Welcome to my website. The purpose of this site is to offer rants, tirades, opinions and discussion about books on Thailand, give an overview of nightlife in Thailand and, yes, to provide a few news items which might not appear elsewhere. And to have some fun.
Bar, club and restaurant owners who would like to send material on their special events, birthday bashes, anniversary parties, etc., are welcome to do so but please remember men in Thailand are a bit jaded so if you’re just going to offer the usual free gourmet food and free full band entertainment and free beautiful and eager-to-please women, well, the lads have been there, done that. So do try to offer potential patrons something special. ;-)
There is a contest every two weeks when this column appears and the first to answer the question correctly or identify a photograph correctly will receive vouchers worth at least 2,500 baht in food and drink, i.e., 500 baht each, from Larry's Dive, The Londoner, The Old Dutch, Electric Blue and Bourbon Street Cafe. The prizes will build up in case anyone doesn't win it immediately so the bonanza for the eventual winner could get quite interesting. Second prize is one of my books or else a 500-baht book gift voucher from Dasa Books.
I will also add information to a column as I receive it or report on nightlife as I encounter it so check back now and again as there may be much new even within a week or ten days. And please remember a part of all money received from the sale of my books goes to needy Thais (in the form of payment to go go dancers, waitresses and hostesses).
You may recall that I was told by Nick of The Big Mango at Nana Plaza that the waitresses there might dress up in an interesting manner one night a week, some kind of "Fetish Night." Alas, I must report that the idea has been killed. Apparently, Michael, the other partner, wasn't crazy about the idea and only a few of the ladies working there thought it a good idea. So next time you go to The Big Mango for burgers and a beer give Nick a big round of applause for trying. And try not to blame Michael too much; he can't help his innate conservatism: he's from California.
The Dance Contest for Charity at Sheba's was a great finale to a great idea. The contest raised over 400,000 baht for charity and two girls, one from Jungle Jim's and one from Sheba's, won the motorcycles (Thanks to Richard, the owner of Jersey Bar on Sukhumvit soi 6, for declining to accept his prize and to give others a chance to win the motorcycle). Duang, the lithe, sensual, slim, erotic beauty from Sheba's won first prize of 12,000 baht. Thanks again to Father T for blessing the proceedings and for keeping us on the right side of Jesus. Just when I wanted to photograph a few of the girls outside the bar in cowboy hats my camera slipped from my pocket, fell on the floor and stopped working. Forever. So I must thank Jason of expresscashthailand.com for quickly grabbing his camera phone and taking the picture. That means, however, that I am no longer working with film and will have to go digital. So be it. Now I will have to insert a cord into the camera, enema-style, and evacuate its contents into the computer. Yuck! In fact, I am now the proud owner of a Canon Digital Ixus 55 camera. Someday I intend to learn how to use it.
Lucky Luke's, the beer bar at the front of Nana Plaza under the management of P.J. is doing a much better business than in the past. It used to be I could sit just about anywhere and have my pick of the ladies. Now at times it's getting as busy as Big Dog's opposite. For anyone interested, Stephen Leather and I have signed copies of books for sale at Lucky Luke's at a discount. And both places do have some good looking women, I must say. Angelwitch in Bangkok has been given the green light to stay open until 2 in the morning. That's good news for punters. Now let's see if the other bars at Nana Plaza open an hour later as well.
“There is a perverse streak in all of us, an urgency to experience the unusual.” - John D. MacDonald, The Long Lavender Look
I'm happy to say that Dasa Books on Sukhumvit Road is now adding still more value to the contest second place winner's prize. Every other column, Dasa Books will give a gift certificate for 500 baht worth of books to whoever comes in second. For the columns in between I'll be giving one of my titles, as usual. I've found some great used books at Dasa, including some cult fiction that I hadn't even been able to find in New York's famed Strand Bookstore, so this is a very worthwhile addition to the second place prize.
“An author is forever consulting his mind, even as the hand will query the penis.” - Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing
This photograph is said to have been taken just outside Nana Plaza recently when locals and tourists, fed up with the early closing policy of the Thai government, marched and demonstrated along Sukhumvit Road, Soi 4, holding "We Want Beer" signs. Let us hope it brings happy results for one and all.
