Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Par 4 at the Killing Fields Country Club

Eleven years ago in a move destined to have the late Cambodian despot Pol Pot spinning in his grave _ if he had one _ the former Khmer Rouge cadres in their stronghold of Pailin embraced a plan to cash in on the country's tourism boom and build a golf course. Not that they know much about the game. If football is the beautiful game, to the ultra-Maoist former guerrillas, golf is the mysterious one.

The golf fanatic Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the remote area, traveling more than 100km of rugged dirt road from the nearest city of Battambang, and proposed a golf course for the municipality.

Pailin is perched on the nation's north-western border with Thailand just four hours by road from Bangkok, but up to 10 hours from the Cambodian capital.

Hun Sen was possibly the only country leader in the world to list his golf scores on his website.

Cambodia was so serious about developing golf as an industry that it has appointed a special representative to the Council of Ministers. The former Khmer Rouge are ecstatic.

Once rich in gems and timber, these resources were all but stripped bare by the Khmer Rouge as they tried to finance the remnants of the rebel movement by selling off the country's resouces before the rebels finally conceded to join Hun Sen's government in 1996.

Even journalists don't bother to go Paillin any more since four of its most infamous residents _ former Khmer Rouge leaders Ieng Sary, his wife Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea _ were arrested on orders from the court set up to try them.

Pailin's biggest draw currently are its mainly Thai-owned casinos, which operators say draw up to 10,000 Thais per month. But thiese gaming houses lie within a quick sprint of the border and more than 12 rough kilometres from Pailin town, so most gamblers drop their money there and go no further. Nor does Pailin have the attractions of other former Khmer Rouge border strong-holds such as Anlong Veng, which at least boasts the makeshift cremation site of the movement's leader Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok's home, complete with war room. So the former hardline communists, who drove the country to destruction in their 1975-79 failed bid to turn the nation into an agrarian utopia bereft of social classes, which left up to 2 million dead, have joyfully embraced a new ideology _ golf.

"We don't understand this game and at the moment it is just a speech by the prime minister, but it would be great for Pailin,'' says local Information Chief Kong Duong, once a Khmer Rouge propaganda chief.

He says he has never seen a golf ball, except on television. "We don't know where we will put [the course], or how big it should be, but the idea is good."

Pailin Tourism Chief So Korng is candid. He freely admits that to him, an iron is for pressing clothes, a wood is something you cut down to make furniture, and Tiger Woods is a place you never go alone or unarmed. But he agrees that the concept is attractive.

''People will have more jobs, and many people inside Cambodia and from overseas will come to visit Pailin and also see our natural attractions like our waterfall, gem shops, mountains and our agricultural programs," he said.

Revenue from the golf course may even pay for a road to the municipality's spectacular, but remote waterfall.

A former soldier who fought the Khmer Rouge in the early 1990s said the now-tamed rebels should also make good caddies.

"I've seen them climb mountains with two B-40 rockets strapped to their backs, so golf clubs should be no problem."

That would be a whole new revolution for a movement better known for its infamous black pajama uniform than plaid and plus fours. But not everyone is convinced. A spokesman for local non-government organization Buddhism for Development says golf was for the rich, and he doubted there will be much trickle-down for the impoverished former Khmer Rouge farmers in the area.

"The former Khmer Rouge are poor. They are too busy farming to have time to play golf," he said. And then there is the image problem. In a 2006 interview a senior Pailin tourism official laughingly admitted that the very concept of tourism remained somewhat alien. ''Before, our orders were to kill them, but now we invite them to visit and please spend money,"

It won't be on the killing fields

President's Golf Day

Mr. Trump's Presidents Day began with a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club (9:09 AM - 1:42 PM)

# 45 claims to have shot a 68 and a 2 shot handicap.

A friend of mine played with the pseudo-billionaire and said, "It's easy to shot good if you do shot-overs or mulligans."

His game was closed to the public and after another 'huge' 18 holes, the Russian double agent lunched at the clubhouse on burgers and fries.

4:00 PM

President Schedule The President and THE FIRST LADY depart West Palm Beach, Florida en route to Washington, D.C. Palm Beach International AirportOut-of-Town Travel Pool

6:50 PM President Schedule The President and THE FIRST LADY arrive at the White House.

Yet another busy day for Mr. Donald.

