Phyllis Davis (1940-2013), was an actress of extraordinary beauty and true natural talent, who, without the need to ever break through into the A-list category so clamored for by the entertainment media and it's toady sycophants, had, through her own subtle wiles and abilities, developed a unique set of ties and connections with Las Vegas, the Hollywood TV and movie industry, and some say even the mob. Away from her acting career, on a personal level, for a good portion of her early into adult life Davis maintained a just below the surface minor spiritual lean toward mediums and closely related types. After initially experiencing a toe in the water with mediums and psychics she began a much deeper spiritual search, eventually in her later years heading into the jungles of Asia alone, becoming a frequenter of lonely places in an ever expanding attempt to enhance a deepening Awareness.
Earlier on, as Davis was edging toward her 30s and on into the mid 30s, before going to Asia ever existed as a reality for her, she had begun establishing a stronger more open personal, albeit low-level reverence toward mediums, the psychic-world and psychics, especially so after having met, among others, one Char Margolis. Along the way, although not psychic related, Davis began hearing rumors related to the powers and deep spiritual advancement that can become accessible or garnered, both internally and externally, through the supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. In that I had travelled in similar or like circles at onetime that Davis was traveling in when she became aware of Siddhis, someone along the way pointed her in my direction.
A few years prior to that pointed toward me aspect of her life, April of 1978 through to June 1981 to be more exact, Davis co-starred along with fellow actor Robert Urich and a few others in the television series Vega$. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists her as having appeared in all 69 episodes, with almost all episodes of the full three season run filmed exclusively in and around the Las Vegas area.
During that same period, the late 1970s and even beyond the end of the series, leading somewhere into the early to mid-1980s, Phyllis Davis formed a strong one-on-one relationship with actor-singer and big time Las Vegas headliner Dean Martin, actually living with him for a year, the relationship eventually ending for reasons unknown. Around the same time as her relationship with Martin had, or was sliding toward the abyss, unrelated in any fashion, on January 18, 1985 the wife of jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. committed suicide. Immediately thereafter and for the following few years many people came forward to comfort him for his loss. Several years following her death, late in 1989, then into the mid-1990s for several years, Davis became a regular companion to Pincay, the relationship fading or ending as her relationship with Dean Martin had, for private reasons unknown.
If you have ever read what I have written about a woman named Brenda Allen, you would have run into the fact that just before high school I had a crush on a certain young blonde that was at the time the girlfriend of a guy in the 11th or 12th grade nicknamed "Blackie." I mention he and his buddies pulled me aside one day and threw me up against the wall making it clear that the girl was HIS girl and to stay away from her. I also said I learned really fast never to have designs on the girlfriend of a guy who had a nickname, especially so if it was something like "Blackie."
Davis became un-enamored with Siddhis quickly, or at least after a short passage of time, apparently because any forthcoming results were not transpiring quick enough, and, as presented in the paragraph below, the personal commitment and severities of the regimen and difficulties in mastering them. So said, relative to Siddhis, although she loved the idea, she took a deep breath and unwillingly moved on. About that same time, with me remaining around peripherally because of a personal request to do so for whatever reason, I was yanked off the street one day by a couple of heavyweight growlers almost in the same way as the aforementioned Blackie had done with me in my youth and told, "Roselli's dead you monk-ass prick, you got no protection so fuck off." With that, after a minor conversation with Davis discussing a number of viable options, and without pointing fingers toward anybody specifically, following her suggestion that I should make myself scarce as possible as quickly as possible because it would probably be best for all concerned, I departed Las Vegas and her environs, with thoughts of Siddhis and Phyllis Davis no longer part of my repertoire.
Up to that at point in time I had only known Phyllis for a short while. Although later on Fate or Karma stepped in with other ideas up their sleeve, somehow leaving her had a certain overwhelming sense of sadness because of the seeming finality of it all. I had experienced a similar situation years before as a young adult with a woman of parallel standard and quality, an experience that did in fact end with a near 100% never again to be seen finality, a finality I would have chosen to end differently given the chance. In the same manner that a sudden whiff of an unexpected odor or smell can send you back to a time and place in your memory or thoughts, because of a closeness in replication of that certain loss, I was engulfed by a swift lightning-like reoccurrence of that same feeling from ages long past that swept over me leaving me with a lingering sadness. Although the feeling faded rather quickly, the memory of the event, once dredged up into my surface thoughts, can still be brought up.
While it was also true Davis had become un-enamored toward Siddhis, as a matter of standing she wasn't discounting them either. Not only did she see they were difficult to master, but to do so would also require a total restructuring of her life. As a matter of fact, she had become even more disenchanted with mediums and psychics. It came to her that what mediums and psychics did, they did, not you. In other words, any spiritual aspect was not of your own doing or own making, but required a person other than yourself to accomplish what was being done, then what was done was handed to you like someone handing you a cheeseburger at McDonalds. Something was missing and she was intent on learning what that was.
"According to the Buddha and how the sutras are said to present it, to manifest or execute the abilities of Siddhis, a stringent regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
SIDDHIS: Supernormal Perceptual States
Unlike most, in an honest assessment of herself, Davis questioned if she could meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places. However, as time passed and people in her life she cared for and loved began to come and go, some on a more-or-less permanent basis by pushing up daisies, she began reevaluating just where she was finding herself in the overall scheme of things.
Roughly in 1964 when I was in my mid-twenties or so, and long before either Phyllis Davis or I knew each other existed, I attended meditation sessions at the Mahasi Meditation Center in Rangoon, Burma. The Meditation Center is a massive 20 acre compound that provides the setting for a free room and board six to twelve week around-the-clock meditation program for visiting and foreign monks and practitioners. However, for me at the time, because of a series of mitigating circumstances beyond my control as found in the Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery, and unrelated in any way to the meditation center itself, I was only a short ways into the sessions when situations turned such I unable to reach completion of hardly any let alone the full 12 week regimen.
Rangoon and the Mahasi Meditation Center came into the picture because in that 1964 period, as time passed, after I had entered through the doors into the compound proper of the monastery so linked above, and because of a propensity leaning in that direction anyway, I found myself becoming more-and-more deeply enmeshed into the role of that of a monk. Then, one morning in the fields outside the walls of the monastery, after having been what could be called nothing less than being kidnapped against my will at gunpoint by a group of heavily armed military irregulars --- fulfilling their somewhat iffy duty as hunters of the white monk --- and except for a bag I had with me was I allowed to have or get anything, I was lashed hands and feet to a two man over-the-shoulder pole and carried dangling lengthwise between my tied wrists and ankles toward the escarpment, then, once down, transported back to known civilization.
Along the way, before having reached any planned final destination by the group that more-or-less abducted me had in mind --- or known to me --- we holed up for the night in the compound of a major Asian warlord. The warlord ending up being none other than the infamous Burmese Shan-State strongman and drug kingpin Khun Sa, the second of two Asian warlords that I came in contact with during that period of my life, the first having been the Laotian warlord Vang Pao.
Later that night a then unknown to me at the time second group interceded right under the eyes of the first group, taking me as far as the Mahasi Meditation Center located in what was once called Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar in an attempt to hide me. It seems that being in Southeast Asia at this period of time in my life, as I have written as found in Meeting Warlords, Et Al, warlords were big for some reason, although none of them had any direct connection to my abduction that I ever became aware of. It is my belief however, that Khun Sa was instrumental in my successful escape, having taken a liking toward me for certain reasons, thus then allowing me to make it to the meditation center through him, that is Khun Sa, covertly providing vehicles, cover, and diversion. As for his interest, the quote below offers a slight clue as to the precursor that led to me ending up at the monastery in the first place and as well, the role the small gold medallion around my neck played in convincing Khun Sa to provide sanctuary:
"Within the members of the relatively small search team, Chinese all, was a Buddhist or Zen Buddhist. When they came across me, not knowing if I was the one they were searching for or not, the Buddhist amongst them noticed the small Chinese symbol hanging around my neck. The team was just going to abandon me, but the Buddhist, after seeing what I had around my neck told them I was under protection of the Lord Buddha and to leave me in such a state and in such surroundings would be bad Karma --- that nothing but bad fortune and and bad luck would follow them if they did not take me with them."
Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery
Although possibly not totally clear to a person with a western mind set, Khun Sa was basically a tribal person seeped in superstition, and along with a good part of his camp as well, knew that for the necklace to have the intended power vested in it, it had to either be given freely and without malice or found after having genuinely been lost. Otherwise, if taken or stolen, its intent would be reversed and what would befall the person so involved would be quite the opposite of the protection it provided.
Some forty years plus later, on and off from late August 2005 to late September 2008, after having volunteered with the American Red Cross and being deployed back and forth for weeks-and-weeks-and-weeks between four hurricanes starting with Katrina then Rita, followed by Gustav, then Ike, because of a certain innate thirst for a distinct separation, immersed in total quietude mixed together with a longing for the ragged Terry and the Pirates milieu of the Asian atmosphere --- without concern by or for others within my support system --- I returned to the Mahasi Meditation Center to re-participate in and complete all 12 weeks, which I did.
A few days before I was to complete my 12 weeks, and for all practical purposes, on a countdown in hours to depart, one of the monks, in a highly unusual set of circumstances, came to me and said an American woman had arrived at the office requesting to see me. In that only a very small cadre of people actually knew where I was and what I was doing, thinking someone seeking me must have some importance behind it, I agreed to go back with the monk. When I got to the administrative area the woman was gone, leaving only a $100 dollar Desert Inn poker chip to be given me.
When my time was over and I was unceremonious walking out the main gate, carrying what few belongings I had and dressed in the civilian clothes I arrived in, a man, looking all the same as being Burmese and most likely a local, who had been sitting in a parked car across the way in the shade, got out and began walking toward me. Speaking English the man said he had been asked by an American woman to watch for me, hand me an envelope, then, if I was willing, take me to the hotel where she was staying. The woman of course, was Phyllis Davis, and I knew it would be because probably next to the last time I saw her she gave me an exact duplicate to the $100 dollar chip I had now in Rangoon, telling me then to go gamble and have a good time. I never used the chip, actually sending it back to her in 2002 when her co-star of the TV series Vega$ Robert Urich died.
During one of the summers between the double set of hurricanes I was travelling in Europe. Before that I had been spending a bit of time in what I call my High Mountain Zendo. However, although I had no plans to stay, with the heavy Sierra winter looming, because of concerns of friends, I moved to a somewhat milder climate near Mount Charleston in Nevada. Re the following from the source so cited:
"One of the Condor watching folk knew someone that lived in the Mount Charleston area of Nevada and made arrangements for me to winter there as the winters are far less harsh than the Sierras. It worked out sort of OK. A little more populated than I find pleasant. The interesting thing for me was that on the mountain range facing the rising sun you can see the Las Vegas strip quite clearly in the distance both during the day and at night as it really isn't that far away. I strarted exploring along the range and found quite a nice spot some hiking distance south behind and high in the rocks above a western town kind of place called Old Nevada. I would go down to the town every now and then to get water, pick-up a few light supplies and watch the tourists."
HIGH MOUNTAIN ZENDO
On one of the days I was in Old Nevada, located on Bonnie Springs Ranch about 15 miles due west from the Vegas Strip, I called a friend in Vegas asking if she could catch up with Phyllis Davis for me, which in turn, she was able to do. A few days later, as arranged, Davis met me at Old Nevada, the two of us spending the whole day together and then the next, me going into Vegas with her for the night. During conversation I told her I would be going to Europe for the summer and sometime after that I had full intentions of completing my vow to spend a full 12 weeks at the meditation center in Rangoon. She knew that for Hurricane Rita with the Red Cross I had been deployed to and helped reopen a previously evacuated Katrina shelter in Deweyville, Texas and from there had gone down to her birth-town, the then completely evacuated city of Port Arthur and nearby Nederland where she grew up searching for stragglers and fuel. If I interacted with any of her family members or friends is not known, but she always liked the way I had gone down into the Port Arthur, Nederland area to lend help in such a devastated area. When Gustav and Ike hit the summer of 2008 she figured, and did so correctly, that I would once again be deployed. It was from that bit of information and without too many summers left, even though she was outside the loop and I actually forgot I mentioned I was going to Rangoon, that she was able to catch up with me.
While we were in Rangoon she told me after talking with me over two days and late into the night in Old Nevada then Las Vegas and being captivated by my stories of mysterious hermitages existing beyond the reach of time high in the Himalayas and ancient monasteries perched high up somewhere along the mountainous edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in areas nobody knows who they belong to, combined with what I told her the first time we met, it came to a point that it was all she could think about. She said although nobody else really knew how she felt, it seemed as though she had become just like Mercedes De Acosta who, after reading Paul Brunton's book A Search In Secret India, could not think of anything else but to go to India and meet the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, actually becoming totally possessed by the fact. She had to go to Asia --- to Burma, Thailand, Chiang Mai, maybe even the Himalayas themselves. She figured if Hope Savage was able to do it she could do it, and if in the process she and I were to cross paths, all the better. Otherwise she was going into the mountains and jungles of Asia by herself alone. She was no longer simply the actress who did no more than just answer the phone for Dan Tanna, TV private investigator, or exposing all by slipping off her clothes in the movie Terminal Island (for those of you who may have an interest in that aspect of her life, i.e., her slipping off her shirt much further than it is and exposing all, please click the photo at the top of the page).
After a couple of days lounging around the hotel pool with me indulging in tropical drinks with crushed or shaved ice, triangle shaped pineapple slices with little pop-up umbrellas, and as well, having room service, sleeping in air conditioned rooms, and taking real long and hot showers with plush towels after 12 weeks at the meditation center, we gathered up a couple of things we might need and left that world behind. Gone was her well coiffed Hollywood movie star hair and signature long red finger nails. Phyllis, now insisting we travel like locals, without even using a taxi we crossed town to take the bottom of the line 15 hour or so bus ride from Yangon (Rangoon) over the mountains to the Thailand/Myanmar border crossing at Myawaddy/MaeSot. From there we took another bus to Phitsanulok picking up the train to Chiang Mai. Since she was relishing the atmosphere of local-like travel we went third class from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai which took another seven hours plus. All through the trip a continuing string of vendors went back and forth along the aisles hawking all kinds of local grub and water so food or drink was no problem. Needing to relieve yourself was. Basically third class meant if you left your rock-hard bench seat for any reason there would be a good chance it would be taken, especially if it was a prime on the shade side window located a long distance from the toilet smell. Although Phyllis was nowhere near a seasoned Asian traveler, especially so anything that approached third class, which I wouldn't recommend unless you were really heart-bent on soaking in local color, she did amazingly well. The thing is about traveling with locals is if they could afford better they sure as shit wouldn't be traveling third class, so I often wonder why foreigners do it, especially Americans when they don't have too, color or not. The same Americans don't do it back in the states. I doubt if Phyllis and Dean rode crowded city busses up and down the Strip loaded full of unbathed oversized sweaty tourists wearing wife-beaters, boob falling out halter tops and under belly fanny packs in 107 degree heat to get from the Denny's in Casino Royale to the Friday night all you can eat crab leg buffet at Circus Circus.
Still sticking to the color aspects of things, only this time pretty much to Phyllis' dismay and with her having no clue as to why, I took her down into some pretty rugged areas of Chaing Mai, at least on the peripheral edges of same. After asking around for a certain person a couple of punk-ass young toughs riding crotch rocket motorcycles roared up on the sidewalk of a small outside street café where we were sitting wanting to know what my business was with the man. Showing them my necklace one of the punks tried to grab it when a man wearing a suit and dark aviator sunglasses and clearly packing heat stepped out of nowhere and blocked his hand. Ten minutes later a shiny black Mercedes with just as dark windows all around pulled up along the curb right at our street side table. The suit-man opened the passenger side rear door motioning Phyllis and I to get in. Phyllis never said a word but I know she was thinking instead of local color we were back in the underbelly of Las Vegas.
