Friday, April 30, 2010
Last night was moules frites night at Lola's on Myrtle Avenue. The owner Charlotta is a friend. We were telling jokes. None of them were clean and I loved her telling of this one.
There was this cowboy named Jake who got himself fired from his job at the ranch. He was out of work for a while, then started to get hungry. So he swallowed his pride, and went to the other ranch in those parts to ask for work--it was a sheep ranch. They hired him, of course, not too many cowboys wanted to herd sheep. The first night he was there, the other cowboys there woke him up.
"Get up, boy," they said."It's time for your initiation!"
"Initiation! But how bad could it be," he thought to himself. "After all, they were a bunch of sheep tenders!"
So they took him out back of the sheep-pen, and he saw all the other guys lined up waiting.
"Go on," they said, "Boy, it's time you showed you were a REAL man!"
"Huh?" he said.
"That's right," they said, pointing at the sheep, "Show us you're a real man."
"Oh, no," he thought, "they couldn't possibly want him to..."but then he really needed the job. So he squared his shoulders and went and picked out a sheep. He led it behind the shed. After a moment, the others were rewarded by the sounds of, "Baaaah BAAAAH..."
A couple of minutes later the cowboy came back out, buttoning his pants, to see the other guys all laughing at him.
"Oh, great," he thought, "now I've really been had." "So, what?" he said, "Was I not supposed do that with the sheep?"
"That's not it," they laughed. "It's just that you picked out an ugly one."
RIDE EM COWBOY
Jose arrives at the Mexican border on his bike with 2 huge bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and asks: "What's in the bags?"
"Senior, It's only sand." replies Jose.
"Sand??? Well, we'll just see about that - get off the bike!"
The guard takes the bags, rips them open, empties them out and finds nothing in them...except sand. Detaining Jose overnight, the sand is analysed, but only to discover it is in fact simply sand.
Jose is released, the sand is put into new bags and placed on Jose's shoulders, and he is let across the border.
Next day, same thing happens. The guard asks: "What you got there?"
"Sand," says Jose.
A thorough examination of the bags again shows there to be nothing but sand, and subsequently Jose is allowed to ride across the border.
For a whole year this continues until one day Jose doesn't show up, and the guard discovers him in a Cantina in Mexico.
"Hey, Bud," says the guard, "I know you're smuggling something. For a year it's driven me crazy. It's all I can think about... I can't get sleep, the kids are getting neglected...heck, even the dog senses I'm beginning to lose it! Between you and me, just what are you smuggling?"
Jose sips his beer, smiles and replies: "Bicycles..."
Arizona passed the strictest immigration laws in the nation ordering the police to stop any suspected illegals on sight. Opponents descry the mandate as a prototype of apartheid, while those in favor fault the federal government for its failure in controlling the border with Mexico. This flashpoint has created yet another chasm between the extreme right and moderates of GOP. The latter have accepted the harsh measures in order to curry favor with the Tea Party supporters, but no one had said how Arizona will pay for the arrests, prosecution, and imprisonment of the new harvest of illegal aliens. Arizonans don't care about the price. They want a stop to the flood from the south before the social supremacy of the white race is overcome by the brown masses.
Esculpa me or sorry in Spanish.
By 2050 the Caucasian masters with ceased to be the majority.
And there isn't anything anyone can doom about it.
We are doomed to not have mayonnaise sandwiches to eat in the future.
Which is the true sign of being white.
I shall always be a secret resister.
Mayo on my tacos.
Nothing says white boy more.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
John Guare in his play SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION contends that everyone in the world is no more than six people away from each other.
GW Bush to George Bush to his father to Hitler.
Me to my sister-in-law to George Bush Senior to GW Bush to his father and then Hitler.
Me to Carrie Carey to Ahmed Bin Laden to Osama Bin Laden.
Me to Howie Montauk to Victoria Lockwood, Countess Spencer to Earl of Spencer to Princess Diana to QEII.
I’d be a little harder pressed to establish the lineage to Bill Gates but in some case you want more than six degrees of separation especially if the end of the line is a brutish blonde pimp named SS Tommy.
In 1982 I was working at a nightclub in Hamburg. A delightful sunny seaside town in the summer and a dark dangerous industrial wasteland in the winter. BSIR’s was fronted by Jurgen, a playboy. The real owners were the GMbH. The city biggest gang of pimps, whose leader was a black German/American. Nigger Cali’s right-hand claw was SS Tommy and this zuhalter resembled a pit bull on steroids. I had managed to keep my distance from the monster. It seemed the best thing to do.
A week before Christmas SS Tommy slapped a bill on the bar.
“For what?” That sum was about $13,000.
“For having sex with Astrid.” Tommy smiled, as if he had told a secret.
“Astrid?” The ephemerally stunning lingerie model was supposedly studying German literature at university while not posing her divinely sculpted body for catalogue photographers. “She works for you?”
“This is Hamburg. Everyone works for someone.” SS Tommy had over two hundred girls on his string
“20,000.” Astrid had been coming over my Mittelweg apartment ever since she broke up with Kurt. Four months twice a night.
“And that is cheap.”
“Yes, I know.” $100/sex was a bargain if you had it. My bank account was short the bill but 14,000 DMs.
“And it’s not negotiable.”
“Sure, I can understand that.” I had 1000 DMs in my pocket and the keys to my orange VW Beetle. It wasn’t worth much since a late-night collision with a tree on Eppendorfer Weg, but handing him the keys bought time for my getting on the midnight train to Paris.
I never returned to Hamburg, fearing for my life.
Cali showed up in Paris once. He said SS Tommy wasn’t happy with my car. “I don’t think he will buy a used car again.”
Kurt had had no idea about my relationship with Astrid. “I thought you were my friend.”
“What’s a girl between friends?”
Astrid and I continued on our relationship through the 80s in Paris, New York and London. SS Tommy’s bill was never entered the conversation and I refrained from mentioning my debt to the English barrister who later became her husband. I haven’t seen her in years.
To be safe I googled SS Tommy’s name every couple of months. The search comes up blank. I thought he was either KIA or MIA.
I was completely wrong as usual.
Several years back I had an affair with a Thai hooker. That kind of relationship is hard to avoid in Pattaya. Tut was a short vixen into ja-bah or mad medicine. The rumor on the street that she had worked as a prostitute in a brothel. I was no saint and didn’t ask questions, especially since I was paying for her company.
Once she heard me speak German and asked, “Where you learn German?”
“I had a boyfriend in Hamburg.”
Boyfriends who let their girlfriends work in a whorehouse are called Zuhalterei in Germany.
“What was his name?”
A chill slithered down my spine like a snake let out of a freezer.
“Was he a body builder with blonde hair?” I should have said ‘pimp’.
“Did he have any black friends?”
“One called Kelley or Charlie.”
Nigger Cali was one of kind. “Did any of his friends call him SS?”
“Ja. What’s it mean?
Like ILSA SHE-WOLF OF THE SS. “Schiesse.”
“You know him.” Tut seemed as scared as me.
“I did but don’t anymore.”
Tut ran out that night to meet a boyfriend in Phuket. She called a week later for airfare back. I said I’d send it ASAP and blocked her number from my cellphone. We never had sex again and SS Tommy disappeared from my life once more and I hope he stays twenty separations away instead of one, because even though he’s 60. Someone like SS Tommy never forgets his debtors.
Elephant on steroids had a long memory.
My German professor in high school smoked cigarettes in the classroom. His voice grated the cinderblock walls with a tobacco rasp. We read Kafta's DAS URTEIL from a blue book. My Boston accent defiled the Teutonic language with the absence of 'R's. My 1st semester grade was an F. I was on academic scholarship. My failure was a disgrace to the testing system. The Principal and Vice-Principal suggested a change of language.
I refused their offer.
2nd semester was another F in German and another in religion. I no longer believed in god. The school took away my scholarship. I remained at Xaverian and studied German. My accent never improved despite Bruder Karl's tutorship. He failed two more times. I graduated from high school without any honors other than the annual delivery of Bruder Karl's Xmas card.
"You were my star student."
I doubted him until living in Hamburg. 1982. I spoke Auslander Deutsche at the door of a pimp's nightclub. BSIR.
"Es tut mir lied."
I did some things for which I was sorry, but I have never heard a Thai person say that they were sorry.
Your girlfriend can burn your house down with a burn-the-house-down smile.
Leave you for another man.
Say you don't love them enough.
Their lack of contrition is a parody of the famous adage from the movie LOVE STORY.
"Being in love is never having to say sorry."
Thais love everyone.
Beauty never says sorry to the Beast.
Computers have created impassable hurdles for outlaws and this week Thai Immigration officials arrested a suspected 21-year-old British national on her departure at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Her travel document was awash with errors such as the misspelling of Suvarnabhumi and departures from said airport prior to its opening. Police have detained the young lady with a blue blood hyphenated name who was traveling to Dubai. Further interrogation will be conducted at the Immigration holding pen at the airport otherwise known as Hotel des Persona Non Grata where she was joined by 20 Indian nationals unable to prove that they had the wherewithal to finance their holiday in Thailand. Separate rooms krap.
