More relics of Porfirio’s 1935 Shanghai Trip

In case any readers are tantalised by the last post’s reference to Porfirio Crane’s 1935 Shanghai trip, I present this artist’s impression of Porfirio’s arrival at the Cathay Hotel’s 1935 New Year’s Eve Party.  At this time Porfirio was rocking his “bare ass” look, which some analysts of style consider to be equally as significant as the adoption of the deerstalker hat by certain northern clubs in the 80s.


Out and about in Shanghai

Inspired by Casual Connoisseur’s “Out and About” series, Gunter hits the Bund

A few weeks ago I had the chance to nip over to Shanghai for the first time.


Flight delays conspired to make this a very short trip, and I didn’t get to cram in all I wanted. Still, I think I got in a little bit of the vibe of the city during the jazz age, when it proudly went by the title “whore of the orient”.

I was surprised by how clean and orderly the parts of Shanghai that I visited were. The bit of the Huangpu river where the Bund overlooks Pudong is positively gleaming, the buildings of the Bund perfectly restored and sitting behind a brand spanking new riverfront promenade. All in all, a much more pleasant experience than Beijing.

Thanks to the aforementioned flight delays we only had one proper evening on the town, and we made use of it by visiting Fu 1088.  Somewhere in or near the former French concession, and set in  a colonial bungalow that might have housed a moderately prosperous expat bank employee in the early 1930s.  Private rooms only, where high-end Shanghainese cuisine gets served up amongst faintly chipped and worn remnants of the city’s heyday. As this is not a food blog, I’ll save you the descriptions, but the food was damn good.

Some shots inside Fu 1088:



Gunter wears a Moncler Gamme Bleu Oxford Shirt while preparing to tuck into a tea egg with caviar:


After dinner we took a taxi back to the riverside to stroll along the wonderfully restored Bund. The dowdy vibe of “Clive James’ postcard from Shanghai” is long gone. We popped into the building which used to house Shanghai’s British Club. Now converted into the Shanghai Waldorf-Astoria hotel, it boasts a recreated version of the British Club’s notorious Long Bar – all in all a step up from the mid-90s days when it housed a KFC.

To my immense surprise the jazz trio in the Long Bar (bass, drums, piano) was several light years beyond the usual Asian hotel lobby “jazz band” hacks, and managed to jam out something which to these ears sounded like late 50s hard bop.

Gunter prepares to down a passable Gimlet at the Long Bar while listening to jazz:


While our stay was short, the whole jazz age vibe of the trip was considerably enhanced by having chosen the Fairmont Peace Hotel as our digs. Close to the northern end of the Bund, the hotel is actually the former Cathay hotel, now immaculately restored.

When it opened in 1929, the Cathay was the most luxurious hotel in Asia and luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward and Douglas Fairbanks passed through its doors:


The restoration job is great, and the whole building is fascinating to wonder around in, but the slightly deserted nature of some of the public rooms on the upper floors gave of the vibe of a more art deco version of the Shining:



It’s even more spooky when you consider that these rooms once housed the most happening night club in Shanghai, complete with jazz band and Russian prostitutes.

The actual rooms themselves are extremely well appointed and the ground floor with its’ art deco galleries is also a great place for loitering. I even managed to sneak an “Acid Casuals” T-Shirt into one of the shots:








The last day on Sunday was spent exploring the vicinity of the Bund and sneaking in a brief interview with Subculture Shanghai main man Drunk Monk (coming soon to this blog) before taking the Maglev to the airport. All-in-all, I can’t wait to visit Shanghai again.

Gunter crosses the bridge over Soochow creek and ponders the Broadway apartments:


Pondering Andre Malraux in the Farimont Peace Hotel’s fantastic French Bakery:


But before closing out this post, a special mention is needed for the builder of the Cathay Hotel – the notorious Victor Sassoon, a man who would merit a long Eastern Terraces post of his own.

A member of the notorious Sassoon family of Baghdad jews whose commercial interests followed the British Empire eastwards, he first intended the Cathay Building to be an office building, but later changed his mind and put the city’s most luxurious hotel and most happening nightclub on the upper floors. Never one to do things by halves, he then ensconced himself in a penthouse suite on the top floor (in the pyramid-like structure you can see on top of the hotel). Following an air crash and partially crippled, he walked only with the aid of two canes.  Convinced therefore that women would only love him for his money, he dealt with the problem by postponing marriage until old age (he eventually married his nurse) and in the meantime regularly putting some of the city’s most beautiful European and Chinese women on his payroll. As one article puts it:

“Sir Victor had four major passions: beautiful women, thoroughbred horse racing, Chinese art, and photography…..Sir Victor not only had white lovers, but also Chinese ones, at a time when this was uncommon. He often photographed his conquests in the nude, thus combining his interests.”

