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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Moore’

From Irwin:

wow! was i taken aback by your (today’s) photos of the street scene outside your home. the scenery is not what i had imagined. seems open space is at a premium there as well as in parts of the usa. i guess i had pictured something more “exotic” whatever that means….perhaps trails, lots of native vegetation, smelly dead bodies on the side of dirt roads with lots of flies and the like. but no matter. if you are happy i’m happy; well, that is, i’m happy for you!! i suspect that the “open space” is outside the subdivision as you mention farmers and “stubble” which is i assume not referring to peasants’ beards. what do they plant in their rice fields when they are not planting rice? given the tropical nature of the country i assume that there are lots of fruit trees, banana, etc. growing in the wild as well as in cultivated areas run by the local farmers’ collective (“kibbutz”).

i see you have picked up some new readers. i’m guess that the “bill gates” is not the bill gates. maybe soon you will need a meter program to see exactly how many people read your email messages. while i don’t update my blog(s) very often i do subscribe (free) to a program which keeps track of head count but as to accuracy i’m not sure. the problem with my “glowing man” blog is that i haven’t tied it to any distribution program so i have to send out an email to recipients (i keep a list) telling them that i have updated the blog – somehow this process doesn’t sound as my being very up-to-date with the 21 st century but i have my excuses;namely that i don’t read manuals or other forms of written instructions and consequently if the task isn’t something i can learn by trial and error I can’t learn it at all, or rather won’t try. i suspect (doing a lot of that lately) that because i use “blogger” which is the free google blog program i told you about instead of some hosted blog program which charges a fee that i suffer the distribution problem.

here the rain has stopped however i still can not see clearly. i was going to have cataract surgery on my left eye last year but postponed it to take care of the cancer. now i really don’t much care and the thought of any type of invasive treatment to my body leaves me cold – although a lobotomy might be rewarding. no, i don’t mean the dance. today’s photo from me is a photo i took of the “la la la lady” who sings (“la la la la”) as she walks along los jardines east. she may be thai. she is definitely asian – do the thais in your part of the world sing while they walk? maybe it’s an ethnic trait like jews hoard money (wish i had some. no, not jews. money!).

if you look up in the sky right now you might see a vapor trail of the satellite which was sent up this morning. i have fixed my scanner and am listening to the nasa frequency. the man said that it is now over japan and while i know that japan is not near thailand maybe it’s not that far away. actually, “fixed” is not the right word. the scanner wasn’t broke i just wasn’t receiving the station i usually listen to ( it’s a ham station where notwithstanding fcc guidelines and standards obscenity and indecency is foremost with several of the regulars bordering on the mentally incompetent and definitely socially cruel and gross. my kinda’ people). every once in a while i accidentally touch one of the buttons on the scanner and it goes out of wack to where i can’t receive any transmission from anywhere. thus comes into play my excuse of not reading manuals. so i spent a good fifteen minutes this afternoon pushing all of the buttons on the damn thing one after the other and finally by a stoke of luck it is now tunable to some frequencies where i can hear the voice of real people – my last wife lives upstairs and i downstairs so we seldom exchange a word except when i wander up the stairs to inquire what time i should have dinner ready. the timing never works out. she’ll say “one hour” and the next thing i know i’m back up the stair saying “it;s been more than an hour” and she isn’t downstairs yet. it’s little things like that which cause my misogyny to grow at an increasing rapid rate. by the way before i leave the subject of radio transmission you might enjoy having a short-wave radio given the location of your domicile. you haven’t written about tv coverage so i don’t know what you receive beyond bangkok bugaboo, the bbc and al jezeera. then again after having four wives, three children, being eighty thousand plus in credit card debt and building that palatial estate on world cup i am not certain how much baht you have left(i understand that one baht is equal to 0.03 c american) and may not be able to afford such luxuries as a $ 100 +/- radio. some day when you are in your cups and in a talkative and sharing mood i hope you tell me about your finances and how you pulled off this coup of yours which permits you to retire debt and work free in thailand. in exchange i might buy you that radio. i could purchase it on ebay and leave it to them to figure how to deliver it to you without having to hire an elephant and mahout.

