Bernard Trink, Bangkok journalist, passed away on the 8th of October, 2020. A remarkable career by any measure, spanning the decades (the '60's to present), he was most notoriously known for his 'Nite Owl' entertainment columns in the Bangkok World and Bangkok Post - appearing non-stop for 37 years. Riding the wave of Bangkok'sNight Entertainment explosion in the '60's (fueled primarily by the influx of G.I.s on R&R from Viet Nam), his 'Night Owl' columns were in such demand they were clipped and snail-mailed to the four corners of the globe by friends of those who had been to Bangkok and those who wanted to be. (Continued below...)
Bernard Trink was Bangkok's "Nite Owl"
The originalNite Owl 'trademark' emblem. We'd be willing to bet there aren't half a dozen people who remember Bernard Trink's original logo, appearing in the Bangkok World, late 1960's - alongside his movie reviews and 'Friar Tuck' cuisine reviews.
Bernard Trink (still wearing his trademark "I Don't Give A Hoot" medallion) with his lovely wife Khun Aree at a Bangkok BTS station, 2019. Perhaps they were on their way to see another film?
(Photo by Christopher Moore, with thanks.)
While still at the Bangkok World Bernard began using this new(er) logo. The column name soon became his personal 'trademark' - people began referring to him as 'The Nite Owl'. Even those who didn't know him could recognize him "on his rounds" by the owl medallion (worn on all occasions).
After several years in Japan, writing for local Japanese publications, Bernard Trink returned to Bangkok in 1965, and was taken on by the Bangkok World newspaper as Entertainment Editor to write movie reviews. Upon demonstrating his talents as an interviewer and outside reporter, he was asked, in addition to his reviews, to take over a failing weekly column; all he would have to do was visit the local hotels and a few other entertainment venues, and write a note or two re their entertainment scene. He took the World up on its offer, and in 1967 the Nite Owl was born.
Some question remains in the minds of a few of us, we longtime Bangkok residents (and those who knew Bangkok way back when) - as to just exactly when the Nite Owl first began reporting on the Nitescene. So let's hear it from Bernard Trink in his own words...
In the ensuing years, the column's popularity soared - recurring themes included pics of the 'Three best A Gogo girls this week', tips on massage parlors -to include the numbers of recommended masseuses, tips on live entertainment venues, and rants against supermarkets for not having a certain color Kleenex in stock, or being out of Dinty Moore's beef stew. His colorful and idiosyncratic prose was always a subject of expat conversation; his mention of the most popular 'constellation', his now familiar TIT (This is Thailand), recent antics of the 'demimondaines' working in the entertainment industry, his controversial opinions on issues of the day (the AIDS epidemic for example), to list but a few. And, of course, his closing line, "But, I don't give a hoot!" At one point, the Bangkok World would deliver stacks of the weekly Entertainment supplement to various locations as handouts. One such location was the Nana Hotel, where Trink's fans and detractors alike would traipse in to the lobby from inside and outside the hotel for their free copy - eagerly pouring over the Nite Owl for the latest 'on-the-ground' report. Many of these supplements were immediately mailed off to overseas addresses - (pre-Internet, of course) - into the waiting hands of those who couldn't wait to return to Bangkok.
Friends and Foes
Although Bernard's responsibilities as Entertainment Editor at the Bangkok World were diverse - to include movie reviews and listings, occasional interviews, food & restaurant reviews (often under the pseudonym 'Friar Tuck') and the day-to-day miscellany - it was his Nite Owl column that 'went viral', both locally and internationally. And, in that his Night Entertainment Scene, which included 5-star hotel lounges, night club entertainment acts, etcetera, also included 'bars', the column's immense popularity was matched by an equal portion of notoriety. In that 'bars' were, and are, associated with prostitution, Bernard'sreportage on bars automatically meant, in the one-dimensional world of his several detractors, that he was promoting prostitution.
A pic of Bangkok Nightlife's most odious public urinal to have ever existed - at the original Thermae. Note where some individual scrawled the graffito, "Trink The Dink" on the wall. But then what do you expect from a lowlife who writes on bathroom walls....
