Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Books: Fair game in the Windy City

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on

Phuket Books: Fair game in the Windy City | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Thomas Pynchon’s epic 1000-page novel Against the Day opens with a boy’s adventure tale: the arrival of the Chums of Chance aboard their airship at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. In The Devil in the White City (Vintage Books, New York, 2004, 447pp), Erik Larson describes just such a dirigible arriving at the Fair at the climax of its July 4 celebration. The message in both books is the same: the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair is the harbinger of all the technological American marvels of the 20th century – for good or for evil.

For good, we have the superhuman exertions of architect Daniel Burnham and his team of a dozen other eminent architects in putting together the huge exhibition buildings and landscaping marvels that dwarfed the Paris World Fair of 1890. In lieu of the Eiffel Tower, there was the majestic Ferris Wheel that lofted 2,000 passengers at a time for a view of Lake Michigan and the whole of Chicago. The new American city was announcing its arrival in place of the capitals of the Old World.

The Fair was the White City, ablaze with the new electric lighting, free of urban crime and filth. “The fair taught men and women steeped only in the necessary to see that cities did not have to be dark, soiled and unsafe bastions of the strictly pragmatic,” the author writes. “They could also be beautiful.”

For the evil in the White City, we have the sordid example of the serial killer Dr H.H. Holmes who constructed a square block of hotels, shops and restaurants to cater to the influx of visitors to the fair. A handsome blue-eyed con man, he charmed dozens of women and children, only to suffocate and incinerate them, keeping some of their skeletons for sale to medical schools. Yet to appearances, he was the most pleasant of men. In the terms of the day, he was a “moral imbecile”.

Frank Geyer, the lawman who finally brought Holmes to justice, offers this chilling, thumbnail portrait: “Holmes is greatly given to lying with a sort of florid ornamentation and all his stories are decorated with flamboyant draperies . . . In talking he has the appearance of candor, becomes pathetic at times when pathos will serve him best, uttering his words with a quaver in his voice, often accompanied by moistened eyes, then turning quickly with a determined and forceful method of speech, as if indignation or resolution has sprung out of tender memories that had touched his heart.”

These two tales of Burnham and Holmes, Larson tells on parallel tracks: one of pride and progress, one of eternal evil. Together they make for a powerful story, worthy of the book’s subtitle: “Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America”.

The book is nothing less than a vivid visitor’s guide to a fair that lasted six months and served notice that a new power had arrived on the world stage. In the fairways, Egyptian belly dancers mingled with Arab, Asian and African villagers.

“Indians who had once used hatchets to bare the skulls of white men drifted over from Buffalo Bill’s compound, as did Annie Oakley and assorted Cossacks, Hussars, Lancers and members of the US Sixth Cavalry . . . Chief Standing Bear rode the Ferris Wheel in full ceremonial headdress with his two hundred feathers unruffled. Other Indians rode the enameled wooden horses of the Midway carousel. There were Paderewski, Houdini, Tesla, Edison, Joplin, Darrow, a Princeton professor named Woodrow Wilson, and a sweet old lady in black summer silk, flowered with forget-me-knots named Susan B. Anthony.”

Not to mention Teddy Roosevelt, Diamond Jim Brady, Lillian Russell and a blind teenager named Helen Keller who gave the inventor of the Braille typewriter a big hug. Mark Twain came to Chicago, but fell ill and spent 11 days in a hotel room without seeing the fair. “Of all people,” comments the author.

Unnoticed among the millions of visitors and a workforce of thousands was “a carpenter and furniture-maker named Elias Disney, who in coming years would tell many stories about the construction of this magical realm beside the lake. His son Walt would take note.”

The book is available online or by ordering through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

Published

on

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Thai Life

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers

The Thaiger

Published

on

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Daily News

The answers are in the banana leaves.

Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.

There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.

An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.

SOURCE: Daily News

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Entertainment

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival

The Thaiger

Published

on

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | The Thaiger

On the streets, in parks and garages, seven Cuban youngsters spent seven months practising K-pop moves to secure a spot on their dream stage: an appearance in South Korea to imitate their idols. 13 final teams from 80 countries are competing in the 2019 event.

At the grandly titled and government-funded Changwon K-pop World Festival contestants from around the globe perform imitation dances or sing cover versions of the genre’s biggest hits, with thousands of fans cheering them on.

