The passing of Thailand's Monarch, King Bhumipol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, and officially King Bhumibol the Great, on October 13, 2016 set a nation to mourning. Immediately on his passing, the nation shut down for three days - with the exception of essential services and select commercial concerns that operated under limited hours and conditions. This was followed by 100 days of strict mourning, where all that could - wore black when outside their homes.
However the official mourning period would last for one year and 16 days, ending on the 29th October 2017, three days after the date of cremation. October 30th was officially reserved for removing bunting, letting the flag fly full-mast once again, removing the marigolds (real and artificial), and restoring one's wardrobe. Most of the nation mourned the entire one-year-plus period; during which a multitude of tributes and popular songs were written in his honor, as well as television specials, soap operas, discussions on morality in accordance to King Bhumipol's teachings, myriad renditions of music written by King Bhumipol in his lifetime, and most significantly - retrospectives on King Bhumipol'sRoyal Projects and communal visits : the dams and irrigation projects, the introduction of artificial seeding of rain and the countless Royal agricultural projects. Most Thais and many resident foreigners wore the looped snippet of black ribbon on lapels and shirtsleeves for the entire year.
We republish an unsolicited photograph purportedly taken during the Royal cremation ceremonies.
In dozens of locations within Bangkok, one-hundred foot long sections of wall were painted over in black and embellished in silver Thai and English script proclaiming, "I was born during the reign of King Rama IX", and other similar phrases of adulation. Billboards and bumper stickers and even brooch pins were to follow with the same and similar wordings. Complete lines of jewelry displaying "9" in Thai script appeared everywhere from the classiest of department stores - all the way down to the curbside vendors (...the '9' for 'King Rama IX'). Many items were jewel-encrusted. Black T-shirts became a fad - many having quotes of the King silk-screened in white, front and/or back. Social media was swamped asunder with quotes, film clips, music videos, old photos from the Royal Household, and personal remembrances.
One of the several stretches of Bangkok's walls, normally the domain of graffiti artists, that had been repainted in black at the end of 2016, this one stating "We were born in the reign of King Rama IX". In this case, the "9" is the large Thai script numeral appearing immediately above.
Among the offerings to the citizens of Thailand by the Royal Household was the opportunity to pay final respects to their beloved King in his Royal coffin at the Dusit Throne Room in the Grand Palace. They had anticipated an outpouring of grief from the entire nation, so they planned to allow visitors to the Royal Throne Room for a full three months. But they had no way of estimating the extent of the outpouring of grief of the people of Thailand. Thousands upon thousands of Thais crowded into the city of Bangkok from the outlying provinces, queuing up in the adjacent Sanam Luang public park, willing to wait overnight and through the following day and into that night for a chance to pass by the Royal casket and place their flower wreaths below. So many wreaths would be placed in a single hour that officials had to temporarily cease the procession through the Royal Throne Room, while the wreaths were bundled out to make room for the next wave of mourners. (Not to ignore that a sub-industry of re-used wreaths immediately popped up just outside the palace grounds.) It had become obvious it was not a reasonable proposition to close down the paying of respects to the King at the Dusit Throne Room after only three months, so the Royal Household extended the visitations for the remainder of the year, only closing down a few days before the cremation so that last-minute preparations could be finalized.
Six months after King Bhumipol's passing, the waiting time to pay respects at the Dusit Throne Room was still from 3 to 4 hours, with many citizens having returned a second and third time. But that comparative lull would not last - as the months passed, the number of visitors once again began to increase. And when the Royal Household announced the date for closing down the Grand Palace to mourners, so that final preparations could be made for the cremation, a second wave of last-minute subjects rushed to Bangkok - overwhelming the areas around the Palace and Sanam Luang park; crowds were overflowing into Rajadamnoen Avenue down as far as the Democracy Monument. It was estimated in the local media that in a single afternoon, an estimated 85,000 people congregated there hoping to pay last minute tribute.
