Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket books: Boring obsession with rock genius

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Phuket books: Boring obsession with rock genius | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PHUKET: In my recent review of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, I lamented the dearth of novels about rock musicians.

Now along comes the even more recent Stone Arabia (Scribner, New York, 230pp, 2011) by Dana Spiotta. But this is in a every way an inferior book: both shorter and more conventional.

Egan tackled plot – time and space itself – with fearless elan, shoving a wide array of characters into the center stage of narration.

Spiotta plods along in a tedious chronological first-person tale of a little sister’s obsession with her big brother the rock star.

The novel opens in 1964 Los Angeles where Nik Kranis and his little sister Denise live with their single mother in a dumpy stucco bungalow two blocks from the Hollywood Freeway.

It’s Nik’s tenth birthday and he goes with Denise to see the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night.

“Denise remembered how everything about it thrilled them – the music, of course, but also the fast cuts, the deadpan wit, the mod style, the amused asides right into the camera. The songs actually made them feel high.”

They return home for the birthday party to find their estranged father waiting with a present: an elaborately inlaid acoustic guitar. Nik’s fate is sealed.

They move into the late 1970s Los Angeles rock scene. Nik goes through a succession of bands; sticking with one, the Fakes, for commercial reasons, and another, The Demonics, for artistic.

Denise gets pregnant with a pretty boy singer named Chris. His history encapsulates the era:

“When I first met him, Chris played bass in an eyeliner band called Ether. (Later they moved from New Romantic/new wave to a more death/Gothic style and changed their name to the Select and then, after Chris left, to the Crown of Thorns. After that they moved beyond death/Goth to light/bright wave and then to Romanesque edge metal and changed the name to Leviathan until they finally broke up or faded out or quietly kept going in someone’s garage.). They were not good.”

The union, however, produced a perfect child, Ada, now a film student at NYU in New York. Denise is 47 now; Nik is turning 50. Denise plods along at a boring office job, Nik, after a brush of fame, works as a bartender while compulsively laying down solo tracks for a ten-album series and writing The Chronicles, the not very interesting story of his daily life. He drinks too much, smokes too much and has a lot of girlfriends. Denise keeps him going with periodic loans.

Despite all the music and scribbling, Nik remains something of a cipher and the reader just can’t bring himself to share Denise’s obsession with him.

This static situation only attains a ripple of interest when Ada decides to fly to Los Angeles to make a documentary about her once-famous uncle, now an eccentric recluse.

Much of this tale is told in interview tapes, tweets, e-mails, YouTube bits and snatches of Google for background. On a transcript Denise explains to her daughter Nik’s popularity:

“Anyhow, Nik invented the Fakes as the antidote to the darkness and oddness of The Demonics – the Fakes were a side band designed to play power pop and have fun.

“They came right at the moment when the nihilism of the punk scene had run its course and people were hungry for some simple rock pop, some harmonies, with a danceable beat as long as the band looked New and Cool. People could dance to the Fakes, and they became much more popular than the unclassifiable Demonics. Nik did it as a kind of lark. He did it as a kind of calculation.”

His latest calculation as he nears the end of his solo album series and approaches his fiftieth birthday is: will he commit suicide? I wish I could say I cared.

Bits of Ada’s documentary are a huge hit on YouTube. Denise revisits the old homestead off the Hollywood Freeway and manages to wring a bit of pathos through memories of her teenage days. Still, it’s a cheap piece of nostalgia. The whole book is.

The book is available as an e-book for the Kindle at amazon.com or by ordering through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Bangkok

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue

The Thaiger

Published

on

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Former Thai Sports and Tourism Minister with Vernon Unsworth MBE

The Isan Project has collaborated with the TAT on new marketing campaign featuring music commemorating the Tham Luang cave rescue.

The story of how 13 young men, members of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, were saved in the caves of Chiang Rai continues to ignites interest in the miraculous internationally-followed rescue in July 2018 from the flooded Tham Luang cave

To honour the safe rescue music video company The Isan Projectrecently launched “Where the Eagles Fly”, video to pay tribute to the British hero of the dramatic saga, Vern Unsworth MBE.

