Big Smog Blog

Social media heaven


Does social media matter these days? You’re damn right it does! It’s been a veritable revolution online over the past few years – and those who went along to Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel on Friday last week were testament to its power.

More than 500 people attended the Social Media Matters conference organised by Ogilvy & Mather and Branded. The firms brought together industry leaders and provided the lowdown on using social media as a business tool. Doesn’t sound too sexy? Think again – from Facebook, Twitter and Weibo to just about every major social media outlet was included in the lively discussion and there was plenty of food for thought.

Social media experts were flown in and took the stage, including Douban founder Yang Bo, Google big-shot marketer Gopi Kallayil and Twitter market development vice president James Kondo, just to name a few. CEO of WPP Group Sir Martin Sorrell also participated in the day’s festivities and spoke to the audience from an off-sight location via video chat Google+ Hangouts. Hong Kong singer-songwriter G.E.M. performed and spoke at the event, crediting her popularity to the use of social media. And we’d credit much of our online popularity to social media too. Amen.

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Witness a Guinness World Record at Cityplaza



As Hysan Mall officially opens today, Causeway Bay is guaranteed a massive crowd throughout this weekend. But if you'd like to stay away from the frenzy but don't want to miss your weekend mall wander, why not consider Taikoo Shing instead? 

For three weekends, from August 9 to 26, Cityplaza's Atrium turns into a live stage showcasing 36 jaw-dropping performances. Japan's World Yo-yo Champion, Hiroyuki Suzuki, performs his Guinness World Record of 'most eli hops in 30 seconds' and other amazing take-home yo-yo tricks. The Acrobatic Breakdance Trio, comprised of b-boys Benedikt Mordstein from Germany, Saretzki Mike from Austria and Kirsch Vitali from Ukraine, also show you how to do the 'baby freeze' and undress while performing a headspin.


Suzuki shows you how to knock off a coin from a guy's ear with his yo-yo.


The bboys demonstrate how to worm over a jump rope and undress while doing a headspin. 


If you can't make it this weekend, next week Sweden's Peter Rosendahl demonstrates his Guinness World Record talents for 'riding the world's smallest unicycle' and 'most skipping rope jumps on a unicycle in one minute'. And don't miss our local magic master Avon Lee's attempt to break a new record for the 'most costume change illusions in one minute' at 1.30 pm on August 23. More details below:


Period          August 9 – 26, 2012 (Thursdays to Sundays)

Location      Cityplaza 2/F Atrium (MTR exit E1)

Organiser    Cityplaza

Admission    FREE!

Inquiry         (852) 2568 8665 or





9 -10 August

11-12 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“World Yo-yo Champion”:  

Hiroyuki Suzuki

9 -10 August

11-12 August

1:45/3:45/6:45 pm

2:45/4:45/6:45 pm

“Acrobatic Breakdance Trio”: 

Benedikt Mordstein

Vitali Kirsch

Mike Saretzki

16-17 August

18-19 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“The World’s Fastest Unicyclist”: 

Peter Rosendahl

23-24 August

25-26 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“Local Magic Master”: 

Avon Lee

Record breaking attempt at 1:30 pm on August 23


Text and video by Joyce Choi

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Hysan Mall is opening tomorrow!



The long-anticipated Hysan Mall is opening tomorrow – finally. The iconic landmark is expected to draw 100,000 tourists, shoppers and diners every day. This afternoon, Time Out took a quick walk in the 17-storey shopping mall to see how it’s going to handle such a large crowd.



Among all the features the Mall promises, we raised our eyebrows at the centralised booking system. The system allows visitors to continue shopping while they wait for a table. At the second-floor concierge (served by three staff), visitors can request queue tickets for a maximum of three of the 11 restaurants located on the top floors. Instead of waiting outside restaurants doing nothing, shoppers can carry on their retail therapy and keep track of their queue numbers at the display panel available on each floor.




If you prefer a quickie meal, the 11th floor food court offers 11 dining options. Unlike most underground food courts, Hysan’s food court is rather spacious and equipped with plentiful cozy sofas, as well as the typical long benches. Pick a seat by the window and enjoy a rare mid-Causeway Bay panorama of the Hong Kong Stadium.   




