Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm hip


I'm retro.
I'm modern once again.
The design and music of my childhood is the latest.

Not long ago one of my sons came to me and said:
"Aba, you've got to listen to this new band. It's cool,
and I think you'd like it too."

I did indeed like the music.
It was The Kinks.
The kid was pretty surprised to learn that the music was over 20 years old
and that I dug it very very much.
Have it on my iPod, and on my iBook.

When i was young and hip the first time around I did some album design.
Back then an album represented a big nice canvas.
An LP cover was a great opportunity to express once best creative ideas.

I used to go to record stores just flipping through the records,
for the art.
Occasionally I bought a record based on the cover,
not knowing anything about the music inside.

I never designed a cassette cover, or a CD cover.
Before a few months back when my colleague from Ogilvy, Glenn Wall,
asked me if I would design the cover for his new record.
He writes and plays music that's retro.
Pop that sounds as if it could have been written when I was a kid.
And hip the first time around.
I guess he figured that if he's going to get retro right better recycle
an old art director that's got it naturally.

Listen to the music on
http://www.myspace.com/janglemen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shame on you Hung Luk and John Lam


you're scavenging on humans.
You're taking advantage of honest people trying to support themselves and their families.
People who can barely afford to pay the taxes on the miserable salaries you pay them.
And certainly never the price you charge for a night in one of your rooms.
Measly salaries earned in jobs even rats would avoid.
You try to benefit from loopholes in the law.
You have no feelings.
Apparently.
Certainly no ethics.

The website says:
You’re gonna love us.
Hi. We’re Four Points by Sheraton. But you can call us Four Points.
We’re a hotel company. We’ve got great rooms, comfortable beds, tasty food, and lots of locations.
We know how to treat you.
And we know what’s important to you.
Because we’re a lot like you.

Unfortunately none of this apply to those who slave at the hotel.
The owners, the management, knows nothing about how to treat their own people.
Or rather, they simply ignore it. Greed comes first.

The flyer the demonstrators, employers, outside the hotel handed out reads:
DON"T PAY TWICE
to stay at the
FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON CHELSEA
Four Points Chelsea owners have figured out another scheme to profit from their guests, workers and the community.
They have taxpayers pay for their workers healthcare instead of providing employer-funded health insurance.
While the Sheraton Four Points Chelsea charges an average of US$409.00 per night, they pay their workers poverty wages.
Many of the workers who clean your rooms depends on state subsidized healthcare programs like Medicaid and Healthy Families First for themselves and their children.
Most New York hotels provide free healthcare for their workers and their families. Employer funded healthcare
provides an essential benefit for workers and it benefits our communities as well.
The workers at Four Points Sheraton Chelsea are protesting management's violations of the the law which include threats, harassment, intimidation, surveillance and termination of union support.
Call Hung Luk, Executive Director of Chelsea Grand LLC at 1-917-653-6688 and John Lam, Chairman of Chelsea Grand at 1-212-627-1888 and tell them to stop shifting their healthcare costs onto taxpayers and to stop breaking the law.
THINK TYWICE BEFORE YOU STAY AT THE FOUR PIINT HOTEL.

On the back is a list of hotels that don't break the law. most of them hotels belonging to big chains, some of them smaller hotels. Most of them in the area.

I don't know how much the workers are actually paid.
But the legal minimum hourly wages in New york is $7.15 from Jan.1, 2007.
I doubt the hotel in question pays more.
It would take a worker a week and a half of full-time work to pay for one night at the hotel.
Before tax on the wage. And without taxes added to the bill.
Breakfast not included.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the color of a city


Beside the well known landmarks it's hard
for most people to tell one city apart from another nowadays.
Especially if the view is less iconic.
The newer big cities around the world are even harder to tell
apart than the slightly older big American cities.
It seems the same glass and steel box designs
are being recycled all over the globe.

But in almost every corner of every city there's something
other than the iconic building or monument that tells us where we are.

Most New Yorkers or frequent visitors would probably recognize the image above as a slice of New York.
But for many others it could be Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, or some other bigger city.
Some may not even recognize it as an American city.

