Cast your mind back to late June 2013. Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen was making pitifully weak and whiny excuses – infant-level lies, in fact – to explain away some embarrassment. Not unusual enough to stick in your mind? OK: Hong Kong was still buzzing with excitement after US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden had passed through the city a few weeks earlier.
Yes, that’s how long ago we’re talking.
On Cochrane Street next to the Mid-Levels Escalator, the cheap-and-cheerful Vietnamese restaurant Pho Tai had just closed down. Residents resigned themselves to another round of touristification as the outlet aimed at locals gave way to some plasticky, glitzy outlet selling ‘serum’ cosmetics, scented candles or gift-wrapped French macaroons. Yet the shop stayed empty, costing the landlord maybe HK$200,000 or more per month in foregone rents. The months turned to years. The lost rental income must have run into millions.
Finally, it has come to pass. The premises are now occupied by something called Emack & Bolio’s. So ludicrous, I have to Google it. A fancy ice-cream chain. The corporate backstory (named after homeless people, anti-Vietnam war, pro-gay rights) sounds like such a parody of trendiness that it can only have been created by an exceptionally scummy and cynical ad agency. Within minutes of its opening it has an equally suspiciously glowing review at Openrice, showing a cone of frozen vileness (I mean – Froot Loops? Please.)
Needless to say, a long line of consumer-zombies immediately forms at its doors…
At least it’s not scented candles. (Will they embrace local radical causes by, say, sticking little paper yellow umbrellas into their icy goo?)
Not far down the hill, at IFC Mall, innocent members of the public were confronted by a large herd of rabid, baying real-estate agents…
The photo doesn’t convey the depth and density of this crowd of losers. There were at least a dozen security guards pushing the dimwits in suits back behind the line. Some of them had oozed out onto the adjacent walkways – and I later saw a few around the Escalator as far up as Emack & Bolio’s. Several tried to corner me. There was one of those horrendously pushy plump women who seem to inhabit the world of sales, who would have wrestled me to the ground had I not been able to outrun her. Another was a tragic guy who desperately begged me to visit the show flat in order to ‘help him’. People who emerged from the show flat were chased and harried by a clawing, screaming mob slightly reminiscent of refugees fighting over food handouts.
I can’t remember the name of the development, but I know it wasn’t Yuccie Square or La Mansion, mentioned in today’s Standard.
Froot Loops ice-cream, horrid little apartments in Yuen Long… Today is obviously dedicated to pointless overpriced garbage you don’t need. There are whole stores offering this junk. Don’t forget: Christmas is coming.
We start with the cap clip, which secures your cap to your shirt with a cord…
Any wind fierce enough to dislodge such a cap from your head would tear the cord off your shirt, but otherwise – how did we ever get by without them? (And yes, they come in different sizes.)
More mystifying are the hair-drying gloves…
Are they asbestos-lined to protect delicate fingers from the heat of the hair-drier? Or does the fuzziness fluff up drying hair in some desirable and fashionable way? We will probably never know.
Unlike the shoe-band, which has a perfectly clear purpose. You get plain, drab, boring women’s high-heeled shoes that expose most of the upper foot. (Low-cut? Open-top? There must be a name for them.) You attach the shoe-band, and voila – you suddenly become the only girl at the party eschewing an ankle bracelet in favour of a dead mouse…
Animals need pointless garbage just like anyone else. Bonzo will be thrilled when he sees his very own mosquito coil holder designed specifically for his species…
…while the more plebby canines will surely appreciate the soccer shirts and shiny PVC raincoats on offer …
And of course, with winter coming, let’s not forget our other loyal family friends – the chairs, who will absolutely love these socks hand-crafted just for them…
It’s not just ‘socks for chairs’ as a concept that amazes. It’s the sheer variety of colours and styles that the poor bewildered furniture must choose from every morning.
And – this just in – the ultimate in ridiculous worthless trash: the Confucius Peace Prize. (That same source, by the way, wins Headline of the Day Award.)
I bet that long line of consumers at Polio’s were hired by the same PR company that wrote the website fluff.
The shoes band, on the other hand, is a ‘must have’. Reminds me of the Suzanne Clip.
