Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shanghaied! Edited transcript

Jedburgh30 Dagger: Hello everyone! Ladies and Gentlemen, Viv, Serafina and I are pleased to welcome you to the December Aether Salon - Shanghaied! I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today here in Steelhead Shanghai.
As many of you know, the Aether Salon typically meets in Palisades and Academy, New Babbage to discuss steam and Victorian topics on the third Sunday of each month. This month’s salon is a road trip edition and I hope you are all as excited about being here today as I am.

Just a few matters of housekeeping before we get started. Please be courteous when asking questions and we will try to make sure your questions are answered in the order in which they were posed. As a courtesy to all, please turn off everything that feeds the lag: all HUDs, scripts, AOs and so on. Please no weapons, bombs, rolls of duct tape, or clawhammers while the speakers are talking. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Edited and unedited transcripts will be posted this week on aethersalon.blogspot.com so you can revisit today’s event, read transcripts of past salons, and for a laugh, peruse “overheard at the salon.” Please join the Aether Salon group and receive notifications of future salon events, click the lower right hand corner of the large brown sign by the entrance of the Salon. We sincerely appreciate the support we receive from everyone in the community and we humbly thank you all.

Many fine people have contributed to today’s salon: We are grateful to PJ Trenton for photographs, Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings for the chairs, and TotalLunar Eclipse and Elegia Underwood for the craft.

I'd like to turn the floor over to the talented and lovely Miss Puchkina. Sera?

Serafina Puchkina: Thank you, Miss Jed. Today I am most honored to introduce today's speakers:
Miss Riven Homewood is a longtime Steelhead resident and the Director of the Steelhead Public Library. Her presentation today is based upon the library's recent display about Portland's Chinatown. She is a frequent visitor to the Dragonlands Hotel, which is owned by her sl sister. Current interests include trying to understand the relationship between history and fantasy.

Miss Elegia Underwood has been knocking around the Steamlands for a couple of years now. She is a storyteller, a poet & a roleplayer. Rumours amongst those who know her are that she is the human embodiment of an ancient Dragon. Some believe this. Some don't. Whatever you think, be assured that she has the temper of a Dragon, little patience with fools or the intentionally unkind & finds human beings almost as amusing as a cat finds a baby bird with a broken wing.

Serafina Puchkina: TotalLunar Eclipse set foot in Steelhead City October of 2006 and never left. After a few months his partner, Tensai Hilra and himself were given the title of managers of Steelhead, and eventually owning five sims in the Steelhead Estates. TotalLunar Eclipse set foot in Steelhead City October of 2006 and never left. After a few months his partner, Tensai Hilra and himself were given the title of managers of Steelhead, and eventually owning five sims in the Steelhead Estates.

Please join me in welcoming our first speaker, Miss Riven Homewood.

Riven Homewood: Thank you so much for having me here today. I'm going to have to ask your assistance. This viewer is very sensitive, so please don't click on it or you will probably advance the slides.
I hope perhaps I can answer some questions that may be in your mind as we sit in this beautiful oriental setting in the midst of Steampunk Oregon. Why Oriental Steampunk?

How on earth does a Chinese pagoda fit into Steampunk roleplay?

Well, to me one of the most interesting developments in Steampunk has been the way it's expanded beyond its original focus on Victorian England. As people from other cultures have become interested in Steampunk, they've imagined how their culture might fit into the Steampunk universe.

This is an airship, as imagined by the artist James Ng. Thus we have places like Steelhead, where we imagine life in a 19th Century Oregon town where Steampunk and fantasy are constant influences -- and Steelhead Shanghai, where we are today
In the late 1800s, nearly every town on the West Coast of North America had its Chinatown. This is Chinatown in Portland, Oregon around 1890, and this is a photograph of it

Chinatowns were usually slums, but they were believed to be exotic places filled with mystery and intrigue. How did this come to be?

People came from all over the world in hopes of making their fortunes during the California gold rush, and the Chinese were no exception. Some stayed to pan for gold, but others found it was far more profitable to offer services to the other miners, such as the ubiquitous Chinese Laundry.