An entire pavilion at Pak Khlong Talat created entirely from strands of marigolds (dau ruang) by the flower-sellers themselves. Note the light-creation of the Thai numeral "9" on the 'ceiling' of the pavilion.
The preoccupation of a large part of the artistically inclined population leading up to the cremation was to make sandalwood flowers (doc mai jan) in 5 different varieties. According to Buddhist tradition, these sandalwood flowers are meant to be placed in the coffin at the time of cremation, however the mountains, literally millions, of sandalwood flowers would not, could not possibly be brought to the Ceremonial Cremation Pavilion. The Royal Household then saw that there was no way the Bangkok population and those crowding into Bangkok from the provinces would be able to pay their respects at the site of the cremation at Sanam Luang. They then authorized more than 80 alternate points around the Metropolis where official ceremonies - to include eulogies (chom) and the proffering of the doc mai jan - would be held. Even so, most of the mourning citizenry still had to wait in half-day-long queues at these various eighty-plus altars just to have a chance to pass by in close proximity. The City of Bangkok municipality and many large and small corporations contributed, and prepared, free food and drinks for the entangled, long-waiting masses (with the help of scores upon scores of private citizen volunteers).
In the days leading up to the 26 October Royal Cremation, the full length of Jakraphet Road passing in front of the famous Flower Market at Pak Khlong Talad was closed off from Khlong Rop Krung to the King Rama I Bridge at Saphan Phut. The entire street consisted of various tributes and points of eulogy and praise. Entire buildings and pavilions were created from strands of the ubiquitous yellow-gold marigold flowers, while other structures were covered in white orchids. The flower market itself being the source of these flowers - literally mountains of flowers could be seen at every turn. While the natural marigolds had literally flooded the market, the surprise was the popularity of the artificial marigolds, which were selling originally for 5 baht, and later, as free-enterprise set in, 10 baht each. Volunteer citizens and shop owners, unbidden, lined the footpaths providing free water and various foodstuffs to the thronging Thai (and foreign) population. At times, the crowds of mourners became so congested that movement along the footpaths (as well as inside the various tributes and worship points) became impossible - a giant, unmoving pedestrian traffic-jam.
Commencing a week prior to the cremation, hundreds of police vans began pouring in to Bangkok from each of the provinces, each disgorging their 12 police officers. The several thousands of police officers exited their vans onto the curbsides around the inner-city Rattanakosin area, having brought their kit and their bedrolls, while some even brought their own electric desk fans and tents. They had been impressed into duty to help maintain order and cleanliness in Bangkok for the duration of the cremation ceremonies. Most found places to sleep in temples, shophouses or schools, not having to sleep on the sidewalks as first feared. A Royally sponsored program was implemented to enlist volunteer support to the police. Thousands of applicants were interviewed, and those selected were given distinctive caps and gold 'scout' scarves - and sent out as volunteer assistants to help maintain order, provide directions, help parents find lost children and maintain cleanliness.
In-memoriam memorabilia of every imaginable variety have found their way onto the streets - both free and for purchase. The large color photos of King Rama IX were (usually) free. While, on the other end of the spectrum, newly minted 'Sets of 5' Thailand legal-currency banknotes depicting King Rama IX at various ages were garnering extremely high prices - where 'price was no object' for collectors. (Sheets with reproductions of the face-side of these banknotes were also available for reasonable prices).
Bangkok'sNight Entertainment sector had anticipated the worst - rumors floated through the city that Nitespot Areas would be closed for several days each side of the King Rama IX cremation (26 October 2017), and a week following the day of the 13 October 2016 passing of the King. However this was not the case. The Thai Government did ask that Night Entertainment Venues close for the two days in question, and to exercise good judgement during the mourning period. Such 'good judgement" was not only to be applied by the bar owners, but was also somewhat influenced in slightly different ways by Police Districts (Thong Lor, Lumpini and Bang Rak Police Districts). Nevertheless, for most of the one-year-plus mourning period, the Night Entertainment Industry carried on status quo ante.