Most big business districts in bigger somewhat modern cites are quite similar in color and architecture.
Glass, steel, concrete, stone, brick, asphalt.
They all appear a bit gray, black, brown, sand, beige, and dull versions of blue and dirty whites.

But then there is the other color. The color that gives it all away.
London's got red buses. And black funny looking cabs. Or used to.
Taxis in Hongkong are red and white.
In Bangkok they come in every candy color possible and are small and compact.

And what color the NY cabs come in, everyone in the world knows.
It's good to know if you happen to get beamed up to a UFO by aliens and then dropped here.
If you see a yellow cab, you're in New York.
No matter what the color of the face on the person behind the wheel is.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Worlds apart


We live 10 minutes from where this picture was taken.
Ten minutes by car.
In my town you will have too look hard and long to find a home for under US$ 700,000.
Perhaps closer to US$ 800,000.
Most homes are over a million dollars.
Monthly taxes from about US$2,000. and up.
Garbage collection not included.

It's not that our town is an example of a well managed town.
It's more likely that it's become a nice town because a lot of people
with good jobs in New York find it convenient to live here.
And it's pretty as a postcard.
Last year it was named one of the ten best towns in America to live in.
Maplewood, New Jersey. A half hour train ride to New York Penn station.
Or, on a weekend, you're downtown Manhattan in less than half an hour, via Holland tunnel.
By car.

In between lies some of Americas worst towns.
With Newark as a center of what's gone wrong with many
once grand American cities.
Corruption, crime, drugs, poverty, misery.
Just ten minutes away from what's perhaps as close to the American dream you can get.

Newark, and the surrounding towns, have got potential.
There's a new stadium, where the New Jersey Devils play hockey.
An attractive almost new opera house.
And it's just a hop and a skip from Manhattan after all.

That potential may still take light-years to materialize.
Especially now since the economy seems to be turning for worse again.
If law enforcement looks after its property as badly as this photo shows,
there might not be much business for a laundry washing your best garment.
In years to come. If ever.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Brand parade


What would the Thanksgiving Parade be without brands?
Without famous, well known and loved characters?

Oh, looooook, there's this, and there's he, and she, and I love snoopy,
look, Shreeeeeeeeeeeeek.
Aba, look. I love Shrek.
Isn't his the biggest balloon.
Yes, he's the biggest of them all. So cool.

And now brands and the big idea is dead, they say.
The people who think the internet will change they way we think, feel, love and poop.
Just because things are getting more fragmented we will change?

Wasn't that how it was before network TV? Before mass-media?
Life was very fragmented until we invented broadcasting technology
and the devices on which to witness it all, together.

We still read books written hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
And find them meaningful, entertaining and relevant.

One bestseller is even like a few thousands of years old.
We don't seem to have changed that much over the centuries.
And I promise you. We won't change that much in the next 100 years either.
Internet or not.

The problem with the so called digital era is that everyone's so confused.
Which leaves the road open to charlatans and big blabbering jaws.

In an article I read this morning, an article somehow questioning the relevance of Saatchi,
and Roberts, who's running the agency, the talk is about the death of the Big Idea.
And the birth of the Small idea.
Duh.

Big ideas are ideas that contains a myriad of small ideas.
That's the whole bloody idea with Big Ideas.
If not, it's not a big idea. Stupid.

I'm so tired of all those idiots commenting on stuff they simply don't know crap about.
Just because they think they know something about the digital landscape.
Angina Digitalis. The heart of the problem.

We're still going to need stuff to like, to believe in, to identify with, etc.
In as many a ways as possible.

Nike didn't run their tag line alone over and over again. They just didn't.
Their agencies kept coming up with yet another after another great small idea. As part of the Big Idea.
And it translated beautifully to the web too.

Now, of course, I don't disagree with those who might believe the ideas will soon
come from the modern digital shops rather than from the old TV behemoths.
It's a matter of where the talent goes. and where clients think they will get the stuff.

About who comes up with the best Big Idea, and the small ones too follow.

