Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Hard Sell

Not long ago, I joined my mom on a bus tour of Hong Kong. (She was visiting for a few days, this seemed reasonable.) Along with five other westerners (and one Chinese grandmother), we sat on a bus for a few hours peering blankly out the windows at buildings and streets about which our perky tour guide told us very little, which is really about as much as one can tell. She pointed out McDonalds to make reference to her nephew's penchant for fast food, and referenced the Baptist University and the honeycomb-like apartment buildings as entrees into monologues on Hong Kong's hierarchy (she occupies the lower middle, she explained--or "the sandwich class" as she called it). The longest stop was in the old western neighborhood of Sheung Wan, at a famous Hong Kong jewelry factory. Famous should be in quotes, by the way. I thought for a moment that we were going into this sleek design store, something out of Sweden or Berlin, but instead we went next door, and ascended a standard dingy Hong Kong stairwell.

After a few buzzers we entered what looked like an office that had been hastily set up, about 20 years ago. Drop ceilings, florescent lights, a plaque on the wall and a cheesy display case with a bonsai tree inside. A woman ferries us into the factory, where a dozen smart looking people are assembling knockoff jewelry. One booth where men are preparing the liquid metal for the castings, a floor of ten men polishing stones and assembling the jewelry, another booth where two technicians are working on the more delicate pieces. We look at a huge piece of jade attached to the wall. And then she takes us into the showroom. A clean, shiny, carpeted huge room, like the incongruous stores you end up in after a tour through the dark halls of the museum. Six of us, and behind about twenty display cases, a silent army of twenty salespeople, dressed in what I now remember as tuxedos. They were all staring at us, slight smiles. We were outnumbered. It was a hard sell David Lynch has probably imagined.

One woman tried to sell me the same ring my mother was looking at, even though I told her I don't really wear them. After she tried to sell me a silver dog pendant. Before she tried to sell me a bracelet, before I told her I actually don't wear any jewelry. Before she pointed at the wooden/lotus seed bracelet I got at a monastery in Ulan Ude and insisted upon a jade one to match. Before I hid in the corner.

Anyway, it didn't occur to me until later a) that probably every hapless city tour goes through a place like that and b) how apt a symbol of Hong Kong as anything a place like that, where we were, was. The small factory (factory should be in quotes) was merely the spectacular anteroom to the showroom, the magical attraction--like an alchemist's workshop--that not only justifies the subsequent shopping detour, but turns the shopping experience from a detour into a logical part of the tour. This isn’t a cheap ploy to insert some souvenir commercialism into a city tour, but a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the city itself, like a trip to the Peak, or to the Jumbo floating restaurant, or a ride on a sampan, or a stop at Repulse Bay. Here was an chance to experience one of Hong Kong’s most powerful industries, and to buy some cheap, high quality jewelry. High quality knockoffs.

This is apparently what Hong Kong is known for. One of my mom’s first questions was where could we find some street Gucci. One of the fancy salesman’s first lines was about how the same bracelet he was showing my mom went for ten times the price at Cartier. At some point, these are no longer copies, knock offs, deceptions. These are as good as the real thing—sometimes the two are indistinguishable in quality—but they’re better because they’re cheaper. The normalization of copying means we can forget about how and who made the thing; just buy now because this is your only opportunity to get it at this price, mister.

Another symbol, albeit exaggerated, of Hong Kong: not city-as-knockoff but city-as-affordable luxury item. There is nothing fake about a façade if façade is all there is. At some point a surfeit of surfaces becomes reality. Forget origins, the way it looks now is all one need pay attention to. Nevermind that we are living in the new hot zone, everything looks so clean, and besides just don’t spread germs and see a doctor if you’re feeling unwell (of course you have a doctor). Forget the pollution and all that other nasty stuff, China’s a miracle economy with fun clubs, fancy restaurants, cheap outdoor markets selling whatever you could want, and a whole lot of culture.

(Beneath a good portion of the world's smog, you can just make out the People's Republic of China)

Anyway. That factory wasn’t really a factory. It was another part of the showroom. Guangdong province, just across the Chinese border, is the factory.

