Sunday, August 26, 2018

"What Happens to Rejected Demos Sent to Record Companies?" by Newamba Flamingo






2004

Hamlet was a rosy-cheeked, slender, tall and handsome young man, nearing college graduation.

As a youngster he’d been interested in the performing arts, trying his hand at acting, singing, and rapping, but never had much success beyond community theater and school talent shows, eventually losing interest and giving up on it in his early teens.

Told he resembled a young Ashton Kutcher, a frat brother scored him some low-level modelling work for a local restaurant and clothing store and a gig as a dancing extra in the background of a Spanish language variety show, clapping his hands red and smiling and laughing on command, take after take.

Through this show he became chummy with a producer, a chunky 30-ish lady, who wore lots of make-up, and always called him “sweetie.”

She had a cousin, a VP at a record label, also a chunky 30-ish lady with ample make-up (perhaps tattooed on) and this lady had as well taken a liking to Hamlet.

She recruited Hamlet to do an internship at her record label, which had recently scored a major distribution deal following its spawning of a series of pop and hip hop stars.

Hamlet accepted the position, eager to soak up its perks, such as free entry to nightclub VIP sections, concerts, meeting famous people and getting free CDs and merch (some of which he could maybe sell on eBay).

His duties at the record label included the usual gopher tasks, fetching coffee, making xerox copies, answering phones.

The most exciting work he initially had was being posted to the front desk, filling in for the secretary.

There he’d not only answer calls, but register visitors, many of which were uninvited artists who’d show up to the front door of the label’s office and immediately begin singing, dancing, rapping, strumming a guitar at Hamlet or whomever was manning the front desk or happened to be in the lobby.

Such encounters required dispatching security, sometimes with the assistance of label staff, Hamlet too a couple times, literally dragging or pushing the aspiring artists into the street, guitar in hand, rapping, singing as the door slammed in his or her face.

They’d sometimes be in tears, confessing to having taken a bus for 10 hours, with no money for a return ticket.

But they’d always be told the same thing. Hire a manager and send us an official demo, registered mail.

Not every aspiring superstar showed up at the door or had a manager send their demo. Many demos were in fact mailed to the label, directly from the artists themselves, often crude home recordings, but sometimes high quality, professional looking CDs, tapes, and occasionally vinyl, accompanied by press kits and merch.

The label’s official policy, such as that of many large, successful record companies, was not to listen to any “unsolicited” demo, that is, one sent directly by an artist and not a reputable manager, lawyer, or industry insider.

However, the label’s top A&R department was always hungry for the next superstar who could emerge from nowhere, and, would in fact have any demo received via mail screened and any promising material forwarded to the head honchos for further review.

But screening these demos was no simple task. Thousands were received weekly. Huge piles stacking up in the corner of the low-level A&R execs’ offices.

Screening the demos was tedious, extremely so, sorting through the piles, hearing endless hours of things resembling Tourette’s syndrome sufferers, banshees, bathroom recordings, out of key singing, animal sounds, horrid wannabe rappers and boy bands, and so on.

Only maybe one of fifty demos were at all decent, only one of a hundred actually good.

After careful, painful screening, the demos were filtered into two final heaps.

One heap being the “promising” pile that’d be forwarded on to higher level A&R or label personnel. The other heap being the “pass” pile that’d be destroyed, either by shredder or smashed up with a blunt object before thrown into the garbage.

The reason for destroying the demos was simple. It was to avoid lawsuits, so that no artist could claim they sent their song to the record label and then a similar song comes out later that sounds the same.

If somehow that did happen, coincidentally or otherwise (this being the music business!), the record label wanted no proof of the demo being in its possession.

So here’s where Hamlet came in. The label execs had been quite pleased with him. He was a hard-working, punctual, and polite young man. But most of all, he was calm, patient. They never once saw him get riled up about anything.

Not the weekly intrusions of wannabe Jay Z(s) and Beyoncés bursting into the office, singing, dancing and rapping, or even the daily explosive, screaming, every so often physical, intra-office arguments between rival departments, or high decibel phone calls from outraged parents’ groups, pushy managers; nobody and nothing got under the kid’s skin...

Perhaps it was Hamlet’s upbringing, always watching zombie movies with his older sister, but never having any nightmares like his classmates would.

