Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ugh-ccupy Central

I'm not really a supporter of Occupy Central and all the nonsense that's springing up around it. Not because I support the government, which can suck its own dick, but because I think the movement is not radical enough. Universal suffrage? That's fucking it??? Are people really naive enough to believe that just getting to vote will actually improve lives? Do people not learn history anymore?

If you want to really make a change in the lives of people, bring out the Goddamn guillotines and get rid of the wealthy parasites and colonial institutions that are perpetuating all kinds of injustices in this city. Destroy predatory capitalism, dismantle the education system that perpetuates this fucked up idea of "success," challenge the colonial mentality that still pervades this city -- but hey, it's too hard to do that shit so let's just sit under an umbrella and lie to ourselves that we're doing something useful. 

Most of my friends are involved in the protests, but man, they are wasting their fucking time. Protests don't do shit unless there's some kind of plan for organized systemic change, let's be real here. I've lived through at least two coups d'etat and all these so-called revolutions have done is simply change the bandage on a festering wound. Chinua Achebe wrote about it in Anthills of the Savannah, and he had the most marvellous way of summing up what happens: "First, you eat, then I eat."

That's all this pro-"democracy" bullshit is about -- changing seats at the banquet when what people need to do is fuck the party up in the first place. It's really disheartening that people keep doing this shit over and over and never learn from history or what others are doing. It's just like Snowpiercer says: *SPOILERS* revolutions are just part of the system and the leaders of the revolution end up taking their place among those in power unless they're killed. *END SPOILERS*

I suppose I should be grateful I grew up in corrupt, post-colonial Third World countries because you learn about human nature and realpolitik fast. 

Anyway, in case any of you even care about why Hong Kong is in this situation in the first place, I've pasted excerpts below from a really comprehensive article on Hong Kong's history and how its colonial past set up the problems it's facing now. I really urge everyone to read the whole thing over here

The bogus democracy promoted by the last British governor, Chris Patten, and the free-market myth created by Friedman's fantasy have fueled Hong Kong's eager self-delusion. The so-called rule of law, so frequently touted these post-colonial days in Hong Kong, merely meant that no local Chinese business ever won a case against any British trading firm in 150 years of colonial justice. Hong Kong's low-tax myth is merely a cover-up for the exorbitant land tax disguised by the government's century-old, unseemly role as chief land speculator. Throughout its history, Hong Kong's economy has always been driven by geopolitical conditions rather than by free-market fundamentalism, much less by democracy or the rule of law. 
What most analysts miss is that Hong Kong's future is dependent not on China's adherence on its OCTS policy of non-interference in Hong Kong's internal autonomy, or on the continuation of a fantasized free-market system, or rule by colonial law disguised as rule of law. Rather, it depends on whether Hong Kong can again recognize changes in the global geopolitical landscape since the end of the Cold War to reorient a new useful role in it. 

The OCTS policy erroneously accepted Hong Kong's colonial regime as democratic and free-market, instead of the colonial governance and command economy that it actually was. The Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution drawn on the OCTS principle, contains defining clauses on the political and economic systems of Hong Kong that are mere fantasies of Anglo-US propaganda. The Basic Law in essence condones a continuation of Western neo-imperialism under Chinese sovereignty for another 50 years. As such, these constitutional clauses constrain the government of the SAR from any attempt to face reality and provide solutions to real problems it is facing. The artificial constitutional segregation of Hong Kong from China is now creating difficulties in Hong Kong's effort to be integrated with the booming economy of the Pearl River Delta. China has no need for Hong Kong compradorism in this era of direct contact. Neither do China's trading partners in the West. 

Western apologists stress British contribution to the development of a market economy in Hong Kong through its laissez-faire policy. What Britain actually did was to transfer wealth accumulated from imperialistic exploitation of China to Britain through an offshore island on the China coast ruled by British colonialism. Thus the argument that British colonialism built a prosperous world city on a barren rock by virtue of a superior economic system was as ridiculous as Kipling's "White Man's Burden" bringing civilization to India. 
Professor Hui Po-Keung of Lingnan University, Professor Tak-Wing Ngo of Leiden University and others have written on Hong Kong's colonial compradore politics and monopolistic middle-man capitalism and the propagandistic dissemination of mythical free-market ideology in Hong Kong, despite total British control of the colonial command economy. These research findings refute the myth that Hong Kong's economic success was a result of a laissez-faire policy, or the outcome of free-enterprise response to free markets. Evidence showed that British colonial policies dictated Hong Kong's commercial and trade development to support British interests, while discouraging any local industrialization before World War II, and also blocking opportunities for industrial upgrading in the 1960s that would have enabled Hong Kong to compete independently in world markets. 

