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Archive for June, 2012

Yarggggghhhh!” screamed the Isabella character as she ran into the characters dressing room. “That’s it! That’s fucking it! That’s his idea of adding female characters, one bull dyke in a shrink-wrapped police uniform?…”

“Sheriff.”

“Police, sheriff whatever. …And, one frozen popsicle French tart?”

“Belgian.“

“What?”

“Belgian, she’s a Belgian. Walloon actually , French-speaking Belgians.”

“Who gives a shit, Belgian or loony, who cares? Is that the best he can do to add woman characters to the story? And he keeps adding fat men”

“Actually,” said the Vince character, “Big Flo is better described as husky, not fat.”

She looked at him and wrinkled up her nose as though something smelled bad, then grinned and asked, “Well, how was she?”

“Who?”

“The frozen French popsicle.”

“How should I know? First we were in bed. Then I wake up in her hotel room. Fiction authors do that you know, avoid describing the specific mechanics of the sex act itself… except for porn authors. Just once in my career in fiction, I would like my author to recount the simple give and take, so to speak, so that I can get to experience it. Maybe when you and I get to do it, he’ll do that.”

“Fat chance of that. I doubt if he knows himself. Besides, I am now your damned bodyguard not your bed mate.”

“Well, it could be like that movie where Costner plays the bodyguard to the singer and gets it on with her. Anyway, whats up? You seem out of sorts. Are you having your period?”

“Ohhh! that is such a man thing, always bringing that up to explain a woman’s moods.”

“Well,” he said grinning?

“How should I know? Most authors don’t write about that either, at least what the women really feels…only the jokes. …But something doesn’t add up” she continued.

“What do you mean?”

“Who are we,” the Isabella character exclaimed? “Or more accurately, why are we?”

“Huh,” the Vince character responded. “What are you talking about?”

“What are we doing in this story? It’s not about us at all.”

“Of course it is about us. We are the main protagonists.”

“Look at it this way. The story is about a business deal gone bad, not your or my emotional or physical reaction to it or even our involvement. We appear to be minor characters observing and not a party to whatever is going on.“

“You mean like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet?”

Sort of…and you know what happened to them?”

“They died.”

“That’s just it. I have the feeling we are being set up by the author, to be… well, removed.”

“What do you mean,” said the Vince character in response to Isabella’s expression of concern?

“Well, the way I see it, it is like your character said when we met at Ike’s house, what we have here is simply a third-rate business screw up, so what’s the big deal?”

“Go on,” Vince encouraged. “I still don’t see what you’re so concerned about.”

“These type of business failures and frauds happen every day, but people don’t go running around committing suicide, killing people or setting up fall guys.”

“Well, maybe the Brethren are publicity shy.”

“Maybe,” she continued. “But their involvement is easily dismissed publicly as only another case of some abused and defrauded investors. No, it is something more, something bigger that if it came out would threaten everything,”

So, I still don’t see what you’re so upset about. This is a thriller. The author, if he knows what he is doing, would want a conspiracy, the bigger the better.”

“No, no that’s not it,” she exclaimed, her voice rising. “What’s our role, your role?”

“I’m the reluctant but courageous hero who after many harrowing adventures prevails over the forces of darkness,” he responds smugly. “And you, why you’re my doxy,” he adds with a smile and leans forward to peer more closely at his face in the makeup mirror.

“That would work,” she responds derisively, “if you knew something that threatens them, whoever they are, which you don’t. Or they think you know something, which you don’t . Or you could stumble over something which you won’t because everyone knows the only reason you were brought into this novel was to die.”

Vince stared into Isabella’s eyes reflected in the make-up mirror.

“So,” he said slowly, “even if I were to agree with your dramatic conclusion, which I don’t, what could we do about it? It is the authors story after all.”

“We can try to change it,” she responded.

Vince broke out laughing with a laugh that was somewhere between mirth and nervousness.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said after finishing his show of feigned amusement. “It is the author’s story. The characters can do nothing about it. They only can play their part.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” she replied seriously. “Characters often make the story and the author respond to where the logic of his character leads. Even this author said that he was disappointed in his character Ike. He expected more of him.”

“I do not think that he ment quite what you think he ment, but,” he added thoughtfully, “I admit that I am intrigued somewhat by your suggestion. How do you propose we do this probably impossible thing.”