The Thai police exhumed a admission of guilt from the violator of nation's laws. I have experienced an arrest in the kingdom and it's better to tell the truth fast to arrive at the moment of judgment ASAP. The woman's reasons for risking her freedom are unknown to the Press, but the grousers at Thai Visa forum have typically convicted the woman without a trial.
Wankers most of them.
"A criminal British National who has broken the law and should be punished according to the law. I hope to the full. There seems to be some element around here who haven't quite caught on to the idea that there are laws in Thailand and if you break them it is a criminal offense and not some sort of joke. Try forging a UK immigrant visa and see how you are dealt with in the UK. Although thinking about it there would probably some plea for political asylum and under the current Labour government they would doubtless bend over backwards to provide a large house and support for all the brats; and make the tax payers bend over forwards to take it up the arse paying for the benefits."
This whiner was the winner for jerk-off of the day.
There was a time when Thailand was a refuge of the lost.
Now it's the same as everywhere else.
A shopping mall with fat people getting fatter.
Instead of a paradise for those who weren't scared of being someplace different.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Western men fantasize about having two women at once. Their aspirations range of girlfriends, mother-daughter, sisters, twins, fat girl/skinny girl, lesbians, dildos runs beyond the scope of most imaginations, however men rarely accomplish this goal for most women are prudes.
Having sex with a man already tests their limits, let alone messing around with a member of the same sex to satisfy a man’s warped perversions. Of course escort services in the West avail themselves to attain this Nirvana, but the hour-long session between two hardened pros would cost your car payments for a few months. And let’s face it only losers walk.
Not so in Pattaya.
A farang can go into a go-go. A beautiful girl will on hislap. Her skin has the texture of a shaved peach. Two Viagra counteract the effects of the 15 beers drunk in a cheap beer bar. blood flees his brain for its lower auxiliary station. Its activation is signaled by the tent pole rising under his trousers. The little exotic dancer knows what’s in store. Five hours of hard-core sex. A hard pace for any woman's vagina and she surprisingly offers the farang an opportunity to address a long-suppressed desire.
“You want go with two ladies?”
“Damn straight I want.”
Normally the girl will pick out a friend. Sometimes a girl who hasn’t been barfined in months. Sometimes a lover. The farang doesn’t care, because his skull is pounding with libido soup.
His hotel is too far and the two girls invite him to the nearest short-time room. It has mirrors on the walls and ceiling. The lighting is dim red. The perfect setting. The girts shower the farang in a state of complete nakedness. They laugh as they hang a towel on his member. He think it’s funny too, but swears to wipe the smile off their faces.
Then it’s show time.
He's seen a thousand porno movies enacting this moment and now gets a chance to play movie director. The girls initiate the a lesbian show, since better for them to play with each other than a sex maniac ie the sex-crazed farang.
Once more he doesn’t care, because they are making the right noises and his eyesight is fading in and out with the hot flashes pounding his temples.
Warning: this is a danger sign of having consumed too many ‘blue boys’ or Viagras.
Again he doesn’t care, because if he dies, he’ll die like a champ.
His patience snaps when they lay on the white sheet in a classic 69.
They look so happy.
The farang wants to be happy too.
From here on in, it get too pornographic and there’s nothing really pretty about a middle-aged guy acting like a football quarterback who’s scored the opposing team’s cheerleaders.
Within thirty minutes it’s over.
His heart is thumping like a gorilla banging a bass drum and the girls are dressing to get the hell away out of the room before he demands a second act. The door shuts. The farang alone, but not too alone, because he set his mobile phone on record and will be able to replay his performance to friends in foreign places via the magic of the internet.
“I’m glad I didn’t go to Disneyland this holiday.”
And the farang says it knowing that he meant it and he haan’t meant anything for years.
We should all be so lucky.
Natalie was sexy.
She didn't need the piercings or the tattoos.
Her libido sends the message to her customers she's on the game and if they want to play them they have to pay. Riding her was like driving a Ferrari on ice. Your skill levels had to be honed to a professional level.
And if they aren't, Natalie doesn't mind. You paid your way.
"I was not always like this," she told me on a rainy night.
"I know. Everyone was a young once." I ordered a tequila.
Her favorite first drink.
"I came here when I was 15. My mother was working a bar." She downed the shot and signaled for a beer chaser. Her belly is showing the early signs of this repeated investment in beer.
"You don't need to tell me this." My belly was a fat portfolio.
"Tell you. Not tell you. Same." Her hand caressed my thigh.
"I've heard the story before. Girl comes to Pattaya. Has boyfriend. Boyfriend leaves her. She works bar. Can't love anyone but me."
"Not same story me. 15 not have boyfriend. Boyfriend can't leave me. My mother work bar. Not me. I can love anyone. But only 4 men. Have maybe 3000 geeks. Love only 4. Maybe can love two more times."
Natalie is 25. 3000 in 10 years works out to 300 a year at 1000-1500 baht each. 400-500k puts her in the top salary bracket in Thailand.
She has nothing to show for it.
Me neither after 57 years.
"Now I go with man old. Easy money. Only worry that they die on me."
"Anyone come close?" Viagra, 60 year-old, and a young girl is a fatal combination in Pattaya.
"No, but sometimes think man will die." She puffed out her cheeks. "Luat-keung-nah."
"Blood makes their face go red." I waved for my chek-bin.
"Like red light." Natalie doesn't want me to leave. Not without her. Rain is starting to fall. It'll get heavier in minutes. There are no men in sight. only me. "Before i say I young once. 15. My mother works bar. She have friend want virgin."
"And you were a virgin?" Ten years ago I was living with Vee. My one-eyed mistress. She was no virgin.
"Never kiss a boy." Her hand moved higher on my thigh. "Borisut."
"So why you want to have sex?"
"Not me. Mah." Natalie swung between pidgin and perfect English. She had lived in the UK twice. Sweden once. "Mah needed money."
"For what?" I wondered how many times she had told this story to kak or customers.
50, 100, every night.
"Krai lu?" she answered with resignation.
A Thai daughter has to obey her mother. No matter what. No explanation necessary.<
"Man gives me 4000 baht. Not hurt because he know how to make love to virgin. I didn't like it the first time. Second time too. After that. Love it all the time. You want me show you?" Her hand rested on my crotch.
"Wish i could." I was faithful to Fenway's mom in deeds.
Thought was impossible.
I gave Natalie 200 baht. "For kin khao."
She wai-ed gracefully as a 12 year-old and said, "You can run, but you can't hide. One day i show you my pierced clit."
"I'm sure you will." I escaped before the downpour drenched the streets and came home to an empty house. My house will never know how hard I try to be good.
Or how hard it can be.
Diamonds were priced to the advantage of the dealers on 47th Street in the early 90s. 50% profit was normal for most stones. My boss Manny gave his sales staff 5% of the gross and I had the luck to hook a middle-aged woman looking to buy a 5-carat F-color diamond for her aged mother in Florida. The transaction was concluded within a week. The price was over $50,000. Manny made the woman cry by charging $100 for shipping.
"Her tears were fake." Manny was a firm believer in Cato's old adage that the strongest acid in the world is a woman's tears. He had been married twice and I had fallen in love with enough women to agree with his assessment of her weeping. We never saw her again. Richie Boy thought that we were hard-hearted. Maybe he was right, but my commission was $2500. My savings account held over $6000. An add in the NY Times Travel Section offered around-the-world ticket for $1500.
"I'm going on vacation," I told Manny the next day.
"For how long?" It was January. Snow covered the sidewalks of New York.
"Six months." I planned on writing a novel about pornography. The Lonely Planet Guide suggested a budget of $10/day. My stipend allowed $1000/month. I was going to live like a prince and not be cold.
"Don't plan on having your job when you come up." Manny had worked 6 days a week since the time he was 15.
"I'm not." I was hoping to get lost on the other side of the world. Everyone was curious about my trajectory around the world. Most of my friends had been to Los Angeles. My parents had vacationed in Honolulu. Only my Uncle Dave had been to Biak. A large island north of Irian Jaya. The back end of the world.
"I fought in the battle of the Sump." He had been on a naval warship in WW2. "We bombed the hell out of the jungle. I lived on a destroyer for six months off Biak. I bet it hasn't changed since I was there. Let me know if the Dutch hotel is still open. Buy yourself a beer on me if it is."
Uncle Dave cuffed me $20. I read about the Battle of the Sump at the NY Library. It was the first tank vs. tank battle in the Pacific Theater. The defeated Japanese forces hid in a gigantic cave. The marines poured gasoline on them. only few hundred survived the conflagration spreading through the cavern. I would drink a beer for them too. I told my travel agent at Pan Express to book a stop on the island.
Two weeks later a Garuda 747 landed on the lengthy tarmac of Mokmer Airfield. The Indonesian Tourist Board hoped to develop Biak as a tourist destination. The passengers were greeted by a trio of near-naked black guitarists playing BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON. The musicians were near-naked because of the gourd capping their penis. A string of amulets directed the shell skyward. The hundreds of weary passengers reboarded the trans-Pacific. They were bound for Bali. I watched the 747 lift from the runway. Silence descended on the airfield like a long-borrowed cloak. The customs officials processed two missionaries and me. Dusk was roiling from the east with a rapidity contradicting the miasma of the languid evening.
