October through December 2010

Fourth quarter 2010

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 15, 2010


2004, June. Yiddish schlimazel was one of the ten non-English words that were voted hardest to translate by a British translation company.


1. Sign emblazoned on the front of an Indian made to order tailor shop on the main road between Paradise by the Sea and the Outskirts of Hell:


2. Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominium pool rule # 5:



I leave today. I do not know when I will get a chance to write again, but if I do not get an opportunity before I return, please have Happy Holidays.


Attached is Chapter 2. It is primarily back story and semi-autobiographical (the bane of inexperienced writers like me. I assume one grows out of it) It most likely will be dropped or redistributed in any final version, if there ever is a final version.


Chapter 2

He arrived at SFO at 11:30 in the morning. If he rushed he could check in at the posh Fairmont Hotel on the crest of Nob Hill in San Francisco, shower, shave get a bite to eat from room service and walk the one block from the Hotel to the Cathedral where the service was to begin at one o’clock.

During the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, the thought of Sam’s death prompted him to drift into musing about his own life.

Vincent Joseph Biondi was the eldest son of Marsha Cohen Biondi and James (Jack) Biondi. Vince as he was called was named in the Sicilian tradition after his paternal grandfather Vincent Biondi who with his new wife Elisa during the early part of the twentieth century left the little mountain top Sicilian town of Muselmeli whet they lived and whose only claim to fame was that it was the home and hideout of long time mafia chieftain Salvatore Rinna and emigrated along with many of their neighbors to the United States.

Vincent and Elisa settled in the working class Italian neighborhood in Yonkers New York called Nanny Goat Hill. Vincent eventually got a job in downtown Manhattan as a cutter in the fur trade. They had two daughters Regina and Seraphina neither of whom ever married but they were inseparable and happily lived together their entire lives.

James the middle son called Jack because his name was Giacomo in Italian, was born in 1925 in their rented house on the slopes of Nanny Goat Hill. After a stint in the Army, at the end of World War II , Jack returned to the Yonkers and joined his father’s trade. There he met his wife to be, Marsha.

The New York fur trade at that time was mostly run by Eastern European Jewish families with italian and jewish working class laborers doing the cutting and sewing of the fur coats that would then adorn the backs of the wealthy New Yorkers who could afford such things.

Marsha was a refugee who along with her aunt Estelle were the only members of their family to escape the Holocaust in Poland.

She worked for the same company that he did. They worked together in a large room, matching thin strips of fur, usually mink, to one another, tacking them to large plywood boards containing the pattern for the garment and finally stitching the narrow pieces of fur together to make the fur coat. The job was tedious and required great skill in matching and sewing the pieces together.

They married, in spite of the strong objections of Jack, Elisa and Estelle. They settled in Yonkers in a duplex on the Hill near Jack’s parents and Estelle came to live with them. Two years after Vinnie was born Marsha gave birth to a baby girl who they named Estelle. Jimmy the youngest was born three years later and Marsha declared that was rough children for her.

In the neighborhood, because his mother was Jewish, Vinnie was often called neighborhood the older boys in the “Kike”. His parents wanting Vinnie to have a good education struggled to send Vinnie to private and, parochial schools or when they just could not afford it, to public schools in good neighborhoods where they lied about their address to get him in. In these schools, not knowing his mother was jewish and often bereft of many other italian students, Vince was at times referred to by the other students as “Guinea” and by one teacher as the little WOP. Vinnie had a lot of fights during this time in both his neighborhood and his various schoolyards. At times he seemed to get into a fight or two almost every day. He lost most of them. That is probably where he developed his pugnacious nature and his heightened sense of insult.

Anyway after a checkered academic career through high school and a local Jesuit run university he drifted into law school, a fitting career given his Jewish and Sicilian genetic makeup except Sicilians in Italy and here in America preferred government service to the private practice of law while their Jewish brethren appeared more attracted to private practice. Vinnie, true to his genetic background bounced around between government jobs and private practice.

After the breakup of his first marriage Vinnie, as he usually did when things got bad, decided to pull up stakes and get away from it all. So he migrated to San Francisco California where due to a number of unforeseen events he, to his surprise, ended up as a partner with the esteemed McKenzie Reed Law Firm.

Vinnie never considered himself a particularly good lawyer. What attracted the Firm to Vinnie was not his legal acumen but his knowledge and experience with and in politics. Not the glad handing, back slapping and stabbing kind but the back room deals and payoffs that real politics was all about. Vinnie excelled in negotiating and revising bits of pending legislation so that the firms clients could maintain or preferably increase their income and wealth at the expense of the public.

It was also a plus that Vinnie was also a staunch member of the Democratic Party in an otherwise Republican firm. While the firm had many contacts within the Republican party, they needed entrée to the Democrats on behalf of their clients whenever that party was in power in the state or federal government. Vinnie fit the bill.

Vinnie mostly hated his clients as well as many of his partners. But because he was quite vocal in firm meetings about injustices he perceived being foisted on the employees, paralegals, associates and junior partners, as impervious to personal approbation, the other partners elected him to the management committee, primarily to shut him up he figured.


1. From the Princess Bride:

Fezzik: “You never said anything about killing anyone.”
Vizzini: “I’ve hired you to help me start a war. It’s an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.”

2. The Wisdom of Baba Giufa:

Seeker: “Baba Giufa, what is the nature of God?”

Baba Giufa: “Kingfish.”

Seeker: “Kingfish! What does that mean?”

Baba Giufa: “Do you agree that in God is contained the ideal of all things?”

Seeker: “Yes, I think so.”

Baba Giufa: “And do you not also agree that when you look around you in the world most of what we consider success has been obtained by fraud and deceit?”

Seeker: “Well yes, I guess I mostly agree with that too.”

Baba Giufa: “Then you must also agree that, Kingfish is God.”

3. Today’s Cognitive Bias

Information bias – the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action


“A father shall immediately put to death a son recently born, who is a monster, or has a form different from that of members of the human race.”
Roman law of the Twelve Tables (Table IV, Law III)

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 13, 2010

English: The thirteen retired Crayola crayon c...

