Bangkok ... On the Way to Bhutan
(Part Two)

Between Part One and Part Three

November 17-22, 2000

Friday, November 17, 2000

When we last saw him, Hayes had just introduced the children's Easter Egg Roll to the lawn of the White House. Concerned about his legacy with the 'big people' who actually voted and worried over what his family back in Fremont would say about his one-term tenancy ... Hayes became inspired by what he saw happening on the lawn of the White House that crisp Easter morning: children were putting ALL their eggs in ONE basket!

We continue with Moffett's tale:

But at least one American is as charged up for President Hayes as the Paraguayans are. John A. Fatherley, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, says he became a "Hayes Maniac" while teaching English in Paraguay in the 1960's. Mr. Fathereley, who has an education degree from Cornell University, now works as a janitor in a kaleidoscope making factory, so as to conserve "mental time for projects more important than earning a living." Rutherford B. HayesForemost among these: elevating the Hayes Chaco decision's historical profile.

Mr. Fatherley traveled to Paraguay in 1998 to mark the 120th anniversary of the arbitration and to break ground for a new Rutherford Hayes social club. Overwhelmed with emotion, Villa Hayes officials pulled the seal off the wall of the municipal building and handed it to Mr. Fatherley. "Just imagine all the opportunity Hayes created for Paraguayans," Mr. Fatherley says.

GRIM BACKDROP

The Chaco may provide opportunity, but of a very grim sort. One Bolivian visitor, Augusto Cespedes, described the territory as "the garden of suffering." Generally, those scratching out a living on the Chaco are either very desperate people, such as refugees from urban unemployment, or very devout ones, such as Mennonite emigrants from Germany.

But there are success stories. Lorenzo Gomez came to the Chaco community of Monte Lindo penniless 30 years ago and built one of the outback's most notable commercial empires on a stilted house above a riverbed. Starting with a tire-repair shop, he added a bar, a restaurant, a hotel with 25 hammocks, and a telephone service. He's still diversifying: "Dentista los Dias Sabados", says a new sign. Dentist Saturdays.

Mr. Gomez doesn't have much formal education, but he knows who President Hayes is. The drinks are on the house every Nov. 12.

Born too early for valor in World War Two; but, just about the right age for the Great War:

NEWNES'S man here earned his stuff when the world's maps were blotchy all over with pink:

The IHT's Neuilly-sur-Seine morgue presses forward with this Empire theme:

IN OUR PAGES: 100 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900 – For the Empire

LONDON – Lord Roseberry signalized his installation as Lord Rector of Glasgow University yesterday [Nov. 16] by an address on the greatness and responsibilities of the British Empire and its need for men. He said the last calculation seemed to be that the area of the British Empire was between eleven and twelve millions of square miles, and that its subjects numbered in some 400,000,000. Britons had to ask themselves were they adequate to it, could they discharge their responsibility to God and to man for so magnificent, so populous a portion of the world?


HOT OFF THE PRESS ... BULLETIN ... FLASH ... WHATEVER


Foul play ... yes, play, most foul!

Something really dreadful happened during the night. Of course, full details will have to wait until Watcharee has had her morning coffee ... but, for the moment, here is what we have. It's not much ... but, it is a sketch.

Even the Thai tabloids blanched on this one.

Apparently running low on 'dots,' quick-thinking lab technicians over at The Daily News had to dig inventively into their bag of darkroom tricks to cover up the page one gore.1 So, for today's cover spread, a micro-grid-like device was cleverly employed to soften the grizzle. And what is this 'grizzle'? If you peer closely at the photograph you can just make out the torso of a person. Contained inside a plastic bag ... along with the lopped-off head ... the whole damn thing just washed up on shore ... and not too far away from The Oriental. Good Lord, the Chao Phya River is fast becoming a second 'home' for these dead people. Paul, can you link us to the 'floater' ... the one who was bobbing about in front of the hotel just a few short months ago?


1 Just look at the faces of the bystanders ... and that of the cop. Need I say more?


The bras! But, what about the bras?

There is a monkish connection here. The 'inset' tells us as much. Mr. Monk has three girlfriends who regularly pass the night with him. To keep their clothing 'straight' he has marked their bras with their names. Had he not been a monk, this would not be a story.


Saturday, November 18, 2000

It is much more like the last train out of Sacramento, with a load of nitrogen-bathed tomatoes! What I like to think is a never ending and constantly maturing harvest of the seminal moments in history really isn't that at all. No, dear reader, it is not "NEWNES'S Right-Up-To-Date Daily Journal Of World History". Instead, it's "NEWNES'S Flash-Frozen Bits Of The Past", with no pocket supplements1 any fresher than July, 1958.


