Sunday, May 24, 2009

The search for Brian McNally ends: Your MEN in Saigon IV

PXThis, Vanity Fair,  Abbe Diaz, Schrager Hotels, Brian McNally, new york, Graydon Carter,  Starbucks, Our Man In Saigon, With the headline "Where in the world is Brian McNally" Abbe Diaz begins a forum post on her website that reveals the enigmatic Mr. McNally had moved to Saigon. McNally a former New York restauranteur became the subject of a worldwide search that ended in none other than Saigon when a piece he had written about his travails popped up in Vanity fair in the spring of last year. And the wheels were set in motion that would bring me and a man I had never met before on a collision course amidst the motorbikes, rain, cigarettes, cocktails and ladies of Saigon -- Almost immediately after the piece appeared in Vanity Fair under the post script "Our man in Saigon", I received a letter from Rhona, a reader in New York whom I had previously not known as well stating roughly, "Wait a minute, you're our man in Saigon!". Rhona sent me a copy of the story and a friendship was born out of the unlikely crossing of my blog and the mystery writer/restauranteur.

McNally's first story shows a writing flair unusual to those not working in the business of writing and illustrates quite literally that you can get anything published if you happen to be friends with the editor of a well respected magazine. It gets a good review from me. His second story, published in November of 08, unfolds to show that just as anything can get published that anything can also get edited and the VF staff seems to have had a heyday with this one. Add to that, that now with the masthead of a legendary periodical under his belt, McNally launches into forays on politics corruption and prostitution, or seemingly lack thereof and stumbles pretty badly. I take the time to dissect it rather seriously and wait for the next story, hoping that he comes to his senses. It seems, at least according to my recent conversation with him, that he has - but more on that later.

My day, last Saturday, was pretty damn long. I had awaken early to get it started with the Saigon Digital Marketing Conference (SDM: more on that later as well) but through possibly seven or eight presentations, lunch, too many coffees, a few more presentations and then cocktails, and of course passing out plenty of my now ubiquitous Post-It Note business cards, I was just getting warmed up. Encouraged by the certified Bar Mitzvah band that had been assigned to work the conference (nobody ever accused digital people of having squat for musical taste) I exited the New World Hotel back into the world of Saigon that would barely get one star rating in the world of five star experiences.

Off to a bar known only by a number that I could not remember and the cross- street intersection behind the Sunwah building that I could remember, to a location that has proven to be discoverable by even the most inebriated of conventioneers and local expats alike, I am directed there by a new acquaintance who works for one of the more well known consumer research firms in town.

Arriving at questionmark numbered bar, I enter to find what is a more than common and successful formula for bars catering to the expat working populace in Saigon - an easily predictable combination of attractive young English speaking female staff and graying old men with credit cards. I fit in perfectly, save for the credit card, and find my new found buddy happily ensconced in the attractions of a dedicated employee. We chat for a bit, hash over some shop talk about the conference and he offers me a whiskey and ginger ale. It tastes yummy. But cigarette supplies have diminished and the barmaid tells me that menthols are not on the in-bar menu so I must go out to one of the small street stands and pay an overly inflated price for the same old smokes - so be it.

Walking out onto the street I am confronted by the remnants of a late day shower that has left the street wet but thankfully not flooded as so often is the case in Saigon. A man stands back to me staring into the drizzle but I busy myself across the little road to the ironing board style cigarette stand (you can fold them up and take them anywhere) next to the coffee cafe where Vietnamese yuppies congregate at little love seats to drink Starbuck's priced beverages and decide if they want to get married or not. I procure a normally priced at 15,000 dong pack of Marlboro menthols for twenty thousand after negotiating down from twenty five and dash back across the way to the awning over the front of my numbered bar of choice. As I look up I see a man looking excactly like the man in the photo above and say, "Hi, are you Brian?", recognizing him immediately. I'm quite sure his expression and maybe even his shirt were just like what you see above.

He responds that yes, he is Brian and I tell him that I recognize him from the Vanity Fair stories of the past year. I introduce myself as David, tell him about my blog and give him one of my rubber stamp Post-It Note business cards. From then on, it's just another two old blokes outside of what could be one of a hundred other bars in the city. We talk of past lives and present pursuits. I ask him if he knows Abbe Diaz, mentioned at the beginning of this story, and he chimes back "I fired Abbe!" from one of his more than many noted restaurants in NYC. I didn't ask why - that being a business that doesn't exactly reward employee loyalty. He tells me that he's found an export business in the way of neon and Bakelite signs that it's entirely possible for one to make $150,000 a year just by doing that - and as anyone who might understand the financial differences between Saigon and New York can tell you, would be like making a half a million or better in the Big Apple. I talk of my advertising past and he encourages me to think beyond that and into more export oriented businesses. Indeed there are things you can get done cheaply in Vietnam that are just plainly cost-prohibitive in more advanced economys and I think about that for a few seconds - and then move along. Those businesses just don't interest me much.

I prod the conversation along into the two articles that he had done so far for Vanity Fair, fully aware that although I was a fan of the first had pretty much taken the second apart for being factually and culturally inaccurate - but also knowing that I had chosen to take the VF editorial staff to task for that and not McNally himself. "Nah, I'm not a writer", he plainly states, in response to my question about whether he would be doing any more stories. I tell him I like his writing, which is true, and encourage him to keep on (not exactly anyone can get a first story in Vanity Fair). He then tells me that VF had sent him a contract and was interested in pursuing the series but that he's busy doing other things. A golf course was mentioned. Illuminating the pay structure for VF stories though, what I can say, without giving up too much information that was given to me in confidence, is that any writer in Vietnam certainly wouldn't turn it down. Without other income it would be insufficient in New York, but here a person could live on it, and not too shabbily at that.

We talk further about living accomodations and he riles a bit about rents going up - a landlord wanting $5000 a month and how that's getting on New York prices. Shit, for that around here the landlord is either a friend of Graydon Carter's or has at least seen a copy of Vanity Fair magazine with Brian's story in it. "Fuck", I exclaim. We talk about Ahn Phu and Phu My Hyun, two of the newer, pricier neighborhoods in town, and those are summarily rejected by him as not having the charm and grit that makes this place endearing - but the Stepford wives could live there. I direct him towards District 3 with the idea that a thousand bucks or two will have you living like a Buddha.

By this point I'm reasonably drunk but still have at least two more stops to go on the evening's tour. I say nice to meet him and we shake hands as I head back inside the bar. He seems more than content just out of the drizzle and gazing at the street - and I forget to put in a plug that I might be more than happy to take up the writing job that he has plainly claimed he doesn't want anymore.

All in all, nothing more and nothing less than I might have expected from all I've learned about the man in the last year (I didn't ask about Madonna or all the other famous people who used to hang out in his places. I've met my share as well). Nice, unassuming, chilled and more than comfortable in this element. As "Dick Johnson" says to Mr. McNally on Abbe's blog: "I wish you all the best and admire that despite your 'crazy' reputation within the industry, you are apparently, a pretty good sport. aww. you really are just a big fucking softie inside". And about a man who's obviously kicked up his share of shit through Schrager hotels and the like in NYC, that's quite the fucking compliment. I agree. I hope to see him around and talk more.

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"

Monday, May 18, 2009

New York Magazine Bends Space/Time Continuum to Steal AsiaLife Cover!

(Be sure to turn of the podcast in the sidebar before playing the video)

In a bizarre turn of events, rather than someone in Vietnam stealing a creative idea from another country, it's just been discovered that New York Magazine has completely and totally swiped a cover from AsiaLife Magazine, right here in Saigon. And if that's not strange enough, they've warped the space/time continuum to do it! What's that? They've done what to do what? Yes, I know it seems strange, but as I write this post, I'm also watching a 911 conspiracy film called "Loose change" and all I can tell you is that things are possible today that may have been unthinkable a few years ago - Like New York Magazine reaching their thieving little hands - not just across the entire North American Continent and the Pacific Ocean - to swipe an idea - but through space and time to grab an AsiaLife cover from April 2009 and actually have the damn thing ready for their December 2008 issue.

Shit! Talk
AsiaLife, Dr. Thanh, Idea Theft, New York Magazine, Time Bandits about I" need this damn thing done yesterday"? These guys plucked from the future to get it done in our yesterday which was actually today for them when they did it. Now that's frigging genius. They even won an award for it from the Editorial Design Organisation in February 09! And the Twilight Zone (see video) doesn't stop there. In an even spookier coincidence this particular concept just so happens to perfectly match the I NY campaign that's been a hallmark of the city for over 30 years. Oh what the Internet hath wrought. Nobody knows who's filching what, from where, and from when, even now. Even the recording industry doesn't have enough lawyers to chase crafty creative time bandits. Who we gonna call? Ghost Busters? - But it doesn't end there - oh, no sirree - in yet another warpage of all we think we know but it might be a big Hollywood illusion - get this - The new editor and some other staff of AsiaLife magazine are from ... you guessed it ... New York! Fuck. How the hell did the the NY mag folks know back in 08 that there would be major staff from the city here in Saigon in 09? Cue Twilight Zone intro track: Doo-doo-doo-doo Doo-doo-doo-doo! (See video above) Or maybe they didn't, and that would turn out to be their undoing.

Busted! I
AsiaLife, Dr. Thanh, Idea Theft, New York Magazine, Time Banditst seems you can't know everything in the space/time continuum. And the new, New York staff should be plenty pissed about this too - it makes it look as if they copped an idea from the past, and used it today, which we now know just ain't so. Hell I'm from New York as well and I'm plenty worried. What if gremlins from past New York lives start showing up in my present day and swiping stuff I created just this afternoon? Oh well, fuhgettabouddit, as they say in Joisey. Now I'm caused to maybe take back a few accusations about some other campaigns I've seen here in Vietnam. If people from the past can come steal ideas from us today, maybe Dr. Thahn didn't really nick his commercial from the Chinese - maybe the Chinese came into the future and nicked it from him - they can go into space now, you know. And maybe it's the same with Bono from U2 and the crew from the (Red) aids in Africa campaign - for lack of a good concept in the 90s they just found one in Saigon for a local marketing firm in this century and Oceans Elevened the thing! Jeeziz twice. This could go on forever. We may never see the end of it.

My apologies to all those I may have offended by inferring, or just plain stating that you stole your ideas from stuff that already existed. Now that we understand that we're all under attack by silent deadly thieves from the past in silvery suits, we'll all have to keep our concepts in a kryptonite safe until we're ready to publish. What a bitch the future turned out to be.

Post Script: In what may be one of the more curious instances of creative buck passing to date, the Managing Editor of AsiaLife magazine, Tom DiChristopher, has been all over my email with his objections to my lack of "fact checking" in my journalism. (Fact checking? This is a friggin' blog for chrissakes. When I start covering Watergate, I'll hire some fact checkers!) His particular complaint seems to be that I have inferred that the new New York members of the staff swiped the cover when in fact, what I have written is that New York Magazine nicked the cover from them. Fact checking in a warped space/time continuum is a dodgy business for sure, and what seems to be more technically correct in this case, according to Mr. DiChristopher, is that AsiaLife didn't have anything at all to do with producing their own cover - or so they claim.

As you might imagine, I've gotten plenty of mails and comments from other readers on Facebook, LinkedIn and in my mail, but the one that sums it all up best for me is this one:

"Thing like this you admit fault, say sorry and never do it again. That's what they should be doing."

C'mon New York Magazine, tell 365 you're sorry! I've already let my fellow New Yorkers here in Saigon off the hook.

For more on time bandit idea & business concept filching, para-normal plagiarism, and all out spooky behaviour, check below:

New York Magazine Steals AsiaLife cover from the future!
Dr. Thanh robbed by Chinese Time Bandits!
SDM:Saigon Digital Marketing victim of para-normal plagiarism!
Bono and international do-gooders caught (Red)handed in idea heist!
Saigon Brand Provocateur steals idea from himself!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Do our schools kill creativity" - Sir Ken Robinson

I talk about creativity, often - and education, sometimes - because I make a good part of my living from teaching creativity, in all aspects, much more than just the artistic. But rather than me going on about it, this talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the TED conference in 2006 does far better than I could ever do. Give it a look.

conference, Creativity, Design, Education, Marketing, SDM, Sir Ken Robinson, technology, TED"Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. It's a message with deep resonance. Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? "Everyone should watch this."