English: The thirteen retired Crayola crayon colors: Lemon Yellow, Violet Blue, Blue Gray, Orange Red, Maize, Raw Umber, Orange Yellow, Green Blue, Blizzard Blue, Magic Mint, Mulberry, Teal Blue, & Thistle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


1990: Eight Crayola crayon colors– Maize, Raw Umber, Lemon Yellow, Blue G ray, Orange Yellow, Orange Red, Green Blue and Violet Blue– are retired into the Crayola Hall of Fame in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Emerson Moser, then Crayola’s most senior crayon moulder, also retired after 37 years. After moulding approximately 1.4 billion crayons, he revealed that he is actually color blind.


Today’s Bangkok Post reports that the American DEA has posted notices in Thailand containing the face of the ethnic Wai tribe’s leader, and reputed drug lord, Wei Hsueh-Kan emblazoned on beer holders used to serve customers so that they can contemplate the $2 million reward while flirting with the bar girls.


This morning I learned that the english language “Golden Oldies” radio station that I enjoy listening to while I drink my morning café latte is indeed broadcast from Thailand, in fact just down the road from here in the Outskirts of Hell.

As the date for my departure to the US becomes closer, I become more anxious. Why is that? I become older too. Are they related?

Last night I went out to buy presents for people I plan to see during my trip. Haggling made me tired so I gave up, ate a pizza and went home to bed.

Recently, while I was walking to the beach for my morning stroll, I met the old man from Texas with the walker. After exchanging pleasantries, he mentioned that he felt that things are going bad in the US with unemployment and Wikileaks and the like, but as a result of the election he hoped it would get better and there would be lower taxes and more jobs. “I do not like that socialism,” he opined. “It’s a lot like Communism.” He is on Social Security, medicare and disability and receives a veteran’s pension.

For those who wonder about these things, Petey the Wonder Dog still mans his post guarding the sand against the tide.


A few months back I promised to send to you drafts of a potential mystery novel I have been playing around with. Here is the very rough draft of chapter one. The working title is “Red Star.” Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.


Chapter one:

“He was shot in the head. Please Vince come to the funeral. I think there is something we need to discuss.”

As he flew back to the US and to San Francisco to attend the funeral, he kept replaying in his mind yesterday’s telephone conversation with David Kitchen.

Sam Coign the mercurial Chairman of the law firm of McKenzie Reed had been found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head. The death occurred at his home in Woodside, a posh suburb of San Francisco where many of the captains of the Bay Area’s high Tech industry choose to live along with their parasites, the lawyers, CPAs and investment advisors who lived off of the fruits of their industry. He was found by his wife lying on the floor of his home office at the back of the house overlooking Sam’s beloved flower garden. A handgun was found near by. The police initially suspect suicide.

Kitchen explained all of this to him over his cell phone while Vinnie sat by the pool that serviced his condominium in Jomtien Beach Thailand where he had retreated to after taking early retirement from McKenzie Reed in a fit of piqué.

Kitchen served with him on the Firm’s so-called management committee. It was so-called because its members spent more time arguing than managing. Usually the arguments were between him and other four. He was almost always out voted. As a result Sam ran things as he saw fit. One day after several hours of bitter argument and shouting back and forth, he asked for and received early retirement. This was last year and he was 54 at the time.

He was tired of practicing law and tired of his life. All he wanted to do was go off somewhere and do nothing. But that would cost money, his divorce settlement and a series of disastrous investments left Vinnie with very little of it.

Nevertheless, having been long divorced, his children from his second marriage grown and hating the practice of law, he left to spend retirement with a restricted income in a low-cost jurisdiction. He chose Thailand for its tropical climate, relatively low-cost of living and frankly for its liberal view of sex.

When he asked if anyone had any idea about why Sam would do something like this Kitchen cryptically answered that he would rather not discuss it over the phone.

This did not disturb Vince at the time but coupled with Kitchen’s statement about the wish of the other members of the firm to speak with him about his, “arrangement,” it made much of the 21 hour trip across the Pacific Ocean a time of considerable anxiety.


1. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

[Buttercup kisses the senile King]
The King:What was that for?”
Buttercup: “Because you have always been so kind to me, and I won’t be seeing you again since I’m killing myself once we reach the honeymoon suite.” 
“The King: “Won’t that be nice…. She kissed me.”

2. Teachings of Baba Giufa:

Seeker: “Baba Giufa, tell me, how is one to know the truth?”

Baba Giufa: “If you do not have enough information to know the truth of a statement (and you never do), you should assume it is a lie and seek for a motivation. And if you find one, no matter how far-fetched, then you are better off assuming it is more true than the original statement.”

3. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Endowment effect – “the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it”.


“A state increases by being the asylum for the persons that are expelled and dispersed by other states.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 11, 2010


thailand sukothai parade 02

thailand sukothai parade 02 (Photo credit: FriskoDude)

a. Department of where have I heard that before:

The two cases before the Constitutional Court of Thailand seeking dissolution of the ruling party have been thrown out not on the merits or failure of the plaintiffs to follow correct procedures but because the ruling parties appointees or the courts own personnel failed to do so. (Shades of Gore v. Bush).

As a result of the decision, the Emergency Decree prohibiting political demonstrations or anything else deemed  political has been recommended to be lifted for the Bangkok area.

b. Department of media matters:

The top Google searches in Thailand are; the Red Shirt protests, a Korean Boy Band and a Thai country tune about a prodigal son.

The Thai version of “A boy Named Sue”?

c. Department of you heard it here first:

A report of the Human Rights Commission based in Hong Kong reported that in Thailand, “…forces opposed to human rights and their allies had reemerged to take control of key national institutions….These forces were digging in to fight for political control of the country…The reemergence of the ‘Internal Security State’ in Thailand was following a similar pattern to the past but with more refined public relations and a sharper concern for noes types of political and technological threats to its authority.
Expanded use of emergency regulations to legitimatize all state actions while also producing impunity; failure to meet obligations under international human rights law; the obfuscation of truth and curtailment of justice; the failure of the country’s human rights institutions to perform according to their mandate.”

Now we know where Dick Chaney retired to.


As the days go by, I become more and more pleased with my life here. Either that or I have begun to go senile. I walk along the beach, swim, exercise in the weight room, write eat and sleep. Once a week I have my massage and dinner with friends. Bill has left and returned to the US already and Gary and David have also departed. As a result my evenings are free so that for the last few days I have had time to prepare for my trip back to the US for the holidays., Christmas shopping and packing.