In terms of global heft, South Korea is overshadowed by its much larger neighbours China and Japan, but the event is a way for Seoul to derive soft power from one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. In terms of pop-power, South Korea’s K-Pop is now a recognised world-wide music phenomenon with bands like BTS and Blackpink figuring amongst the other big-hitters on the Billboard charts and outselling their western counterparts with millions of albums and downloads.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Finalists for this year

Cuba’s Communist government is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies: when President Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, visited Pyongyang last November he was only the third foreign head of state to do so since leader Kim Jong Un inherited power in 2011.

But rather than geopolitics, Havana performer Karel Rodriguez Diaz – whose mannerisms and sleek hairstyle could easily be mistaken for those of a K-pop star – is more motivated by high-tempo beats and superslick dance moves.

“We never had a place with a mirror or a choreographer who could teach us the steps” but they kept on practising, he said.

His team-mate Elio Gonzalez added: “We are so excited to represent not just Cuba but also the whole of Latin America.”

Some 6,400 teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition, according to organisers, with 13 groups from places as diverse as Kuwait and Madagascar winning through to the final in Changwon, where they appeared on stage waving their national flags.

“This is like watching the Olympics, a K-pop Olympics,” said the event’s host Lia, a member of K-pop group ITZY.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

The Korean Wave

K-pop – along with K-drama soap operas – has been one of South Korea’s most successful cultural exports to date. A key part of the “Korean Wave” which has swept Asia and beyond in the last 20 years, the K-pop industry is now estimated to be worth $5 billion, with boyband BTS its latest high-profile exponent, becoming the world’s most successful band in the past 12 months, selling out stadium concerts within minutes, around the world.

The South Korean government has financed a variety of K-pop themed events in what CedarBough Saeji, a visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the US, said was a form of long-term “soft power diplomacy”.

“When you are covering you get to ‘become’ those idols for the three and a half minutes of the song,” she said, adding that performers will go so far as matching their clothing, accessories and hairstyle to their heroes and heroines.

“The cover dancers of today will be diplomats, news reporters, and business leaders in forty years,” she went on.

“And hopefully they’ll still have a soft spot in their heart for Korea. Korea can’t win the world through hard power – armies, economic bullying – but with soft power even a small country like Korea has a chance.”

The music also provides an artistic alternative for overseas fans, especially those in developing countries, Saeji added.

“The West, especially the United States, has been so dominant culturally for so long, and having a different cultural pole to look to provides hope that one’s own country can experience similar success in the future.”

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Be who you want

Beneath its glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cutthroat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.

Sulli, a popular K-pop star and former child actress who had long been the target of abusive online comments was found dead on Monday, with her death sending shockwaves through fans around the world.

“I think a day where (people) would be ashamed of the K-show business will surely come,” a South Korean online user wrote in the wake of the star’s death.

“I think an industry that makes money by (making people) sing, dance, undergo plastic surgeries and go on a diet to please the gaze of others since they are teenagers should really go bankcrupt.”

But for Kenny Pham, a finalist from the US at last week’s contest, K-pop’s diversity – with some tunes having dark themes, while others were “cute” or sensual – is what gives him a sense of liberation.

“I like how expressive you could be,” the 19 year old told AFP last week.

“I feel like it’s a place where you could show the passion you have for music, dance or fashion. No one is bashing you for what your likes are.”

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required
ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย24 hours ago

ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62 | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย1 day ago

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย1 day ago

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง | The Thaiger
ข่าว2 days ago

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 week ago

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย2 weeks ago

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย2 weeks ago

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด | The Thaiger
ต่างประเทศ2 weeks ago

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล4 weeks ago

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน | The Thaiger
หนัง1 month ago

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง” | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง”

อารัมภบท รักฉุดใจนายฉุกเฉิน My ambulance ตอนแรก 6 กันยานี้ | The Thaiger
บันเทิง1 month ago

อารัมภบท รักฉุดใจนายฉุกเฉิน My ambulance ตอนแรก 6 กันยานี้

วอลเลย์บอลหญิงชิงแชมป์ยุโรป 2019 โฉมหน้า 4 ทีมตัดเชือกรอบรอง | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

วอลเลย์บอลหญิงชิงแชมป์ยุโรป 2019 โฉมหน้า 4 ทีมตัดเชือกรอบรอง

บิ๊กไบก์หัวร้อน ตบหัวลุงพิการผัวะ ‘รถกูเป็นอะไร มีปัญญารับผิดชอบไหม’ | The Thaiger
ข่าวไทย1 month ago

บิ๊กไบก์หัวร้อน ตบหัวลุงพิการผัวะ ‘รถกูเป็นอะไร มีปัญญารับผิดชอบไหม’

Trending