Tag Archives: Jack Corbett

Handling Israel

The solution is very simple—-stop the Jewish settlements on the Left Bank now. But the questions to this are the how and why do we accomplish this. The how is to simply tell Netanyahu “The gravy train stops” until you do. “All aid ceases as of now, our umbrella of military support ends as of now, and never mind those “friends of Israel lobbies” that have wielded a completely unjustified influence over American foreign policy because as of this moment our ears are deaf to their demands. As to why—-because it’s the only right thing to do. Justice demands it.

I used to think of Israel as this tiny nation, where the survivors of the holocaust emigrated to, valiantly defending itself against its Arab enemies and winning in the face of overwhelming odds. So I cheered whenever Israel won because I equated its conflicts as battles between the forces of the righteous underdog against the forces of evil. Until—that is, my second trip to Israel when my wife and I boarded our flight to Egypt in Tel Aviv.

On the plane we met several Californians distributing their literature describing the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population. On that flight we learned how the Israeli state systematically cowed Palestinian males into accepting their underdog status by jailing practically every Palestinian youth by the time he was twenty on one pretext of the other. We learned the truth about all those wondrous Jewish settlements and kibbutzes providing homes for Jews emigrating to Israel from all over the world, especially from Russia and other Eastern European countries. The truth was entire villages were being forced at gunpoint to move elsewhere to make room for the newcomers. Never mind the fact that such villages had vineyards and orange groves that had existed for thousands of years in Palestinian hands. Never mind that one’s family had lived in the same house for several generations or more. If the Israelis wanted you out, you might have just three days to move your possessions somewhere else before the bulldozers came in.

The Californians were members of a large Christian church congregation that had paid their travel expenses to Israel so that they could find out and spread the truth about all the atrocities Israel was committing against the Palestinian people. But after returning to the United States my vision of Israel had not been tainted completely until the revelations of the Californian church group were aired on sixty minutes. And that did it. Not only had I learned about the bull dozing of all those Palestinian homes and the forced ejections of their owners from the mouths and handouts of the Californians, here I was actually watching it all happen before my very own eyes on television. From that moment on I stopped being a fan of Israel. But that was back in something like 1990. Twenty-two years have gone by since then and nothing’s changed.

But Israel is our great ally in the Mideast, right? Yeah, since when? We supply the jets, the M-16 rifles, and the money and Israeli turns around to become the world’s greatest supplier of MIG parts by shooting Russian built planes out of the sky. But seriously, what has Israel ever done for the U.S.? Its occupation of Jordanian and Syrian territory ever since the successful conclusion of the 7 day war of 1967 has given Americans nothing more than a seedbed for terrorism and one huge headache. And oh yes….a reason for cheering on the sentimental underdog–those feisty outnumbered survivors of the Holocaust fighting back against tremendous odds. Oh those poor Jews.

But don’t think me for one moment to be anti-Semitic though. The members of my maternal grandfather’s family are buried in Chicago in a Jewish cemetery, and it was this revelation together with the fact that two of my grandfather’s sisters were named Esther and Lydia that caused my sisters and I wonder if our mother wasn’t 50 % Jewish. It’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just that certain groups are very bad news, not just for the rest of the world, but for the more progressive, intelligent members of Jewish society.

I will not point out two incidents involving the Orthodox Israeli Jews of Mea Shearim just to show how diverse this thing, called Jewishness is, and how what seems to benefit one group of Jews is of no benefit to others and might go so far as to undermine the goals and aspirations of such other elements of the Jewish nation of Israel. The first was on my first trip to Jerusalem. Our tour guide, David, used a cane to help him walk because of injuries he had suffered while fighting in four of Israel’s wars. Our group that was composed both of Christians and Jews had just gotten out of our tour bus in the middle of Mea Shearim when suddenly we were confronted by what appeared to be a lynch mob of bearded men wearing the black robes and hats of Israeli Jewish antiquity. Our group nearly incited a riot because of the appearance of most of the women getting off the bus whose dress had exposed their arms and legs. To the inhabitants of Mea Shearim such a “public display of nudity” was an unforgivable atrocity. Our group ended up retreating into our tour bus as David raised his cane to fend off the mob.

The second incident was during my second visit to Israel. My wife and I had just gotten off the plane in Tel Aviv. We accosted a taxi and asked the driver to take us to our hotel in Jerusalem and then we climbed into the cab. Before our driver could get underway, a bearded Israeli wearing the funny hat and clothes started speaking to him in Hebrew. Then the man got in. Our driver then waited another ten minutes for three of the funny looking man’s friends to arrive and then he took us all to Jerusalem. It takes roughly thirty minutes to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but this time it took us at least one hour to get to our hotel because the driver took his new passengers to Mea Shearim which was way out of our way before depositing us at our hotel.