This morning I walked to the place where I have my double café latte before going on to breakfast. I like the place because it has a radio tuned into some station that plays golden oldies from Do-Whop to Disco. I think it is a Thai station although they mostly speak American English. I sit there every morning listening to Frankie Lyman or whomever… Actually I lie, I have not heard anything from Frankie Lyman in over 40 years. Who is Frankie Lyman you may ask?… in the late 50’s he was the first black cross-over teenage singer (“Why do Fools Fall in Love”), that is a black musician liked by a majority of whites of which Michael Jackson a few years later was the prime example. He was not a “Black” musician like Little Richard or Chuck Berry who needed white singers such as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis to introduce their sound to white America. And anyway at the time almost all the early Rock bands and singers, white and Black together were considered somewhat outlaw and not respectable. (Who can forget Pat Boone’s attempt to hi-jack this new music of behalf of racist America). Jackson eventually bridged that gap and made black music mainstream.

At that time in the late 50’s and early 60’s my friend Bob Cavallo and I began producing concerts for college kids featuring a mix of Jazz and the new Rock music. Bob ultimately went into the business (I went on to law school — bad choice) eventually specializing in this cross-over music with his management of Earth, Wind and Fire and Prince.

Anyway I sat there drinking my café latte and listening to the music and let my mind wander off to wherever is chooses to go. I will never understand why the meditation hucksters insisted on purging ones mind in order to achieve and altered state when simply giving it free rein achieves the same thing and is a lot more enjoyable. (This seems like something for a Baba Giufa tale.)

As my mind rummaged through its detritus, for some reason it stopped and played around with my memories of my theatre programs during my early years at University. Perhaps it was because last night I watched a movie starring Denzil Washington who attended the same program I did.

The director of the program was an old queen with the improbable name of Vaughn Dearing. He always looked like he slept in his clothes and was slightly drunk. He also never remembered to zipper up his fly.

I liked Vaughn’s approach. What I had experienced previously was that one auditioned and if successful was assigned a part. The director then spent most of the rest of the time in rehearsals making sure you learned your lines, remembered your cues and hit your mark on time.

Vaughn on the other hand, after selecting his cast through auditions, would not assign roles. Instead every day each actor and actress would assume a different role from the day before and work through the entire play (men played women’s roles and vice versa), You did not know which role you would play in the production until the last week of rehearsal.


Today I thought I would break into my cycle of tales and fables and include for your entertainment, a guest tale written by Cousin Irwin.


Setting: irwin is in New Jersey. it is the first day irwin has seen his birth-father in eighteen years having left New Jersey with his mom and grandmother when he was about six years old and never having a father who secured a percentage of irwin’s growing up time. irwin comes to New Jersey seeking something (yikes! close the windows we are coming to Secaucus) and to visit his father, aunts, grandfather (the only person who cried when greeting irwin), and cousins. He is carrying a guitar, wearing a beard and a moscow fur cap. He has no money in his wallet, having secured a vehicle ride across country by answering an ad from someone looking for someone to share the drive time.

Solomon Schatzman: “you know irwin, during these last eighteen years i often thought about coming out to California and kidnapping you”.

Irwin Schatzman: says nothing, blinks, and thinks, “Well, why didn’t you?”


a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride.

Westley: “I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?” 
Buttercup: “Well… you were dead.”
Westley: “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” 

b, From God’s mouth to your ear:

Ahijah's prophesie to Jeroboam

Ahijah’s prophesie to Jeroboam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At this time, Jeroboam‘s son Abijah fell ill.
Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Go to Ahijah the prophet in Shiloh. Take some bread, cakes, and honey. He will tell you what will happen to the child.’
Jeroboam’s wife set out and arrived in Shiloh at the house of Ahijah.
Now Ahijah was old and blind, but Yahweh had said to him, ‘Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask about her son, for he is ill. Here is what you will say to her…’
As she entered the door, Ahijah said to her, ‘Come in, wife of Jeroboam, for I have been ordered to give you bad news. Tell Jeroboam that this is what Yahweh says…’
‘”You have committed more evil than all who came before you. You have angered me by making other gods made of metal, so now I will commit evil upon the family of Jeroboam!”‘
“I will exterminate all those who piss against the wall, men and boys! I will burn the family of Jeroboam the way one burns dung, until it is completely gone!”‘
“Those of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the country will be eaten by birds!”‘
‘Yahweh has spoken. Now go back home. As soon as you set foot in the city, the boy will die.’
So Jeroboam’s wife went back, and as soon as she crossed the threshold of the palace…”
…the boy died.
1 Kings 14: 1 – 17.


“I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” 
Thomas Jefferson

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 8, 2010

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, Sa...

Looking down Filbert Street in North Beach, San Francisco. Saints Peter and Paul Church towers over the neighborhood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Baba Giufa and the Irritating Young Man.

On day Baba Giufa and two of his female Dharmanoids were sitting at a sidewalk café in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Baba Giufa had become successful enough that he had replaced his bus-boys jacket with a resplendent white designer blazer. His pants were no longer string tied and off-white in color, but bright white slacks from the same designer. He had abandoned the pink flip-flops for the latest fashionable pair of trainers and although on his head he still wore a Panama hat with its black band and its brim cut off, it was no longer the old beat up one that he had previously sported.

His two Dharmanoids were dressed in scarlet gospel singer robes. He originally had them dress in white robes but when the laundry bill got too high for his tastes, he changed the color to that of the local football team of which he was an ardent fan. He called his female Dharmanoids his Befanas because they brought him presents.

Now it came to pass that on this day a group of about three young men passed by and seeing them sitting there drinking their espresso began to laugh and point at them. The leader of that particular group being, as leaders often are, also the most aggressive, came up to the table where Baba Giufa and his Dharmanoids sat.

“You three look ridiculous”, he shouted loud enough so that his friends could hear.

Baba Giufa ignored him.

“What’s your name weirdo,” the youth challenged?

Baba Giufa now looked directly into the young man’s eyes and after a moment or two responded calmly, “They call me Baba Giufa.”

“Bullshit,” cried the young man. ” Whats your real name?”

“My real name is unpronounceable,” said Baba Giufa in a soft voice.

“More bullshit, “ said the young man becoming redder in the face. “Everything is pronounceable, asshole.”

“So you think you can pronounce my real name then?” asked Baba Giufa.

“Ha, of course,” said the boy.

“I will tell you what” said Baba Giufa, “If you can pronounce my name, I will buy you and your friends each an espresso, and if you cannot then you and your mates will move along and leave us alone. Does that seem fair?”

