Partying With Jared Leto, Quincy Jones, My New Boss
For me, the real Olympics finally started tonight, in the form of a bizarre mountaintop party featuring hip young Chinese people; pretend hip ex-pat journalists; whole pigs; Very Important business executives, venture capitalists and artists; a rugby-playing Belgian named Fred; the new editor of The Washington Post; a few legitimate celebrities; enough Champagne to flood the Water Cube and a 1 a.m. trip back to Beijing in the fog with a driver whose preferred highway speed with his Jetta was 170 kph. That's about 105 mph, for you crazy Americans.
To be honest, there's not much more to say than that. The party was at The Commune By the Great Wall, a trendy bar/restaurant/spa deal located an hour from Beijing, provided your driver is insane, which ours was. The invitation welcomed you, plus "other 'Movers & Shakers.' " I got in via Mover/Shaker Maureen Fan, from the Post's foreign bureau.
The early hours of the party featured Chinese guys in tight clothing, Chinese women in tight sun dresses and Chinese models in black. There was synchronized drumming, a five-piece cover band, an impossibly corny welcome speech about Olympic ideals (and presumably how they related to the high-end accommodation business) and some sort of white R&B singer.
Luckily I met the Belgian named Fred, and it started raining, and we had plenty of time to discuss the ins and outs of ex-pat life in Beijing--cheap! depressing! Fred also had plenty of time to make fun of the fact that I was wearing shorts, white socks and white sneakers. Then Fred's wife told us she had just seen Rupert Murdoch.
While looking for Murdoch, I met old friend and Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize winner Shai Oster. Shai introduced me to the soon-to-be executive editor of The Post Marcus Brauchli, who wasn't necessarily overly familiar with the D.C. Sports Bog. I asked him not to fire me.
Soon, Shai was approaching some celebrity-type person in a fedora-type hat, who turned out to be Jared Leto, fresh off hosting the MTV Asia Awards Show and in town for the Opening Ceremonies. He was sitting with various 'Movers & Shakers,' who, bizarrely, were moving and shaking a lot less than the since-departed Chinese kids.
Leto told Shai he might know him from such shows as "My So Called Life." Others told us we probably knew him from "Fight Club." Leto told me that he used to live near Sidwell Friends and briefly attended Woodrow Wilson High in Tenleytown. I forgot to ask whether he knows Eddie Saah.
Then he left to try to get a Great Wall tour, and the celebrity quotient was immediately filled by Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung, who was about 20 times more important, judging by the number of people ripping out cameras and cell phones. Our driver turned brilliantly paparazzo. I got so distracted that I never remembered to look for Quincy Jones, who was also in the building, according to reports.
By this point, most of the Chinese youngsters had left, and the club was filled with English speakers, to the extent that our translator said she was having a tough time finding anyone to talk with. It felt sort of like a business retreat mixed with a Brooklyn coffee shop mixed with the Super Bowl club scene mixed with smog and sweat.
Then we left, and our driver decided that if you're on a winding two-lane road in extreme fog after being warned by police that said road was highly dangerous, it'd be a swell idea to cross a solid yellow lane divider and pass a slow car on the left, flashing your lights wildly to warn oncoming traffic.
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