“Well, I do not really know for sure,” she said, “but we can start by after each scene you and I going over it to try to figure out what the hell is really is going on or what’s actually in the author’s mind, or even if he doesn’t know himself we can try to understand what could happen. We would be sort of like helping the Author along if you will…for our own benefit of course.”

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He sat in a small booth with a tiny table in the darkened dinning room of the outrageously expensive restaurant waiting for the Great One, Arrogant Bella LaGrande to arrive. He wondered if any of the other diners or any of the wait staff was one of the “agents” that Russel promised would provide him protection.

“What a joke,” he thought. He still could not believe Russel’s warning. He wondered is Isabella was on the job too, lurking somewhere outside or in the shadows. It was all so grotesquely absurd he though and began to chuckle to himself when he became aware of Arabella La Grande’s entrance into the restaurant and purposeful stride toward his table. Tall and slender with a gallic nose and short mannish hair just beginning to become dusted with grey, she wore a dark business suit with a skirt and a white ruffled blouse. He began to rise, but she curtly motioned him to remain seating.

“It is good to see you again Vincent,” she said while in one single move she slid into the booth opposite him, smartly snapped open the napkin and placed it on her lap.

“I’m as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” he responded. “How are you, and how is Alec?” Alec being Arabella’s husband.

She looked at him for what seemed like a long time with those expressionless grey eyes of hers and finally said, “I’m fine. He is fine. Everyone is fine. But I am not here to talk about domestic bliss.”

“I expected as much. So why are you here?” Vince said through clenched teeth.

“Ah, good,” she said. “Let’s order first and then get down to it shall we. I am famished.”

“Good idea,” he said, “but if you’re hungry, this is not the place, the portions are too small for even a mouse to feel full. I always have to go searching for a hamberger joint to get some real food after leaving here.

She smiled frostily and examined the menu.

After ordering and the arrival of the first glass of wine, he leaned back in his booth and said to her, “So?”

She leaned forward her eyes boring into his. “How are you doing, Vince?”

He cocked an eyebrow.

“No,” she responded to his expression. “I am not interested in you emotional well-being,” she continued with an almost girlish giggle. “How, and more to the point what are you doing with the firm? You know I was the logical choice to succeed Sam.”

She hesitated awaiting his response, but Vince knew this game and remained silent. She continued, “You’re a bright guy Vince, we all know that , but you are neither a manager or leader. Why you? No, one on the management committee is talking. They refer me to David. All David tells me is that, under the circumstances they thought you would do a good job. That’s Bullshit.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Vince interjected.

“Ha,” she laughed. “You know what I mean. Something is going on and I need to know what it is. I have my own career to think of.”

“Conjecture,” Vince opined. “It is all conjecture. I do not know if I was asked to return because of any perceived abilities I may have or some more nefarious reasons. I have heard both theories. And, while I admit the latter is probably more reasonable, I haven’t the slights idea what the nefarious plot could be — although there have been several bizarre alternatives seriously suggested. For example, does this all have something to do with the reason Sam took his life and his wife died in what to some is a suspicious accident? Or, does it have something to do with “Red Star” or a shadowy group referred to as “The Brethren?”

“Red Star,“ interjected The Great One. “That’s the little fraud Sam and the management committee pulled on the rest of the partners, that I and others were furious about and why I tried to get the lot of them thrown out and a new committee elected, but then you came along and simply dispensed with the existing committee. A lot of us believe that you were brought aboard simply to stifle our little rebellion.”

“Do you?”

“Well, to some extent. Not in so many words or even consciously. Let’s face it Vince, you may see yourself as spokesmen for the downtrodden and talk a good game, but no one knows if you have any administrative skills whatsoever. You remind me a bit of Hamlet. You cannot act unless you are sure beyond a doubt.”

“Thanks for another vote of confidence. But even Hamlet once he was sure, acted decisively.”

“Yes, and everyone died. That’s what worries me.” She hesitated a moment then continued, “But, Red Star, is there more there than just stealing some profits from the other partners? There’s a rumor that the Federal Government is investigating.”

“I doubt whether the firm is of great interest to the Feds. Oh, they may want some of the involved partners to testify, but I think they are after different game. Our attorney affectionately referred to as “The First” agrees. Oh, there may be some PR fallout but our PR firm, Cantor Associates should be able to handle it. My bigger problem is the impact of the cost of all this on the firm’s finances…that and the fact that I have been informed that I am in some sort of physical danger.”

