The Gopher Hole And The Damage Done

And if you think that “Hot Puthu” sounds more like a medical condition than it does an Indian delicacy…well, shows to go you, you can’t win ‘em all.

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See, if Penang’s Upper Crust had its wits about it, it’d hire my dimpled ass, tout de fuckin’ suite, to head up the Welcome Wagon Dept.. Nobody loves this place more than I  do. Every day, every hour, it astounds me anew. Let’s take a stroll around town, shall we, and see what we may see…

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Hotelier: Every day, I put it [pens in a drawer] properly, and then they [the staff] come and throw it like that!

Me: [Laughing.]

Hotelier: Every day the same way!

Me: [Laughing.]

The streets around the Kapitan Keling were very quiet on the night of the holiday – much like Christmas morning. This, coupled with the twinkling Star Lanterns hung for the occasion…

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…and the ionic charge lingering in the atmosphere following the earlier thunderstorms – the first significant precipitation in many, many a day – made that evening’s prayer call even more remarkably affecting than usual. Cannot recall whether, two years ago, I passed along a clip of the Muslim prayer calls? Even if so, it’s worth showing again. If listening this doesn’t simultaneously rip your heart out and  leave you gasping for air…


Moreover, the Kapitan Keling Mosque’s calls end a half-minute or so earlier than other mosques’ in the general vicinity; hearing the echoes from the latter, hanging faintly in the air like a lingering mist, deepens the effect even the more. Five times a day, every day; it’s like as though all the drama in Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre were distilled into three minutes of pure, haunted emotion. Incroyable.

As much as religion is such transparent bullshit, the undeniable artistry which religious faith evokes does make one wonder… Guess you could say it instills into the mind a kind of macabre dilemma: Given that the only two means by which to reach the pinnacle of human artistic/creative endeavour are to get religion or to get a smack habit, which would you choose? Personally, I think I’d go with the Heroin; I figure a chemical addiction would probably be easier to shake than religious indoctrination. But, I suppose there is no right answer here (except, of course, to not become an artist – but that’s the easy way out).

Kind of have it in the back of my mind that it would be fun to make some interviews with island residents. My first three choices for subjects would be: Durian Seng (natch), the dude who does Kapitan Keling’s prayer call, and the family that runs that beautiful and compelling Pork store over on Jalan Penang. In case you’ve forgotten the one I mean, here are a few whistle-wetting shots from the most terrifying place on the island…Penang’s true Heart Of Darkness.

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But, yeah, you think you know a place; you think you’ve walked by it a thousand times without seeing anything amiss. And then, one day, blammo!, it hits  you…

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Actually, though, this would make a great album-cover, would it not? The “typo” on the British Pound merely serves to make it more awesome. Only thing is, it’s the wrong aspect ratio, so the record’d need to be sold in a Longbox – hopefully there are still some blank ones laying around somewhere. Now all we need is a band to name itself “The Spicemen” and to record and release an album called Money Changer — which is what the Chinese characters on top denote. Can’t lose, because even if the record is shite, it’s automatically in the great album covers of all time. (I’d say top fifty on merits – but then the Longbox gimmick pegs it up into the top twenty-five, easy.)

Finally visited this one big-deal Thai temple – it’s got the third-biggest Reclining Buddha in all of Asia – a ways outside of town. It’s a major tourist draw, but somehow I had never been. It’s kind of too far to walk when it’s as hot as it’s been, but also too near to take the bus without feeling like a schmuck for not having walked.

Anyhow, the Buddha was very stupid. Yeah, it’s big

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…but I hate those Buddhas that look like they were drawn by some Saturday Morning cartoon-ist.

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Oh, well. Some of the artwork around the temple was cool, though.

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But best of all was the signage, including these two Hellerian (is that a word?) notices placed right next to each other:

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And the Notice and Invitation are worth a chortle or three – maybe even four or five.

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Aaaand the GTF is off and running. Gonna try to make it to all of the exhibitions and installations, but there’s a lot packed in to its monthlong schedule. Here’s the first, over at Fort Cornwallis, of all places.

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Yep, that’s the whole thing. Hey, nobody said they were gonna all be world-beaters. The second – featuring among its pieces the work of a couple of Chinese Exchange students — was more substantial, making use of painting, photography, muralism, and 3-D action.

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Gonna be a good month, even if it’s rather gnawing to be unable to afford to attend more than one or two of the ticketed events.

Here’re a few more clips from the Hungry Ghost performances. This dude’s one-legged walk is fucking impressive. Guess I was wrong about the performances lasting all month, however. Though a lot of the shrines remain, all the stages have been taken back down again. How shall now be accomplished the appeasing of the ghosts? Don’t know!

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