Countdown to Berlin,
Helsinki and St Petersburg
Part I

After Jesus Gone, Songkran Gone and Before Part II

May 1-11, 2002

Wednesday, May 1, 2002 (Feast of SS. Philip and James)

Dear reader, long before Amma, Gift and Ohmy became charter members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club ... and, yes, way before Wise, "A" and Jean were selected to play on the Screwless Tuskers Elephant Polo team, there were two 'greeters' who used to hang around the opening pages of The House Of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com. Do you remember them? This goes back a few years ... hey, at least a half dozen years, maybe even seven or eight years. Perhaps as far back as 1996.

You might be able to find them on one of the 'archive' sites. They shared something in common with our six Thai 'ladyboys'. However, they were (and still are) English. But before coming to THOCBDC they worked for the French edition of Vogue magazine.

Give up?

OK, go to:


Thursday, May 2, 2002


Flipping through old photographs ... some never before published, others seen in earlier journals ... I was overwhelmed with melancholy. I'd like to share some of these preciously mixed moments with you:

  1. My friend, and a fellow corkscrew collector, Don Bull in his 'flying machine'.
  2. Patpong Corkscrew Club charter member, Miss "Gift" ... well, actually, just the important nude bits of her.
  3. Two pictures of half a human head from the Si Quey collection. You know, from over at the forensic medicine exhibit. Yes, here in Bangkok. Where else?
  4. Another photograph ('doctored'?) of Don Bull. This one 'appears' to have been taken in the Patpong Entertainment District of Bangkok. His long suffering wife, Bonnie, is not in this picture; nor do I think she was operating the shutter.
  5. The mid-section of a dancing 'ladyboy'.
  6. A dead baby floating in amniotic fluid ... just kidding: it's floating in clear formaldehyde or some other liquid that keeps the bits of flesh from dropping off.
  7. A line of barges heading down the Chao Phya River ... as seen from my room.
  8. A photograph of a photograph. It's hard to tell what happened to the man's (woman?) face ... but since I found it over at Si Quey's place you can imagine that it was something terrible.


Gherardo Sostegno and Ricovero Vgiccione

Two friends who died in each other's arms, praising the Virgin. St. Philip Benizi, the compassionate physician, dreamed of them as two lilies plucked and offered to her by a flattering angel.

Friday, May 3, 2002

It should have been Antoninus for yesterday ... and Sostegno & Vgiccione for today. My bookmark in Wescott partially obscured the date so what you got for yesterday should have been given to you today. Not that it makes any difference. So, let's pretend that it's the other way around:

DIED 1449

Fra Angelico's intimate friend. When the pope offered to reward the young man of genius with the archbishopric of Florence, he recommended his gentle protector, and he also decorated his cell in the convent of San Marco, as it is today.

Most of you already know that in a little more than four months from mid-month The King's Cup Elephant Polo Championships will take place in Hua Hin, Thailand (about a 3 hour drive from Bangkok).1 This year The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com will field two distinctly different teams: the Screwy Tuskers2 and the Screwless Tuskers. Old hands are already familiar with the Screwy Tusker logo: it's been our trademark since Day One.3

Screwy Tuskers Logo

The Screwless Tuskers (an all 'ladyboy' team) is new this year. I first toyed with the idea of a 'ladyboy' team a few years ago while sitting in a Kathmandu bar. Nothing much came of it until about a year or so after I moved to Bangkok. At that point ... well, you can easily pick up the trail yourself ... we auditioned ... we weeded ... we harvested ... etc.

So now it's time for the Screwless Tuskers to have their own logo. After a lot of behind the scenes e-mail ... to and from, between, and among BKK, BRS, FLL, PDX and SEA-TAC ... I think we have come up with a pretty damn good design. What you see here came from my daughter, Annie.

Screwless Tuskers Logo


1 You can visit (or revisit) the 2001 games by clicking HERE.

2 The Screwy Tuskers have a long and checkered history.

3 The Screwy Tusker design is the work of Bernie, the husband of one of my other daughters: Christy (or, Christie). Bernie may also have had a hand in the logo for the 'ladyboys'. This is just a suspicion on my part.

