Oneway East

Saturday, November 25, 2006


So it's back to my routine here. This trip has been less about traveling and more about living someplace else for a while. Although I'm leaving back to the states shortly, it's even tended towards something more like a "real" life. I do some work every day on one of my various projects, I have dinner with my friends, we hang out for a while, maybe watch a movie, something like that, occasionally go for a night out on the lash. It's become strangely normal. The people here are the people I think of as my friends, with all of them at home being the ones who are sort of on hold. Not a bad thing to have friends all over.

Lots of little projects on the cooker:

The woman at the travel agency asked me to think about designing a t-shirt for her company.

There's an online travel mag who's interested in an article for longer-term expats in Laos.

The Myanmar photo project never got finished; that's still on the list

The Lao book, of course, is the longest term one. Working with some of the material I have, I've got some at home, I'll have to go back later. And I have a bunch of leads in the US at this point as well. No shortage of things to do there.

Photos photos photos. But this one wanes the more familiar a place gets. Don't bring my camera around with me that much. That's why it's time to move again.

Drawing a lot, mostly t-shirt designs. Someday I'll have to decide if I want to actually try to make a go of it. Location-specific t-shirts and accessories. Mostly consisting of a cool graphic. So spending some time with Photoshop and Illustrator.

These on top of the huge heap of in-progress projects I've gathered over the years.

So other than the lack of financial sustainability to this life I've got out here, it's a life. Surprisingly normal. New kinds of familiarity that I've settled into. Oddly enough, going back to New York is the Big Exciting Thing on the immediate horizon, the big change.

It hasn't quite gotten to the point where the familiarity becoomes a curse, the way it was before I left. The gray dailyness that just goes on and on.

And I'm almost fully healed up from that last run-in with the bandits. Our bodies are wonderfully resilient. Only sign after a while are a few marks, just another story that you tell when some one sees you with your shirt off and says, "what's this from?"

But I guess some of us have more marks than others.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Disgusting but not painful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


So I wasn't going to write this, because my poor parents will worry about their reckless lunatic of a son, but here we are. That's the situation. Worry not. I always come out basically ok.

I would have told them eventually anyway, and now that I'm mostly healed up, it seems more okay to talk about it.

First date at the hospital, second date at the police station.

My stitches are due out today. A week ago, I was the victim of a violent crime, completely contrary to my expectations of what happens in Thailand. Daisy and I were driving home from a party on my bike, then all of a sudden there was another bike way too close, way too close, they're going to hit us, what the fuck is happening, I'm being sucked towards the hostile bike, sucked hard, almost felt like a sudden sharp crosswind, then we were down, dragging and skidding. Looked up, the guy on the back of the other bike had white shirt with a collar, a standard shortish haircut, part on the left. Dark blue Honda Dream. They smoothly arced away across the bridge and vanished. Check the injuries. How bad are you? What hurts? Where else? Everything moving okay? How deep are they? Check self. Right ankle protrusion: deep gouge, the bone's okay. It moves fine. Knee and calf: a lot of roadrash, one pretty deep one on the part that sticks out the most. Right hip: not too bad, but bleeding. Right elbow: that one's pretty bad, a little bit of ragged tissue hanging. Everything moves normally. Right shoulder: bit of a scooped-out deep gouge on the bony tip, roadrash on my triceps and forearm. Daisy's hand and forearm got a number of scrapes, but nothing as bad as mine. I think the pedals of the bike acted as a fulcrum point and the front of the bike where I was was pushed down whereas the back lifted up, so she was kind of clear of most of it. That's good; scars don't look as good on girls as they do on guys.

"They were trying to take my bag..." They dragged us down with her bag. What idiots. Did they even look? See that the bag was over her head and shoulder? Did they see that the strap was four inches wide, not going to break? Callous vicious thugs, who don't mind really hurting people to take a little bit of money. There was nothing even in the bag. 500 baht maybe.

When you're hurt and going into shock, you feel like you're freezing, even in the tropics. I curled up and bled on her bed until I got warm enough to drive us to the hospital. four stitches in my elbow. That's all. Nothing too serious. We got off relatively easy.

There's a distinct system of local enforcement here. Everyone knows each other. Most people figure they were off-islanders, maybe high on yaabaa.
Yaa: drug
baa: crazy
ie methamphetamine. Makes you a bit crazy. Not the normal process of thinking things through from beginning to end, cause and effect, consequences. I don't know though; I've tried speed and you still have to be a shitty person already to do something so callous as drag someone off a motorbike to take their money. Drugs or no drugs, if you do that you're missing something. Young men.

Perhaps a byproduct of the negative cultural exchange I've written about before. In heavily touristed areas, it's perhaps easy to dehumanize the visitors, that they're all rich idiots, they're not people like us, they don't matter. So what if they die or go to the hospital? They're rich. Fuck'em.

Funnily, I've heard so many bad stories about corrupt Thai cops it didn't even occur to me to call them. The detective said, maybe we could have got them if you called us right away. At the police station the next day, the detective was really excellent. Did a great job of coaxing out what little bit of detail we could recall. He was very professional and very concerned. An attitude of, " I will not tolerate this kind of shit in my district, I promise to try to protect you better in the future." We drove back through all the relevant places to examine the scene, try to jog our memories a little bit. What we came up with is the thieves must have picked up on us at the 7-11 where we stopped. There were a few guys outside, but I confess I didn't pay much attention.

