Monday, March 31, 2008

Dear Anonymous;

Dear Anonymous;

Thank you. Thank you for helping me get a bit of the lead out.

David-Everitt-Carlson, wild-wild-east-dailies, wildwildeastdailies, saigon, ho-chi-minh-city,vietnam


Following is a comment left on my Wild Wild East post, "Go East Young Man". This is the post that deals with the first 70 or so pages of the book Wild Wild East . I think it's best to just read it as is and let my comments follow.

From Wild Wild East comments by Anonymous:

"A good show putting this up, an interesting thing to watch its refinement through feedback and edits. Kindly, I have to admit your intros had left me looking for something a bit more brazen. And again, purely with best intents I'd just like to note I actually ShawnMichaelE, Advertising, marketing, DJ,David-Everitt-Carlson, wild-wild-east-dailies, wildwildeastdailies, saigon, ho-chi-minh-city,vietnamgot a tad annoyed the sixth or seventh "[Ii]magine", especially when it was put in the imperative.

Also maybe worth noting, I could more passionately relate to an attitude that seems to keep seeping out of this whole system of works, just one part of which is the book. I keep seeing a Rum Diary-esque posture apparently pushed out by an angst to tell it all, like it was, no more, no less, damn both the politic and politically correct.

And, maybe sadistically, maybe masochistically, I'm looking for that no-compromise seed to un
leash itself and rule omniscient, knowing full well it could kill you just as fast as it could set you or I free."

Back in November of 07 I put a few pages of the book up on Wild Wild East . 15 to start and a full 70 or so by the end of January. This was not the sort of thing I was particularly interested in promoting – more it was a post, edit and review exercise with only close friends and trusted writers as initial recipients. Almost immediately, in as friendly a way as possible, the people who knew me best sent a collective but no less clear, missive to "take the gloves off!" One guy went so far as to say it just bored the living fuck out of him. Oh, he was nicer than that but I got it. More pointedly, Patrick Scullin , a very old friend and writing partner of mine imparted a George Seldes quote, "Tell the truth and run". This was what I needed – and maybe a bit more. I'm not Hunter S. and certainly not Henry Miller . And this is reality, not reality masquerading as fiction – because honestly, I have little to lose by telling a real story. And the real story, I think, is a whole lot more compelling if I don't shroud it in fictitious circumstances as if it were all some sort of psychedelic misconception (that's why I keep saying "imagine"). – or I'm sheltering a job I don't want to loose (Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company).

That bit of art can rest on perspective and the way of telling – the distance – the change in personage from first to second to third – depending on whether I need to regard myself as a past avatar, a current thinking, functioning mammal or a complete glyph. It's my

At Pat's original urging, I was able to get to a point about my past relationship with my
wife that had eluded me before. I couldn't see it, but over twelve years since our parting and 7 years after divorce I probably had not confronted the subject much. I tried to rectify it and re-write it with two other women since but those situations didn't work out either. Duh. What part of "duh" didn't I understand?

So what? This is now my confessional? Not fucking hardly. How poor for readers. In the book, I have time. I don't have to give away too much too soon. A story can build and a character can reveal himself with subtleties and back-stories over time – so you get his thinking. But this is a whole lot more like advertising or lesser journalism. I've got a short window in which to sell – or charm – or just say whatever advances the plot.

So thanks Anonymous, and just tonight to Dick Johnson and Abbe and Inkslinger . You're "da men", or "da womens" who help me work. I need to shout-out a bit to Freya, Rhona, Kenneth, fallen agents and anyone else who gives a shit or just gives me shit.

In the end I now understand that this blogging thing is a collaborative effort. No pain, no rain. Like being on a stage and feeding off the vibe. Or falling. Nice trip methinks.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Can You Spot Rejection?

The life of a
writer is filled with rejection. In fact the lives of creative people in general are filled with rejeAbstract Expressionist, Hugh MacLeod, Gapingvoid, Adler, News, Frank Stella, Minimalist, Psychology, Author, Memoir,  Novel,ction. I remember my high school art teacher, Mrs. Partridge, critiquing my latest masterpiece with the direct and pointed observation "David, I'm sorry but you have no taste". Fair enough. She was of the classical school and I was involved in 1960-70's hardline minimalist abstract expressionism the likes of Frank Stella. Honestly, I don't even think much about Stella today, but at the time I had so completely rejected realism that my tonal studies of colours and shapes were such complete universes that I could loose myself inside them for weeks during their manufacture. They were my drugs, and I loved them.

I remember another teacher saying the problem with all artists was that they were lazy. "They think that once they've had the idea that the process is complete.", he said, "They don't think taking the time to make the painting or sculpture is worthwhile because the idea will remain the same". I didn't see it that way at all.

One of my first impressions of the way people perceived art was at a spring school courtyard exhibition. Staying well out of the way of guests so as not to give away that I was the creator, I listened to incredibly precise delineations of my perceived mental state, imagination, harmony, disillusionment, and documentation of said mental gymnastics so as to clearly point out that I was either terminally disturbed or a farking genius. And I laughed secretly and pretty damn loudly inside. Absolutely 100% of the crap these purveyors of fine art were spewing was inaccurate – at least to me. My paintings were colour and shape studies only – at least that's all I intended them to be. Maybe there were a bunch of Adler graduates in the crowd, but I doubt it – not in Moline, Illinois.

The critiques would continue, through my editorial work, theatre performances and yet even more art exhibits. I may not have had any taste, but I was certainly learning how to get a buzz going. No two critiques were the same. No two critics agreed. And all of it was good. I made stuff and people talked about it. That seemed a good enough occupation of my time to me – the trick then was to figure out how to make a living out of it.

Making a living at creation has turned out to be not much different than maintaining any other job. There are some tasks ones does to bring home the bacon and others one does for personal growth. You can keep a pretty good job so long as you don't appear to be completely and totally self serving. Those who sit in a building and bite the hands that feed them (ad agencies, music companies, magazines, newspapers, etc.) by saying what great fucking talents they are and decrying being chained to things like office hours and actual clients or consumers are probably just hacks. They miss the point that maybe one day that job will be gone and nobody will buy their fucking book or screenplay.

"Pay up Shakespeare – bar's closing".

Writing books is the sort of thing one does for personal growth. In the early stages it certainly will not pay any bills. But just writing it down is one thing – selling it is quite another. And so I'm back to the critiques, from agents, readers, friends and potential publishers and even people I don't know at all.

So let's play a game!

Below are actual statements made by individuals about the work on this blog and the book Wild Wild East. Some of the statements are from friends and fans – some are from actual rejection letters. See if you can guess which ones are rejections and which ones are sincere compliments – then, after you've had a good go of it, mouse-over the phrases and discover their true origins. You may be surprised.

"Your writing is very vivid and smart..."

"As you surely know, you
are an extremely good writer"...

"Your story reads very well,
and you have the ability to promote it"...

"I have to admit it's getting better ...
it's getting better all the

"Your blog is fun, insightful, and says
more about you than the topics."

"I like your book, btw..."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Your Man In Saigon II

e got to have a lot of respect for Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair Magazine to begin with. After all, he was one of the cofounders of Spy Magazine in 86 and one of our heroes as fans of Art Buchwald, H. L. Mencken, Hunter S. Thompson and MAD Magazine from the 60s through today – and if you didn't get Spy, not in the subscription sense but the intellectual one, it's a good bet that you just didn't get it totally, and probably still don't.

........................Carter's notes to the April issue include the following:

Brian McNally, Graydon Carter, new york, News, Opinion, our man in saigon, restaurants, Saigon, Vanity Fair, Vietnam "With the fragile economy of the U.S. in a state of collapse, oil hitting $100 a barrel (it was $25 in early 2001), our judicial system in crisis, our environment in the hands of polluters, our military stressed beyond stress, our image in tatters abroad, and our influence on the wane, George W. Bush, the man responsible for so much of this misfortune, took a page from Brian McNally’s book and hit the road, searching the planet for Third Worlders who do not read the newspapers."

– Bush was here in Vietnam just over a year ago in late 2006.

As Editor of Vanity Fair since 1992, Carter has blazed more than a few trails and continues to do so this month
featuring a solid piece of investigative work in writer David Rose’s exposé on our State Department's recent bungle in Palestine. Imagine Charlie Wilson's War but without the hot tub, champagne, coke, awesome babes, Hollywood A-listers or winning conclusion.

I hear a lot of rumbles both inside and outside the US that our mainstream media are not doing the job of free speech our constitution tells us they should be doing, and so in that case, it seems painfully clear what needs to be done – stop looking toward the the mainstream for guidance. None of the writers or publications listed above were ever particularly mainstream but they each etched out a market based on the idea that we could believe them, even if we didn't agree with them. And God knows, we all wanted to believe Hunter S. and flat out knew little of it was true – but the ideas were just so totally from the heart – and what warmed us to him.

........................And Thomas Jefferson said:

Brian McNally, Graydon Carter, new york, News, Opinion, our man in saigon, restaurants, Saigon, Vanity Fair, Vietnam

re it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

I sus
pect Mr. Carter would agree as much with this at least as much as he seems to agree with Mr. Jefferson's choice in hairstyles.

My reintroduction to Graydon Carter in a place as far away as Vietnam started out innocently enough. I posted a blog with the first few chapters of Wild Wild East to get feedback from readers and help promote the book to agents and publishers. Then my friend Hugh MacLeod got ahold of it and posted a link on his Gapingvoid blog using an excerpt with the title "Microsoft and Leo Burnett". Then some shit hit the fan. Or a whole bunch of itty-bitty shits. Inside of a day my click-o-meter flies off the charts like I'm a coin-searching beachcomber at Chernobyl – and the ball begins to roll. The snowball, that is. I quickly decide that a 75 page single post is not what most blog readers are interested in and hastily put up the WWE "Dailies" page – with just three quickie posts. It gets more hits than the original page and a nice batch of subscribers and regular readers. Old friends find me. Old enemies find me but most happily, new friends find me. Enter: Fan mail.

Two weeks ago I received an email from a woman in New York named Rhona that went like this:

"Fell on your WWE page by accident very recently and of course, got hooked. Then, in the same week, up pops the Brian McNally piece in Vanity Fair. Much more predictable than yours, but still fun. And Graydon Carter says 'I am hoping this is the first of man such reports from Our Man in Saigon.'

But to your readers, David, you are Our Man in Saigon! So of course I wondered if you had read it and what you thought of it."

At the time VF had not posted the Brian McNally story on their site so I asked Rhona to send it to me. It arrived yesterday. Thanks Rhona. One day I'm writing into space and
the next I understand both the concept that I have regular readers and the idea that at least one of them has seen that I was on the beat well before a rather respected magazine. Oh sure, I did it without fact checkers, a legal staff, typesetters, designers, photographers and god-forbid, an editor – the number of journalistic ethics violated could easily beat the number of American missteps in recent world affairs – but then again, I'm working on the spirit of the law and not the letter. If I were getting paid for this, I'd be a lot less fun to read.

McNally's story is well done and interesting from the standpoint of one who seems relatively new to life in Asia. Many parts of his travails remind me of my first days in Korea.

From Wild Wild East:

"Driving down the small city block is how one’s selection is made. No one walks. This was a drive through sex mart with all its wares on display behind plate glass windows, presented on tall stools, and decorated with all the charm of a vintage video game. We circled the block twice assessing the shops that were non-foreigner friendly and marveling at the seemingly endless selection of attractive ladies. For a man with his wife napping back at a five-star hotel, this might seem to have been kid-in-a-candy-shop stuff but I don’t recall feeling that way at all. More like fish-in-a barrel stuff – much too easy. To me the surreality of it all was the reality of it all – the kind of thing that throws one’s moral compass into a tailspin. Drive-by fucking – marshaled by police and brightly lit for all to see, yet still technically illegal. This was the Korea I had come to see – my little handful of dirt under the rock my ship had been cast upon."

Brian McNally's story and mine will not turn out to be similar. Just two different guys at two different places in time who happen to be in the same city at the same time – writing letters back to a place we used to call home – and thanks to whatever higher power you believe in that we still can. With our government at it's own citizen's heels for lack of a credible enemy, it's a damn good time to look back to Jefferson and be happy we can write anything at all.

"I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too." – Thomas Jefferson

For the entire "You man in Saigon Experience" check below:

IV: The search for Brian McNally ends
III: The second Vanity Fair Story
II: The first Vanity Fair story
I: Your Man In Saigon"

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bentley #5: Perspective III.2

For anyone who's counting along with me, I just logged Bentley #5 here in Vietnam today. This model, a two door
white Continental GT, with a rakish rear roof line was a particular shame tBentley, BritCham, Continental GT, Communist Hairdressers, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, news, perspectiveo behold. Where in the hell is anyone going to get any driving enjoyment out of that car in this country? The highways in Vietnam have been built with ISO Certified Afghan technology that picks up where the Soviets left off. Even the oxen stay off em'. And who spends that kind of money on a white friggin' car? Communist hairdressers?

I'll have to ring up BritCham this week and see where the rally and Queen's Birthday Bar-B-Que are being held this year. Could be a charming afternoon in the country... if we don't get our paint jobs dinged by falling coconuts.

