Hong Kong: Shopping – Top 7 tips and places

Three pairs of new shoes, two old, including one pair that couldn't be replaced on account of massive feet.

Three pairs of new shoes, two old, including one pair that couldn’t be replaced on account of massive feet.

Hong Kong is renowned as a shopping destination, and has everything from the highs of high fashion to the cheapest of outdoor markets. It has midrange shopping malls filled with more H&M, Zara and Uniqlo stores than you’ll find in any of Australia’s major cities. You don’t need my help to find those, or the major markets (any guide book will take you to the Temple Street Night Markets or Jardine’s Bazaar), so here’s a few things you might either overlook, or need to know when you’re there:

1)      Buy your pants at Bossini/Giordano/U2/G2000 on the first day that you get there.

This is what a Bossini store looks like. Find one early in your trip.

This is what a Bossini store looks like. Find one early in your trip.

Although some stores, like Giordano, have made their way overseas, the thing about the Hong Kong midrange clothing chain stores is that they all will tailor your pants to suit your leg length for free. They’ll usually take about 4 days, but if you’re in a rush, they can sometimes do it faster. Still, go in and get your trousers done early. And if you have the choice between going to one of these places, Zara or H&M, shop here. You’ll mostly be getting basics, but it’s a great place to stock up.

2)      Most of the good places don’t open until noon—at the earliest.

A lot of the following places don’t open until noon at the earliest. Many of them are best to visit after 3PM. So if you’re going to pack the most into your day, I suggest doing something touristy in the morning, and going shopping in the afternoon. Or you could just sleep in until lunchtime and start your day later. Your call really.

3)      Place: Causeway Place, 2-10 Great George Street, Causeway Bay – Urban Fashion

The best place for men's Urban Fashion in Hong Kong--according to Matthew.

Crazy Fashion in Causeway Place: The best place for men’s Urban Fashion in Hong Kong–according to Matthew.

Causeway Place is two stories of funky local fashion toys and bric-a-brac for men and women. It’s largely for the locals, but you can often get by with English. Causeway place is one of the most easily accessible places where you’ll find trendy urban street fashion that’s years ahead of the west at a lower price than you’d pay for something more generic in Chadstone. For men, I particularly recommend visiting Crazy Fashion, which now has three stores on the second level. Not only can you pick up some great pieces for about AUD $50 each. I’ve been visiting this place for about 7 years, and it’s been around for 8 or so, and it has everything from printed t-shirts to assymetrical tops to subtly two toned pants. Also, the designer, Keith, ensures that there are sizes available for Caucasian men too, as he sells to the US market as well. If you’d like a preview, you can find Crazy fashion on Facebook, or shop at the online store in the US. If you want to bring Crazy Fashion into Australia, Keith is looking for a distributer here, so by all means get in touch with him about it.

Most stores here open after noon, but for best results, don’t bother showing up until at least 3PM.

4)      Place: Oriental 188, 188 Wan Chai Street, Wan Chai – Urban Fashion and electronics

188 is a little tricky to get to, but you can either catch a bus, or walk from the Wan Chai or Causeway Bay MTR Stations. It’s a place I discovered late in my recent trip, but it’ll be high on the list next time around. 188 sells a mix of video games, fashion, consumer electronics, anime and collectable figurines. You’ll find some funky duds that aren’t available in some of the other malls, and the staff speak enough English that you shouldn’t have any problems. If you’re staying on Hong Kong Island and are after video games, come here. If you’re on the north side, you’re probably better off going to Golden Computer Arcade in Sham Shui Po.

5)      Place: Wan Chai Computer Centre, 130-138 Hennessy Rd – Computer hardware, desktops, laptops and tablets

If you’re looking for a new computer, you’ll probably find it cheaper in Hong Kong. Let’s face it, most of the components that go into the computer are made in China and Hong Kong is much closer to China than you probably are. While you’ll find software and peripherals anywhere, this is still the place to go for the computer itself, and they’re used to tourists coming through to shop. I recommend knowing exactly what you want before you go (down to the processor core, RAM and model number if you’re buying a laptop or tablet), and don’t forget to ask for the best price—in several stores if need be. You can easily walk away with a deep discount on your local retail price if you know how much you’d pay back home.

