“Like most people raised on American movies, I have poor access to my emotions but can banter like a motherfucker.”
—Josh Bazell, Wild Thing
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
We had a small party at the house for Dick’s (Uncle Mask) birthday before he, SWAC and a few others went out to dinner to celebrate.
The boy in the yellow shirt is Jake, co-producer of “The Haystack Show.”
This week I have my cataract operation on my right eye. I look forward to it — not just because it will help me see better but also because it is something to do — taking the medicines, following the rules, arranging for the appointments — like a short-time job.
Boredom is not the same as depression. True, they both produce brain-freeze — a state in which people so inflicted usually ignore those things that could relieve their predicament. In both states, one can stare aimlessly at nothing for a long time, but the bored are not particularly unhappy — annoyed probably, but not unhappy. Alas, we have pills for depression, but not for boredom.
I have taken to leaving the house often while it is being prowled by the malicious spirit. At those times, I take refuge in coffee houses where I drink various caffeinated beverages, play with my computer or read bad novels until my mind shuts down. I then usually go swimming. There I paddle back and forth in the pool while endorphins or whatever drives consciousness from my mind until I snap back after slamming my head against the edge of the pool. Thereafter, I go home and take a nap. I seem to be spending a good portion of my days in varying degrees of unconscious. I could try dope, but I guess this is healthier.
On the weekend, we attended the Reptile Show in Sacramento. It was more interesting than I expected. They even had a petting zoo for the children complete with a full sized live alligator and a Komodo Dragon.
While HRM created a video for his YouTube program, “The Haystack Show,” I spent most of my time wandering around and wondering why many of the women in the booths displaying the various snakes and lizards for sale were heavily tattooed while the men were not.
That is a live lizard above Uncle Mask’s head.
The operation on my right eye was uneventful. I found the anesthetic wonderful and asked the doctor if I could take some home with me. He said I also would have to take the nurse along in order to administer it. Although I agreed to the suggestion, the nurse demurred saying, “Honey, you couldn’t afford me.” She’s probably right. Anyway, I can now see clearly out of that eye without glasses.
One evening, we drove to the top of the hill to view the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. A few clouds obscured most of it. That was a shame since I probably will not be here in 2033 when the next one comes around.
The sky above the Golden Hills just before the rise of the Blood Moon.
Marcel Proust observed that ”Experiences are less real when you have them than when you either remember them or imagine them” — alas, the story of my life.
Proust is one of my heroes. He spent most of his adult life lying in bed writing his great book “Remembrance of Things Past.” I too spend a lot of my life in bed. Regrettably, I rarely write. Instead, I lament over things past, read bad novels and peruse Facebook posts by my so-called friends. Other times, I sleep and dream.
Proust was prodigiously self-absorbed. He wrote thirty pages about how he moves about in bed. Try as I might, I could never match his preoccupation with himself. My goal nonetheless, is someday to lie in my bed so captivated with myself, I fall into a coma.
Proust had many opinions about sex, but quite limited actual knowledge. He used to hire young boys to come into his room to stand at the foot of his bed and masturbate. If he found the experience arousing enough, he would join in. I, on the other hand, am not into sex with little boys, or grown men for that matter — unless, I guess, in the case of adults that have tits (as that great observer of life, “Ted,” opined, “there are no chicks with dicks only guys with tits.”) This probably makes me a social recidivist. How wonderful that future world will be when we get to boink without shame with whomever agrees to boink with us.
Anyway, unlike Proust whose mom left him a lot of money, a house, and her bed for him sleep in, I cannot afford to hire anyone to stand at the foot of my bed for any reason. So, I have to content myself with production value deficient porn videos that inevitably leave my computer rife with malware — remembrance of things past indeed.
B. BOOK REPORT:
Suggestions for Books about Bangkok:
Like New York and a few other cities, Bangkok has been a treasure trove fo stories about the city’s teeming underside. Even the city’s most fashionable hotel, The Oriental, has a wing dedicated to some of the world’s greatest novelists who resided there and wrote about Southeast Asia and the City astride the Chao Phraya River that sits at its center. Writers like Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Joseph Conrad and others all have suites in the hotel named for them.
That tradition remains alive today through such well-known authors as John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Timothy Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Jake Needham, Colin Piprell and James Eckhardt.
Books by several Thai authors who also have deeply explored life in Thailand as well as Bangkok’s urban jungle have been translated into other languages. These include, “Mad Dog and Co.” by Chart Korbjitti (translated into English by Marcel Barang, himself an author of a novel set in Bangkok as well as the non-fiction, “Twenty Best Novels of Thailand”); “The Tin Mine” by Archin Panchapan; “Sightseeing” by Rattawut Laparoensap; and “Jasmine Nights” by SP Somtow.
A best seller and a good read is “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel that delves into Bangkok’s current and future problems with flooding. It was named one of the 10 best novels of 2009
But, by far my favorite Bangkok author is Christopher G. Moore. The protagonist in a good many of his most popular books is Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish half Italian ex-lawyer who for some mysterious reason gave up practicing law in New York to become a private eye in Bangkok.
Among his many books about Bangkok and the Thai urban scene, I like best “Waiting For the Lady.” Unlike most of his other novels, it is set not in Bangkok but in Burma.