Last Sunday, David and Yumi and Austin and Hanna and I rode the commuter KCR train for an hour to Lo Wu and made our way over there, to the city of Shenzhen, the fishing village-turned-economic miracle the Chinese posed as a Hong Kong competitor over two decades ago, and the first of the country’s “special economic zones.” Though it boasts the world’s busiest border, after crossing a closed bridge above a small, brackish and smelly river, and passing a form to a couple of passport checkers, we were soon being welcomed to China (as foreigners) in apparently typical Shenzhen style: by enthusiastic invitations to purchase DVDs.

Like the DVDs, nothing there seemed real. The mirror-covered mall sitting adjacent to the train station reminded me of a space ship-I thought of the now doomed Kurfurstendamm in Berlin, but this one lacked character. It did not lack a bevy of stores, six floors of them, whose minions patrolled the busy halls offering much more than movies: massages, watches, bags, pants, toys, magical floating spinning tops, jewelry, other kinds of shakedowns, rubdowns. The medium is the massage.

J’s driver picked us up in a van from the hotel in Shenzhen. There was a yellow Lamborghini parked outside. We drove fifty minutes on highways that were still under construction. A patchwork of fields and hills and anonymous towns and apartment complexes raced past the windows. For a moment it was as if we were driving along some proto-strip mall and freeway town in an isolated part of New Jersey that had just been discovered and was rapidly being brought up to speed with the rest of the suburban state; China seemed, in this early impression, to tell an alternate, faster story of development, American economic growth on speed. (For a sense of the pace at which development moves in China, consider the case of Shenzhen’s Western sibling Chongqing, which the Guardian says is the “fastest-growing urban centre on the planet,” the sign par excellence of urbanization paving over nature

If today is typical, builders will lay 137,000 square metres of new floor space for residential blocks, shopping centres and factories. The economy will grow by 99 million yuan (£7m). There will be 568 deaths, 813 births and the arrival of 1,370 people from the countryside...

It’s worth noting that this is also at the head of the vast new 600km long lake created by the Three Gorges Dam project; the refugees from the flooded land have helped swell the city's population. For an idea of development and that dam, check out Edward Burtynsky’s photos; thanks ross)

Soon we were patrolling dusty sidestreets until we stopped in front of an unassuming white tile four-story house. The driver tapped something on the keypad and we were soon inside the dining room watching a Korean soap opera on satellite.

The first sign that J’s job was serious came when we walked past the guards at the entrance to the factory. Three men in uniform saluted him. He nodded, he had gotten used to this.

Once on a field trip in elementary school, I was inside a potato chip factory in Brooklyn. I think there were about two dozen middle-aged and older guys working there. Inside this factory in Longgang were too many women to count. Their work benches, where they sat quietly and diligently pouring over their jewelry making and soldering equipment, extended the length of very long buildings. They wore kerchiefs in their hair, different colors to denote different roles.

All told there were 4,000 workers in four factory buildings. Another factory was being built next door. Aside from the enormous rooms with people working robotically, sometimes in front of open flames, for eight hours straight (the white board in J’s office evidenced attempts to adjust the shifts so as to fit two into a day while staying within legal limits), I was surprised by the sheer amount of jewelry they were making. It was all cheap copies—costume jewelry—made of glass and metal with a special coating to make it look real, and probably will sell for 15 times its cost of production ($1) at stores in Asia, Western Europe and the U.S. J said they couldn’t nearly keep up with demand. There were metal detectors in many rooms to make sure no one took anything home.

We ate lunch at his townhouse, a great Korean spread prepared by his cook, who once worked in a Korean restaurant. We talked about surfing, about the market for surfboards, which J is planning on manufacturing (secret!). Then we played some Korean billiards upstairs in the “game room” on the roof. The angles are so important, in Korean billiards. There are no pockets. We talked about relationships. A person watched us from the adjacent roof. Smoke in the background. Yes it was surreal.

We piled in the van and headed into town to get some DVDs. This is one of J’s favorite pastimes. Fortunately, his driver speaks Mandarin, which is useful if you want to get past the standard selection out front and dive into the real stashes, hidden from the sight of inspectors who’ve been making raids in recent years, holding bonfire parties in the streets in the name of the MPAA. A trip to another store, and upstairs into a large crawl space, a secret room that almost defied the laws of architecture, behind a fake bookshelf, revealed an embarrassment of movies. Imagine raiding Quentin Tarantino’s tomb. In the dust light, in the middle of the piles of shiny boxes was the shiniest, the jewel in the crown that I had been searching low and low for, that had escaped me online, in Chinatowns, even at Moscow's DVD mecca, the electronics market at Gorbushka: The Complete X-files. Imagine: the cancer man episode, the freaks episode, the one written by William Gibson about a killer artificial intelligence that lives inside a trailer, the alien rock, the episode that takes place in the 80s when Mulder carries around that enormous cell phone, etc. I make no apologies for this.