“What sort of physical danger,” said Arabella leaning closer across the table?

“Oh, are you concerned about my personal welfare?”

“We can discuss my personal interests later, right now I want to know everything you can tell me.”

__________________________________

The following morning Vince awoke with Arabella standing by the bed fully dressed and gripping the handle of her roll-aboad suitcase.

“I have to run to catch my flight,” she said. “You can sleep in until check out time. The room is paid for.”

Rising on one elbow he said, “ah, I enjoyed last night and did…”

“Yes, I enjoyed it too. And if you are wondering how you were,” she said with a smile. “Well, not as good as our pool boy in Nice, but relative to some of your partners, their ego’s are bigger than their penises.”

“Well, thanks. I guess you were pretty good yourself.”

“Yes,” she said with a wink. “Your ego is much smaller than theirs” she added as she strode out the door followed by the pillow Vince flung after her.

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English: Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx...

English: Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, cropped from group photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now I know it may sound unbelievable to many of you but for those under 40 years old, Groucho Marx may be virtually forgotten and I doubt if any of my grand children if they read this have any idea who he is.

Well, to me Groucho Marx is the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century.

“Wait a minute,” some of you may exclaim. “Groucho was a comedian, not a philosopher.”

To which, by way of response, I direct your attention the Greeks of classical antiquity. To these progenitors of many “Western” cultural and intellectual beliefs, comedy and tragedy were just two ways of expressing truth. In the radical dualism of which the ancient Greeks were so fond, humanity’s experience was of only two types; either all your hopes and dreams turn to shit or, if you survive, they still are shit but you can laugh at them. There is nothing more in the cards for humanity except terminal boredom.

Before Groucho, the worlds greatest comedian was Machiavelli, who I have sometimes quoted in these posts. Before him, in my opinion the world’s greatest comedian was Socrates. Plato was a fascist jerk and Aristotle a woolly headed liberal.

Aristotle

Aristotle (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Now some of you may say whoa, ”Aristotle a liberal?” “How can that be? Over the years some of the most autocratic people and institutions (like the Catholic Church) relied upon Aristotle to crush the human spirit?“

As Leo Rosten said, “A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead.” There is nothing so liberal that a few centuries later a conservative could not find useful to beat away challenges to his prerequisites. For example nearly 50 years after Marx, that arch-conservative Lenin saw in Communism something with which he could beat up a group of doddering superstitious autocrats and take over their empire (and while he was at it crushing the inept liberal Mensheviks along the way). Later Stalin had Trotsky killed to make sure Marx received the same treatment that Spencer gave Darwin.

Why do modern conservatives reject Darwinism when Spencer and his “survival of the fittest” did so much to make him their favorite scientist through most of the last century? I guess they found God. He is after all the ultimate survivor. As one supporter of conservative causes has written, “Jesus was against the minimum wage,” and the Bible “absolutely condemned” the estate tax, and opposed the progressive income tax also. This, of course, leads me back to Groucho and his immortal line, “I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.”

History is often funny in a sad sort of way or as Groucho would say,

“Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?”

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners taken to the gallows (after a fair trial of course) passed by the pub on their way  to be hanged

The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ”ONE LAST DRINK.”

If he said YES, it was referred to as “ONE FOR THE ROAD.”

If he declined, that prisoner was “ON THE WAGON.”

So there you go… More bleeding history.

On thing about Groucho he never was one to curry favor. He once famously observed, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”

Speaking of to “curry favor,” it comes to that part of the world that actually speaks english  from Australia, so let’s put some ‘strine’ on the barbie, shall we?

It seems that at some point the inmates of the penal colony that was Australia decided that they wanted to improve their image in the world so that they would no longer appear to be what they were, criminals. They discovered that it was fashionable in certain circles to adopt the appearance of being civilized to cover the rough edges, so to speak. They decided that this was a good idea and they would do so too.

The first thing civilized thing they did was to start killing the aboriginal inhabitants that they were sharing their country with or driving them off the land that they, the civilizers, wanted for themselves. The second civilized thing they did was for a few of them to become as rich as Midas by destroying as much or the land as they could and where necessary killing anyone who stood in the way. The third civilized thing they introduced was gambling venues at which these new rich could flaunt their money. Since gambling casinos were considered immoral at the time, the most civilized gambling activity they could consider was horse racing.

