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Phuket Books: Yoknapatawpha on the Hudson

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Books: Yoknapatawpha on the Hudson | The Thaiger

PHUKET: William Faulkner’s novels take place in Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. William Kennedy’s novels take place in Albany, New York. His Albany Cycle of eight novels include two of the very best in American literature: Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978) and Ironweed (1983) which was made into a movie for which both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep received Oscar nominations.

A recurring character in these novels is the newspaperman Daniel Quinn, William Kennedy’s alter ego. In his youth Kennedy had worked for a newspaper in Puerto Rico with a young man named Hunter Thompson and later covered the Castro revolution in Cuba. He eventually settled back in Albany where he found fertile ground for newspaper exposés about the colorfully corrupt Irish-American political machine.

At 83, Kennedy had drawn a similar narrative arc for Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes (Viking, New York, 2011, 328 pp). The novel opens in 1936 when eight-year-old Daniel Quinn is awakened by strange music in his Albany house: it’s Bing Crosby and the local jazz piano player named Cody Mason.

The novel then jumps to 1957 in Havana when the reporter Daniel Quinn is pushing 30 and screws up the courage to approach Ernest Hemingway at the Floridita bar. In comes Renata Suarez Otero, young, beautiful and rich, a student revolutionary against the Batista dictatorship. She is escorted by her brother in law, a shady newspaper publisher. He promptly gives Quinn a job. Quinn is infatuated by Renata whose boyfriend is soon killed in an assault on Batista’s palace. Quinn joins her in flight to the jungle, to secret Santaria rites and a meeting with Fidel Castro.

Hemingway is well drawn. Of him, Quinn writes: “Since he moved to the Finca in 1939 it had become a place where the grand and the great among writers, generals, movie stars, journalists, baseball players, sailors, drinkers, and women queued on the front steps to talk, swim, party, flirt with or just shimmer in the waves of mythic glow that emanated from this maestro of the word, the hunt, the deep sea, the saloon, the bull-ring, the wars, the self.”

Unfortunately, many of the Cuban characters speak in a form of bad Hemingway, including Fidel Castro. This section ends with the return of Quinn from his Castro interview and the mysterious disappearance of Renata.

Now the action moves 11 years into the future, 1968, on the day after Robert Kennedy has been shot. Quinn is working for an Albany newspaper and rather prosaically is married to Renata. We learn that she had been saved from a Cuban torture chamber by the rather improbable intercession of the voodoo Santaria god Changó. Meanwhile, the streets of Albany’s black neighborhood threaten to explode into riots at the death of Bobby Kennedy.

Much of this section is told through the comical misadventures of Quinn’s father George who wanders the streets in a fog of forgetful dementia. There is a wide cast of noble black characters who are fighting a corrupt City Hall and the battle lines are drawn starkly with Quinn and radical Dominican priest Matt Daugherty on the side of righteous community activists. They all rendezvous at a table for the last concert of jazz pianist Cody Mason. And here Kennedy kicks out the lyrical jams:

“There was a beauty in his ease, his sureness, no clunked notes tonight, and he switches keys and ups the tempo, just a little, and ba-boom goes that left hand, the power of it, he’s on a ride, six choruses and counting, feel that beat, beat, beat, that goddamn beat, this is stride on high, stride the way it’s supposed to be, brilliant invention, the poor guy can’t help himself, smothering the song with his gift, exploding it, and Quinn’s pulse is up and cantering, those left-handed arpeggios, the glissando that surprises and he notches the speed upward . . .”

The novel takes Quinn from childhood to young manhood to the cusp of middle age and all the while he is faithful to his better nature and the strivings of the people around him for dignity and freedom. Though the cartoon colors are often too garish, the narrative plunges on towards resolution, much as Cody Mason’s last song.

The book is available by request through all good bookshops in Phuket or online at Amazon.com.