The release of a movie and Netflix mini series shortly will also boost interest globally in Thailand. The series includes the first individual interviews with the boys and they coach.

The launch, in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and supported by the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit and Serenity Wines, was attended by several key persons involved in the rescue mission two years ago, including former Tourism & Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, who played a major role in flying in special cave divers from the UK as requested by Vernon Unsworth, a recognised cave explorer, who knows virtually every inch of the Tham Luang cave.

“It is absolutely true that without Vernon’s persistence in obtaining the help from the UK cave diving experts to initially spearhead the rescue mission, the boys and their coach would not be alive today.”

“Needless to say, assistance from experienced and skilled cave divers from around the world, who later volunteered to join as well as our own Navy Seals, all contributed to the mission’s ultimate success.”

Vernon Unsworth MBE, his partner Woranan Ratrawiphakkun, and his caving buddy Kamon Kunngamkwamdee, all starred in the “Where the Eagles Fly” fantasy music video, which was set in deep jungle and caves in the mountain of Doi Nang Non in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

“I’m truly honoured to have this song written about me. It was very moving to relive parts of the rescue while making the music video, especially when I think back on how Kamon and I covered over 16 km. on the first day after we knew the boys were missing. We virtually lived in the cave for the first 4 days prior to the arrival of my cave diving colleagues from the UK”.

The story of how the football team were saved in the caves is a heart warming one. For many attending the event it was a privilege and an honour to meet 63 year old Vernon Unsworth in person. An event filled with stories of bravery, emotion and moving music.

Vernon, who has mapped the cave system for 8 years, was the first professional cave diver at the site and realising the enormous danger the boys were in, played a significant rôle in the rescue and earned him the UK’s high honour, an MBE medal.

As the rescue became a race against time ahead of impending monsoon rains, Vernon undertook reconnaissance dives upstream through flooded passages against strong currents.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the former Minister of Tourism and Sports, recalled how a message written on a piece of paper by Vernon and handed to his colleague for safe keeping with instructions that it was to be handed over in case Vernon, fearing the worst, didn’t make it out on an exploratory dive. It was very dangerous work and one Thai diver died during the course of the rescue.

Although Vernon was safe, the message was handed to the Minister who was at the cave site. The message was to contact the British Dive Caving Association and gave names of expert divers and telephone numbers. Within 24 hours the Tourism Minister had managed to get the UK divers on a hastily arranged flight to Thailand to assist in the rescue effort.

The team of UK divers, working under appalling conditions and with time running out, in poor visibility located the team marooned on a ledge above the water about 4 kilometres inside the cave complex.

Writer and executive producer of The Isan Project, Will Robinson says… “Although I had penned and produced “Heroes of Thailand” honouring all those involved in the Tham Luang cave rescue, I felt it was time to pay a special tribute directly to the mastermind of the extremely complex mission.”

“Vernon is such a humble man, I wanted to create a song not only to honour him, but also to establish Tham Luang and what is now known as the ‘Wild Boar Cave’, where the boys were found, as a new tourist attraction for those who love to explore caves.”

At the beginning of the video it reads…

“On June 23, 2018, 12 boys from the Wild Boar football team went exploring the Tham Luang cave with their coach in Chiang Rai. They never returned home that night, next day locals contacted cave explorer Vern Unsworth in nearby Mae Fah Luang. Over the course of the next two weeks Vern put his life on the line for the young football team with a daring rescue engineered by Vern and Elite British cave divers. This song was written in honour of Vern Unsworth M.B.E. and inspired by the above events.”

You can watch the video HERE.

Commenting on the Isan Project Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications said, “TAT appreciates Will’s love of Thailand, and we are delighted to be supporting this launch. We also believe that this song combined with the newly-published children’s book, “All Thirteen” and the soon-to-be released Hollywood movie, “Thirteen Lives”, will help to dramatically boost tourism in and around Chiang Rai even though we will need to rely mainly on domestic tourists until the end of the year while international travel is still restricted.”