Did you see the article about the Singaporean actress who was jailed and fined for her treatment of her 19-year-old Indonesian maid? Her treatment included: hitting her head with a high-heeled shoe, using a needle to inflict puncture wounds, burned her with an iron and kicked her in the back. I don’t get it. If a woman has that temperament why doesn’t she simply work in a House of Domination and make lots of money doing it? Some people have no common sense.
Business at Nana Plaza is still pretty good for the top bars and not so good for the others. The trend, however, is toward more and more ladyboys. There are now four ladyboy bars in Nana but three other bars (Crown Group) also employ a few as dancers. These are Fantasia, Voodoo and Pretty Lady. Rumor-Control Headquarters says the G-Spot does also. I dislike this trend because while I don't care that there are ladyboy bars for those who prefer ladyboys, I want to go into a hetero bar without having to check the Adam's apple, etc., of the Entertainment Provider who is cadging a drink. Someone in another bar group simply shrugged and said, "There is a shortage of girls; but no shortage of ladyboys. So their policy makes sense." From a business owner's point of view, it does. But methinks for now I'll be giving the aforementioned bars a miss. Especially when there are so many good looking women in the Rainbow bars. I don't believe there are straight dancers in the ladyboy bars, so why should there be ladyboy dancers in straight bars? I've been told that the deal is the ladyboy dancers in Nana's straight bars have to be post-op. Big deal. If this keeps up I'll head for Soi Cowboy only.
And, in case you haven't noticed, Angelwitch at Nana Plaza has got some new girls, some are cute, fun and petite with nice personalities. Just as I like them. (Unless, of course, I'm in the mood for a saucy, sassy, brazen, you-talking-to-me? type.) As I have said many times, the folks running this bar have done an excellent job of staging an evening of fine entertainment. So, as much as I hate to criticize, I do have a piece of advice for Angelwitch: We do not want to see ladyboys in the show. Nobody does. 'Nuff said?
Did you know that in addition to the male midget there is also a female midget working at Lollipop Bar? And that she was barfined by a farang the other night? And, as the guy and the midget walked hand in hand out of Nana, the girls at Lucky Lukes and Big Dogs gave them a standing ovation? A sight I wish I had seen with my own eyes.
Here in Thailand you may recall how last December some taxi driver tried to rape some woman and she bit (some of) his tongue off. But he escaped. Police finally caught up with him at a love motel in Nakhon Sawan. Now it starts to get interesting as we fall through the rabbit hole and enter the realm of Thai logic. So pay attention. His wife, defending him, says the woman had agreed to have sex with her husband for money and only bit his tongue off “while they were kissing” when she learned he didn’t have the amount he had promised. OK, now catch this: The wife also claimed her husband wanted to turn himself in to the police right after the incident but “was afraid he would not be able to explain everything clearly without his tongue.” Another paper added that the wife claimed the police did not catch him at the love hotel but that in fact he was turning himself in there but the police wanted to interview him quietly so they spirited him to some safe house. But when the wife and journalists waiting at the police station realized he wasn't coming, they (somehow found and) went to the place where the police had him. When the police saw the wife and journalists they attempted to spirit him away but crashed their van into a tree. The wife has now bailed her husband out of jail.
I mean, what, no, I mean, how, uh, no, no, no. Now I understand why when reporting stories like this Trink wisely said "Any comment would be superfluous."
"The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll." Benjamin Disraeli
What Bank Book?
Although I am no expert on Thai visas, I’ve had some experiences with Thai visas which I would like to pass along so that you might avoid a few mistakes which I have made or lots of others have made. I went down to the Immigration Office in Bangkok to renew my Thai visa and had all my papers in order and ducks in a row, so I thought. As it turned out I didn’t. My bank had given me the guarantee letter stating that I had 800,000 baht in the bank, which is one of the items I need to apply each year for my retirement visa. Unfortunately, the bank had thought as long as the total amount in checking and savings was 800,000 baht it would be OK. Well, duh, nope, it wasn’t. Immigration wants to see the 800,000 baht in the savings account only. I imagine it would be the same with the 400,000 baht you would need to show if you are on a spouse visa. Savings account only.
Also, she asked where the photocopied pages were from my savings book. Duh, what savings book? I assured her I didn’t have one, didn’t remember having one. She went in the back room and eventually reappeared with a photocopy of my savings book from the previous year, the first year I had got a retirement visa. So, needless to say, I lost face and I had to go back to the bank and also try to remember where the bank book was, a book I never used for one year because the bank doesn’t give farangs interest on their money and like most people I use the ATM machine whenever I need to pay barfines, etc.
