Saturday, March 17, 2018

Precious Notes

 Some usefully contextualized bahasa delivered by Ja’afar the other night at the usual place. (Learning a language from a book or audio files has never appealed; it has always proved tedious and artificial. The living word, the breath however delivered was always infinitely preferable. Of course. Hot breath whispered in the ear above all. Not the case here.) Late in the afternoon a seat had been taken briefly at the Haig in order to record something before it had slipped. Soon Mr. Ah-ha-ha Chan had joined the table, ordered rojak and immediately offered a share. A passing pal was offered the same with the shovel hand. (The small glories of living in the midst of such a community.) Ja’afar was sitting with his muscle friend a couple of tables back, a Batam lass beside the former and Jaf offering some brightly entertaining levity. No doubt between them the pair had bought the woman a drink and perhaps food too (not necessarily as part of any arrangement). At the mention in the evening at Al Wadi Ja’afar seemed genuinely not to have noticed the presence at the Haig; being wrapped up a little understandable and no offence. Ah! That girl.... (A woman rather, perhaps in her late thirties.) Ja’afar was more than ready to offer introduction, though he had no basis for a recommendation. For what might be available from that particular lass, the regions that might be uncovered under the lamp of her tent, there needed to.... dato a little something. Dato a little something like.... Dropped a little something.... You know, like coin.... Oh! Oh. Yeah. OK. Comprende. Universal that.... But the term Jaf my man? Dato, like the lucky ones up on the peninsular who had won—bought most likely—that now common honorific? Dato like Tuan Besar — which in Africa was the same, “Big Man?...” Ah, no, answered the Jaffa man. No. Not that. This was JJJato. Ja’afar. Jati. Jato.... There some dosh needed to fall. Drop. Fall. Originating from the time of coins alone and before promissory notes, one guessed. (Tu treba da padne koja para, the cheeky Serb players would say.) Bewitching clatter of gold and silver that was music to all ears. Always weighing everywhere the same. (There must be perhaps 150 words in possession now, not all of course able to be retrieved as and when required.)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Publication news - "The Laboratory" - Map Literary

Hello all
After a lag of a few weeks, “The Laboratory” has been published by a US journal called MAP Literary, based at William Paterson Uni in New Jersey.
Map Lit. is open access, here is the link —

Pavle Radonic, "The Laboratory" - Map Literary: A Journal of Contemporary Writing and Art › pavle-radonic-the...
poetry: "on the slaughter of 1048 horses by the colorado territory militia / palo duro canyon / 1874" by dennis hinrichsen poetry: "planet x soap opera" by keith mark ...
Snapshot of the Singaporean mall, let's call it. (Thinly disguised paean, a friend suggested.) Some of you might have read it in an earlier form, first written about a year and a half ago.
Hope you like it, cheers


