07 October, 2009

Octopus takes the ice cream van

I was rather bemused on Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) when strolling down Stanley Main Beach Road near midnight, I came across an ice cream van. Filled with nostalgia, I thought of the stories my aunty had told me about my grandfather (爺爺) driving them all out to the mountains around Stanley to look at the moon, some 60 or so years ago.

Passing the ice cream van, I was tempted to buy one, despite the huge family dinner I had already eaten that night. And then I turned, and saw...


It all started with a number of different types of transportation, and then it grew, and grew. I've always been impressed by the wide selection of places you can use your Octopus card, and the varying number of things you can purchase with it!

© 2009 Vickie Chan

24 September, 2009

The Time-Travel-Jesus Argument

Chatting with friends a few weeks ago, we got around to the theme of time travel.

One friend — a successful, I’d say, artist and thinker turned the conversation over to meeting with Jesus, should he travel in time.

He felt that he would be disappointed if he traveled back in time only to discover that "Jesus turned out to be an A-hole." Later, he felt concern that we had the wrong impression, and clarified his thoughts further, sparking off another conversation. I found what followed to be an interesting and personal dialectic between a group of people — some religious, some not — who managed to be humorous while referring to their own beliefs about God and religion. What struck me most, was that genuinely no-one took offense over a topic that has caused endless family feuds and outright war across the centuries.

What my friend (the artist) clarified us with was this:

“What I meant to suggest was the possibility that it might not be that fun to hang out with the son of God. Upon further reflection, I started to realize how much my interactions with people rely on humor. Not necessarily "jokes" per se, but a certain element of surprise — a flouting of expected response. In an interaction with a deity, this would all go out the window. A deity would ostensibly know everything, and though Jesus would probably laugh out of courtesy, it wouldn't be sincere. For me, these ingredients would add up to a pretty awkward interaction. Again, my apologies if anyone was offended.”

And here’s a sample of what followed.

The first one, from a Catholic (Argentinian/ Italian, not a regular church-goer but definitely someone with “faith” in God):

“Well first of all, thank you for your apologies and clarification about your Jesus comments last Saturday. I think now I'll be able to sleep tonight, been praying for you ever since the junk trip for God to forgive your sins and have said 1000 rosaries.

But this morning I got a call from the bearded man himself and he says he thinks you are a bit of an A-hole yourself, but thinks your kinda funny, so he loves you none-the-less and has chosen to forgive you.

Oh he also said I should give you some tips on your art, cos you are lacking some creative inspiration… unlike me, he said.

If you wish, I am available for healing services on the weekends.
Peace be with you.”

What we see there is a very Catholic-yet-humored response — praying for her friend, saying rosaries. On top, she states that God would appreciate the artist’s humor and choose to forgive him — an all embracing God, perhaps? Finally, she admonishes her friend with her own brand of humor.

Not long after, came another response:

“I'm agnostic, cynic and at the same time Italian, that means have the Vatican's boss everyday on the first page of every newspaper giving his opinion (and sometimes he assures to be the will of God Almighty) about political and ethical topics. If you're agnostic that doesn't make feel better...

I believe if Jesus is the guy he should be to have the position he (supposedly) has/ had he should be at least very open minded, charitable and definitely able to make laugh of himself, his family and his friends.

I found your comment of last Sunday interesting, of course you could have it express with other words and in a more politically correct way but I like the idea of thinking on Jesus like a guy with a lot of charisma but with also defects. I could almost believe in him.”

The agnostic raised in a devoutly Catholic place, reasoning that Jesus should, indeed, be the cool guy, the open guy — the guy you’d want him to be. And not the guy that means the neutral or negative things that religion itself has brought him to mean, to so many people. A paradoxical Italian.

And finally, from someone who was brought up in a rectory:

When it comes to a guy like Jesus, there's no way of knowing what he'd be like when you first meet him.

Maybe he's sick of being the serious guy and is waiting for someone to make frat jokes with, or shoot the bull for a while, talking trash about each others mum's (that'd be Mary) like in Stand By Me.

Alternatively, he could just be the cool guy that he was trying to be, before his stories were chronicled and turned into dogma. Maybe King Crimson were right when they sang "Jesus was way cool".

Either way, I took no offense. My step-father is a priest, and I have had my earful of religion.

If I actually did travel in time I would not only use the cat-buttered-toast-paradox to create my own time vortex, but if I bumped into Jeebus (doubt I'd go looking for him) I'd give him the chance to be someone totally different to the person that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John painted him to be.”

So if you could travel in time, and meet Jesus, what would you expect, what would you do?

11 August, 2009

Gormley at Trafalgar Square — But Who is Making the Art?

In case you haven't heard, Anthony Gormley is currently in "possession" of one of the plinths at Trafalgar Square. In making a piece of public art, he decided that any member of the public could partake — by applying to perform an activity on the plinth for an hour. All you have to do, is apply, and be accepted. With the piece running 24 hours a day, for 100 days non-stop, there are plenty of slots for people to join in.

I recently passed by and saw a man clad in a high-vis jacket, riding a stationery bicycle. He was lucky, it was a sunny day and the square wasn't too crowded. He seemed to enjoy his 60 minutes of fame, as much as waving at the crowds.

Traf Sq Gormley

But what struck me was that it wasn't just that man or his activity that made the performance. It was the square, the tourists — voyeurs, the weather. It was the atmosphere.

Not far behind the plinth was a busker playing smooth, easy listening jazz on his saxophone. Without that music, the tongue-in-cheek vibe to the man riding his bicycle would have been entirely lost. I don't think it was a joint effort, but I do think that Man-on-bicycle should be grateful to the busker, for supplying the element that really made the experience what it was.

Traf Sq Jazz player

© 2009 Vickie Chan

15 March, 2009

Ad-free Trams

In the capitalist commodities of Hong Kong it's almost amazing that there are still trams running with not a single advert, logo or company name inscribed on them. Painted the green that they have been for decades, with their wood-framed windows, these green trams provide a strange much-needed peace and silence to the colourful urban onslaught of Hong Kong streets.

Ad-free tram

© 2009 Vickie Chan

Austin Road skater

This is a big-up to the dude skating down Austin Road on Thursday March 12th, middle finger birds flying down the street, showing off their spreadeagle wings to the honking drivers behind!

Live your heart and never follow.

© 2009 Vickie Chan

31 January, 2009

I'm Cheap Therefore I Am

Cheap stuff?


HK Mag rip Barbera Kruger for their cover.


© 2009 Vickie Chan