Soon a lot of money was spent to find the fastest horse of them all so that someone could boast that he owned it. At one time that horse was named Favor.

Now, there is a comb or brush used to remove tangles or burrs from a horses coat. It is called a currying comb or brush. Now I assume at the

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ...

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in the early days (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time people were lined up for the chance to brush the famous horse much like groupies lined up at a Rolling Stone concert for a chance to be shagged by Keith Richards. And that’s were we get the expression to “Curry Favor.” ——- No. to brush the horse, not get shagged by Keith Richards, that’s called something else.

For a horse of a different color, they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “PISS POOR,” but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot, they “DIDN’T HAVE A POT TO PISS IN” and were the lowest of the low.
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

 

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English: Henry David Thoreau, photograph taken...

Henry David Thoreau decided that it would be a good thing to take Horace Greeley‘s advice to, “Go West Young Man.” However, our Henry being the imaginative sort decided that instead of fording rivers, climbing mountains and crossing deserts to get to some fabulous place like California, to confine his westward migration to a few mile walk from his home to his cabin on the shores of a small nearby lake. There he was able to spend his mornings allowing his mind to wander as it will and be back home for lunch. It the afternoon he would return to his not so remote and not so rustic cabin and further indulge himself in the conceit that his perceptions of the natural world around his retreat revealed to his mind and imagination all of the wonders that others experience in old Californy or wherever.

After about a year or so, tiring of the rigors of the remote country life, Henry then took a rowboat trip up the stream affectionately called the Connecticut River and dreamed he was traveling down the Mississippi. Among his other adventures, our Henry travelled for a while in remote Cape Cod where he met a man who had seen George Washington riding his horse and recalled something or other about the attractiveness of George’s leg.

Now I write this, not to make fun of Henry, but as an explanation as to why I have always viewed him as a role model. Day dreams can be adventures too.

My morning walk to through my neighborhood in Bangkok Thailand where I now live for part of the year to the health club and back elicits in me similar transcendental impressions to those old Henry experienced in his New England perambulations. Alas, I am not Henry. I cannot write as well as he, nor are my impressions as…well transcendental.

Henry during his boat trip marveled at the humanity of a man standing on a bridge as his boat passed under, spitting in our Henry’s face. I could never do that; marvel at his humanity. Spitting in someones face is beyound the realm of possibility for me. In fact as often as not, I can find nothing particularly interesting memorable or romantic about what I see, hear or otherwise experience. Sometimes a dirty, boring street is just that, a dirty boring street.

I live on a dirty boring street in Bangkok Thailand. My apartment building sits on one side of a  cul-de-sac that after a few jogs exits at Soi Nana, the neighborhood main drag and one of Bangkok’s prime red light districts. Along the little street from my cul-de-sac to Soi Nana there are two hotels and a cement wall that comprise the visual horizon and little else. A man with the blue shirt almost always stands across from one of the hotels, day and night. I haven’t the slightest idea why. Sometimes a motorbike, or taxi or the Boss Suites Tuk-tuk goes by. Now and then a ying (young woman) who works nearby passes, going to or from work in one of the local bars or Go-Go places; outside of that nothing.

Oh, once I saw an injured bird hopping about on the street. I did not touch it since I have an aversion to touching small living things other than dogs and cats and some humans. Large animals I have no aversion to and can be persuaded to touch a horse or even an elephant. Other large animals are ok too, except bears. I am pathologically afraid of bears. I did touch one however, once.

I was walking along one of the seedier parts of Istanbul when a couple of Russian Gypsies came along leading a bear on a rope that led to a ring in the bear’s nose. I was allowed, for a price, to pet the bear. I paid and did so. It made me sad. The sight of the creäture who so terrorized my nighttime dreams as personification of arbitrary and unlimited power reduced to such a state repulsed me. I still have terrifying dreams of ursine ravening. I used to run away as the beast bursts from shadows, but now I turn and apologize for the ring and the rope.

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My approach to traveling is somewhat like my approach to life; it is not arriving at your destination that is important but what happened along the way.

For example, assume that I depart from San Francisco intending to

A Ignudo, Sistine Chapel

A Ignudo, Sistine Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

travel to, say Rome to visit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. If that is what I efficiently did and returned home equally efficiently, I for one would be unsatisfied indeed.