They gave me ten days to come up with the proper stuff or else and I had to pay 1,900 baht. The second time the bank did give me the proper letter and, to make a long search short, I did find the bank book for my savings account in a drawer behind the Cialis and strawberry flavored meechais.
Years ago, I also recall having problems with my 60-day tourist visa because the Thai visas stamped in the passport say something about 90 days. I forget why they do that but like many others I thought, oh, boy, I got 90 days of fun and frolic. So when I went to the airport thinking I had two days left I found I had overstayed by 28 days. And was sent to the little office at the airport which is not unlike the “naughty boys corner” in you know which bar on Soi Cowboy.
There was a very large sign explaining things so obviously lots of people get confused, just like me. In any case, I paid my 200-baht-a-day fine and all was well. Remember though, if you overstay and make it to the airport you simply pay a fine and are on your way. If you are caught overstaying while in Thailand, you might well end up in Immigration Prison, which you do not want to do. (It always reminds me of the American policy of letting Cubans into the country if they make it to land but turning them back if they are intercepted at sea.)
Another warning: If you have a retirement visa, and a multiple enter visa, you still must sign in every 90 days at immigration or else leave the country and come back in. The 90 days does not start over when you get your new retirement visa. So if, for example, you came back to Thailand from abroad on 1 November that means you must sign in some time in late January before 1 February. Just because you got a new retirement visa on, say, 1 January, does not mean the 90 days starts over; you still have to sign in by 1 February, get it? Be careful, always check about your visa to make sure you have the visa you think you have and the length of time inside Thailand you think you have.
When you apply for the visa, you will first go to the information counter and get a number. On the slip it says how many people are ahead of you and what number you are. Go into the large room, the one in the back, not the one facing the street, and sit and wait. Bring a book (such as Skytrain to Murder or Kingdom of Make-Believe, of course) to read because you will wait over two hours most likely (as I did). Don’t go just before lunchtime, as your wait will be longer. There are English language newspapers all the way in the back of the big room opposite counter 8, near the King’s portrait. There is a sign in Thai and English which says: “The visa extension process paid only fee, do not believe anyone.” Whatever that may mean.
I do feel sorry for the immigration officers who hear that horrible announcement about which number is now up (in Thai and English) every few seconds or minutes. I would go crazy working with that noise. And of course the people at the copy shops across the street from the immigration office can take your picture, copy papers, etc., and they pretty much know what the immigration people want so those are good places to go.
The lovely "Butter" of Nana Plaza's Lucky Lukes Bar
From the Mail Bag
Hello Mr. Barrett--
I have a problem (well, actually two problems--I'll get to that) and I wonder if you could help me.
1. The first problem is that I am a dumbass.
2. The second problem is that I have a problem with short term memory. Well, not really. If I had short term memory I sure would not have a problem with that. I'd be delighted. Problem is I don't have any short term memory.
So to the point. People by the tens of thousands have been recommending your site to me. Words like edifying and entertaining are bandied about in goggle-eyed wonder like shuttle cocks at summer camp. Frankly I'm not really a joiner and like minded chanting usually has me looking for the Exits but I had been persuaded. Your site would be good and fun for me.
However, ok, here is the problem. When I pull up the site the first thing I see is 'ARGAIV'S DIARY--And if you haven't noticed that Argaiv is Viagra spelled backwards get your dumbass off my site.'
Well, I hadn't noticed that Argaiv was Viagra spelled backwards so I got off the site. I don't need to be told twice that I am a dumbass and I try to be cooperative. I'm no troublemaker. Now here is where the problem with short term memory comes in.
Not forgetting the heartfelt admonitions of tens of thousands of site enthusiasts I tried to access the site again. No ploblum dude. The site popped right up and again the first thing I saw was 'ARGAIV'S DIARY--And if you haven't noticed that Argaiv is Viagra spelled backwards get your dumbass off my site.' Well, I hadn't noticed and because of short term memory insufficiency I also hadn't remembered. Anyway, push didn't have to get to shove--I got off the site immediately.
Ok, this has been going on now for a couple of hours. I simply can't access the site because I can't get past this 'dumbass' roadblock. Any advice? I would remind you that having a problem with short term memory is an afflicition, not a disease. I deserve the same respect that men with two giant penises deserve. If allowed to access your repository of living Shakespeare I will not infect anyone and I promise not to enthuse about the site to anyone.
