Frank Lentini, born Francesco A. Lentini (1889–1966) was born in Siracusa, Sicily into a large family. He was born with three longer legs, two sets of genitals and one rudimentary foot on his third leg. His primary legs also grew into different lengths. At the age of nine, Lentini moved to the United States and entered the sideshow business.
(And he was a great success in show business. Now you know all about Frank. Aren’t you glad you asked?)
“Hence it has come to pass that most or all sentient beings have been developed in such a manner, through natural selection, that pleasurable sensations serve as their habitual guide.”
(So now we know the real reason for rejecting evolution – unbridled licentiousness.)
Today’s News from Thailand:
Little has changed in the political situation in Thailand. The military remains engaged in a mop up battle to preserve its prerogatives.
One must remember that ever since the 1932 military coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy, with few exceptions, Thailand has been ruled by a military dictatorship of some sort or another. During that time the military has had no problems switching political sides when necessary to preserve their power.
In 1945 the military dictatorship that overthrew the absolute monarchy, was staunchly anti-royalist and supported the japanese occupation of Thailand. It was itself overthrown by an anti-japanese civilian government. Nevertheless by 1947 it returned to absolute power by the simple expedient of switching to the royalist cause.
Over the next 50 years or so the Thai military appears to have slowly learned that the direct management of the institutions of government was no longer the optimum method of preserving power. The suppression of challenges from the right or left, religious or civil political forces was too draining on domestic military resources and international good will.
I think the modern Thai military has realized that they only required a few essential things to maintain their prerogatives. They are:
Absolute control of the military budget
Control over personnel in the chain of command.
Exemption from civilian judicial oversight.
Control of so-called military secrets.
A credible gun to the head of any government who may attempt to reform this system
The military will ally itself with any political entity in opposition to any person or institution that threatens this system.
Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:
In spite of the noise of the party goers and the crash of the falls, I slept soundly. In the morning, I showered and left my cabin. TBB had just began stirring. Outside Gun Girl and one of the guys were frolicking in the falls. I went down to the restaurant where I had some cold eggs and instant coffee for breakfast (One cannot have everything). I sat by the side of the river and watched the sunlight come and go as it filtered through the trees lightning up different sections of the falls while leaving others in shadow.
We left the resort at about 11AM. I went in Lek’s vehicle, her son driving. Lek and I sat in the back seat where Lek became uncomfortably intimate and began telling me about her ruined marriage and her love affair with a British man whose offer of marriage she had to turn down because she could not stand her suitor’s teenaged daughter.
It was then that I began to perceive that perhaps Lek was supposed to be my blind date during the trip. Apparently, Gun Girl and the Sullen One were lovers and had slept together in one of the beds in the party house. Lek slept in the other bed with Mata Hari. She told me that when she woke up that morning “The lady-boy was draped over me like a blanket”.
Gun Girl, who is in her mid to late 30’s, was in full Cougar mode as the Sullen One was by far the youngest of our group, barely, if at all, out of his teens. His job, beside whatever nighttime services he rendered, seemed to be to carry Gun Girl’s luggage and camera and run her errands.
Eventually, we stopped at a gas station. We all got out and Lek’s son and girlfriend drove off in Lek’s car leaving the rest of us there with only Gun Girl’s vehicle. We waited, for what I neither knew, asked or cared.
After about an hour, a pick-up truck with a covered bed arrived. I was told that I would be traveling in the truck and the others in Gun Girl’s car. I got into the truck with two men in military camouflage jackets. They moved a couple of small machetes from the front seat so I could sit there. We drove off the paved road and onto a badly rutted and muddy dirt road and went up a fairly steep hill until we arrived at a wooden Thai house were everyone got out. The house was perched on stilts leaving the space beneath in a deep gloom. I could not see any windows in the house itself.
The two men and what appeared to be the residents of the building removed everything from the back of the truck and replaced whatever it was with a cooler, a case of soda water and some pads and a rug. I stood in the middle of the muddy rutted road and watched them scurry about or alternately closely examined the small stream that flowed around the house and across the road.
They soon finished doing whatever and everyone piled into the back of the truck except for me and the driver. In addition to the two of us, there were now two other men, a woman and a 4-year-old or so boy child. We drove back down the mountain and on to the paved road and after stopping for ice, took off in the direction that I assumed the other car had gone. No one in the truck spoke any english and I spoke no Thai.
We were supposed to be going into what Lek called the “Switzerland of Thailand,” but to me at least initially It looked more like a heavily forested Dolomites except here instead of granite, the mountains appeared to be made of limestone. Probably the same formation that formed the Andaman Islands south of here.
