Friday, September 18, 2009


MORAL TALE: Playwright Marco Calvani IMMORAL TAIL: Socialite Paris Hilton

No Pizzas for the Upper Crust

IT SEEMS that all may not be well out there in Dreams of Empire Land, aka the Canggu Club. The newly opened Trattoria pizzeria there has closed. Its prominent sign has gone from in front of the club, in a significant break with Bali tradition: the island is littered with direction signs to many deceased outlets of the White Elephant franchise network.
Trattoria does well enough in Jl Oberoi in Seminyak and elsewhere in Indonesia. It is also in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. But perhaps pizza is not the munch de jour of the favoured limelighters who frequent – though in decreasing numbers it seems – the exclusive grounds of the club.
It remains a mystery why the club was established in the first place. It offers Bali-based expatriates the opportunity to pay thousands of dollars to drink or dine – which they pay for anyway – with other expats.
Most foreigners here sensibly prefer to make friends among the local population. Bali is never going to be “New Empire” Rodeo Drive (thank goodness) and night deservedly fell on the old empires a little while ago now.
The club has a swimming pool and a fitness centre. But most of the plusher expats already have swimming pools at their own pads and the workout market is not overly strong here, given that a walk or the beach – or a jog if you must – is easily available.
It is, of course, co-located with the Canggu Community School, whose students use the club and playing field. Perhaps being overrun by unruly juniors is deemed deleterious to the sensibilities of the equally badly behaved grown-ups who are supposed to foregather in the vicinity for fun and frivolity of adult design.
The Canggu area is being rapidly built out. Oddly, therefore, the Canggu Deli, which opened around a year ago and with a restaurant (The Loop) beside it, is hardly ever overrun with patrons.
Can it be that people who live in the area prefer the more eclectic delights of Seminyak, just a short drive away?

Wizened Olive, Anyone?

IT’S AN odd thought that the martini should need an ode to it. It’s a pleasant enough kick in the butt, if that’s what you need, but vastly overplayed as an attraction. James Bond is to blame. He horribly misused that cocktail – and drowned far too many wizened olives on sticks – in pursuit of blondes, brunettes and Russian spies.
But never mind. A martini can make for a good party – just ask James – and good parties are desirable, even if the blondes and brunettes can be less so and the Russian spies nowadays are completely absent, having been replaced by the Russian mafia.
One particular martini party coming up soon – appropriately it is hosted by the Martini Appreciation Society – is the Ode to a Martini at Naughty Nuri’s in Ubud on October 9. The gig is associated with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and is free (apart from the martinis). Organisers promise a lethal line-up of poets and authors with late-night readings of the x-rated kind to honour one of Nuri’s iconic and most potent cocktails.
The Diary is still deciding whether it would be wise to go. The event’s Facebook page already lists some of Bali’s most febrile party-persons as attending.
Of course, if you can’t stand martinis (or turn a nastily contrasting pink at x-rated readings) you definitely shouldn’t go. But if that’s the case, you could instead try one of the three free play-readings on offer, or really break out and make it to all three of them. The Diary’s pick of the trio would be the October 10 reading of Marco Calvani’s The City Beneath, which examines the collapse of morality in the west – that itself is enough to drive you to drink – and is directed by the playwright himself.
That fellow who has nailed himself to the floor of the Bali scene (he’s such a fixture, you see), Jack Daniels, is on the reading panel too.
You can find all the details on UWRF 2009 (Oct. 7-11) at

It’s Party Time

GOSH, a year goes by quickly when you set your clock by the Kuta Karnival. The next one is upon us already. It starts tomorrow (Sept. 19) and offers a variety of colourful and noisy occasions until Sept. 27.
Led by the Kuta Small Business Association, the communities of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, and Bali and Indonesia in general, have again come together to show they care and to contribute to world peace. This is the seventh such event, which began as a response to the 2002 bombings.
Activities are centred on Kuta Beach and include tomorrow’s opening ceremony, a kites festival (also tomorrow), the traditional sunset dance nightly, a bartender competition organised by the Bali Hotels Association on Sept. 23, “Arja Muani” presented by Surfer Girl on Sept. 24, the Bali Food Festival on Sept. 25-27, and much else besides.
The traditional closing ceremony and parade on Sept. 27 will clog the streets as usual.

An Embuggerance

THE fact that the vacuous Paris Hilton is said to be a socialite, reality TV star and a retailing phenomenon says a lot less about her – appropriately enough; the less said the better – than it does about the poverty of mind that now afflicts western civilisation.
The related fact, that her twittering has gained entry to the latest edition of the Oxford Book of Quotations, says a lot else. It chiefly says that the commercial imprints still permitted to use the moniker of what was once perhaps the Anglosphere’s greatest university – sorry Cambridge – have themselves become vacuities.
Ms Hilton may be a socialite – this classification of space-wasters has always been self-elected anyway – but she is not a reality TV star (the term is an oxymoron). And if she a retailing phenomenon, that’s because the consumer society, that western bane, is based on the principle that idiots will buy anything if winked at by something blonde and monosyllabic, and in a short enough skirt.
Her winning quote, now given the reward of association with printer’s ink in a publication that should know better, is: “Dress cute wherever you go – life is too short to blend in.” That’s it in a nutshell (or possibly a G-string). It’s ungrammatical, trite, wanton in the real sense of the term, and ... well, pathetic.
The British author Terry Pratchett also makes the new edition, with a useful word he uses to describe Alzheimer’s disease, from which he suffers. It is “embuggerance”. Now there’s word with great utility. It should be applied to Ms Hilton and many other empty vessels.

Giggle Monster

THE Australian actor Eric Bana started off in comedy before moving off to create mayhem in a series of firmly forgettable Hollywood action films – but now he has returned to his roots in Funny People, the latest movie by director Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up). It opened nationally in Australian cinemas last weekend.
It’s about a group of stand-up comedians. And apparently Bana found it such a laugh on the set that he earned a nickname: the Giggle Monster.
Bana is a favourite of The Diary. But less for his acting – although he’s good – than for his lifelong barracking for St Kilda in the Australian Football League. It’s nice to share the hope – they say it springs eternal – that despite the record of the past 43 years, the Saints will win a premiership. This could be the year. They play the Western Bulldogs tonight in the first preliminary final.

Snuggle Up

BRITISH researchers, well known to be killjoys, have come up with the suggestion that to get a good night’s sleep you should slumber in your own bed. They say that the sharing thing can be bad for you because of snoring, kicking and cover-hogging.
That might be the case in beds designed for one (we all remember our student days), but as that tuneful observer of social mores, Billy Joel, once noted in song, sooner or later you sleep in your own space anyway.
In Bali, one benefit of villa living – even in a modest villa – is that the beds tend to be really big. So you can snuggle up and sleep alone: truly the best of both worlds.
HECTOR'S DIARY appears, as Scratchings, in the print edition of The Bali Times every Friday and on the newspaper's website at each Monday.


  1. On behalf of the Martini Appreciation Society, I have to say thak you very much for mentioning the Ode to the Martini Event at Nuri's. Sadly, however, we cannot take credit for it -- all the credit goes to the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. Hope to see you there. (Oh, and if you are interested in becoming a member of the Martini Appreciation Society, please join us over on Facebook...)