well, i made it. i'm out of nasty/gnarly 'nam. but not before i saw the
national one ring russian-style circus the night before - with trained bears, dogs, monkeys, & elephants. i got the best seats under the communist red bigtop from the circus director himself - after i introduced myself and told him in cumeezi sign language (since his english was more wishful than actual) - that i used to be a clown too. and - he gave me the phone number of his twenty three year old daughter, who has the same birthday as my father!, and is in college in orange county. just down the I-5 from LA! hey, maybe i'll marry a vietnamese yet!!
the addendum is - i found out after i sent you my last "hang ma" mail -- that "hang" means merchandise guild. there were/are 36 of them in hanoi. each street is named after the product it sells: funeral wreaths, watches, electric fans, eyeglasses, cakes, towels, shoes, pipes, flowers, dishware, cabinets, coffins, etc. etc. well, my street (the one my hotel was on), "hang ma" (and for some odd reason, the name i called myself) means - and sells -- "counterfeit" shit - as in phony money and other nefarious forgeries. far out, eh? the poet continues to intuitively con himself. "ma" also means "horse", and what do i have in my bedroom - but a chinese horse i inherited from my notorious and criminal uncle harvey!
get the poetic metaphor/symbolism/coincidence? **
speaking of "uncle" harvey, i would be remiss in not mentioning vietnam's own prodigious and wispily white-bearded "uncle" ho – ho chi min - who is greatly and religiously venerated in hanoi - with his own hugely-attended museum and mausoleum. places where, after waiting on block-winding lines for an hour or two in the brutal midday sun, you can simultaneously learn about the interlocking histories of vietnam and its revolutionary leader and savior. exhibitions. installations. video presentations. i could not help wondering what the austere and complicated man himself might think of his hi-tech and modern legacy. not far from these state-built homages, you can also wander over to uncle ho's elegantly simple and beautifully gardened (they say, by ho himself) home on stilts. the place where he lived in purity, austerity, and wisdom to the great pride and triumph of his party and country. i bought his "prison diaries". it seems there is another "uncular" coincidence – as uncle ho also had a hard and long look at the chinese big house, much like my own immortalized uncle. personally, i like uncle ho. he seems to have been a man of principle, character, will power, morality, and integrity. communist, yes. but it was his best option after we americans courted him, then ignored him for so many years. what goes around, comes around…
anyway, i'm now in vientiane. capital of laos. no noxious touts. slow, lazy mekong again. right over the thai border. met an intense, local fellow NY jew living here (apparently you can take the jew out of new york, but you can't take new york out of the jew). and he turned me on to many good things. like the best bar on the mekong to see the gorgeous lao sun sink from (see photo). and the best local route to take a bicycle with one flat tire – for day trip. and the best cheap hotel not in lonely planet's southeast asian bible. nice chat on his lazy, offbeat front porch - his french-speaking young daughter coquettishly hanging around, while dad and the tall, curly-headed stranger talked about things like dad's tour in 'nam, his uphill haul trying to sell environmentally-correct architecture to the locals, and the life of an american ex-pat in laos. maybe we'll swap houses for a year. probably a fantasy... but why not?
wha' happened in game 3, you lazy laker swine & loyalists???
trying to slow down,
** for those unfamiliar with e's "uncle harvey", check out his other website: "the poet and the con":