Bangkok When the Leaves Turn, Part X

After Leaves Turning, Part IX and Before Ten Days in London

November 21-30, 2001

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

The awning is finally down! Normally it's rolled up by the end of October or the first week in November ... but this year unseasonably long-lingering rains kept the covering in place until just before the American Thanksgiving Day.1

This morning all the Bangkok papers are awash with stories about a 'fixed' lottery. Apparently the June 1st lottery was rigged this way: (A) Since the drawing of the numbered balls takes place in front of hundreds of witnesses (and TV) the bad guys "hired 100-200 people at 200-300 baht [@$4.50-$7.00] each to 'witness' the draw". Each 'witness' gets a ticket on admission and from this pool of witness/admitees just three of them are chosen by a separate draw to take part in the drawing of the prizes. At that point the bad guys got on stage by exchanging their admission tickets with the people who were really selected. (B) As the lottery staff was about to place the numbered balls (in numerical sequence) into the transparent plastic bowl a bad guy in the crowd made a distracting noise. (C) At that point the three bad guys on stage spat a colored liquid into the bowl. As a result, when the first balls were put in the bowls they became stained. This made the target balls easy to identify.

It's that special anniversary again!

Others3 are:

Wescott:

Columbanus
545 - 615

The Irish missionary, one of the pioneers of monasticism in Europe, who founded, among others, the great houses of Luxeuil in Burgundy, and Bobbio, between Milan and Genoa. Deported from France for the rude stand he took against the royal bastards, on his way to Italy, he commenced the conversion of Switzerland. A hard man, he excelled in making men work; even the sick, unless actually about to die, were not exempt from the clearing of the land and the building wherever he happened to be pioneering for the church and, incidentally, for civilization. The church has never quite forgiven him for his zeal about the date of Easter and for an insolent letter her wrote one pope about another.


1 Not celebrated anywhere else on earth.

2 Not 'tied' to the third Wednesday of November, it sometimes falls before ... sometimes after ... and sometimes right on Thanksgiving Day. As it is not generally celebrated in America, the Vulcanization of Rubber Patent (VORP) day rarely has to fight for allegiance, even among ex-pat Americans.

3 Above and below, from NEWNES, of course.


Thursday, November 22, 2001 (Thanksgiving Day - USA) [Moon, 1st Quarter]

Now, Canon "stitch" technology allows ever wider views of everything.

Panorama

NEWNES, et al:


* Wescott:

Cecilia
THIRD CENTURY

Cecilia was engaged to a young aristocrat named Valerian. As soon as the wedding was over, she announced that she had vowed to keep her virginity, and seriously warned him of the jealousy of an angel who kept watch by her bed. Valerian could not expect to see this unearthly rival or predecessor so long as he was a pagan: he hurried to the catacombs and was baptized. When he returned, there was a strange creature in her room, and the air was cloudy with a fragrance of flowers, and divine music was playing. The angel crowned them both with roses, asking the young husband what else he wanted. Valerian did not insist upon enjoying his wife, but wanted his brother to be baptized to partake of their exaltation. The angel promised them that, and something still better: death for all three.

The Governor of Rome put the brothers to death first; and a little later an attempt was made to suffocate Cecilia with steam, in her bath - an unsuccessful attempt. Then an executioner arrived, and struck her with an axe three times, but did not quite decapitate her. According to Roman law he did not have the right to try a fourth time. For three days she lay there on the marble floor, face-down, bleeding from the wounds on her shoulders and head and neck. The executioner's clumsiness deprived the governor of what he wanted most: for, whispering to her Christian friends, Cecilia was able to dispose of her vast wealth.

Because of the concert when her angelic lover more mystically remarried her to Valerian, it is supposed that she was a musician, and that, dissatisfied with the feeble Roman lutes and horns and pipes, she invented the pipe-organ. Musicians have always regarded her as their patroness.

1 Idlewyld Airport renamed JFK.


Friday, November 23, 2001

This morning David left Bangkok for Fort Lauderdale: a 27-hour air journey via Osaka, Los Angeles and Atlanta. 'Captain V' should help. Anyway, last night we had our Thanksgiving dinner at Gallery, one of our favorite Thai restaurants. No turkey!

I'm still having fun with Canon's 'stitch' technology. It is a very forgiving thing: less than perfect eyepiece margin-matches (even pretty way-off ones) are made to look totally seamless. The ones I have here show The Oriental from the Sala Rim Naam side of the river, the swimming pool, the lobby, the gym and one or two others.

