Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic History, News Clip, and Future

The following was from the NY Times, but I wanted to post this as I feel that most people don't know this.

Smith was briefly appointed by then Mayor of Oakland Jerry Brown to head up a drive to transform the Oakland parks and basketball courts as a place to galvanize youth when we were there in 1999. Current athletes should look to these models and realize what the Olympics was originally intended to be: an expression of the true human spirit.

About the China Games: there is a difference between nationalism and cultural pride. The games have stirred up too much of the former and have warped the latter. Unfortunately, most blockheads don't know the difference.

This is the key quote by Smith:
“I wanted to embody my pride and love for what America is supposed to be,” he told me. “There was no hate, no hostility shown or intended.”

August 23, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Fists Raised, but Not in Anger

South Orange, N.J.

“IT was a story that should have made headlines for one day,” Robert Paul, who was the United States Olympic Committee’s publicist at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, told me recently. “If they had handled the whole affair right, with some reason, tolerance and common sense, it would have been something we could now look back on with pride. Instead, it’s the Olympics’ biggest ongoing shame.”

We were discussing the most famous gesture of protest in Olympic history, the supposed black-power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand of the 200 meters at the 1968 Games. And we kept coming to a paradox: While American critics are scoring points right now on the subject of Chinese civil-rights abuses and questionable athletic practices, they continue to forget that there is one big wrong that needs to be righted on the home front.

Smith and Carlos were members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which was organized by the sociologist Harry Edwards and others to draw attention to racism in sports and society. One of their priorities was pressuring the International Olympic Committee to bar South Africa for its apartheid policies, which it subsequently did. The group’s members weren’t just blacks — Peter Norman, who finished second in the 200, was one of many white athletes who wore the group’s pin.

There was talk of a boycott of the 1968 Olympics by African-American athletes; it never happened, although some stars, such as the All-America basketball player Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) staged a silent protest by refusing to try out for the Olympic team. For his part, Smith decided that if he won the 200 meters — and he did, in 19.83 seconds, a world record that stood for 11 years — he would make his own statement.

A few minutes before the medal presentation, Payton Jordan, the head coach of the track and field team, and sprint coach Stan Wright approached Robert Paul, the publicist, in the press section. Jordan told Paul that he had given Smith and Carlos permission to wear black socks. Did Paul, the coaches asked, know what was going on? Moments later, Smith, his wife, Carlos and the sportswriter Pete Axthelm walked down the press-box aisle, headed for the presentation stage. Did anyone know, Paul asked Jordan, why Mrs. Smith was holding a black glove in each hand?

Avery Brundage, the iron-fisted boss of the International Olympic Committee, must also have thought that something was up, as he did not appear to award Smith, Norman and Carlos their medals. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do with the gloves,” Tommie Smith told me in a recent telephone conversation. “I was thinking about wearing both of them but quickly realized that would make no sense.”

Walking toward the stand — his wife had by then passed the gloves along to the runners — he decided to “represent the flag with pride, but do it with a black accent.” Wearing their medals, they raised clenched, gloved fists as the national anthem was played — Smith his right, Carlos his left. It was done, Smith says, “in military style” — Smith was in the R.O.T.C. at the time. “My head was down,” he says, “because I was praying.”

“I wanted to embody my pride and love for what America is supposed to be,” he told me. “There was no hate, no hostility shown or intended.” It was not, contrary to how it has been portrayed in the media, intended as a black-power salute.

The next morning, Brundage told Douglas F. Roby, the American committee’s president, that if Smith and Carlos weren’t removed from the team then the entire United States track and field team would be banned from the rest of competition. Roby didn’t dare defy Brundage; he told the two athletes in person that they could keep their medals but they had to leave the Olympic Village.

Was there any precedent for what Smith and Carlos had done in Mexico City? In 1936, German athletes made the Nazi salute when awarded their medals. Brundage, then president of the United States Olympic Committee, made no objection, and rejected any proposals for boycotting the Berlin games.