Bernard Trink's detractors took many forms, from local nightcrawlers scrawling graffiti on bathroom walls and derogatory comments about his dress / eating habits, to virtue-signaling documentaries and interviews, (and even a book) in the international media. (Bernard writes of these disingenuous interviewers, each seeking a sensational 'angle', in his last column - reproduced below). Nor did Bernard's move to the Bangkok Post change the equation - his detractors followed, continuing to characterize him as a 'purveyor of smut', or 'pimp, or -the list goes on. But, worse, his new bosses, the quisling editors (Pichai and Veera) capitulated to the rising wave of Political Correctness sweeping planet Earth - buying-in to the 'minority consensus' that the most popular column the newspaper would ever know, was (after more than 30 years) suddenly 'inappropriate'. (-If readers would like to read what we really think of the Bangkok Post and the termination of the Nite Owl column, please see our February 2004 edition - "Where is Trink?" <link>
Not long after Bernard's relocation to the Bangkok Post, the editors) began the systematic curtailing of his content, claiming 'persons "upstairs"' were frowning.... No more photos of A Go-Go girls... then no more photos at all. No more controversial discussions, but especially on AIDS (in retrospect, his observations on AIDS were more accurate than the WHO's politically-tainted scare-mongering). No more recommendations on massage parlor girls, and eventually even the deletion of the "Nite Owl" logo itself. In the end, the column had been reduced to a half-page of general-interest items. (Then, again, the Post had already begun general decline - the downward spiral continuing to the present - where even the host of crank 'letters-to-the-editor' produce better copy than their paid journalists....) ...The age-old lesson on monopolies ringing true yet again...
But Bangkok's Foreign Correspondents Club (FCCT) did not share in the Bangkok Post's myopic inability to recognize 'celebrity', having invited Bernard (twice, that we know of) to speak on the Bangkok Nightscene. Speaking to a full-house both times, Bernard surprised many of us who had held preconceived opinions - forgiving his 'New York' accent, he proved to be an accomplished public speaker, lucid, on-balance and authoritative. His FCCT speaking engagements cast him in a brand-new and positive light - he was the 'Nite Owl' columnist,, to be sure, but he had much more to offer than that...
Bernard, in his 37 years of doing his 'rounds' of the Night Entertainment Areas, inevitably made many friends, not to mention a slew of 'acquaintances'. And most of us who were immersed in Bangkok's Nitescene in those years can recall at least one anecdotal conversation with him - this writer being no exception; The encounter that sticks in my mind most vividly was when we crossed paths, yet again - this time at the Fourth of July picnic at the International School in 2004. Inevitably the conversation drifted to the Bangkok Post's then-recent termination of the 'Nite Owl' column. I mentioned that I spoke for many in that we felt it entirely unfair.
His reply, "How do you think I feel?... How do you think I feel?"
The Parting Shot
Below is the last "Trink page" (Bangkok Post, 26 Dec 2003).
CLICK HERE to read the full column.
We bloggers of the Nightscene, each of us, past and present, owe a debt to Bernard - for inspiration, style and format. He was 'the original'; the rest of us have been mere 'variations-on-theme'. If ever there will be a Hall Of Fame of individuals who indelibly influenced Bangkok's nightlife, those characters that were inextricably 'a part of the fabric', Bernard Trink will certainly be seated front row center.
The cremation ceremony Wat Tat Thong - 11 October 2020
It is self-evident that the closure of Thailand's borders has harmed tourism - and in particular, Thailand's Nightlife. As long as the lockdown remains predominantly in effect in order to control the Coronavirus, (only a handful of foreigners are being let in), Night Entertainment Venues will continue to suffer, and in many cases be forced to close. We continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation locally and abroad. By doing so, we hope to provide our readers with realistic expectations regarding timeframes and likelihood of a full reopening and recovery of the Night Entertainment Scene in Thailand.
This month, we can reconfirm that sound countermeasures, when diligently applied, will stop the spread of Coronavirus - Thailand being the prime example. Thailand has had no 'in-house' cases, let alone contagious outbreaks, since May 2020. The handful of cases found in Thailand have all been from returning Thai citizens and several foreigners that have been allowed to travel to Thailand under special conditions. Nevertheless, this is not the case globally - the last 2 months saw the small rise-and-fall of the 2nd wave, and, as can be seen, we are, globally, in the beginning of another, 3rd wave.
