At the back of the hill

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018


The elderly gentleman from the Sunset District did not speak one word of Shanghainese, despite an ancestral element from that city, of which he was very proud. But he asserted that he was Cantonese ('Gwontung yan'), and throughout our conversation utilized Yuetwaa, Mandarin, and English, with near-equal degrees of unintelligibility. Not that he wasn't fluent, but it was loud there, and he had partaken of both alcohol and tokes from the giant glass pipe being passed around in memory of someone we had known.
Several of the people there were no longer capable of making sense.
Our departed friend had been a monumental fan of weed.

I abstain totally from the green garbage.

Pot is one of my pet peeves.
Can't stand the stuff.
Or its odour.

Craziness is often reflected in the eyes, and the old Cantonese fellow had two remarkably luminescent orbs, that while identical in goggletude differed in focus and twitch. Both followed you around the room, and if you weren't careful you'd find yourself discussing Shanghainese barbers near a platter of pita and hummus with him, or garlic crabs in Aberdeen. Plus death, and existential dread. The high residential complexes that have taken over in several areas, like Diamond Hill or Apleichau, the shiny new airport at Cheklapkok. And the high speed connection to Shenzen and the Pearl River Delta. Plus the herbal medicines that kungfu fighters prefer.

Having endured several hours at work hearing conspiracy theories and ridiculous assertions from rightwingers -- shan't even mention the antics of the King Monkey, whose insane rantings inspire screaming fits -- it may not have been quite wise of me to go directly to a memorial at a bar for someone skilled in bringing on the batshit at all times.
It was a good celebration of his life, though.
He was a great guy.


A few hours later I was watching a silver haired Japanese dude teaching a drunken hipster how to sumo wrestle. Stomp one foot. Stomp another. Hurk. Bellow, snort, lumber forward at your opponent, and crash into each other. Neither individual was sober, none of the Chinese gentleman watching and smoking cigarettes were either, and I found out that Michael had been passing out Marijuana candies before the Bookseller and I arrived. The bookseller was still inside, listening to Country Roads from the karaoke, while I had gone outside to smoke a cigarillo and watch the athletes.
Apparently quite a lot of Marijuana candy had been consumed.
Michael showed me the nearly empty tin.
Yeah, no, I'll pass.

Of the Chinese who were there, Jenny was the only one still sane, which did not surprise me at all, as she is always far calmer and more rational than the clientele. The aged Japanese fellow was obsessive and intense, his younger handlers very distressed and drunk. Except for the Bookseller and myself, the Caucasian customers were blithering too.

At that karaoke bar, Jenny and the dapper middle-aged titty-groping chap sing very well (in Mandarin). Michael, Feichai, and the self-proclaimed "most dangerous man in Chinatown" (a stoner) don't sing (Cantonese, and thank heavens), and white visitors often sing badly (in English).
Neither the Bookseller nor I sing at all. Ever.
Which is probably a good thing.

I think the bookseller secretly likes karaoke.
Country Roads is a splendid song.
Such good taste.

Crashed at three thirty A.M. It had been a very long day. Because the boss is out of town I worked on a day off. I had been up for well over twenty hours, and I had stopped functioning rationally.

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