In certain way her thoughts were correct. However, for me, no matter how innocent I was in Chiang Mai, if it were learned I was there and didn't pay my respects and explain why I was there, even though it had been some years since I had been in Chiang Mai there might have been complications that I rather not have wanted to deal with. Soon we were going into a classy Thai restaurant in a classy part of town escorted the whole way through the streets by the two punks on motorcycles. Inside I told the person of concern that the lady I was traveling with was in the early stages of following a spiritual path and had expressed a desire for my assistance hoping to become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna. To do so she needed to be a frequenter of lonely places. With that we were taken back to the hostel where we were staying.
The following day, barely before the sun had a chance to break across the slum-tops lining the close-by Chiang Mai eastern horizon, unknown to us and without our bidding, two men, one who could speak English, accompanied by a Buddhist monk arrived in a van looking for us. The man who could speak English said to gather up all our stuff because, with the monk's help, we were going to a place where the lady could be a frequenter to lonely places. After a short discussion between Phyllis and I, with me assuring her I was sure everything was on the up-and-up, although she remaining somewhat apprehensive, got in the van with me. The driver, following the monk's directions, headed northeast out of Chiang Mai on the main roads toward the mountains and jungles beyond.
The next morning we were shaken awake by the van having turned onto some rough unpaved jungle road. After quite some distance the monk told the driver to stop. Phyllis and I got out taking our stuff with us and followed the monk into the jungle. Some hours later we came upon an opening with a small roofed wooden structure built at least three feet off the ground on stilts with a set of steps in the center-front leading to a wood floor interior. All four sides of the structure were open but had roll up rattan-like shades or blinds that could be pulled up or down forming walls, of which the one in the back was down. The way the structure faced the sun came up in the morning on the far left going across the sky in an arc setting on the far right, shining all day on the structure albeit leaving almost all of the floor area shaded. The only thing inside were two meditation mats neatly laid out on the floor. Hanging on a tree close by was one of those portable bag-like showers that heated the water by the sun, and out front, about 30 feet across the clearing was a fire pit like cooking area. An older Asian woman was in the process of making something over the fire as we came into the clearing and within seconds she put hot tea and cooked rice on the structure floor just at the top of the stairs for us. She and the monk spoke in muted tones for a few minutes pointing and making gestures, then, without explanation, both left, leaving Phyllis and I alone.
We did a little exploring discovering right away where one could relieve one self. The next morning the woman that made meals for us twice a day showed us where a stream was a short distance directly west through the trees. She also took us to her village meeting with the elder and others. All were taken by Phyllis. Even though she used no lipstick or eye make up and wore loose fitting meditation clothes she was still striking and as well as, taller than almost everybody in the village. Her flawless, unblemished nearly pure white skin glowed radiant in the sun and all the children, who she seemed to be immediately taken by and vice versa, would gather around just to touch her. For even me it was tough to be immune. When Phyllis would take showers under the tree using the portable shower I would practically have to go into a full Nirodha state to survive.
After about three or four weeks when I could sense she felt comfortable with her surroundings, the villagers, the jungle, her safety, and especially so with her meditation sessions, I told her I would be leaving. The next day I headed alone into the jungle on the same trail the two of us came in on and I never saw her again.
MONG LA: MOS EISLEY SPACEPORT OR MAYBERRY, R.F.D?
"Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Luke Skywalker that he’d never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in the whole galaxy than Mos Eisley spaceport."
I guess neither of them ever heard of Mong La.
As easy as it may have seemed for Phyllis and I in Chiang Mai, and the graciousness of the help we received with transportation and all for her to reach a meditation spot where she could safely become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, Prajna, and a frequenter of lonely places, which she was apparently able to do, it wasn't done without a cost. Nothing is free. Although Phyllis never knew about it nor did I ever have a chance to tell her, for the services rendered there was a price that was to be extracted.
The person I went to see in the Thai restaurant was willing to help in exchange for me providing a service for him. He knew I was a longtime Asian travel hand, sometimes under rather scary or unscrupulous circumstances with a once upon a time uncanny ability to slip through places without raising undue concerns. He also knew I was a trusted commodity, especially if leveraged against the fact that no harm would come to the "woman," i.e., Phyllis. After hearing his request, of which I thought was a little much of an overkill, to do his bidding I asked if when done, he would in turn do an additional small favor for me. Agreeing to do so, we shook hands and the deal was done.
After leaving Phyllis and her encampment, laughable out loud to me and of pure coincidence no doubt, I found that I was within easy striking distance to the Burmese-Thailand border town of Tachileik, the exact same place I was asked to go per the man's request before returning to Chiang Mai. Because of that request, I headed there, crossing the bridge several days later by foot from the Thai city of Mae Sai into Tachileik. In those days the Burmese side took your passport and gave you a temporary travel permit limited to only the Tachileik area and a day or two stay. People running out of visa time in Thailand often made "visa runs," crossing over to Tachileik from Mae Sai, get their passport stamped, then when returning to Thailand, even after a few minutes, could get a new 14 day extension. Me, I had bigger fish to fry. The last thing I wanted was not fulfill my side of the bargain and have Phyllis, completely unsuspecting, harmed because of it.
The first thing I did after crossing into Tachileik was negotiate with a number emaciated-looking cigarette smoking tuk-tuk drivers for a ride at a fair price to the Allure Casino, of which turned out to be what would have been a super easy walk, probably not more that a quarter a mile away. The casino-resort was as plush and clean as almost any Las Vegas or the like high class establishments. As I walked across the floor toward the registration desk after several days through the jungles of Thailand, dried mud on my clothes, unkempt hair, unshaven and unbathed, I could see the woman behind the counter was getting increasingly unnerved. When I reached the counter however, she, looking all the same as she was about to call security or run for her own safety, I slapped down a brand new shiny one ounce Krugerrand gold coin on the counter. With that her whole demeanor changed.
She picked up the Krugerrand, turned and went through a door behind her returning in a few minutes with a man who came around the counter to my side. He handed back the Krugerrand, not actually mine, but a token of introduction provided by my benefactor back in Chiang Mai. He said I must be tired from my journey, most likely wanting to clean up and rest, which was true. Seeing I had no luggage other than my shoulder bag, he requested my waist and shirt size saying we would talk later at dinner. Before I even reached my room, which was quite nice besides having a river view, a man was at the door with a pair of clean and pressed new khaki pants and a white dress shirt.
(for additional views click image)
I went into the bathroom, turned on the hot water full blast until the whole room was steamed up, covering any potential camera with condensation. In the fog I removed one of the cover plates from one of the bathroom electrical plug-in outlets and slipped a SIM card given me back in Chiang Mai in behind the wires. Then, reducing the water to a more comfortable level I duly took a shower, shaved, put on all my new clothes and laid down on the bed taking a nap. Later I was waiting in the dining area when the same man from earlier stepped up to the table apologizing for not be able to join me that evening, saying however, I should be ready to leave the hotel by 10:00 in the morning the next day as I would be going to a nearby office across town. When I got back from dinner and some time in the casino my whole room had been carefully gone over, including my private stuff. My cell phone, which I had left on charge, was also gone over. What wasn't was the electrical outlet, the hidden SIM card left untouched.
The "office" was a whole makeshift kind of a dump, part office, part warehouse, part storage yard, nominally identified on the outside as the Greenland Group. After I got there I was told the man I was looking for wasn't there, but in a place called Mong La about 85 miles north up along the Chinese border. I thought, "FUCK!" Then the man told me they make transportation runs up and back to and from there on a regular basis and there should be one leaving anytime if I wanted to tag along. In that I had everything with me, having left-left the hotel and safely secreting the Chiang Mai SIM card inside my own phone, I told him I would wait.
