TIME FOR HORSE RACING TO GET REAL

By Hans Ebert
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It’s like music festivals. There are so many around these days that music fans are spoilt for choice. There’s also a pecking order attached. The bigger the flapjacks appearing on the bill, the greater the magnet to be there. Very often just to say that you were there. An Instagram moment.

Glastonbury, Ibiza, Roskilde- it’s about the music and the vibes and the people and the location. And in what is a downturn in the economy, it’s also about value and who provides music fans with more bangs for their buck. More of everything, please, but without that price tag to attend ever becoming exorbitant. Pricing out the good times.

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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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THE HKJC AND ITS OWN PROJECT: RUNWAY

By Hans Ebert
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Too often they get lost in the shuffle. Lost in the column inches and tweets and talk and innuendos given to the the current jockey merry-go-round. But this season in particular, the equine talent in Hong Kong has never been better. Never has there been a better crop. They’ve come of age. A crop of extremely good young gallopers. Gallopers who could be anything.

There was the facile win of Glorious Forever at Sha Tin last Sunday. Glorious Forever. The younger brother of English import Time Warp who came into his own last season.

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KARIS TEETAN: IT’S HIS TIME

By Hans Ebert
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Sometimes the script rewrites itself. Probably more often than we think. To those who follow Hong Kong racing, the mantra that the void left following Joao Moreira’s decision to roll the dice and try to ride in Japan on a full time basis has means “more opportunities for everyone else” has become a wee bit tiresome. It’s stating the obvious. Over and over again.

As in Seize The Day, when opportunities present themselves, it’s up to those who are ready, able and willing to step up to the plate. To hit that ball outta the park. And keep hitting those home runs.

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HONG KONG AND WHEN LESS WAS MORE

By Hans Ebert
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Less is more. Or less was more. And maybe this is where Hong Kong has gone wrong. It’s become Mr Creosote.

Gluttony has taken hold of the city. Perhaps not gluttony so much, but because of not knowing what people want, throwing everything against the kitchen sink and see what sticks. Usually, nothing. It’s just another buffet of odds and sods. Fusion cuisine where confusion reigns as no one is really sure of anything. It’s Dabblers Anonymous.

When first arriving in Hong Kong from what was then Ceylon, there suddenly appeared the…lunch box. It was a brilliant concept. Lunch in a box. For a nine year old, the highlight was a Saturday. Mum would have a half day from work and would bring home a lunch box- either chicken curry and rice or baked pork chop and rice from what was probably the first fast food outlet in Hong Kong: Ong Lok Yuen.

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AAAAAAAND THEY’RE OFFFFFFFFF! THIS SUNDAY!

By Hans Ebert
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“Sir, this Sunday. Your day. Finally “. It was the Manager of the apartments where I live reminding me that the new Hong Kong racing season starts up again on Sunday. I didn’t need reminding. Almost two months without horse racing in this city is like being celibate for three years. It’s tough going if stuck inside this dumpling with some wontons.

It’s more tough going when you’ve been internalizing far more important things going on in your life and seeing all the ills wreaked on the world.

Horse racing? It’s a pleasant enough distraction. It’s not all-consuming. I don’t get paid enough for horse racing to take over my life. Only the love of a good woman can do that. That’s the stress buster needed.

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REMEMBERING ROCK RECORDS IN HONG KONG, ROBERT FREEMAN AND BEATLES BOOTLEGS

By Hans Ebert
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It was a hole in the wall in the basement of a shopping arcade in Johnson Road down Wanchai. It’s where us record collectors went to find the unusual- mainly vinyls and obscure exports during the time of the CD.

For myself, Rock Gallery was THE place for bootlegs, especially Beatles bootlegs. Us hardcore Beatles fans visited one particular shop whenever in Tokyo for memorabilia and the occasional bootleg by the Fabs. But for over two years, Rock Gallery was the only dumping ground for thousands of obscure Beatles bootlegs. These were mainly from Italy. And for just HK$120 each and HK$380 for a box set.

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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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