Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Odds & Ends

I really wanted to make an effort with this wee blog thing but I've found myself stranded in the Highlands, galavanting through fields and frightening sheep. Internet access is limited. I will be returning to Glasgow in time for the Cannonball Read kick off on Sunday. Until then I dug up some old bits of whatever that I've decided to post for no other reason than to satiate the thirst of my legions of fans. Keep your damn pants on.


Strip malls and broken cities
Either it shines or it's boarded up
There's magic out there somewhere
But I'm distracted by the frat boys

The cold is sharp, shoulders tense
I smash the shit out of a public phone
Across the street, people just stare

I had no idea how good I had it then

It's the way your head lowers, eyes look up
Words are quiet
Carved up like a Christmas turkey
Large sips of beer as I stare around the room

You wanted to leave
But I couldn't see how anything
Out there
Would make this better

It was just colder
Your tears pressed against the side of my face


And so it goes. Those brown bridges continue to rust, by the burnt out lumber yard and the old haunted building that was once Searles Middle School. I sipped black coffee at dawn, watching the smoke pour out of the chimney across the parking lot. The bakery was hot, every oven on and flour in the air. Cutting dough and my hands were covered in it. I labored on and drank before noon. In that heat any beer tasted good.

Those mornings were grey and beautiful. It was in those times that I thought of you deeply, my thoughts with you as you lay in your bed on Hollenbeck. Long mornings followed on until the afternoon, where we drove down those long roads, passed Barrington Fairgrounds, abandoned and covered in weeds.

I found a couple of hours to sleep in between. You joined me, and we lay in my bed, panting from the heat and the love we made. We pushed the covers onto the floor and slept in. Late afternoon we hurried to the restaurant and worked ourselves hard until the late hours when we drank deep into those summer mornings. I was so alive that the exhaustion turned to exuberance. Laying there, a couple of hours, our bodies fitting together as though God carved each of us as one piece. We talked quietly for a moment before my heavy eye lids shut. And I didn’t even dream, I don’t think.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Few Words on the Subject of Sex

I wrote this a few years ago. I find it moderately amusing. It is entirely fictional. But no one believes me when I say that. Some of the grammar makes me shudder but I am reprinting it as it was originally written.

I don’t have sex with other people. It is messy business both literally and figuratively. Coming out of a five year relationship the prospect of never having sex is equally daunting and comforting. It does little good for ones self esteem, but neither does the average sexual experience, so there’s no real loss there.

There are moments, however, when one may feel weakened, seduced and drawn into a situation that will inevitably lead to a sexual experience with another person. You may very well find yourself in this situation if you are not extremely careful.

It usually occurs when one is attending a rhythmic ceremonial ritual. The mind clouded by various toxins and inebriants, the vision obscured through the thick smoke and darkness, one will invariably gaze across the room and see a person that they believe they would enjoy a sexual experience with.

At this point one may find themselves walking across the room, taking a pull from a cigarette, sauntering over to the prospective partner with a look of - one hopes - cool emanating from their being. Conversation ensues, more inebriants are purchased, anecdotes and interests are shared.

As the nocturnal activity progresses one tends to find themselves huddled up in a corner with their prospective partner, chatting and gazing into their eyes. It is obvious to all others in attendance that they have now “coupled up”, despite the fact that the couple at hand have not made this explicit to each other. But it is only a matter of time.

What’s this? One may now find themselves with their prospective partners’ tongue in their mouth. A pleasant feeling in most instances, one reciprocates and the rest of the world vanishes. The people, the smells, sights and sounds slide away as the couple become completely enveloped in each others seemingly insatiable lust.

By this point it is quite late and the people that provide the inebriants set in motion the preliminary steps of closing the establishment that one has found themselves in. Outside one stands with their prospective partner. It is cold but she smiles and one feels all warm inside. At this point one may be feeling “wild” and “crazy” and the dark streets of London witness two kooky kids dancing and laughing in the middles of the street. Joy.

One now finds themselves with their prospective partner on the N29 bus heading north to Green Lanes. The “wacky” behavior out of their system, the couple talk quietly, occasionally kissing each other softly on the lips. Loud, crazy people get on and off. One makes wise cracks as their prospective partner erupts with laughter at ones’ witticisms.

Back at the house one suggests to their prospective partner that there is a pizza in the fridge, if she is hungry. Or one could make her a sandwich, perhaps. She says, “maybe later” and takes ones’ hands in hers and gazes into ones’ eyes. They kiss, softly at first, but it builds to a climax as they stumble towards ones’ bedroom.

Once inside one may very well put on his fairy lights as the main bulb is oppressively bright. The fairy lights are red which gives it all a bit of a Soho vibe. One makes a self conscious joke about the sleaziness of it all and turns around to see their prospective partner laying back on the bed, smiling and biting their bottom lip.

One climbs on top of their prospective partner and they kiss passionately. Clothes are torn off, flesh is kissed all over. One runs their tongue all the way down their prospective partners’ stomach and kisses it as one removes their prospective partners’ undergarments. In most instances one will kiss along the inner thigh of their prospective partner and slowly move towards the genitalia that one will breath on for a moment before engaging in oral sex.

The first orgasm out of the way, one makes their way back up to kiss their prospective partner. In most cases both people involved are either very near, or completely, naked. The prospective partner may reach down and grab a hold of ones’ genitalia and give one that satisfied and impressed sort of look that makes one feel like A Man. The prospective partner will usually enquire as to whether or not one is in current possession of any prophylactics.