In the years after Mexico City, both Smith and Carlos found life to be difficult. They had trouble finding work. In the late ’70s Carlos’s wife committed suicide. He blamed the pressure put on him by his Olympic protest. Smith, fired from his job at North American Pontiac upon returning from Mexico City, eventually became a professor and track coach at Santa Monica College.

Brundage died in 1975. In the 33 years since his death, Smith and Carlos say, neither has ever had so much as a feeler from either the International Olympic Committee or United Sates Olympic Committee regarding reconciliation. Neither has been voted into the American group’s hall of fame, even though Smith, by his count, once held world records in 11 different events, the most ever by a track and field athlete.

“I think their attitude is, ‘Why bring it up?’ ” Smith told me in our recent conversation. “Why rock the boat now?” But if some conscientious official was looking to right a wrong that grows larger with each passing Olympics, would Smith be conducive towards hearing them out? “I would” he said, then, after a pause, “take what they say into account. I would listen.” Would anyone at the United States Olympic Committee like Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’s phone numbers?

Allen Barra is the author of “The Last Coach: A Life of Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mui Wo and Macau with Keohi and Kath

Visit from Peng Chau Jack

Life in Mui Wo has been a lot more exciting since Kath’s arrival. Today Jack from Peng Chau (Peng Chau Jack) came over to play with his mum Danielle as the playgroup was shut. Danielle did not know until she came all the way over. Keohi and Jack had a grand ole time and Keohi experienced the trauma of sharing. He has had a yellow plastic wagon for months and has never once been interested in this wagon until Jack showed up and began to play with it, at which point Keohi decided it was the most fascinating toy he has ever had and began to cry in anguish when Jack did not want to part with it.

Sharing is hard. This should be some kind of worldwide political slogan. Share land. Share gas. Share natural resources. Share. No one likes to share. Not Peng Chau Jack. Not Keohi Ki-Chan. Not me when it comes to bath towels. No wonder the world is a mess.


Last week we went to Macau for the night. We stayed at the Landmark for the night. We chose the Landamark as the travel booking agent said it was 5 minutes from the main tourist sites. We get there and it’s more like 15-20 minutes depending on traffic.
Macau has been designated a World Heritage UNESCO site and in many ways, is a much more pleasant city than HK. I’ve been several times—it’s a 1 hour ferry ride from Central so a total of about a 2.5 hour journey for us in Mui Wo. Since it was colonized by the Portuguese, people drive mopeds more and there are sections of the city that feel distinctly European. There is less pollution it seems, and the atmosphere is more laid back than HK. We arrived in the AM and did a little sightseeing after grabbing a bite to eat. There are many new casinos in Macau, all of the big Vegas names are there, so the city has changed quite a bit.

Since I’ve seen most of the main sites, including Sun Yat Sen’s mother’s house the last time I was in Macau with Mom, the only new place I can report was the Lew Kao mansion which was an old Chinese style family mansion—beautiful and elegant. The high walls meant the interior was cool. Plenty of skylights and for the first time, I understood why the circles of marble were framed, often on the back of chairs or displayed in rows as artwork on the wall. Perhaps because they were the real thing. If you looked at some of the patterns of marble carefully, the lines and swirls and natural coloring of the rock yields a picturesque mountain scene, or river scene—really anything that is like nature. So a good cut of a piece of stone looks like a painting. The old house was lovely and is now used as a venue for concerts and other small creative gatherings. It’s to bad that the ugly cinder block and even the ubiquitous but rather dull copy of the quasi Mediterranean villa was adopted so readily in Hong Kong because their own historical buildings would greatly add to the city and the quality of the surroundings here. Keohi was on my back and konked out as we were rounding the corner by the ruins of St. Paul’s. It was bloody hot as usual, so I headed back to the hotel. The furniture shops by the ruins always had some cheaper buys, and I had thought of getting something and shipping it over to Mui Wo, but maybe do the influx of tourists as a result of the casinos, it seemed that the prices were just as high as HK.

Keohi and Rock Star Hotel Room Behavior in The Landmark

Keohi woke up after his nap on the king size hotel bed and went into rock star mode. Within 24 hours he had trashed the place.