After topping a rise, we entered into a large valley containing a huge artificial lake. The valley fittingly was named “Lake Valley”. The lake itself was quite beautiful with the cliffs at the eastern edge dropping directly into the water. Dotting the center of the lake were many fishing shacks and along the shore more substantial construction on stilts or houseboats.
Passing the lake, the road got narrower as we plunged into dense foliage. Lacking the usual multi story canopy of the jungle, it and the hills around us reminded me a bit of the thick forests of the Catskills or Adirondacks but in place of maple, pine, birch, ash and hickory, Southeast Asian tree species filled much the same niches. Large groves of a tall tree with a diameter of about 12 inches appeared. I was told they were teak. Their leaves were large, the size of a chafing-dish.
When I was a kid the cheap dish sets we ate off of usually came with something called a chafing-dish. It was usually shallow and had a cover. We did not know what it was for (or what chafing meant) so we usually used it without the cover to serve anti-pasta or to serve mashed potatoes on meat and potato day (we were trying hard to assimilate).
As we climbed higher the multi story canopy jungle began to emerge. Huge trees with trunks two feet or more in diameter rising straight up, not branching for at least 100 feet, towered over the other trees like the redwoods tower over the coastal forests of California. The lower story of the forest canopy was made up of shrubs and bamboo groves.
We were passing through some of Thailand’s most extensive National Forests and Wildlife Preserves. They are reputed to contain Tigers, Gibbons, Elephants and a whole host of other animals (I even saw an “Elephant Crossing” sign). However the only fauna I observed were the scrawny, mangy feral dogs that seem to exist everywhere in the country.
We drove on and up through the unremitting green. I began to get bored. It was like climbing from the Central Valley on the way to Tahoe. At a certain point I would always get to feel a bit like Spiro Agnew. I had seen enough Incense Cedars, Ponderosa Pines and Giant Sequoias for that particular trip. Also, I always mistrusted green.
When I was growing up in Tuckahoe NY we lived for a while in Section 8 public housing. They required all the walls in the apartments to be painted with paint supplied by the Housing Authority and that paint was always institutional green. I grew to become strongly repulsed by the color. I have found it unfortunate that the environmental community has chosen the color and the word” green” as their trademarks. Why couldn’t they have chosen blue for the sky for example or orange for the sun or even magenta for its own sake and a for the sake of a few glorious sunsets?
Thinking of magenta made me think of Crayola crayons. I loved them – not to draw or color with. I found them horrid for that purpose, just like colored pencils and those stupid little watercolor sets that they forced on kids. No wonder so many give up the graphic arts while still children. Oils would work, but where does a 6-year-old find artist oil paints (acrylics had not been invented yet, I think)?
No, I collected Crayola crayons for their names, even if I rarely used them to draw with. Woolworth’s used to sell them singly from large bins. My favorite was “Burnt Sienna.” (Some other great names included, “Atomic Tangerine,” “Beaver.” “Electric Lime,” “Jazzberry Jam,” “Macaroni and Cheese,” “Mango Tango,” “Neon Carrot,” “Radical Red” and “Wild Blue Yonder.”)
I do not even recall what “Burnt Sienna” looks like, probably some shade of orange or brown.
One color I collected but simply did not understand was “Flesh.” It was very rare and one had to look around for it. I tried it out once on a sheet of paper thinking that my stick people drawings suddenly would come alive if I applied “Flesh” color to the circle that represented their faces. To my great distress, I discovered that “Flesh” was sort of a washed out pink. That was not the color of the skin of the people I knew. Pink was the color of the people who lived in the posh suburb of Bronxville, just south of Tuckahoe. You could not live in Bronxville if you were Italian, Jewish or Black. Bronxville people were pink, with visible blue veins no less. They gave me nightmares just like Froggy and Smilin Ed.
No, real people had skin that was dusky olive, or various shades of black or brown. Even the wealthy Jews who lived on the hills just outside of Bronxville looked more like us than those strange beings living across the village boundary a few feet away.
(Eventually Crayola recognized that not all people’s’ skin was pink and changed the name of the color from “Flesh” to “Peach”.)
The blackest person I knew was my friend Philie Pinto. Most people’s skin, whether black, brown, Khaki or olive, glow when in the light, sort of like a newly waxed automobile does. Not Phillie. He appeared to have been dipped in coal dust. He just adsorbed light. Once after many years absence, I returned to Tuckahoe and went into a bar called the Carioca. My grandfather used to own it when it was a fairly well-known jazz club in the area. It had fallen on hard times now and was dark and dingy. Phillie sat at the end or the bar. He had grown up to become the town taxi driver. I knew it was him. I could see his clothes, but his face was like smoke.
