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Nikola Tesla on the Occupy Movement’s 1st Anniversary

Ever since we fell out of our mothers, we have been whining.  Crying.  Baying.  I feel the coin on my chest; it hangs from my neck on a red thong.  My mind is clear, and my gaze seems to carry for miles.  The streets in front of me, the asphalt is bubbling and the architecture dances and jigs, but I know the neon graffiti sprayed all over everything is just the drugs.  There’s a crashing of piano and the drummer falls off of his stool.

My friends and I, we are inaugurating the second year of Occupy London.

Right this instant, we are in the middle of staging a musical panto based entirely on the Ferguson documentary, Inside Job.  The whole company, myself included, are all coming up unexpectedly on LSD.  We have dragged a stand-up piano out on casters; a half dozen musicians are struggling to control their instruments and the players are in costumes which appear to be breathing.  The crowds of pedestrians outside Whitehall have been very warm.  Totally, enthusiastically shocked, but warm.  It is an oatmeal sky, Sunday, September sompink.  Thingy o’clock.

stupid monkey - Church of Euthanasia

fruit monkey says: waaah! waaah! (img Church of Euthanasia)

A little bit first on my history with street protest: my history with street protest has been lengthy, colourful.  While others threw molotovs in Seattle, I was throwing shapes.  We also did a provocative tango Argentine while agent provocateurs brought down police fences in Doha, Qatar.  At the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike, which I flew to last week, I made a balloon-animal replica of Mayor Rahm, which I named Emanuensis, which I then propped atop a fellow dancer’s head and popped with a high heel during a rumba line.  It’s all on film.  Mine will be known as the dance revolution.

I have dabbled in other direct action.  After the mass murders in NYC, I of course perfunctorily signed petitions to both my Senators and the pertinent congressmen at rallies late that summer, as well as to Bush, imploring cooler heads and resistance to uneven military response to the attacks.  I even featured in the Church of Euthanasia’s viral video later in the year, I Like to Watch, (links below) which helped reframe the narrative in the media in easier to understand, more sexualised terms.  Killing being so grotesque and all.  This is when I was living in North Carolina.

Later, after the little Texan bombed Baghdad in the middle of spring break, and I sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” as we watched the first cadmium orange blasts flare live on T.V., I even started attending street protests.  At first, I hung out across the square from the protestors, across the street, a bit removed.  The first sign I took read, “FREE SADDAM!”  One of the protestors came across the street to put her sign in front of mine.  Her approved slogan cancelling the one I had made on a giant slab of cardboard with blue and red magic marker.  She said I was counter-protesting, whether that was my intention or not.  The next week I brought a friend.  Our signs now read, “MORE BLOOD FOR OIL,” and “NUKE THE POOR!” and were stapled to real professional-looking sticks.  A lot of cars honked at us.  Nobody bothered to come across the street to complain.  We kept going back, even being as bold as to slip our signs in the piles of theirs while the organisers packed up.  They always got thrown away, I guess, because they never showed up on their side of the street.

Then, on the third anniversary of the bombing campaign and ground war in Afghanistan, we hired a few sheep costumes from the fancy dress shop in town, there, and printed up a few briefcases worth of fake Federal Reserve notes.  A couple of guys in sunglasses and fedoras held these on one side of the street, and we sheep went to go pick up money fluttering along the crosswalk while the traffic was stopped.  Every once in a while, the fedora-and-briefcase lot would ‘go fishing,’ casting off with a fishing rod and a counterfeit note on a string.  The sheep would all run after the hook.  It was hilarious fun for the rush-hour motorists.

Anyway, about a month ago, I started waking up in the morning feeling physically and mentally like shit.  This was very odd, because I am normally in peak health.  I have a training and dietary regimen that could bring cadavers back to life.  But over a period of four days, I awoke, looked through the curtains at that oatmeal sky, and felt like chucking it into the drink.  Walking out to the Grays pier and hauling myself off the end of it with a pocketful of bricks and a tear in my eye.  At first I thought it was just the weather changing.

Gradually the real tension was revealed to me: I was watching these Occupation anniversaries on the television news.  I saw the massive turn-out in Madrid; the heavy-handed police pre-emption across New York City; I read the tickers at the bottom of the screen, waiting for some word on what the old Occupy London would be doing.  Waiting to see how this sooty, dirty, muddy country, the land of a thousand generations of poets, workers and dreamers; what would we bring to the table this year?  Nothing.  There wasn’t anything going on.

I turned to my drinking partner, Matt Damon.  I had a sneer on my lips.  ‘The next time I hear the word “occupy,” it’s going to have “London” after it, and it’s going to mean something to people everywhere!  God damn it!’  Matt looked frightened, which was odd, because he’s normally the one with restraint issues.  I have known Matthew for about five years now, nearly as long as I’ve been here, in fact.  We met down at the Mecca Bingo in Islington; he had started a row with a couple of blue-rinse grannies over allegations of cheating.  His American accent stuck out like a hard-on in front of a Sunday school chalkboard.  Something about unauthorised markers or cards or some damned thing that inevitably leads to vitriol at a bingo hall.  He was clapping a few security goons over the backs of their heads when he noticed me at the back of the room.  He recognized me immediately, and came back to shake my hand.  Apparently he had studied quite a bit of theoretical physics for some film role or another, and couldn’t believe his luck at finding me here in London.  I walked him to his car, we exchanged numbers, and we’ve been occasional drinking partners since.

So as I said, for a moment he was taken aback; but as he stared in my eyes for clarification, his look of fear softened.  ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ The idea fell like an egg out of a duck’s arsehole.  ‘Yep.’  And then we said, in unison: ‘Street Musical.’

All of these rock-throwing, office chair-wielding, masked and camera-adorned youth: they miss the point when it comes to rioting.  All great revolutions have had a great soundtrack.    Matt knows this.  Matt is a true artist.  He immediately phoned his “fancy Jew lawyer in L.A.,” to secure the rights to adapt the documentary he narrated into a libretto, and I called Phillip Glass.  Then we organised the lock-in at the Briar and Paw, my local.  We drank steadily for two days,  and it wasn’t long before we assembled the whole team.

Phil kept new pages of the score rolling straight out of the fax machine; Matthew knows some people who know some people at the LSO, and we got a hold of some two-bit session musicians who were just happy for a chance to perform.  We told them we could only afford to pay them in beer, but since Matthew was involved, they were quite obliging.  At some point it was brought up jokingly that this show, to be a total success for the ages, must have Julian as one of the leads.  I don’t know if you have heard, but  old Assange has quite a reputation… for his contralto singing voice.  I find it inspired and dulcet.

I can’t know for sure who slipped the LSD in our drinks before the performance.  But I have a suspicion that it was the sousaphonist with the long hair and the lazy left eye.  He seems to be the only one among us who is handling the quickening psychedelic  come-on with any grace.  God bless this charlatan.  Singing in chorus becomes quite the religious experience when your head’s full of drugs.  Put on a cheap wig and a layer of pancake makeup, and you’ll be bawling your eyes out in a park, sobbing deeply, grabbing handfuls of muddy grass in no time.  That’s where we will be in a moment.  Just like children.

Before all this, we had to get Julie out of the embassy.  He was mad about the idea, said it would be an honour to participate.  He said just to sneak him out the back door;  apparently, he does this all the time.  It sounds like a cheap device in an ‘eighties’ movie, really.  Someone from the embassy will phone out for pizza, and then Jules drives off with the scooter in a helmet and leather jacket while the real pizza man chills out with satellite sport on in the screening room.  He tips the delivery guys ridiculously.  Most of the drivers don’t speak the best English anyway, so there’s very little chance any of them will sell Jules out, but they are quite convivial to help and there are worse ways to spend an evening.

So now we’re here, in front of Whitehall, in our costumes, belting out the final choruses, tripping our balls clean off.  Jules is beaming.  His face ruddy with life, he mounts the piano-top, the final chorus rushing out of him.  The band are barely holding it all together, but valiantly bringing up the finale, like an elephant pulling a caboose by one arm and a Radio Flyer wagon by the other.  The final chord of the whole piece – octaves and artful assonance and lots and lots of jazz hands.  And it’s right at this moment when Matthew stops singing and plops onto his ass.

‘Oh, fuck… what if we win?’ he states breathlessly, childishly.  He looks as a child, in his lederhosen and painted-on freckles.  ‘If we get ourselves direct democracy…  what will happen?’  And he just keeps repeating ‘oh, fuck,’ kind of catatonically for a bit.

The audience’s applause is undaunted by Matt’s breakdown.  In fact, I feel like it makes quite a poignant ending to the performance.  Kind of cathartic.  We take our bows, shake the Home Office and Met officers’ hands, push daisies into the barrel-ends of their sub-machine guns, and roll our equipment out of there.  I pick Matthew up with some assistance from Jules, and make him promise to explain himself to us when we get to Victoria Gardens.

This is what he will say at that point, when we are finally sat below the statuaries and tall cycads.  Our minds bubbling over.  Barely able to form words with our own mouths.  Tears streaming down our cheeks.  He will declaim to us that:

“I am secretly afraid that if the public in the US, or the UK, win a chance at real democracy, they will then summarily appoint a load of religious fanatics to run everything.  That is, after all, what has happened in nearly every one of the Arab Spring countries, after which the Occupy people have modelled themselves at least in spirit, right?  People in the so-called West have no exclusive access to reason or intelligence.  What’s to rule out the rabble doing the same to our system, once it were to be finally democratised?  Cocksucking lawyer career politicians might end up looking pretty good.  What have we started?  What have we done?”

This will happen, once we get to the park.  And after he tells us this, we will hug him.  The musty musicians, the scrabbled actors who moments ago and mere blocks away had portrayed collusive bankers and regulators, who are painted and dressed as the very politicians and bureaucrats what engineered the terrible ascendance of the one percent, Julian and myself included; we will hug our truth-sayer.  This will happen.  I can see it – a Dionysian huddle of bodies, crying all together in a pile on the lawn.  They say that Occupy’s not about physical space anymore.  Over here, in this moment to come, it’s absolutely physical.  It’s a motherfucking ballet.  It’s an orgy of the real!

Then everything lights up like the flying jellybeans going past the Starfleet starship Enterprise, and one of the fountains turns into some hideous pullulating gilla monster.  And what if we do win?  What happens then?

for a copy of Church of Euthanasia’s “I like to watch” video [discaimer: EXPLICIT, NSFW!], go to

for an excellent photo-essay and article (by my Dominican friends!) of the first year’s St. Pauls camp, go to

for a great over-view of the Occupy movement to-date, including some of the thoughts I’ve plagiarised above, see Nick Pinto’s article at

[UPDATE]   finally,  for another view of the second year, seeThomas Frank’s new article at

David Hume on Internet Pornography

All those dirty little pleasures we get from shitty little kicks like revenge, domination, cruelty.  We all do it.  Act like dogs, and lick our chops.  See the drool there in the mirror, slurging out the side of our hotdog lips like a cartoon bully chewing tobacco.  We all victimise.  We are all, in turn, victims.

I just smile when it happens to me.  I’ve been so well-sexed lately, I could care less.

I’ve been sleeping with this travelling acrobat.  I met her out on the south bank, near Gabriel’s Wharf.  There was this tightrope, strung between two gigantic pylons, about twenty feet long and nearly four feet off the ground; and there, straddling the wire on one gorgeous, tiny foot with the other leg extended parallel with the ground and rope, crouching with her arms reaching forward, was my Amelia, cutting quite a shape.  Watching her perform her routine several times through, hearing the same song over and over, finally I found the courage to approach this creature.  I felt like I should lay my head in her lap.  Her green eyes.  Orange hair.  I am only Scottish.

this is a smiling dog

While I am out to the grocers, going to the printers, calling at consulates – I am appreciating women’s bodies.  The female form: objectified.  Just the sight of it brings pleasure to me.  Aesthetically.  Pruriently.  I don’t see anything wrong with this.  I have heard the pornographers explain what is in your own headspace generally stays there, and should inspire no shame.

The pornographers!  They are everywhere these days, doing their interviews, promoting their websites and sex toys.  The past weekend alone, I have had two dinners interrupted by pornographers.  They all want to thank me for what I’ve done.  I try not to begrudge them their gratitude.  But how did they find out it was me?

It was four years ago that I discovered internet porn.  Four years’ worth of jacking off to half-hour scenes, ten minute clips, five minute trailers, thirty-second teasers.  Streamed, downloaded. What did I ever do before this?  Well, I had been fantasizing, making erotica up in my head, and there seemed to be some purpose in my onanistic act.  But what is the meaning of this?  Choose some pixelated version of a few filmed sex acts and settle for a crudely presented, yet raw, horribly arresting event?  And whether imperfect, blotchy, asymmetrical and uncombed, shot from a stationary cam; or airbrushed with layers of pancake makeup, holding poses, him grunting in perfect time with her squeaking like a rusty gate, and maybe a seasoned director of photography insinuating us, the viewers, with alacrity into the very crevices of the duo, trio, the gangbang – the practice is always robbing me of the fantasy.  Stealing the purposive activity from my self-intimacy.

And whatever thoughts do come to mind while I watch, they’re always in negative frame: that’s not how my dick looks.  I’ve never had a girl that bent like that.  Why is he fucking her asshole the whole time when there’s a perfectly good vagina right there?  Even more prosaic: when I start complaining about unjustifiably extended close-up shots of disembodied genitals.  Every drop of warmth squeezed out of a purely fricative interaction by poor framing, poor editing choices.  I shake my fist at the screen.

As opposed to the erotic reveille – not just a picture in my mind, but the words of courtship and the rush of quicksilver libidos, always very much on the positive ends of spectrums.  My tactile memories picking the best bits, my ears recalling the sounds of the most fervent fucking, the olfactory broadcasting sticky odours through my headspace.  And it’s always the exact girl I’m always lusting after, the exact type of face I want to see her make from deep within a wave of endorphins from coming the thirteenth, fifteenth time of the day.  Or night.

That’s where we are right now, Amelia and I.  After our initial chat, which went excessively well and just long enough in my opinion later, I went to see her again.  Tracking her down in the city was quite engaging: where would a travelling acrobat be?  Covent Garden?  Temple Gardens?  Ravenscourt Garden?  I thought about her smile, which curled slightly at the edges.  Her tiny feet, with the nails painted like electric robin’s eggs.  And I knew she would be in Sloane Square.

After her wire-bound dance had ended, I asked her to pub.  It’s what is done here, although she is a foreigner herself, and the question came out so naturally I realised only after I had said it that there were probably lots of other activities I could have asked her to.  Anyway, she said she would love to.  We pulled up the stakes and took down the pylons, which folded up into two long bundles, and rolled everything up into a pack, which I offered to carry.  This is like taking a schoolgirl’s books, I remarked, and she tittered approvingly.  We didn’t drink much as we were carrying on so well, and at one point she implied she might like to sleep in a properly sized bed if she got the chance, and we ended up running for the last trains and Amelia spent the night with me.

She didn’t move from my bed for nearly twenty-four hours.  We did nothing but feed each other strawberries, read aloud from our favourite stories (I love Twain and Zora Neal Hurston, hers was Kundera and Harold and the Big, Purple Crayon), and test the bedframe.  Making love slowly, frenziedly; one giving tensed orders, then the other making breathless requests.  A little fucking marathon.  For such an old man, I only pulled some muscle or another around my groin near the end of this first encounter.  I didn’t fuss about it, though, as the mood was very light, almost as sheer as this graceful lady’s tights.  As I strolled with Amelia to the station, the evening smelt of autumn, and the breeze gave advance notice the Green Man was on his way.

And it has gone on since.  These love making sessions have lead me to this late revelation on the state of my fantasying faculties.  And this has had a further knock-on effect, and bear with me here: this has in part lead to my involvement in serious international wire crime.  Against the very pornography hubs I frequented online, some only a few weeks ago.  Striking right at the heart of the mushy, soft rotten parts of the internet.  Things just clicked into place.  I am the bully.

Let me walk you through the calculus.  Firstly, there’s the talent.  I know a ton of men and women, tops and bottoms, who work  the shooting communities in the Valley, Clearwater, Florida, north Vegas.  My friend Tyler, he’s a veteran cocksman.  He has said the same contracts in 1998 paid five times more back then than they did in 2010.  That’s “teh internets” at work.  You can’t beat ‘free,’ he says.  While we are beating off to free web portal content, other people’s bread and butter is being threatened.  There’s a way the business model can adapt, but first the marketplace has to be purified.

