Author J.A. Carter-Winward, From JACW's collection, Personal, Socio-cultural, Socio-political

The Things We Do for Cash

John Cena, “I love and respect China.” Image courtesy NY Times

I’m sure he does, since he thought Taiwan was a country, I can only assume Mr. Cena doesn’t know much about China. The problem? He should know more than this, since his apology was proffered just last year.

Welcome, welcome to WiB!

Below, a creative-ish piece of non-fiction I found in my files today (it’s more ‘non-fiction’ than ‘fiction,’ full-disclosure) and it seemed to weirdly echo the Morning Edition of the NY Times’ top story about the Chinese government and censorship, or rather, self-censorship. As in, prominent Americans are really disinterested in doing anything that might hurt China’s feel-goods.

But one of the more troubling differences between now and when I was 18, back in 1989, is in today’s money-run, money-first world, we’d have never seen the event on television.


i was never a convert to the bedazzled mass-Hysteria re: the Kardashians. i’m going to be painfully old here and say i still have no clue, no earthly Idea, why They are A Thing. Things? None.

Mass hysteria and mass energy Are the same. Mass = mass and hysteria = energy And if you have another hypothesis, Feel free to mail it to me via the US-please-go-fuck-yourself-Service, Along with a self-addressed Non-stamped envelope because i won’t Write you back But i’ll know your address.

Things i know about Kardashians, sans a Google cheat-sheet: they are Brunettes, have great butts, they Are famous for something or absolutely Nothing, they have money for absolutely No reason or lots of reasons, and one of them Is some sports guy’s baby mama or wife. Unsure on that.

Also knocking around in my noodle is The Olympian FKA Bruce-had-a-huge-crush-On-him-and-watched-him-watch-me-As-i-ate-Wheaties®-Jenner. And now he’s a she but not a Kardashian—though i’m Pretty sure there’s a link.

i remember the Kardashian tits in a pop-culture osmosis-type way… Like they’re Spectacular in that 1980s porn-star fashion, And also, when i think Of tits i think of where i was in 1989.

It was early summer, June, and i was at the foot of the “big-titty” mountains, aka The Grand Tetons. Right at the base of them. i was 18, and a new resident in Jackson Hole, WY, working there for the summer.

And while i played pool and drank beer With my 3 co-workers—we were all housekeepers (aka maids) at the hostel at Teton Village—We all watched the event in full color.

It wasn’t A huge “where were you when…”-moment, though, like when JFK was shot, or Pearl Harbor, or 9/11. But it was huge in the way we Stood, glued to our spots and the TV, knowing something that mattered Was happening.

So, on the big-screen projector-like color TV, We watched as A student in China stood in the square, alone, A line of tanks heading right for him, and me, The two guys, my friend, we all started To yell at the TV and the Chinese student. All of us. Me, my friend (both from Utah), and the Two other guys who lived there, cleaning rooms for room, and also Working other jobs (i worked at a white-water rafting Company so I could eat, afford gas, and drink, not in that order.)

The two guys with us were from the deep South doing a gap summer/year in the Tetons—before-college kids like us. Our yelling turned to


Screaming, like we knew the Chinese guy who was About to get crushed by a tank in Tiananmen Square personally, but we didn’t. Know him.

i held on to the skinny kid from Tennessee and felt hot Tears running down my cheeks. i couldn’t stop looking and crying. i yelled, Move!  Why won’t he move? Why—?

But the Chinese guy just stood there as the tank came, then swerved To go around him. He stepped in its path Over and over. The other guy from Tennessee stood there and said Fucking commies.

Personally, i didn’t care about commies or the West or East or republican or democrat or if the student Was from Utah or Tennessee or China.

He stood there As we all held on, the four of us, to our Pool cues and each other. We held our breath As a collective—we four in the basement of Ye Olde Mangey Moose of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA.

So then the student, he climbed on the tank and my friend, she said, What are you doing, you idiot? Run! And i thought that was a stupid thing to say But then skinny Tennessee said, really quiet, (he was a skinny, studious kid), he said, Why would he run? He’s not there to run. He’s there to get their attention. And he had ours, that Chinese guy. i think he had His government’s attention, too.

We were guzzling our beers, as if holding them was Somehow too much for us to do while holding The pool cues because our other hands were reaching, reaching out, holding on, all at once. and i was Still crying, trying to emotionally distance myself from this total stranger in fucking CHINA, but i couldn’t do it. My friend made a noise and i could tell—she Was annoyed.