“Stupid, but sure, ok” he responded turning and grinning at his friends, “Go ahead.”

And with this agreement in place Baba Giufa leaned forward slightly and simply stared even more intently into the boy’s face.

Finally after a while the young man became uncomfortable and said “Well? Say Something.”

To which Baba Giufa responded, “Ah, so you admit you cannot pronounce my real name?”

“What?” the young man exploded, “You haven’t said anything yet.”

“And that’,” responded Baba Giufa, “is why I am called Baba Giufa.”


The Princess Bride (film)

The Princess Bride (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Wisdom of the Princess Bride:

Westley: “Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
Buttercup: “But how can you be sure?”
Westley: “This is true love – you think this happens every day?”

b. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Trait ascription bias – the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.

c. From God’s mouth to your ears:

“He that is wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”Deuteronomy 23.1.

Say what? So it is God that we must blame for man’s peculiar preoccupation. If we are so afflicted He says we cannot go to church. I always thought it had to do with something else. But God never liked that either.)


“Expenditures engender exactions, and exactions produce complaints.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesmen.


“God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re fucked.”

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 6 2010

thailand wooden image

thailand wooden image (Photo credit: FriskoDude)


1. Today is the King of Thailand‘s birthday. Recently he was awarded three patents for his own inventions bringing the total number of patents held by the King to 10. The Bangkok Post referred to him as “The Inventor King”.

2.The former Swiss ambassador to China recently paid $40,000 for a replica of Venus de Milo made from Panda dung.

3. About a year ago the Thai military accepted delivery from and American company of a lighter than air ship for reconnaissance work in the deep South:

The airship and the associated systems never worked.
No repair manual accompanied the purchase.
The Thai military did not buy the complete system, specifically the system that allowed the airship to communicate with the ground.
Recently the US company that supplied the airship closed up shop.

The members of the military procurement committee that approved the purchase now fear possible punishment.


Earlier this week I was taking my morning walk along the strand. It was a bright sunny morning and I was feeling very good, much better than my 71 years usually allows me to feel. As I left the sand to return home, I noticed an old man sitting on a bench with his walker near by. His face was deeply lined and spotted with stubble and he was overweight, quite decrepit and wheezing. Nevertheless, he happily would call out to passers-by and engage them in conversation. He did so with me.

Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA - Statue ...

Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA – Statue of founder William Marsh Rice with Lovett Hall in background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He told me he originally was from Texas on the outskirts of Houston and was staying here at Paradise by the Sea with his son. We exchanged a few stories, he about his time in SF after returning from serving in Viet Nam and I about visiting my daughter while she attended Rice University in Houston. I then asked, “How old are you, old-timer?”

“Sixty- eight,” he replied.

My emotions suddenly closed down. I could not access my thoughts or feelings; embarrassment, pity for him or me, foreboding or something else? Every time I tried to examine my reaction it was as though a door was suddenly closed and I was left with was a vague sense of fear of finding what was behind it.

A day or so later, when leaving my apartment for another beach walk, at the end of the driveway leading to the condo complex, I saw him again. He had fallen and was lying on the ground, his walker tipped over beside him. I rushed over to him and with the aid of two security guards we were able to pick him up and restore his to his walker.

“Out racing again this morning,” I commented jokingly?

He laughed.

I noticed that he had scraped his right elbow and it was bleeding, so I asked it he needed additional help.

No,” he said, “I can make it back home by myself. I have suffered worse falls than this in my life.


a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Count Rugen: “Your princess is quite a winning creature. A trifle simple, perhaps. Her appeal is undeniable.”
Prince Humperdinck: “I know, the people are quite taken with her. It’s odd, but when I hired Vizzini to have her murdered on our engagement day, I thought that was clever. But it’s going to be so much more moving when I strangle her on our wedding night.”

b. Today’s Cognitive Bias:

Illusion of asymmetric insight – people perceive their knowledge of their peers to surpass their peers’ knowledge of them.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 3, 2010


In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; by 2007, this number had risen to 468.

Hmmm…. that is more than a five-fold rise. During this same period the total number of people on the earth only tripled. If things keep going at this rate, we will soon have more cities of over one million than we have people.


During my weekly massage, my masseuse likes to watch the Thai soap operas on television while she administers the various pains and pleasures of her therapy.

Now, as I am sure we all know, soaps are a window into the dark, twisted soul of a society, so it is with Thai soap operas.

To me they all appear to tell the same stories and contain the same characters. There is the beautiful innocent heroine and the equally beautiful though not so innocent young woman. You can usually tell them apart by their eyebrows. The innocent heroine’s eyebrows are somewhat rounded, while her evil counterpart’s are straighter. They are accompanied by two equally attractive young men, one good and the other not so good. These four then are supported by a cast of actors and actresses of varying ages often playing family members of the protagonists. There are also one or two comic characters, usually played by ladyboys.

Although the stories are generally all the same, their location varies. I have seen Thai soaps set in the homes of the rich, and others in the homes of the poor living beside a klong somewhere. I have also seen them set in grocery stores, health clubs and farms. Some occur in modern times others in old Siam and still others are set in times of magic or in some guerilla campaign somewhere.

Anyway, this particular day the masseuse was watching a soap in which the straight browed beauty dressed all in black, carried a sword and had just done unspeakable things to a group of poor people locked in cages.

Viewing this through my western acclimated eyes that sees everything as a conflict between good and evil, no matter the atrocities performed by either side, I commented, “She must be the bad girl.”

To which my masseuse responded, “Good or bad, it makes no difference. She is beautiful and everyone cares about her and what she does. If she were not so beautiful no one would give a damn at all about her or anything she does.”



Dolores Park, San Francisco, California

Dolores Park, San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Baba Giufa’s guru business prospered and he eventually moved into a large house near Dolores Park in San Francisco where he lived with his acolytes whom he called his Dharmanoids. Now the Dharmanoids consisted of eight young women, the skinny, bearded long-haired inquisitive young man named Babu Beardo who handled the business side of the operation and a heavy-set silent man named Edgar.

The largest room of the house had brightly polished dark wood floors and a great number of cushions strewn about on which the Dharmanoids, visitors and worshipers sat. The only furniture in the room was a large comfortable overstuffed chair in which only Baba Giufa sat. He sat on the chair because he hated sitting on the floor. He considered it very uncomfortable.

Here he sat, smoking his chillum, listening to music from india or by Bob Dylan and enjoying the smell of incense. Here he also greeted visitors and instructed the Dharmanoids and worshipers. He called this room his Shamrock.