P.S. What is Viagra?
Dear Dana, Blessed be the hour when your many friends recommended my site to you. I dare not walk in their jade footsteps. The glory of their family names blinds me. The- well, enough of the traditional Chinese dynastic pleasantries; let's cut to the chase. If I may, I would like to answer your second question first, i.e., What is Viagra. Well, as you have said, I say on my site that Argaiv is Viagra spelled backward. So doesn’t it stand to reason that therefore, as cogito ergo sum and as E=ATM2, that if Argaiv is Viagra spelled backward then Viagra is Argaiv spelled forward. Simple Taksinian logic. It’s OK to be a dumbass, Dana, but don’t be a numbnuts at the same time (nothing personal).
Now, as for your first question, that is a puzzlement but I think I have the solution. Although I have yet to see any emerge, you probably have some basic common sense, right? So why don’t you ask a friend to go into the site for you and your friend can shout out the titles of various items of interest on the Welcome Page. Then he can click into the ones you like for you and you take it from there. Or he could simply scroll down past the Argaiv’s Diary section on the Welcome Page and you could then search on your own. Or, if all else fails, you could let me know the exact day and time you will be going into my site and I can change the message to read: "And if you haven't noticed that Argaiv is Viagra spelled backwards get your dumbass off my site unless your name is Dana."
I really hope this works for you and I am sincerely glad you brought this point to my attention because it may be that a lot of dumbasses with minuscule memories like you are going to other Thailand nightlife columns because they have the same problem with my site that you have. Anyway, Dana, your letter is certainly a classic, and ranks right up there with the biblical classic, Paul’s Letter to the Epistles.
Dean, You mentioned how it drives you "ga ga" when a Thai woman bends her hands backward into an arc. It reminds me of something that they, and other Asian women, can do that makes my knees weak (such as striking your funny bone). Have you noticed that their elbows can flex inside-out? If this isn't clear, ask one of them to sit on a barstool, put either their left hand or their right hand face-down next to them on the barstool, and then lean back on the same arm (so that the shoulder is above her neck). Does her arm look like a flamingo's leg? Weird! Craig Ewing
Craig, I have in fact noticed that but simply assumed I had had too much to drink and wasn't seeing things correctly. But did you know they can do the same thing with their legs? This picture I took in Pattaya has fascinated me because of the way the girl on the right can move her lower left leg into that position. That too drives me ga ga. The soft, supple, indefinable beauty of these girls can indeed drive a man to do strange things. So be brave - you are not alone in your fetish.
Dean, I was sitting out front of 5 Star on
Soi Cowboy with my girlfriend and her cousin munching on "Cuz'n Bpoo's chicken"
(the chicken, that is, not cuzn Bpoo), as the ladies chit-chatted away in
phasa Isaan. I can catch some of this nowadays, as my ear is a little
more tuned to that channel.
As they chit-chatted away, and I gnawed on the chicken-on-a-stick, I kept hearing, "paya Dave, paya Dave," whenever the conversation turned to me. Of course, the ladies figured I hadn't cracked the Isaan code, and always go "Isaan" when they want to thump the bamboo telegraph. So I reluctantly pulled my eyes away from the scantily clad, slim dancer sitting at the table next to us, who was exhibiting her wares to the punters milling up and down the soi, cleared my throat, and said, "teelakja, mee kham tam!" [honey, I have question!].
Both ladies stopped short and stared at me expectantly, with big smiles. Then I asked, "teelakja, I hear 'paya Dave, paya Dave' " whenever Isaan ladies talk about me. What does that mean? My girlfriend started laughing and shoots this question off to Bpoo in rapid fire Isaan. Then the cousin's expression went blank, she was clearly embarrassed, and just stood there, frozen like a go go dancer in a strobe light. Then she smiled sheepishly and looked at my girl for a life-ring who finally broke the stalemate with a chuckle, and said, " 'paya Dave' mean 'grandpa Dave' in Isaan. We not know what to call you, because you older, cannot call you khun Dave, too serious, maybe not polite because we know you, and we not have word to show respect like this because you part of famiLEE! So we say 'paya' ."
