Archive for Werewolf

Politics, Religion, and Bargirls in Thailand: Nightlife Blogs Lose the Plot (with Update)

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Theravada Buddhists across Southeast Asia have good reason to recoil in horror at the ghastly image that Chris Coles has dreamt up out of a diseased and malevolent imagination, then posted to his blog. Not content to preoccupy himself with dreadful fluorescent images of bargirls and ladyboys in degraded settings, he has decided to paint an image of the Buddha (in heavy-lidded Khmer style no less) rolling his eyes in reaction to Walking Street in Pattaya. That Buddhists everywhere will no doubt find this repugnant to them may abbreviate the media attention Coles’s art has received in conjunction with the release of the short story collection called “Bangkok Noir” and his sparsely attended exhibitions. We have written about this literary and artistic equivalent to masturbation elsewhere.

There are so many reasons why this image is offensive to Thai Buddhists that it would be difficult to know where to begin, really. What it reveals, however, is the depths to which one man (Coles) has descended and from which debased vantage point important character strengths like intuition, good judgement, and cultural sensitivity have all but disappeared. When you spend time in brothels and red light districts in Thailand, it diminishes your capacity for insight and reason, as well as the larger requisite sense of compassion and reverence for a global religion. It may appear humorous on some very sophomoric level to think about the Buddha’s possible (worldly) reaction to the carnival that is Walking Street in Pattaya, but the theological reality is far more complicated than can be rendered in the crude paints and plaster board that Coles employs. Whether the image is intended to shock and dismay, we suppose, is another question completely. It is not very nice, for example, that he has scrawled his name directly onto the face of the Buddha, but anyone with a cursory understanding of Thai Buddhism would realize quite quickly that, like climbing on a Buddha statue, writing one’s name on a Buddha image is a serious no-no. Over time, however, the decision to exhibit this distasteful Buddha image is certainly reflective of the corrosive powers of alcohol, cheap sex, and pharmaceuticals over the faculty of sound judgement which one usually accredits to good artists in general.

"Buddha Visits Walking Street Pattaya 2554" by Chris Coles

That said, and moving on to another dismaying development in the Thai nightlife blogosphere, it appears that Werewolf has shifted his attention toward Thai politics, one of the most dangerous topics for a writer of Thai-related nonsense and especially dangerous on a URL once called “Bargirlsrpeople2”. The vast reading public with even a remote interest in Thailand knows that Thai politics is anything but mundane or boring. Werewolf stumbles head first into the topic, too, with a rather adolescent view that he would vote for Yingluck Shinawatra simply because she is a somewhat attractive Chinese Thai woman. His questionable taste in appearances aside, the path he has chosen is fraught with danger, especially for foreigners living in the kingdom.

Stickman, for example, has always to his credit avoided Thai politics like the plague, and this is a sure testament to his longevity as a Bangkok nightlife writer. In fact, as time goes on and as Stickman considers other options in his life at this juncture, Saphan Loy has to give him an enormous amount of credit for what he has done in writing over the years, as we have been reading his work for the better part of 10 years, and we still tune in every Sunday, almost religiously. He has also successfully weathered all sorts of personal hells and obstacles, and despite Saphan Loy’s occasional teasing as well, he has mostly shrugged off genial criticism as well as the more virulent online attacks from the mentally ill.  We believe that one of the cornerstones of his longterm viability has been his avoidance of certain taboo subjects, like religion and politics most notably. Does this mean that a writer has to ignore these subjects?  Not by any means. However, for the most part, readers of the red light blogs could not care less about these subjects. There is a thin sliver of that market that does care, however, and there are those more qualified writers both Thai and farang who question certain realities in Thailand: we know, because they are generally our own readers as well.

