Happy Aphelion Day.
On June 5 ( 15 Shadow) the earth was at its aphelion its farthest point from the sun. I hope you celebrated it wisely.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Went today to see the opening of the new movie, The Lone Ranger. It struck me as I left the theater that the arc of the great golden age of American civilization can be described as extending from Jay Silverheels to Jonny Depp.
Some critics have called the movie odd. Edward Scissorhands was odd. Alice in Wonderland was odd. Dark Shadows was odd. In fact anything with Depp in white face by definition is odd. What Depp does do here is give a master’s class in overacting that would make Stanislavski cringe in his coffin. If there were an Academy Award for vamping your audience this movie would qualify Depp for a lifetime achievement award. The final 30 minutes or so is one of the finest examples of destroy the scenery and smash the sets mayhem (with humor) one can hope to see in a movie. We will not be seeing its like again soon. And of course, with The William Tell Overture blaring in the background, the image of the white hatted masked man atop the white horse rampant will always stir the heart of 70-year-old little boys.
Note: The reviews are as odd as the film. One referred to the beauty of the images of the West Texas desert. West Texas could only hope its desert looked like that. Actually the deserts photographed are from Arizona and new Mexico primarily. Another review referred to the film as a remake of the 1930’s television program. I assume the reviewer is from generation X or whatever other generation that believes that television was always with us and that Julius Caesar had just caught his favorite reality show before stepping into that ill-fated Senate toilet.
Some reviewers complain that the movie is not a well assembled narrative. What have they been drinking? One goes to this movie to see Jonny Depp in white face as Tonto with a dead crow on his head. Everything else is gravy. Do they really think that people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it is the second coming of Captain Blood? No, they go to see Depp, Rush, Bloom and Knightley dress up like pirates, run around like crazy and say things like Arrragh. Narrative is so last century.
Finally, one review described it as failed irony. It’s not irony fathead, it’s slapstick. Slapstick is irony with roid rage.
Since I wrote the above I came across another review. This one criticized the film for its lack of a coherent message. Now, I do not know about the coherence thing, but if anything the movie has too many messages. For example: We learn that bankers and board members of railroad corporations are evil criminals and have much more hair on their face than anyone else in the movie; that heroes die and have their hearts devoured by bad guys with hair lips. We learn that bad guys who are not bankers or members of the RR board or directors are really skinny and ugly and stare a lot and although they do not shave they have less hair on their faces; that Chinese laborers working on the RR right of way were treated abysmally and apparently it was appropriate to assure labor peace by shooting dead any Chinaman who comments on working conditions; that drunken white horses can climb trees; that US cavalry captains with curly blond hair sell out indians for money; that wise old indian chiefs speak perfect idiomatic english and you wished they were your uncle rather than the drunk who shows up at your house on holidays; that the RR not only destroyed the environment but also stole the land from the indians even though it was hard to tell where the RR was going since the rails were either buried in the sand or ran straight into a mountain; that the indians had had it with the RR stealing their land and the silver that they did not know was there, so they wiped themselves out by committing mass suicide charging a train full of soldiers with hidden machine guns; that women only dressed in gingham and whenever anything interesting happened hugged their young sons, unless they were one-legged prostitutes in red dresses who were fitted with a carved Ivory prosthesis containing a shotgun inside; that no one respected white-faced Tonto even other indians; that kids will sell out their tribe for a shiny watch then become obsessed with a crow that was mysteriously killed; that a man in a white hat actually can ride a white horse down the center aisle of a train in order to save the gingham dressed woman; and that old people lie to kids about their own youth, and much much more…
Finally, did you know that Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on television, after the show went off the air always wore the costume, guns, mask and all whenever he appeared in public?
LM mentioned that my preoccupation when working on my computer borders on obsession resulting in alienation with Hayden because of my sharp-tongued responses when he interrupts me. Earlier in the day I got angry with him when he told me that he would prefer going to Safari World with the nanny rather than coming with me to the movies.
As for my addiction to the computer, I think I have to refrain from using it when others are present. As to the Safari World v movie irritation, I probably am just losing it and am ready to return to the US.
At the urgings of the Honorable Jerry (with a J. Not the equally honorable Gerry with a G) I decided to strike up a conversation with the lonely man at the pool. At the end of each lap he stands for a while at the shallow end of the pool and stares or meditates on the high-rises in the distance. So I decided to wade over to stand in front of him, make eye contact and say something clever like “It’s a nice day, don’t you think?” Alas, no matter how long I stood there he did not look at me or acknowledge my presence but instead continued to contemplate the buildings.
