Monday, October 20, 2014

c.c. rider




















Composed by Serge. 
Arranged and orchestrated by Jean-Claude Vannier. 
Produced by Alain Hortu.

JANE BIRKIN: KAWASAKI from "Di Doo Dah" Fontana (6325 305) (France) 1973

Saturday, October 18, 2014

gimlet garden



THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE: KID'S GARDEN from "Spacegirl And Other Favorites" Candy Floss (CF009) (US) 1993

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

orange skies



Dr. E'weerd Yijji, allegedly, is a teacher of Asian Studies in South Carolina. Prior to this he lived in Bangladesh. Aside from studio collaborations with Mission of Burma and Volcano Suns, the good doctor has also forayed into occasional live performance with Sun City Girls.

This solo release, a vinyl issue on the One Tree imprint in 2007, was originally visited on the discerning listening public - a severely limited CDR run of 32 - through Feed and Seed Records one year previously.


ED YAZIJIAN: ORANGE SKY, BLACK CLOUDS from "Six Ways To Avoid the Evil Eye" One Tree (6WTATEE) (US) 2005/7
ED YAZIJIAN: ORANGE SKY (SLIGHT RETURN) from "Six Ways To Avoid the Evil Eye" One Tree (6WTATEE) (US) 2005/7


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

infected mushroom

He possessed a hacking cough. The kind of cough which cuts one off at the middle. Empties one's chest through the mouth and nose in gales which starve one's brain of oxygen until the head lights up like an open refrigerator.

Strings of phlegm hanging in ropes like green nets off the side of a boat.

A barking cough, on the other hand, while by no means less startling to those in the pink, lends something of an imposing character to the invalid. A suggestion of stately decrepitude which elevates the offender above the pitiful. A booming sovereignty to cow disapproving stares, or worse, wanton sneers of disgust.

This, sadly, was not the case.

His particular condition, then, reduced him to the level of the untouchable. The sneaking pariah stopped in its tracks by bout after bout of cacophonous disability. A ringing of ears. A wringing of hands.

Mouths falling open. Aghast. Enraged.

Hither and thither he slunk, mortified, waiting to be casually beaten to death. Or arrested, at the very least. And beaten to a pulp he no doubt would have been, were it not for the very real potential for contagion. Infection leaping from host to host as a leprous spore.

And at his toilet he simply cowered, smote with the stench of latrines. Pricked like a balloon on the precipice.

Deflated. Burst. Anointed.


DR. STANISLAV GROF: WHY IS EVIL IN THE WORLD ? from "Instant Insanity Drugs Collective: The Trip Receptacles" KPFA | Berkley (US)
TERENCE MCKENNA'S RETRO TIME VIRUS • SASHA ON KETAMINE: YOU'VE GOT ESCHATOLOGICAL FEVER from "Instant Insanity Drugs Collective: The Trip Receptacles" KPFA | Berkley (US)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

a good kid

Before he met with his aneurism, I came across him at the foot of our stairwell. Seventeen years old and me already feeling the strains of something more rusty than middle age.

My forearms ached from setting down the garbage sacks. The skin of my knuckles lit red from the concrete. The steel of the bins.

Fit as a pit bull under his hooded vest, he greeted me politely enough. Weaved away to sit in the rain. I sensed he had been crying, had gathered himself momentarily, and I could think of nothing comforting to say.

Cold rivets rolled down his bare chest to puddle in his navel. The balls of both fists pressed tight to his skull.
All right, I said.
Halfway to a question.

I paused for a second before starting back up the stair. Unsettled. Awkward. Him only a year or two older than my own son. Intimidated by the sight of him sobbing like a welterweight condemned to take a fall; aggrieved by my inability to engage him.

There was plentiful cause for demons. He had had a rougher childhood than most, I knew. But I was unaware then of the physical pressures inside his head. The scrabbling and clawing which would leave him for dead less than two weeks later.

Passed out in his sleep, a blunt between his teeth maybe.

Even now, I wish I might have said something beyond the banal.

The kid was okay.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

norfolk court

The air in the narrows
makes tidy museum pieces
of rotten fruit, spilled fluids.
Oldenberg. Jackson Pollock.
Shriveler's Block.

The smell is not pronounced
but stutters, pops
like yellow buttons on
Mickey Mouse's pants

Close to the floor
emptied
flat as a foundling floor show
unable to flee

Even the paint on the wall
reminds one of spoiled flesh
traumatised, distressed
Halitosis. Piss.

J.K. Rawling on a bad day
beset by dowts
crowsfeet on linoleum

All the wizards are dead
There is no turning the corner.





Sunday, September 28, 2014

half a sermon | pearls before

Last week I found a bristle growing out of my ear. Standing straight on top of it, where it might taper up and out. If one were a pig. It must have been two inches long. The barber - an unfeasibly sweet young woman - had missed it. Or left it there to make a point.

This, and the missing front tooth between two yellowed tusks. And the hair one more porcine reminder on the slab of my neck. I am too tired for this shit, the wallowing in it.

Too old to be a father, maybe, to an energetic tangle of limbs and questions at three and two thirds. That preoccupation with building and taking apart. The indefatigable urge to deconstruct.

And I can't pass a charity shop these days without snuffling after leather. Stretched blistered hides. Uneven aprons, creased and smoked like ripe aged cheeses. It is unflattering, this reaching out for thrice shed skins, it would be better to be a snake. To be born anew.

A damn sight cheaper too. Than hurling coins in the fountain.

Waiting for those licensing hours to coincide that I might up and leave for the chop.

But that is what I quicken for. The wait. Counting out cigarettes between one empty bottle and the impoverished thirst to start from scratch. To bathe under citrus slants. To conjure up jibes from dry heaves all through Autumn.

Time, please. Fares.

Shuttling back and forth between the pointless and the unnecessary. Gnawing on pork scratchings.

Marinating.

Well. Bukowski, it is said, advised to do nothing. Step out and kill it only when it pauses on the pedestrian crossing. Just what it is, is another matter. A lot of innocent jaywalkers have been dragged under the bus. Still, it is better not to be overly cautious when trying to really nail it.

So they did for that Nazarene kid. Twice over, at least.

They got him in the end.

And rolling away the stone, of course, all that was left was a jigsaw puzzle. A Luger and two dice. A Maltese cross. A hot cross bun.

Those Nazi fucking swine never even tried to cover their tracks, you know. They were adept in the art of slaying it. Goose-stepping, genuflecting sons of bitches. Proficient at it, even now.

Of course, at this point I am one third through an agreeable enough bottle of Colombard Sauvignon. Quite too pale to pass for blood. Last night I dreamt of Mexican drug cartels. La Regla de Lukumi. Machetes.

I have a tendency to scarf down anything heaped upon my plate.

It's time to make like Richard Clayderman, brothers and sisters, while the gentry buckles up for war.


JAMES BROWN: GET UP (I FEEL LIKE BEING A) SEX MACHINE (PARTS 1 & 2) from "PROMO" 45 [King (6318)] 1970 (US)
JAMES BROWN: SUPER BAD (PARTS 1 & 2) from "PROMO" 45 [King (6329)] 1970 (US)
JAMES BROWN: GET UP OFFA THAT THING from "GET UP OFFA THAT THING" 45 [Polydor (14326)] 1976 (US)

Friday, September 19, 2014

no uk' in ukelele


And so, it was fear.

Of the unknown. Rebuke. Siblings. A hesitancy to wander too far outwith the chalked silence, in the end.

Of smudging perameters and upsetting tarts.

There was a coffee stain on my polling card. It reminded me of home. Even as I stepped in to the booth, I knew it must end badly.

I put my cross in the box and waited for someone to shout, no.



Performed by Cayce Lindner, Glenn Donaldson, Shayde Sartin.

FLYING CANYON: DOWN TO SUMMER from "Flying Canyon" LP [Soft Abuse (SAB016)] 2006 (US)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

93.33% clarity

Engineered by Mike Ross. Produced by Cyril Smith, Mervyn Conn. 
Strings arranged by Keith Mansfield.

THE PEDDLERS: ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER from "Three in a Cell" LP [CBS (CBS 63411)] 1968 (UK)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

careful with that acke, esbjörn

Recorded at Studio Decibel 1971 by Torbjörn Falk.
Macbeth is introduced headlong to the Underworld, by way of The Third Ear Mage.
Acid Aromatics, Floyd Fondants and pure Lysergic Drops.


ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD: TWO HOURS OVER TWO BLUE MOUNTAINS WITH A CUCKOO ON EACH SIDE, OF THE HOURS ...THAT IS from "Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden" LP [silence (SRS 4611)] 1972 (SWEDEN)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

santa, butcher ii

They leave the tree out on the pavement. One January. Well. They leave it lying there until the weather turns for the better. Bringing flies and aphids. Ants.

Those needles go marching. One by one.

So one fine day in August I notice they have finally gotten round to lifting it. To be dropped in landfill at last. Odd, I feel, that its sudden absence bothers me more acutely than its amputation.

When the madness is fast upon me I follow the angle of it. Hacked-out root to naked prow. It seems to point straight at a basement flat I lived in thirty years ago. On the other side of the street. Painted lorry tyres, planters, nursing chrysanthemums where once there was nothing but dog leavings in front of the little window poking up from its recess.

A coincidence, granted, but it makes me start.

Each time I pass that tree I pause to look at the ogre's door. Incredulous I ever held a key to it. Vigilant. On the prowl for workshy elves. A lurking goblin.

Or Richard Dadd. Hyde to every passing Sikh.

I come awake in the middle of the night - this morning - on a memory so tangible I can smell it. It is Christmas 1966 or 7, and I am with my mother in a shop in Glasgow. The bell rings over the door and the heat is on us. An odour of tissue paper. Sawdust. There is a sentence of words strung together like parcels tied with string that is somehow important, but even if I could remember it I don't suppose I would write it down.

It is not for sharing, perhaps, or it would mean nothing to you if I could. My father is not there with us. But he is close by. The man behind the shop counter is bored but feigns interest.

My father died long before my sons were conceived. Like his own father before I came into this world. Bloody but mute.

I  stand there, count five, waiting for something to happen. All the while listening to whispers behind drawn curtains. The kind of whispering which marks one as a nut.

Months later, a year perhaps, I stop again and say to my three-year-old son,

See. Daddy used to live in that house. A long time ago. Isn't that strange ?

My son looks at me as if I am still crazy. Pointing at the green door right beside it, deadly in earnest.

Well. A long time ago, when I was very old. I used to live there.

I look at him. He is not joking. One eyebrow raised, daring me to contradict him. Just like his mother. Brother. Me. Just like history repeating itself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

genre fiasco | fear of psycho


I am hurtling past rooftops, chimneys in the company of Jesco White, Hasil Adkins - heads lolling, spooling drool - when we hit a fork in the path ahead. A box elder stump with a 7 ½ lb axe embedded straight through its knotted heart.

Spitting feathers. Gravy. Entrails.

The ghost of last night's Chicken Pathia.

Well. I just about piss myself when White hops up on that bleeding peg and proceeds to dance. Flat foot, bounce and shuffle; the soles on both stockings kicking up a frightful mess.

I fall back in a stupor. Painted soapbox listing in the ditch with its left door hanging. The antenna bent. Beyond repair. The radio pushing in and out.

Adkins sets to cackling.

This is it. There is nothing between the floors in my skull. The soundproofing is so abysmal you can hear a carpet beetle fart in those unoccupied rooms upstairs.

Well. Let me tell you this, cowboy. If you have have a problem with me, bring it on. Come on over here and I'll jam my foot right up your motherfucking ass, you pansy jackass Roy Rogers wannabe.

Got something to say ? No ? Well, shut your fuckin' mouth. Someone has stopped taking their medication, and that someone isn't me.

That unhinged sound again. A scraping set loose among the shavings. A scrabbling on shit pocked corrugated tin.

When I come to they are gone.

There is a disembodied whistling. A beating of pygmy breasts back there only.

I jump down in the ditch and make a decision to strangle the gospel on the vine.

The spirit is wasted and my stomach is hurting. I sit the bottle on the tree stump. Vomit in the ditch until my gut is emptied too. My eyes smart. Bulge like yolks pricked on a plastic fork. I find a half smoked cigarette in my pocket and smoke it down, glad for that. I can feel an insect, some kind of fly, lapping at the sweat between my neck and shoulder.

A truce then. I have no heart to swat at it. Chase it away.

A vehicle passes on the way to somewhere else. It smells of farm. A smear of a face peering out at me. Two raisins jammed in a sullen tray of lard. A tongue like a dog. I fold my chin on my knees. Make the hair in front tumble low as a wing.

Move along. There is nothing to see.

Well. Twenty minutes or of this and I am ready to straighten out.

I climb back down in the ditch, pop the trunk, and the girl is pretty much as I left her.

Hair the colour of yard leaves, rust, the skin of arms and legs dusted with freckles. A mole, a birthmark flowering, above the bunched up panties. The flesh so pale it is almost blue, and with the sky beginning to bruise it is hard to tell if she is still breathing.

I listen to a crow sing on the wire running overhead and stab her with the kitchen knife - that taut space at the back of the knees - and the body flinches. Just a little. Enough. She moans. Into the parcel tape wound all the way around, twice. Three times. Maybe I ought to loosen it. Rip it away. Let the murmuring flutter up.

What's that ? I can't make you out, what with all this quiet.

The blade on the knife is bloodied from earlier. A preliminary carving. The blood is not red, not even where it coagulates, it is dark. Muddied. The colour of split bark. Caramelised onion.

Juices sweating in a skillet.

I am very tired. And the ride can not be salvaged.

It is not too far, I don't think, to make it on foot. When I am done. If I am considerably more cautious than I have been up to this point, let's face it.

