Sunday, January 31, 2016

Field Report from Crazy Bob in Moscow

Shortly before Christmas, I had the following exchange by means of instant message with Crazy Bob.

Bob: Dude I'm in a hipster bar in Moscow
There are 20 people in the bar
5 are female
I am alarmed
Now it's 23 people
And only 3 are female
One of the people I thought was a girl is actually a guy
And another girl left 

English Teacher X: Head to the poor side of town!

This is Moscow. The poor side is 5 miles away, maybe 10
But yeah you're right
I'd be over there if I didn't have to meet my wife in 4 hours

ETX: Too cold to hit on girls at bus stops, huh? 

Bob: Nah, yo
It's plus 4
All right for all manner of dirt
21 people 2 girls
What the fuck man!

(Here he includes a picture of a girl in hipster glasses and a girly-looking guy)

The dude on the right is 5 feet tall
His chick has an enormous mole on the side of her face, but still gives her man no respect

ETX: Better hit the Spearmint Rhino!

(Editor's Note: Research reveals this notable Moscow strip club closed in 2007.)

(Here he includes a definition from Urban Dictionary:)

RHINO: An older man on the prowl for a younger woman and by definition, the gender opposite of the cougar. The rhino derives his name from his appearance because the specimen is more often than not both horny AND ugly. The rhino is usually found in warmer locales and can be spotted wearing either a flowered or pastel shirt (with 3 buttons opened to expose a mature mane of chest hair) tucked into khaki shorts and sporting boat shoes. Also look for horrendous dance moves, a white man's overbite, male pattern baldness and a penchant for picking up the bar tab.

ETX: Dang! 

Bob: ".. too dark, too dark altogether."

ETX: "I watch the sun as it crawls across the sky one final time .. " 

Bob: Nine Inch Nails? 

(Here I included this video:)

Bob: I had a woman about 40 yesterday
I had my whole finger in the butthole, checking for myself
if vaginal tissue really does thin with age
I could feel my dick like it was wrapped up in a fruit-roll-up
A millimeter, no thicker

ETX: Jesus
Think you need to get a cat

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Traveling: Special Annoying 90s Chick Edition!

The 1990s.

A time of peace, prosperity, and the dawn of the newest age of globalism. A guy could get laid every night of the week -- as long as he didn't mind hearing girls cry about their abusive stepfathers for a couple hours afterwards. 

Today's installment goes out to the ladies. (I know I'm skipping the 80s, but nobody traveled in the 80s except spies, diplomats, and heavy metal bands going to play in Japan.)

Click here to see the other installments in the BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING series

Long before the unmitigated pap of EAT PRAY LOVE, there were the 90s chicks.

They ate, traveled, and loved, and they skipped the praying, opting instead for the rich stuff of life in the 90s -- tattoos, plenty of sex and abortions, and weepy monologues about their painful family experiences.

(I am playing a bit fast and loose here, though, as these first two books were released in the 20teens but they were about stuff that HAPPENED in the 90s. Since I did the same thing myself, though, I can't really criticize.)

Jillian Lauren in the mid-90s was working as a stripper and escort in New York, like all 90s chicks, when she accepted an offer to go live with the Royal Family in Brunei as a ... consort? concubine? escort? I don't know what she put on her tax return.

Her memoir SOME GIRLS: MY LIFE IN A HAREM describes this time. She doesn't travel much in and around Brunei or SE Asia, except to the mall, and spends most of her time in agreeably boring captivity on the luxurious royal estate. (It was in fact the playboy brother of the Sultan, Prince Jeffri, who used her services, although she did toss one to the Sultan himself.) She visited them a couple of times, spending a couple years there, only  returning to New York once for more 90s tattoed stripper sex abortion shenanigans.

Source: Wikipedia / Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0
She ended up following the True Path of 90s chicks, marrying a guy from an indie 90s rock band, and writing memoirs. And adopting an African kid.

Soul sister to Jillian Lauren is the probably-even-more-annoying and self-named Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

When tattoos, heroin, and sex aren't enough to help her get over her mother's death -- even cheating on and divorcing her nice husband doesn't help -- she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. (She does stop to bone a guy in Seattle on the same day that Jerry Garcia dies, of course. I mean, she's a 90s chick, she had to.)

There's a movie with Reese Witherspoon you can watch, should you not be inclined to tackle the rather over-written book. She's naked in it, too. (I love the way actresses get naked for their serious roles now, as opposed to the old days when they got naked in exploitation roes when their careers were fading.)

Cheryl Strayed too has followed the 90s chick true path -- becoming a soccer mom and going on Oprah.

Now for a book that was actually RELEASED in the 90s, but is probably more about the late 80s, I can recommend BREAKFAST IN BABYLON by Emer Martin. Though it was popular in the 90s, it's pretty much forgotten now -- Google searches for "Breakfast in Babylon" usually lead one to pancake houses in Babylon, NY.