But unlike Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Hong Kong did not get on a high-end manufacturing path for lack of any industrial policy. British colonial education, trade and finance policies kept Hong Kong in low-end manufacturing sweatshops for the narrow benefit of British trading monopolies and banks, which had never wanted to endow the colony with industrialization. At the same time, the Hong Kong government's long-standing land speculation that enabled a tax policy that attracted foreign investment further contributed to rapid growth of the low-end export sector.

But most of Hong Kong's wealth came from land speculation, with the colonial government as the chief speculator and beneficiary. This policy condemned labor in Hong Kong into perpetual under-education, low subsistence wages and sweatshop working conditions.

In 1967, a labor dispute at an artificial-flower sweatshop in Hong Kong quickly escalated into widespread violent street demonstrations. For several months, protesters clashed with police, overturned cars and buses, stoned hotel lobbies and shop windows, and in a general release of century-old, pent-up rage and hostility toward colonial capitalism, disrupting life and business in the colony. Several bombs were set off in a wave of terrorism. At one point, shots were fired across the border from China into Hong Kong. 
British officials responded with a ruthless crackdown against the sudden release of pent-up nationalism, suspending what little civil liberty the colony had traditionally allowed, in the name of anti-communism, imprisoning thousands without trial and closing down left-wing Chinese-language newspapers. Official reports acknowledged that some 50 people were killed during the riots by excessive police force, with thousands more wounded. 
To defuse a recurrence of social unrest, social and government reforms in Hong Kong followed, including the cleanup of the openly corrupt, scandal-ridden police force. At the same time, China made clear that it still considered Hong Kong a part of Chinese territory it would eventually reclaim. 
It was at this point that British imperialism decided to solicit US assistance by the gradual adoption of bogus democracy and free markets as a new colonialism with a human face. The colonial government then began officially referring to Hong Kong as a territory, not a colony. British banking interests began nurturing a new breed of native compradores with special preferential bank credit. Their role was to pose as a national bourgeoisie to front for neocolonialism. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Horizon Plaza

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Has Some Dude sold out?! Why the fuck am I writing about a tourist trap like Horizon Plaza? Is this clickbait for all the mindless shopping tourists who only come here to buy discounted brand names and don't otherwise give a shit about this place?

Be not afraid: I'm not getting paid to write anything for this blog (dammit) so clickbait is pointless, and I'm too ornery for a sponsored article. You should read some of my replies to the PR people who fucking don't read the warning up there about not fucking putting me on their mailing lists.

It just so happened that H and I went to Horizon Plaza to spam the place with flyers for his Rockcamp and my jewellery workshops, so I figured I'd take some pictures and write about the place anyway.

As you probably guessed, I didn't visit every floor of the building -- you fucking kidding me? I have a life! I have dreams! I don't got time for that shit. And you know how much I loathe shopping and spending more than 15 minutes inside a store unless I'm with someone funny, and H hates shopping only a little bit less than I do.

We mostly hit the places where we thought parents and families would go, and then we did a detour at the Lane Crawford outlet because H needed a more formal shirt for a gig and we figured we'd try it out. The shirts were too hilarious -- you'd have to be a 28-inch waisted Flower Boy Chaebol Heir to pull them off -- but H scored a pair of super marked down Toms shoes that he got for only HKD200. I saw a pair of knockoffs somewhere that cost HKD270, and I told H and I seriously have never seen him so pleased with something that he'd bought that wasn't music-related.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me briefly talk about Horizon Plaza: it's this commercial building in Ap Lei Chau that is mostly stuffed with outlets (Joyce, Lane Crawford, etc.), family and baby shops, and furniture stores. It is a pain in the fucking ass to get there. If you're not a pro at bus transportation, I suggest you take a bus that drops you off at Ap Lei Chau Estate Bus Terminus and then either do the 20-minute hike to the building (which we did because we're idiots) or wait for the Horizon Plaza shuttle bus to take you. If you start off at the Exchange Square bus depot in Central, you can take the number 90 bus.

Hm...I'm looking at the Horizon Plaza shopping guide right now to help me list out the shops in the place, and the way they drew the building on their map makes it look like a penis with one giant ball and one little one. Just so you know. Mang, there's too many fucking shops to list out, I'll just randomly choose some:

Juicy Couture - No, I'm serious! I know it's hilarious -- an outlet for a brand that I associate with bad extensions and herpes --but you might want to buy...okay, I can't think of anything.

