FREE ANNA MACKOWIAK
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
In addition to the heat wave induced misery, my unhappiness was exacerbated by the realization that it also was that time again when I had to renew my visa in order to prolong my stay here in Thailand. So, on Friday morning at about 8 AM I gathered the requisite documents that I had spent the past few days assembling and set off with LM to go to the Thai Government Center in BKK.
We had just walked a few blocks to hail a cab, when LM ran into a co-worker of hers from the health club with her Dutch boyfriend in tow. They were also heading to the Government Center so we agreed to share a taxi. The co-worker was an attractive 40-year-old woman. Her boyfriend, a 66-year-old from Holland, told me that he travels between Thailand and Holland for his job.
During the taxi ride, while the two co-workers talked, the Dutchman and I remained steadfastly silent. He, I assume because of the natural reticence of the Germanic people of northern Europe, and I alas, unable to blame it on the any leanings toward social restraint inherent in the culture of my Mediterranean forbearers, must lay the responsibility exclusively on my dyspeptic personality.
After arriving at the Government Center and going our separate ways, LM told me the background story. Her co-worker was married to a Thai man and has three children. About five years or so ago, the man from Holland showed up at the Hotel Health Club for a massage. The co-worker was the masseuse on duty. The Dutchman fell for her and kept returning. After about six months or so, he divorced his wife back in Holland and bought the co-worker an apartment in BKK into which she promptly moved her husband and three children, telling the unsuspecting gentleman that they were her older brother and younger siblings. And so they have lived happily, if not ever after, at least up to now. LM said the coworker begged her not to tell her boyfriend the truth about their domestic situation.
For a moment I contemplated the moral dilemma I was put in. Should I warn this man about the precarious circumstances into which he had placed himself? Since I would have had to expend some effort to find him, I decided to forget the whole thing justifying my decision by rationalizing that she was doing no more than any worker would do in order to benefit her family.
Following the not so dehumanizing venture into the Thai bureaucracy (not nearly as dehumanizing as a trip into the US embassy) and successfully obtaining my visa, we left to return home.
We decided to take the bus. On the bus LM and I were separated and when a seat next to her opened an American of about my age slipped in and hit on her heavily. I was happy for her. After sweltering in the heat, enduring the assault to ones ego from a trip into the bureaucracy and depressed from fatigue, it is always a boost to ones sense of self-worth to be hit upon. Regrettably no one hit on me; not even a stray soi dog.
Bangkok is one of those cities like Rome and a few others that I have experienced where one cannot get from where one is to where one wants to go without first going someplace where one does not want to go… unless one takes an uncomfortable, slow, and inefficient bus (in this case over two hours and four bus changes) and accepts the ignominy of the Duchess of Westminster’s dictum, “Anyone seen in a bus over the age of 30 has been a failure in life”
Arriving at the corner of the street leading to the apartment, I left LM to continue on to the Health Club to attend a staff party that evening and I headed back to the apartment.
I decided to save myself the walk by riding on the back of one of the motorbike taxi’s. Despite the fact that I have taken the ride many times before and the fares being printed and posted on the wall, they insisted on a fare twice as high. When I objected they said that I was too heavy and therefore need to pay more. I responded with my best New York style verbal (accompanied by appropriate and emphatic gestures) recommendation that they do what for most would be physically impossible. The sound of their sputtering indignation ringing in my ears made my walk home enjoyable, indeed.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Weather follies:
Today the average temperature over the entire country of Thailand was more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (Thailand north to south is about equal in length to the US west coast from Mexico to Canada). The resulting air pollution in BKK has begun to affect me; not like the burning of the rice crops in Chiang Mai that made it so difficult to breathe I feared for my health and possible life and had to flee to the seashore. Here my lungs are clear but my eyes ache as though I have not slept for a week.
As a result of the heat and drought, it has been reported that most of the lychee crop in the Chiang Mai area is in danger of failing. So, stock up on your lychee before prices rise.
Speaking of Chiang Mai, the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution (a prison) offers to the general public Massages by the prisoners.
3. Japanese Hot Tub:
The Wine Spa located at the Yunnesun Hot Springs Amusement Park & Resort in Hakone near Mount Fuji, among other things allows you to bathe in wine, or if that does not appeal to you it also allows you to immerse yourself in authentic sake …
… or, if you’re driving back home and would rather not do it reeking of booze, you can relax in a hot tub filled with green tea.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
From my notebook, written two months ago during my trip to California:
It was one of those unseasonably warm February days in San Francisco that seem to pop up briefly now and then in between the strings of normal overcast cool days that mark the City’s winter months. I was early for my lunch appointment, so I decided to spend a few minutes in Sidney Walton Square park indulging in the slack-jawed wool gathering of old men everywhere who wallow happily under a warming sun.
I sat at the edge of the small fountain and stared at the frantic shadows of the pidgins as they swooped around and fluttered down in front of an elderly man feeding them at the other end of the park.
I noticed a small, also elderly, asian man enter into my view. As I refocused from the murmuring shadows in the distance on to his face, he stared back at me wide-eyed as though seeing something in me that surprised him. He continued to so stare as he walked by until he almost passed beyond my view. As I began to refocus on other things he turned abruptly, still staring and shouted, “Fuck You,” then he turned and walked off.