Saturday, May 4, 2002

Yesterday's footnote #3 was partially in error. My daughter, Annie, was the sole artist behind the creation of the Screwless Tuskers logo. My erroneous suspicion that Bernie might have had a hand in it was prompted by the source of the e-mail. Sorry, Annie!


My neighbors to the north, the French Embassy, are setting up for a lawn party. As you know, tomorrow (which is Sunday in Paris) is the French election ... the one we have all been waiting for. I am assuming that the tent was poled into the embassy back lawn in anticipation of a victory by one of the two candidates. But, since tomorrow is also the anniversary of the Coronation of King of Thailand, the tent might also shelter a mixed crowd.

Across the river nothing special is happening at The Peninsula. But, dear readers, please come back here Wednesday evening ... as on that night The Pen will be the host dining spot for the Screwless Tuskers.2 The 'girls' will be "decked out in their Wednesday finest" for their first alfresco meal at a five star hotel.3

Wescott gives us a nice saint for today (his name alone is worth the halo):

Florian of Lorch

An Austrian soldier in the imperial army. He stopped the burning of the city by throwing a bucketful of water in just the right place. During Diocletian's persecutions he was thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck.

His help is asked against fire.

Morton's overhead clandestine camera ... [for this morning's "Dad's Section" of the Bangkok Daily News] ... captures what appears to be the start of every man's dream orgy.

1 Bartolommeo Cristofori's great-great-great-grand niece, Hey, now dances at the Mambo Cabaret Show here in Bangkok. 'She' has no interest at all in the harpsichord. Sadly, this is just another example of an ancient and respected craft being shunned by a generation more interested in 'flashy performances'.

2 Do you, dear reader, think that an oval around the Screwless Tuskers logo looks better? This is a suggestion from my friend Derek. I do like this shape for a decal. What about on a shirt?

3 Do you remember Tung? Yes you do; she used to work at the Oriental's Fitness Club before she landed the position of first female concierge at The Peninsula. Anyway, she will try to make a cameo appearance, provided her new bosses give her the nod.

Sunday, May 5, 2002 [Feast of Flags Day (Japan)]

FLASH: Watcharee has a new dress! She bought it to go to a wedding.



The STEELE PAPERS!1 Remember it? Of course you do; in fact it has its own place right on my front page. Filled with newspaper gore of yore it was put together by unknown hands.

Anyway, I have managed to find two more hoary volumes: Harkness' LATIN READER and AUNT AMY.2

From time to time, starting with today, I'll bring you bits and pieces of the bloody and pulpy newsprint found inside both the LATIN READER and the SEARLE PAPERS [read footnote 2 if you are furrowing over "Searle"].



His eloquence is symbolized by flowers falling from his mouth, but it must not have been all sweetness: for a nobleman had him hung on a tree and shot full of arrows for what he has said about him ...

This morning's Bangkok Post has an interesting story about how cannibalism is NOT illegal in Cambodia. Apparently, 'after-care' handlers are free to nibble on toes and fingers of others' loved ones during the cremation process.3

1 Officially bound as RUDIMENTARY ECONOMICS, by Steele.

2 Apparently, Mary A. Searle was the first owner of this AUNT AMY primer. Her penciled signature (and the date "May 1854," penciled too) scream for this collection to be now known as the Searle Papers.

3 ... Constantly checking the oven to make sure the meat doesn't get too well done.

Monday, May 6, 2002

Today is a national holiday in Thailand.1

So, Watcharee and I spent the afternoon and evening with her cousin "Pa" (on her mother's side) and Pa's boyfriend "Nan." It was essentially a quiet day for all of us. Though Watcharee and I 'capped' the night with a midnight ride in the hotel elevator.

But ever toiling NEWNES easily managed to mine some deep stuff while the rest of us sloughed off:

AND, just seconds apart from each other:3

1 Though Sunday was the official anniversary of the King of Thailand's coronation, today is day that shops board up and the day that workers idle their hours away far from their job sites.

2 A "class action" lawsuit on behalf of the descendants of Peter Minuit has been filed in the Isle of Man by a Los Angeles law firm. The plaintiff's case has something to do with the failure to transfer "potential foreseeable casino licensing rights."