Coronavirus Overview GLOBAL 3rd WAVE - BUT MANY NATIONS IMPROVE 01 November 2020
This November we continue with our ongoing review & analysis of the global figures alongside several 'typical' individual countries. For purposes of comparison, this month we are publishing data for the same countries we analyzed in previous months. Note: 'typical' countries are so selected because of their accurate record-keeping and, not coincidentally, their implementation of internationally recognized precautionary and medical treatment procedures used in containing the Coronavirus. It is immediately apparent from the graphs below that the Coronavirus is far from gone - and the number of cases continues to increase. Nevertheless, world officialdom is in recognition that many nations are essentially winning the battle against the virus.
It also becomes apparent from the analyses of the graphs of these countries over the last 5 months, and from analyses of countries who have not been successful in implementing adequate isolation protocols, we can now reconfirm, yet again, which measures work, and what does not work - at least as far as 'isolation' and 'control' are concerned. However, "isolation" is not the full answer - see the detailed discussion following the graphs below.
As the above upsurges and declines are recent, we have used both 'new case' and 'death' data to best illustrate the actual trending by the most accurate and visually observable means. Bangkok Eyes has reproduced the above information as a public service - this information is readily available to the public on the Internet and through other sources. This information is not to be construed as a prediction, or an estimate, or a projection relating to changes in the prevalence of the Coronavirus, either as to length of time, location or severity.
All charts sourced at www.worldometers.info from W.H.O. data.
In spite of the global upsurge in new viral infections, Thailand has taken the lead with their long-term "Special visa" in reopening the borders to tourism - albeit they have just barely cracked the door ajar. Currently tourists in small tour groups from countries having similar control measures and low rates of infection are allowed in - with the proviso they be tested and undergo quarantine. Thailand has also proposed to lessen the quarantine from 14 days to 10 days. (Recent cases, however, would indicate they might want to leave it at 14 days). And while these steps are steps in the right direction, for the long term, "isolation" is not the answer.
Here we reiterate: there is only one long-term solution to ridding the world of the Pandemic, and that is "Immunity". And there are only two possibilities to arrive at sufficient immunity: First is through herd-immunity, which in several countries, appears to be winning out (falling death rates, even in spite of increasing or plateaued numbers of new cases). The second possible method to obtain immunity is through a vaccine . But, as the reader is already aware, there is not yet any vaccine to be found on the market. (Note, "isolation' is not mentioned here as a way to the final cure...) Many vaccine trials are in progress - but (another reminder) there is no guarantee an effective vaccine will be developed. While all hope for an effective vaccine, failing this, Planet Earth will have to depend solely on herd-immunity. The 'back-up plan' will need to address this...
*We note the local Thai Night Entertainment Areas are open and doing reasonably well, as, of course, their main source of custom is not foreign tourism. (Examples of local ThaiNitespot Areas: Sri Nakarin South, Soi Thonglor, Soi Udomsuk, Soi Ekamai, RCA.)
"Ah, a poignant moment with the current state of things - ... "
"Remarkable he made it to 89...."
"Friar Tuck ?"
"So much has been written about “Trink,” ..... No matter what you think or felt about (what) he wrote, one thing is certain – readers followed and read his column, religiously every week. They talked about it. They criticized it. They were annoyed by it. They despised it. They loved it."
" Nite Owl, 'Don't give a Hoot', 'TIT', etc, brings back many memories from a different time..."
(The Bangkok Post's headline.)
''Post legend Bernard Trink dies at 89 Blunt-spoken 'Nite Owl' columnist entertained and outraged readers for decades''
'' ..... The birth of Bangkok’s prostitution playground was a pivotal time, ultimately paving the way for Thailand’s contemporary sex-tourism industry. Trink saw it all. He even coined the term “Soi Cowboy” and enduring catch-phrases such as the verbal shrug of “This is Thailand” or “TIT.” ''
".... Truly unique. .... Trink was fortunate in having a lovely, caring Thai wife, Aree, who he loved dearly. A Red Cross volunteer, she is 86 now and at the cremation she confirmed she had been married to Bernard for 55 years. They first met in Japan before he came to Thailand. What a loss it must be for her. Trink was a unique character as was his style of writing. There were plenty who disliked his columns, but paradoxically his most vocal critics devoured every word he wrote. Trink was from a different era in which political correctness had yet to make its presence felt. There will never be a column quite like Nite Owl. 'Nuff said." - (Roger Crutchly, excerpt.)
"Wow. End of an era."
"...wish I could have gone to the funeral. Would have been interesting to see who showed up."