Those who are mall-savvy will love the express escalators that sprawl across floors. The escalators take you on a visual journey that lifts you up from the busy Sogo horde, and if you have time to go far enough, it rewards you with an unblocked view of the Victoria Harbour. Although the escalators are indeed in express velocity, they are so narrow you can’t really walk up and down without squeezing past someone. The skinny express escalators, Time Out thinks, may not be the most suitable facility catered for impatient shoppers and tourists who walk in packs. Same for the beautifully-decorated double-deck elevators, their capacities so low they could well be the smallest mall elevators in the area.




To continue our theme of narrowness, we were surprised to see the narrow hallways on some of the floors. Well, it somehow calls to mind the fun time shopping at some of the really cramped shopping malls in Causeway Bay, such as The Point (at Sugar Street). Not quite exactly what we expected from the grand and gigantic appearance of the Hysan Mall.



The sky garden on the fourth floor is another highlight, supposedly offering a rare moment of open air in the over-crowded shopping mecca. To our disappointment, the sky garden resembles nothing like a garden with minimal greeneries and rather limited seating area. (Yay, we can sit on the ground!) We’re not sure how much "fresh air” you’ll get here, and it’s more likely it’ll turn into a smoking hub instead.




Don’t get us wrong, shops are actually big and spacious and we, too, cannot wait until they all open later this month. Just be prepared to bat through the crowds – as you do in Causeway Bay. John Yip


Stay tuned for our next Causeway Bay issue!


Top photo by Calvin Sit, others by John Yip

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Getting intimate with Abercrombie & Fitch Hot Guys...


Colgate smiles, baby-smooth pecs, swoon-making abs… Abercrombie is in town! For their opening next week, the frat-tastic brand have flown in their juiciest specimens from around the world. And after dodging the screaming, estrogen-fuelled teens and office women at the photo op, we get hot and bothered at an exclusive interview with Frank, 20, from California and Henry, 22, from London.

Do you ever get cold being half-naked like that all day?
F: Ooh, that's a good question! We usually do push-ups, pull-ups to stay warm. It's actually kind of funny. We'll take rotations, some of us will go inside. We'll do, like, bear-crawls on the ground just to warm up, just do stupid little funny things, play little games like touch football.
H: Normally we get so excited and there's so much energy that it doesn't become an issue!

Is it hard being so ridiculously toned and attractive?
H: [Sighs] Naaah. Well - we have to work for it, but it's fine.
F: We definitely have to work out every day, but we’re also blessed that our parents gave us these great looks!

Do you have a Zoolander face?
F: Oh yeah! [Does it]
H:  We work on it together, actually.

How did you get scouted?
F: I was actually on a trip to California, and I just walked into The Grove [a shopping centre in LA], was walking in there and Michelle, one of the workers there actually recruited me, wrote down my details. I moved out there two months later, and boom-ba-da-bing! A year later, here I am!
H:  I was at university. My first year at university, I'd just moved to a new city in Newcastle, and, uh, a store was opening there and they were looking out for people. So I was just picked up then!

Which body part are you most proud of and why?
F: Ooh! My 'V'. I think it's more genetics than anything, I just kinda got lucky. I like it, I like it.
H:  My bum. My bum's the best bit.

Do you ever need to use chat-up lines, or do you just take your shirt off?
F: I don't take my shirt off in front of people a lot, actually. I'm more laid-back, I dont wanna be that guy. I'm not the whole Jersery Shore kinda guy. I'm more genuine - I'm from a small town in Kansas, so I actually prefer the chatting part.
H:  I find the chatting part is easier, but being bad at chatting makes it... I can't chat a girl up, I've never known how to chat a girl up! But I find if you're honest, and you say that, then you often get to know the person anyway.

Who would you say you relate to more - Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Bond or Hercules and why?
F: Ooh - that's a good one... I would say James Bond, just because he's kind of, like, sly, kind of cool, kind of laid-back, mysterious...
H: I'd say James Bond as well. I always look at myself in the mirror and think, yeah, I could pull off the tuxedo.