By the way, have you noticed that the internet is not at all as fragmented as it may seem?
E-bay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and a few more dominate the world.
In China they have a few "local" giants on the same scale.

It's like business as usual.
There are the huge almighty megabrands, and then every town and village has it's own little family businesses in every and all category of commerce.

The web is simply a virtual representation of life as it almost always has been.
just a bit more digital.

Recognize the feet?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A year ago


Shanghai.
Happy. Joyful.
A beggar. A poor man in the street.
Does he know what the sign behind him says?
Has he positioned himself there for effect?
That's a mean thought, even if just a question.
Is it one of those coincidences of a modern city with its sever contrasts?
His life has most likely been very hard.
Who knows what he might have lost.
Whether it was a fortune or a child or a promising career.
Once he was a young man with ideals and many thoughts about the future.
A better future.
That was when he had friends and would spend the afternoons in tea houses
in hidden alleys secretly plotting a new China.
A China more like the west. Like America.
Where people where free to do what they desired.
To have more than one child.
A car.
To become rich enough to dress in nice clothes and travel to Paris in the spring.
It didn't got he way he had hoped for.
things went wrong.
Time passed. He grew older. Nobody wants him. Nobody cares.
He cares only for the next meal he can afford. Or the next beer. I don;t know what he cares for.
Maybe he doesn't even drink beer.
I'm ashamed to say I didn't do anything to help him.
And now it's Thanksgiving.
I am grateful for another year with bread on the table.
I'm praying I will be able to share another Thanksgiving with my children, my family, with friends.
I wish everyone could.
I wonder if he's still there?
What does he wish for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

random note


I randomly picked up one of my LaCie back-up drives.
Clicked on Photos.
Scrolled down without any plan, and landed on a file
with photos taken in New York the spring of 2006.
One of those randomly shot ones. No particular plan.
Just shot without any aim.
No idea. No goal.
Just taking pictures of what happens to be around me wherever I happen to be.
I haven't sorted through these images.
They still have file names that means nothing to me.
I didn't use Bridge when selecting it, so the only thing I could see was a couple of letters and a string of numbers.
No idea what the image would be.
Other than something from Manhattan.
It turns out that it's an imagine of mediocre quality of the bar area of one of my favorite hang-outs in SoHo.
Lucky Strike.
I don't remember the meal. Probably their burger.
Theirs is not a bad burger. But perhaps not memorable.
I don't know who the people sitting at the bar are.
This is a pretty meaningless blog entry.
That's what randomness in combination with lackluster inspiration and questionable talent can do.
Sorry for taking up your time.
Life is perhaps too short for letting too much random into it.
Better take control.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

gallery #789


Not quite Pollock.
Too few drips.
Just one color.
Brilliant. Restrained.
To the point.
Excuse the pun.
No pun intended.
It's a gallery for Pete's sake.
Stand in awe.
Contemplate.
Show some respect.
For those hard-working people
paid a dollar or two per hour,
building the next luxury mall
in a city full of people
with too much money on their hands.
Buy a Pollock.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Because I couldn't say it better.

Art& Commerce: Politically Indirect
November 19, 2007
By David Bernstein


David Bernstein rarely takes the most direct route.

These days, you can't watch the news without hearing a bland sound bite from one presidential candidate or another. And that got me thinking.

Every four years, we hear the same refrain: "Where have all the great orators gone? Where are the Lincolns and Roosevelts who used words to win not just our votes, but our hearts?"

The truth is, the same could be said of advertising. Where are all the Tom McElligotts, Hal Rineys and Tom Thomases? Are we less talented? Or are our clients more timid?


Personally, I'd like to think it's the latter. And their timidity usually starts with the quoting of a sacred cow: Advertising should be direct. Their argument goes something like this: Why do ads always have to be clever? Why don't they just tell me what they want me to know? Why in God's name can't they just be direct?

Unfortunately, folding your arms, rolling your eyes and saying with your best David Ogilvy accent, "Because you can't bore someone into buying your product" doesn't work.

What does work is far less flip, and doesn't require a British accent.