Jimmy Carter plays golf.

Not much, but I don't play at all.

I celebrated Presidents Day at the 169 Bar.

I shot a 12.

Golf Award Design

I don't this this photo is photoshopped, but it's doesn't represent a cock but a dildo.

This was for women's golf, right?

Remember that old interview of Johnny Carson with Jack Nicklaus' wife.

Johnny - You do anything for good luck before Jack plays.

Wife - I kiss his balls.

Johnny - That must straighten out his putting.

CUT TO Ed McMahon laughing.

Noblesse Ne'er-Do-Wells

Two years ago the red shirts targeted the shopping malls of their political rivals, the yellow shirts. The drama between the classes was a mystery to most foreigners and a widely accepted way of life to the majority of Thais. I googled 'thailand five families rule' and the search engine offered thousands of five-star hotel rooms without a single url leading to any information on the ruling cliques of Thailand. A second attempt on Thai hierarchy revealed little of the ancient class structure other than saying that the King comes first.

He is the one pure Thai and his family has been deemed sacrosanct followed by lesser nobility and then monks. For centuries social status receded from this monolith according to income, occupation, education, age, connections, and family, which is why Thais are inadvertently curious about the background of farangs in the West.

"Are you hi-so ( high society) or lo-so (low society)?"

Not that it really matters, since most Thais are so zenotrophic that they consider all farangs lesser than the the lowest drunk in the Klong Toey slum, but they can recognize status with a glance.

Twenty years go I was befriended by an aged female member of the royalty. The refined seventy year-old ran a grade school in Yala. I was one of the few westerners in that town.

"Why are you here?" Yala was the Deep South.

"I'm a writer. It's quiet and out of the way." Yala back then was peaceful.

"Too quiet." Anana assumed most men were in Thailand for women.

"I like quiet." The search for sex was partially true for many foreigners, although I didn't have a girlfriend in the provincial city. Anana accepted my answer as a half-truth and told me about her university years in New Paltz during the 1940s.

"I know that town." It had been founded by the Huguenots. The paradiasical lakes above the Gunks are surrounded by a boreal forests of eastern hemlocks.

"I've never met any westerners from there." The older woman exuded etiquette by not calling me a 'farang',

She invited me to dine with her often and after a month asked, if I wanted to drive her to Chiang Mai.

"I'd love to." Yala to Chiang Mai was a long way, but I was game for a road trip.

We took off in her BMW and stopped at temples along the way. The monks greeted her with deference and treated me as if I were part of her family. It wasn't until we visited Songkla for a seafood dinner that I noticed how high was her placement on the social ladder.

We entered the airy restaurant without any fanfare, but the owner fell to his knees. The rest of his staff followed suit as did the diners. We walked through the still dining area to a table vacated by the previous guests. We sat and Anana signaled everyone to rise.

"Now you see why I like you. You greet me like a normal person. I only wish that Thais could do the same."

We had a delightful meal during which she discussed THE KING AND I at length.

"No one in Thailand has seen this film. It's too much fun and the king is not fun. At least that's the way the Thai people think of their father."

And with good reason.

The King has presided over the rise of his country from a Third World pit stop to an economic miracle, however the riches reaped by the nouveau elite challenge the old ways.

Several years ago I was at a golf range and the Thai pro asked if I could move to another slot. I could tell the request hadn't come from him and turned around to see several Mercedes parked behind us. Their occupants were dressed in the height of shopping mall splendor. I was wearing Celtic green.

"Tell them to wait a few minutes." I only had five balls left in my basket.

"They want you go now." The Thai pro didn't look in the direction of the parking lot.

"Really." I waved to them that I'd only be a few minutes. Their eyes bulged in their sockets. One of them came up to me and said in good English, "Do you know who we are?"

"I suspect you come from good families and as such you should extend the good manners of your class to an older guest of your country. Thank you."

I teed my ball and duffed my drive.

They laughed at my shot and the next one went about 50 yeards before burrowing into the grass. My third and fourth attempts flew left and right about 200 yards.

More laughter and I placed the final ball on the tee. I looked at the distant 300 yard marker. I concentrated on the ball, the air, and my target and swung with all my might. The ball launched into the air about 200 yards and fell straight down 100 yards from the driving platform.

More laughter.

