Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 216
THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
Greetings hepcats, expats, and Stickmanites: Professor Dana here with an essay spectacle of history and humor. Fire up the printers.
To wit: There is a saying that all politics is local. Agreed, but you never hear anyone say that all history is local also. Very local because ultimately all history is personal and you can not get much more local than that.
Example: If I tell a current newbie to the Kingdom that in the pre pre Thaksin days the girls in the bars were naked, and that the girls in the bars were petite, and small, and smiling; it makes little impression. Why? Because the description of this history does not match his experience, and his experience trumps all.
The newbie's history is personal and local and now. Nothing else has the same impact. It may be that in the past before he stumbled across the red light pleasures of the Kingdom the girls had breasts on their backs as well as on their fronts, and could stand on their hands and yodel while juggling balls with their feet; but what is he supposed to do with this information? This is why it is hard to sell History to students. Boring. Why boring? Because the story is not personal and local and now. Still, history can amuse and doing compare and contrast between Then and Now can be fun.
Example: Recently, I have been reading a book titled: Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans by Charles Hersch. It would be difficult to imagine more different places than New Orleans in the early 20th century and Thailand from the 70's to the 90's; but there are many fun commonalities to consider which is sort of the point of this essay. In other words: there is nothing new under the sun.
For example (from the book): "The customers did not necessarily go to hear the music per se but to have a "good time," and this entailed a kind of mutual con game . . . Such venues had no admission charge, but when a man came into the saloon a woman approached him, asking him to buy her a drink; the man often complied, hoping to get her intoxicated and that much closer to the bedroom. However, the drink was in fact, a non-alcoholic, faux whiskey, and she retained her sobriety, the better to induce the man to buy her more drinks, as she received a cut for each one sold."
Sound familiar guys? Of course it does. It is the same story and the same method today in Thailand and if it ever changed I would miss it. I like being hustled by predatory sex dreams. I like the con game. I'm a player. Some people recommend to me that I should get out of the bars and sample other human experiences. Really? What have you got to offer that is better than this? Standing in an oven hot museum and staring at misunderstood, poorly researched, unimportant, mislabeled pottery shards? No thanks. I'll stick to the age old hustle and naked women.
Here is a nice historical follow up to this happy world of sex and smiling and more sex from the red light district of New Orleans: "Here male and female, black and yellow, and even white, meet on terms of equality and abandon themselves to the extreme limit of obscenity and lasciviousness."
Works for me and sounds like a party. Reminds me of the wonderful diversity of men that you meet in bars in Thailand. It is not just the women, it is also about the men. Having a dairy farmer from Scotland on one side of you and a Nepalese on the other side of you is part of the charm of bars in Thailand. All men bonded by the common desire to see women who are not wearing pants. Ok, it's not surgery; but it's not war either and everyone is happy. Happy moments count for a lot in this world. Personally, I think everyone in bars like these is ahead on points. Hey, I've got an idea. Let's make it competitive. You and five of your best friends go to a poetry reading sponsored by the Lesbian Lickers Club of Manchester and I'll take five complete strangers to a 'ham kicking' contest and we'll see who scores more happiness points. What's a 'ham kicking' contest?
"In addition to music and gambling, some clubs featured "ham kicking" contests whereby women were enticed into revealing their undergarments by kicking at a ham suspended from the ceiling in the hope of knocking it down and winning it."
Makes you kind of wonder how you would update this high class New Orleans jazz club entertainment from the early part of the 20th century in America for the modern Thai world of the G-Spot bar or the Windmill Bar or Superbabies. How about a hanging foreigner dressed up as an ATM machine (forgive the redundancy), and let the Essan wonders kick at that? Really, in the endless con between teeruk and foreigner did it ever occur to you that it is all just a ham kicking contest to them and that you are the ham? There is nothing new under the sun.
What else was going on in these New Orleans red light district jazz clubs besides the birth of jazz? Lots of stuff including "hedonistic, childish, or barbaric" behavior with song titles like:
"If you don't like the way I play, then kiss my funky ass"
"Stick it where you stuck it last night"
"If you don't like my potatoes why do you dig so deep?"
with accompanying scenes like this:
"Bolden on Monday nights would play "low down" blues for prostitutes, pimps, and madams, and the whores would dance, "dropping their drawers and teddies."
Ok, there is just no bad news here and to see the happy continuem of history from the early 20th century in New Orleans in America to Thailand from the 70's to the 90's is to witness history the way it ought to be recorded. Too bad Darwin is not around to do some really valuable field work. Finches and beetles and earthworms and snails are one thing. Naked women are quite another thing. Me get out of the bars? Crazy talk. Reminds me of Union Hill in bars offering to buy underpants from the waitresses for 500 baht. Clearly Mr. Hill knows what is important in life and it is not pottery shards or poetry readings. What is important in life is women without underpants.
Special Note: Ok, we all know from Mai Sai to Khukan to Betong to Khlong Yai that 500 baht is way too much money. The last time I gave 500 baht to a Thai woman it was because the colored lights in the Rainbow Bar changed the colors on the notes in my wallet and I got confused. Personally, I'm a monger of the people and sensitive to Thai culture so I would offer five baht and let the cutie with the pleated skirt and the tin tray bargain me up to 20 baht. I'm not normally a fool with my money, but I don't mind paying big money for underpants.
But I almost digress. Here is another fun example for compare and contrast essay purposes.
