2016: the end of a strange year

15 12 2016

By now, 2016 has been almost universally condemned as a terrible year. It started badly enough, with the strange, talismanic passing of David Bowie but at least that tragedy was wrapped in mystery and muted (somewhat) by the beauty and brilliance of his final creative act – his perfectly stage-managed death. But then there was Prince, overdosed on painkillers in the night. And Brexit. Closer to home, the King of Thailand passed away. And in the final and most savage twist of all, Donald Trump  did the seemingly unthinkable and grasped the US presidency, transforming himself into a strange and strangely opaque human question mark, now hanging over the globe.

But for all that, it was a pretty quiet year for me. Same job, same apartment. If the world was in crisis, my world had rarely been calmer. I continued running, ate some good food and had massages, and saw some good movies (Rage, The Lobster, Train to Busan, The Wailing).  I also travelled a little: starting the year off back in the cold streets of Tokyo and jetting from there to Vietnam (twice) and the unexpected pleasures of Taichung and Shanghai. Next week I am heading back home to Australia for the New Year.

And I read. It was books that provided me with the greatest discovery of 2016 : the works of Karl Ove Knausgaard. I devoured his six-book series of autobiographical novels, one after the other, and felt transformed by them. Despite the glittered genius of Frank Ocean and his similarly immersive music, for me it was Karl Ove who ignited my imagination the most this year, making me think about writing in a new way. His was a memoir not of events, but of feelings, a  refracted world of mundane desires so acute and so honestly observed that it inspired me and made me wonder why I write – even this blog, for example, and if there is any value in it.

Next year – a little over a few weeks from now – will be tenth anniversary of this blog. Tenth! But for now, I am content to look back on the year that just passed before making too many plans for the future.


Goodbye 2016 – a playlist

15 12 2016

Goodbye 2015

20 12 2015

Another year has come almost to its end. 2015 was unremittingly positive for me, a year of consolidation and growth. Work was manageable and I was able to channel a lot of my energy into getting fit. I started to run seriously and surprisingly, this seemed to be the key to finally giving myself over to Hong Kong and appreciating its pleasures. I always used to say somewhat bitterly that if I left Hong Kong tomorrow there would be nothing I would miss, but that is not true anymore. The jog along the ridge of Pok Fu Lam, with the glistening Lamma strait littered with shipping, would be a view hard to top. The bike path along the river in Shatin. The cool forest paths leading up to the Peak.

2015 was also my 37th year and I found myself increasingly embracing the comfortable middle stage of life – the quiet pleasures of a good run, a nice meal (maybe even home cooked), a freshly brewed coffee at a hipster cafe, knitwear in neutral colours and a night on the couch with American Horror Story or Project Runway. My overseas trips were more weekends away at a nice hotel than month-long expeditions ( though wait, that’s not entirely true, I did backpack through Isaan and Laos too…)

Of course I still listened to music, read some great books, saw some great movies – but I didn’t feel defined by them anymore. At this point, I pretty much know who I am – and I’m enjoying the life I’ve got. And the people (person) I’m sharing it with.

2015 – a playlist

20 12 2015

My single and video of 2015

…and arguably the best album

…and the album I’m still waiting for.

My Khon Khaen to Nog Khai train song.

And also

And two great Latin artists who were new to me this year, even if their ongs were released earlier:

Goodbye 2014 : the year in review

16 12 2014

And, its over. Well almost. Goodbye 2014! Its been a great year for me – enriching and fulfilled. It was the year I learnt to SCUBA dive and cook (well, a little) and hiked around remote islands and countryside peaks. I got back into running and my boyfriend did a triathlon. It was a year of trips – to Indonesia and Taiwan, back to Australia and then to Thailand again.

It was a year of lazy Saturday mornings, tasty homemade breakfasts and checking out the nascent Hong Kong cafe scene. I watched great movies (so many of them) and returned to books, reading more voraciously than I have in ages.

I pretty much stopped going to clubs. I turned domestic.

Work was smooth. The city was in turmoil.

Friends visited me in Hong Kong, I visited friends in Melbourne and some great friends left.

It was a year in which I felt older and calmer and happier than before.

So thank you, 2014.




Some of the sounds of (my) 2014

16 12 2014

From Brazil:

From Korea:

From America:

From UK:

From Australia:

From China (and Taiwan):

From the Gay World:

From other places:

Woman and man of the year

16 12 2014

Woman of the year was Solange: she didn’t release any new music, but riding high on last year’s True EP she still managed to dominate the year with her much-reported fisticuffs in an elevator, hipster wedding and dreamy Brazilian honeymoon, all showcased to the world via her sharp instragramming skills. An all-around 2014 lifestyle icon.

Ilbonito’s man of the year though is a more obscure pick: Brazilian artist Jaloo. Why? Because he seems to offer the promise of globalisation at its most exciting, that an androgynous indie boy growing up listening to brega music on the banks of the Amazon could transform himself into an avant garde star of techno-brega-pop with one foot firmly in his homeland of Northeastern Brazil, and his eyes set firmly on the glittering firmament of the Western world’s top 40, via killer remixes of Kylie and Adele and this wonderful Miley Cyrus cover, all the while dressed like Lady Gaga in Rio Xingu facepaint.A true man of the times.