The unsung champions of the year-long mourning period were the local and provincial transport organizations and individuals. Free BMA bus lines were established to bring citizens to the inner city, as were free van routes from literally all over the country. Most honorable mention goes to the volunteer motorcycle taxi drivers who donated so much of their time shuttling citizens in and out of the several congested areas that could no longer be reached by the busses and vans, thereby providing the opportunity for many older, and incapacitated, and very young people to pay their respects. Without this extensive volunteer program, the process would have bogged down very early in the year.
What ever you may want to believe, do NOT give credence to reports of the numbers of Thais paying their respects to their departed King, or to the amounts spent on the Royal Ceremonies, as these are inestimable. In that virtually every able-bodied Thai in Bangkok and in the provinces did so - and when at all possible, did so in Bangkok, the actual number paying their final respects is, literally, no less than in the millions. Further, there is no way this writer would be capable of accurately describing the deep sense of mourning exhibited by the Thai peoples over the last year - we will not even begin to try. History will show that this magnificent outpouring, this colossal tribute to their late King Bhumipol, in all it's parts, is unmatched in Thailand's history.
Reader: I am planning a Pattaya Soi 6 soi bar crawl - and am blogging about it.
Would it be possible to display your Soi 6 map of the bars on my site? I shall post info on where it came from - with a link back to your site of course. FYI - it's just used on a little site 'Mango-Unchained' - where I rant about Thailand and write stories about hitting the bar areas. Nothing controversial. We have the odd reader contribution now and then - and of course people leave comments on the posts.
Midnite Hour: By all means, knock yourself out. We encourage downloading for personal and not-for-profit use. Please feel free to download the map from the Bangkok Eyes website. The map is somewhat dated in that bars change hands there virtually every month, but our map should still be about 95 percent. Good luck on the bar crawl. Let us know of any interesting anomalies. I have included a link to Mango-Unchained on this home page in the right-hand column.
Reader: I always enjoy the Bangkok Eyes. Interesting you talking about (disc jockeys) Wolfman Jack, Huggie Boy and Art Laboe. Appears you were a Southern Californian at some point! I could get all of them in San Luis Obispo.
Reader: At lunch the other day, our group was wracking our collective noodle trying to recall all the A Go-Go bars at the old Clinton Plaza. Any hints?
Midnite Hour: From our survey of 31 May 2001, and searching back a bit further for name-changes, we note the below bars were A Go-Go bars. Also note, Flowers was Clinton Plaza's first A Go-Go.
- The Doll House (prior to move to Cowboy)
- Hollywood A Go Go East - Rock Hard - Crack House - The White House - The Candy Store A Go Go (Previously "Flowers A Go Go")
Reader: We at Absolute Angels Bangkok (Thailand escort agency) would like to place a banner ad (or ads) on your site as well as a blog posing. This would be a 3 month trial. Please send us a quote on offered pre-built packages (if available) for our type of industry. We are looking for 2 banner ad placements and a ~1,000 word blog about us posted on any/all of your sites please. We are requesting a quote on the above please as well as options that is best for both your site and ours. We look forward hearing from you soon.
Midnite Hour: Unfortunately, we cannot place a link to your site, in that your site homepage has open nudity and reference to explicit sex. As you may have noted from our Policy Statement, Bangkok Eyes is specifically a news blog on the ongoing history of the Thai Nightlife Scene. Good luck on your site and your business venture.
The Tavern Three Saloon sprung for some new "Pool Bar" neon. Which, being an open-fronted Nitespot, might have already been obvious from all the pool tables.... Nevertheless, adding a little color here and there never did any harm.
Back when the PP2 end of Twilo was still Bada Bing, they put up some neon in the alleyway between PP1 and PP2 - and then proceeded to never turn it on. It now stands as a relic of a former time... One for the archives...
