Monday, May 30, 2011

Hasidic Unicorn in Hong Kong

Hell has frozen over.  Pigs and donkeys are flying.  And all the other cliches you can think of.  I just spotted this in line for the Star Ferry today:

I don't know, nor have I met, a moderately-religious Jewish person in Hong Kong, so to spot a Hasidic Jew waiting for the Star Ferry surrounded by a crowd of locals - well, the term unicorn comes to mind.  I like to believe that he has just teleported from the Lower East Side and is frantically typing into his time machine (which looks like a cell phone) trying to get back!

In reality he was with his wife and two kids - and didn't seem freaked out at all.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I'm Too Sexy

China (and most of Asia, I think) celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival, which is on the 5th moon of the 5th month for those of you keeping score at home!  I dedicated an entire post to Dragon Boating awhile back, so have a peek if you want the nitty gritty details.  For this post, all you need to know is that it's a boat/paddling competition; one that people train for weeks ahead of time.

My friend Sally is competing this year and just so happened to spy this delicious creature at her recent practice:

Not the cute girl in the foreground... The middle-aged, mustached man wearing a spandex half-shirt in the background.  Ain't he a beauty?  It's one thing to wear a half shirt.  Or to wear spandex.  It's a whole other thing to wear both at the same time along with bicycle shorts!  Oh and if you have a mustache you should be wearing NONE OF THE ABOVE. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's in a Name?

Recently I organized a community event, which found me working closely with HK locals.  Lovely people, but the language barrier presented one of the highlights of the night. 

The person I worked most closely with was named Erica.  Halfway through the event Erica comes up to tell me that she has to leave and that her colleague will take her place for the remainder of the event:

Erica: I have to leave but my colleague Ennis here will help with anything that you need.

Not hearing Erica properly I turn to Ennis and say, Hi, I'm Jess.  Your name is 'eh-nis'?

Before Ennis can respond, Erica jumps in with, It's Ennis.  Sounds like anus.

Alrighty then...  The rest of the night I was so scared I was going to call the poor girl Anus.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Here Comes the Bride...

...Doing a photo shoot during your morning commute.  (That rhymed; I feel very Eminem right now!)

If you remember one of my earlier posts, I gave you the low-down on the unique customs of a Chinese (or maybe it's just Hong Kong?) wedding.  One of the more surprising elements were the photo shoots that take place in the months leading up to the big day featuring the bride and groom dressed up in someone else's clothes that they rent for the day.  These photos are included in the save-the-dates, wedding invitations and slideshows on display at the reception.  There are at least 5 different locations, backdrops and wardrobe changes for the end product.

Here's a photo shoot in action - complete with veil blowing in the breeze, tuxedo-clad groom off to the side and photo assistant crouched down behind the bride.  To me, this is just an odd backdrop.  For those non-HKers, she's standing on a crowded walkway connected to a mall that's almost always filled with people running to catch a ferry.  This is also the spot where the crippled people beg for money.  Now there's an uplifting visual for your wedding invites!  Unless he proposed to her on this walkway (which leads to an even bigger question of WHY?), I can't understand the sentimental or artistic appeal of taking photos here.

Note the person crouched down behind her.
Crouching, but not-so-hidden photo assistant!
And don't even get me started on the convenience factor, or lack thereof.  People are trying to get to work or catch a ferry.  This is so NOT the place to set up your big-ass photo shoot.  Isn't there a garden or beach you could be doing this at instead?! 

Actually this is pretty tame.  I once took Victor for his daily afternoon bathroom break and found a bride full-on splayed out flat on her back on our sidewalk.  Bride roadkill, if you will.  I just wanted to take her aside and say, "My dog pees here -- in that very spot where you're resting your cheek on the pavement - at least twice a day.  I've seen a man puking in the area near your legs.  You may want to get up before you stain your rented dress."  But I didn't.  I just did my best to keep Victor from peeing on her.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Only in Hong Kong

Donald Trump's latest venture?  Nope.  Just some good ole Hong Kong wackiness.  All the buildings here have "aspirational" names like "Elegance Court" and "Rich Mansion". I guess the thinking goes that eating here will make you rich and powerful.    If that were the case, I'd be eating at "Skinny and Rich Cafe" for every meal!

(And don't get me started on the other typo on their sign - "business hour"...singular.)

There's a fun blog posting on other crazy HK building names here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Swinger's Faux Pas

Another bonafide case of swinging for you:

A 20-something couple were having drinks at our local hotspot Cafe Duvet - where all the bad shit goes down.  (The first, last and only time I went here was on a Wednesday night after a book club.  My friend and I were catching up over a glass of wine and 2 beyond-inebriated men came over and harassed us.  The things they were saying are unprintable, which I'm sure you find preposterous given the content usually found on this blog! In New York, I would've told these guys to f*ck off and a not-so-nice New York chick would probably slapped them.  How did it end, you ask?  Well, the one guy leans up against our high-top bar table and knocks it to the ground along with himself and our drinks.  I decided to call it a night - and never to go back to Duvet again.)  Anyway, back to my story...

A 40-something married couple sits down next to them and proceeds to chat them up and buy them drinks.  The youngsters kind of think it's weird but then chalk it up to DB being such a friendly place and all.  Ultimately, the older couple turns to the youngsters and asks if they'd like to go home with them.  The youngsters politely decline. The oldsters proceed to tell them all the fun they'll be missing out on before leaving.  I like to believe the youngsters vomit in their mouths a little bit upon hearing this.