Be more alert at night. Carry your bag on your belly, not your back, sandwiching it between your two bodies. Strap on one shoulder, and don't keep too much in it. Things we learn the hard way.

But we're okay. Daisy's gone away now, we're both mostly healed up.

So since the attack I've been trying harder to be more outgoing and friendly to all the Thai folks I talk to, speak more thai, be more present. You are a person and I am a person. Let's treat each other like that. Would you do something like that to a family member? Someone from your town? Of course not.

Same goes for all the vile stories I've heard about Indian men and their treatment of western women. The ceaseless and aggressive staring, even nastiness like groping and attacking. Disgusting stories, like a girl who fell asleep on the beach in a swimsuit, and woke up to see two men standing next to her and masturbating. There must be an "US-Them" disconnect. Would you dream of doing something like that to your sister? Your neighbor's wife? The woman who runs the shop down the street? Of course not. Incidentally, the penalty for rape is execution, but notwithstanding. It happens. It must be an extremely sexually repressed culture.

C'est la vie. All is well. I'm coming home soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Here's an example of your taxes hard at work during the late sixties:

From a USAF helicopter pilot.

"We were getting ready to start our afternoon poker game, and I said, "you know, maybe I can get a bunch of girls down here for a party." And one of them, there was two colonels, they were sort of the Godfathers of the base. One of them was the senior officer of the group that was training the Vietnamese in A1-Es and helicopters. The other colonel was just a supply guy, that got tapped to come to Vietnam. Don’t care what your rank is, you’re in the captains job. So we were sittin there and they were saying bull, with some other words. And I said, no really, I can, I just need a couple of helicopters. Maybe three. And the colonel said, who wants a bunch of Vietnamese girls? And I said, no no, these are American girls, secretaries, from Saigon. And he says, yeah, I got those helicopters, I’ll just get those from the Vietnamese General; you can’t really do this! And I says, can you? And he says, I’ll let you know at noon tomorrow! So I got on the telephone, I got ahold of this bureau where these girls were at, and says,
"would y’all like to come down to Ban Touei?"
"Oh yeah! We never been to an Air Force base!"
"How many girls? I gotta line up the helicopters."
"A helicopter flight! Oh boy! That’s really great!"
"How many girls? And they said, we can probably get thirty."

Ok. We laid the date on, the Colonel got permission from the General to get three of the Vietnamese helicopters, but no Vietnamese pilots, we had to fly them ourselves. So I got a couple extra pilots who pretended to be crew chiefs, for each one of the helicopters, put em in a white jacket from the officers club; we had four bottles of champagne for each helicopter, flew up to Saigon. We had worked with the Navy, because the Navy river patrol boat headquarters was just outside of Ban Touei, on the Rok chia river. So we had LST, they had a full Admiral. We invited them to come to the club to partake in the fun! And they in turn had arranged the bus from Saigon to pick up the girls from the headquarters in Saigon when they got off work on Saturday at noon, brought em directly to the Vietnamese operations center, at Ton Sanut, and the helicopters were sitting there waiting. The bus pulls up, the girls pile out and jump into the choppers, the champagne popped, and off we went for Ban Touei. In H-34 helicopters, Sikorskys. Short flight. Got down there, big party on Saturday night, Sunday about noon, some of the girls got rides in A-1E Skyraiders, others got river patrol boat rides… The A-1E Skyraider was loaded with 100lb bombs that had been in the club all night, with people writing messages on them. It was just called a demo, but there happened to be a free-fire island right there; anything you saw there was fair target. They were loaded. The girls on the boats, out on the river, the Navy had packed some beautiful picnic lunches for each boat, and there was no enlisted men on board that day, not one. A buncha air force pilots, a buncha girls and a picnic lunch. And we just cruising up and down the river, opposite this island, letting the girls take turns with the .50-cal machine guns. They A-1Es come in, drop bombs, with both of us on the river, had our picnic lunch, then come back to Saigon that afternoon.

It does sound like fun, but completely screwed up. Existing in the odd ethical vacuum of a war.

Do you have any idea how much fuel helicopters consume? Or A-1E Skyraiders? Or how much .50 cal ammo costs? Hmmm.

Jim was a great guy, great stories, but there are some moral gray areas about using a huge amount of taxpayer money to have a party with some girls. Hey, if someone else's paying, I'll show up to the party.


Sold my first T-shirt yesterday, shortly after I picked them up from the printer.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I have started a brand-new business. Capitalized at 64$. Not requiring much maintenance. In case that exorbitant sum of money it took to start it didn't tip you off. T-shirts, to be sold at a tshirt boutique in the den of iniquity known as Haad Rin, home of the Bucket.

A bucket is the party drug of choice around here. It's a little plastic sand pail, hold about a quart I reckon, usually containing a pint of hooch, a can of coke, and two bottles of Red Bull. Noted for the effectiveness-to-price ratio. Featured item in my first design.

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