Saint Laurent - Didn't bother going in here because I have some issues with that company. I really dislike Pierre Berge, dude is a straight-up racist. I know he's not part of the label, anymore, but ugh.

Good Laque Gifts Gallery - Come on..."Good Laque!"

Tequila Kola - I actually used to work in marketing for a competing brand, and all I know is that what you're paying for is not the cost of the furniture but the cost of shipping. And markups are fucking crazy.

Armani - Okay, I'm done, I can't write more. It's time for the pics and narration to start. If you haven't read this blog before, let me just warn you now that I start off with lots of photos, even of random shit, and then I get kind of tired and then the photos start to trickle off, and I probably don't get photograph half the shit that I ought to.

It doesn't look very penis-like in this picture, though.

I should have an exhibition of all my super-exciting pictures. It would create a massive wave of shock and awe throughout the world.

I didn't even bother going into Joyce Warehouse. Sorry, dudes, for some reason, all that merchandise just sitting there unsold bothered me. Not that I want people to buy them and give money to Joyce or something, but there's just so much useless shit out there that people don't need being produced. It makes me question my own stuff, like do I really need to be making jewellery and shit, you know?

Oh, there's also a bookstore for kids. In my day, kids had to make do with a couple of shelves in a regular bookstore. These kids don't know how good they have it these days.

We made sure to try to leave flyers around this place, but hear the craziest, most entitled shit coming from some of the customers in this place. You get these moms buying thousands of dollars worth of useless shit and whining to their friends about how their slaves helpers want to sleep early instead of happily entertaining their shitty kids till 1 am before waking up at 6 the next day. Mind you, most helpers get paid something like HKD4,000 a month, and those chicks drop that much on shopping trips here.

I can't remember why we entered Lane Crawford. I think I wanted to sit down and H wanted to see if he could get a formal shirt. Anyway, as I said, H got some shit here that made him happy and it was cheap.

There is a lot of really sad crap, though.

That dress makes me so fucking itchy, I want to scratch my eyeballs, dude.

Not bad.

I wasn't in the mood to even look at shoes, the weather had gotten me so tired and overheated.

I don't get it. If I had a kid, I wouldn't even let it near those things, I can't imagine grown-ass people wearing them. This is not fashion or style, this is just people with too much money being emperor's new clothes-ed.

We went in here and played with some stuff, which is why I was too busy to take pictures. Not bad, although the rip-off Toys R Us font is like...

I know a few of you like Cath Kidston and have been asking me where to get authentic stuff cheap, so here you go.

And now to cleanse my soul with some punk-funk Commie attitude.

Saturday, August 30, 2014






Wednesday, July 9, 2014

豚王 Butao Ramen

If you live in Hong Kong, you're probably sick of the ramen trend that has caused dozens of ramen shops to open in the past couple of years. Or, if you're like H, maybe not.

As someone who has Hokkien and Taiwanese blood, I should be genetically and culturally predisposed to liking noodles, not to mention the tiny percentage of Japanese ancestry I have should make me like ramen, but my taste genes must have mutated somehow because I actually prefer rice.

This reminds me of when I was apprenticing in Italy with a bunch of other people from different countries, and one time, we were talking about our respective cultural foods. We asked ourselves which cuisine we would choose if we could only eat that one cuisine for the rest of our lives. The Koreans obviously chose Korean food (I think out of all the Asians, they're the ones who need to pack their foods for trips overseas the most), the Japanese chose Japanese, the Italians chose Italian, the French chose French, and as the lone Chinese representative, I chose Indian food. 

Hey man, I can't help it. It's the truth. It would be hard but I could give up dumplings and sweet pork jerky (which I'm eating as I type and have probably finished at least half a pound by now) for paratha and sag paneer (or anything paneer). And I fucking love all the Indian rice dishes. That's how I got hooked when I was a kid. I wasn't big on bread when my parents first took me to an Indian restaurant, but as soon as I tasted that mutton biryani, dudes...

Hell, I love Indian food so much, I'm even giving my kid an Indian name. Alright, the reason is not true, but I AM giving my kid an Indian name. It's for more profound and personal reasons other than I could sex a roti, though, so hold up on those accusations of child abuse, please. 

Okay, so I don't know how I ended up talking about Indian food on an entry about ramen. Let's rewind to how I don't really like noodles but with the ramen craze going around, and H being a traitor to Chinese cuisine as well, he's been dragging me along to sample some of the offerings, and I've actually been pleasantly surprised. Still not something I'd choose to eat every day, but I don't mind the occasional meal.