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

I wonder about the SDM conference coming up this week and had they thought to have gotten a speaker on this level, with an actual relevant topic, it might have provoked far more interest and excitement than the bulk of industry salespeople and hijacked model they've assembled instead - and been an educational networking experience, well worth the money. Thanks to Hugh MacLeod for reminding me of this film. Hugh has been a long time proponent of "Social Objects" - created things that get conversations started. This talk by Sir Ken is a bona-fide social object. It will get you thinking, then talking, and hopefully doing - digital or otherwise.

For more on Creativity, Education and the like, check below:

"Do Our Schools Kill Creativity?" - Sir Ken Robinson
Brand Marketing and Staff Training in Vietnam
2009 Marketing Predictions
The Language Barrier - An Asian Business Conundrum

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Ozomatli Day: Am I doing enough? III

Am I Doing Enough?, Australian International School, Czech Beer, End of the Vietnam War, Hip Hop, L.A., Ozomatli, Rap, Rock, Roll, Saigon, Betty Liu, Bloomberg, TejanoMy dad used to say I was "burning the candle at both ends" whenever I had a few things going on at one time. He didn't think it was a good idea but to me it was simply that I could do a number of things at one time and thought it a shame to not do any one of them. I was asked recently, after having been observed teaching a class, if I had ever considered acting as a profession. "Sure", I answered, "I did that from the ages of 13 to 20 in a semi-professional community theatre troupe", along with being a student, Boy Scout, newspaper editor, video game arcade owner, sign painter, son and boyfriend. And for all of that, I ended up in the advertising business - but there was never one thing that was more important than another - without them all, I would never have experienced the full effect of actually having done them, as opposed to just studying them. And sometimes all of whatever it is I happen to be doing at any one point in my life shows up in just one day. Here's just another one of those days.

Another one-day diary:

7:00 am
Contrary to my last "am I doing enough post", I popped up like a piece of toast today and jumped onto a full plate of life.
8:05 am
By 8 I'm through two cups of the country's most famous and savory beverage, Bloomberg, and the olde shit, shower and shave. Almost ready to rock.
9:15 Am I Doing Enough?, Australian International School, Czech Beer, End of the Vietnam War, Hip Hop, L.A., Ozomatli, Rap, Rock, Roll, Saigon, Betty Liu, Bloomberg, Tejanoam
A bit more Bloomberg -only because I have fallen madly in love with Betty Liu, but fear she's been taken already, judging from the size of the rock she was sporting in the Warren Buffet interviews - and I'll be ready. Still under 30 with a Pulitzer nomination to her credit she is not so much a rising star, but a star who has already risen, and done it in record time. Certainly worth my time every morning. They could give that girl the nutrition panel off a bag of dog food to read and it would still be worth my TV time. And I'll eat the dog food too, if she commands me to whilst wearing calf-high black stiletto boots.
10:00 am
It's off to the bus station. Today I'm heading northeast to a part of town I know, Anh Phu, but have never been to on the bus, so figuring out which bus to take will be job #1. Job #2 will be getting on the damn thing and job #3 will be figuring out just exactly which stop, on a long crowded expressway, to get off at. A wrong decision could cost me miles, many minutes and any number of limbs. Yes, in Vietnam there are bus stops on the expressway. Right on the expressway.
10:15 am
This kind of travel requires keen eyes and as we all might be familiar with, the sharpening of one sense once others have been been lost - what happens here, or in any other country where one doesn't speak the language, is that your visual senses grow to fill the void of the listening and speaking ones. On a Vietnamese bus, that means sitting by a window, so you can see what's going on, because the bus driver never announces anything over the PA, if they even have a PA. Today, I'm looking for a big-box department store - similar to a Sam's or a Costco, called METRO. That's where I get off the bus. The man at the station who had limited English, but was extremely helpful, had never heard of the place but got me on the #56. The rest would be up to me.
10:45 am
Ever play Frogger? Once off this bus it's free, the only catch being that you are the frog and the cars, trucks and a few million motorbikes are real. I need to cross an 8 lane highway to find the smaller surface road that would lead to my two afternoon destinations.
11:10 am
The Australian International School (AIS) had an ad recently promoting their summer Journalism course and I thought I would drop by and submit my CV. The address was listed as a 4 letter acronym "compound" having nothing to do with Australia, InternationaAm I Doing Enough?, Australian International School, Czech Beer, End of the Vietnam War, Hip Hop, L.A., Ozomatli, Rap, Rock, Roll, Saigon, Betty Liu, Bloomberg, Tejanol, or schools whatsoever so henceforth, none of the locals knew where the hell I wanted to go - even though I had a copy of the ad with the address clearly printed at the bottom - but as things go in the orient, nobody ever wants to tell you that they don't know something, so my motorbike driver assured me he understood the direction in which we were going and then proceeded to get us lost. Once we finally did find the place, - that wasn't really all that difficult - the driver whined incessantly about the final fee, looking all Paul McCartney-puppy-dog and such, and not considering at all that he had been the person to have gone off half-cocked and off-compass. We settled on my original offer.
11:30 am
AIS is a tiny place, but the compound, as it's called, is a nicely manicured land of peaceful lanes dropped down seemingly by aliens to be the home for, well then, aliens - foreigners of many a stripe. Once in the school I am showed to the office and meet a cordial lady who turns out to be of course, the office manager. We talk about the journalism program and I am informed that the school, at least as much as this manager knows, has nothing to do with the program itself. I am told that curriculum and promotion are being handled by a local magazine and that I should talk with them - so for the morning, a dead end so to speak.
12:05 pm
I'm hungry. Time for lunch. The smell of grilled meats in Vietnam makes it actually hard to walk around the streets without dropping in for a bite - everywhere - every few feet. I select a joint that's packed - that being the mark of decent eats - and park my carcass. The woman behind the food selection immediately points to a pork chop and sets up the requisite side dishes along with a cold cha da (iced tea). The entire staff chuckles at my request for more diced chillies and loves watching me mix them into my rice and chops. It's tasty.
1:00 pm
One o'clock rolls around and it's time to pack my kit and head off to Mad's photo studio. Mads Monsen is an absolutely wonderful fashion photographer and somehow I've gotten him off his stock and trade and into creating an image for a public service campaign that I'm not sure either one of us knew how difficult would be to create, but in our first meeting, when I was drawing the idea out for the first time, Mads jumped all over it and had a sketch out before me that absolutely matched mine - so we had a meeting of the minds and have been following that muse for the last few months.
1:15 pm
Arriving at the studio I am greeted by the barking dog and a young female staff who informs me that Mads has just left. The place is empty and whilst we have worked together in the space before, don't feel exactly comfortable going back into the workspace and getting on a computer that is not mine. Our job today is to do layouts with rough images married to copy and typography but without the owner of the place, it seems I just need to sit and wait.
1:30 pm
Instead, I take a nap on the sofa in the lobby.
2:30 am
I awake to an image of an alarm clock chiming 5 o'clock. Fuck! I have to be at another appointment at 5:45 and I am nowhere near the other location! Fuck again.
2:45 pm
Luckily it's only 2:45 in real life, but still no Mads. The studio door is now open and I do see a Macintosh on and functioning, so it's time to work. I get started and in another 15 minutes the missing man arrives and we talk about what a looney day it's been for the both of us so far. But my time is running out. I need to leave by 4:30 and get back to town to step in and cover for someone who can't do some work tonight. In the next hour and a half I manage to get one half-assed layout done, and although it's pretty shabby in terms of proper kerning and general balance, it's the first time Mads and I have seen our idea at least 90% close to completion and we both feel good to have jumped the precipice between concept and reality - to be continued another day.
4:30 pm
A motorbike ride back to town because Mads needs to pick up his son at school, we blaze through traffic that jams on the way out of town but sails fairly smoothly on the way into the evening rush hour. Earlier in the week Mads and I had made plans to attend an Ozomatli concert, sponsored by the US consulate but both of our schedules got attacked by paying work and I made plans to get to the show after 9 when my gig finished. We part on the street, once back in the city proper and agree to meet up later at the show.
5:45 pm
I show up for my teaching gig and whiz through three hours thinking about the show. A quick bike trip would get me there.
9:00 pm
Ask me how many rock shows I've seen in my three and a half years in Saigon and I'll give you a big fat "O", which now stands for Ozomatli. My Chemical Romance was here last year but that oddly escaped my radar and was reportedly prohibitively expensive. The Ozomatli show is a free show put on by - who in our government would have ever thunk up this one? the US State Department! Actually inspired - and certainly not a Condi Rice initiative. In all my years in Korea, 10 to be exact, I never saw the US bring in anyone except soldiers and as cultural experiences go, I can tell you, the Koreans have seen quite enough of that. Tens of thousands of drunk, crew cut, American high school graduates let loose on the streets of any foreign country has got to be a public relations masterstroke. But this show promised to be a complete turn of yet another American page. A more than welcome one, here where the apocalypse was once now.
9:15 pm
The Lanh Anh club is a proper in-city country club that anyone can access that includes 12 tennis courts, a full modern gym, outdoor pool, Czech microbrewery and a covered outdoor concert facility seating, I would guess, around 2500. It's a wonderful place. Truly.
9:20 pm
Handing the man my free ticket, I can feel the building moving. No shit. And once inside the entire place, packed, is on their feet - jumpin'. Really. Tejano-rock-rap is the order of the day and as an Ozomatli member explains on the band's website, their style is like pulling up to any street corner on Sunset Blvd. in L.A. and having the windows rolled down on every car to stir a multicultural musical stew that would be unimaginable in any other city outside of Los Angeles. And the Vietnamese are eating it up.
9:30 pm
The members of the band met through their affiliation with the Peace and Justice Center of Los Angeles, and all 8 of them are jumping all about the stage in their signature style, mixing rap, a Latin horn section and a rock and roll groove - not a radio hit in the mix but no one seems to care as they pound out their mildly political message of tolerance, social justice aAm I Doing Enough?, Australian International School, Czech Beer, End of the Vietnam War, Hip Hop, L.A., Ozomatli, Rap, Rock, Roll, Saigon, Betty Liu, Bloomberg, Tejanond loud music justice. It works. I've seen a number of Vietnamese shows at this and other venues and I can tell you - nobody jumps around. Not even for their own pop stars. This band played Myanmar (Burma) just a few days before and how many bands do you know who can say that? "I rocked Rangoon!" I don't think so. Heading for the end of the show the band members, one by one, descended the stairs from the stage and played in the crowd. Two very serious security guys were following the sax player until they realized it was just impossible to "body guard" the guy and they gave up. The music was fun, upbeat, danceable and groovable but where they excelled - and you never get this from local performers - was in showmanship. That and the fact that they were really singing and playing instruments which is all but unheard of at most Asian concerts. A huge hit for sure.
10:15 pm
No encores on this show but who needed them? These guys played their hearts out and the crowd saw to it that they were rewarded for their efforts on every song. After the show I found the backstage door and had a chat with one of the guitarists. I gave him a copy of this blog address and promised a review - little did I know at the beginning of my day, that it would turn out to be a review of my whole day and not just the band.
10:30 pm
Alas, it seemed that Mads had never made it to the show. He had had quite a long day as well. I wandered over to the Czech microbrewery and found plenty of friends there though, Interestingly enough I met a woman who had seen me at the Australian School in the morning - another small world experience in what is turning out for me, to be a very large world.
12:00 am
Arriving home at midnight, I make myself a salad, have a glass of milk and chill. "Am I doing enough?", I ask myself. I've found that to be a virtually impossible question to answer in that simply doing a lot of things is no guarantee of any sort of success. One must do something extremely well - and on this particular day I can say I certainly did that - because I lived my life, at least what God had given me that day, to the best of my ability, and it made me happy.

