Tree Huggin'
German Insects & Flowers

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Date :
Exhibit #
Title :
August 1, 2004

One kid on a stick and you've seen them all
...or, just wait they will be here soon.
My buddy Mr. Jones Jr., his wife Eva and I were hanging out in a tiny cafe along a small lane in a totally unfashionable part of Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong. It was about 2 pm, sizzling hot and we were sitting there since two hours. Mr. Jones Jr. and I were totally hammered.
Boy on a Stick
I couldn't figure out if I was sweating so much because I was drinking too much or if I was drinking so much because I sweat so much. I have to check the next time what comes first.
A little boy was stalking us, hiding behind a fence nonchalantly walking over to the other side just to quickly slip behind a tree. Mr. Jones Jr. was saying that the kid would probably like to throw a banana at us. Luckily for us there weren't any bananas left on Cheung Chau.
It was Buddha's birthday and the whole Island has gone vegetarian for 3 days. They scraped up every piece of food, which wasn't part of an animal at one time and cleared big chunks of the local vegetation too. The scariest part of all of that was McDonald's selling vegeburgers. I wanted to try one but Mr. Jones Jr. said I shouldn't because it will give me gas and Mrs. Jones can't stand the smell of white guys farting.

There is only one pure style of documenting an event and that's the one where you sit in the shadow, drink cold beer and and take pictures now and then if something interesting passes by.
That is, if something is passing by. So far not much more moved than banana throwing boys and a guy on a funny rickshaw.
He told us that he wanted to go down town to con tourists but he couldn't squeeze himself through the millions of people who invaded the Island today.


So instead he decided to walk up the hill and sketch some banyan trees.

3 pm. Mr. Jones Jr. was falling all over the neighboring chairs and table during an attempted beer run. "They'll be coming soon." was coming from the rumble.
Something was moving. A bunch of young guys in white T-shirts came storming down the lane. They stopped in front of us and started shouting and whistling like a horde of beer soaked hooligans. It took me a while to realize that apparently their fury wasn't directed at us but slightly above us. I stumbled up trying to find out what the hell they were hollering at. They were screaming at a clothes line full of underwear.

My curiosity satisfied I sat down to my beer again not wanting to push the issue any further. After all, I was the stranger there and I am sure that they had perfectly good reason for what they were doing.
After a while of hollering they were getting really mad, mad enough that one of the guys jumped a pole, climbed up the awning and attacked the clothes line. Mr. Jones Jr.'s wife Eva, who is Chinese, somehow felt the urge to explain the situation.
"Underwear is insulting to Buddha." Oh yeah of course. I immediately jumped up to shout encouragements and prooved my support by throwing my beer at the guy who was shredding some disrespectful person's underwear.
"See, I told you we're coming" Mr. Jones Jr. mumbled from under his beer can.

We were waiting for a parade in honor of Buddha's birthday and the Tin Hau festival as well.
Everybody else was down at the main square and along the board walk to watch the parade. Not us, we are professionals. More importantly Mr. Jones and Eva are locals and they were sure that the parade will pass by here in our little alley in the most unfashionable part of Cheung Chau. At least that's what they told me. I have been sitting here for 3 hours and nothing even closely resembling a parade passed by so far.
The island is famous for this particular parade. That's the one where they strap little kids into secret contraptions, dress them up like dolls and make them appear as if they are floating.
Another part of the festival is all about buns. They build three huge towers out of buns and people used to climbed them and get their piece of the pie for good luck or whatever. At one time, one of those towers collapsed and a bunch of people got hurt. Now they aren't allowed to mount them anymore and the buns are distributed to charity.
BB Gun Maniac
I went there earlier in the morning to take a few pictures. There were so many photographers that all you could take pictures of were other photographers.
That's when I decided to return to a more sophisticated approach of journalism and left the madness. I sat down in a park and called my friend Mr. Jones Jr. who came over with a couple of beers. There are other methods of documenting events like these. You could for example wear a loincloth, smile and pretend to be a native but that approach didn't seem to be the right thing to do here at this time. And you never know if a loincloth falls under the "underwear" and therefore the "insulting Buddha" kind of category. Besides the tourists, who at this point were in the vast majority, wouldn't have grasped the depth of the disguise.

The kid who wanted but couldn't throw a banana at us pulled out a BB gun instead. For most part of the afternoon I had that kid pointing a gun at me, probably calculating his chances of survival if he would actually shoot at me. I am trying to distract the little bugger by taking photos of him. When I complained about that to my friend Mr. Jones Jr. he replied : "If I would have a gun I would point it at you too."

Suddenly the alley filled with people and hundreds of little kids in colorful Chinese costumes carrying all kids of flags. Soon after that, one float after another with statues of different deities on them were pushed by us. Now and then a dancing dragon, lion or unicorn accompanied by loud drums and gongs would boogie by, stopping and posing for my camera which I whipped out every time when they the least expected it.
Finally the floats of the floating kids started to appear. By that time those kids had been hanging in their entrapments for the last three hours, covered in heavy, thick costumes and in the blazing heat.
Dragon Dancer

They were totally exhausted. Some of them were crying and most of them had to be supported with long sticks otherwise they would have just collapsed. Their parents were shouting at them. After all it's great honor to be on that float and don't you little fuckers dare to embarrass your family by crumpling from heat exhaustion.

After an hour everything seemed to repeat itself and we got bored.

Since it was after 3 pm we could officially eat meat again.
Mr. Jones Jr., a passionate carnivore who suffered deeply for the last three days, suggested we'll go down to the beach club and have ourselves some of their famous burgers.

We got our burgers and beer to wash them down. We also got another one of those lion dances to go with it. Those dances are really nice but I have seen so many of them in the last two weeks that, at this point, I can easily enjoy the occasional beer without having them jumping around my table.

It was time to find out how the local authorities have planned to get those hundreds of thousands of people off the Island and back to Hong Kong.

Floating Kids
They came up with the sophisticated approach of letting them cue for about two miles. I had none of that shit. I broke the cue and in a mad rush, pushed my way through the police line and towards the ferry pier.
Dragon Dancer again

It was an ugly scene, people screaming, women fainting and I got stuck standing for about 15 minutes on the belly of an unconscious monk but I at least I made the first ferry out.


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