Then the cousin's heart started again, and she
chimed in, "Yes, it not mean anything bad, not mean you 'ger' [old], because you
poo yai we have to say like this." I started laughing and as I am second
father to my girlfriend's son said, "Well, you could just call me 'pa Dave'."
Both ladies chimed in simultaneously, "mai chai, mai chai, mai dai, you not 'pa' [to] us. You 'pa' of son!" Well, of course, that explains everything. So I started workin' that chicken-on-a-stick, they jumped back into the thick of their gossip, and calm hearts and order were restored to the 'taben' out front of 5 Star.
I suppose it would be better to be jao po (godfather), but I guess I'll just have to settle for the respectful title of 'grandpa' for now. But it kinda begs the question, what are they going to call me when I really am that old? Dave Peters
Dave, What will they call you when you are really that old? Probably what they call the rest of us: "The farang with the good heart who once had sensible future plans and a lot of money before he came to Thailand." And just between the two of us, Jao po is indeed godfather and jao mae is godmother which is the same term they call dominatrixes ("goddess mother") in Thailand. You can check that with your girlfriend. On second thought, you might not want to.
Regarding the Thai research assistant you took to Hong Kong, I hope you were able to apply for research funding. And, by the way, why are all the dance competitions now organized on Sunday nights when some of us lesser mortals actually have to get up at unmentionable hours on Monday mornings?
Re Chao, Toom, etc. Cf. Tee (Ti) for after the midnight hour -- sounds like a metal bar being struck (Tee Neung, Tee Song, etc). When I first came to Bangkok, we actually had a guy who did that just outside the front gate -- at one time 2 guys with separate bits of metal to bang, the second always 3-4 minutes after the first. A friend of mine reported that he was often woken at night by all the neighbourhood night watchmen having a karaoke session on their walkie-talkies. The joys of Bangkok. - Peter T.
I said something to a friend the other night just before 8 that I think no one has ever said before: “I gotta meet a hypnotist at the Long Gun.” Yes, John was waiting for me there so I met him in the bar. But it’s kind of like how we all wish we could tell a taxi driver: “Follow that cab.” But I thought it was even cooler to be able to say "I gotta meet a hypnotist at the Long Gun." Anyway, while we were sitting in yet another go go bar watching gorgeous, skimpily clad women dance on stage, John said, “If you had your pick of any of these women-” and then he stopped in mid-sentence and continued, “Oh, that’s right, I forgot; we’re in Thailand; we do have our pick of any of these women.” Right on, John!
There is a new book out on Thailand published by Yale University Press called The King Never Smiles but it is banned here in Thailand. If I am not mistaken, the book The Revolutionary King is also banned here. The film The King and I was banned here but bookstores were full of books such as The Making of the film The King and I. TIT (This is Thailand).
Suicides in Pattaya have taken a new turn. In addition to plastic bags over the head, falls from balconies and other strange and sundry methods of self-dispatch, two Westerners – first a German, then an American - have blown themselves away at the firing range in Pattaya, a quite public method. Whether this latest method of suicide in this “family” resort town will replace falls from the balcony or is just a passing fad remains unclear.
Larry's Dive on Suhhumvit, Soi 22, is undergoing a facelift and an identity change at the same time. Where once there was a dive shop attached to the restaurant is now a small cafe called Kiwi Cafe. And Larry's is going full speed ahead moving the kitchen and bathroom upstairs so that they can create a new room or else an enlarged restaurant room downstairs. And, eventually, as they will be out of the diving business, the name will be just changed to just Larry's. They are still serving some of the best ribs in Bangkok.
Also from Pattaya comes the story of yet another elderly gentleman from abroad who gave lots of money to his much younger Thai true love for their marriage and belatedly learned she was married to a Thai and she and her husband and his money disappeared. According to the Pattaya Today newspaper the 23-year-old said her family was too poor to have a bank account so he should place money for her into her own account. One would have thought at most two thousand American dollars, or something thereabouts, no? No. Nearly US$25,000. The 76-year-old German national poured out his story to the Thai police. This story is so common as not to need comment except the obvious: some remote village in Issarn will soon witness a happy Thai couple building a really nice house.
I recently made a trip to Pattaya with a friend who had never been to Thailand before. At the Pattaya bus station we got two motorcycle taxis for 60 baht apiece and I told both the male driver and the female driver we were going to Pattayaland II, Penthouse Hotel. The female driver seemed spacey so I had the guy explain it to her. And off my driver went at full speed. So of course when we got to the hotel no sign of my friend with the female driver. Finally, I tell my driver who is at the front of the hotel I will walk up to nearby Beach Road to look for him. He wants me to pay or to leave my bag with him if I walk off. That seems strange to me because I am about to check in but I give him my bag.
