“Wealth is power, and power is the only thing about which culture cares.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd ThomKoontz, Dean.as Novel (pp. 46-47). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY JASON.
CONGRATULATIONS BILL YEATES ON YOUR SUCCESS AT THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON.
My granddaughter Amanda dressed for Halloween and posing with my 98-year-old mom.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
On November 11, I left the Golden Hills on the first leg of my return to Thailand. The light rail clawed its way into Sacramento where, after too long a wait, I boarded the train and scrabbled across the Great Valley toward San Francisco.
I spent the evening at Peter and Barrie’s. At a local restaurant, we had an excellent dinner accompanied by a good Sicilian Nero d’Avola wine. The next morning, Peter dropped me off at the airport and after about a day of varying levels of discomfort, I arrived in Bangkok at about 2AM. I do not recall having traveled through the City at this time in the morning before. Not that I haven’t. I may have. It’s just that I do not remember. The bars were mostly closed but the “street vender” bars were in full riot. Nana Plaza was eerily lightless, but the ladies and ladyboys of the night mingled with their patrons in a black seething mass that slopped out into the street.
I slept most of the next day. The few times I was awake the Little Masseuse would tell me stories. One was about an older man who lives in the country.
The old man’s story:
Every day the old man spends the daylight hours rummaging through garbage cans for food and other necessities. He especially searches for bits of electrical wire. In the evenings, through well past midnight, he melts down the bits of wire and burning off any coating. Every month, he produces a one-kilogram lump of copper that he sells for about $20, on which he augments his dumpster diving.
I try to swim every day at pool in the health club located in the Ambassador Hotel on Soi 11. The health club now includes a Muay Thai training facility to go with the pool, gym, racquetball courts, yoga rooms, Karate lessons and Chinese fan dancing instruction.
Some parrots in the Ambassador Hotel’s extensive aviaries.
After swimming, I usually have a massage at my friend Gary’s spa (The Silk Spa) on Sukhumvit Soi 13. If you are in Bangkok give it a try. Especially experience the new two-person sauna that Gary built himself. Gary is Canadian, plays in an Ice Hockey League in Thailand and is often followed around by a precocious four-year-old named GJ.
On Wednesdays, the Little Masseuse and I go to Terminal 21 to see a movie (Wednesday tickets are only $3 each.) Each floor of Terminal 21 is dedicated to a different city. The photograph below is part of the San Francisco display.
After a week, we took a van to Jomtien Beach to spend a few days by the seashore. The ride was longer than usual. We seemed to go a different way than we usually do. We passed an attractive small lake and through the town of Sri Racha, neither of which I had seen before.
The small hotel we usually stay at was full so we found an even less expensive one for $17 per night.
In the evenings, we walked along the beach.
We also ambled along the seashore in the early mornings.
On our walks along the beach, we were often accompanied by a small pack of beach dwelling Soi Dogs.
Soi Dogs are the indigenous feral dogs of Thailand. They rarely bark or growl and skitter away if you come too close to them. The King of Thailand claims they are the country’s native dog and seeks AKC recognition for them.
One morning we came across a group of ladyboys overacting on the beach and frolicking topless in the water.
The Good/Bad David joined us for lunch one day at a pretty good Mexican restaurant in the gay quarter of Jomtien Beach.
The gay quarter is located in a lovely complex just off the main road to the beach. While the gay community still lived in shadow and in Thailand was the object of ridicule, the complex deteriorated. But now, acceptance of their life-style has rejuvenated the area. At night, it is quite joyful, if a bit startling when the rent boys call out and comment on your physical endowments as you walk by.
For about three hours over margaritas, we exchanged stories. David kept us enthralled with tales about his life as a safety expert in the Jungles of Borneo and Nigeria and on the sands of Arabia in the employ of the plunderers of world’s billion-year solar energy reserve of hydrocarbons — stories about armed men and boats equipped with 50 cal machine guns — of sudden deadly explosions — of giant crocodiles and poisonous snakes — of days and nights living, under a sentence of death, in a fortified encampment. When not engaged in derring-do, he lives in Thailand where he relaxes in his own special way. If there were a Nobel Prize for hedonism, David would be a repeat winner.
Along with his other stories, David related the recent travails of Tina, a friend of us both and of whom we are fond.
Tina is a sex worker struggling to raise two children alone. Her daughter is now nine-years-old and her son twelve. In the past, she usually worked during the day and rushed home to greet them when they returned from school and to spend the evenings with them whenever she could. She now has reached that age where her appeal as a sex worker has diminished. At first, she toiled as a manager of a cocktail lounge called Heaven, when that did not work out, she opened a small bar of her own that failed. Now she walks the streets of Pattaya, her son watching over his sister in their small apartment until she comes home.
Tina at Heaven.
After leaving David we passed an interesting place that contained an artists studio and gallery, bar, night club, restaurant and foot massage facility.
