If you find the text too small to read on this website, press the CTRL button and,
without taking your finger off, press the + button, which will enlarge the text.
Keep doing it until you have a comfortable reading size.
(Use the - button to reduce the size)

Today's quote:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

This rare, hard-to-find classic, free on YouTube!

At 46:00 there's even the grand old RAFFLES, the way it was when I stayed there every time I visited Singapore from Saudi Arabia in the early 80s before they tarted it up
(if I didn't stay at the SHANGRI-LA on Orchard Road - see 1:31:00 - all good memories!)


I'd first read about "Saint Jack" in Paul Theroux's "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" where he writes about it on page 320: "'You are here at an auspicious time,' a Singapore friend said. 'I hear that a lot.' 'No, really. They just unbanned Saint Jack.' My Singapore novel, published in 1972, was at last available in Singapore. And the movie made from it in 1978, by Peter Bogdanovich (he of 'Last Picture Show'-fame), was being shown in theaters. It was the only Hollywood film ever made entirely on location in Singapore - but done by trickery, as the Singapore-based writer Ben Slater had revealed in his recent book, Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore. Bogdanovich had not revealed to the authorities that he was filming my banned book, and because of this deception, and the film's portrayal of the sex trade, the Chinese gangs, and the more colourful neighborhoods - such as Bugis Street, thoroughfare of transvestites, Geylang etc. - the film had been banned. Because the ban had been lifted, and I had just arrived, my friends alerted the press. I was interviewed. It was the first and last time on my trip that my face appeared in the local papers."

In this compelling and strikingly honest book, Paul Theroux explores the darker underside of the community of expatriates in South-East Asia. Jack Flowers, saint or sinner, caught a passing bumboat into 1970s Singapore and got a job as a water-clerk to a Chinese ship chandler. Now, on the side, he offers girls (indeed 'anything, anything at all') to tourists, sailors, residents and expatriates, but he is haunted by his lack of worldly success and his fifty-three years weigh heavily on him. So when he agrees to act as blackmailer for the faintly sinister American Edwin Shuck in a plot against a general from Vietnam, he has high, not to mention wild, hopes of triumph.


Read the book online here


And now this rare, hard-to-find classic, free on YouTube! It takes me right back to the Singapore I still knew when visiting it from Rangoon in Burma in the mid-70s. The city was then in the midst of massive economic transformation but the soaring steel-and-glass skyscrapers hadn't yet completely obliterated the city's older and seedier elements.

As Anthony Grey once remarked, "Excessive love for the exotic can destroy the American in the Orient. Many men think they go away from here with their souls intact - but they find in their own countries they've been profoundly changed by their experiences without knowing it. They become outcasts among their own people because everything at home seems insipid in comparison with the East. Then usually they're lured back again by the siren call of what has already ruined them ... These lands are deeply inhospitable to men with white skins ... and too often that compels them to commit acts of which they can't be proud."

One has to be very careful! I know from my own experience! I've heard the siren call. All I can do now is to watch this movie - again and again.

Googlemap Riverbend