Thursday, July 29, 2010

1969 Parade Main Street Flushing NY

This shocking video, no, not video, this shocking film was shot three months after I got married, about four miles to the North.

The "Peace on Earth" float was a nice touch, the Vietnam War still had a lot of wind in its sails. It just all looks so forever ago. Well, not all of it, the go-go dancers are very Quentin Tarrentino.

I managed to live in nearby College Point for twenty-seven years and I never even knew there was such a thing as the Flushing Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ArmChair Martian Jessica Suicide

I can't believe that this one has been up for almost a year with only six hundred views. It's a great song. I'm familiar with it from Bad Astronaut's cover, which I've been loving for a while now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Desmond Dekker - "Israelites" (1968)

I couldn't endorse the whole African-Slave-Israelite-Egypt thing, but this is one of the number one greatest pop songs of all time, with some wonderfully entertaining visuals attached by some very talented somebody out there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Life Is A Dream

I don’t notice the mosquitoes anymore. That must be it.

Certainly it’s been a long time since I actually saw one. I sleep, I don’t hear them, no buzzing around the ears. I get bites, it seems, the only evidence is usually a small red spot, no bump, no itching. If I don’t happen to see them, I don’t know that they are there.

“Mosquimotos,” one of my Thai friends calls them. I think that it’s such a wonderful word that I don’t correct her. MOS-KEE-MO-TOES, like little winged samurai, or tiny Mr. Moto’s with evil intent and penetrating proboscises. Such a more entertaining word!

I get bit occasionally by things with more power, more presence, more evil intent. Those leave larger wounds, surrounded by colossal lumps of histamine fluid, one inch across, lasting a day or two, and itching to beat the band. Spiders? A mystery.

These are the little, inconsequential things that I prefer to write about these days, the reason that this blog is rather dull. Maybe I’m a little dull myself, but not that dull. Does Khun Fred have anything to say today? Or is Khun Fred just fucking around, as usual. Cutesy little videos; fun photos; YouTube music videos; bullshit observations; South-East Asian marginalia. Dull, dull, dull.

Some day perhaps I will see my way clear to speak freely. To address more serious matters. To speak about the reality of Boomers facing late-middle-age, or, (dare I say it?) encroaching old age, our shared reality of marginalization, decrepitude, irrelevance, failure, and lost opportunities? Maybe I should explore my own nightmare world, which is fueled by obsessive worrying and a hyperactive cortex that knows only degrees of panic. Does anyone think that that would be a good idea?

Some people may wonder why I like living in Asia. Consider this: I get along okay in Thai, but I could never begin to describe these things in Thai. And no one that I know speaks English well enough to discuss these ideas in my own blessed language. So it’s a dream world really, the world that I live in. A world of smiles and platitudes, all sweetness and light, a vast, shallow ocean of interaction, limited by lack of language ability and enforced by the local custom of avoiding those emotions at all cost. Limited to a happy world of snacks and good cheer.

It’s like a dream come true, really.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Proud Family

Down a little ways please find a vid of the graduate and a completely unrelated salute to graduates at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. This is the rest of the graduate's family that was with me there that day. They're a nice bunch, all university grad's themselves, not rich, but relatively prosperous. I'm lucky to know them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Facebook Ahoy!

Yesterday was dark for the entire day, but Facebook came back up this morning.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where My Facebook At?

More cause-and-effect mystery today: my Facebook page comes up plain white from corner to corner. Glitch? Blocked? Technical difficulties? Censorship?

Everything else is coming in fine. Censorship is always a good guess in Asia.

One terrible truth: I miss it. How starved for socialization must I be?

Mateom (High School) Parade in Bangkok

I walked right into this crew on my way home today. I have no idea what the occasion was, but they were marching their way back to the laboratory school on the campus of my university.

Friday, July 16, 2010

That Mayor In Texas

How about that mayor down in Texas? The one who shot her nineteen year old daughter in the head and then did the same to her own self?

Evidence of some financial emergency juggling, and a foreclosure. Could the scenario be one of, "I play the game, why aren't I rich?"

It must be very hard to believe in all the supply-side hype, and be confident of your own merit, and play by the pirates' rules, and still not be rich.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Laura Nyro & Labelle ~ It's Gonna Take A Miracle

Sometimes it just sneaks up on me . . . like realizing that this album was recorded forty years ago, or kissy close to it. I've had it since it came out though, and I've played it all of this time, so it just sounds like last week to me.