For me, the inhabitants of Mea Shearim are the product of a very odious time warp. Furthermore I cannot see them doing anything good for the modern Israeli state. From my understanding Israel doesn’t police Mea Sherim nor does it have any of its military in Mea Sherim. I believe the Orthodox Jews of Mea Shearim are exempt from military service and perhaps even of having to pay taxes to the Israeli government.

But whereas Mea Shearim might be a curious eye sore and a pain in the butt for most Israelis, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right wing supporters are just pure evil, ironically in the same sense as those S.S. who were responsible for the Final Solution’s treatment of Jews during the Second World War. Their game plan is to keep building new residential areas in the left bank so that this entire area that would be part of the Palestinian portion of a new two state division of Israel would resemble a checkerboard which would later give the Israelis reason to claim that a two state solution is impossible.

And it is this perpetuation of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands that Netanyahu has given our president Obama as a take it or leave it proposition. All of this amounts to Netanyahu pointing a gun at Obama’s head and saying…..”You try and stop us from continuing to dispossess these Palestinians and I am going to convince my American friends of Israel to combine all of its considerable political and economic power to cost you this next election.

So…it’s Israel first and American second. “We have more power than you have, Mr. Obama so if you think we are behaving the same way Americans did during the Westward expansion as they were exterminating American Indians to make room for new settlers in their native lands, there is simply nothing you can do about it.

These are not the actions of an ally. It’s time for Israel, to have to take care of its own back from now on. It’s the only just thing to do.

Publish “Dick Fitswell, man in search of the Perfect Fit”?

To do Fitswell or not to do him, that is the question. I’ve done him already, having published his first five misadventures in two small adult magazines. But Jim Lilly’s advice not to write Fitswell under my normal pseudonym still haunted me. Jim Lilly was the owner of the Wild Times Magazine, a small St. Louis based adult publication, and Jim was excited about getting me to create Dick Fitswell, having come all the way over from the St. Louis side to my East side apartment. Jim might have been all fired up about Fitswell, but I wasn’t. I wanted him to publish, Return to Visions a piece I had written about my returning to Visions Gentlemen’s club of my favorite strip clubs down scenic route 157 that meanders along the Mississippi River bluffs where the river long ago had made its channel. That night I had taken one of the dancers home from the club the long way. Early that morning, the girl and I had gone over to Monk’s Mound, climbed its steps and surveyed the landscape, a hundred feet below us, in the moonlight–a landscape of prehistoric Indian mounds of a once proud civilization now called Cahokia Mounds. To make a long story short I reluctantly agreed to write Fitswell in return for Jim’s publishing Return to Visions in his magazine. And now, after having finally written 28 episodes the real issue is whether to pull the plug and to publish the new Fitswell book or not.

Dick Fitswell is a horrible man whose only goal in life is to bang as many women as possible. But this single goal is only a means to an end, which is to find the perfect fit for his overly large male appendage. Whether he gets along with a woman or doesn’t and whether she’s a good person or not doesn’t matter, and for that matter whether she’s beautiful, although it helps, doesn’t begin to measure up to whether she fits or not. The Fitswell stories are pornographic, and I’ve never liked porn very much. But ever since getting halfway through writing the first Dick Fitswell story I’ve never stopped laughing as I’ve brought my character through one improbable misadventure after the other. Whereas the least enjoyable part of writing about Fitswell’s experience was writing about him having sex, I’d have the most fun thinking about where I’d drop him off next and how I could create a situation where Fitswell would get his just deserts right after doing something despicable to one of his female victims.

The question once again is, if I go even more public with Fitswell while admitting that I’m his creator, will this jeopardize any possible success for “Death on the Wild Side” or “Welcome to the Fun House?” And would I be tainting the name Jack Corbett by publicizing a book whose content is so pornographic? But the word pornographic doesn’t really fit here, however. I never intended my Fitswell stories to arouse the erotic instincts of my future readers. Instead my whole intent was to poke fun at the kind of men who behave like wanna bee Fitswells as well as those women who stupidly fall for such cretins. It was only when I got nearly halfway through writing the Fitswell series that organized religion became the subject of several of the stories.

