Greetings From the People's Republic! | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

Greetings From the People's Republic! 

LeRoy Martin's Postcards From China

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Dear Mayor,

Landed in Beijing 5:30 PM. Taken on a little detour to Tienanmen Square. Here I was so overwhelmed by the marvelous Chinese system of law and order that I laid a wreath at this monument to the heroic soldiers who died putting down the outlaw uprising in 1989. It's called the tomb of the unknown bazooka gunner.

Then toured a prison. I was impressed with how prisoners receive only a bowl of rice, a thermos of tea, and a bucket for sanitary facilities. Recidivism is very low thanks to creative sentencing designed to ensure offenders won't repeat. Theft rates are minuscule since thieves have their hands cut off. And ever since a man had his eyes burned out, there's been a sharp decline in the number of overdue library books.

Wish you were here.



Dear Mayor,

Today was a special day I shall never forget. How exciting it was to be invited to the annual Civil Libertarians' Barbecue. This is where Chinese people of all ages get together to barbecue civil libertarians. It's like being a part of a hunting camp watching all the cars pull up with civil rights activists strapped to their roofs. You haven't lived until you've retreated to the wilds and listened to the distant cry of a criminal defense attorney. I felt just like Hemingway!

Wish we had something like this back home. Who was it that started all the civil rights commotion in America, anyway? Must've been some troublemaker.

Best to Maggie and the kids,


Dear Mayor,

Just took off from Beijing and already China is tugging my sleeve, beckoning me to return. The Chinese are such a well-behaved people. They have such reverence for the law. And the greatest thing of all is that in China, it is illegal for private citizens to own those evil weapons that give even the most seasoned police officer nightmares. Camcorders!

I can't thank you enough for sending me here. I feel recharged, rededicated, ready to fight crime anew. Until I came to China I'd forgotten how much fun being a cop can be.

And now I'm looking forward with great enthusiasm to next spring, when I visit Iraq.

Nostalgically yours,


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Mike Ervin

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
October 23
Performing Arts
Every Brilliant Thing Windy City Playhouse South
September 18

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories