Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dreams of My Younger Self

I'm depressed today. I found a crumpled note in the back of my filing cabinet written by my younger self, aged ten. The little Jarred was full of ambition and idealism. Somehow in the course of growing up and becoming responsible, I've lost sight of the dreams that the ten year old Jarred with a red crayon and a goal decided to capture in a simple, maybe naive, to-do list. I am impressed that at that young age, I had the foresight to establish my ultimate goal and devise the necessary preceding steps to achieve it. So, today, in honour of that precocious child, I pledge to no longer neglect the dreams of my younger self. I've tacked above my desk little Jarred's simple list of things to achieve and I'm going to do him proud: 1. Get Rich, 2. Become Above the Law, 3. Raise Private Army and 4.(my goal) Hunt Man for Sport.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Emperor's New Season

I happened to be in Paris during their fashion week. I highly recommend it, but not for the reasons you might think. We spent the afternoon sitting outside the Café Ruc. As our bottles emptied, our laughter got louder and our pointing became less discrete. There was of course a share of truly beautiful and well-dressed individuals, but they were a rarity. More often it looked like the circus was in town and the clowns had gotten hold of fake tan and Botox. The flow of fashionista wannabes tended to totter up the Rue Saint Honoré. Out of the hope they were massing in one place like neon-colored ladybugs with eating disorders, we followed. Our hopes were fulfilled at a shop called Colette. S_ went inside. I stayed out.
A large black Mercedes docked at the curb side. The driver got out and opened the back door. A well-heeled gentleman stepped from the car and disappeared into the shop in a swish of camel hair.
A man in a bicycle courier's outfit put his nose against the glass and searched the interior of the car, examining the occupants. He did the same to the passengers in the backseat then back to the front. He did this over and over. They stared forward and pretended that he didn't exist. The lips of the woman in the front seat pursed like an asshole under her perfect quaff.
"Anybody interesting?" I asked the courier.
"No. Just piles of shit in a car," he responded and led his bike away.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jump to the Left, Put Your Hands on Your Hips, And...

I was ten the first time I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show live. I know now that I have a genetic pre-disposition to deviance and weirdness but that night, although I didn't understand most of what was happening, I knew what I witnessed in the theater aisles and on the screen were right and good.
My best friend at the time ruled his mother with a bratty whine and temper tantrums that pierced the ear. She bought us near-beer and gained a promise that I wouldn't tell my mother as a comprise when he started in on his dad's supply of Milwaukee's Best. Somehow he had heard about the Rocky Horror Picture Show and decided that it was something he also wanted.
Back then (am I really old enough to use that phrase), Rocky Horror was only shown in shabby dollar movie theaters at midnight.
Dutifully she drove us to the theater, bought us tickets and popcorn and sat down with us for the show. His mom was a southern Belle of the genteel persuasion. Her perfect coif was shipped directly from the fifties. She spoke in the most polite and honeyed southern tones.
The show started and I had found my world. I leaned forward eyes wide, darting to and fro the costumed people in the audience throwing hot dogs, doing the time warp, trying to fuck the narrator's butt chin. Beside me my friend greedily chomped at his popcorn and chuckled at the tits on screen. The mom didn't move. She tried to entreat her son to leave but he silenced her with a 'shut up, Mom'. She gripped the theater seat and squeezed her eyes shut the entire time. On the occasions she opened them, there would be a huff and an 'oh my god'. I tried to feel guilty but the pull of weirdness was too much for my ten year old soul.
As I got older I became more refined in my tastes for the odd but that first Rocky Horror, like a first love, will never be forgotten.
When the lights went up and we dusted the rice and confetti from our laps, the crowd began to leave and one of the audience members dressed as Frank-N-Furter pointed us out and yelled, “Holy shit, this lady brought her kids.” They all laughed. The mom was horrified. I felt like the baddest ass ten year old in the world.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Accion Mutante!

The other night I was out with the Japanese heart throb known as Lone-u Wolf-u, aka S_. Beside us sat a group of disability rights activists. A nice bunch with their hearts in the right place, but they declined my suggestions at using direct action tactics. I outlined a plan for blowing up the staircases in prominent buildings around London. I thought the wheat pasting of a sign saying "If we can't leave the ground floor, neither can you" on the targeted buildings was a nice touch but they said they'll stick with drafting a strongly worded petition. I think they are missing a trick there.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Comprend-ay, amigo?

Human communication is a sophisticated and sublime thing. The other day I was driving and a motorcyclist with a toot of his horn, a point to his turn signal and a rude gesture communicated his displeasure at my lane changing technique.

horn toot + point point + rude gesture = "Excuse me, may I have your attention, I feel that you did not sufficiently use your turn signal, you wanker."

