Category Archives: Crime fiction and film from Laos

Dishing up Pulp Curry in a new way: why I am starting a Substack newsletter

After much thought I have decided that to experiment with moving the focus of my blogging from this site to a new Pulp Curry Substack newsletter.

Why am I doing this?

The first post on this website appeared on July 2010 (about the incredibly underrated 1979 Australian heist film, Money Moversyou can read the post here). I’ve been writing on the site with varying frequency ever since (579 posts in all), and for the most part have enjoyed it immensely.

But for the last 12 or so months I just haven’t been feeling it – or getting the hits to make it seem worthwhile – and have started to wonder whether it’s worth continuing with the effort. Posting on a website has been starting to feel like the equivalent of trying to read a broadsheet newspaper in a crowded tram carriage, unwieldy and inconvenient.

And, thinking about it, I suspect the blog format is starting to get a bit stale for me and is actually now a brake on my posting more regularly.

I know that I’m no Robinson Crusoe in this regard. The majority of the blogs I used to follow have gradually fallen by the wayside, as people have moved on, grown weary of the effort, found other interests, adopted other means to get their message out, or, in some cases (gulp), died.… Read more

The most secret place on earth

Last week, Gen. Vang Pao, the key ally of the US during its ‘secret war’ in Laos in the 1960s and early 1970s, died in exile in California at the age of 81.

Vang Pao was only 31 when when recruited by the CIA in 1961 to command clandestine military operations against communist forces in Laos. Supported by American air power and funds generated through opium production, for the next two decades Vang Pao and elements of the Hmong community (significant numbers of Hmong also sided with the communist Pathet Lao) fought Vietnamese supported forces in Laos. When the US pulled out of Laos in 1975, Vang Pao, along with thousands of other Hmong, was resettled in the US.

The media coverage surrounding Vang Pao’s death has focused on his leadership role within the Hmong American community. Less has been said about his role in the ongoing insurgency waged by remnants of the Hmong insurgency still in Laos. This came to prominence in 2007, when US federal agents  arrested Vang Pao and ten others for allegedly planning to buy approximately US$10 million in illegal weapons for a planned violent, anti-government coup in Laos (the charges were dropped in 2009).

The following article is an interview with Marc Eberle, the maker of a fantastic documentary about the conflict in Laos, The Most Secret Place on Earth, which I did for the international news agency, Inter Press Service, in 2008.Read more