So, why shouldn't ads be direct? Because it assumes your audience cares about your message, which is a dangerous assumption. After all, how many of the 5,000 ads you're exposed to every day do you care about? Only two or three, I bet. The fact is you need to make them care. You need to say something memorable enough to get them to care. And that goes for marketing a product as well as marketing an idea.

About 40 years ago, a certain president could have heeded that generally accepted advice during his inauguration. He could have said to the assembled masses exactly what he wanted to say, in the most direct language possible. He could have said, "By and large, Americans are selfish, and I think they should volunteer more often."

But John F. Kennedy didn't. He said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

The line not only got applause, it gave birth to the Peace Corps.

Twenty years before that, the prime minister of a small European country wanted to thank the troops who fought on his behalf during World War II.

Some people would have suggested he simply say, "I'd like to thank the men and women who won the war. They did a bang-up job." Winston Churchill didn't. He said, "Never in the face of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

A grateful nation finally had the words to show its gratitude.

Many years before that, a man was trying to protect a woman from an angry mob, not with the brute strength of his fists, but the force of his words. Conventional wisdom would have suggested he say, "Please don't hit my friend. She's really a nice gal once you get to know her."

Jesus didn't. He said, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone." His language raised the ante. He harnessed a set of words like a battalion of troops and launched them into battle. At least that's what my Christian friends tell me. I could go on and on. There are enough examples to fill a book-like Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, for instance.

I could argue that being indirect is the most direct route to the heart. But then, the real issue isn't about being direct or indirect. It's about being memorable. What these men said was not, in substance, all that memorable. How they said it was. And that's why we still remember their words today.

Next time you hear a sentence you find memorable, write it down. Chances are, it won't be direct. Chances are, it will use negative words (which I'm told turn people off). It will use extraneous words (which I'm told make people lose interest). And it just might use loaded words—words that invoke the holy trinity of untouchable topics: sex, religion and death.

Your memorable sentence will do all the things both ad folks and presidential candidates are told NOT to do. And that is a shame, because those are the very things that make your sentence worth pinning on your corkboard. Or your client's forehead.

Whichever seems more direct.

David Bernstein is executive creative director of The Gate Worldwide and co-author of Death to All Sacred Cows, due out in March from Hyperion Books. He can be reached at david.bernstein@thegateworldwide.com.

T the blogger fills in: The passage about negative words made me think about a real situaton i encountered a few years back.
We'd paid off a sequence in a corporate cum education film with the words "NO PROBLEM". The client didn't like that all, claiming it was negative. I was certain it was a joke. Nope, not so. He went on to explain that people don't read headlines, they SEE them, and what they see is 2 negative words; NO, and PROBLEM. And that he found, was a problem.

It's hard to be in advertising. If we can choose what each word means with no respect for the common institutional agreement of words, I claim that a sausage is in fact not a sausage but a bazooka. Suck on that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This is a contact ad


An empty wall.
In an art gallery that is not yet an art gallery.
Looking for content.
But first it needs light.
A drawing on a wall marks where an electrical
outlet will be installed.
The meaning is clear.
This is where the light will come from.
The artist unknown.
It's beautiful.
If it was meant to be art it would not be so easy to interpret.
It would still be beautiful.
Naive?
We would need to find meanings beyond the obvious.
If none it would be mere illustration.
Mere?
Art?
Here. On this wall. Is an electrical outlet planned.
So how will I tie the end of this reflection together with the title of this entry?
Ah, that I leave to you, dear reader, to figure out.
That's art.
Oh, wait a second.
Maybe the drawing doesn't depict an electrical outlet after all?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Go climbing my son


Don't let the ceiling be the limit.
Hang on and keep climbing.
Don't let the sky be the limit.
Keep moving. Upwards.
It's not about money.
It's not about power over others.
It's about the power to be yourself.
It's about freedom. Don't get bogged down.
Don't let yourself fall or be dragged down.
It's okay to fall when trying. Just get back up again.
Keep climbing.
It's okay to look down.
But only to see what the bottom is like.
My Ty.
I love you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

EITHER YOU GET IT OR YOU DON'T

From the McClatchy Newspapers wire:

"Did Bill Clinton have sex with that woman? Is Elvis Presley really dead? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear do his ablutions in the woods? Is waterboarding torture?

