More Spike!

I started writing back in my college days, getting frequently published in school newspapers and magazines.  Since then, I’ve been writing on an irregular basis for a wide variety of publications, from the legendary Trouser Press magazine to the South China Morning Post and BC Magazine.

If you’re interested in having me write something for your publication, please contact me at h0ngkiet0wn at gmail d0t c0m (just replace the zeroes with the letter “o”).

Most of my work outside of BC has not appeared on the internet but I’m contemplating scanning some of the pieces and uploading them here.  For now, here are links to all of my columns and articles in BC.

November 16, 2009 (not online) Amazon Kindle
November 1, 2009 (not online) Monty Python
October 15, 2009 (not online) Mark Knopfler, Neil Finn
218cover October 2, 2009 Beatles remasters: “I don’t expect anyone to delete their Asher Roth MP3s or for DJs in Lan Kwai Fong to start playing dance remixes of Eleanor Rigby.”
289cover October 2, 2009 Food review – Star Aquarius: “If you’re cruising on the Star Aquarius, regardless of your luck at the gaming tables, you won’t lose at any of its nine restaurants or bars. Meals at the three buffet restaurants on board (Chinese, Asian and International) are included in the price of your room but they stop serving dinner by 8:30. Fortunately, there are other choices if you’re used to dining later or don’t want to compete with the crowds at the steam tables.”
288cover-1 September 17, 2009 Unemployment: “When people find out that I’m about to be out of work, often the first question they ask is, ‘bc magazine fired you?’ These people, many of them working in the legal or accounting profession, seem to believe that my entire employment up until now has consisted of cranking out 1,000 words twice a month for this esteemed publication.”
287cover September 3, 2009 Ian Hunter, Willy DeVille: “I can’t even begin to imagine the frustrations he must have felt, knowing how hard he worked and how good the results were, to be rewarded with rave reviews and less-than-zero sales. The thing is, no matter what, he never stopped trying, releasing one great album after another, playing as many nights as he could wherever people would turn up to listen.”
blusicman Jimy Graham profile: “‘It’s only one small planet we’re on. We breathe each other’s air. We speak to each other. We make love to each other. We argue, fuck and fight with each other. We are all we have. We all get the blues.'”
285cover August 1, 2009 Compuserve: “On the somewhat more infamous RockNet, I hosted live chats online several times a week. By the early ’90s, I was calling these sessions Dr. Spike: Bad Advice for Bad Lovers. (I’m not saying Dr Phil stole his whole concept from me. But then again, you never know.)”
284cover July 16, 2009 Woodstock: “Even today, there are times I’ll sit around and wonder what might have happened had I gone? Would I have been sitting there miserable in the mud, wet and shivering from the rain, alone in the middle of half a million freaks? Or would I have met some cute, curly haired, braless hippie chick only too happy to share her drugs and perhaps her body with this cute kid who was there all alone? Alas, I’ll never know.”
DSC_0675-1 July 2, 2009 FEATURE:  Uncle Ray and the Beatles: “‘I feel that I’m one of the luckiest DJs in the world because any DJ would give his right arm to interview the Beatles just once,’ he says. ‘I interviewed them three times, all in one week. All in one week! I think nobody can break that.’”
283cover July 2, 2009 Neil Young: “Honestly, I wanted to hate this. I wanted to rant about all this unnecessary extravagance in what should be austere times. But I can’t bring myself to, because Neil Young (or his people) has honestly rethought what a career retrospective boxed set can and should be. On Blu-Ray, it’s a truly immersive experience that no other musical retrospective even comes close to matching.”
282cover June 18, 2009 Illness: “So a few years back when I thought I had the flu, I thought I’d try one of the insurance company’s affiliated medical centers. My doctor had more colors in her hair than Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She spent all of two minutes talking to me before prescribing 8 different kinds of pills and sending me on my merry way.”
281cover June 4, 2009 Criterion DVDs: “So the next time you go to the video store and it seems like everything on display is a variation on the theme of Spiderpants vs Batshit, look for the Criterion section, usually hidden in the rear of the store.”
