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Coco Wang: China 5:12 Earthquake
June 1, 2008 1:35 PM   Subscribe


 
Got about halfway through and had to stop.

"Simple" and "shattering". Says it all.

But thank you for posting this.
posted by Mike D at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2008


There are two funny ones at the end to cheer you up.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:56 PM on June 1, 2008


Couldn't get past the second one.

Shattering indeed.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:56 PM on June 1, 2008


Fantastic, thank you.
posted by malpractice at 1:56 PM on June 1, 2008


There are two funny ones at the end to cheer you up.

I thought this was a very nice touch.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2008


Wow. Thanks for this, BTGOG.
posted by sveskemus at 2:08 PM on June 1, 2008


Long time since a comic brought tears to my eyes... especially devastating to read on the back of watching the Chinese Democracy documentary.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:11 PM on June 1, 2008


These were good, although I'm sure that some are urban legends.

There is an interesting lack of praying and thanking of gods (or ancestors) going on there. I wonder if that's just the author or part of a wider trend.
posted by tkolar at 2:14 PM on June 1, 2008


The internet has made me a bad person. My first thought was: these improving stories have been made up by the Chinese government.
posted by Phanx at 2:19 PM on June 1, 2008


The story of Mr. Tan will not leave my head.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:42 PM on June 1, 2008


Thanks for this, very powerful, though I'm sure a few are urban legends. Nonetheless simple, and shattering, as you described them. Also, don't mean to derail, but monkeyfilter? What's all this, then?
posted by farishta at 2:44 PM on June 1, 2008


Wow, the one about the policeman at the school was a real tear-jerker for me.

Thank-you for posting this link. It's heartening to read stories about real heroes and people being saved from disasters.

The last one was kinda funny. It was good to have it finish on a positive note.
posted by Jerub at 2:46 PM on June 1, 2008


This is a pretty big embarrassment for the Chinese government--they saved money by building schools that were structurally inadequate. Some of these stories might be exaggerations, but if so it was most likely done by ordinary people.

Oh, and I made it to the 7th one before getting choked up. Is that the high score?
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:53 PM on June 1, 2008


Stories like these make me wonder where the Hollywood meme of panicky people pushing old ladies down stairs and stomping over the bodies of children to escape disaster come from. People are *good.* Extremity brings out the best in us.
posted by nax at 3:00 PM on June 1, 2008


Thank you for posting this.
posted by of strange foe at 3:00 PM on June 1, 2008


This is a pretty big embarrassment for the Chinese government--they saved money by building schools that were structurally inadequate.

On the other hand, it looks like the Chinese military/national guard and their equipment were available for domestic humanitarian purposes.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:01 PM on June 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


Very moving. And I hate to be cynical but I too wonder if some of those stories were based on the human need for wish-fulfillment in the face of such terrible tragedy and might be slightly if not completely exaggerated forms of spontaneous urban legends. Though I'd like to believe otherwise.
posted by tkchrist at 3:09 PM on June 1, 2008


Oof. These hurt.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 3:12 PM on June 1, 2008


These are excellent comics, but I too doubt the authenticity of the stories themselves. Take the first as an example: how many of you would sing Happy Birthday to what you presume to be a corpse? It strikes me as very disrespectful... if she doesn't wake up. Which she does, here; how delightfully unlikely! I think in reality the order was reversed. She is rescued, presumed dead, wakes up, the brother says 'hooray, it was her birthday,' and the singing commences. This reflects what you generally see in real life, as opposed to making a great story.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed them. Thank you for posting this!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:20 PM on June 1, 2008


I thought she was in a coma or precarious medical condition, not presumed dead.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:25 PM on June 1, 2008


Wow - you people are skeptical to a fault.

Thanks for posting this - really moving and heart-breaking stuff. Especially poignant - I'm in my finals week for EMT training... so many incredible heroes. This is the last time I'll stay home when the tsunami/earthquake/cyclone spawns another mind boggling catastrophe.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:26 PM on June 1, 2008


Wonderful. Sweet and painful, with some funny bits at the end to help keep your sould from being entirely crushed.
posted by luftmensch at 3:34 PM on June 1, 2008


Does anyone know which way around the months and dates are listed in China?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:44 PM on June 1, 2008


This is a pretty big embarrassment for the Chinese government--they saved money by building schools that were structurally inadequate.

It's more like they didn't have enough money to build structurally sound buildings in the first place. Not enough concrete? Well, we'll have to made do with adding more sand. Can't afford to hire experience workers from out of town/city/province? We'll hire the local farmers too. Can't make the deadline or afford to extend the project any longer? We'll continue working in the rain, even if it means pouring foundation in the rain. Add in the mix of corruption on top and it just doesn't end well at all.

Good post though. It's been refreshing to see everyone (the foreign media, the Chinese media, the Chinese bloggers) stop bickering and just have frank, open observations about what has happened and what's happening now.
posted by tksh at 3:52 PM on June 1, 2008


Samuel Farrow: Does anyone know which way around the months and dates are listed in China?

If you see something like 6/4, it's month/day.
posted by tksh at 3:53 PM on June 1, 2008


The names and places might be "urban legends", perhaps, but almost 70,000 people died in that quake. Out of that many, I don't doubt that each of these stories really happened.

Twice.
posted by vorfeed at 4:11 PM on June 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Beautiful and very moving.

IMO, it should be translated into Burmese and airdropped there.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:48 PM on June 1, 2008


Brought tears to my eyes.

.
posted by arnicae at 4:50 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some may have been 'urban legends', I guess, but there are actual pictures of actual people from this event, most likely those mentioned in these comics, in these positions. The one that comes to mind especially is the mother bent over her baby to protect it. Kirth Gerson made a link to these, which I think is where I saw that such a one.

I'd say I would love to read the stories that have come out of the whole ordeal when they show the best of people, but I don't think I can take them. These few comics were almost too much for me.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:31 PM on June 1, 2008


I've actually seen the footage for the first comic several times on Japanese TV. It's just as described - people singing Happy Birthday to this girl they've just dug out of the rubble and are trying to save.
posted by gomichild at 5:40 PM on June 1, 2008


Coco Wang?
posted by ColdChef at 5:55 PM on June 1, 2008


Seriously, I'm weeping like a baby reading this. This project reminds me a lot of this one about Hurricane Katrina. (this is not meant in any way to compare the two, believe me)
posted by ColdChef at 5:59 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stories like these make me wonder where the Hollywood meme of panicky people pushing old ladies down stairs and stomping over the bodies of children to escape disaster come from. People are *good.* Extremity brings out the best in us.

People don't panic in disasters.

I didn't -- like vorfeed -- doubt any of these stories. There are similar tales from any major disaster. I think there were some first-hand accounts from the San Francisco earthquake and fire posted here sometime about a year ago. Most of the stories weren't so much window-dressing as basic, heartfelt things that would normally go on in such rescues. The coke thing? Easy. The last text message? Well, it's the 21st century. If I could reach my mobile I'd do that. Many people in the 9/11 attacks had chances to write last messages to their families or make last calls.

If you look at the Jessica McClure story or Floyd Collins you find a whole flash community developing during a rescue. Dozens or even hundreds of people who are rooting for someone to survive.

This report of the Happy Birthday singing is a little less dramatic. It doesn't claim that the singing even seemed to revive her. But there's an equally remarkable story about a little girl aged 5 who "climbed out of the rubble herself".

Maybe the cop story fits the state propaganda narrative best of all, but I can easily imagine the same story transposed to, say, Texas.
posted by dhartung at 6:01 PM on June 1, 2008


Aside from being touching stores (which I agree, are just on the edge of believability) the art technique in these comics is really wonderful. This one makes spectacular use of panel shapes to impart emotion, for example.
posted by empath at 6:04 PM on June 1, 2008


.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:12 PM on June 1, 2008


This is amazing stuff. If it hadn't been for the "Holy shit! The earthquake knocked me to Russia!" and the guy complaining he'd been ripped off because his car was shaking at the end, the whole thing would have been too depressing to read through. I won't forget the Mr. Tan story for a while. Yeah, most of the stories probably aren't 100% true, but they're most likely slightly changed versions of real stories or several real stories combined into one rather than totally fabricated stories.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:45 PM on June 1, 2008


This is a pretty big embarrassment for the Chinese government.

Yeah but then I saw this picture the other day: Jiang Guohua, the Communist Party boss of Mianzhu, knelt Sunday to ask parents of earthquake victims to abandon their protest. Could you even imagine something like that happening here? Wow.
posted by fungible at 6:50 PM on June 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Found myself wishing this was some sort of propaganda, but sadly most of this is likely true. Thank goodness for the lighthearted ending..HOLY SHIT! This earthquake is FUCKING POWERFUL!! I am rocked to a foreign land!!
posted by HyperBlue at 8:42 PM on June 1, 2008




Thank you so much for this post.

Harrowing is indeed the word.
posted by perilous at 10:30 PM on June 1, 2008


Whoa.

That last panel, with the car rattling through the quake, and the driver being so very angry because he just bought it and how could it be shaking with just the AC...

The year was 1989, I was home alone in San Francisco, and my parents didn't get home for another twenty minutes.

They had just gotten the tires rotated. They had no idea.

(Our next door neighbor's daughter was by then trapped under the Cypress freeway. She was pregnant...lost the baby.)

Weird to remember all that, in this context. Amazing comics.
posted by effugas at 11:05 PM on June 1, 2008


I hated the last two, but the rest were great. Ouch great. Maybe if the funny ones were interspersed?
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:14 PM on June 1, 2008


The year was 1989, I was home alone in San Francisco, and my parents didn't get home for another twenty minutes. They had just gotten the tires rotated. They had no idea.

For me it was 1992, leaving a friend's party in L.A. on the night before Martin Luther King day. Two in the morning and I'm on Veteran's Ave heading toward Wilshire Blvd when my motorcycle starts shaking like crazy. "Damn, what's wrong with my bike? Is my tire flat? I'd better pull over... Oh. Shit."
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:59 PM on June 1, 2008


For me it was 1992

err, 1994, I mean.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:00 AM on June 2, 2008


tksh : No, all the recent massive earthquakes have hit poor countries, this was mostly just corruption.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:59 AM on June 2, 2008


Coco Wang's own remarks.
posted by Phanx at 2:52 AM on June 2, 2008


Jiang Guohua, the Communist Party boss of Mianzhu, knelt Sunday to ask parents of earthquake victims to abandon their protest.

Damn.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:27 AM on June 2, 2008


thank you for this - thank you very very much
posted by jammy at 5:50 AM on June 2, 2008


Man, my cynicism and heartless-internet-bastard need work as I had to stop reading, go and close my office door, before continuing.

That was the saddest and most inspiring and horrible and beautiful thing I have read in a long time.
posted by MildlyDisturbed at 11:25 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


A Double Tragedy for China
posted by homunculus at 7:55 PM on June 2, 2008


I don't know what to think.

Disaster reporting in America was wrong in the Katrina aftermath. "they're raping and killing in the Astrodome!" was widely reported, but mostly untrue. And our media, complacent and bumbling as they have been, are not under direct control of government.

Coco Wang's sources are Chinese newspapers. While I don't know which papers he reads, it is a good bet that a lot of the reporting is coming from Xinhua News Agency, which Reporters Sans Frontieres called the world's largest propaganda machine.

But each of these stories is plausible. So I have no conclusion.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:05 PM on June 2, 2008










China’s Grief, Unearthed
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on June 4, 2008


I was about to post these, after reading them and crying my eyes out. Glad I searched. Glad people are reading them. Thanks, BTGOG.
posted by PhatLobley at 9:39 PM on June 5, 2008






Glued Geographic
posted by homunculus at 11:17 PM on June 10, 2008




Dude, you are perilously close to wandering out of the "adding pertinent links to threads" zone and into "using old Metafilter threads for google bombing" territory.
posted by tkolar at 1:07 PM on June 29, 2008


This seemed potentially pertinent to me. A lot of Chinese people are getting increasingly frustrated with the corruption of local officials. There have been quite a few riots in China in the last few years. After the Sichuan earthquake, the government was very open at first, but then the parents of the dead schoolchildren started demanding justice (right around the anniversary of Tiananmen), so the window closed. Now the government is back to spouting propaganda and suppressing dissenters, which is making some people even angrier. I wonder if this explosion in Guizhou, which borders Sichuan, was fueled in part by word of mouth of what's been happening next door.
posted by homunculus at 2:34 PM on June 29, 2008


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