The answer to all of these questions, put simply, is yes.

All of Judge Michael Mukasey's artful dodging and word play to avoid acknowledging the obvious to the august members of Senate Judiciary Committee does nothing to change the fact.

When you hog-tie a human being, tilt him head down, stuff a rag in his mouth and over his nostrils and pour water onto the rag slowly and steadily to the point where his lungs fill with water and he's suffocating and drowning, that is torture.

Four decades ago in the field in Vietnam, I saw a suspected Viet Cong waterboarded by South Vietnamese Army troops. The American Army advisers who were attached to the Vietnamese unit turned their backs and walked away before the torture began. It was then a Vietnamese affair and something they couldn't be associated with.

The victim was taken to the edge of death. His body was wracked with spasms as he fought for air. The soldier holding the five-gallon kerosene tin filled with muddy water from a nearby stream kept pouring it slowly onto the rag, and the victim desperately sucking for even a little air kept inhaling that water instead.

It seemed to go on forever. Did the suspect talk? I'm sure he did. I'm sure he told his torturers whatever he thought they wanted to hear, whether it was true or not. But I didn't see the end of it because one of the American advisers came to me and told me I had to leave; that I couldn't watch this interrogation, if that's what it was, any longer.

That adviser knew that water torture was torture; he knew that it was outlawed by the Geneva Convention; he knew that he couldn't be a part to it; and he knew that he didn't want me to witness such brutality.

Every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee knows that waterboarding is torture, even the majority who voted to send Judge Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general, America's chief law enforcement official, to the floor for a vote.

Waterboarding was torture when it was used during the Spanish Inquisition; it was torture when it was used on Filipino rebels during the 1890s; it was torture when the Japanese Army used it on prisoners in World War II; it was torture when it was used by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; and it's torture when CIA officers or others use it on terrorists.

When George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, the state investigated, indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison for 10 years a county sheriff who, with his deputies, had waterboarded a criminal suspect. That sheriff got no pardon from Gov. Bush.

Waterboarding is torture in the eyes of all civilized peoples, no matter how desperately President George W. Bush tries to rewrite the English language, with which he has only a passing familiarity, anyway. No matter how desperately his entire administration tries to redefine the word "torture" to cover the fact that not only have they acquiesced in its use, but they also have ordered its use.

The president, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their cronies and legal mouthpieces such as David Addington, John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales are doing all they can to avoid one day facing the bar of justice, at home or in The Hague, and being called to account for crimes against humanity.

They want a blank check pardon, and they'll continue searching for attorneys general and judges and justices and senators and members of Congress who'll hand them their stay-out-of-jail-free cards.

As they squirm and wriggle and lie and quibble and cut deals with senators, they claim that "harsh interrogation methods" are necessary to prevent another 9/11. But as terrified as they are by terrorists, they also fear that one day they may be treated no better than some fallen South American dictator or Cambodian despot or hapless Texas sheriff; that they might not be able to leave a guarded, gated compound in Dallas or Crawford, a ranch in New Mexico or the shores of Chesapeake Bay for fear of arrest and extradition.

No more shopping trips to Paris. No vacations on the Costa Brava. No interludes on some billionaire buddy's yacht in the Caribbean. No jetting around the world making speeches to fat cats at $1 million a pop like other former presidents. Even Canada would be off-limits.

Now the Democrats, or some of them, are conspiring with them to seat an attorney general who will help facilitate the ever more frantic search for ex post facto immunity for their crimes. Shame on them! There's such a thing as too loyal an opposition; too cowardly an opposition; too craven an opposition.

Waterboarding is torture. Decent people have acknowledged that for centuries. We sent Japanese war criminals to the gallows for using it. We sent a Texas sheriff to prison for using it. One day, an ex-president and those who helped him and those he ordered to torture fellow human beings may have to plea bargain for their lives and their freedom."

—Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers

Freedom is #0001


Freedom is a choice.
Not necessarily yours.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

oh, deer.


