The first time I encountered Philip Glass’ mastery was when the movie Illusionist came to NYU for a sneak peek. I don’t remember much about the movie but the music lingered, unfortunately I flew straight to China the next day and the closest thing remotely resembling a music store was a stingy 1980’s radio owned by one of the workers there.
Since internet connection was closely monitored by fellow Communist Firewall, I had zero access to any file sharing websites or social sharing websites like youtube, MySpace (2006 Facebook was just coming out), etc. During the summer hours, electricity power was distributed among thousands of factories, resulting in systematic shut down of power during designated time slots. I weighed my odds and decided the best way to ever hear Philip Glass again was to travel from Dongguan China to Hong Kong.
I did so by first bribing one of the private drivers attached to the factory, buying him a pack of real Camel cigarettes from America and sneaked out of the factory at 6am on a Sat. morning, this way he could return to his fleet unnoticed before 9am inspection. Our mission was to arrive at HuMen (虎門) Ferry port to catch the 8am ferry and sail to Hong Kong Island where modernity resides. Sitting next to the driver who was only a year older than me (22) I inhaled the fume of Camel cigarette for 1 hour and 15min and arrived at HuMen Ferry Port.
With my US passport checked and stamped with little fuss, I filed through 50 or so foreign passengers whose destinations included Taiwan, HK, and Japan. To them it was a journey home however temporary. For me, it was Philip Glass as my one and only consolation for a home too far away and unattainable.
After arriving in Hong Kong Island, I took a cab and went to the only shopping center I know, Gateway Shopping Mall and bought Cd’s of Metamorphosis and Ahkenatan and probably the last Sony CD player still on sale in 2006 . I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering aimlessly while listening to all the tracks again and again, imagining myself lost in the forests and lakes of Tsawwassen, BC Canada.
A silly girl’s stolen afternoon in Hong Kong with Philip Glass, however short, 4 hours to be precise before heading back to China. 3pm on ferry 6pm arriving in the factory on the dot before the security start closing down the gates.
I have zero photos from that period of my life, even today 6 years later, I can still only speak of 1 single experience from that whole exert of Dickensian existence.
The greatest commonality between then and now is Philip Glass. Below are the concert photos at Metropolitan Art Museum in NYC I attended last night. 6 years and his music is still transcendental.