If on the other hand I were to depart on that same voyage and along the way be diverted by circumstances outside of my control or through my stupidity and thereby facing perhaps danger, or passion, beauty or tedium and return home without ever getting to see Michelangelo’s frescos (the chapel would probably be closed anyway, for repairs or for some obscure holiday), I would consider my trip a success.

I guess, one could consider it something like Buddhism, but from somewhat the opposite viewpoint. Where Buddhism urges one to withdraw from perception’s unreality, Papa Joe suggests you revel in it.

When I look back into my own life, anytime I single-mindedly pursued a goal and overcame many obstacles to achieve it, I almost always came away dissatisfied, became depressed and soon decided to spend my time doing something else. On the other hand whenever I was diverted from my path, or failed to achieve my goal or found myself hopelessly lost, I often was overjoyed. Why? Because there was so much experience, so much pathos and so much joy, and, oh the stories…

Yes, of course there were things that to this day I wish never happened, but they did and the exquisite, if odious, memories of the experience accompanies me like tattoos on the skins of generation Xers.

For those males of a certain age, some of you may recall that time when you were a kid and in you imagination played the announcer of your life. “The great slugger stands at the plate. Here comes the pitch. He swings. He misses….” Or, “Here is the world famous runner running through the woods. Will he break the record? Oh no! He trips. He falls. Will he be able to get up, finish the race and break the record? Stay tuned.”

Well, I still do that. “Here is the aging hero walking along the side of the road recalling past loves, triumphs and failures. Out of the corner of his eye he spies a small yellow flower, stops and contemplates its beauty for a moment and then walks on, crosses the street, the freshly painted striping glowing so whitely in the sun it hurts his eyes. Suddenly he remembers he forgot to buy that bottle of milk. Should he return to the store or proceed on toward home? He stands there at the edge of the road, like the brave Ulysses on the beach contemplating whether to return home to the aging but loyal Penelope or spend another night in the arms of the beautiful Calypso?”

Speaking of Ulysses, Homer’s account is not quite how it happened. It actually occurred something like this:

One night the short, bandy-legged, scraggly bearded young man named Ulysses, who lived in a subdivision on a small island in the Adriatic, left the home on a cull-de-sac he shared with his wife, young son, various hangers-on, and a pack of dogs, telling everyone he was going to the store to buy a carton of milk, or an amphora of wine or new sandals or whatever. Now twenty years later he stood on the corner of the block down from his old home, broke, hungry and older. He contemplated the excuses he would have to tell his wife explaining his long absence. He concocted stories about ships and strange wars, jealous gods, wooden horses, one-eyed monsters and to cover up the long periods of time he spent living with a succession of comely young women, he fell back on the tried and true excuse of philandering husbands of the time, bewitchment.

On the other hand, the also aging but still zaftig and supposedly loyal Penelope wanted no part of the smelly midget bastard’s return. She had happily spent the past 20 years screwing the Mexican pool boy and every young stud in town. The assholes return would only mean she would have to give up the good life and return to working on that Goddamn loom. Besides, she needed an excuse of her own to explain why for the last 20 years the same old piece of cloth hung on that machine with no further work done on it since he left. She told all her boyfriends that she would choose one of them to settle down with when she finished weaving the cloth. They were so stupefied with the thought of getting into her toga whenever she lifted it for them they forgot all about the status of that rotting rag.

She believed however, that she would need something better to convince the crafty asshole of her unbelievable 20 years of fidelity. She decided to elaborate on the story and planned to tell her returning husband, if unfortunately he should ever return. She would tell him that she weaved at the loom all day and every night she tore out what she had done during the day. If the simple and unbelievable story had worked on her lovers why wouldn’t this expanded version work on that scheming lying bastard Ulysses?

Nevertheless, she still was surprised when the testosterone poisoned dwarf suddenly and unexpectedly showed up at her door and started killing all of her boyfriends and the Mexican pool boy as well.

Sadly, Penelope was forced back to working all day at the goddamn loom and at night diddling herself while the drunken scumbag lay snoring among his dogs after buggering some prepubescent boy-chick.

As Holden Caulfield would say, “Crummy.”

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Songkran

Songkran (Photo credit: Lim CK)

The dread Songkran holiday began today. Although originally a festival welcoming in the new year at which time a person gently poured fragrant water over the Buddha images to cleanse them and bring good luck, it has turned into a loathsome frenzy in which gangs roam the streets drenching each other and the unwary with buckets of water thrown from the backs of pick-up trucks, or expelled at great velocity from hoses and giant water guns. I hate it.

Today also was the Little Masseuse’s day off and she wanted to spend it “looking around” at the temples near the royal precinct. She often enjoys her days off just “looking around.” I frequently join her. Sometimes we go to the mall and just, you know, “look around.”

English: People in a tuk-tuk get targeted duri...

People in a tuk-tuk get targeted during the Songkran festival in Thailand

We set off and thought we already were rewarded with the good luck that was to be ours for our pious intent to visit the temples when the driver of the courtesy vehicle for the hotel next to our apartment agreed to drive us the half mile or so to Sukhumvit the main road where we would catch the bus to the Royal Palace area. Alas, the vehicle was a converted Tuk-tuk, those ubiquitous three-wheeled vehicles that patrol the streets of Thailand. It was open on all sides. We had gone no further that about 20 yards when the vehicle became stuck in traffic and was immediately surrounded by hoards of revelers who drenched us with water from just about every possible means of violently propelling a liquid.

Soaking wet, we got on the bus to take us to the temple compounds. As I sat and thought dark thoughts about the crazed revelers I could see filling the streets as we passed, a woman of about LM’s age approached her and began bragging about the two-legged mobile ATM that she had also snagged and asked LM if she did not also think he was handsome. LM insisted that I turn around and look at this handsome American and so I did and saw a tall emaciated bald individual slightly younger than I with sepulchral look and washed out blue eyes to whom I would not apply the word handsome. I thought it somewhat endearing that these two middle-aged Thai women at their age and appearance were so pleased with their ATM’s.

We arrived at the Palace area and stopped at a shrine in the middle of traffic round-about. LM purchased some orange carnation like flowers in a wreath and some joss sticks from a table at the side of the shrine. She laid the flowers at the base of the shrine, poured some water over them from a nearby bucket, lit the joss sticks and dipped her head in prayer. While she prayed, one of the attendants at the table that sold the flowers picked up her floral offering and returned them to the table for resale. I have always marveled at how miraculous it has been that throughout history religions could create flourishing economies out of nothing but belief in the unknown and unknowable.

We then walked over to one of the temple compounds themselves. On the way there I realized that I had left my wallet in the apartment and told LM that whatever we spend today it was going to have to be on her.

We walked on a bit further when suddenly the sole of LM’s shoe fell off so we had to attach it with rubber bands scrounged from those lying on the sidewalk that had been thrown away. They had previously secured plastic bags in which the sidewalk vendors sold various liquids. LM was obviously frustrated and annoyed and said to me what amounted to “why is it that my ATM has to be so often out of money?” Why indeed? I often ask that question myself.

Upon arriving at the Temple grounds LM purchased some more of the orange flower wreaths and disappeared into a temple building while I waited in front of another building in which a traditional Thai dance accompanied on traditional instruments was in progress. The dancers were dressed in elaborate brocade costumes complete with the tall spiked golden headdress. I guessed that they as well as the musicians were all in their 50′s or more but were proficient enough in bending back their fingers and toes and rolling their eyes to attract a good number of camera wielding tourists eager to preserve their efforts for all eternity in electronic pixels.

We then went to a group of large open sided tents where LM sat me on a park type bench, all wood slatted and wrought iron, and went off on a tour of the flower and sundry tables. I sat facing into the tent. I could see a the backs of a large number of kneeling Thais and through the other side of the tent I could see a construction site.

LM arrived back carrying what could only be described as a small-sized metal pizza dish on which were more of the orange flowers, some other floral bulbs whose name I do not know, some more joss sticks, a bit of brightly colored gauzy material, a few packets containing gold leaf, a bottle of what looked like clarified butter and a larger bottle of something that looked like olive oil. She asked me to hold the pizza plate while she took one of the wreaths and some joss

English: Picture of Chinese Joss Sticks - Joss...

sticks and joined the other Thais where she knelt before a low table on the other side of the tent and deposited the flowers, that were immediately gathered up by the attendants. She lit the joss sticks and placed them in receptacles full of sand. They too were quickly gathered up before they had a chance to burn all the way down. I was curious about what they planned to do with half-burned joss sticks but was too shy to ask.

LM returned and beckoned to me to follow her. We walked to another building. It was a small temple surrounded by a little plaza encircled by a polished stone balustrade. I was left to lean against the balustrade and guard the pizza dish while she took the rest of the flowers and disappeared into the building.