A Disclaimer And A Somewhat Emotional Complaint

Disclaimer: This is not a political blog. It makes no claim to journalistic veracity. There's nothing scientific about it, no one does any research. It's just me, and certainly I don't do any research. This blog is purely emotional, and personal. So take it with a grain of salt.

I look around the Internet, I see the news, what passes for news these days, and I am so sick to my fucking stomach that I want to scream sometimes. I try to check out both sides and the middle too, but what I see is all bad. What people are talking about is all either: 1) self-serving and stupid; or 2) news-cycle referential and stupid. No one is bothering with the real issues, no one seems to care a jot, although the real issues are out there and can be found with only the barest hint of looking. It is a vomitous horror that can only end in the abyss.

There's war, the wars, wars that make the Spanish-American war look like a miracle of legitimacy and honor, which it was not. No one is making too much sense about the wars. And no one seems to be worrying too much about them either, not the electorate, not our elected officials.

There's money issues, like the deficit. Here, even less sense is being employed, but at least the coded messages are easier to decipher. One side doesn't really say anything, and the other side keeps repeating:

Keep the Bush tax cuts;
Cut corporate taxes; and
Eliminate the estate tax (the “Death Tax”)

These are really, really stupid ideas, but the people that keep repeating them say, virtually scream, that following these simple rules will create jobs! Generate GNP! Lower the deficit! Insure our freedom! Save us from Faggots and Tricks! Improve education! Defeat the terrorists!

If I need to explain to you why those three things will fulfill none of the above promises, why they are each stupid in their turn, and cumulatively supremely stupid, you need to go back to and get your daily fix of Fox talking points in sixth grade English. Or you could employ the Internet for its intended purpose and discover that these kinds of supply side measures historically don't work. Up to you, good luck either way.

Stupid ideas, but these people, the Power-Elites who boost these falsehoods, are not stupid, unfortunately.

Like the big corporations who have 1.8 trillion dollars sitting around doing nothing, money that could go to the creation of a lot of jobs. Or the banks who are only too willing to help big corporations, but who decline with a dismissive gesture of contempt to help small businesses, who everyone seems to agree could use the money to generate new jobs. What, pray tell, is the genesis of this strange behavior? Why, oh why would they do things like that?

Could it be because they are trying to smother the Federal Government with a pillow whilst it sleeps? Which is the thinly veiled goal of the Republican Party and their BFF's, big business. Has been since the Reagan days, I can't believe I even have to say this anymore. Small government; run up huge deficits to bankrupt Washington and starve social programs to death; states rights; anti-trade unionism; cut taxes on corporations and the more-than-merely-prosperous. Take away the Feds, and what's left? The states are powerless to control big business. Big business and the banks want to help the Republicans, and they want President Obama and the rest of the pesky Democrats to disappear as soon as possible, so they're acting to exacerbate the current financial/employment crisis to hurry them along into retirement.

Who will save us from ourselves? From our unfortunate electoral choices? The Tea-Party perhaps?

Those people are the vanguard of stupid for the entire known universe. It's all so bass-ackwards: they don't like deficits so they bitch mercilessly about Obama, while anybody with an ounce of sense could tell you that the deficits are almost entirely due to Reagan/Bush/Bush. So what should we do about the deficits that we hate so much? Elect somebody just like Reagan/Bush/Bush, somebody who loves freedom, who loves Family Values, or even better, somebody who believes that any minute now their empty clothes will fall to the floor as they are transported body and soul to heaven as part of the, what is it, the Tribulation? If it weren't so bloody ig'nant, it would be amusing.

And speaking of the Tea-Baggers, is anyone else sick of hearing about how President Obama is using the deficits to make us “slaves?” Between you and me, anyone who talks about slavery these days, in any context, is a reactionary, racist son-of-a-sea-cook. And no, America is not a post-racial society; and yes, it is all about Obama being Black. If you don't believe me, just ask the man with the monkey on his shoulder and the anti “O-bum-a” sign at the Tea-Party rally.

And by the way, who would like to have a nickel for every would-be political boss who thinks homosexuality is a “choice,” not to mention a “sin?” Or the guys and girls who believe with all of their hearts that if a retarded girl is raped and impregnated by her father, she should have the baby and “make lemonade from lemons.” Because, you know, it's just God's gift of love. Or the unspeakable morons who believe that the world is 6,000 years old. Lots of them think that America is a “Christian Nation,” and should be run according to “Biblical Law,” whatever that is. I don't have a clue, but from my reading, no man who shaves his beard has a clue either.