NEWNES:

This morning's Bangkok Daily News features a vice-bust on the front page. Apparently, a Russian girl was caught selling her services on the street over near one of BKK's red-light areas. The undercover cop caught her on film just before delivery time.1

Wescott2:

Felicitas and Her Sons
SECOND CENTURY

Another martyred widow and seven sons Their virtues aroused suspicion, their wealth a murderous covetousness. They would not hear of apostasy. The young men were put to death before their mother's eyes, one by one, in different ways. Because it would have been a delight to go where they had gone, she was kept alive for four months, then mercifully thrown into a vat of hot oil.

 

IN OUR PAGES: 100 AND 75 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1901: Corset Crimes

PARIS - Dr. Phillipe Marechal lectured Thursday evening [Nov. 21] on dress reform. He proposed that a law should be passed, placing the manufacture of this constricting article under the same prohibitive regime as the production of firearms. Under this law it will be forbidden for any woman under thirty to wear a corset under pain of imprisonment. The fair sex has degenerated in a most woeful fashion within the four hundred years since Catherine de Medicis introduced the corset. Constricting shoes have produced misshapen feet, tight gloves deformed the finger joints and bulky hats reduced the feminine brain.

1926: Prosperous Era

PHILADELPHIA - Charles H. Schwab3 has just made a prophesy of the approach of the greatest era of prosperity ever enjoyed by American industry. Mr. Schwab said that America would have its ups and downs but that in the long run the industries of the country would show a solidly based progressive trend. "There has never been a time," the steel magnate added, "when I felt so optimistic about our great industrial life."


1 Can this be part of something bigger? For some weeks the government (albeit, via a minor spokesman) has been making ominous noises about the evils of 'sin' (e.g., bars that are open too late, spillage of 'sin' outside the official "entertainment zones", underage fun, etc.).

2 If true, Felicita's terrible plunge from the 'good life' was about as spectacular (assuming some creativity on the part of those 'dispatching' the sons in "different ways") as any saint could wish for.

2 Swear to God! I thought this 'man' was creature of some Wall Street ad agency; not anyone real.


Saturday, November 24, 2001

"It is not our proudest product placement, but ..."1

It's Saturday! The Tribune's INTERMARKET (meat) is open for business:

From the almost unstoppable house of Gabriele-Thiers-Bense ... [Str. 5, Otto-Heilmann, 82031 Munich-Grunwald, Germany] ...

EXQUISITE U.S. LADY in SINGAPORE via USA. A genuine World Citizen, 5'8" tall and slender, with a Mannequin figure and an extraordinary, refined appearance! She is in her youthful forties, presenting French finesse & elegance, thorough integrity and maturity complemented by great enthusiasm, which an international Executive prefers, plus multi-cultured Asian/European business experience during 15 years, entailing profound knowledge of World economy, history, politics and the arts. She maintains real estates in the USA & in Asia, is childless, thus entirely independent and the perfect life companion and social representative for a primarily Asia oriented business person. ONLY FOR MARRIAGE.

Co-billed ...

THE BEAUTIFUL WIDOW ... OF A PROMINENT & WEALTHY SOUTHERN EUROPEAN CELEBRITY with a famous family tradition, seeks again to care for and entertain a "good man" ...! A classic Grant Lady, who appears at age 52 / 5'8", slim with a sports-trained figure (horse riding, water-sports, sailing, alpine skiing) at least 10 years younger, presenting an unspoiled attitude, the lightness plus witty humour that brightens your day - fluent in 4 languages, World traveled, with a passion for classic literature, music and ancient art, playing musical instruments, this wonderful person confirms your status with radiance, the style & spirits, which are a delight to any High-Society member! FOR MARRIAGE ONLY!

More modestly, from reactions@hotmail.com, is:

SPORTIVE, CULTURED, wonderful looking, nice Amsterdam woman, 41 ...

Or:

VERY NICE BLOND WOMAN with green eyes ...

Finally, from www.eastern-europe-women.com:

CZECH, BEAUTIFUL, INTELLIGENT WOMEN DEVOTED TO YOU.

Locally, the Bangkok Post's ENTERTAINMENT section is more 'core' oriented:

TOP MODEL UNLIMITED FANTASY SERVICES, beautiful Thai/Foreign Ladies, Special Body Massage, Fantasy Entertainment, Why Waste Time Calling Around, Clean, Safe, Healthful, Heineken Draught Beer, 12 Silom Road.