But this book -- which I haven't read in a while but which I enjoyed very much back then -- is about a young Irish backpacker-type chick who ends up living on the streets of London, Paris, and other cities in Europe in the punk-rock-yet-begging-for-change thing that was popular at the time -- we called them "gutter punks" in the US but I don't think that term is used in the book.

The centerpiece of the story is the protagonist's abusive relationship with an older Puerto-Rican-American LSD dealer, but it's the grubby atmosphere of drugged-out expat losers in cheap hotels and shared squat housing that really impressed me.

She's traveled considerably more than either of the two above, living in Paris, London, the US, and the Middle East, and she continues to write well-regarded fiction, much of which has international themes and settings.

It's not even available on Kindle -- so 90s! -- but you can order a used copy on Amazon for a penny plus shipping. You might not regret it!

So put on your flannel shirt and put on some nice 90s music, and enjoy the early days of an era of globalism that seems to be rapidly drawing to a close.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Travelling: The 70s, Bukowski, Thompson, and Theroux

After the free love and idealism of the 60s, there was the perhaps-inevitable crash into bitterness and dissolution. The three Prime Movers of Books about Drinking, Fucking, and Traveling in the 70s were undoubtedly Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and Paul Theroux.

(Damn, has it been three years already?  Previous entries in this series:


MORE BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING (1900 - 1950) -- In which I examine the work of Jerome K. Jerome, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and Graham Greene

EVEN MORE BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING (SPECIAL BEATNIK EDITION) -- In which I examine the life and work of hep cats Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.)

In 1971, Hunter Stockton Thompson was a succesful journalist who had written a book about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and several noted articles for Rolling Stone. Then he released FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS: A SAVAGE JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM.

It was a wake-up call for those who wished to be fucked up all the time. With his energetic, unique prose stylings, he made a couple of weekends taking drugs in Vegas hotel rooms probably much more entertaining than they would have been to actually experience. 

And in the process transformed himself from hard-hitting investigative journalist to Cultural Icon of Buffoonery. His Woodward and Bernstein soul morphed into a Cheech and Chong reality. 

He did write one more important piece of journalism -- FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 1972 -- but that was pretty much it. The rest of his career was a fog of drugs and Celebrity and books that rehashed things he'd seen on TV and almost always reprinted things he'd written in his glory days. 

He isn't as well known for his travels abroad, but he worked and traveled in the Caribbean and South America in the 50s and 60s -- many of his dispatches from South America are printed in THE GREAT SHARK HUNT. His novel THE RUM DIARY is under-rated in its portrayal of expat life in Puerto Rico at that time. (Apparently back then the drunks and fuckups worked at English-language newspapers, rather than teaching English. I've met a few English-language newspaper writers in my travels but only a few.)

Source: Wikipedia

Hunter S. Thompson blew his own brains out at age 67 on February 20, 2005, following some health problems related to his back and skeleton. (While drugs and alcohol seemed to take a toll on his writing and his life in general, his body didn't seem to mind too much.)

And then there are those of us who prefer to sulk silently on the sidelines of life; how could we not fall in love with Charles Bukowski? 

Raised in Great Depression-era Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski is often described as the Poet Laureate of Lowlifes. He worked at the post office until he started writing full-time at age 50 (round about 1970) and he is a best-selling author in Europe but a bit less well-known in the US. Writing simply and powerfully and (perhaps most importantly of all) humorously about life on the outskirts of society, drinking hard, working crappy jobs, and living in squalid rented rooms, Bukowski's philosophy seemed to be that losers were more honest than winners and that there was some nobility in refusing to play the bulshit games of life. (DON'T TRY is written on his tombstone.)

He has written countless books of poetry -- enjoyable and readable though they are -- but he seems to be better beloved by readers for his novels. HAM ON RYE describes his rough childhood and college years; FACTOTUM describes his travels around the US living in different cities in the 40s. POST OFFICE is about his years of drunken employment at that fine institution, and WOMEN is about his final success as a writer, and indulging himself in some groupies. HOLLYWOOD describes an attempt to make a film about one of his books (which in real life was called BARFLY:)

Drinks for all my friends! Charles Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 at age 73, successful, married, critically-lauded, and seemingly rather content. 

What's that you say? A bit less drinking and fucking, and a bit more travelling?  

Former English teacher Paul Theroux might be right up your alley.  

Source: Wikipedia
With the release of THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR in 1975, Paul Theroux changed the landscape of travel writing. The book describes an epic round-trip train journey across Europe, India, the Middle East, Russia, and Asia and now instead of writing snootily about history and culture, travel writers could bitch endlessly about the filth and the discomfort. (It's a fascinating read in retrospect, as with many travel books, in seeing what's the same as well as what's different. )

He's also written a lot of novels about the ups and downs of expat life; some notable ones include 1973's SAINT JACK, about a hustling expat working as a pimp in Singapore, and 1981's THE MOSQUITO COAST about a disgruntled whacko inventor who takes his family to live on an island in  Honduras.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Knife to the Balls: An Old Bar Conversation

This is a story I heard back in Bangkok when I first started in the 90s. It's always been rattling around in my mind, so I'm happy to present it to you now.