“Today the absence of government simply means government by corporations.”
Happy Birthdays to Athena, Aaron and Anthony
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. TWO MOTT STREET BOYS ON A CART, CIRCA 1900
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
SWAC arrived this evening to assume my nanny duties. I continue preparations to leave. For some reason, I am more anxious about this trip than my previous ones. I have always believed that it is the surprises of travel, good or bad, that make it worthwhile. Too much planing raises expectations that are almost never met. Still, this time I worry whether I planned enough as I pack and unpack my little suitcase to make sure I have included everything I should.
Well, today it rained slightly on the Golden Hills. Not much, just enough to smudge the dirt on the car’s windshield. Very little moisture made it to the ground but it seemed to have cleared the air of today’s load of ash and smoke.
Early Sunday morning, I grabbed my two suitcases (mine, the light one, SWAC’s, the heavy one to be delivered to her brother in BKK) and my computer and set off for the train station. Dick drove me to the Sacramento. terminal. There I boarded the early train to SF.
Usually, the cars are mostly empty and finding a seat easy. This morning, however, I caught the 49ers game-day train and almost every seat was filled with maroon-shirted fans happily on the way to this afternoon’s game, many of whom were getting a strong start on the train version of a tailgate party. When we got to Emeryville and I had to change to a bus to cross the bay into San Francisco. It was filled with orange-shirted SF Giant baseball fans.
B. Pookies Adventures in San Francisco
In SF I had lunch with my daughter-in-law Annemarie, grandsons Anthony and Aaron and the new grandparents Peter and Barrie Grenell at a Savor on 24th Street. Later we visited with my granddaughter Athena who was painting a mural at the Mission Street Fair.
Peter, Anthony,Barrie, Aaron, me
For those interested, Anthony has just moved to Vallejo. Aaron has started two businesses, a catering business and a landscape business. Ann tells me he is depressed because at twenty-years-old, his life is not turning out how he expected. Athena wants to become an artist among other things. She also often participates in feminist rallies and hopes to attend one in Texas.
Athena the muralist
Pookie the muralist
Peter, besides his role as grandpa, now plays in four different bands and is looking forward to retiring from the harbor district next year.
In the evening I had dinner with my son Jason, his wife Heromi and my granddaughter Amanda. Then it was off to the airport.
C. ALONG THE WAY
I had a long uncomfortable plane ride to BKK. As I was getting in my seat and checking things one last time, I realized that I had either lost or left at home the small bag holding my tooth-brush, shaving equipment and all my medicines. While trying to convince myself that I was not senile, terminally stupid or going to die a horrible death during on the flight, I spent the next twenty-seven hours, worrying, sleeping fitfully, eating far too much airplane food to be healthy and watching movies,
One of the movies was John Turturro’s wonderfully touching and comic Fading Gigolo starring Woody Allen as Murray an aging owner of a failed bookshop turned part-time pimp who is living with a black woman with four children one of whom has head lice. Murray persuades Fioravante (Turturro), a flower store employee, to service his beautiful, wealthy and married dermatologist and other lonely middle-aged women. The movie’s central story is a a semi-sweet but ill-fated and unconsummated love affair between the gigolo and the widow of the Rabbi of a highly orthodox community in Brooklyn beloved by a shomrin (look it up) named Devi.
I liked the movie since it reminded me of my singularly unsuccessful attempt, in Rome many years ago, to experience life as a gigolo. My only so-called success in that doomed attempt was due to the sympathy of an exceptionally kind woman named Mona. I think I may write a short story or a novella based on the escapade.
D. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
After twenty-seven hours of traveling including stops in Hong Kong and Singapore (where I spent the wait-over encased in a mechanical foot massage machine provided free by the airport for foot weary travelers), I arrived in BKK. The Little Masseuse who unfortunately had gotten the time of my arrival wrong, had come and gone from the airport. Surprisingly, I was spotted by my friend from the health club the old sailor and deep-sea diver who had just seen a friend off. We shared a two-hour taxi ride from the airport. When I arrived at my apartment I went immediately to sleep and did not leave my bed all of the next day and night.
On the third day I tried to leave but was still not feeling well so I remained in the apartment. By the fourth day I had located a supply to replace my missing medicines so I ventured forth to breakfast followed by a haircut, shave, facial scrub manicure and pedicure before lunch and then returned to the apartment for a nap.
First photo’s from Thailand:
Me strutting along Soi Nana
LM at breakfast in Foodland.
E. CONTEMPLATION OF DEATH AND DYING
Having lost my bag containing my medicines as I mentioned, the next day during one of my brief periods of fretful wakefulness, I realized that it would be several days before I could reach my Doctor, get the names of my medicines, and buy them at a local pharmacy. This fact confirmed my belief that my imminent death was highly likely. So, in my quasi-somnolent state, I contemplated what a good death in Bangkok would be for me. In no particular order:
Lying on a massage table, my face in the hole drool dripping from the corner of my mouth. The masseuse has just finished massaging my feet and lower legs and is spreading oil on the inside of my thighs.
Swimming in the health club’s outdoor pool, I have just taken a breath, and glimpse, floating on the water, the multi-colored fabrics of the indian woman who had entered the pool, as they do, fully clothed. As I dip my head under the water and exhale, silver bubbles flow behind me. Through the crystalline turquoise water I make out the sun dappled bottom of the pool.
