Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome to © Siliconmunist Valley!

I just wanted to get that term on paper before I start seeing it in newspapers all over the world, describing the new digital front in Vietnam. Ha! You're more than welcome to use the term but by some 2.0 etiquette I'd like to be credited with writing the original.

From the Twitter Files: Google/Publicis

Julio Fernandez, Google, Maurice Levy, Publicis, SocialJulio, Leo Burnett,

SocialJulio : Remember this Tweet (June 25, 2008) Google will buy Publicis Groupe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vietnam 2.0 – Martin Sorrell & The Siliconmunists Storm Ho Chi Minh City

Last week saw the invasion of Vietnam by WPP Group, with CEO Martin Sorrell leading the charge and taking Vietnam into its 2.0 phase, at least in terms of marketing and advertising as reported by the Telegraph in London.

"The world's second-biggest provider of marketing services by revenues is buying a 30 per cent shareholding in Vietnam Advertising Company, which is based in Ho Chi Minh City and is controlled by the Communist government."

And whilst this may not seem like a big deal in the rest of the world, it belies a larger strategy Sorrell has been executing globally by investing in emerging markets where growth rates are double-digitally wiping out anything that's happening currently in mature markets.

The wire service story, was picked up by the blog Vietnam Business Finance and reprinted exactly as it appeared in the Telegraph with the only omission being the word "Communist" as a descriptor for "government". I found it funny that the Communists edited out the word Communist in their story. Seems the editors understand it's not the most sales friendly term when you're busy attracting near to 20 billion a year in Foreign Direct Investment.

In another story on the same event, City A.M. cited the following:
Ho Chi Minh, Martin Sorrell, Siliconmunists, Vietnam, Vietnam Advertising Association, WPP
"The predicted annual US growth rate for the sector is 4.8 per cent while Vietnam checks in at a mighty 29.3 per cent. Sir Martin Sorrell, boss of advertising giant WPP, must have had sight of a draft copy. As Pricewaterhouse-Coopers’s global study came out, WPP was buying a large chunk of three Vietnamese media companies."

Having lived in Korea and having formed my own advertising agency, the very first 100% foreign owned agency in Korea in 1997, I watched as Ogilvy became the second wholly owned foreign agency in a market where foreign companies held only 5% and saw WPP's share of Korea's now 8 billion dollar marketing pie rise, just as one company, to 50%. That's 4 billion of which Sir Martin now takes a chunk of – and know that he will do the same thing here.

And this IS good news. The local market is so full of non-transparent, corrupt and just plain childishlHo Chi Minh, Martin Sorrell, Siliconmunists, Vietnam, Vietnam Advertising Association, WPP y managed communications companies and associations, that having WPP come in to put some rules of order to the industry is a welcomed addition. It will help me and every real professional in country. Call 090-234-9570. I have operators standing by.

In a separate but related story, Silicon Valley has established a beachhead here in Ho Chi Minh City, the developing world's largest Internet market.

The San Jose Mercury News reports:

"Vietnam's plugged-in generation: Internet boom creates Little Silicon Valley"

"Investors and Internet giants eBay, Yahoo and even Google are taking notice of Asia's latest Internet boom. Some 20 million Vietnamese are now online - up from 500,000 eight years ago. IDG Ventures predicts as many as 36 million Vietnamese will be using the Internet in less than two years. Next year, Vietnam will begin to roll out WiMax, so DSL-quality Internet experience will increasingly be available across the country."

"Out of all the developing countries in the world, Vietnam has the highest Internet penetration," said Santa Cruz native Bryan Pelz, chief executive of VinaGame, the country's most popular online game. "One of the reasons for that is its young population. The median age is 24."

Somehow, between Sir Martin Sorrell, Bryan Pelz, General Ho Chi Minh and the Siliconmunists it seems that Vietnam is now "the place to be". A few months ago Hugh MacLeod of mused to me that Vietnam was not a particularly brilliant place to be, but now, months on, I think it's more than fair to revisit that assessment and say that it may truly be a quite cool place to be. The 2.0 place to be.