Incredible, no? And with a gentle tap of my bumper to his back tire I made my rebuttal that we both tacitly agreed ended the discussion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boo Hoo. Noone Understands Me.

Writers are a bunch a whining ingrates. Only at this moment in the history of mankind can we entertain the possibility that sitting in front of a machine, which costs more money than what the majority of people on the planet need to stay alive, to make up stories is justified. Two favourite moans of writers is that it is lonely (boo hoo) and really hard work (ah, you're breaking my heart now).
Let's clarify things.
Lonely is solitary confinement in prison. When you are writing you are alone. That's it. When you are done, you go to the pub or you kiss your wife on the cheek. Writing being lonely is not even close to being true. The modest things I have achieved thus far with my writing is because I have surrounded myself with talented people with whom I share my work and discuss the process of writing and celebrate our shared passion for these squiggling black lines that, better than any other art form, explain what it means to be human.
As for writing being hard work, hard work is being ten and sorting coal in a mine. Writing is about getting things right, being meticulous. And it's a privilege that my life has accumulated enough comfort to afford the hours wasted doing so.
Since I count myself as a writer and therefore by definition a whining ingrate, I will share with you my greatest complaint. I am exhausted by people confusing their desire to be an author as one desires to be a doctor or politician rather than desiring to write. You're an idiot if you think writing is a career choice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Neda, I'm Sorry

If you find online the video of the murder of Neda, "The Angel of Iran", you will see death; worse, you will see dying; worse still, you will see and hear humans witnessing one of their young dying. There is a moment when those around her understand, from a sign unseen, that the motionless figure beneath them has ceased being a living human being. From them a keening rises, a sound unique to the witnessing of dying becoming death, which will haunt me for weeks.

I am naïve about politics, and I am completely ignorant about politics in Iran. I don't know if Mousavi will be as bat shit crazy as the last guy. For all I know he will continue to squander a young nation's greatest resource, it's people.

However, I know tyranny when I see it. It's easy to spot. It's predictable and unimaginative. It's men with power and hunger but no vision. Power and hunger, no better than a beast. Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader (the hint is in the name) have little more than that, never mind the ideology they drape over themselves.

So for that reason alone, let us pray that these disturbing videos like the one of Neda's murder will become artefacts of a historical moment in time.

Let the tyrants fall and come what may.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beautiful London Moment #472

The lead-coloured skies over Victoria Station whispered rain. Waiting for the "green man" light, a drift1 of suits stood in their blacks, greys and dark business-blues. At the centre of the monochrome massing on the pavement, a beaming gentleman stood: a shining-white grin, grass green fuzzy Kanga cap, matching Adidas track suit and shoes. -Beautiful London Moment #472

1Yes, 'drift' is the correct collective noun for a group of business men.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gesundheit, Swinefikker

I forget sometimes my humour is an acquired taste. On the tube yesterday I sneezed. I excused myself by saying, "Sorry, swine flu." A few people smirked but a few more moved carriages at the next stop.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

God is found in many places

Look at ole' Terry in the first picture and then look at the two boys on the right in the second.

Ecstasy of St. Theresa by Bernini

Big Jay McNeely by Bob Willoughby

I am appalled at English's lack of words for this experience. The closest I could find was Theosis. Theosis kind of means "oneness with god". All them foreigners have great ones like Wajd. C'mon people, help me out. We have to have a good one.

Ah, London Mornings

See the glimmer of a low sun against the Kensington landmarks, Natural History Museum, V&A, Harrod's.
Park in the shadow of Westminster Cathedral where children are being dropped off for school.
Take a shot of the best Italian coffee in Victoria made by a barista from Kosovo.
Walk under a window and hear Otis Redding slide out of a flat window as somebody with soul gets ready for work.
Ah, London mornings.

Friday, March 27, 2009

One potato peeler, Two potato peeler.

The nice thing about living in London is being close to several international airports which sundry friends and relatives can utilise to visit us. This is always welcome, even the occasional mad person that I have befriended during the course of my life.

The phone rang late one night, not late enough to think it was an emergency but late enough for me not to answer it. The voice message I received was J_'s calm middle-aged female voice filtered through her Catalan accent. She was in search of her potato peeler that she felt she might have left at our house during her last visit.

She did, in fact, bring her own potato peeler as she felt it necessary for the preparation of a "thank you for the room and board" meal. However, I didn't recall seeing the implement and considered searching for it low on my priority list. I did not respond, nor did I to the second voice message or the email.

When I received the third phone call that first made conjectures about my untimely death then asked if I had found her peeler, I immediately sent an email saying I had indeed found her peelers. Peelers plural.