“Where the Eagles Fly”, co-written by Will Robinson and Daniel Ryan, and performed by Daniel himself, is tipped to top the charts when the MGM blockbuster movie, “Thirteen Lives” and the Netflix mini-series about the epic story of the Tham Luang cave rescue are released. The song is now available from all digital music stores including iTunes, Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | News by The Thaiger

From left: Mr. Sobchai (Ford) Kraiyoonsen Singer/composer, Mr. Tanes Petsuwan TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications, Senator Weerasak Kowsurat former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Vern Unsworth British cave explorer, Mr. Will Robinson Writer and Executive Producer of The Isan Project, Mr. Nithee Seeprae TAT’s Executive Director of Advertising & PR Department, Ms. Woranan Ratrawiphakkun Vern’s partner, Mr. Sammy Carolus GM of the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

World

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

Published

on

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble Thai massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by the CNN Travel team. Thailand’s smooth coconut milk and potato-based curry (add meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at Number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also making it into the World’s Best food list.

The hot and spicy shrimp/prawn soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at Number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck, Penang Assam laksa, Malaysia and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

First Place, Massaman curryEmphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Eighth Place, Tom Yum Kung

This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

46th Place, Som Tam/Papaya salad

To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Protests

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht

The Thaiger

Published

on

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Fan-funded 'happy birthday' signs around Thailand's BTS and MRT station

Art meets politics again, this time with hundreds of thousands of K-Pop fans raising funds in support of the growing student protest movement in Thailand. So far they’ve raised more than 3 million baht (as of 10am this morning) but the amount is rising quickly as Thai and overseas K-Pop fans respond. The most popular band in Thailand at the moment is BTS, the South Korean septet which is currently the most popular band in the world (as of today BTS commands the Number 1 and Number 2 positions on the US Billboard singles chart).

BTS fans have so far been the largest contributors donating funds to the protest cause.

The BTS Thailand page, not to be confused with the BTS Skytrain, is urging K-pop fans to stop the practice of paying for billboards in support of their favourite idols and to celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook issued a statement on their fanpage asking fans to stop funding the BTS and MRT “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger”.

Bangkok’s two main rail systems were closed down over the weekend as police and protesters played a cat and mouse game. The protesters were withholding the announcement of protest locations to the last minute whilst police second-guessed their moves, ending up in mass inconvenience for the wider public in shutting down the entire network, including the Airport link.

“We’re calling Armys and other fans to stop buying ad projects with the BTS and MRT.” (“Army” is the name of BTS fans.

Fans of K-pop groups as well as other “idol” groups often pool their resources to purchase display ads in the MRT and BTS stations wishing their stars happy birthday or on other significant anniversaries.

It’s thought that many more millions of baht will be raised by the K-Pop fans in the next few days.

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social media and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

Meanwhile, other K-Pop acts that have mobilised their fans win support include Girls’ Generation, GOT7, NCT, WannaOne, Nu’est, X1, Day 6, Red Velvet, MonstaC, Woodz, Shinee, Super Junior and R1se. We’re sure the fans of Black Pink are also contributing but didn’t have their figures available at the time of publishing. Fans of popular Thai actors and celebrities are also donating to the pool.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29 | The Thaiger
Thailand5 hours ago

Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29

Thailand News Today | Big Bike licenses, Parliament latest, Zombie saleswoman | October 28 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Big Bike licenses, Parliament latest, Zombie saleswoman | October 28

Thailand News Today | German Embassy, More STV tourists, Thanathorn in trouble | October 27 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 days ago

Thailand News Today | German Embassy, More STV tourists, Thanathorn in trouble | October 27

Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26 | The Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts1 week ago

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22

Thailand News Today | STV arrivals, Released then re-arrested, Petition to oust PM | October 21 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | STV arrivals, Released then re-arrested, Petition to oust PM | October 21

Thailand News Today | Media censorship, Thai parliament to meet, STV flight arrives | October 20 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | Media censorship, Thai parliament to meet, STV flight arrives | October 20

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9 | The Thaiger
Thailand3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8

Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending