Friday, February 22, 2013

A minor (and kind of grotesque) version of Pattaya, - Angeles, Philippines

Same as Pattaya, worse than Pattaya
Dingy hotels whose customers get back drunk at night hanging from the boobs of some hooker, short-time rooms smelling like various types of body waste, fake viagra and cialis dealers, mignon beggars, midgets or kids, with hands constantly outstretched, their half-hidden wives or mums watching and poking them, soul-cannibals driving creative taxis, the local version of Walking Street announced by a giant banner at the entrance, bar-beers and bar-ladies (almost all of them single mothers), go-go bars where naked girls with flat, shrunk or operated breast pole-dance on a imitation marble counter, and then a sequence of indefinable places, in an unstable balance on the edge of too many categories, cops who pretend they are keeping order in the middle of absolute chaos, bald whore-mongers, swollen with steroids, wearing leather jackets, chains and tattoos, old disabled guys to whom the prostitutes are more caretakers than sex partners. 
The same humanity adrift, putrescent soul scum along the perimeter of a floating social dump, that same last-stop-before-the-psycho-spiritual-terminal feeling. Even the word "decadence", here, cannot be used as an explanation, but has to be explained itself.
The parallel with Pattaya is almost perfect. Angeles is located just next to the Clark Freeport Zone, the urban project that took the place of an old American base, complete with a military airport converted into a civil one, and developed as a leisure center (mainly alcohol and hookers) when the U.S. soldiers were stationed here. As for Pattaya, it is just a few kilometers away from the U-Tapao ex-base - converted into a civil airport - and used to be patronized by the American GIs deployed in Vietnam and Laos as a leisure center (mainly alcohol and hookers...what a coincidence...).
They almost look like the same thing. But they are not the same thing. One the beaten up version of the other. Two images of the same landscape, before and after the cataclysm. The subject's photo and his grotesque portrait. The original electronic device and its badly made, malfunctioning, shaky, creaking, bleached out copy: if they are both made in China, it must necessarily be two different Chinas. 
Vice in Pattaya is displayed in crystal cabinets and is carefully dusted every night. Model ranges are replaced before every season starts. Lights are shining, sounds vibrate clearly, the polished surfaces are sparkling, the opaque ones absorb, what is soft dampens and what is hard doesn't cave in. 
Angeles is lopsided, blurred, faded. Planes are wavy, curves have corners. Lights are dimmed, sounds merge in a single ground noise, the texture of solids ranges from mushy to turgid. 
Pattaya is steel, velvets, titanium, brocades, diamonds, gold, incense. 
Angeles is a fossil calcified in different eras: a mixed Asian core, a Spanish layer in the middle and finally a sweetish American shell. Animism buried in catholicism, which in turn is interred in soft capitalism. 
Pattaya is Las Vegas transplanted in Asia.
Angeles is Las Losers transplanted in a corpse.
Even names sometimes can tell us something about characters.
Pattaya is puta-ya, arrogant, bully.
Angeles is modest, disguised, a bit mean.
It looks like he's not keeping watch because he's asleep, actually he doesn't because he is a puppet...
Same as Pattaya, worse than Pattaya/2
God knows what they did...

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