Saturday, June 5, 2010

a fair weekend

I have not written a word while under the influence of amphetamine for quite some time. Or scribbled on a white sheet with lysergic acid diethylamide lapping at my brain. Nor have I worked on a drawing for ten uninterrupted hours while the psilocybin pumps up from where my feet are rooted to the floor.

I don't know why I mention this.

Blame it on Tillie. The refugee from Asbury Park, now retired and residing in the armpit of a tattooed man in Santa Rosa. And The Pep Boys. The one resembling Himmler, in particular; or Dr. Josef Mengele on vacation by the sea.

I woke up fairly early this morning and plugged straight into the mainframe. I did not light a cigarette. I did not plumb in the kettle or fill my little china cup to the brim.

I checked my mail. The sort which does not drop through the letterbox in a brown envelope stamped 'this is not a circular'. I huffed and puffed and hummed along to the white collar noise of the fans starting up. I startled the mouse and stroked some keys.

Then I made some coffee.

I have not visited my bus-driver pal for a while. Released at last from the routine of rolling on and off the Golden Gate Bridge. He has not been posting lately.

His account of shore leave back in New Jersey - a reminiscence of the now defunct Palace Amusements - stirred my own memories of the funfair. A photograph from Coney Island of beehived women eating a hole in candyfloss without a safety net; a Glasgow Fair weekend on the Isle of Cumbrae circa 1970.

Millport is a tiny little island anchored in the southwest coast. A grassy knoll the approximate size of Alkatraz.

I typed:

"You can cycle right round the place in a couple of hours or less, I am told. They had a little fairground with bumpers cars; the dodgems, we call them here. I went on them one bleak Saturday night. Not only was I the only kid there, I believe I was their sole customer. I drove around in circles for the duration of my ticket, vaguely humiliated at persisting with the routine of negotiating nothing but empty space."

The New York photograph and my memory of the string of lights reflecting in the spectacles worn by my grandfather, my gandmother too, have merged in those intervening years. I seem to recall Engelbert Humperdink crooning over the tannoy, but the recollection may be unsound.

My grandparents silently watching me as I went round and round unsettled me. Their faces pinched, bent sinister.

"Are you enjoying yourself, ib ?" they wordlessly enquired. "We hope you are having a good time".

A kind of anxious telepathy.

Of course, every second out there on the hardboard polished deck was excruciating. The evening was not so warm that my grandfather forwent his cardigan. The roaring houndstooth sports jacket.

Later, we returned to the guest house. My grandparents sat drinking whisky. Toasted by what may or may not have been an open fire. I do not remember if there was a working television in the visitors lounge; nor 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 rug like ash.

The following fragmentary pieces can be listened to - or downloaded - as was originally intended @ The Free Music Archive, curated by WFMU. Chronicling the Virginia based experimental scene between 1970 and 1976, when this compilation was first issued on flexi plastic,
the whole is "transcribed directly from one of the earliest two-sided EvaTone Sound Sheets (pressed on translucent red plastic)" on a limited imprint of 1,000 copies.

TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT: ON THE CAN from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)
RODNEY MAYNARD & THE HUNDRED DOLLAR BAND: SITTIN' ON A STOOL from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)

LITTLE LACY & HIS TREMBLING LIPS: COCKTAILS FOR THIEU from "Artifacts Vol. 1" EvaTone Sound Sheet LP (Artifacts / Yclept) 1976 (US)



Your driver said...

When I was a lad, circa 1970, back when smoking cigarettes was the norm, back when one was given a free book of matches with one's pack o' Luckies, our matchbooks often featured an ad for Pep Boys Auto Parts. There on the cover of our matchbooks were the little figures of Manny, Moe and Jack. My friends and I, lads that we were, would take our pocket knives and cut three little holes in the three little crotches of Manny, Moe and Jack. Then we would bend three matches and stick the heads of them though the little holes so that the Pep Boys appeared to have enormous penises with bulbous red heads. To achieve the highest possible level of laddish mirth we would set the little penises on fire.
This sounds like some kind of boyish prank from the 1940's but we all had real long hair, listened to the MC5 and Jimi Hendrix and a couple of us were at Woodstock. At the same time I wore a motorcycle jacket with a large crucifix dangling from several tiers of chains hanging from my epaulets.
This might be a case of what the Trotskyists call "combined and uneven development".
An historical note. It wasn't just the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a 65 mile stretch of Highway 101 between Santa Rosa and downtown San Francisco, along with various connecting routes through fire ,flood pestilence and plagues of real estate speculators.
Good to hear from you Brother Ib.

ib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ib said...

As I've mentioned before, we pallid celts are not well disposed to too much sun.

ib said...

A more considered response is probably in order.

At least. One not fueled by a second serving of the grape. Or where I metamorphosis into a cross between Legs McNeil and a mildly hysterical adolescent by the third paragraph.

Like I said, Legs McNeil.

I am glad you have shaken the grueling Highway 101 habit. Although. The idea of busloads of unsuspecting Californians being ferried into pestilence and plague by a crazed White Panther with a tattoo of Tillie up his sleeve still fills me with glee. A one time pyromaniac burning effigies of the American auto industry, to boot.

The sales pitch of being given a book of matches - gratis - with one's cigarettes seems hopelessly civilized. I don't recall anything similar here in the UK.

Long before the halfpenny dropped out of circulation for good, a proper box of matches cost just that. Fifty or so sticks with big phosphorous heads. And no pretense at safety. It is only a matter of time before before they do away with larger currencies too.

Well. Sober again and in need of a substantial breakfast.

HowMarvellous said...

loosely connected - at least with the matches & cigarettes part...

there was a good Outer Limits I saw just once; where the near-soulless soldier of the future was seen alone on some battle-torn & desolate planet.

I say it was good - but likely thirty years have passed, and the impression was surely alcohol fuelled, but anyway - the thing that stuck in my mind was the sole 'comfort' carried by this modern man of war - cigarettes which he struck on the side of the packet - like some built-in match, if you will.

ib said...

Well, all right. That sounds like an invention. The only thing worse than no cigrettes is a cigarette and no means to light it.

Well. Famine; pestilence; war; plague. But I catch the drift. I am trying to give up - yet again - but it is going badly.

The Outer Limits had some good scripts, but no quite so good as Rod Serling's original Twilight Zone. I watched some of the new generation of both franchises recently, and the were very disappointing.

Richard Mathieson wrote for TZ a good deal, I recall. Probably the Outer Limits too.

@eloh said...

I've nothing of interest to add... just good to read you boys "talking".

I too keep thinking of Jon's armpit.