If I make it home in one piece, I promise to avail myself of healing. Maybe splash a little water in that cup of gin.

Some Quinton Claunch. Bill Cantrell. No more hot dogs.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

last of the degenerates


Throb. His jaw aches.

The tooth - lower eleven, molar - threatens to shear off with every jarring step. Has been this way since Pablo left the flat, in fact.

From the moment he obliterated the denier illusion on a slice so sweet it felt like a kiss.

Pablo scratches his nose. Tugs on one earlobe.

Too many electric pulses. Tight smiles in mouths resembling c-section scars; neatly packaged astringents that leave a stain on the eye.

He dimly recalls the climax. If one may call it that. Drooling over his shirt and onto the carpet while the sparks crackled and blew on the severed cable. The last six inches or so still coupled to the wall socket like an umbilical cord as he held his breath and waited to die. Good thing he couldn't scream.

He thought of the air terminal. Turbines in his head. Leather wings.

Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been two years since I last wrote a word.

Uncertain of what is expected of him, he stands dejected and simply gazes at the blank screen for long seconds thereafter. Terrified lest it wink back and hold him there forever, black Lazarus of la-la-land.

A Persian taking a piss.

He definitely remembers choking back the bile as he fumbles the torn sheet over it and leaves it at that. Thinks of mouldering corpses as he dresses it. Solid state soulless. Antique. Grisly unplumbed in that corner of his living space.

The vomit came then in rich velvet waves. Unpinning his head on a corkscrew turn. Keeping him retching when there is nothing more than the viscous puddle drying between his knees.

It's late.

Pablo only realizes how dark it's grown when he collides with the humped back of one of several cripples lining the kerb over from the laundry.

Cunt.

Cheap wine over the shoulder. Where a girl might string a purse.

Pablo checks the tooth is still intact.

Where the crowns have worked loose on the upper rows, he has taken to using fixative intended for dentures. Cheaper than a visit to the dentist. Less untidy than fighting multiple extractions.

He quickly backs away. Is jostled off the pavement.

Wanker.

He is unaccustomed to conversation. The anxiety over words tumbling after teeth.

If he was ever adequately schooled in it, Pablo Dillinger has forgotten how to dance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

gangsters, recapping


Blame it on Tillie. The Pep Boys.

A refugee from Asbury Park. Retired. Residing in the armpit of a tattooed driver in Santa Rosa.

Or Dr. Josef Mengele. On vacation by the sea.

I have not written a word while under the influence of lysergic acid diethylamide for quite some time. Since I was, twice, beaten so severely that the nerves down one half of my face have never healed. I have not written a word for close to two years. Nor worked with pen and ink for ten uninterrupted hours, the psilocybin pumping up from where my feet are rooted to the floor.

I don't know why I mention this. It does little to intrigue me.

I wake up. Plug straight into the mainframe. I do not light a cigarette. I do not plumb in the kettle or fill my little china cup to the brim.

I check my mail. The sort which does not drop through the letterbox in a brown envelope marked, "this is not a circular". I huff and puff and hum along to the white collar noise of fans starting up.

I startle the mouse and stroke some keys.

Make light of these chores with my son, Milo still safely tucked up in bed.

Millport is a tiny island anchored off the coast. Thirty miles from my front door, give or take. A grassy pimple the approximate size of Alkatraz.

A retreat, like the more up market Rothesay, for gangsters and bicycle enthusiasts.

I have a tea towel with a heart shaped map of San Francisco printed on it, a wedding gift, hanging on my kitchen wall. I have a more concise understanding of its topography than I do my native burgh.

I type.

You can cycle right round it in a couple of hours or less, I am told. They had a little fairground with bumper cars then; the dodgems, we call them here. I went on them one brisk Saturday night, the wind whipping at my collar. My hair a blindfold. I was the only child out there on the polished hardwood deck. The embarrassment was excruciating. I drove around in diminishing circles for the duration of my ticket, one song by Engelbert Humperdink on the tannoy, a string of lights reflected in the spectacles worn by my grandfather - my grandfmother too - their faces wracked with a kind of anxious telepathy as they watched me sailing round and round. Willing me to enjoy myself.

Later. We return to the guest house. My grandparents sit drinking whisky. Toasted by what may have been an open fire, the roaring houndstooth sports jacket. I do not remember if there was a working television in the lounge; if it was tuned to snow.

I remember my grandfather's face beginning to redden. His voice turning louder. Slurring. Lingering near the ceiling before drifting onto the hearth as cinders.

Monday, August 25, 2014

fucking with the impenetrable


Like Vachel Lindsay - bowler hat traveling under ice - she approaches me on the stair.

A complexion, too short in the kiln, the consistency of curdled cement: Django's second guitar, left out in the rain.

Two full strides to each one step. Fingers jabbing, red meat darting between bee-stung lips, to seek - pluck - at strings, where none remain full wound, less tuned. A nature acquainted with staves. Wayward notes. Two sails to the wind sheet music.

She comes to me on the stair. It's a wonder she does not lose her footing.

Smitten, like Lindsay, a lifetime of financial woe uncoiling to receive her. Throttle out all hope of comfort.

Still. Petitions must be mustered. Before they can be served.

Madam.

Cocksucker.
Promptly swallowing one fist.

And, backing off, I try not to look upon those ruined gums. The ring of pustules weeping on a giggle.

Where an indulged dolt like Crowley set out for higher peaks, thrashing at Sherpas, Vachel Lindsay - they say - peddled poetry on blistered foot between Kentucky and New Mexico. Drawing a line under it one December, Christmas 1931. Choking back a bottle of Lysol.

Despondent. In poor health from ministering to chronically depressed yokels.

I begin anew.

The world persists in turning. A little faster with each new year, and yet you do not seem one day older.

She curtseys. A tiny wizened monkey emerges from beneath her skirts. Chased by three white rats. Between the 6th and 7th tread where her bodice comes undone. A tangle of tails. A capriccio of dress pins on a pilfered pianola.

She comes at me on the stair. Just when I have made up my mind to make off with the silverware.

The right hand which ought to deliver wafers working, hard, inside a borrowed cassock. The faded maroon of the church choir's first eleven.

One more inconvenience.

Ah. But doctors may dabble in pastries each and every Sunday. A man of the cloth, on the other hand...

The rats come racing back up the stairs. Followed by the monkey. On crutches. All impediment preceded by an imperious erection wagging left and right. Twitching like a sceptre.

But, madam. Your pets are run amock.

Well, fuck, scowls she. My children will not be tethered.

All rats fragmenting in a tumble of confetti. And the monkey ascending the scaffold of her rags, tugging at her bustle. A checkered bandana tied about its brow; bellicose jockeying imp.

I cough. She simpers. The monkey shoots its load.

The dowager's nostrils quiver.

A tremor of snot escaping into the furrow carved out twixt drooping nose and lip. Bloodied at the edges.