But for someone like Werewolf, a writer once known for his vivid descriptions of spicy “spinners” from the brothel districts of Krung Thep, he is creating a veritable mine-field of problems within his newly refigured and quite dismal blog. We will leave him, of course, to his own devices, but with a strong caution against writing about either Thai domestic politics or Thai royalty as he has done in his most recent post, especially in light of his vividly repellant description of a child shitting on a sidewalk in an earlier post. Context is everything in Thailand and our suggestion would be to find a way to rearrange this kind of writing so as to make an interpretation (like ours) less likely within his English-language readership. For when you write about an impoverished Thai toddler shitting on a dirty sidewalk, you are not only calling attention to something that Thai people would rather (and tend to) ignore. You are also rearranging it, “capturing the image”, and circulating it aroud the world. If in one paragraph, you describe a child shitting on the sidewalk, the next post should be about something else: certainly not Thai politics, and most certainly not Thai royalty. Better yet, we would suggest scrapping the whole mundane project in toto, and returning to your roots. Stick with what you know. In effect, we, that is, the reading public, can use a few more spinners in our lives.

UPDATE: Chris Coles has thankfully removed the offensive image and the egregious accompanying text from the Internet. It is nonetheless still available in cached form here. He has rewritten the blog posting and mercifully removed all references to the Lord Buddha, including the following line:

The visiting Buddha watches and wonders what happened, how his teachings came to this…….

The View from Above

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Saphan Loy’s Cheesecake: A La Mode

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Nothing like a sampling of 150 year old French cheesecake, eh? This is, for all of our Philistines who regularly turn to Saphan Loy for some sort of digital relief from the crushing and isolating boredom of their lives, a painting by Gustave Courbet, and it was completed in 1866. Its translation in English is The Origin of the World. We chose it, in part, as a response to the proliferation across the web of images of unspeakable indecency in general, and to the ghastly appearance on the red light blogs of equally appalling glossy images of Asian models along with the less-glossy, poorly rendered, out of focus images that attempt to capture the decadence and moral degradation of the red light districts in Southeast Asia. We chose this wonderful painting also to highlight some recent observations on the choice of images that sites like Big Baby Kenny Ng’s have made, and to comment also on Werewolf’s dreadful resurrection of his boring blog.

First, Professor Eustace McGargle, and by Professor McGargle we mean Professor Ng, has selected for his blog about prostitution in Thailand the image of a child (which appears on his main page) in addition to his distasteful galleries of poor girls from Isarn. Do our eyes believe what we are witnessing? Interested in understanding the reasons behind choosing a child’s image for his site, we looked for the image through the search engines and discovered (not surprisingly) that it is actually a small child dressed like a cartoonish character from American “professional” wrestling named Hulk Hogan. This image must have circulated widely across the Internet in the late 20th century, so it is apparent that Professor McGargle simply copped it and re-posted it back in the day when it probably made the rounds by email among the poorer classes within the United States.

There are so many things that are wrong, or simply creepy, about dressing a child up as an adult with facial hair, that I will just let that pass for now and focus more on the fact that the Americans who might drunkenly chuckle or appreciate a child-like “Hulk Hogan” are most likely from the lower middle to lower classes in the United States. Professional wrestling enjoys the same cultural prestige as a circus: an obvious recurring theme in the red light blogosphere as well. Speaking of which…anyone for a Singha at the Carousel Bar or Carnival?

In what is perhaps the most egregious gallery that Ng has published on his website, young Thai women are displayed (exhibited for the public by Ng) nonconsensually while they perform the most intimate rituals of worship. Their images appear in lurid, voyeuristic detail as they kneel before the sacred images at the Phra Tri Murati Shrine in Bangkok. The images are neither anthropological nor cultural: they are sexual. The professor, hanging back from the crowd, simply waited until the unsuspecting Thai women were kneeling in supplication before he lasciviously snapped his shutter. The images here are a solidly reasonable argument for the restricting of Thailand’s generous tourism entry requirements.

