Destination Djibouti

My brother and I have been in Djibouti for the past six hours or so and I am already in love with the city. In the first place, after more than fifteen winters in the US and the UK, there is nothing I enjoy better than extreme, humid heat. To celebrate, I foolishly went out for a run this afternoon in the 40 degrees plus heat. Of course after a few steps, I settled on a sluggish walk about the city. It is beautiful: Moorish architecture, wide, clean streets and a long, curving driveway along a beautiful Red Sea beach. How strangely the future can turn out. If you had told me that I would be here six months ago I would have said you were insane. I am here with my brother who is all of 22 years old and studying astrophysics just outside London. He is one of the better travel companions I have ever had even though he keeps trying to get me to understand why string theory should excite me when I cannot even get beyond the fulcrum. But he makes such a good counterpoint to me on the road with his soft touch and polite manner when I can sometimes tend to be a bit barky and anxious. We are here through Thursday and I am already sorry to be leaving. More details tomorrow and possibly even some photos.

48 Hours and Counting

Ok, I have been in town for the last two days and I am hoping that I could spend a lot more time here in the future. I just returned from having an amazing dinner at a restaurant called 7 Freres. Our host recommended we have fresh fish baked in a clay oven and smeared in spices and lemon. On the side was roti bread, honey and pounded, ripe banana which we washed down with cold beer. Then we followed a huge crowd making its way to the People’s Palace (if I remember the name right) where there is an open air concert being held by a Congolese lingala band.

Djibouti is a country that feels like it is on the brink of getting wealthy. One of its great boons is the standoff between Eritrea and Ethiopia which has made the latter unwilling or able to use its traditional Eritrean port. Perhaps more importantly, the government officials with whom I have had a chance to interact seem keenly conscious of their duty to facilitate the trading desire of their people and take advantage of the country’s strategic position in the Red Sea. Then the large French and American military bases are a huge revenue earner though there is clearly a social price being paid by having thousands of heavily muscled, horny and aggressive young men with money rampaging about.

More later…

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Dr. Evil Gets on the Couch

(INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE)

We’re in the middle of a group therapy session, containing
six or seven FATHERS with their teenage SONS. It is
emotionally charged. A lot of pained expressions and coffee
in Styrofoam cups.

SON
(crying)
I love you, Dad.

DAD
I love you, Son.

(They hug. Everyone APPLAUDS. We see Dr. Evil and Scott.)

THERAPIST
That was great, Mr. Keon, Dave.
Thank you. OK, group, we have two
new member. Say hello to Scott and
his father, Mr….Ehville?

DR. EVIL
Evil, actually, Doctor Evil.

GROUP
Hello, Dr. Evil. Hello, Scott.

SCOTT EVIL
(into it)
Hello, everybody.

THERAPIST
So, Scott, why don’t we start with
you. Why are you here?

SCOTT EVIL
Well, it’s kind of weird.

THERAPIST
We don’t judge here.

SCOTT EVIL
OK. Well, I just really met my Dad
for the first time three days ago.
He was partially frozen for thirty
years. I never knew him growing up.
He comes back and now he wants me to
take over the family business.

THERAPIST
And how do you feel about that?

SCOTT EVIL
I don’t wanna take over the family
business.

DR. EVIL
But Scott, who’s going to take over
the world when I die?

SCOTT EVIL
Not me.

THERAPIST
What do you want to do, Scott?

SCOTT EVIL
I don’t know. I was thinking, maybe
I’d be a vet or something, cause I
like animals and stuff.

DR. EVIL
An evil vet?

SCOTT EVIL
No. Maybe, like, work in a petting
zoo or something.

DR. EVIL
An evil petting zoo?

SCOTT EVIL
(shouting)
You always do that!
(calm)
Anyways, this is really hard, because,
you know, my Dad is really evil.

THERAPIST
We don’t label people here, Scott.

SCOTT EVIL
No, he’s really evil.

THERAPIST
Scott.

DR. EVIL
No, the boy’s right. I really am
evil.

THERAPIST
Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re
here, that’s what’s important. A
journey of a thousand miles begins
with one step.

SCOTT EVIL
I just think, like, he hates me. I
really think he wants to kill me.

THERAPIST
OK, Scott, no one really wants to
“kill” anyone here. They say it,
but they don’t mean it.

(The group LAUGHS.)

DR. EVIL
Actually, the boy’s quite astute. I
am trying to kill him. My Evil
Associates have cautioned against
it, so here he is, unfortunately,
alive.

THERAPIST
We’ve heard from Scott, now let’s
hear from you.

DR. EVIL
The details of my life are quite
inconsequential.

THERAPIST
That’s not true, Doctor. Please,
tell us about your childhood.

GROUP
Yes, of course. Go ahead, etc.

DR. EVIL
Very well, where should I begin? My
father was a relentlessly self-
improving boulangerie owner from
Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy
and a penchant for buggery. My mother
was a fifteen-year-old French
prostitute named Chloe with webbed
feet. My father would womanize, he
would drink, he would make outrageous
claims, like he invented the question
mark. Sometimes he would accuse
chestnuts of being lazy. A sort of
general malaise that only the genius
possess and the insane lament. My
childhood was typical.

Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make
meat helmets. If I was insolent, I was placed in a burlap
bag and beaten with reeds. Pretty standard, really. At the
age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the

age of fifteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically
shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shawn
scrotum. At the age of eighteen, I went off to evil medical
school. From there…

(ANGLE ON THE THERAPIST AND THE GROUP. They are stunned.)