Eventually, my friend shows up and it seems the female driver almost got him killed going the wrong way plus she didn’t seem to know Pattaya at all. He paid her the 60 baht but – wait for it - my driver wanted 100 baht because he said he had been kept waiting! Keeping my voice calm and taking a deep breath I reminded my driver that if he hadn’t zoomed off out of sight of his friend like a bat out of hell there would have been no problem; or if his friend knew a bit about Pattaya there would have been no problem. That my time had been wasted as well and it wasn’t my fault. This went on in a mild way, with no raised voices, until the driver said it would be better then for him not to take any money. Not sure if he thought that would make me feel guilty or not but I said fine, grabbed my bag, and checked in. One of those rare victories when dealing with the Thai mind.
I have mentioned the Penthouse Hotel before. Be sure to stop in to see the architecture because it looks like somebody on LSD built the place. I cannot recommend that you stay there, however, as there were a few too many cockroaches for my taste. And I'd like a real swimming pool. The TV in the room shows the dancers in the hotel’s Kitten Club go go bar and the idea is you can call down and choose the one you like. In theory this is fine but in practice the screen is not clear and the camera is pointed off center. Possibly the camera operation was sabotaged by feminazis who don’t like this kind of casual coupling. Whatever the case, I must say the girls behind the front desk are very polite, however, and have luscious dark brown skin and when they sit down behind the desk their red dresses rise and their legs are- Sorry, I digress.
Does anybody know anything about what is happening with the "Poet's Day" at the Classroom a go go in Pattaya? It sounds great but I didn't stay long enough in Pattaya to enquire. Maybe they'll invite me to read selections from The Go Go Dancer who Stole My Viagra & other Poetic Tragedies of Thailand. Maybe they won't.
“Here any exertion is impossible, so closely does pleasure follow desire.” - The Immoralist, Andre Gide
As you know, there are many kinds of Thai smiles: The "polite" smile, the "how nice to see you" smile, the "I am embarrassed by you" smile, the "I hate you" smile, the "I already put out a contract on you" smile. But I firmly believe that the vast majority of Thai smiles are simply those of polite people who are being friendly. The other night, however, when I walked into a go go bar I spotted yet another type of smile. It was on the face of a bikini-clad dancer striding toward me. It was the "you promised to take me to Pattaya and didn't and now your ass is mine" smile. Thank God for Tequila.
I'm a proud member of VFW Post 10249 in Udon. This is from their February newsletter: "Apparently, one foreigner living in the Udon area pines for the days of snow covered mountains……I am not making this up……..on one of my frequent trips to town, about 8km outside the city limits, I saw what appeared to be a cross-country skier in the middle of the highway. As I neared, the reddish-brown hair distinguished the fellow as non-Thai…….. a falang…….as he raced his skis, improvised with small wheels, a ski pole in each hand, alongside 10-wheel and 18-wheel sugarcane trucks on the highway. It’s another thing that makes Thailand amazing. "
“Desire for me was always the fulfillment of a fantasy – not a surprise or a shock, but something studied in advance, dreamed and premeditated.” – My Other Life, Paul Theroux
Muslim authorities in Malaysia have condemned young people who dress in black and paint the areas around their eyes black. Apparently, such people are "prone to loitering in shopping malls." I'm shocked! Shocked! As someone who lived in the peace and quiet of New York City for 14 years, it pains me to realize that there exist young people who are so loose, so unredeemable, that they are prone to loitering in shopping malls. What is the world coming to?
A Bit More on the Writing Profession
More and more people are contacting me by e-mail and in person to tell me they are working on a book, usually a novel about Thailand. So long as they're masochistically inclined, and don't expect anything positive to happen, good for them. But, as I have often been asked, how exactly does it work once a writer finishes a manuscript? Well, actually, it doesn't. But read on:
1. After years of research and writing, you have finished your novel. Relief, joy, amazement, almost giddy, even a strange feeling of loss and emptiness. You slowly reenter the outside world as if you have been in a coma for a very long time. People you have created and spent enormous time with, people you know so well and who know you so well, you must now send out into the world. And, most likely it will be a cold world for them, indeed.
