Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Happy World War!

In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, there are streets named Hat, Fan, Pen, Cotton, Comb and Coffin, etc. As their names indicate, each sells a particular merchandise, though much less so now, to make room for hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes.

On Comb Street, combs went from wood and ivory to primarily plastic. Elephants are mostly gone, and much of the world is denuded of forests. Soon enough, modern man won’t even have a fig leaf to cover his arrogant prick. Derived from oil, plastic is still plentiful, though. When that runs out, we just won’t comb our hair, the few strands we’ll have left after nuclear radiation. Business on Coffin Street will be jumping, if there’s still a Coffin Street.

All over Vietnam, the habit of bunching similar stores is still common, and I’ve seen that, too, in Cambodia. Last night in Stung Treng, I strolled past a row of barber shops, their lit up interiors exposed to the street. Inside one, a beautiful woman removed an unconscionable amount of earwax from a shameless man, lying there contently with one knee raised. Her fingers on his helix, pina and concha triggered such flashes of fugitive memories, it’s a miracle he didn’t cry out, “Please stop, mommy!”

Inside another, a boy of three sat perfectly still and regally erect, as his smiling mother watched. At the bottom of his cape were red scissors and black combs. At the top, curiously, was a racing flag pattern. Launched into this world at the darkest hour, he’s speeding towards our frightful future.


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