For more on digital marketing and social networking see:

Xing vs. LinkedIn: Round II
Trial and Error: The New Normal
What's Wrong With My Social Networking? Xing vs. LinkedIn I
Low Tech Germany. Who Knew?
Advertising People and Blogs
How to Write the Best Blog in the World
What If Gutenberg Had a Blog?
If Blogs Are Free Does That Make Them Worthless?
Detri-Viral Marketing II: The Top 10 Social Media Blunders
Bright Lights, Big Internet and the WWED
Saigon Digital Marketing Conference Successfully Avoids Plumbers Convention
A Tale of Many Marketing Conferences
Detri-Viral Marketing I: How Web 2.0 Can Go Against A Brand
Marketing Predictions for 2009
Barcamp Saigon 2008
"Ignore Everybody" is Born: A Plug for Hugh MacLeod
Are the Bloggerati Missing the Market? Asia has Risen,
Into the Gapinvoid - Web 2.0 Social Networking Born 20 Years Ago

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

America, The Land of the FREE, Home of the Slave!

zero-dollar-bill, bullshit-dollar, bush, bastard, bank-bailouts, porky-the-american-pig, billions-of-zeros, worthless-dollar, print-money, fort-knox, broke-america, more-bullshit, government, news, business, finance, brian-romero, southern-illinois-university, SIU, Mike-belcheck, Carbondale-after-dark, porky-the-pig
Gotta thank Brian Romero for this one! To quote Mike Belcheck, the "Freeman" of late 70s Southern Illinois University fame, "I will work for free, if everything I need is free".

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Why do they lock gas station bathrooms?" he once mused. "Are they afraid someone will clean them?"

Dear George;

Thank you. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for making me think. Thank you for making the Supreme Court laugh, and rule in your favor. Thank you for those 7 words. I was fortun
Art Buchwald, Cheech and Chong, Ernie Kovacs, H.L. Mencken, George Carlin, Steve Martinate enough to have seen you twice on the heals of Cheech and Chong and you were positively brilliant. Thank you for teaching me that comedians plant microphones on stands in the audience to capture the laughter and recirculate it through the P.A. Thank you for being part of my coming of age, along with MAD Magazine, Cheech & Chong, Art Buchwald, H.L. Mencken, Steve Martin and Ernie Kovacs. And thank you for book-ending my 52nd birthday. George Denis Patrick Carlin, May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008. And thank you for this bit of critical thinking on America and our government.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 22nd: Happy Birthday Todd Rundgren!

Yup. It's confirmed. By the end of this post I will have proved for all time that I am a complete and unadulterated geek. And if that's not enough, I'm an old geek as well! When my dog got to this point my parents explained to me that they had to put her down – dear Mickey. It seemed way too early for a dog who was still learning new tricks.

But the Baby-Boom generation wants to live forever and if the Stones aren't proof enough – that old heroin addicts can fall out of coconut trees and be right back up on stage the next night, then look at the legions of old rockers who still refuse to give up the ghost: Ringo Starr (67) – new album this year. Ian Hunter (68) – new album last year. Iggy Pop – should have been dead years ago, but still on tour. McCartney – sung "When I'm Sixty-Four" in divorce court. And my personal favorite, Todd Rundgren who will release his latest album Arena on June 22nd, the occasion of his 60th birthday, with a private "invitation only" concert on his family property in Kauai, Hawaii before he hits the road with the show. Click on the colored "60th birthday tent" and see his personal invite.

And you ask, "Todd who?"

Todd Rundgren.

Below is a story that probably gets to the heart of my admiration for this artist and I do hope you take the time to read it, but in short, along with the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, the Beatles, Andy Warhol and precious few other visionaries, I believe Todd Rundgren has embodiBirthday, Todd Rundgren, Warhol, Zappa, Arena,  60,  Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Ian Hunter,EVN 2008,  Rock, Music,  Prog-rock,ed and constantly made example and practice (for over 40 years) of the theory of making art one's business and business one's art. He's steadfastly stuck to his principles and made a buck at the same time – and in this increasingly difficult artistic landscape that may be tougher than getting a starting slot on an NBA team.

Additionally, Todd has been lauded recently in the tabloids as the stepfather of Liv Tyler and raised two boys, Rex and Randy, who currently play with MLB franchises. His third boy may turn out to be a rocker but aside from penning the hits "Hello It's Me" and "Bang On The Drum" may only be famous for never having OD'd, gone into rehab or been thrown in jail as a celebrity social example.