Of course, back in the 1500s there were men who never thought of such things. Wescott, for today, allows us:

John of the Cross
1542 - 1605

Juan de la Matia, or de lac Cruz, St. Teresa's chief collaborator, the great mystic poet. The moment she met the starved under-sized youth, who was living in a hovel with two friends, she knew what she could make of him. He founded the Institute of Bare-Footed Carmelites. The original Carmelites hated all these reforms, and he spent years in the Inquisition prisons, where he wrote 'The Obscure Night of the Soul.' The constant cry of his mind was the necessity of mortification, the importance of putting the ego out of its misery by mystic means: he wanted to be despised and made to suffer. Doubtless, from his point of view, he had a good life. The church recommends his books - 'The Ascent of Mount Carmel,' 'The Living Flame' - to all who are favored with the gift of supernatural prayer; others, needless to say, also enjoy them.

NEWNES:

I promise ... this is the last of the Canon 'stitch' panoramas. This time I waited until the sun went down ... all the way down.

Bangkok at Night


1 "... it shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability." - Wade Hoyt, Toyota's spokesman in New York, commenting on the Taliban/Qaida preference for Toyota's line of 4-Wheel-Drive vehicles. [Mr. bin Laden and his more important lieutenants were served by Toyota Land Cruisers; their 'grunts' had to make do with the compact Toyota Hilux.]


Sunday, November 25, 2001

NEWNES:

Mid-to end-November is always nice for Wescott:

Catherine of Alexandrie, or of the Wheels
DIED 310

This princess, perhaps, was Constantine the Great's half-sister. Her Egyptian subjects, or her relatives and friends - as the case may be - wanted her to marry; instead, she engaged herself to Jesus Christ. The Emperor Maxentius, during his persecutions, assembled a host of able philosophers; the scholarly virgin out-talked and converted them; the emperor put them to death. Then he shut her up in his palace; she converted the empress and her ladies; and he put them to death, intending, in any case, to marry Catherine. She told him that her mystic fiancÚ was everlasting and handsome - whereas he was old, sick, fickle, filthy. Hurt feelings then combining with orthodox pagan fervor, he ordered her to be torn apart on four spiked wheels; but lightening struck the atrocious machine, and she was simply beheaded.

There is some contradiction between all this and secular history. The church appears to have ascribed to Catherine many traits of the pagan Hypatia, murdered by a mob in St. Cyril's employ - a depressing though politic sort of retribution.


Last night ... in my ongoing search for PCC2 founding/charter members ... I spent a few hours interviewing applicants. The search is narrowing. Another (a she), being more fluent in the nuances of Patpong nightlife, is also at work. Please stay tuned...especially those of you in balloon and corkscrew orbits.

Meanwhile ...

Agreed, Patpong during the day is a depressing place. You've seen the drabness right here, in my pages; the sagging wires; the debris of earlier hours; the general fade of everything. But, at night the place shines nicely. Even though its shyless neon appeals to the base, most of the people on the street are more interested in shopping for its world famous fakes.

Every Sunday the big Bangkok dailies battle fiercely for readers. This morning the News, unashamedly, largely devotes its acres to skin; the Post, nobly, takes the high road with a stern look at unseasonably icy conditions in the north and an academic worry over the plight of the poor.

Though the Post slights its readers with a weak Page One, it picks up the pace once the cover is turned:

Johnny and Luther Htoo may give America a 'snub': their post September 11th fear of living in tall buildings, combined with their attachment to playmates at the Ban Tham Hin refugee camp in Ratchaburi may keep the former leaders of God's Army in Thailand.

PIG ON DEATH ROW TURNS THE TABLES

Budapest - The annual pre-Christmas swine slaughter in a Hungarian village came to a shocking end yesterday after one man died of electrocution while trying to stun a pig, whose owner then died of a heart attack. Celebrations in Darvaspustza took a turn for the worse when an unnamed visiting Croatian man shocked himself to death while trying to knock out a pig with a homemade electric pig stunner. One man ended up in hospital with an irregular heart rhythm after attempting a rescue by trying to unplug the device. The shocking accident so upset the pig owner, he suffered a heart attack and died. There was no word on the fate of the pig. - Reuters


1 Is he the one who is still alive? Or, is he the one who died just days after the smoke (white or black? ... I can never remember which it is for an 'election') trickled up the Vatican chimney ... even while the non-Italian members of the College of Cardinals were still doing their last minute airport shopping?

2 Patpong Corkscrew Club. PCCC (Patpong Corkscrew Collectors Club) was considered; as was PCCA (Patpong Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts). For Patpong, "Collector" and "Correspondence" just didn't mean anything ... anything workable, anyway.