Second, let’s be honest here – from Sony to the FBI, entrenched institutions have been challenged by people from their home computers.  Does it matter what their various reasons were for doing so?  Let us focus instead on what we can be sure of.  Everything becomes open to change when you hook up to a network.  By definition.  It only follows that somebody, for whatever reason, decided to attack the free porn hubs.

Thirdly, I’ve been into hacking systems for a few decades.  It started with an issue of 2600 magazine in a hash and opium den off Wabash, back in mid-‘80’s Chicago.  The way it discussed the geography of the coast-to-coast telephone network as a physical system controlled by tones and switches aroused my interest.  When they started hooking personal home computers up to that network, new, even richer and dynamic systems arose.  For us to fuck with.

When I met the Anonymous faction at OLSX last fall, another piece fell into place.  Smart kids, just using their talents to help corporations do their business.  For a while.  Just taking the money they’re paid.  And then doing something they’re actually interested in.  Like crashing the corporate party.  Is system engineering only really a few steps away from re-engineering faulty, old ways of doing things, as these young hackers intoned?  I had only been involved because hacking is a golf term, thereby a Scottish enterprise by association.  But this cast everything in a new light.

Lastly, there was Amelia.  She left the circus to perform her work in the street, she told met that first night, because she got sick of producers, investors, club owners giving her advice on her act.  Expression, artistry, decisions on these things should be left to the creative spirits.  Not some business-minded arseholes.  So she split to take her art where she run a fair business, without compromise.  I thought of the people in porn.  They just want to make a fair trade: I did it as much out of love for my muse as much as any other reason.  But don’t tell her that.  She won’t like that I’ve turned to crime.

So, along with the Anonymous people, I coordinated massive denial of service attacks against the major free porno web portals.  Meanwhile, I had my press people organise a campaign to spread the word: the business model is changing.  Buy a monthly subscription to a pornographer’s website.  Save the blowjob, Tyler said when I phoned him about the idea.  I even got another friend who runs a screen-printing company to do up t-shirts.  Save the Blowjob.

So far, so good.  Although the story kept migrating deeper and deeper into the pinky folds, even the Financial Times covered the attacks for three days.  We had camera coverage from RT and a few others at the speaking rally in Hyde Park.  Not that I spoke.  Or even attended.  I had to remain behind the scenes, my lawyers explained to me.  This is wire crime.  I could face charges.  I don’t worry about this.  The word has gotten out there: for those who cannot go back to mental masturbation, save the wild Midwestern waitress-cum-adult model blowjob – pay for your porn!

My little acrobat has things to do during the day, she has her art to attend to.  When she decides to move on, to Pisa, to Dubrovnik; will I fill my nights with a carousel of faces; will I push my own face into the stacks in the Senate House library; will I try to be someone else’s London affair?  It’s difficult to see.

But what is a certainty, in my very own heart of hearts, is that no matter what happens to me or to my fair and wild Amelia; we have struck the first blow against free internet pornography.  The battle is here!  And what of winning this, I can only call on others to continue on, take the fight to the very walls of the place.  Old Adam Smith, he calls it the chance that Lowest Common Denominator is beaten by the scalable Prime Mover.  He wears his t-shirt everywhere these days.

A Note on Robbing the Notting Hill Carnival

The following is “A Remembrance of Notting Hill Carnival, 2012, by Lord Byron, W. Raleigh, D. Greyton, D. Trinder, and R. Sabatini”


Lord Byron

This storm of shit, he was calling it by then.  Couldn’t fly back to Miami on account of the hurricane what’s-his-name, couldn’t launch his own boat; so we took him to Notting Hill.  Wally has always been quite fond of paternal functionality, so he made like he would organise us, his mates, into a raiding party – that’d be me, Daniel and David (who have self-styled themselves the “Boys from ‘Nam”), and that Sabatini, he showed up later.  Things went to hell rather quickly, anyway.  Goddamn Carnival.

On a motherfucking BOAT

On a motherfucking BOAT.

Sir Walter Raleigh

That stint in the Midwest was the weirdest time, though.  We used to stalk around in the yards a few neighbourhoods at a time, stealing Freon from air conditioners.  Find the big whirring cubes up on their cement pedestals – not those tiny window units.  It’s best to pick ‘em off as they go on their fan cycle, as that really helps drown out the noise of the heist.  Filling up garbage bags out of the charging nozzle on the side of the box, one of us working the screwdriver, the other holding the bag so it resembles a hot air balloon or the mouth of a blow-up doll.  Up and down the rows of air conditioners in short pants, smelling like mosquito repellent.  We used to sell the garbage bags at a tenner a pop – no pun intended, you break it you bought it.  I am after all a pirate.  Not just another thief.  We used to huff a bit of it later on in the car on the way home.

Not while driving, of course, but in a passenger position.  With the windows mostly up.  And maybe the seat way back.  A Freon buzz makes whip-its seem like a wading pool in comparison.  These waves, you could get swallowed.  I remember putting gasoline on a beach towel once, and having to sit down on the curb downtown several times that night, but it’s a thick, inelegant wallop – the gentle murmur of Freon folding your vision into pulsating rings, into the theme music of Tom Baker-era Dr. Who, until you’re just walking around on some plain.  Looking at this life.  Just moments kind of strung together so.  Just like you were staring at a reflection of the sky in a bird bath.  That looks calm, doesn’t it?  Quite nice, that.  Echo.  Echo.  Yeah, I’ve lived a lot of places…

I don’t know why I’m recalling that as we rush into battle.  To my left, my lieutenant and his smash-and-grab squad are raving and lunging away, on the right side of me, a phalanx of shit is approaching in hi-viz raincoats.  Just a mile-wide brace of cops.  The weather is nice, though.  Myself, I’m viciously chopping a security goon in the neck, the blade of my hand pinching a few muscles and more importantly his windpipe, bringing him to a bit of a roll, which allows my confederates to make their egress even though heavily laden with lots of stolen goods.  We’re robbing tent stalls on Portobello Road, it’s Carnival you know, so people expect this kind of behaviour.  The cops are all probably stoned anyhow.  No big fuss.

Lord Byron

In this humming empire, domination travels through a fibre optic cable, radio waves through the air choking the very breath out of hillocks, live stock and variously brown peoples.  It’s a monster made of nothing.

So we want to kill it.  Whatever form ‘it’ assumes.  Start over, or just again but on new premises.

Obviously, the urge comes and goes for many of us.  Look at me.  Any given epoch of my life has seen me struggling towards revolution with a cutlass clenched between my hairy jaws, or sitting on my arse with a bowl of buttery popcorn, a comic book in one hand and myself in the other.  In the latter mode a lot these days.

These days, the street I live on has parking on both sides, off the pavement, so it’s impossible for two cars to pass each other.  One driver has to have the politeness to pull alongside the curb and basically park to allow the other to make way.  Also, I live in Barking and Dagenham, the poorest Borough in the city.  Why the fuck do you need to drive a Bentley, a Navigator down my fucking street?  But more importantly, why are the ones that do, inevitably also the dickheads who have to honk and curse instead of parking up for two bloody seconds?

Walter Raleigh

We all know that the vast majority of human kind has done and will do nothing of importance.  Walk down the street, count off heads.  Hardly any of us will be interesting or noteworthy, if any.  Mostly, we just take up space.

Georgie is one of them, but only on a part-time basis.  Good ol’ Jo-Go.  He’s been deep in the East End for too long, now.  Finds it hard to communicate his feelings without getting aggressive.

Not that anyone communicates that well.  The feelings that we want to explore, they’re all either incommensurable to others or so played-out, clichéd, that we are embarrassed to bring them up around polite company.  Except when you’re totally smashed and everyone are suitably strangers enough to bear some obnoxious blubbering.  Not to say it’s any less an embarrassment.  Just that its mixed together with several other embarrassing factors, kind of numbs it like.  And nobody will really know any better what the hell you were on about, so it’s back to square one.  So mostly we just keep stuff inside unless it bubbles out, you know?

Lord Byron

But really and truly, we exist to savage life itself, to maul it and mine it for the pleasure of it.

