Monday, December 11, 2023
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[Vung Tau, 12/9/23]
On weekends, Saigonese come to Vung Tau. Relaxing at Thư Viện Thân Thiện [Friendly Library], I can spot these obnoxious intruders. Of course, as soon as they speak, there’s no denying they’ve come only to ruin my motherfuckin’ city! It’s not just their insufferable Saigon accent, but the moronic questions they ask baristas and waitresses. Get out! I must start a nativist movement here. With my own money, I’ll build a wall across National Highway 51, so no Saigonese can ever come here to disturb, defile and spit on me again!
As you can see, I feel very at home in Vung Tau. So what if I myself was born in Saigon and have spent significant time in, what, ten thousand cities? As Don King said, “If you can count your money, you ain’t got none.” Sipping my ginger and honey tea, I’m going to calm down now so as not to assault anyone who speaks with anything but a hardcore Vung Tau accent.
At the next table, there’s a chubby boy in an orange T-shirt, “ESSENTIALS / FEAR OF GOD.” On a shelf to his right, there’s that cartoony Covid monster on a book. It’s a Vietnamese translation of a 112-page Chinese volume, both rushed out in 2020.
Since billions believed a spiky ball baring fangs meant nearly instant death, they agreed to a much more methodical, drawn out suicide. Businesses that took decades to build were destroyed, grandmas died alone, children were stunted and traumatized, spouses tore at each other, madness rocketed and suicides exploded, so when Jewjabs were introduced, most lined up to be murdered more quickly! No one has been prosecuted for the millions already massacred. Knowing they’ve conditioned the brainwashed to obey sheer nonsense, they’re at it again.
In Vung Tau, there are signs reminding people to get their boosters “to prevent the return of Covid,” and there are still nutcases who wade into the ocean masked. The young barista at Friendly Library is not covering her nose, lips and teeth, however, and neither are the three other customers here. Less than 25% of Vung Tau residents are still masked. Going by this, Vietnam is doing better than Thailand, but worse than Cambodia and Laos. The more regulated and disciplined a population, the more prone it is to the Covid con, as well as the rest of the World Economic Forum bullshit.
Just now, I saw a couple in their 60’s walk by. While the man was sane, the woman had troubled her own breathing for no good reason. Fearing death, she’s terrified by life and all life forms. A butterfly flitting by may be infected with that spiky monster! At sunset by Front Beach three days ago, I saw a young man fussily arranging his hair so he could take a selfie, while masked.
A person still masked four years into this farce is undoubtedly triple or quadruple jabbed. It’s also safe to assume he believes in the sanctioned versions of 9/11, Bin Laden assassination, War on Terror and Ukraine War, etc. If Vietnamese, he has either swallowed whole his Communist Party’s version of history or America’s bullshit about defending freedom and democracy, plus its principled stance against terrorists. Israel’s assault against Gaza, then, is justified. It takes mental exertion and balls to reject any propaganda. Most are too exhausted by private worries to bother.
You don’t even need an ape’s IQ and SAT score to realize that walking around all day masked is not just unhealthy, but insane, so Covid has exposed each society’s nearly hopelessly mentally ill. Many are too far gone.
It’s 6:43AM the next day. Away from touristy areas, Vung Tau never sees an influx of outsiders, so weekends don’t feel that much different. Sitting at Cà Phê Đắng [Bitter Coffee], I notice the pho joint across the street is busier than usual. Without work and school, families are enjoying cheap bowls of beef soup. It is odd, though, that I’m the only customer at Bitter Coffee. On a motorbike, a man, woman and boy just passed by. Only the mother was masked.
A thin man has just set up on the narrow sidewalk a rack of cheap clothing. Also within sight is a tired one selling limes for $1.03 a kilogram. Looking dejected, he leans against a pole with this sign, “NO COMMERCE ON STREET OR SIDEWALK.” As times turn bitter, laws will increasingly be ignored, but at least Vietnam won’t be nearly as violent as South Africa, Haiti or the United States of America. Better off than most, another man has a mini produce market on the back of his truck. Pulling up right in front of my face just now is one selling tube crackers without additives, as blared by his irrepressible speaker. Taking a break, he’ll smoke and drink his bitterness while escaping into the virtual.
This street, Tú Xương, is named after Trần Tế Xương, by the way. Here are his most memorable lines:
Một trà, một rượu, một đàn bà, Ba cái lăng nhăng nó quấy ta. Chừa được cái gì hay cái nấy, Có chăng chừa rượu với chừa trà! Tea, wine, women, Three snags that won't leave me alone. One less bother, one better, Perhaps I'll wean myself off wine and tea!
Not very PC, but Tú Xương (1870-1907) didn’t write that in 21st century America. Even now, Vietnamese know how to joke and banter without malice. There’s a term, “đùa dai,” which can be roughly translated as “infinite jest,” an attribute of Yorick in Hamlet. Of course, that’s also the title of David Foster Wallace’s most ambitious book.
