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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

The New King of Thailand

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has become the new King of Thailand, succeeding the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's I was working at Capital Children's Museum in DC and one of the exhibits we built was in conjunction with the government of Thailand. We filled a room the size of about three or four classrooms with examples of Thai art, architecture, food, music, language, costume, etc. and the Thai government helped out with money, artifacts and crafts, and even helped construct small buildings.

It was a fun room to wander into. One of the more stunning items sent over was a golden peacock. It was a metal bird made of gold and jewels. Each feather was made of gold wire the size of threads, painstakingly arranged into fine groups and each feather then added to the bird. It was nearly life-sized, and showed the peacock with feathers down (not showing off the plumage). An incredible amount of work had gone into it.

Another fun area had musical instruments, such as drums and a marimba-like device.

To open the exhibit, the Queen of Thailand came to the museum. She was quite nice and toured about with her entourage, which included the Prince and Princess of Thailand. We showed off the exhibit and they told us about Thailand for a couple of hours. Royalty, within talking distance!

The Queen was especially interested in and animated about women doing crafts in Thailand, and how traditional crafts was an industry that kept women and culture going. She liked the golden peacock, too.

The Princess was like her mother and seemed smart, outgoing, and involved.

Her brother, the Prince, not so much. He didn't look that bright. He seemed extremely ordinary. (Maybe he had jet lag?)

Today I read that the King of Thailand had died, and the Prince will become the new King. The BBC announcer said that unlike his late father, he isn't much liked in Thailand. (Maybe it wasn't jet lag?)

It isn't often that someone you've bumped in to becomes King. I'm not sure anyone else I've ever met has ascended to rule a country before.

In honor of this dusty anecdote I wish my close personal friend the best of luck with his new Kingdom, and I wish the Thai people well during their year of mourning.


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No lèse majesté here

Maha Vajiralongkorn was born in 1952 so that by 1968 he was 16-17 years old. That placed him squarely in the middle of the youth culture that I was a part of when I was 18. People about 5 years younger or older were not really a part of that golden age group.

This new King Vajiralongkorn, had he not been Crown Prince, still would have been influenced by that era. The Thai’s I met in NYC in the 70’s had acquired the longhair, the jeans, clubbing, but most importantly, the sense of freedom to be yourself, something to that extent that most people alive will not see again for a long time.

Perhaps the Prince just wanted to do what he wanted, unregulated by heir born responsibilities that he knew deprived him of a normal life in an otherwise wonder youth culture?


Make It Two

"It isn't often that someone you've bumped into becomes King. I'm not sure anyone else I've ever met has ascended to rule a country before."

I could've sworn I saw you playing at Trump National Golf Club with The Donald a few years back, Chris. That might make it two come next year.


18th hole

Ahh, that must be where I lost all my money.

Spending others money, waging war against rent control, lying, objectifying and abusing women, saying racist things, writing our names in gold on skyscrapers.... such good times.

Truth be told, I did hang out with one other "king" ... the King of Pop. That gives me two kings, which should beat most everyone else in life checkers. : )


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