3 For more than a century amateur sleuths have tried to connect this emancipation of Epping Forest with the Phoenix Park murders. The strange coincidences and uncanny connections have been like powerful magnets for everyone with a magnifying lens: ... the great forest and little park, both with trees ... Prince Albert brand pipe tobacco and the ashes of Phoenix ... the nearly perfect palindromic year (there, but for a 1 or a 2) ... the double 8's with their eerie suggestion of Victorian ice skating paths ... yes, all of these cry out: "Conspiracy and cover-up!"

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

What a busy day! Just time for one interesting Thailandian tidbit. It comes from my friend, Karim. Apparently school children in Thailand learn the days of the week by associating them with colors. The Oriental Hotel has incorporated this useful ... "Hey, what-day-is-it?" ... memory jogger (albeit subtly) into its dress code for employees.1

Hi Alf

The colours representing the week are as follows:



1 Check ties and socks on men...lipstick on women.

Wednesday, May 8, 2002


Bangkok: Two 'Superstar' members of the Screwless Tuskers elephant polo team were seen dining at Bangkok's fabulous Peninsula Hotel this evening. Miss Wise and Miss "A" were photographed in the company of Watcharee Samsee, long time companion of Screwy Tuskers founder Alf Erickson. Also seen on the five star hotel property were Screwless Tuskers 'confidants' and 'advisors', Miss Ning and Little Miss Mook.

Wise, Watcharee, and A Ning and Mook

Thursday, May 9, 2002


Click for full coverage!

Friday, May 10, 2002 (Third Day of the Feast of Furry Day - Helston, Cornwall)

Only my friend Karim will be able to tie together these three photographs. Everyone else can move on to the Spider Man shots.

Yes, this building is the one that hosts the famous dueling shrubs.1 Long-time readers will recognize its cement facade, even without the seeing its tip-top greenery. If you look closely you can see two men rappelling off the upper floors. Whether at work or at escape, it's not clear why they are dangling like spiders from thin threads.

There is a new massage parlor in Bangkok ... it opened yesterday; just behind the Shangri-La Hotel. Watcharee and I will give it a try tomorrow night.

This bottled drink ... "150" ... is a lot more potent than its European counterparts. The caffeine content is astronomical and it is commonly used to wash down 'speed' tablets (meta-amphetamine) smuggled in from Burma. Truck drivers can 'run' for days on end without food or sleep on this combination.

* All of the photographs on this page were captured this afternoon on my walk back to the hotel from the other side of the river.

1 A couple of years ago I speculated in these pages on the source of this arboreal rivalry.

Saturday, May 11, 2002 (The Feast of Francis Jerome)

Wescott starts by telling us that Francis lived from 1642 until 1716. And then ...

A Neapolitan of great beauty, though wasted looking, who was a celebrated preacher. His eloquence seemed supernatural, and when he spoke of sin, his squeaky little voice became a great strange leonine thing.

It was a rainy day in Bangkok!

The Oriental Hotel has started to 'tent' the Terrace Barbecue. The poles went up today; the awnings should be affixed by tomorrow night.

Watcharee and I went downtown to MK for a 240 baht Suki and a 300 baht Baskin and Robins 31.

In 11 more days we leave for Berlin.

NEWNES reminds us that, today, in 1858 Minnesota achieved Statehood.

PS On May 11th, 2000, my journal for that day carried this little paragraph. The last sentence is about my friend, Oh.1 When these two pictures of her were taken she had just heard, via her cell phone, that Disney had offered her a year's job in the USA. That changed her life forever. Today, when I reminded her of the anniversary, she sent me the attached photographs from Movie World (she is now living in Australia).

"My friend is going away with her family for a few days; she won't be back until Monday. As I'll have a lot more free during the balance of the week, I'll try to show you some of the quirkier sides of Bangkok. Anyway, last night we took a popular river cruise. Look what my Sony Mavica's "Neg. Art" option did to the Thai Farmer's Bank building. It was kinder to my friend; but she always looks good, whatever the option."

1 Paul will now disable the password feature as she is no longer a secret.

Next: Part II

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