is now in someone else’s possession.