I snatch the paper from her fist and call for an alter boy; a glowing virgin; begetter of contrition.

Her submission is quite blank, of course, no trace of ink within its margins.

We sigh. As did Vachel. Poor brother. When I felled him with the candlestick, left him to bleed out at the altar.

Someone fetch the plague doctor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

prism of cruelty



The madwoman's face reminds one more than a little of Antonin Artaud. Under a dyed black beehive.

After the teeth came out.

The Theatre of Cruelty has not been kind. Various assaults griddled one upon another like raw emotions uncongenially served.

She has this habit of proferring her middle finger. On which is perched a garnet set in yellow gold. There are some who stoop to kiss her ring.

There are always a few in any crowd.

We circle each other on the square like vultures. Sparring between cigarettes as only institutionalized lovers will. She tells me she drinks in the Saracen's Head. I look at her and see why some drink to forget.

After supper one evening she comes right out with it.

I don't believe you're a warrior monk. That vegetarian sham is just so much pish.

One eye glittering with malice, the other dry as a raisin. She has a point. A stiletto shank, a tongue.

No one has mentioned wars. Faith. A month of Sundays shy of gorging on beef has left me weak. I have no appetite left for a fight. No stamina to quarrel. I dig my arse into the bench and light a cigarette.

She looks at me and sneers.

I can see why she has so quickly risen through the ranks. Of the sedated. Sitting there like she has always been there.

in regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Erasmus might have been a queen. Here, he is just one more Napoleon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

pablo, king of the juice




Sunday is the cleanest time
for slipping through
picking at stitches, the damp
laundry of mourning sheets
an afternoon drizzle
High Tea and one last tipple.
 

Sunday does the dirty.
 

That first time
I was passing glass
one eye open
on a poorly fitted blind,
called on twice to step outdoors
usher in an ambulance
two undertakers
Noah's boys

           measuring the stairs.

All the bullfighters are pissed
gored
we never much cared for them
regardless
those rained on Spanish sketches,

Pablo was another matter.
 

A cold egg roll
a Sunday broadsheet, a tabloid
laid out on the dashboard.
 

10 years ironing out the grieving
a sparrow's courting
through one Sunday to the next
a constant dash of claret
propping up the Indian in his cups
the Japanese brush
and the ink this time scarcely dry
on unsized paper. 

What stole onto the pillow slip
a groan
a blotted stain the size of Sicily
spilled over the carpet incontinent.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

part 11: the odds on evens, the juice


Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the stairwell echoes with the whisper of melodica.

A scale of notes. Piping.

From 10PM through 5, the disinfected steps slump wetly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down cobalt blue, tubercular rails faintly trembling. A distempered cough nudging metallic wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

Your cat is a long time dead. Unrecognizable under sod. Its litter, lost or stolen.

Door to door.

Hello ?

The knuckles trailing go unanswered. The neighbours are evicted.

By 1AM the sirens falter. Subside. The hammers to the south bed down to a pulse. Pablo never sleeps. Not soundly. The quiet he inhabits is the space between sinew and socket. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream. The engineering nowhere so critical as the end result: chin to midriff, thickening to a river. What started out as an anonymous pouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

Hello ? Jesus fuck, it's cold out here.

The wheedling bleeds and grates like he'll never be done. Give in. Come. Die. Inside the canvas blind comes undone and flutters like a bat until you get off the sofa to rescue it. You tie it down because you can't abide the way the wind plucks at it with the windows already drawn.

It takes two or three attempts to do it right. The cigarette knocked across your face, sorely tempted you are to set it ablaze.

And the trains. Always the trains. Harassing late into the night. The bastard son of Ernest Borgnine.

Motherfucker. Cunt. Turn on the heat.

And, slow at first, hesitant, there comes a fitful pissing. On wheelbarrow. Tin roof. Crumbling sandstone lintel.

Under it a skin of gales.

We tumble as ash, smoke, past vast Georgian houses hugging avenue, circus, a puzzle of lanes.

Among those nursing homes and divided lets, an odour of squandered wealth persists: blackmail, jaundiced slants; under quarried flagstone and vans deploying fibre optic to the curb. Out of rookery and reclaimed wind.

Tunneling not with crooked sovereigns, but dog-eared subway tokens.

Friday, August 8, 2014

part 10: exorcismus


The afternoon sky in my window darkens every day about four.

The crows invite me to reconsider the uneven ground of our back lot. Undulating as over relics.

Two or three are already out there having dined early. Or breakfasted late.

Get out of Dodge, Pablo. Before they slip the cuffs on again.
But I sit in my room. And I smoke and I write. And I wish I could write that I bear you no ill will, but I can not.

And I think of you entertaining guests in our home. I imagine those visitors going through my things. Committing a hundred small uncharitable acts. Laughing in their wine.

And I should like to conjure up a storm. Something out of the fossil mouths of birds.

A prehistoric brooding beginning in the kitchen, say, a cupboard left ajar. Rattling preserves. Cutlery. Unwashed dishes. Standing in the sink.

A claw hammering on linoleum.

When we first fell upon each other you surrendered your key on on a tongue fastened on the roof of my mouth. I was bent on breaking and entering. Your toes curled when I snuck in through your basement window. Too much in haste to oil your catches.

Burgle me, you pleaded, quite beautiful in ambush. The long boned appetites of an ogress.

Spitting down the hall on the whirling hem of a go-go dancer. Upsetting coasters. Distressing appearances. Causing foul tempers to belch. Emerge.

Out. Out. Chasing out loiterers.

The only soul unruffled, my little son, safe in his pen. Clutching his elephant. Painted wooden wheels hurling sparks.

And, oh. Such a storm.

A crusading angel who folds, knots, the pretzel in my fist. Refuses to spare the soles of my feet. As I go marching in filthy socks. Begging for a match to burn it down. The inconvenience of a spouse breastfeeding swine, tickling bristled snouts with one long ring finger.

But the storm I conjure is not perfect. It does not compel you to run for cover. It does not ignite a firework in your pants.

Well. Such is my poverty in working magic twice removed.

When we fuck, in the aftermath of our coupling, I am plagued with insecurities. The sound of whittling.

The smell of wood shavings.

They scrabble up from between my legs. Blossom in my throat like cockroaches, deathwatch beetles.

And the crows are like flies. The hard buds on your breasts, candies. A priest might set a course by their swarming to deliver up last rites.

Your long winding sleeve. My impecunious anatomy, by comparison, is a blunt protrusion. Thrashed at by Sherpas travelling beneath sterile ice.

I want to throw you down on the bed and remove your leggings with my teeth.

But when it is done, when you have mined all roads meandering back, I refuse to go waving a scalpel.

Better to go bury all memory in a padlocked trunk. Load it on a ruptured trolley. Wheel it several miles to the bus station, one side bereaved and listing.

For this is where it terminates.

Between a police cone and a unicycle.

And the blood from the wounding refuses to scab. It snakes in coagulating tributaries joining at the elbow. Tiny black points when the gauze comes off.