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bread & Circus

Briefly on Orchard picking up Paul dried olive & pomidoro bread and two small croissants, adding dahl from Wadi sufficient for two vegetarian diners that evening. Up and down the escalators at Takashimaya without paying a visit to Kinokuniya, no stomach for all those colourful piles, the titles and piped music. In and out and across to Paragon where merely entering the doors a high charge of virtue and honour comes with the aircon. Muji on the third floor, the essential oil shelves middle row toward the cashier. Door girl being away from her post made it easier. (Poor poor darling having to brighten for comings and goings in those illuminated caverns.) Not surprisingly the ylang ylang had still not been replaced. No-one was checking; unlikely they could have wised up to the raids. Bummer. Ten days/two weeks now it had been the same. Japanese Cypress would be declined this afternoon for simple Rosemary, that would do just fine. Everyday ubiquitous ruzmarin — in the toying with the remove to Greece it was more than fitting. Early days Bab had planted three or four shrubs and then for the development down the road we added another two or three in the garden beds. On the recent trip down to the Southern isle a couple of the older Yugoslav visitors had bent to the plant outside the Studio door to rub their hands on the shrub and bring the perfume up for savouring. Svjeta bilka, holy bush, the old guard used to comment, both the Orthodox and Catholic. Liberal lashings, perhaps an entire two mil. of the little vial distributed the length of both forearms, from the elbow crooks to the wrists. For the operation the bread needed to be placed on a lower shelf, good clear mind retained. There did not appear to be cameras and staff was otherwise occupied. It would be embarrassing to be lectured by the store manager and escorted from the premises; not that there was any illegality involved—samples were for sampling. (A provisional observation: in the tropics, athwart the equator at least, even good quality oils retained their scents not much more than an hour. Often even by the time the bus-stop was reached the scent seemed to have evaporated. Rather remarkable such overpowering humidity.) Down the escalators passing the stationary bods carting their shopping bags, out onto the street keeping under the cover of course. Holding the bread as if on a tray would create a little figure—with the share in the evening there could be no picking. It was time for some quiet fun and laughter now, some lightening of spirits, free abandon and innocent levity. In the right mood, just a few metres on toward the bus-stop a little private unhinged hilarity awaited, the festive spirit of the street able to be joined in one’s own particular way. Particular days there was a juggler a short distance further down at street level, but on the upper concourse out front of Mui Mui toward the first service lane the French artist’s creation could be found. One could not pass along that section of Orchard without some kind of acknowledgement there before that civic offering. On the black marble plinth at child height the silver and pink globes took a couple of loops that missed the connection for the conventional heart. One drew the link oneself here in the act of affirmation the sculptor had allowed passersby, hopeful lovers and shoppers. The modest scale was in fact odd. With children along the path increasing the size here came with risks that the planners had likely anticipated. (Some of the playgrounds and exercise yards at the base of the HDBs included not dissimilar structures in like colours, if not the precise tones.) Fairy floss and the fairground more broadly were strongly evoked here by.... there was likely a name or title in a plaque. For this connoisseur it was preferable to take the measure of this artwork, observe and study it from the elevated pathway. Approaching too close some kind of boyish instinct might be unleashed that could not pass without notice on such a thoroughfare. $180k+ the reported commission from memory. A fantastic coup you have to give the guy credit: the client had been smartly sized-up; materials, colours, proportion all judiciously selected. The fellow had pieces in either the palace of Versailles or the gardens and grounds. In this part of the world brilliant on the CV. Here the same committee of management had approved the other artwork along the strip right up to the embassy quarters at the top end, the wheelchair keyboard uncle one side of the road and the new guitarist on the other doing R&B gospel with muted amplification. Award-winning Orchard, famous throughout the region. A great magnet for the Indo, the Malaysian, the Thai and Chinese political and military class; the industrial and agri barons of those close allies who had furnished their homes from the emporiums at Icon, Tangs and Paragon. It was only at the stop awaiting the bus for the return that the street banners along the roadway either side were noticed. There was a circus coming to town. It needed a few moments to digest that information. A circus, on this digitized island of innovation and automation. It could only be the traditional affair under a proper big top, no doubt with trapeze artists, fire-breathers and strongmen. Would there be elephants and galloping horses in a sandy ring? There would certainly be a ringmaster in top hat and tails. How would parents and teachers explain such phenomena in the days ahead to the children? There were still open fields here and there on the island where tents could be erected, even somewhere there by the Orchard precinct; community, religious and political events were common under the canvas in SG. (Someone was creaming good dollars from that niche.) Alternating with the circus too was to be the old favourite musical EVITA, featuring the hit song — for those that needed reminder — Don’t cry for me Argentina. Ah! Political packaging well-suited for the local market: catchy tunes, costume finery, elaborate stage-set. For such a fine old tear-jerker many even in Singapore would be able to manage a sing-a-long. Any global city worth its salt needed to offer plentiful arts and entertainments both for the domestic populace and the tourist market. Weekends the crush on Orchard was said to be something to behold, possibly even filling the great forecourt at the base of Takashimaya that always looked problematic weekdays and recalled the European rallies of the 1930s.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Escaping the Sh_tholes For a Place in the Sun