Across the street from the terminal was a low wooden building with the name HOTEL IRIAN JAYA. It was Uncle Dave's hotel. The hotel wore the mantel of neglect with understated pride. The tropics were hard on buildings and even harder on people. Booking a room was facilitated by the absence of other travelers. The bellhop was wearing a vest and a gourd. His skin was the color of an old piano. Anthropologists called the inhabitants of Biak Melanesians.
"Have you ever heard of Africa?" I asked slowly.
"Africa." His eyes revealed a maze of miscomprehension. I tipped him a dollar. He said, "Terami kasih banyak."
'Thank you alot.'
A dollar could buy two beers and the gratitude of a poor working stiff. I put away my bags and opened the door to the veranda. Indonesian music was playing in the bar. The sun was setting on a mirror of slate gray sea. Joseph Conrad might have sat in this room. I sniffed at the air. So had my Uncle Dave. I went to the front desk and asked if I could make a phone call.
"Sorry." The Indonesian manager explained that the phone only worked for the island.
I was cut off from the world and decided to celebrate my isolation with a beer. The bar was at the end of a bamboo hallway. It was weakly lit by 40-watt bulbs.
Someone was smoking a clove cigarette. It wasn't a hippie. It wasn't an Indonesian or Biakian either. A white man with a beer-barrel chest was sitting with a diminutive oriental female. He looked like an overweight Popeye. He immediately noticed my staring. There was no one else in the bar.
"You get off the plane?" His accent was Panhandle Texas.
"Yeah, my uncle fought on Biak. He gave me $20 to drink beer at this hotel." I pulled out Dave's 'double sawbuck' and walked over to the table.
"Then you've come to the right place." He introduced himself as Larry Smith. We shared the last name, but he was a diver hired by a Singapore concern to open a diving school on Biak. "The sea here is virgin. The reef drops into chasms. Fish everywhere and even better old Jap ships sunk during the war. Wrecks, reefs, and cheap beer. I have a good boat, but it has a shit engine. Waiting for someone to fly in a new one from Surabaya."
Every word was magic. Larry learned his diving skills on the oil rigs of the Gulf. His right hand was missing two fingers from an accident off Mexico. None of his stories sounded like lies because he was too much the truth. His girlfriend came from Jakarta. They were staying at a less expensive hotel in town. My room was less than $10. His was $3. At midnight we finished the last beers in the hotel. So was Uncle Dave's $20
"I'm going diving tomorrow." He stood like he had spent too many years off dry land. His girlfriend helped balance him for land. Her 40 kilos acting a crutch to his girth.
"Out there?" He pointed to the flat sea. It had yet to lose the glow of day. "You want to come along. I'll show you the island too."
"Sure." No touts had approached us with plans for a day tour. "See you in the morning."
"Late. We don't get up early." They wobbled from the bar and I returned to my room. My one luxury was a world-band radio. I tuned to the BBC and fell asleep to a report about the first McDonald's opening in Moscow. I hadn't eaten a Big Mac in 10 years.
Hunger growled in my stomach like a rabid tiger in the morning. The shuttered windows were defeated by the equatorial sun. I washed my face in the sink and stumbled down the hallway to the dining area. I was the only guest for the breakfast buffet of eggs bacon toast coffee rice and fruit served by a gourd-adorned waiter. I didn't have the courage to ask why they didn't bother to cover their balls. Michael Rockefeller had been eaten by my server's brethren on the Asmat coast.
Food was not the answer. I drank water and ate a slice of toast. My waiter was grateful for his tip. $1. His smile revealed sharp teeth. The guide books assured travels no Biakians had eaten human flesh for over 50 years. The waiter's fangs looked flossed, but I exited from the hotel with a shiver.
The gunmetal sea was flat as a young girl's chest. The palm-fringed beach was littered with broken boats and bare bone pig carcasses. Large fish splashed at the corpses. I put my foot in the water. I hadn't come halfway across the world to be squeamish and stripped off my shirt. Within seconds my hangover was history.
Most Americans aspired to the cathedrals of Europe for their travels. I had lived in Paris for 6 years. A single night in Biak had exorcised questions about why I ever bothered the Occident. Biak's market was flush with exotic fruits and multi-colored birds. This was Conrad's Orient. LORD JIM. Jack London's TALES OF THE SOUTH SEAS. MCHALE'S NAVY. Larry's hotel would have been condemned by a bribed housing official in Appalachia. His girlfriend was washing a tattered shirt the size of a tent.
"Rarry." She called without lifting her head.
"Hey, man." Larry exited from the room naked. His girlfriend threw him a sarong with horror. He wrapped the shredded fabric around his waist. "Go figure. All the men around here wear nothing but a gourd. That's all right. But I go buck and she has a cow."
"You mistah." She didn't look his way. His penis was erect without any help from a gourd.
"Yeah, I mistah Rarry. The Indonesians still show a little respect for the white race. Guess the Dutch knew how to whip 'em good. Me, I believe in the carrot and not the stick, but the Dutch are a tough people. Have to be to grow a tulip. Give me a few minutes and we'll start our tour."
I tried to start up a conversation with his girlfriend. She spoke no English. Larry seemed stuck on American as his language. He didn't say good-bye to her, but said to me, "A good woman. Hard to find anything good human this far from anywhere."
An Indonesian was waiting by a Toyota Landcruiser. The rental cost was $20/day with fuel. There weren't too many roads on Biak and we weren't going far. First stop was the caves. They weren't too far from the airport.
"This is where the Japs were trapped by the Marines. Maybe 4000. Maybe more. The Marines asked them to surrender. The Japs said no. They were burned alive. Every week a few survivors fly in from Japan to honor their dead." Larry threw a rock into the pit. The smell was of deep earth. "I've never gone down there. You want to go?"
I shook my head. The smell of burnt flesh was still alive on the rocky walls. 500 dead for an Emperor who spoke like a crane. They deserved their rest. Larry drove back to town. We stopped at the fish tanks swarming with rare species for export to the West. He showed off his boat. It had no engines.
"Fucking chinks in Singapore promised engines last month but out this end of the world time is the only luxury not for sale." He shouted to a Biakian puttering with a Zodiac inflatable. "You ever free dive?"
"I have good lungs." I could hold my breath underwater a good two minutes.
"Where you free dive last?"
"Isla Mujeres Mexico." I had swam through a cave 100 meters long. It was 20 meters deep. I hadn't tried the hole until I was ready and said to Larry, "I'm good for 10 meters."
"What I have to show you won't take us that deep." He ordered the mechanic to fill the gas tanks and a minute later Larry and I were skating atop a reflection of the sky. Islands floated on the horizon like ships dedicated to never sinking. Their distance promised that their beaches were preserved in a time warp dating back to Uncle Dave's time and beyond into the dust of time. Larry slowed the engine and handed me a diving mask. "This is the place."
"Aren't you coming?" We were a good three miles from Biak. I strapped the mask over my head.
"It's better to see what is under us alone." He handed me a large rock.
"What's this?" I was good. Not very good. Only good.
"Th rock will take you down fast. Stay as long as you can. You'll never see something like this ever again. Few people will unless I get that engine from Surabaya."
I held the stone in my arms. It weighted over ten pounds. Larry nodded with a heavy head. I looked at the sky. The clouds said nothing about the sea. I dropped into the water on my back and plummeted into its depth for several long seconds until I spotted the long shape of a destroyer on its side. The markings were Japanese. Fish flowed through the battle wounds like smoke through a chimney. They numbered in the millions. Other ships lay in ruined shadows. This was defeat. The end of Japan. Uncle Dave must have seen the shattered ships aflame. Sailors like soldiers never tell the truth of horror. No one would believe them. My lungs were burning like those of a drowning man and I rose to the surface half-expecting to not find the Zodiac.
"Pretty damn impressive." Larry pulled me from the sea. His eyes scanned the horizon from something dangerous. He had not mentioned sharks.
"Jap." I huffed air into my depleted lungs.
"And there's more. I found a sea cave stacked with artillery shells. 20 meters down. Who the fuck would do something like that?"
"Japs." I was brought up to think of them as fanatical. So was Larry and Uncle Dave.
"Yeah, and now all they want to do is build a golf course here."
"And dive a little?"
"I can only hope for the best. What you think about beer?"
"Like it's a good idea."
Larry drove the Zodiac back to Biak without any detours. We drank the first bottle to Uncle Dave. The rest were to the dead. They all tasted cold.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Bangkok is entering another week of crisis. The red-shirts remain in charge of the entrance of Lumpini Park. The PM of the reigning elite has rejected the Thaksin supporters' call the dissolution of the Parliament.The Oxford graduate Sunday's announcement that the mob will be dispersed by yet-to-be-determined force was tempered by the military's Supreme Commander countering that the army will not use violence against the remaining protesters. No one is disputing his statement, for during the grenade attack on the Silom SkyTrain the nearby troops responded by running from the missiles. Some media reported that the soldiers didn't want to fire on their own people, however if someone is shooting at you then you're going to shot back. It's a normal reaction. These troops did not respond with return fire.