[Laughs] Well, maybe after Daniel Craig, you could be next in line... So what's the best thing about being a hunk?
F: Best thing about it... The things I can do for other people, just putting a smile on my face helps someone out - pretty easily.
H: Yeah, and also if you look at the excitement that we just created by the sixty of us being out the front there, was one of the most crazy and fun things I've ever seen in my life. And everyone was smiling, it wasn't just us. So that's gotta be one of the best things.

What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you while on the job?
H: Personally, I wouldn't say there's one thing that's been the most interesting, but I've got to travel to American, which I'd never been to before, I've got to come to Hong Kong, I've never been here before, I got to go to Germany, I'd never been there before, all within two years, and all thanks to the company. So that in itself has got to be one of the best things that's happened.
F: As for me, I mean I was in Kansas a year ago, just a small-town boy. Been working for the company nine months now, I've gone to seven different places: Singapore, Beijing, Shenzen, Hong Kong, Germany, London, New York. It's been probably the best thing that's happened to me. If it wasn't for the company, I'd be going to community college in Kansas, so I'm very blessed.

Do Abercrombie models ever get competitive about who's the most good-looking?
F: Ooh! Definitely! And it's more in the gym. Like, if go to the gym, we will be getting crazy in there. Like, you've never seen a bunch of animals like Abercrombie models in the gym.
H: We're try-hard. We've gotta stay how we look, otherwise – that's it!
F: It's cool too, because everybody has, like, their own little workout secrets and stuff. But when you come out here like this, everybody shares them. We don't hide any secrets, we tell everybody, and every ends up getting in better shape throughout the trip, so it's really cool.

This is for all our readers out there... what could someone do to make themselves more attractive to you?
F: Hmmm... Be themselves, don't lie. Lying is the worst quality anyone can have.
H:  Could not agree more.
F: Lying is the worst thing. Don't try and impress anybody, just be you!

Who would be your celebrity dream date, and why?
F: Carrie Underwood, Carrie Underwood! Why? Dude, if she would sing to me... Oh my God! Singing me to sleep - that would be the most amazing thing. Country girl, blonde hair, blue eyes - love it, I love it.
H: I wouldn't pick a celebrity, I don't think. I wouldn't be able to cope with it. I wouldn't be able to keep up. I'd have to stick with just staying at home, being comfortable, being happy and knowing that when I go out in town, I wouldn't have to always be in the media spotlight.

Video of the madness below!

Ami Jones and Gloria Cheung

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Papinee’s Animalia summer campaign at Elements mall


Strange enormous beasts roam a fantastic land. Everything is alien, but also oddly familiar. The monsters resemble earth animals, but with intricate tattoos. The landscape is fiercely disorientating, but with familiar cultural landmarks. What wondrous alternate universe is this?
Elements mall has teamed up with home décor store Papinee to create the Animalia summer campaign. The promotion seeks to recreate the quirky animals and world of Papinee writ large. It took six months of painstakingly delicate labour to finish the display, which will run until September 2nd.

The exhibition is gorgeous. Deep within Elements are two miniature oases that look like snippets of an extraterrestrial planet. The animal statues are up to four metres tall, beautifully decorated and tailored to a specific culture. The environment takes its influence from six different countries, blending all the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

Papinee has also created a mall-wide adventure for children. Shoppers can collect a Papinee passport, which brings them on a mall-wide scavenger hunt to collect stamps and stickers. Prizes include various Papinee merchandise while Elements is also offering a dance and musical workshop.

Time Out spoke with Dev Suj, chief visionary officer of Papinee, about Animalia.

What’s the purpose of the Animalia exhibition?
We’re new to Asia but we’re rapidly expanding. This is one of the projects in that journey. We’re trying to spread awareness of the brand and our message. It’s more than just animals for people to enjoy; it’s for them to understand the creativity and inspiration. The passports also contain a very important element of the brand, which is education. We try to educate the children.

You can also buy all the products in much smaller sizes. We have toys for children, as well as collectible set. Our products range anywhere from about US$12 to US$25,000. We give eight percent of proceeds to EDFA, a fund that’s about educating children. We’re very socially responsible.