But I couldn’t do it. It wasn't guilt. For all I knew 20th century fox had changed their name to 20th century, as the box indicated, and had begun to sell the entire series on DVD for 10 USD (Though Chinese bootlegs are packaged quite convincingly, occasionally you'll come across the description for a completely different movie, or film reviewer quotes apparently chosen by a non-English speaker, like the unfortunate "Flawed!" I spotted on the side of a Bruce Willis movie.) No, the box was just too big. I opted instead for a handful of recent classics like Crash (pretty, pretty didactic) and Jia Zhangke’s The World and Good Night and Good Luck and Walk the Line (I haven’t seen them yet). We left giddily with about 30 discs total for about 30 dollars.

I stepped outside as J’s driver was haggling with the guys behind the counter and for the first time glimpsed a bustling Chinese town that showed almost no sign of foreign influence, no sign in English. I looked into cell phone stores, and into tea shops with women standing outside in uniform waiting for their afternoon customers, and watched an endless chain of men ride past carrying large bags on the backs of their bicycles, or other men. Of course there was a touch of the foreign beneath. I got the sense that in some way, all of this had been underwritten by large companies with home offices in Trenton, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles by people in suits or not who said the word “Guangdong” with a confident narrowing of the eyes. Yumi and David and Hanna went for a massage. I wanted to get back to Hong Kong for a puppet show, and though I objected, J insisted his driver take me back to the border. Hong Kong was only two and a half hours away from here, but it was actually much farther, and I didn’t make it back in time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pasteboard masks

At midnight, the lights on the buildings switch off. This one's in mid switch

Hong Kong is present

I’ve been meaning to write something somewhat meaningful about this city, something to distill things down in a way that will clear my cellared head and show something for two month’s of work/party zombie life. The Art Walk through the galleries of SoHo the other night is as good a symbol as any for what might be wrong with our situation, and why it’s sometimes good. It’s an apt symbol partly because, in a way, the ArtWalk didn’t seem to be connected to much of the city at all.

The idea, au currant in a number of cities, is to plot on a map a group of galleries in a given area, reserve one night for those galleries to open their doors and put out some wine and cheese for caravans of people in suits who choose to see their art and be seen too. I’m not sure how it works elsewhere but in Hong Kong, anyone who wants to join in must pay for the privilege. The cost is US$50. Of course, you can sneak in, and while no one will toss you out per se, the well-appointed gallery assistants will inevitably ask awkwardly about your pass, and where did it fall off, and maybe you can go get another one, and yes, the wine is only for guests thank you, and no, no—thank you. And so on.

The high ticket price, I was told, was because this was a charity event—but I could see no mentions of the charities.

I had passes, courtesy of a friend who couldn’t go, but the whole premise of paying to play made me feel yucky. I didn’t want to be conspicuous as I crept around, stealing glances at art, stealing samosas, stealing down the street to the next unsuspecting den of red-wine antiquity or pomo iniquity, and besides, I figured it would be fun, funny, a little provocation on a night of preening and peering to wear a wig. It was a remnant from my suzie wong costume—the qipao/lipstick/wig getup that almost won me best costume at the corporate dinner the week before, had not I been robbed by a well-meaning but boringly-dressed hooligans from HR pretending to be the Partridge family. Please. I was also robbed of the “best karaoke” performance by some HR vixen. In a way, the wig on Art Night was my form of revenge on the system.

It didn’t really work in the bright lights of the galleries—or maybe, just maybe, it worked too well. People were taken aback by the discrepancy between the wig (black) and the eyebrows (brown); and yet, I’m not sure they could tell what they were seeing. They just knew something was out of wack. So they stared, standing right in front of me, standing across the room, etc. Sipping their red wine, they couldn’t quite figure it out. A sweater, wrinkled pants, no tie. A black mop. I had become a work of art, surrealist global sculpture, a non-corporate piece des resistance, inexplicable cocktail conversation starter. I’m embellishing a bit, but stay with me.