Moore’s story swirls around the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chin people of Burma and a young scholar specializing in the art of the mountain tribes of Southeast Asia who along with his two longtime artist friends living in Bangkok search for a hidden hoard of Ming china.The description of the day the country’s military government released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of house arrest is worth the price of the book.
C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Morality Tale:
Recently, a young American venture capitalist named Martin Shkreli purchased the patent rights for a much used HIV drug and promptly raised the price from about $15 a dose to either $700 or $5000 (I’ve seen both numbers in the press.) The young man seemed to explain his decision to trade on the lives of HIV sufferers by asserting he could make a lot of money by doing so.
Among the almost universal opprobrium that this action engendered, Steven Thrasher wrote:
“It’s easy to be angry at Shkrelli, his smug smile and his greedy choices that may well equal the deaths of those priced out from the malaria, Aids and cancer medicine they need. But Shkrelli is just a tool. He lives in a world where disaster capitalism will reward him. He now says he will make the drug “more affordable,” but the richest nation on earth can’t stop him from deciding what “affordable” will mean. He may repulse us, but he represents our American way of disastrous living. Disaster capitalism no longer just reacts to chaos for profit, or even creates chaos for profit. It creates the conditions by which the spectre of social, spiritual and biological death hang over our heads on a daily basis so oppressively, the crises become seamless.”
2. Qualifications for Leadership:
Pope Francis has all the qualifications for leadership of the Church or for US President. — He has a Masters in Chemistry, is a metalhead, rode a Harley, worked as a bouncer in a nightclub and now wears a yarmulke and a dress. Can any candidate for the US presidency today claim to be as qualified for the Presidency as Francis is to be Pope? Carly wears dresses (Hillary seems to be about the only candidate who rightfully wears pants) and Bernie has the Yarmulke, and while it is possible one or another of the candidates were metalheads and even rode a Harley now and then, could any of those running have survived even one night as a night-club bouncer?
3. SF Chronicle Headlines:
Africanized Killer Bees Reach Bay Area.
Tech Industry Panics, Flees to Vancouver.
Mountain View a Ghost Town.
San Francisco Housing Prices become Affordable Again.
For those of a scriptural bent: In the interpretation of the Gospels, Pope Francis represents the ascendancy of the Epistle of James (the brother of Jesus and Chief Priest of the Temple) over the epistles of Paul (the tax collecting, egomaniacal suppressor of the Jesus Church). When James and the other Apostles agreed to admit non-Jews into the Church they had no idea it would open the door to the rest of Paul’s theology. In response, James wrote his Epistle in order to refute Paul.
Basically. James and Jesus maintained you are not getting into Heaven by faith alone but by good works, whether or not you have “The Faith.”
If you want to put it into religious terms, politics in the US today to a great extent reflects the conflict between those who believe in faith alone whether in God or Country without concern about the fate of others and those who believe their God or Country demands a commitment to the welfare of all.
A. Quigley on Top:
“One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases.”
Quigley— Weapons Systems and Political Stability.
B. Xander’s Perceptions:
I’ve done boycotts of products almost all of my life (starting when my mom marched w/ Cesar Chavez to boycott grapes, then lettuce.) As I got older, I boycotted cereals owned by cigarette companies (and NO, buying more cereal doesn’t mean they’d eventually phase cigarettes out; it just subsidizes tobacco and keeps the SOB in the black).
My favorite corporate asshole is Stanley, maker of tools like tape measures, screwdrivers, etc. Well, they sure put the screws to the American taxpayers — they “moved” their “corporate headquarters” into a Post Office Box in the Bahamas or Cayman Islands . . . I don’t remember which. “60 Minutes” did a segment a number of years ago . . . and I am STILL waiting for The Obama Administration or SOMEONE to nail those bastards. I know Bernie Sanders might do that on his first day in the Oval Office. I’ll see if I can get a pledge from him to do so in his first week . . . or hours, as President.
This tax-dodging bullshit makes the United States look like the most corrupt, the most inept, and the most morally bankrupt nation in the world. And who am I to argue against that, when the evidence is piled up higher than their ill-gotten corporate tax-free profits?
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Crises like climate change, food sufficiency and water availability probably cannot be resolved if human population continues to increase. Hydrocarbon emissions, food consumption and water use are not increasing on a per capita basis anywhere near rate of growth in the total use of those resources. The direct approach to dealing with population growth has been to provide greater access to birth control. This is a good thing and should be continued. Still despite decades of trying, the growth of human population continues out of control. The only successful population control other than war, famine and plague has been the liberation and education of women. Wherever women are free and informed rates of population growth decline.”
D. Today’s Poem:
Watching blue mold on bread grow,
Spring rains, Summer’s glow,
Autumn leaves go floating by,
How many days before I die?
Some reap and others sow,
Some the whole world’s knowledge know,
I instead just sit and sigh.
How many days before I die?
E. From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
“It’s also true that people who make the most productive contributions, the ones who make lasers or transistors, or the inventor of the computer, DNA researchers — none of these are the top wealthiest people in the country. So if you look at the people who contributed the most, and the people who are there at the top, they’re not the same.”
Summertime among the Golden Hills