There were many things in the hotel room that are no longer a part of his life in Mui Wo, so must have seemed like some kind of novelty. Like a bed that bounced, a large bed, as we sleep on a futon on the ground. Then there was a soft easy chair with a footstool, also great for jumping. Then there were bedroom nightstands with drawers that pulled out, a cabinet that open and shut, a bathroom with shiny gold faucets and a huge bathtub and a bathroom scale that he somehow lugged into the room on the carpet that was also, it seems, ideal for jumping on top of. There were larger pillows that could be removed from the bed and the chair that could be thrown to the ground and also jumped on top of. This jumping, along with his smashing a box of crackers into tiny bits and scattering them all over the ground and spitting out apple everywhere, after peeing on the carpet in front of the TV when running away from a diaper change contributed to the general mayhem of the place.

About Swimming in The Landmark

Well, if you want to swim in a fake Italian palazzo style of pool, there you go, the experience is yours. But wait….

Pool Receptionist: Is your child a girl or a boy? A boy? Oh, he cannot go into the women’s dressing room. He is 18 months old? He is a boy? Sorry. No. He is boy. No go with you. You want to talk to the manager? One moment please.

Me: He’s 18 months old.

Smiling Idiotic Pool Receptionist: Yes, sorry. But this is the policy of the hotel.

The Ugly American Mom: Call your boss.

Mad and Irritated Auntie: What’s he supposed to do? Wait here for us?

Pool Receptionist: OH oh…yes, one moment please…(she calls boss)

Ugly American Mom picks up phone and says: They won’t let my baby into the women’s dressing room and he is 18 months old.

Pool Receptionist boss on phone: Oh yes, this is policy, sorry.


Pool Receptionist boss on phone: Wait one moment, please.

Boss calls.( Some hemming and hawing)

Finally Ugly American Mom: They won’t let my baby in the women’s dressing room. He’s 18 months old. THIS IS STUPID.

Pool Receptionist boss’s boss: Yes, okay. You can go in.

The pool people follow you around in the locker room. A much welcome swim, but the staff will drive you crazy. Take it from the Luk Tei Tong Tourist guide. Skip The Landmark hotel.

In the evening we walked around our hotel, Keohi packed on our backs, and went to grab a bite to eat. I searched and searched but could not find the 24 karat gold Mao statues in the displays of gold in the shops by the casinos. The last time I was here in 2002, they were featured prominently. My guess is that the now discerning Mainlander doesn’t need a 24 karat gold statue to make him or her feel great after a big win. No, indeed, she or he can be satisfied with a 24 karat gold bunny or some other zodiac sign, or maybe a little boy and girl that resemble the old Holly Hobbie doll circa 1970s USA. Last time too, there was a crowd of Russian prostitutes all running across the street from the Hotel Lisboa, dodging the police. Didn’t see the gang this time, though rest assured some rather entertaining pairings were cited.

Oh, for those of you longing for Costco here in HK. FEAR NOT. You can go to Macau, walk down some street by The Landmark and step into a store selling everything from candy bars to flip flops to perfumes and get your fill of KIRKLAND brand nuts, dried blueberries, and everything else. Who knew the reach of Costco went all the way to Macau? Or, as I said to Kath, probably some guy has a cousin in the US who has a friend who owes him a favor and the guy gets a bunch of stuff shipped in a container after someone makes a big shopping trip to Costco. I got all sentimental...I felt I could just see the megastore in the foggy distance and had sudden longings for the $2.00 hot dog and soft drink with the big squirt from the vat of ketchup. Nothing like seeing that KIRKLAND logo to make you think that you are indeed deprived if you can't buy 25 pound bags of potato chips...or, as Stephen once did, a pack of 10 rainbow night-lights for a one bedroom apartment.

Keohi slept horizontally on the king sized bed on the pillows crowding Kath and I out on either side. We get home to Mui Wo and Kath is exhausted from the mini side trip to Macau with Keohi so we leave Keohi with Cecily and go to have a glass of wine at the Turkish bar.