Adjacent table at KV the other day a couple of Indian lads chatting over lunch, fattie with a girly voice and his opposite number bearing a questionable SPUNK tee. Pair was planning an attendance at a comedy film that evening it seemed; considering the merits of the different Indian eateries roundabout and their offerings and conferring on immigration procedures. PR here was, what? Seven years?... No, ten…. Ah, ten. You are here how long?... Nine, but not putting in the application just yet because....
         Escaping Sh-tholes and joining the rush to our side with clean streets and water, clean air, orderliness, amenity, plentiful comedy and other entertainments from which to choose.
         This afternoon on the bus returning from Feidu an Indian father was starting in early with his little three-year-old: Not “Can I. Should I press the button….”
         With tuition fees prohibitive, the so-called better schools difficult to access, PSLE torture in Grade 5 that determined the educational route and the course of life, the man was right to jump in at every opportunity to give his little fella a fighting half-chance.
         Cousin V. a few months ago at Vivo City, a container ship skipper, father of three boys and striving manfully for them, told his aim was to help the lads attain a place in the jungle somewhere above the common ruck. With the Renault he had recently bought the older pair to share, V. explained, they would be able to screw any.... girl—to use more acceptable language for English readers—of their choice along the Montenegrin coast. In his own day there had been precious little of that luck for V., and, memorably, once the poor boy had been played out by a pretty Serb whose family sought good time holidays on the water’s edge at discount rates. Earlier years V. had also attempted immigration for the sake of the kids, but had missed his chance.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

More Colour Still

Hussein here sporting a pretty well-judged tawny earth tone, cut fine job too. Oh, my! Moustache made it a touch risky. What was one supposed to do there though; it needed complementing. But then you wouldn’t wear mustard polo on top would you? Friday mosque, pulled out of the wardrobe unthinkingly and the wife not the sort who would be up to speed for such matters. From a dozen metres—and the man was sensing the eyes upon him—it did appear the little snowy dusting over the chin and along the underneath of the jaw was left untreated. Difficult. (The men here often kept those sparse strands in check with nail clippers, if you can believe.) Seems the brothers at Wadi were in fact none the wiser about the recent post touching the miserliness and the setting of the cops onto the riff-raff squatting at the rear tables. Younger bro this arvo explained the position from their side, intuiting some kind of reservation on the matter. Later and equally unexpectedly young Muhammad the Malayalee last night, having understood something of the remarks passed over the drinks counter, felt he ought to defend the boss for the sake of truth and justice. Yes, right enough, the man did have a fierce temper. But that was the life journey; the F&B industry. It was not the essence of the man himself. No two ways about, Hussein was a good man.... A persuasive little oration from the young naïf, all of twenty-four was he? Why did one feel it so irksome Hussein stationing himself at the hot-plate calling out in that hectoring tone, Murtabak! Murtabak!? The fire breathing at the poor young Indian foreign worker cowering beneath the assault a few months ago exceedingly difficult to dislodge from the mind.
         A couple of days later too the younger bro at the Drinks counter suddenly seemed to have sprung perfect jet on the crown and also under the chin. Called-out the fellow stoutly denied, Not at all, not the case, and proceeded to quote one of the Hadith that laid out the matter plainly. A man could colour any tone but black in fact; in the case of women there was complete freedom to do as their fancy took them All plain in B/W from the words of the Prophet. Case rested. (Unhappily, not all followed the dictate.)

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Scribble

Creeping toward quart ten, what were the four matters needing to be recorded? longing for the paper scratching, the marking for posterity, for.... relief? Overnight two wakes, the first because of the little boy’s crying next door, prolonged disturbance for the little mite over some night terror despite mummy and daddy right there in the room with him sharing the large bed likely. (No great problem on the other side of the wall; only ghostly reminders from the far distant past producing some mental wincing.) And then the second and final wake was it? Ah! One must chortle at oneself confessing.... A rejection from G— Street Press for a submission that was dispatched only a couple of days ago. But—saving grace—a hand written biro note it looked at the foot of their standard Rejection letter: “....the quality of the writing highly impressive, some of the passages recalled....” Sent one positively swooning. Golly! Certainly softened the blow; some positive to take away. By jingoes! Mid-twenties one could understand the wild elation sweet enough to cream your jeans (or in this case bedding). At this ripe old age in deep unconscious life fretting like the little boy next door. And then wouldn’t you know it, the follow-up in the morning of the Upper-Tier Reject for “Islamic Studies (S-E Asian Hemisphere)” from Missouri Review. Not quite what they were seeking, but surely very much wishing keen to see more work in the future please if you would be so kind, signed, The editors. Not a personal note signed by a notable; not an explicit soliciting of further work; nonetheless, a morsel crust for the starving. The second such from Missouri, one of the US biggies, long history with celebrated authors in the archive. Noted in the pages. In the cloud it did not earn a place in the Cock-Tease File; editors needed to do a good deal better than that should they wish to enter those portals. Upper-Tier, and a reminder to fling them something again after a decent interval. (Some send mild jerk-off, only to add the sting in the tail: "...and please wait three/six months before submitting again.") The fourth matter slipped for a time; delaying the record until the Wadi morning teh and newspaper one ran that risk.... Last night was only the single hour at Feidu, getting off submissions to Hobart—for their Baseball callout—and one to Masters Rev. for their competition (@ $US20). Later back in the room dealing with mails, 30 x 2 pushes and the reward of luscious orange after. (3 x 30 was left for early returns; the more strenuous exertion not such a good idea late night.) The noisy unmannerly Malays in the corner room blissfully quiet through the evening and indeed the whole of the night…. And then it returned, the fourth; one needed patience. The news from Arthur last night on the phone during our regular Sunday evening chin-wag. Rather than the Jankovic or Stone house being demolished, it was the Dingley house that was wiped from the face of the earth in Spotswood through the week. The dark Maltese Dingleys, father, mother and four or five children, no further trace on that spot of dirt. Erased. Heavy smoker Mr. D, as was his fat wife in her dressing gowns. The two eldest children attained some kind of office jobs that meant skirts, blouses, collars and ties in the street. Youngest Michael, Mick a trifle troublesome with his motorbikes and sexual heat, very keen on our Polish tenant Ana a few doors further down, a gal with whom a young boy could play mildly indecent games in the back laundry. On Ana’s tranny the first pop music was heard, Beatles and the early Oz counterparts. Townhouses shortly and Arthur’s block and our own next in the firing line.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Jules’ Jewels Again