Deers.
Fears.
Keep one eye on the food and the other on the world around you.
They're out to get you.
You're surrounded.
Encircled.
Fight for your freedom and you become the enemy.
Of yourself too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the art of art.


Just a carpenters mark on a wall.
In a space that will soon be a gallery filled with real art.
Looking for thick wallets.
Seeking meaning where there is none.
Other than.

When does it become art?


I have always been drawing.
Painting. Photographing.
I've never become an artist in the real sense.
As a kid I saw Piccasso's abstract portraits and copied the idea.
I even tried to copy Michelangelo.
And Rembrandt. The drawings.

As a teenager I got thrown out of art class because
my studies of the naked body became a tad too detail oriented,
if you know what I mean.

Then one day we learnt that a monkey had become a famous artist.
Art critics had praised the art of a new up to then unknown artist.
Who's name would be revealed at some event.
Turned out to be the random work of said primate.
A good laugh on behalf of the besserwissers of the modern art world.
The paintings are probably quite valuable today. After all.

Sometimes I think posture is a great deal of the secret to modern art.
I appreciate modern art.
When it has aesthetic qualities that appeals to me.
I am not sure I ever understand the intent, if there's any.
Which is of course the freedom of art.
Explanations are not necessary. Even undesirable.
Mystique is good.
Space for interpretation must be left wide open.

Yesterday i was shown around a space that is to become an art gallery.
As part of a new designer shopping mall.
The space was raw and under construction.
Bags of cement, buckets of paint, the typical mess.
The smell of new paint.
Dust. Always part of construction work.

And in this space i saw art everywhere.
Not the art that will later be on display.
No, this was the art of seeing.
Marks on walls.
Patterns left after some piece of old material having been ripped off.
Looking like a flock of birds in flight.
A face. A baby. A monster. Or is it a killer wave?
Look closely enough and these places are full of art.
Modern art.
This art had no meaning. Nobody had planned it. it just happened.
in my head.
Is it art then? Who's the artist?
Or the editor, the curator?
Are the photographs I took art or documentary?
Selected slices of a mess, a space in disorder, not yet completed. Work in progress.
Is it now art? Because I say so?

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Chairman's new job


Mao is everywhere these days.
Promoting new bars in hip new hoods in Beijing.
Lending his mug-shot to tea mugs and watch faces.
Filling the tourist bazaars around
Tianman Square with T-shirts and postcards and stickers and knickers.
Bigger than Che.
Look, my socialism sells better than yours.

He's huge in art.
Art is big. Big business.
It's almost as if it's stipulated in some unwritten law
that every self-respecting gallery must have Mao.

Old propaganda posters are art.
Collector's items. Making antique dealers all over China happy and wealthy.
And print shops busier than ever making reproductions.
New times, same old purchase orders.

July estimates 1,321,851,888 Chinese in China.

Most of the generation under Mao must have had at least one Mao among their belongings.
According to the law of survival if not else.
Mao books. Mao posters. Mao leaflets. Mao portraits.
Billions of items.
And more is added every minute.
The biggest brand on earth?

The cultural revolution just started.
One of the great commercial success stories.
It takes a passed communist to create a fortune.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A thin piece of glass in between


Is that all that keeps us apart?
2 millimeters.
Enormous distances.
Lives apart.
Lives interlocking.
Fear.
Respect.
Loathing.
Jealousy.
Anger.
Servility.
Its cold outside.
Or it's stuffy inside.
How I wish I could get some warmth.
Wish i could be free.

Seneca reminds us of our neediness.
Our pity selves.
Trivializing our minds.
How we readily give up our freedom.
Entering into slavery.
The spell of others.
We become small and insignificant.
Putting up walls between ourselves and others.
We dare not touch. We can be seen, we see.
We dare not break the transparent sheet of nothingness.
That spell that binds us.
Prisoners in our minds.
Our own prison guards.

panel discussion


Today I can't find anything meaningful to say.
The image shown is a good illustration of that.
I pity those who'd come in the vain hope
of learning something new
or hearing an interesting discussion.
Or be entertained.

