Sunday, July 16, 2017


Twenty years later things looked a little less bleak.
Oh, yes - The winter of acid folk rock.
Bar 23
Asked to help out a friend (stage name Mr. E) with some equipment for gigs in a dive Bar 23 on soi nana, Chinatown, I’d taken the favor as a challenge. I had a notion about a dishwasher from Belarus with movie star aspirations. He boards the wrong cargo ship and ends up in Bangkok rather than California. He washes dishes for the quasi-stars, is recruited by a shady talent agency and slums it with the failed actors and drunken singers and feral hookers in the Bangkok metropolis. I’d written as a musical over a weekend the songs were pregnant in my mind.
Broadside on stage sat writing sensation, creator of the world’s first slice of viral media and all round best buddy Hugh Gallagher on drums. Gallagher was the man behind MTV generation star Von Von Von and back in town after a year’s stint back in the States producing the world’s first book of spirituality to contain the phrase motherfucker eighty-three times.
Me and Von.
His handbook the
I Ching eagerly promoted around this time betwixt sessions hitting the camel-skinned bongos.
An acoustic guitar and a zoom effects unit – but this was art for art’s sake. Apart from beer, which to be fair, I had my fair share of – this was a non-paying gig.    
Practical people don’t have children. A film, a book, a painting, is like a child. A thing we bring into the world with the best intentions – but sometimes the world has other ideas. Sometimes the world decides to quit shaving and smoke cigars and hang out on lower Sukhumvit Road.
Arriving in Bangkok sixteen years ago, the words started flowing as soon as the city surrounded my anxious naivety.  

Jim Algie, Me, and Thom Locke at the Checkinn99
After the acid folk sessions I’d entered one of my old haunts that spring – The Checkinn99 on Sukhumvit Road – I’d put the spot on the literati map having conceived and hosted a series of literary events from 2014. The Night of Noir – Bangkok saw a host of international writers dropping by and reading from their work. 
 It was here that we'd work on a ghost hunting documentary and edge closer to the film world. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

CRAZY DAYS - Making of Crazy Medicine - Part 1

Newman with Kate Tiger preparing props. Photo: Eric Nelson.

So here we have it. Part one of a memoir / dairy written while laboring in the world of film from Autumn 2016 up to the present day. Also if you haven't checked out the trailer to the film CRAZY MEDICINE yet, please do and like the clip on youtube. Here's the LINK TO CRAZY MEDICINE - CLICK and LIKE

FOR MY eighth birthday mum bought me a portable black and white television and VHS player. She also wrote a note addressed to the owner of the local video store aptly known as The Seven Dwarfs.
The note permitted your narrator to hire over 18 VHS cassettes. TV viewing hours totally unrestricted and uncensored, and like any young boy should I watched whatever whenever. Life was a gas, man.

The golden age of horror to my thinking was the 1980s – Killer Dolls, Puppet Master, Hell Raiser, Nightmare on Elm street, Children of the Corn.
But it isn’t just guts and gore, the ripping out of a heart through an innocent rib cage, that keep us up late a night. The most awful horror scenes are the nonviolent ones. The steady build up of suspense in the Exorcist and the slow build of The Shinning
Violence also has a place in the world of celluloid art.
 Bruce Lee – The Way of The Dragon, Big Boss, Fist of Fury. Who can forget that Chuck Norris showdown at the Coliseum? The mysteries of the East unfolded before my prepubescent eyes.
Then there were wild cards – Life of Brian, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors.
The 1970s were the decade for film, but if you can brush aside the shoulder pads and the hairspray the 1980s could well be in with a shout. 
Of course I absorbed all this like a sponge and by fourth year primary I was already penning horror stories to disgust my primary educators.
Bilitis - 1977
    Back in those days of innocence, Channel Four, bless 'em. aired high-brow European art films late at night, subtitles, bizarre plots that never added up, and brief flashes of nipples and unruly pubic hair (these films were shot for the most part before the large-scale distribution of the bic razor.) The first flash of female genitalia I ever laid my prepubescent eyes upon probably French, in my bedroom, on a black and white portable. 
But it wasn’t only anatomy being taught inside my eggshell fertile mind. Oh, no, far from it. These films taught us auteur movement, the make-do, and cutting away of corners. Plot was something to beware of but not become a slave to. My European sensibilities were sharp, cynical, accurate and unforgiving and by secondary school I was both immune to The Exorcist and merely puzzled by Animal Farm
Years later I enrolled into film-making college because it was the closest thing to being a rock star. Mornings spent smoking on the lawn and sitting half awake during lectures, stumbling around in the dark-room, writing half-baked scripts, and pulling blurry focus.
And writing, always writing - The years of pulling strange facial expressions in hotel mirrors were yet to come - more about that later on.
Another twenty years later I found myself shooting a film in a go-go bar with a full cast, crew and extras - some of you were there. 
Let's find out how it all came about.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Gong of the Pong

I’m late for the show I curse myself walking up the three flights of stairs.

Walls decorated with lucid graffiti, a black cat shimmies past, and that dubious odor bringing back inner-city memories of the council flat kind. There's an elevator leading up to where the Black Pagoda stands predatory above Pat Pong Two - but - we got no time to wait - through two industrial doors, towards the band who are launching into a familiar number:

Waiting for my Man.

The crowd are young, old, hipster, mobster, industrial, New Age, Asian, Pan Asian, Western, and alien. Go-go dancers mingle between the crooks and trannies in the crowd....

Matthew Ficsher and his Band launch into The Velvet Underground’s Waiting for my Man. 

I complemented Gary Boyle after this, their final song, and told him I dug his skillful rendition of John Cale’s sarcastic bass line from the debut banana record. “I just listened to the live double album a couple of days ago,” he smiled.

Of course Boyle is testing me - every schoolboy knows Doug Yule bothered the four strings on that live record.  John Cale left the group and stuck around in New York.

And who could blame him?  - Performing to strippers and Drag Queens at Andy Warhol’s Factory or middle road obscurity playing in an empty basketball court in Utah?

Which would you chose?

John Cale chose the dirty gritty gender bending underground, and tonight, ladies and gentleman, so have we.

Next on stage Murder Bizkitz

The four piece play a hybrid of death metal guitar, with punk sneer and snatches of melody that have the dancing girls, well, dancing. Singer Amy Anthrax works the stage well, and the band are tight and full of beans.

This is all looking promising...    

The fresh-faced singer for Penny Time looks pretty much at home in the The Black Pagoda. And so he should, the band have some tunes. The crowd are lifted, the dancers explore their options and the night whirls on to the rhythm of the Rickenbacker.

Progressive indie outfit Count the Thief are next on stage and blast through a flawless set, the crowd are liking it, we have the sense we're at an event. Singer Danny jokes with the crowd between songs as the night accelerates forward.

Degaruda are what the people have been waiting for. The band are playing another farewell gig in the city soon, and you'd be foolish not to catch them. Intricate guitar work, complex melodies, this is an intelligent, accomplished band performing at a top level and the perfect headline act for The Gong of the Pong.

Bar Manager and entrepreneur Joe Delaney has pulled off what might be a first for Bangkok - progressive live local bands performing back to back in a red light gentleman's club.      

It may be a new direction for Bangkok, but back in Europe it's wondrously old hat. The Beatles left their Merseyside stomping grounds to play a two year stint of gigs in German strip clubs.

Haven’t times changed?

Or have they?

The Beat Goes On ...

Next up at the Gong of the Pong is the Beatles Versus The Stones.
Check the page here for DETAILS