There’s an empty basement hallway in this apartment building on the corner.  Spooky, pissed-on carpets, deadly silent because every flat is empty, un-let.  Brasses take their tricks down there.  The pimps will wait in the dark end of the hall with a ball bat to roll the ones who are drunk enough.  The smell reminds me of Aberdeen.  Queen Street.  We used to piss on the carpets.  Stupid kids.

Rafael Sabatini

These two motherfuckers are hauling boxes out the backside of some tents, no, three! – and all of them pacing down the sidewalk in single file, and there’s Wally! – watching it go down.  Figures.  He would be in charge.  Fucking pirate!  What’s he still doing in town?

A quick scan of the scene confirms this: all the elements are too perfectly in place for anything other than a well-laid plan to be happening.

Cops are covered.  Wait until a bunch of those day-glo assholes are pushing up a street.  They are in herd mentality, point A to point Trample trample B.  The dicks in that phalanx don’t notice shit, don’t stop for shit.  Won’t even blink if some security goon goes down.  Must just be over-heated, that’s all.  Pick a few stalls middle of that street, quick everyone grab a box from the back of the tent, take it right through the tent, right over the table at the front of the stall, and then run right round the rear of it again.  The people running that tent won’t know what to do.  They ain’t following shit when that happens, scrambles their minds like.  Have your head-cracker standing nearby back of the tents to handle any heavies all in one go, job done.  There’s the heavy on the ground.  See what I mean?

Three fellas bobbing unpursued down the pavement with gigantic cardboard boxes of antiques, DVD’s and cigarettes, respectively, and another really calm chap following them at a small distance and watching backwards through his blue cigar smokescreen.  Ponces.  Clearly.  But only for a second.  Like a submarine going under, they all put on feathery headgear, crack open tinnies of Red Stripe, grabbing one of many large black women from western Africa, the West Indies, East Midlands.  These motherfuckers are going straight into that swirling crowd.  They are going to sell everything right in the middle of the parade.  No evidence save the loot wadded down in their shoes, the vicious bastards!  I immediately move in to join them or stop them, I haven’t yet decided.

Walter Raleigh

And a tidy little smash and grab it turned out to be.  The hardest items to sell were going to be the antiques, but of course they turn over a higher price and so would be duly worth any pains taken.  It was Rafa who thought to pawn them to the house parties spilled out onto the stoops alongside Westbourne Grove.  Smart lad, always did have a cooler head than the characters he was enamoured of writing about.  There was never any way those ruffians would hatch the plans they did in his books!  How he ever managed to bump into us remains a delicious mystery.  There’s about half a million people thronging through the area during Carnival, and it had to be this cunt what saw us.  Brilliant.

Anyway, the first stage of the heist was done.  We splashed some Hennessy about to smell convincing and then waded knee-deep into the parade.  Not floats: whole city block-sized islands of thudding dancehall, dub-step, gospel choirs and roustabout DJs, each with their own roped-in herd of sweating denizenry following behind.  Giant collection trucks with scaffolds and bleachers erected inside the frames on the back of the empty beds holding galleries of undulating, sparkling dancers.  Roly-poly black girls, tween-aged black girls, every now and again an above average lass grinding about, looking all steamy and unique.  I’ve always loved black women, so Carnival is a bit of a buffet for me.  I get teased a bit for not dancing like your typical white dude, but I know it’s the best kind of flirting, it’s like speaking a language with an accent.

Dag’nam Dan

That Sabatini is some friend of Wally’s – he knicked half of the dough I copped off of that crate of fags and spent it on an ivory paperweight, that great fucking tit!  True, he bartered me a blowjob from a tall ginger girl with gapped teeth a few porches later, but I ain’t heard no word on ever getting that six tonnes back again.  And he only bought it from hisself!  Gore!

Rafael Sabatini

I have to hand it to the lot of them, they were quite able salesmen to a point.  We had quite a blast, it did feel authentically Rio street fair.  Wally managed to talk a few of the float managers into letting the lads up into the backs of the trucks, and from five feet above the crowds along either side of the parade route, they were trading cigarette packets at two for five pounds and copies of some Brazilian porn film for the same price.  There were wads and wads of fivers everywhere.  That’s when I got the idea to create a bit of a kerbside auction house for that tatty antiques haul.

I had already mentioned it to George, or Gordon or whatever his proper first name is, just after one of the Boys from ‘Nam let go of a flaking leather-bound book for a two-pound coin.  I suggested that we take a different strategy with that third box.  Wally instructed him to let it aside for a while, if for no other reason than to have made a decision and pronounced upon it.  Always acting the part.  Fucking pirates and their egos never die.  I do love Wally, don’t misunderstand me.  It’s part of his charm.

Anyway, so once I had the premise of the con figured out and the merchandise properly sequestered, I was just waiting for a suitable staging ground for it.  I felt just like a character in one of my own stories!  At one point, one of the Boys from ‘Nam was hanging out of the side of our float, handing tall stacks of fag boxes, porn boxes to a moist-looking group of people on one of those stoops with the walkway between the pavement and the porch over the basement windows, and Wally teased him like he was going to push him out into the middle of the porch.  I thought they might catch him, like the crowd at a rock concert, you know?  Anyway, I was looking at the people on the porch there, all pissed and wearing expensive labels with beer and juice poured down their fronts.  And I thought, they look like they could afford some ‘furbed fucking antiques.

So I hauled the box down to the first porch there, and had the Boys from ‘Nam hold up each item in turn while Wally played auctioneer.  I just bought the first item in the box after a little manufactured bidding war with someone else like I was a member of the crowd, and everyone got into the swing of things rather quickly.  The middle-classes are so easy to manipulate.  The only reason we had to leave that first stoop was because a fight broke out between two of the punters.  The action on the next porch was just as hot, but we ran out of pricey junk after the gilt astrolabe sold for four hundred quid, so hostilities never had the chance to come to a head.  The knick knacks like embossed calf-skin wallets, large cameo rings and lead-crystal globes we pawned as normal naming prices in the crowds on the next few porch parties down the row, but this time the exchange was for favours.

Lord Byron

Honestly, it probably started out at as a joke.  Like, want this watch, grab hold of this first, ha ha, but let this be clear: Sea Dogs and all that we might be, there’s no excuse for hitting a woman in the belly, even if she did bite your cock.  And that’s likely ‘cause someone had run into her, anyway, so doubly difficult to defend.  Poor girl was puking up beer foam.  I knew I fucked up right away.

Dag’nam Dave

He smacked that bird a good hard one, and then stuck the two guys who first made some fuss, and then poor Georgie B. couldn’t really quit even if he’d wanted to.  I joined in, sure.  That’s some good fun to be had right there: like, fifty billion people to fight, right away, in all directions.  And you’re only on the right side because it was your mate what done someone ill, so you know you have to fight that much harder so that if you lose, you lose well and totally.  We left wigs in the street.  We kicked guys in the nuts, when they were already down.  There are lots of empty bottles lying around everywhere during the parade, each one a scar, just waiting there.

Then Wally was dragging us through some front door, over a sitting room foyer and out into a back garden, throwing these wads of fivers at whoever had brokered this timely fucking passage.  God loves Wally, truly – him and his salty fucking pluck.

Walter Raleigh

Plane was ready to go first thing the next day.  Fucking airline rang my room at six in the morning – I nearly missed the flight, I swore at the cunt on the phone for so long.  Glad to get away from those boys, though – I think they’re bad influences, them.  Not to mention the weather on the old island continues to be a joke.

The old rituals were nice.  Like laving on sunscreen at the dunes, rolling up a poster, or smoking in a convertible; just easy little motions that can move the whole world an inch in its cradle.  It’s a shame about that Georgie Boy, for certain, but we even had us a little down-home scape-goating at his expense.  Many of my friends are quite envious when I recount the orgy in the heist.  Some bits get embellished here and there, but depending on company, nothing is too perverted.

Nothing too perverted.

Rafael Sabatini

Most people consider it a success if they make it through Carnival without having their phone or wallet stolen, some are just hoping for the rare year when they are not hauled out bodily by law enforcement for sundry reasons often involving alcohol.  George Gordon Byron measures success by whether he was able to incite riotous violence, primarily against women, and with a faintly racist taint to it all.  Well done, Lord Georgie.