And when it is done, papers are served, I will slouch into a stance and smoke three cigarettes. Buy a cup of coffee.

Watch people come and go, the seams on creased overcoats concealing destinations. Pablo, last of the degenerates.

And when the coffee has gone too, I will get up off my bench.

Inter what remains of a marriage in left luggage. Weighed down with charred silver chains.

part 9: scorpio rising


She rises late from bed, lidded irises chased by shadow. It is a little after 5PM.

You listen to hot needles rain down on her skin. From your stool in the kitchen. The sound of water hissing. Gurgling.

A spider walks over the simple meal you prepared for her while she was sleeping. You lift it on a fork. Conscious she will only pick at it, the smell and texture of cooked meat seems to repel her. She has no appetite.

You listen to her step out the shower and bind her head in a towel. You know her routine. She shaves her armpits with her husband's razor - your razor - you have not used it since the cuffs went on. She does not trouble her secret hairs but proceeds directly to her legs. Ankles. Calves. From there to the hall, the master bedroom.

Your son's bottle stands in a striped ceramic bowl. Near the open window which channels every whisper.

She enters the kitchen and lights a cigarette. Her back speaks to you so eloquently. The black strap of her bra unclasped, the damp coil of hair not quite aligned with her spine.

If there is anything left unsaid, neither of you can find the words.

The nurse's tunic hangs on the radiator where you have left it to dry.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

part 8: spike


Saturday. You revisit "Cain's Book".

Trocchi was in his mid-thirties, you have read, at the time of its completion. A relatively young man, still. Schooled in philosophy and the etiquette of parochial alliance.

One has the sense his embracing the spike, the spoon - its attendant reliance on facilitators - was just as rooted in the politic. The replacing of one narcissistic ritual with another.

Crows wheel. Make a racket.

Congregating on telephone wires. Consummating a primal urge to sound a warning bell. All the while picking at a union dashed against the rocks.

The caravan, its trousseau, is overtaken by Indians.

There is no sign of your fox out there. You've seen neither hide nor hair since that last time squatting. Tongue lolling while he excretes and sniffs his carefully laid festive turd.

Reminding you that everything turns to shit. Wily old bastard.

You are back where you started out four weeks ago. Painted into a corner. You need a good cut man. Someone to slice and dress just to to get you up off the fucking stool.

Inject a little insulin.

That thing with Trocchi.

The singular determination to avoid the consequences. Emotional fallout. You are naturally envious. In this he is spectacularly evasive, always gravitating to the simple mechanics of scoring. Proceeding directly to the hit.

Holding court in a lair in Sheridan Square, the cunt. Craftily fixing.

It is entirely as if he is still attending lectures, tutorials, in the thick of all this dodging. Engaging in a discourse with his mentor there.

The chemistry of alienation.

And all this time your wife continuing to dispense good care to the terminally wounded. Amputees marching helplessly in circles. Over toast soldiers and straight off the table.

Wiping shit off arses. Wrestling bodies into slings.

And you unreconciled in your beaten suede jacket. Riding the subway back and forth in a circle of her bidding too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

part 7: sunday morning


It is Sunday morning. Again.

What begins, innocuously enough, with coffee and cigarettes has me waving in coordinates less than one hour late later. Cell phone in hand. Leaning out over the geraniums on our balcony.

Irene, Irene. Turbulent of eye. Cruelly inflicting Category 3 damage in the Caribbean where she first dabbled in tearing down the house. Horrifying cosmonauts in perpetual orbit. Truck drivers from Campanario through West Virginia.

There is rain in the air. Bruised skies.

And the threat first nursed in her sulking retreat in a Latin safe quarter, silk knickers hand-stitched and waiting in a loft somewhere in Manhattan. Flushed north, west with the tourists. On across the Atlantic. Those sodden skirts whipping up a lather.

What's that ? I scream. No, no. Right I said. Turn right.

My wife hands me the baby and jumps down the stairs. She and our visitor miss each other by a couple of streets.

Take a fucking right and follow the avenue straight on down.

I windmill my arms and pace back and forth like Fidel on his mountain in 1957. Take our son inside and return to light a cigarette. It has been years since I have been close to a good cigar.

We meet up - our friend, my wife, her four-year-old daughter - and drink more coffee. Her little girl trips on the concrete and splits her knee. She does not blink an eye, but asks for pen and paper. Tires quickly of the scribbling and imprisons my tiny son in a pink chalk circle.

We listen to Cachao. Israel Lôpez. A little Miles.

I don't own a passport. I can't fake the moves. But I love to marvel at the women. The cars. Those tail fins. Radiator grills like the grins on circling barracuda; Myer Lansky's junkie cronies bedded down at the Hotel Nacional.

Hot-pants. Basketball vests. Ripe melons. Mojitos.

A ring of fingers spread along the Malecón.

Not quite 11:00 AM, my head is cloudy. Jammed full of trivia. Fatigued too easily.

Irene, Irene. She'll give you a slap still.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

part 6: dead beat defendant

EXTRACT: STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE

S38 (1) [FUC EWE 28 − 1]

The submission ought not to be regarded, by any means, as an admission of guilt. Neither is it an unburdening of mitigating circumstances.

My client contends that the preceding and following stand solely as a document. I would emphasize his determination, then, that it not be construed, either, as a plea for reconciliation. In short, it "is what it fucking is." Insomuch as, (it is) something no better or worse than   "idly doodling (noughts and crosses) while waiting for an aneurism."

part 5: interruptus


I press my nose into her belly and open my mouth. My nostrils filled with long dark hairs. Scented by musk. Damp not with arousal, but confinement. Her pants. Her jeans. Toil and walking.

I open my eyes and look up at her, over her pubis. Her head lolls faraway atop a pale mountain, the graceful pillar and tendons on her neck. The cool slab of one shoulder, folded blade turned away from me.

I open my eyes, then, and fasten my lips on the dark flesh of her cunt. No gentle cleft, but spilling from its canopy.

Sharp. Pungent. Confrontational.

A wound which has expelled three children, the long midnight sex which drew my seed. Alive with the sense of toughening.

I probe the entrance to it with my tongue. An exploratory nibble. Conscious of depths winding back through her cervix, into her womb.

The sweeping red wall of it.

The ticking of its pulse.

I tease out her clitoris and massage these folds which envelop it. Follow her labia down to where it sits on the arch of her buttocks. Caress its mended tear with all the tenderness I can muster. Her fingers on my left ear now, the gristle, as I turn to examine the stretchmark at the core of her thighs, the white scar of it there as long as I have known her.

Solitary. Almost abashed. Singular.

A fissure in the landscape of my map of her.

I open my mouth and drink of her. Wash my face in the river which springs from the heart of her. Listen to the rhythm of its current.

There is quiet here. Healing. A potency of volcanoes.

The potential to turn all to ash.

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, she will be gone. Taking our son with her, the son I would not let go. And my stepchildren are delighted, and my older son will miss his little brother. And my little son is too little to be perturbed.