1 Hmmmm. I wonder ... are 'pocket supplements' a bit of the past, too? Sigh ... it has been so long since I've stood in Miss Argyle's check-out lane at the law school library that I forget what it's all about. I must ask Paul about this. When I last looked, "Cal.Rpts." had just given birth to "Cal.Rpt.2nd." Maybe they are now into double digits ... more likely, 'digits' have taken over everything ... and, the whole Boalt Hall Law Library is now just an air-conditioned shoebox of CD's.


Some lazy day I'd like to comb NEWNES ... to find his 'last' entry. At one point in time ... perhaps it was a rainy London afternoon, when the day's second 'post' was marching up to his door ... NEWNES had to close the book ... to say, "that's it ... no more". Did he do it with something out of The Times? Probably from the obituaries ... that's always safest.

Anyway, November 18th was not the day. His 'last' event 'today' was seven years before he closed the book:

And, his 'last' death was 68 years before that:

Someone in Neuilly-sur-Seine reads the papers from beginning to end ... all three of them; the 1900 edition, the one that's seventy-five years old, and finally, the copy from 1950. Don't tell me that a machine does it ... and here's the proof:

IN OUR PAGES: 75 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1925: Voting Machines

NEW YORK – The fifty-five voting machines used in the 15th Assembly District on Election Day have won praise from voters and election officials, including many Democratic captains who previously had voiced opposition to them. The latter admitted that for speed and accuracy there was no question as to the success of the machine, and it did not create the confusion and timidity in the mind of the inexperienced voter which had been anticipated.

The "People" column in the IHT rarely has any of the snippets that I like to pass on. But, today, is a wonderful exception:

"The Brian Jones Fan Club is selling tiles from the pool where the Rolling Stones guitarist was found dead on July 3, 1969. "It is not as macabre as it sounds," said the fan club's David Reynolds. "It's just owning something that your hero owned and touched and chose." Jones, 27, was found dead of a drug overdose at his English country house, Cotchford Farm. Each tile costs $175 and comes with a certificate of authenticity. Ten percent will go to put up a statue of Jones in his hometown of Cheltenham. Since the sale began in September, 140 of the 320 blue ceramic tiles have been bought, and the fund has raised $5,700 – about one-sixth of the cost of the statue."

A little math from Alf:

Hmmm ... 140 times $175 equals $24,500! Less, $5,700 equals $18,800! But, I guess chipping the tiles out of the concrete does cost something.

Moving to my local paper, the Bangkok Post:

BEAUTY HANDS BACK HIS PRIZE MONEY

Kesaraporn Duangsawan captured the hearts of the judges and walked away with 6,000 baht (@$140) as first runner-up in a beauty contest this month – until the organizers discovered she was a man.

A police officer said some of the contestants had complained of unfair competition, saying Kesaraporn was actually a male.

The disgraced 22-year-old handed back the prize money through a friend on Thursday, five days after the annual Loy Kratthong festival beauty pageant in Ratchaburi province.

Kesaraporn had asked only to keep the Miss Media runner-up sash as a memento, the police officer said. – Reuters

Another Reuters generated item, again from my Bangkok Post.The caption reads:

SOMETHING TO DIE FOR

Here's an ideal innovation for those strapped for cash and close to death. Cheung Chi-wei of Taiwan has improved upon an object for which a demand will never cease. His environmentally friendly coffin is made out of recycled paper, cheap at $24 a unit, and for those likely to die a slow death, it is quick to assemble (less than two minutes!). If you are still not impressed, it only weighs six kilograms, so you can die happy in the knowledge you have made the undertaker's daily toil that much lighter. – REUTERS

"Good morning!" ... from Watcharee.


Morton prodded it with a stick.

... the images started to take shape ... murky at first ... then gradually coming up as recognizable silhouettes ...

Morton gently rocked the tray, allowing the liquid to slosh back and forth across the papers. A cigarette ash from his Navy Cut fell harmlessly and without a sizzle into the developer.1

Sucking through his teeth, "What have we here?"

The sub-editor peered around him, "The monk's girlfriend ... and a kid who drowned ... both front page color stuff."

Morton reached for his tool box),2 "Who gets what?"

"Tape the tits ... and, maybe the eyes, too. Don't worry about the kid."


1 No one cared that Morton smoked while in his darkroom. Air conditioning and powerful filters scrubbed the air clean every four minutes.

2 Its contents ranged upward, in censor-sophistication, from the very primitive Paper Mate felt marker...through the micro-grid, manual-overlay stencil device ... to the 'auto-dot' generator ... finally pausing at the newest thing from Kodak, the 'floating tape'.