The first shops will open at 10AM. For best results, come after 11AM. 12 noon is better.

6)      Place: Trendy Zone, Chow Tai Fook Centre, 580A-580F Nathan Rd – Urban Fashion

Not as good as Causeway Place or 188 in my opinion, but this is probably the place the go on the north side of the harbour. It’s a bit more mass produced, so expect to find a number of stores with the same clothes—or the same clothes that you might see in other malls in the area. You’ll probably find it a little easier getting through this place than some of the other malls though. They probably won’t look on in shock if you walk in here with a white person (or two in my case).

7)      Fa Yuen Street, Yau Ma Tei

Sneaker Street

Also known as ‘Sneaker Street’, this is the place to go to for brand new shoe designs at outlet prices—expect to pay up to AUD $90 (HKD $600) on the newer models. You’ll find store after store after store here selling Nikes, Adidas, Converse as well as the occasional Puma, Lacoste and other big brands. You’ll occasionally find a few one off shops here, but expect the price to double for more unique brands. Shoe sizes on Fa Yuen street top out around European foot size 45 for men, which is UK 10.5 or US 11, so if you’re a man who needs big shoes, you’re probably going to have to shop in the US, or online. Sorry ladies, but not having travelled with a woman with extremely large feet I can’t help you with your top sizes. I can tell you they don’t make ladies shoes in the double digit ranges (for US and UK), but that’s only because one of my male friends really wanted a couple of women’s shoe designs that they just didn’t have in his size.

Most shops on Fa Yuen street don’t open until at least 10AM. For best results, come around 4 PM.

And…that’s it. That’s pretty much my top tips for a Hong Kong holiday. Hope it helps if you’re planning a visit anytime soon.

Hong Kong: Food – Top 3

Everyone who knows me, knows that food is a giant part of my life. It’s the main reason I won’t be on the cover of men’s health anytime soon, but you know, I can live with that. Hong Kong has a rich culinary history, starting with the local Cantonese cuisine, the food brought in by the British, to the food of the Imperial Chinese cooks who fled the Boxer Rebellion in the 1920s. While the Michelin guide hasn’t come to Australia (we have Chefs Hats anyway), it has gone to Asia, and the most amazing thing I found is that some of the places I liked going were Michelin starred restaurants. And I simply went there for great food at under AUD $20 a head. So here are the top three places you really should visit when you’re in Hong Kong if you want some amazing food.

1)      Tim Ho Wan – Central, IFC Mall.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns Pineapple Bun style. Probably the most outstanding dish on the menu. Or the only outstanding dish on the menu according to some.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns Pineapple Bun style. Probably the most outstanding dish on the menu. Or the only outstanding dish on the menu according to some. Photo by Daniel Ang. I was too busy eating to take one. Whoops!

Tim Ho Wan is a place I first visited when it was a tiny hole in the wall in Yau Ma Tei on the mainland side of Kowloon. I think the official opening hours were somewhere around the 11 AM to 2PM and then 5PM to 10PM mark if what I read on the shop front was any indication. The gaggle of desperate people around the front suggested otherwise. Also the fact that we rocked up at one and were told we could be waiting two hours for a table. We got in about 45 minutes later, but that more or less set the scene for this Michelin starred dim sum restaurant. When you approach to get a table you’re handed a menu (English or Chinese) with a number scribbled down on it and you choose what food you want to order and in what quantity—personally I highly recommend the baked pork buns. If you’ve ever had a chicken pie at a good yum cha with its pastry soft, short and crumbling with that hint of a sugar crunch before biting into the creamy pie filling, it’s a bit like that, only with the sweet, sticky succulence of amazing BBQ pork on the inside. The restaurant has become a bit of a chain with a number of outlets, but the easiest to find is the one in Central, IFC mall. It’s where you go to access the in town check in for your flight out. There was still a forty minute wait for a table when I rocked up on Sunday, and we still sat at communal tables as the staff tried to squeeze everyone in. And the food still arrived piping hot and tasty about five minutes after we sat down. That’s what I call a la minute cooking. Expect to spend about $100 HKD per head if that, or approximately AUD $12-$15.