I should want for nothing more.

For more in the "Am I doing enough?" series, check below:
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, May 10, 2009

People are dieing to get out of here: Nothing Much Happened Again Today In Vietnam: VIII

Bloomberg, Rico, Death, Scientology, Twitter, Nothing Much Happened Again Today in Vietnam, 11:05pm Friday - Drinking beer with Adam was just relaxing and enjoyable. Out of our usual Internet cafe we made it down to my favorite deer-meat restaurant and pulled up a table streetside across from the no-tell motel that sports a large sign boasting rooms for 70,000 dong per hour. That's roughly six bucks. The stream of taxi girls in and out of the place stands in stark contrast to the daylong reports of financial crisis on Bloomberg. Whatever crisis we're having it certainly isn't affecting the boom-boom business - in fact it may just be helping it. What better relief from a tough day on the market floor than a good healthy shag - sure we'll have two more bottles of cold BGI beer. B.G.I, pronounced "biggy" by the staff is a damn fine beer that costs about 50 cents and comes in a 16 ounce bottle. Adam and I, drank a bunch of them. - 3:00am Saturday - is a darn fine time to leave the streetside restaurant - having watched them disassemble the place, the tables have all been folded up, woks scrubbed and unbrellas collapsed before a thorough bleaching and sanitization of the concrete and asphalt happens out of big ten gallon plastic buckets - Adam, who has worked in the F&B business remarks on their near hospital-like attention to cleanliness. - 3:10am Saturday - I arrive home to an uncharacteristicly bright building. Why the hell are all the lights on at this hour of the morning? On my way up to the third floor I see that my friend's apt is lit and I can hear the TV. A rap on the door and I'm greeted by a man who looks fresh from a streetfight - his chest cut, arms scratched and a large cut black eye beginning to swell - he invites me in. Not a small man, but a more than robust Irishman who looks to be able to hold his own in most any altercation, he recounts to me a story of playing Jimi Hendricks too loud in another friends apt. and incurring the wrath of another tenant. He tells of the tenant first hitting him with a tazer stun-gun and then returning to his room for a pair of what seem to be described as barber-wire brass knuckles - geez it's all done quite a job on my buddy, but he'll live. Then, almost as if the current story doesn't have enough intrigue he tells me that Rico has died. Rico, an affable German of certain beer adoration was just in his forties and didn't seem to have any physical problems aside from his daily love of suds. The cause of death was described as a heart attack - Around here, in the past year I've heard heart attack and stroke both used to describe deaths that were more probably caused by a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. I begin to think that the environment I've surrounded myself with may not be healthy. - 3:27pm Saturday - after a sleep worthy of a man who has been up till 4:30am I answer my phone. It's a man I have just recently met at my Internet cafe. He promises to stop by my apt. just to say hi and takes more than an hour to accomplish this. Once in my apt. he tells me that back in Australia he learned he could see other people's thoughts and futures and such, which lead him to understand that he also had the power to cure people's ills with the laying of hands - and things are just getting interesting. His tales proceed to a discovery of the meanings and truths contained within Scientology and his revelations on his first readings of L. Ron Hubbard. Rather than be critical or judgemental or disbelieving, I decide that this would be an excellent time to ask a Scientologist a few questions - I tell him I thought Travolta's BattleField Earth was one of the worst films ever made and he is taken aback - to him it was gospel. I then ask him if he misses the loss of his powers - apparently he could do mystical things in Australia but it doesn't work in Asia due to what he described as "repressive societies". He responds, "No, I was going crazy walking down the street and seeing everybody's thoughts" - It's time we got out of my house. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and questioning the idea of if any of the days input was healthy. I decided it was not. - 5:47pm Saturday - Exiting my house we are greeted by Robert, a newly found acquaintance of the Scientologist. Robert is from Australia as well and seems a nice enough fellow. I suggest that we all head back down to the deer-meat restaurant. Arriving there we pull up the same table I had had the evening before with Adam and we order some food and again beer. When Robert's female friend arrives it is fairly clear that she is a "working girl" but that not being particularly unusual around here doesn't seem to be much of an issue - at least not to me. But for the Scientologist it seemed to be quite another matter entirely. Seeing the conversation between the Scientologist, Robert and his friend not going in a particularly friendly direction, I decide it's a good time to take a break to the men's room across the street. Upon my return it is explained to me that the Scientologist left in a huff and flurry of unkind words for all the women of the world's oldest profession - strange the most wildly different sets of rules we all set up to govern our inner selves. - 12:02pm Sunday - A text message on my phone and an email from my photographer friend Mads tells me that our public service project is going to be a big hit - great shots, I'll write more about this later. - 2:37pm Tuesday - Reactions to the book are nice and generating a lot of Twitterfare. Had two conversations with other writers this week and felt a little more healthy about life. By the end of the week I finished two days at a new job and was given a nice review by the boss - and other people are just dieing to get out of this place - 6:16pm Sunday - And as I've said before, nothing much happened again in Vietnam today.

Make sure to pause the podcast before playing the video.

