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Book Review: Patpong Road
by Lang Reid
week’s book review covers a truly Thai production. A Thailand subject,
written in English by a Thai lawyer and printed and published in Bangkok
this year, Patpong Road (ISBN 974-92367-2-6) was authored by Adul
Tinaphong and is new on the shelves at my local Bookazine.
Patpong Road in Bangkok is, these days, a world-wide
icon of what is meant by hedonism. However, the book immediately caught my
interest because it covers much more than the a-go-go and sex scene, but
more of the history, where it got its name, and why it became notorious.
Being written by a Thai I also felt that there might be something deeper
than the obvious and tawdry side of Patpong.
The road is named after Luang Patpongpanich, a Chinese
immigrant from Yunnan, who at age 12, in the usual Chinese fashion, began
his daily toil. He was a successful businessman, who ended up buying a
house and land where Patpong Road is today for 59,000 baht.
The area was further developed by his sons, who
introduced a new renting system for their shophouses, whereby there was no
key-money up front, making it possible for anyone to set up in business.
When a hotel was built to cater for the American servicemen, other
businesses gravitated there to cater to the demand for entertainment, and
so the early seeds of Patpong were sown.
Author Adul has done a journeyman’s job in bringing
out all the different aspects and industries in Patpong, even down to
differentiating the different types of bars that are available. He also
mentions the different cuisines available - Thai, Chinese, Lao, Japanese,
Italian, British, American, French and Mexican, and mentions the various
restaurants, including my least favorite, the Tien-Tien, which charged me
900 baht for a fish two years ago, and it still rankles!
Parts of the book deal with the different people
working there, from hostesses to lady-boys, DJ’s, bartenders,
bartendees, maids, cleaners, touts, pimps, photographers, flower sellers,
peddlers, beggars and a very interesting group called the Freelance men.
Much use is made of anecdotal word images, interspersed with some
interviews with people still working in Patpong Road, it being their home
as well as work.
Activities in the (in)famous street are covered,
including the more obvious sexual themes, but not limited to those. Beauty
contests, sports, religious ceremonies and even political rallies, where
hopefuls campaign up and down Patpong.
The English does tend to be decidedly ‘quaint’, and
there are numerous spelling errors throughout the book. Author Adul should
have been advised to get a native English sub-editor slash proof reader to
go through the manuscript before publication, but a little late at this
stage. Perhaps if it goes to a second imprint?
At B. 350 it is not an expensive read. I did find it interesting and
there were several insights into the characters of the people who work on
Patpong Road, which otherwise you would be lucky to find. Unfortunately,
the very aspect that allows a Thai to show us something a little deeper
also brings with it the jarring prose and even more annoying typos.
Mott’s CD review: Hanoi Rocks - Two Steps From The Move
Pawed by Mott the Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew
Hanoi Rocks should of been huge. At the beginning of
the eighties Motley Crue, Poison, and not even Guns and Roses were hip
enough to look over the top of Hanoi Rocks platform boots.
The band, founded in 1980, consisted of Michael
Munroe (real name Matti Fagenholm), the impossibly good looking, blond
lead singer; Andy McCoy (real name Antti Hulkeho); Nasty Suicide (real
name Jans Stenfas), between this pair of guitar slingers a more raunchy
sound has never been developed; bassist Sam Jaffa (real name Saki
Takamki); and drummer Gypsy Casino (real name Jespo Sparse). Yes, if you
haven’t quite figured it out yet, these young guys were the cream of
young musicians from Finland. However, after the release of their first
album ‘Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, and Hanoi Rocks’ in their
native land didn’t coerce much response, it was decided to cross over
the water and move lock, stock, and smokin’ guitar case to London’s
fair city, where they were welcomed with open arms. That is apart from
poor old Gypsy, who was ousted from his drum kit by a certain Nicholas
(Razzle) Dingby. Razzle was so besotted by the band on first sight that
he had to join one way or another. It’s not the first time in rock
‘n’ roll history that a drummer has been replaced by someone not
with more ability, but more enthusiasm and spirit.
With the line-up complete they soon had a successful
6 date tour of England with Wishbone Ash in their pocket. What the
rather staid Ash fans must have made of this bunch of ragamuffins I have
no idea, but, most importantly, the British music press was behind them,
every man, woman and child. (Sounds wrote of their new prot้g้es
“Born to be Superstars, Hanoi Rocks will soon be bigger than Coca-Cola
and Big Mac’s”.)
The new album ‘Oriental Beat’ (1982) was recorded
and released to fanatical reviews, but only moderate sales recorded in
the British Isles. Although to be fair, things were a little better in
the rest of the world. They had become huge stars in Japan just on their
looks alone. Concert sales were not a problem, though hysterical scenes
following the band wherever they played.
Buoyed by the live buzz and critical acclaim, they
went back into the studio to come out with their third album ‘Back to
Mystery City’. One listen was all it took to realize the boys had
perhaps been reading too much of their own hype. It was a flop, peaking
at number 87 in the British charts, and the band was savaged by press
and fans alike.
Fortunately the record company did not panic. After a
quick groundbreaking tour of the United States of America, press reports
were good again, although ‘Back to Mystery City’ was hidden from
prying American ears. On arrival back in England the band was put back
in the studio, this time with the guiding hand of producer Bob Ezrin.
Moreover, and just to make sure there were no more slip ups, Ian Hunter
of Mott the Hoople fame was brought in to help with the writing and
arranging of several songs. The record company even persuaded our little
‘tearaways’ to record a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival’s
‘Up Around The Bend’, which was released before the album came out
as a little taster. It was rushing up the charts with a bullet.
‘Two Steps From The Move’ was released in 1983,
to mass critical acclaim and the ‘Back to Mystery City’ debacle was
forgiven. The boys set out to conquer the world, first by flying out to
prepare to tour America. Tragically on 9th November, while the band were
partying with Motley Crue, Razzle accepted a lift from the drunken lead
singer of Motley Crue, Vince Neil, who lost control of the car and the
band’s beloved drummer Razzle was dead. Vince Neil was convicted of
vehicular manslaughter and served 30 days in jail. Hanoi Rocks never
recovered. Oh, they pressed on till 1985, but the heart of the band had
Michael Munroe later did a great solo album called
‘Not Fakin’ It’ and McCoy, Suicide, and Monroe got together for an
album called ‘Demolition 23’ in 1990. That really tore up the rock
‘n’ roll discos. But one listen to ‘Two Steps From The Move’
will prove what should have been. R.I.P. Razzle.
Hanoi Rocks were
Michael Munroe - Lead Vocals and Sax
Andy McCoy - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Nasty Suicide - Guitars and Vocals
Sam Yaffa - Bass and Vocals
Razzle - Drums
Up Around The Bend
I Can’t Get It
Don’t You Ever Leave Me
Million Miles way
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
To contact Mott the
Dog email: [email protected]
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