If you're on your way to make your first alcohol purchase of the day, alas, it's another dry day in the City of Angels. That's because there's an election today for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, or city council. In order to elect the highest calibre of politician, as usual there is an alcohol ban and if sobriety is indeed the reason we have these elected MPs, then I say let the Chang flow from my kitchen taps immediately.
Today 50 constituencies will vote for a group of MPs whose most discernible trait is the moment they are elected they go invisible. That's the opposite of how they are in the lead-up to voting day. Campaign billboards have sprouted up all along the road from my stately home in urban-chic Samut Prakan to downtown Bangkok, obliterating everything including stop signs and speed limits, not that anybody pays much attention to either in Samut Prakan.
Colourful billboards of hungry middle-aged Thais now smile, wai and wave at me from their rectangular perches from the side of the road. "Pick me!" they scream. "I'm not like the others!"
It's a race between the Democrats and Puea Thai and the new kid on the block, the New Politics Party. No need for party policies or platforms; basically whoever has the best billboard wins. As a foreigner I have no right to cast a vote, but after days of scrutinising these billboards I can at least report the winners of nine closely-fought categories.
Winner of the "What's With The Armpit Fetish" Award: New Politics Party.
Vote for us, because look at our armpits! They're so clean, and white, and aromatic and ... hairless! Decorum requires us to cover them up for the moment, but once elected we'll whip our shirts off and reveal them to you all! Voters with other fetishes such as feet, leather and/or hare lips are welcome, too!
Seriously, though, what is the New Politics Party doing looking so celebratory when they haven't even won yet? And look at poor little Natchaya, No17, whose next stop after this photo session was Siriraj Hospital to be treated for shoulder dislocation. For heaven's sakes, guys, let her down. She's dangling there.
Winner of the "Mormon Family Portrait" Award: The Democrats.
Over in Phayathai district the Democrats have a lovely seated portrait of their candidates:
At home I have a book called Seriously Bad Album Covers featuring a vocal band entitled "Country Church":
I don't want to stir up a hornet's nest here, but if I were the fat guy on the right I'd be instructing my lawyer to hop a plane for Bangkok to lodge a copyright infringement suit against those Phayathai Democrats. After a phone call to Jenny Craig, of course.
And speaking of Phayathai ...
Winner of the "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" Award: Tie between the Democrats and Puea Thai.
Don't these parties have an original idea in their head? No sooner did the Democrats' Mormon Tabernacle Choir pic adorn the Vibhavadi-Rangsit roadside, but those Puea Thais came out with an exact same model, as if the Democrat pic was somehow good:
Here they are side by side, as if simply to drive home their similarities:
All we need is Country Church in the middle and we have triplets!
Winner of the Unsightly Growth Award: Puea Thai.
Just what is that strange lump protruding from the top of Khun Pornpan's head ... and isn't it ingenious the way she's covered it up with her stylish hairdo?
Winner of the Double Exposure Award: The Democrats.
Look carefully at Khlong Toey's No3 Khun Koranit and her election poster. An attractive young woman in a pink top. Now cast your eyes left to the Sunsilk ad beside her and ... an attractive young woman in a pink top! Koranit! Are times that tough you have to moonlight for a shampoo company?
Winner of the Perfect Face Award: The Democrats.
"Oh, what's this in my Christmas stocking? A CD from Pantip Plaza entitled Photoshop. How exciting ... I must try it on my election poster in August. Look everybody! All my freckles, wrinkles and hair growing from unsightly facial moles have been erased!"
Trouble is, Khun Kamron, you now look like a 40-year-old kindergarten pupil, if you know what I mean. Bang Na politicians never looked this good.
Winner of the Evil Henchmen Award: The Puea Thai Party.
Khun Jane (a man) is running for Klong Toey under the red-shirt banner. You remember, don't you? The ones who set fire to Klong Toey last May 19? "My house is in Klong Toey" his posters proudly proclaim _ who's going to vote for a man happy to burn his own house down? Nevertheless, he looks like a friendly enough fellow in his election posters ... which is in direct contrast to his team, who resemble something out of a Mickey Spillane novel:
And one of them clearly has been spending too much time over at Khun Kamron's place:
The Tony Orlando And Dawn Award: New Politics Party.
Get Kamron to photoshop out those guys in the back, then add a breakout FEATURING THE HITS TIE A YELLOW RIBBON AND KNOCK THREE TIMES. The similarity is uncanny! And look ... little Natchaya has popped up again on the right! How are your shoulders, dear?
Don't leave the stage just yet, New Politics Party. Because we're about to announce the biggest prize of all.
The "I Know This Is Thailand But What Were They Thinking" Award: The New Politics Party.
We've all made mistakes in our lives, but some things go beyond common sense and start dangling their feet in the stupid pool. Here we are in 2010, and a brand new party emerges claiming to be the great white hope for Thai politics ... so what's with the swastika?
The best thing about these signs is that by 6pm tonight, they will be gone from our collective conscious.
And like their signs, the winning and losing candidates will disappear as of tomorrow, only to re-emerge like Brigadoon for a brief moment by the roadside in another four years. That's more than enough time for Khun Kamron to conquer Photoshop.