For a long while now I’ve been addicted to Come Dine with Me, right?  David Lamb is just hilarious, so camp.  My favourite trope is when one contestant or another says to the camera interview that they will not be calling some other guest in the future.  Because that person offended them somehow.  Some shallow reason.  But it’s always covering up the fact that the person pronouncing this judgment is all too often even crabbier of attitude, ruder and coarser than the person upon whom they pronounce.  Every time!

Nonetheless, that guy’s not getting a call to come round to any social functions not already involving electric tasers.

Lord Byron

I like this weed I got from one of the guys in that garden where we hid out.  Really nice fruity taste, almost like plum.  I was lucky that dealer was there.  After what had happened, I was in a bit of shock.  Wally said the bribe to the owner of the house come out of my cut.  I didn’t argue.

Dag’nam Dan

Massive fucking time, though – you got to admit these guys do pretty well stirring up the old beehive.  A bit of everything this year, really.  Oh, and Dave and I took a dozen phones each out of pockets in that crowd – it pays to have a diversion going on, don’t it son!

Dag’nam Dave

Georgie was a bit morose, beating hisself up for days.  It was annoying after a bit.  I think it was because he knew that he could never go back to the days where he was swabbing the high seas, or whatever, waving his sword around.  Sounds a bit gay though, don’t it?  Dunno.  Suppose he loved it, back when he could.  What time takes away, and all that.  I can’t say why he’s not happy enough with busting jaws open like we get to do once in a while like this.  He was back to work in the garage on Tuesday morning, though, complaining about old glories being gone forever, but pretending he was chastising himself.  Like I said, it just got annoying.  So I cracked his nose open and told him that I’d warned him to shut it already.  We got in a good few rounds later at pub.  Happy days.

An Encounter with… Poet Kaile Glick

Kaile Glick is a poet.  I met her on Brick Lane, where she was at work busking with her typewriter.  I know, imagine it.  Very curious!  A little card table.  The Smith-Corona’s cover propped against a leg, emblazoned: The Spontaneous Prose Store.  And so it was that I found our clerk sat behind her machine, cranking out the product: literally on the road, writing off the cuff, her punters supplying the title, topic or first line of their very own, prose-laced 3-by-5” sticker, and Kaile gets to record the series.  Watch her story grow.

At first I couldn’t believe I was turning around, going back to interrupt.  Reversing the pedestrian inertia, trying not to clap my hands like one of those toy monkeys with the wee cymbals.  Was I ready to talk to strangers, I thought at first, I just got stoned in the park like, two seconds ago.  Then I was standing there meeting the proprietor, this Canadian girl, plugging myself into the scene she commands.  I had a lot of questions.  I asked if I could do an interview.  It took a lot longer than I thought it might.  Kaile’s a fucking great sport, though, and I am glad I met her.  You’ll see.  I’ll introduce you.

this machine makes magic

you use it to conjure forth fantasy, duh

Young Kaile has been tugging the old typewriter ribbon-first from Toronto for two summers, assembling her pile of poems along the journey.  She had tried college.  Three times.  She moved to the US for a while, staying in a hostel a lot longer than most people would care to, meeting tourists and developing a taste for the stories that people share with each other when they’ve been flung together so.  She had seen a tramp earning whisky money one evening, heard him clack clack clacking, and said hm.  I didn’t bring it up at the moment, but most people just walk past that unaffected, and Kaile didn’t just get impressed by the sight, as I have.  Suddenly a new channel for expression had been illuminated.  The spirit inside her saw a way out! – she had to try it, writer’s block be damned.

Wait, this isn’t what she said.  I’m sexing this up slightly.  There was a different reason for doing it, I’ll check my notes.  Journalist.  Journalist.  Right: it wasn’t just writing, expression, creation and all that nonsense, rather she grabbed ahold of the Store concept as a way to channel Paul Newman.  I don’t know why I hadn’t asked her to explain that.  I was a bit high and it made more sense to me then.  Something about The Hustler getting paid.  Also she said she wanted to put one over on the ghost of Kerouac.  Right on, I might have even said.  All those Beats, their politics are no longer relevant and we’re still slaves, Malice in Blunderland, fuck ‘em all; no, I didn’t say that, but I nodded.  And it was a hippy at a writer’s festival what she saw, not a panhandling savant, like some Curtis Lowe character.  I have to apologise to you, reader, and promise to never again take these manipulative liberties.  But I’m almost certain that Kaile wouldn’t mind me mythologizing a bit, would you, young poet?

Anyway, so the first thing that came to mind to ask her about was the most inappropriate topic, her gender.  Is this perhaps dangerous for a young girl to do?  I mean, how reckless, how wilfully care free, footloose even for a thirty-year old guy like me to consider doing!  She seemed so totally at ease with the whole thing.  She’s got more guts than I do, I guess.  And shouldn’t this piece be about art, about some great experience I had with somebody living inspirationally (that’s Kaile), and not about the Health and Safety concerns of some sort of ageing post-feminist (that’d be me) with a dark view of human nature and a paternal instinct?  Yeah, she’s probably correct when she asks me to leave it.

Her story of the Store’s synthesis had an unexpected punchline.  Like any good project, Kaile said she initially talked about the concept a lot more than she took out the table and rug and typewriter, and the fisherman’s seat that makes the whole rig look frankly like some kind of crazy vehicle.  It seems like it was during this brainstorming that she began to think about what the upshots of the practice would be.  Wrangling with random elements in the writing process.  Developing an eye for people, and how to open them up, seeing firsthand if she’s speaking to the reader.  Perhaps.  I have to write that there – more of my perhaps journalism.  Journalist.  Journalism.  Maybe she’s just heaping up loads of little bits of what she had referred to as “something big” – ah, the Something Big.  The ineffable mother lode after which all of us writers lust.

But, you know, these little pieces don’t materialise from nowhere, she has to convert the foot traffic into customers.  So she’s got this pitch that’s pretty clean and poppy.  Every time I watched her pull a few handfuls of inspiration from the crowd, I had a chance to scribble into my notepad.  One by one, each person looked over.  Saw the Store.  One by one, they are suddenly drawn by the poet to her typewriter as if to a crystal ball.  Behold.  Clack clack clack.  And when the person finally has their half of the literature, they all hold it the exact same way, both hands holding the card, arms bent with the elbows against the torso, a look of wonder in their eyes and they always mouth along (but I coax them to read aloud).  And then, just as ably, Kaile moved them along, the tink tink into the hat.  A few swipes and a new card was ready with the carbon sheet that duped the stanzas of her ever-growing poem.

And what does it all mean for our poetess?  I guess we were sitting there, drinking tinned lager and chatting, and I forgot there was an interview to do, so I may have to piece this one together here.  For me it’s about telling a story of someone seeing something, trying it out, seeing that it works, how it works.  Something magical.  Ideas growing into real physical things.  For her it’s a kind of school where she goes in and learns every day, disciplined, fruitful.  She says if this were a baccalaureate program, she’d be about half-way through, maybe in an internship.  Although I prompted that metaphor, so it’s not really clear if that’s just me again.  She’ll be dropping in on Edinburgh while she’s here, to busk the Royal Mile.  Later, it’s a library job, maybe after dropping out of library school.

I guess the most enjoyable aspect of Kaile’s whole Store concept is that this poet-busker really has her shit together.  It’s such a wonderful contradiction.  She’s making her life up out of whole cloth, true.  Most street people are, some to the more extreme ends of schizophrenia.  But, purposive.  Collected.  Light-hearted.  Most people on the street aren’t any of these things.  And of course, she’s young, so it’s got to be a blast roaming strange lands with a rucksack full of poetry, a nice buzz and Knowing that nothing is any other way than what you say it is.  Once she puts down roots, aye, watch out for this one.


Do I have a list of the authors, movements, styles and what-have-you about her favourite literature?  Did I care to read any of her work, so that I might pass judgment on it for you?  No.  I make no claims to being any kind of art snob.  If you’re interested in either of these topics:

You can find Kaile’s most recent poetry anthology through, and her Store has a web presence at .