Now, although I was startled, surprisingly my first thought was of Thoreau passing under a bridge during his boat trip down the Connecticut River closely observing a man standing on the bridge who promptly responded to Thoreau’s gaze by spitting in his face. Henry David, instead of expressing either surprise or indignation turned that moment into a transcendental experience somehow connecting the man on the bridge to all that was noble about humanity. I waited a moment for my own transcendental experience, but none came. It was just an old asian man on this particular sunny day in this park stopping on his walk and shouting “Fuck you” at me.
Fortunately, I could not afford to give it all that much more thought since my attention had turned to focus, as it often does, on an attractive young woman. She had stopped in front of a bronze bust on a pedestal dedicated to the ego of the parks benefactor, the aforementioned Sidney, after whom the park was named. Like the old man and most of the people in the park that day, she was asian. San Francisco has become an asian city built to european aesthetics. At least here they were not forced to become shopkeepers, just like jews were no longer required to engage in the financial trades or italians to open restaurants. While they could still do well in those trades, the wonder of America was that they did not have to do so if they did not want to. Perhaps that is America’s greatest gift to the ascent of humanity, the freedom to screw up ones life without being forced to do it in the same way their parents did.
Anyway, she stopped to photograph the bust which stood in the center of a small tableau that also included two bronze representations of the benefactor’s pet dogs. They appeared to be Pomeranians.
After taking a few pictures from several angles, she strode off. Nothing transcendental there either; just a pretty girl taking photographs in the sunlight, in this park, on this day, in this city, watched by an old man sitting on the edge of a fountain.
THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Removed for rehabilitation.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
2012, Social Media:
In Tokyo and Osaka Japan approximately 5400 homeless persons bed down every night in internet cafes.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
1. The statistic that more than any other explains the state of the Nation and the Economy:
In 1975 when I first went to work for the California legislature in Sacramento it would have been difficult to find much more than one full-time lobbyist for every 24 legislators.
It is not that the 1% that has grown out of control, but the parasite community; the lobbyists, lawyers, brokers, consultants and economists that have. In fact, in can be argued that the explosive growth of the 1% is due for the most part to the numbers of this same parasite community that have joined their ranks.
2. How about a real return to the “good old days” that the right is so infatuated about:
Between 1947 and 1979, productivity in the US rose by 119%, while the income of the bottom fifth of the population rose by 122%. But between 1979 and 2009, productivity rose by 80% , while the income of the bottom fifth fell by 4%. In roughly the same period, the income of the top 1% rose by 270%.
In the UK, the money earned by the poorest tenth fell by 12% between 1999 and 2009, while the money made by the richest 10th rose by 37%. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, climbed in this country from 26 in 1979 to 40 in 2009.
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, discovered that the apparent belief of financial high fliers that their success is earned by talent and hard work is a cognitive illusion. For example, he studied the results achieved by 25 wealth advisers, across eight years. He found that the consistency of their performance was zero. “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.” Those who received the biggest bonuses had simply got lucky.
Such results have been widely replicated. They show that traders and fund managers all across Wall Street receive their massive remuneration for doing no better than would a chimpanzee flipping a coin. When Kahneman tried to point this out to the Street, they ignored him. “The illusion of skill … is deeply ingrained in their culture,” he observed.
C. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
In my last post I named my newly filled tooth, “The Good David’s Molar.” Some of my most literal readers have pointed out that in fact, “The Good David’s Filling” would be more accurate. Although I believe the Good David deserves the entire dentition of my left maxilla in his name, the criticism at first appeared to have some merit. However upon thinking it over, it must be pointed out that without David’s intercession I may have lost the entire tooth. So no, I will not change the name and I will not apologize.
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
For Game of Thrones fans; parallels with American presidential politics. (Who do you think could be Cersei Lannister – Michelle Bachman, Michelle Obama or Hillary? I think Bachman with a blond wig could pass for Cersei’s older sister. Catlyn Stark? Littlefinger? Verry’s? A White Walker?):
In case you miss the full humor in the last two pictures recall:
“The truth of the matter is that winter is coming. I realize that it’s inconvenient, but there it is.”
A. Conservatives on Conservatives:
1. “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”
Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein.
2. “Today’s so-called ‘conservatives’ don’t even know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.”
3. “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’.”
~William F. Buckley, Jr.
4. “I think the Republican Party is captive to political movements that are very ideological, that are very narrow.”
Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska
5. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,”
Republican Congressional Staffer Mike Lofgren
6. “Even as someone who’s labeled a conservative – I’m a Republican, I’m black, I’m heading up this organization in the Reagan administration – I can say that conservatives don’t exactly break their necks to tell blacks that they’re welcome.”
7. “Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose.”
8. “The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then get elected and prove it.”
B. More from Kitten Natividad:
When asked what it was like working in a movie with the legendary sexploitation director Russ Meyer she responded:
“It was great, but we fucked during all of our lunch breaks. He was a horny dude, a dirty old man.”
(For those who may have a negative reaction to the use of the operative vulgarity in the above quote, you are in distinguished company. The Supreme Court has spent decades trying to avoid mentioning it, even when it is the subject matter of the case. See HERE [Thanks to Ruth for the cite])
C. Mel Brooks:
“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”