279cover May 1, 2009 Simon Cowell: “It’s not American Rock Star; the next Bruce Springsteen is not going to be discovered here. It’s about finding someone who looks presentable, can sing somewhat on key (though with Autotune, that’s increasingly irrelevant) and can be packaged for the masses. They’re not looking for the next Lou Reed, they’re looking for the next Lady Gaga.”
278cover April 16, 2009 Leonard Cohen: “What inspired these songs of love, sex, spirituality, carnality, optimism and destruction? Sure, I could solve the mystery by reading a biography or two, but some things are best left unknown and I prefer to bring my own interpretations to his work.”
276cover March 19, 2009 Video piracy: “Studio executives were well aware of what happened to the music business and said in meeting after meeting, ‘We’re not going to let that happen to us.’ But then they never did anything about it so, hello Napster moment!”
275cover March 5, 2009 Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen: “I know that a lot of people have been complaining that Queen of the Supermarket is the worst song Springsteen has ever released. ‘When is the last time Bruce Springsteen went grocery shopping?’ they ask. This misses the point. Springsteen was never a highway patrolman or an Okie choking on dust during the depression but no one complained about that.”
274cover February 12, 2009 John McLaughlin and Chick Corea: “Now let me make it clear, I don’t blame John McLaughlin for my not getting to make out with my date. But he certainly didn’t help.”
273cover February 1, 2009 Smart phones: “In the past year, every mobile phone company and their uncle released ‘the new iPhone killer’. They’ve been about as successful in killing off the iPhone as they were in killing off the iPod. All they’ve offered is a lot of ‘me, too!’ functionality that aped but rarely equalled and never surpassed what the iPhone could do.”
272cover January 15, 2009 Hong Kong drivers: “A recent poll I just made up shows that 37% of drivers think they’re being followed by kidnappers and are trying to lose them, 18% believe that signalling is a sign of weakness for which they will be killed and 83% (I was never too good at math) are arrogant bastards who believe they’re more important than you are.”
271cover January 2, 2009 Blu-Ray DVDs: “For most people in the US, Europe, Japan and other countries, the question is increasingly becoming: Why do I need a 500-disc library when everything is available in the cloud? And if it’s not all in the cloud now, we’re rapidly approaching the point when it will be.”
270cover December 18, 2008 Music industry greed: “Okay, I know most musicians live in self-created bubbles designed to keep them as far away from reality as possible. And factor in greed. I mean, come on, can’t Paul and Ringo and Yoko reach the simple conclusion that they’ve already made billions off the Beatles and just get the damned stuff onto iTunes already?”
269cover December 4, 2008 Music year in review: “Are millions of people going to take to the streets of Beijing singing Chinese Democracy and demanding sweeping political changes? I think it’s more likely that the Interscope label bribed them and that the attack is merely a viral marketing stunt to help push sales of a record that will probably never earn back its massive production costs.”
268cover November 13, 2008 HK local music scene:
267cover November 1, 2008 U.S. election part 2: “The charge that people who live in big cities (and who, recently, tend to vote for Democrats) are somehow less American than those who live in small towns and are somehow less patriotic is a very dangerous one to make.
266cover October 16, 2008 U.S. election part 1: “American politics has devolved to such a low level that we’re probably just weeks away from Taiwan-style fistfights on the floor of Congress. Hardcore ideology and partisanship seems to have replaced hardcore patriotism.”
265cover October 2, 2008 Beatles bootlegs: “Does anyone really need to have 5 different takes of the Beatles’ counting down the intro to Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, the German language version of I Wanna Hold Your Hand?”
264cover September 18, 2008 The Philippines: “But when it’s my turn, I try to live out all my rock ’n’ roll fantasies. So I twirled the microphone like Roger Daltrey. I shook my hips like Elvis. And I sang … well, I sang like a duck that’s just been run over by an 18-wheeler.”
263cover September 4, 2008 B.B. King, Dr. John: “If pressed, I’d have to confess that I’m not the world’s biggest Wynton Marsalis fan. But on this album, for once, it sounds like someone pulled the stick out of Marsalis’s ass.”