One day one of the worshippers asked Baba Giufa, “Since most other religious leaders call their places of worship their ashram, temple or church, why do you call yours ‘Shamrock'”?

To which Baba Giufa responded, “The Shamrock is a plant with three equally sized and shaped leaves.”


a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is to marry Humperdink in little less then half an hour so all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape, after I kill count Rugen.”
Westley: “That doesn’t leave much time for dilly-dally.”

b. Today’s Featured Cognitive Bias:

Authority bias – the tendency to value an ambiguous stimulus (e.g., an art performance) according to the opinion of someone who is seen as an authority on the topic.

c. Yiddish for the beginner (from Wikipedia) (cont.):

fleishig: made with meat.
ganef or gonif: thief, scoundrel.
gelt: money; chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah.
glitch: a minor malfunction.
golem: a man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster.
goy: a Gentile, someone not of the Jewish faith or people.
haimish (also heimish): home-like, friendly, folksy.
huck; sometimes “hock”, “huk”, “hak”. etc.: to bother incessantly, to break, or nag.
kibitz: to offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer.
klutz: clumsy person.
kosher: conforming to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate.
kvell: to feel delighted and proud to the point of tears.
kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains.


“The people are rich when the money does not go out of their country, when they are content with what their country produces, and when money is constantly brought into their country by those who want the products of their industry, which they supply to foreign countries.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 1, 2010


A psychology professor at the University of Michigan calculated the happiness boost people get from sleeping an extra hour each night as equivalent to receiving a $60,000 annual raise.

I can see a book coming out of this, “How to Sleep Your Way to Wealth and Happiness.”


English: Andrea Camilleri Italian writer Itali...

English: Andrea Camilleri Italian writer Italiano: Andrea Camilleri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you fans of Andrea Camilleri, (and I know that some of you are) and his fictional detective Inspector Montalbano, I came across a web site offering a tour of places in Sicily mentioned in his novels.

The site also mentioned that in 2003. The town of Porto Empedocle in Sicily changed its official name to Porto Empedocle Vigata, after the name of the fictional town where his novels are placed.

This town and Agrigento (Montelusa in the novels) are close by to Canecatti, my Sicilian side of the family’s ancestral home. I lived there in the late sixties and early seventies. One of my favorite seafood restaurants was located on the wharf in Porto Empedocle. At that time the choices on the menu were usually limited to the daily catch or sea urchins. Not being fond of sea urchins I always chose the daily catch. Fortunately, the chef usually had several ways to prepare the fish to choose from. The meal. of course. was always accompanied by a pasta prepared al marinara or con vongele or some other sauce the chef may think up that day. One also always had fresh vegetables and fruit and all of it washed down with mineral water and strong Sicilian white or red wine. Naturally, the meal was finished off with espresso Sicilian style, so thick you could stand your spoon up in it, and some Sicilian pastries.

On the bluffs above the was the home of Luigi Pirandello now a museum and further on beyond the small green plain of Girgenti lay the hill on which Agrigento sits with greek temples, some almost entirely intact, standing out in a row atop a ridge below the town. In the evening the temples turn bright red in the light of the setting sun.

Tempio della Concorda (temple de de la Concord...

Tempio della Concorda (temple de de la Concorde) , Sicile, Italie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



It was the Golden Age, after the pill and before the scourge of AIDs. Like all Golden Ages, people’s attention turned from mere survival, to self-indulgence, self-adsorption and self-aggrandizement or as some say Hedonism, Mysticism and Capitalism and still others simplified to Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

Now at that time, the City of San Francisco was one of the centers of that age, often referred to as “new”, when society as a whole suffers from a mass attack of Alzheimer’s. In the City lived a man who wanted fame, fortune and sex, but believed it was his right to not have to work too hard for it. So, he decided to become a spiritual leader and called himself “Baba Giufa” because it sounded like something an eastern mystical religious guru who could become popular and attract a lot of followers would call himself.

Now Baba Giufa knew he needed to assemble his own followers to be successful in his new enterprise. So, one Saturday he put on a white busboy’s jacket, a pair of mostly white pants with a string belt, on his head he placed an old white Panama hat from which he had carefully cut off the brim and on his feet he wore a pair of pink rubber flip-flops. So attired, he went into Golden Gate Park at about 3PM. He sat himself down on the heavily traveled sidewalk along side the road that ran past the Japanese Tea Garden and the DeYoung Museumacross from the Band Shell.

He sat in what looked like the traditional Lotus position but really was not because he found the Lotus position too uncomfortable but as long as it looked a little like the Lotus position he thought that it would do for his purposes. He had no idea what to do with his hands, so he placed them palms up on his knees because he thought it looked like the picture of a Yogi master he saw somewhere. He closed his eyes and then he began to chant..

Instead of chanting, he actually was reciting the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Jabberwocky poems of Lewis Carroll which were the only two poems he had memorized while in high school. By reciting them in a very low and sing-song voice it seemed to sound a lot like chanting. Whenever he finished chanting one of the poems he would open his eyes as wide as he could until the iris seemed to float in a bloodshot white sea. He also stick his tongue out as far as he could. To most observers he appeared as though he was having a seizure of some sort. Then after a few moments he would retract his tongue, close his eyes and begin his chanting again.

Now after a while at this, a crowd began to gather around him, Some because they were upset that he was sitting on the well-travelled sidewalk forcing then to detour around him, others out of curiosity and still others attracted by his seeming otherworldliness.

Finally a skinny inquisitive young man with long flowing hair and a long scraggly beard that was in fashion at the time approached him and inquired, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Baba Giufa stopped his chanting, opened one eye, and stared at the young man for a while and then asked, “Do you have friends and family”?

“Why yes I do.” replied the startled you man.

“Then let me tell you this”, Baba Giufa responded in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “I am called Baba Giufa and I have found the secret to inner peace and happiness and if you want to share the secret with me then next Saturday at precisely 3 PM bring along your family and friends and I will return and instruct you all.”

With this, Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting, passed through the crowd and went home.

Next Saturday at precisely 3 PM, Baba Giufa returned to the same place in Golden gate Park and found a crowd of about twenty people standing around. The skinny young man was siting on the sidewalk cross-legged directly to the right of where Baba had sat the previous Saturday. Baba took his seat and began his chanting and spasms. This continued until the inquisitive young man leaned in towards Baba and said in a loud voice, “Baba, last week you told me that if I gathered friends and family here at precisely 3PM on the following Saturday, you will instruct us all on the secret to inner peace and happiness”.