A Note from Thomas Jefferson on the Start of the Olympics

We had to see the stadium at midnight.  It was T. Paine, he’s always the cunt with the idea.   He was in prison you know, so everyone looks up to him like he’s some sort of dauphin.  That Tom.  He has everyone so snowed.  This always happens when more than two of us get together smoking hash turds, slugging gin.  Greased against inertia like this we go along easily enough with lots of things.  It was agreed that we should take the trains in the high fashion of the plebeians amongst whom we find ourselves.  We made our way east toward the coliseum.

the big night

there she is, looking like an egg cup in the matrix

All the baby-poop beige brickwork flying past us.  This Metro-Cammell is one of those refurbished late-‘60’s carriages.  Humping and bumping through the buildings along Marylebone to Euston, then rounding through the shoulder blades of the Grays Inn Road down into the tarry dimples above the city’s bottom.  Ben is charismatically peeling the lyrics to ‘The Passenger’ and pumping his arms in the air, trying to get the whole car going.

Not that Ben, of course – he chucked it into some village around Machu Picchu for ‘monastic retirement’ ages ago.  He’s a smart cunt.  This Ben is just another of us Toms – he was born Benjamin Franklyn Thomas, middle son of a couple of Windrush émigrés to the muddier end of Brixton.  We met Ben in the late ‘70’s.  He was running coke in a headband in Soho during the week and then it was khakis and a blazer at the weekends for the polo-and-tennis market round Victoria.  Lord, the fashions never really change do they.  Anyway, we met in a predictable enough scene, I’m sure you can fill in the details, and he’s been rousing the rabble with us old grey-hairs ever since.

There’s myself, my great-nephew Eric and T. Paine, the mouthy prick.  Ben Thomas brought his two er, young friends, both of whom are apparently named ‘Com’ere Bitch’; rounding out the usual group are Chelsea Tom and Battersea Tom, the former with his electronic cigarette charged with high-grade marijuana cartridges, the latter toting one of those leather travel bars with the shaker and ice bucket.  The lesser Toms, we teasingly refer to them, and the both of them foaming at the mouth for the Stratford bus station chicken shop.  John Dewey is also in town from Manila expressly for the Games and is carding out a line of blow on top of Com’ere Bitch no.2’s exposed thigh.  A few groups of tourists, German, Brazilian flags wrapped around their necks like capes, are singing the “la la la-la-la” bit with their glistening maestro Ben Thomas.

“Dear me – I’ve forgotten to grab the camera,” it occurs to Eric, patting about his neck and chest where the thing would be strapped had we not left the house in a rather hurried, stoned fugue.

“Just as well.  God knows what we could end up doing this evening – we won’t have anything incriminating floating about,” says John, this time from between knees of Com’ere Bitch no.1.

“Nothing you wouldn’t be able to dress up later, Dew Drop,” snorts old T. Paine, always in three conversations at once.  “You’ve definitely got the gift of hindsight!”

“Calculated deception is one thing, old fruit, but impassioned exposition is quite another altogether.  One merely quibbles about what the truth should perhaps be, and the other is to pronounce it unequivocally.  Fuck me, I can’t decide which one of you has smoother skin – Ben, help us!”

“I guess the camera on my phone will have to do for now,” Eric concludes.  I hear dejection in his voice.

“No bother, my boy, we’ll simply harry the Olympics people for some sponsored freebies, maybe a plastic disposable or whatever they can spare for old-timers like us.”

“Uncle Tom, aren’t you on the twenty-dollar note or something? – you’re one of the most recognizable gangsters outside of HBO.  Probably even moreso than that one guy…”

“That’s Andy Jackson.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s an Italian sounding name.  As you said, I’m sure we’ll work something out.”

A commotion from the end of our train car – well, a commotion other than the one we have been causing.  A girl what fell asleep momentarily on the luggage of the girl sharing her seat.  I say luggage, it appears to be a large denim sack full of booze.  The owner of the bag has decided to awaken sleeping beauty by dancing a ketchup-smeared napkin across her face.  A third party sitting adjacent to this travesty intervenes.

“How rude!” slapping at the napkin and repeating herself in a mildly annoyed tone of voice, as if addressing gum on her shoe.  “How rude!  You, come sit over here,” handing the assaulted girl a clean tissue, “get over here, away from this rude person.”  The empty space of the car fills first with confusion, and then with an expectation of at least a mild tussle.

We Toms are all agape.  Even John’s hand has paused in mid-air holding a rolled-up tube of a bank note, riveted by the scene.  But the two girls simply minister to themselves and the other one is on the bench across from them with her denim sack of booze.  She looks quite happy with herself and her actions, and she just smiles.  Adjusts herself on the seat.  Sensing she is on a roll here, napkin girl addresses her opponent via the rest of the car.

“Excuse me, but isn’t that a sun hat, for the daytime?  Girl, the sun been down for hours now!”

“It is a sun hat, very good.  There was plenty of sun during the day, plenty.”  This voice sounds so far equally pleased with itself.

“Is that REALLY your friend?  I mean, do you even KNOW her?”

“Yes, yes I do, and you are a very rude person, thank you.”

“Really.”  Her focus shifts to the girl she was painting with garbage a moment before.  “How many stops do you have to go, darling?”

“She has far enough to go, thank you.”

“Ash. You know everything.  How many sisters does she have?”


“And you know her parents’ names, too?  Do you know how many kids she has?”

Surprising enough, hat girl rounds on the other:  “Well how many children do you have, then?”

I can barely contain myself from yelling out and out of habit clamp a hand over T. Paine’s mouth.  There’s a pause for just a beat.  Napkin girl speaks, her tone not quite chastened:

“I’m just saying, you know, even though we just met and all the shit we been talking, I can see us being really good friends, you and me.”

This girl in the hat, her expression completely disappears, she goes stone silent as T. Paine and I collapse nearly to the floor with laughter  – so entirely incomprehensible, the logic so deftly and mind-bendingly perverted  … the first medal of the 2012 games must go to the girl with the clinking, sloshing denim sack for her skill at mindfucking a stranger.

Battersea Tom looks over at my great-nephew as if to say there are some things you cannot capture on camera, some things you just have to remember you have experienced.  His mouth goes to form a word, then stops.  Then he just smiles that dumb smile like he’s running a fucking raft across the Gnages river all day.  Ben Thomas lurches forward, hitting his cue perfectly.

“Hey, lady, send me one of those bottles, there, hey!”

Napkin girl’s hand closes on the bag.

“You can’t drink all that by yourself, send me one of those!  Hey!”

“Who says I was going to drink these all by myself – I’m having a little party later at home…”

Ben Thomas stands his ground, his eyes flirtatious, he coughs dismissively, repeats himself.  “How much do you want for one?  Send me one.”

“How much have you got?”

B.T. right on his mark again, he is quick, mercurial.  He is a very serious face shouting with a deep voice, “you CAN’T sell alcohol on the TRAIN!  That’s ILLEGAL!  You’re breaking the law!”  His body language is like something off of Fox TV’s old COPS program.  The look on napkin girl’s face is absolute panic.  “You’ve KNICKED that booze, haven’t you!”  No, no, she’s denying, as he closes distance across the rocking train car.  He’s just barking this over and over, until she’s practically holding the bag out to him.

“I didn’t knick it, I swear!”

“Well, then I WILL, young lady” and he’s got two bottles out of her sack and tucked against each of his forearms the way a running back holds a football, strutting back to the group of us, now the rest of the train car doing their version of ape-shit.  These kids will never learn.

A Bengal tiger, while an amazingly well-engineered lurking killer, is at the end of it  just a one trick pony.  You stalk.  Continue to stalk.  Grab the jugular.  Hang on.  Repeat.  I do like the fact that she will lose interest in her prey if she knows the goddamned thing has spotted her.  That’s a resolute sportsman, disciplined.  But still just the one trick.  Ben Thomas, he’s showed that poor girl that her game, well, she may be decent enough at it, but more is what the novice does not yet know of the master.

Of course, he may have an unfair advantage hanging about with old codgers like us Toms.  When it comes to language, we have a long history of being creative magicians.  Take a look at the founding documents of the USA, and you’ll see another great idea that old T. Paine had.  The idea was to tell everyone that slave feudalism, pious aristocracy, and silly costumed posturing had all been done away with.  And then to just keep doing it.  Call it something else.  But keep doing it.  Magic.

It was so simple.  Just no one thought to try it before.  Say it ain’t so.  Then say what is.  T. Paine just got everyone calling it freedom.  After a while, even the bright ones start repeating it.  It’s not exactly the liberty we all go on about in our pamphlets and parchments, but no one seems to care.  Freedom is cool.  You can swing your arms around.  You can pick your favourite colours and flavours.  You can’t affect your interests in the marketplace, or even petition the legislature for them in any meaningful way, and your associations within both these forums are all directed by others and under threat of violence to do otherwise, but you can tattoo a vagina right on your face.  Hey, check out this guy’s face vagina, everyone!