2)      Dim Dim Sum, G/F, 7 Tin Lok Lane

Another Dim Sum chain restaurant, Kris, Jared and I stumbled upon Dim Dim Sum after looking for something close to our hotel on TripAdvisor (they have an app—download it before you go). Apparently there’s one on the mainland side in Mong Kok, but the Wan Chai branch was a place I ended up going to twice, and the boys went a third time without me while I was catching up with family friends.

Rated in 2011 as one of Newsweek’s top 101 places to eat in the world, DimDim Sum certainly lives up to the hype. As something of a tourist magnet, the staff are trilingual and there are menus in English. They operate much on the same principle as Tim Ho Ran—they hand you order forms and pencils and you indicate a quantity of what you want to eat—but are a bit less popular, although I’m not sure why. DimDim Sum are a bit more adventurous with their food, and you’ll find Xiao Long Bao with black truffle (Xiao Long Bao are the round dumplings that have hot soup inside of them in addition to the meaty filling) and piggy custard buns, which are awesome, but in my experience the custard inside tends to split when steamed, so I highly recommend the rice noodle rolls, or Cheung Fan, which is sheets of rice noodle wrapped around a filling of pork, beef, prawn or something similar and then steamed. It’s one of my favourites and it’s gluten free, so good for celiacs like Jared. Also get a plate of their stuffed peppers. And by pepper I mean big green chilli.

3)      Seafood on Cheung Chau Island

I never thought I'd ever see these on the menu anywhere. But they're very tasty. Even if tourists need scissors to open them up.

I never thought I’d ever see these on the menu anywhere. But they’re very tasty. Even if tourists need scissors to open them up.

Hong Kong is famous for its seafood. And everyone knows that when you go to Hong Kong, you go to Lamma Island for a seafood meal. Only if you really want to go for a good seafood meal, you bypass the tourist trap that is Lamma Island, and hop on the ferry to Cheung Chau. Get the Mantis shrimp–you know, the creature that strikes with the force of a .22 calibre bullet when it attacks and can break aquariums. Actually, the frequently do. They taste like big, very sweet and juicy shrimp, and I highly recommend them. There are two ferries that go to Cheung Chau, a cheaper ‘slow’ ferry with seats open to the possibly humid air and a deluxe area up top with tables and air conditioning, and a fast ferry with air conditioned seating and no tables. I’d suggest going with whatever is leaving next, as they’re not as frequent as the trains, but if you catch the slow ferry, pay a bit more for the deluxe seating and bring a travel game. Cards against Humanity is my pick, but that’s just me.

Travels in Hong Kong: Top 7 Travel Tips

Hong Kong Skyline

Taken from Wikipedia. As you can see by the story, I’m not really one for photos.

Hong Kong is for three things: Fashion, Food and Fun. If you want to have four Fs, you could very easily add Friends to the list as well. I used to live in Hong Kong when I was younger. My dad got a job there in 1994, three years before the territory returned to China, and I spent all of my high school years there. In the process I gained permanent residency there, and to keep it I have to go back every three years. This year, two of my friends, Kris and Jared, came with me, and well, we spent a week blowing our budgets on really good food, clothes, shoes, Monster Hunter action figures, and the theme parks. Well, okay, one theme park and Disneyland.

Of course, you don’t care about any of that, so if you don’t want to read the rest of my ramblings and just get the travel goodies, feel free to jump straight to the food, shopping, or travel tips posts.

Hong Kong, for me, has always been this vibrant place that’s sort of home, but sort of not. I grew up on the south end of the island, because my mother refused to live in a high rise apartment, and spent my days playing computer games, Warhammer (Fantasy and Elves for preference), and role playing with a select bunch of geeks. It isn’t really until I left, grew up a bit, and went back that I felt comfortable enough to seek out the things I missed while I was there—the tiny shopping malls with the best of Hong Kong’s urban fashion. The best places to get electronics because Australia was so much more expensive—something I didn’t realize at the time. Where was the best food, given that my teenage palate was more inclined towards burgers and steak than the joy that is Michelin starred dim sum at outrageously affordable prices. So without further ado, please check out my top tips for an amazing holiday in Hong Kong.