For more on the "Perspective" or "Little Things" series, click below:

My Morning Wake-Up Call - Perspective XX: The Little Things XII
We'll Have A Gay Old Time - Perspective XIX: The Little Things XII
"Rolled Foggy Disposed Ricepaper" - Perspective XVIII: The Little Things XI

Joyeux Noel - Perspective XVII: The Little Things X

Lunch With Obama - Perspective XVI: The Little Things IX

One Motley Crue On The Bus Today - Perspective XV: The Little Things VIII

Attraction vs. Conversion: How To Power Your Blog - Perspective XIV: The Little Things VII

A glass box full of deep fried chicken heads - Perspective XIII: The Little Things VI

Seoul Searching - Perspective XII

He Would Have Shot Me 40 Years Ago - Perspective XI: The Little Things V

Chomsky on Colour & Sleep - Perspective X: The Little Things IV.2

Running With Scizzors - Perspective IX: The Little Things IV

Henry Miler II - Perspective VIII : The Little Things III.1

Henry Miller - Perspective VII: The Little Things III

Big Brother - Perspective VI: The Little Things II

This Carnival of Life! - Perspective V

The Art Walk - Perspective IV: The Little Things

Bentley #5 - Perspective III.2

Bentley vs. Vespa - Perspective III.1

Bentleys Invade Vietnam - Perspective III

Death Of A Colleague - Perspective II


Friday, March 21, 2008

$0.83 Cents? Adsense makes no cents!

Yup, that's the amount of money I've made off of Google Adsense for the entire life of this blog. Sheeeeze. No getting rich around here – or my writing sucks.

So I'm doing the all-American thing and blaming you – my readers, for being low-life, lazy no-clickers! C'mon people. you know the drill!

After reading whatever drivel I have just scribbled, you need to go to the sidebar and just click randomly on whatever ad Google has ever-so-inadvisedly chosen to accompany my blog: Hem
hemmoroids, idiots, monetize, Dragon Head, ShawnMichaelE, David Everitt-Carlson, penis enlargement, screw, snowboarding, wild wild east dailies, Wild Wild East,  Vietnam, , News,  Opinion, moroid medications, penis enlargement, Vietnam snowboarding expeditions ... whatever. you don't have to buy a thing. Just click on an ad. Because that's how it works. I get a credit for every idiot click that comes out of my blog and I'm betting that plenty of idiots stop by from time to time. But the word is "monetize". I need to monetize said idiots. So be a pal. Be a PayPal! Do your part in just screwing with the system and send me a thousandth of a penny every time you click on something/anything...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saigon 182.5: The movie

So what does Saigon really look like? To me, it looked like this after 6 months. And what does "Saigon 182.5" mean? It means this: a circle has 360 degrees. A year has 365 days – and so six months has 182.5.

And by the way: Go to the sidebar and scroll down to the Podcast control to pause the music before playing the film. That way the soundtracks won't conflict.

This film was shot originally just as whatever had been on my cel-phone for six months and edited in the Mac. A compendium of stuff. I made it as a sort of video postcard for friends. Then, in the summer of 2006 it was entered and deemed a finalist in the Nokia/Discovery Channe
l MobiFilms contest – a film contest for movies done exclusively on mobile phones. It was actually shot on a Motorola V3. The contest judges took particular note of that. Whilst participating in the contest we were all given very expensive and insanely complicated Nokia n93s to shoot with, including a Carl Zeiss lense and an inane editing interface that made programming a VCR seem easy. The task was to shoot and edit a film in one hour. My film that day sucked. The shots and script were ok but we were required to edit it in the phone using the Nokia interface that could only be described as Flinstonian. This film is much better and no phone should be made to edit film.

I think Nokia understands that now. They abandoned the MobiFilms contest concept after just two years and have since been preoccupied with coming up with their own iPhone killer. Ha. And me? I'm back to Motorola. I won a $700 retail Nokia phone for my efforts and sold it for $500. Big money in Vietnam.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blimps and Bullshit: Am I Doing Enough? II

Monday, March 16, 2008
A one-day diary:

9:00 am
I don't wake so early most days. If I have a business meeting or early appointment I will, but generally I work until 2am or later so seven hours sleep is good. I work often on less but find, that a bit more sleep makes me more productive and happy.
9:05 am
Rice. Coffee. Rubber. Those are Vietnam's three largest exports in that order. My morning coffee is made with a single-drip container that sits atop your standard cup. Hot water poured through, a rounded tablespoon makes a splendid cafe with about an 8th of an inch sweetened condensed milk in the bottom. A gentle stir with a tiny spoon and I'm ready to go. 100 grams of Arabica lasts me a week and costs around 50 cents.
9:15 am
Coffee and first cigarette in hand it's a mere swing and roll over to the charmingly antique (2003) Powerbook G4 12". General email and such. "There Will Be Blood" has finished downloading. Now I've got a movie for the evening.
9:20 am
Phone rings. Land-line. Something's wrong with the cell-phone and I'm off to the MobiFone shop to see if they can sort it out today. On the land-line is Crispin. He's invited me for breakfast. Crispin and I met two summers ago when we both DJ'd on different nights at the same club. I on a Monday and Crispin on a Wednesday, we became fast friends being fans of Britpop, psychedelic, Eric Satie, Broadway show tunes, Sinatra, Trip-hop, Hip-hop and alternative music of uncommon variety in Saigon. Crispin is visiting from England to which he has returned to pursue a career in the "real world".
9:30 am
Ye olde shit, shower and shave and I'm off for an Irish breakfast.
9:50 am
Crispin meets me in the lobby of my building and we jump on his motorbike to one of the local cheap-eats breakfast places.
10:00 am
The "All-day Irish Breakfast" is Vietnam's friend to hangovers from all over the world. Served on a 16" plate, not a spot of porcelain is visible amidst the pile of food served. Two eggs – poached, four slices of bread – toasted with butter on the side, two hash browns, four sausages, 4 strips of bacon, baked beans – helped by a dash if Tabasco and two slices of fried tomato. Cost: around 5 dollars with coffee. Tasty and filling.
10:30 am
Crispin and I discuss all things Vietnam, England and America. We talk about this blog and about Crispin's plan to work in the university system in the UK helping Asian students with their educations in an administrative function. He's visiting his girlfriend and really does miss Vietnam. He is experiencing the kind of post-traumatic-stress disorder that follows many expats back to their home countries after having been away for awhile and having realized that the "stress" was actually their home country. Being away from it for long enough can mellow a person out so much that they never truly recover to a land that doesn't allow smoking, excess drinking, street corner marijuana sales, naked girls playing pool with you or felatio being delivered at your barstool. Of course, that's not the life that everyone lives, but it is possible, and purchasable if one desires. What's the bigger idea is that there are simple freedoms that can be had, well beyond sex and drugs in this categorically communist country that can not be had in many democracies. So what, they don't really vote for their leaders? We do and look what we got last time. Anyway, just a perspective you won't see in Boise. Or SoHo. I suggest to Crispin that he start a blog – to channel his thoughts.
11:30 am
Crispin and I bid farewell, vow to keep in touch over the web and off we go. He on his motorbike and I on a short walk back home. Need to burn a few calories off.
11:45 am
From 11:30 to at least 1:30 everyday, Vietnam shuts down. It's a bit like a siesta and a holdover from the colonial days of no air-con or international clients to tend to. Switchboards turn off, air-con goes down and people flee the office buildings to the cafes, street restaurants or maybe home for a nap. You'll even find rows of office workers sleeping on the floors of darkened rooms once they've had their fill of "pho" (noodle soup) and maybe a little "kem" (ice cream) on a particularly hot day. It's pointless to try to get anything done in Vietnam during this time. So just don't try. I'm quite sure that Bentley dealership is closed.
12:00 noon
And so it's back home for a little computer geeking. An email to a client, some work filling out the calendar and an hour goes fast.
1:30 pm
Off to sort out that pesky phone issue. A few weeks back in a post titled Perspective II I had made note that I had not had the best of days. Because on that day, on my way home from working, my cell-phone was pick-pocketed. She was a crusty old whore and one I wanted nothing to do with. I could see her silhouette in the shadows of the car dealership now closed on a deserted stretch of a block or so of my route but tried not to notice. The Vietnamese are perplexed by my insistence on walking almost everywhere but I prefer it. I see a lot more of life by walking and keep a trim figure in the bargain. I politely refused her offer of "massage baby" twice and tried not to make eye contact but on the third approach one trained hand went for my crotch and the other for my left pants pocket. My pulling away was not enough to keep the phone from joining its new owner. Stealing phones is an international pastime in Southeast Asia – almost a legitimate job. So it became another week or so of replacing the phone and getting a new sim card to make it work. But today was to find out why the new sim card wasn't working.
2:00 pm
MobiFone bustles with customers, paying bills, opening new accounts and fixing old ones. A machine gives you a number and then you wait. Usually 20 minutes max. There are a few advertising posters on the wall but it's best to have a book or magazine. It took just minutes for my attendant to figure out what was wrong. I had only paid the bill that morning and the new sim card had been "inactive" until then. It worked now.
2:30 pm
Another short walk to a client meeting at three. Saigon is charming downtown. The French built cathedral Notre Dame and the Gustav Eiffel designed post office were on my way.
3:00 pm
Meeting with a client and a request for proposal. Job? They've got a contract to bring a blimp, a derigible, a zeppelin, into the country and want to use it for advertising purposes. They want me to write a plan that covers all of the blimp's advertising plans, expenses, potential media consumers, schedules and fees. I don't know fuck all about blimps but I'm gonna learn fast. Now this is the point where I pinch myself just to make sure I'm still on an oxygen breathing planet. How much fucking fun is this? I'm gonna get paid for figuring out how to sell blimp advertising to the Vietnamese. Never been done. No background information. Need to write this one from the ground up. Shit, bad pun. But it's just this sort of thing that makes my life fun here. No, I won't be going to L.A. to shoot any million dollar commercials but I might get to ride in a blimp over Vietnam. This place is just fucking nuts.
4:00 pm
A city bus to my next appointment. At rush hour it's best not to be a pedestrian around here. The buzz of motorbikes is just deafening and without a steel enclosure around you, you're just a walking target.
4:30 pm
Cafe Sua Da, means "iced coffee". Within every city block there must be at least three old ladies who will make you a glass of the stuff. The coffee, made presumably that morning, is poured, syrup-like, from an old liter and a half Pepsi bottle. The ice, crushed by hand from a chiseled block and beaten into half inch chunks with a small wooden bat and a towel. And the whole treat topped off by maybe a quarter inch of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of the glass. Cost: about 30 cents. Taste: With a cigarette? Priceless.
5:15 pm
The way many people make a steady buck around here is by teaching. And in the marketing business there's a huge clientele in corporations, private institutions and universities. I've worked for them all. My 5:15s are college students who speak well enough but are painfully shy. Oh, I'll bust them of that over time.
6:00 pm
Knock on the classroom door and it's one of the administrators. She wants to know if I can fill in for another teacher at another location at 7:30. No problem. A few more hours on my bill.
7:15 pm
Off to the substitute job.
7:30 pm
Before my class I'm asked if I can do an evaluation on a new student. After a 20 second check of her speaking ability (excellent) I run through our evaluation criteria. She answers all the questions easily on our highest level class. Probably she won't be my student but I hope she doesn't get bored. It's odd. Those who truly need an education don't seek it out and those who don't really need it keep getting more.
9:30 pm
A 30 minute walk home should wash the work out of me. I'm thinking more now about blimps. Jeezuz. Now I'm a blimp salesman.
10:00 pm
I'm not halfway up the five storey walkup that is my flat when the cel-phone rings. It's Ryan, a 26 year old American computer and music geek who likes to come to my place, have a few beers and participate in some of the local sharecropping that goes on from time to time. He wants to know if William, another friend of mine, wants to play some guitar tonight. Fuck, I'm bushed. I enter my flat and within five minutes there's a knock on the door. It's William, guitar in hand. Looks like the jam session's at my place tonight. We all merry about for a couple of hours and have a nice time. Ryan can write and William can play. William and I go all the way back to Korea. We met whilst hanging around at the open-mic nights in town. It's good to have friends in the music business.
12:00 am
Those guys kicked out, it's time to check that torrent I downloaded of "There Will Be Blood". Awesome.

