Beyond “Demo-Crazy”

“Looking at Thailand, indeed looking at several other Asian countries, it would be easy to conclude that democracy has served us poorly. In Thailand, we now often refer to our own political system as ‘Demo-Crazy’ to reflect our apparent fondness for demonstrations… But in thinking about the future of Asia, one is reminded that political and social developments are just as important as economic development.” (Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij)

In today’s Bangkok Post (Bridging income gapsRead more

Cry havoc

Photos by the lovely Ms. Plug

Bangkok remains relatively calm. Misleadingly so, perhaps. Forget about lavish tides of good sense in the coming days, if not years—not that we had to wade through much of it in the past, here or anywhere, come to that. Dourness rools, OK!

The beast of unreason has been let slip, and it’s time for civil folk to look askance at strangers in the street, to avoid the shadows and to watch their asses. But Read more

Mourning after

It’s a glorious morning in Bangkok, one so far unmarred by columns of smoke or rattle of gunfire. The Bangkok Post has run A NATION MOURNS as its front-page headline. I’d be interested to know what it is people believe we should be mourning, at this point.

One candidate: the fact that—Thai or otherwise—we’re human, all too bloody human. It’s really sad to see how reliably, everywhere and throughout history, demogogues are able to lead crowds of nice people into … Read more

Dei ex machina and laid-back hi-so hysteria

It’s been hard to focus on work, what with the pace of events, the phone calls and the temptation to check the Twitter and e-mail universe every minute or so for breaking news.

Yesterday I also kept finding myself drawn to the roof of our apartment building for a panoramic view of events. (These photos were taken by the lovely Ms. Plug, a downstairs neighbor and freelance photographer who joined me.) What with the spotter plane soaring around the Baiyoke … Read more

Cross-cultural onomatopoeia

My friend and fellow scrivener Steve Van Beek lives in the area currently cordoned off by the security forces—right there in the middle of both the political heat and Bangkok’s worst heat wave in years. He’s waiting to see whether a repairman can get through to fix his ailing air-conditioner.

In passing, Steve also tells me the expression “to be on the fritz” dates from the very outset of the 20th century, and probably derives from the sound of … Read more

Hey, but we’re living in a Golden Age

Here’s something from a collection I call “Leary’s Laws.”

“Things are always going to get worse, and we just have to take what friggin’ solace we can from that. What it means, we’re always living in a golden age, at least looking back from any time in the future.”

(Leary, in Yawn: A Thriller, by Collin Piprell)

So go ahead and take what solace you can from that. You might also want to stock up on canned … Read more

Apocalypses on all sides

Me again. It seems Thailand is having its own little Apocalypse, back there where you folks are now. What with the Red Shirts, and the Yellow Shirts and the Multi-colors and one thing and another. The past few days have seen the hopes of all right-thinking people taking a roller-coaster ride. Meanwhile, it’s plain to see some other people believe it’s to their advantage to have civil society explode into real strife, and to heck with the good of the … Read more

Message from the future

Leary here. It seems our Jack is going native.

Appearances rool, OK! What Ellie likes to call the Cosmetic Imperative. For example, the women construction workers in Thailand who wear long-sleeved shirts buttoned up and balaclava masks under broad-brimmed bamboo hats — better all sweated up than turned “black” in the sun. Not that you’d ever find Jack working construction, with or without a mask. But it’s same-same if you’re expecting a bit of street violence. You see these things … Read more

Heroes of the Revolution

This is Khun Kik, my hairdresser, who is a Vidal Sassoon graduate and way beyond the means of your average freelance writer, starving variety. She is also quite lovely, as is Miss Da, her assistant, on the left. These ladies are the first Heroines of This Revolution we’re teetering on the brink of  here in Bangkok.  But the wounds on Kik’s face are not from rumbling with the Red Shirts. No, she was walking up some stairs hand in hand … Read more