1)      Decide what you want to do.

Cards Against Humanity makes a great travel game for things like ferries and planes. But that's probably not all you want to do on holiday, right?

Cards Against Humanity makes a great travel game for things like ferries and planes. But that’s probably not all you want to do on holiday, right?

It seems silly, but the basic fact of the matter is that there’s far too much to do in Hong Kong, and unless you’re planning on staying there for a few months, you’re not going to have time to do it all. So work out what you want to do, bearing in mind that if you go in the hot season you’ll be sweating buckets and if you’re there in the wet season you’ll be facing days of rain. I also recommend allowing for a rest day or two. You’re going to need it. To be honest, draw up a list of things to do and then use it as a reference of things you might do, and then look out the window to see what you should be doing on any given day, weather permitting. Just don’t expect to do things all at once.

2)      Exploit your local friends.

If you’re lucky enough to know someone from Hong Kong—preferably someone who lives there—ask them where all the cool places are. All the things that I know here are pretty much things that I learned from my local friends—some are still valid now three, six or more years since I first discovered them, others have gone away, sadly, but I won’t tell you about those. I do recommend checking to see if the places I talk about are still there, and I apologise in advance if they’re not. Things change quickly in Hong Kong. So if you do know someone who lives there—talk to them. Also, if you can convince them to hang out with you moderately incessantly, they’re also very handy when it comes to language and bartering. Some of the places my friends directed me to are very much off the tourist trail and sometimes the shopkeepers won’t speak English. I speak English amazingly well, have very bad Mandarin that wouldn’t get me out of primary school, and even worse Cantonese. It gets better when I’m there, but if there’s someone there who knows the language fluently, you’ll not only find places you wouldn’t or couldn’t go to, but you’ll also have someone fun to chat to while you’re there. I’ve been trying to talk my friend Amy into starting a travel business where she charges, oh I don’t know, HKD $2000 a day to take people around. Trust me, that’s a bargain. Kris, Jared and I simply bought her lots of food and refused to let her pay for anything.

3)      Set a budget and expect to go over it.

This is possibly a bit counter intuitive, but after you work out point 1: i.e. what you want to do, work out how much you want to spend on what you want to do. If you’re going to buy a computer, work out what it costs locally and how much you’re willing to spend in Hong Kong. If you’re shopping for clothes, work out what you want to buy and how much you have to spend in total. Ditto for food. Hong Kong has everything from the ultra-high end to the ultra-low end, but the best bargains for me are finding the one off pieces you’re not going to get back home that everyone’s going to want but can’t get—or find—and getting them at a fraction of the designer good prices you’d normally expect to pay. Now unless you’re extremely rich—and in which case, why are you reading this—you can’t afford everything. But trust me when I say you’re going to eat up your budget, find something amazing, and think ‘I’m not back here for a very long time—if at all—so I want to buy this now’. So put some money aside for those situations. You’ll be glad you did and not hate yourself when you get back. I pre-loaded some money onto a prepaid MasterCard (Qantas Cash—frequent flyer card with real world applications, awesome). This let me lock in an exchange rate, but it also meant that I didn’t have to worry about my budget until I’d used up the money I’d pre-loaded onto the card.

4)      Take some friends with you

Jared Kris, Matt and Amy (plus some randoms) on Cheung Chau Beach. If you're willing to pay top dollar for a personal trip around HK, get in touch and I can try to persuade Amy to take you around.

Jared Kris, Matt and Amy (plus some randoms) on Cheung Chau Beach. If you’re willing to pay top dollar for a personal trip around HK, get in touch and I can try to persuade Amy to take you around.

