No one wants to see anyone facing financial problems. Anyone who rejoices in this needs to be kicked out of the human race.
So, while we chant the mantra about how we’re all in this together- there’s no point regurgitating what “this” is- many of us have seen people we know and even friends go through extremely taxing financial times- young entrepreneurs, mature entrepreneurs, new businesses, old businesses, fledgling businesses.
At least in Hong Kong, except for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths and others always used to stirring their tea with a diamond studded spoon and jockeys- those who ride horses and not those churning out beats- money is too tight to mention.
There was news today that Canto Pop superstar Aaron Kwok, one of this music genre’s “Four Heavenly Kings”, will stage and stream an online fundraising concert on Saturday. Being an actor and dancer, proceeds will go towards helping local dancers and film crews hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s something to be applauded.
It’s also something that Hong Kong musicians who are not part of the Canto Pop fraternity should take on board with their present and future careers in Hong Kong in mind.
Without turning this into a history lesson on how and when Canto Pop happened- a term created by yours truly when writing for the American trade publication Billboard- this became the sound of Hong Kong and made millionaires of many- artists who, today are mega celebrities along with now-retired music executives, songwriters who wrote for all the big name artists, television and film executives who came along for the ride etc. It was big banquet of business opportunities. It was also pretty much a closed shop.
Everyone involved in keeping Canto Pop alive have enjoyed various slices of a very lucrative pie. Canto Pop is still very much alive and kicking and is well supported by the Chinese media and, of course, local audiences who grew up listening to its artists.
There’s that old chestnut about how out of chaos comes opportunity. This cannot be a better truism for horse racing at a time when the world is in lockdown mode and it’s the only game in town with, quite literally, a captive audience- and zero competition from far more popular and mainstream sports like football, tennis, rugby, darts, curling, lawn bowls…
Now, more than ever before, is the time to grab this opportunity with both hands and bring in some new troops- if possible. Those who have the creative and marketing chutzpah and are given the freedom to broaden that customer base.
Sure, keep Dad’s Army and the sons and daughters of Dad’s Army to plod along and warm up the same old porridge and feed it to those who are the (kinda) living embodiment of the saying that one cannot teach old dogs new tricks. That’s fine. But this customer group is hardly the future and shining beacon of where horse racing is heading- if it’s heading anywhere other than going around in circles and making neighing sounds.
With the world pretty much plateaued out and at Point Covid-19 together, old school mediums like television are making a comeback. There’s a very different online media landscape rapidly taking shape. And yet, horse racing still looks to be tippy toeing on eggshells and refusing to see how much the wants and needs of consumers are changing- and have changed.
Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Instagram- they’re all being used differently and more creatively than ever before because we- you and I- have had to prioritise everything in our lives and adapt to the “new normal”. It might be one of the best things to come out of whatever it is we’re going through.
The human race might just have tired of being part of the rat race and are saying, Stop the world, I wanna get off.
With time on their hands, many are exploring new pockets of multi dimensional creativity and embracing change.
With blinkers firmly in place, horse racing is still too often about three talking heads, sometimes with masks on, positioned here and there to adhere to the very important need to keep their distance in order to quickly quell the spread of Covid-19, and from where they serve more warmed up waffles to their followers.
Add to this those self promoting boom bang-a-lang twittering tipsters, speed maps, websites where Han Solo would find difficult to navigate his way through and with everything often being about the punt and the punt and the punt and…Oh, please, enough is enough.
Having been in the music industry when the smug major music companies and those heading them refused to read the tea leaves, failed to look up and see the vultures hovering over them and invited in that online Dante’s inferno world that changed everything overnight into something unrecognisable today, horse racing should be aware of the Trojan horse that might be wheeled in.
Instead of playing with worry beads and chanting the mantra about how we’re living in very different times, it’s time for horse racing- and every other industry- to relook at their business models and ways in which to make their product relevant to the “new normal”.