Early this year, H finally moved on to tsukemen ramen and we've usually been going to a couple of places in Sham Shui Po and in Central that he really likes, but like an asshole, I haven't been taking pictures so stay tuned till I get my lazy ass correct. 

In the meantime, I'm going to introduce one of the ramen places we've tried and liked, even though it's in Central (I just hate eating in Central nowadays, dudes, too many entitled shits, and I always end up feeling so sorry for the staff). I present to you: Butao Ramen, which, because I am dumb, I always end up calling Bantot Ramen, which is Tagalog for "stinky."

Yes, it's so exciting to see a pic of the cash register, I know. 

Even more exciting! Don't blame me for your heart attacks!

I think the association is because I find that my poo is extra stinky after I eat there -- but I will explain why later. I asked H if he found his droppings any different, and he said that they were the same, so I think it's just because of what I order. 

Butao Ramen is one of those places where you get to customize your ramen. You're given a form to fill out that lets you choose the type of soup base, the intensity of the soup flavour, how much leeks, and even the doneness of the noodles and so on. 

I've tried all the soup bases and I have to say the one I like best is the cuttlefish black ramen. The thing is, though, it tends to give me diarrhea. I don't know if it's because I always choose maximum intensity for the soup flavour. Next time I go, I'll try to dial it down a bit and see if it has any effect on my bowels. I don't know, maybe I'm greedy but I figure, why not get everything for the maximum if you can?

H got the soup with cheese and pesto. I liked it when I tried it before, it's unusual for ramen, and I love pesto. Have I mentioned that during one of the typhoons, I lost six of my precious basil plants that I spent an entire year cultivating? They blew over the wall and thank God they didn't kill anyone. I still have three plants left, so things aren't that grim on the home cooking front, fortunately.

Anyway, back to Butao, I would say most of the soup bases are pretty good, but I would start with the regular ramen soup base first so you'll have a foundation for comparison. 

The thing I don't like about Butao is their shitty airconditioning. Dudes, it's one of the hottest summers ever, plus the heat from the kitchen and the heat of the soup, after a few minutes, you kind of just feel like you're being steamed alive. They should really fix that shit. 

Oh yeah, I should mention that they only accept cash. And the staff yell at you in Japanese when you enter, and I wonder if they actually know what they're saying. I'm tempted to drag a Japanese friend with me so they can yell back in Japanese. 

Anyway, worth a visit, especially if you're constipated and need some lubrication. Butao is at 69 Wellington Street, across from that really shitty Vietnamese restaurant (food is too salty and overpriced) with the tiny and dangerous bathroom where I hit my head on the sink once trying to pee.

They're open every day from 11 in the morning until they run out of ramen. Expect to pay around HKD90 for a bowl of ramen on average (can you tell I've been writing for a travel guide?) and they have side dishes like eggs and pork shoulder that you can add to your ramen, as well. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jinze Silk Workshop

Jinze is holding workshops from July 28 to August 1 in Shunde! This is a rare chance to visit silkmakers and enjoy a unique cultural experience, dudes. If I didn't have work, I'd be there in a heartbeat, seriously. And I'm not even fond of silk!

From their site:

Gambiered silk - an intangible cultural heritage in Guangdong, is produced by soaking the silk with yam juice and covering it with mud before exposing to the sun. During the previous International Shibori Symposium (8th iss 2011), gambiered silk, as presented by representatives from Foshan of the Guangdong Province, had generated tremendous interests among the global audience. Expect to see more fabulous work from the Foshan group in the upcoming Shibori Symposium!
As partner to the 9th iss, Jinze Arts Centre is organizing a 5-day gambiered silk dye workshop at Shunde at the end of July. We will spend our time at the dye workshop, watch how the cloth is made, while we experiment in our own ways. We will try the many resist dye methods on different fibres, exploring the unique quality of the tannin dye and iron-rich mud. Explore the applications on wood, paper and other material. The findings will be presented at the 9th iss in October this year.
Gambiered silk is unique to this part of China, the land, water, sunshine together gave birth to this textile.  There will be lots of sun and sweat, a chance to understand the local fishpond-silk culture, fresh food and lots of discussions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bang Bang 70's

Yesterday was the massive protest supposedly for democracy, but let's get real here, dudes. I have friends that marched, and I'm all for representation, etc. but people can say all they want about supporting democracy when we all know that a lot of that sentiment is just a cover for anti-mainlander bigotry. Seriously, people saying shit like how Hong Kong was better under British rule -- doesn't anyone know history anymore??? Somehow, people are conveniently forgetting that they couldn't vote during British rule either, but it's okay because the white massahs said so. Things didn't really start improving until the handover was imminent and the British were scrambling to try to do last-minute shit to try to embarrass China.