He could just move, she said, head shaking like the student was fucking up our pool game (which, technically he was, but i don’t think any of us held that against him.) i mean, our choice to watch or not, but it was only apparent to me later on that the Chinese student probably Didn’t have those kinds of choices, which was maybe why.

Anyway, he Stood on the tank, and we could see him exchanging words with a military guy, And we thought, Whew. Peace, maybe. Peace. Because the Chinese guy got Off the tank—and he was okay.

i was kind of sweating bullets, because i kept picturing the photo of that kneeling guy in Vietnam—i’ll never forget his face when the bullet hit—but no, no, there would be Peace for the Chinese guy who stood there, Then kept standing there.

But then He was grabbed, and big (heavy-set?) Tennessee said that the other Protesters pulled him to safety but Me and skinny Tennessee looked at Him like he was from Mississippi (and if you Know anyone from Tennessee, you’d know Why that’s funny and an insult.) 

Skinny Tennessee shook his head and said, quietly (always, He was so quiet—he reminded me of a small girl But not in a pussy way, in a gentle “i-bet-he’ll-be-a-Good-dad-someday” way), he said, He doesn’t know or care he’s on TV. That guy’s dead. Poor bastard’s dead.

That’s the thing, though. No one knows what happened To the tank guy. i call him the “Tiananmen Square guy,” But he’s called “Tank Man,” too, probably By people who didn’t see it, him—our friend, on live TV.

And no, he wasn’t our friend, per se, but he was Because we knew him. We were literally 3 feet away From him, in full color, standing in front of the tanks. There’s something about watching someone do something totally improbable that sort of makes them live inside you forever

for good or bad.

i know that event might not Matter to someone who Knows who the Kardashians are, though.

i bet that If i asked someone under the age of 40 if they Knew what happened to The Tiananmen Square guy, They might not even look up from their phones Or they might say Who? as they open A search (but let’s face it, they’d probably not even be curious enough, or they wouldn’t be able to spell ‘Tiananmen’.)

Hey, just keepin’ it real,  pipe down.

Then i’d say, Try googling ‘Long Duck Dong.’ They might look up. i’d smile and say, Just kidding.

Then i’d ask them if they know how To spell Kardashian and they might Say, Who doesn’t? or Doesn’t matterauto-complete. Then they’d tell me How much They hate them or love them, the Kardashians.

i’d want to tell them how much energy Goes into love and hate. Doesn’t Matter which one you feel. It’s energy and that’s Matter. Or maybe i underestimate Young women today. i say ‘Young women’ because most ‘Young men’ know, and have Weirdly divergent opinions on, the whole Kardashian-issue.

So maybe i’d tell them that the Tiananmen Square guy Stood up to the entire Chinese army and government, ready to get crushed By a line of tanks.

… (<–That’s me, waiting for any sort of reaction proportionate to the event, even though it happened so long ago.)

But there would probably be a hundred other things Vying for their attention, and then there is The matter of the constant CRY for attention, always.

Energy, i matter, Look, i converted my image into energetic Matter. Kardashian filters. You watch.

They’re already Here.

i mean, This word Doc program corrected my spelling of Kardashian. That’s pretty disturbing, i feel.

And how to explain the difference between nameless Human beings—virtual unknowns—no name, no history, no family blogging or on a reality show, to the younger generations? i mean, i’ve got, like, no idea What happened to that Chinese student.

He could be my age, living in some chill Digs in Honduras, but let’s not kid ourselves  (i hear skinny Tennessee say inside my head, quietly, softly.) Most agree that the Chinese student got Dead for doing what he did.

And no one knows his name, but he was a big deal. A huge thing And he wasn’t vying for attention or trying to get his name to be A “household word or name” or be an auto-complete name like Kardashian, with zero-Context or understanding of who he was.

We all know who he was, those of us who stood with him, crying, Begging him to move, knowing he wouldn’t. That’s who he was. In that moment my friend, two Guys from Tennessee, and i were his brothers and sisters.

And we cried for him as he stood, attempting to Do what his voice could not: make sense of The senseless. And in doing it, he changed the course Of, not only 59 tanks in China, but history.

It’s that kind of energy that matters to me so i don’t Think i’ll ever experience the conversion factor à la Kardashian.

(sorry, but i’m not)

So what’s in a name?

Nothing when you don’t Do anything worth mattering.

Too bad we don’t know his name. Too bad he’s dead. He could maybe give a cool TED Talk on, oh, I dunno, standing up for what you believe in to, you know.


Je te vois, and as always, peace


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