The sheeples? They’re so busy sharing and caring and scaring the hell outta each other through information overload that they’ve lost the ability to think for themselves. But it might return given the circumstances we all face today.
Below is something I had forgotten I had written until someone sent it to me earlier today asking, What’s happening with CreateHK? What is, if anything?
Over a decade ago, Duncan Pescod, the government’s fluffy puffy boy, got on his high horse and announced a GLOBAL search for someone truly world class when it came to creativity and inspiring new local talent. This person was going to head up the uniquely named CreateHK.
We didn’t get Steven Spielberg. We didn’t even get Tori Spelling. We ended up with some bloke named Jerry Liu. “Jer” did his tour of duty and retired a reasonably wealthy man. What had he accomplished? Pretty much squat.
Once upon a time and served on a saucerful of secrets were the Sixties. For a while, it was the Age Of Camelot. There might not have been Merlin, but it was a time full of magic- magic in the form of music the world had never heard before that took listeners on various journeys of discovery and where they might have found themselves or else lost their way and ended up in Itchycoo Park or the Dark Side Of The Moon.
There were wise men who had dreams to bring the world together…and did. The four horsemen of the apocalypse galloped into lives with messages some understood then and whose words only resonate now. Words that asked about all the lonely people and where do they all come from. Words about that Nowhere Man making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
There are those days when you feel you’re in the middle of one of those trailers for a black and white movie where a manly voiceover would scream out things like, “MORE FEARFUL THAN FEAR ITSELF!” and “A CITY UNDER SIEGE!” and “WHERE IS BATMAN?”
What Hong Kong has been going through for over a year is its own rocky and wobblyhobby horror show- peaceful demonstrations that morphed into violence and split a city apart.
This is where I arrived by ship from Colombo at nine, was a stranger in a strange land called Hongkong, and thought nothing of living in a shoebox in North Point on the 27th floor with my parents, my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandmother.
This is where I took a Shaukiwan tram to Quarry Bay School, possibly the first “East Asian” to be accepted.
This is where I first faced racism- and beat that devil at his own game by being a good pupil- academically and in sports- if you call Rounders a sport.
Why there’s this undue pressure in some sectors for the current Aussie cricket team to be more aggressive? To engage in tough talking “sledging”? How this is the way Aussies rule and intimidate the opposition. Please. It’s not only corny. It sounds soooooo contrived. Childish. Laughable.
What was heard through those stump mics during the second test match between Australia and India was embarrassing. “Witty banter”? It came across as scripted and irrelevant piffle.
The Indians trying to engage in “sledging” was idiotic. It was high camp Bollywood ballyhoo.
Ignatius Cheung, below is a little man, perhaps a little strange to some, with big plans. Plans to revolutionise horse racing, worldwide.
Known to friends as Iggy, the American born Chinese-Mongolian entrepreneur plans to become the racing world’s first horse owner, trainer and jockey with his own stables located wherever there’s horse racing.
Having been a child stunt rider in movies ranging from “The Black Stallion” to “Ben Hur”, and describing himself as a “hoarse whisperer” able to communicate with horses through a special technique learned when living with the nomadic tribes in Inner Mongolia and studying Mongolian throat music, Ignatius Wolverine-Cheung, the only son of billionaire and controversial Forex trader Augustus Wolverine-Cheung, below, came into his own when creating Wolverine Enterprises and its privately held computer chip business.
We were having dinner with a few cricketers over the weekend. Not just any cricketers. World class cricketers. Guys with whom I was and still are in awe. But heroes rarely last forever. Most eventually disappoint.
These cricketers were talking about their complete disinterest playing in a five day Test match, let alone a series. How much discipline was needed. Being kept under lock and key. Every move being scrutinised. But with there being the 20/20 game, One Day Tests, it was all very much about big money for almost nothing and plenty of models, actresses and groupies for free. It was a Dire Straits song.