You send a query letter to a major publisher's imprint editor. After much time passes, during which the gingko leaves in front of your house change from green to yellow and then from yellow to bare branches, during which your cellphone has been stolen, your girlfriend has moved on, and your favorite go go dancer has been taken to America, you will receive:
A. Nothing at all
B. A form letter telling you basically to get an agent or get a life
C. A letter from a 22-year-old assistant editor or 16-year-old editorial assistant asking to see (some) (all) of your novel.
2. Assuming C above, you send in your novel. You will receive:
A. Nothing at all
B. Most of what you sent in with coffee stains and with a nice note about how well you write but how in the current (economic) (political) (metaphysical) (sexual) climate, they are taking on fewer authors and best of British luck somewhere else.
3. Assuming A. above, when the Gingko leaves are back and bright green again, and your favorite go go dancer has left her boyfriend/husband in the States and is dancing in a Bangkok bar again, and you have still received nothing at all, you will muster up your guns and call the 22-year-old assistant editor who asked to see your novel. You will be told that he/she is no longer working there and nobody knows where your novel is and from the tone of the editor's voice she is wondering why you bothered her with this, anyway. And you find in the next Publishers Weekly that the editor is leaving to set up her own literary agency (perhaps because she can lose writer's manuscripts faster that way), the 22-year-old assistant editor has just landed a huge advance for a chick-lit novel she was writing during the time she should have been reading novels such as yours.
4. You down a few Wild Turkeys on the Rocks, damn your spouse for talking you into becoming a writer (even though he/she didn't), insult strangers on the Skytrain for no reason, cancel your check to Amnesty International, stop leaving tips in go go bars and massage parlors, stop telling strangers how cute their dogs are and insist they clean up their dogs' messes, think of and carry out clever putdowns for anyone trying to sell you anything on the phone, tell your Thai friends that you read in a scientific journal how the more people smile the more chance they have of getting incurable diseases, crinkle candy wrappers during plays and movies, cough loudly during concerts, respond sarcastically to any letters that come in regarding your website, damn all publishers for being avaricious, moribund, decadent, bourgeois, capitalist, imperialist, slime-ball paper tiger-egg suckers, and begin the novel-writing process again.
Next: Book Distribution in Bangkok or Why Can't I Find the Book I Want?
Click here to read a short New York Times article on the demise of Bangkok nightlife.
Links You Might Enjoy
A video of a five-minute walk down Soi Cowboy. Click here and then click "preview videos."
Like satire on Thailand? Try
Like to know what music is playing where in Bangkok each week? Try http://www.bangkokgigguide.com.
Like to know more in depth about what music is playing where in Bangkok each week? Try this great site:
Tired of shoveling snow? Check out Bangkok's sunshine.
Bangkok's weather report.
A great site for listening to Thai morlan music and other folk music of Southeast Asia.
A bit of black leather never hurts. But she does.
Our Lady in Black
Like to learn a bit about retiring in Asia?
Links You Might Not Enjoy
T-Shirt Hell: for lovers of very black humor only.
Politically incorrect rants and raves.
Do you have a product or service you would like to advertise on this website? You can, you know. In fact, you don’t have to have a product or service at all; you can just send me money. Or perhaps you would like me to plug a product or service that you are involved in? Sure, just send me cash. Be sure, however, to mark the outside envelope:
“Birthday money for Dean Barrett –
Absolutely No Bribe Enclosed”
Got feedback to this column? Got information on Thailand you would like to share? Happy as a dung beetle to be living in Paradise? Been ripped off? Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK, there were two contest winners last time, two out of the very few who dared venture a guess. It was the one-baht ferry on Klong Saem Sap that runs parallel to Petchburi Road at about Sukhumvit soi 51. If you take the 20-second ferry ride toward Petchburi, you would then just walk half a minute and find yourself facing RCA (Royal City Avenue) across Petchburi Road. I love the ferry because what else can you get for one baht? Therefore, whoever can first let me know where the following photograph was taken wins 2,500 in food and drink. Second prize is a 500 baht gift voucher from Dasa Books. (The photo was taken in Bangkok.)
That's all for this fortnightly column. Drop by again. Explore the rest of the website. Meanwhile, as the girls used to tell me during the 1960's: "I no lie you, GI, you number one!"
Dean Barrett can be flamed at: email@example.com
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