1239 AD. King Edward I of England is born (1239-1307, ruled 1272-1307). At his coronation in 1272, 278 bacon hogs, 450 pigs, 440 oxen, 430 sheep and 22,600 hens and capons are consumed by the guests.
(After this, having killed off all the animals in the kingdom, the english ate only cabbage for the next 100 years)
“Humble with the humble. Great with the great. He showed with words and deeds that his Mafia was not criminal. It stood for respect for the law, defense of all rights, greatness of character: it was love.”
Elegy for Calogero Vizzini brutal Sicilian Mafia boss on his death in 1954. Among his many acts of love in defense of the law was his ordering the massacres of peaceful labor protestors at an election rally in the Sicilian village of Villalba. Vizzini was the mayor of the town at the time having been installed by the American expeditionary forces in Sicily as a reward for assisting Lucky Luciano in obtaining Mafia support for the allied invasion of Sicily during World War II.
Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:
Three or so hours later we had crossed the entire central plains of the country and arrived at the beginning of the mountains. The trip across the lowlands being notable mostly for the melancholy press of Thai traffic and the huge blue sea of a sky sporting an archipelago of white clouds. On each side of the highway spread the shocking green of the still flooded rice paddies that define central Thailand with their rapidly maturing plants . These were not your cute little paddies tended by picturesque farmers in conical hats, but paddies of many acres each in size, much like those one sees in California’s Central Valley near Sacramento. It is from these paddies that Thailand feeds much of southern Asia.
The paddies were thronged with hoards of the Southeast Asian version of egrets and herons (Storks? Spoonbills?). Not one or two here and there or the hundred or so one sees while traveling along the Coast Highway in Bolinas Lagoon by the rookery there, but hundreds and hundreds maybe even thousands all told, standing one-legged, head cocked with sharp beak and dark baleful eye searching to devour whatever wiggles within their reach. Above them swarmed flocks of the Asian equivalent of starlings and swallows swooping up any insect rising from the water.
The first city we encountered was Kanchanburi, where almost 20 years ago Richard “Uncle Mask” McCarthy, Bill Gates and I ventured to view the Bridge over the River Kawai (or fully translated, Buffalo River Bridge). It was on that trip, if I remember correctly, that the three of us came up with the idea of opening a bar in Bangkok. Originally we thought of naming it, “California Dick’s,” but Richard was still sensitive about his youthful nickname. Then in a fit of originality, we came up with the alternative name “California Joe’s” (I having no objection to embarrassment and humiliation). When we suggested it to our Thai partners, they objected because Thais could not pronounce long western names. So, despite the fact that our target cliental would be westerners and not Thai, we acceded to the name AVA. The first of what would be many mistakes in our business, social and personal dealings with our Thai partners.
The Bridge over the River Kawai was an Oscar-winning movie that glorified the heroic deaths of the 16,000 allied prisoners who were forced by the Japanese during World War II to labor on the construction of the bridge and the railroad line between Kanchanburi and Burma that came to be known as the “Death Railway,” but failed to acknowledge the 10 times as many Southeast Asian slave laborers who also died in its construction.
Alec Guinness played the British military officer in charge of building the bridge on behalf of the Japanese who goes bat shit over the attempt by the allies to take down the bridge by sabotage. In real life the bridge was destroyed in an allied bomber attack.
The city has grown considerably since we were there. The allied prisoners who died working on the bridge are buried in a cemetery that at the time we were there was located in a rural area surrounded by fields and meadows. It appeared then to be large and stately. Now the city has grown up all around it and the cemetery mostly looks surprisingly small and forlorn.
We met up with a woman friend of Gun Girl’s named Lek and stopped for dinner. No sooner had we sat down, when a police car drove up disgorging a handsome young Thai policeman who proceeded to walk off hand in hand with Teddy Bear Boy. They did not return until we were finished with dinner and were ready to leave, about an hour or so later. After talking a few photos of the cop and TBB with their arms entwined, I was instructed to get into Lek’s automobile for the remainder of the drive to where we were to spend the night. Her son, accompanied by his girlfriend, was driving. Lek and I got into the back seat.
Apparently, Lek wanted to practice her english. So I listened to her story of growing up poor but through the sacrifices of her honest farmer parents and her hard work she became a nurse and labored 10 years in the emergency room of the local hospital. She now is retired and works as a part-time tour guide in the area. That is why she has to keep improving her english skills.
It was night now, the road rose gently into the mountains much like the roads into the Sierra when one climbs up from the Central Valley.
About an hour or so later, we arrived at a resort that straddles a river containing a stepped falls. Lights illuminated the falls until the river itself vanished into the shadows. The river was not very wide about 30 feet or so, but what it lacked in breadth in made up in exuberance. I counted at least 23 major steps to the falls each about 3 to 4 feet high until they disappeared above and below me into the gloom of the jungle. Innumerable smaller falls were interspersed among the larger ones as well as on the many lesser streams that discharged into the main water course. Some of these tributaries passed under and around the resort buildings.
The name of the place was “Bamboo Hut Resort” and indeed it included a large bamboo structure that housed an open walled restaurant and reception area. About eight similarly constructed (but enclosed) small cabins made up the remainder of the resort.
We rented two nice cabins with double king sized beds perched directly over the falls. Being exhausted by the events of the day, I needed to sleep so I took one of the cabins while everyone else partied in the other. Teddy Bear Boy was assigned as my cabin mate. Despite that, the surprisingly mesmerizing roar and rumble of the falls and my fatigue put me right to sleep and I slept undisturbed until morning .