First stop on my trip of family reconciliation is to the house in Bangkok of an Israeli pornographer. Or internet entrepreneur. Or millionaire. My brother who is his friend and occasional employee admires his acumen, his finding the way, the trick discovering huge economies of scale, establishing a monopoly that executed with application will rain down the money. That all this is with pornography not produced by him, but drawn out of nowhere into the internet vortex created by genius, makes it comfortably distant.
I've just got off the plane from Los Angeles. Half brother not seen for 17 years meets me at the airport, tells me our first stop will be to the house of his Israeli friend, living in Thailand establishing residency to avoid paying his country's taxes. He has the distinction of living in apartment that has a balcony swimming pool high up in the sky.
Brother introduces me. The Israeli can't get over the fact that it was true after all, my Asian appearing brother was half Jewish, there were out there many of us Jewish brothers. After a short conversation, the Israeli sums me up as a spiritual sort of guy, an intellectual, and says there's room in the world for people like me too. Everything is not about money. I ask him if he thinks there's anything wrong with his making money from pornography.
Why? It's a choice, he answers. No one forces anyone to watch it, or to make it. In my weeks in Thailand I would hear this a lot when I asked about the seemingly ever-present prostitution.
I mention an Italian watch dealer I knew in Budapest, an afficionado of prostitutes, who told me he believed the girls liked him, enjoyed themselves. The Israeli says I am wrong to be skeptical, the girls in Thailand like him, he knows it. They'd like me too, I have come to the right place, after, so he's heard, leaving my wife behind in Los Angeles.
Witnessing such delusion is enough to make me adopt Buddhism, the other national religion.
We talk about my wife briefly. I mention anti-Semitism in her country Hungary. I have just read something in Fitzgerald's Beautiful and the Damned:
Down in a tall busy street he read a dozen Jewish names on a line of stores; in the door of each stood a dark little man watching the passers from intent eyes--eyes gleaming with suspicion, with pride, with clarity, with cupidity, with comprehension. New York--he could not dissociate it now from the slow, upward creep of this people--the little stores, growing, expanding, consolidating, moving, watched over with hawk's eyes and a bee's attention to detail--they slathered out on all sides. It was impressive--in perspective it was tremendous.
Slathered out on all sides: a good description of the world wide web of pornography.
The Israeli has young children, his wife publishes a magazine for expatriate mothers. He takes his little girl on his lap, she asks him when Santa is coming. There's no Santa, he says. Yes there is, she insists. No, no Santa. There is! There is! There is!
Better she learns early, he explains to us.