If there has ever been any question of holding back on the Fitswell book, the Republican Party’s turning to the Far Right as we approach the coming election has convinced me to go full steam ahead. I find its policies, and its lying along with its chief propaganda tool, “Fox News” to be a hundred times more appallingly grotesque than anything Dick Fitswell does in my stories even if there wasn’t any humor in them or even a glimmer of hope for good satire. Fitswell is in the face, crude writing that is impossible to ignore, and I’m not sure how he’s going to be taken. It’s time for a few good laughs, however, and I think Fitswell’s time has come.

So I’m doing it. Expect the Fitswell paperback within two weeks.

Outsourcing, Thai Style

Yesterday I went to a new construction site in Pattaya. A new condo building is being built here, and it’s due for completion six months from now. Except for the construction foreman the laborers are from Cambodia and Burma. The owner of the company is Thai. I’ve been told he owns a Ferrari and a Mercedes. I asked someone in the know, “Are all these workers illegals? remembering an American bar owner friend of mine who was once arrested by the police for talking to a customer in the bar he owned. “No,” my contact replied, “They are all legal. The company hiring them is too large and well established to be hiring Cambodian and Burmese illegals.” Which I interpreted to mean that the owner had probably been buying work permits at hugely discounted prices from a government employee whose palms he had been greasing.

From my observations of construction work going on in my neighborhood, I have noticed that most of the workers do not look or carry themselves as Thai. As for my own condo building, I used to visit the construction site at least twice a week when I’d wander from floor to floor to compare the different types of units while observing the progress that had been made. On reflection, knowing what I know now, the workers on the general construction crew did not appear to be Thai.

I’ve been told that Thais do not like working construction jobs because the work is too hard. I never believed that. There’s just too many Thais going from bar to bar at night trying to sell DVD movies to the customers, flowers, Polaroid pictures and what have you. The real answer is, the men who make the wheels turn in this country love their Ferraris and Mercedes too much. So I asked my girlfriend about it, and she told me the Burmese and Cambodian construction workers were getting around 4500 baht a month. This is in a country where our own cleaning women in my condo building are getting between 6000 and 7000 baht so with the baht presently at a rate of exchange of 1 American dollar to thirty baht this means that cleaning women are getting $200 a month while Cambodians and Burmese doing construction work are getting just $150 a month.

Well, I’ve been back to the villages upcountry to see how the people live in Issan, and I’ve met a lot of Thai men who are unemployed or who are just barely eking out an existence doing a little of this or that. I’ve also met a lot of bar girls who will stay with a man they really don’t like for as little as $250 a month. They do it because their brothers and sisters don’t have jobs and because they only have sixth grade educations and can’t find anything for themselves. So do I believe that Thai people are too lazy to want to work construction jobs? No I do not. I think the sentence is incomplete when it reads, “Thai people do not want to work in the dirty, sweaty and dangerous conditions construction work entails,” to “Thai people do not want to risk their lives working for just 4500 baht in such conditions.”

Why two editions of “Death on the Wild Side”?

Death on the Wild Side novel
I bought the ship for $60.00 in Hanoi. One exactly like it costs $1000 in Thailand. The new 2nd edition of Death on the Wild Side is as stunning to look at as the ship, but then again I'm prejudiced.

 

In 1995 I published the 1st edition of Death on the Wild Side.   Back in those days I could be found in the strip clubs in the Saint Louis Metro East three times a week. Farming 560 acres by myself while writing the novel,  I was very busy back then and today I am simply amazed that I could accomplish it all.  Being at times a bit of a braggart and very much a showoff, back in the clubs I kept telling everyone, “Yes, I am writing a novel and I will have it published soon”, and true to my word, I did.  I was using film cameras back in those days so when I got around to putting the pictures together for the book I was dependent on the quality of my cameras, and how good a job others could do processing the film and getting the pictures print ready.  Although I typeset the entire book myself using my Word perfect Word processor I looked over twenty-four different printing companies to see which one could do the best job at the best price. I chose Gilliand Printing Company to do the job and I ordered a large enough number of books so that I could buy in at a low enough cost to hopefully make some money out of it. Gilliand produced the novel’s covers based on my initial specifications. With the book finished at last, it was time to decide how to sell it. Only then did I begin to learn the harsh truths of what I was up against. First off, a self published author such as myself could expect low profit margins. Even worse, the prospect of facing bookstores and other outlets that paid their bills 60 days or even later came as a shock and an even greater shock was the realization that oftentimes the author–publisher would not be paid at all. The next harsh reality to be faced was the issue of damaged books and that I’d likely be responsible for any books one of my resellers claimed got damaged in his store. This whole thing was starting to look like a very bad deal for me, and no fun at all. But I learned about these self publishing harsh realities in how to do books after it was already too late–after that truck dropped off a few pallets of books at my front door. Numerous excuses soon arose for my avoiding the plunge into such self publishing unpleasantness as cold calling book stores or acting as my own collection agency. I had to harvest corn, plant soybeans, supercharge my Miata sports car, etc. Then I discovered the internet and said to myself…”Now that’s the way I need to go out and sell books.”