08b08-cover-web August 14, 2008 Randy Newman: “Let’s face it, some of our greatest songwriters wouldn’t stand a chance on American Idol. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, hell even Burt Bacharach would never get past Simon Cowell. But for me, a great singer isn’t necessarily someone who sings in tune, it’s someone who understands the lyrics and is using the song to communicate more than just, ‘look at me, I’m wonderful.'”
261cover August 1, 2008 Soul music: “For years, it seemed like the only thing approaching a commercially successful soul record were the bits of excrement being dropped onto an unsuspecting public by Michael Bolton.”
260cover July 17, 2008 Johnny Dowd: “His Wikipedia listing says he’s been compared to a cross between Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart. Others have compared him to Nick Cave or Vic Chestnutt. And one reviewer said that he was ‘Johnny Cash reinvented by Quentin Tarantino’ while another said his music was something you ‘might encounter if the Bates Motel had a lounge.’ How could I resist?”
259cover July 1, 2008 The iPhone (again): “Blame my aging hippie ethics, but I get concerned when someone tries to have this much power, even if the concerns are merely maximizing profit and not attempting some Dr. Evil-style global domination. If I’ve bought the device, shouldn’t I be able to determine how I use it and what provider I use it with?”
258acover June 12, 2008 Web 2.0: “If Microsoft and Yahoo are vulnerable, if MySpace is already yesterday’s news, then everyone is someone else’s midnight snack. It’s the web equivalent of a cowboy movie, there’s always a younger, faster gunslinger coming to town wanting to make his rep by killing Wild Bill.”
257cover June 1, 2008 Radio: “Radio used to be something that brought everyone together but today’s music radio exists as background in your car or office, or something annoying to get you out of bed in the morning, blindly flailing away trying to hit the ‘Off’ switch. Music radio has lost all relevance.”
256cover May 15, 2008 Steve Winwood: “Hong Kong schools probably do not offer classes in the history of rock and roll and most local record shops seem to be poorly stocked when it comes to anything other than Celine Dion or Kenny G. So welcome to Grandpa Spike’s History of Rock and Roll, another in a series of random columns looking back at some seminal artists from music history.”
255cover May 1, 2008 CD reissues: “At my most cynical, I’d say these were invented because the only thing record companies know for sure you like is something you have already bought, so they come up with these ostensibly creative ways to get you to buy the same stuff a second time.”
254cover April 10, 2008 New albums from old bands: “Record companies know really well how to copy each other. When one of them gets a fluke hit with someone new, they all jump on that bandwagon. That wagon has gone from Liverpool to San Francisco searching for the next Beatles, next Dylan and now, the next Amy Winehouse – a fashionably retro singer who hopefully won’t attempt to self-destruct her career by stubbing out cigarettes on her own face.”
253cover April 1, 2008 Living in Sai Kung: “The landlord agreed on a price with me, shook my hand, and then was “too busy” to sign the lease for three weeks, leading to an almost total nervous collapse on my part. I was convinced that I was going to end up with cider in my ear like Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls.”
252cover March 13, 2008 Springsteen: “Hey, Boss, how do you know Hong Kong is not the Promised Land till you bring your band here and prove it all night?”
251cover March 1, 2008 Smoking: “Isn’t it vaguely within the realm of possibility that someday the scientists will announce they were wrong about cigarettes? Well, probably not.”
250cover February 14, 2008 The Oscars: “I plan to enjoy a sip of my favourite beverage every time the director cuts to Jack Nicholson sitting in the audience, eyebrows three inches above the top of his sunglasses; Nicholson being the only human being on the planet who can wear sunglasses at night and not come off looking like a total prat.”
249cover February 1, 2008 RIP HD-DVD: “In a world in which most people are happy enough with the fidelity offered by compressed MP3s or the low resolution images on YouTube, why do they need high definition video?”
248cover January 13, 2008 Romance: “Just think of the worst you could possibly imagine and then multiply it by 10. That was me and, actually, I was quite proud of it. So proud that I detailed my daily badness in a blog that was the recipient of about 30,000 unique visits per month.”