Soon I was brought out on the loading dock, introduced to a man I was told would by the driver by a man who said he was the dispatcher, then I climbed up into the cab, the truck being of one of those snub-nosed jobs with the cab sitting high up over the top of the front wheels. Neither the driver nor I could speak or understand each other's languages, so I thought to open up a friendship of sorts, thinking he was most likely Buddhist, I showed him the medallion on my necklace. He jumped back holding his arms in front of his face, elbows and forearms facing me as though he had been confronted by an about ready to strike cobra. He threw the door open falling to the ground, all the while yelling and pushing himself away backwards on his butt with his heels as fast as he could. Everybody came running. He continued yelling and pointing at me. By then I was out of the truck, the dispatcher asking what had happened. Not understanding he went inside and came out with a very beautiful Asian woman, most likely of Chinese descent, dressed in a dark navy blue or black business suit, high heels, and long back hair all coifed up looking all the same as a flight attendant.
She talked to the driver, apparently receiving some sort of an explanation, then turning to me and in perfect English requested to look at the medallion, asking how it was I came into possession of such an item. I told her it was given to me many, many years before. She said the driver accused me of being a high priest sent by the Buddha to do him harm for not adhering strongly to the scriptures. I said I was just a wanderling, a traveler along the path with no special powers or abilities. Playing hard and loose with the facts, making it up as she went along, in calming the man, the woman told him that the necklace was a gift, that it was easy for him, the man, as a native born Buddhist to be considered a Buddhist, but for me, not only a foreigner but a Caucasian as well, it was hard to convey the fact, so I needed such accruements to demonstrate to others. After a little hesitation the man bought the story and we were soon on our way.
In the Star Wars film, when Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Luke Skywalker that he would never find a more "wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley Spaceport," there was no clarification. However, it thrived in being so mostly because of being located so far from the galaxy's political epicenter, and rarely if ever policed. So it is with Mong La.
Of course, when I arrived in Mong La the man I was looking for wasn't there either. Powers that be told me he was supposedly at a place called Panghsang, 70 miles further northwest. More specifically at his private fortess-like mansion west of the main section of town directly edging up to the Myanamar China river border but still in Myanamar, called Wan Nalawt. I was also told I would be taken there the next day and in the meantime just hang out.
Taking the powers that be man at his word besides having as well a car and driver provided by the same man I decided to look over the town, eat on the streets, visit some of the casinos, and cross over into China via motorbike on hidden trails and the river.(see) Mong La is crawling with casinos. However, six or seven years before, in 2003, as told by my driver, in nothing less than a sovereign invasion, China sent heavily armed People’s Liberation Army troops cross-border into Mong La an effort to shut down the Casinos. Word had it that high-ranking Chinese government officials had lost billions of yuan in the town’s casinos. One report said the daughter of a senior Chinese official had lost more than the equivalent of $1.6 million U.S. dollars using nothing but government funds. Sai Leun, the warlord who runs what is officially known as Special Region No. 4 wherein the city of Mong La is located, responded to the Chinese incursion by moving the casinos to a jungle area I estimate to be about 8 miles east and slightly south out of town. By the time I was in Mong La he had built more than two dozen casinos in an area now known in the vernacular as "casino city." After that most of central Mong La became a ghost town, although at the time I was there you could see a recovery was going on albeit never loosing a step as to its disreputable reputation.
"While the abandoned casinos are left to crumble in the centre of Mong La, the glitzy new casino area is a truly incredible sight – huge columned palaces with names like Royal Casino and Casino Lisboa rise up in bizarre contrast with the villages and rice paddies that surround them. Armies of young casino workers in waistcoats mill around outside, and inside they robotically flip cards and spin wheels for the crowds of Chinese men and women squeezed around the tables."
MONG LA: MYANMAR'S SIN CITY, Charlotte Rose, Myanmar Times
As far a Mong La itself is concerned, being compared with Mos Eisley, or perhaps even the cities as seen in Bladerunner or the early scenes of the Fifth Element, movies all, they are some writers thought up view of what someplace like what they are trying to depict would be like. In real life I don't think any writer, producer, director or actor would step foot in Mong La alone without a whole lot of a protective entourage. Without any knowledge of how things work a person can and will sometimes, just disappear
No sooner had I returned to the hotel and closed the door than there was a knock. Opening the door, standing in the hallway just in front of me was a man from the lobby area that I recognized. Accompanying him was an Asian girl with heavy eye and face make-up, super long straight black hair, six or seven inch stiletto heels, and a yellow over the shoulder drop-down dress so short it barely covered her business. Also, if she was any age much older than 14 it would be a miracle of nature. In so many words the lobby man told me she was "mine" for the night to do whatever I wanted with her. Then he said if I would rather have a boy that could be arranged too. I told the man I would appreciated it if the two of them just left, I didn't want anybody that night of either sex. He said he couldn't because if he did there would be big trouble for both him and the girl. I told him I wanted to see the Madame. Soon a short little round woman who looked more like she sold noodles on the street than running a string of hookers was at the door. I explained everything through the man as an interpreter and she basically said whatever, she just wanted her money ... and if the girl didn't stay the night she wouldn't get paid. We eventually worked everything out and all of them left including the 14 year old girl. After that nobody bothered me for the rest of the night.
However, the next morning when I left to go downstairs hoping to get a western-style breakfast, just to the right of the door on the floor against the wall, curled up in a rather tight fetal position, was the 14 year old girl, fast asleep. To get paid the Madame must have made her stay the night, even if it was outside the door. I got her to join me going downstairs, with me being able to order what I wanted for breakfast and her shoving what looked like 300 pounds of food down her throat in a highly uncouth manner as everybody in the room watched. Otherwise the time was spent with her positioning herself in every possible manner she could find in order to expose as clear as possible and as far up and down as possible her not-old-enough to have pubic hair vagina to me.
Just on time and in time the driver was at the table to take me north, eating whatever scraps off the plates he could find, even some off empty adjoining tables, all the while making a series of "you dog" side glances toward me and the girl. They talked between themselves for a few minutes with me thinking at first he was hoping to get in on a little 14 year old action himself, but I think what they talked about was what really happened as he seemed to change his demeanor towards me in a more positive manner. He said the girl wanted to come with us, but I said no and soon the driver and I were on the road.
Not long after that we were in Panghsang with me introducing myself to Wei Hsueh-kang. He ask if I had the "item." I opened my phone and handed him the SIM card. He praised me for a job well done, saying everything he heard about me was true. Then he asked how it was I knew Khun Sa. I quickly explained to him the whole story saying I felt he was instrumental in saving my life. I did what I did regarding the SIM card for two reasons, the safety of Phyllis Davis and the chance to give my respects to Khun Sa's son regarding his death. Wei Hsueh-kang waved to a man standing across the veranda who handed him a large manila envelope. Wei Hsueh-kang dumped the contents on the table spreading them apart. There were several grainy black and white photographs of Phyllis and I together and one of her taking an outside shower back at the meditation encampment. He said he could see why I was concerned with her overall well being. Also among the items on the table was my passport that I left at immigration when I entered Myanmar. He said everything was arranged for me to meet Khun Sa's son but I would have to go back clear across Thailand to do so. As innocent as it all seemed on the surface it was clear I was being monitored every inch of the way, plus if I would have decided to skit back across the border rather than do what was expected of me I would have found there was no passport in my name waiting for me at the Tachileik crossing and people other than simply just the authorities would have been informed.