Or maybe it was seeing his parents in violent confrontations, his father once holding a knife to his mother’s neck in the kitchen, before Hamlet’s sister chased their father away, wildly swinging at him with a frying pan, Hamlet standing nearby, calmly watching, head tilted, as the drama ensued…

After his parents’ divorce, Hamlet was diagnosed as “depressed” due to his apathy about the divorce and lack of motivation in school. He’d been on Zoloft since his early teens.

Though he’d been addicted to violent video games, gangsta rap, death metal and horror movies, pretty much since he remembered, he never got into fights or disciplinary issues at school, not even when people teased him about his name. It never fazed him.

He was always remaining aloof, quiet, and maintained a B to C average, was a reserve on the high school basketball team, had a group of casual friends, a couple girlfriends, and later got into a state college.

He never became too close with anyone, however, perhaps because of his demeanor, being so emotionless.

Like one time he and classmates drove by a fallen motorcyclist, head split open, on the side of the road. Everyone gagged, a girl threw up out the window as they passed by slowly, rubbernecking. But Hamlet glanced at it and wasn’t affected in the least…

His only real tick was his bizarre hatred of the band Alice in Chains. He claimed that anytime he heard their music he’d have bad luck, and he was always storming out of the room or shutting off MTV or the radio if they were on.

(Although he actually liked their music he’d once confided to the goth girl sitting next to him in study hall.)

Aside from that, the only other time anyone saw Hamlet affected was when a serial rapist was loose in the neighborhood and had raped an 11-year-old girl, in the daytime, in a thicket of bushes only a couple blocks from Hamlet’s house.

Hamlet spent the next few days and nights, clutching a baseball bat, roaming his mom’s house, looking eagerly out his windows, at times sitting on the front porch, scowling, hoping for a meeting with the perp…

Due to his steely resolve, A&R staff figured he’d be the perfect person to take on the task of filtering the demos – and destroying the unwanted ones. Most interns and lower level staff dreaded doing so, but Hamlet took it on with no complaints, and was to be hired as full-time, paid staff after graduation.

Soon enough, each week, he was taking the rejected “pass” pile onto the balcony outside the A&R office and smashing them up with a sledgehammer. The press kits and paper materials he’d feed to the office document shredder.

One afternoon, Raya, a spunky college girl, newly arrived intern, who was always trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to make conversation with Hamlet, stopped by the balcony, slid open the glass door, smiled and asked him, half-jokingly, nervously giggling: “Doesn’t it bother you, smashing up all those demos? Literally destroying and crushing all those people’s hopes and dreams?”

Hamlet, resting the hammer on his shoulder as he readied up another pile, just shrugged.

She continued, her tone sobering, and she pointed a particular demo out: “Oh, I like totally remember her. That girl called here the other day, crying and freaking out, saying she’d like sent us her baby photos, along with her demos. She was all begging us to mail them back to her.”

Hamlet peered down for a second at the demo in question, a cute teenage Puerto Rican girl in a pink halter top and black miniskirt, sticking her tongue out on its cover.

“I remember that,” he said. “Pictures already been shredded. Lawsuits, you know…”

Then he adjusted his goggles and resumed bashing the demos, mostly CDs, and the crunching sounds they made as they split apart were quieter than Raya expected.

Seeing his stern, unflinching face as he took aim at the Puerto Rican girl’s CD, Raya forgot her smile, slowly backed away, and didn’t talk much to him afterwards.

A few years later, as file-sharing bit further and further into profits, the label went bankrupt.

Hamlet got a job in administration at the local school district and later went on to become a high school principal.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

"Getting Gunned Down and Liking It" by Newamba Flamingo



The house was for sale
Assorted couples, some with
smells of children
assorted couples
straggled in/out

Home Alone
Burglars on monkey bars
Home Alone
in/out, in/out

real estate agents
opioid white, comfortably numb
smelling of hamburger
kicked and kicked
at the cellar door
in/out, in/out

The day was humid, sunny,
95 degree heat index
the
sound of cicadas
vacuums
honeysuckle mildew
Tourette’s sufferers
self-mutilating multi-purpose
emos on dog leashes
slobbering, snickering
in/out, in/out

the cats
confinement,
fear of children
cats’
basement purgatory,
sucker shit starvation…
in/out

the fresh cut grass
out front of
The old Victorian,
site of senior citizen slap fights,
domestic disputes
abusive PTA swinger sessions,
HIV conspiracies
Stolen bike sleepover studies of Nero
Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle Tupperware
Silverfish eating crack smoking British animals