Many, many Chinese came to this country in the 1860s to work on the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. There were two railroad companies who built this railroad. The Union Pacific began in the eastern United States and worked its way west. This was a time when huge numbers of Irish were immigrating to the United States, and most of the laborers who build this railroad were Irish. The Central Pacific Company began building the route east from Sacramento, California in 1863

Although the beginning of the effort took place on relatively flat land, labor and financial problems were persistent, resulting in only 50 miles of track being laid in the first two years. The company needed over 5,000 workers, and it only had 600 on the payroll by 1864. One of their worst problems was that laborers tended to run off to the gold fields rather than staying with the hard work on the railroad.

Chinese labor was suggested, as they had already helped build the California Central Railroad, the railroad from Sacramento to Marysville and the San Jose Railway. People laughed at the idea, saying Chinese men would be too small to do this kind of work. Charles Crocker of Central Pacific pointed out, "The Chinese made the Great Wall, didn't they?" And so it came about that most of the work of building a railroad over the California mountains was done by Chinese laborers. They came in droves.
They lived simply, in labor camps that traveled along as the track spread out across the country. And they were usually paid far less than white men doing less dangerous work. The saga of the Central Pacific Railroad is more than I can go into today, but it was amazing.

Once the railroad was completed, many of the workers chose to stay here rather than returning to China at once. A few were able to bring their families here, but most remained as single men, often sending money home to support their wives and children who remained in China.

Employment opportunities were limited for Chinese but certain jobs were readily available particularly doing laundry and housework or serving as cooks, gardeners, and vegetable sellers

This is a photo of Chinese vegetable gardens in Portland, Oregon. Chinese gardeners supplied a large proportion of Portland's residents with fresh vegetables. The vendors carried produce through the streets in large baskets, and laundry workers used similar baskets for collection and delivery of clothes and linens

The majority of Chinese immigrants, however, worked hard labor jobs like cleaning fish in canneries, clearing land, cutting timber, and blasting tunnels for the construction of railroads.

Many of those who were able to save a little money opened small businesses serving both Chinese residents and the larger community. Some developed these businesses into highly profitable ventures, never returning to China.

This photo of a Chinese man with his child is quite unusual for it's time, because for a long time there were very few Chinese women here. Many of the women who did come brought here as prostitutes. They were often tricked into coming because they believed they were coming to be married. Once here, they found themselves essentially slaves, with no other options but to work as prostitutes for the person who "owned" them. By 1870, only 3,536 Chinese women had emigrated to California. 61 percent (2,157) were listed as prostitutes.

HeadBurro Antfarm: A lot of the Tongs capitalized on that fact and ran women trafficking operations to feed the men

Riven Homewood: During periods of economic depression, there was a good deal of political backlash against the Chinese. Because they worked hard and would accept low wages, they were blamed for widespread unemployment. They became a convenient target.

Lelani Carver highly recommends the movie "1000 Pieces of Gold" regarding this marriage/slavery trickery.

Riven Homewood: Laws were passed, such as The Chinese Exclusion Act, which was passed in 1882 and severely limited the number of people who could emigrate from China. Laws were passed, such as The Chinese Exclusion Act, which was passed in 1882 and severely limited the number of people who could emigrate from China.

When this slide finally rezzes - Laws were passed, such as The Chinese Exclusion Act, which was passed in 1882 and severely limited the number of people who could emigrate from China. This is a telegram sent by the White House to the governor of Oregon asking him to try and prevent violence against the Chinese when the Act passes

Apparently the governor didn't take the president's advice, or at least he didn't do enough to prevent the violence.. In some places, there were riots, chinatowns were burned down and many people were killed. Chinese immigrants experienced discrimination and sometimes violence no matter their social position.

For example, in 1886, four years after the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Daily Oregonian offered rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person attempting to drive the Chinese out of the state or the country.

Portland's city government responded to such events with a force of newly commissioned police and volunteers who attempted to quell anti-Chinese mobs. The Chinese Exclusion Act wasn't repealed until 1943. Yet the Chinese stayed on, and they remained a major force in shaping the culture of California and the Pacific Northwest.