The lonely man meditating
The hotel in which the Health club and pool are located is frequented primarily by muslim and hindu visitors from South Asia, and Arabs from the Arabian peninsula. The women from the sub-continent even the muslims wear brightly colored clothing not the black burkas worn by Arab women. Interestingly, when they get to the pool many of them jump in fully clothed, their various scarves floating about them like multi-colored lily pads. This drives the Thai pool attendant nuts, since the hotel rules state specifically that bathing suits are to be worn in the pools.
The Indians, both muslim and Hindu usually are accompanied by their extended families and both men and women appear to be far more attentive to their children then westerners.
The good/bad David arrived in BKK. We had lunch where I learned he had been especially bad with a tattooed lady and others. Later the tattooed lady in question joined us. She showed me a photograph of a woman with reticulated python tattooed on her buttocks and asked me my opinion on whether she should get a similar one tattooed on hers. I told her that it seemed like a good idea to me.
The next day Good/Bad David and I had lunch together where, alas, we drank too much wine which we continued at a bar on Soi 11 called Mulligan’s or something like that. We ended the evening at AVA’s where I watched David and Hayden play a cutthroat game of pool and where I ended the night sitting opposite the Tattooed lady, an experienced member of the world’s oldest profession and an attractive dermatologist. Before I could figure out the punch line, I was hustled into a taxi and sent home to sleep it off.
The Good/Bad David with one of the threesome who sat at the table with me.
The Good/Bad David is off to Kenya on Friday to search the snake infested veld for evidence of petroleum reserves. I will miss him.
Nikki arrived today. While not many could replace the good/bad David, Nikki made a solid try at it his first day in BKK.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Note: the following continues my series about four governmental agencies that I had some role in developing.
A. The State of New York’s Mental Health Information Service (1965):
Having accomplished what I had set out to do which was to get the program successfully under weigh, I began to feel it was time to leave MHIS. The idea of spending the rest of my professional life processing requests for hearings began to frighten me. A few months before taking the job I had spent three days taking a battery of tests at NYU in an effort to determine my career aptitude. The tests clearly showed that although I had graduated from law school and passed the bar, a career in law was not the best choice for me. Alas what it did demonstrate was that I was most suited for a career as an orchestra conductor.
It also revealed that I had no aptitude for any sort of repetitive endeavor. So strong was my antipathy normal routine activity that the psychologists administering the tests recommended I seek professional help.
So it was, that the moment I realized that I was no longer creating something but administering it, I began to go crazy. I did not realize it at the time but this was the major behavioral determinant of my life.
Although I left the MHIS many of the people I met while I worked there fifty years later still remain among the most vivid in my memory of all those I have met over the ensuing years. There was:
The Chief psychiatrist at Jacobi Hospital, a man who wore a cape that would swirl behind him whenever he entered a room. He lived in a large six-story brownstone on the upper west side of Manhattan before it gentrified. He owned the entire building. One floor he converted into an indoor basket ball court for his kids. On another floor in a large room located between the elevator and the reception rooms where he held his cocktail parties and dinners, he had installed his huge collection of African tribal art every single one of which featured a prominent engorged penis. His specialty was domestic relations. He invited me to join him behind the one way glass observing marital dispute resolution sessions. He opined once that all relationships are inevitably based upon dominance-dependency interaction.
The hospital administrator, a tiny woman, no more than 4′ 7″ tall who ran the operation without ever resorting the usual demonstrations of power. She was the kindest and most effective administrator I have ever met.
There were also the patients on the wards:
The pre adolescent serial killer, an 11-year-old boy who would by one ingenious method or another periodically escape the wards and then call the head of the psychiatric department of the medical school to taunt him about his escape. The boy had a magnetism about him that forced all who came in contact with him to love him and want to assist him. It was as though something had screwed up the brain’s wiring and created something that did not otherwise exist on earth. He died before his 14th birthday of a neurological disease that had been undetected. To this day I sometime wonder if there was not something more I could have done to help him.
The axe murderer, a short muscular man whose eyes blazed with fury. Whatever it was he saw in his mind, he wanted to fight it until he destroyed it.
The teen-aged boy in homosexual panic who at times would crawl into the bed of the catatonic woman and be found there the next morning clutching on to her in desperation.
And too many more to describe here.
And there were the ward attendants mostly black and inevitably gentle but firm with the patients. Among the attendants I especially remember the beautiful young woman who taught me that love could be a thing of joy. Something I had never experienced before and never would again.