Of all Bangkok'sNight Entertainment Areas, Nana Plaza and Soi Nana kept the strictest adherence to the general guidelines to 'show good taste' for the three days of remembrance during the Royal Cremation. They remained closed. Individual Venues in Bangkok's other Nitespot Areas were either closed for all three days, or open for two days (but subdued), or closed for an extra day - there was no consistency among the Venue owners.
More Than A Rumor...
...LESS THAN A FACT
Taking note of the above pic of the Nana Plaza sign, one can just make out that the sign is undergoing restoration. It is being whispered loudly (again) that this will precede the covering over of Nana Plaza's central area, which will commence mid-November. The three center bar beers currently occupying that space will be removed while the roofing is being installed, but will be replaced with..... well, something, once construction on the roof is completed. ...As stated, more than rumor, less than a fact...
The shophouse that was renovating last month next to 4 Sport's has reopened as an adjunct to Jupiter, and is directly across the Soi from it. Say no more....
The Nakarat Massage & Spa has opened just behind 'Eat. Drink. Man. Women'. The sign is quite visible, which is more than I can say for the entrance, which is nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, welcome them to the slippery slope...
The double-shophouse-wide Romruedee Day Spa & Massage has opened newly in a small subsoi - two lanes past the Marriott Hotel, on the same side. One side of the Romruedee appears to be "spa", the other side appears to be ambiguous... May they continue to slip and slide.
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
The upstairs Luna Lounge in the Honey Plaza appears to be closed after only a month in operation. It may be that they have closed down longer than required for the Royal Cremation (and didn't post a sign saying they would be closed). If so, we shall gladly note their return to the fracas next time 'round the horn.
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
The Butterfly Bar & Restaurant located in Soi Starlight has gone the way of the Andalgalornis - signs down, doors padlocked. Located that deep in a darkened soi, we wonder what unrealistic expectations they were harboring... Its parent, Butterfly Bar located in Queen's Park Plaza, is still cooking with gas.
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
The Pasela Girls Restaurant Bar has not reopened after the Royal Cremation. We'll put them on the vigil, and get back atcha should there be a reversal-of-misfortunes.
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
It appears as though the Japanese Snack has said its final 'sayonara' and returned once more to the nightshadows...
The Vagabond bar beer is a reincarnation of the streetbar of the same name - which was, until the crackdown, located near Sukhumvit Soi 7/1. It will be interesting to see how much of the slack it takes up from the Cheap Charlies crowd - now that Cheap Charlies is closed. Rather than try to describe where it is located, we have included a small street locator map. Welcome to the machine.
SOI AMBASSADOR (Sukhumvit Soi 11)
Four of the tiny massage parlors in the Ambassador Hotel side-lanes have closed up shop - their premises now bare-to-the-bone. May the fates deal them a better hand next time 'round...
- P & K Massage
- Dady Massage
- Nuan Massage
- Very GoodMassage
At first glance we thought the Meaw Meaw Bar had folded tent and disappeared into the night. Even their tiny side-extension bar beer was closed. But on a closer look, we see that they are busy incorporating the old Classic Bar digs into their own. Hammers and saws are heard above the rock-&-roll din of the surrounding bars. They should be open before the end of the month, whereupon we shall duly report next issue.
For the photo Archives: The Hana House Karaoke has put out some colorful roadside signage. May they continue to navigate the vicissitudes.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The Fortune 17 Karaoke should be opening its doors right about ....NOW. They are taking over the digs of the Himawari Snack which closed a couple months back. We'll keep an ear to the ground and report back once it has opened.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The fat lady sang quite suddenly at the long-standing Sweet Mango Massage. The real estate has been taken over by a non-Night Entertainment venue. Located at the back of Sub-soi 3.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The upstairs Vanilla closed exactly one month after it's downstairs neighbor, 'Tsudoi'. But this time there was no notice, no map as to where they might be. We can assume they went headlong into the Abyss and, as no one ever has, they won't be coming back out.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The Kocho Ran is expanding into two Venues, one to reopen this November (see archive pic below), and a new one already open. We shall provide full photo coverage in our upcoming issue.