Perhaps that is how we spend our lives.
How we like to spend our lives.
Flittering from one meaningless activity to another.
In this case the activity of plastering ones rear end to an uncomfortable
seat listening to a motley crew of so called experts in the creative industries.
My seat was in the middle of the floor.
Supposedly one of the experts.

One person wasan expert with a degree. In fact a professor.
Knowledgeable. Or so I assume.
I wasn't competent enough to understand what he talked about.
I nodded enthusiastically with a serious expression on my face.
To my right a multimedia artist. I think he was.
I kept nodding. I nodded two chairs down as well.
Nodding is good.
We should nod more often.
Or nod off.

I do sincerely hope the auditorium found some of it useful.
I mean the audience in the auditorium. The people in the room.
I'm pretty certain rooms don't listen,
whatever they say about walls having ears.
Walls are too clever for that.
They rarely jump around looking for the next meaningless thing to kill time with.

Actually, it would have been nice if the people in this particular locale had been earless.
Although I'm sure that would have freaked me out.
Frogs shouldn't go to seminars.

One feels obliged to say stuff when given the honor
of making a fool of oneself publicly and visibly.
Only in this case I made a fool out of the poor listeners.
Because I'm pretty sure what I said was neither new to them,
nor particularly interesting.
Or funny. Or well expressed.

Which is why I rarely give speeches or sit in on panels.
I have very little to add.
which is the case with most of us.
The speaking opportunity is an opportunity for the speaker,
not the listener. A problem right there.
It's just something one is supposed to do in a certain position.
Center stage.

Well, now I've spent quite a few lines explaining
that I have nothing to say.
And not very much to show either.
It's a bloody boring picture isn't it?

However. It might be interesting and maybe even useful to know that I'm wearing
the same shoes today as I am in the image shown.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Missing person


I miss her so.
The love of my life.
She's still there.
Not gone.
She's in my heart.
She's is not gone.
She's not missing in the sense that she's disappeared.

I'm the one who's making this desperate call.
I want her back.
i want to be back near and around her.
See her laugh, and play and dance.
See her busy and happy and bustling with life and laughter.
Embracing me.
I miss her so.
I'm a missing person.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Stitched


57 years in the same spot.
Corner Queens Road and Graham Street.
Opposite one of Hongkong's more exclusive and expensive office complexes.
The Center.

People working in The Center wear designer garb to work.
They mend them across the street.

Mending has no brand.
He's fixed more badly put together thousand-dollars suits
and three-hundred-dollars shirts than he cares to remember.

Life across the street has changed.
Is changing.
When he started the buildings were old and tired and low.
On the other side.

On his side nothing much has changed.
Only they're talking about tearing it down now.
He hopes it won't happen before he retires.

He doesn't intend to retire.
Not yet.
Not in many years.

He's survived thousands of career-minded people.
Seen them come and go.
Climb up and fall down.
Seen how new shirts have become old and worn.

He can tell from the collar who's doing well and who's not.
He knows before they do. Where they're heading.

But he isn't going anywhere.
No holding company will determine his faith.
They come and go and he's above it all.
Just across the street.
A man that stitches broken suits together.

They'll get him too, sooner or later.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Only the lonely


Who are they?
The lonely people.
The people who don't blend in.
Don't participate as the rest are.
Where do you go to escape the crowds?
Or maybe they're not escaping the crowds.
Or escaping anything.

Maybe he's a journalist working on a piece for a magazine.
Or writing a book. Taking notes.

Maybe nothing like that all.
He doesn't seem to notice the crowd. Nor the noise.
He's not using any of it.
Like he's not interested in the masses flowing through the street only a few feet away.
Not afraid to be alone.
Just afraid to be alone in the dark.

Attract a crowd


Become a nurse,
Or dress like one.
Then go to Lang Kwan Fong.
Murderers, monsters, mummies and skeletons a dozen.
Nurses and doctors in demand.
Last year a number of people got trampled to death.
This year traffic was allowed only in one direction.
Uphill.
The nightingale trio totally ignored that rule.
Not to be ignored.
Halloween. Now also in Hongkong.