Wednesday, November 24, 2004

USS Nooyawkseeday!

Yup, we are treating the greatest city on earth as a mere aircraft carrier right now, a bustling, amazing stopover between Hong Kong and Detroit. So much to say about Hong Kong, little of it that complimentary. We spent far too long being very efficiently, soullessly and relentlessly hustled to be any very charitable about that intoxicating, but irritating, bazaar. In a sense the lounge chanteuse crooning out Billy Joel's finest was the only person take us away from it all, so we just sat there with a San Miguel, rocking out to the bar tunes, and smiling and clapping. No suits to buy, no 100% electronics mark-ups, 500% attempted taxi mark-ups, no suit-pimps, just bliss. We smiled, clapped, and muched some strange crisp-like structures. Not even a tip-jar, though we might have obliged them if there had been.

We think that Hong Kong is content to sell itself as this soulless consumer paradise, if only because anything else might keep you out of the malls for too long. We encountered this when we tried to go anywhere more rural than the Peak, which, you will notice if you follow the link, is all aboout looking at the city. "Why do you want to go to Aberdeen [charming fishing port]. Nothing to do. Lamma Island [beautiful walks]? Impossible to reach." Except, we found out, far too late, every hour from the ferry terminal. A city with that little pride in its context, one with no intellectual or aesthetic hinterland, will never be a world city. Fun? Yeah, but then so's Atlantic City.

Which is why we're looking forward to Detroit, the home of our rather cute companion, this Thanksgiving. Even the suburbs have a backstory, even if it's not hugely edifying. We're unlikely to get as lucky as we did with the White Stripes last year. this year it is more likely to be The Kills, about whom we are moderately enthusiastic, at the Magic Stick, or maybe Badly Drawn Boy at St Andrews Hall. We'd dearly like to go see Fu Manchu at the State Theater, but think they may be dumped into the "too metal for crows" bin by cutesome companion.

We should also mention that we devoured Dead Air, the last from Ian Banks, on the plane. It was OK, as long as you haven't read Complicity, the book that explains why Gringcorp exists. Dead Air is Complicity with the names changed. Talented Scottish media type stumbles upon horrible violent gangster doings, aided by drink, drugs, and his own wayward libido. Some good indie references. Not the best way for his US publishers to drag Banks out of his Sci-Fi ghetto, we have to admit.


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