Bangkok Forever? ... Part XI

Back at the Oriental Hotel

Between Part X and Part XII

June 27-30, 2000

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Today's front page of the International Herald Tribune:

The 'Wondrous Map' of Gene Data
Decoding the Sequence of Life

"Today, we are learning the language in which God created life." - President Bill Clinton

"We know that we share 51 percent of our genetic material with yeast ... " - Tom Shakespeare (Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute)

NEWNES' big event:

And, the favored birth:

Ariald and Herlembald

The first of these two brothers felt a fanatical disapprobation of women. A large part of the Italian clergy was then married; the popes had forbidden it, but could not stop it except on the vicinity of Rome. The people of Milan hated priests, not so much on account of their erotic laxity as of their strict persecution of heretics. The ardent misogynist played upon this public temper, confusing the two issues, and led a sort of revolution which lasted for eighteen years. The archbishop had him caught and mutilated and thrown into lake Maggiore.

His brother, whether he shared Ariald's sinister excitement or acted out of family solidarity, carried on the campaign; but finally the people wearied of so much bloodshed, killed the puritan leaders, and for the time being, let clergymen live as they liked.

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1925: Execution Delay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Two criminals found guilty of murder were electrocuted but the turning on of the current was delayed when prison officials suddenly realized that the regular State executioner was in jail serving a term for bootlegging. Volunteers were called for, and several men in the crowd of assembled witnesses stepped forward to take the place of the absent official. As a result of the regular executioner's inability to be present, the $250 fee for turning on the "death switch" went to a volunteer witness.

Meanwhile, back in Bangkok ... ... ... ...

But, here is something for those of you who have not been detoured to my little password-protected trail around Bangkok. This piece from the press morgue over at The Onion captures what-might-have-been had we lived in a perfect world. NEWNES and the IHT have the luxury of sifting through thousands of true stories and real events ... going back in time to the days before Christ, in the case of NEWNES ... and up to a century ago with the Trib. The Onion has to rely on the imagination of its writers to come up with the truth.

From The Onion ... two and a half years ago:


CHICAGO - President Clinton vehemently denied accusations of sexual misconduct against Paula Jones Monday, calling her "a lying ho-bag" during a taping of the Jerry Springer TV program.

Speaking before a raucous, hooting studio audience, Clinton said, "I have never committed a single act of sexual harassment against Paula Jones. Nor have I ever placed that [expletive] troublemaker in a hostile work environment. As I recently told Secretary of State Warren Christopher, she one crazy-ass bitch."

The president, pointing at Jones, added, "Now please quit talking [expletive] about me."

Clinton was joined by First Lady Hillary Clinton after the first commercial break. Jones addressed her directly by saying, "You know what your man is doing when he ain't at home?" Mrs. Clinton refused to respond and spent much of the show with her arms folded, scowling at the president.

The scene soon deteriorated when Jones leapt up and charged at the president with fists flying, prompting cheers from audience members. Jones then took off one of her high-heeled shoes and swung it at Clinton.

"Ms. Jones, you ain't [expletive], girl!" Clinton exclaimed, as bodyguards pulled the two apart. "I am president of the United States. I am forever, bitch!"

Jones and Clinton Together

Clinton appeared on the popular daytime talk show at the urging of top advisors, who had hoped it would give him a chance to clear the air about the mounting sexual-misconduct allegations against him.

During the one-hour show, audience members had a chance to speak directly to the guests.

"Y'all need to talk this out for real," audience member Shawanda Riley said. "And you, in the suit [gesturing to Clinton], y'all can't just be talking all the time - you gotta learn to listen, too."

Springer then announced a pair of "surprise guests," suspected Clinton lovers Gennifer Flowers and Elizabeth Ward Gracen, the former Miss America contestant who claims to have had a 1983 liaison with Clinton.

Hillary Clinton, stunned by the unexpected appearance of Gracen, charged at her and started pulling her hair, but was quickly restrained by stagehands. "She got no business being here!" Mrs. Clinton said. "Ain't nobody told me she'd be here!"

When given a chance to speak, Gracen said, "I was telling the truth when I said that I had sex with Mr. Clinton." Pausing, Gracen then added, "But I didn't say I liked it." The snappy quip elicited an eruption of cheers from the studio audience.

During the final moments of the show, Flowers rose from her seat and asked, "You want to see what the president saw?" then unbuttoned her blouse to reveal her bare breasts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Leo II
DIED 683

This pope was a pious and cultivated man, but his pontificate lasted only a year: so that he got little done but the building of several churches to house the bits of bone and cloth and executioners' tools which then seemed the most precious things in the world. We are told that he was the father to the poor. Perhaps he was given his high place in heaven as men are sometimes elected on earth - because he had no aggressive qualities or powerful enemies.

