Column #HR162 Tales from Thailand
Monday, March 28, 2016
Tales from Thailand
In 1985, Howie Reed – not then the old Dart Coach – was convinced by the late Nicky Virachkul to visit Thailand for the Thailand Open II. Once there, Reed teamed up with Phoenix Arizona’s Dick Parke and Frenchman Richard and Bobby Joe Clark to form a 4-person team. The team event, run by Yanks Thomas Penn and David Bezel, was a complete round-robin. The Reed team avoided getting skunked by winning one match against four mad Italians (representing Juventus Travel in Bangkok). They were “The Three Brothers Evil” with names of Evo, Ivo and Emo, or some variation thereof, and someone else. Great fellows.
During play at The Dusit, Pattaya’s premier resort, the proceedings came to an abrupt halt. The tournament director was notified that a Thai Princess was in the building and would soon be making her exit down the adjoining hallway. The announcement was reinforced with military officers and soldiers carrying machine guns. Teammate Parke, not the retiring shy type, convinced one of the officers that he should throw some darts. Agreeing, the officer took a machine gun from one solder, handed him the three darts, and ordered him to throw. Under pressure, the soldier hit the board, scoring three points. That was enough for Parke who then tried to recruit the solder for his team, to replacing Reed.
These memories came flooding back when celebrating the late BJ Clark’s 80th birthday. Our deep friendship, which began in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, was ended with his passing last year. He’s still remembered and missed by many. Clark was an interesting person. While serving in the U.S. Navy, from which he retired, BJ counted David and Julie Eisenhower as friends. The names may be familiar as David was the grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Julie the daughter of President Richard Nixon.
Never heard BJ say an angry word about anyone, which is saying a lot as he and the ODC were friends for all those years. At the same time, memories of another classic person who passed on come back…
It was on March 24, 2012, when the great Jocky Wilson died while the ODC was in Thailand. At the time, the ODC wrote, ”Jocky Wilson – small in stature but a GIANT of a man!” The ODC knew Wilson but not nearly as well as others. Their first meeting took place in Winnipeg, Canada. The ODC had been doing some announcing for dart shows featuring Cliff Lazarenko in Toronto for promoter Ed Oliver. Following the last appearance, the ODC and Lazarenko flew the next morning to the Canadian Open in Winnipeg. Meeting them at baggage claim were Ed Oliver and Jocky Wilson. When the ODC’s bag came around the carousel he said to Wilson, who he’d never met…
“Boy, get that bag.”
Wilson picked up the bag without a word and began to follow the ODC out to the car. While walking, Wilson said to Oliver…
“Is he someone?”
“He thinks he is,” was Oliver’s answer.
Two classic men, Wilson and Clark, who should be remembered forever.
The ODC was once asked why he traveled to Thailand.
“Everyday there’s a thousand events that will make you laugh and smile. It’s like the old radio show, Grand Central Station… Crossroads of the World.
Pattaya’s streets, called soi, are famous for street vendors, baht cabs and noodle carts that sell everything eatable and some things not. One afternoon’s musing – musing is big for the ODC in Thailand – found the ODC drinking a club soda and enjoying his daily cigar at Tim’s Bar Beer on Second Road. Pattaya’s also well known for its ladymen (or katoeys). A baht cab is a blue pickup truck with an aluminum cover, semi-open sides, and a 12-inch solid strip for advertising. On this particular afternoon, a baht cab went by with the advertising on the side reading: “Katoeys ‘R’ Us”… Walking Street… Pattaya.
Another time, while devouring a superb chef’s salad at the Bay Breeze Hotel, the ODC recognized a familiar female face selling goods. On any given soi in Pattaya, one can buy “authentic” Ray-Bans for under $5, Versace and CC purses for less than $20.00, little blue pills for males to put some starch in the old reproductive shirt, and all the latest movies on DVD. The ODC catches up on a year of movies.
Once he got the young lady’s attention she came over…
“You want movie?”.
“Yes. You remember me?”
“Yes, from last year.”
She took out 50 DVDs, all in authentic looking covers filled with pirated movies. One might ask if it bothered the ODC that the movie makers would not get one red cent in royalties for the videos he bought. In a word, “no.” In two words, “F— no.”
As the ODC was going thru the movies his highly trained sales lady – named Beer – quite freely offered her expertise as a movie critic. “Good movie” and “You like this one” and “I like.”
Finally, the ODC asked, “Would you lie to me?”
“I no lie you. Sometimes I bullshit, but I no lie.”
Having selected three videos, the ODC handed Ms. Beer 300 baht. “If these are no good movies I’ll find you.”
“I here every day, OK?”
Then it hit the ODC, as sometimes his reaction is slow…
“I’ll have a Beer.”
“You want more movie?’
“No just Beer?”
“Too much Beer not good for you.”
These and many other stories can be found when the ODC’s book, One Night I was Out Drinking with the Fat Swede, comes out. It’ll be out sometime after “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen throws his next 9-darter and before the ODC throws his first.
The ODC had been promised – by the PDC – that following the recent PDC Players Championship Michael van Gerwen would be “unofficially” referred to as “Marvelous.” When van Gerwen lost to Steven Bunting he was instead referred to as “9-dart” – and the ODC complained.
Then came an in-your-face email from the PDC in the form of a ten-penny nail to the eyeball. “Haha, even worse was when he (van Gerwen) was facing Bunting in the Players Championship final – had he won, the story was going to begin “MARVELLOUS Michael van Gerwen…”
So close and yet so far.
Some scores from last Thursday’s Premier League. 5-7, 7-4, 7-5 and a pair of real nail biters at 6-6.
Recent events in the world have been anything but humorous yet there is humor to be found. One 19-year-old missionary who was one block from the Boston Marathon bombing, was also in France when Paris exploded and then, unbelievably, injured in the Brussels airport blast. A cautious traveler would find out where this guy’s going next and book travel as far away as possible.
Stay thirsty my friends.