Wei Hsueh-kang said he was pleased with my response regarding his question about Khun Sa and how I knew him. When I tipped my head in a questioning manner, before I was able to say anything he told me that even before I arrived, although he didn't know it at the time, as soon as he saw me he "knew" me. He said when he was a young boy, around 10 or 12, he had already joined up with Khun Sa. He said he was in Khun Sa's compound the night I was brought in and close enough to watch him finger the necklace I had around my neck and how awe inspired Khun Sa seemed to be. He said I was easy to remember because up until that night I was one of the few white men he had ever seen. Then he said I was right in that he was sure that Khun Sa was responsible for saving my life and how impressed he was that after all these years I was on a pilgrimage to thank his son. Re the following:
"On the return trip we stopped for a couple of nights at a military encampment or compound of Khun Sa. At first I thought we had been captured and taken to the camp, which for all practical purposes, we were. However, once we were inside the perimeter of the compound it was quite obvious the Australians and Khun Sa knew each other. He wanted to see the man under the protection of the Lord Buddha. After a quick introduction I was told I was under HIS protection now. Everybody laughed. Then Khun Sa motioned me closer, almost immediately dropping his eye contact from my eyes to that of the the small gold Chinese character dangling around my neck. Reaching forward he softly took the tiny medallion between his thumb and index finger, looking at it very carefully and rubbing it for what seemed the longest time. The background noise and the overall din of the soldiers in the camp became quiet and the air stilled. As a man who could have and take anything he wanted I thought he was going to yank the chain from my neck. Instead he allowed it to gently fall against my skin and stepped back and the sound returned to normal."
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
A few days later I was crossing into Mae Sai from Tachileik headed toward Chiang Mai and beyond to catch up with Khun Sa's son. I stopped by to see the man in the Thai restaurant telling him all was in order, that Wei Hsueh-kang sends his best and now I was on my way to see Khun Sa's son. With that he handed me an envelope and said as far as he knew all was in order with my part of it as well. The only thing in the envelope except a business card, was where I had to go, that being a place called Myawaddy located along the Moei River that delineates the border between Myanmar and Thailand on the western side of the country across from Mae Sot, about 150 miles south and somewhat west from Chiang Mai. On the back of the business card, as a sort of a letter of introduction, was some handwritten Asian script I couldn't read. A little background to set the scene:
"In 1996 the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), made a deal with Khun Sa. The warlord had been indicted by the US Justice Department in 1990, but the SLORC announced that he would neither be sent to the US nor brought up on any charges in his own country. Instead, he was given the Burma-to-Thailand taxi concession and a 44-acre site where his son has plans to build a gambling and shopping complex."
BURMANET NEWS: Weekend of February 19-20, 2000, Issue #1466
That gambling and shopping complex so mentioned turned out to be the 140-million-baht Casino Club operating under the flagship of the Myawaddy Riverside Resort Complex, located on the Myanmar side about two miles from the Friendship Bridge, the official crossing spot between the countries of Thailand and Burma in those parts. Htoo Than Kyaw, a onetime close aide to Khun Sa, is the major shareholder with other co-investors being Thai and Taiwanese businessmen. It is there I met Khun Sa's son.
CROSSING THE MOEI RIVER FROM THAILAND TO BURMA WITHOUT BENEFIT OF PASSPORT CONTROL
Khun Sa was known to have at least six offspring although some say as high as 30 from a variety of liaisons. The son I met was the one most high ranking and heir as far as Khun Sa was concerned and I was told of such by those who were regarded to be in the know. Me, I took him at his and their word. His reactions and response to me and the gratification he seemed to receive from my being there just to pay homage to his dad seemed to underline the truth of the matter as being so. Although he had never heard the story from his father he was quite pleased that I gave Khun Sa credit for ensuring my escape and eventual return to the U.S. unharmed. The fact that I, a white male Caucasian, embarked on such a pilgrimage so many years after fact just to give thanks and offer condolences was something he would have ever expected, especially in relation to his dad. When we were done he said to stay as long as I like but I would have to cover all of my gambling losses. Then as a joke, with a slight jab to my shoulder accompanied by a little laugh he said of course any winnings would have to be split 50-50. A couple of days later I crossed back over the Moei River and headed back to Chiang Mai.
A few days before leaving Thailand I made it a point to visit the Tango Squadron Museum at the Air Force Base situated on the opposite side of the entrance to the Chiang Mai Airport. There, on display, I was able to view firsthand the remains of P-40 Flying Tiger I was interested in just as it looked when it was hauled into the museum out of the jungle after laying undisturbed on the jungle floor for 50 years.
When she left or how, or if she ever returned to Thailand or Asia again or went back to the same village I never learned. I know she had a Bangkok to Los Angeles return ticket to meet Thai visa requirements for 60 days or so with her when I left because I bought it for her. If she used it or not is not clear. However, a few years later, some months prior to the Spring of 2012, and unknown to me, she was diagnosed as having terminal cancer. The following year, on September 27, 2013, at age 73, Phyllis Davis passed away. On a radio program where it was publically revealed she had terminal cancer, and the only time I was ever aware about anything related to her and Thailand becoming public, she was quoted as saying:
"I enjoyed my life being away from acting, I think, better than acting. Afterwards, I don't know, I think I grew as a person because I went to Asia by myself and went up into the jungle by myself and learned about other people, instead of just thinking about yourself."
THE OPENING GRAPHIC AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE SHOWS PHYLLIS DAVIS IN A SCENE FROM
THE MOVIE TERMINAL ISLAND WHERE SHE IS ABOUT TO REMOVE HER SHIRT EXPOSING HER
BREASTS. BY CLICKING THE ABOVE GRAPHIC IT WILL TAKE YOU TO A STILL OF THAT SCENE
SO HOW DOES IT ALL PLAY OUT?
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: THE PATH UNFOLDS
THE WANDERLING: BEFORE PHYLLIS THERE WAS FIREHAIR
AND SEVERAL OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES!
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS
P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN
OUTTAKES: TERMINAL ISLAND
CHAR MARGOLIS: PSYCHIC
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
DEAN MARTIN, JOHNNY ROSELLI, AND THE MOB
In the main text above I write, regarding Phyllis Davis, that I remained around peripherally in her vicinity for sometime because of a personal request to do so, that personal request emanating from Phyllis herself regarding study-practice toward ever deepening meditative states eventually leading, she hoped toward or actually into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. It is my belief because of that reason and without her knowledge I was yanked off the street one day by a couple of heavyweight growlers almost in the same way as the aforementioned Blackie had done with me in my youth and told, "Roselli's dead you monk-ass prick, you got no protection so fuck off." The Roselli the growlers were speaking of was Johnny Roselli, a onetime major mover in the mob. The reason they even brought Roselli up was, even though I had no connection to the mob per se', I had known Roselli since I was a kid and had maintained that knowing him for nearly three decades. To wit:
"I wasn't even ten years old when my stepmother took me to visit Roselli while he was in a hospital in Santa Barbara. She said he was a longtime friend and was recuperating after having been in the army and wanted to pay her respect. While it is true Roselli had been in the army, he only served until he was arrested on federal charges, found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. After serving roughly three and a half years he was paroled. Roselli had tuberculosis and the time in prison only aggravated the condition. As soon as he was released he immediately put himself under hospital care. Although I didn't know anything about it at the time, when my stepmother and I visited Roselli in the hospital that day he may have been recuperating alright, not from the army, however, but prison."
The following quote, from an excellent and very well done historical study come biography of Roselll --- and peripherally the mob --- by John William Tuohy, is found in Footnote  of the Johnny Roselli page cited elsewhere. The quote pretty much sums up how I feel about him:
"Roselli was handsome, slim, with a strong hawk nose and a mirthful, infectious smile, but it was his eyes that people remembered best, cool and blue-gray, 'dancing and delightful,' as one friend recalled, or flashing and steely in anger. His confidence and presumption of power proved irresistible to many women.
"Roselli dressed impeccably, in modern but understated styles from the finest makers; he practiced precise, cultivated manners, and spoke carefully, never betraying the urban streets of his youth. He played golf and tennis, drank sparingly, and spent money freely but not garishly. And there were other qualities, more ethereal but more elemental: a sense of fun that attended all his doings and which found expression in a lifelong attachment to children, and which they reciprocated; and a buoyant enthusiasm 'that made you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him.'"
The last sentence about Roselli having "a sense of fun that attended all his doings and which found expression in a lifelong attachment to children, and which they reciprocated; and a buoyant enthusiasm 'that made you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him'" is exactly, as a young boy how I felt. Deeply ingrained from the very start from that first hospital visit I continued to carry that same feeling or awe from young boyhood into manhood, and Roselli looking back at me from that beginning always marked our relationship in a positive light. However, other people had other opinions about him. It is best not to forget the opening quote about Roselli as found on the Roselli page:
"Those at the top of the organizational hierarchy liked him because he had an ability to successfully interface with people beyond the circle of the mob without scaring the pants off them. On the outside he was suave, good looking, impeccably dressed and gentlemanly. On the inside Roselli was like a rattlesnake in a box. You should always think twice before sticking your hand in it."