Blimps, tomorrow.

For more in the "Am I doing enough?" series, check below:

III An Ozomatli Day: Am I doing enough? III
II Blimps & bullshit: Am I doing enough? II
I "I've spent many years making up for not being a genius": Am I doing enough?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm A Crack Addicted Underwater Basket-weaving Aborginal Holocaust Survivor And Now A Best-Selling New York Times Author!

"Meet Margaret Seltzer, pen name Margaret Jones, who until this week was a half-white, half-Indian gangland drug runner who grew up a foster child in predominately black South Central Los Angeles. Her memoir was hailed as a "raw... remarkable book" in the Times, won herBestseller, Gawker, Penguin,Fake, Margaret Seltzer, Memoir, New York Times, Bestseller,  margaret-jones, book-review tentative online admirers and became the 28th best selling memoir on Amazon after it was released Friday. Of course Seltzer basically made her whole "memoir" up, being entirely white, having grown up in the predominately white San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, having gone to a fancy private school and having been raised by her biological family. Her book tour was supposed to start today in Eugene, Oregon but her publisher, a division of Penguin Group, has canceled all that and recalled her books. How did she get caught? Her lies worked too well: Seltzer's adulatory press was her unraveling. After a profile last week in the House & Home section of the Times, Jones' older sister called her publisher to rat her out." – You can read the whole sordid affair on Gawker.

Seeing this whole business, and having a book myself in the works, set the wheels a spinning in that little devious mind of mine. I riffled through the stack of rejection letters, poured over my frustration with agents and editors incapable of using simple email or fearing attachments because they're still on Windows 95 and decided to do a little guerilla work myself.

I spent a few hours compiling a short-list of those agents whom I had heard nothing from in response to my query letters of last year and sent the following brief note:

"Maybe publishers are now ready for a real memoir."

No preface. No mention of the above story. I didn't have to. Every agent and editor was busy at their respective water cooler wondering who was going to take a beating for this debacle and waiting for axes to fall.