247cover January 3, 2008 Music year in review: “On whatever level of rationality that still exists within me, I do understand that I spend more money on music and movies than any so-called ‘normal’ person. My friends all own their flats while I’ve got the Library of Congress lurking in my second (rented) bedroom.”
246cover December 13, 2007 Rock documentaries: “So he hired a movie director, but in his case got someone whose best work was 20 years ago and today is better known for making cameo appearances on The Sopranos – Peter Bogdanovich. This is not a surprising choice for a man who thinks that working with Stevie Nicks or Jeff Lynne is a classy move.”
245cover December 1, 2007 Jazz: “After that concert, a critic – I can’t remember his name – ran up and said, ‘Miles, every move you’ve made musically, I’ve been there. But I can’t get to where you’re at now.’ Miles looked at him and he said, ‘What the fuck am I supposed to do, muthafuckah, wait for you to get there?’”
244cover November 15, 2007 Travel gadgets: “So after having been stuck in too many long flights where the choices all seemed to be movies with either Ben Stiller or lesser Baldwin brothers, and after having spent too many nights in hotel rooms where the only English language TV was a cricket match or Fox News, rather than blow my brains out, I bought a personal media player.”
243cover November 1, 2007 Shenzhen: “You’re probably wondering why one visit to Shenzhen wasn’t enough for me. Why do I keep going back? Am I merely a masochist or a glutton for punishment? Do I miss the bad old days of New York in the ’70s, when the best way to deter a mugger if you weren’t packing heat was to bark like a dog and soil yourself in front of him?”
242cover October 18, 2007 Scott Walker: “David Bowie, the executive producer of the film, gets it exactly right when he says, ‘I have no idea what he’s singing about, I have no idea. I never bothered to find out and I’m not really interested. I’m quite happy to take the songs that he sings and make something of them myself.'”
241cover October 1, 2007 The iPhone: “By the time this column appears, the Touch will be in stores and, I confess, I’ll have one. I’m just as much a sucker for good marketing as anyone else.”
240cover September 13, 2007 No more record companies: “Someone needs to explain to me why record companies are attacking their customers by releasing CDs with Digital Rights Management software embedded that contains spyware and viruses. And, if every survey shows that people who download the most are also the people who spend the most money on legitimate CD purchases, why are the record companies suing their best customers?”
239cover September 1, 2007 Bored with new music: “After a while your brain fills up and that for every new thing you learn, you have to forget something else to make space. Oh sure, scientists tell us we only use a small percentage of our brain (mostly trying to decide between Hello Kitty and Doraemon tissue box covers). But aren’t these the same scientists who told us the Chinese are actually one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel and that some day Tom Cruise will win an Oscar?”
238cover August 16, 2007 Tattoos: “The second time I asked for luck with money and was given a no-extra-charge bonus – now I cannot be shot or stabbed. My wallet hasn’t magically filled with money overnight and I haven’t won Mark Six, but I’m pretty certain that since getting that tattoo no one has shot or stabbed me so I think it must be working.”
237cover August 2, 2007 A metaphysical bar: “Oddly enough, in between pretending to understand cricket and lighting their farts, men sometimes want to have such conversations. “But wait,” you ask, ‘isn’t that what friends are for?’ No, actually that’s a Burt Bacharach song. Which few men would admit to liking.”
236cover July 19, 2007 Learning Cantonese: “We called the waiter over and, in Cantonese, I asked him for a Coca-Cola, please. His response was to glare at my wife with a look that clearly said, ‘Why are you letting your monkey talk to me?'”
235cover July 1, 2007 HK handover 10th anniversary: “However, in a territory governed by people whose sole qualification for the job is unflagging loyalty to Beijing and a handful of real-estate billionaires operating solely from a principle of short-term self-interest, the solutions presented to us have fallen woefully short of even the most meagre expectations.”
234cover June 14, 2007 Weird food: “Reaching into the bucket, he removed a honeycomb, pulsing with live bees. He said he could fry it up for us, that it would be really nice. We asked for details. Deep fried with garlic, salt and pepper, some spices. And since it wasn’t dog or cat, we told him to go for it.”