Online those fabulous ear-rings disappear in the thumbnail pics. I’ve been missing out. 7:30, Q & A and all the rest prob. set her off just nice, low lights, no close-ups, she chooses her best side. Good looking b-friend you can understand why she don’t like leaving at home with Gina Rhino and then all those award-winning cougar journos circling. Has the guy bin offered featured soaps and dramas. He must be making plenty knocking back reality TV/adventure isle carrots. Even mag. spreads would be plenty juicy. I hope they don’t find any texts or recordings. Just saw her in a pic with the Chin For. Min. shining newly cleaned choppers. Poor dud beside her not a hope in the world, hardly a blimp of wattage. Hard to make out the pendants though, you’d have to go to her F-book page. Seems she has some of the crust followin her purely for fashion hints. Nice red dress in this China thing, respecting the NY, good canny diplomacy..... Just tried enlarging the item see if there was a hint of canine in the form, hard to tell. Chin dude was putting shit on the new Quad grouping pissed off being cut out of the action, Oz, India, JP and.... someone else. Yeah, the US. Still couldn’t make out the shape of the pendants. A kind of blue tint in ice or glass-like material, some special dig somewhere in WA. She’d have a fair wardrobe allowance wouldn’t she, tax deduction whatever, stands to reason advancing the country’s interests like she tirelessly does. ‘Parently the Abbott hates her guts, the knifing by the Deputy unforgivable. Exercises, running, fit, in nice tailored apparel too. She mighta bin a little itsy bit of a looker thirty-five years ago, but nuthin like this splashy attention, back in those days nothin like that smooth boy she’s got tangled presently. I’m just drafting a piece on a Minister here tackling the problem of all the plastic the island generates. This little thing is almost precisely Jules’ age, but in Asia the boys an girls go much harder at age & death-defy. Must remember to count the undyed next time the Peoples’ Committee meeting in Beijing or the show here. Hand it to him, here the PM sits easy in his grey mop, a nicely shaped design, only the top stylists pull off that kinda bunched number he sports. There will be pictures of John in the files circa 1965-6 maybe carrying the same, a layered and gathered affair with foreshortening on the outer edges. In this house-share currently three Chin uncles with young foreign wives are dyed; one younger Malay has chosen reddy tint and not too sure about two others upstairs. (One young office lad looked like mother bought him his clobber, mailed from HK.) Must confess, force of circs I’ve bin using an Indo charcoal conditioner couple times a week thinkin it might perhaps over time give subtle jet. Nuthin thus far these 2 - 3 months. With proper dye bout three weeks good wearing, after which you’re best to go again. Woeful some of the streaking and patches people tryin to stretch it out can’t afford more. Do-it-yourself isn’t expensive, $6 - 7 a sachet from memory.

NB. A friend in Melbourne preoccupied about the upcoming Batman by-election hasn’t been able to let go the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. Numerous exchanges resulting, of which this is another.