yesterday, as is traditional, i was not invited to any superbowl party. so i stayed home and had a superbowl party for one. not being a football fan i did not know who to root for. i did not have chips and dip but i did consume some raw cashews and sparkling mixed berry flavored water from trader joe’s…..@ 89 c a bottle or 29.6 baht. i don’t know that the trader joe’s on brookhurst and hamilton in huntington beach will take baht but i guess i could ask on next shopping trip.

afternotes:

i’m not sure what she is carrying in her bag. usually the people here who carry bags on their walk are walking their dog(s). i can think of nothing much more than disgusting than picking up dog shit with a plastic bag (well i guess using one’s bare hands would be more revolting) which is why, among other reasons, we do not have a dog. my eldest son has two and i have never figured out where he got the unfulfilled desire to have a dog when he had his own household. he has told me that his kids are of the age to play with puppies but i have never seem my grandchildren go near the dogs. my youngest son, who is quite strange, also has a dog which i have never seen as i hardly ever see him – although we are suppose to go together to lucha va voom on thursday night to see mexican wrestling and if we are lucky they will also have the midget female stip tease ladies. i wonder if what they say about their genitalia is true.

in case the news hasn’t made chaing mai yet, michael jackson’s doctor is being arrested today for involuntary manslaughter. i thought you and yours might want to know that being such big fans of the deceased singer/pedophile. i confess. i did buy the thriller casette when it came out years ago and i had the (1989) oy1mobile which had a casette player unlike the more contemprorary (2004) oyonemobile which has a cd player. you will note the difference in spelling. i couldn’t bring myself to put the license plate (“oy1”) from the caddie, now deceased and crushed by the state of california, onto the olds and thus the plate on that reads “oy one”. the last time google came around to take street view photos i still had the cadillac: .http://maps.google.com/maps?

by the way. last night i had a vision of me opening a store in chaing mai where i would sell photos and a limited food menu. do they have business licenses in thailand and/or would i have to hire you to bribe a public official?

if you start a blog you could label it “re thai r ment” instead of “this and that…”.

i need a drink.

Joe’s response:

Cuzin,

Your emails and blogs are the best. I am jealous. Mine are like lumps of wood compared to your living trees. Some times I do not respond for days while thinking about them. They make my day. God you’d think I was going to ask you for money with all this flattery. Maybe I will. After all, living exclusively on social security while girlfriend #1 (Hayden’s mother) tries to drain me of every last baht leaves me sinking in debt as always.

Thailand is no different than any other country where if you want to see the exotic and picturesque of the brochures you have either to leave the cities or go to a museum. What Thailand does have near to hand everywhere is massage and sex.

You have now asked me twice how is it that I do whatever it is that you think I do. That can be answered in one word, “RUN”. When the going get’s tough, Joey runs. I would rather die a thousand deaths given the alternative. It is those who stand and fight that die.

I now at this advanced age live in a world of three dooms. I love that word doom (words are such Hos, they will do anything for anybody at any time and for free). Dooooom. Stretch it out and it is one of the essential sounds emanating from the bowels of the cosmos like the Maharishi’s ohm. Any way my three dooms: First is the doom of retirement. I always believed that we (men at least) are held together by stress and fear gifted to us by our jewish caveman ancestors. Stressed because our hunt for food may fail and we and our families may starve to death. Fear because some woolly mammoth may emerge from the bushes and step on our head. If we stop to smell the flowers some saber-toothed tiger will immediately bite our sorry ass. Then about a hundred years ago they gave us “RETIREMENT” and for a brief moment the fear and stress we think disappears, then we die.

The second doom is the “REAL DOOM”. Earlier in our life death was some remote possibility, so we planed and dreamed (most (all) of which failed to occur). Now it is an onrushing certainty and planning at best means for that day and dreams are what happens (if we a lucky) in our sleep.

The third doom is what I call my personal existential doom. I live here in this place at the sufferance of my greedy, mostly insane ex-lover in whose name I stupidly placed the deed to the house. At any moment I can be out on my ass. And then what will I do? Run, I guess.