In the book The Animal in Hollywood by John L. Smith, (1998), about mob enforcer Anthony "The Animal" Fiato, Smith writes that Dean Martin, who was maintaining a close relationship with Phyllis Davis around the same time I was requested in so many words to leave town, had also maintained longtime friendships with mobsters such as Fiato and Johnny Roselli. In the book the author relates that Martin even went to Roselli for help. In turn Fiato, who had done Martin many favors, was designated under direct orders from Roselli to get money back from two swindlers, one of which was a known hitman, who had cheated Betty Martin, Dean's ex-wife, out of thousands of dollars of her alimony. According to Smith, how he presents it in the book, Fiato resolved the issue in his own inimitable way, with the full amount returned to Martin's ex-wife, no questions asked.
Dean Martin (Dino Crocetti) grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, which was known for its gambling and prostitution. James Vincent Tripodi of the Mafia ran Steubenville. A popular saying in Steubenville among the youth was ‘Learn to steal, learn to deal, or go to the mill.’
STEUBENVILLE: Images of America, by Sandy Day
Martin, who was born in Steubenville in 1917, began running errands for the above mentioned mob boss James Vincent Tripodi and his second-in-command Cosmo Quattrone at a very young age, re the following from the source so cited:
"(Martin) worked as a stock boy at Tripodi’s Star Cigar Shop, which doubled as a backdoor casino. After he hung up his gloves and gave up his dreams of glory as a prize fighter but before he found his calling as a brilliant, velvet-voiced singer and performer in the entertainment industry, he was employed as a card dealer and stick man at Quattrone’s backdoor casino run out of his Rex Cigar Shop, and after that in Youngstown, Ohio’s infamous Jungle Inn gambling den owned by future Cleveland Godfather James 'Jack White' Licavoli.
"Later in life, Martin would recall stories of stealing from customers at Quattrone’s games held at 'The Rex,' and how Licavoli and other Youngstown Mafiosi helped land him early gigs singing in nightclubs around the Mahoning Valley. At that time, Licavoli looked after the 'Valley' for mob superiors in Cleveland and Detroit."(source)
In 1973 Phyllis Davis starred in a film titled Terminal Island, of which part of the title to this page makes reference to as well as where the photo at the top of the page comes from. Interestingly enough, in a pure coincidence, Johnny Roselli, mentioned above in regards to Dean Martin, in that exact same year, 1973, was released from Terminal Island. On August 26, after serving most of a five year sentence based pretty much on trumped up charges for racketeering, Roselli was transferred from the prison at McNeil Island, located in southern Puget Sound, northwest Washington to the prison on Terminal Island, located in the harbor a few miles south of Los Angeles, California. A month and a half later, on October 5, 1973, he was released from Terminal Island and placed on parole.
Following his release Roselli took up residence in Florida, staying at the home of his sister in Plantation, a community belonging to the greater Miami area just west of Fort Lauderdale. On July 16, 1976, Roselli, along with his sister and her husband, went to dinner with known bigtime Mafia don Santo Trafficante. On July 27 a mob-connected lawyer telephoned Roselli from Los Angeles and told him to get out of Miami immediately. The next day, July 28th, Roselli disappeared on the way to play golf. On August 9, 1976 Roselli's body was found stuffed into in a 55-gallon drum floating in Dumfoundling Bay near Miami, Florida. He had been strangled, shot, and his legs sawn off. The barrel was punched full of holes and wrapped in chains.
The very last time I came in contact with Roselli in any fashion was three years earlier during the late summer of 1973 right after he was transferred from McNeil Island to Terminal Island. Before his release on October 5, 1973 I went to see him, by request. See:
JOHNNY ROSELLI: MAFIOSO
JOHNNY ROSELLI, SLOT MACHINES, AND THE FBI
(for larger size click image then click again)
ENTERS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
That memory was of an incident that started out as one of those mysterious unexplained flukes that just happen to happen for some reason. A friend of my stepmother's who was going through a divorce needed some sort of unnamed help that apparently she thought I could provide. She requested I meet her at a certain time and place in Long Beach. Agreeing that I would, I showed up, but after waiting over two hours beyond our agreed upon time, she never did. Thinking I would come back later, and since I was close to the Long Beach Museum of Art, I wended my way down to the museum when the following happened:
"(A)s I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing. Having lost a total sense of dignity and somehow feeling a need for air I immediately went outside, crossing the short distance across a park adjacent to the museum overlooking the ocean. Within minutes if not seconds, for reasons I am yet to fathom to this day, the woman was suddenly standing next to me saying something like, 'Didn't you like the exhibit, you left so abruptly.' I don't recall what my answer was or how one thing led to the next, but soon the two of us were agreeing to have lunch together, although instead I ate breakfast, at a little restaurant she knew just a couple of blocks away called The Park Pantry."
THE LADY IN THE MUSEUM
(for more please click image)
TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, WING 41, CHIANG MAI
(please click link)
When Phyllis and I arrived in Thailand we went straight about our business ensuring she would end up in a safe situation where she could easily a frequenter of lonely places. When I departed Thailand that is exactly what her situation was, she staying alone at the meditation hut surrounded by the natural sounds and silence of the jungle and a few distant supporters. However, for me, a couple of days prior to my overall departure from Thailand and with she and I no longer in each others company, I sought out a much more mundane and possibly less spiritual to her pastime: visiting the Tango Squadron Museum at the Air Force Base, Wing 41, situated on the opposite side of the entrance to the Chiang Mai Airport.
THE TANGO SQUADRON MUSEUM IS LOCATED IN THE LOWER LEFT CORNER GROUP OF BUILDINGS
(for satellite view click image)
Why is it I would seek out such a mundane pastime, especially so in an obscure, stuck in the backwash-of-an-airport museum? In this particular case, in that prior to being in Chiang Mai with Davis it had been a very long time since I had been there, plus now traveling alone and not sure if or when I would be returning, I wanted to make sure I saw the remains of a crashed P-40 Flying Tiger that was pulled out of the nearby jungles the museum had on exhibit. It just so happens, that particular P-40, a P-40B Tomahawk with the manufacture number 15452 and tail number P-8115 carrying the fuselage number '69', was being flown at the time it was shot down by a Flying Tiger pilot I met named William McGarry (1916-1990). The following few paragraphs, from McGarry's obituary published in the Los Angeles Times dated April 13, 1990, sums it up best:
"On March 24, 1942, flying over Thailand, McGarry's Tomahawk was hit by Japanese machine-gun fire and he bailed out, parachuting into a clearing. It was late October before his family in Los Angeles learned that he was alive and imprisoned by the Japanese in Bangkok. His family said the Chinese government had continued to pay his salary and had deposited $6,000 for the 12 Japanese planes McGarry shot down before his capture.
"McGarry was held for nearly three years, his brother said, before escaping with the help of the Thai (then Siamese) government and the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"He was smuggled out of Bangkok in a coffin by Thais who claimed that he had died in captivity, said a friend from flight-training days, Hector Gonzalez. The escape was the subject of a major article in Collier's magazine."
As for my meeting with McGarry, the two of us met during a sand storm one day at a gas station outside a quickie mart in Coachella Valley sometime in the early 1980s while I was returning from a trip exploring around the Anza-Borrego Desert near Agua Caliente Springs in California. I had become privy to what I thought was some possibly relevant information regarding the so-called Lost Viking Ship that at the time I felt was information well worth pursuing. Although the information turned out to be a false lead and quite bogus, the fact that I went to the Anza-Borrego in the first place ended up being quite a little goldmine for me personally in that I happened across McGarry. I mean what could be better, lost Viking ships in the desert and P-40s.
