Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Let's talk about doing business in a Communist country, then -- unrelated -- about Mr. Jeff Simmermon.

Two Ambien-powered nights from cold Seoul and I'm in the Mekong Delta.

Like Martin Sheen said, "Saigon ... [dusty ceiling fan, chopping through cigarette smoke] .... Shit."

So like Sheen, I got the fuck out of Saigon and made way for big rivers -- the Nine Dragons of the Mekong, bitch.

The Mekong Delta is a complex phlebology of canals and rivers like your grandmother's varicose veins except with a catfishy solution carrying floating plastic bags instead of clumpy blood.

Traveling around, I had thoughts of my friend's father, Blake, who's a former Marine and modern arms dealer, who gets a wistful thousand-yard gleam in his eye when talking about Vietnam. I kept wondering if he wielded an M-16 in these muddy places that, despite 8% growth since 2000, are still desolately poor.

But the number of hammer and sickle flags adorning the countryside hasn't decreased the desire for profit among the shrimp farmers I'm doing business with. It's the paradox of capitalism -- whatever that means -- and communism -- if that means anything -- in the year 2007; the respect for silly symbols remains, but we all know that markets have and always will exist. To me, everything appears the same as the poorest countries in this region, despite the mindless patriotic songs blasted through the speakers in local shopping malls.

The Mekong River originates from China's Tibet, then past Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the final anus is south Vietnam -- where I'm typing at you from.

Being in cold DC, you probably can't picture what lies outside my window. These pictures sum up Communism's last half-ass stand, from what I've seen this week:

This hunched old woman sells lottery tickets to restaurant-goers. She's just sold one to my associate who's checking out his numbers for a winner:

A canal off the mighty Mekong. I took this picture from a rickety feed boat paddling me to a catfish pond:

Typical Third World transportation: pack as many people onto whatever you can:

This picture isn't as good as I hoped because the frame doesn't capture everything. These villagers have torched a harvested rice field and are flying tens of kites -- a big burning/flying party that I unfortunately couldn't be a close part of:

The Mekong Delta is the land of eating rats and snakes. This is the least disgusting photo of a snake ready to be served on a plate at a restaurant where we ate:

All this Viet Nam talk reminds me of a quote from Dennis Hopper (from a movie that shouldn't need naming) that's eerily apt for how I would describe one of the most honest and consistent blogs in existence, written by my neighbor and friend, Jeff Simmermon:
"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Simmermon. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas..."
If you're not a regular reader, you should be.
Lonnie -- this is incredibly flattering. Thanks so much, but I'm not sure that I deserve this praise. Still means a lot, though. Keep yourself safe out there, and don't mount too many expeditions into the jungle ...
And here I thought Communism's last stand was the Paris Commune...

You have given me a great entrepreneurial idea, though: I could open the "Mekong Experience" restaurant and make a shitload of money while ridding the neighborhood of rats...

By the number of standing Ho Chi Minh statues and hammer and sickle flags, I'd say communism is doing quite well here!
without getting too involved or personal..
a man much wiser than myself once said..

What a dick!
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