But this year he may make headlines for another reason. His 60th birthday party. The one – did I say, "Invitation Only?" – is an open invitation to all of his fans and anybody who can afford a plane ticket to Hawaii. He has thrown open the grounds of his compound on Kauai and invited any and all who care for his music to come for a week, camp, go on hikes, go snorkeling, do yoga, get massages, eat Hawaiian BBQ and generally have a blast while he prepares for the launch of his 36th or 37th album with a live concert on the grounds Birthday, Todd Rundgren, Warhol, Zappa, Arena,  60,  Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Ian Hunter,EVN 2008,  Rock, Music,  Prog-rock,on June 22nd – and if I forgot to mention it – that happens to be my birthday as well. And to make it even more surreal, this just happens to be my 60th WWE post on Todd's 60th birthday. And no, I could not have planned that in a million years

This has got to be a first. Can you imagine Eminem or P-Diddy, Britney or anyone pulling this off? I can't. But once you begin to understand the depth and devotion of his fan base, it becomes a lot more clear – and Todd's reciprocation of that emotion to his fans, makes the whole idea come around full-circle. I just find it incredibly cool.

But alas. I won't be able to make this one.

Four years ago, a similar opportunity presented itself and I was able to wrangle a trip from Seoul to Tokyo to see Todd in his, then, latest incarnation. That's the story here, below. But this week I'll be pleased to be living vicariously through all the fans who will actually be on the property in Kauai. Doug Ford, who hosts RundgrenRadio every week, will be broadcasting nightly from the event. The TRConnection will webcast it and Todd and his team of merry pranksters will be gathering videos, photos, soundbites and the like to post on the web as things move along throughout the week. I will be in Geek Heaven for the next 7 days!

On the same day that Todd turns 60, I will be 52, and while I can't say the 50s have been as easy as all the decades previous – I can say I'm learning how to make it work more for me. One thing I've seen, and it hasn't impressed me, is a lot of people selling out – or maybe more correctly, making "selling out" their product. What I mean by this is that too many people, and I mean way-too-fucking-many, have been telling me to chill out – to stop swinging for the fences – to stop trying to do more – to be more of a soldier – to agree even when I don't – to not rock the boat – to just plain fucking grow up – to sit the-fuck-down and shut-the-fuck-up – and, maybe, as I arguably see it – to give the fuck up - incorrectly, as I arguably see it.

And they take this attitude and walk it into employers all over town, and make a whole lot more money than I do. They take crappy jobs, work crappy hours, do anything their clients ask of them and basically do it with their only plan being to bank as much cash as possible and then throw it in my face as a badge of honor against my currently humble finances. And I've seen this a lot more here in Vietnam than I ever recall having seen it in the US or even Korea. Or maybe it's always been there but I am now (quote) "adult" enough to see it more clearly. I dunno. I'm not impressed – so what I ask myself, more and more of these days, when these people confront me, is, "Do you like this person?""Do you respect this person?" – and, "Do you want to be like this person?"

And the answer just comes screaming back to be an unequivocal, no. No fucking way. Not in a million fucking ways do I want to get to that point in my life where I decide it's better to pull the trousers up over the belly than to loose the fucking belly! (and I mean that figuratively) Not in a million fucking ways to I want to become what I have spent a life marketing myself against. Not in a million, billion, zillion, quadrillion, arkbillybobchamillion different ways.

I'll stick with Mr. Rundgren".

To choose a line from one of his songs,

"You better choose your heroes, and choose them well, they could be leading you straight into hell!".

Happy Birthday Todd! I'm along for the ride in spirit!

...and if you've been listening to the podcast here, I've populated it generously with Rundgren tunes this week and suggest you settle in, strap those headphones down and give the following story a read.

Excerpt from Wild Wild East: Shibuya Awakening, 2004

As I rode the bus from Norita International to downtown, Tokyo revealed itself to be one of the world’s most blindingly ubiquitous urban landscapes. Swathed in grey sky and populated with grey mid-rise buildings, nothing penetrates the atmosphere more than 40 storeys and nothing stands guard to tell you that you are entering one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world, at least not from my bus.