Discipline had nothing to do with this show of restraint.
The general in charge sent his command to the point of protest without any ammunition to avoid a repeat of the deadly clash earlier in the month, which left 21 dead. No bullets. No bravery. Every man for himself. Thaksin's reach into the mid-ranks of the officer corps has stripped the Thai government of its main weapon.
Abhisit doesn't have Old Blue Eyes' deep pocket. The people of Isaan love their deposed leader. He gave them hope that one day they could be rich like him. No more poverty. It's a pretty dream until people get killed by thugs.
My friend, the Old Roue, has witnessed the rise of the goon squads.
"There's only about 6,000 actual people left - a small high-school basketball crowd - easy to dislodge now without too much bloodshed. The problem is the 'Men In Black" - a scary bunch of mercenary cut-throats who are hurling the grenades and have clearly been hired by Thingy to kill and maim. I've seen them. Deadly ex-cons / mafia leg-breakers and tattooed Muay Thai thugs - enforcers the like of which I have never seen here before. You get the picture. So Thingy clearly wants blood on the streets, even if it's a rearguard action here. Plus all around the country there are alarming attacks on Petrol refineries, trains and so on. Rocket launchers, grenade-launchers. All taken or stolen from the corrupt military.This is going to go on and on until Boxy gets back in or somebody kills him."
I don't like seeing people getting hurt, but the Thai elite used to rule the people with an iron fist. Speak out and you were killed by the death squads like in 1976 and 1992. Or shoot by gunmen during Thaksin's War of Drugs or his suppression of the South. The Army killed scores of men at the Tak Bai protest in 2004. Killed them with a smile and now the troops at running like dogs with a dick up its ass.
Someone has got a big pay day to let that happened to his soldiers.
Someone close to retirement age.
But also so powerful that he can't be kicked out for fear of losing him 100% to the dark side of Old Blue Eyes.
I know one thing.
If someone starts shooting in my direction while I'm in Thailand in May.
I'm running the other way.
"Feets don't fail me now."
My first trip to Thailand was in 1990. There was a war in Cambodia. The Burmese border was unsafe. A sign was posted at hotel entrances; NO GUNS GRENADES, LANDMINES, OR DURIAN. These warnings no longer grace the doors of hotel rooms and this last week red-shirt protesters launched M-79 grenades onto the Skytrain platforms as anti-demonstrators contested their right to hold a city hostage. Their aim was true and several people were killed and more than a few were seriously wounded by the missiles.
The Thais was good with bombs guns and explosives. evolved from pre-Buddhist fertility rites to celebrate the coming of the rains and the end of the dry season.
Every year the northeastern provinces hold the Prapheni Bun Bang Fai rocket festival to entice the Naga spirits to deliver the right amount of rain for the rice growing Rocket enthusiasts from around Asia flock to scenic Yasothon to join in the missile mayhem with their own versions of the bang fai naga rockets.
No one wears helmets or goggles and drinking lao seems to be the only safety measure.
If you get drunk enough, then you will lie in the shade out of harm’s way.
The Japanese won that segment of the contest.
Winners are decided by how long the projectiles constructed of bamboo or PVC piping and fueled by a mixture of nitrate and charcoal remain in the air. Rockets can be up to 3 meters in length. Over 50% never leave the ground, but those achieving take-off fly without any benefit of guidance.
"I shot a rocket in the air, where it lands I do not care is the working theory."
Explosives, lao whiskey, and a four-day celebration are the right ingredients for misadventure as was proven by a potentate from the pseudo-ruling party. His missile was the biggest in the festival (6 meters) and billed as the acme of bamboo rocketry.
The farmers toasted the minister with lao whiskey.
He lit the fuse all smiles.
The rocket flew into the heaven and then veered off course.
It landed 3 kilometers away in a village, blowing windows from the school van and nearby houses as well as scattering rocket debris over the area.
How do you say ‘opps’ in Thai?
The minister claimed responsibility and did not flee the scene of the incident.
On the upside, the minister has been contacted by several space weapons agencies in the west to help them with their missiles. He must be under contract to the red shirts these days. Khun Thaksin has the big money for the crazy rocket men of Isaan.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Men come to Pattaya for one reason.
It is not golf or the beach.
They come for the girls.
The Thai girls offer 'companionship'. Farang men are obliged to exchange money for this friendship, even if it's for as little as an hour. Almost everyone understand the dynamics of the exchange, however newcomers to the scene boast, "I never pay for it."
Saying it and doing it are two different things, for nothing gets Thai bar girls angrier than being stiffed by a drunk westerner. Their normal response silked from the hotel room and wait to see the pride-filled short-timer drunk on walking street or soi 8. She will point him out to her friends and they will pummel his head with high heels.
Blood everywhere, because he didn't pay for it.
A good lesson in economics.
A man always pays for it.
One way or another.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers was compromised by an incident in a rural Georgia bathroom, where he aggressed a 20 year-old female in the bathroom. The NFL reacted to the allegations of sexual misadventure with a 6-game suspension of the 28 year-old star. Ben Roethlisberger earns 2 million a year for the Steelers and the question has to be asked, "What was this stupid motherfucker thinking?"
The Press loves to put 'alleged' before every article to protect themselves from libel, but as a man who has had sex in the bahtroom more than once I can truthfully say that Ben Roethlisberger is more guilty than a Boston priest of child molestation and the NFL has weakly responded with a 6-game suspension.
Slap on the wrist.
But not too hard on his passing arm.
ps the cheerleader is from the Cincinnati Bengals.
I like her stance.
The biggest house in Quincy Massachusetts was owned by a funeral director. His daughters were the most beautiful girls on the South Shore in 1967 and introduced Cream to their admirers. I was one of them. So was an apprentice embalmer for their father. The other suitors joked that Adam made love to the still bodies in the basement of the funeral home. He played a strange style of guitar. The older daughter loved his licks. Like Ulysses he slayed his rivals with a secret weapon.
A Fender Stratocaster.
One night when we were high on LSD, Cherie confessed that her boyfriend liked for her to pretend that she was dead.
"I lie on a cold stone slab."
I remembered a similar line from 1960s Classic IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT where a young white trash girl tells about a night with a cracker cop.
He said to me, "Hey, little girl, you know what the coolest spot in town is?"
And I said "No, Sam. I guess I don't."
And he said..."The cemetery. That's where."
"Cos they got all of them big, cool tombstones to lie on naked."
That was area 'huh' moment for the movie viewers of the time.
Like what the fuck are they talking about.
I learned later when I found a copy of Le Nécrophile.
A photocopied English translation of THE JOURNAL OF LUCIEN H.
Most incredible passage of someone who loves the dead.
No serial killer.
Only the desire of death cooled flesh.
I think I have the copy up in Boston.
Probably get arrested for it.
That's what we call outlawism.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The 1980s are 30 years in the past. Few people remember those years. I tell stories and the listeners think that I'm lying about jumping off cliffs or nearly making love with Darryl Hannah or even about watching bears eat garbage at the dump in Maine. I wonder if they are right, but my memory is spot on about many things like how a Paris friend and his girlfriend would leave the Bains-Douches or Helium high on heroin.
Guilhomme was a cold-wave musician. His chubby copine was a sex club dancer with orange hair and skin as white as chalk. They made a good couple. He was gay and Claudine was asexual. Neither had money, so every night they would scale the high stone walls of the Pere LaChaise Cemetery. Their squat was a hundred meters from the grave of Jim Morrison, but very close to the plinth of hieroglyphist Jean-François Champollion.
"Mssr Les Doors attracts too much of the wrong crowd. It's quieter at our squat." Guilhomme and Claudine shared a subterranean tomb with the remains of a familie bien-connu during the 19th Century. Obscurity allowed the couple to live in relative splendor.
"Bien sur, we have to keep an eye open for grave robbers. They hunt for the bodies of the newly dead. Normally taking only the head, since it's easier to hide in a bag than a corpse. Bodies are 5000 new francs and heads are 3000. Facile for transport."
"I hear the ghouls at night." Claudine shivered at the mention of grave-robbers.
"They are quieter than the Satan worshippers." Guilhomme painted a tapestry of crimson sacrifices surrounded by bones of the long-dead. His lead singer Eric was squeamish at the sight of blood and tolerated Guilhomme for his talent at the keyboards. Their crow-black band never possessed a name. A model/friend from LA suggested Les Mortes. Guilhomme loved that, but then he resembled a untombed cadaver. He brandished a long stiletto. "I will cut them first."
"They are no fools." Claudine knew the limits of Guilhomme's protection. Their sojourn in Pere Lachaise lasted a summer. The cold stone walls of the crypt offered excellent comfort during the hot season. Autumn brought the damp and junkies hate the wet.
I admired Guilhomme for his adventure. He's still alive. So is Eric and the model from LA. I am too. Leeza considered Guilhomme a freak and Eric agreed although for different reasons, "Anyway we will all sleep in a grave one of these days, at least Guillaume can say "alive": I know how it is ! But I agree with Leza he's freak but for some other reasons."
Eric wouldn't confess how.
Some secrets are better left to the grave.
Especially about those that live in the Earth.