How did you design the animals?
We tried to capture the culture and famous landmarks of the countries in the animals. When we were looking at a country like New York, which is so filled with pop art and graffiti, we worked with New York designers. New York is fuelled by design. We chose the deer for New York because there are huge populations of deer. We felt it had to be infused with New York street culture, which is graffiti. You can see the Chrysler building, you can see the Statue of Liberty, you’ve got the architecture.

England is the owl. It’s inspired by regal patterns and tapestries. It’s all about texture and embroidery, about the history of England. There’s also the locations: Big Ben, the London Bridge, the Tower of London.

Tell us more about the passport campaign.
We wanted to provide the visitors the opportunity to interact with the mall. We have this passport campaign, which is about travelling around the world and getting stamps on your passport. We have these amazing gifts for the best decorated passports. We created the passport with the idea that while they’re having fun, they’re also learning about the countries. Papinee endeavours to create magic.

What’s going to happen to the huge statues when the exhibition is over?
I don’t know, but I want to keep them. [laughs] I want to keep it because it’s so beautiful, and well-done and animated.
Christopher Wang


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Arsenal ticket winners!


Thanks to Emirates, we’ve been running a competition to give away a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Ten lucky Arsenal fans will get premium tickets to see Arsenal play Kitchee in Hong Kong on July 29 at Hong Kong Stadium as well as meet some of the Gunner’s superstars.

We asked Arsenal fans to send in a photo of themselves dressed up in Emirates x Arsenal gear and received an overwhelming number of entries. And now, we’re announcing the winners.

So, if you see your photo here… guess what? You’ve won! We’ll send you an email soon with a few more details!

Congrats to all the winners – and thanks to everyone who entered.
















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Black Bart First Anniversary


XXX Saturday July 14

The local indie night Black Bart started out one year ago, and to celebrate the occasion, Black Bart DJs Miklos and Ze Kong with DJ Dustin from Destroyed HK and other guests held a riotous party at the underground club XXX.

A giant Black Bart banner decorated most of the concrete floor while the BB resident DJs were adorned in some fetching Indian headdresses. While they were at the decks, dancers were treated to indie and alternative tunes all night long. We heard plenty of the usual suspects, such as old 'classics' from The Strokes, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs as well as newer tracks and remixed tunes to keep the placed packed and sweaty.

Fourth of July-style sparklers were ignited every now and then and in the middle of the night the music stopped and the crowd sang a round of Happy Birthday over a cake adorned with a giant streaming candle/small firecracker. Following that, the music kept on going until the last dancer vacated the premises. 

Congrats to Black Bart and here's to many more great parties!

Photos courtesy of Black Bart. Click here to see the full album.
The next Black Bart Night will be on August 10 at Backstage Live. 


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The Stone Roses at AsiaWorld


AsiaWorld Arena, Tue Aug 24

There was always a fear that the Stone Roses comeback would be a bit of a disaster. Such was the hype and anticipation that had built since Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni announced they would be reuniting the legendary Madchester band last October, promising to ‘shake up the world’. Yes, expectation was rather high – from global fans, pundits, commentators and media alike.

But judging from the baggy legends comeback gig at a rather sparsely filled AsiaWorld Arena, the Roses themselves have felt that weight of expectation too. Like they had regarded this huge global tour – given all the proclamations, propaganda and the inevitable accusations of doing it for the cash – as no ordinary reunion of past greats. Like they had prepared in the most professional and rigorous of ways.

And thus, any fears of a disastrous comeback were annulled early. From the moment they opened (a little surprisingly) with I Wanna Be Adored, they were not quite the live Stone Roses of old, but perhaps the better for it. The Roses circa 1990 had a reputation for being erratic live – but there was no such accusations at the Roses 20 years on. Ian Brown – all baggy-panted, tambourine-wielding and simultaneously skulking and strutting around the stage – actually sounded good. John Squire shone with intricate licks and extended jam improvisations. And Mani, while often looking like a frightened child, and Reni brought that famous swaggering Stone Roses cross-rhythms with impressive sharpness as they ran through all the SR favourites, sung on by the crowd.

The comeback could have been a disaster. But in reality, it may well redefine their legacy as a live act. And Ian Brown’s closing remarks of ‘we’ll be back!’, before promptly leaving without encore, could be seen as further suggestion that the Stone Roses story isn’t over...