Finally having breakfast at VBF, I shouldn’t be quoting this from Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but it’s hard to resist superbly civilized humor:
The rich smell of the foreign and unbathed. Some of the stalls’ shoes touching their mate hesitantly, tentatively, as if sniffing it. The damp lisp of buttocks shifting on padded seats. The tiny pulse of each bowl’s pool. The little dottles that survive flushing. The urinals’ ceaseless purl and trickle. The indole stink of putrefied food, the eccrine tang to the jackets, the uremic breeze that follows each flush. Men who flush toilets with their feet. Men who will touch fixtures only with tissue. Men who trail paper out of the stalls, their own comet’s tail, the paper lodged in their anus.
Wallace killed himself. With blathering idiots in charge of government, media and the academy, it’s nearly impossible to speak or even think sanely.
Near the end of this article, I had to pause to chatter with my buddy, Matthew. Canadian, he’s been in Vietnam for 14 years. Teaching English 18 hours a week, Matthew has insights into younger Vietnamese, or “đám teen.” Vietnamese also speak of “thời trang teen” [“youthful fashion”] or “nhạc teen” [“youthful music”], etc.
For four years, a teenager had shown up masked to her English conversation class, but just days ago, she had to pull it aside constantly to suck on a huge lollipop. Rich Vietnamese with autistic, gay or simply weird kids can enroll them in private schools, where they’re less likely to be teased or bullied.
If it takes lollipops, beer or even cocaine to unqueer some of them, I’m all for it.
It’s a “serious problem” if Gonzalo Lira had been jailed simply for criticizing the Kiev government, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said
Elon Musk has reached out to both US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, regarding the status of Gonzalo Lira, a US-Chilean journalist and critic of the Kiev government. Lira has been detained in Ukraine since the summer, prompting Musk’s engagement on the matter.
On Saturday, US political commenter Tucker Carlson published an interview on X (formerly Twitter) with Lira’s father, who said that his son is currently awaiting trial in Ukraine “because he was exercising his right of freedom of speech.”
According to Gonzalo Lira Senior, the staff of the local US embassy “haven’t done a thing” for the detained American passport holder, who is being defended by a court-appointed Ukrainian lawyer with no knowledge of the English language.
In his comment on the interview, Musk wondered how it was possible that “an American citizen is in prison in Ukraine after we sent over a $100 billion” to support Kiev amid its conflict with Russia.
“Is there more to this story than simply criticizing Zelensky? If that’s all it is, then we have serious problem here,” the SpaceX and Tesla CEO posted on X.
Carlson responded to the message by saying that the “crime” committed by Lira, who is an author of several novels and a filmmaker with Hollywood experience, was “saying unapproved things.”
On Sunday, Musk also addressed the issue on his own account, writing, “What is the status of this American journalist, Joe Biden?”
The post included a link to Lira’s last post on X before his third arrest by Ukrainian authorities in early August. In his message, the journalist said that he was about to cross from Ukraine into Hungary in search of political asylum. “Either I’ll cross the border and make it to safety, or I’ll be disappeared by the Kiev regime,” he warned his followers.
When addressed on the issue by the Strana.ua news outlet, a spokesman for the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed that Lira had been arrested on the border with Hungary. The US journalist is currently in custody in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkov, with a court scheduled to consider his case on December 12 and 21, he added.
According to the spokesman, Lira violated Ukrainian law as he “systematically justified” Russia’s actions in Ukraine and “disseminated pro-Russian views on his social media accounts.” In his videos he “also claimed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were shelling their own territory, while a neo-Nazi regime reigned in Ukraine,” the spokesman stated.
Lira, who had been living in Kharkov since the mid-2010s, was actively covering Russia’s military operation in the country from its very start in February 2022. He said that it was a tragedy for Ukraine and its people, whom he loved, but stressed that the conflict had been provoked by the Zelensky government and its Western backers. Among other things, the journalist argued that Ukraine had no chance of winning against Russia and predicted the failure of the sanctions against Moscow.
He also decried attempts by Western media to portray Ukraine as a democracy, speaking about corruption in the government and publishing a list of Zelensky’s opponents who, he claimed, had been “disappeared” by the Kiev authorities.
Lira was first arrested by the SBU in April 2022 but released without charges a week later as the story made international headlines.
The 55-year-old continued his reporting and, in May, was again taken into custody and accused of “producing and distributing materials justifying the armed aggression” by Russia against Ukraine.
On August 1, the journalist briefly reemerged on social media, posting several videos in which he said that he had been released on bail and was trying to flee to neighboring Hungary in order to avoid a lengthy prison term. He hasn’t been heard from since then.