Having grown up on the golden era of hip-hop and having a love of breaks in general I knew The Mohawks, in particular their late sixties track The Champ as a break from the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Shadow and just about anybody who was of note during that time. Even jazz legend Miles Davis sampled it for Fantasy on the Doo Boop album. It was up there with The Winstons Amen Brother, James Brown’s The Funky Drummer and Lynn Collins Think in terms of the impact it had on sampling.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that The Mohawks were a band of British session musicians. There are some interesting comments in the interview:
The musicians had made no money from the sampling of the tracks (I guess its likely that the record labels and publishing companies keep royalties received to themselves)
As session musicians, the tracks were created on an industrial scale going from session-to-session churning out recordings
The Champ was recorded in one take which is unusual for a studio recording
There is a nice circular reference in that The Champ references Otis Redding’s Tramp
Their discussion on how technological change has affected music creation over the past four decades
The video is on YouTube so may not be visible to all readers.
Just before lunar new year an incident happened on Hong Kong’s MTR mass transit system between a group of ‘mainlanders’ and Hong Kong natives.
There are a number of points at which friction occurs between the two societies.
The modern city of Hong Kong has largely been built on the rule of law. It has the second largest police force in the world in term of number of police per member of the population. The ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) cleaned up Hong Kong bureaucracy for the past four decades to a standard that surpasses countries like the UK and the US.
Hong Kong runs on rules that are designed to keep things civil but without the rigidity of say Singapore. China is a bit different. It has gone through enormous wrenching changes over the past three decades and societal norms and customs have struggled to keep pace. Wider altruism that was fostered during Mao’s era is frowned upon and there are legal implications around being a good samaritan that are an unintended consequence of Chinese case law. That doesn’t mean to say that the civic society doesn’t exist, but that it exists in a more laissez-faire environment which can be good in terms of less barriers and more experimental approaches to social problems.
As a Chinese friend once told me:
In the UK you can largely say what you like, in China you can largely do what you like
This is a foundation for some of the very different world views. Then there are specific points at which friction arises, some of which is similar to the kind of inter-territory rivalry you see between London and other UK cities, or different counties in Ireland:
Perceived levels of sophistication and urbane living versus ignorance, a lack of taste and poor manners
Perceived focus on money and consumerism over everything else in life
Culture or the lack of it (language and food being the main fault lines)
Some of which is legitimate, to name two:
Mainland Chinese desperate to ensure their kids have a Hong Kong identity using underhand techniques to have their children born in Hong Kong. One can understand the desire to do the best for one’s child, but I can also see the Hong Kong side to this as well. In addition, all of this running around cloak-and-dagger style adds additional risk and stress – which can’t be good for mother or child?
Over exploitation of Mainland tourists being forced to shop in certain stores and spend money. This is partly due the subsidised business model that tour operators used to get mainland Chinese to go on shopping trips to Hong Kong. The subsidy came from ensuring that they purchased from certain Hong Kong shops. It is similar in nature to the cheap or free holidays offered to sell timeshare properties in Spain and Portugal – immoral but the rational consumer would realise what they were likely to be stepping into
Here is the video on Tudou without English subtitles:
In a couple of hours Barack Obama goes out live on television across the US to give his State of The Union speech were he sets out what his agenda is for the next 12 months. This one is key because it is his opening salvo in the forthcoming presidential election.
The Obama campaign put out a training video on YouTube explaining how to run a State of The Union watching party, where people host a group in their own home, debate what they would like to see in the speech and then watch it together. As an outsider I found certain aspects of it fascinating:
The whole concept of a meet-up in my house for a political event was something I found a bit uncomfortable, but it seems to be part of American culture
The amount of software the campaign uses to support these events and harvest prospective voter contact details out of them
The primary goal seemed to be to garner contact details for email and SMS purposes – a prospective voter acquisition strategy
It was also a learning organisation; looking to get lessons learned from the sessions on how they could go better in the future
They made a point of de-emphasising social media as a tool to garner invitations and encouraged people to reach out in person or on the phone instead – which I thought was interesting. Social media was a channel, but not the primary one