And guess what? I got two requests for proposals from agents on both coasts. Fucking amazing. They didn't even know what my book was about. And maybe reality TV has finally taken it's toll.

Both new agents are still technologically Flinstonian and think that mailing large reams of paper, through communists censors, in a third-world country is a cheap walk in the park, but, I'm making progress. Or at least as much progress as one can make, dealing with an arcane industry that hasn't seen what the music business has done to itself in the last 10 years.

Two more agents on the hunt! Maybe I can sell the ones I don't pick on Ebay later.

Wild Wild East. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ramsey Montgomery: In Passing

This week, Ramsey Montgomery died. He was a writer and teacher living here in Saigon. I didn't know him well, but he was the one person, without fail, who would call out,
funeral, Ramsey-Montgomery, buddhist funeral prayer, saigon,  Vietnam, painting, art,buddha  "Hey Bowie!" to me whenever he saw me around town. Ramsey was always a sweetheart to me. I attended his funeral and met a loving and very interesting family and many of his friends I would not have otherwise met. He died at 40 years old and brought many together in his passing. RIP Ramsey. We will miss you.

For his Buddhist funeral prayer, click here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Your Man In Saigon

vanity-fair, graydon-carter, brian-mcnally, saigon, our-man-in-saigon, vietnam,new-york, restaurants, news, opinionA big thanks to Rhona in NYC for pointing out that The Wild Wild East Dailies is now being shadowed by Vanity Fair.

From Rhona's note to me:

"I fell on your WWE page by accident very recently and of course I got hooked. Even the mu
sic was pretty addictive... Then, in the same week, up pops the Brian McNally piece in Vanity Fair (April issue). Much more predictable than yours, but still fun. And Graydon Carter says 'I am hoping this is the first of many such reports from Our Man in Saigon.' Ha! But to your readers, you are Our Man in Saigon. So of course I wondered if you had read it and what you thought of it."

Vanity Fair has now been apprised of this duality and I'm sure Mr. Carter is busy scanning this blog to see if I really live in Saigon or am just trying to ride VF's Calvin Klein coattails. The Vanity Fair piece deals with a restauranteur who came here a year ago and sends emails back to Mr. Carter. I haven't met the man but on advice from his article, I'll be hunting down his barbershop ASAP. Vanity Fair also saw fit to send a photographer to get shots of the writer, very similar to ones that those of us who have been here for awhile, already have on our cel-phones. Call the Enquirer! We could already be sitting on shots of Spitzer's next girlfriend. Rhona has been nice enough to send me a copy of the story, so in a week or so I'll have a full report for you all.

Until then, I will remain Your Man In Saigon and urge you not to accept any cheap imitations from Vanity Fair or any other high minded celebrity gossip rags!

And oh, by the way... I saw Bentley #4 this week. Things are just going chirping mad around here.

For the entire "You man in Saigon Experience" check below:

IV: The search for Brian McNally ends
III: The second Vanity Fair Story
II: The first Vanity Fair story
I: Your Man In Saigon"

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow"

I fir
stan-richards, the-richards-group, advertising, marketing, wild-wild-east-dailies, david everitt-carlson, portrait, dallas, texas, rambler-road,st heard that in 1982 as words of advice for my career from my boss, Stan Richards at The Richards Group in Dallas, Texas. Believe it or not that company is an advertising agency and Stan still runs it daily, and he's into his mid 70s. Between that statement and the film of Leo Burnett on this blog, you might actually start to believe that the advertising business had some principles and some standards. And for the best people I've met in the business, it does.

Oh, I've met, worked with and worked for slimeballs, scumbuckets, sleezeballs, charlatans, hacks and downright liars as well, but it takes quite a bucket of idiots to make up for the few strategically well-placed souls in the industry.

For every Bernbach, Richards or Burnett there must be a thousand carpetbaggers, but trust me; these are not the voices you want to listen to. Not at least if you want to sleep well and lead a career of talent, inspiration and integrity. You can run ragged on the music business in the same way for all the criminals you'll find there but you'll also find an Ahmet Ertegun or Quincy Jones in the mix to balance things out – just every once in awhile.

The point was, is and always will be that doing what you love is the ultimate reward. It is the ultimate benefit of choices well made, of dreams well chased and of honour and honesty to oneself. If you can so much as continue to love the way in which you spend the majority of your time in the pursuit of a living, you will have succeeded at something that 99.9% of the population will go to the grave trying to grasp.