So I sit at her well and I listen to the sound of her leaving.

Her pockets are steep to the strings of her coil. 


Monday, August 4, 2014

part 4: a knife, a fork, a spoon


I fall out of bed on the flat of both feet and weave to the bathroom. The Shaving Mirror. One glance is sufficient to identify a welter of mistimed feints. A jumble of standing counts lurking just beneath the tissue thin skin.

My eyes are ringed blue and black. The hair is an affront. I do not have the fortitude to peel back my lips to examine what remains of the gums.

I fill the kettle and leave it to boil. Forced to transfer water to it from an empty coffee jar. The sink is too shallow, its taps set too snug in its porcelain bowl, to do it directly.

The entire process reminds me of Necchi bailing out his scow, his barge, on that stretch of black ribbon between New Jersey and Coney Island. Several inches of bilge water lapping at the timbers, his kit packed neatly in a tin box on a string. Bobbing in the hold.

I sit on the bed and roll a cigarette.

It is three minutes past eight. Another morning, but this time I am summonsed.

Already I am hot under the collar of my favourite shirt. The colour of scorched jacket potatoes. The boiler is working again, intermittently since the front desk fixed it, a seizure during the night once more sending the temperature plummeting.

I crouch on the edge of the narrow bed and pull on the spastic chain inches from my shoulder. The blind flies up and rattles on the spindle fitted in the window. I look out. Watch a fox take a crap on the bed and breakfast's stricken back lot. Littered with felled trees from the storms, snow from an upended sugar pot.

Listen to a door slam and the creaking of the stair as the first tormented soul ventures down into the bowels of this ship for a cup of milky tea. A sliver of toast.

I rub my nose as the fox shivers up on its haunches.

The building has been besieged by an uncharacteristic calm all weekend. The tone deaf midnight singer has checked out. Two more ejected when prohibited paraphernalia is discovered by room service.

A crack-pipe on a bed. A stash of syringes behind a u-bend.

Anyone here will tell you.

You don't need fucking junkies ruining your Christmas.

Pupils contracted to the size of pinheads from his most recent hit. Irises the precise colour of pebbles paled and eroded by repeated body blows, the crashing Irish Sea, the constant movement of sand, peat. Weighing probabilities as he eyes my hands clenched in my pockets.

And through it all, yet, a New Year looming.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

part 3: pencil as scalpel

You're going to regret this.
What ?
You're going to regret this. I'm going to make you cry again.
What ?
Shut your fucking mouth, you prick.
Two hours a week.
Shut your fucking mouth.

Your clothes have not been machine washed in close to five weeks. You rinse your underpants in the shower, you scrub and scrub, and hot water rains down on your ochre aged body; but you dare not wash your socks.

The radiator in your mean little rented room is permanently cold to the touch. It is half way through December and you will never get them dried. Sick of constantly rotating your undergarments in the vague hope they might prove self-cleaning, you sneak out in this latest downpour and purchase the cheapest you can find.

Twelve pairs of stockings, like the days of Christmas, half as many boxers.

Room No. 6.

Scarcely big enough to accommodate a tangle of black thoughts; a worn pair of shoes drying too beneath a wash-hand basin, the brown nylon grip bleeding ropes of spoiled laundry when there is no space left behind jammed bureau drawers.

Ti jean's last dance in Big Sur cracked open on the bedsheets. Terminally crippled from a spinal injury. Slack jawed. Catching flies. Spitting bright red bubbles through the shredded pulp of a Florida orange.


Sitting barefoot in the middle of the floor, a sunlit rug browning in late afternoon, surrounded by lengths of copper tubing. Attaching paper notes to curling branches with surgical precision.

How do you like my emotion tree?

Wetting the gummed margin of a cigarette paper with your tongue.

It looks like it needs a Valium, doll.

So you fall back to the bed and try to count those dessicated insects entombed behind the glass ceiling shade. Fried there by the element tortured in the shape of a branding iron. Section 38. There are too many. Clusters of droppings where there once was fluttering.

Drawn there through the crack under the window on July's thermals. The air creeping there has long turned to ice.

Between hubcaps chasing trampolines down the street in 160mph winds to squirrels impaled on listing television antennae - more hurricanes, your son's first birthday, a quartered chicken smoking in the pan where you hide your head - you skulk in second hand bookstores when the subway is not flooded.

Looking to score.

"A writer of no literary consequence whatsoever."

Poor Alexander. The copy of "Young Adam" is decades removed from its first pressing. It is not, either, the book, that old acquaintance, you hankered after. The filmy jacket displays a women naked from the waist down. Submerged under water, legs splayed immodestly, an untidy parcel between her thighs spiraling up beneath a scrap of muslin.

She looks just like your wife, half drowned.

It is probably why you are drawn to it.

 

part 2: a knife and a fork

At which point does mere bickering simmer into something more heated? At which point do raised voices - agitated, rattling tea-cups - boil over into something actionable?

He said things. She said things.

He did not want her to leave with their baby.

He did not pause to consult a barometer, let alone measure degree.

She is present in court when I arrive for the hearing. 5'9" in stockinged feet. Arranged on a pedestal of sorts overlooked by the benches.

Two solicitors are engaged in a preliminary examination of the evidence. Peering up at her over the glittering rims of their glasses. Nodding at one another.

Whispering.

Unsettled by such close scrutiny, my wife raises one arm protectively. Covering her breasts. Since she is quite naked, save for knee length socks, the gesture prompts much chortling from the gallery.

The sheriff calls for order.

The younger of the two solicitors produces a set of tweezers from his waistcoat pocket as if bent on grooming his moustache. He wears a signet ring on his middle finger, lurid and yellow like something in a pawn shop window. A natural showman, he reaches out and teases a sprig of hair on her belly. Pincers it. Holds it aloft for his counterpart to appraise.

On the strength of an immediate assessment of one pubic strand's resistance to tensions, those existant special conditions of bail may or may not be removed.

I want to call out to her from the dock. But we are permitted no dialogue. I calculate the solicitor's brazenness to have caused a maximum of distress, to any reasonable person, but of course he is immune to all charges.

I remember my wife once arranging herself on unvarnished floorboards. Those long legs stretched out in front of her, sneakers and tights tossed under the sofa. Up to our ankles in winter.

You have beautiful feet.

What ?

Your feet. Are gorgeous. Beautiful.

The pocket-book allows me the luxury of revisiting the scene of the accident, all intersecting trajectories, but does not afford us protection.

 

part 1: out of a mouth, a dark crocus spills


Previously:


The consensus - propagated, largely, by a small tribe of transplanted New Yorkers: Myers, up to his elbows in mimeographed scribblings, the purpled stain of off-set litho; Hell, not Rimbaud, to Miller's Verlaine - was that the contagion spread exponentially from an infected locus on the Bowery. Between 1974 and 6. The Gorbals and Stonehenge. Via the tortured point of a safety-pin.