233cover June 1, 2007 Dating: “I’ve sat in bars and restaurants telling my life story so many times even I’ve grown bored listening to it. I sometimes feel the temptation to start inventing new incidents in my life, more for my own entertainment than that of my date.”
232cover May 17, 2007 Music festivals: “It’s not so much that I enjoy the thought of camping out for three days in the mud as it is the opportunity to get to see a whole lot of bands that I like at one time. And since they don’t come here, I have to go there.”
231cover May 3, 2007 Cover versions: “Cash took someone else’s song and completely dominated it and made you forget that any other version ever existed. That’s what a cover song should be. That’s why you do someone else’s song. Anything less and you’re Steve and Eydie singing The Candyman in Vegas.”
230cover April 19, 2007 Business travel: “Most Americans don’t know anything about geography. Many of the people I knew thought Hong Kong was in Japan: when I told them I wast moving to Hong Kong, most said, ‘Wow, you must really love sushi.'”
228cover March 15, 2007 Sophomore slump: “You lie in your bedroom dreaming of rock and roll stardom, of audiences screaming out your name, groupies lined up backstage and exotic drugs from the Amazonian jungle while soaking up your influences and writing and rewriting that one great track that’s sure to get you noticed.”
227cover March 1, 2007 Format wars: “the kicker is that the powers that be have decided that we consumers are nostalgic for the VHS/Beta war and want to be confused again by two competing formats.”
226cover February 15, 2007 Fillmore: “The concert was also notable because my friend and I had eighth row centre seats. A cute young blonde-haired girl sitting several rows back asked if she could sit on my lap during the concert. That’s how things were in those days.”
225cover February 1, 2007 Writer’s block: “the deadline looms and my editor sends emails and SMS’s. I’ve tried telling him it would be an artistic, postmodernist expression to run a blank page, not unlike John Cage’s classic musical work 4’33”, which consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Philistine that he is, he remained unconvinced.”
224cover January 18, 2007 Gossip: “perhaps millions of people figured out that Bai Ling’s wardrobe malfunctions were preferable to Bush and Cheney’s truth malfunctions. Perhaps we couldn’t trust Condoleezza Rice to be honest with us about body counts but we knew we could trust Jessica Alba to be honest about her feelings about her body.”
223cover January 4, 2007 The year in music: “I think most often critics are playing a game of one-upmanship with other critics and the readers, a kind of ‘I listen to more music than you do’ contest.”
222cover December 14, 2006 Tom Waits: “Meanwhile, the accompanying music sounded like a group of drunken old men flailing around in a kitchen as a truck crashed through the wall.”
221cover December 1, 2006 Greatest hits: “If you already own all the regular albums or downloaded the hits (legally or otherwise), why would you buy a ‘best of’? No sane person would, so record companies screw with your head by not putting the regular versions of songs you want on them”
220cover November 16, 2006 RSS: “every day I entertain several dozen people around the world who seem to have nothing better to do.”
219cover November 2, 2006 Meat Loaf, Robbie Williams: “Look, I want to like Meat Loaf. I don’t blame him for the fact that I never got to see Rust Never Sleeps because he sat in front of me at the premiere (he really is huge). He’s smart, he’s funny and he works his fat ass off.”
218cover BC 218 Old guys with new records: “The record sounds cheap, as if he gave no thought to the phrasing or arrangements, just booked a studio filled with musicians and ran through the entire thing in two days.”
217cover BC 217 – Current pop: “But I’ve had to face the fact that the older I get, the more alien some of this shit gets.”

BC 216 – Movie choices in Hong Kong: “That sound you hear isn’t just studios sucking the life out of art; it’s the noise of audiences running from movie theatres as fast as they
215cover BC 215 –  Current listening:  “why is it bands that play in Hong Kong bars consistently choose such awful songs to cover? With 50 years of rock, soul, hip hop, pop and country to pick from, why do they all play the same 20 songs?


I did the photos for this ad for AlHambra that’s running in BC Magazine.

AlHambra Ad

I also shot the photos that accompany this food review in BC Magazine.

Star Aquarius Review

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