"Sad. He was a well known person in the expat community through the Night Owl. I saw him a few times around town when he was writing for the Post. When he was cancelled, I did miss his page. ... "
"Only knew him by reputation.... Quite a character by all accounts."
"...... Trink was infamous for his Nite Owl column published in the Bangkok Post about the night life goings on in Bangkok, with particular interest in the sex bars. I am proud to have called him my friend. When he would take me on his rounds, where ever we went, he was treated as a celebrity. I remember once he picked me up from my hotel to make a round, and instantly he was recognized by the hotel staff and you would have thought Tom Cruise had just walked in. Truly a privilege to have known him. RIP Bernard Trink."
"I loved the Nite Owl. The best part of the Bangkok Post. .... 89 - a long life considering the amount of time spent in bars."
"I ran into him a few times over the years. His articles were always interesting."
READER : Hi,
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Bangkok'sNight Entertainment Venues, closed down in late March due to the Coronavirus, have officially been allowed to reopen since 1 July. This month we will highlight significant 'Bars In Transition' - to include photographs - as before. However, due to the large number of Nitespots opening and closing temporarily (and not notifying the public), we are including an additional descriptor, "(OPEN SOMETIMES)', which will, in the longer historical view, provide a more accurate picture of the current 'in-flux' PandemicNightscene.
Although still officially waiting out Covid-19, I saw a crack in the Safari door and poked my head in... Khun Ning and her bartendee were busily tidying up, trying to decide when, or if, they should reopen. She says if enough people were to drop by on next Saturday (14 November), she would open up for a night. (The way things have been going on PP1, it may be its hurrah.) If you are in the area, drop by - the Safari is one of Patpong's classicA Go-Go bars. All are welcome.
*Thai Lady Bar - 2nd Fl above Thigh Bar - RECLOSED *SuperStar - Inside A Go-Go CLOSED, outside bar beer OPEN (OPEN SOMETIMES)
The Black Pagoda, as per tradition, had a grand and terrifying Halloween blow-out. It continues to thrive in the Pandemic... all for the right reasons...
Horse Shoes beer bar went out of business a month before Covid-19, so we can't blame the Pandemic for this particular closure. Its been idle since February.... but that was then, and this is now. Opened newly is the Midnight Bar. It appears to be another (not very busy) boy-bar. We note that the gay end of PP2 continues to expand... and wonder how far it will continue on...
Last month we noted the relocation of Star Of Light to the Surawong end of PP2, but only now we find our photo.... One more for the Archives.
* An "Unnamed Bar" - OPEN - moved into the old Top Less Pool Bar .
*Dragon Bar Beer - REOPEN - (No sign - Under stairs near Pink Panther).
In spite of the Pandemic, Soi Cowboy continues to (slowly) reopen. The below pic shows a section from Suzie Wong to Jungle Jim's & Moonshine Joint, the Oasis and the Spritz S.T. hotel. Gotta let the train roll on...
Up on the 3rd level, the Erotica Bar had been stumbling along, mostly closed for the last few months - last month closed down entirely. This month in its place is the brand new, refurbished (smell the paint) Taxi Bar A Go-Go. Modus operandi unchanged - a 'Real Girls' bar (all with tattoos), but with reasonable prices - 165 Baht beers and 185 Baht 'lady-dinks'. They do need to do something to let folks know they are there... Let the good times roll...
This year, Angel Witch wins, hands down, for frightening Halloween decorations. The basket of bodyparts, OK, but we are still not sure the blond-wigged witch isn't a real person... ...That's the spirit !
The original Rest Hub was located in the Rajah Hotel annex, however it has been closed for some time. They opened Rest Hub 2 down closer the Nana Hotel some time prior to the closure of the original. Now the Rest Hub 2 has dropped the "2". But they have added a "Live Music" sign... and the music (weekends) ain't half bad....
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
*Apsara Massage - CLOSED *Lannana - CLOSED - (FOR SALE)
*Jersey Pub - REOPEN. - Corner Soi 6.
*Asia Health Association - REOPEN.
*Elegance Salon & Massage - REOPEN.
*Pine 26 - REOPEN.
*Goody Massage (2) - CLOSED - In Rajah Hotel Compound.
Last month, the Bar Black Pinky was gone... to include the sign. This month, they were right back at it - the same sign all aglow... - Whatever "it" is - we have no idea what goes on behind the green door.... But, whatever, welcome them back to the neon circus.
