Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Drinking Remy Martin with Communist Shrimp Farmers and Talking about Keck Meck

Your shrimp doesn't come from the sea and your pricey Orange Roughy is really Mekong catfish --- both likely raised in a sprawling tropical desolation of sludgy saltwater ponds converted from former rice paddies.

The Vietnamese government's expanse of 6,000 hectares of shrimp ponds I visited yesterday was so far down a narrow road that thick vegetation began to block the truck. So we hitched rides on strangers' motorcycles, riding past endless rice fields, scruffy dogs and shacks on stilts.

The lunch meeting began at noon with a bottle of Remy Martin cognac (above), poured by a 62-year-old Communist --- a veteran of the "American War", shrimp farm manager, and hardcore alcoholic. This old fucker could drink more than anyone I've seen. He poured round after round of 80 proof cognac, forcing us all to partake, until I secretly poured the booze into my rice bowl in order to survive.

12 shots in me on Sunday afternoon, and the drunken lout spit a question at us in Vietnamese, followed by a serious stare. I felt like Christopher Walken in the Deer Hunter, expecting a gun with one bullet in the chamber, but our translator told us he wanted to know what we thought about "Keck Meck".

What the fuck is Keck Meck? we asked. After five minutes of back and forth, the translator said, "You know, Keck Meck and Lenin. KECK MECK." Holy fuck, these people's language has no ability to pronounce the "-arl" or the "-arx" in the name "Karl Marx", so they say "Keck Meck" when referring to him. God damn.

So there I sat, trying to come up with a non-offensive answer for this rich Communist, blotto out of his skull on expensive French cognac, in the middle of a shrimp plantation --- his poor workers sitting 10 meters away in the dirt, eating rice and vegetables on top of an upside-down rusty 55 gallon drum. Ah, the irony.

I made up some bullshit about Marx's writings having more to do with capitalism than socialism and how Lenin and Stalin messed it all up. I don't think my translator understood. The meeting ended with this wasted old codger cackling and singing Communist anthems and keeping the rhythm by beating on the table.
Comments:
So your cognac-pouring host was hardly a communist is what you're saying. I think Keck Meck is actually what Karl Marx's hiphop name would be.
 
Hiphop name. So true.

A Communist in the Marxist-Leninist sense, he surely was, but probably not a pure Marxist.

There's a difference, right?
 
And you are getting paid for this?! You lucky bastard.

What do you think you're resume will look like after this job? "Skills: third-world country touring, communing with masses of human bones, exotic fishing from perforated boats, teaching of Capitalism to the Muslim world, toilet squatting, eating anything, betel nut aficinado, religious structure critic, foreign drinking establishment ettiquette expert, octopus tamer, hard drinking with communists, and oh yea, my dog likes poop."
 
Once when I was in Europe playing a chess tournament, these Mongolians kept asking me about "Poppa Pisho".

Right, that's Bobby Fischer. Good friend of Keck Meck.
 
i agree, i can't believe you are getting paid to travel around like this. is this all related to your shrimp farming scheme?
 
Jamie:

My shrimp farming scheme is because of this business thing in Asia.
 
I've been to Keck Meck's grave in Highgate, London. The Chinese go there and leave red carnations all the time. I used to see them in their little gray Chairman Mao suits.

"Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks."~~Keck Meck
 
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