Sunday, February 26, 2017

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD FARANGS

In 2008 the Coen Brother's NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN won the Best Film Oscar this year. Three minutes of the creepy lead actor's haircut was enough for me. I chucked the DVD into the swamp behind my house and haven't heard from it since, but at the Pattaya court I ran into an aging farang living the title of that movie.

The court clerk patiently explained his trial date in Thai. The Brit didn't understand a word and I translated for him, only to be engaged as a confessor.

John was English. He had been involved with a hot-tempered Thai woman for the past 16 years. 9 months ago he decided to end the relationship, but Thai girls were harder to get out of your life than gum in your hair.

Two weeks ago he was summoned up-country by a phone call. His ex- was in the hospital. As soon as he appeared, two Pattaya cops arrested him for assault. 100,000 baht bail and they seized possession of his passport. His wife had accused him of beating her. He protested that he wasn't that type of man and all the police had to do was check the hospitals for evidence of a beating.

"Where's your lawyer?"

"What do I need a lawyer for?"

"This is a criminal charge." I sometimes wondered if farangs deposit their common sense at the airport. "You don't understand Thai and you want to go to court without a lawyer."

"My last lawyer charged me 4000 baht to get out of jail."

"Cheap."

"Yeah, but she didn't do anything."

This was going nowhere and I explained that he should be represented. I gave him the telephone number of my lawyer. He didn't even bother to write it down and I wished him luck.

John was 54. He had worked all his life. His Thai wife has everything now and he was on the verge of going to jail. In this case Thailand was definitely not a country for old men, although John didn't consider himself old.

He will after a couple of month's in the monkey house.

Child Lottery Ghosts


In 2010 the Somali government was hard-pressed by warlords. Troops chewed qat. Their afternoons were spent in a euphoric stupor. Few wanted to man roadblocks, so children were drafted into the army. AK-47s replaced their battered toys. They were happy with A few dollars a week for food. Lucky in a country where there was no work.

Everyone loved the lucky. The lottery players on our soi in Jomtien had my son Fenway pick their tickets. They won three times. Not big money. Not little each. Fenway was considered lucky and lucky in Thailand was good. Good other countries too.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” - Seneca.

I feel lucky for my life. I have a good family, a beautiful wife, Mam, a job (and that's not a small thing these days) and my health, but some people wanted more and hard work was not the answer for their desire. They knew hard work didn't pay away problems. They needed a break and that year Thai police arrested a former nurse selling post-abortion foetuses as "child ghosts" or 'luk krok'. The officers found 14 pickled foetuses in her inventory. She told investigators that the 'child ghosts' were good at picking lotteries.

Most Thais would preferred to have a luk krok amulet than the real thing.

Of course the power of the luk krok was stronger in Ban-nok.

Most farangs don't buy into these beliefs. They were too smart to believe. But not all farangs were so smart as to be that stupid.

“I can believe anything provided it is incredible.” - Oscar Wilde

89th Academy Awards

Everyone in the Arts dreams about the Oscars.

Actors, directors, producers, actresses, writers, musicians, make-up artists, cinematographers, costumers et al.

I know I'm leaving out someone, but who doesn't in an Academy Awards acceptance speech.

Even I once held such dreams, but tonight I'll be watching the Boston Celtics versus Detroit. I have no dreams any more. Not of standing at that gloried dais in Los Angeles.

I only went to the cinema once last year, but that doesn't exclude my predicting the winners from having only seen the trailers and posters, so and the winners are.

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton

I like Mark Wahlberg. He comes from Boston.

Best Film Editing

I support all Science Fiction movies

Best Costume Design

Jackie – Madeline Fontaine

Even though Nathalie Portman doesn't look a thing like Jackie.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

A Man Called Ove – Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

I like their names.

Best Cinematography

Arrival – Bradford Young

Space movies rule and fuck LA LA LAND

Best Production Design

Arrival – Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte

I'm all in.

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare

I love French people.

