Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Full name: Andrew Shen
Chinese name: 沈安 (Shen An)
Nicknames: n/a

Birthday: July 1, 1984
Gender: Unknown
Hometown: Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Siblings: Several
Parents: Affirmative
Offspring: Maybe

A brief family history: Parents attended the University of Massachusetts; mom, a Beijinger, was a Lu Xun scholar; dad, from Shanghai, studied linguistics.

China Ultimate teams:
Big Brother, Beijing Bang, Hang Time

Website: Ultimate

Middle school:
Amherst, where it is one of Shen's great regrets that he did not know it had an Ultimate Frisbee team that was consistently beating high school teams (and a high school team that was winning college tournaments). "I could be a great player if I started in eighth grade," he says.
Dickinson College '06
Major: East Asian Studies with a minor in philosophy

Beijing Ultimate: Wait, philosophy?
Shen: "Yeah."

BU: Who's your favorite philosopher?
Shen: "I don't really have a favorite. I like Chinese philosophy, like Taoism. I like balance in the universe, the idea of it."

BU: But the universe is infinitely expanding.
Shen: "It's not confirmed. Research is showing more and more dark matter that suggests the universe will collapse one day and re-expand."

BU: It's a futile hope. Believing in re-expansion is like creating God.
Shen: "Humans won't live long enough to see if the universe is open, flat, or closed. All are possibilities."

BU: Even if human beings aren't around, the question is of infinite importance. It determines whether there'll be a second cycle of humankind.
Shen: "Cosmology is filled with theory, not enough content. For instance, some people think black holes create new universes, so a dimension beyond our measurement is being created with every end of a galaxy. But there's too much theory. They find more dark matter in our galaxy due to spin rate and now expect it to crash into Andromeda a lot sooner than expected. Of course, this is still long after our sun has burned out and eaten our earth."

BU: Tying this in with what you said earlier about Eastern philosophy -- the cosmological theory people subscribe to determines their entire worldview.
Shen: "Maybe. But people don't need to subscribe to one religion. In Western worldview, if you're Christian you can't be Muslim or Jewish. In the East, they don't have to conflict. They can coexist. In Japan, for instance, you can be Shinto and Buddhist.

"I mean, that's religion, but I think that ties into philosophy quite a bit, at least as it relates to a person's worldview."

Bet you didn't know...: Shen was a peddler of pornography in high school.

This is actually true. But we don't want to put it that way. How about: he was a provider of a much-needed service for emerging adolescents in a market -- Carlisle, Pennsylvania -- starved for entertainment.

In his own words: "I stole porn in middle school. That's why I didn't play Ultimate. I was too busy running my business.

"I didn't even watch -- just stole and sold them out of my locker. I stole porn and anime from Media Play, video stories, FYI, The Wall, Circuit City...

"It's a lucrative business. Kids don't know where to get porn. Back then we were still using VHS tapes.

"Porn out of stores was really expensive, like $30 per tape. I also stole Tamagotchis and Giga Pets, but those weren't the moneymakers.

"I had at least a half-dozen returning customers. I wasn't a cool kid but not a weird kid either. I would just say I was a different kid."

If you're wondering why Shen in the above picture is wearing a Superman hoodie, please reread that quote again. I was a different kid. That's partially the reason.

The other part -- really, the main part -- is baijiu. Lots and lots of baijiu. At a party the previous night. In which he returned home, crashed, woke up the next day, threw on a Superman hoodie and booked it to the subway, where he was to meet with a group of people to attend a miaohui.

He forgot to brush his teeth. After a night of baijiu binging. Lots and lots of baijiu.


Shen and China Ultimate: Ever since arriving in the summer of '06, Shen's been deeply involved in the Beijing Ultimate community as both a player and committee member (Outreach). A self-described "Frisbee whore" -- he's played on all three of Beijing's teams, most prominently with Big Brother (he's been on the A team for all its tournaments since Jeju '07) -- Shen simply loves Ultimate and will play whenever he gets a chance. That said, who better than Shen to give an assessment of each of Beijing's triumvirate of teams:

"Hang Time is a pure social activity. They're not into practices. They get a lot of new people and get outside and run around a bit. One of the problems is when it comes to competitions they still want to win, but they never practice [hard].

"In that aspect, Beijing Bang is a lot better because they're better organized and close-knit, but as a result they're more closed. They still get new people but maybe not that many. The retention rate is better because once you get on it's a good feeling, but Hang Time gets more people.

"Big Brother is just a bunch of expats out to win. They're maybe not as organized as they can be -- when the captains are into a tournament it gets organized, but sometimes when the captains aren't going it doesn't get organized. Manilla this past winter for instance, when Jim and Doc and Joe decided they didn't want to go, it fell apart. Practices stopped. People wanted to go but the roster ended up dwindling to just a few people."

Pictures to prove Shen loves Ultimate:

Beijing Ultimate Summer League 2008.

And finally, a blast from the past -- 2004:

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