Looking around me I noticed, in addition to the hundreds of worshippers and piles of empty pizza dishes, a number of objects that looked quite phallic like. On several about waste high platforms, a four or five foot column rose from the center of each. On the top of every one was a representation of the ubiquitous floral bulb whose name I do not remember and refuse to look up in Wikipedia. Around these poles people were affixing the gold leaf, tying the diaphanous fabric or pouring the clarified butter on them.

When LM returned she joined in pasting her gold foil on several of these phallic like objects. She then wrapped one with her gauzy colored fabric and be

an to pour some of the clarified butter on to another one of them. She stopped, called me over and asked if I would pour it over the top since I was tall enough to reach. I gladly accepted the assignment and happily began pouring the contents of the bottle over the tip of the glans. Noticing my exuberance LM pulled me away warning me against pouring out the entire contents on just one.

Anyway, after emptying the contents of the bottle on to several of the columns, we abandoned the pizza dish and taking the remaining bottle of what I thought was olive oil went to a pavilion that had a number of lamps burning. Into each LM poured the contents of the bottle until it was empty.

Having completed our temple duties, we decided to return home. But first LM purchased some more flowers. There were not “flowers” as we think of them in the West, composed or brightly colored and delicate petals. They looked more like green patties of play-dough on a stick, embedded with acorns. The image of floral beauty inculcated into our consciousness by the romantic and mostly drugged poets of the 19th Century apparently was not carried over to Thailand. They are also edible, LM mentioned.

And so we set off for home. After a long bus ride, I took a short trip the final half mile to the apartment on the back of a motorbike where this seventy year plus body clutching the play-dough flowers in one hand and straw hat in the other prayed that a gang of Songkran thugs would not attack while I was in such a precarious position. The driver, either understanding my concern or sharing my dislike of the water wars, maneuvered through back alleys and deposited me at my apartment building safe and dry.

So to all of you, I wish you too, a happy Songkran and may the penis of your choice be covered on gold, tightly wrapped in gossamer and bathed in clarified butter.

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Louie (stage name, “James Oliver”) left New York City and Tuckahoe for LA. On March 8, 1964, I wrote in my diary:

“Lou did not get married. Susan, his girlfriend decided to go back to California the day before the wedding. Lou was distraught. He decided to return to California also. Not to follow her he says, but because New York has suddenly become lifeless for him. He said he needed a new life.”

And so he left a week or two later and that was the last I ever saw of him. Years later he ended up living as an artist in Taos. I located him through Facebook as I was troling for new friends and was exploring Facebook members connected with Tuckahoe, NY where Louie and I grew up. I sent him an invitation to contact me. I received no reply. Soon thereafter his site was removed.

A reporter for the local Taos newspaper recently wrote of him:

“James Louie Oliver is one of the most fascinating people you might ever meet. He’s an artist, a former stage and screen actor, builder of model airplanes and one helluva storyteller. You’ll see what we mean when Oliver makes an appearance Friday (March 30), 7 p.m., at Bareiss Gallery, 15 State Road 150, north of El Prado.

Oliver will read from his writings, ‘Howie’s Chair’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe and the the Shoeshine Boy,’ and he will also display his intricately detailed assemblages and handcrafted model airplanes.

Oliver was born Dec. 17, 1937, in a coldwater flat on the Bronx-Mount Vernon border in New York. Growing up, he says one of his first jobs was as a shoeshine boy, something he told us about in a story we did on him in April of 2011. He also worked in his grandfather’s barbershop, sweeping up hair and doing anything that was needed. His face goes dark, though, when he talks about the abuse he suffered as a child, but he doesn’t dwell on it.

I grew up old, but I’m younger now,’ he says with a touch of humor.

He studied for and did quite a bit of stage work in New York. This also led to film work in Hollywood.

Cover of "Hells Angels on Wheels"

Cover of Hells Angels on Wheels

My first movie was ‘Hells Angels on Wheels’ (1967) and I played a guy named ‘Gypsy.’ And Adam Roarke was in it, he passed away, and Jack Nicholson too. It’s an underground film. Then I did a TV show where I met Johnny Barrymore. We became very good friends before he passed away. That was another motorcycle TV thing that starred Ben Gazzara called ‘Run for Your Life.’’ ”

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