Having lived in Asia for the last nine years I’ve been a frequent visitor to Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and a resident of Seoul. Save for Seoul, all of the aforementioned cities boast a skyline and urban impression designed to impress. For shear Buck Rogers futurism, pick Shanghai. For international architectural sophistication it’s Hong Kong, and in Beijing, Kentucky fried capitalism lives hand in hand with old-school communism. Yes, you can actually see a KFC sign and that huge picture of Mao at the same time in Tiananmen Square.

So what does Tokyo have that these other Asian spectacles do not? Well, let’s start with a performer named Todd Rundgren and work our way from there.

Who’s Todd Rundgren you ask? Those of you who know music well will know but as successful as he has been as a writer, producer and singer, he has never been a big star. Yet, over the past 30 years he has released more than twenty five albums as a solo artist and with a band called Utopia. His songs ‘Hello It’s Me”, “I Saw The Light” and “Bang The Drum” routinely appear in movie soundtracks and his work as a producer for Meatloaf (Bat Out Of Hell), The New York Dolls, Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Grand Funk Railroad and Cheap Trick have guaranteed him a place in 70s & 80s & 90s rock royalty. His 1974 album “Something/Anything?” is on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums” list and it’s been rumoured that his contract with Warner Brothers specifically stated that he had to do “one normal album” for every “weird one” he recorded.

In short Todd Rundgren has always been a musical visionary and pioneer and in a constant and almost dizzying series of re-inventions continues to record and perform new and inventive music to this day. This year he toured Holland, Scotland, England, the US and Japan with a tour called “Liars” supporting an album of the same name.

My first opportunity to see Todd came late in 1974. I had just graduated high school and had bought the album Something/Anything. To say that record was an epiphany for me would be an understatement.

That fall Todd had scheduled a show in the Quad Cities, a little collection of towns on the Illinois/Iowa border where the Mississippi river actually runs East to West. Having already seen Eric Clapton strung out on heroin and having also made it through Cheech and Chong there seemed little that this Rundgren fellow could do to surprise me. I was wrong, but wouldn’t know that for yet another three years.

In the fall of 1974 God sent me a little present in the form of a hospital stay and operation for an injury incurred while waterskiing that summer. My Todd tickets would go to my friends and I would, luckily, live to wait another day for my first Utopia concert.

Fast forward to 1977 and the RA tour. The RA tour was an art rock or some would say prog-rock extravaganza based on eastern mysticism and using full costumes and an onstage metal pyamid that he would climb and play his guitar solos on top of. Yes, now it does seem a bit like Spinal Tap but I can assure you that as college students in the Midwest it was all we wanted to see that year. The tour played Davenport Iowa and my friend, a chap named Dale Mayne, and I must have been the two luckiest guys in the hall, a beautiful fading orchestra venue in a quiet Midwestern city of 100,000. Dale had not been so lucky at birth, having come into this world with cerebral palsy, but on this particular evening his affliction would come to his, and by association, my advantage. Having called in advance to inquire about wheelchair access we were informed that all wheelchairs would occupy a reserved spot on the rail directly in front of the band. Dale, a DJ, and myself, son of an electrical engineer, wasted no time in figuring out how to conceal a cassette tape recorder under his wheelchair and run it off the chair battery. Security rolled our Trojan recording studio right up front and we lived in our own little Utopia for the next few hours.

Ah, the serendipity and freedom of youth. Would I ever get the chance to feel as if I had outsmarted the establishment in the pursuit of pure happiness again?

Well many Todd gigs have now happily come and gone for me. I’ve see him over 20 times since 1977. I have always looked longingly at the Japanese shows listed on his schedule but never found a way to mesh them into my Korean life. From here it’s virtually impossible to traverse both countries using only the English language and the flights are as expensive as flying to Hong Kong or in some cases the states. This year Todd & the Liars were scheduled to play four shows in Japan, two at a club in Tokyo called Shibuya AX.

Reading the name “Shibuya AX” on the schedule listed here and negotiating Shibuya for real are two totally different things. A visit to the AX website provides no ticket information and in fact no English, save for some of the performers names. I printed out the map for safekeeping and decided to see what I could figure out once in Japan.

Just wait until you see Shibuya. Shibuya is a district in Tokyo and the only way I could describe it would be like this: Imagine you are standing at the apex of Times Square except all the people there are from LA and no one is allowed to be over thirty!

For the record Shibuya is the youth cultural capital of Japan and Shibuya Crossing, a five way tsunami of humantide, holds the title of “Busiest intersection in the world”. And that ain’t the half of it.