Monday, November 26, 2001

For the last several years ... on November 25th1 ... we here at C-B.com have honored Saint Catherine of the Wheels. Her auto-engagement to the Lord's only son, Jesus Christ; her (albeit, unnecessarily rude) rebuff to the romantic gropes of The Emperor Maxentius; her ... probably, as a consequence of being so rude ... being lashed to the machine with "four spiked wheels"; her 'rescue' by God's lightning: a bolt that struck and destroyed the 'atrocious' engine that was so eagerly waiting to tear her into four parts; her final beheading ... yes, all of these things make her a worthy one.

"Yes? ..."

Well ... this morning's International Herald Tribune: IN OUR PAGES: 75 YEARS AGO adds this:

1926: Catherine's Kiss

PARIS - Berribboned girls, giggling and laughing, were skipping along the rue de la Paix yesterday [Nov. 25]. Watching them was a recently-arrived American. "I think that all this stuff about St. Catherine's Day is greatly over-rated. The idea is over-sold, we might say at home," he continued, watching the scores of girls stream by. "I've been standing here for an hour and no one has tried to kiss me," he complained to the man standing next to him, "It's an exaggeration, and I think that there ought to be a ..." At which point ten midinettes surrounded him and joining hands, did an imitation of an Indian war dance about their victim. Simultaneously, three of them kissed him. He lost his hat and his composure. St. Catherine's Day is safe for at least another year.

Our readers' help is needed. Is her day still a day of celebration other than in France? Do the young girls of Paris still hand out kisses in her memory? Anyone? But, Becky might be in the best position to know about this. Becky?


1 Because of this strange Catherine woman, another Wescott-approved saint has always, at least in these journals, remained minor. An over worked ecclesiastical calendar not infrequently forces Wescott to squeeze in a second saint for-the-day. Mercury (Third Century) shared November 25th with Catherine of the Wheels: "A Greek soldier in the Roman army, put to death by Julian the Apostate. A little later, during the Persian wars, St. Basil had a dream about the dead soldier's vengeful intentions. He hurried to the tomb and found it empty. Meanwhile, an unknown horseman, riding up to Julian in the field, ran him through with his lance. The emperor felt the wound, waved his dripping hand in the air, cried out, 'You conquer, Galilean,' and died. The next day Basil revisited the tomb: the soldier's body had come back, the lance was blood-stained."


Tuesday, November 27, 2001

NEWNES:

Wescott's saint for today (Margaret of Savoy) is so bland: "... forty-four years of piety ..."

LEONARD OF PORT MAURICE, whom I skipped over yesterday, did much for the spread of state sponsored superstition in the late 1600s to the mid 1700s:

A popular preacher. When he had exhausted the effects of mere eloquence, he would strip, turn his back to the audience, and whip himself until his blood spattered about the pulpit. His tireless missions greatly quickened religious feeling throughout Italy.

Last night Watcharee and I went to a German music hall. The most interesting thing in the place were the clever 'beer pitchers'; actually tall tubes of beer, with taps, cooled with icy jackets. The 'tubes' could be ordered in 2- and 4-liter sizes. I am not sure if this invention is Thai or German. The Germans, many years ago, were the technical advisors behind the great House of Singha.


Wednesday, November 28, 2001

This morning's Bangkok papers 'front-page' the story of a hot air balloon 'accident' that injured a Thai "teenage heart-throb" actor. The "crash-landing" took place in Watcharee's hometown: Ayutthaya. According to the Bangkok Post, the balloon's gondola was dragged on the ground for about 10 meters causing the actor to fall out. The Bangkok Daily News1 published lots of photos2 of the incident.

NEWNES:

IN OUR PAGES: 75 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1926: Essential Books

PARIS - Book stores these days are not places exclusively for sleek little volumes of poetry, the garish jackets of novels and the rich leather bindings of the classics. In all such stores there is an ever-increasing department devoted to housekeeping books ... books on cookery, on diet, on house decorating, house furnishing, laundering. Such books are almost essential to the properly run household. They take the place of maiden aunts and backfence neighbors.

Eric Shackle (from Australia) tells us more about Saint Catherine ... you know, the lady who lost her head over Jesus. According to Eric, Catherine was an early French version of Sadie Hawkins:

"In France St. Catherine's Day supplies the desired opportunity to unmarried females for acquiring a mate, although what must have begun as a serious custom, intended to solve a social problem, has degenerated there and everywhere into a mere game or hilarious ceremony without actual matrimony resulting. In the United States, the Sadie Hawkins Day observance is also incorporated in various promotional and publicity programs. But wherever the day is celebrated, on the campuses or elsewhere, the captured male is simply the temporary property of his captor, the enforced partner at a dance or some mock ceremony, and is spared the permanent bond of marriage."