For more in the "Nothing much happened" series, check below:

VIII People Are Just Dieing To Get Out of Here
VII The Hair Job
VI Happy New Year! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!
V The Vietnam sNews
IV At The Center of Miss Universe
III My Walk in the Park Today
II The Stevie Wonder Post
I Ear Cleaning

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wild Wild East - An American memoir of uncommon circumstance: Now available for download!

The book, Wild Wild East is finally ready for download - well, the first 70 pages anyway - or you can read it from the comfort of your own screen right here:

Wild Wild East - An American memoir of uncommon circumstance

For those who are not fans of the
book-reading format, or it's just to damn small to read, download the standard view here:

Get me the big copy. This one sucks!

Most of you are aware that the Wild Wild East Dailies
(a full-time job in and of itself) is just a thinly veiled attempt at supporting and selling a book about my transfer from the US to Korea and parts unknown (who knew a TV show about Mongolian Olympians would have been in the mix? - filmed in goddamn Mongolia!) but a very small percentage have ever actually checked my sister-site to give it a go - or it's just too bleeding hard to read on the net. So here, without further adieu, is a way to download the PDF file of your choosing. You can print it out and use it in the birdcage later. Enjoy. And please comment.

(The publisher's sales pitch) Part memoir, part travelogue, part historical guide and part American business review, Wild Wild East follows the adventures of one businessman in his quest to have his creative life make sense. From an adoption agency in Manhattan to the board rooms of corporate America and then on to the far east, WWE weaves a story from 1995 through 2005 and beyond with flashbacks from the author's life that grow chronologically until they catch up with him in real time. Throughout the telling the author travels the globe through over 30 countries and the flashbacks occur every time he takes a trip, both before and after, usually when he is on a plane when there is plenty of time for reflection. In this way the story builds upon itself in both complexity and understanding from the reader as to why the central character makes the decisions he does and travels the roads of fortune or less fortune as the case unfolds.

And for our Portugese speaking readers?

Wild Wild East - An American memorial da circunstância incomum: Agora disponível para download!

Wild Wild East book Cover O livro, Wild Wild East está finalmente pronta para download - bem, os primeiros 70 páginas mesmo assim - ou você pode lê-lo a partir do conforto de sua própria tela aqui:
Wild Wild East - An American memorial da circunstância incomum

Para aqueles que não são fãs do livro-leitura formato, ou é só a maldita pequena para ler, fazer o download do modo de exibição padrão aqui:

Tirem-me o grande cópia. Esta uma merda!

A maioria de vocês estão cientes de que o Wild Wild East diários (um emprego a tempo inteiro em si) é apenas um pouco velada tentativa de apoiar e vender um livro sobre os E.U. de minha transferência para a Coreia e peças desconhecida (que o diabo sabia um programa de TV sobre os atletas mongol teria sido no mix? - filmado em Mongólia maldito!), mas uma percentagem muito pequena já efectivamente verificados minha irmã-site para lhe dar um ir - ou é simplesmente muito difícil de ler sangramento na net . Até aqui, sem mais adeus, é um caminho para fazer o download do arquivo PDF de sua preferência. Você pode imprimi-lo e usá-lo na gaiola mais tarde. Apreciar. Por favor comentar.

Sinopse: (As vendas da editora pitch) Parte autobiografia, parte Travelogue, parte histórica e parte guia American Business Review, Wild Wild Oriente segue as aventuras de um empresário, na sua busca de ter sua vida criativa faz sentido. A partir de uma agência adopção em Manhattan para o conselho salas de empresas americanas e, em seguida, para o Extremo Oriente, WWE tece uma história a partir de 1995 a 2005 e mais além com flashbacks da vida do autor que crescem em ordem cronológica até que apanhar com ele em tempo real. Ao longo de todo o dizer, o autor percorre o mundo através de mais de 30 países, e os flashbacks ocorrem toda vez que ele tem uma visita, tanto antes como depois, geralmente quando ele está em um avião, quando há uma abundância de tempo para reflexão. Desta forma, a história baseia-se em ambos os complexidade e compreensão do leitor quanto à razão pela qual a personagem central toma as decisões que ele faz e percorre os caminhos da fortuna fortuna ou menos como o caso se desdobra.

The Wild Wild East Dailies

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies and keep up on our efforts with aSaigon/CreativeMorning.