There’s the Seibu, Tokyu and Parco department stores, meccas to conspicuous consumption so grand that the world’s largest Gap had to take cheaper real estate on a side street around the corner - Parco even has Parco Too because one was apparently not enough. There’s the absolute total domination of implausibly perfect plastic food glaring out from the windows of thousands of eateries as a van painted with the image of a star named “Rupee” drives around playing his song and telling you that it’s the #1 salsa record in the country and if you’re Japanese at all, you’ll do like all good Japanese and buy that record. A trip to the HMV or Tower records could well relieve any music lover of more than a few paychecks and make Debeers’ suggestion of how much to spend on a diamond look positively childish. And speaking of records stores have I mentioned used vinyl? Yes, everywhere, from the latest hip-hop DJ shops to a place called Peet Moss Records where a copy of “Kellogg’s” (yes, the cereal) Greatest Hit’s Of The 5,6,7,8s (not a typo) sits comfortably in a window next to Nazz Nazz.

And then there’s the Marvhan Pachinko Tower, a six storey gaming extravaganza that produces a din matched only by a sonic a twin sister in Vegas. And for those who really want to know, yes, the sound of tokens coming out of hundreds of Pachinko machines is markedly different than that of the same tokens being dispensed from slot machines. To hear the difference, simply ride the escalator through the complex and read the signs as they announce the type of game on each floor. There were however, some people over thirty in this place.

So back down to street level and off to Shibuya AX, but first a stop at the convenience store. A convenience store in Korea will baffle you with it’s selection of drinkable yogurts and canned coffees whilst a CV in Tokyo will baffle you with stuff that you just have no frigging idea what it is. My favorite was a product called “Coffee Jelly with Cream” which was, surprisingly, exactly what it was – a little plastic tub of coffee infused gelatin with a 1/4” of heavy cream on top to be mixed in before eating.

For all the blandness of Tokyo’s initial approach, putting your togs to the pavement is where the city really starts to shine. The streets surrounding Shibuya Crossing are a treasure trove of quaint European cafes, second hand stores, antique shops and modern furniture outlets. From old to new, from hippy to hip-hoppy, Shibuya holds all of it brilliantly and it’s a testament to Todd Rundgren that he still commands a place of honor in this unbelievably divergent cultural pietrie dish.

For what it is Shibuya AX is actually the perfect hall to see a top-notch act. An unimpressive steel building from the outside, Shibuya AX is a bi-level affair inside with SRO on the main floor and a balcony with seating on the second. A total of 800 people can fill the place and this night would see the hall full.

Down with the houselights and open to the strains of a new song “Truth”. No one is on stage. One by one the band members take their places in their respective temples and pBirthday, Todd Rundgren, Warhol, Zappa, Arena,  60,  Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Ian Hunter,EVN 2008,  Rock, Music,  Prog-rock, Yokyo, Japanick up their musical parts. LED lighting proves to be novel yet effective and all members are dressed in different religious attire. And then finally Todd, shrouded in a floor-length cape and hood and wearing sunglasses. Under the cape he sports a studded viking-style calf-length kilt and a tank top. (see photo attached)

The album and tour “Liars” is a concept that illustrates the idea that everyone from the church to the government to your lover lies to you just enough to get you believe the illusion they are selling. It sounds like a cynical concept but with humor, compassion, inventive staging and killer sound the concept comes off superbly in a world that hasn’t seen a “concept album” or show in a long, long time.

For their part the Japanese seemed to know all the words and pumped to all the songs. Populated with plenty of salary-man and secretarial types the crowd was much more twenty/thirty something, all in attendance for a 56 year old obscure pop star. Brilliant!

What I love most about my over 30 year journey with the music of Todd is that’s it’s always been about the journey and never the destination. No matter what incarnation I have seen him in, it has always made me happy. And I await the next page to turn as it may.

My enjoyment here is the experience that Todd has once again given me and maybe the motivation to do something more creative again with my own life. For the love of Todd’s music I was able finally to go to Japan and to do that I had to use some of that mischievous spirit that caused my friend and I to rig the Trojan wheelchair with a stereo tape recorder in 1977.

