Hong Kong is no longer known for its shopping, the Star Ferry and a boys night out in Wanchai. Something quite magical happened here last night- The Hongkong Way- a dazzling light show of hands forming a human chain of positivity that wound itself through the city and all the way up to Lion’s Rock.
In a city where a “young musician” is usually hovering around thirty or forty years old, to watch some videos without the bells and whistles, but bristling with the untapped talent and potential of Case Sensitive comprising Hong Kong-based Australian teenage brothers- Saxon and Jarvis Whittaker- put a smile on this face. For a change, it wasn’t a wry one.
Living in Discovery Bay with their parents- Dad is my longtime mate and truly world class saxophonist Blaine Whittaker, Mum Gillian is a teacher and, well, runs a lot- there had been a few videos of the two brothers shown rehearsing that was alright for what it was. But, for some reason, going to their Facebook page yesterday and watching a couple of videos where they’re playing ‘live’, one saw a massive improvement in their playing skills and, what’s key, potential. Lots of it.
She’s a singer- a professional singer who would be in her early Forties. There we were chatting about some MOR and Adult Contemporary songs, but the conversation came to a screeching halt when she asked, “Who’s Norah Jones?”
Okay, for a number of reasons, I have always been an admirer of Miss Jones who, like Karen Carpenter, has one of the most distinctive voices in Pop music, and an artist who uses that unique voice to take her music to places where it hasn’t been. I love her for being an artist who takes her time and takes musical chances. She’s no one trick pony.
There’s plenty of jargon flying around about the future of music. Maybe there’s always been. But never to this extent. Pretentious jargon? B-o-r-i-n-g?
Having grown up reading the world’s first Rock writers like Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Nick Tosches, Lester Bangs, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, that kid Cameron Crowe, The Lennon Interview by Jann Wenner, below etc, we were taken INTO the music that grabbed us by the ears, the mind and wherever else.
I was reading an interview Robert Plant gave in 2017 about not living in the past and to get out there and hear new bands. He could have been talking about life. All this living in the past and getting stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again doesn’t exactly help one move on.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but, recently, especially in Hong Kong, listening to people I have known for decades reminisce, but continue reminiscing about everything that happened a very very long time ago, Kemo Sabay, has had me nodding off.
She said it. Someone young and an “influencer” like Selena Gomez finally said what some of us “oldsters” have been saying about social media for quite some time: How it cannot be a good place, especially for young minds to go and where they believe everything they read. It’s often the worst “home schooling” in these very troubled times. It’s no bridge over troubled waters. It’s often quicksand.
Many don’t know better. This is, after all, one of the first stops in their life. Their “grounding”. They really do believe everything they read- anything and everything from total strangers who are “experts” on everything. Celebrities who are unaware of the influence they have over their fans. Or simply don’t care. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
Sure, as a dyed-in-the-wool music fan, i enjoy the occasional dose of musical nostalgia as much as the next wistful person. But if still involved in being in music as a business and making music, being shackled to Yesterday and producing and producing, there’s always that inner voice asking, But producing for what? Where’s this tonnage of Whats leading? Down the long and winding road with all the other Nowhere Men?
Yes, the Beatles are timeless and there were some classic records made. But those Swinging Sixties and Woodstock and Monterey have often glamourised the pretty mediocre.
It’s about an inner calm that’s not there. More people than one think are trying to find it. That inner peace. The Inner Light George Harrison sang about. How All Things Must Pass.
How embracing Indian spirituality and his friendship with sitarist Ravi Shankar took him away from living in the material world and accepting how we’re here and then we’re gone. He was quietly preparing himself for the next part of his journey when the cancer had spread and it was time to leave.
George Harrison was an extraordinary man. A paradox who could be cranky, but this had to do with not having the patience for small talk and small minded people. Even when knowing that he wasn’t well and his time was limited, it didn’t stop him from working- but only with those, like his family, he wanted around him.
Thinking about George Harrison and him singing, “Beware Of Darkness” was playing in my head a few days ago.
I was happy to have reconnected with a friend who persuaded me to come with her to some gig.
The days of going to “gigs” late at night ended for me years ago. The music did nothing for me and neither did drunk talk. Still, I thought, Why not?
This night, the gig was over, there were some nice enough people still “hanging”, but there was a strong whiff of déjà vu. It was more drunk talk. And as always at these alcohol fuelled late nights, jealousy or insecurity takes over and someone has to take a snide pot shot your way.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have let it go. I would have questioned the “blokey” bloke. Someone never met before. No idea who he was and what he did.
