HK googie

16 05 2017

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“Googie” was a 1950s architectural movement centred in Los Angeles. It celebrated the sharp angles and aerodynamic planes of the automobile age to leave a legacy of gas stations, motels and freeway diners designed to evoke the sleek jetset age. Reading about the now obscure movement, I realised that there is actually a (modest) example much closer to home in a building I have always enjoyed: the Esso gas station on Wong Chuk Hang Road, with its clean concrete lines.


Tokyo 70s 80s

2 05 2017


Listening to records with friends over the weekend, the subject of Kenji Sawada came up. The fresh-faced and well-scrubbed teen idol morphed in the mid–70s into something much more transgressive, a louche Roxy Music-esque man-vamp in the mould of David Bowie, becoming an enduring Japanese music and fashion icon.

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He also starred in two notable movies, the Man Who Stole the Sun, a psychedelic romp about a rogue chemistry teacher who builds his own atomic bomb, and an iconic turn in the sumptuous Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.

Sawada also appeared in the advertising campaign for PARCO department store, often paired with J-supermodel of the moment and fellow face of the early eighties, Sayoko Yamiguchi. What a time!

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Yamiguchi also flirted with Western rockers like Steely Dan – on the cover of one of their albums, above – and the rolling Stones.


Nineties soul

25 04 2017

Disco Mondays

24 04 2017

Sai Yoshiko: sound of the seventies

18 04 2017

Cult 1974 album from the then-twenty year old Japanese “acid folk” singer.

Dusit Thani bites the dust; Bangkok closes for renovation

9 03 2017


A Bangkok landmark, the modernist Dusit Thani flagship hotel in Silom, will be demolished next year according to an announcement from its owners earlier this week. Its site will become a large mall, office and hotel development. The Dusit Thani leaves behind the Indra Regent in Pratunam, behind an unlovely tangle of telephone wires, as perhaps the last of the great Bangkok modernist hotels (with the prickly facade of the Srifueang building, just down from the Dusit Thani on Rama IV, as another notable 1960s tower).

Hopefully these buildings will survive the massive construction going on around the Thai capital. Across Rama IV boulevard, by Lumphini park, the site currently occupied by a carnival funfair will soon become a massive city-within-a-city mixed use development, much like Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills or Midtown. It is to be called Bangkok City One. Meanwhile, the old Robinson’s department store across from the Dusit Thani on Saladaeng has also been empty for some time, awaiting flashy redevelopment plans.

And as if that is not enough, the vast and glittering ICON SIAM mall will open riverside later this year, complete with Takashimaya department store, museum, condos and perhaps a privately funded skytrain extension, while blueprints have been drawn up for a massive Bangkok Mall, to be the city’s biggest, topped with a water park in Bangna.

Exactly where this flush of construction money is coming from, and why this is all happening now, is a bit of a mystery to me but for better or worse, Bangkok in 2021 will seem quite different from the city we know now.

Drifting Classroom

14 01 2017

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My boyfriend recently turned me on to “The Drifting Classroom” after it was referenced, tongue-in-cheek, in an tabloid news report on a school food poisoning case. The classic 1970s Japanese horror comic tells the story of a school mysteriously transported to another dimension, pitching students, teachers and caretakers into a Lord of the Flies-like battle for survival in the face of plague outbreaks and other horrors. It is pulpy, violent … and I’m loving it.