Originally my ticket had been booked by my employer for a visa trip to Osaka on Wednesday, not a day that Todd would play in Osaka. I had carefully researched the possibility of doing my business in Osaka and taking the two hour and fifty minute train to Tokyo after my meetings to see the show, and then taking the train again back to Osaka to make my plane the following morning. This would have cost nearly $300. But as luck would have it God delivered yet another small gift to me on the night prior to flying in the form of a nasty cold and flu. I overslept Wednesday and despite racing an expensive taxi to the airport was unable to make the Osaka flight. Undaunted and knowing I could do my embassy business in Tokyo as well, I inquired about changing my missed Osaka ticket for one leaving in another hour to Tokyo. Bingo. And the cost of changing that ticket? About the same as my original plan to take the train back and forth from Osaka.

Before I left Korea I had mentioned to some of my musician friends in about the possibility of seeing Todd in Tokyo and they were all a little bit jealous. When I returned on the weekend, the first thing they asked me was “Did you see Todd, did you pull it off?”

High fives filled the air and a barrage of questions was levied to be answered. All of the stories I’ve related here, were my answers. When asked why I went through such an ordeal to see Todd Rundgren in Japan, having seen him already seen him more than twenty times, I ask those who inquire quite simply:

“Do you have any idea why dogs lick themselves?”

My Lil' Miss Buddha

Buddhist, JFK, John Kennedy, Self immoliation, Catholic , American,   Religious Freedom,Sadly, this is the image of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk that many Americans of my generation are familiar with from the beginning of our country's involvement here.

"June 11, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem (American supported) regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Buddhist monks asked the regime to lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag, to grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism, to stop detaining Buddhists and to give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion. U.S. Senator, Frank Church, a member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations" claimed that "such grisly scenes have not been witnessed since the marched hand in hand into the Roman arenas." The self-immolation was later regarded as a turning point in the Buddhist Crisisthe critical point in the collapse of the Diệm regime. U.S. President John F. Kennedy said that "no news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one." Whilst burning, Thich Quang Duc never moved a muscle."

That was 45 years ago – and a Catholic President was moved to put pressure on the then South Vietnamese government to allow religious freedom for Buddhists in the country.

Today, things are much quieter in Vietnam. Every day a woman in her 60s, I call Lil' Miss Buddha, pads barefoot along my street, holding a wide brass bowl for contributions. I approach her, sometimes with very little to offer, and put what I can into her container. Hands folded, I bow my head, as she bows hers and recites a prayer, for about 30 seconds. And then we are both on our way. I feel some peace every time this happens.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!

a Sorry Hillary supporters, but that girl needed a fork put in her months ago – so you'll just have to find someone else to vote for. a Glad that's over. a But before you think I'm another head-over-heals Obamaphile wait just one damn minute! a I want you to vote for me! Yeah, me! And the place to get that done is none other than here. Right here in the Wild Wild East. And right there in the side-bar – in the readers poll section.aAnd there's only a few days left. The readers poll ends on June 22nd, my birthday, and the results may well determine what kind of shite you'll end up reading for the rest of the summer. a Results so far, from just six of you casting ballots, are pretty interesting, so let's run through the numbers as they stand now and see where things are going – or how YOU could change things in the next week. a Clocking in at 0% are "Brain Surgery" and "Mary Magdeline's Gosple" so it's pretty certain our readers have perfectly functioning brains that didn't buy any of that DaVinci Code bunk. a Bringing up the rear at just 16% currently, are "My Taxes", "Things you can't get anywhere else" and "Marketing" proving once and for all that all the money I've paid in taxes from my marketing work is of no interest to anyone even though it's a figure you couldn't get anywhere else. a Holding up the middle though, at 33% are "Advertising", "Social Marketing" and "Gary Glitter's Prison Time" going once again to support the idea that even middle-aged pedophiles with pompador hairpieces are of reasonable advertising and social marketing value once they get thrown in the Vietnamese poky and get a little poky thrown at em' themselves. Go get im' boys! Gary's in the house! a Rounding out the numbers and striking a very respectable 66% is interest in "Vietnam and Asia" ... and that's one of those numbers that make you wanna go hmmm. a Hmmm, all that writing about little alleys, odd food, crusty prostitutes stealing my phone and Bentleys falling from the sky seems to be paying off! Hmmm. a Beats writing another sexpat tome about Southeast Asia. Guess I'll have to leave that to Vanity Fair. a And don't forget to vote! This is at least one world you CAN change! a

Saturday, June 7, 2008

One night in a Saigon bar...

