Smoke and mirrors in the heart of Jakarta

Banks, embassies, endless errands. Hot, sweaty, dirty, contact lens problems — Jak ain’t always pretty. But if you happen to fly over the Casablanca-Sudirman flyover on a motorbike, look down and left . . .


That’s a Jimmy Dharmadi photo of Sampoerna Strategic Centre, the heart of the education philanthropy that kreteks built. Truly, a sight for sore eyes. And it reminds me of the Joos song, “Dallas”:

How did you turn a billion steers

into buildings made of mirrors

J Globe’s editorial today notes the US kretek ban and gets into chocolate/cherry “trainer cigarettes” and Indonesia’s “diplomatic ire.” A separate article hits the methol loophole.

Pak Sampoerna recently sold out to Phillip Morris, laundered his sooty ass, and we’re told the Centre (building by Pei Cobb Freed, mirrors by Sampoerna) is behind 32,000 scholarships for poor kids.

Meanwhile, David Berman has quit singing, apparently because his dad, Richard (believed to be the “inspiration” behind the lobbyist in Thanks for Smoking) is a union-busting, tobacco-lobbying, “human molestor.”

Does good come from bad? I mean, if he weren’t that kind of Dick, would his kid still write lyrics (same song) like:

Once you taste the geometry of a church in a cul-de-sac,

you’re gonna want to sit with the bad kids in the back


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  1. Pingback: Silver Jews & Expat Blues « Instant Expat

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