Kath: Gee, I haven’t wanted a drink in a long time. But I think I need one after that.

Last trip for Keohi with Aunty Kathy until NEXT YEAR!

More about Hong Kong Real Estate -- specifically, the adverts

One of the most misleading types of advertising that is always used here is when they advertise a new building or condo. HK is driven by the real estate market and so buildings are always going up. On the side of one on Queen’s Road Central is a dark rather muted picture of a Western man and woman in tux and evening gown under a chandelier in what is clearly a kind of palace with plenty of Baroque swirls and gaudy Louis XIV touches on the walls and ceiling. The ad is for the building that the ad itself is placed on: a high rise square cinder block number. These ads are peculiar for several reasons (although obviously I understand how they result)

a) They feature non-Asians as the principal residents – this is HK, so the question is obviously, what makes something desirable if a Westerner is in the ad, huh? What does that say about how HK people feel about themselves, or what advertisers think they are trying to sell? Not simply a look or physical idea? Or is it?

b) The Western Baroque or Rococo type of design always equated with luxury. I can personally do without a bunch of gold Botticelli angels all over the place, but there you go…

c) Are people deluded or what? Get real, you are not buying a Mediterranean villa or a Baroque retreat en France, or an Italian palazzo. You are buying a condo or an apartment in a tall rectangular skyscraper and do not have acres of pastoral farmland around you which serves as your personal foxhunting forest. You are in a crowded bustling city. A trading and financial capital of Asia. With a high pollution index. What is historical and beautiful about his part of the world is NOT the ability to do bad imitations of Louis IV stuff, but structures like the Lew Kou Mansion with its wrought iron shapes of octagons, cool stone walls that insulate against the miserable summer heat, the beautifully framed marble and the skylights leaking the rays onto the dark woods. Can people wake up, please? Is bad taste simply ubiquitous and unavoidable? Help. Help. Help. Sometimes things are ugly enough to awaken Oscar Wilde from the dead.

Kath and Feelin' The Ferry

So our first visitor, Kath, is about to bail on us a few weeks early. But WHY?
Could it be the 95F/33C searing heat and humidity?
Could it be her lack of sleep due to Keohi’s getting up three times a night?
Could it be her throat hurting from the pollution whenever she goes in to Hong Kong proper?
Could it be her getting motion sickness for hours after every time that she takes the ferry?
Could it be her fear of snakes on overgrown paths that prevent her from hiking?

So many possibilities. So little time to enjoy now that she is leaving. Well, maybe it’s a combo of everything. Needless to say, we at Luk Tei Tong will sorely miss her presence, but given the above, completely understand. Watching Kath hang out on the bed stare up as she stares the ceiling hoping to keep the room steady after getting off the ferry is not a good feeling.

I told her that I guess she wouldn’t be one of those senior citizens who would take cruises.



Kath said, I wish the room would stop moving.

So she will be leaving and we will be returning to our sleepy life in Mui Wo.

But life in Mui Wo has been a lot more exciting. Today Jack from Peng Chau (Peng Chau Jack) came over to play with his mum Danielle as the playgroup was shut. Danielle did not know until she came all the way over. Keohi and Jack had a grand ole time and Keohi experienced the trauma of sharing. He has had a yellow plastic wagon for months and has never once been interested in this wagon until Jack showed up and began to play with it, at which point Keohi decided it was the most fascinating toy he has ever had and began to cry in anguish when Jack did not want to part with it.

Sharing is hard. This should be some kind of worldwide political slogan. Share land. Share gas. Share natural resources. Share. No one likes to share. Not Peng Chau Jack. Not Keohi Ki-Chan. Not me when it comes to bath towels. No wonder the world is a mess.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Longing for Lemons and Stones

Longing for Lemons and Stones in the IFC

Keohi stood in front of the Occitane store and kept pounding the glass while shouting, bouncing up and down. The fake lemon tree and plastic lemon display was so irresistible. The breathless anticipation. The shouts of excitement and desperation. It was all Kath and I could do to drag him away.

