The Hong Kong Blues
The Double
Yet Another Threat
To Sue RALPH Magazine

Subject: Hong Kong Blues actual lyrics


This is a comment about the Hoagy Charmichael thing at

I found it while googling the lyrics to Charmichael's Hong Kong Blues 'cuz my dad liked it a lot. I was a little kid and he had to explain the whole Buddha's Gong, opium (Daddy, why doesn't he just quit?) etc.

My brother just sent me a digitized version of the 78 at our house and here are the actual lyrics I transcribed. I don't know if it's completely flawless, but the version you have posted has some pretty big inaccuracies (unless that was the point of the post). So, just in the interest of nonpollution of the googleshere:

Hong Kong Blues
(Hoagy Charmichael ---78 rpm version)
It's the story of a very unfortunate colored man
Who got 'rested down in old Hong Kong
He got twenty years privilege taken away from him
When he kicked old Buddha's Gong

And now he's bobbin' a piano just to raise the price
Of a ticket to the land of the free
Well, he say his home's in 'Frisco where they send the rice
But it's really in Tennessee

That's why he said...

I need someone to love me
Need somebody to carry me home
To San Francisco
And bury my body there

Oh I need someone to lend me
A fifty dollar bill and then
I'll leave Hong Kong
Far behind me for happiness once again

Won't someone believe?
I begin to see that Bay again
But when I try to leave
Sweet opium won't let me fly away

I need someone to love me
Need somebody to carry me home
To San Francisco
And bury my body there

That's the story of a very unfortunate colored man,
Who got 'rested down in old Hong Kong
He got twenty years privilege taken away from him
When he kicked old Buddha's Gong

Go to the review in question

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Subject: Saramago's The Double


I have been very unsuccessful in my research to track down who wrote The Book of Contraries. It is cited in the front of Saramago's The Double: "Chaos is merely order waiting to be diciphered." This is not the first time Saramago has referenced this material.

--- Thanks, Bob Phillips

Our Reviewer Responds:

Knowing the works of Saramago, we suspect he worked much as Nabokov --- that is, planting an army of clues which are false, misleading, and just plain funny. All we could find at Google were references from the publisher and reviewers, pointing out that "Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered" appears not only at the beginning, but towards the end of the novel, in a speech by one of the minor characters, as an aside. Thus we assume that the author made up the quote, the title, and everything else in his novel. Even, possibly, himself.

It is no doubt not by chance that some of the great inventors (Edison for one) claimed that his discoveries were just there, waiting for him to assemble the facts and make the connections.

--- L. Lark


Indeed The Book of Contraries may well be something that Saramago created. The same may hold for the beginning of  All The Names where Saramago  quotes "The Book of Certainties:" You know the name you were given, you do not know the name you have.

Reminds one of the  gifted poet  Pessoa who, one suspects, had a profound effect on Saramago's remarkable creativity. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

--- Bob Phillips

Go to the review in question

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Lolita Lark

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--- Jacqueline Torres

Dear Jacqueline:

A paradoxical e-mail, indeed.

Is this threat your complete message to our magazine? And if you sue us for not being "the intended recipient," will you let us keep our 1978 Sterno-driven computer and our pre-historic revolving printer to which we are much attached?

--- The Editors and Staff of RALPH

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