Willie Nelson, Serrano Ham and Garlic Butter

[$5.16 plate of mussels in garlic butter at Don Quixote, 5/8/22]

At 8AM on Saturday, I was interviewed by Kevin Barrett. To get my mind working, I drank a coffee with condensed milk at Cafe Ca Dao, where, as usual, I was one of the day’s first customers. In the semi dark, I sat with my eyes closed, leaning back. Singing so plaintively, Willie Nelson came on, and, again, I was reminded of all that has disappeared from American culture. In this case, it’s the mature emotion of contemplative remorse.

Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have

Haunted, hounded and with increasingly morbid breath, we hack our way forward, towards more ephemeral victories or definitive failures, but at least there’s tomorrow, until there isn’t.

When you do a live interview, much can go wrong, but this one went reasonably well. I described a Vung Tau that’s mostly normal, despite all the idiotic mask wearing. Terrified by relentless propaganda and threatened with nasty fines, most people here still wear masks although it’s no longer enforced, so you see masked boys playing basketball and masked women wading in the ocean.

“It’s hard enough to breathe with a dry mask!” I said.

Kevin, “Maybe they’re trying to waterboard themselves!”

Yes, self harm has become normalized, especially on a national level. While blaming food shortages and inflation on Russia, the US is destroying its own food sources by culling millions of chickens, turkeys, pigs, fish and even deer! Though food processing plants or storage facilities are being burnt down with bizarre frequency, the Jewjacked press ridicule those who raise the alarm. As with the Jewjab, Washington wants Americans to die by the millions. Opinion makers who ignore or deny this are either colluding with the genociders or too stupid to matter.

Hunter Biden’s password is AnalF**k69, by the way, and this is almost appropriate, since Hunter’s leering daddy is definitely screwing Americans up the ass, but there’s no 69, not that the prospect is too tempting.

Though I sat outside for the interview, there were still background noises, as when dogs barked or a motorbike rode by, but that’s just Vietnam, where cocks crow in cities, and all day long, everyone swims in the current of life. The Vietnamese word for country is actually “water,” so to be a patriot is to love your water. Are you willing to die for your water? Why did you let your water become so perverted? I was born in this water.

Done with the interview, I was ready to meet Mai Sơn, my vaccine-injured friend, who had decided to, again, come down from Saigon. We’ve been trying to persuade Mai Sơn to move to Vung Tau, where life is much more pleasant and cheaper. As with everything else, no two places are equal at anything. Sometimes, shifting just a mile can change your life drastically, so there’s a universe of difference, say, between living in Moldova and Romania, North Macedonia, Dubai or Vietnam right now. Think about that as we all await a thermonuclear blast, electromagnetic pulse burst, cyber attack or another semi-fictional virus. Perhaps we’ll get all of the above. They’ll decide.

This time, Mai Sơn showed up with translator Phạm Viêm Phương and a youngish professor of theater whose name escapes me. There were several others, with people joining in or leaving as we drank, ate, told stories or argued through three different venues. To start, we sat outside at VFB Bar. Thanks to the leafiness of adjacent streets and a constant sea breeze, as directed towards it from nearby buildings, VFB is always the coolest spot in town. Then we moved to a beer and seafood joint in Bến Đình, a neighborhood of fishermen and Catholic churches. Finally, we ended up miles away at Cafe Ô Cáp, because it’s very cheerful after dark, yet quiet enough to talk. That’s eight hours of chattering while eating and/or drinking, not unusual for a Vietnamese gathering.

From experience, I know Italians have a similar social stamina, and undoubtedly this was much more common in all cultures not that long ago. Still, each nation has its own way of behaving, and that’s why we have national borders. To Barrett, I stressed that nationalism is the prevailing ethos in Vietnam, with the Communist Party itself justifying its continued existence by touting nationalism constantly. Internationalism, that recurring Jewish con, is well dead here.

To survive, each nation must embrace its culture, language and military heroes. The largest non-religious statue in Vung Tau is of Tran Hung Dao. In the 13th century, he defeated the Mongols twice! There’s also a street named after a teenager who blew up a French munition depot in Saigon in 1945. Although its circumstances and even his name, Lê Văn Tám, have been much debated over, everyone agrees a Vietnamese nationalist died that night while inflicting damage on the French, and that, ultimately, is all that matters. Vietnamese children are inspired by Lê Văn Tám.

After all that talking and drinking, I had to take it easy the next day, so I slept late, for once, then treated myself to an exceptional lunch at Don Quixote. I was also forcing myself into starting a new article, as in you got paid with serrano ham, pork rilettes, pork pate, brie, roquefort, neufchâtel, walnuts, mussels in garlic butter and glasses of tempranillo and malbec, so cough up some words, loser!

Sampling high-end venues also gives me a fuller understanding of Vung Tau. There’s much more here than just $1.52 bowl of pho, 87 cent banh mi and 55 cent coconut. Most of the diners at Don Quixote were Vietnamese. Behind me, two well behaved kids spoke to their parents entirely in Vietnamese, unlike some snobs who must insert English into their conversations.

Until the end of the world, identify and preserve what’s best in your culture.