"Women doing freakish things to each other" — "lots of uncultured things . . . that probably shouldn't be mentioned." Men paid a dollar to see a woman "smoke a cigarette in her box," engage in bestiality, or eat mock feces made from ginger cakes mixed with limburger cheeze and water."
Ok, I admit even in the wonderful pre pre Thaksin days I never witnessed everything here but it sure beats helping some snot nosed kid in Uthumphon Phisai with his kite string, or going to a tapioca festival, or wasting time in a Thai cooking class (yawn). Hey, isn't this really what History is all about; comparing and contrasting for amusement and edification? How come we didn't hear about this fake ginger cake feces thing in High School World History classes? Somebody should writer a letter. Hey, is the fake ginger cake and limburger cheeze feces thing going to be in the Thai cooking class? Just thinking.
Another example of something one might see after closing at 2:00 a.m in New Orleans while Jazz was aborning: "two musicians performed on a mattress on the floor making good money, including tips."
Performed on a mattress? You bet and the flutes they were playing were not their own but each other's. Makes you rethink the saying 'the boys in the band'. Who loves jazz history now? Makes me instantly think about some of the current Thai tranny rock groups. Now I'd pay to see them on a mattress after the bar closed. Hey, and don't pretend you didn't think of it. Don't think this kind of entertainment is available today? Contact Chiang Mai Kelly for further details.
Anther example: "Typically fights broke out when someone danced with someone else's lover; the women sometimes fought until they were naked."
Well, thanks to God for sending us Charles Hersch who wrote this wonderful book Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans. You just can not beat history and imagery like this. Put me down as a history lover. And once again: contact Mr. Chiang Mai Kelly for contemporary Thai parallels. If he is not available ask for Princess.
Ok, enough with provocative examples. This is a serious essay. Let's explore names and fashion between Then and Now. Typical early 20th century New Orleans red light district jazz club denizen names were Bear Hogg, Sheep Bite, Toodlums, Gyp the Blood, Dirty Dog, Sore Dick, Steel Arm Johnny, Willie the Pleaser, Okey Poke, Chicken Dick, Greasy, Knock-on-the-Wall, and Black Dude.
But hey expats, and hepcats, and Stickman fans; what's so special or different about those names? I mean, historically speaking (remember, this is an essay), we have our own names like Boss Hogg, and Caveman, and Manly Powers, and Chiang Mai Kelly, and Blackest Bart, and Hansum Man, and Cheap Charley, and Chuckwoww, and Bangkok Barry, and Ben Dover, and Jumpin' Jack Flash, and The Boner, and Soi Dog. Same-same. Different times and different locales but same testosterone with distinctive attention getting names chasing women of no distinction.
And what kinds of names do Thai woman have? Ba, Na, La, Wan, Ting, Dum, Soup, and Bee. Women don't need fancy names.
Woman is . . .
Man must become.
There is nothing new
Under the sun.
And now fashion. It's the women that choose the men in life and not the men who choose the women. Ever thus and the reason the male peacock looks like a gay window dresser with all of those stupid colored feathers. Men dress to impress and to attract women. Women don't have to dress to impress. A woman in a burlap bag with just her feet showing would give dead men erections.
Note: When guys see me in bars in my laminated sole and heel pink crocodile shoes, jet black armadillo hide pants, fire engine red Chinese silk brocade shirt, and hair full of gold glitter they sometimes think I am dressing to attract Essan Wonders. Nothing could be further from the truth. I dress that way all the time.
Anyway, men dress to attract women. And nothing succeeds like excess. Remember the peacock?
Example from New Orleans not so many years ago:
" . . . someone who rigged a light bulb on his shoe, illuminated when he pressed a button in his pocket, hoping to win over females."
I know what you are thinking Dear Reader. You are thinking: 'That's just silly Professor Dana. Who in modern Thailand would do something absurd and childish like that?"
Well, I don't want to name a name but a monger whose name rhymes with Marc Holt has been doing this for years only he has improved on the technique with a light bulb that sticks out of the zipper in his pants. He used to have a piece of paper that stuck out of the zipper on the front of his pants with an arrow on it and the words:
"THIS WAY TO THE BIG BILABONG."
He says the light bulb works better.
Where has this essay gotten us? Simple. Professor Dana here to tell you that we all swim in the same river of history and it is fun to remember those who came before you, and it is fun to think about those who will come after you: especially if you are coming out of the Windmill Bar on Soi Diamond in Pattaya with a cramp in your tongue because you were part of the stage show. Give a thought to all the bars and all the girls and all the cramped tongues that have preceded you and that will follow you. It's a fun thing. There is nothing new under the sun.
The same hustle and con and preening and fighting has been going on since the Pharaohs. So get over yourself and get over yourselves. You saw a naked woman put her feet behind her head? You held an angel in your arms and she was not wearing pants? That is what you were supposed to be doing. Nobody is supposed to be reading labels on broken bits of pottery. Do what you really want to do. Live natural and smile. And don't forget the Window Rule. You all instinctively know the Window Rule because you are men but I will just remind you. The Window Rule states that if you look outside any window in the world everything you see was built by men. We deserve a reward for this, and that reward is women who are not wearing pants. You are not going to find your reward at a poetry reading or a vegetarian festival. So do the right thing and go to the bars of Thailand. Set an example for all the wonderful men who will follow you.
Fa and I will be done making love tomorrow morning around 10:15. Bless you who ever is next, and bless you every one.
No comments, not because time is a problem, but because I just don't know what to say.