Dynamic signage : yes, its time has come... Below is Magic Table's new in-your-eye example. Something we couldn't possibly capture with just a photo. Looking good.
Wether you choose to call it 'feng shui' or just 'location, location, location', the realities are the same. When you have it, you have it - when you don't, you don't. New Wave's tenure at its new location has been curtailed most abruptly. Greener grass, gents.
In this bent-over-backward era of political correctness, entitlements and litigation-mania, it should not surprise you that there is a law on the books named, appropriately, Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) wherein 'visual artists' are granted rights over works they created - but which they do not own. These rights are indeed limited, nevertheless recent interpretations allow that artists can be entitled to financial compensation for artistic works of their creation -even if they do not own them- which have been intentionally destroyed without the artists' consent.
Extensive discussion of the intricacies and the legalities are contained in the links below. But the basic story is the privately owned derelict building in New York that came to be
known as 5Pointz had become, over a 20-year period, a graffiti haven. Through a unique casual agreement between a graffiti 'faction' and building developer Jerry Wolkoff, the graffiti artists were permitted not only to paint freely on, and within, but were also allowed to set up temporary 'stalls' - entirely rent-free.
The arrangement worked seamlessly until 2013, when Wolkoff and company announced their intention to raze the building complex and erect commercial structures on the property. There was of course, a hue and cry from the 'coalition' of graffiti artists. ...To no avail, the developers swooped in one dark, moonless night and whitewashed the building. This was months in advance of their actually demolishing the complex. (The new commercial buildings now stand on that real estate.)
It was at that point someone put a bee-in-the-bonnet of the graffiti coalition : 'You have rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act and you should sue'. The graf artists may not be able to continue on as before, but at least there was going to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... First, they needed a lawyer.
And a lawyer they got, and a suit was leveled against the developer. ...Whereupon, earlier this year, the developer's lawyer petitioned the court for dismissal, arguing that the VARA law didn't apply in this case. The judge ruled that the law, at least selectively, could apply. The court case has now commenced.
The court has yet to issue a verdict, however, it is virtually certain that developer Wolkoff will be shelling out big bucks to the graffiti artists and, of course, their lawyer will take his juicy slice... Developer Wolkoff will be paying dearly for his generosity over the last 20 years - in helping to encourage a large swath of New York's graffiti vandals to leave the streets for a 'safe haven' of artistic expression. -All free of charge. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished.
Let's see if we got this right....
*1. Wealthy person, entity or celebrity. *2. Contrived grievance. *3. Lawyer. *4. Law Suit. *5. Money.
Does this just about cover it?
Gentrification of the Graffiti Artist
As an aside, we have seen the 'gentrification' of graffiti - from "vandalism" to "street art" to "urban art brut" and other euphemisms, all the way to objets d'art found in the best museums and auction houses. But we have not seen, heretofore, the trail - the gentrification of the graffiti artist himself.
Let's take a look:
The original assumption was; as violent street gangs marked territory with graffiti, they were the source of all graffiti. We will call them:
But wait, now we know this is not always true, let's just call these dysfunctional juvenile delinquents what they really are:
But, no, much of this graffiti is very artistic. We are obliged to recognize this fact. We shall call them:
No, no, wait just a minute - we need to erase the stigma associated with 'Graffiti' and all it implies. We need to call them:
Ah, but there is still the stigma of 'streets', which could prejudice people against them and cause them anxiety. We will now call them: (I'm not making this up...) Aerosol Artists.
Graphic excerpts above are from Internet sources, and are, under current legal precedents and prevailing interpretations considered 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of all original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
7 ft high x 6 ft (main object)
Bangkok Eyes is an historical news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman .
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....