Walking near my apartment, the sun shining, I fall through the sidewalk into the foetid canal and sewer that runs beneath BKK’s streets and as the slimy grey green ooze reaches my neck, I happily expire.
At the supermarket in the basement of Robinson’s I lean over a display of freshly opened Durian. The King of Fruit’s aroma reminds me of unwashed 1000 year old feet. I take a deep breath.
In Terminal 21 on the fifth floor, I sit at a booth at Baskin and Robins’. What passes for a root beer float in the area now that A&W can no longer be found, stands on the table in front of me. I press the vanilla ice cream deep into the soda and watch the foam fill the glass almost to overflowing. I suck deeply on the straw to see if I can forestall the foam from sliding down the glass and on to the table.
I am sitting in my room watching a Thai soap opera on the television. LM sits on the floor eating fish heads and munching on some foul-smelling Thai vegetable. The beautiful but dense ingénue in love with the handsome, quite stupid but rich leading man had just come from being physically and verbally abused by her rival for affection of said stupid, handsome but rich young man, now confronts a production value deficient ghost and stands mostly mute and unmoving through two sets of commercials. I expire, probably more from terminal boredom than the lack of medicines. My head leans gently against the wall where I remain until a little after midnight when the late night slapstick comedy shows end and LM shuts off the TV and realizes I had not collapsed on to my rock hard bed and covered my head with a pillow as I usually do.
At a sidewalk restaurant I sit and observe the the hazy street life in front of me while I chew on the first bite of my lunch. Two ladies of the evening on their way for an early start pass by, one dressed in a tight tan mini-dress that barely reaches the tops of her thighs and the other in a similar red dress. I topple forward and my face plunges into my one dollar plate of pork fried rice.
Standing on the Sukhumvit Road overpass, by Soi Nana observing the stopped traffic below I glance to my right and spy the King of Beggars sitting at his usual post on the sidewalk his leg, amputated above the knee, extended before him. I call him the King of Beggars because he always sits at the prime street corner in the area, is well dressed with a north African style skull-cap on his head and, unlike the other beggars, he always eats his lunch at one of the regular restaurants near by. His face is dark tan, his hair white. Above his well-trimmed white mustache his eyes grey as storm clouds meet mine.
Of course, I could always be run over by a speeding motorbike taxi, but that is just as likely if I am fully medicated as not, perhaps even more so.
Note: for those who have read this far and found the above entertaining the rest of this note is not for you. For those concerned about the state of my health (mental or physical) please know most of the missing medicines are various prescribed vitamins. Pretty much the only concern was with the loss of my doctor prescribed happy pills. True, sudden termination of the pills can produce withdrawal symptoms that are pretty awful. Also, should I decide to replace the drug with something like opium, LSD or Oxycontin it could be more than simply life threatening. Nevertheless, the withdrawal, jet-lag and exhaustion did make me feel as though death would be a welcome improvement.
I eventually manage to score the appropriate drugs from the pharmacy in Foodland. Everything else is the lies I tell myself. Lying to oneself is necessary for survival. If not, how would anyone make it through puberty? The ability to lie to oneself is natures compensation to those she has cursed with consciousness.
F. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
On the television news today it was reported that the country is experiencing an infestation of rabid ants who invade houses at night, climb into the beds of those who had been eating in the bed and not cleaning up before falling asleep and attacking every orifice of that person’s body in a crazed search for food.
LM assures me that she knows of a friend of hers who was so attacked and had to be hospitalized. I did not get much sleep again last night.
From Pookie’s 2012 write-in campaign for President:
While reviewing old issues of T&T, I came across the following plank from my aborted write in campaign for President in 2012. I thought it remains valid today (the savings may be larger today).
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
Pookie’s platform includes a minimum of $600 billion over the next 4 years in budgetary savings by immediately ending the following welfare programs:
1. Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies.
There appears to be no conceivable impact on the nation’s oil and gas supply by removing these subsidies. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $80 billion.
2. Deferment of Taxes on Income of US controlled Corporations Abroad.
This subsidy seems to have little public benefit and only encourages offshoring of American jobs. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $200 billion.
3. Accelerated Depreciation on Equipment:
This is most often used by companies to avoid taxation entirely. It should only be allowed (as it was originally) as part of temporary stimulus legislation to encourage companies to buy equipment during recessions. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $140 billion.
4. Deduction for Domestic Manufacturing:
This deduction is simply a direct subsidy to companies. It is welfare pure and simple and has no place in the tax code. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.
5. LIFO (Last in First Out) Accounting:
This is simply a method to hide true profits. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion
6. Agribusiness Welfare:
Another unnecessary welfare program. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $25 billion.
7. Allow Government to Negotiate Prices for Medicare:
A direct subsidy to providers. Estimated Savings over next 4 years: $75 billion.
8. Annual tax break for drug companies direct to consumer advertising:
Why should we pay for drug company marketing to us? Estimated savings over next 4 years: $20 billion.
I would require the resulting savings of about $125 billion per year to be set aside and used to reduce the National Debt in any year where the GNP (or another suitable measure of the economy and society) exceeds 2.5% in growth (minus inflation) for the year or used for non-tax reduction stimulus funding (e.g. public works), or safety net expenditures (e.g. extending unemployment benefits) when it falls below 2.5%.
“…another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility, and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
Carroll Quigley, Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976”