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.