And then I woke up in Amsterdam


Your friendly blogger has been in the Netherlands for the past couple of hours after a long sleepy flight from Addis Ababa. How surreal it is to step off a plane a few hours later and be somewhere so different from where I left. I have never gotten over the feeling that flying is magical. It is probably because of my deep ignorance of all matters relating to physics and anything with the slightest mechanical function. All I know is that I am in a metal tube full of very heavy people that somehow is making its way through the heavens. How amazing is that?

Amsterdam feels so still, so ordered. Are its differences compared to an Addis or a Nairobi merely a matter of wealth in one and not the others? Blogging at an internet cafe next to a ‘coffeeshop’ from which is wafting the smell of marijuana. It is one of the reasons I love Amsterdam: they know people smoke pot and so why not just legalise it and limit where it can be smoked? It is a policy that I think can only arise from a people who have divorced themselves from grand utopian visions and whose moral concern is focused on the individual and not the group. Having said all that, I do not think I would much enjoy living here. The place of dark-skinned folks like me seems distressingly low. Also, it might be the hour of day but the few Dutch I have encountered today seem ruder than I remember them. Let me walk a few cobblestones though before I make any conclusions.

C’mon, admit it’s funny

JERRY SPRINGER
Now Scott, tell us about your father. Share with us.

SCOTT
Well he’s the head of an evil organization that has aspirations for world
domination.

JERRY SPRINGER
And where is your father right now?

SCOTT
He’s in outer space, like frozen in a giant egg and stuffed inside a Big Boy
rocket with his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth.

JERRY SPRINGER
Really? Well, we have a surprise for you, Scott. Let’s bring out Scott’s
father, Dr Evil.

Dr Evil enters.

Lower Third Chyron: “WANTS TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD”

DR. EVIL
Hello Scott, I’m back.

SCOTT
I can’t believe you’d do this to me on national television!

DR. EVIL
They offered me a free makeover.

JERRY SPRINGER
Dr. Evil, we’ve seen a lot of the fathers here today open up to their sons,
sons to the fathers. Is there anything you’d like to share?

DR. EVIL
Share?

JERRY SPRINGER
Yes, don’t you have any secrets?

DR. EVIL
OK. I have a vestigial tail.

DR. EVIL
It’s more of a nub, really. The spine just goes on a little longer than it
should. Also, I’ve dabbled. I mean, perform fellatio once and you’re a poet,
twice and you’re a homosexual. I remember once I was being fisted by Sebastian
Cabot- but here’s where the story gets interesting. He was
lactose-intolerant. He could eat red meat all night long, but one sip of milk
and it was gastric hell. And I remember we were caught in fragrance delicto
by Henry Kissinger, and you can imagine my humiliation at having Hank hear me
say, “Mr. French, no teeth.”One of my greatest disappointments is that I never
became a song and dance man. I could have been a quadruple threat, kind of
like a despotic Ken Barry. Dancer, singer, actor, and I would possess nuclear
weapons, the latter being the most threatening of the four. I once sat on a
bus and tried to will myself a menstrual cycle. All I ended up with was a
sense of failure and a mild neuralgia in my incisor teeth and perhaps a
grudging respect for the weaker sex. I love toe cleavage. For the most part I
distrust dogs. I slept in a horse once. It was quite roomy. On second
thought, it was the Ritz. I named my left testicle ‘piss’ and my right
testicle ‘vinegar’. I wrote “It’s Raining Men”, or so the Christmas babies
told me. Oh yes, I also made a Marzipan voodoo effigy of The Fonze while I was
in coma after smoking some Peruvian prayer hash, but who at the end of the day
can honestly say they haven’t done that?

(The Springer audience is stunned, slack-jawed and for once quiet.)

Classic Scene 2

INT. STARBUCKS WORLD HEADQUARTERS

Number Two smiles weakly, breaking into a sweat on his brow.

NUMBER TWO
May I add, I appreciate you reinstating me after our little…misunderstanding.

DR. EVIL
Frau Farbissina. Wie gehts is
einen?

We see Frau. She looks a little more ‘masculine’ than before.

FRAU
Zehr gut, Herr Doctor.

DR. EVIL
How are things?

FRAU
I have come to embrace the love that dare not speak it’s name. To my right is
my lover.

We see a severe-looking German woman with one continuous eyebrow.

FRAU
Her name is Unibrau. I met her on the LPGA Tour.

DR. EVIL
Right on. Welcome, Unibrau.

Dr. Evil takes another sip of cappuccino, making the frothy milk mustache even larger.

FRAU
Doctor, you have a ‘milk mustache.’

DR. EVIL
(wiping it off, embarrassed)
Oh, I know. I know.

NUMBER TWO
Dr. Evil, I’d like to introduce
the Greek assassin, Oedipus.

(We see a swarthy Greek army guy.)
DR. EVIL
Welcome to my private army, Oedipus. Excited?

OEDIPUS
I could give a shit.

DR. EVIL
Kiss your mother with that mouth?

OEDIPUS
Yes.

DR. EVIL
Of course you do.

Dr Evil begins to press a button labelled “Oedipus” on his control panel, but Number Two interrupts.

NUMBER TWO
(clearing throat)
Dr. Evil, as you know, the rate at which you liquidate henchmen far exceeds our
ability to replace them.

DR. EVIL
I have so few pleasures left to me, Number Two. The key to life is to rotate
your vices. One day it’s executions, another day it’s creamy French cheese.
It’s like frickin’ heroin.