On that note, ciao for now.

From Irwin:

wassup?! i just returned from a rain-drenched trip to (a) the bank (nsf); (b) cvs drugstore (metamucil for me and protective undergarments for mom); (c) the liquor store to buy $10 worth of lotto tickets(“listen you oriental bastard sell me a winning ticket this time or i’ll cut off you f_____g pigtail!); and (c) bi-rite meats to buy fresh salmon for tonight’s dinner(i broiled it in pepper, dill and melted butter). i did take an umbrella when i left however the damn thing broke when i tried to open it up so my clothes are somewhat damp at this moment. fortunately for me a few hours earlier it was only cloudy and not raining so i did the 1 ½ mile walk routine but since it was cold outside (not dressed properly to face the fierce elements of fountain valley) i walked rather briskly which is what i am told one is to do for health reasons – perhaps it makes the heart beat faster but then again in my case so does sex (as i remember it) and fear.

today’s photo is not one of natural vegetation on the outskirts of the subdivision as there isn’t any natural vegetation since 1967 when the area was graded by george holstein – i always thought the name of that builder was somewhat ironic because prior to the residential development the area was either strawberry fields or dairies, the latter of course having “holdstein” cows. anyway both george and the cows are long gone. the photo shows some tangerines overhanging a neighbor’s back yard wall. i figured since i could reach them they must be public property and i did use the hooked end of my walking stick to secure one tangerine which i pealed and ate as i walked along. it was juicy but somewhat tart – i never ate a tart in spite of having dated a few in my day.

as far as my prose is concerned thanks for the complement but don’t underestimate the quality and worth of your literature. it’s meant quite a lot to me in the short time which you have been sending emails to the states. reading your exploits in a foreign country is exhilarating without my having to buy travelers checks or pack a bag. then too, please remember that i am a habitual plagiarist and have not an original thought, phrase or word in my head. having something to do as in responding to your emails has kept me from suicide as has the fact that i don’t have a license to buy a gun and furthermore think it’s a crime to have to spend $400 for a revolver to blow oneself away when for the same amount of funds one can buy a good italian dinner and a quality bottle of gettanera (sp?). if you want to seek some comfort about personal writing attributes see today’s new website http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html. so far i have read about five of van gogh’s letters to his brother theo and am still searching for some special artistic or aesthetic quality which set it apart and above from, say a letter i might write to my aunt edie were she still alive today. i guess it’s like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. or then again, maybe because the originals of the letters may be in dutch or french neither of which i have a firm grasp.

funny you should mention “social security”. earlier today i composed a letter to the social security administration expressing my curiouisity as to why my mother’s monthly social security check is ten dollars less than mine. shouldn’t it be a lot less? i have to believe that i worked longer and made much more money than did she and my step-father combined. i am hoping that i have been substantially underpaid by the federal government but my suspicions are that i have not and that my paltry #1298 bucks a month is just the nature of things. perhaps working for local government for eleven plus years is the cause of my financial displeasure, astigmatism and beaten brain.

i think you are right-on with this “doom” thing! in fact i think you are overlooking an opportunity to make a bundle. you should create a (men’s) board game (e.g. monopoly) titled “doom”. i can imagine some of the squares now as i roll the dice and watch my life being fucked before me with my very own eyes. somehow i think it’s also tied in with that story-joke i emailed to you earlier today about the “husband store”. the funny part about that joke is i believe it to be 100% true which is why, i guess, it is so funny and i think the male “doom” is because we gave women the right to vote.

it would seem that we both suffer from the same malady of attaching ourselves to women who are smarter and trickier than we are. this is obviously our downfall. why couldn’t it have been women who just liked sex, have money and drink beer instead of being analytical and clever; although i personally find it unattractive to see women drink from a beer bottle or to use one for that particular obscene act although i have seen worse in tijuana.

fino alla prossima volta,

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The following is a letter I sent to friends and relatives in January 2010. It is followed with my Journal entries for the period described in the letter. 

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.

Joe…

PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house in which I now live. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, along with the house and the school circumscribe the limits of my life here in Chiang Mai.

