Sometimes I go to Thrift Stores and buy cheap Chinese art. Plastic, tasteless, fakeries with no pretense of the beauty of the great dynasties. I purposefully buy the worst I can find, with the factory strokes, the cheap wooden frames, the garish insult to the genius of creative labour. I bring them home and hang them on my wall. I order bad Chinese food and taste red sauce and fried, salty ribs. I'll drink Tsing Tao beer till I'm a little drunk. Then I'll call a friend to see how he's doing, even though I know he's dying. We'll talk about his cancer. But I don't tell him about the bad art or the bad food. I hang up the phone. Next week I'll do the same thing--buy more fake Chinese art, call my dying friend. Maybe, I hope, this strangeness in me can cancel out the sadness of life. Or maybe the mockery of beauty cancels out the importance of life, and I've been fooled by cheap plastic all along.