And it wasn't just the Chinese. People came from Japan, the Philippines, India and all parts of Asia, and all of their cultures had an influence. When we imagine life in Steampunk Oregon and Washington, it would be totally inaccurate to imagine it without the Orientals.

If you'd like more information about the history of Chinese people in the Pacific Northwest, I've compiled a list or resources at http://delicious.com/rivenhomewood/chinese

Most of the images and much of the information for today's talk came from the Oregon Historical Society's online Oregon History Project at http://www.ohs.org

Thanks so much for being such a great audience :)

Serafina Puchkina: Our next speaker is Miss Elegia

Elegia Underwood: If my Booksis could shift her slide viewer to the side... Excellent. Well, my goodness, I feel completely daunted by that presentation, Riven.

Lunar asked me to speak about roleplaying in shanghai. So I set up this slide show that will eventually rez for all of you if it hasn't already. Usually once a pic is loaded, it will be visible the next time around. These are some of the fascinating places around Shanghai...

Roleplay in Steelhead & specifically in Steelhead Shanghai isn't as immersive as in some places, but then we're a mixed community. Some of us claim not ever to be In Character. Others of us are ALWAYS In Character, though the character changes. A few are always in one unchanging Character, one developed over years of roleplaying.

In & around Steelhead, I'm aware that when I speak, I am the Dragon of Dragonlands. I am not the typist. Whether I am speaking to someone I meet on the street, or speaking in group chat or writing on the ning or in a blog, I am the Dragon.
Lunar is the Elf and the Manager. Tensai is the Blower Up of Things... AND the Manager. Riven is the Librarian of Steelhead.

For those who wish to roleplay in Shanghai... For my part, if you wish to involve me in your story, you need only walk up to me & speak. For some people, you need to seek their permission & agree in advance what will be done.

Several of the residents of Steelhead weave their tales entirely in nings or blogs. I have a notecard with some of these links. IM me if you want a copy. I meant to include it in the supplementary materials, but I didn't get back from the play in time.
As you can see from the scenes flashing behind me, the Shanghai region of Steelhead is full of wonderful settings for stories &, as long as you stay out of private homes, you are free to use them.

There is an opium den in the cellars of the hotel, a sake bar with a relaxing couch thru a curtained doorway where one may lounge & dream in comfort, an abattoir, a tea room, an apothecary full of oddments & herbs of all sorts, a shipworks, smuggler's hideouts, a doctor's office in the slums, ships, boats, sampans & a noodle seller.

Here are just a few of the links...
http://steelhead-adventures.blogspot.com/ http://hiberniaskids.blogspot.com/
http://bandobast.wikidot.com/ A vast collection

Here are some story fragments I wish to scatter about as if I were seeding the clouds that hang so frequently over the city. Perhaps something will grow from them... or not. Use them as they exist or cherry pick elements or ignore them entirely.

Elegia Underwood winks & chuckles.

Elizabeth Sorensen, former Europan. A young woman sat up late in the warmth of the teahouse. Her room upstairs was too cold for anything but sleeping snug in the comforter. Here she could write in the dim light of a fire & a lamp, & she had permission to keep her teapot full.

Beside the teapot was a small twist of paper that contained herbs from the apothecary in front of the hotel. The gentle old oriental had promised her that these would help her sleep & ease her anxieties.

There were many sheets of paper scattered on the table. Some of them had many crossings out. Some were crumpled.

Elizabeth Sorenson was sure that, if she could only finish the novel she was writing, it would offer her the freedom she sought.
Freedom from the obligation to marry a man she couldn't love. Freedom from her parents' sheltering ways. Freedom from a life of drudgery. She knew she had it in her, but she was down to her last few coins. After she had landed on the ship from Europa, she had sought out this one small, at least partially respectable boarding house in the port of Steelhead Shanghai. She'd been here for nearly four months now, & soon she was going to have to find a way to earn a living...

Oh dear... What will become of her?