Conveniently bent to expose a path between (a) and (b).

Circumventing (c).

Evidence - memory, binary and mutating - suggests otherwise. That the virus first sprang up among those vacant lots littering America's Midwest. Where it would not be contained.

At times an addled spider, nesting veined and fractured tumors; at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent coalescing in cold blue flame. Licking out broken windows in downtown Cleveland. Igniting pockets screaming for change.

A tangle of words.

Jihadi. Pulchritude. Punk.

That its seeds may have been scattered by great squalls billowing up through the gulf. Ushered in from Kansas, the yellow brick threat of misdirected violence. Lying dormant. Awaiting excavation like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

2, 4, 5-T; 2, 4-D.

Leaking canisters of Rainbow Herbicide.

1000 genome clones transferred from acetate under 170 lbs per square inch of steam heated scrap iron. Its sum weight an exploratory craft set adrift, one hand pummeling on its rotten hull.

Waiting to catch a wind.

Well. Out of a mouth, a dark crocus emerges.

EXTRACT:

1) CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND LICENSING (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010 S38 (1) DOMESTIC

"The court granted bail and imposed the following conditions, namely, that the accused:

(aa) that breach of a condition imposed is an offence and renders the accused liable to arrest, prosecution and punishment under this act.

(g) that the accused does not approach or contact nor attempt to approach ____ ____ in any way.

(h) does not enter nor seek to enter _________ ____ or come within 100 yards of _________ ____. [sic]



Submission 1, Section 38 (1):

The fiscal submits that the accused did threaten, in a manner liable to cause distress and alarm to any reasonable person. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

shot to follow


ba. No nrg.  The soft cap does not erupt, ignite, less explode.

The parenthesis, (o), is an inexplicable blank. An empty chamber. An uncalibrated round of muted applause.

Not much has happened in the intervening years - psychosis; invalidity; crippling paranoia; sedation - but the churning underpins the explanation which one fears is inevitably demanded. Continuity.

There was a brief period of incarceration, stick it to me two times, I confess, but let's not infer anything incriminating beyond the merest suspicion of guilt. Less than one grain. Diluted twofold.

The first evolved over 48 hours at the close of 2011, my own Protex Blue. The second involved a short spell on a psychiatric ward some months later, but ended in my walking away too, nonetheless pursued, though I'm determinedly not about to begin fingering Blind Meloncholy. Washington, Jefferson, Nixon or a burned out Ford. A peanut harvester down on the farm.

My complexion is far too wan to properly pull it off.

I shed a lot of weight - identity too -  put it all back on in an instant. Consenting to medication. The cunting Procurator Fiscal tailed me relentlessly, would not let it sleep, but the courts found in my favour regardless. Not that their wigs are deserving of the merest thanks. A woeful tale of the indelible stain of an unwarranted Section 38. The rifled baggage of a marriage. Divorce.

The fiscal's representative nursed acne scars while I nursed an unspoken grievance. My own scars. The fuckers detained me but would not let me speak. With or without proper legal counsel.

And so. I'm back in black.

Rum and Coke, Rye and Coke, Brandy and Coke. The Aripiprazole without the coke.

I'm not being deliberately obtuse. Just a little soused.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9.11. dexter, sinister


On the subject of 9/11, I have little to say, save that I notice an elderly man across the street has planted American flags in his window. One large flag taped to the centre pane, two smaller ones either side.

The wound is too raw, even ten years on, the ceiling torn away so toweringly iconic, that it is difficult to reconcile trauma on the ground with repercussions rolling out from its epicentre.

I watched old footage of Bush, Jr on our television this morning. Bumbling toward some public play at catharsis. All sense of emotion evaded him then, I seem to remember, the human scale of things. Wide-eyed like a nodding imbecile in the classroom, he merely looked to have soiled himself.

New York City's mayor made a better job of mobilizing a response. Bill Clinton, stepping out of retirement. Dogshit and disgrace.

I was listening to the Ramones when flight 11 nose dived into the North Tower of the World Trade Center - 'Road to Ruin', I am not fabricating events - and I could not engage a pause. I sat and smoked a cigarette. The telephone rang. The word 'apocalyptic' is frequently misused, but the unfolding of the impossible seemed to resonate with biblical import. Twenty-two floors up, myself, small potatoes granted, I sat on my little wooden stool and braced myself for further impact; an explosion of concrete and glass.

Chicken Little, stripped to the bone.

I worried for my young son's safety - just three-years-old at the time - and decided there was nothing to be done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

poem for a stand up guy, in beer




I could not listen
for the scraping retort.
The
Cackling;
Hooting;
the explosive Guffaw,

Ears burning,
pricked by stitching,

Even the word
'Nipple'
Arousing raw heights
of inanity,
Spittled lips puckered
Wetly
in rows, front and back,

The spotlight trained
on
tired, spotted flesh,
Sticking
at the armpits,
Small beer, short shrift,

Arrivists in cashmere
Sweaters,
Hanging on each word.

Finally,
it is not the metal taste
of fear
which saws and stings -

the spoon,
the knife, the fork -

It is the copper ringing,
the dread
of the seasoned familiar,
The strings,
The posies,
The lantern jaw of the
wooden marionette in the
Shadow of a beard,
The singing of the crowd,
The flaccid chatter,

The monkey,
the organ, the grind.


I tossed out the above poem, listening to it rattle through my skull, between a supermarket trip and charging electricity to my key. Milo had been shrieking since 7 AM. There was no respite from his teething. Whingeing. He headbutted me twice, I think. He may have unplugged a tooth.


The last of the loosely presentable.

I was thinking on '
Hostage', recorded live at Redondo Beach in April, 1980; Jon's Trotskyite cronies in Echo Park, 1972, too consumed with politicking to peer over their noses long enough to register discomfit.

From a grandiose brownstone, to a pier on Venice Beach.

I don't know if you are familiar with '
Hostage'. It is all but insufferable. Charles Bukowski, it is alleged, detested public performance. The routine humiliation.

There is no sense in stepping in a prize stallion's shoes, it is remarked, unless one is prepared to break from the stalls at a gallop. Of course. Charles Bukowski studied form.

The odds, the skinny, shortfalls in rent.

Despite all this, he could not stomach the notion of pandering to the crowd. There is more joy, perhaps, in trudging pavements in the snow. I have tried that too. I have written of it in private correspondence.

Coming home from the night shift with one's arms three inches longer. Fingers torn and bloody from mail sacks fresh off the 3 AM flight. Falling straight into bed knowing Christmas is in the bag.

Well. The postman brings good news. A Trust here in Glasgow has agreed to finance a good part of my tuition fees. I am relieved. Ecstatic. That they have backed my horse before it is dragged off to the knacker's yard, that I have composed my mouth in one last gasp.

Allen Ginsberg famously courted the crowd. It was a good gig, while it lasted.

Such as it is, I am of a mind to visit a home recorded reading from New Orleans, Louisiana - of all places - from 1970, forty years and many ailing dogs ago.