— James Eckardt

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley

The Thaiger

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley | The Thaiger

PHOTO: BTS members posing with South Korean President Moon Jae In

400 million views, 500 million, 600 million. Just scroll through the group’s songbook on YouTube from the past five years and you will be watching music history in the making – a success built on a new pop genre, new ‘music business’ model and seven young South Koreans hell-bent on succeeding in the music world, beyond South Korea.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

Now, the global success of K-pop act BTS lies at the core of an academic course launched at the University of California, Berkeley. The student-run course has been announced on the university’s website as part of UC Berkeley’s Democratic Education at Cal program.

The group – consisting RM, J-Hope, Suga, V, Jungkook, Jimin and Jin – have amassed a social media following (called ARMY), ignited live audiences with their happier sharp choreography and won international awards. It hasn’t all been easy and their story, from seven teenagers living in one dorm in Seoul, to international music stars has lessons for all interested in modern pop music.

On the course “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” students will learn about the K-pop boy band’s growing global impact, which led to their immense success.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

The DeCal program allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of subjects, as reported by Yonhap. The BTS class is an option for media students at UC Berkeley and will be offered for the first time in spring.

The course outline for “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” on the school’s website reads: “This course will focus on Korean boy group BTS and their global impact. We will attempt to explore the group’s history, artistry, philanthropy, and many other aspects in order to analyze their growing impact in society as well as their international success.”

It would also dive into the intricate world known as ‘Bangtan Universe’ that the group has created through its album concepts and videos. Media articles and interviews would be utilized as well, and students would come up with theories about the group’s success.

The orientation session for the course was held on Feb. 5, and a Twitter account has been dedicated to the course. A photo on Twitter showed the enrolled students watching a video of BTS’ acclaimed speech during a United Nations General Assembly session in September. BTS fans expressed their support for the program on Twitter.

BTS attended this year’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and made history as the first K-pop presenters at the event. The group’s album Love yourself: Tearwas nominated in the Best Recording Package category. They made history in 2018 with two Number One albums on the Billboard Top 200 charts.

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Thai Life

Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019)

The Thaiger

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Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019) | The Thaiger

…in English, in no particular order.

This post is mainly for newbies, tourists and people-interested-in-Thailand. Locals already have their home favorite news sources. But all these Top 10 do it well, in their own way. All are trying to navigate their way through the labyrinth of modern media, some better than others, whilst punching out daily news. We think they’re all stars because doing media in Thailand, in English, is a tough gig.

These are all news and information sources and the list doesn’t include the myriad of excellent blogs around – a topic for another Top 10.

1. Bangkok Post

Traditional news, still delivered as a daily newspaper, but with an expansive and thorough website. It’s been going since 1946 and reported on a coup or two, or three. As far as making the move into digital media is concerned, Bangkok Post is doing it better than most. Editorially it has has taken a, mostly, neutral political stance with a few exceptions. But, as newspapers go, it walks down the middle fairly reliably.

2. The Nation

The other major daily coming out of Bangkok is a lot newer than Bangkok Post, starting up in 1971. As the two broadsheets battle it out, The Nation has occasionally taken a more partisan line, famously turning its editorial voice against PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Recently the paper has been struggling with circulation and was taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News. At this stage there appears to be no impact on The Nation’s editorial stance but it’s falling circulation and advertising revenues are impacting its bottomline.

3. The Thaiger

Please indulge us as we put our own website and news in the Top 10. The Thaiger, only running as a national website since April 2018, is the fastest growing English-speaking online-only news and information site in the Kingdom (according to the ‘stats’).

The Thaiger are the new kids in town with everything to prove. The Thaiger curates the news and chooses topics it believes will be interesting, important or newsworthy, in English and Thai. The Thaiger bought out the Phuket Gazette’s digital assets in August 2017 but now has a national and regional focus, whilst continuing to pay homage to its home turf in Phuket. Currently has the third highest readership of any English-speaking news website in Thailand.

4. ThaiVisa

The biggest and most popular news website in Thailand (in English). If ‘The Thaiger’ curates, ThaiVisa splashes EVERYTHING onto its front page. If it moves or breathes, you’ll find the story on ThaiVisa. It’s big, bold and an eyeful of news. It’s also famous, or infamous, for its hugely popular forums where keyboard warriors dispense their opinions and wisdom on everything, usually tearing things to shreds. It’s the biggest English-speaking news website in Thailand and has been for a decade. Recently had a makeover and now has a purple cut durian as its logo – go figure.