We change trains.  And then we’re there up on top of the stadium, a giant glowing bruise where the crater of the east end used to be between the reservoirs and the canals.  The immaculate lawn.  That was a pile of broken windows.  The gigantic branded fast-food restaurant.  That was a pile of broken immigrants.  Eric snaps a few photos with his phone.  Chelsea Tom hands me his electronic cigarette.  “Supposedly the old girl might get more business flowing through her tidal vagina is why she threw a huge fuck-off media party,” he says.  “We shall see, is the order now,” and he’s off to the chicken shop on the pavement with Battersea Tom.  This has to be the most expensive tacky white-trash barbecue anywhere, ever – and I’ve lived in Virginia.

On the way back through Liverpool Street we saw the armed police sauntering across the concourse, barrels pointed downwards but no less sub-machines, tools of horror.  I jumped when I saw them – I turned to Eric and he wasn’t even phased.  He held up the camera that the Olympic Park staff awarded to us as VIP’s and grabbed a few snapshots as the rest of us mugged with the British Transport coppers in their flak jackets and gigantic weapons.  Normal tourist stuff that suddenly went to shit.

“John Lennon says it in ‘I Found Out’ – having a giant cock in your hand don’t make you a man,” Dewey turns round and beams through his red shiny face.  You can almost picture him as a schoolboy, jeering after teacher passes up the aisle.

Try not to leave the house without your keys, but keep a set with the neighbours.  Never, ever call someone the moment after you get stoned.  It’s not a good idea.  And, please yourself, don’t make gun noises after armed police pass, it’s in poor taste.  You might almost feel each rapid metallic blast thudding in your core as the barrel ejects spent casings out of its side, even if the muscles in your arms tense in expectation of that heavy recoil, don’t pantomime a gun like you’re eight years old – don’t do it.

But suddenly there we are clapping hands onto our old friend John.  Dragging the plum-shaped man off the concourse into the Underground.  T. Paine explaining to the coppers that poor old John can’t hold his liquor the way he used to, we’ll take care to get him home without further incident, thank you for your indispensable service to the world’s fans of sport.   Dewey screaming now, “yeah, the world needs you to jackboot down their front doors under cover of darkness!  The world needs dickheads!”  Thank you, goodnight, cheers.  The only reason we weren’t all gunned down was the presence of the scantily clad Com’ere Bitches.  Bless both those girls.

Just keep saying names until one is real.

A Note from the Marquis de Sade on the occasion of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon Final

There, the way her jaw line and nose are in sharp parallel, see it there – she’s an animal in bed.  You can see in her eyes.  She knows how to let instinct take over.  The vulpine little wench.  These petite-bourgeois do like a roll in stench once in a while, don’t they just love it between shopping trips to Bond Street, their spa treatments, firing the help over imagined theft.  Watch which exit she uses.  We’ll catch up to her later, after this lanky ginger has finished entertaining everyone with his nationalistic flopping about.

He looks a bit like Napoleon Dynamite, does he not?

I’m absolutely steeped in this Pimms-and-sugar-water the service keeps bringing out around here.  Leave it to the Brits to wilfully choose cough-syrup as their national beverage – sheer awkwardness.  I’m tempted to ask someone for a jar of Marmite to spoon into the cucumber and strawberry they insistently pack into the bottom of my glass.  Let them see their disgusting culture pushed to the nth degree right in front of them.  The sick little things, their faces would bulge in horror of recognition!  But really, this match is taking too goddamned long to keep on drinking this shit, and anyway, all of this grunting and the smell of perspiration is making me yearn for champagne and anal sex.  I look over at my acquaintance, an Englishman named Grayson, but he is too busy chatting with minor socialites to offer any assurances on the booze selection.  I audibly, visibly, palpably sulk.

Come to the tennis, he had said on the telephone.  It will be a gas, not to be missed, etc. – “everyone’s already referring to it as Britain’s first great historic sport failure of the new millennium.”  This acquaintance of mine hardly ever phones, less often with an invitation; and as most of my English friends do, he owes me a bit of money in gambling losses, so I naturally felt obliged to accept.  I immediately notified my photographer, a smallish man named Li who looks exactly like Pat Morita and flits about in an astute and surreptitious manner snapping away wherever I go.  He used to be attached to some biographer or another, one of those tabloid-writer types invariably assigned by this or that publishing house to cover my tastefully sordid goings-on.  No books come of it.  None of the editors believe a word of the copy they are sent, and poor, loyal Li was for a long while not notified to stop snapping.  I’m not certain how long it had been since any official capacity had passed, but by the time Li realised what had happened he was already quite integrated into my personal spheres and schedule.  I quite like a smallish retinue with me anyway, so I keep him on retainer out of polite vanity.

I have him on speed-dial.  “We’re off to Wimbledon, Li.”

“Excellent, I can use my action shutter!”

“I should expect we’ll be doing a fair amount of navel gazing and celebrity-spotting, but, oh, go ahead if you think there will be any action on the court worth catching.  I’ll be around with the Benz in half and hour.”

The roads were a bit of an ordeal, but my chauffeur excels at decisively overpowering Sunday traffic.  This is due to twenty years previous service to an inconspicuously wealthy member of the clergy given to daydreams, bellinis at brunch and consequent tardiness.  He still keeps a rosary hanging from the rearview out of habit.

So hypnotic is the sound of the Benz’s diesel engine block chewing through London towards Roehampton that I dozed for a bit.  I’m barefoot.  Moss and a whole forest beneath me, above me.  I hear a little girl singing softly, like the sound of rain behind curtains.  I turn round and round, looking through an endless glade to find the voice.  Then Li jostles me awake.  Grayson is standing at the rolled-down window.

“Wakey, wakey, Sadie. I’ve got us a box near the Prime Minister, I know how you do love to spit at heads of state.”

The driver has come around for the door.  “Lovely.  And everyone’s certain their countryman is going to fail?”

“Mm, but he’s Scottish, so the whole thing’s kind of a compromise, you see.”

“I have never pretended to understand you people.”

It’s a few games in to the first set, and some asshole, clearly drunk, is yelling to this rich bitch in the royals box.  I can see him clearly – his big brand-name sunglasses dangle from his shirt below a clutch of hairs coiling out of the collar.  What a perfect attention-seeking buffoon, I think to myself.  Right in the face of the so-called civilised bunch filling this place.  It’s a shame this probably won’t get more entertaining.  Something brisk with whimsy.  Oh, for the chance he might flash a little bit of his particular endowment to the princess or whatever the fuck she is.  Who could commit to something rowdy surrounded by all these wooden cowards.

Anyway, Li is shooting the whole incident.  If only things escalated.  We could take it straight to the bank if he could just be brave enough.

“Imagine if he did something out-there, something perverted.”  Snapsnap.  “That would make a very valuable piece of photojournalism!”

“That’s amazing, Li – I was just now having the exact thought you have just uttered.”

The buffoon yells a second, then third time.  The crowd finally has to admit that they notice him now.  This is his moment: he can seize the whole world with one inflammatory gesture; he can show them all their own animal side, let them breathe deep the smell their own sweating asses, the stench of their blue-blooded bollocks and country-club cunts; this drunken asshole, he can be their champion.

But that’s not what anybody here wants.  That’s only what I want.  My spirit has become agitated.  I should calm down, mind my own business.

This scar here, above my brow, this is where I wasn’t minding my own business at a nightclub.  I tried to stop a young guy pulling this girl’s hair.  Just like a kindergarten teacher.  His friends were all dressed identically, it’s a wonder I didn’t see them beforehand.  He took my beer bottle away and smacked me with it just before security came down to the dance floor.  There was a lot of blood, and all down the front of my favourite tie.  You can’t dry-clean those, the silk gets all fucked up.

“He doesn’t have the stones to be that kind of hero, Li.”