——————————————————————-

FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way, since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed choked and mosquito infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains a main building and several small attractive adobe like out buildings.

After seeing him off I searched for the cafe for a latte. At first I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot in the subdivision. I left and walked home.

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banyan-tree-on-pipiwai-trail

While passing through those empty times during my cancer treatment when there is little to do other that dwelling on my discomfort or sleeping, I read. Mostly, I read things that pass the time, amusing but like after taking some narcotic and trying to remember what you did while stoned, you know you did it but cannot recall what it was you did while you did it. Along the way, I read my friend Christopher G. Moore’s book, The Marriage Tree. This was different.

To Moore, Bangkok is a mirror revealing the dark soul of humanity. In Thailand, that dark soul, which we like to pretend does not exist wherever we live, drips out bloody and fetid onto the streets of Bangkok.

Like gods, the rich and powerful are immune from judgment and punishment, except by other gods like them. The rest of us are condemned to seeking a rough justice for those of our peers who may have harmed us. Those who truly set into play our small difficulties and tragedies are almost never forced into any court to answer for their complicity.

How many people have died or suffered from the products and services of the corporate entities these godlings control? How many wars have been fought to protect private interests and not the public interests? Has slavery really disappeared where laws have been passed to prohibit it, or are some of the powerful still able to command indenture of the less powerful?

This is perhaps the darkest of Moore’s books. Even the soiled hero of most of his novels, Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish, half Italian disbarred attorney from New York City, who has taken up life as a private detective in Bangkok, finally accepts that true justice, the capping of the godling responsible, is hopeless except by chance, and even then there is always someone else willing to take over and step in to play the godling role. Although the book is cloaked in the guise of a detective thriller, it is not. It is a scream against the gathering darkness of our world as those wealthy and powerful self-styled godlings take control and the rest of us slowly realize we all now live in Bangkok —  without happy endings to content us.

Moore is Canadian and like most Canadians, his moral outrage stops just short of throwing the bomb — rather a shame that.

When I am in Bangkok, I sometimes observe Moore across a street or at some artist do. I no longer see in his face that little knowing smile he seemed to effect in the past. He now appears haunted as though he’s glimpsed the future and found only more hopelessness there … or perhaps a local godling has happened to read his book and begun to turn his hooded eyes in his direction.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

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th-1

Like New York and a few other cities, Bangkok has been a treasure trove for stories about the city’s teeming underside. Even the city’s most fashionable hotel, The Oriental, has a wing dedicated to some of the world’s greatest novelists who resided there and wrote about Southeast Asia and the City astride the Chao Phraya River that sits at its center. Writers like Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Joseph Conrad, and others all have suites in the hotel named for them.

That tradition remains alive today through such well-known authors as John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Timothy Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Jake Needham, Colin Piprell and James Eckhardt.

Books by several Thai authors who also have deeply explored life in Thailand as well as Bangkok’s urban jungle have been translated into other languages. These include, “Mad Dog and Co.” by Chart Korbjitti (translated into English by Marcel Barang, himself an author of a novel set in Bangkok as well as the non-fiction, “Twenty Best Novels of Thailand”); “The Tin Mine by Archin Panchapan; “Sightseeing” by Rattawut Laparoensap; and “Jasmine Nights” by SP Somtow.

A best seller and a good read is “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel that delves into Bangkok’s current and future problems with flooding. It was named one of the 10 best novels of 2009

But, by far my favorite Bangkok author is Christopher G. Moore. The protagonist in a good many of his most popular books is Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish half Italian ex-lawyer who for some mysterious reason gave up practicing law in New York to become a private eye in Bangkok.

Among his many books about Bangkok and the Thai urban scene, I like best “Waiting For the Lady.” Unlike most of his other novels, it is set not in Bangkok but in Burma.

Moore’s story swirls around the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chin people of Burma and a young scholar specializing in the art of the mountain tribes of Southeast Asia who along with his two longtime artist friends living in Bangkok search for a hidden hoard of Ming China. The description of the day the country’s military government released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of house arrest is worth the price of the book.

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