The nuns of St. Mary's of the Hills taught their students the proper response to a Russian nuclear attack. The atomic clutch under the desk supposedly protected us from the atomic flash. None of them warned about the greater danger posed by priests and this week the Pentagon's Mouthpiece announced to the concerned masses of Americans that our missile defenses would prevent any strategic strike by the Islamic republic of Iran for the foreseeable future.
Everyone in the lower 48th States will be safe until the year 2015.
The Spokesperson made no comment about saving humanity from the predicted end of the world in 2012.
Save us Mr. Wizard.
So we can be destroyed in 2015.
My vintner sells a bottle of $10 Chardonnay. My palate torched by even more unpalatable wines appreciated the almond and citrus hints of this Languedoc vintage thanks to many summers spent in that southern region of France. My cousin, Runback, would consider this swill. His taste runs to wines of a better caliber. Financiers don't drink cheap.
"What's your best wine?" Runback will ask the sommellier at New York's 3-star restaurants. A big earner is a big spender. My cousin is a firm believer in the 'trickle-down' theory of wealth acquisition and a near-death experience during a Boston Bruins game taught him the value of the pursuit of happiness.
Life is short.
Let's make the best of it.
This afternoon Richie Boy was exulting in the glory of having sold Burma ruby earrings during a dinner at La Bernadin. Later in the day his waiter entered the store and bought a $22,000 diamond engagement ring.
"That was my best lunch ever."
Richie Boy said nothing about his meal, but he was friend's with the chef. His lunch had to be delicious. I had a 50% off sushi from a no-star eatery on 46th Street. But I have no complaints. A $10 bottle of wine gets you as drunk as a 1961 Chateau Latour which cost only $3 at release.
Save the winos.
I woke up early to blue skies over Brooklyn. I reached over to my computer and opened up Skype to call Mam, the love of my life. There was no answer from Thailand and I figured that my son was sleeping early. The time difference is 12-hours and Fenway has not been feeling well. I haven't been feeling good either. Shortness or breath, weakness in my muscles, and a tightness around my waist.
Three succinct words describe my condition.
Out of shape.
My good friend David Tidball used to say, "I like to think of my body as the Acropolis. It's in a state of ruins but you can tell it must have been something once."
My friends have been amused over the years by my adoption of this quip, however this winter proved harsh to antiquity and my body has slung into a sodden shape worthy of hippo-suction. I went into the bathroom and disrobed without a narcissistic regard at my reflection. The mirror was dedicated to truth. My shower was quick. Drying off even faster. I dressed in a pin-striped suit. Black-blue was a good color for the over-weight.
After coffee and a bowl of blueberries I attempted to call Mam again. No answer. It was 8:30. My normal departure from my Fort Greene apartment was 9am. Today's early exit was timed to include a brisk walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. C train to High Street. Tulip burst from the entrance garden. Runners hurried past the strollers. Bicyclists raced across the span. My eyes searched the south for Staten Island. My doctor lived along the crest of hills. No prescription could waste away my overload. I quickened my pace.
My arrival at the diamond exchange was tardy. Ten minutes. Sister Mary Goretti had awarded a gold star for my perfect attendance three years in a row. Never late. Never missed a day throughout 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. Manny,my boss, greeted my entrance with a glance at his watch. he liked to think of me as part-time since Inever showed up on time.
After greeting everyone at work I set up the front window with several million dollars worth of jewelry. My several calls to Mam were unsuccessful and I put my phone on my desk. Deisy, my co-worker, placed a coffee on my desk. Black. No milk. No sugar. Everything was going according to plan until I opened my online banking account.
2 extra Western Union wires for 4/19 had resulted in three overcharges.
A $300 loss.
"What's wrong?" Manny asked from his desk. The 80 year-old had lost his hearing aid a month ago, but still could hear what ever he wanted to hear. I explained the problem and he criticized my slovenly laziness. "You're the smartest person I know, but you think too fast for your own good."
"That's why I stutter. I think too fast." I excused myself from the exchange and rushed over to the bank. The staff were helpful but couldn't explain how my financial misadventures had taxed my account for $300. I needed to send Fenway money. He was sick. I called Mam. This time she answered the phone and I asked if she had received any extra money.
"I not get anything. Maybe you send mia luang." Mam hated that I gave money to support my 'daughter' from a previous relationship. She thought I was married. Nothing could convince her otherwise. Not even the truth. In her mind she would always be the mai noi or small wife. It didn't matter what I felt in my heart.
"I think someone steal from my computer." I answered in a panic. Last year a Russian had hacked my account for a $600 loss. The bank had charged a supplemental insult of $200 in overcharges.
"I not steal from you."
"I know that. Don't worry. This is not your problem."
Mam was on the other side of the world. She was taking care of a sick baby and her older son. The words lost the meaning in the translation. Mam phoned back frustrated at being alone. My apologies meant nothing. My mention of money angered her further. Nothing I said could bring her back to before she met me.
I was a fuck-up.
She hung up and I sat heavily at my desk.
"Good news?" Manny knows my story.
"Yeah, great." But like everyone else in the world neither Manny nor I knew the exact ending.
Oh what a wonderful day.
Everything could only be uphill from here and it wasn't even noon.
The President of Baltimore's City Council has issued a call for stiffer penalties against drinking and urination in public to combat the outburst of lewd behavior in several neighborhoods aswarm with drunks after the bars close for the evening at 2am. wants misbehaving late-night revelers to pay a steep price for public drunkenness.
"We want you to be responsible for your actions. We don't want you breaking our car windows, urinating on people's property, defecating on people's property and just destroying the community by being loud and obnoxious."
Another tactic would have been to keep the bars open around the clock, so the revelers stay inside their haunts or to erect public urinals for the needy. I stopped drinking in Manhattan since my bladder can't last the subway trip from the Lower East Side to Fort Greene in Brooklyn without getting off at the Jay Street with the desperate urge to drain the monster. The fine for such a crime in NYC is about $20-50. Baltimore regards the offense with much more severity.
The current fine for public urination is $150. The president of the city council proposes raising the fine to $750.
$750 for a wizz.
Faced with such a draconian measure I'd pee in my pants.
Of course several bloggers from the right blamed the N-word president for the lack of civility exhibited by Baltimore's boozers.
"You being one of those 'Chocolate Cities', one can only imagine the NIGHTMARES of daily life. Failing Schools, Drugs, Gangs, Empty Storefronts and Boarded up Factories. Prostitution, NO JOBS from your Boy in the White House, 90% of kids with NO FATHER in the house. AND, people going pee."
"I worked all my life to pay off my house I don't want to have it made worthless by an out of control property tax regime and cops who won't or can't do their job and keep the crooks and gangsters from having a free reign. WAKE UP BALTIMORE BEFORE YOU DON'T have any rights."
After pee, the deluge.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
30,000 years ago mankind numbered in the thousands. Their settlements have been researched by countless archaeologists. Nothing was lost to the notice of man, however Henri Mouhot announced to the world in 1860 that he had found the lost city of the Khmers, Angkor Wat. The Frenchman never mentioned that previous expedition to the great lake of Cambodia had visited the ruins or that thousands of monks were living on the grounds of the various royal temples. He was a good writer and his posthumously published journals intoxicated the Occidental psyche with the romance of forgotten worlds.
"One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michael Angelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged. At Ongcor, there are ...ruins of such grandeur... that, at the first view, one is filled with profound admiration, and cannot but ask what has become of this powerful race, so civilized, so enlightened, the authors of these gigantic works?"
The height of prejudice.
The cities had been abandoned like those of the Mayas.
Rebellion against the rich.
Two weekends ago my good friend Andrew Camp and I stumbled across the ruins of several brick kilns in Dutchess County. They probably dated back to the 18th Century. Slate piled into cones. No beer bottles or cans were in the interior. The layers of leaves formed a bed of neglect dating several seasons of bad weather. We were ecstatic to have discovered such monuments to man's neglect only 10 miles from Andrew's house and we did what all men do at such moments.
We peed on their walls.
"I came, I saw, I peed."
America's Secretary of War Robert Gates released a memo to the Press stating that the USA had no policy in place for dealing with Iran's nuclear program. The contents of that message have been dribbled to the media who as usual have hit the panic button in fear that the Iranians will launch an Ayatollah missile at New York or Tel Aviv. Armageddon and the Coming of Jesus are frightful images for the uncontrite sinner as well as those not ready to witness the End of Times, however the USA and Iran haven't spoken diplomatically since the 1979 overthrow of the Shah.
The capture of the American Embassy, Jimmy Carter's failed rescue attempt,the Iran-Contra Affair, the sale of poison gas to Iraq during the Is-War, the downing of a Iranian jet liner, America the Great Satan, and Bush's Axis of Evil are but a few of the highlights of the two nation's failed political strategy against each other. In fact the only time our countries have found common ground was the pact between Ronald Reagan and Islamic Council not to release the hostages to guarantee the defeat of Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential elections.
While the chasm between these two government is wide, I have partied with mad Iranians in Paris, London, and Pattaya. We shared the same desires. Life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness. Our mutual voices are ignored by the media. Instead they listen to the mad like the ayatollah who claimed that earthquakes are caused by women in short dresses and the adoption of the modern world. His counterpart Pat Robertson scored big points with the evangelical clique by damning the Haitian for their pact with the Devil.
