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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WHEN THE NIGHT LOST ITS FIZZ AND WENT FLAT.

By Hans Ebert
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It’s actually on the snack menu. Meant to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or a glass of champagne. But have an order around 7pm and that’s dinner for the night. It’s on the menu of the Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt and comes in six pieces- basically, lobster salad with celery and a little kicker which can be eaten as a spread on toast (HK$350) Goes down a treat.

After that it was probably 9 or 10pm, the resident singer and friend Maricel was singing (except on Sundays), and the once popular 5-star bar, hardly the meeting place that it was, plodded on. Where is anything like what it was when Hong Kong today is bulging with choices? Where things get wobbly is that none of these choices are much good. But if at the Champagne Bar without any great expectations, like one of the regulars- an extremely attractive female lawyer who just wants to chill out, not be bothered by inebriated desperados, and take in the music- it’s a safe, pleasant night out. Expensive to many, but when in any five star venue of a five-star restaurant does one not expect to pay five-star prices? This isn’t McDonald’s.

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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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Why the races at Sha Tin can be a game changer

By Hans Ebert
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World Cup Fatigue had struck as hard as the three goals the night before by Ronaldo, so we never made it to the races at Sha Tin.

Truth be told, we extremely rarely go to Sha Tin- and especially if there’s racing across the Big Waters on a Saturday. It’s hard to imagine these days that once upon a barren rock, there was only horse racing in Hong Kong on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley.

Kowloon was where the nightlife and everything else throbbed- the clubs, the nightlife, the gorgeous dancers back from the USSR and working at upmarket escort clubs Club BBoss and Club De China.

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SUNDAY AT SHA TIN AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was like the day after the Big Storm, at least to us foreigners who have been following the recent comings and goings of Hong Kong racing, and some here, but those mainly overseas, thinking Quasimodo was ringing the bells of doom.

To the thousands of local racing fans, Sunday was business as usual with a turnover of over HK$1.6 billion. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was out. It was a revealing dose of reality bytes and how racing is viewed by the masses: a chance to make money. Period. All the back stories? No interest. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and whatever happens in horse racing is not anyone’s business unless a race meeting is called off. Then there’s cause for handwringing.

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WILL IT BE A HAPPY ZACDAY TONIGHT?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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“When they asked for his support, he almost always turned them down because he had better options. Now when it’s coming to the end of the season and there are many tired horses going around and some good new ones, and he needs good rides, many won’t or can’t support him.” Oh what a tangled web we weave.

A friend in the Chinese racing media was trying to explain the sudden shift away from the usually much in-demand Joao Moreira and many trainers throwing their support behind Zac Purton as this season’s Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership comes down to a two horse race between two superb athletes.

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SERENDIB: KEEPING IT SIMPLE AND SRI LANKAN

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Many talk about there being only one Sri Lankan restaurant- AJ’s in Sai Kung, which is okay, and serves its version of lamprais- rice, curry, sambals and a hard boiled egg served inside a banana leaf- but being a Burgher from what was Ceylon, it’s not exactly what mother made. Maybe Hong Kong is lacking in the proper ingredients needed. Pepper is no substitute.

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A TRIP THROUGH RACING’S FIELD OF DREAMS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s not so much that he’s lost his mojo, but realising that even magic men run out of tricks or that others learn new ones which work better.

Happy Valley has never been happy hunting grounds for Joao Moreira and he’ll be the first to admit it. And though he rode a double, at least to someone who’s written about him being “poetry in motion” and “being one with the horse”, what at least I saw on Happy Wednesday looked like a desperate chihuahua zig zagging all over the place and getting two winners, but, overall, looking nothing out of the ordinary. He must have been having an off day.

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WHY (JOHN) SIZE MATTERS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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The remarkable thing about the news that John Size has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame is that most of his success has taken place in Hong Kong. But for a born and bred Australian to succeed so magnificently on “foreign soil” and having started his career here with only 19 horses yet went on to beat the great Ivan Allan by two to win the Hong Kong Trainers Championship in his first season, says much about the man wherever in the world he is.

As then Chief Steward of the HKJC John Schreck aka “The Sheriff” commented at the time, “I think what Mr Size has done reflects greatly on Australian racing people, for which I am very grateful.”

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