Ho Wu Li, Chinese peasant. Wu Li served as crew on a merchant junk from Shanghai. He was a farmer by birth & knew little of the sea, so he had served at the lowest level. He helped in the kitchen & kept things clean. He took care of the pigs & chickens they had brought along as food, though they had all been eaten by a month ago.

When the ship landed in Steelhead Shanghai & began to unload, Ho Wu Li was just one of the men who didn't come back from unloading sacks & crates onto the dock. Instead, with the others, he had disappeared into the twilight shadows in search of a job in this golden land. He meant to send the money back to his parents &, when there was enough, he would return & find a wife. Now he was alone in a land where he did not speak even five words of the language. His companions had abandoned him. He was cold & hungry.

Should he return to the ship & a certain beating? Or perhaps he should make his way up the hill to the bright beckoning lights of that large building. People were going in & out. There was laughter. He could smell food... Will he find shelter? Will he survive the winter? Perhaps one of you will tell us.

Ivor Lupinsky, Polish American. The large, middle-aged man stood with his back against the brick. The wall was fast losing the heat it had accumulated as the weak winter sun set behind the buildings across the harbour.

Ivor Lupinsky could hardly warm his hands on the small cup containing the rice wine, but the fiery liquid warmed his innards. The scent of the alien liquor took him away from all that was familiar. And that was a good thing. He didn't want to remember.
He & his wife saved for years to move everything they had out to this land of pioneers. They & their two children came out on one of the first trains to cross the entire continent. It was an amazing ride & they were all full of hope. Inge & the two kids were gone in a typhoid epidemic, though, before a year had played out in the new home. Ivor had taken to drink & gambling.
Now he lived hand to mouth in the employ of the Dragon. It wasn't that she didn't pay him a decent wage. She was generous with those who pleased her. But he couldn't seem to keep from drinking it or gambling it away in the opium den beneath the hotel. Now he was in debt to her, too. And each day it was getting harder & harder to get up & get dressed & help to guard the shipments that went in & out of the small lagoon beneath the hotel.

He wondered how long she would tolerate his slipping standards, but he went back inside & bought another sake. He sat down in the corner of the bar to drink it & proceeded to forget about the Dragon until tomorrow morning.

Many sad tales in Shanghai... or perhaps there are happy endings to be told?

Seamus O'Hoolihan, old sailor. Seamus handed a stick of licorice to the youngster. He figured the little Chinese boy would dive into it right there, but instead, the little feller bowed & said something in his own language & hurried off.

The old sailor liked the kids in Shanghai. And that was good because there were more than a few. Some of them lived on the street. Some of them seemed to have shelter in the railcars the Dragon kept up there on the hill. And some lucky ones lived with Miss Mara, though everyone looked out for them.

After he lost his second foot last year when the harpoon rope tangled around it, he had to give up the life of the sea. Now he just sat here on the docks & played checkers for money.

Sometimes, at the Dragon's indulgence, he'd go up to the hotel & play some of them foreign games she encouraged in the lobby. But he wasn't as good at those & didn't win as often. On the other hand, if he was up there when the dinner bell was rung, like as not Mr Sung would give him a can of noodles & a small piece of pork. And it didn't cost him nothing but the walk uphill on two peglegs & a pair of crutches.

With the winter coming on, he was thinking he needed a bit more coin for coal to heat the shed he rented here in the slums, but he was danged if he knew where that might come from.

There they are... Story fragments... Thrown to the winds...

If you look at the easel under the stairs that says Shanghai Mystery Contest, you can get a notecard with all of these. Shanghai Mystery Story Contest (sponsored by Dragonlands Hotel & Hovels) The Dragon of Dragonlands wishes to sponsor THREE (3) mystery weekends in order to encourage visitors to Shanghai & story beginnings.

Contestants are invited to come up with a storyline set firmly in the seedy underworld of Steelhead Shanghai. While the mystery may begin or end anywhere in Shanghai, & while it may wend wherever it will, the Dragon does insist that at least one clue or the beginning or the end is located somewhere in Dragonlands.