I decided to leave to take a job as a trial lawyer. I always dreamed of becoming a great trial lawyer winning cases for the downtrodden, living hard and dying young. I wanted to be the best trial lawyer in the City. And I was for a while, racking up consecutive victories in jury trials that ranked with the best the City had produced until then. But I accomplished it at the cost of the destruction of my marriage, the death of my child, and watching my son, one of the happiest children I had ever known, age to become a thoroughly unhappy adult who despises me.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Eddie Mars: Convenient, the door being open when you didn’t have a key, eh?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, wasn’t it. By the way, how’d you happen to have one?
Eddie Mars: Is that any of your business?
Philip Marlowe: I could make it my business.
Eddie Mars: I could make your business mine.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, you wouldn’t like it. The pay’s too small.
Al Pischotti’s office was located on the Van Ness side of the Tenderloin, in an area that for years had been threatened with a rising tide of gentrification only to see it recede time and again. The building was almost one hundred years old and had experienced constant makeovers leaving it a hodgepodge history of cheap construction. The office on the top floor of the six-story building took up most of the floor. A single sided hallway ran around a small courtyard giving it a light cheery feeling even on cloudy days. In addition to Pischotti Investigations, a small one person law office and cruise ship discount travel agency shared the floor. The offices all had doors exiting onto the hallway as well as railroad car style between the offices of each business.
Al’s reception, as always, was manned by Al’s wife, Margo, a woman every bit as large in life and in physical presence as Al himself. She pretty much ran things while Al happily served as front man.
“Hiya Dragon,” Margo shouted out when we entered. “Where’ve ya been? Haven’t seen ya around in a while. Al’s got some people with him he’ll be through in a minute or so. He’ll be glad to see ya.”
She managed to get all this out without taking a breath. “Who’s this? she added upon noticing Joe.
“Good to see you too Margo,” I replied. “This is my new intern Joe Vu. I’ll only take a minute of Al’s time.”
“Take as long as you need. You planning to go big time, with an intern and all? Nice to meet ya Joe.”
Joe nodded seeming a little awed by Margo’s overwhelming presence.
“Have a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.” She said, turned to attend to the phone to inform Al, then seamlessly moved to shouting into the phone haranguing someone about an unpaid bill.
I sat. Joe continued standing taking in the photographs and certificates that took up every inch of space not covered by furniture or windows. The photo’s were mostly of Al with local political and business leaders. He was active in civic affairs and served on boards and commissions for a string of Mayors.
“Hey,” Joe shouted out. “He’s on the Parks Commission, can he get tickets for games?”
“Not just tickets kid. If ya play your cards right you can sit in the Commission’s private box,” Margo said somehow aware of him while also continuing her heated telephone conversation.
At that moment the door to Al’s office opened and two people exited with him. “Hey, Dragon,” he said when he saw me. “You know Mai and Saski.”
Mai Chang and Andy Saski are two homicide detectives with the City. Mai and I had a brief affair when she and Andy worked on the murder of one of my law firm partners a few years ago. Both the affair and the murder indirectly led to my ultimate departure from the firm.
There were a lot of “hi ya’s,” how’s it going’s” and “good to see you’s” to last a week or two. I introduced Joe to the cops as someone working with me on an assignment. There were then some “give us a call’s,” and “see ya around’s,” The detectives left and we joined Al in his office.
Al moved through the room like a container ship at full throttle and gracefully circled his desk. He had a small badge given to retired city police clipped to his belt. Also affixed to his belt was a tiny gun encased in a leather holster. He sat down at his large and exceptionally messy desk. He was a big man a little over six feet tall and shaped like a triangle with its base located around his upper thighs. He looked like one of those pear-shaped Disney cartoon characters who despite their bulk have the grace of a ballerina. He was one of the nicest people I knew.
“Mia and Saski and I are working a couple of things together.” he said. Al still sometimes worked with the cops on contract. At other times he voluntarily assisted them on politically delicate matters.
“They said that Reilly’s autopsy revealed nothing that would suggest he was murdered,” he added. “So you’re helping this guy out? He needs all the help he can get.” he continued genially looking towards Joe.
“He’s my intern. His name is Joe Vu.”
“I’m pleased to meet you Joe,” Al said. “Intern eh? So you want to become a private investigator?”
“My uncle want’s me to,” Joe replied.
“His uncle is a business man from San José who sometimes strays into shady but lucrative endeavors,” I added.