"They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'OK it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another."
It's obvious that when sane can't get together, then it's time for the mad to forge the bonds of friendship.
Mad ayatollahs and fucked-up Baptists.
Peace through the meeting of mad minds.
It's worth a shot.
Monday, April 19, 2010
The ex-model from Paris send her friends epistles about the end of the world. She considers the volcano eruption in Iceland a sign of impending end of everything. Her faith is Baptist. They worship the coming of the Apocalypse for this world has reached eternal damnation for our collective sins.
Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, drugs, rampant atheism, racial miscegenation, opening stores on Sunday, and a myriad of other violations of God's Commandments. Worst of all America has elected the Anti-Christ as President. Militias are digging up their arms caches. Preachers are warning their flocks of the End of Times. It's all of 1990s. The hatred and the threats of violence will result in the resumption of bombings against the Federal Government, which has transport by train all the right-wingers and Christian extremists to detention centers where they were be indoctrinated in the ways of Satan.
Populist radio talk hosts have called for resistance a la the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing in 1995. Bill Clinton was president then and the demagogues have realized that Slick Willy isn't half the Devil that Obama is.
And that is why god is showing his fury with this volcano.
Our black President is out of whack with the celestial scheme.
God is pissed.
We are doomed.
I can feel it in my bones. Not in my soul, since I sold my aether to the credit card companies 10 years ago.
It seemed like a good deal at the time.
What could I have been thinking?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Songkran ends this weekend with the Democrats still controlling the Thia government. Few observers would have wagered on the coalition's retaining power after the series of disastrous attempts to oust the red shirts from their strongholds throughout Bangkok. The protesters are portrayed as coming from the poor, however it was evident from their humiliation of the military that they have better advisers than a bunch of jah-bah maddened motor-sai taxi drivers. Their resistance has been aided by the tradition of non-violent confrontation. Troops do not want to fire on their own people.
They might not have a choice this coming week, as the PM has shifted control of the dealing with the red shirts to a more aggressive leader.
Anyone having seen a Muay Thai boxing match knows that the Land of Smiles loves a good scrap. Red shirt leaders have told the army commanders that they will surrender to authorities on May 15.
The answer should be 'mai dai'.
Only two ways out of this confrontation.
Blood or a airplane ticket to Paris.
I'd go for Paris.
The other option is too bloody to imagine.
The above image was taken during the repression of the 1976 student demonstrations for democracy.
No one is smiling.
April 17, 1975 I was teaching at South Boston High School. Poor black students were bussed to the worst white school in the city. A federal judge from the suburbs mandated the order to desegregate the school system. His children attended private schools. Riots were a regular occurrence. The most violent outburst were reserved for the TV cameras. Everyone wanted fame even in infamy. I can't recall exactly what happened on April 17, 1975. I woke up to a call from the School Board. I was a substitute. They sent me to South Boston. The day ended without any trouble according to google. At least in Southie.
Cambodia was another story.
The Fall of Phnom Penh.
No one really cared in America.
After all it was a sideshow, but five years later the Dead Kennedys recorded "Holiday in Cambodia" to attack extreme political savagery, US imperialism, and blase Western morality.
So you been to school
For a year or two
And you know you've seen it all
In daddy's car
Thinkin' you'll go far
Back east your type don't crawl
Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin' that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul
It's time to taste what you most fear
Right Guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear:
It's a holiday in Cambodia
It's tough, kid, but it's life
It's a holiday in Cambodia
Don't forget to pack a wife
You're a star-belly sneech
You suck like a leach
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss ass while you bitch
So you can get rich
But your boss gets richer off you
Well you'll work harder
With a gun in your back
For a bowl of rice a day
Slave for soldiers
Till you starve
Then your head is skewered on a stake
Now you can go where people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need, my son:.
Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you'll kiss ass or crack
Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, [etc]
And it's a holiday in Cambodia
Where you'll do what you're told
A holiday in Cambodia
Where the slums got so much soul
True then. Truer today.
To hear holiday in Cambodia - Dead Kennedys go to this URL
And then a moment's silence for the dead.
They were many.
SIDESHOW by William Shawcross
When I first visited Cambodia in 1995, I arrived at Phnom Penh’s airport on a brutally sunny day. My sunglasses offered little protection against the glare. I stumbled toward the terminal seeking relief from the heat, then stopped upon seeing a small bus deboarding its young passengers. Every child dressed in their best clothes. They were flying to Thailand for fittings with prosthetic limbs. Hopeful smiles disguised their missing arms and legs as well as the nervous anticipation of a long journey away from family and friends.
Amputees are everywhere in Cambodia and the mines laid during that long conflict reap new victims without a vacation. People don’t express anger about Pol Pot, the mines, or the long war, almost as if it had happened to someone else or talking about it might bring back those years.
Not me, I’d be out for revenge and my #1 target would be Henry Kissinger, who is portrayed in William Shawcross’ book, SIDESHOW as the principal architect of Cambodia’s descent from a neutral monarchy to the Pentagon’s secret front of the Viet-Nam War.
Prince Sihanouk had kept his country out of the neighboring conflict by waltzing between the USA and Vietnamese combatants. By 1970 this non-combatant status was unacceptable to the Nixon regime and Kissinger condoned the secret bombing of suspected NVA bases in what was known as the Parrot’s Beak.
Armed incursions followed as well as an invasion. Sihanouk was deposed and supported the Khmer Rouge against the Lon Nol dictatorship. This country of rice paddies and flood plains joined Laos and Vietnam in the holocaust. As usual civilians paid the heaviest toll and the Nobel Institute disgraced itself forever by awarding Kissinger with the Peace Prize.
A little know fact is that Senator McCain’s father was the admiral directing the unauthorized bombing of Cambodia. He was offered his son’s release if the bombing stopped. It never did, because the USA doesn’t speak with terrorists, but worst than the bombs was what the Cambodian suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and as of yet none of them have gone on trial.
The Khmer Rouge numbered in the thousands. They lived as suggested by Mao amongst the people. Calls for justice are muted by the quiet resignation that righting a wrong is for big people and not poor peasants. No one is asking Kissinger to appear before a judge or the Chinese or the Vietnamese. The frontiers of guilt die at a country’s borders.
Back in 1982 I was working in Hamburg, Germany. A reporter friend took me to the trial of a Nazi. The accused must have been 80 and my friend said, “The Polizei found him hiding in a nursing home.”
Despite the horrors portrayed in SIDESHOW, the Cambodians are a much more forgiving people than others who have suffered through a holocaust, mostly because they have to live with the perpetrators. They love Americans and only a few older people have any idea about what Kissinger or Nixon did to them. The rest live life as best they can without any help from the bombers of 1970.
Along the path to Angkot Wat’s Bayon Temple a quintet of amputees plays traditional music. A tourist stopped to take a photo and the leader of the troupe asked the visitor’s nationality. When the middle-aged voyager replied Texas, the band struck up YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS.
The tourist left a dollar and so did I.
Small reward for such forgiveness.
The Khmer Rouge believed that wipe the slate clean was the only way to reincarnate the pureness of Cambodian society. The regime exiled the people from the old colonial cities to re-education camps in the rice fields and jungles. The cadre shut schools, hospitals and factories. Money was banished from daily life. Religion was cast into the sewer and private property was deemed evil. No alcohol, gambling, or games.
The Taliban followed the same path in Afghanistan.
The Khmer Rouge were only slightly more progressive with women than their Islamic counterparts. Women were allowed only one black outfit. Hair was cut short. Make-up and jewelry were signs of foreign influence. Death was the punishment for any infraction.
And America can expect the same should the Baptist have their way.
Hell, yes. Heaven no.
35 years ago the forces of the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh. The joyous crowds greeted the jungle fighters with the hope of peace. The radio operator of the royal Cambodian Army broadcasted a last message to his compatriot in his capitol.
"Goodbye sir. See you in Phnom Penh."
The Lieutenant Colonel didn't make it back to his homeland that year and missed the forced exodus of the cities. Over a million Cambodian died under the reign of the Khmer Rouge.
I was 24.
I got to Phnom Penh in 1995.
Lieou Phin Oum has passed onto a new position.
He remains honored by the front-line observers of that conflict.
"Some gave some. A few gave all."
Dutch airline officials have scheduled several test flights to ascertain the danger of flying in the volcanic ash clouds drifting east from Iceland. Air France, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines joined the low altitude experiments and their corporate executives have suggested that normal flight schedules might be resumed in the coming week. Government officials are more cautious about allowing travel at higher cruising altitudes of 25000-35000 feet with the increased exposure to the silica dust from the distant volcano. Travelers stuck in airports and foreign cities have expressed their concern, but living like a stateless refugee have the maroonees itching to take the risk.
Ronald Reagan was faced with a similar decision on whether to launch the Space Shuttle Challenge on Jan. 28, 1986. The rockets were ready for the count-down on several earlier occasions, but were delayed for weather, a broken door latch, and finally to allow VP George Bush to join the President on the stand on Cape Kennedy. The last postponement pushed the launch into the lower safety parameters for NASA engineers, as the weather dropped to near-freezing. The management of the booster rockets convinced President Reagan that the O-ring seals would hold during lift-off. Old Dutch believed them, but their hunch was wrong.
