Rightly or wrongly, the word “malaise” was used by me recently to describe the state of horse racing. Horse racing everywhere.
This had nothing to do with the exploits of Winx, Enable, Cracksman, Beauty Generation, the brilliantly produced Cox Plate Day presentation for overseas consumption and the derring do in the saddle of riders like James McDonald, Tim Clark, Brenton Avdulla, Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy, John Allen, Ben Thompson, Damien Oliver, Craig Williams etc and outside of Australia, Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, William Buick, Ryan Moore, Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Christophe Lemaire.
There was a time not really that long ago though time often flies on unexpected wings at a worldwide music conference in Munich when us executives listened to a panel of young Facebook execs explain how we could use the social media platform- very new at the time- to sell more music. To work closer with music fans. Introduce new music much more cost effectively. And with more pinpoint accuracy. How MySpace was finished. But never ever thinking that this thing called “social media” would get off the ground, we never listened.
Ignorance and arrogance came into play and most of us saw their presentation as a break to grab some chocolate muffins and chat up one of the Facebookers.
We -the music industry- had successfully sued illegal file sharing site Napster and co founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning and believed that nothing was going to change our world. The six star lifestyle was going to continue. So much for that dream.
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.
Let’s try to make some sense out of all this. Or at least find solutions. We know the problems. One major problem: Unless a (Sir) Lucian Grange, or a Simon Cowell, Jimmy Iovine, Jay-Z, perhaps Daniel Ek- or any of the other big Poohbahs in the music business- and those established artists who were complete unknowns with no direction of home until plucked from obscurity by those with the intuitive A&R skills to hear something special in their music, many very good artists fell through the cracks. Or else didn’t become as big as they should have.The band Low Millions come to mind. And Athlete. Starsailor. Placebo. Moriarty.
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.
“You missed the best ride I have seen by a jockey.” It was a message sent by someone relatively new to horse racing. A female in her late Twenties. French Chinese. A regular at a Happy Wednesday meeting. Someone met around three years ago for the first time at Adrenaline when helping her fill out a Six Up ticket. She was talking about Douglas Whyte’s winning ride last night at Happy Valley on the John Moore trained Good Beauty.
Though out of Hong Kong, I had watched a replay of the race. To say it was vintage Douglas Whyte wouldn’t be doing the ride nor the rider justice. And certainly not to those still learning about the incredible career of the legendary South African rider. About how very very few ride the idiosyncratic city track better. Possibly no one.
The fire in his belly might have never left as he’s certainly not someone to roll over and become another Yesterday’s Man, but the Chinese racing media has been abuzz of late about the persuasive powers of jockey Douglas Whyte working overtime during track work these days.
As anyone who’s watched his winning rides of Star Shine and on Kiram on Wednesday will testify to, the Durban Demon has woken up from, most likely, a self imposed hiatus where he stood back and checked out the lay of the land. Timing is everything.
It was my last girlfriend who tried to wean me off it- Twitter. Though pointing out that it was taking over my life and, without me even realising it, detonating any chance of trying to make our relationship work, I refused to listen. I was lost to the clutter of 140 words or less. Instead of there being one less bell to answer, it was adding another empty online junkie’s lament dressed and disguised as some bluebird of happiness. Progress has created some dangerous addictions. It might explain much about a world having lost its way. Lost with no direction of home. Refusing to recognise the tell tale signs.
At the end of it all, we come here alone, we leave here alone and we do our best to fill in the middle bits with things that have something of us in it. Guess this is what’s called a legacy.
I ended up in the creative field possibly because my mother was a painter, my father was a singer and pianist and I was left handed. Where I was born- Colombo in Sri Lanka- being left handed meant that one had inherited the devil’s hand.