But I created a monster. It was a  monster because what I wound up creating took me completely away from my original purpose of getting on the internet in the first place, which was to sell books.  Right off, I got heavily involved with digital photography because I could easily put whatever pictures I’d take straight up on the internet.  And because I was already going to strip clubs on a regular basis I found that I had gotten very popular with strippers in the Saint Louis Metro East as well as with certain club managers and owners.  The digital photography ended up paying huge dividends and to make a long story short, eventually I found myself writing two articles a month for adult magazines while shooting pictures in strip clubs all over the United States.  Oftentimes I’d be having my hotels paid for while receiving several hundred dollars a night to hang out with the kind of people I always wanted to hang out with in the first place.

I started to get confused about what I was all about.  I was already Jack Corbett, which wasn’t my real name.  And although I had started out as a writer by writing “Death on the Wild Side”, people had started calling me “the photographer.”  So was I a photographer or was I a writer?  For Xtreme Magazine I did both, but which was I really best at?  And I was doing my own web site work as well.  I started to think of myself as a jack of all trades and a master of none.  I wasn’t making a living doing photography.  Most of my money was coming in from the farm and when people would offer to pay me money for shooting weddings and other events I had no interest in, Id simply tell them, “No way.”  Once in awhile people would ask me to shoot porn and once again, I’d tell them, “I’m not into it and I’m not doing it.”  By this time I was starting to shoot a little video and my stripper friends and I started to concoct some really off the wall stuff while enjoying ourselves to the hilt.  I met my real Waterloo when my editor from Xtreme Magazine asked me to do a cartoon to go with one of my Dick Fitswell articles that was about to be placed in the magazine, and I told Jeremy,  “Look, I can take excellent pictures, and I can write well enough and I can do web site work, but there’s one thing I can’t do–I just can’t draw.”  Jeremy asked me to try anyway so I worked up a cartoon and after he got it from me he replied, “You sure were right, Jack.  You really can’t draw.”

Eventually I ended up moving to Thailand and started playing around with an idea I had of writing a few short stories about the people I was meeting here.  One of my German friends caught me in the act and when he found out I was writing about a German builder I was calling “Herman the German” he started laughing his ass off, and from then on he kept asking me about how I was faring with Herman the German and the Fun House.  The man kept goading me on, so eventually I turned my little project into the novel that became, Welcome to the Fun House.  It was while writing Welcome to the Fun House that I really started to investigate “Print by Demand Publishing” where I could turn out just one or two or for that matter two hundred books at a time with virtually no up front costs to myself.  At this time another one of my German friends, Ludwig Johner, a retired architect, was doing oil painting upstairs while taking care of his ninety year old mother who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.  I felt Ludwig was truly an excellent artist with a really whacked out way of looking at life through his paintings and that’s when I decided that the front cover design for “Welcome to the Fun House” should be based on one of his paintings.  I wound up producing the entire design of the back cover from scratch by myself.

When my first proof copies came in I was astonished at how good the book looked.  To my eyes it looked far more attractive than the usual fare one finds in most bookstores.  I had learned something after all from playing around with graphics arts programs such as Photoshop doing promo for strippers and doing my web site work.  And that is when I vowed to turn out a new edition of Death on the Wild Side.  Everything had just turned out so well with Welcome to the Fun House  from the quality of the paper, the overall appearance of the book and the attractiveness of the text inside the book, but most  of all it was the front and rear covers that made the book exceed my expectations.

The first big decision I had to make about the coming 2nd edition of Death on the Wild Side was who was going to be my cover girl.   I had thousands of pictures to choose from that I had taken in strip clubs from Las Vegas, the Saint Louis Metro East. Indiana, and Texas, all the way over to the East Coast in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and I had scores of entertainers to choose from.  I asked myself, “out of all those entertainers, which girl most consistently photographed the best?   In my heart, I knew who the girl would be before I even delved into all those pictures so it didn’t take long out of those thousands of pictures for the perfect shot to reveal itself.