The old Victorian,
its Grecian columns
Its Pot plants, cocaine, teenage sex
its girl blood graffiti

Out/in

Hovering balls of night
hair metal
good fences…

walls had been painted
roses had been planted
lawns had been manicured
leaky pipes had been fixed

past, present perfect…

Throwing stones
The faggot running home with one shoe
Throwing stones
The faggot with a black eye and cracked glasses
The faggot, weeping, snot-nosed
seeking Jamaican gardeners
seeking gravel driveway sanctuary

The faggot
hears an explosion,
boom boom boom
From that failed shopping center
Where stepsisters fucked in elevators
Where stepbrothers tripped acid in bushes
The Iranian deli and its cigarettes
gone in a fire red mushroom cloud…

1-Armed attackers
Unleashed from snack bars
Beating poets and bears with baseball bats

1-Armed attackers,
potbelly fanny packs,
New Balance shoes
pinkish trench coats

1-Armed attackers
walkie-talkies, gang signs
abortion crocodile farms
airboats from a shithole
Turbo charged colon cameras

coyotes dropping from the sky

1-Armed attackers
jogging down suburban streets
in wedding gowns
AR-15 blazing,
soccer moms getting gunned down and liking it

Police, swat teams, bullets whizzing by
Corpses, real or imagined, trash and treasure
Dream therapy, food truck hearses
Quack Quack
Candle lit stock market ceremonies
Macaroni and cheese making America
Orange slice metaphorical weather pattern
Bomb cyclone, shouting at the derecho and liking it

The news had been broadcast
Gunmen’s silhouettes
Gunmen’s faces and stories

The air was humid
The house was for sale


Friday, March 9, 2018

"Manila Massacre" by Newamba Flamingo





Calling Mr. Carlos
ROOM 510

Up the ante
and
squeeze your trigger

Camaraderie goes “bang”

Mr. Carlos,
pay the taxi

TAKEOFF

Mr. Carlos,
no chauffeur,
GROCERY LIST JIHAD
JIHAD
to the Roar of jet engines
Planes at the hangar
Jetpacks, nooses and shoelaces
Security goes silk…
Blood blister intercoms
Spit shine sidewalks,
fanny packs, finger bombs
breaking news
ABS-
CBN…

Mr. Carlos, our rendezvous,
Mr. Carlos…
you pink panther,
all fur and claws,
such MANEUVERS
such maneuvers…

That ain’t working,
This is how we do it…

with Jeepney routes
wild suicidal tendencies
with secretaries closing the séance
Séances in shackles, surgical masks…
Immolate, Mr. Carlos
your witch burnings on webcam
your
bitch bitch bitching
your IOU(s)
your
snitch snitch snitching
your last resorts,
your retorts, by the Belmont -
chlorine in the pool
Bushmaster action flicks
smallish dicks and Flocks at the barrio
Bashing baby skulls, secret snipers
Satellites! Satellites! Satellites!
Stomping children’s testicles
into neon sunsets
Art Deco orange
the
transitioning, undercover bukkake priests,
are 21 savages in a conga line,
misfits,
their CIA card games and
Cockfights and tax returns, indispensable,
indivisible!
GOTTDAMN their shrill voices!
GOTTDAMN their squeaky shoes!
Grimy, grimy, GRIMY!

The stairwell!
The stairwell, Mr. Carlos!
… and a punch to the neck
… and an itinerary of fuck,
Muck, license of maggots
Koreans drinking your piss
Auto-erotic asphyxiation in lavatories
Flipping roulette tables, to the
Gold Rush
Go Go gasoline
Diesel, diesel, diesel!

Colossal failure, Mr. Carlos!
Chips are in, Mr. Carlos!
100,000 pesos, Mr. Carlos!

THAT AIN’T WORKING!
THAT’S THE WAY YOU DO IT!

Pre-millennial garbage/bag
Pre-millennial lizard/man
… and those Crisis Actors – the ones to
make the everything a dilemma…

Mr. Carlos,
You getting pussy in Pasay?
Perpetrator, perpetrator, perpetrator!
Mr. Carlos,
You tuck yourself in nice and tight?
Perpetrator, perpetrator, perpetrator!
Mr. Carlos,
You see the flat earth?
You having disco ball dreams?
Perpetrator!!!
Hallowed
be
thy
name!!!
Mr. Carlos,
You think it’s a moon heist?
PERPETRATOR!

Mr. Carlos,
Who really got fucked?