He moved several minutes later to the display of stones in the Japanese restaurant window and yelled GOP GOP GOP (ROCK in Keohi-speak) while pointing. It was very funny to watch and then while we chuckled it occurred to me that little changes over the course of a lifetime. People do the same dance and moan in front of shop windows their entire lives. They work long hours and feel the desperate desire to covet some odd thing from a shop window, convinced that it, like the lemons or rocks, will make their life better. They need this outfit or handbag or gadget. They walk around feeling confident with it. Maybe we never advance beyond the age of 18 months on some basic level…

Things that Make Kath Mad about shopping for bread in City Super

“Okay, this is seriously a rip-off. When you buy a loaf of bread, they don’t even give you a loaf of bread (referring to the raisin bread loaf from City Super). I mean, it’s not enough to feed a family. It’s like one person’s portion of a breakfast. What is it, three slices? This is really unfair.”

Friday, August 1, 2008

Day to Day

Today Keohi, Kath, and I went to the Mui Wo Recreation Center studio. Jack from Peng Chau, and his mum Daniella joined for the one hour play session. It’s so hot here that I’ve taken to booking a dance studio space now and then so that Keohi can run around and play in the AC. During the Beijing Olympics, use of all sports facilities is free, so it’s a good way of testing it out and I’ll probably try to organize some kind of playgroup this fall with some other parents and kids Keohi’s age.

They have two playgroups here in Mui Wo—one on Monday and Fridays at a church from 9-11, and another from 10-12 on Tuesday and Thursdays at the nearby international kindy. Often on Monday and Fridays, you don’t see too many parents, most send their helpers, though the space is bigger and they get some noodles around a table and a nursery rhyme medley at the end—frantic versions of Twinkle Twinkle and London Bridge that kind of leave you stressed out after listening to them. They serve junk food snacks—biscuits with green and pink frosting that look rather horrific and that they wouldn’t dare serve at most daycare places in the US. I try to act like it’s not a big deal if he has one, and have capitulated a few times, but usually end up shoving pieces of whole wheat bread in his mouth. Poor guy must be the only baby in Mui Wo who hasn't had ice cream, sugar, candy, chocolate, or cake in his entire life and doesn’t know the difference. But I’m not up for him knowing what sugar is and brushing his teeth all the time. Keohi’s only made it through the session a few times and melts at around 10:30AM, too many kids of various ages and it’s chaotic. In the US, this kind of place would probably be shut down because of the size of the room and the age disparity of the kids, and a host of other factors, but here, it’s welcome in Mui Wo as a place for the kids to get out of the house. Besides Keohi has a fondness for the slide there and the pair of sparkly purple plastic high heel shoes.

I notice that most locals keep their kids inside a great deal. This has to do with the heat, but also a different attitude about the outdoors and types of play. On rainy days Keohi would often be the only kid his age on the entire Mui Wo soccer pitch in his rainboots and rainhat chasing a ball around the large green court area. It got me thinking that most of the kids must have been inside the entire month of June when it rained nearly every single day. Cecily said at her last employer’s home, the children were only allowed to go outside to the park on the weekends. Sounds like a jail sentence to me. City living can be tough on kids, but what’s odd and rather sad is that we live in the rural area, so it is much cleaner and the pitch is very clean. Another Filipino woman told me that in the Philippines, the kids are kept indoors in the rain, but the HK and Brits let the kids play in the rain, but frankly, I didn’t see any local little kids out in the rain during the month of June. I notice that many parents spend a lot of time furiously wiping the mouths of their kids, making them wear bibs all the time (fear of drooling?), and being crazy about the dirt. To some degree, this is understandable, there’s a helluva lot of grubby habits in this city, but a little dirt is also normal for any kid so it's hard to discern or decide where to draw the line for most, I think. Or maybe I’m justifying Keohi’s oatmeal mouth and stained T-shirt…he’s happy though and I’m not about to bleach clothing to get out some stains on a kid's T-shirt. Not worth polluting the rivers for that, sorry. There are some mad crazy bleaching people out there...