5. Khaosod English

Fresh, selective, well-written and a rising star in real Thai english-language journalism. An offshoot of it’s much bigger Thai-language sister. To the point, original stories with a modern journalistic spark. They tend to choose their stories and provide excellent insight when they do. Original and deserving of your daily read.

6. Coconuts

Most would agree that when Coconuts started it was the best and cheekiest news blog for its time. Actually covering all of South East Asia, it’s Bangkok blog was a daily log-on for most hip expats. In recent times they’ve taken the brave ‘paywall’ option (because people want to pay for good journalism) which hasn’t affected their web hits, yet. In our opinion it’s lost a bit of its verve but it’s still a healthy and reliable daily read, for Thailand and the region. Singapore it its most popular location, Thailand is third.

7. Thailand News

A shameless aggregator, they copy and paste headlines and a few paragraphs with a link to the original story. Designed to rank in Google, the site is still in its early days. To avoid any copyright issues, the stories usually include a photo library ‘look-a-like’, instead of the real photo from the story. For all we know the entire site could be run by cleverly-coded robots. There is no sign of a human touch anywhere. Rather than a contributor to the world of Thai journalism, the site is just a parasite using everyone else’s news. But, hey, it’s a viable business model I suppose. Bottomline, it’s nicely set up and has, well, most of the stories around Thailand, all in one neat package.

8. The Phuket News

Phuket-based and Phuket-focussed, the weekly newspaper took on the well-established Phuket Gazette (which had been running since 1993) and eventually became the island’s one and only weekly ‘newspaper’ (somewhat of an oxymoron these days). The paper has always employed some of the best editorial staff in Thailand, runs a lifestyle and travel section and, well, is about as good a local paper as a tropical island could hope for. Also has a Russian and Thai version.

9. All Pattaya media

Whilst the rest of Thailand does things one way, Pattaya does things differently, in every aspect, including its media. It’s quite saturated with farang media – websites, Facebook pages, radio and cable TV – but there’s no single, ‘outstanding’ Pattaya news source. For the local expats there’s plenty of choice. Problem is there’s TOO much choice and the many are eating out of the same small advertising revenue pie.

10. Thai PBS World

A government news agency but has demonstrated its independence over the years. As a website it’s had more face-lists than Joan Rivers but remains solid, reliable and surprisingly (especially with the military government) unbiased. Also tends to cover stories the other don’t.

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Thai Life

Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand?

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand? | The Thaiger

The Government is looking at a plan to grant amnesty to those who have been using, or have, cannabis in their possession, But only if they report to authorities within a given time frame.

The Drug Committee approved three draft legislations for amnesty yesterday.

If the drafts become law even possessors of cannabis, who are not patients or research units, will be automatically pardoned, no questions asked.

The Food and Drug Administration secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong says… “We have already passed the draft regulations, but there are still many steps left. The FDA will have to put these drafts through public hearings and gather opinions for further review.”

He was speaking after chairing a meeting with the Drug Committee, during which the green light was given to several draft laws yesterday.

The approved drafts included three announcements designed to grant amnesty to government agencies, private firms, community enterprises, practitioners of traditional Thai medicine, research organisations, patients and everybody else who use or possess cannabis.

“They must report within 90 days once the announcement goes into effect,” Tares explained.

Under Thai law, cannabis is an illicit drug and possession or use of it is punishable by a fine and/or a jail term.

However, the Kingdom is currently in the process of allowing the use of medical marijuana, and several draft laws are being prepared to facilitate the enforcement.

According to the plan, patients who use marijuana for health reasons will be allowed to continue using the drug after they register themselves for amnesty and till the medical-marijuana system is introduced.

Marijuana is believed to be useful for patients battling Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, some stress conditions, chronic pain, and nausea related to chemotherapy.

SOURCE: The Nation

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