randomuser -- this is the article I was sorta reading to you in the car earlier.
On the architecture
- The building itself is the ugliest shitpile of brutalist architecture I have ever seen, like a cinder block someone haphazardly blasted holes into with a screwdriver. The museum was built in 2001, but the doomed green tin roof is already showing red streaks of rust. It gives the impression of something designed to fall down halfway in 20 years, and then stand half-ruined for another three centuries.
On Orwell's Burmese Days
- I spent the rest of the night finishing up Burmese Days at THE HOTEL AMAZING. Orwell based so much of it on his own experiences in the Burmese Colonial Police that his publisher feared a libel suit. The protagonist, Flory, aka "Morge Gorgewell," understands colonialism for what it really is, and despises it despite being so much a part of it that he has lost the ability to live anywhere else.
It has spectacularly accurate descriptions of Myanmar’s weather, flora and fauna and several Burmese customs and mannerisms. Otherwise, it’s kind of flat, shrill and two-dimensional in the way a first novel usually is. It ends with Flory shooting his dog, and then, in turn, himself. Don’t read this right before you go to bed, and especially not if you’ve taken Doxycycline.
I had dreams of people playing tennis in the jungle, in British club whites, in shimmering heat, with a dead man laying on the court in full view of everyone, his brains spilled on the grass with flies everywhere and no one paying attention. Then I was running through a jungle clearing for what felt like hours, and when I stopped there was a Lexus on the road, and I knocked on the window. The glass rolled down. A general was in the passenger seat, and was playing a game on his phone, and wouldn’t look at me no matter how loud I yelled.
On Tay Za:
- Tay Za made his initial fortune in timber extraction. Tay Za moved into jade later, shoveling as much of the greenish, nearly translucent stone into the Chinese market as they could take. Huge blocks of it sit along the driveway of his villa in Yangon, because…well, because fuck you, world. Tay Za is rich enough that he can leave giant cubes of unrefined jade just laying around like lawn sculptures. The mines in northern Burma around the town of Hpakant, meanwhile, are an environmental disaster.
- Htoo is not Mr. Maung, and this is not really a motorcycle, either. This is a 75cc scooter, the kind with bizarre English names like "HAPPY, THE SCOOTER" or "URBAN, A MIGHTY WAINSCOT".* It’s the kind of scooter my huge American ass almost broke when, in a moment of confusion the day before, I told a motocabbie to take me to Mandalay Hill. He read this as "up" Mandalay Hill. A third of the way up the bike just stopped, and I had to beg the man to stop and let me off before he and the bike both died of exhaustion.
On (the whole point of this article) -- Chinlone
- But even by this scale, the Waso Chinlone Festival is something else entirely. The Wimbledon match between Isner and Mahut lasted 11 hours, and spanned two days. Andy Bowen and Jack Burke boxed for seven hours and 19 minutes. It might take someone 72 hours to complete the 136 mile Badwater Marathon through Death Valley, while the Dakar Rally stretches over two weeks.
These are all singular events with much, much different parameters, yet consider that if one were to sit down and watch the entirety of the Waso Chinlone Festival, that bleary, hallucinating soul would acquire a fierce betel nut habit and also end up seeing 450 hours of straight chinlone. Cut every NFL game down to only live snaps, and you would run out of footage just before the beginning of the Waso Chinlone Festival’s third day. Their eyes would gleam with the madness of pure Burman geometry; their ears, totally destroyed by a solid month of clanging traditional music, would bleed at the reedy croak of the Burmese oboe, the hne.
- Zero to five minutes: Disorientation. Why’s this band playing? JESUS THAT BAND IS LOUD. They’re going to play the whole time, aren’t they? This is just circular vegan cruelty-free hacky sack. Oh, god, I came all this way to watch vegan hacky sack. Is that man 80? Am I about to watch a man die, because it is 90 degrees in here, and a man could die from standing up too quickly. Please don’t let me watch a man die playing vegan hacky sack in a country on the other side of the world.
Five minutes to 20 minutes: Clarity and mild interest. OK, there’s something else here. This seems difficult in an entertaining way. This is something I cannot do, ever, but that’s OK because that man just bounced a ball off his ass and onto his head and then over to his friend, who then jump-kick-dribbled it 47 times in a row without apparent effort. This is neat. I have officially decided on this being neat.
20 minutes to 45 minutes: Boredom. Wait, they’re serious about this not stopping for a month. Dead serious. Religiously serious, even. I’ve seen that kick before, and that one. Oh, god, that fear is back: that I’ve come all this way for nothing, and that vegan hacky sack was all this way, and that hne player has the lungs of an abalone diver, doesn’t he? As in he will never, ever stop playing, and will follow me back to the HOTEL AMAZING, and will climb in bed with me as I Skype with my family in America, all the while ruining our conversation by playing the whole time and giving me an enthusiastic thumbs-up while doing it.
THERE ARE STAGES TO WATCHING CHINLONE, AND I HAVE GONE THROUGH ALL FOUR BY THIS POINT. 45 minutes and beyond to an unspecified point in time not found by this research: Jacked into the abstract neural net of the universe itself. Colors have become three-dimensional; mild heatstroke has rendered time irrelevant. Shapes begin tracing their own geometries through space. Players begin speaking a physical language superior to barking primitive words; when taking the ball for extended turns in the center, they speak only to gravity and gravity’s manager, making absurd requests of the universe in rapid-fire succession, having them granted and then immediately reloading the docket with a whole new stack of impossibilities. Your ass goes numb, possibly from sitting on a concrete seat for seven hours, but maybe for spiritual reasons, too.