At one point I didn't have insurance.

Rainee: I don't give a fuck.

Brian: So do most people in Utah think the government planned 911.

Rainee: People in Utah don't know fuck all about anything. All they care about is Jello and church. They don't know fuck all.

Mark: Explain the Jello.

Rainee: Jello is just cheap food. People like cheap stuff.

Brian: Cause I get so bored brushing my teeth that I do sit-ups and brush my teeth at the same time.

Rainee: People in Utah are very into sports. They play hockey.

Brian: LDS. I went to their temple in Oakland.

Rainee: Money. It's all about the money.

Brian: It was gorgeous. Expensive. Nice interior.

Rainee: We have a Sin Tax.

Mark: In Oregon you don't have any state sales tax.

Rainee: On anything that pollutes your body. And there's only certain kinds of porn you can have.

Brian: The only thing I know about porn is that you can't combine violence and penetration.

Brian: You know where they say the best tittie bars are in the US?

Rainee: In the Bible belt.

Brian: Yes! Dallas and Atlanta.

Rainee: Kegs are illegal. Cause there's too much alcohol in one container. In California you can go to Trader Joes.

Brian: And you get good quality, bread, peanut butter, hydrogenated oil. I buy already cooked chicken. I put in red bell peppers, green peppers...

Rainee: Or some habaneros in it...

Brian: But it's very hard to find tortillas without hydrogenated oil...

Rainee: But I'm from Crete. If I put in too much Feta it tastes like shit. My mom and my aunts can make this shit in a minute. There's like twelve different kinds of olives.

Brian: Do you know what Crete is famous for in military history?

Rainee: Maybe, my mom told me something about it.

Brian: They don't know their alphabet: Linear A. They don't know Linear B.
And then the Germans cracked Linear B. And they also don't know Etruscan.

Brian: But to understand Spanish in Spain, I can understand what they're saying but in Chili I couldn't understand anything.

Rainee: So I was in Brazil. And my friend lives in a tree. Overlooking the ocean. And we all go in and smoke a little doob and I'm having a problem with the food. And I'm not feeling good and the woman in the house lifts up my shirt and there's huge welts, inflamation everywhere, and it turns out to be mosquito bites all over my back. And she gives me some tea, and the next day everything is ok.

Today has been the most random day ever, almost.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Big Brother - Perspective VI: The Little Things II

It was just a tiny thing, a very little thing. A small motion in a world of confusion, chaos and random danger. As I was preparing to cross yet another of Vietnam's notoriously treacherous streets I looked down to see a small boy of maybe seven orBig brother, Cross the street, Drafted, Kid, Traffic, Moline, Corvair, Chevrolet,  USA, eight, standing by my side. As I began to take a step into the oncoming Yamaha onslaught, he – without looking up, grabbed my hand and crossed the street with me as his guide. As we hit the curb on the other side he released and ran joyfully to a group of maybe aunts, moms or both selling iced coffee and soft drinks. I smiled, thinking how random and sort of cool it was. Drafted, finally, in Vietnam – to be a big brother, again, for just a minute.

Excerpt from Wild Wild East":

"Baby We're In This Together – Parked before the clunky Buicks and Fords on a gravel suburban Illinois street, the shiny black 61 Corvair Monza was like a little spoon of caviar atop an Elvis sandwich of peanut butter and banana. – quite the garnish for this Mid-western party. The Chevy Corvair, made famous firstly by Ralph Nader’s exposition of its safety issues, and secondly by its “sub sandwich, couldn't tell which way it was going” design, had made its way from New Jersey at the hands of Chelsi Moretti, Doris’ former boss and mentor at the Lenox China factory. Chelsi was also her son’s Godfather and had made his way cross-country for this special family event.

Deposited by the Buicks and Fords, a stream of fashionable young housewives in June Cleaver dresses paraded into the Carlson’s new ranch home, each carrying a ribbon bound box of congratulatory content as David watched in anticipation. Dressed in his Sunday best of navy blue shorts, jacket and tie with Catholic-black shoes and ankle socks, he stared at the pebbles of the front doorstep, head in hands. Each patting him on the head and saying “Hi David!”, one by one the ladies let the aluminum screen door slam behind them as they entered the house. Inside a near carnival was underway. Curly coloured streamers loping from ceiling corners to the center of the room, Ferrante & Teicher on the stereo, cakes, tea and swishy dresses spiraled around the event of the day – David’s new baby sister, Bonnie.