Monday, October 9, 2017

"ESL Guangzhou: Dawn of the Nong" by Newamba Flamingo




It was dawn. A committed insomniac and early riser, Happy Sacks stretched out on his balcony overlooking VPN Road, Shamian Island.

“This was once the only place in Guangzhou laowai could live…”

Today the smog had lifted. A purplish sunrise yielded to baby blue skies.

Happy admired the island’s colonial style buildings, the European architecture, stone pillars.

A 50ish Cantonese man pushed his teenage son’s wheelchair past the Starbucks.

“Mainlanders only do two things with their handicapped. Hide them or exploit them.”

Happy drank a morning beer, smoked a bowl of opium, popped his Prozac and ate a hearty breakfast of fried chicken feet and cockroaches and watched car crash videos on the morning news.

He dressed up in standard China TEFL uniform, a clown costume, with requisite white face paint, big red nose, and spit-shined, pumped up kicks.

An obese shushu from Guizhou was his ride to school and waited on all fours outside.

Happy mounted the shushu like a horse, put a cigarette to the shushu’s lips, and they were off, galloping through the humanity, jumping every queue….

Happy convened class. No AC in the steamy, crumbling classroom and silver slivers of sweat streamed down his forehead, armpits, asscrack.

Happy tried a simple ESL game, but the students paid no mind. They talked over him, played on phones, watched movies on tablets, or lay face first on desks, sleeping.

A petite caramel girl sat atop a desk in the front row. Her parted legs revealed a bare vagina underneath her dress, and she stared lustily at Happy, performing fellatio on a Popsicle…

“Age of consent in China is 14…”

A commotion outside. Happy opened the door to the hallway and saw a deranged janitor running amok, with a meat clever, singing Michael Jackson songs in a horrible falsetto as he was hacking at students, staff at random…

Happy closed the door tightly and saw all his students lay bloodied, dead on the floor.

He dialed 112. No answer. Line was busy. He ended the call and realized he was in the WC.

It smelled strongly of piss, shit, vinegar, and secondhand smoke.

Wumao Laoshi with a flesh wound, stood calmly at the mirror, smoking, downloading a suicide app.

Panicked, Happy tried to talk with him.

“听不懂!”

Happy’s stomach began to rumble. He’d been in China long enough and knew the progression of laduzi.

All the stalls were occupied so he kicked in one’s door and found a dentist pulling teeth from a princeling in a Pol Pot hat.

He kicked in another and yanked out a squatting, cell phone playing Chinese Urkel, and flung the fucker to the floor.

Happy dropped trou and loosed his bowels.

He realized he didn’t have toilet paper and knew his only choices: hands, socks or underwear...

As he levitated his fat, hairy, honky white ass over the toilet, he heard a chugging train sound and felt a cold wind blowing below.

A hand clawed from the toilet’s mouth and a man in a panda suit crawled out of it.

Panda Suit Man yelled: “This for the feelings of the Chinese people!” and Happy’s Guns N’ Roses ringtone suddenly went off.

Panda Suit Man then shoved his hand up Happy’s ass, dug around, and pulled out Happy’s prostate.

“So many butthurt!” laughed and pointed Chinese Urkel.

Panda Suit Man dove back down into the toilet. Happy flicked off Chinese Urkel and followed Panda Suit Man down the hole.

“It’s always darkest before it becomes totally black...”

They emerged in Nongjing, at Tingbudong Square.

Panda Suit Man was dashing through a crowd of dancing ayis.

Happy chased after him, but more and more ayis surged forth, blocking his way.

Happy pushed and shoved away the ayis, but, increasingly frustrated, he punched and kicked through them, UFC style, dropping cunt punts and slugging their wrinkly faces and saggy tits with vicious hooks, jabs, and uppercuts.

He finally picked a portly one up and used her as a battering ram to bludgeon his path to the tail end of the masses.

Throwing the battering ram ayi to the ground, and giving her one last kick for good measure, he looked to the sky and saw Panda Suit Man scaling the Great Firewall, with suction cups.

Panda Suit Man zip-lined to Chairman Pumpkinhead’s portrait and used Happy’s bloody prostate to smear Cantonese characters on it.

A gong sounded. It was then the tanks moved in.