Last PM Kath and I met John Wong for some dumplings at my old favorite diner near Lan Kwai Fong, Tsui Wah, and then a drink in the Fong, and then one at the FCC last night. Seemed same-same, meeting John for a drink in the heat of the summer in HK, like when I lived here 5 years ago. The sun goes down and the city comes alive. Neons on. The pace still the same frenzy, but as if it's all about exhaling the grind of the day. The city’s air can be exhausting and it’s familiar yet so distant from evening life in Mui Wo—the silence, the sounds of bullfrogs, the whirr of your wheels in the night as you bike along the path. I couldn’t live in HK proper anymore. I’m not in that frame of mind these days. Kath's comment: "Gee, not a lot of good looking Western guys here, huh?" This and other comments like: "You live in the sticks" and "It's hot" or "Lotta big bugs in Asia" are the hallmarks of Kath's insightful observations....:) Met Stephen at the ferry pier and we all took the 9:30PM back home.

All quiet here in Luk Tei Tong. Kath, wearing what suspiciously looks like rural China village-wear (faded cotton flowered long sleeve shirt, faded black big floppy hat, faded slate blue gray skirt, yellow men's boxer shorts underneath and worn out flip flops) keeps taking pictures of people like the old village ladies in their typical village wear of dark pants and flowered print shirts and perhaps rattan straw hats covering a tight bad hair perm, maybe riding a bike with training wheels on it--some nerve, as I told her, given what she's sporting these days:) We were in the Tai Tei Tong Square the other day and I said, hey, you’re taking pictures of my neighbors, they probably think you’re a freak. Two grumpy old village ladies were not pleased as Kath was taking photos of the nearby houses (probably their own) and Keohi was squeezing the Snow White pop up toy on someone’s tricycle on this person’s front porch (they weren’t home, so no big deal in my book). So she’s snapping away and I started to laugh: what was vastly different only a few months ago has now become part of what I am beginning to accept as a normal part of my visual landscape--the small red shrines with burnt incense sticks, the dried up orange offerings, the laundry hanging with pink and green plastic clips, the dark stains on the side of the old concrete buildings, and the faded vinyl slippers parked in front of someone's door. Old bicycles and random skateboards and wizened men dragging on cigarettes and arguing with the clack of the mah-jong tiles and the smell of dried ginger and mold are all here in Luk Tei Tong, simply part of what is now my normal life, slowly embedding in Keohi's memory. I think of one day when he is much older and perhaps far away from this place or life, he will be struck by a scent or a color and have some hazy memory of being carried in the steamy summer heat, held close by his mother, sticking skin to skin on her arm or whizzing along on a bike and gazing down at the lotus leaves in the bog, clapping his hands and yelling "dog-dog." I think to myself that he is headed for a different life--a Korean American mom, a British father, raised in a Chinese village surrounded by the sounds of Cantonese and Tagalog, a little blond Eurasian boy with a Hawaiian first name laughing as he whacks invisible mosquitoes against the apartment wall and smiling as he learns to splash in the monsoon rains.

Keohi’s words and new activities (of interest only to a few, I know)

Boo-boo (injury)
Poo-poo (poop)
Yo yo

And waving goodbye. Everyone makes a big deal about how your kid is supposed to wave goodbye at 6 months. Then again, the books say how your kid is supposed to walk then climb, or walk then kick a ball, and Keohi did this all in reverse.

Interesting what he identifies with Stephen. He points to his penis, the cell phone, sunglasses, caps, gray colored knapsacks/bags, and black bicycles and says “dada” knowing clearly that these items are Stephen’s, along with his physical therapy balls.

He hugs his stuffed animals and says “na-na” for nursing, and puts his stuffed lamb to bed under his blanket. Pretend play beginning.

And no TV for him has really made him a book lover. Since the TV is absolutely never on when he is up, he has no interest in TV when it is on at other people’s, or when he’s out. So for colorful visual stimulation, he picks up a picture book.