I know some people love travelling alone, but I love travelling with friends. I suggest more than two people, as it gives you someone extra to bounce off complain to and share giggles with. Going with friends also mean you’ll have people to hold bags when someone wants to go to the bathroom, change into a million clothes, and dance crazy with you when you do go check out the nightclubs. Or enjoy the thrills of a rollercoaster with. And if one of you needs to bail because—for example—the music is shithouse, the other two of you can keep going. I took two good friends with me, and a week in Hong Kong felt like somewhere between two weeks and a month after all we’d been through. Of course, on the way home it felt like a week, but then, that’s the best kind of holiday, isn’t it?

5)      Get an Octopus card and learn how to use it.

If you’re in Australia, like me, and struggling with the clunkiness that is Myki in Victoria (I haven’t used Sydney’s smart card, so I don’t know how good it is/is going to be), you will love the Hong Kong Octopus card. Modelled—I think—on London’s Oyster card, the Octopus is another mollusc with its tentacles everywhere in everyday Hong Kong life. Once you’ve used it and the Hong Kong train system (Mass Transit Railway, or MTR), you’ll also understand why I was so confused by Australia’s train time tables. Time table? What’s this time table? Don’t trains just run every five minutes? What do you mean no?

The Octopus card is your public transport, convenience store and some fast food purchase key. You buy a card (Adult cards cost about HKD $50, or less than AUD $10), and add money to it—I probably used about HKD$400 or $500 on the trip, but that includes two trips on the airport express and some rather pricey deluxe ferry fares. You then touch the smartcard reader at the MTR station to get on or off, or on the bus meter when you get on, or on the tram meter when you get off. You’re charged on trains based on the distance you travel, and on buses on the distance to the final destination. Trams charge a flat fair. The great thing about the Octopus card is that when it rolled out (and I was in school), it worked seamlessly on the train and bus system. It was then introduced on the minibus system and while you could top up at places like 7-11 and Circle K, convenience store owners soon realised that people could pay on their Octopus cards, and started using it like a debit card. You can now use it in a range of fast food places and convenience stores, and more importantly it gets you onto the Airport express, a 20 minute trip on a high speed train from Central, the heart of Hong Kong Island’s CBD, to the airport. Again, that’s slightly over $10 for a trip to the fricking airport, plus the ability to check your bags in at Central on most airlines. If you’re on a select few (Qantas being one of them), you can check your bags in up to 48 hours in advance, which would probably only be useful if you carry your toiletries and a few changes of clothing in your carry on. Given the restrictions on liquids on international travel, that might not be practical, but it’s kinda cool. If you’re like me and book a late flight out it does mean that you can check your bags and enjoy the afternoon without lugging a suitcase around though, so I highly recommend using it. And Melbourne, wake up and get that airport link done.

6)      Check your bills

One of things the locals will do when shopping or dining is checking the bill/receipt. This makes sure that you’re charged for only what you ordered/ate or intended to buy, and could be important if you discover you need to swap a purchase over. Now depending on how long you’re in town for, the latter may not be a big deal, but it’s worth not getting ripped off. Granted, it never happened to me while I was there, but it is socially acceptable to take your time and check your bill before paying for a meal, or your receipt before leaving a shop when shopping.

7)      Go to Ocean Park

Ocean Park--again taken from Wikipedia. There's no way I'd be able to get a photo from this vantage point without a crane...

Ocean Park–again taken from Wikipedia. There’s no way I’d be able to get a photo from this vantage point without a crane…

If you only have time to go to one theme park in Hong Kong, forget Disneyland, and go to Ocean Park. It’s an amazing mix of conservation, rides and exhibits, and it’s much less fake than Disneyland (where the animals are plastic and Tarzan’s waterfall smells noticeably chlorinated). If you go on a weekday, you’ll also be able to avoid waiting more than 20 minutes for a ride, if indeed, there’s any wait at all. Just watch out for mainland Chinese people trying to cut in front of you in the big lines (like to the big aquarium), taking flash photography of the animals despite the ‘no flash photography’ signs, and if you’re tall and white, they just may decide that you’re a tourist attraction and all take photos with you for no apparent reason. It’s probably the closest a white guy will get to understanding racial tokenism, so enjoy it if that happens (as it did to my friend Kris).

