Friday, October 16, 2009

Hong Kong

I came out of the jungle the other day to visit Hong Kong. I swear, I have lost my street smarts living in the land of the full moon snorkel and the banana pancake.

Park n Shop got snazzier but more confusing than ever.

My son got a cool apartment with terrace and guest suite.

HD TV is the BOMB!!! Why didn't anyone tell me about the 21st century?

So, like, I've been carrying around with me this burnt out lightbulb for about four years. You can't get the damn thing in Indonesia, in Malaysia, wherever I take this thing. I go pay a visit to my favorite electrical supply house on Johnston Road in Wanchai, and the guy turns around and at shoulder level there are about a half gross of the things. It was like a punch line to a really bad joke.

Other shopping miracles: my son is going to play a soccer game with his pals in an hour. He needs a red shirt and white shorts to fit the team colors. We go across the street from my light bulb store and pick up the exact items at a cheap-o sporting goods shop and a "Sample King" bargain bin. For -what? ten bucks?

I go to the grocery store. The run-of-the-mill bag of bok choy (US fifty cents worth) is not only cheap, but is a crisp assortment of baby size bok choy that would be considered a gourmet veggie in San Francisco.

So I get my prosciutto crudo and Australian wild rucola and I'm cursing because the grocer doesn't stock frozen Pratha's. Can't have everything, I guess.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ute Lemper and Kurt Weill

Is it possible to listen to Ute Lemper singing "Surabaya Johnny" without crying?

My favorite translation:

I had just turned sixteen that season
When you came up from Burma to stay.
And you told me I ought to travel with you,
You were sure it would be okay.
When I asked how you earned your living,
I can still hear what you said to me:
You had a job on the railway
And had nothing to do with the sea.

You said a lot, Johnny,
All one big lie, Johnny.
You cheated me blind, Johnny,
From the minute we met.
I hate you so, Johnny,
When you stand there grinning, Johnny.
Take that damn pipe out of your mouth, you rat.

Surabaya Johnny,
No ones meaner than you.
Surabaya Johnny,
My God and I still love you so.
Surabaya Johnny,
Why am I feeling so blue?
You have no heart, Johnny,
And I still love you so.

At the start, every day was Sunday,
Till we went on our way one fine night.
And before two more weeks were over,
You thought nothing I did was right.
So we trekked up and down through the Punjab,
From the source of the river to the sea.
When I look at my face in the mirror,
Theres an old woman staring back at me.

You didnt want love, Johnny,
You wanted cash, Johnny.
But I sewed your lips, Johnny,
And that was that.
You wanted it all, Johnny,
I gave you more, Johnny.
Take that damn pipe out of your mouth, you rat.

Surabaya Johnny.
No ones meaner than you.
Surabaya Johnny.
My God and I still love you so.
Surabaya Johnny,
Why am I feeling so blue ?
You have no heart, Johnny.
And I still love you so.

I would never have thought of asking
How youd got that peculiar name,
But from one end of the coast to the other
You were known everywhere we came.
And one day in a two-bit flophouse
I'll wake up to the roar of the sea,
And youll leave without one word of warning
On a ship waiting down at the quay.

You have no heart, Johnny!
Youre just a louse, Johnny!
How could you go, Johnny,
And leave me flat ?
Youre still my love, Johnny,
Like the day we met, Johnny.
Take that damn pipe out of your mouth, you rat.

Surabaya Johnny.
No one's meaner than you.
Surabaya Johnny,
My God and I still love you so.
Surabaya Johnny,
Why am I feeling so blue ?
You have no heart, Johnny.
And I still love you so.

I heard her sing this in Hong Kong at the big concert hall in Tsim Sha Tsui... must have been 1992. I didn't even know what the German words meant, and I wept in spite of myself.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Back for June 4 remembrance

Looks like China has finally allowed me to blog when I am here.

Normally, on trips to China, blogger is blocked.

Not today.

I am here in Macau and I will be attending the remembrance of June 4 1989 in Victoria Park in HK.

There are some good media links on this site. Songs, films, quite a bit of the background of the June 4 massacre.

4th and 6th lines gets you to two June 4 songs and other lines further down get you to films and other sites.

Can't believe I'm able to post this from Macau!

Remember the young idealistic students who called for reforms and who inspired teachers, civil servants, and workers to join them in the square that spring in Beijing.

Remember that many mothers lost their children in the massacre by a state that didn't care about freedom of speech and true reform.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Well, Hi Dee Hi!

Ever wonder what became of Mr. Hanky?
I found him in southeast Asia. American visitors to Europe will often come across John Malkovich selling scotch or Jennifer Aniston selling men's cologne or Arnold Schwarzeneggar selling watches. It's always a bit of a shock. But we know that celebrities enjoy these little jobs because it means a free trip to Spain or India and more than a little cash. All this without tarnishing
their stateside reputation as dedicated actors.

Mr Hanky is no exception. Still maintaining his level of earned respect as a sometime TV star in America, he has done quite a bit of work in Malaysia and Indonesia, undoubtedly taking in a little tropical sun, sand, and great food.

Here is the Hank sporting a jaunty toupee, pretending he is made out of chocolate, selling
Malyasia's Gardenia bakery version of the Hostess snack cake: Twiggies' Choc-a-lot.

Once I spotted Mr Hanky on the wrapper, though, I just couldn't bring myself to eat one of the little oblongs.
Don't ask me why.

And here he is disguised as an old timey orange bakelite pen, getting Indonesians to vote in the upcoming elections.

That ball point didn't fool me.

Last but not least, he put on a turban and cool shades in order to sell rooms at a Lombok island

So now you know what the Hanky's been up to.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blue Wail Reunited

Blues Goes Green! Blue Wail, colonial Hong Kong's greatest blues band, reunited after 18 years! Sadly, the boys gigged without Korean guitar sensation Chai Soo Heng. Seen here New York Nate Shaw (shimmering keys), Javanese drummer Bogie, and band founder Will Tang (wailing harp, sizzling guitar and vocals). Not shown: bassist JT, my beloved, who organized the whole thing for my big Five Oh.

A happy Saint Patty's Day was had by all in east Bali. What a great shindig it was.