Some of the black kids in the town were what I have heard African-Americans refer to as High Yellow. Unlike the big-boned, heavy muscled, wide nosed very dark west african type like the Blout family, they were tall, slender narrow nosed lighter skinned like my friend Rabbit and his brothers and sisters. I do not know what color one would have called Rabbit, but certainly not yellow, high or not. Maybe “Burnt Sienna” or “Burnt Umber” another of my favorites. But I digress (I, by the way, always considered myself a khaki colored person).
Eventually we arrived at an overlook that gave great views over the mountains and back towards the lake. A Thai motorcycle club or gang was there. In the 90 plus degree heat they were all wearing long-sleeved leather jackets with “The Killer’’ emblazoned on the back. I do not know if it referred to the name of the club, or if they all chose the same nickname or if it was the name of their favorite rock band.
Anyway, after a short rest we went on to a Thai military outpost high on a mountain top overlooking Myanmar replete with razor wire, sandbags, trenches and buried bunkers maned by one soldier who did not seem to possess any armaments whatsoever but was otherwise, I assume, prepared to resist, as the first line of defense, any onslaught by the Burmese intending to invade Thailand, rape their women and burn down their capital as they have done so often in the past.
Actually raping their women would be completely unnecessary today given the availability for military RR in Thailand of places like Nana Plaza and Pattaya. And as for burning down the capital, some have said it would be doing Thailand a favor.
After looking across the mountains into Myanmar for a while, we left the redoubt to the lone soldier and journeyed down the mountain to visit a tiny village on the border called Pritik or something like that. Gun Girl told me that the village was in Myanmar, but it was not. It was however to some extent a Karen/Burmese peopled town. There were very few adults visible. The town seemed occupied principally by children, all seeming between the ages of 3 and 7. On the whole they appeared to me to be the most beautiful children I had ever seen.
The village seemed as peaceful as peaceful could be.
We then went to the border itself and walked across into Burma. On the Thai side there was a single uniformed soldier who lifted the gate and accompanied us as we strode into Myanmar.
We had taken some of the children from the town along with us. In addition to being beautiful they seemed also innocent and beguiling,( unless the town secretly was intent on raising a generation of accomplished sociopaths). We went up a small incline past the crest of the hill and came upon the Burmese guard-house. There was no gate across the road, but along the side of the road was a fence made up of small sharpened bamboo pickets and a gate behind which there were two tumbledown stone buildings.
The children opened the gate and ran into one of the stone huts and woke up the person sleeping there. He did not have a uniform, but I was assured that he was indeed Burmese. He posed for photographs with us as we stared across Burma to the Andaman Sea in the distance.
We then headed back down the mountain and stopped for dinner at one of those ubiquitous bamboo huts that dot the edge of the roadways in Thailand. They usually have a sagging palm covered roof, no walls, contain an open kitchen and a few tables. This one had three tables. It also had a coke machine and a Karaoke set up.
It apparently was owned by the family in whose truck I had spent the better part of the day. They cooked up what they called “Food from the Mountain”. It featured Frogs, not frogs legs but whole frogs that sat there on the rice in my dish looking like nothing else other than a burned brown frog that was staring back at me. I found it to contain too many bones. Another dish I was told was made from something that lived in the trees. It was not a bird, monkey or squirrel but no one knew its name in english. The third meat dish was made from some animal no one could or would describe (it tasted like chicken always a bad sign – maybe it was one of those feral dogs. Then again, I hope not). The vegetables looked like and tasted like vines and grass. Although I tried eating it all, it was too spicy hot for me to eat much, so they made me an omelet.
Mata Hari sang a few songs on the Karaoke machine. At one point, as everyone began to feel the effects of the prodigious amounts of liquor they had been drinking all day, the conversation got around to joking about whether at my age, I was strong enough to handle a woman like Lek. When I acknowledged that I probably could not, the man who drove the truck took from out of his pocket some pills that he said was Thai herbal Viagra and would make one strong and vigorous. Several of us tried it, including me.
That night we slept at the house of another friend of Gun Girl. Shortly after retiring the Thai herbal medicine hit me like Benzedrine on steroids. I spent rest of the night walking around the room, doing push ups, jumping jacks and several other exercises to burn off the energy until at about daybreak when I fell exhausted onto the bed and slept for perhaps two hours.