Further, after thinking about it carefully, Saphan Loy suspects that not only is Professor McGargle’s willingness to simply steal or co-opt images as well as Saphan Loy’s protected content from the Internet indicative of broader patterns, it may be symptomatic of something more integral to his dysfunctional personality. We therefore had a look at some of his published academic articles he posted on his site (none of which are recent, and all of which have been co-authored) and came to some troubling conclusions. Is it possible that a careful reading of the citations in those articles might reveal some sloppy scholarship? Is it worth the painful and time-consuming effort to sift out original thought from regurgitated or flatly plagiarized material? Is it worth the bother of asking his co-authors directly for some clarifications? Just saying….

At any rate, the troubling image of a small child wrestler character aside, the other odd thing lately is mundane Bangkok, or, supposedly, the resurrected Werewolf. What the hell happened to him? Did he sustain a brain injury recently? Has he been lobotomised by cheap beer and tertiary syphilis? Not only is it, as promised, extraordinarily boring, but the image he selected for the masthead appears to be three footballers providing each other hand relief while watching a UFC match on the telly. Can it get any more homoerotic? Please change it. Even if it is boring Bangkok, at least put up a picture of a phone booth, or a soi dog, or anything else that just happens to be in Bangkok.

Okay, ladies. Now that we have gotten that off our chest, we can get on to more serious matters. We will leave you with Courbet’s The Bather (1868) for the prurient purposes of titillation. Who doesn’t love hairy armpits?

Vintage "Soapy"

The View from Above

Dissecting a Frog Bar and Other Curiosities

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by สะพานลอย

One of the strengths of WordPress (shameless plug for the platform) is that it alerts the author to all sorts of interesting Internet metrics. For example, our profile on the hot ladyboy action that the Stickman wrote about over at the Frog Bar in Pattaya has become a search engine result for the terms “dissecting a frog.” Saphan Loy apologises in advance to frustrated biology students everywhere who were hoping to find an easy answer for their lab assignments concerning the anatomy of the Rana esculenta.

Another perplexing development in the red light blogosphere is the revival of a previously moribund URL. Thanks to the diligence of the folks over at BigDummyKenny (soon to be renamed) and also to evidence of incoming links from the old URL, a bit of a digital curiosity has emerged from the wreckage of the former Werewolf’s Lair. After he abandoned his efforts and wrote an occasional, awkward post for the Big Mango Blog, the Werewolf put up a bizarre children’s site mockup (see below regarding Saphan Loy’s views of the subject of children). The old ghost link has now been reanimated and is called “mundane Bangkok” complete with a sidebar of crosslinks. Why Saphan Loy was omitted from this list is a mystery (and we take offense at the oversight).

So what’s the new blog about? Absolutely nothing. The syntax is clearly not the fabled Werewolf. The style is not quite right for him, so our theory is that he handed over the keys to the URL to someone (an elderly sex tourist) he met in a bar and said, “Good luck.” If the Werewolf had wanted to reintroduce himself to the world, why not start with a new URL? The old one is just plain awkward anyway.

What is to be discerned from the content of the new site? First, the writer has not been in Thailand “for 40 years”.  Fair enough. That puts him squarely in the Vietnam War veteran demographic, presumably an American whose first experience of the country was on R&R, or serving at one of the airbases in the boondocks. He may have now retired to Thailand  (or at the very least visits often), which he finds “mundane.” Ho hum. In Saphan Loy’s estimation, his “non-agenda” constitutes an agenda, so the reader should be wary. The very first post (some bland and not very original observations about Songkran) features, of all the possible mundane topics at his disposal, a conversation with children.

A word of advice to anyone posting information about Thailand for public consumption, particularly on an old URL (called bargirlsrpeople2) that once trumpeted the benefits of multiple sex partners culled from the red light districts. Avoid the subject of children like the plague. They are to be seen and not heard, not only in Thailand, but all around the globe.

That said, we wish the second “boring Bangkok blogger” the best of luck and a happy Songkran. And if you truly feel that Bangkok is either “boring”  or “mundane”, perhaps you might consider a holiday somewhere you may find more to your liking. Like, say, Disneyland.

Artist's rendering of proposed Disneyland in Shanghai

The View from Above