Sunday, November 19, 2000

The Cambodian border is practically right outside the window. Last night we took the train from Bangkok to Surin; leaving the capital at 9 in the evening and arriving here an hour later than scheduled, at 5am. The on-board birth of a kid was responsible for our lost hour. Word swept through the stopped carriages that it was a boy (Pat) ... later, shifting cries changed that to a girl (Pat) ... and, then back again to a boy (Pat). Anyway, Surin is located in the northeast of Thailand ... about where the 'eye' would be if you, 'Rorschachianly', turned the map of Thailand into the film version's head of the 'Elephant Man.'1

Elephants seem to be the regional theme in this part of Thailand. Everywhere you look there are elephants ... real ones ... statues of them ... bits (tusks) of them2 ... even cake decorations with jumbos holding the candles. Where we sleep, the Thong Tarin Hotel, is positively clogged with their likenesses. The hotel's ever-popular "Big Bite Restaurant" and its "Sweet Cocktail Lounge" are pachyderm tilted with "Jumbo-This" washed down with "Jumbo-That".

This morning's event menu is nothing but elephants.


1 The Broadway Play version, starring David Bowie, will not do. In that production, the audience had to use its imagination in order to see the terrible symptoms of the tertiary, and final, stages of Von Recklighausen's Disease.

2 Elephant foot wastebaskets are not available. Only in Saigon are these trash containers still available.


Monday, November 20, 2000

The mock battle between Siam and Burma was quite realistic. The elephants seemed to like seeing their masters fall to the ground after blows to the head or lances through the entrails. Though there was no blood about, the poses assumed by the 'fallen' were authentic ... legs and arms nicely laid out all "a'crook'd", so that there was no mistaking them for napping. Even when the dead were hauled away, the corpses 'played' it natural ... limp, dead limbs just dangling all "a'loose". Of course, in any staged scene there will always be a little something that doesn't go according to the script; the last corpse on the field today had to quickly change roles with the guy who was supposed to haul him away. He was too heavy.

Anyway, yesterday was brilliant! It was pretty much an all elephant day, from the time we arrived at the 'elephantorium' until we left the place after the 'relay races'. This is the 40th year of the "Elephant Round-Up" show; it started in 1960 as a way of bringing tourists to this neglected part of Thailand. I took more photographs than I would normally take on a Sunday. They have been roughly bunched into: The Introduction, Faces of Mahouts, Hunting the Elephants, Elephant 'Tricks', the Thai–Burma Battle and finally, the Dead.

And, now for the sex part:

Many hotels in Thailand operate a 'second-tier' facility right on the premises. Cleverly disguised as 'massage parlors', they are the in-house brothels. They are frequently called "Curtain Motels" ... and, for a good reason. Yes, 'curtains' shield the guest's car and license plate from prying spousal eyes.

In the case of our own hotel, the Thong Tarin, its 'Rose Queen Massage' subsidiary promises "A number of beautiful staff ... to provide you with a professional service". Seen from our 10th floor suite, the curtained garages actually appear to offer more square footage than do the adjacent air-conditioned bedrooms.


Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Ah! Here it is! Thank God!

A few days ago I was searching all over the place ... looking every which way ... for the anniversary of our announcement of the Denise-Look-Alike contest. I knew it had something to do with some obscure discovery or deed ... was it Issac Pitman's first publication of his Stenographic phonography (Nov. 15)? ... No! ... was it the 178th anniversary of the opening of the Hetton Line (County Durham), the first railway on a prepared surface and the oldest British mineralogical railway? ... No! ... how about when the first automatic telephone service was inaugurated in London? ... Again, No!

It was today: on the 157th (then, the 156th) anniversary of the patent date of the vulcanization of rubber. Yes, on this day one year ago, word went out that we had a winner. And, are we hoping for too much when we pray that America, too, gets a winner on this day? That either George Bush or Al Gore gets to share November 21 with Denise? Incidentally, just one day shy of the day that JFK got a bullet in the head.

And, for all you NEWNES junkies, here is more:

We already know that the vulcanization of rubber was patented in 1843. What else happened in England on November 21?


1 According to my reckoning, this item may have been one of NEWNES'S very last entries. Though the Preston by-pass opening and Charles de Gaulle's election come later in the year, NEWNES obviously is trying to wind things up before the holidays. And though the reader may stumble upon some entries for 1959, NEWNES'S assistant probably sent these to the publisher as post-galley additions and emendations.


Wescott has a dull-as-ditches saint for the 21st; a bleak hard-working missionary who helped to ensure that the world will forever be confused about the date of Easter. But, yesterday's man is (was) tabloid stuff:

Edmund
849 – 870

This short-lived King of the East English was taken prisoner by the Danes and would not be a Danish vassal unless their king became a Christian. So a certain Prince Hingmar had him tied to a tree, and all the archers of the army took aim at him. His body was left there in the woods of Suffolk – blood and bone in a very bush of arrows – until a gentle grey wolf led the way to it.

