Hu never came. Classes were not cancelled. Falun Gong did not reenact the Tiananmen Massacre on Cross Campus. But imagine how a meeting of New Haven power brokers would have unfolded had Hu visited. Late-night at Sprague Hall: the 22 East Asian studies majors and 147-person presidential entourage have cleared out; Thomas Frampton has been tracked down and apprehended. Hu, Levin, and Mayor DeStefano settle in to plot a sinister realignment of global/municipal politics. Cigar smoke curls upwards…
President Hu [through interpreter]: Peerless Leader Hu is most honored to share the hospitality of Great Helmsman Levin, his sacred and reverend bestest buddy.
President Levin: President Hu, here in America we have a tradition of subjecting our public officials to heavily choreographed 90-minute fluff sessions, laughably called “debates” by the mainstream media. But when my people called your people, they were informed that leaders of Communist autocracies don’t generally answer questions posed by members of the proletariat–at least not before sending them to the salt mines for reeducation!
Hu: Shining Bridge-Builder Hu thinks Wise Economist Levin could have used some salt mines during the latest bout of class warfare! Polite laughter, Celestial Emperor Hu makes a funny. In actuality, China has no salt mines or unhappiness. They are fictions, like Donald Duck’s Math-magic Land or SARS, with which we frighten our one child to make him learn his logarithms. But enough, Sycophantic Flunky DeStefano wishes to speak.
Mayor DeStefano [glad-handing the premier]: Welcome to New Haven, President Hu, or “comrade” as I’m told you prefer. You and I have a lot in common: you’ve introduced market reforms to the planned economy while maintaining a chokehold on civil liberties; I brought an Ann Taylor to Chapel Street and relocated that hobo tent city to East Norwalk, while also revitalizing the New Haven motto. “The Crabtree City,” “Pequot-free since 1632,” and “Once You Drink the Water, You Will Never Want to Leave” all died in committee. So we settled on “New Haven: Obsequious, but Seethingly Resentful.”
Hu [through interpreter]: Our sages have a similar proverb: “Chop down a tree, and the monkey will shit on your roof. Build a hydroelectric dam, and you will flood its habitat for all time.”
Levin: Jane and I had a deer problem at our summer place a few years back — DDT works wonders.
DeStefano [persevering]: President Hu, I propose that China and New Haven exploit their shared historical situation. You have a population of billions and military-industrial capacity to match; we have a Cold Stone Creamery and an infinite capacity for optimism. Together, we can bring Sino-Haven relations to a new high. Listen: since Chinese banks control America’s currency reserves as is, take the process to its logical conclusion–admit the inevitability of a dystopian collectivist new world order, and grant China political hegemony over New Haven? The hammer and sickle will flutter over the Green and a Mandarin-language version of the Internationale will replace “Bright College Years,” if that’s what it takes.
Levin: I would sell my first-born son to realize my life’s ambition: becoming the commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Hu [through interpreter]: Sagacious officials, your proposals are intriguing. Thrice-blessed Pilot of the People Hu likes what he hears…
[Before Hu can continue, chanting, clanging, and discordant air horn blasts are heard at the doors, which are suddenly flung open, revealing sandwich-board-clad members of GESO, UOC, and Local 34 (but not 35). At their head is charismatic Ward 1 Alderwoman Rebecca Livengood.]
Livengood: Thought you gentlemen could hide from the long arm of the aldermanic council, did you? This is worse than financial aid cuts, sexual harassment, and unethical investments rolled into one gigantic ball of dastardly oppression. We won’t leave until Yale sets up a cooperative movie theater, tenures more minority faculty, ratifies the Kyoto protocol, and refuses to kowtow to a Communist despot! Prepare to face the power of the people–this here’s a sit-in, Rick!
Hu: Hu. Hu. Hu. [Hu repeats his surname over and over in a bid to trick the foolish Americans, who inexplicably ask him what it’s like to “be on first” whenever he introduces himself at state functions. The ploy seems to be working–a fracas breaks out between confused placard-waving Livengoodites and Chow Yun Fat-esque security personnel. Hu edges toward the second trombonist’s chair, site of a hidden trapdoor, conveniently located for hasty retreats such as this one. Descending beneath the stage as the chaos grows, Hu smiles. He hopes his 9 a.m. reception in the Rose Garden with local fifth graders proves as exciting…]