My readers may find this difficult to believe, but there was a time a few decades ago when I wasn't very welcome around the offices of a certain newspaper where I worked as an investigative reporter.
At first I thought this was because I would go straight for the jugular and lecture the other reporters, editors and everyone else on how to do their jobs properly. But it turned out that it was mostly because management were concerned about the welfare of the female staff.
Now I have to confess that before my gal Cathy Pacific entered the equation I was known as something of a ladies' man, so I grudgingly understood the management's attitude. And although it was not true (as long rumored) that the reporting staff of that paper was entirely female, it was close enough to the truth for management to institute a "Say No! No! No! to Johnny" policy, a slogan they circulated in English, no less.
One of my colleagues at the newspaper at that time was [Editor's note: name withheld], who got smart and eventually moved to where the money was -- consultancies, including spells with the less-than-capable but more-than-remunerative propaganda teams at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party, as well as advertising campaigns with a number of global sportswear firms with local interests.
So imagine my reaction when I discovered that one of my former colleague's later efforts on behalf of Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) -- "Retransform Formosa, Taiwan, Go! Go! Go!" -- was so similar to the slogan that struck terror into my lady colleagues that I wonder whether he wasn't thinking of me. Was he getting nostalgic for the days I got him smashed after work and introduced him to ladies like "Bluebell" Lan Ling-ling (藍玲玲), now deceased?
Rest, Bluebell my dear, rest.
But back to my former colleague. I must catch up with the old fellow and see if he's been plundering my CV for inspiration, though knowing him, he'll plead coincidence.
"Coincidence"? In this town, there's no such thing.
For most men of my vintage, serious sexual experience began during military service with some very overworked ladies much older than us. But it was a struggle in that environment. As an old martial ditty, one might hope that San Min Chu Yi (Three Principles of the People) would fill your average soldier with the desire to dress up and parade in front of the girls in the hope of some action. For mine, though, the Republic of China's national anthem was a dirge for aficionados of Tai Chi goose-stepping; it was the musical anti-Viagra of its era. But that was OK; there were other sources of invigoration. Some other time I'll fill you in on some of my adventures in the service of the nation -- and not just at the infamous "Vivien's Retreat" bar and special services emporium on Kinmen.
It was while I was reflecting on the fine-tuned skills required for olde-style seduction -- and the privacy that most of us enjoyed as we went about our business -- that I reflected on the pathetic spectacle presented by the downfall of Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo (
You all know the story: Cheng takes an allegedly sick and definitely cute law professor half his age to a motel to recover, all the while being snapped by an intrepid Apple Daily photographer (Apple Daily, "Grand justice takes woman to motel," April 5, page 1).
Whether Cheng really was on his hands and knees cleaning up after his companion's gastro or instead teaching her the finer points of forensics law, I'm not convinced that we really needed to know about all of this. I don't see what it has to do with Cheng's capacity to do his job, but I see very clearly what this has to do with that newspaper raking in shitloads of cash.
But hang on for a moment. No one has noted that one of the reporters on the case was Hsieh Chung-liang (
And Cheng, of course, was the grand justice accused by scallywag former legislator Su Ying-kuei (
That's some of the background. And I, like any half-assed journalist in this town, have been around long enough to know that things don't happen by accident.
These reporters were tipped off by Cheng's enemies of formidable standing, or else instructed by their superiors to get the judge. Given how much infidelity and how many dysfunctional families there are around the place, it is intriguing that the Apple Daily should choose this particular target. Who wanted one of the most senior judges in the land to fall, and why? Key questions, but you won't get the answers from the Apple Daily.
In the meantime, I'll give Hsieh Chung-liang, co-author Chu Ming (
When I was in Europe in the 1970s, some friends introduced me to a strange man called Dusan Makavejev. I visited the set of one of his movies about a Sigmund Freud-trained psychiatrist called Wilhelm Reich -- though I never saw the thing because it was banned here (an erect penis juxtaposed against the image of a dictator was judged unacceptable; presumably for insulting the dictator). But, inspired by his subject, Makavejev did say one thing that I've never forgotten: something along the lines of: "Politics is for people who can't have a satisfying orgasm."
Add "tabloid journalism" to "politics," dear reader, and you'll find no greater wisdom.
Heard or read something particularly objectionable about Taiwan? Johnny wants to know: firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to reach me, with "Dear Johnny" in the subject line.
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