Soldiers shooting indiscriminately at pedestrians, ayis; motorcycles running motherfuckers over… Wild lions and baboons falling from low flying helicopters… Gutter oil, stinky tofu, propane canisters from catapults, loud explosions, harmony…

Happy was mowed down by machine gun fire…

Happy awoke on the floor of a hallway in a hospital. The floor was filthy with bloody Q-tips and used maxi pads everywhere. Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N*gga” boomed from the public address system.

Happy rose to his feet. Mankini-clad middle age Chinese men all around, staring and surrounding him, smoking cigarettes, holding sonograms, making hacking spitting sounds.

At the end of the hallway was Panda Suit Man, behind him, a ball of light.

Panda Suit Man was waving Happy in like a third base coach, and Happy took off running in Panda Suit Man’s direction.

The spitting/smoking mob locked arms, cursed Happy and gave chase.

As Happy got closer to the light, there appeared a beautiful young Chinese girl in a skintight onesie miniskirt, standing in front of a sauna. The girl was smiling, shaking her fist…

Happy ran faster and faster and felt the hot stinky breath and slimy spit of the nong throngs behind him.

Wheezing, gasping for air, he dove towards the beautiful Chinese girl in the sauna, and everything went








Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Johnny Buckets in Bergen" by Newamba Flamingo




Johnny Buckets wore a Spider-Man sweat suit.

He hung upside down from the ceiling of the first class carriage, in the fast train from Oslo to Bergen.

Cracking open an Aass beer, he gazed out the window into the green, brown, and white Norwegian countryside.

Someone in the row behind him said how you ain't seen nothing until you’ve seen a middle aged Polish woman speaking Chinese and that those glaciers would soon be gone because of global warming.

Johnny downloaded an “InfoWars” podcast. He gritted his teeth as he sucked down the Scandinavian suds.

“Can’t I get a fucking Budweiser in this country?!” he erupted. “Fucking faggots!”

A sharply dressed man in the seat facing him grimaced, crossed his legs, checked his watch and looked away…

Johnny Buckets hiked up his pants and hit Bergen “like a fucking asteroid.”

The weather was damp and rainy. The mountains hugging the city were molars.

In the driverless Uber Johnny Buckets laughed and did impressions of the language in onomatopoeia…

“Hey, where the fuck can a nigga get some bacon cheeseburgers and shit?” he inquired at the front desk.

None of the staff seemed impressed by his “Make America Great Again” hat or his Joe Pesci t-shirt...

Tourists snapped selfies with architecture, but Johnny Buckets pushed past them on his way to the “Roll & Rock Bar and Diner” on Skostredet 14.

He spit out his first bite.

“This is real beef?!” “Bacon soggy like used toilet paper!” “FUCKING SOCCER BALL KICKING, MANBUN EUROFAGS!”

Johnny Buckets dug out his phone from his fanny pack, got online, gave the diner a shitty review on TripAdvisor and trolled a "libtard" on a fantasy football site.

Then he stuck in his ear buds and listened to the soothing musical stylings of DMX, and Black Rob’s “Whoa.”

Whilst eating the tolerable freedom fries, he drank a coke. It was then decided. That night he was going full retard.

He left no tips, went back to the hotel and shaved his head in the bathroom mirror….

Johnny Buckets got to the club dressed as Freddy Krueger.

A robotic DJ fistpumped and thumped dubstep remixes of Deadmau5. All in automation.

Johnny Buckets slammed a series of shots of Finnish vodka. The spinning room smelled of cinnamon.

“Damn Norwegian bitches look like transvestites!” he lamented. “And not the hot Thai type of transvestites neither!”

Though after a few more shots, the tall, broad shouldered “Nordic pussy” began to look slightly more enticing.

“Gonna go rape and plunder some of this Viking boo-tay!!” he exclaimed and proceeded to be shot down by every single girl in the club.

“Now I understand Anders Breivik!” yelled Johnny Buckets as he was ejected cold into the night by security.

Back at the hotel, he felt like jerking off, but was bored of PornTube, Kardashians, and artificial vaginas, so he hit up an international escort site to find himself a slapper.

On it, he found one in his area; tall, Russian, high cheekbones, looked like Melania.

“Fucking right… Russian va-jay-jay… Bet she takes it in the fartbox...” he clicked “like” and paid in Bitcoin.

An hour later, he was nearly passed out on his bed, streaming a prison documentary on YouTube, when his door spoke in musical claps.

He stumbled up, let in the light, and saw Melania, looking just like her picture from the website, though even taller than expected, at least six inches higher than him.

He smiled. She smiled back.

