Wednesday, November 17, 2010

neville brand ate all the flies | the five gates to hell


"I'm a Buddhist. In case of an emergency call a Lama.”
- Col. Vincent Kane


The fly had been following the end of my brush for close to two days, flitting from room to room like a ball of lint on rotor blades.

I do not care for flies. Houseflies; blowflies; bluebottles. Calliphoridae. Like something decaying off the coast.

Where I might nudge a spider gently on its way - to scuttle under the bed, or abseil behind a door - I have little patience for the fly. The karmic goodwill runs thin. The stingiest dribble of undercoat.

So. After experimenting overnight with a dose of Quick Dry Satin - the ninth configuration of synthetic finishes - I observed enough shredding around the jambs to prompt me to opt instead for an oil-based eggshell. The drying time is a killer, 18 to 24 hours over an offending battleship grey, and all of it an unsightly stippled gloss.

The antichrist of painting and decorating.

I was on the second coat, having walked on down the hall, to where the ghost of a toy tugboat floated face down in the bathtub, when the insect which had been tailing me hovered up and alighted right of frame. I did not miss a beat. Anchored in the greasy slick, the brush caught up with it easily. Swept straight over it. Airbrushed out with a bubblegum pop; a napalm kiss on celulloid.

And what became of Neville Brand ? Lee Marvin’s thuggier twin.

I would not mention the incident with the fly if it did not bother me. Just a little.

Slow witted and lazily sculpted, Brand bristled with the neanderthal menace of the faintly retarded or simply psychotic. A slack jawed insouciance melting into bulging eye and pit bull leer on the turn of a sixpence. Or the onset of a stroke.

Neville Brand wore sharp suits and Brylcreemed hair. His face hewn blunt. Liver lipped. Itching to be cut by a cornerman with trembling hands between the 6th and 7th round.

In truth, I planted both feet heavy in the schoolyard bully’s shoes when I flattened that fly. Smeared on the door with the cigarette fastened between my teeth. I was irritable. Tired. Bitten by self-pity.

In bad need of a slave.

But wait. Killer Kane. Boyd, not Arthur. And several times removed from Stacy’s Colonel.

Neville Brand was no simple bad boy bum. Weighing in for a preliminary bout in Griswold, Iowa, and cremated in Sacramento, his nine times decorated army grunt was D.O.A. from the first. Painted into a corner, I contest, as the result of Dutch and Celtic ancestry. The white heat of Illinois steel.

Typecast by villainous hacks - the revolving door of misplaced mediocrity - the former shoe salesman turned Warner Bros. stooge traded bleeding out by the Weser River for an afterlife of two bit parts.

Sometimes shiny as a quarter in the gutter. Often overlooked.

“I’m a loser! I’m a loser!” he cried, but the truth was far from that.

Scant regard is given the 30,000 books reportedly amassed between petulant acts of cruelty; teased out of acting classes paid for through the G.I. Bill. The raging thirst to distance himself from understudy. Shadow.

“Let me out! Let me out!” he sang.

And all the while the whiskey and remorse. The inability to rearrange at sub molecular level: to set the atoms dancing; to walk - as Captain Fairbanks yearned to - between and through the impenetrable. Walls and floors.

Buttresses.


I have no idea if Neville Brand ever flirted with Buddhism. Perhaps. I suspect not. Myself, I have only used the term emphatically when laid up in a hospital bed. Just to see the charge nurse stiffen.

The closer I peer into cracks and examine those hairline fissures tumbling off into chasms, the weaker my resolve becomes. An endless cycle of filling and painting. Sanding. Immersing bristle and forearm in litre upon litre of turpentine substitute.

It was emphysema which did for him in the end. And the library all up in flames.

Still. The fly is my concern alone. All this chatter of Neville Brand and Hollywood is just so much passing the buck.

Well. It could be worse. Don't ever get me started on the time I aimed a .22 at a crow on the lamb and missed.

11 comments:

jonder said...

Q.: What did the Buddhist say to the cook at the wimpy bar?
A.: Make me one with everything.

ib said...

Hey, jonder. Well, shit. That is just what I would say too. Albeit I am prone to self flagellation after the event.

If wagons were not built to fall off at regular intervals, surely somebody out there would have designed them better. Actually. Fuck the fly. I just hope it wasn't a little house-spider... I lost my reading glasses somewhere in transit. I am quite unable to read a book at bedtime, much less healthy living instructions on the back of a wrapper or tin.

ib said...

I confess. Your quip was rattling around in my head at 3 AM when I finally got it. Neat.

uniplmr1 said...

That poor little spider. I'm glad you don't have a puppy.
Very elegant piece of writing. Maybe I should go stay with my Irish relatives, if they haven't all starved to death by now, and see if I can catch some elegance.
Hard to find that shit where I live now. Nice, very nice.

ib said...

Well. I'm 90% certain it wasn't a spider, but the uncertainty gave me a sleepless night.

If there is any elegance between the buttons it is more than counterbalanced by our desperate attempts to get settled. As a family. But thanks for the observation. I empthasize with Cousin Clarence.

Löst Jimmy said...

Bluebottles I can't stand, I can't stand bluebottles

ib said...

Corpulent. Ripe with the purpling taint of corpses.

Can't abide them either.

jonder said...

Just read this interview with Notekillers guitarist and thought you'd be innerested: http://pitchfork.com/features/the-out-door/7887-the-out-door-9/4/

ib said...

Hey. Thank you for the prompt, jonder.

Just dipped into it as of now. Personally, I'm thrilled to learn that DF and fellow killers have let more noise spill from the sleeve. Wouldn't mind giving "Privacy Issues" a spin either.

I have tet to hook up the external speakers. And drive. At this momement I am operating like a member of the Resistance; somewhat unwashed in the core of a bale of straw.

ib said...

"Eyelash" is superb. Fluttering down from a "parachuting watchmaker" perhaps ?

jonder said...

It's always good to see old dogs up to new tricks! Judy Nylon is alive and well, too, and she visited the blog "I Love Total Destruction",