The Space Shuttle disintegrated 76 seconds into its flight.
Death was not instantaneous for the crew and neither will it be not any 747s flaming out in the upper atmosphere. They will have time to sing all the words to EIGHT MILES HIGH if they can regain some calm from the panic of facing certain death.
"There is currently no consensus as to what consists an acceptable level of ash in the atmosphere."
These words came from a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency.
He is a doctor of something.
Maybe he's right, but I'm not getting in a plane to Europe.
Mostly because I'm heading to the Orient.
Where the only danger is beer and motorcycles and the love of my Mam.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The GOP has been active in obstructing any legislation in Congress for decades. The strategy of no laws have created a logjam in Washington. Many Americans consider the Grand Old Party to be the party of 'No'. Earlier in the month Sarah Palin clarified the position of her Tea Party by stating at a New Orleans convention of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, ""Party of no? Nah. We're the party of 'hell no.'"
Her opposition to the Obama Health Plan has vaulted the ex-governor of Alaska once more to the forefront of the fight for the White House.
"Hell,no," crowed Andy, the ex-cop working as a security guard at the diamond exchange. He recently joined the Tea Party and the retiree proudly swears his love for Sarah Palin. "I'd love to see her naked."
"I'm not so sure about that." My sister-in-law is constantly asking why I never settled down with a woman my age. Not many 57 year-old matron want a piece of me. I'm damaged goods. Sarah Palin is 45. Young in my eyes, but not young enough. "That would be hell for me."
"Hell, no." Andy is a true retro-racist. He hates Obama and most every black. "That's Heaven for me."
"Well, if you're 'hell,no', then I guess I'm purgatory maybe."
"What are you talking about?"
"If I was a Christian then I would say Heaven Yes to refute your 'hell no'."
"But you're a non-believer." Andy knows my beliefs. He isn't so Christian himself.
"Exactly." Obama had even mentioned 'non-believers' during his inauguration speech. "So I don't believe in Heaven or hell or any afterlife."
"You'll be surprised when you die and find yourself at the pearly gates."
"Surprised? I'll be shocked." Especially if god is wearing a muumuu. I don't expect much sympathy from the almighty for my apostasy. "But I sort of believe in Limbo, so I guess I'll have to say 'Purgatory maybe' to you tea baggers."
"We're tea partyers. Not tea baggers." The 'birthers are sensitive about this reference the sexual act of swallowing testicles in the mouth.
"What if the tea-bagging was done by Sarah?"
"Then she's all yours."
Just another side of the coin in the wonderful world of politics
My great-grand aunt Bert sailed around the world in the 19th Century on her father's sailing vessel, trading with the Orient in such ports as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. The trip took over a year. My Irish grandmother crossed the Atlantic as a child of 12. The six-day stormy voyage so terrified my Nana that she never returned to her native Ireland. My parents' plane ride to Dublin lasted less than seven hours. Stewardesses served dinners with silverware and wine glasses. The rigors of present day journeys to Europe have been reduced to long lines, endless security measures, and plastic cutlery.
The ease of air travel was an accepted modern conveniences, until a dormant Icelandic volcano awoke with a series of eruptions spewing silica ash into the atmosphere. Aviation officials swiftly canceled hundreds and then thousands of European and Trans-Atlantic flights for fear of jet engine failure. This drastic measure has left millions of travelers stranded throughout the world and scientists are not predicting an end to the crisis.
The Eyjafjallajökull Volcano has melted the surrounding glaciers and authorities are concerned with a larger nearby volcano coming to life. If that was the case, then the twin emissions from the bowels of the earth would adversely hamper transportation across the globe for weeks if not months. The economic costs are estimated at almost $400 million a day for the airlines alone. The ripple effect will soon cost billions to the global markets on all levels.
No one is blaming Iceland for this natural calamity and the remote North Atlantic nation is bankrupt after the collapse of its banking system in 2008. This is an act of nature, however there might come a time in the future where the world will request Iceland to quell the angry volcano with human sacrifice as suggested by a myriad of internet pundits.
With Europe a no-fly zone Greek shipping magnates must be contemplating a return to the glory of ocean liners.
Anyone ready for the Titanic 2?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
PUBLISHED on MR.BELLER’S NEIGHBORHOOD 0CT. 2004
Every high tide deposited beer bottles, oil containers, fishing lines, shiny candy wrappers, and plastic bags onto the sloping shoreline of Pattaya. At low tide I harvested the trash into sea-worn rice bags. Within a half-hour the sand was devoid of any human refuse and I could smugly regard the pristine strand with pride.
While tourists rolled their eyes in disgust at my ecological efforts, the Thais from the beach cafes congratulated my work without ever breaking caste to aid my task. Such labor was beneath them and from under a parasol my girlfriend expressed her embarrassment by saying, “Tomorrow have plastic again. Every day have. You stop nothing.”
“Doesn’t matter. At least the beach is clean for now.”
I continued my patrol and the bending proved very therapeutic. In fact not a single joint creaked and not one muscle ached in my 50 year-old body. I could press my palms flat onto the sand, however the ex-go-go dancer was under-impressed. “You only not hurt, because you stop play basketball.”
Mem was right. I had not picked up a basketball in months. Thais were mad about Man United. The NBA was a sideshow. The courts at the schools were used for pick-up football games. Their backboards were warped by the tropical sun. Occasionally I dribbled a basketball at the local mall and the Thais waited for a show, except ballhandling had never been the mainstay of my game.
When my cousin came out to visit and Mem asked, “He good playing basketball?”
Bish and I had played our last one-on-one game twenty years ago yet he answered without hesitation. “He’s the dirtiest player this side of Bill Laimbeer.”
The Detroit Piston was legendary, but the name meant nothing to Mem
“Sok-ka-phok.” She wrinkled her nose. “Dirty same not shower.”
My cousin gestured violently with his elbow. “No, dirty same the Mafia.”
Bish was not far from wrong. My fouls on the street courts had to be approaching the half-million mark. Despite this record, I loved basketball and had so from even before I saw one.
In the 1950s I lived on a quiet street across the harbor from Portland, Maine. My brother, my best friend, and I spent summers playing baseball, chasing seagulls from the mudflats, and exploring the offshore islands in leaky rowboats. Autumn was for football and for the winter my father built us a hockey rink from scavenged two by fours once the temperature dropped below freezing.
One night my father ran into the backyard and declared he saw a rattlesnake in the front yard. We hobbled into the house on the skates and he called the State Police. The deadly reptile turned out to be the silhouette of a paper bag flapping in the wind.
During dinner we joked about the episode, however my eight-year’s old mind filled the dark with snakes’ sibilant slither. Panic-stricken I ran into my parents’ room and leapt into the bed. “There’s snakes under my bed.”
“Maine doesn’t have any snakes.” My father was exhausted.
“You thought saw one tonight.” If he believed snakes in the winter, then they might have slithered into the house. “Can’t I sleep with you?”
“You’re getting a little old for this.” My father protested with closed eyes.
“He’s young.” My mother threw back the cover.
The disruptiveness of this nocturnal intrusion escaped me, until I was a little older. The following day my father brought home two crystal radio sets shaped as rockets. They were made in Japan. My father explained the instructions. “You attached alligator clips to a metal object. The signal was transmitted to the earpiece and you tuned the radio with a retractable space needle jutting from the nose of the rocket.”
“They aren’t going to get electrocuted.” My mother’s fear was for our own good.
“There’s no electrical charge. The radios capture the airwaves.” My father was an electrical engineer for the phone company. He knew about these things. “These are better than TV. You can hear the rest of the world.”
TV reception is Maine was limited to three very snowy channels.
“Okay.” My mother accepted their harmless and my father handed my older brother and me the sets.
At bedtime I dressed in my Davy Crockett pajamas. Before I could plant the earpiece, my mother ordered us to hand over the sets. My brother surrendered his and rolled over to sleep. I needed any explanation. She held out her hand.
I had read the flimsy instruction sheet. “But they don’t have any batteries.”
“It’s not that,” she exhaled with exasperation. “At night they play things you shouldn’t hear.”
This cryptic comment reanimated my dozing brother. “Things?”
As a devout supporter of Tailgunner Joe’s battle against the Reds my mother was deeply concerned about the subversion of the airwaves. Events of the Sixties proved her right.
“There’s nothing on the radio that can hurt them.” My father came into the bedroom and told my mother, “Let them listen to the radio. It’s a free country and the radio scares away the snakes.”
She gave him a withering glare. “You shouldn’t be telling them stories.”
“I just want a night’s sleep,” he whispered with a wink.
My mother begrudgingly returned my brother’s set and kissed us both. “Sleep tight.”
“And don’t let the bedbugs bite,” my brother and I replied in unison.
Once the light went out, my brother fell asleep and I attached the alligator clips to the metal bed frame.
The airwaves soared with voices from Montreal, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Their accents scared away the snakes. Music and radio shows appeared between the squawks of static, until a hoarse man cried out, “And Cousy has the ball.”