In the midst of all of this crazy, we suddenly have a highly intelligent, well adjusted, good intentioned man in the oval office. So are we happy about this? Are we falling all over ourselves to cooperate with our good fortune?


I always say, and firmly believe, that luck is what you make it, what you make of it, and just getting dealt the four kings is not enough, nowhere near enough. No, you need to say a silent prayer of thanks, play the hand, bet the hand, call the game, show them, and then collect the money. It is perfectly easy to be supremely lucky, to get the four kings, and then to lose for one reason or another. We Americans were supremely lucky to get President Obama, lucky that he was nominated in our profoundly stupid, relatively new primary system, and lucky that that big cry-baby, failed ground-attack pilot Mr. John “I'm Entitled To This” McCain self-destructed in the campaign, and lucky that a sufficient number of people suspended their disbelief and voted for Obama. Now we seem to be laying the kings face down and pushing them forward, saying “I fold.” That would be one for the ages. Do you think it's fun to watch the stupidest shit in history unfold before your very eyes?

Might as well have fun. And if the new pirate reality doesn't make you super-rich, you can always hang yourself before you starve to death.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RIP Tuli Kupferberg

From the N.Y.Times obituary:

Naphtali Kupferberg was born in New York on Sept. 28, 1923. He grew up on the Lower East Side and became a jazz fan and leftist activist while still a teenager. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1944 and got a job as a medical librarian.

“I had intended to be a doctor at one point, like any good Jewish boy,” he recalled to Mr. Sanders in an audio interview in 2003. Instead he began to write topical poems and humor pieces, contributing to The Village Voice and other publication.

(End NYT section)

He was also one of the big two in the Fugs, along with Ed Sanders, those guys were too much by half, look it up if it's out of your frame of reference. He was also, I didn't know this, some part of the inspiration for Alan Ginsburg's "Howl." He had also survived a suicide jump from the Manhattan Bridge, generally misreported as from the Brooklyn Bridge, which is admittedly much more picturesque.

My favorite book of his was "1001 Ways To Beat The Draft." Many of these were perfectly serious, and would work fine; some were frivolous, like "Wear pants made out of Jello."

He was likable, which was no doubt the reason for his albeit limited success.

Coincidence Of The Year, Or Any Year

I missed most of the recent World Cup action. My local coverage was a naked video feed, with no voice over at all, and no screen graphics, no time record, no score, no nothing. Nothing but those God damned booboozellas. So it was tough to watch, unless maybe you were totally committed and stared at the screen for the whole two hours. What can you do? Maybe next time.

I did hear all about Paul though, Paul the cephalopod genius, the most successful eight-legged fortune teller of all time, the Jimmie-the-Greek of octopi. Paul was given eight chances to pick the winner of upcoming games, and he picked the winner eight out of eight times, a perfect score.

As my friends and constant readers know, I am fascinated with the tension between coincidence and cause-and-effect. Boy, you get close enough to this eternal conflict and it can really make your head spin! Like when a stupid creature with zero knowledge of soccer, or even of humanity for that matter, picks eight winners in a row. Could it be coincidence? Well, could it be anything else?

But what a magnificent coincidence. The coincidence of the year!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Review: Zatoichi At Large

The Z-man is blind, and yet he sees, in a manner of speaking. “Move the air,” he growls in one movie, “and I will end your life.” And he means it too. Over the course of the series, back in the Sixties and Seventies, he ended enough lives to empty a mid-sized city. But, as the Arnold character says in “True Lies,” they were all bad.

This is a tale from the blade-ridden history of Japan, a Samurai movie, a sword flick. This is an eccentric entry in the series: no one dies in the credit sequence. No one dies, in fact, for the first hour of the movie, at least at the hands of Zatoichi. A woman does die in childbirth early on, with Z serving as her excellent paramedic. She’d been badly cut up by a bad guy, so it was all that our hero could do to save the baby. He takes the baby to the woman’s family, and inevitably takes them under his wing, to the fatal misfortune of their tormentors.