A classic but bland assortment of popes, composers and cricketers were either born or died on this NEWNES date in history. Oddly enough, no statesmen, nor any architect or trumpeter came or went 'today'. But, more than making up for any achievers who chose dates either just before or just after June 28th, the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo ... a town better known for hosting the 1984 Winter Olympics ... yea, a town better known for being reduced to rubble when Yugoslavia was having teething problems…a town where Alf Erickson, Jean Marks and ...

Oh, Shut Up, Alf!

Though NEWNES records this murder of a morganatic wife and her husband as just another one-line event, the HC uses it to show how the tiniest of triggers can fire the biggest of guns:

But For A Road Map ... A War Might Have Been Averted

June 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, visits Sarajevo.

Revolutionaries, who want to unite with Serbia, conspire to kill him. As his car passes through town, an assassin tosses a bomb ... but it misses the Archduke! Later, Ferdinand insists on visiting an aide injured in the explosion. But his driver takes a wrong turn. He stops in front of a dejected conspirator - who draws a pistol and fires!

The Archduke's assassination triggers World War I ... which will claim millions of lives. All because of one wrong turn.

Presumably by now, the merciless English weather and the roots of that Elizabethan tree under which she is buried have started to nibble away at the cardboard coffin in which she rests. Before all is gone, something should be said about the future of 1012, the suite that was named after her: the pink one. Sometime in late September, the Barbara Cartland suite, along with suites named after other authors who have stayed at The Oriental, will begin to take on guests. But, for the moment, Miss Cartland's suite is still draped in mourning green. How many of her 723 literary oeuvres will find their way into the suite's bookcase is unknown.

According to the General Manager of The Oriental, Kurt Wachtveitl, the top six floors of the River Wing will be extensively renovated. In a message to guests dated June 22, he wrote:

"The work will be completed by the end of August 2000 and includes a full replacement of all building facilities; namely air conditioning, electrical and plumbing services. In addition, comprehensive acoustic treatment of guestrooms will be undertaken. New bathrooms with separate shower stalls will be installed as well as new custom made furniture and furnishings."

"Of particular note will be the installation of state of the art entertainment (television and hifi) and telecommunications facilities (telephones, multi-functional facsimile/printers and high speed Internet access). We believe these facilities will be the most advanced in Asia and offer our guests unprecedented levels of in-room entertainment and service."

An old copy of The Onion carries an advertisement for a curious device. Is anyone out there familiar with how this contraption works?

Ah takes fruit carving lessons.

Thursday, June 29, 2000

At NEWNES, births outnumber deaths seven to three. Peter Paul Rubens, painter, was born in 1577. One can only wonder what his mother would have named him had he been born earlier or later. This question was never raised by any of the authors of the standard works on Rubens. Perhaps, the connection was never made.

This morning's Bangkok Post reveals the strange set of facts behind what would otherwise be reported as just another bar fight:


A policeman was charged with murder of one man and attempting to kill another after they jeered his karaoke performance at a Huay Kwang district restaurant.

Pol L/Cpl Jirawat Sangworn, 25, is accused of shooting dead Banchop Thongkon, 35, wounding Ekkalak Wanwiriya and possessing and discharging a firearm in public.

The officer, of the Scientific Crime Detection Division, admitted the charges. He said he had shot at the pair because they and their friends called him names when he was about to sing the same song for the third time in a row.

Wescott gives the unbeliever a choice for today:

Cassius of Narni
DIED 558

Certainly a great many men and women in various circumstances have need of this bishop's intercession. A Gothic king visited Narni; the holy prelate went forth to meet him. But as he had a very red face, the king thought him a drunkard and made fun of him. Just then one of the royal guards went mad, and the congested old man was able to bring him to his senses immediately, which taught the king not to judge by appearances.

Dear reader, the papers have been all awash with stories about "blood diamonds": those stones that are used to finance bickering between tribal clumps south of the Sahara. As these diamonds don't originate in Debeers owned shafts…and since they never contribute to the plus side of Russian mafia mining operations…and are next-to-never channeled through established cutters in Antwerp and Bangkok…in short: because they play havoc with established cartel pricing schemes, the whole diamond industry can very well afford to take the high moral ground. For once, producers, polishers and pushers of gems can act as one. Whether it will work is a different story. Apparently, any great hunk of rock carries a fingerprint of sorts. Geologists and gemologists can tell you if the thing came out of the Urals; or they can point you to a mountain range north of Capetown. But once the thing has been diced into usable bits and made ready for a formal setting, any accent that it once had becomes lost.

