Update From Hemlock

“Please be considerate,” says the label on Macau Tatler, “and put the magazine back on the stand after reading.”

Now which is it to be? They want me to be considerate to other people? Or they want me to return this directory of asses so other innocent wretches risk seeing the most sickening hagiography of Florinda Ho (“City’s most stylish scion”) and the most nightmare-inducing photos of “Vegas-style showman” Steve Wynn airbrushed and photoshopped into a grinning, over-tanned, perpetually young cartoon character?  When there are already another four copies of the thing on the shelves? I resolve to do my civic duty to the full and smuggle the publication out of Mix and, as plastic wrappers say, ‘dispose of thoughtfully’.

Yes, Mix. The smoothies, juice and wraps place just a few doors down from the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee, where wild American friend Odell drags me to start the day. He is boycotting our longstanding morning hangout on the grounds that recent rearrangements of the Pacific Coffee furnishings make it much harder for him to commandeer substantial quantities of paper napkins. The tissues are now stored right under the nose of the cashier, who stands ready to rap the knuckles of cheap, thieving scumbags with a heavy spoon.

We will soon be back, I suspect. The ex-Mormon looks up at the unfamiliar and trendy range of products on the board behind the counter and finds himself drawn to an indigo-pink-greenish concoction of blueberry, banana, raspberry sherbet, apple juice and (allegedly) ‘immunity-energy boost’. “I want one,” he tells me, “but I’m damned if I’m going to ask for it.” I know how he feels. It has an embarrassing name, which no self-respecting person could possibly bring himself to utter out loud to a stranger. And, as with all such drinks here, you must choose from Wee, Wow and Woah sizes. Odell overcomes the problem by pointing: “That one – no the one next to it – third one down on the left with the purple lumps.”

“Oh!” says the Nepalese serving girl, “the Dr Feel Good Zen Smoothie!” To which my friend replies with the world’s shortest ever ‘Mm’.

Torn between the Cold Zapper and Liquid Sunshine Power Smoothies, I plump for an espresso.

I find myself mulling over why Macau, with a population of half a million – less than Shatin – has its own edition of this grubby publication. Who puts the tat in Tatler? Lines of smiling, champagne-clutching, Teutonic-looking men in suits with slightly disturbing ribbons and medals round their necks. They probably aren’t storing phials of Heinrich Himmler’s DNA in a cellar somewhere, but they look like they are. Bar landlord Allen Zeman and property developer Cecil Chao attend the birthday party of “youthful looking” Michael Wong (no idea). Burly mainlanders with newly-made money rub shoulders with pouting Canto-bims, Latin Euro-trash and various people presumably sired by casino mogul Stanley Ho. Articles about boutiques, galleries and chefs mingle seamlessly with ads for the same. Has anything more futile ever appeared in print? I would ask who buys it, but the fact that IFC Mall Mix had five copies before one went missing suggests that distributing the magazine is like getting rid of construction waste.

At least it is authentic, professional pretentiousness. My heart sinks when I see an advertorial in today’s Standard puffing up various steak houses around town, illustrated with the usual slabs of shiny meat and bovine-featured chefs. We are told that one place, the imaginatively named Steak House at the InterContinental, offers a choice of 10 ‘gourmet knives’, including Laguiole of France and Kershaw Shun of Japan. And customers may choose from ‘eight exotic sea salts from around the world’, including Hawaiian Alaea, Himalayan pink salt (from which sea?) and French fleur de sel smoked with chardonnay oak chips. And then there’s the grape, balsamic, smoked garlic and other Dr Feel Good Zen mustards. This is fake pretentiousness. They’re pretending to be pretentious to make a fast buck. Does their chardonnay oak smoked salt come in a pepper-type mill, as if freshly ground sodium chloride has more flavour? I bet it does. You won’t find that at Michael Wong’s birthday party.

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8 Responses to Update From Hemlock

  1. Saatchi says:

    You have to read Montesquieu on the importance of luxury for the economy. Obviously, you attended a third-rate university and do not know about these things. Buy an iPad and download all the free e-books. There are many translations and it is all in big letters.

  2. noantenna says:

    There’s luxury and then there’s stupidity.

  3. Bonnie Gokson's best friend says:

    The various salt offerings are served from tiny little bowls placed in their own little notches on a long thin wooden board. Each bowl has it’s own tiny little spoon for retrieving and spreading the exotic gourmet salt. It’s heavenly and I love it!

  4. Doctor Domestic says:

    “Himalayan pink crystal salt originates from the primal seas of millions of years ago, where life began. Dried by the sun at a time where pollution did not exist, Himalayan pink salt is totally pure and contains every mineral and trace element found in the human body.”


    So there. Take it with a large pinch ….

  5. Historian says:

    ‘…contains every mineral and trace element found in the human body’

    And then some, after those tiny little spoons have done the rounds for a while, I suspect.

  6. The Prodigal Son says:

    Mix? Oh dear. I remember once having the profound misfortune of needing to ask for a “Beef Injection” at that very establishment.

  7. Not Ted Thomas says:

    If you put a slab of beef on its side you could call the dish a “Beef Erection”.

    “Garcon, I think I have an Erection, please”

    “Oui, monsieur. Avec Grey Poupon ?”

  8. Jim says:

    Check out the jaw on that girl. Perhaps she should be doing chewing gum ads instead.

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