Best Documentary – Short Subject

The White Helmets – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Stop the Endless War.

Best Documentary – Feature

I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, and Hébert Peck

We worship the righteous dead.

Best Foreign Language Film

Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal – Martin Butler and Bentley Dean I have been to Melansia.

Best Animated Feature Film

The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki

Anyone but Disney.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

I was a Math Major at University.

Best Original Screenplay

20th Century Women – Mike Mills

This quirky film with weird dancing scene at punk clubs was the only Oscar nominee I saw in 2016

Best Supporting Actress

Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula

She has kind eyes.

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton

I would love to see this veteran win one.

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc

Viva La France.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler

A shout out for Falmouth, Mass.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

De La Belle Province - Quebec.

And finally the moment we have bee waiting for.

Best Picture of 2016

Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

Because it's always good to recognize the best.

The Unpower Of The Press

Through his campaign Donald Trump complained about the lack of impartiality from the Mainstream Media. In truth CNN and MSNBC loved the billionaire's antic for providing their viewers with cheap entertainment and their interviewers pitched softballs to the GOP candidate, never calling him out on his lies.

Not that Trump's supporters waver in their faith in the crusade to make America great again.

They are cursed by the miracle of deception.

Truth is not truth. Lies are truth. Trump excelled parroting the blurbs of their paranoid fears, but recent allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election had Trump crowing about the constant barrage of falsehoods from reporters at the White House briefings, so Trump banned his detractors from a press gaggle with Scott Spicer in the White House.

New York Times banned.

CNN banned.

Politico banned.

The Guardian, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Daily Mail banned.

As enemies of the state.

Maybe now they will report the news.

Show us Donald Trump's birth certificate.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Red Army Love


Only a Russian could have written WAR AND PEACE

Do Svidaniya AK47

The AK-47 or Kalash was the assault rifle of choice for insurgents, rebels, revolutionaries, and armed forces since its introduction by the Soviet Army in 1946. The weapon maximized close combat firepower with easy operational needs. Its silhouette graced the flag of the Red Army Faction and was considered the first choice of terrorists, because of its accessibility.

"Remember one man's terrorists is another man's freedom fighter, so we all sort of think, oh boy, we've got a little bit of Che Guevara in us. And this accounts for the popularity of the (AK 47) weapon. Plus I think that in the United States it's considered counterculture, which is always something that citizens in this country kind of like ... It's kind of sticking a finger in the eye of the man, if you will." Larry Kahaner, author of AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the Face of War

Not any more.

In 2011 the Russian army announced the cessation of orders for the AK47, while awaiting a better weapon.

An end of an era.

Only for the Russkis, because there are enough AK-47s around to last till 2030, which is a good thing, because we'll need them for the apocalypse.

Dmitri Turin - Still On The Road

Dmitri Turin was born in Russia. His mother was a mathematician. His father was reputed to have been KGB. Natalia Dmitrievna Svetlova left him to marry the legendary Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Politburo exiled the writer and his family in 1974. They moved to America.

Vermont to be exact.

Dmitri left the family compound and moved to Boston.

He drove taxi there.

So did I, but we never met in my hometown.

By the late-1970s everyone was in the East Village.

Indian Larry loved bikes.

He drove almost naked in the snow.

Dmitri did wheelies in the white powder of East 6th Street.

No one could get Indian Larry to put on some clothes.

Demmie liked racing.

So did his partner Hugh Mackie.

They opened East Street Bikes beyond Avenue B.

I helped to put in the ramp.

Everyone liked riding with them.

English bikes only.

Things were going good.

It was all too good to be true.

In 1994 Dmitri passed before a trip to Russia.

Heart attack.

I was in Thailand.

I said my goodbye at his grave.

It was in New Hampshire across the river from Vermont.

I miss riding with him.

And my old Yamaha XS 650.

Dmitri left before his time.

Many bikers do.

>

Bikers.

My son Fenway thinks there is nothing like them.

Same as me.

It's just the way things are.