The Basement Tapes from Bikinis and Martinis
The following is a reprint of my new column Miguel Kirjon's impressive Phuket beach magazine Bikinis and Martinis new spring edition
Sometimes at night when the rain is pelting down like a chorus of mad monkeys on bongos, and the wind howls in the coconut trees just like rabid rain dogs, I'd settle down for the night, stoically waiting out the cusp between the rainy season and the promise of sun.
My only comfort lay in the soft tones of Chet Baker, who seems to understand just what I need at that very moment.
As for Coltrane, he's spending the evening at an out-of-towner. Every year for as long as I can remember the bad craziness of the monsoon has laid waste to my soul. There are of course the real casualties – the ones whose long run ended on the front page of a local newspaper – accompanied by a natty headline and slug line of smiling policemen. Deportation and extradition were the easy ways out, as an unfortunate few ended going up in smoke at the local Wat. The Big Sleep comes to us all sooner or later.
Slowly over time the wild wind turns around as the West Coast waves flatten, and thundery showers dot the sky late in the evening. It's all about the bark as a waning bite is playing out fast, just like a fighter who goes in too hard and heavy early on and ends up being boxed out, stranded on the ropes and waiting for the inevitable knock down.
My island has changed this year, with a clean sweep of the beaches. It's been a decade since the Asian tsunami wiped the sands of Phuket. Now ten years later, it's happened again. History seems to have sustained one of those repetitive strain injuries and the rubber band fix has snapped back, hitting it straight in the face. There's no telling what will come next in the unchartered journey.
That said, it's nice to have the large swaths of majestic ocean front returned to a state of semi-paradise. My mood lightens as the rain falls into just a slow drizzle. A meeting at the Crux without a flashlight, Bible or ring of beads has been avoided once again. Is it the nick of time? Yes, but then again it always is.
We, the imports of Dante's Inferno are a strange lot; escape artists, fugitives, snowbirds, and some of us even a work in progress or reinvention. What's the statute of limitation, as religious Botox prolongs the sagging lines. I've long given up worrying what anyone thinks. As long as the flip flops sit on the doorstep, the next page is worth waiting for.
I awake to a new day, as the passing thunder of supersonic motorbikes blasts into my brain. The sun has returned, and the season has arrived yet again. Sure, things are going to drive me to the edge of sanity, maneuvering around the clogged arteries of what passes for roadways and the maddening crowd.
Waiting is not a trait I ascribe to. It's extremely over-rated. Meditation? The thought of being alone for too long in the arcane randomness of my own head is not a trip I want to take too often. As for Yoga or self-help, in my opinion, these pursuits seem misguided and shallow. Caffeine, a bad attitude and old jazz is a completely different thing. I keep a cynic in the basement at all times and when in doubt, pop down for a quick visit.
One of the legacies of the digital age is the return to the warm soaring sounds of vinyl. You can't really say it's retro with a nostalgic twist but more a recognition of the superior highs and lows that come with the territory. Call in the soul survivors. Summer remains the same; a virtual return to vinyl with endless days of promise.
The Yin and Yang of the rainy season and sunny side with its hit song and flip side culture provide emotion and reflection. I simply couldn't put up with being happy all the time, barring putting a shot gun in my mouth, the prospect of an endless summer is frankly quite frightening.
At the end of a good movie, it's time to go home and you may find yourself caught in the middle of a road rage incident or else just taking a quiet ride with only the dim lights of the dashboard to show you and your companion the way. It won't be any time soon, but come May, things around Phuket will be shifting as the sand does beneath the soles of my feet. It will be time to once again dust off the bongos and look to the sky for answers.