With that Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting and looked over the crowd that had grown quite a bit larger since he had arrived.

Baba Giufa then asked the crowd, “How many here know what I am about to say? Raise your hands”.

No one raised their hands.

“Than why,” said Baba Giufa, “should I say anything to those who have no idea what I will speak about? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM and at that time I will instruct only those that really want to know, the secret of inner peace and happiness.”

With that Baba Giufa passed through the crowd, left the park and returned to his home.

On the next Saturday at precisely 3PM Baba Giufa returned to the park and resumed his seat and chanting. This time the crowd was much larger. Also, although the young man remained seated on his right, an attractive blond woman in a granny dress with flowers twisted into her hair sat on his left.

Again after a while the inquisitive young man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked of him the same question.

Baba Giufa rose from his seat and observed the ever-growing crowd and shouted so that all could hear, “All those who know what I am going to speak about raise their hands.”

This time everyone had been instructed by the skinny inquisitive young man to raise their hands when asked that question and they all did so,

Baba Giufa look at them for a moment and then said, “Why should I speak at all to any of you when you all know what it is I am going to say? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM an instruct those who truly wish to know the secret of inner peace and happiness”.

With that he passed through the crowd, left the park and returned home.

On the third week, at precisely 3PM on Saturday Baba Giufa returned to the park. This time he carried a bunch of paper in one hand and a shoe box in the other. He found a crowd even larger than the last time. And, not only was the inquisitive man and the comely woman already seated on each side of his place on the sidewalk but several other seekers were assembled on the sidewalk as well. In addition, surrounding his place were several vases filled with multi colored flowers. He took his seat and handed to the inquisitive young man the bits of paper on which he had written his name, Baba Giufa, and his address and phone number. In front of himself he placed the shoe box in which he had cut a hole into the top and on which he had neatly lettered the word “Donations”. He began his chanting.

Eventually, the skinny man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked the question again. This time Baba Giufa did not rise, instead he simply stared at the shoe box in front of him.

After a while everyone got the idea and several of the onlookers came forward and dropped money into the box. When Baba Giufa was satisfied that no further contributions were forthcoming, he stood up and addressed the crowd. “All of you here that know what I am going to say please raise your hand.”

About one half of the crowd, having been well-trained by now, raised their hands.

Then Baba Giufa said, “All those who do not know what I am about to say raise their hands.”

The otter half of the crowd did so.

“Well then,” said Baba Giufa, “I would appreciate it if those who know what I am going to say would tell those who do not. For those really interested in learning the way to inner peace and happiness I have given to my first disciple here, who shall hereafter be known as Babu Beardo, scraps of paper with my telephone number and address on it.”

And with that he picked up the shoe box made his way through the crowd and went home.


a. Wisdom from the Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “Don’t bother me with trifles. After 20 years, at last my father’s soul will be at peace. There will be blood tonight!.”

b. Today’s featured cognitive bias:

Interloper effectthe tendency to value third party consultation as objective, confirming, and without motive. Also consultation paradox, the conclusion that solutions proposed by existing personnel within an organization are less likely to receive support than from those recruited for that purpose.

“It is never wise to drive an enemy to desperation.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Thoughts of a Statesman

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 29, 2010


1828. E. Leslie uses the word cupcake for the first time.

Obviously not too much of note happened that year. Other contenders for news story of the year 1828 were Brazil and Argentina recognized the independence of Uruguay and Kaspar Hauser the feral wolf-boy was found roaming the woods of Nuremberg, Germany.


J.M. Coetzee - De Langzame man

J.M. Coetzee – De Langzame man (Photo credit: Fabio Bruna)

Today at breakfast while reading the Bangkok Post, I came across a review of the Nobel Prize in literature winning, South African author J.M.Coetzee‘s latest novel. It seems to be another of his semi-autobiographical novels; a format appears  the current rage among serious writers. Bolanno and Vollman among others have made careers out of it. I call this the double lie format. First the author makes up the story of his own life that he wants you to believe. Then he makes up the people and their stories about observing the made up life of the author.

In his novel Coetzee invents a series of interviews with people (mostly women) asking them to give their recollections of Coetzee during that period in his life just before he began to become famous.

They mainly express the distress of the author’s friends and family at his indolent and unproductive lifestyle as an unlicensed tutor and lay about. The women often describe affairs that they had with the budding author or affairs that they knew about. As with love affairs in general, they usually proved unsatisfactory for everyone, those involved as well as for those merely observing. ( As Prince Humperdinck in the Princess Bride observes,”You truly love each other and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the story books say. And so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.”)

After achieving his first success, Coetzee gets a job as a temporary lecturer at a local university and promptly begins another unhappy affair with one of his students or another lecturer (I do not recall which and it really doesn’t matter since one way or the other it was inevitable).

Unlike his fictional character, Coetzee himself has been described as:

“… a man of almost monkish self-discipline and dedication. He does not drink, smoke or eat meat. He cycles vast distances to keep fit and spends at least an hour at his writing-desk each morning, seven days a week. A colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once. An acquaintance has attended several dinner parties where Coetzee has uttered not a single word.”

What this all brings to my mind is not that artists tend to be incorrigibly self-indulgent and ego-maniacal, but only that what is written, sung, photographed or constructed is just the story, the truth is usually what has been left out.

Yesterday Bill arrived in Thailand. I met him and Gary in The Outskirts of Hell (known locally as Pattaya) and had dinner at a Sizzler Steak House in the local shopping mall. The dinner was actually quite good. After dinner we went to visit the famous Walking Street of Pattaya where I saw things that one does not normally see in one’s day. This led me to surmise that the difference between heaven and hell is the difference between ignorance and knowledge and between boredom and experience.


Sometimes poetry can bubble up from the depths of despair. This from Irwin:

“Friday i came out of the bank. there was a man who came into the lobby and then went outside. i don’t know how to describe him except to say he looked scruffily dressed and reminded me of a former city councilperson who was one of the last white faces in Santa Ana government; outside of the long-time city manager who lives in Coto de Caza as does the former mayor who now is the right hand man at the irvine Company. i got the distinct feeling this fellow was either going to rob Citibank or was waiting for me so when i got into the oyonemobile i locked the doors started the car and drove away.