Then, from behind her, a couple tattoo faced, big, burly Russian lizard dudes stormed into the room.

Johnny Buckets' smile was eaten back by a blizzard of fists.

He fell to the floor and curled into a fetal ball as they punched, kicked, and cursed at him in Russian and broken English.

Melania rummaged through his room, filling Johnny Buckets’ Versace backpack with his laptop, phone, wallet, passport, prescription pills, and folder full of tickets to Hobart, Auschwitz, Orlando, Newtown, Babi Yar, Beijing, Blacksburg, Killeen and Las Vegas.

“Bitch even took my sunscreen.”

Melania then peered into his room’s safe, but it was open and empty. She nodded to the Russians who relented their assault. The three began to exit the room.

One of the Russians snatched Johnny Buckets' red cap from the coat rack, put it on, and whispered “Donald Trump” as he chuckled and pulled the door closed.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"ESL Wuhan" by Newamba Flamingo





The bullet train arrived to Wuhan on a cold winter’s day.

Smog and construction cranes were all one could see.

Chabudi, the Monkey Queen, had a large drone implanted in her backside and collected me from the platform with a toilet plunger and flew me from the train station to my new apartment.

The unit was on the 44th floor of an 88-storey building shaped like a squat toilet…

We swooped down, landed on a balcony. A red trapdoor had facial recognition technology and opened automatically, vacuuming us inside.

There were large star shaped windows everywhere. The place was practically a glass box, with sweeping city views of smog, square concrete structures and what seemed to be a river, its dark water like molasses. Cars and motorbikes crisscrossed a bridge running over it.

Chabudi wore a curvy qipao. Quite the cougar, she glided, air walking me through a tour of the unit. I stole quick peeks of all her floral patterns. She had a small jumpman tattoo near her right ankle.

It was freezing cold in the apartment and grayish breath swirled out of Chabudi’s tiny mouth as she spoke. Her lipstick was black, as were her fingernails, and she wore her hair in a tidy little bun with chopsticks. I caught a whiff of halitosis.

Chabudi had Migos' “Slippery” as her cell phone ringtone, and there was another tattoo on her right hand that looked like a dragon or maybe a cobra…

In the living room was a wooden couch. On it sat a stout, middle aged Chinese man. He was in tighty whities and a stained wife beater that was rolled up to his chest, revealing an exposed beer belly. He was chain smoking.

I asked Chabudi who the man on the couch was. She ignored the question, threw the keys at me and strapped on a surgical mask with a cute bear on it.

She hovered to the balcony and clapped her hands. It sounded like a burst of firecrackers as the door slid open and she flew away, fading into the smog.

I asked the man what he was doing in my apartment. He didn’t answer. So I asked him again, this time in Mandarin. He again didn’t answer.

He took a swig of baijiu, belched and made a guttural “en” sound. I decided to go out for noodles and a hand massage. When I came back, he was gone.

When I awoke the next morning, he was back. This time he wasn’t wearing a shirt. There were dark circles under his eyes. He looked like a panda.

He was smoking a cigarette backwards, filter first.

Again, I spoke Mandarin to him. Again he only replied with the same guttural sound. I sat next to him and turned on XXTV News…

Shu Shu Xin Xiang was visiting a village in Nongzhou, Henan. A beaming pig farmer walked with him arm in arm. Shu Shu’s upper lip never moved...

I turned to what I figured was my roommate. He was drinking from a canister of gasoline and his two parallel tufts of hair were on fire. I ran into the kitchen to grab the extinguisher, but, when I returned, my roommate had dissolved into ash. The odor of cigarettes remained.

That afternoon I met a neighbor downstairs named Rainey. She had a two year old boy on a silk leash. There was an open slit in the back of the child’s Minion pajamas and his buttocks hung out.

The boy pointed at me, yelled out “waiguoren”, and ran into the corner of the hall, squatted and defecated, smiling gleefully as he did so.

Rainey asked me into which apartment I’d moved. I told her. She nervously laughed, scooped up the boy and took off running.

I texted Chabudi, asking if there was anything I should know about the apartment. She replied with “no why”.

So I Baidued the apartment and found a news article on 1344 dot com dot cn and copied it into my Pleco app’s clip reader…

It was about a man named Sha who’d discovered his wife was having an affair. When he confronted her, she admitted it and said she’d be divorcing him and taking their son.

