Tainted liquid & a single unforgiving ass zit

Fighting for water equality in Bangkok

by: Ainsley Hutchence

24 Photos
Words: James Concannon / Art director: James Concannon / Photographer: Graham Meyer

Tainted liquid & a single unforgiving ass zit

In September last year, during a very quick trip to New York, one of our highlights was meeting an internet friend & local artist/designer/model/actor/musician called James Concannon. I have found that meeting in the flesh can only go one of two ways; you realise you don’t have that much in common & its super awks, or you connect instantly on an unexplainable deep level feeling as though you’ve known each other forever. Our experience with James was the latter, & it only took a few short sentences to skip past the small talk. Actually James is still one of the most interesting & honest poeple I have met to date. Instead of trying to describe a person like no other person, imma pass you over to the man himself as he recounts the unbelievable sequence of events that occurred after being flown to Bangkok for an acting role that he was fired from upon arrival.

“The internet is strange. With society now thriving through this newly discovered creation of social media, we find ourself in a state of mass globalization. For better or worse this shift allows like-minded individuals to seek each other out with ease. This is how my friendship with the amazing Sticks & Stones Mothership began, & was also the catalyst of the adventure I am about to unfold.

In July of 2015 I got at direct message from Paz De La Huerta. She had seen a photograph of me on gallerist Peter Makebish’s instagram & thought I would be perfect for a role in a new feature length film. A few emails, a couple texts, & a couple sexts later, I was connected to the director. Via skype we made arrangements for a three week shoot in southern Thailand.

In early October of 2015, after 40 hours of travel, & somehow a terribly fucked time in Dubai, I arrived on a small jungle paradise island called Koh Chang. That same day, two hours after arrival, Paz was let go from the film. The immediate aftermath & my next month on that island are an absolutely amazing & insane tale on their own. Long story short, I stayed on Koh Chang, another actress was hired, half the production company was fired, & everybody involved completely fell apart in a sea of strange pills, alcoholism & prostitutes. I loved every second watching this complete destruction of the human. After completing & displaying an art show in my hotel room on Halloween night (there was a lot of down time that allowed for this to happen, i.e. I only was on set for two days), I was paid off & told to get the fuck out.

Problem was, since the film kept getting extended I had pushed my flight back to the states & that departure wasn’t for another month. With a shit load of cash in my pocket, & no personal connections or necessary agenda, I took a bus up to Bangkok to basically weird out until I had to go home. My time there was its own beautiful purgatory. Thirty days of creation & dissection, of both artifact & self. It is where we find ourselves as the reader, at the end of my stay in a land still completely foreign to me.”

Tainted liquid & a single unforgiving ass zit by James Concannon

I’d had fucking enough. I woke, covered in sweat, to the normal morning buzz of the city outside. Bangkok was crawling with its usual characters: the guy covered in amulets selling encased buddha’s & wooden dicks, the businessman chain smoking his cigarettes outside of the mall, the hooker catching the BTS home, & the tech student gang members on their way to school. Maybe it was westernized privilege clawing into my then current reality, breaking the broth of fish sauce my brain was floating in.

My skin, a topographical map of hell. I laid in bed contemplating what would be worse; leaving the sweat to fester my flesh or submerge myself fully into the wet, cloudy nightmare I so feared. Clutching the smell stick a man named Mr. Sony gave me, I confronted that tainted liquid, a visceral demon I attribute to my then downward spiral.

It ran through the city streets, bursting its wretched scent outwardly through generations-old poorly planned pipelines, ‘cleansed’ the pop up food spots, & bathed my failing body. The water was bad & I was at war.

My mental implosion happened after this bathing experience: a single unforgiving ass zit & thirty years of hyper obsessive tendencies. Why was the government forcing its poison upon us? In retrospect, western politicians also aid in our slow demise yet shroud their malice deeper in secret. This hindsight realization allows me to gain some respect for the Thai government, however at the time I was fuelled with an extreme hate. Directing my anger toward acts of anarchism, I chose to stage a coup. Since 1912 there have been twenty-one staged acts of rebellion in the country, gaining Thailand the notoriety of housing more coups than any other society. I knew it could succeed, this was not a foreign notion to these people.

I hastily drew up a letter to the Ministry of Interior, the legal umbrella which overlooks the city’s water division and subsequent issues. The process of actualization and airing of my grievances allowed that aforementioned zit to suppurate into a full blown “fire in my ass.” After officiating the letter with a stamp of anarcho equality, the wheels of my personal propaganda machine began to spin. Flyers! Paste ups! The amassing of the people was necessary and I felt it my civil duty, a social call to arms, to congregate the oppressed against this vicious tyrant denying us a basic human right!

Following the proper protocol associated with the quintessential human harvesting necessary for a successful coup, I made a flyer. “YOU ARE KILLING US!” The National Council For Drinkable Water was really doing something (if only in my mind). I gathered up my belongings for the day: a staple gun, two bottles of water, the flyer and the envelope containing my letter to the Ministry of Interior. Rushing out the door, I headed straight to the Sukhimvit to make photocopies of flyer while en route to the ministry to deliver my letter demanding change. Copies got made then the letter was dropped at the front gate of the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority in the center of Bangkok. Understanding the government would soon realize they had an extremely upset farang (foreigner) on their hands, I took to the streets to deliver my message. Handing out and pasting up over three hundred flyers, I was certain the community had received my dispatch and would show up to the rally in droves.

Stopping on the street for some quick pad kra pao gai kai dao and mental meditation, I unknowingly took in what would be my last relatively mellow moment on the beautiful streets of Bangkok. If I would have known my fate, I’d have been fucking shoving that stir fried holy basil goodness into my pant pockets. Nodding and bidding my farewells with a quick sa wat dee to the chef, I embarked on foot to the chosen rally meeting point in the Sathon district.

Patiently awaiting the fellow protestors, I spent my last few minutes attempting to discuss my plight with the locals through broken ‘pigeon’ Thai and english. This obviously fell on deaf ears and more so depicted me as this hyper obsessive white man yelling about nothingness. Personally, however, I felt the cog of anti-oppression turning. Whilst deep in my yell eye spied an ice sack sticking out of a garbage heap toward the side of the road. Excavating it from the filth I uncovered a perfect war flag. With my knife, a sharpie, and some black electrical tape I dissected the image, repurposing it into a totem devoted to the fight! Then, again I waited, so patiently. Twiddling my thumbs fifteen minutes rolled by, then thirty, fourty, an hour. Where was everybody? Deciding that the local populous had disregarded my hostile plea, I took to the streets with my flag and my mouth.

Vocal eruptions of equality attempting to harness the plight spew forth from my lips. Misguided belligerence, a white male running through the streets, the real problem. The sweat still festered / infected brain sauce / and hope continued to stay lost. The problem was inherently internal, my acts a cry for help. While the water was bad my ineptitude to understand another cultures civil quandaries was worse. Forever the white male and eternally the issue. I left Thailand that night. Nothing had changed and the only physical remembrance of my personal coup were the flyers I had made fading into the void. Crumbling and breaking down into the city streams, I continued to aid in the perpetual poisoning of the Thai water supply.



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