Excerpt from Wild Wild East:

"It was a Saturday morning and my father's study was next to my room in the partially sunken half of our suburban split-level home. In there Dad had his drafting table and what I thought to be exotic German instruments for designing electrical diagrams. On this particular morning he had a pile of drawings and was busy reviewing them and making corrections to his staff's work. I had never seen my father work on a Saturday before. As fascinated as I always had been with the mechanics of his job, this still did not seem to be an enjoyable passing of a Saturday when baseball and even lawn work stood as alternatives.

'Dad?'. I asked him, 'Do you like your job?'

The most quizzical look passed over his face. Obviously only a child could ask a question of such stupidity. And to Dad, a Korean war veteran and child of the depression, it was as nonsensical as could be.

'David', he said, 'It's not about liking something. You're not going to like everything you do in life. My job pays for this house and you, and your mother and your sisters. I never asked myself if I liked it or not. That's not how life works.' "

And that was probably the day I decided that it was important to enjoy what I was going to spend my whole life doing.

It was far, far later that Stan Richards would verify for me that I was not a complete idiot and that other people felt the same way as I did. Stan was both successful and happy.

Recently I left Stan's comment on a weblog called "MakeItbetter" under a post entitled 84 Things To Live By. To me it's still the way to sleep well each night.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Old Numbers: Good Morning Vietnam!

I realize immediately, that any number I post here will be old before I hit the enter button. And so goes the Internet. But I wanted to follow up on my earlier post "Are the Bloggerati Missing the Market?" with a few numbers on Asia and Vietnam's Internet growth.

The first thing you've got to do is to stop looking at Internet numbers by country. That's not a true comparison of markets, and so the first chart here, the pie chart, uses continents rather than couinternet-penetration, vietnam, WPP, Martin-sorrell, siliconmunist-valley, wild-wild-east-dailies, david everitt-carlsonntries for a clear comparison. And yes, Asia is the largest represented with almost 39% of the world market.

The second thing you'll notice is that Europe, or the EU, is larger than all of North America – something for the boys in Cupertino and Redmond to keep in mind.

And the third is good old Vietnam. Ahh, that storied battleground of yore. Home to a few good movie titles and a ton of old war surplus (see the 'Citizen Mekong' post), Vietnam is quite busy carving out a brand new future – on the web. Ranked at country #16 today, Vietnam will steainternet-penetration, vietnam, WPP, Martin-sorrell, siliconmunist-valley, wild-wild-east-dailies, david everitt-carlsonmroller over Indonesia, Spain, Canada and Mexico to nuzzle up just under Russia in the next year or so. Should Vietnam ever reach Korea's penetration of seventy-some percent that will put them at par with Germany, or solidly in the top ten.

Now don't go rolling in your capitalist coffins just yet over this one – just remember that you heard it here first. Martin Sorrell, chief honcho at communication giant WPP, made a serious mention of Vietnam as a hot market in his annual marketing outlook last year, but I'm not sure anyone heard that one. Even AdAge neglected to print it.

Good Morning Vietnam!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bentley vs. Vespa: Perspective III.1

Based bentley, vespa, piagio, salesman, salesmen,continental-flying-spur, vietnam, america, space-shuttle, lichtenstein, WTOon the same calculations from last post, if I make just $2000 a month in Vietnam that's equivalent to making almost $450,000, after tax in the US, based on income that's 9.2 times the Per Capita GDP per year in my host country. I still can't buy a Bentley – but the Vespa salesmen love me!

For more on the "Perspective" or "Little Things" series, click below:

My Morning Wake-Up Call - Perspective XX: The Little Things XII
We'll Have A Gay Old Time - Perspective XIX: The Little Things XII
"Rolled Foggy Disposed Ricepaper" - Perspective XVIII: The Little Things XI

Joyeux Noel - Perspective XVII: The Little Things X

Lunch With Obama - Perspective XVI: The Little Things IX

One Motley Crue On The Bus Today - Perspective XV: The Little Things VIII

Attraction vs. Conversion: How To Power Your Blog - Perspective XIV: The Little Things VII

A glass box full of deep fried chicken heads - Perspective XIII: The Little Things VI

Seoul Searching - Perspective XII

He Would Have Shot Me 40 Years Ago - Perspective XI: The Little Things V

Chomsky on Colour & Sleep - Perspective X: The Little Things IV.2

Running With Scizzors - Perspective IX: The Little Things IV

Henry Miler II - Perspective VIII : The Little Things III.1

Henry Miller - Perspective VII: The Little Things III

Big Brother - Perspective VI: The Little Things II

This Carnival of Life! - Perspective V

The Art Walk - Perspective IV: The Little Things

Bentley #5 - Perspective III.2

Bentley vs. Vespa - Perspective III.1

Bentleys Invade Vietnam - Perspective III

Death Of A Colleague - Perspective II


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