The "We Don't Make Mistrakes Department" .... Two months back we noted a fairly busy bar beer at the top of Soi Starlight, commenting that it didn't have a sign. Not only was it not a bar beer (it is an indoor-outdoor lounge), but it did have a sign (as can be witnessed in the pic below). Belated welcome to 3-J - may you prosper in the bright lights, big city.
A pic for the Archives. Last month we noted the previously closed Yuuka had reopened as Yu-Ka, but had no pic to show for it. Now, we do - of sorts - the Yu-Ka is the Venue on the left. Hopefully a better shot in the future. It remains a Japanese "snack bar".
We hope we're not seeing what we're seeing.... The New Cowboy Bar is closed, and the sign has been removed. Hopefully this translates as 'sign renovation' and not a permanent casualty of the Pandemic. A 'wait-and-see' item. New Cowboy Bar is (was?) far-and-away the oldest bar on Soi 22. It was a joint venture between Grant Francisco and Cowboy (shortly after Cowboy'sWashington Square bar went belly-up). Cowboy 'borrowed' the money from Grant for the joint venture, but never came up with his share, and was booted out. Sadly, both original owners passed away several years ago.
*Jasmine Massage - CLOSED - Becomes - Smile Massage - OPEN *Green Tree Massage - CLOSED *Honey Bee Bangok - REOPEN. - In Subsoi Lemongrass.
*Hip Bangkok Massage - REOPEN.
*Anego Izakaya - CLOSED - In Park 22 compound.
The Clear Massage & Spa on Soi 11/1 had only been open a couple of months before finding a way out from under it all. Opening in those digs is the new Sukkho Health Massage. May they continue to slip and slide... .
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
*Lush Rooftop - CLOSED - (OPEN SOMETIMES)
*Wax - OPEN - (OPEN SOMETIMES)
*Grace Massage - CLOSED - In Subsoi.
*Insanity - REOPEN. - (OPEN SOMETIMES)
*Apoteka - OPEN - Thurs - Fri - Sat. *Bai Po Massage - REOPEN. - In Subsoi.
*Suntaree Massage 5 - REOPEN. - In Subsoi.
It looks like the Manana will be taking over the reins from the Nana @ 7 Beer Garden (closed a couple of months ago). Another beer garden? Wait-and-see... Located at the Sukhumvit Road side-exit from Soi 7 Plaza.
SOI 7 PLAZA
Closed down like a gun store in L.A., the "Welcome Open" (it was the only neon they ever nailed up) looks to have found greener pastures. (At one point they had the 3-Sisters sign from QPP sitting alongside the building - will they reopen?)
Three long-standing 'Steam-n-Cream' specialty massage parlors closed down in quick succession this last month (Dream Heaven Nuru Nuru Gel, the 'New Massage' and the Love Teen). Note: Dream Heaven's masseuses joined the other Dream Heaven, just across the street.) Soi Dead Artists seems to be hardest hit by Covid-19 of all the Night Entertainment Areas - soon all that will be left are the Japanese bars on Soi Pan Pan. The Soi is barely maintaining 'Critical Mass' as it is.
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
*33 Society - CLOSED - (OPEN SOMETIMES)
*Joy - REOPEN - (OPEN SOMETIMES) - In S-33 Compact Hotel.
*Fortune 17 Karaoke - CLOSED - (OPEN SOMETIMES)
*Fortune Club & Massage - CLOSED - (OPEN SOMETIMES) - In Subsoi 3.
*Apoteka - OPEN - Thurs - Fri - Sat.
As anyone who has seen the world news these last months knows that Seattle has been under the stress of not only the Pandemic, but of political activism, protests and riots. As time has gone on, and there hasn't been any real progress in either, it seems these times of stress have been a catalyst to graffiti artists.
Much of the 'street art' has reflected the demands of the neo-anarchists that have been disrupting the city these months, but quite surprisingly, much of the graffiti expresses the hope of a new beginning that many of the silent majority are feeling. Herein are some samples that we have excerpted on the excellent website : Crosscut.com <link>.
In The Wind
7 ft high x 7 ft (Center face)
7 ft high x 12 ft
8 ft high x ? ft
7 ft high x 21 ft
8 ft high x 11 ft
36 ft high x 36 ft
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based 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....