Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Twenty year old travelers’ coming to Bangkok in 2015 can’t imagine a time before guidebooks, when there were no tourist hotels, beach resorts and not one local speaking English. There was no internet, no smart phones, one long distance call box at the main post office on Charoen Krung Road, a single lonely American clerk in the American Express Office, and telex for emergencies. From the 1920’s well into the 1960’s there were few English voices to be heard in Bangkok.

The only foreigners in town were found at the bar of the Oriental Hotel on the banks of the dirt red Chaophraya River, pool side at the grotty Malaysia Hotel on Rama IV Road where war corespondents and political spies hung out during the Vietnam War, or the deeply depressing Mississippi Queen bar on Patpong Road where disabled veterans retold stories about the time “they’d fallen out of a helicopter”. There were no newspapers or western television by satellite. If you’d made it to Thailand, you were the type of person who’d worked hard at escaping to the fringes of the civilized world.

Into this void was born the now defunct Bangkok World newspaper, precursor to the modern Bangkok Post, once South East Asia’s only English language newspaper. In the mid 1960’s a young columnist named Bernard Trink arrived in Bangkok and took up the task of chronicling the night life that grew like a cancer out of the train wreck of Vietnam and with it the deluge of war crazed soldiers and dissolute bureaucrats. The sex scene in Vietnam, where flesh was traded for a day away from poverty, was transported to Thailand with the NGO’s and political wonks.

For travelers like myself Bernard Trink was a prince and a fountain of information. In his columns he disparaged the perversions he saw among those of the ‘farang’ community. He took it upon himself to expose the seedier side of foreigners, which had given rise to child prostitution. Trink championed women’s rights when he witnessed the degradation of poor country women forced into prostitution through poverty or force. Trink made famous the now infamous expression…”TIT”…..’This is Thailand’. A phrase oft used when no rationale explanation can be found for what goes on here in the Land of Smiles.

Bernard Trink was like a friend to isolated travelers of the time. His voice was distinct and many times the only voice in written English that could be found. Often western magazines could only be found after being left behind by airline crews on layover. Bernard Trink and his Nite Owl column was the definitive ‘Guide to Bangkok’ a decade before guide books would be invented.

End of Part One

life could be a lot worse

life could be a lot worse

Texas has affected me in many ways, but most notably in the art of civility. Trish and were initially taken aback at how friendly and complimentary people were generally in Texas. Simple conversations between Texans begin with mutual compliments. Whatever the circumstance people will compliment your hairstyle, clothing, shoes, eye color, personal style or whatever as a way to begin a conversation or  transaction. It’s really endearing.

Coming back to Vancouver I realized I was doing the same as I would in Dallas….be overtly friendly with the people I encountered. The Texan culture is egalitarian. It doesn’t matter what your social position or employment status, people acknowledge one another with a compliment…”I like your hair”…or some similar greeting. And that’s where we made our discovery….that compliments are how Texans say hello. Whether Wallmart or a bank… people greet you on a personal level as equals….without the jealous or obvious envy and covetousness  we experience in uber materialistic  ‘futterneid’ ( German for the envy of another’s possessions)  Vancouver. I have noticed that by practicing this complimentary style I have shocked many Vancouverites out of their downcast closeted shell and they visibly brightened….. as if they haven’t had a kind word or compliment for a very long time. It’s obvious to me that people in Vancouver are starving for civility.

As I said, Texas is an egalitarian culture, perhaps because they have a history of overcoming common hardships. Perhaps it’s because people haven’t been suppressed into isolating and tension creating ethnic ghetto’s by short sighted political mavins as is the case in Vancouver. But this much is true…the mood among people in Texas is always polite and positive and living there is especially refreshing for a transplant Vancouverite accustomed to the surly rain soaked masses of the left coast. There is no doubt in my mind that the friendly relations people enjoy in Texas is a by-product of growing up in an atmosphere of common courtesy… ( it’s always Miss, Ma’am and Sir) Vancouver could learn a life lesson from Texas… and maybe someday lose the tag as being unfriendly and uncivil.

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Time flies when you’re having fun. How many times in your life have you said that? If it hasn’t been a lot… then you’d better get busy and start living. Trish and I are constantly amazed how fast the months are flying by . I suppose it starts with being busy and enjoying what we do. The number of perfect days in North Texas is a huge catalyst towards keeping the blues away. Life beneath these clear blue skies has really had an effect on my daily outlook.

We’re now in ‘the dog days of summer’. Long lazy days of perfect weather, sunshine and swimming pools have to be remembered rather than taken for granted. After living in Vancouver I have rediscovered my love of the open road. Instead of having to think of transportation as a claustrophobic chore, the open roads of Texas have added a new dimension to my appreciation of life. I know, songs about ‘the open road’ are cliche… but you have to experience it to really get it. There’s something instinctual that’s released in a persons soul when there is nothing but blue sky and open country in every direction.

As opposed to cities like Vancouver where  transportation infrastructure is so poor it discourages  travel in every aspect, and makes going any distance pure drudgery and a hellish experience….Texas infrastructure invites you to come out and see the country. The culture here is too get out of the city frequently and visit the historic towns that dot the landscape. This element of the lifestyle creates a huge economic boost to the countryside and encourages people to not buy a city condo and become a rat in a cage. A major US politician ( John Kerry) said recently “The Internet has made people hard to govern”. I suppose by extension…. freedom of person, thought and spirit also make for an independent minded population…. and you have that in spades in Texas. Think about it.