What was his problem? Was he not getting laid regularly? Career going nowhere? Trying to make the parts fit when there was nothing to hold them together? But that night, I let it go. Getting aggravated by those who don’t matter is really not worth the, well, aggravation. It’s boring. Juvenile.
While whoever was left wanted to continue carrying on, common sense prevailed. I said goodnight to my friend and returned to who was waiting for me at home. She was disappointed for coming back so late and which disappointed me in myself for not knowing when to say, “Sorry, but I’ve gotta go”.
Why did I decide to “go with the flow” when these were exactly the types of nights that have always led nowhere? It’s being with people already off their heads wanting to numb themselves even more because they’re not really living. Been there, done that and need no reason to go there again.
The next day was taken up with throwing myself into a new creative project, but still thinking of the night before and all the far better nights enjoyed with far more interesting people years earlier.
It made me think of a friend asking me a few weeks earlier whether when I go out these days, there’s the feeling of wondering why bother.
Both of us had done it all, seen better, sure, had drunk too much and smoked too much, but those with whom we indulged had incredible portfolios of success. They weren’t knobs and twats and strays.
We had dined with kings and queens and plenty of court jesters. And once you’ve been there, one can’t regress into a Now filled with vapidity and tolerating those who have suddenly had some internal awakening and preach to you about something learned the hard way years ago.
When some of us were introduced to yoga and meditation, it was partly being trendy. But, if like George Harrison, one let it flow over you, happiness wasn’t a warm gun. Happiness was what happiness is and it’s in your heart. This guides you and you can sense the danger signs.
Recently, a number of people are seemingly in a rush to embrace meditation and yoga and Pilates. So long as it’s for the right reasons, good.
CNN showed a documentary about many from around the world coming to India for enlightenment. Perhaps to get away from this social media driven world which Andy Warhol predicted decades ago and which many saw coming, but didn’t know in what shape it would arrive. But it’s here and it’s a personal decision to be part of it or close the door on it and throw the key away.
What social media has reeked on the world is hard to say. A journalist friend who’s covered the ISIS calls it a “religious fantasy”.
He’s not a stupid man. He showed me an interview he had filmed with a Finnish woman and her daughter whose father she couldn’t remember and now wanted to return to Finland while still embracing Islam.
He was absolutely positive that she couldn’t be trusted if ever returning to Finland. He showed how Isis uses social media to recruit followers and brainwash them into their way of thinking. And then send them out there and out here.
It shook me up. Especially after what recently happened to what happened where I was born- Colombo. I was suddenly seeing, first hand, how, especially Facebook, is used to spread religious hate and how there’s are a number of wars going on. And there I was thinking the big problem of social media are all those people on Instagram showing off their photoshopped bodies and buying false fame.
Last night, we had decided to go out and listen to some music. We thought about where to go, who we might see in these places, what would be the return on our investment in time and money.
The decision was to stay in, have a home cooked meal and spend the night watching a couple of movies they don’t make anymore.
More and more, we’re revisiting the past. We’re hand picking the best of those times.
The question is this: How can what might jog our minds and what people like George Harrison helped him get through the night, start “trending” again in the real world.
How to get us away from this very bad place and very bad people who we allowed in and gave them the keys to unlock and enter fragile minds.
We f***ed up. But we don’t have to keep messing up.
#GeorgeHarrison #innerpeace #meditation #yoga #HansEbert #socialmedia #Facebook #CNN #Isis
There are fans and there are artists. Fans tend to offer support and, most of all, inspiration. The artist creates. Hopefully, someone’s watching or listening or understanding what they’re trying to say with their work. Their work is their life and vice versa.
Art or being creative is not a 9 to 5 job. It’s 24/7. It’s not an exacting science. It’s born out of thinking outside the box because there IS no box. It’s something that cannot be learned. It comes from within.
Where and when do ideas come from? It really doesn’t matter.
The Beatles sang about how the more one travels, the less one knows. And in the clutter of social media, Wikipedia wisdom and Google ga ga, we’re surrounded by a constant barrage of everything that’s nothing.
Though we know it’s all pretty much meaningless, it often seems like we’re conditioned to let this online world in. And this Easter Sunday came the numbingly tragic events- all the evil that struck Sri Lanka with that mystery train of those online and texperts with their own agendas and conspiracy theories.