Don’t knock useless gadgets. They drive the economy forward. I nearly bought a cycling computer yesterday. Strap it to your handlebars and it reminds you that you are not going very fast at all. Here in Stanley Market you can buy piano gloves. Put them on and you play music like you are at a keyboard. Some of these inventors become billionaires. Cars, bicycles, telephones and radios all started as fads. A few years ago I invented the perfect way to get through Hong Kong crowds. You give your child an ice cream and take her by
the hand. Not patentable I’m afraid.
1. Has anyone in the entire history of flat buying ever bought a flat on impulse just because they were accosted by a real estate agent on the street? We are not talking about flag sticker donations, overpriced charity keychains or cable internet plans here. Who on earth are these people who go “Well I wasn’t planning on buying a flat today, but I just so happen to have $10 million in my pocket, so why not?”
2. Carry an umbrella. When met with a horde of rapacious real estate agents, brandish said umbrella menacingly. They will part like the Red Sea. Ask me how I know.
3. Those shoe strap things serve the purpose of keeping the shoes on the wearer’s foot. Some of us have narrow heels and can’t wear low instep shoes without walking right out of them. Dead mice are optional.
4. Nothing is improved by the addition of froot loops. They are an abomination.
… or start coughing loudly (ideally without a tissue in hand) and the crowd miraculously opens up before you, allowing unrestricted passage – something that Moses could probably have identified with.
Not to disagree with the “absolutely pointless overpriced garbage” idea, but I think it is only fair to point out that, judging by the packaging, they all emanated from that wonderful land that gave you the Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
An improvement, perhaps?
Love the Zimbabwean goblins exorcism story. Couldn’t happen in Hong Kong.
Sorry – gotta go, the feng shui man’s at the door.
“Ask me how I know.” Nice touch. Brought a smile to my face. Thanks.
@Cassowary – for extra impact, make it a yellow umbrella. Japan Home City has them for only 30 bucks.
Zimbawei needs to import more Chinese home grown high tech, that gun-power stuff the CCP apologist have been ranting over as a Chinese invention which was a great contribution to humanity. Out in the NT the last two days have seen a mass of fire-crackers set off over a bunch of rotting corpses and bones.
If the government is serious about saving money, they could start by helping the flying service spend less time fighting fires. Every fire started near a grave sees that grave dug up, and the corpse/bones deposited in a government landfill. Next time they need to pray for their ancestors,they can try lighting off the methane that escapes from the landfill cover.
The major cities of East Asia are studded with shops selling the same ridiculously tacky gizmos, doodads and gew-gaws at knock-down prices. Enter one and you’ll never enter another. The Japanese even publish books dedicated to this stuff. I never know whether or not they are intended as a joke.
And I thought your headline Pointless overpriced garbage you don’t need was in reference to the HKSAR government. [Sigh]
@ Laguna Lurker: Yes, the Japanese specialise in gently absurd, almost useless gadgets, it is practically considered an art form, and it is supposed to be funny in the way of terrible movies that end up being unintentionally funny. Look up “chindogu”.
I wander through each crowded street
And covet things I do not need
And mark on every face I meet
Marks of envy, marks of greed.
However rich in goods they are
They linger in each mall and look;
The cutie wants another bra,
The scholar wants another book.
Our bags are full, our cash is spent,
We do not know what else to buy,
And yet we do not feel content;
We linger with a yearning eye.
A cover for the toilet seat,
An electric doggie for the kids,
Two funny mugs named ‘Sour’ and ‘Sweet’,
A thing for opening jam-jar lids.
Although I hate what I acquire,
Although I’m overwhelmed with stuff,
There’s always something I desire,
I never feel I have enough.
with acknowledgement to ‘London’ by William Blake
Very strange. I didn’t even know that company still existed. It was an OK ice cream store that I patronized as a primary school student back in the 1970s. The Raspberry Lime Ricky was a pretty good drink. But I thought they closed down w/ Steve’s got more popular, or at least moved on from Mass. Ave.
It was like a bit of time travel when I saw Emack & Bolio’s in that location. Brought a smile.