The two of us arranged to meet and did so the next day starting early in the afternoon, talking way into the evening and night at the La Quinta Resort located sort of half way between the Anza-Borrego Desert and where he lived. It was there he regaled me with much of his Flying Tigers adventures, more or less as found in the previous paragraphs from the Times obituary.
As soon as I found out McGarry was a pilot for the Flying Tigers I remembered him right away. When I was a kid one of my favorite books on the American Volunteer Group, or the A.V.G. as the Tigers were known, was written by a woman by the name of Olga Greenlaw, the wife of Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the A.V.G. The title of the book, published in 1943, was The Lady and the Tigers. It wasn't long after the war when I read the book for the first time. McGarry was known as Black Mac during the days he flew with the Flying Tigers. Greenlaw wrote in her book something I, as a not yet 10 year old never forgot, and as it turned out it was directly related to McGarry, or Black Mac as she calls him. The following, speaking of Black Mac, is found in The Lady and the Tigers, pages 308-309:
"I wonder what happened to him --- probably a prisoner. But the Chinese scouts found a body in the same location or thereabouts where Black Mac bailed out when Jack Newkirk got killed --- in March.
"The body was unrecognizable, as there was nothing left, the ants had eaten all the flesh, but the uniform the bones were covered with was an A.V.G. flying suit with the insignia still on it."
Prior to Greenlaw's book being published word came through as to McGarry's fate. At the bottom of page 308 the following was inserted: "Since this was written, it has been officially announced that W.D. McGarry is a prisoner of the Japanese." However, you might imagine what I, as a young boy thought of when I first read about the jungle ants gnawing the flesh completely clean right off the pilot's skeleton leaving nothing but bare bones laying inside the flight suit, all the internal organs gone. Some image.
So said, when I was in high school, except possibly for a little extra effort on my part in both art and journalism, I probably wasn't the best student Redondo Union High School ever had. However, I still remember in one of my English classes, although I don't remember which grade, we were assigned to read Carl Stephenson's short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants." The story revolves around an owner of a plantation of some kind out in the middle of the Brazilian jungle who had to do battle with a mile wide hoard of army ants devouring everything in their path, with the hoard headed straight toward his plantation. After reading the story we were to write then give an oral report. I combined what I read in Leiningen with Greenlaw's description of the downed A.V.G. pilot and for the first time ever --- and most likely my last for a high school English assignment --- I got an A.
REMAINS OF McGARRY'S SMASHED P-40 FLYING TIGER AFTER 50 YEARS IN A THAILAND JUNGLE
(for larger size click image then click again)
(for larger size click image then click again)
JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS
AS FOUND IN PREVIOUS QUOTES ABOVE BY OLGA GREENLAW
THE FLYING TIGERS BOMB HANOI: 1942
P-40: THE OBSOLETE WAR HERO
GHOST AND HAUNTED B-29
P-40 GOOSE SHOOT
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
The Sanskrit word NIRODHA is described usually as cessation. However, it actually carries with it a much deeper meaning. In the index of the Visuddi Magga, for example, there are over twenty-five references that need to be read in context in order to cull out a fuller more concise meaning.
Briefly, like Deep Samadhi, it is a very, very high degree non-meditative meditative state. During Nirodha there is no time sequence whether a couple hours pass or many, many days, as the immediate moment preceding and immediately following seem as though in rapid succession, start and finish compressed wafer thin. During, heartbeat and metabolism continue to slow and practically cease, sometimes continuing below the threshold of perception at a residual level. Previously stored body energy that would typically be consumed in a couple of hours if not replenished can last days with very little need for renewal. The Visuddhi Magga cites several instances where villagers came across a bhikshu in such a state and built a funeral pyre for him, even to the point of lighting it. During low-level residual states the body temperature drops well below the 98.6 degree point. If suddenly jarred to consciousness body metabolism is slower to regain it's normal temperature, and in turn, that is recorded by the quicker to return cognitive senses as "being cold."(source)
COLONEL HARVEY GREENLAW:
A few years after graduating from high school but before being drafted, a buddy and I went on road trip throughout Mexico. We bought a 1951 Chevy panel truck we fixed up like a camper and drove down the Baja peninsula crossing by ferry to the mainland from Santa Rosalia, eventually going as far as the Yucatan before turning back toward the states. During the trip, which is fully outlined at the link cited after the quote below, I sought out Colonel Greenlaw who was living in Baja Mexico at the time. Even though where he lived was a rather remote area, it was fairly convenient because our route took us almost right past his place. A little detour and we were there. To wit:
"After leaving Ensenada we continued south on some pretty crummy roads eventually turning eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia, taking a ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas. On the road south just before it turns more eastward across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia we turned on Highway 18 not far from Guerrero Negro as I wanted to catch up with a man I hoped to meet who was said to live at a place called El Arco. The man was Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the onetime second in command of the infamous Flying Tigers of World War II fame. I had read his wife's book Lady and the Tigers (1943) and heard somewhere along the way that Greenlaw lived there. Since I was close by and most likely would never be back I made it a point to look him up, spending a couple of days."
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
When I was eight or nine years old I went on an almost all summer long excursion throughout the desert southwest visiting a variety of major and minor historical sites as well as fossil and archaeological sites all across Arizona and New Mexico with my uncle. One of the places we visited after we got to New Mexico was Fort Sumner, stopping there specifically for me to see the gravesite of the infamous western outlaw and bad guy Billy the Kid.
Because of a few highly memorable adventures and people I met during that excursion I created a couple of web pages devoted to it. One of the pages revolves around a post high school teenager I met named Tommy Tyree. Tyree worked on a ranch for a man whose brother, in 1908, shot and killed Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who had in turn shot Billy Kid in 1881. Because of such Tyree was a minor historian of Billy the Kid. However, his major claim to fame was his stature as a witness to the events surrounding the alleged crash of an object of an unknown nature that came out of the night sky during the summer of 1947 related to what has come to be known as the Roswell UFO. The other page, because of my visit to Billy the Kid's gravesite, I have dedicated it to Billy the Kid. On that page I use a graphic of a fairly famous oil painting done in 1937 of the Kid by a fellow desert southwest artist and friend of my uncle named John W. Hilton, of whom, through my uncle, as a kid I both met and as well, saw the original painting.
BILLY THE KID BY JOHN W. HILTON, 1937
In an article on the net about Col. Harvey Greenlaw said to have appeared in Cabo Life Magazine, reportedly states that the same artist, John W. Hilton, painted a mural on Greenlaw's wall a year or two before I visited him --- during the same period Hilton was gathering material for a book he was writing titled "Hardly Any Fences," a book that dealt with his various travels in Baja California from 1933 to 1959. In a chapter or section of that book, published in 1977, titled "South to El Arco," in his own hand, Hilton presents a slightly different version of any attempt at what could possibly be misconstrued as him having painted a full wall mural:
"I took a liking to Harvey Greenlaw at once. His house had a dirt floor but there were murals on all of the walls painted and drawn by artists and would-be artists who had stopped by to visit him. I added some cereus and cactus plants on each side of a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This gave her a local touch, we thought."
Two years later I was working as crew on the marlin boat come yacht of the multi-millionaire heir to the Halliburton oil fortune, David J. Halliburton Sr. On the way back from Cabo San Lucas I talked the skipper into pulling into Scammon's Lagoon not far from Guerrero Negro for a quick dirt bike trip over to Greenlaw's place in El Arco. However, except for a housekeeper who didn't know where he was and didn't know when he would be back, the place was empty, my trip to see him too no avail.
Greenlaw, who was born November 14, 1897 in Wisconsin, died January 10, 1982 in Baja California, Mexico after residing in Baja for almost all of his post Flying Tigers life. See:
COL. HARVEY GREENLAW
NOTE: The opening quote at the top of this footnote shows up as a footnote in Of Cobras, Scarabs, Maseratis, and Zen except I make reference to some of the conversation between Greenlaw and myself.(see)
"Any mention by me of Terry and the Pirates is typically made to draw an analogy to whatever I am writing about and the exotic-like underbelly-type milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere Terry and his companions, pirates or otherwise, operated in. I have always carried a certain fondness for that type of milieu and because of that fondness have been drawn to such odd-ball fictional characters and stories like Dan Duryea in China Smith and of course Terry and the Pirates as well as real life places such as Rangoon, Burma; Bangkok, Thailand; and Chiang Mai."
