Thursday, April 19, 2007

Come-ons from the whores on Seventh Avenue

Does it really take a visitor to say that prostitutes are still overrunning Saipan? It seems so. That D. Martinson letter in the Tuesday Saipan Tribune doesn't say anything new: (I'd link to it, but there's a glitch in their archive.)
First, I can't tell you how many times I was propositioned in Garapan by prostitutes--you call them masseuses--for sex. Why is this permitted? Can anyone give me a good reason? Am I to understand that elected officials, business owners, and police department can't do a thing about it? I find that hard to believe. Tip No. 1: If you want Japanese tourists to return, clean up Garapan of prostitutes. Every single last one must go.

It's obvious on Cpl Derence Jack Road, where I'm writing this now. A fine memorial indeed. I guess the politicians have more important things to worry about. By the way, has the Zoning Board gotten anyone to sponsor their adult zoning legislation yet?

I've always been ambivalent about prostitution: a 'victimless' crime and all of that la-di-da. In an ideal world, maybe. In reality, and particularly Saipan's reality, no. Exploitation, abuse and drug use are rampant. The government has consistently shown that it is
institutionally incapable of controlling those abuses.

A few days after we moved I watched a Chinese man strolling down the street speaking on a cellphone. He kept stopping in various strategic locations, checking out the activity in front of the 'massage parlor' and other places. Naturally, I became curious, wondering if he was setting up a raid on a rival. No, he was evidently breaking in a new working girl. She came around the corner next to me and sauntered down the street getting constant instructions over her cellphone. Style points, I guess.

Now, I intentionally made it obvious that I was watching; I really don't think this activity is going to do much for our store. His response? He eventually entered the store, cellphone attached to his ear, and strolled up and down the aisles checking prices. Then he left without a word, cellphone still going. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but the message I received was that I was an interloper in an established territory.

Now, these Fujien gangs usually just extort, strong-arm and intimidate other Chinese, so I'm not worried about that. Maybe that's why they get away with running roughshod over the legitimate Chinese. I do think my idea about photographing the regular girls just to harass them into moving along would be ill-advised.

I mentioned the incident to a friend about a week later when the same man strolled by and was told he had been down in Chalan Kanoa recently. From all appearances, he was collecting protection money.

I picked the song lyric, of course, partly because of Corporal Jack and partly because another section of Seventh Avenue before it reaches Times Square is the garment district.

Thanks to the garment industry, Saipan now has a large Chinese community. It's not going to go away. Some of the businesses are very good; I deal regularly with half a dozen of them. But this government has never been able to control its small businesses. How many more beauty parlors, karaoke bars, poker parlors and auto repair shops are going to be touted as 'investment'? Gee, I almost forgot massage parlors.

When the Chinese horde first arrived, the usual sleaze you would expect piggybacked in. Take your pick, the government couldn't or wouldn't control it. About as much success as with the Yakuza earlier, I'd say. Given that track record, I'd suggest leaving the casino business to Tinian. They picked their poison.

A very bright man who recently sold his business just came back for a visit. We were talking about all of the new buildings going up while hundreds of old ones stand vacant and derelict. His concise summary: "Oh, you mean the Korean Green Cards?" Bingo. We'll probably need the space to house the Korean mafia.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday morning coming down

I hope Ellery Chun was buried in a loud, vulgar Aloha shirt.

Let's give him credit: his invention is better than a suit and tie in the tropics. Faint praise, I know, but what else is there to say?

I was thinking about this the other day when I was putting on a button-down Hawaiian shirt. What's with that? Maybe it would look good with a bolo tie.

The things are disgusting, and I wear them all of the time. I'm trapped in a vicious cycle: my entire wardrobe seems to be printed so people think that's what I like. Guess what I got for Christmas? Hey, they can't give me ties, so how about something almost as good.

Years ago, I considered going around in linen suits, but that seems way too expat. It brings to mind the Hunter S. Thompson story about colonial Brits sipping gin on a veranda and lofting golf balls into the slum below.

At least the word is out: cotton only. Well, OK, maybe a little plastic thrown in so it doesn't wrinkle. Those synthetics don't breathe; it's like slipping into a rubber suit. S & M with flowers. Sometimes people forget. The world being what it is, the cotton wears out immediately and the dinosaur drippings last forever.

Of course brother Jas hunts for the strangest designs which results in a few that are almost acceptable. I like the subtle ones, the pattern you don't even notice until you suddenly have to ask: "Umm, are those snails on your shirt?"

He gave me several just before I came to Saipan, purchased in a fire sale. The smoky smell wouldn't go away until he anchored them in the lagoon with a rock and let the tide work its wonders. Another happy result was massive fading. The company, long defunct, was owned by someone we'll call the Bad Luck Businessman. It seems like every business he owned eventually ended with a fire. Tragic. Oh, that's what made me think of the Gahan Wilson cartoon above. It's captioned "It's a good thing Effie likes these little funerals, she's had such awful luck with her pets."

Because I like football, my wife presented me with a couple of prints of football helmets. How tropical. What's worse, one was entirely filled with the Dallas Cowboys and they take up a distasteful amount of space on the other. Obviously, I can only wear them to gloat when the Cowboys have a Really Bad Year. Being polyester, they should last into the next century.

There's a glimmer of hope, though. My oversized son has taken to raiding my closet. I just hope he keeps his hands off of the cotton.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Incommunicado's number

OK. Part of it's my fault, but a couple of days...tops. No internet since the move and I've been fighting authority. Unfortunately, the last time I unplugged everything and reinstalled it again I moved a modem cable to the wrong slot. Of course they got prissy and said that was the problem all along, after the necessary 'at least one week' to switch the DSL of course.

Truck gardens So I was eating leftover potroast when a Chinese produce pickup drove under my window. Would you have thrown the cooked potato in with his raw potatoes?

It's just another pet peeve, but those guys bug me. One of them parked in front of our new location on Easter. What can you do when the government is organized like a union shop? Immigration can't check without probable cause, they need to bring along somebody from Commerce for licenses or Public Health for a permit.... I basically quit carrying fresh fruit or vegetables at the old location.

Cast a smell Tilapia comes next I think. Not because it's not selling as well (and it isn't) but because of that ditch across the road. It gets odiferous sometimes and I keep seeing guys fishing tilapia out. Yum. The tourists like it and they're always pointing at the 'local wildlife'.

Phase five Garapan revitalization is to get rid of the smell 'south of the Fiesta Hotel', I believe. Shucks, and I thought it was for me. Why not? We've got the money. I do wonder, however, if anybody ever checked upstream to see who isn't hooked up to the sewer.

Also, it could be worse. Before the Great Fire, Martin's little beach bar was insufferable some nights. I'm not just talking about the yups who hung out there. That pungent ammonia was better than smelling salts for waking you up, if you didn't lose your lunch, or worse, your libations. Some of the stalwarts were so used to it that they could stumble through it and go right back to the bar. Gasp, I hope that's not what's happened to me as I got used to living here.

Totally irrelevant For some strange reason, I've been pondering Amedeo Avogadro. "Not much is known about Avogadro's private life. He had six children and was reputed to be a religious man and also a discreet lady's man." (About: Chemistry) Those Italians.

Actually, it's his number (molecules in a mole), which is 6.023x10²³. What's with the 23's? I read a very 'literary' novel years ago that obsessed on the number and I believe there's a movie that does the same thing. By 'literary', of course, I mean it was experimental with not much story or plot. Interesting ideas but not that interesting, if you follow my drift. I just can't remember the author or title or I'd give some examples. I do remember running across the number of ingredients in Dr. Pepper shortly after reading it.

So... trolling for 23's....