“Don’t we all?” said Al. “I guess Dragon here has begun teaching you about tracing missing persons; Social Security Traces, Voter Registration search, Uniform Commercial Codes, National Identifier, Forwarding Addresses, Driver Licenses, Criss-cross Directories and all the other things one can use on your computer?”
“Nah, he has me drive him around, watch old movies and listen to him talk crazy.”
Al laughed a hearty laugh. I just stared at Vu in annoyance.
“Well at least you’re observant. Observation is important. Do you think you are a good observer? ”
“Well, I donno. My Grandfather…”
“His grandfather was a Viet Cong general,” I added trying to be helpful.
“My grandfather told me that it was by watching we were able to beat you guys. For example, American soldiers always stopped to eat; like the war was on hold while they had lunch. So they waited until the Americans stopped to eat and did whatever were needed to do then, like get in place for an ambush. Also they saw that you guys liked to travel the easy way along roads or in straight lines. Not like us crawling here and there through the jungle. So whenever we saw you stop to eat we could pretty much know where you would be, say in and hour or two. We’d wait there. Also, my grandfather said you guys would call in the helicopters as soon as the shooting started. But they knew where they were coming from and so they could position some others to wait where they knew you would fly over and shoot at you as you passed. You believed if you killed enough of us we would give up. But you did not realize that even if only one of us remained we still had learned enough about you to set an ambush and get away. Yeah I think I know something about watching. For example I know by watching that Boss here hopes this whole thing we’re doing for my uncle would go away and he can get back to blowing some dope and screwing his girlfriend. And so do I.”
Both Al and I were silent for a moment, then Al let out a booming laugh. “I’ll tell you what,” he said between chuckles. “I could always use a trained watcher. Call me whenever you would like some work.” He then turned to me and said, “I like this kid.” I, not so much.
“You seem like a bright kid. Why aren’t you in college?” Al inquired.
“As my uncle said, ‘this is America’ if you got enough money nothing else counts.”
“So, why does he have you working for Dragon here?”
“I guess it’s because he wants me to keep an eye on him,” he shrugged.
After a little more back and forth with Joe and a few jokes and comments at my expense, I mentioned to Al l that I would probably see him at the wake. Besides paying my respects to the widow, I wanted look around the property and talk to the mourners to see if I could get a line of the missing property. He did not think I would come up with anything. I agreed. I held little hope that I would find anything but felt I had to go through the motions.
I then asked Al for a contact at the Port who I could speak with who would help me try to trace the containers. With that name in hand, we left.
“It was crime at the time, but the laws, we changed them: “Kevin Drum’s nickel summary works for me, comparing and contrasting the new decision, in Shelby County v. Holder with Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (PDF). ‘So here’s your nickel summary. If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that’s OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that’s prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress’s approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window. Welcome to the 21st century.'”
John Holbo:Noted for June 27, 2013″ J. Bradford DeLong.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
(I do not know is the numbers are correct, but even if they are close to being correct, a program like this could have a similar impact on the US economy as previous major public improvement programs, like the nations RR network, freeway system, port and canal development, rural electrification and disaster related community re-construction and rehabilitation. I believe more of the wealth for which this nation boasts has been released by these public programs than could have been accomplished by private efforts alone. Private enterprise on the other hand has been effective in exploiting these resources, effectively turning the potential wealth released by the public investments into reality. On the other hand, some argue that the corruption [public and private] that accompanied and followed these investments made them not worth it.)
2. Everybody works hard. Some, alas, claim what they are paid really rewards their effort.
Bruce Bartlett, a former conservative, notes, ‘Only 61.8 percent of national income went to compensation of employees in 2012, compared with 65.1 percent in 2001.” Middle- and lower-class blue-collar workers are actually creating more, but getting less. While productivity has steadily increased by a total of 85 percent between 1979 and 2012, the inflation adjusted wage of the median worker rose by a paltry 6 percent and the value of the federal minimum wage fell by 21 percent.’
Richard Branson has said, ‘Yes, entrepreneurs may work hard, but I don’t think they actually work any harder than, say, doctors, nurses or other people in society…’
From Brad Delong’s Journal
B. Whispers of Forgotten Ancestors:
“I]mmigration… [in] the early 20th century, when it was overwhelmingly legal, documented, lightly regulated and European…. Millions of newcomers then were readily absorbed… the main objection was… that it was… filling America… with foreigners of unfamiliar tongues and customs… nonetheless… a familiar ring today. Both sides… praised immigration… while disagreeing as to whether newer arrivals were somehow fundamentally less desirable than those of yore….”
“Does a pope live in the woods?”
“The only trouble with retirement is…I never get a day off!”