SCENE FROM THE ORIGINAL TERRY AND THE PIRATES AS DRAWN BY MILTON CANIFF DATED JANUARY 27, 1935.
A lot of people who read the paragraph-quote above the graphic referencing Terry and the Pirates say I hold not much more than a standard stereotypical romanticized westerner's view of the Asian atmosphere and the milieu that I imply exists. To them I say they most likely have never been to Mong La or read my account on me going to or being in Mong La as found elsewhere on this page. However, for me, real or not to other people, I started early in my fondness for and becoming accustomed to being in and around what I call a Terry and the Pirates type milieu.
When I was in high school, the cypher I was, I don't think anyone even saw me, but I had another life. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year at Redondo Union High School while staying on my stepmother's ranch I had flown in a private plane with her to a casino called the El Rey Club in Searchlight, Nevada for some business she had with the owner. While there and totally unprovoked, a working girl, otherwise known as a "hostess," who apparently knew my stepmother somehow from the past, threw the contents of a half empty glass of ice water toward her, albeit missing her totally. When it appeared the woman was about to lunge toward my stepmother following the water mishap, Willie Martello, the casino owner, seeing my stepmother was pulling a nickel plated .25 semi-automatic Baby Browning out of her purse and with me ducking for cover, maintained the distance between the two by slightly nudging my stepmother around before she got close enough to use the pistol, saying he would take care of it. When summer was over I was back in school like nothing ever happened.
To me, the high school boy that I was, the El Rey Club was everything a casino should be. Noisy, low ceilings, smoke, friendly atmosphere with a slight need to watch your step, satisfying pay offs, and an ever present bevy of hostesses. It was also hard to squeeze through making it perfect for pickpockets and their like, dark, and owned and operated by a person who was a relatively cool dude. Pickpockets or similar preying types were not tolerated. If caught they could easily find themselves face down in the dirt someplace out of town with a broken leg or worse. Searchlight itself was a weird sort of a burg, a tiny little dump, sort of dead, but once you stepped into the El Rey it was another thing. Less wild west and more Terry and the Pirates.
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL
At the end of the summer of 1953, roughly the same period of time as the above water-hostess-stepmother confrontation was going down at the El Rey Club and just as I was about to start the 10th grade or so, the August - September #6 issue of the comic book Mad came out. Inside #6 was a story, drawn by my all time favorite non-animator cartoonist Wallace Wood, that spoofed or satired big-time the long running comic strip Terry and the Pirates, with Wood in his spoofing, calling it Teddy and the Pirates.
Although I had followed Terry and the Pirates a good portion of my life, and knew how Milton Caniff, the artist-cartoonist of the strip, presented Terry's world that he and his so-called Pirates lived in, Wood's top-half opening drawing below, showing his version of an underbelly far east like milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere along with the rest of the story hit me like a hammer, with me, the teenager that I was, sucking up his version as my version and as my version, the real version. Ten years later, thanks to Uncle Sam and his friendly Selective Service, found me in Rangoon, Saigon, and Chiang Mai, as well as other such places, even meeting warlords. Those ten years after high school, especially in and where I traveled, having gone from a teenager to an almost mid-twenties GI, my vision not only didn't wane, but was bolstered and grew. Notice the tommy guns, stabbings, hand grenades and exotic women. So too in the second panel, i.e., lower left hand corner, the two crashed P-40 Flying Tigers.
(please click image)
(again, if you haven't done so please click image)
The biggest draw for me to Terry and the Pirates besides the milieu and perhaps being in love with the Dragon Lady, was that the characters were eventually drawn into the events surrounding the China-Burma-India theater during World War II --- and especially so Milton Caniff's use of U.S. Army Air Force Curtiss-Wright P-40's carrying markings similar to the Flying Tigers, as found, for example, in the following Terry and the Pirates story:
TERRY AND THE PIRATES
After the communist takeover in China Wei Hsueh-kang's family fled to Wa state in Burma living with his two brothers in the Wa Hills, of which all three eventually ended up working for the KMT-CIA network along the Shan-Yunnan border. He then began to work as treasurer for the notorious Khun Sa, who led the Mong Tai Army and in his heyday from the 1970s to the mid-1990s was known as the "Opium King," Khun Sa, at one point, heading the FBI’s most wanted list.
$2M BOUNTY FOR WEI HSUEH-KANG
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION: FAR EAST REGION
While in Mong La I crossed over into China at night without benefit of a passport, riding on the back of a motorbike crossing the river and riding on hidden trails for one reason and one reason only --- to meet a man who I heard, in China, owned his own private plane and did "missions" for he Burmese drug cartels. He was easy enough to find, it was just harder to find someone who could interpret for me. I told him I wanted to visit the Flying Tiger Museum in Kunming. Although there was no plane in evidence he basically told me he could fly me there and back for $200.00 U.S. dollars cash and the cost of fuel, a roughly 600 mile round trip. Then, with a slight sneer and moving closer to me across the table in a one bulb lit room powered from a barely functioning generator, he asked if I had that kind of money or any kind of money on me. I informed him I was where I was because of a job I was doing for a certain man, a certain man I was to meet the next morning in Panghsang. I told the so-called pilot if I wasn't there and his people backtracked to find me and found you responsible for interfering you might not live to see the following day. He threw his head back in a huge roar of laughter and in absolutely prefect English said, "You are a careful little asshole aren't you." He said come back and see him when I was done and he would take care of me.
The pilot had the motorcycle driver throw the bike in the back of a pretty nice looking nearly brand new Toyota pick-up then took us on a shortcut across the border. While travelling at a fairly high speed in the dark with no headlights on he told me after the Flying Tigers disbanded his grandfather still needed work and heard that a group of P-40s had arrived in Karachi, India, so he and a few former ground crew Tiger stragglers headed over there, eventually working on P-40s of the Burma Banshees. They moved from there to Tingkawk Sakan in Burma, then to Myitkyina, Burma. About that time the Banshees began phasing out P-40s for P-47s and P-38s. Since the P-40s were sitting around falling apart, more idle than not, and with more and more being rendered unflyable because of being cannibalized, with no pressing need for mechanics with P-40 expertise, toward the end of the war he just left, returning to China. He said while with the Banshees his grandfather never received the respect nor recognition he had when he was with the Flying Tigers. So too, without anybody knowing about it, he learned to fly under the auspices of testing planes he worked on telling them that was how they did it in the Tigers. Using that expertise, when he returned to China, with nobody watching, he simply took a P-40 with him. In turn his grandfather taught his father everything he knew about flying and P-40s and his father taught him, at least he said, about flying.
When I was a teenager looking around for a Ford woody wagon to restore I was always hoping that someday I would come across a nearly pristine wagon long forgotten and stashed away in some barn. For some reason, all the time I was with the man I thought he was going to blindfold me and take me across the woods to some abandoned building in the jungle. There he would throw open the doors and inside sitting there all by itself right in front of me would be a fully intact Curtiss-Wright P-40 Tomahawk in all of it's full flying glory. I still have an inside gut feeling such is the case to this day. If you take a look at where the grandfather worked on P-40s as well as the bottom photo below, you will find after leaving the Flying Tigers he went to Karachi, India, then Tingkawk Sakan in Burma, then to Myitkyina, Burma, all locations of the Burma Banshees. The P-40 he absconded with most likely had Burma Banshee markings on it, making it for all practical purposes, to those who saw it and knew nothing about the Burma Banshees or World War II, a Ghost Ship.
GHOST P-40: LORE, LEGENDS AND HER WHEREABOUTS
PEARL HARBOR P-40 GHOST SHIP
(for more please click image)