Just how unrecognizable was I? Let me tell you. As I only had myself as date—and what a beautiful date she was, those black curls, those rosy cheeks!—I knew I would bestow the extra ticket on a lucky feller or lady. It just so happened that as I was registering—only in Hong Kong would you have to register to do this art walk thing—a man in a suit and an upper-crust amused, British voice slid up beside me with his 400 dollars in hand. Quick, Alex (no, I didn’t adopt another name for the evening)—that ticket’s going to waste! Don’t let 400 dollars also go to waste! I said something, stretched out my hand and handed it over.

Only later—after I had run into him a third time at a gallery, as he was talking to an owner about actually buying something—did I realize that a) this was the last person who needed a free ticket and b) I had had dim sum with this man a few weeks earlier. In fact, he had given me and David and a random Dutch man a ride on his boat to get to the dim sum place. He is David’s “uncle,” and is one of the few people I’ve ever met who can claim that rarefied title “shipping magnate.”

When I tried to start a conversation, the second time, he made it clear, albeit politely, that he wanted little to do with me. Not only did the wig make me a stranger to him, it made me kind of freakish. Remember: brown eyebrows, black hair. Also, brown sideburns. OMG, can you imagine anything weirder or more freakish??!

Of course the woman who registered me had recognized me almost immediately. She’s married to the owner of the coolest gallery in town, Para/Site. So had my cousin’s friend, Cameron. Same with Elizabeth, a friend of a friend I had met over a month ago. As I stood talking to her, Alexis strolled up—he is merely a budding “shipping magnate” who had been at our party—and he recognized me too. They were all apparently a little weirded out, probably as much by the wig as by my eventual explanation: I wanted to try to be anonymous. Ha! Not in Hong Kong. Not in this neighborhood. I knew I had to leave.

Just not yet.

We ended up going to a gallery—right across the street from my apartment, incidentally— where the owner told me that he preferred if people disliked his art. That way, the art would stay more pure, higher. And presumably, with less people visiting the gallery, there would be more wine for him. (I should say that overall the stuff these galleries had to offer with notable exceptions -- largely contemporary painting -- wasn't so bad.)

Later, we went to some clubs. We crashed a party for some avant gallery at a rooftop club, and ate free steak. A slovenly, drunken American woman came up and said, “Gawd! I hope that’s a wig!!” I told her it wasn’t and buried my head in the mirror tabletop, but hadn’t had enough to drink yet to bring myself to cry.

We ended up at Dragon-I, that fussy melting-pot of models and bankers we visited in the early days of being mild. In a moment of indiscretion and abandon, the wig came off—I forget how—and before the night was over, it had adorned Sarah’s, Elizabeth’s, Alexis’s and a few other people’s heads. Need I say more?

It was a lot of fun—the Dj’s selection was surprisingly smart and fun, and the models didn’t get in the way too much. The pals were pretty awesome too.

But could this be Hong Kong? Hong Kong, special administrative region of China? Opium wars and colonialism? Was that a bathroom hallway or a casting call? Who were these people, and where had they put all the locals?

I guess they didn’t exactly feel invited to Dragon-I, which has a scrupulous door policy. Ditto with the Art Walk, with its high admission price, location in the white-bread, appropriately named SoHo neighborhood (there are a few reasons why it’s appropriate) and button-down, British and American Psycho pilgrims.

Thing about Hong Kong is—and I’m trying to imagine another city like this—is that it’s premised on a somewhat comfortable economic (and racial) separation. The colonial legacy is strong, no doubt about it, but the city’s half-century emphasis on capital, convenience, and consumption—which may be the most popular characteristics of first-world money making—has made this an especially easy place to seclude oneself from the less comfortable parts of the world. That is to say, foreignness, poverty, the means of production.

Nevermind the irony about communism and capitalism. How ironic or appropriate is it that the capitalist world’s favorite point of entry to Marxist China is a place that conceals the intricacies of the situation, that feels as far away from China as anywhere else? Groucho, if not Karl, would appreciate that.

In a sense too, in the context of globalization, Hong Kong might be as close to China as anywhere else. In the context of “global cities,” it might just be anywhere else too.

So easy to get the sense these days, in a hallway or a hotel or office or street or paved road covered in cabs and busses, that we could be anywhere. (Aside: can we be anyone?)