Yesterday morning i went to the market and was waiting at the fish counter (dover sole $9.99 a pound) when the guy came in and peered into the red meat display. When he left, i breathed a sigh of relief. When i checked out of the market and got to my car i could see him at the end of the parking lot next to the small free-standing building which houses “drs. r us.” Who is this guy and am i really seeing him again and again? i quickly drove away.

Today i thought about it a lot. i was thinking that maybe it was “death” following me around and checking me out. What i had to keep death away i don’t know but i suspect it was those adolescent tendencies of mine that when confronted i have just a few choices, to whine, freeze and/or make it to the closest door. What kept death at arms reach? Surely death could appreciate and have a real taste for a coward. Did he just decide that it wasn’t my time or that I was the wrong person?

At 2:30 am, i couldn’t sleep so i checked my email. i received an email from a former county CEO. In it he explained that he didn’t know what day or time it was; that his three year old romance ended when the woman died in their bed at the age of 37. i guess Mr. Death found somebody; hopefully it wasn’t in place of me by mistake. i have enough bad karma on my conscience.”


Map of Florin and Guilder.

Map of Florin and Guilder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a. Wisdom from The Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: ” Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.” 
Westley: “Have you ever considered piracy?”

b. From God’s mouth to your ears:

“And so humankind became abundant on the earth.
And daughters were born to them.
The sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were good.
And they took for themselves any women they chose.
The sons of God had sex with the daughters of humankind.
Yahweh saw that the wrongdoing of humankind was abundant on the earth, and their thoughts were only toward wrongdoing at all times.
And he regretted having made humankind on earth, and it pained his heart.
And Yahweh said, ‘I will wipe out humankind from the face of the earth. Humans, animals, creatures, and birds. For I regret having made them.'”
Genesis 6

From this I deduce that God is Sicilian. See below.


“I don’t want any woman other than my Ninetta, and if they [her family] don’t let me marry her, I’ll have to kill some people.”
Sicilian Mafia Boss Salvatore Riina’s statement on love Sicilian style.

Note: in most other cultures frustrated love often ends in suicide. See Romeo and Juliet.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 27, 2010

St John Zachary blue plaque

St John Zachary blue plaque (Photo credit: sleepymyf)


15th century. In the parish of St John Zachary in London there was a church service of a very remarkable kind. It provided a brothel exclusively for priests and friars …

No doubt the women selected for this place felt that they had a special vocation.



I am scheduled to arrive in SF on the evening of December 15th and depart on the 6th of January. I plan to remain in SF for most of that time with short trips to LA and Sacramento. I hope to visit with most of you during that time.



“Well here I am. Where am I?”

“You are here,”

“I am? Who are you?”

“I am you, who else could I be?”

“OK, is this all there is?”

“Well some think so. They think everything else is just your imagination. They call it many things, but I like Monism best.”

“A bit lonely isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s why most of us believe there is you and there is everything else. We like to call that Dualism. There are some who have been toying around with three, but none of them seem  able to understand it, so they are always fighting about it'”

“OK so how do I know about this other? It seems a bit hard to figure out .”


“What the hell is that?”

“It is what you use when you think about the other.”

“Wait a minute, now we have me, the other and reason. Sounds a lot like those crazy people.”

“Well maybe, but we think we can make it better. Some guy named Pythagoras suggested replacing reason with mathematic, you know, number. We already have one, two and three and somehow one way or another they seem to encompass everything.”

“Well OK. but I still am not convinced. When I look at the other, everything seems like it is moving around. How do I know what’s going on?”


“Say what?”

“Essence, everything has an essence, that is what it is and what you see is the essence of the other.”

“Sounds like bullshit to me”.

We have the answer.'”

“Who are you?”

“We are the Liebnitz-Newton Siamese twins and by using numbers we can stop things from moving around so that you can know where they are, where they come from and where they are going. We call it the calculus.”

“That’s great. We now have, me, the other and number, which is sort of like the holy spirit and with the use of the holy spirit I can find out whats going on over there with the other.”

“Uh, not so fast.”

“Who are you?”

“I am Einstein and I have discovered through number that what is over-there depends on what you are doing over here”.

“Crap! Let’s see if I got this right, according to number what goes on over-there is contingent on what I am doing here. Doesn’t this sound a bit like old-time Monism? There is me and then there is that that depends on me”.

“Well no, there is still the other but it is relative.”

OK , I will keep that in mind. Can I go about my business now?”

“Excuse me, my name is Planck and I think there is something else you should know before heading off. According to number, that business with the calculus that lets you know where things are and the like, well it to not be quite accurate. You see things in the other are here and there but not in between.”

“We seem to be going backwards”.

“I am afraid I have even more bad news”.

“OK, hit me with it. Who are you by the way? ”

“I’m called Heisenberg, and according to number you really cannot know about the other because every time you try to, you change the other”.

“Aren’t we back to where we started? And doesn’t that mean…?”

“Yes, everything is possible and nothing is also”.

“Oh my”

“Hi, my name is Goedel and you really need to know this. You know that mathematics and number thing you worked all this out with. Well you made it all up. You see it all depends on the assumptions you choose”.

“Crap and worse, I am really back to where I started, I feel like I am deaf, dumb and blind without arms or legs crawling face down through a sea of mud”

“Don’t worry about it. We are working on something that will make everything work out. Its called ‘Strings'”.

“Strings, first we have one, then two and then maybe three and when they did not work out we now have strings. What the fuck are strings and what number are they?”

“Well we don’t really know what they are but we do know that they are not one two or three, but precisely seven, or ten or eleven or another number. We don’t know that either, but we are working at it and you will just have to be patient for a while.”

“Hmmm. OK, what do I do in the mean time?”

“What you always do, fight a few wars, foul your nest, bugger your neighbor and things like that”

“Well all right, but hurry up, I don’t think I have much time.”



In the afternoon Thanksgiving Day, I went to a place called Kinnerie, a bar frequented primarily by Americans. The dinner was free. There I met with two friends of mine, David (whose name has been changed by SWAC from “Our David” as we used to refer to him to “Bad David”) and Gary. The place had about one hundred men lined up for the free food. I guess it was a little like the Thai version of St. Anthony’s Mission (Homeless men – free food).Unfortunately the Turkey ran out about 3/4 of the way. Luckily we knew Carmine the owner and he gave David some turkey he was saving in the kitchen for the local police. Carmine by the way is from SF.


a. The Princess Bride:

Inigo Montoya: “I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There’s not a lot of money in revenge.”

b. From God’s lips to your ears:

“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.”
Leviticus 25:44

Italiano: Statua di Niccolò Machiavelli, opera...