Zatoichi walks into these movies, and he walks out again at the end, on missions that start out as visits to old friends, or the delivery of messages, or, as here, visits to the graves of guys that he killed long ago, to say a prayer and make amends. Along the way he earns a living gambling. Not gambling, actually, because he can hear, sense the position of the dice inside the cup. He always cleans up, he’s always flush with gold. It’s not cheating, though, because he’s really just taking crooked gamblers to the cleaners. Here he catches a he/she(?) dealer hiding dice in her mouth. Why they continue to let him play is a mystery to me, he’s the most famous gambler in Japan.

The no-dying thing is a great innovation, and sets this movie apart from the other Zatoichi movies. Sure, he has minor confrontations, he cuts a guy’s sword in half before he can get it out of the scabbard, he smacks some guys around, another guy tries to show some class by cutting his water bottle in half only to find out that the Z-man has simultaneously cut HIS water bottle in half, little things like that. But no killing for an hour, more than an hour. He makes up for it at the end though, the ending is more typical.

No, in “Zatoichi at Large” our hero passes a quiet first hour meeting a bunch of gangsters who mark themselves for death by placing innocent women and children in jeopardy, beating up straightos, and generally being arrogant shits.

Also uncharacteristically, Zatoichi allows himself to be captured, and badly beaten up. He may have done this to establish the worth of one of the bad guys, who does in fact cut his ropes and facilitate his escape. It was hard to tell, the movie was in Japanese after all.

Finally, the patriarch of the family being helped gets killed, and the daughter is put in extreme jeopardy. This is the cue to strike up the band: it’s payback time! For about twenty minutes it’s all Gangsters In A Cuisinart with the top off, featuring:

1. The misguided son of the patriarch, who thinks the Z-man killed his dad. He lamely tries to kill the Z-man while the big fight is going on. Zatoichi has to dance with him while fighting off the gangster army, to comical effect;

2. Zatoichi hides inside a Dragon Dance costume, and when the gangsters come sniffing around he kills one with a thrust through the cloth mouth of the mask. He then wears the costume while killing a further half-a-dozen or ten gangsters; and

3. They try to kill Zatoichi with fire, burning oil, and he is momentarily disoriented. He rapidly regains his bearings, though, and partly on fire, with a background of fire, he stalks and kills the rest of them.

The ending? The baby is happy, and the family is content with the vengeance wreaked by Zatoichi and the four hundred pieces of gold that he has given them to help them rebuild their lives. In the last scene, it’s a beautiful day and Z walks off into the sunset, seeking more adventures, wanting only to make us happy, to entertain us. Thanks, Z-man!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lucio Battisti - Sì Viaggiare

More Tales From the 'Tube. This was my favorite song for years. Everybody who knew me had to listen to it all the time on mix tapes in the car. Now it's a bony hand reaching out from the grave, but that's life as we know it, we oldsters.

Chulalongkorn Graduate with Salute to Graduates

These grads might have received doctorates, their blue gowns were very, very rare. Almost everyone had white gowns, like my friend's son, at the beginning of the vid.

I was happy to catch this salute, because it highlights a great feature of Thai life. I'm sure that they do this kind of thing in Japan too, but over there it would be much more formal and tightly orchestrated. In Thailand, everything has a delightful casualness to it.

Chula is a great school, by the way, totally big time. It's one of the three top universities here, the other two being Tamasat and Kaesetsart. Of the rest, some are good in specialty areas, like mine (Ramkamhaeng)for law. More than half of the prosecutors and judges in Thailand are our graduates.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Gories

The Gories vid below this post is a song called "Queenie." I have it on a CD compilation of Detroit rocksters, Motor City Something-Or-Other.

I like that the Gories are a "salt and pepper" group. Always a nice touch.

Looking around YouTube under "gories" or "bantam rooster" you can find all kinds of really loud, aggressive stuff.

THE GORIES @ VERA 2009 $1#

Lots of good stuff down there recently, but no comments for a while. Remember, I am a sensitive man, feedback is good.

But I still love you! Here's proof: it's The Gories, hot off the press; and when they jump on you baby, they'll stay in your dress!

A Detroit band in the mold of the White Stripes and Bantam Rooster. I love this stuff. You should too! It's good for you! It makes the blood rush to your head!

Watching this vid is very elite too. What are you, number 250?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

TsuShiMaMiRe performs "My Brain Shortcake"

I often wonder how it happens that Japanese girls, famous for being so cute and demure, rock so hard when the spirit moves them. Related events, no doubt!