We decided to enjoy a foot massage. The Masseur told us his story
The Masseur’s Story:
It seems that a few years ago he found his dream job working as a Massage Therapist and rent boy at the Happy Massage parlor across the street. He enjoyed working there and was popular with the customers. Alas, over the years he put on weight and soon the customers no longer sought his services. So, he now has been relegated to working the sidewalk foot massage station across the street. He is very distressed by his current situation. Nevertheless, he gives a great foot massage.
One evening, we went for dinner at an Italian Restaurant we like in the gay quarter. Da Nicola is owned by a father and son from a town (Licata) in Sicily quite near that of my mother’s town (Canicatti). The father considers the wines from Canicatti the best in Sicily. He should know, the house wine in the restaurant, although from Australia, is excellent even though served a little too chilled. The food there is as good Italian food and pizza as you will find in the Pattaya area.
David laughing at something while the Little Masseuse ignores him.
The Owner of the Restaurant, LM with the pizza oven in the background.
A few days after returning from Jomtien Beach, my favorite Thai holiday, Loi Krathong, the festival of the lights with which the Thais welcome in the new year, was celebrated. Tiny boats made of flowers and festooned with lit candles are set afloat on the nearby waterways.
We went to a lake near my apartment where thousands had gathered, bought our Krathongs and found a place by the lake to launch them.
As we tried to light the candles, a strong wind suddenly struck making them impossible to light. The wind was quickly followed by a torrential downpour causing a panic among the thousands since most had not brought umbrellas. Everyone fled to try to squeeze into the various inadequate public transportation options (No one in their right mind would try to drive in Bangkok to something like this). All in all, the Festival of the Lights came to a dismal end.
On Thanksgiving, I dined on a plate of pork fried rice garnished with cucumbers and onion shoots.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
Only Sicilians Sit at the Table:
“Through the other window could be seen an empty table, apparently reserved for the sit-down. At the back, there was an espresso machine in the middle of the room, where the players occasionally refilled their little cups. Shortly before 9 p.m., Gross’s team arrived. Bayonne Joe Zicarelli left his companions to chat quietly with Nicky and Hicky. Gross nodded stiffly to the innkeepers. While they all were waiting, Hicky, the more serious hood, kept staring at Gross, who interpreted the glare as attempted intimidation. Then, the evening’s judge came walking slowly down the sidewalk, dignified looking, but overdressed for such warm weather in a heavy dark suit. His fedora looked much like Bayonne Joe’s, but the brim was snapped up, not down like Joe’s in gangster-movie style. The judge was Peter Crocciata, then in his 70s, known to police as a consiglieri or elder statesman in the Bonano crime family. As Crocciata approached, Nicky, Hicky, and Bayonne Joe moved quickly toward him. Each embraced him and kissed him on the cheek. Their haste made it seem as if more points would go to the hood who hugged him first. Judge and greeters went into the club, leaving the others outside. Marino and Vogedes stood by themselves, away from Gross and his allies, DiGilio, and Sinatra. They all could see the sit-down through the window, but they couldn’t hear what was being said. Gross quietly asked Sinatra why the principals weren’t inside–didn’t the judge want to get the story from the horse’s mouth? “Only Sicilians sit at the table,” Sinatra replied. “That’s how it’s done.””
Gangsters inc. http://z14.invisionfree.com/GangstersInc/index.php?showtopic=1097
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
One of my favorite people, the legendary stripper Carol Doda, has died. Before there were Kardashians there was Carol Doda — except Carol had talent. She could sing and dance. She had brains and heart and she was the first to open carry her forty-fours. She was the first topless stripper in San Francisco’s North Beach, a notorious scandal at the time. I got to know her long after her stripping career ended. She never stopped performing, singing now and then at clubs around town. I met her one evening when she was having dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, The Columbus Restaurant in North Beach. We had dinner there that night and many times thereafter. She was bluff, outspoken and canny, a joyful and entertaining dinner companion.
In her later years she opened up a tiny lingerie shop down a small alley off Union Street. I stopped by the lingerie shop every time I happened to be in the Union Street area in order to spend a few minutes chatting with her that inevitably turned into an hour or so. My daughter-in-law Annmarie indicated that she would send customers from her bridal store to Carol’s shop because she sold a special type of bra there. Everything about Ms. Doda was special. I hope she did not die alone. Rest in peace Carol.
A. Quigley on Top:
“To get back to sovereignty and the structure of the state, another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, in Europe and in much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial- managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“The quickest way to lose power is to use it and not succeed.”
C. Today’s Poem:
We know this much
Death is an evil;
we have the gods’
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing
“My own decision to deal with man’s civilized history as a sequence of separate civilizations was based, in part, on a conviction that organizational and intellectual factors were at least as important as technological and economic forces in determining the history of any civilization, and that the ability of such a civilization to utilize the technical knowledge available to it, either from its own invention or from diffusion from other cultures, depends, to a great extent, on non-materialist factors, especially those associated with accepted outlook and organizational patterns.”
Ribeiro,The Civilizational Process.