Submissions should include an introductory setting, a list of no fewer than 5 clues & no more than 10 & where they should be found & a solution. Submit one notecard (to Elegia Underwood) which should include Landmarks to each clue site, including the point of origin, ie, a dead body, an empty case with holes in it, a half sunken sampan with blood on the gunwales, whatever beginning you wish. The title of the notecard should begin "CONTEST -..." DEADLINE 5 Jan 2010.
If you want to supply objects to enhance the story, they will be welcome, but the final decisions will be based on the storyline & structure & how much fun the search for the miscreants will be. You are encouraged to generate peripheral roleplay in the course of the investigation.

The best three will each be awarded 1000L & the opportunity to stage their own mystery. (Those who do not desire the responsibility may relinquish this task to the Dragon & her minions. The Dragon will oversee all activities.)

The Dragon reserves the right not to award any or all of the prizes if submissions do not intrigue her. Please address all enquiries to Elegia Underwood, the Dragon of Dragonlands. ("A REAL Dragon? Pffft! There's no such thing as Dragons.")

Viv Trafalgar: Should there be questions about the contest, or about the rest of this ongoing wonderful welcome to Steelhead, please do save them to the end

Elegia Underwood: All the info is available from the placard on the easel under the stairs. And more! Please weave your stories here in Shanghai. The setting invites them. And those of us who live here are for the most part happy to play!
And that's all from me!

Elegia Underwood bows to the audience after the chinese fashion.

Serafina Puchkina: Our final speaker today is TotalLunar Eclipse.

Viv Trafalgar: following Lunar, we have questions and a craft - donated by your wonderful speakers

TotalLunar Eclipse: As stated, I am Lunar, owner of the Estates in which you are visiting today. First off I want to welcome back Miss Viv who I heard has been missing. And I will dispatch my Sheriff werewolf to find the miscreants who have dared steal her away. But each city has its shady areas, for Steelhead, Shanghai is it.

Elegia Underwood looks innocent & stares at something on the ceiling

TotalLunar Eclipse: The Shanghai Concept was something completely out of the blue, when we first laid plans for Steelhead’s growth after Port Harbor this sim was supposed to be Mt St Helens and the sim to the south would be Multonomah Falls.

So where did the idea come from, oddly enough out of a dream, a dream of opium dens and rickshaws that inspired my design for something completely different. All the Steelhead Estates are based around the Pacific Northwest pre turn of the century, but each sim itself entails a different theme upon the concept, from the mines in Boomtown, to the rustic outback of St Helens.

In the pacific northwest, in Portland there are stories of drunken fellows being stolen away, then sold to slavery to captains who had lost their crew because they abandoned ship to remain in the area or search for gold.

They were... Shanghai’ed, thus the name of the city. St Helens? Well... it did erupt May 18th and we may celebrate that every anniversary.

Shanghai was thought up and when the idea was presented to the people it was picked up quickly and in less than a month it was ordered… oddly on my RL anniversary, August 7th. It was one of my first terraformingly dynamic sim, the worst of it being newly opened St Helens.

I wanted to give the appearance of a city that had been mined to death and abandoned thus being taken over by the refugees of the railroads and industrial tycoons looking for cheap labor. The south of Shanghai has a tiered effect on the land, as in its past it has been over mined and its resources stripped away.

Unlike the rest of the cities Shanghai has relatively few trees, foliage and most of its beauty lies in its waterways, the oddness of its tiered mountain and the buildings, boats and junks. If you have visited Shanghai before, you would have no doubt ended up in the city’s pagoda. Its absolute center serves as the distribution of character in the Bushido tradition, North corresponds with Tortise, West with the Tiger, South with the Phoenix and East with the Dragon, and over the absolute center of the city is the Sun Pagoda.

In Steelhead a lot of our civic buildings are inspired by RL builds, such as the City Hall building’s exterior being the Melbourne Hotel in Melbourne Australia, or the Ballroom as a portrayal of the Beaumont Hotel from Ouray Colorado. In Shanghai that is no different with the creation of the Sun Pagoda. The RL Sun Pagoda, or Rì Tǎ, is the tallest copper pagoda in the world towering over nine stories located in Guanxi China along with its smaller counterpart the ‘Moon Pagoda.’