The match went on.  We managed to locate some suitably vintage burgundy.  Rain delayed play for a bit while the roof was drawn shut.  When the ushers took us back to our seats, I slipped off my boat shoes for a bit and let my mind wander.  Then focus.  Wander again.  One of my toenails has become completely taken over by this fungus.  It is thick and ripe looking, a fecundity at once arresting and repulsive.  The nail itself no longer a single plate, but rather like a panel of wood looks when swollen and rotten.  There’s a forty-day cycle of Lamisil the doctor can prescribe.  There’s a forty percent success rate for such a course of treatment.  Or I could lop it off with a hatchet.  That would have to be precision work.

I’m mentally sharpening claw hammers when the match is called in favour of the Swiss competitor.  The dream is over.  Grayson turns abruptly from the conversation he’s been having with some West End theatre up-and-comer.

“Looks like this poor chap isn’t ape enough to be a hero out here for us, either, eh Sadie?”

“Once in a while you do show evidence of true wit, my friend.”  People on the court were assembling, arranging themselves for the rituals that restrain the erstwhile explosive combatants and reclaim them in the name of orderly society.  “Now, I believe I have the matter of engineering a meeting with this foxy lady – Li?  Have you found out her name for me yet?”

“I’m afraid it’sMurray’s, eh, fiancée.”

“How delicious.  Have our driver uncork some Moet.”

A Dog Walks into a Bar…

Any artist can tell you, to put in a really great performance you just have to master an ability to get super comfortable with the spaces you’ll be filling up.  Know what your energy is going to interact with, what it bounces off and what kind of changes that makes in it.  Then there’s blocking around the set, lighting, and film or T.V. work means endless geometry – angles this, coverage that.  An audience on a pin head.

a sample studio set

the term you’re looking for is ‘fourth wall’

I could make a joke about a particular television director here, but I’m already barely employable.  Rest assured, though, it’s as good as said because I’m not creative that way – you’ve probably already figured it out yourself by now.  Obviously, I won’t be earning a living crafting one-liners, either, so I’m going to keep my snout shut.  I’ve got rent to pay.

But really, lots of guys, talent, crew, trainers, anyone who worked with me, they’ll tell you that my creativity is in the way I can tamp down the stage, let it settle like a blanket thrown out for a picnic.  Just get everything perfectly hush.  Just slip it on.  Like an old collar that’s leather has stretched perfectly to the muscles of your neck.  A good performance is just wearing the space as easily and confidently as slipping that old collar over your ears.

Of course, I totally fucked my shot after pissing on everyone in the business, so it doesn’t matter if I can do it or not, right?  But I’m just saying, in case it makes a difference for anybody else out there.  You know.  Trying to be profound to strangers, the only people who don’t know me well enough to know any better.

I started out part of industry royalty, born into a great family name.  Learning the boards, looking at performance as an art to speak through, to master; none of that really mattered, even without any of the effort I put into my career I would have had it all.  But I knew early on I wanted to be able to look at myself in the reflection in my watering bowl and feel pride.

So I worked at it tirelessly.  Other talent was just chasing after the dummies, fetching the retrieval weights, waiting for the biscuit rewards.  I was committing passages to memory out of Pal’s autobiography.  Pal, the doggie drag-queen who started it all, the first Lassie.  His sons, and then grandsons, and then their nephews, whole squirming litters of puppies still slick with placenta had a shot at real glory, if they were bright enough.  The first animal superstar.

Everyone had great expectations of me.  My mother’s line going back four generations had been modelling for the Walton, Co’s, Ol’ Roy dog food packaging and advertisements.  A dynasty of border collies, one paw up, red tongues lolling out between the lower front teeth.  A stroke of luck in what political ethicists call the natural lottery guaranteed me the fast-track in the trained animal industry.  First print, then a crossover into stage and film.  After a few dozen early successes, and it was smooth sailing.  My representation agency assembled a team of people to support my ascendance.  I was the Sun King; I even managed to land a live-in girlfriend, this hot Pekinese bitch who went right into heat after a few G and T’s.

At some point, the constant time around sycophants, the constant contractual negotiations between third- and fourth-party interests, I began to crack up.  I was looking at the people around me promoting this ascent, engineering each victorious step, and I started thinking – what if everyone’s only interested in the blood-line?  I felt used, is how I saw it then.  Now I can recognize it as cowardice.

So I began proclaiming to chauffeurs, masseuses, strangers in bars – everyone who would listen – in that rebellious way a bratty adolescent will, I began insisting that the responsibility of my family name was an unfair burden.  Then gradually I dropped out altogether.  Showed up late, stoned on painkillers.  Didn’t show up at all.  Bit a few hands.  My name started to mean something different from the family name.  I got my wish.

When you stop caring about something but everyone else around you is still pushing and loading all their efforts behind achieving it, they can get real shitty real fast once they feel their investment has been compromised.  It’s like betrayal.  Even if they didn’t look at you – a four year old border collie who still, given the chance, will roll in cow patties, proving Felson’s opportunity theory of crime –  as a helmsman, still, for all the handlers, trainers, agents, booking staff, the press team, your groomers, you are that individual.  To just bail on them, well that’s worse than a slap in the face after filling their duties for so long.  Everybody hated me.  I was blacklisted, first in the production studios and networks, then even the rodeo circuits where the real fuck-ups end up, even they saw me as a liability.

After a few debts pile up, your credit rating can make a steep descent.  This can keep you up nights drinking.  Under so much booze, it’s pretty understandable that you might doubt past decisions and get into some pretty undignified situations trying to undo what’s done.  This is nothing you’ll ever want to tell your children.  Once you’ve hit bottom and righted yourself out again, though, there are lots of things you can do for minimum wage in a recession economy, and lots of AA chapters that don’t mind a collie coming to meetings.

First, you have to hit bottom.

I was working in the barrel cellar at a bar, changing out the CO2 tanks for the soda, rotating the beer kegs, scooping old mouse carcasses out of half-dried syrup spilled from leaking bags of cola mix.  This is in some stagnant town outside the Black Hills in easternMissouri.  I was one of the only guys in the area who wasn’t able to trace their family back five generations, kissing cousins not excluded.  Also, I was a mostly black dog, so everyone already had cause to look at me sideway.  One afternoon on a day off work, I was drinking heavily and watching day-time television in the town’s other bar, when I blacked out and began insulting some of the patrons.  Five or six hours later, I awoke bloodied and chastened in a holding cell in the local police station.

It seems one of the female officers was on patrol that evening, and received a call that a pedestrian was lying by the side of the road near the town’s centre.  She managed to bring me around and get me up on all fours; I remember she offered me a ride, but I refused, slurring about how I could walk home from here, it wasn’t far; as I made to start moving away, that’s when she noticed the broken bottle of tequila rosa on the ground.  She begrudgingly took me in for processing, and that’s when she found the bag of marijuana on me.  Written in sharpie on the baggy was the legend, “this is NOT marijuana.”  The boys at the station all had a chuckle about this, I find out later.  In the mean-time, they took prints from my paws, and the blood from where I’ve been fighting gets caked all over the little cards they use.

They let me post my own bail in the morning, and I’ve used my one phone call to ask off sick at work.  When I go in the next day, everyone at the bar knows what happened.  One of the kitchen guys, he’s friends with the janitor at the station – everyone is congratulating me for successfully camouflaging my Schedule C controlled substance.  The manager is less than happy, tells me I shouldn’t have lied about the cause of my absence.  One week later, she fires me over a missing bottle of rum from cellar, calls it theft, calls the police in.  I’m back at the station for processing.  The woman cop, combing through my fur again looking for contraband in my coat.  “At least this time you’re not all beaten up,” she says.  It’s eleven in the morning and I’m standing for mug shots.  This is rock bottom.  I’m staring up, all the way to the top of this impossibly deep well I’m in, and I can see the studio sets, the Ol’ Roy kid actor who was my master back in the ’98 campaign.  I know I’ll never be there ever again.

So here’s the litmus test now – if I can look at myself from the perspective of me at fourteen (that’s two in people years), and have two (fourteen) year old me be even remotely all right with six (thirty-five or so) year old me, I mean just a shred of respect will do, then I can live another day without feeling like I’m at the bottom of that well.  I don’t get on the boards anymore, but I have been doing some teaching projects with one of the great-grand-nephews of Sparky, the original Purina Puppy Chow springer spaniel.  We host a few workshops each month.  If you know any up-and-coming animal talent in need of some classes on poise and delivery, send them our way.  Anyhow, I have to be going; I’m a sponsor now in AA, and we have a meeting in twenty minutes.