Bali, 2012: chapter 8, “to live outside the law you must be honest”, part 1

may 27, 2012 padangbai, bali damn bank of america. and damn my own cheap, new york inner jew. the two of them, combined, have me locked out of my own bank accounts in lala land. how am i gonna come up with the 20 grand for my newly-purchased mimba village "villa"? because that's exactly what i promised pak putu, dani and made. "no problem, just give me your bank account and routing number and i'll make an international wire transfer." they look at me and smile blankly, like i'm talking chinese, or maybe american business-ese. but money they know, and in a few hours made has gotten me the requ

Bali, 2012: chapter 9, heart to heart with pak putu

padangbai, bali pak putu's dressed less formally today. he's standing there at the small pool being repaired in casual tan trousers, sandals, and a brown t-shirt with a balinese scarf draped backwards over his neck. his ponytail is still tied back neatly, but it seems darker today than yesterday. maybe the night has magically revived his youth and vigor. i have a feeling he's gotten up earlier than usual because it's still hours before he'll put on his pressed balinese sarong with his pressed white t-shirt to take on his more formal role as village chief. dani and made call him over to the br

Bali, 2012: chapter 10 “to live outside the law you must be honest”, part 2

padangbai, bali ok, the decision's been made. time to get the 20 grand for the purchase of my new balinese banana and coconut field into the bank account of my new "partners". still, the problem is goddam bank of america (bofa). their complicated, multi-layered online security system is "protecting" me from accessing my own money. i call a spade a spade: bofa is fucking "blocking" me. my local branch manager in echo park, mr. villarosa, has proved entirely ineffective. he hasn't even returned my phone call, which he promised to do 2 days ago. it's clearly time to take matters into my own han

Bali, 2012: chapter 11, re-enter da wife

may 29, 2012 padangbai, bali made and i are at the denpasar airport, bali's only domestic and international air connection to the outside world. da wife is flying in from medan, sumatra, her home town, for 2 days before we both fly back to our routine lives in LA. we've delicately mended our infamous "divorce" rift by phone, and i've prepared my padangbai troupes to roll out the red carpet for her. i've told them that as a young tourist-trade employee, fresh out of high school 10 years ago, she was not treated very well by the local balinese. "sure, dey smile so nice for de tourists, but dey

Romania, 2010: chapter one – vampires

may 13, 2010 sinaia, romania, i’m lying on my back once again, staring up at the infinite romanian sky, on a hard wooden bench outside the small peles castle in sinaia, the cozy transylvanian town nestled in the foothills of the thin-air pine forests of the carpathian mountains. the carpathians are home of bram stoker’s dracula, and have sheltered this part of the old autro-hungarian empire from invaders as far back as genghis khan’s mongol hordes thundering in from the east. i say "again", because lying on my back, looking up through the canopies of towering tr

Romania, 2010: chapter 2 – i’ve already saved for that rainy day

"travel is like an onion, unfolding and revealing itself one layer at a time. sometimes it makes you cry." chapter 2 i've already saved for that rainy day   may 16, 2010 berlad, romania, you know, in my country, there's an expression about saving for a rainy day." i wouldn't be surprised if the saying existed in many other countries. it's part of human nature, right? don't spend all your money when you're young, "save it for a rainy day." it's what keeps the bank account growing, or wanting to grow. it's what, if they're lucky, keeps the twinkle in the middle age

Romania, 2010: chapter 3 – “trules speaks”

chapter 3 "trules speaks" changing the world 1 student at a time may 21, 2010 it started out with just the 2 of us. mihaela and i. sitting for lunch at a little wooden table at the "one" café, right next door to the caragiale film and theater university, where i'd been invited to teach for 2 weeks on a fulbright from my imperial government. it was the first day after the first class of solo performance and only 7 out of the 19 students had bothered to show up. half of them late. you know, "romanian time". i had met mihaela on the street, after the performance of "ham

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