In Shanghai we recreated the exterior to honour this sacred landmark and in time when we expand the Shanghai concept to the east we will have the ‘moon pagoda’ as well. In research there was actually very little I could find as a concept that meshed Steampunk and Oriental together. The photo behind me is both pagodas Sun and Moon.

It was an architectural nightmare those edges.. Tensai helped.

Viv Trafalgar: how so Lunar?

TotalLunar Eclipse: The curving of the roofs. They are not sculpted. As far as steampunk and oriental like I said, very little found aside from artwork.

Steampunk, best described by Captain Robert of Abney Park at Steamcon 09’ ‘is a genre that is undefined, and best left undefined. Because once you start defining it you have to set rules.’ We shape and mold our personal definitions here in the Steamlands, Steelhead included.

The Firefly show added oriental into the concept of Steampunk and we went by that and some odd drawings here or there. From there we took RL conceptual work, RL buildings, and those artworks and tried to define this city.

I asked a lot of my residents to imagine these two concepts together and help create this foundation, but from the slums of Shaiman Alley on the waterfront to the boxcar apartments surrounding the Dragonlands, BlakOpal’s dry dock and various rickshaw’s, boats, junks we have created our version of what Oriental Steampunk is in the Shanghai Concept and are looking forward to expanding that at a later date of course.

You'll have to forgive me for not jumping on the chance to expand sooner but two sims in four months... I need a break. This platform, Shanghai is open for everyone. I made it to you to explore, to RP, to dream and to visit.
Thank you for your time, that is my talk :)

Viv Trafalgar: Lunar, thank you. Your buildings speak most eloquently for you, and I know we are all pleased to see the work. We have time for some questions for all three speakers, and I would like to remind everyone that next month - back in Babbage, Miss Saffia Widdershins and guests will be talking about Children. Do not miss it.

If you have a question please speak up in chat and I’ll call on you. As the hour is late I will also set out the craft. All funds in the speakers fund will be donated to the speakers

Jedburgh30 Dagger: With Salon, there is always a craft

Vivi Boxen: Planning on making any more sims for these kinds of building?

Viv Trafalgar: Vivi who is your question for? Lunar?

Vivi Boxen: Maybe a sort of town designed for Oriental steampunk like rp, parties and stuff? Yes Lunar

TotalLunar Eclipse: Yes, I have plans for Shang hyu. That is where Moon Pagoda goes.

Tensai Hilra: somehow, he likes the idea of a moon pagoda ;)

TotalLunar Eclipse: Well.. yes
Viv Trafalgar: I like the thought too - i've seen moon gates, not sure how a moon pagoda would look?

TotalLunar Eclipse: There are a series of moon bridges all about.

Tensai Hilra: its similar to the sun pagoda, but silver and luminecent

Elegia Underwood: (Be sure to get a notecard from the placard beneath the stairs before you leave.)

TotalLunar Eclipse: Not very good to traverse if you have vehicles.

Stormy Buccaneer: bridges to the moon you say?>

TotalLunar Eclipse: Yes, to the moon.

Viv Trafalgar: Other questions for RIven, Gia, or Lunar?

Elegia Underwood: Here's a picture of me in the opium den, but I never partake of my own products!

Viv Trafalgar: Third call for questions on RP, Immigration, Building :) otherwise we can devolve into an off the record soiree.

Elegia Underwood: I am mellow because when I am annoyed, I just let the steam blow out my ears.

Viv Trafalgar: We are glad you could all come and hope to see you next month in Babbage

Bookworm Hienrichs applauds. "Good to have you back, Miss Viv!"

Riven Homewood: Miss Viv, Miss Serafina - thank you so much for having us and for doing this in Steelhead

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you for allowing Salon to visit - very much!

Ceejay Writer: It is very lush, and my typist, who lived in the Pacific Northwest for decades, feels an affinity here.

Serafina Puchkina: Thank you, Miss Riven. Congratulations to you, Miss Gia, and Mr Lunar. Well done!!

Viv Trafalgar: We’ll conclude our transcript now

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