"That was worth the wait." The oldest man said with tears streaming down his face.

"I'm glad I could be of service." I shrugged and tipped the Thai pro 200 baht.

"Chok dee." I waved to the Mercedes mob and got on my motorcycle to drive home.

Not a King, but a master of a bad swing.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Reprobate's Parental Guidance

In 1969 I smoked reefer for the first time in my VW Bug coming from Nantasket Beach. Tommie Jordan and John Gilmore were my passengers. The weed belonged to Tommie, a hockey player from North Quincy. His hair was long, at least for a hockey player, but then so was that of Derek Sanderson and he got big money for playing with the Boston Bruins.

Tommie's weed was mild, yet strong enough to strike my sense of hilarity like cobra venom.

We sat at a traffic light for three changes of red to green, laughing hysterically about nothing and very little is funnier than nothing.

Marijuana was illegal in the 60s.

It is now legal in some states, but the AG Jeffery Sessions as ordered the DEA to continue to oppress smokers'

The greatest segment of the US prison population are convicted pot smoker. Teenagers are constantly lectured on the dangers of smoke.

At the end of last summer I was out in Montauk . The surfing beach town at the eastern tip of Long Island is a relaxed community. I watched the moonrise on Saturday night with my friends. It had been bigger on Friday evening, but size wasn't important this far from Manhattan or Easthampton. We retreated back to a beach shack in Ditch Plains for a BBQ filled with reminiscences of friends long gone. One woman and I vowed to save a 80s beauty trapped in Detroit. We could have reached Wendy in 9 hours, except none of us were driving after a few glasses of wine. Wendy would have to wait for another posse.

I was surprised that our host's son was in the house. This was Labor Weekend, the last days of freedom before school for a 17 year-old boy.

"Why's your son in the house?"

"I caught Todd with weed."

While my host had been straight for a decade, she wasn't a hypocrite. She had started smoking at 14. "What could I say?"

"Not much."

I turned to the teenager. Todd looked like a good kid.

"What were you smoking? Weed or sinse?"

"Hydro." Too didn't roll his eyes, which was a sign of maturity beyond his age.

"Hydro's not really weed."

I had been at Agent Rockford's underground weed plantation this Spring. Every plant had been a twin to the other like a successful cloning experiment. Rockford had handed me a mask.

"7% THC gets in the air. Too much exposure and you're high."

"Is that a bad thing?"

Rockford's reluctance to answer said a lot and I have steered clear of sinse and hydro ever since. I could have given a sermon to the grounded teenager in Montauk. Instead I asked, "How kids in your school smoke pot?"


"That many?" I didn't doubt his number. He attended a Manhattan private school.

"The other 10% are Jesus freaks praying for our salvation."

"I only pray for our victory," I explained about Mexico's liberal drug policy. "Anything under 4 joints is legal."

"Even big fatboys?"

>"Maybe only two of those." Rasta joints burned a pile of weed. "Victory is in sight."

The teenager high-fived me.

Later in the evening my host took me to aside and said, "Thanks for the free-pot speech. Maybe you should be doing a tour. Smoke a marijuana."

"That used to be a David Peel song." No one in this generation or even the last two had ever heard about the East Village hippie dedicated to the freedom of the weed. It was too long a story to tell without going to youtubes, so I poured myself another glass of wine and watched the stars drift toward the full moon. It was a good night for it.


David Peel was a good man.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Old Friends Never Fade Away

A good college friend re-connected me via Facebook.

We hadn't seen each other in a good 35 years. I remembered our time together at Boston College like it was two weeks ago and wrote him the following message to rekindle the soul connection.

"hank, good to hear from you. I'm living fort greene nyc. I was telling someone just the other night how we used to drive our checker cabs into the combat zone at 1:30 for last call. A long-necked beer and that band in the corner; organ, bass, and drum. Naked girl on stage. Last call. Another beer and then back into the taxi to drive a stripper home. We'd meet back at 15 malbert road for a pizza, more beer, then play table hockey before crashing on the sofas.

"those were the nights." he answered.

And that was the truth.

I've had a good life.

Which I owe to my friends like Hank.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sexy Thai Valentines

Red red red.

More red.

Ready for red.

Red Lady Karn

More red Lady Karn

Ever red.

Thai red.

And just a redhead.

Ladyboys all red.