He then choked her to death with a plastic bag and poured gasoline all over the apartment, set it alight, and chained the front door shut. His mother in law and his wife’s aunt were napping in an adjacent room. Both burned. His son was away at boarding school.

An archive picture showed dancing ayis that night pausing to watch their comrades join the haze.

The police found Sha later at a massage parlor. He confessed and shortly after was executed via a bullet to the back of the head. His kidneys were donated to a boy with cancer…

That was four years ago.

That evening, in the elevator, I met a neighbor named Rocket. He had suction cups for feet and prosthetic legs.

He said no locals had lived there in ages and that the place had been rented out to a series of foreigners, mostly English teachers.

They all tended to move out quickly. One died from gas inhalation.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Superman in Isaan" by Newamba Flamingo




They met on a dating site.

He was 51. She 22.

Him: Failed marriage, 0 kids.
Decent job, car, savings, pension.

Her: One 1 year old.
Stays with the folks in Isaan while she works hospitality in Pattaya.

They’d Skype at night his time, morning/afternoon her time.

He called her “Sugarlips.” She called him “Superman,” his hair so curly, glasses always askew.
“Superman so handsome man!” she’d say in breathy nasal coos.

Superman had been sending Western Unions for Sugarlips’ mom’s operation on the English word he couldn’t understand her pronounce.

Soon enough he proposed and she gleefully accepted and he put on his tights and cape and flew out to Bangkok on a foggy day.

The immigration officers at Suvarnabhumi almost didn’t let him in, what with the cape and all, but his wallet full of rainbows ensured his passport got stamped.

The down payment on the house in Jomtien had been made. Superman thought about furniture as he made his way to the taxi line through smoke, ghosts, and horns, laughs and photobombs.

In the minibus he chatted with a ladyboy, using his Pimsleur Thai. Superman learned Laotian words for papaya and blowjobs.

Jet-lagged, but running on adrenalized fumes, Superman reached Jomtien Beach around dusk. Navy waves lapped at foot-stained sands. The Gulf was drinking what remained of a saffron sun.

Superman got to the bar, but Sugarlips wasn’t there. A tuk tuk driver stopped and pointed him in a direction.

Superman checked into the guesthouse.

His room was humid and smelled something of sex. It had a crude renderings of cockroaches and Shania Twain stenciled onto the ceiling near the fan. A half burned copy of Bangkok Tattoo lay by the bathroom door.

On his bed was a live rooster with a note duct taped to its right wing.

Superman, with considerable physical exertion, chased the animal around the room and was finally able to pin it down and peel off the note, which’d been rolled into a cone.

The note read: “You go Isaan. Roi Et.” An address in Thai.

Superman flew Nok Air the next day. He didn’t see any humor at all in the duck bill painted on the plane’s nose…

Superman had a mild case of diarrhea at the airport.

Beside him at the gate was a geriatric Brit with blackened teeth and beer breath who mumbled about Cambodia being better.

In the plane Superman was in the aisle seat next to two elderly monks, silently staring and smiling for the entirety of the journey.

Mild turbulence made Superman pass gas loudly, not once but twice.

Deplaning, he felt comfort in a leggy flight attendant’s mouth full of braces and graceful wai. His stomach suddenly felt better.

On the way to the village, Superman drove by a Buddhist funeral. Teenage girls and boys, in traditional Thai clothing and heavy makeup danced to soft music in front of a coffin awaiting cremation.

Onlookers in black and white clothes held paper flowers, chatted, and laughed. The wat nearby had intricate golden spires twinkling in the scorching midday sun. An elderly man in an AC/DC shirt sold cold drinks and ice cream out front.

The Grab driver deposited him. All Superman could smell was diesel fumes. Roosters screamed in the distance.

Superman faced a traditional Thai wooden house.

A skinny, heavily tattooed Thai man emerged from the house’s front porch, which had children’s toys strewn about.

The man had a dark cloth wrapped around his head and face. Sort of like a ski mask.

The man approached, speaking something of an Isaan tongue. All Superman could understand was “ไก่.“

The man then offered a pipe stuffed with an orange substance… “ไม่เป็นไรขอบคุณ.“

The man burst into a cackling, hyena like laughter, went back to the house, and, in near perfect English pronunciation, yelled out “buffalo” before slamming the door.

Superman summoned another Grab driver via telepathy and washed down a handful of Xanax with 100 ml of Hong Thong.

Then he went back to the airport, where he burned his rainbows and flew back to the fog.