The next day I bought ten identical peelers. I knew where to find them because one of her phone calls specified the shop and price (IKEA £1). I posted them without a note and waited for the response.

It came, "Which one is my peeler?"

"It is a little known fact that potato peelers are one of the few kitchen utensils that are capable of asexual reproduction," was my reply.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Queen doing the School run

On this island they speak a language similar to my own and sometimes I forget that I'm the one with the accent. It's for those reasons and more that I sometime forget I am a foreigner. Then like a bug into an open mouth, I am reminded.

The other day I was late for a hair cut, because the hereditary head of state had to go from one palace to another by a horse-drawn entourage. Ah, London.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

People who don't live in glasshouses should throw stones

Scientists are excited because it shows apes are capable of planning. I'm excited because it proves even chimps know that some people deserve to have rocks thrown at them.
Planning of the Apes: Zoo Chimp Plots Rock Attacks on Visitors

Monday, March 09, 2009

To Henry

I'm a strong proponent of the maxim, "Never meet your heroes". It's happened to me twice and it was a bitter experience each time. Bukowski died a couple years after I discovered him. So I was never in danger of breaking the rule with him. It's a good thing too, because by all accounts he was a truly horrible person. It amazes me that a man who understood so much could be such a wife-beating asshole. Regardless of the man, his work taught a teenage me a thousand lessons that I still hold to my heart.

So, in a tradition that started a long time ago, I went to the riverside with a flask of whisky (any intoxicant is acceptable), a good friend who has the understanding and a fist full of Bukowski poems (Kerouac is acceptable as well as his birth date is the 12th of March). We sat at the Southbank and we talked of writing, of life and eulogized our heroes - long may we never meet. Upon the conclusion of our meeting, I read this poem1 over the Thames as group of waddling and dumb-struck tourists listened and, as we left, I passed the teenagers watching the skaters zip past the graffitied cement. I recognised one of them. It was me over a decade ago.
"Do you know who Bukowski is?" I asked.
"No," he said.
I handed him the poem and left, hoping, like in the parable of the sower, the message had found fertile ground.

Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) - The History Of One Tough Motherfucker1

he came to the door one night wet thin beaten and
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway
and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said,"not much
chance...give him these pills...his backbone
is crushed, but is was crushed before and somehow
mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at
these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets
are still there...also, he once had a tail, somebody
cut it off..."
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough
one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.
"you can make it," I said to him.
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up.
you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left...
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!"
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
graphed together.
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Fountain

Somewhere, a long time ago, in a foreign city, the sign was saying something important. That much I knew. Cut into the stone in sharp serious letters, Arcing over a fountain bubbling fresh water from the mountains, the words, undecipherable to me, were revealing an essential truth. Or maybe the phrase's ellipsis was prompting me for a response. I stared for a long time, waiting for the characters to dance and reorder themselves to make their meaning clear. They never did and, when a passing group of school children broke the spell, I stepped forward and drank from my cupped hand. Someday I'll return to see if those words make sense to me now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I don't have a home anymore. I mean a home like Dali's Figueras or Woody Allen's New York. There is no place on this earth whose landscapes begs me to return. There is no patch of earth that I can point to and say this was my father's and his father's before him.

Home for me exists wherever my wife and I happen to be. However, there was an exception. There is a small town in Scotland, now incorporated by the larger city of Edinburgh. The place is Leith. It was a place I longed for and I was happy to have a chance to return recently. I was all smiles and pleasure to see the familiar places of that town, but it came with a sad recognition. I realized that I pined not only for a place but that place in time. Although I returned, I could not revisit the moments I had occupied there. It saddens me that I can no longer claim -- however tenuous that claim was to start with -- that a port town on the East coast of Scotland was home.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

reasons to be cheerful

summer thunderstorms.
autumn winds fluttering leaves before my car.
S_ laughing at corny jokes.
perfect sentences.
elderly couples holding hands.
the chatter of foreign children in a playground.
cackle of a group of old women.
girls wearing fake moustaches.
cities at sunrise, at night, at rest, buzzing.

Add your own below...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Here's a trend that needs to die, calling 'buying crap you don't need as an investment'. Buying a fucking food dehydrator is not an investment, it's a waste of fucking money. I drove past Selfridge's to see it plastered with signs about 'investment' opportunities. Yesterday the phrase had snuck into newspapers. My knuckles have been rubbed raw by punching people in the forehead for using the phrase, "Retail Therapy". I am afraid this new linguistic abortion requires an escalation of violence. I am sure you will all agree that I am entirely justified in setting fire to the person or advert that uses this phrase. In the immortal words of W. G. Grace, "9 out of 10 men would do the same under provocation".

Friday, January 02, 2009

This is the exact noise that I make whenever I see a reality TV show.