He didn’t get it. Five years as the number-one son and all of a sudden this monkey-looking crying bundle was stealing all the attention. The world was going to be a very different place from now on.

Chelsi came out to the porch and sat down next to David. “Hey buddy, you’re a big brother now”, he said, “cheer up”. But “cheery” wasn’t exactly in David’s lexicon yet. He still didn’t get.

One day, a few weeks before, he had gone to the kitchen with a very important question for his mother. “Mom”, he asked, “Mrs. Adams is getting very fat. Why is she getting so fat?"

Mom, understood the question immediately. She turned around, wiped her hands and took David out to the living room. As they sat on the sofa she explained that Mrs. Adams, the neighbor next door, was going to have a baby, and that’s why she was getting so big. “It’s not fat”, she explained, “Mrs. Adams has a little baby inside her and that takes up a lot of space – she just looks fat”.

“But we’re going to have a baby, and you’re not getting fat”, he retorted.

The concept of adoption is a hard one to grasp for a five year old and as much as Doris had explained the idea of where David’s new baby sister was coming from, this was her realization that it was going to be even more of a challenge.

David had remembered the trip to Catholic Social Services in Peoria, a classic old sandstone hospital with high ceilings, marble floors and heavy wooden benches in the lobby. He was asked to sit on one of the benches while his mother and father went into the office to sign the papers with Mrs. Davies, the social worker who paid regular visits to their home to check on their first adoption.

Feet dangling above the floor he watched doctors and nurses in white as they carried out their business. But what was their business? This was where people came to get babies? Actually, he thought all people got their babies here until Mrs. Adams got fat.

The Carlsons came out of the office to await the arrival of their new daughter. As a nurse came down the marble stairs carrying a little bundle, she slipped and sent the baby flying. In slow motion David watched as the baby traveled to the hard marble floor – and then a second – and then “waaaaaaaahhhhhh!” She was okay. Interesting, he thought. You can drop a baby on it’s head and it’s still okay. Interesting indeed.

The idea that nobody gave the baby a shower during the baby shower didn’t make a great deal of sense but it was quite the party. Gifts were opened while the guest of honor seemed to sleep through most of the festivities.

Chelsi and David went back to the porch with their cake and punch. From this point on he realized that things were going to be very different – but different in a different way. Now he had responsibility. Now he was a big brother. The hand tinted black and white photograph, made at the local portrait studio, with his new baby sister on his lap wouldn’t tell the whole story but it was a good start."

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


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Technorati Update & UFOs in Vietnam!

Wednesday, and I'm way overdue for an update. My usual post diet is to get in three a week – two short and one long. When you see one of the longer posts, that could take me anywhere from five to eight hours, depending on complexity. Sometimes the number of links included, along with graphics and images can take two extra hours of HTML prUFO, Geez, Rupert Murdoch, Technorati rank, UFO Vietnam, Vietnam, National-Enquirerograming, aside from the actual writing. But this has been a busy week and I've had nMaps, Geez, Rupert Murdoch, Technorati rank, UFO Vietnam, Vietnam, Phu-Quoc-Island, UFOo time for that kind of detail. Meetings with lawyers over a bad contract situation, starting a new assignment and moving house have been enough to keep me busy.

But sometimes nice things happen on one front when you're busy on another and so this week's Technorati ranking is in. And we've jumped, inexplicably it seems, from seven hundred thousand and ninety-something to a very nice looking 524,474 – just inside the 1/2% mark. And much faster than I had expected. So onward... Who da "F" are you? This week's map includes an unnamed island off the coast of Africa, Ecuador, Botswana and Mongolia! Now we're getting global.

Elsewhere in Vietnam, Kevin Miller over at SaigonNezumi reports a UFO crash on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam! Get the whole scoop on his blog. Personally, I think it was just a Bentley that fell from the sky. That seems to be happening a lot here. Or has Rupert Murdoch snuck into country when I wasn't looking? Geez. Commie reporters are on the scene! More later...

The Wild Wild East Dailies

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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