Sir Victor’s hight times in Shanghai definitively ended with the Communist takeover, whereupon he retired to the Bahamas and remarked: “Well, there it is…..I gave up India, and China gave me up.”

A photo of the great man (one hopes this lady was not one of the ones on his payroll):


Finally, a picture of the guidebook that Porfirio Crane carried with him on his 1935 visit to Shanghai:


Posted by Gunter Sacks

Film Review – Talking Headz (A Metalheadz Documentary)

Recently been recapturing halcyon years and getting very much back into drum ‘n’ bass / jungle. Dragging out the old crates, re-spinning classic tunes, researching how to make Reece bass lines and accidently finding documentary’s such as 1998’s Talking Headz directed by Jon Klein.

This film, whilst obviously focused on Goldie’s label, has a broader reach and is more about D’n’B as a whole circa 1998 and its place in the world as seen by the people creating the music and the scene around it. Featuring interviews with luminaries such as Adam F, Doc Scott, Dillinja, Grooverider, Andy C and Ray Keith, the film has a loose structure and veers between scenes at The Blue Note/Metalheadz club, ‘Wormhole’ era Ed Rush and Optical in the studio as well as more farcical scenes of the Metalheadz contingent playing football while Liam and Noel Gallagher watch from the sidelines sipping lager. For me personally, the opportunity to see Lemon D in his studio was worth watching the whole documentary, but others may find it a bit tedious. Interesting in places but meandering nonetheless. Now if they made a documentary like this covering V Recordings, that would be the shiznit.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film Review – Beware of Mr Baker

“I’ve got more regrets than you’d ever care to believe. Hundred’s of them”

Ginger Baker in a Q &A regarding this film.

Just caught a screening of Jay Bulger’s new documentary Beware of Mr Baker which documents the current and past situations of one of rock’s most famous skinsmen. Baker, unlike the majority of his contemporaries, resisted the urge to sell out and never comes across as remotely contrite for anything he’s ever done. Moreover he’ll likely punch you for suggesting that he ever should be.

After the dissolution of his overrated, but nonetheless pivotal band Cream, Baker bugged out to Lagos where he joined the crowd surrounding Fela Kuti and Africa 70 and according to Femi Kuti (Fela’s son), lived, played and fucked (women) with his father. He also imported music equipment and set up a studio where he recorded the cream of African talent for several years, before reportedly fleeing Nigeria in a hail of bullets.

Certainly, escaping one country to re-establish his life in another is a recurring theme of the film, and the reason that at least one of his four wives divorced him. Various well known musicians speak up to offer their guarded opinions of Ginger, including the obvious choices of Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, as well as Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, Stewart Copeland, Marky Ramone, Bill Laswell and John Lydon.

Sadly Baker’s contribution to P.i.L’s Album/Cassette/Compact Disc is glossed over very fleetingly and his time in Hawkwind does not appear at all, but the director gets good mileage out of his time in Africa and L.A and spends a considerable amount of time detailing his polo obsession, which not only caused his alienation from Fela Kuti (due to the ruling African elite all playing polo with him), but also seemingly bankrupted him more than once.

His children appear to point out that he probably should have never had any and his current 29 year old African wife pointedly says nothing in response to the interviewer asking whether he’s a good step dad. Various other people also step to the camera to highlight that he seemed ‘mad’ or ‘…like the devil…’ in his dealings with them. Like Keith Richards, Baker appears to have the constitution of an ox and the film shows him still kicking along after a long history of heroin abuse, popping pills and smacking the director in the eye with a cane for announcing he will interview people from his past. All in all, he comes across as the gloriously cantankerous geezer one would imagine him to be. Aware of his strengths and not prepared to put up with other’s weaknesses, while nonetheless being acutely cognisant of his own.

I really admire him. The amount of honest individuals in music who haven’t sold out their ideals for a pension can be counted on one hand and while the director appears to be using Ginger to make a name for himself, we should be grateful that someone has finally turned their lens to one of music’s less understood and less represented virtuosos.


Ginger Baker and Africa 70

Politician taken from Cream’s 1968 London farewell concert.

Art Blakey Versus Ginger Baker Drum Battle [Quality is shite, but footage is gold].

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.