 

Tony Abbott Responds to Climate Change Warnings

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Today, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report as experts point out that climate change has the potential to wipe out humanity. Prime Minister Abbott responded with a new slogan “Who fucking cares?”, he was later overheard saying that the people most impacted by climate change were Labor and Green voters anyway.

When a particularly persistent journalist asked if National Party voters had any reason to be concerned, the Prime Minister replied that Australia was a land of droughts and flooding rains and would continue to be so. Political commentators have also mentioned that pandering to the National Party could suggest that the Liberal Party was incapable of obtaining a mandate for its policies by itself and needed to form a coalition with a minor party in order to get elected.

Mr Abbott later reiterated that he was focused on implementing this big policies, including funding maternity leave for rich executives by cutting welfare to single mothers and bailing out mining companies with proceeds from cutting the carbon tax. When asked how reduced funding from the removal of the emissions trading system would allow him to prop up wealthy mining companies Mr Abbott nodded his head for five minutes and then told the journalist he’d received the answer ‘he deserved’.

Yes, this is a work of satire. — Matthew Lang

 

Queermance 2014

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Giving Birthg – The Art of Getting Published at Queermance 2014. From Left: Alison Mann (Silver Publishing/Rooster and Pig), Jacob Coates (Jaffa Books), Lindy Cameron (Clan Destine Press), and host Nicholas G Frank

So I’ve been neglecting my little website since November (sorry everyone), but I’ve been doing it for a very good reason – I hope. I’ve taken on the task of Festival Director for Queermance 2014, which is the first of hopefully an ongoing series of events celebrating Queer fiction and Queer Romance. We’re up and running this weekend, and I’m writing this from the back of the room actually. There’s been a fantastic turnout for the conference so far and we’ve already launched our Anthology, including my second footnoted Lex story, called Inheritance. The Anthology is available for gold coin donation for the next two days at our evening Queermance events, and you find can find our full program at the Queermance website. I personally recommend coming along to the Sunday Night Queerbaret, and we also have a sex toy workshop running which I highly recommend.

NaNoWriMo – Rebel Scorecard 2013

It’s just about that time of year where we lock Matthew in the basement and make him subsist on a diet of grilled cheese sandwiches and black coffee while churning out 50,000 words (it’s okay, we have paramedics on standby). Although he did announce plans to write interactive fiction, he now looks set to start work on a sequel to Dragonslayer, the book he’s currently pitching to a number of different publishing houses.

We are, of course, busy trying to get video footage from OzmmMeet 2013 up on youtube, so you can all see what happened, and we’re still a few videos away, but you can view the current uploads here, and we’ll add more throughout November as soon as our ancient machine finishes rendering the video. We’ll also embed a few here throughout the month for everyone who’s as lazy as us.

Matthew’s also updated his rebel scorecard for NaNoWriMo, although we understand the changes consisted of replacing “2012″ with “2013″. We think you could have done that yourself, but it’s here for the downloading if you like. You can also use it as a normal scorecard, but it’s here for rebels like Matthew–he’s already started writing Moonchild, which is against the NaNoWriMo guidelines, but he wouldn’t listen when we said the muses wouldn’t be impressed. He muttered something about his muse being wonderful, understanding and hot, but didn’t elaborate further.

More on that as it develops, hopefully.

Download the NaNoWrimo 2013 Rebel scorecard here

 

New Bookshop Display!

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So it looks like The Bookshop in Darlinghurst has a new window display for OzmmMeet–and I’m in there. Woo!

Don’t forget, you can still register for OzmmMeet and get that 15% discount!

OzmmMeet — an Industry Gathering

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Matthew will be attending AQRM’s OzmmMeet 2013. That’s a lot of letters, but it’s basically a get together for authors, aspiring authors and readers interested in the writing process to hang out, chat and discuss all things writing and the future of the M/M Romance Genre–or even if M/M Romance is actually the correct genre to describe the writing we do, read and love.