 

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I wrote a magazine article in 2011 about the dwindling importance of the sex industry in Thailand. I have to say that I am surprised that article is the consistent #1 search out of all the articles I have written on any subject.  I don’t have anything to add to the article I wrote. I stand by my comments of the time. I think the exploitation of women under the guise of any enterprise is disgusting. I have met enough foreign punters to know that each one of them had a sick and twisted mindset that should have resulted in therapy or incarceration…not a trip to Thailand. I would like to think  responsible politicians in every country are working hard to eradicate the root cause of prostitution …but I’m not holding my breath.  Media workers and bloggers who lionize the sex tourism industry should be ashamed of themselves.

I’m happy to note that my country Canada has  laws in place to prosecute citizens from traveling to a second country for the purpose of  exploiting sex workers and minors. This has resulted in many prosecutions, including the infamous case of ‘Swirly Face’ a teacher from Maple Ridge British Columbia among others. This pervert got the maximum prison time. Red faced single male tourists returning from target countries are frequently pulled aside at immigration to have the content of their computers and cameras reviewed. Far too many are caught with unlawful acts logged on their hard drives. I hope that one day this number will be reduced to zero.

Soon, the tourist season will once again be ramping up. Can I suggest to any would be exploiters that you choose another outlet for your crimes this year. Donate your time and money to a women’s shelter. Find help for your urges….. try sport, church, exercise,,,, a hobby. Do anything to straighten yourself out. You’re certainly not improving the life of anyone through exploitation. The world shouldn’t revolve around your pee pee… if it does….. grow up.

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Self promotion…..what a silly concept. Overnight I was messaged about being ‘accepted’ by Good Reads. You actually have to apply to get in….I suppose there is some kind of vetting process. There are a zillion budding authors out there…..  it is extremely hard to be recognized….. but with the door so narrow for new artists….what will the world of literature look like in ten years time. Will we see nothing  on the impulse racks but cook books and memoirs of unpopular politicians?  I’m tempted to write a book about weight loss regimes during divorce or promoting a new hair style for the pope….. seriously…don’t get me started.

In fact I read many freshly pressed works by new artists on sites like Worthy of Publishing and Figment or Authoronomy…Pinterest….etc….mostly abysmal.  But at the same time we see runaway best sellers ( 50 Shades anyone?) that are absolute crap….. so who am I to judge? And I mean by abysmal crud…. when the craft has been mangled by a complete disregard for the language. But….it’s the dance we do as writers…..a little fandango…. to set our time upon the stage and act out before we perish.

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My how time flies. July is our one year anniversary in Dallas Texas. Honestly, it was a year of unexpected bliss. Texans are wonderful hosts, the place is easy going. We are still discovering new things to do. The media is hard on Texas because of it’s independence …but the truth is people are generally doing well. The Dallas art scene is wild. They love writers. Like a lot of people I had typical outsider misconceptions before I came here. I have even lost friends and readers (who’ve never been here)  sure that I must be wrong about my reporting’s….but the truth is a person can have a pretty sweet time of it here and much of the media diatribe is political bias and false.

I never expected to be here this long. My life has been lifted out of the mundane by a force I can’t explain. The work I have been doing has resulted in a new novel…13 Angels….currently in publication and should be available to the public soon. Writing a novel is a labor of love. The project has consumed many hours of every day over a period of a year and a half. Texas has been a warm fuzzy blanket that has allowed me the focus I needed to get the book done…..and I am thankful for that. My work is surreal dystopia. Please feel free to review any of my books on Amazon and Kindle.

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I am not a religious person. I have no fear of dying and have no expectations of an afterlife.  And as such I seek no guidance along the path I have chosen for myself. I am satisfied in my belief that we were all born out of chaos . As such I advise myself and anyone foolish enough to listen to this fool to live every moment of life as a precious and miraculous anomaly. I read a book a long time ago titled ‘Zen Flesh Zen Bones’. I remember nothing about the contents. But I do appreciate the concept of purity and Zen as an art form is well suited to my lifestyle.

There is no controlling dogma in my Zen world, I am a free spirit. My interpretation of ‘flesh and bones’ as a term is what  quantifies the  inside and the outside of my existence…..both the corporeal and the spiritual world I inhabit. And yes, one can enjoy a spiritual quality without the strict dogma of religious practice. Your spirit guide is within you, it is your natural wonder, an element of your instinct to survive and perpetuate the species.

It is my absolute belief that love is at the center of the universe.  Love evolved for obvious reasons. A forensic analysis and sociopolitical rationale is not necessary to enjoy what nature has given us freely. We should live in a state of wonder, but lets not take it for granted either . If there is a single uplifting miracle that everyone should experience it is the art of love. I count myself among the most fortunate of  men to have the love of a beautiful woman.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such a bounty, but her love is a blessing I cherish every day .

My love and I have been together for twenty five years and I wouldn’t exchange this for anything…. not for power, fame or gold.  Living every day in full appreciation of life  is not hard work. It’s not a matter of accepting one thing over another. Zen is an intellectual state of   demystifying the mysteries  we are born into.  How could anything be simpler than committing yourself to love the one you’re with?

 

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