Dear reader, Watcharee and I are again at home in Bangkok ... safely away from the Cambodian border. Last night we took the overnight train from Surin; we awoke seven hours later in Bangkok. But, back in Surin, the local population still worries about being so close to danger. Even tender-aged children are fitted out with arms.


Returning to the comfort of the Bangkok press:

First, my Bangkok Post:

This weekend, Bangkok was the host city for the International Seminar of Sex Workers in Asia and the Pacific (ISSWAP). Participants from Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Laos, Burma, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and the United States heard dozens of speakers call for the "recognition of our work." They wanted to be treated just like workers in any other profession. They demanded the same treatment that other workers got under existing national labor laws. Miss Aek, a dancer in a Bangkok bar ... and a vocal participant at this year's seminar ... called for a minimum wage for sex workers, overtime pay for working during annual festivals, and full medical coverage for work related injuries. "For showgirls it's worst. Even those who get accidentally injured during the razor shows are not provided any medical benefits."

Now, a glance at Watcharee's Daily News:

The headlines scream it all. But, the photograph just shows the face of a troubled woman ... none of her terrible thoughts. For years she has known that her husband had another 'wife' ... someone with whom he had oral sex. Finally, she had enough. One night ... after her husband dragged her into one of these 'curtain hotels' ... and after he made one of his 'oral-sex demands' ... she told him that she would 'do it' only if he hid his face behind a bath towel. He covered his face, for what would be the last time. Rather than bringing her mouth down upon him, she struck out with a blade ... the first plunge ending his life; the second, cutting off his 'foul organ.'


Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Stephani!! Please read this and rush it over to your father.

IN OUR PAGES: 75 YEARS AGO
[from the International HeraldTribune]
1925: Good Shot, I say

LONDON – Lord Reading, Viceroy of India, recently had a narrow escape from death, according to private cables received at London to-day [Nov.21]. It was reported that Lord Reading, while golfing at Calcutta, was setting a line for his putt on the eighteenth green when a large hooded cobra raised itself up ready to strike from a short distance at the back of the Viceroy. Before it could move, however, Lord Reading's secretary rushed forward and killed the snake with a golf club.

Dear, Oh Dearest Reader, it is approaching that time of the year when all the world turns its attention toward a tiny playing field on the India/Nepal border. It is here ... yes, in December ... where the Elephant Polo World Championship Cup again comes up for the annual grope 'n grab. When teams from hither 'n thither and every which-place flock to Chitwan to do battle for a Cup, beside which the ones of Ryder and America and their rude ilk pale by comparison.

The Screwy Tuskers are almost ready! We come from many places: Seattle, Bristol, Boulder, Bangkok, and Fort Lauderdale. On the 28th ... less than a week away ... we'll join forces in Calcutta, the gateway to Bhutan. It is there, in Bhutan, where our little band will seek succor from the spirits who protect and guide this heavenly mountain kingdom. Thus strengthened of soul we'll be ready for battle on the grassy runway of Chitwan.

NEWNES, ever reminding, asks us never to forget:

These births:

And, these deaths:

And, this accomplishment:

Oops! Something horrible has happened. But, our ace-cameraman at the Daily News was there. Stay tuned for details ... Watcharee is still asleep.


1 It was this particular 'Ferris' who invented the 'Ferris Wheel' ... he did it for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1892. Aside from the notorious "Tea Cups for Toddlers" ride, there is no better-known amusement ride anywhere in the world. "But, how many lives has it claimed?", you might very well ask. "I don't know," I would have to reply. But, I am sure, "some." Only a week or so ago the Weekly World News carried the photograph of a young Korean girl held high by her head in the jaw of a 'snapping' gondola ... high above terrified spectators, I might add. On the other hand, Watcharee and I experienced nothing uncomfortable when we rode in one of these machines in downtown Paris. I guess the jury is still out on this one.


Hours later ... Watcharee has finished her morning coffee and has had a chance to ramble through this morning's Bangkok Daily News.

What appeared to my eyes to be the interrogation of a suspect in a botched kidnapping case ... turned out to be just an innocuous hospital-waiting-room interview with the wealthy husband of a Thai super-model. The inset photo of an ugly baby was just that: the newborn of the super-model.

Ah, but as to the second photograph ... the one showing three men kneeling next to a body whose head, using advanced lab-techniques, has been bathed in dots ... well, my hunch that dirty work was afoot was correct. After fishing the body out of the river, a gaping exit hole in the forehead ... together with massive bullet damage to the man's coiling intestines ... convinced the onlookers that he died at the hands of others.

The third photo ... a catchy composite with layered multi-colored script ... is just a public service warning to the paper's teenage readers. Sort of a "Don't rely on unscrupulous pharmacists for your abortion needs."

Next: Part Three

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