Italiano: Statua di Niccolò Machiavelli, opera di Lorenzo Bartolini, sita a Firenze sulla facciata esterna degli Uffizi. Fotografata da Frieda (dillo a Ubi) il 18 settembre 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Now, in a well-ordered republic, it should never be necessary to resort to extra-constitutional measures. . . . ”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Book I, Chapter XXXIV.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 25, 2012

Panting Charlie

Panting Charlie (Photo credit: Seven Morris)


1300s: Glowing eyes and nocturnal behavior of the cat was interpreted by the Church as clear proof of the hapless feline’s diabolic affinity. Wholesale trapping and burning of cats allowed free rein to the spread of the flea-carrying rat causing decimation of Europe’s population by the plague.

(When they realized their mistake the Church stopped the killing of cats under their auspices. Recently the Pope indicated the condoms are ok in some circumstances thereby recognizing that human life is at least as important as a cat’s.)




Recently while searching the web for two of my all time favorite movies, the Warriors and The Wanders, I came across a site dedicated to the New York City and Chicago teen age gangs of the late 1950’s, including map’s of the rival gangs’ turf.

Cover of "The Warriors"

Cover of The Warriors

Based on Xenophon’s history of the Greek mercenary army, betrayed by the Persians who had to fight their way through 100s of miles of hostile Persian territory to get home, the Warriors, betrayed at a gang conference in the Bronx have to fight their way along the subway from Gun Hill Road in the Bronx and through Manhattan in order to return to their home in Coney Island.

The Wanderers, although very little about it is realistic, presented the most realistic view of the gangs and gang life of the time that I knew and experienced. The movie referenced actual gangs that I had some passing relationship with, The Fordham Baldies, The Golden Guineas, and the Irish Lords.

The Golden Guineas were sort of the mob farm team and the Fordham Baldies the most feared gang in the North Bronx (they were not bald as portrayed in the movie).

I lived outside of the City and although we had our own gangs and relationships with some of the Bronx gangs we were no match for them in size or reputation.

I belonged to two gangs that I can remember, the Skull Gang, the gang my childhood friends evolved into when we passed into puberty. It was mostly social and something to call ourselves. It was a mixed group, italians, blacks and irish boys who had grown up together.

I also belonged to a gang from Mount Vernon, a somewhat more serious group. We called ourselves the Capris if you can believe it. Our “uniform” was teal bowling shirts with black velvet vertical stripes. This was a zip-gun, switch blade, tire chain wielding gang, unlike the unarmed, unwarlike Skulls who just hung out on the corner. I was consigliere since I refused to carry a weapon (fear mostly), was not known as a particularly adept fighter but I was considered the most knowledgable member of the gang.

I also associated with one or two minor gangs from the north Bronx. but I do not recall their names. I was a “war” advisor with them.

I also had a friendship with the leader of a major gang from Fordham Road called the University Avenue Gang. I could not find them on the site, so they may also have had another name. The leader’s name was “Bambi.” The gang was a mixed gang, Bambi was Italian and many of the gang members were Irish.

One evening Bambi helped in saving me and several friends from a severe beating. It seems that “One Punch Sammy Santoro” the legendary tough guy from Roosevelt High School in Yonkers had, a running conflict with Frank Santaliquito from Tuckahoe. It seems Santoro once beat up Frank for some reason. As a result, Frank spent the next two years in the Gym bulking up and training in boxing and hand to hand combat. Frank who had been a tall handsome slender young man, had in those two years turned himself into and ugly brutish looking mountain of a man. He had let the word out that he was looking to even the score.

One evening two friends of mine (Charlie DeVito and Frank Plastini) and I were at a large fast food place with pin-ball machines that teenagers used to like to go to and hang out.  Located on Central Avenue in Yonkers( I cannot remember its name), it was generally considered neutral territory.

One Punch Sammy Santoro and about seven or eight of his hangers-on came in and saw us there. Someone mentioned to them that we were from Tuckahoe. Sammy assumed we were associated with Santaliquito who lived in Tuckahoe also. As a result he prepared to punish us as a message to Frank. As they started toward us, another friend of ours, Chickie Muscalino showed up and sized up what was happening. Chickie went to the same High School as Charlie and I. He  knew One Punch well and was respected by everyone because in addition to being big and strong he was affable. He intervened trying to persuade Sammy not to harm us since we were not associated with Santaliquito.

Unknown to me, in another room of the place, Bambi and several members of his gang had come up from the Bronx to play the pin ball machines. He also realized that I was in trouble and came up to me to assure me that he had my back if things got out of hand.

Despite the huge load of testosterone in the air, Chickie’s persuasiveness along with Bambi’s presence calmed One Punch down and we were allowed to leave unmolested.

Sometime after this confrontation Sammy and Frank met up again and despite all his training and commitment, Frank was beaten again as badly as the first time they had met.

On the way back home for some reason we stopped at another place along Central Avenue. As we returned to our car our we found our way blocked by a group of about six teenagers led by a kid who had some sort of beef with Charlie. So with Frank and I behind him Charlie advanced to meet the other gang leader in the center of the parking lot. Frank who had not ridden with Charlie and I before, I could see was trembling. I, on the other hand, assumed that we would lose and I would be beaten up. So I was busy searching the area for somewhere to hide in the hope that I could stave off the inevitable long enough for the police or something else to intervene.

As usual in situations like this violence rarely occurs as the parties swap hormonal indicators. We called it “bluffing.” Charlie walked up to his opposition and before the other could speak said “OK start fighting or start talking.” That was enough to encourage the other kid to back down. After a bit more back and forth talking and face-saving, we left and returned home.


a. From the Princess Bride:

The Grandson: “Murdered by pirates is good…”

b. From God’s mouth to your ears:

“Stay away from the strange woman, who flatters with her words … a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart … and lies in wait at every corner …”
Proverbs 7


“Affairs of great importance shall not be transacted without the vote of the people, with whom rests the power to appoint magistrates, to condemn citizens, and to enact laws. Laws subsequently passed always take preference over former ones.”
Roman Law of the Twelve Tables. (Table XI, Law 1.)


Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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