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April 4th, 2005

Lost in Hong Kong Part 1
or Wherever you go, there you are

     Hey, I'm in Hong Kong now! Whoopee.
     I always figured myself for a guy who would live in the Bay Area suburbs, but so much for that thought. Now I'm stuck in Hong Kong, living in a place called Tai Kok Tsui, working in an area called Lai Chi Kok, and basically asking myself what the point of everything is. This question isn't a new one; honestly, if you've never asked yourself what the point of everything is, then A) you're extraordinarily lucky, B) you're blissfully unaware, or C) you're William Hung. Unless you're William Hung, I envy you, though even being the Hungmeister has its points. For one thing he's probably quite wealthy, and people actually treat him like he's someone—whatever that means. On the negative side, he's William Hung, which looks like it could be a nightmare of self-delusion.
     Still, I probably suffer from self-delusion too, though not to William Hung's frankly frightening extreme. I don't believe I'm some sort of superstar, and I don't think I'm A) all powerful, B) King of the World, C) incredibly gorgeous, or D) an NBA-caliber basketball player. I also don't think I'm doing anything that special. After all, I'm just a guy who runs a website, just like trillions of other people do. I do think this site looks better than some others, and hopefully has a sense of humor that others lack. I also think that features a hidden message, and no, it has nothing to do with Ekin Cheng. The message of this site: do what you love, and work hard to do it well, and eventually good things can happen to you. It's a decent message, and it's a much less cheesy message than the "believe in yourself, and your dreams can come true" claptrap that escapes from William Hung's mouth. If one needs to ask why I reference the Hungmeister so much, here's the reason: I just saw Where is Mama's Boy?, and I have yet to recover. But I digress.
     Life has been surreal for me recently. Aside from living on a gigantic movie set (That's where Eason Chan sat in Crazy 'N The City! That's where the opening of Boys Are Easy took place! That's where Richie Ren crossed the street in Breaking News!), I've recently discovered something odd: people actually read this website, or at least know that it exists. Perhaps it's the anonymous, private nature of communicating on the web (i.e. you can meet people, have conversations, and even run a full-time business without ever leaving your home, or wearing anything more flattering than an old T-shirt and boxer shorts), but I've never felt that more than 40 people read this website. Aside from family and friends, I know that the people on the forum have looked at the site, and (major assumption here) I believe most of them like it.
     It's gratifying to know that this site can spawn a small community, or even a minor subculture (Exhibit A: there are people who actually associate this site with Ekin Cheng), because it means that somewhere, somehow, this site does reach people. I would say it gives me the warm fuzzies, but a less embarrassing measurement of my personal feelings would be to say that it gives me a sense of accomplishment. The actual importance and/or magnitude of the accomplishment is probably right up there with the invention of lawn darts (then again, lawn darts spawned a lawsuit, and I haven't done that yet), but on a personal level, it feels pretty cool. When I die, they can etch on my gravestone, "He created a popular website." It can be right next to my other epitaph, "He was a nice guy." But again, I digress.
     But in the last two weeks, I've met numerous people in person who associate me first and foremost with this website. Some of the meetings have been incredibly flattering, i.e. I've met people who write professionally, and whose work I've admired, and they've praised I can't describe how good it feels to have someone that you respect tell you that they like what you do. It's like I'm some rookie benchwarmer on an NBA Team, and Kevin Garnett just walked up to me and said, "Hey kid, I like what you do." The first reaction is to look over my shoulder to see if maybe LeBron James is standing there, but nope, the words are directed at me, whose NBA equivalent is probably Moochie Norris. In a similar vein, I did that television appearance on Tech TV, which really felt like it should have been happening to somebody else. Yeah, I like Asian movies, but to get to appear on TV for it? And to not have a hidden camera involved?
     Basically, it feels like I'm living someone else's life. It's scary to think what I write is being read by many people (At least the reviews are. I steadfastly maintain that Life with Kozo is still read by only 40 people.), but that appears to be the way it is. At the same time, I have a hard time putting the pieces together. I'm fond of saying I'm nobody, and usually insist that all of us—even Tom Cruise—are on some level, really nobodies. But when people start telling me I'm a professional writer, or make reference to like it's a big accomplishment, I start to wonder again if they're talking to someone else. This wasn't exactly what I planned when I started my website, but I guess if I didn't want any attention I should never have done it. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20-20.
     Now that I think about it, I wonder why I ever created a website. I'm a huge Asian Cinema fan, but I never go on message boards to talk about it. Hell, I rarely post on my own forum, and usually when I do, I try to have as little opinion as possible. I'm a person who likes to keep a low profile, and would prefer to think that neither what I say nor do will affect anyone. But if I really think that, then I'm seriously deluding myself. For one thing, I now work in an office setting, which means a potential pool of over 70 people who I can piss off every day. For another thing, I spit out opinions nearly every week on, which has grown from being the 875th most-read Asian Cinema website on the web to probably one of the Top 10 (or maybe even's hard to gauge these things). The site is also read by writing professionals and fans of Hong Kong Cinema all over the world—and meeting these people has been a culture shock as great as moving to Hong Kong. Once you meet someone who reads your site, and then tells you about someone else who reads your site who supposedly wants your autograph, it starts to get a little out there. Where's that hidden camera again?
     These are not quantifiable emotions. Is it self-doubt? Comically exaggerated modesty? I'm not sure, but it feels like my world is getting larger than I am truly comfortable with. It was okay for me to quietly go about my life when only 10 people were around—and maybe the 40 or so extra people who I knew read the website—but I really can't do that here. I just want to continue to do what I do, quietly and without interruption from the outside world, but living in Hong Kong—with its crush of people, daily interaction with office colleagues, daily bouts with urban alienation (WARNING: this is a future Life with Kozo column!), and surreal parade of people telling me that they read—forces me to reevaluate what I'm doing, or even what I think. I know myself well enough to know that this is beyond the scope of what I'm used to, and on some level, my daily life actually intimidates me.
     But this is probably something I need to do, if only to actually grow up somewhat. I tell myself that I can continue to live life avoiding most other people—and it was certainly possible when I didn't have a regular job—but every day I see that comfort zone growing ever-so-distant in my rearview mirror. Hopefully I'll be able to figure it all out, instead of retreating into the confines of my apartment, and hopefully the process won't change me too much. I like to think that I know myself fairly well, but a part of me is afraid that the further things go, the more that will change. I can delude myself into thinking that the world can be explained on the confines of my laptop monitor, but eventually I'll have to go outside and figure things out—even if those things are as simple as understanding the Hong Kong bus system, buying vegetables at the market, or finally being able to say to someone on the street, "PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE, I DON'T WANT WHAT YOU'RE SELLING!" I'm not sure how this process will change me, but I can only hope that the changes are positive ones. Maybe when it's all said and done, I'll start to believe that every one of us, in some way, is really somebody.
     Then again, that sounds like something William Hung would say.

-- Kozo, 4/4/2005


Life with Kozo

  The Featured Graphic
It's Takeshi Kaneshiro from Fallen Angels, and his apparent loneliness is something the Webmaster feels all too well. Once Upon a time, Kaneshiro was known more for his quirky, emotionally off-kilter characters than the impossibly gorgeous romantic action heroes he plays now. Those days are missed.

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