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Karikal Mahal: New article in BiblioAsia

Check out my latest publication, a deep dive into the history of a micro-site, Karikal Mahal on Singapore’s east coast. The site’s history is fascinating and the good folks at BiblioAsia, the magazine of the National Library Board, did an amazing job…the article looks great!

Read the online version here:

Or download the entire issue of the magazine here (Vol 16, Issue 3, Oct-Dec 2020):

Meanwhile, here’s some historical images, some of which were used in the article, many of which were not for reasons of copyright.

The original owner of the site, Moona Kadir Sultan, along with the French Consul Andre Danjou when MKS was his awarded the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur at Karikal Mahal in 1925. Behind them is building 24. A similar image appeared in L’Illustration, Issue 4286, 25 April 1925, p. 414. The speaker is Shaik Dawood, a prominent physician. The round pavilion behind them surrounded a fishpond with a fountain, as can be seen in the later shots of the Grand Hotel.

Below are two views of the site after it became the Grand Hotel, c.1958, from an unidentified serviceman at RAF Changi. Building 26 (now Pat’s Schoolhouse) had a three-story tower that sadly is no more.

Advertisements for the hotel from The Straits Times in 1961. The first of building 26, the second of building 25.

In 1967, Lee Kip Yin took images of each of the buildings, not long before the road was widened and the site permanently altered.

The first is of building 24, which was demolished (this is the only photograph of the building I’ve been able to locate).

This is building 25 (now the Odyssey Preschool). The crest on the pediment was emblazoned with the initials MKS, for Moona Kadir Sultan. It was removed during recent renovations.

This is building 26, now Pat’s Schoolhouse. The tower visible in 1958 and 1961 appears to have been taken down by 1967.

Another shot by Lee Kip Yin, this time from 1970, of building 26 after the land reclamation works has begun. He was standing in what is now the center of Marine Parade and what previously would have been the surf line.

Number 26 today, from across Marine Parade.

Building 25 in 1981 (again by Lee Kip Yin).

And today…

Review of Java Girl now online

My review of DatAsia’s reissue of the all-but-forgotten 1931 novel Java Girl is now online at Mekong Review.

Check it out here:

Wm Burroughs in National Screw magazine NSFW

Hello American culture!

So back in the 1970s, legendary East Coast sleaze titan Al Goldstein published a series of magazines that were supposed to be more edgy than Playboy, which by then was so mainstream Jimmy Carter was giving it interviews, and more raunchy than some of the other skin rags on the market. Most of Goldstein’s magazines only lasted for a few issues, but nonetheless every now and again, he got some heavy talent to contribute. Read here:

William Burroughs wound up giving an interview to National Screw magazine in 1977 (it only lasted for five issues) in which he recounts his meetings with other authors–inspirations, icons and other heavy weights–along with such limp pop culture garbage of the moment as Bob ‘wanna-be bluesman’ Dylan. No bluesman was ever named ‘Bob,’ ya dumb cunt.

Any-hoo, the Burroughs pieces are everything a fan of the man would want (and on page 14 you can buy a mirror to install above your bed, because the late 70s, I’ve been told, were all about cocaine, Quaaludes, sexual indulgence, and mystified self-observations), so without further ado, here they are:

And screw you…

Thanks Al! RIP

Robert Pearce video

Awhile back I posted about my excellent friend Robert Pearce, a visual artist in Jakarta. Here’s an amazing animation that captures the spirit of Rob’s process of creation. Check that out, then check out his website:


My good friend David Fairer, my PhD supervisor so many years ago at the University of Leeds, has now retired from university life and, inspired by my own forays into fiction (I am humbled), has written a mystery novel set in his period of specialization, the 18th Century. David’s knowledge of the era is unmatched and his gentle soul has always harbored a secret dark angst…so this is a cracker of a mystery tale!

The book is getting great reviews, too. Check out the links here then buy it. You can get entertained and schooled all at the same time. What a steal!

Latest Opium Traces article, interview with Laurent Jeanneau

Check out my latest article Opium Traces article on PopMatters, an interview with Laurent Jeanneau about his field recordings in upland Southeast Asia, the disappearing  ethnic groups of Zomia, and his latest album release of field music from Laos on the Akuphone Label.

Link here. And thanks Laurent for the awesome picture!

Took a break from PopMatters to spend a year working on my biography of Alfred Raquez, which is nearly done. Keep tuned for more updates about that!


Robert Pearce profile in Indonesia Expat

Robert Pearce, an excellent artist and good friend, has an excellent profile in Indonesia Expat, our local freebie newspaper in Jakarta.

Rob works in mixed-media, especially paper and paint and photography, and his beautiful work, inspired by his long experience of Indonesian culture and landscape, is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Check out the profile here:

Check out Rob’s work here:



For NRSD, vinyl re-issue of Singapore A-Go-Go!!!

Wow! Way back in 2009 I worked with the good folks at Sublime Frequencies on a CD of 1960s Singapore pop based on my own record collection. I did the research, the interviews, and wrote the liner notes.

Now, nearly a decade later, Sublime Frequencies is RE-ISSUING A VINYL PRESSING for National Record Store Day in USA, April 21.

Is this totally awesome?

Yes, yes it is.

Buy it here in MP3 or wait a week and buy it in luscious vibrant VINYL.


Retronesia brings back the Jengki hits

I’ve mentioned by pal Tariq Khalil  before, and now his work is for sale in a beautiful collection of photographs of so-called Jengki architecture of mid-century Indonesia. Part American Googie, part tropical modern, and 100% Indonesia’s signature blend of mashed-up influences, Jengki is a wonderfully playful style that is fast disappearing under the sprawl of our late population explostion/hyper-consumer global civilization. Tariq’s book goes far in bringing attention to this long negelcted style and documenting valuable examples before its too late.

Check out the interview he gave to then buy this wonderful collection!

Pink Pills

For malaise in women of a certain age…

(from 1901 French newspaper advert)


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