1 A reporter from the News also 'fell' out of the dragged basket. She was not hurt; but being attractive, she was worthy of a close-up.

2 One of the action photos shows the balloon about to be inflated (see fan); but, the implication is that of a 'downed' balloon. Another photo shows the balloon in a normal landing mode; but again the implication is a 'tipping over' balloon.


Thursday, November 29, 2001

NEWNES:

Last night the first meeting of the Patpong Corkscrew Club took place in the lobby bar of Bangkok's Dusit Thani Hotel. Not the AGM, mind you; that is scheduled for next month.1 Yesterday's meeting was just a social get-together ... a warm up ... a getting to know one another ... etc.

Anyway, only the Bangkokians were at this first meeting; Charter/Founders Bull, Peters and Solheim were not able to attend, but we hope that they will be able to fly to Bangkok for the AGM, which has been scheduled for just before Christmas.

At last night's meeting: only Alf, Ning, Ohmy, Amma and Gift. Introductions made, drinks passed around, courtesies exchanged, things explained,2 peanut dish passed, make-up mirrors consulted, frilly things adjusted: it was then time for photographs.


1 You, dear reader (and all the 'charter/founder' members), will not want to miss this AGM. Most of you will only be able to share the moment thanks to the magic of the Internet; but all of our card-carrying members are urged to put Patpong (Bangkok, Thailand) on their pre-Christmas calendar.

2 Of the five present, one of us actually owns a corkscrew. To the others, I explained what a corkscrew did. Here, our club logo was a useful visual aid. Though three of the members (Ohmy, Amma and Gift) work in a Patpong bar, their duties do not require them to open bottles. Being interpretive dancers, they know nothing of drink pouring.


Friday, November 30, 2001 (Eaton College Wall Game - also - St. Andrew's Day*)

Do you remember Tojo's 'last meal'? Not long ago, in these pages, the IHT celebrated the 50th anniversary of Tojo's final sushi order.1 While top war leader Hideki Tojo was being readied for the firing squad he requested that his last meal2 be something from a Japanese kitchen. Shortly afterwards (the meal and the firing squad [or, was it hanging?]), he was cremated. This morning's Tribune follows that famous Japanese crematory:

IN OUR PAGES: 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1951: Up in Smoke

YOKOHAMA - The United States Army cremated $47,000,000 here last week. The currency was obsolete military script, withdrawn from circulation and replaced by a new issue last summer. Nine million dollars a day went up in smoke at the Japanese crematory which three years ago consumed the bodies of Hideki Tojo and Japan's other top war leaders.

NEWNES:

Weeks ago a small turtle was found wandering over on the Sala Rim Naam side of the river. Taken into protective custody by the receptionists it did well ... up until a day or so ago. Lethargy ... a loss of curiosity ... a dampening of spirit ... something of that sort has now set in. All are concerned. Noi, and one of the supermodels from last month's Loi Krathong 'beauty contest' are seen here giving the poor beast succor.

This morning's International Herald Tribune looks at how "Expats Rate Asian Countries". Indonesia came out worse: "That is not really surprising considering that foreigners have been the target of demonstrations this past year, parts of the country are experiencing quite violent conditions, corruption and red tape are worse than perhaps in any other Asian country, and many companies are fighting to stay afloat." In Thailand, "the absence of extremism and the willingness to compromise among Thais go a long way toward creating a comfortable environment for expatriates. Many of them grow to love the country and its people and would hate to leave."


* Andrew was Saint Peter's brother. Wescott waxes on about him to the point of tears. Enough that he was another religious meddler who deserved the cross ... tied to it, not tacked, for a more strung-out death. One arm and his head are now in Rome. His bones are in Amalfi and they "exude a colourless liquid called his sweat, or his manna, which is a potent medicine". Other pieces of his body (relics) were to be scattered to the "ends of the earth", or so it was ordered ... they actually wound up in Scotland.

1 "Califonwia Woll ... to go!"

2 Readers here will recall that Tim McVeigh, only hours before his final 'three-stage' government sponsored 'drug-departure', ordered ... what was it ... ah, yes ... ice cream.


PS Dear reader...yesterday I forgot to mention that one of our very first 'charter/founding' members (Kim) was also the very first member to actually wear the new PCC T-shirt in the out-of-doors. Prior that that time the Club shirt had been seen only in beds and in bars. Here, you can see Kim proudly wearing it, wholesomely, at a beach in southern Thailand.

Kim on the Beach


Next: A Fortnight (well, almost) in London

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