But Hong Kong is a special case of globalization. Because it is so focused on being a global city, it doesn’t offer much in the way of self-identity. Because Hong Kong, with its nondescript geography of bars and restaurants and gyms and all-English signs, can be such an easy place to fall into a foreigner bubble (whether you’re an elitist capitalist or sketchy tourist or something in between) it can be such a hard place to feel very much a part of the world at all. And this is an interesting side effect: because it is so desperate to seem familiar to world (western) eyes, Hong Kong can end up making a modest westerner like me feel more foreign than ever before.

It’s the same discomfort one might feel upon returning for the seventh time to Disneyworld—a sense that there is something behind the façade, there’s something that’s making all of this wonder possible, something that has to give somewhere so we can get, but that every force is conspiring to prevent you from uncovering it. The censorship of the future, liberal capitalist style. Every time you try to get behind the façade, it shifts, so you’re always on the outside. Try to stab through it and you hit a great wall.

(The eagerness to live inside the walls was symbolized, in absurd, exaggerated style, last month at the ground zero of first world fantasies. When Disneyland Hong Kong oversold tickets one day, hundreds of ticket-holding Chinese families who had saved up to come from the mainland were left locked outside. So they began pushing their children over the fence, like refugees from a harsh reality.)

The Ahabian madness that might set in temporarily in the upper regions of Hong Kong is quickly calmed by the gentle reminder that, sure this is part of China, but you’re living comfortably (SoHo etc.) and hey, why not come back and have a beer with the models?

The massive sense of façade—that you reside in some capitalist amusement park, or in a super mall—is only heightened by the fact that life here seems so oriented to buying things. People spend their weekends at shops, shops line every metro station, you can’t throw a dumpling without hitting a mall. Hong Kong exudes mall-ness by keeping every space well lit, to naturalistic daylight effect, and air conditioned. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re indoors or out, or even what time of day it is.

And where does all the cash that runs this shopping machine come from? That too is hidden, in a way that exemplifies, that defines, the Hong Kong spectacle: buildings that by night transform from cubicle hives into light shows. At 8 pm the amazing barrage of steel and glass and xenon fireworks goes down like a competition between video game robots, Bank of China and HSBC as Megalon and Optimus Prime. From their roofs search lights explode upwards, pointing upwards in a night-sky flood full of exuberance and power, revealing nothing. In a sense it’s Hong Kong’s version of urban disruption, a playful happening on a large scale, but underwritten by corporations.

For the reverse, “dialectic image” of this, see the crowds of young Filipino live-in maids who gather beneath these buildings every Sunday, huddling together over card games where there is no money to be gambled. Gentleman’s bets. And the hostess bars in Wan Chai.

Another good symbol is the surgical mask. Hong Kong deserves to be paranoid about disease given the beating it’s taken from SARS and avian flu. But the other reason these masks have become so fashionable—here as in big mainland cities like Beijing—is pollution (which many agree is the most devastating and most long-term side effect of China’s rapid growth). I’ll make a (gentleman’s) bet that the people who complain about all the particulate seeping into their lungs are some of the same ones who insist upon keeping the light shows going, and the air conditioning blowing all the time, and the relatively unregulated production and construction flowing. It’s not a coincidence that Hong Kong is both one of the most polluted and one of the most wasteful cities I’ve lived in. I just want to breathe but the surgical mask is cramping my style. My style of talking a lot. Gallery-hopping. Also it doesn’t go too well with the wig.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We could have had it so much better

If there is one thing that Madonna, Daniel Barenboim, the Foo Fighters, Weezer, il Opera di Verona, the Roots, and Dave Matthews have in common, besides all being Jewish, it is their ability to rock the muthafucking house, even if that house is a 20,000 seat stadium and you're sitting way out in seat no. 19,768, which happens to be on the side of the stage, facing the left speakers, from an angle at which even reggie miller couldn't sink a three pointer. There is something about the spirit of the masses that these bands can harness, no matter how drunk or disinterested the audience, or how impersonal the setting or the ticket price. Seeing Radiohead from far away or up close (we got to that concert 8 hours in advance) is almost the same.