What am I getting at?

More than 100 years ago The Onion carried a little column that (looking back) links all of this. It was the Europeans (particularly the British), in a misguided effort to redeem the "savage" and save his soul, who brought this disruption of the orderly diamond trade upon themselves. Were it not for busy-body missionaries the "savage" would not have learned how to mine the earth for its riches, he would not now be coveting his neighbor's soil, nor would his constant bickering be interfering with profits at Cartiers, Tiffanys and Gem Towers. Yes! Gem Towers! Surely, this explains the fault in their sky-scraper-high sign.


Via the Trans-Atlantic Cable - British missionaries are reported to be spreading Christian wisdom to the far reaches of most savage Africa. Ships carrying missionaries are arriving daily, bringing needed shipments of Bibles, religious teachers, and priests to the spirit-starved jungle dwellers.

The blessing of laboring in British mines is also being conferred on the savages.

Friday, June 30, 2000

Skipping past NEWNES and going directly to the HC:

Though I am usually reluctant to point readers to sites outside of my own sandbox, the TWINKIES link in my list of Useless Sites is a classic read. Go ... but, please come back.

The Onion couldn't contain itself ... Wright Brothersout-of-control letters spilled from its rupturing "O" like strangely morphing typefaces with no destination in mind. As from an overturned printer's block, the motley array of vowels, consonants, semicolons and periods fell fitfully over the page. Or, perhaps, more like a witch's exploding frog, showering the soil with its raggedy assortment of misshapen tadpoles ...

Oh, Jesus!

... the letters of the cascading headlines strung themselves together to make one weird paragraph:

Science conquers sky with Wright Bros. flying machine; heaven expedition slated for next year. Historic meeting between Roosevelt and St. Peter planned; President preparing speech. Citizens of Republic eager to visit passed relatives. Possibilities for trade considerable, say captains of industry. Will death become a thing of the past?

Washington, D.C. - The serene Kingdom of Heaven will be the domain of man as early as next year, thanks to the scientific prowess of the Wright brothers of Ohio, who verified man's mastery of the skies at 9 a.m. today with their historic flight above the dunes at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Possessing at last a heavier-than-air craft capable of lifting itself, staying aloft and listing where directed by the pilot, man-kind will now be able to journey to God's fair abode, where the moral and philosophical conundrae which vex earth dwellers may be explained by the Creator Himself.

"In close consultation with the brothers Wright and other scientific thinkers, I support an expedition to the Heavens in the name of the United States," proclaimed President Roosevelt in an impromptu Pennsylvania speech which gathered many passers-by.

The expedition is slated for June of next year.

No More Death

The journey, to be arranged by prominent theologians and leading Flight Scientists, shall be attempted aboard a replica of the Wrights' magnificent Kitty Hawk craft constructed to eight times original size, this to accommodate its full complement of a captain, a navigator, several theologians, and a photographer.

Theologians are included so that God may be recognized at first sighting. Though modern religious thinkers believe him to be a gargantuan man, up to a hundred feet in stature, fair of face with flowing white hair and beard, and bedecked in a luminous robe, variations in popular descriptions necessitate a quorum of learned Men of God to distinguish Him from other radiant giants who may inhabit the Kingdom of Heaven.

As it is anticipated that when the craft reaches the Kingdom, cherubim will sound majestic trumpets heralding man's return to his Creator, plans are to include a famous Edison talking-machine to record the historic event.

Anticipated with equal zeal is the opportunity of the expeditioners to meet with long-lost loved ones, as well as admired of historical renown. Father Clement Dickey of Norfolk, Virginia, said to this reporter, "I should like to visit with my departed mother, and speak with her unfettered by the yoke of mental sickness, which was the bane of our conversations in her waning years." Though Dickey is unsure whether the doubtless busy schedule of St. Thomas Aquinas will permit a heavenly meeting, he as made numerous requests via the medium of prayer.

Also being carried on the great sky-vessel will be food and libations for eight to last a full week, as it is unknown what fare may be served in heaven. To quote the words of Father Dickey, "It is possible that only Godly manna may be served in the kitchens and dining halls of Heaven, and whether mortal man can be nourished solely by such is yet unknown." The expedition does hope to bring a quantity of manna safely back, so that our scientists may analyze it and determine its nutritive qualities and whether it may be harvested and exported.

Once the expedition has returned safely to Earth and a reliable map is drafted, mass production of Heaven-planes will begin, that the just and the honest may journey to their lasting Reward on whim, rather than suffer the infirmities of age and hardship, as demanded in the traditional route to Salvation.

Next: Bangkok Forever, Part XII

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