These old swingers really have some chutzpah - asking 20-somethings to sleep with them.  Don't they realize that people in their 20s view people in their 40s like grandparents - and nobody wants to see their grandma or grandpa naked.  I feel like they broke some unwritten code of swinging, which is to only approach people who are on or below your attractiveness level.  That's like Newt Gingrich approaching Cameron Diaz and assuming she'd want to sleep with him.  Would never happen in a million years.  Now if the tables were turned and Cameron approached Newt, well, clearly we're looking at a different outcome.  Or if George Clooney approached Cameron Diaz -- it's a more level playing field.

Also, people in their 20s don't swing - they hook up.  And they sure as hell don't need to get involved in the drama of hooking up with married people who are two decades older than them.  They can just go hook up with random hot people their age - drama-free. 

Lesson learned?  Swingers need to stay in their swinging brackets. Ugly people should only approach other ugly people.  If an attractive couple asks an ugly couple to swing, that's okay, too.  But an ugly couple can never approach an attractive couple.  Ditto for fat swingers and skinny swingers; young swingers and old swingers. 

Another lesson learned - don't Google "unwritten rules of swinging" or this is what you'll get:

Lordy lordy...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Check out the cookies I spotted in our grocery store:

I don't speak French, but "D'Asses" looks a lot like "de asses" or "of asses".  I really hope that's not the case.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm?

I'm realizing the title of this posting sums up my life in HK -- and could be the name of my blog overall!

A new store cropped up in one of the many malls in HK - Beauty by Fuji Film.  Because where else do you turn when you need a new skin regimen?  A film processing company, of course!

Also note the "Collagen Drink 10000" ad on the left.  This is very popular here - in lieu of pushing creams and cleansers, the Asian beauty companies encourage you to drink your way to better skin.  It must work because nearly all of them have commercials for these skin drinks that come in tiny glass bottles (similar in size to vanilla extract bottles.)

Celebrating bin Laden's Demise From Afar

When certain momentous events take place in the States, I can't tell you how hard it is to be here.  Or rather, how hard it is to not be there. I lived in NYC on 9/11.

My story? I woke up and saw that the commuter traffic outside my bedroom window, which normally formed a steady stream of walkers up 6th Avenue, had stopped with everyone looking south.  I went up to my roof where a group of construction workers from a nearby roof told me that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Seconds later, we watched the second plane hit the second tower.  It sounds cliche, but a cold chill went through my body when I realized this was no accident.  Something very bad was going on - and while I didn't know what exactly it was, I knew it wasn't good.

I ran downstairs and realized all my roommates had left for work already.  (Being in the music industry generally meant I was the last one to leave in the mornings!)  I alternatively tried calling my roommate Betsy at work and my dad in Kentucky to let him know I was okay.  Funny story - people in Kentucky hadn't heard the news yet and it just so happened that my dad had a new secretary answering the phones.  She kept trying (and failing) to transfer me - and in turn kept hanging up on me.  The third time it happened I said, "Do not transfer me. I am his daughter.  I am in New York City.  We are under attack.  You need to get up, walk over to his office and physically put him on the phone."  Later, my dad said this poor woman was completely traumatized by the call.

I then connected with Betsy who said that her boyfriend and his roommate (both good friends of mine) were home and that I should go over to their apartment.  I lived in Chelsea; these guys lived in the West Village.  Normally this is a 5-minute taxi ride or 10-minute subway ride.  I jumped in a cab, but we could only go two blocks because of all the confusion and traffic and crowds.  So I hopped out and ran the rest of the way.

From my friend's West Village apartment, we watched the towers collapse.  Complete shock is the only way I can describe how I felt in that moment.  Then, of course, I kicked into major crisis mode and went downstairs to the grocery store and attempted to buy everything I could get my hands on - like everyone else in the neighborhood.

The days that followed were surreal.  I can still smell the jet fuel burning- which lingered in the air for weeks after 9/11.  The fighter jets that flew over our city that night - their ominous sound amping up the fear factor.  Having to show ID to get south of 14th Street.  Just how gorgeous the weather was.  The media always comment on this - but it's true; that blue sky will always stand out in my mind.

It felt like New Yorkers fell into 3 categories - those who walked around like zombies holding handmade fliers with information on missing loved ones (we ran into good friends who were doing this very thing), those who were trying everything they could to help (donating blood, buying supplies for volunteers, cheering on firemen), and those who gathered at spots like Union Square and Washington Square Park to mourn. My friends and I fell into the latter two categories.  We were the lucky ones. So many others had it much much worse.

These are the things I remember - along with the pure fear of "Will it happen again?"  I think it took years for that tangible fear to go away...and I'm not sure it's completely gone or ever will be, for that matter.

So when I hear on Monday that US forces have found and killed Osama bin Laden - I am overjoyed.  And emotional.  And immediately transported back to what life was like on 9/11.  I am also very very sad to not be in NYC for this news.  It doesn't feel right that I'm not there.  My best friend (who- full disclosure, now lives in the NJ suburbs) emails me to say that the mood in the city the next day is unbelievable.  I hate not being a part of it.  Now I'm not saying I would've been partying at Ground Zero at 2am or hanging from a lamppost in Times Square... but I would've been a part of the good news.

Instead, V and I decided to be loud and proud New Yorkers in Discovery Bay.  We donned red, white and blue (for me) and a Yankees cap (for him), headed to the newly opened pizza place run by a New Yorker named Sal (we never need an excuse for this!) and watched MSNBC on Slingbox.  We exchanged excited texts and emails with fellow Americans living in HK.  It wasn't the same as being there, but it felt good nonetheless.

A slice, a Brooklyn Lager and CNN on Slingbox