A new feature in which gou-rou.com puts well-known persons in a taxi round the second ring road and gets them to chat their mouths out about the experience.
1: film director George Lucas
Well, here we are, this is the north "second ring road", as I like to call it - I think that's the same name, or something very much like it, that it had even in the very early drafts. Sanyuan Bridge, you'll see on the left there the Silver Tower. Now, I always had that in mind, that was really the look I was going for when I first envisaged Beijing. Look at those lines, those shimmering reflective surfaces. But it's only very recently we've had the technology to achieve that. As recently as only a few years ago there would have been no way to render that building on the skyline.
New technology really helps out with this taxi itself. This time last year, we would be looking at a Xiali, maybe a Citroen if we were lucky. Either way, it would probably have been red. These new cabs, though. Much better. Granted, the drivers seem to have never been to Beijing before, but they've got aircon and they're shiny. Just another example of how much a bigger budget can help. Have you seen the original cut of THX1138, my first feature? No? Good, and you won't get the chance, as I'm now only allowing the director's cut edition to be distributed. The original didn't have a single computer-generated monkey in the whole goddamn film. I know, can you believe it?
Actually, if I can draw your attention to something that happened right at the beginning of this journey. You'll have noticed the English speech when the meter was turned on - "welcome to take Beijing Taxi". Another one of my slight improvements, very subtle. In the old days, right around when I was making Empire Strikes Back, I always got professional writers to do the dialogue. Nowadays, I prefer to handle that kind of thing myself, as it gets the final product much closer to the auteur's original vision. And that can only be good.
Ha ha! Did you see that? Over there! That guy just fell of his bicycle! Oh man, that's comedy genius. You couldn't write that stuff.
2: award-winning novelist Don de Lillo
The taxi man looked out of his window, saw the great day dawn. In the back, his passenger, a foreigner. He wanted to take this man to his place, whatever place. His destination. He wanted to take him and get off his shift. He imagined already laying his head down on his pillow to sleep. Thick material, a cloth cushion to prop up his head. A cloth case, stuffed with something soft, such as down, feathers, or foam rubber, used to cushion the head, especially during sleep.
His passenger did not know what he wanted. The view was across houses, cranes and hutongs and out past the parks and roadways and out to measures of mountain and sky that could only be called distant haze. He didn't know what he wanted. It was still nighttime down on the canals, in the shade of rooftops. He imagined the whores were fled from the lamplit corners now, back to the barbers' shops, other kinds of archaic traffic beginning now. Beginning to stir the construction trucks, flatbed tricycles of useless junk keeping the employment figures up.
The noblest thing, a bridge over a busy road, with a watery sun beginning to roar behind it.
He watched birds picking over refuse by the side of the road. They had large strong hearts. He knew this, disproportionate to body size. He'd been interested once and had mastered the teeming details of bird anatomy. Birds have hollow bones. He mastered the steepest matters in half an afternoon.
He didn't know what he wanted. Then he knew. He wanted to get a long of baozi.
The taxi stopped in traffic. The driver opened his tea flask. Counterclockwise twisting of a plastic lid. The passenger stared a while longer, watching a single bird lift and ripple in a furl of air, admiring the bird, thinking into it, trying to know the bird, feeling the sturdy earnest beat of its scavenger's ravenous heart. Then he realised it was a kite. Kites didn't have feelings. That was stupid. No feelings, no emotions. He felt like a fucking idiot.
He put on his sunglasses.