Of course. I have not arrived. Not quite yet, I am not so addled, though the Merlot is back on the menu. The beer tucked away in our fridge.

It is a nod, to the living at least. As much a public nicety as I am capable of.



CHARLES BUKOWSKI: HAMMER AND LEASH from "King Of Poets" CD (Chinaski Records) 1997 (US / Germany)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

jock's away, in a manner of speaking























Oscar Wilde Brendan Behan Sean O'Casey George Bernard Shaw Samuel Beckett Eugene O'Neill Edna O'Brien Lawrence Stern Sean Kavanaugh Sean McCann Benedict Keilly Jimmy Hiney Frank O'Connor Catherine Rhine Russell Hoban Charles Bukowski William S. Burroughs Robert Stone...

Recorded by Ian Sommerville.

From a lecture given by WSB at
the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics,
Naropa Institute, April 20, 1976,
and Brion Gysin's Permutational Tape fragment,
BBC Studios, London, 1960.

Sans Big Jimmy Paterson on trombone.

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: ORIGIN AND THEORY OF THE TAPE CUT-UPS from "Break Through in a Grey Room " CD (Sub Rosa) 1994 (US/UK)
BRION GYSIN: RECALLING ALL ACTIVE AGENTS from "Break Through in a Grey Room " CD (Sub Rosa) 1994 (US/UK)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

4 million buys you shit























photograph by robert altman.


"It was cheap; cheap; cheap-uh," squealed Jonathan Richman at the age of 41, moved by the vaguely unclean spirit of Bubba-Ho-Tep. Mo Diddley. Blue Mask era Lewis Reed as dessicated hip priest. "Nowadays I hear the rents are steep."

I fell back on the futon, feigning a head cold. My wife busied herself in preparation of a Sunday morning expedition to the swimming pool. With our young son. My stepchildren. If I wasn't unspeakably selfish, I might never find the space to scribble.

Such is the routine loneliness - surliness - of the long distance sniveller.

I sheltered behind a paper shield. Saturday's edition of what was once a broadsheet.

Like everything else, it has diminished in stature somewhat.

"Mumbai's slums are being gentrified," writes their foreign correspondent, "as middle-class Indians... sell their flats in distant suburbs and purchase illegal shanties in the city's central areas."

Actually. It was the headline which glued my eye.

"'SLUMDOG' SHACKS SOAR IN PRICE AS COMMUTERS SWAP SUBURBS FOR CITY"

In a week which saw UK mobsters, RBS slapped with a writ issued in the US - for their part in the subprime confidence trick which all but crippled global faith in free market religion - India races one step farther in paying through the nose for a silk purse fashioned entirely out of a pig's ear. Stealing the show in staging a masterclass in the art of turning the other cheek.

In a country where it pays better to dabble in out-sourced customer 'service' from a US or European financed call centre, than to take the Hippocratic Oath, India's new wealth is defined by hard currency.

It is not immediately apparent just who is making a killing.

On the face of it, it is those people living in the heart of Mumbai's slums who stand to make a profit. Typically, investing in a slum dwelling may net the aspiring buyer a loss in straight 'trade'. A modest shanty in Sewri, for example, may fetch as much as "four million rupees". £50,000. The stench of human waste running freely in the gutter seals the deal; vermin openly feeding on untreated filth.

But as rents soar as a direct result, it is those families who settled there generations previously who are being squeezed out. To establish new illegal settlements in ever more harrowing no-go zones.

No schools. No community. Scant opportunity to make ends meet.

The scandal evolving, then, has less to do with the modern parable of playing pass the parcel with toxic securities than the age-old saga of slum landlords ruthlessly embracing token regeneration.

Lest one forgets. In the 1980s, the darkly comedic double act of Regan and Thatcher popularized the free market economy to a staggeringly gullible and avaricious electorate. Privatizing one industry after the other; peddling them back to the public at large in shrink-wrapped token stocks and shares.

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, not so much asleep as intoxicated at the wheel, were impervious to the consequences.

In such a climate, social housing was auctioned off with the rest of the family silver. Many individuals turned a tidy profit. Others inherited negative equity.

A lot of people spoke quite often of "collateral damage". Laughing all the way to the bank. A newly entrenched underclass - in Detroit, Glasgow, Manchester - took on the mantle of India's untouchables, and never shook it off.

House prices rocketed. Entire inner city areas, too, turned to shit.

Of course, there will always be a vocal element who stand to profit from shrouding the great illusion in still more smoke and mirrors. Mumbai, they will argue, is on the up. What's happening in Sewri, Dharavi, is indicative of India's commitment to eradicating poverty.

Really ? I think we've heard word to that effect numerous times before.

The Commonwealth Games village in Delhi dribbling sewage on the white hand stitched leather uppers of its athletes' Nike Airs, while government shoots for the moon. And an estimated £1 Billion in International Foreign Aid which still can not be accounted for. Not this side of Bollywood's space race.

Jonathan Richman tells it more entertainingly than I, sibling.

At some time in 1972 I guess he relocated to Venice Beach. In the company of David Robinson, Ernie Brooks and Jerry Harrison. The original Modern Lovers. 

On the heels of an east coast session for Warner Bros., recorded at Intermedia Studio in Boston, Massachussets, the group secured two demo sessions in LA; the first overseen by one John Cale. The Venice they encountered then might just have been invaded by surfers operating out of Dogtown, a seedier bay area on the south fin of Santa Monica.

In 1972, Jeff Ho, in partnership with Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk, founded Zephyr Surfboard Productions in the decrepit heart of Dogtown. Stecyk, a local artist, invested Ho's board designs with a delinquent edge informed by graffiti tags seen all over the street; wholly at odds with those saccharine airbrushed sunbursts washed up on Muscle Beach. In Dennis Wilson's beard.

Dogtown's surfers were hard core. Digging in and occupying an abandoned amusement park on the Pacific Ocean Park Pier - the P-O-P - midway between Venice Beach proper and their home turf back in Dogtown. The P-O-P was a dangerous spot to surf, seemingly teeming with rotting timber pilings, an Iwo Jima fought for and defended with dogged enthusiasm, it is alleged.

In 1972, too, polyurethane skateboard wheels emerged, and Dogtown's Zephyr crew slipped the leash, taking to the streets and sidewalks like punk Angels on a staggered run.

Zigzagginng as ferociously as hoodlum circus collies on rollerblades.

In 1972, this would have been a part of The Modern Lovers' Venice Beach. A part of the scene they stumbled into. Between the shabby rooming house inhabited briefly, and that studio session produced by Cale.

Who could have anticipated it ? 

Slumdog. Dogtown. Roadrunner, Once, Twice, Three Times.




JONATHAN RICHMAN: ROOMING HOUSE ON VENICE BEACH from "I, Jonathan" CD (Rounder) 1992 (US)

MUMBAI: PREVIOUSLY ON THE BLEACHERS