Mark Tjhung


Set List
I Wanna Be Adored
Mersey Paradise
Sugar Spun Sister
Sally Cinnamon
Bye Bye Badman
Ten Storey Love Song
Where Angels Play
Shoot You Down
Fools Gold
Something’s Burning
Don’t Stop
Love Spreads
Made Of Stone
This Is The One
She BangsThe Drums
I Am The Resurrection

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Infected Mushroom


Play Thursday July 19

We may not be psychedelic junkies but that’s why we took a trip to Play on July 19. For us, it was all about losing our psychedelic virginity in front of an act which has been deemed by many as super-worthy: Infected Mushroom. The Israeli duo has helped define psychedelic trance over the years and is a massively popular feature in the scene.

Several hours before Infected Mushroom arrived at Play, fans had already gathered to enjoy a burger and play competitive ping-pong and pool (by competitive we mean there was money and anger involved). “They’ll blow your fucking brains out,” a married 27-year-old banker told us over a game of pool. “The idea of psytrance comes from LSD and magic mushrooms. Your brain rewires your emotions and senses. You can smell colour and you perceive sound in a totally different way. That’s what psychedelic music is based on. You don’t need drugs with Infected Mushroom.” At this point, we were more worried than looking forward to the Israeli duo. We weren’t quite sure if we wanted our brains splattered over the floor, mentally speaking.

It wasn’t until 1am that the duo appeared and took over the DJ booth, sending the audience into raptures of cheers and screams. What happened next was a whole different level from what the warm-up DJ had been playing earlier. We couldn’t help but notice a group of men and women next to us bursting into a crazed dance nearly on all fours and head-banging in sync. As we were admiring the two hired dancers on stage prancing about in perfect sync to the beats, the recognisable melody of hit song Becoming Insane slowly crept over our backs, infecting us. Mayhem ensued. The two dancers on stage danced crazier, my new banker friend looked like he was going into a seizure and the occasional screams from the crowd became prolonged permanent cries.

So it was as tripped-out as we’d been told. And the music was as awesome as we’d hoped. With an LSD-like experience like this, if anything, it’s made us curious to try the real thing itself now…

Jacky Lee


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Maybe Mars Fifth Anniversary Gigs


Hidden Agenda, July 13-14

Electrifyingly high temperatures may have swamped many over the weekend, but fortunately for Hidden Agenda and the folks at Maybe Mars, there were still the bright-eyed and restless who were more than happy to trundle themselves along to Kwun Tong for two full on nights of China's edgiest sounds.

Everyone's favourite dilapidated KT warehouse (still fighting – hurrah!) ushered in a handful of the Mainland's most promising bands for Maybe Mars' five year anniversary alongside some top HK talent. Saturday's lineup included HK’s 31G and Beijing’s AV大久保, the latter sounding a little like raw grindhouse layered with slick pulp and pop.

Sunday's gig was a veritable lovefest between music hungry hipsters and headlining band Carsick Cars. Skinny one man show S. Haku, whose trembling vocals clashed in all the right ways against the heavy discordant drones of his guitar, kicked off the show. Next up were local heroes downer, a seven-year effort that has culminated in effortlessly shiny prog-rock sounds. Any band that works with a minimalist girl thrashing it out on the drums gets top marks from us. The vocals were almost lost in the dark and slow instrumentals, but that was perhaps the appeal of their set - like drowning in deep sea waves.

Baby-faced trio Mr. Graceless, on the other hand, showed us upbeat and new-wave pop done oh-so right. Running straight from the classroom to the stage (perhaps), they regaled us with throwaway musical references to Hanson, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry and Bombay Bicycle Club. They sang, they whistled, they duetted. They couldn't have been more adorable if they tried.

And then, Carsick Cars tore up the room with their experimental indie rock tunes, including crowd favourite Zhongnanhai, presented to us in the rousing encore. They played a couple of songs off You Can Listen, You Can Talk with great aplomb, despite main man Zhang Shouwang being slightly hindered by his foot cast. He still managed to pull off a few experimental riffs using a single drumstick on his electric guitar to great effect.

All in all, a stellar roundup showing Maybe Mars' nose for talent over five successful years. Here's to another five.

Billie Chin

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