I soon divined that ten men comprised the Seventy-Sixers and the Celtics.
Each play mattered to the announcer and the roar of the crowd was as bloodthirsty as the Romans in the Coliseum. I rooted for the Boston team, since my mother had been born in Jamaica Plains, but Bill Russell was not stopping the dreaded giant, Wilt. Luckily the Sixers were befuddled by the Jones boys and at breakfast I recounted how the two brothers’ defense stopped the Philadelphia team.
“When you fall asleep?” my father asked and I answered, “Around midnight.”
“Don’t tell your mother or the Jones Boys will have a curfew.”
In 1960 we moved to Boston. My father took us to the Garden. It didn’t matter that KC and Sam Jones weren’t brothers. Seeing the game hooked me on basketball, despite my dribbling being rudimentary and my shooting abysmal. My skills didn’t improve in high school or college, yet my merciless ‘in your shorts’ defense allowed me to compete against much taller and more talented players.
In 1976 I wandered onto West 4th Street.
Truthfully I didn’t deserve to stand on that pint-sized court with its high-flying leapers, deadeye shooters, and dazzling dribblers. The players recognized I didn’t give up on defense. This sacrifice allowed them to devote everything to offense. It was a fair trade.
One summer day a muscle-bound guard from Mott Haven drove toward the basket. I planted my feet and took the charge. He bounced off my shoulder and I passed the loose ball for my teammate’s easy lay-up. Before any congratulations were offered, the guard said, “Point don’t count.”
“Why not?” Incredible talent didn’t prevent players from calling outrageous fouls.
“You charged me, Oppie.” He pushed me.
His grudge against Andy of Mayberry’s son wasn’t shutting my mouth. “You ran into me like a drunk driver hitting a telephone pole.”
“You think you’re funny?”
The laughter from the line-up of ‘next games’ ignited the guard.
I ducked his punch and wrestled him into a headlock.
Our respective teams separated us and I shouted over the shoulder of the forward. “That was your best shot? Damn, that was a real Twinkie.”
“I’ll show you a shot, Oppie.” He reached into his bag for a gun.
I opted for discretion and returned to my studio flat on West 11th Street.
My hillbilly girlfriend tended to my black eye. “That’s it. No more basketball.”
She threw my old baloney-skinned Spaulding out the window.
The next week we moved to the East Village and I obeyed her edict, until hearing the familiar thump of rubber on Avenue A. A Puerto Rican teenager was dribbling into Tompkins Square Park. I followed him. “Mind if I shoot around with you.”
He bounce-passed the ball and I launched a high arcing shot. It missed the backboard, hoop, and net. He retrieved the ball at the top of the key and flicked the ball into the netless hoop. “Shit, man, you better be good on defense.”
If he hadn’t been right, I might have been insulted. “I can’t get it right.”
“A couple of hundred shots each day. You gotta improve. The name’s Izzy.”
He was short, lean, and didn’t have a job. I was stocky and worked at a discotheque as a bouncer. The picks I set in a two-on-two game created a bond that endured into the 21st Century. Izzy scored the points and I defended the hoop. Anyone big, anyone rough, anyone with weight, Izzy would say, “Stick ‘em.”
Before games opposing players dunked the ball for intimidation and Izzy warned them, “Don’t try that shit on the Rock during the game. Players have scored more points and others have more rebounds. No one has more fouls than the Rock.”
The dunker smirked, only to discover Izzy hadn’t been kidding.
Basketball became my refuge from the storm. I lived it. I walked it. The only time I didn’t hurt was when I was playing. When my hillbilly girlfriend and I broke up over my infidelity problem, I treated the pain by shooting in the park. During the AIDS epidemic I shot baskets to forget my friends’ deaths. It was good for other things too.
To sweat out a hangover.
To forget bad luck or a broken heart.
To kill time.
The park was my gym, therapy, and social club. I met friends, we told stories, and shared future plans. Izzy and I played in any weather other than rain, sleet or snow.
There were a few other all-year players; Terri with the knot on his head, Carmelo with the sweet touch and the evil temper, Jose, the mad Peruvian, Jim Thorne from Maine, the pure shooting Mark, crazy Hollywood with his fifty-foot swishing hook, JD’s devotion to winning, Big Ed with his sweet hook, Shannon’s swooping glide, Church Charles with his Walter Bibby perfection, Mouse with his slashing drives to the hoop, and they helped me win a few more games than I should have.
I’ve squared against Chinese soldiers in Tibet, ran full-court with heroin dealers in the mountains of the Golden Triangle, elbowed for position with French forwards in the dusty court inside the Parc de Luxembourg, fast-breaked barefoot with Filipino sailors in Penang, and faced baby gang-bangers in North Hollywood, but my home court was the three bent rims and buckled metal backboards of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.
A few kids from the Boy’s Club across the street reached the college ranks. I remained a 40-watt light bulb.
Teammates groaned at blown lay-ups, unchallenged tap-ins missed from under the basket, and long bombs rattling out of the cylinder. My opponents’ laughter inspired frenzied heights of defense. Great scorers gave lessons in cradling the ball, and I spent hundreds of hours shooting baskets, hoping one day the mechanics might click, yet I remained a 20% shooter
My teammates never went to me in the clutch, but two summers ago we had an insurmountable lead and Carmelo bounce-passed the ball to me. The ball struck my hand at an awkward angle and went out of bounds. I was holding my hand. Izzy pointed at my dislocated finger. “You should go to the hospital.”
I had popped knees, cracked ribs, shattered teeth, had my eyes blacked from elbows, twisted ankles, and torn ligaments from head to toe. So had the other players in the park. We were great believers in self-cures. “I can fix this myself.”
“Hey, that’s your hand you’re talking about.”
“It’s my left hand.” I didn’t use my little finger for eating pizza and tugged it into place with the crack. “Good as new. Our ball.”
“Your ball?” our opponents crowed vainly, since I had the most seniority on the court. Carmelo inbounded the ball and I spun to pop the ball toward the basket, a move I had been practicing that turn move for years without any success. This time the ball glided through the rim.
Carmelo blinked with disbelief and glanced at my left hand.
My grip had been altered and I nodded for him to pass the ball.
The other team was familiar with my awful shooting and didn’t bother to dee me. I released my shot at the top of the jump. The ball actually had spin on it and dropped through the basket. Izzy declared, “It’s your birthday.”
I won every game that day and walked off the court a hero.
I cast it off as a fluke.
Next morning I ran into Richard at the court. The mailman was a solid 6-4 power forward with a deadly shot from behind the arc. My losing streak against him of one-on-one stretched over a decade. After he scored three unanswered points, I rebounded an errant bank shot and launched my shot. His eyes slitted with suspicion. “Luck was what that was. Stupid, dumb white boy luck.”
A football coach once said success is 95% hard work and 5% luck.
Anyone would trade 50% of the hard work for another 5% of luck and I was one of them.
I entered a space/time warp of probability. Hooks fell, three-points rained, and lay-ups spun around the rim to drop in the hole.
“It’s my finger.” I flexed the crooked digit and challenged Richard to another game. “Best out of three.”
He lost two straight.
My longtime friend, Andy Kornfeld, had beaten me for over twenty years and mockingly berated my newfound skills. I defeated him effortlessly. My nickname went for ‘Brick’ to ‘Comeback’, although I had never been anyplace from where to comeback. Players discussed defending me. It didn’t matter. I was on fire.
The other players on the court called out my name like I was a MVP free agent and I didn’t fail them either. I beat my old adversaries. Not with an inside game. I stepped farther and farther from the basket. Day after day the victories mounted. My thirty-game winning streak was challenging UCLA under John Wooden, but the long hour sessions of basketball were tearing apart my body. My doctor witnessed me limping into a restaurant. “You’re almost fifty. You have to give your body a rest.”
“I’ll be fine.” Pros get a day off. College players rest after a game. I couldn’t stop. I was invincible. I would live forever. I would win win win.
The next day a college kid asked why I was playing at my age.
“Old man you should be in your wheelchair.”
“Wheelchair?” I beat him inside and outside. I was unstoppable by him, but on a crossover dribble God strummed my right knee. The shot fell for the win, as I dropped to the floor in agony. “No.”
The pain boiling through my knee did not lessened and Carmelo helped me home. The next time out my knee buckled and I limped to my apartment, praying that tomorrow I might be the same man I had been a week ago, only a month passed and then two. My knee was too weak to handle the stress of a three-on-three. My doctor was pleased to not have to listen to my litany of injuries and suggested, “Take up golf.”
I decided to ink my name on an extended disabled list.
I had no other choice.
A year has passed since that Spring. Not one day has passed that I don’t want to have the ball in my hands. I haven’t told anyone. Picking plastic off a beach has been a workout and I’ve been practicing my jumpshot with plastic fishing buoys. My body’s suppleness improves day by day. My knees are flexible and my little finger remains crooked. New York is only 25 hours away by plane.
One day soon I’ll return to my home court. I’ll be greeted like a ghost from the dead. It will be the game of my life, because I have a basketball jones and the one place to scratch that itch is a day away over the North Pole,so start spreading the news, “I’m leaving today…..”