Maybe Franz Ferdinand isn't one of those bands. The low energy of their Valentine's Day show in Hong Kong might suggest as much. Orrrrr, maybe they are one of those bands. After all, their entire aesthetic is informed by zeitgeist-molding Party art, quite appropriate given their kraut wave musical leanings and their actual mass culture control, to the point where they pretty much have completely outdone the real Franz Ferdiand on the global stage (google the words, that's all I'm saying). And in the proletarian style nonetheless--check Alex's triumph-of-the-music pose.

(Funny how their simultaneous appropriation of his name and their embrace of socialist realist styles encapsulate the trickery of cool-hunting, trend-setting bands and the corporations that drive them--though in this case, I think Franz Ferdinand are being clever. Their schtick is actually not a schtick I think so much as an obsession with design and a rough stab at commentary on hip and corporate culture--aren't they valuably pointing up the great disparity between artifice and art? Thank Lenin their music is so good.)

Maybe the problem is that Hong Kong is just a freaky, pathetic exception--a place where no amount of crowd-prodding and zeitgeist-stoking could rile people to do more than whip out their camera phones and message their friends about it.
Didn't these people know it was Valentine's Day?

Hong Kong's live pop music scene, according to a British guy I met before the show who tells club kid wannabes what to do, is apparently analogous to the rest of the art scene: a small number of large promoters book only the biggest names (Oasis, R.E.M., Paul van Dyk, Queen (?)) into arenas that aren't quite made for music (see HITEC below). Costs are so high for security, taxes, fees, and more fees, and still more fees, that only the fancy people (who have only likely heard of the bands) can afford the crazy ticket prices (US$60-120), leaving all those hardcore and poor students (or English teachers) at home. I take that back, some English teachers make a lot of cash. A lot. Buuuut, then again, they need that money to pay rent. Unless of course they live inside their own art studio. (Adrian, let's talk later, maybe I could borrow some cubes?)

Anyway, the end result, you can imagine, is that the band plays to an audience that's there for the experience more than the music. (See how the band starts to feel about being dragged around between concerts like this, above.) Not that bankers and movie stars and privleged school girls don't like Franz Ferdiand. It's just that they're too busy sending text messages or preening to be very bothered.

(If it's not obvious, I have a text message complex. I am not 2 good at it. That's why I'm practicing by writing this whole entry from my fone. n jk.)

Aside from the problem of demand, the hkclubbing guy also pointed out that Hong Kong lacks a good supply of small or medium-sized places for bands like the Kings of Convenience to play. And less exposure to outsiders only leads to less interest. There is some interest of course: Gary at White Noise Records, a brilliant little light in the dark of independent, outsider music, loves acts like Laura Veirs and Mimi Segue and Themselves, and knows the people in Hong Kong who want to see come to Hong Kong, all five of them (plus me). When will it happen, Gary? "Oh, never!" he says gleefully. Sometimes he has them in his store, but like most venues open to hosting futuristic stuff, it's pretty tiny.

Apparently Sigur Ros has had enough exposure here to fill HITEC, which they're playing in early April. Another easy metaphor for the profit-obsessed, bureaucracy-laden situation.
HITEC is truly a world-class commercial complex with integrated facilities that offers you the most versatile solution to your business.
-the HITEC website

I could end with that quote and rest my case, but frustration, and a bit of nostalgia, kicks in. Could there be a place much farther from HITEC
than Boston's Avalon club, where, three years ago, in my halcyon college days, Sigur Ros transported me as I stood right in front of the stage, completely oblivious to the non-passive agressive stabs I was getting in the back from short and angry hipsters. (I still feel tall guilt everytime I'm at a standing in between someone and a stage.)

This song--"Not Getting Better" by a band called The Hong Kong (American I think) -- could be a theme song for our situation. I hope not.

But the song is good. So maybe that means something.

To end on a positive note, Cantopop offers another story altogether--a film tie-in, bubblegum and glitch-pop tale that deserves litany or praise from someone who has actually given it a good listen. It seems refreshing, and it's vibrant here, along with some more progressive genres that flirt with folk, electronica and post rock, supported by concerned programs like this and this. Hong Kong is in some ways the capital of cantopop and rock, and I'm hoping to see more of it. Yes, there are a lot of short hipsters here, but I'm sure they're not as agressive.

And we can't forget of course about the truly impressive Filipino cover bands (we'll ignore that one night of all Black Eyed Peas all the time). Somehow, their audiences get as excited about the music as they do about the young Southeast Asian girls "on their day off" they're feeling up. That's another musical experience.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Some recent visuals