HONG KONG RACING: KEEPING THE HONG KONG DREAM ALIVE

By Hans Ebert
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Some people just can’t help being LOUD. And at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt, it was where many LOUD people congregated during HKIR week. Many from overseas. It was tough to take.

On Sunday, after the last race at Sha Tin had been run and horse racing’s “Woodstock Generation” was heading home came a booming voice how Hong Kong racing had “found its mojo again.” Maybe it had. Maybe it was just hiding. Often, it’s all about timing. Whatever.

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WITH HKIR WEEK AROUND THE CORNER, A LOOK AT THE NEW HONG KONG…

By Hans Ebert
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Warning: This isn’t the Hong Kong that was around two years ago. Or even a year ago. A shopper’s paradise? Hardly. Those nouveau riche Mainland Chinese came in droves a few years ago, shops closed exclusively for them to overpay for luxury items before the spending was finally reined in.

Walk through the Landmark and Pacific Place and very often the staff outnumber customers. Those big name brands just lie there. Unless there’s some seasonal sale. Or an Everything Must Go Sale.

It’s like restaurants, bars and clubs. One day, they’re there. The next they’re gone. It’s all about over supply and demand. And more often than not, no demand. Other than the occasional drunk tourist being thrown out of Escape in Jaffe Road, except for Dust Till Dawn, Wanchai is dead.

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IT’S JUST ANOTHER GROUNDHOG DAY IN THE BLUE TICK TWITTERVERSE

By Hans Ebert
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You can’t even get your favourite Madras Chicken Curry from Jimmy’s Kitchen in Hong Kong anymore. So how the hell does one expect to be inspired enough to continue with everything else? But one still does. Trudging up those steps. Asking for forgiveness. Seeking redemption. Always searching for that elusive burst of inspiration. Settling for mediocrity because creativity is in such short supply. Listening to talk leading nowhere.

Gave up on reading Bob or Bill’s Big Book years ago that was going to lead to finding that higher power. That was a wasted journey. Cracked. Just another crutch.

Yesterday I went through eight business meetings. All in the same place. Only one made any sense. Why? He was smart. Knew his music. Can write. Really knows this thing called social media. Still excited about new musicians. Like artists from Mongolia. Told me things I never knew. How Hip Hop existed in Mongolia over twenty years ago.

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IS IT ONLY HONG KONG? OR HAS THE WORLD LOST ITS WAY?

By Hans Ebert
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It’s not what it was. Hong Kong. How long will a Hong Kong Belonger continue to live here? Really not sure.

Where did Hong Kong start to come apart at the seams? Probably when some of us thought everything was possible. And for some reason hit that brick wall of reality.

Everything changes. And not for the better. Friendships. Marriages. Careers. Trust. Priorities.

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NASH RAWILLER. KEVIN EGAN. THE ICAC.

By Hans Ebert
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A very short time before he suddenly passed away in June, barrister Kevin Egan, 70, called as he always did on a race day to ask what I fancied for a Six Up. It was the only bet he made. Sunday afternoons was time for him to get away from everything on his boat. After he had placed his Six Up.

We would exchange notes. He was always surprised when mentioning that one particular Australian jockey’s ride should not be left out of calculations.

As was the norm, big Kev, who went out of his way to help many, especially in the racing game and suddenly finding themselves unwittingly in trouble or facing the wrath of the almighty Stewards, would mumble, “That little thief? He couldn’t lie straight in bed! The club should have got rid of him a decade ago!”

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THOSE CRAZY RICH ASIANS…AND CHINESE…AND SINGAPOREAN CHINESE

By Hans Ebert
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It really should be called “Crazy Rich Singaporean Chinese”, but “Crazy Rich Asians” is what it is, and the movie based on 2013 book of the same name by Singaporean American author Kevin Kwan has extremely quickly crept up on the world. It’s box office boffo in America. But how well will it travel in this region?

One has to also wonder if the Orange Julius in the White House will ever watch it? Wonder if its success and interest in the success of the movie by talk show hosts has to do with everything going on in America today? The xenophobia that shows no signs of subsiding.

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Where and when the Hong Kong music scene lost its way…

By Hans Ebert
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Hong Kong has been Canto Popped and Jazzified. When it comes to music and something remotely approaching a music scene, there’s no middle ground. One is in one camp or the other. Rock was forced to roll over and disappear. There’s a sad story to why that happened.

As for where music in this city is today, and though loathe to bring ageism into this subject, what comes out in the wash is a very tired ‘look’ with the usual suspects going round and round in circles.

Let’s stop with the Lack Of Venues mantra. Why not think about the lack of musicians? Especially very good musicians. How many are there in Hong Kong? Twenty? Ten? Less? And musicians playing what?

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THE DUMBING DOWN OF HONG KONG

By Hans Ebert
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“There maybe many new choices, but few of these are very good. It’s why businesses keep opening and closing in Hong Kong plus many here really don’t know good from bad and usually settle for the average and are disappointed.”

It was an open ended conversation with someone in the F&B industry who felt that unless something drastic is done very soon by the government, this city is heading quickly down a very slippery slope.

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THE TIFFIN LOUNGE: IT’S BACK AND IN FASHION

By Hans Ebert
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Unlike high tea at the Peninsula Hotel, it’s not about sitting around people watching and just to say you’ve been there.

It’s not about rubbing shoulder pads with the resident Dynasty tai tais, spotting the uptown funk ladies looking for very big fish, the rich and the kinda famous wanting to be seen, and those travelling through Hong Kong and needing to talk business in a 5-star setting to often just keep up pretences. Fabulous!

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IF MUSIC IS ENTERTAINMENT, CAN IMMIGRATION IN HONG KONG EXPLAIN “WORK” VISAS?

By Hans Ebert
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Every day people are allowed into Hong Kong under what’s known as a Refugee Status. Nothing really wrong with this, and live and let live and all that until one comes face to face with those in Hong Kong under this immigration law and find that, not all, but too many, have and continue to ruin businesses by selling drugs right in front of their premises.

There’s the other “wild bunch”, usually from the sub-continent and found down the now extremely untrendy and unfriendly Lan Kwai Fong area looking to engage in childish bursts of machismo.

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