Registration costs $100 for the three day weekend, and includes all panels, and discounts at The Bookshop to the tune of 15% on all full priced books and 20% off all full priced DVDs. Stock in the upstairs saleroom or on the AQRM sale table will also be discounted by a further 20% when you show your conference ID. Currently panels will include discussions on what goes into a book published in the M/M fiction genre, publishing and editing discussions and marketing tips. There will also be a sex toy workshop, featuring an appearance by Dick Savvy (Mr Sydney Leather 2012). Other conference attendees include author Isabelle Rowan, Silver Publishing Editor Alison Mann and SX Columnist Barry Lowe.

There is also a free party at the Midnight Shift open to the public on Saturday the 12th of October:

Where: The Midnight Shift, 85-91 Oxford Street‚ Darlinghurst, Sydney When: Saturday 12th October, 6:30 PM Cost: Free

For more information, join AQRM on Facebook to find out about future meets.

Matt’s Back–and Reading from The Way You Are

The Way You Are Cover

Matthew would like to apologise for the lack of updates here at Matthew-Lang.com, it’s been a rather stressful time over here–Matt’s been struck down with Bronchitis and then moved house. When we say moved, we mean bought and renovated, so it’s been a while since he’s managed to anything except get well and stress about moving.

In the interim he’s been around the web, and we hope to bring you some of his guest posts and appearances shortly — for you you can check out a reading of his novella The Way You Are, which he recorded at a creative type meet up in Melbourne and keep and eye out for more updates from the man himself.

We’ve also received a positive reply from Joy FM regarding his complaint to them, although he says he’s lost the email during a computer upgrade. He did however, tell us that the issue was caused by an unfortunate juxtaposition where a guest host was talking with a guest DJ who wanted to leverage the song to talk about issues with 457 visas in Australia. Joy policy is to stay out of politics and the guest host quickly shut down that avenue of talk, but that left the juxtaposition open to the obvious (and unfortunate) interpretation. Both guest DJ and guest host have since undergone additional media training.

Matt also advises he’s once again happy to listen to Joy and will likely look at renewing his membership once he gets his tax return back this year.

An Open Letter to Joy 94.9

JoyFM

To: feedback@joy.org.au

Subject: Racist Music Choices

Dear Joy FM

Sometime between 3 an 4 PM today, Alex and Andy Mac put on a track that was a country style piece “About the 457 Visas” that are currently in use. I believe it was called something like “Aliens among us”. It essentially glorified segregation and suggested the best way to deal with the situation was to kill the aliens, who were depicted as having non Anglo Saxon features.

Given the explanation of the purpose of the song, I find it hard to believe Joy allowed the song to be aired and given the complete lack of tongue in cheek sarcasm or humour, it’s very difficult to interpret the song as anything beyond racist. I fully appreciate the 457 visas are a contentious issue. I agree there appear to be loopholes and perhaps people should do more to stand up to the mining magnates and ensure the government doesn’t bow to their lobbying. Vilifying the individuals entering the country on such a visa is neither helpful nor an action taken by members of society accepting and supporting diversity, and it is saddening that such an action was taken by radio presenters on Joy FM today.

While I’m sure further parallels could easily be drawn between the attitudes expressed in the song with the still racist attitudes expressed by a portion of the queer community, I doubt there was that much thought put into the song choice. I would like to think that the entire incident stemmed from a lack of thought, rather than malice, but even in that best case scenario, one would have to question if there is an element of unconscious racism in such a choice, the same way that the queer community still struggles against unconscious homophobia.

I don’t have much to say other than that I am deeply disappointed by the song choices on air today, and I have to admit I do feel a little betrayed by a radio station that has been founded upon the idea of inclusivity and being a voice for a marginalised minority group. I also know that this one program is not the entire station, but I cannot with good conscious continue to support Joy FM if music that vilifies and stereotypes another group to the extent of advocating their deaths is allowed to be played on air.

Warm Regards

Matthew Lang

NB: Andy Mac and Alex’s program is Three Chords and the Truth, broadcast on Sunday between 2 and 4, which is when I will not be tuning in.