When I received my two proof copies from Amazon I was stunned.  The book was simply gorgeous.  My Thai girlfriend immediately said, “I want one.  That one is my copy,” she said while pointing at one of the two books.  She still keeps it close to her bedside.

It is as close to perfection as I could make it.  As for its ultimate success or failure in the marketplace, only time will tell.  After all, I might not be really all that terrific as an author.   Who knows.  Even so, if it were in a bookstore right now competing for space against all its competition, I am confident it would be crying out, “Look at me.  Look at me.  See how pretty I am.”

The Raccoon causes me to be late paying my phone bill

It was the telephone bill I had to pay today.  The way it works where I live in Pattaya, Thailand is, I get the bill which the condo security guard slides under my door and then I pay it at the 7-11 store which is only one block up the street.  Nothing can be more convenient unless I am late paying the bill.  The 7-11 employee  looks at me and says,  “No can do.  Must pay TOT.”  TOT is the telephone company here in Pattaya that handles the land line.  I had been looking for that telephone bill fully aware it was close to coming due and I kept asking my girlfriend, “Do you see bin, telephone?  I cannot find.”  She doesn’t know where it is is her response.  But yesterday she tells me, “Telephone company call.  They cut off.  You must pay.”  Only a few minutes later, the telephone bill shows up.  My girlfriend is rummaging around trying to find it and it turns out she knows something I don’t know.  Suddenly she tells me,  “Here it is.”  She’s finds it in a desk drawer.

I am not a happy camper.  Today I had to drive my motorbike four or five miles to the telephone company to pay my overdue bill.  It came to 107 baht which is a huge surprise to me because I’m only overdue a few days and here they are calling me to threaten to cut me off..  That’s just $3.50.  And the whole reason I’m late paying it is my girlfriend has hidden it inside one of my desk drawers.  The desk drawers are cluttered up with all kinds of things, including two Kabar sheath knives with 7 inch blades and a Cold Steel Trail Master that has a 9 1/2 inch blade.  I have an inbox for bills on top of my desk.  That’s where all the important paperwork is supposed to go such as bank statements for my two U.S. bank accounts, my credit card statements, receipts for things I’ve purchased but not filed yet, and bills.  The trouble is my girlfriend keeps putting things in it that don’t belong there such as a desktop calculator that’s about 10 inches wide, a vice grips pliers, and so on.  So after missing a couple of phone bills in the past because of her hiding the bills, I’ve told her to disregard the in box that normal people use for their bills and to put them on the kitchen shelf close to the door or in a basket that’s on top of a little safe that’s also close to the door.  I’ve even emphasized to her that the phone bills and the broadband internet bills are the most important bills to put by the door because I have only one week upon receiving the phone bill and my being considered late, and my being considered late always means a 4 or 5 mile motorcycle drive to the phone company’s main office where I must pay the bill personally.

That’s why I call my Thai girlfriend, Raccoon.   I know from having had raccoons as pets that they hide things from their owners.  And that’s what my girlfriend does, she hides things from me, not intentionally out of mean spiritness but because she’s Thai and Thais in general do not think logically, nor do they try to anticipate what other people want or need.  And when it came down to my phone and internet bills, I’ve already been over this several times before with her.  This time when I never received the bill from the phone company I asked her several times about it and not once did she admit to having seen the bill.   I accuse her of having put the important bill in my desk drawer.  Not only did she put the phone bill there but she also put my internet bill which requires still another trip to pay the overdue bill personally, a bank statement and several other important paperwork items.  She denies putting it all in my desk drawer and that means I am the one to have done it.  Which I haven’t done and I’m not having any of it so I tell her to never hide my bills in my desk.

And that brings up what is perhaps the most exasperating aspect about the culture here which is the concept of face–which amounts to losing it or gaining it.  In my example of my girlfriend “losing face” means admitting she’s put important paperwork items in my desk so she denies hiding my bills in the desk which can only mean that either I am the culprit or Peter Pan came out of a cloud of pixie dust and hid my bills there.  Here, face is more important than telling the truth.  And it’s not just my girlfriend, they all do it.  It is the emphasis that Thais put on “face” that keeps Thailand in the Second World.  So I am not angry with my girlfriend.  After all she just brought me a plate of spaghetti to the small bedroom I often use as my office.  I won’t even have to do the dishes.  That’s women’s work or so the women believe.  And most of the time she’s such a cheerful little girl.  I have to keep telling myself–it’s not really her.  It’s just the way these people have been programmed.  But trust me, the Thai Western cultural differences here are staggering.