It's not like the Chinese government doesn't do some real shady shit sometimes, but I just hate nonsense and hypocrisy. Like, all those people here who cry about the poor Chinese people killed during the Tiananmen protests but in the next breath talk about how much they don't like mainlanders. Erm...

Honestly, the people who are upset are mad about the wrong thing. They shouldn't be upset that mainlanders are now occupying positions that the British used to hold. They should be upset that those positions exist in the first fucking place. Stupid. This is why the world should just end in a major apocalypse soon.

Anyway, so all this astute political observation aside, yesterday, H picked up his new eyeglasses at Bang Bang 70's in SoHo. Dudes, that area is getting crowded right now thanks to the opening of PMQ, but I'm not really sure PMQ is doing local businesses (aside from restaurants and bars) any good.

Okay, I can't resist, you can skip the next couple of paragraphs because I've got more to say about the bullshit going on in this city.

See, this is what I mean by protesting the wrong thing. People should be protesting the greed that makes even supposedly subsidized venues like PMQ turn into bullshit. This place is supposed to foster artists and small businesses, but the cheapest space they had was all the way on the upper levels and for about HKD10,500 (USD1,350) a month IF you qualifed for the maximum discount. Otherwise, you'll have to fork out HKD18,000 (or USD2,250) a month. in the hell is an emerging designer going to scrape up that money every month unless they're already rich, which means they don't need a damn subsidized space? Not to mention the cost of renovations, the utility bills, etc. that the small businesses have to cover themselves. And for a space that's supposed to foster emerging talent, why did they rent shit out to big brands and boutiques? When I visited, I noticed that a lot of people who went were tourists who were just there to take pictures, have a pizza and then fuck off. Are these designers really going to be able to recoup their costs? I know a couple of tenants there, and one of them has taken out a huge loan that I have no clue how he is going to pay off. Poor kid.

Honestly, Hong Kong people have nothing to fear from mainlanders because they're fucking themselves up the ass better than mainlanders could ever do already. Hong Kong people are the ones responsible for strangling their own creative and entrepreneurial communities, for fucking up their kids' happiness and health with the education system. Don't blame that shit on mainlanders, look in the damn mirror. Don't get me wrong, I still love this city and there are people actively trying to curb all the greed and materialism, but man...there are times when even H, who was born and raised here, feels really depressed by the situation.

Whew! So that's out of my system now and we can go back to Bang Bang 70's. This shop is one of the reasons that I still have hope in Hong Kong. It's run by two dudes who are from the Hong Kong film industry and have a deep love of 70s and 80s vintage stuff, and those dudes have really good taste and really know their shit. I love shop owners like that, and I hope their landlord doesn't price them out of business.

Here's the shop from the outside, it's inside a building and you'll have to get buzzed in, so watch out for the sign.

This is what the entrance looks like.

Just a short climb till vintage glory.

It's almost too much to gather in at one time. You need at least an afternoon to fully appreciate all the stuff they have.

I know I'm super old but does anyone else remember televisions with antennas and having to hold them at a certain angle to get decent reception, and if you were a kid, you'd often be the one forced to stand next to the TV and hold the fucking thing? My siblings and cousins and I used to get into fistfights over who had to hold the antenna because nobody wanted to do it. It was serious business, mang.

So much stuff I wish I could take home.

Most items are in mint condition. Just wonderful.

That handbag! But I have to say, the stuff here isn't cheap. You have to pay for quality, dudes.

Lots of designer brands for those of you who collect vintage designer stuff.

I seriously love that checkered floor. I don't know how they keep their place so dust-free. H and I have to clean all the damn time at our place, otherwise, we'll all look like we're covered in ash.

Look at the mint condition of that Bally bag!

H ended up buying a pair of 1950s frames that are kind of like William S. Burrough's. I would show them but it's too hot to take a picture right now, and I want to put this entry up as quick as possible. Oh, and I think there's a sale going on right now, so this might be the best time to buy stuff!

I don't really like long toes on shoes, but those two pairs are sassy as fuck. Good thing for my savings that neither of them were in my size.

Another lovely black and white pair.

And finally, the two bosses of the shop! Why can't my cats be cute like that instead of being assholes all the time?

Anyway, Bang Bang 70's is open every day from 2pm till 9 pm, and their address is 1/F, 16A Aberdeen Street in SoHo/Central.