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Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Feeling sorry for yourself is not the right thing; feeling sorry for everybody else is.

I’m writing this as I fly back from a few days break in the USA. For some reason on airplanes I always get sentimental. I think it’s because you’re alone with no phone or internet and you can think undisturbed. It also reminds one of previous adventures and romance, beginnings or conclusions.

I stopped in LA first for a night before heading to Mexico to surf. I’d never been there before. Warm water and cactus filled desert, we surfed the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific off the coast of Baja.

We partied in Cabo as we watched the LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in an apparently historic game, somewhat lost on my American sporting ignorance, but a long night, drunk with new found Mexican friends, turned into day and an early surf served as the hangover cure.
The town was full of burnt, fat drunk people with bad tattoos.

We moved on along the coast to Todos Santos, much more authentic and stayed at my buddy’s hotel, the Hotel California from the song of the same name. A much more relaxed experience except for the heavier wave. My friend is Brento who, since the last time we met, has a lovely new scar from his chest to his shorts. He was shot through the abdomen in a hold up in Rio. The golden bullet somehow passed straight through him missing every one of his vital organs. It clipped his intenstines so they opened him up and stitched them together. Though for a week he was in intensive care, he recovered 100% and now lives life with the most relaxed and positive outlook. When he was shot he was with my other friend Marco who sadly was shot in the head and died right there in the favela.

Back to LA and a catch up with Giant Robot/Kid Robot to finish up and interview and article written up by our boy Daniel Wu then on to dinner with old friend Amanda and new friend Maggie Q on Sunset Boulevard. Maggie is an actress and activist of sorts, well informed and energetic for her causes and happy to speak her mind. It’s refreshing in a country where so many are PC. Maggie has been in a couple of movies, Die Hard 4 being one of them. She played a villain and Bruce Willis killed her. She tells me she likes it in LA because people are used to seeing movie stars so she doesn’t get hassled. She tells me she hopes to make a documentary about Aung San Suu Kyi.

From there to NYC to walk the streets and soak in the summer heatwave. I stay with Gary Gunn (who did amazing music for much of Hope and glory) near Harlem and have work related meetings and a spontaneous lunch with HK friends. We all head out at night and I meet a ton of people including Eliot who is 25 but looks 40 and is named after the kid from E.T. He acts cool but soon gets drunk on martinis and confesses he’s been following my blog. Not so cool after all….ha.

The next day I lunch with a writer friend, who proudly shows me his unique offices with the friendliest staff of talented art writers. His 20th floor corner office faces onto 3 sides of NYC with spectacular views.
Over lunch we talk about artists and tragedies. He’s a natural mentor and gives me much insight into the US art world and famous artists that he knows. It’s mostly as I expected with heroes and villains, charlatans, womanisers and dilettantes.

From there I check out potential art spaces and then do the rounds of NYC tourist stuff, The New Museum, PS1, Chelsea art galleries. I see a lot of ready-made/found object art. Piles of rocks or string, or plastic bottles, or a film of a ball bouncing endlessly.

It reminds me of Cattelan, he makes this kind of ready made/found object art too but his work is actually funny and he’s been doing it a long time and he doesn’t pretend that it makes him an artist. Unless he’s pretending that too as part of the joke.

On the flight home I watch The Lovely Bones, surprisingly directed by Peter Jackson. It upsets me and gives me hope at the same time. It’s a good film. It’s shot like a fairytale but it’s a story about horror.
I watch a documentary about America after WW2, how President Truman did a pretty good job, how he lived up to his word in Korea, the battle only tainted by McArthur’s ambitions. Now Obama fights in Afghanistan but it’s such a world a way from the clear cut, idealistic momentum of the world war 65 years ago and the battles that followed until Vietnam.

A day in Hong Kong in the pouring rain and I’m off again. This time to the Maldives to spend a week on a boat for a pure surf trip. I’ve been here a few times before. It’s an incredibly pristine collection of islands and atolls with some of the richest sea-life I’ve ever seen. Pods of dolphins, large turtles are everywhere and huge blue fish follow under my feet as I race along the wave. The waves are huge, between 4 and 6ft. This measurement is not accurate as 4tf means it’s overhead when you’re on the face of the wave and double your head height at 6ft.

I’m tired, trying to recover from the jetlag but also from the last 6 months of sleepless nights that came with the job of building Hope and Glory.
I dream much but when I’m awake I think about painting.

Back in HK there's much to do. Many overdue commissioned works, tying up the loose ends of Hope and Glory (endless paperwork!!), the book launch, music video production, preparing for London and Tokyo shows, planning and scheming. But the main thing is to get some painting done for myself. Nice and direct.

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