. . . on “Sadly the Case,” see below. I doubt if any of the books mentioned in the comment contain places or deeds that interest me much.
My most amazing meal in Thailand was up around Kachanaburi, on my way back “home” from the WWII bridge thing. I got out of a van and had to figure out how to get to the train station, and since it was lunch time I pulled up a chair in a wall-less noodle shack. There was the usual shock at seeing a Farang off the beaten path, and the usual relief when it became apparent that I could speak a little Thai. I ordered a bowl of noodle soup, and was disagreeably surprised to find that in this small city lots and lots of pig blood was a key ingredient. I never say anything when this kind of thing happens, I try to be a good guest. It was ok anyway, it tasted good if you didn’t think about the probably uncooked blood too much. Lots of people wanted to talk, I mean in some places when a Farang speaks Thai, however poorly, it’s like a talking dog just ordered a drink in a bar. One guy was fully dressed up as an American cowboy, boots, jeans, pearl-buttoned cowboy shirt, American Indian turquoise jewelry and belt buckle. He spoke twenty words of English, but we had some fun. He had a nice little cowpoke with him, also with the cowboy clothes. He got done before I did, and when he left he paid for my lunch too. Nice fellow.
My favorite golf course is Penmar in West Los Angeles. It’s the most used golf course in the world, no lie. It’s a nine hole “goat path,” that’s the term of endearment in L.A., straight, flat and easy. From first light until lights out they sent out groups of five players so close together that someone is blasting into you for the entire round. Here’s the good part: you almost always play with strangers, and the strangers can be very, very interesting. I played with a ninety-something guy who made cracking sounds and cries of pain every time he took a shot. He had a good straight game, but short. He was playing with a beautiful forty-something blond. I knew a guy there who played everyday and who was a very good golfer. He carried three clubs in a shitty little bag, he bought the entire kit for five dollars or less when he retired. He had a two-wood, a five-iron, and a sand-wedge, he putted with the five, and boy were the young athletic, competitive guys pissed when he beat them. I played with Len Sheridan one time. He came on as a single and just introduced himself as “Len.” He was a goofy sort of guy, very friendly, about seventy years old. After a few holes during which I noticed that he had a huge leather tour bag that said “TOYOTA” in letters that could be read from space I blurted out, Oh! you’re Len Sheridan! (Len Sheridan Toyota, one of the biggest Toyota dealers in California.) He about swallowed his gum, he was very impressed with my powers of deduction.
No, I am an unusual tourist. I stay away from the big temples, I like to go to the small markets outside of town, the ones where poor people shop for their daily bread, often in the form of bugs, or rubbery little, bitter as hell sea urchins from the rice paddies, or frogs, some of which can be of very impressive size, crucified on these split bamboo crosses and grilled. They don’t have those at the hotel restaurant.
Here’s a poem for you, I know you all love my poems:
Death and Venice
Now I lay me down to sleep,
Venice, before it sinks,
Would top the short list, I’d say,
Better hurry now,
Time being what it is, like money:
Once spent, gone like a summer’s breeze.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
The no-go list is long,
The couldn’t-give-a-shit list is
Vast and unwieldy, but then,
Who gives a shit?
So, Venice then, but expensive now,
Euros, I’ve never even seen one!
And so many time zones!
Think of the jet lag!
Six weeks anyway, to make it worthwhile,
See the Berninis.
And if I die before I wake,
Too old now to look for work as a sex-toy,
And not inclined to submit to the tremors of actual work.
But I’ve seen the Alps,
And Greenland, from a plane, it’s white,
Some kind of joke, I guess,
And I saw the Ramones, and Jimi,
And way too many rude All-Stars to name,
Or even count, in clubs as small as your apartment,
And who needs more museums?
Once you’ve been to the Met?
And the Modern?
One hundred times? Each? At least?
And the Frick for good luck?
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
And I’ve seen things,
And done things,
That if you’ve seen them too,
And done them,
Then we should have a secret handshake!
The elite! The lucky few!
I salute you!
I’ve seen the sun, our sun, shine
On waters far and wide, and battlefields,
And a concentration camp!
The real kind, no ersatz bullshit where no one died,
Saw the showers, stood in them!
And the industrial crematorium, and the dissecting tables,
Wow! This dumb fuck swallowed a wedding ring!
What an impressive pile of ashes they had!
And a room, a big room, filled with children’s shoes,
Filled to a height of five feet,
The cute-beyond-cute of horrors.
Venice haunts me,
Who’ll die first?
Me or Venice?
Time is our enemy,
History in its wake.
April 20, 2008