There is then that awkward, but often endearing, moment when one struggles to apply a condom to ones’ genitalia. The couple giggle, but once fitted one climbs back onto their prospective partner and both wear an expression of seriousness on their faces. The prospective partner lets out a breathless gasp as one penetrates.

The couple begin to copulate. Things start slowly and carefully, but the couple become more accustomed to each others bodies. One is actually impressing himself at this point and, if the prospective partner groaning like an animal and chewing the pillow like some sort of famished cave girl is any indication, he is not alone.

Both now nearing orgasm the groans, gasps and shouts grow louder and more intense. One stares directly into their prospective partners eyes and they both achieve orgasm, the kind they write about in history books.

One rolls over and lays next to his prospective partner. Then, out of the corner of his eye, one spots a copy Brendan Behan’s play The Hostage on the shelf. Either that or the Firefly DVD box set. Either that or his copy of E.A.R.L, The Autobiography of DMX. Or any number of things that give him pause.

One remembers that ones’ ex-girlfriend lent him her fathers’ copy of Brendan Behan’s only novel, Borstal Boy, but he never did get around to reading it. One remembers the last time one visited ones’ ex-girlfriend at her University, where one slept on an air mattress as ones’ ex-girlfriend watched an episode of Firefly. One had no interest because one did not think much of Joss Whedon then, but now recognizes his genius. And one remembers that DMX is from Yonkers, but spent a good amount of time in New Rochelle where ones’ ex-girlfriends family comes from.

One remembers all of this, and a million other things, and it all comes flooding back in the space of about two seconds. One promptly bursts into tears as ones’ prospective partner stares in dismay.

The rest of the night is spent with the prospective partner bringing one hot drinks as one talks and blubs and loudly exclaims things like, “We never even got to go to Ireland together!” and “I was her little monkey!”. The prospective partner is kind and understanding. But really she just wants the blubbing to stop so she can leave and never, ever come back.

So I leave sex to other people and focus on eating more fruit instead. I try to maintain a healthy diet to counter act the two bottles of whiskey I drink every night.

It’s going to be a long year.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Situation is Hopeless. I'm Told.

YouTube is under the impression that it knows what I want to watch. It does not. There is an assumption being made that I want to watch countless sensationalist documentaries about gang violence in Glasgow. I do not. Here are the two most common offenders:

(some strange edits on that one)

Now, the first one is from Dispatches. I like Dispatches. I saw a great episode once about sandwiches (avoid Subway). I have no problem with these social ills being addressed. As a resident of Govan I am more than familiar with them and have witnessed worse from my tenement window than what is shown in the grainy CCTV images. I am glad to see these issues being brought to light. But it's pretty fucking bleak, isn't it? Do they offer any glimmer of hope? Any alternative? Any possible solutions?

The American video is more perplexing. Why was this made? Why are the problems of youth violence in a mid-sized British city being addressed by the lady with the big hair? Because it's the murder capital? Don't they have one of them in America? Could they not find any angry, drunken young men in Detroit to point a camera at?

The only thing that these piss poor documentaries succeed in doing is painting a portrait of Glasgow as a war zone. It leaves outsiders intimidated and fearful of visiting and residents of these communities feeling hopeless. In addition, neither video addresses just why Glasgow finds itself to be in such economic (and social) decline. Margaret Thatcher doesn't even get a mention. That's like making a documentary about violence in Baghdad and not mentioning George W. Bush (it's not really, but this is just a blog so I can say whatever I want). At least the second video interviewed John Carnochan, someone who has years of experience in working with gangs. I met him through the Poverty Truth Commission earlier this year and he seems to be one of the few people that has any real grasp on what is going on in these communities.

Here are two examples of what I would like to see more of. The first video is about the GalGael, a Govan based organization that grew out of the Pollok Free State. The second is a quick recap of the aforementioned Poverty Truth Commission. The event itself took place in the City Chambers but most of the meetings leading up were held in the Pierce Institute, also in Govan. This is what's happening in my community:

Monday, 5 October 2009

Benylin Nightmare Oct. 3 2009

How do I constantly find myself in these situations? Why do I let myself get roped in? Is it not bad enough that every time I return to London I find myself spending the bulk of my time in former places of employment? But now I've decided to work too?

The theatre is much the same. But why am I seated with the audience on Prompt Side? They can't even see the stage. And who's bright idea was it to have me play the keyboard? Do I have queues? What do I play? And when?

This is all Gary's fault. Why do I listen to him? Why do I empathize? He's not even here! The bastard has gone home and left me to my own devices. I should probably twiddle out a few notes. Twiddle, twiddle. That didn't sound too bad. At least these electric fuckers don't go out of tune.

Is that intermission? My bladder is bursting. I can't just leave the keyboard here. Christ, it's bulky. Excuse me, excuse.... These fucking geriatrics are limping up the stairs, hurry up and croak, Mildred! I need to drain the weasel, get a strong drink from the bar and - provided I have time - ask someone what I'm actually supposed to do during the second half of the godforsaken play. Hurry it up, people!

What was that? Seagulls squawking? I can hear people outside. And the horn from the shipyard. I'm in Govan, in bed. I have to piss. Of course I do. My dreams have never really been shrouded in metaphor.

Okay, now where are we? Great, half way through the second act. At least I managed to miss the bulk of it by being awake. Should I be playing something? Did anyone notice my absence? Did they fuck. I imagine this is an elaborate practical joke dreamt up by that vile swine Gary and his cohort Tom. How I loathe them.

Is that it? The end? Both brothers are dead, right? They've managed to find their way to their untimely death after having navigated through the most contrived story of all time? Aye? Twiddle-fuckin-dee. Might as well give these people their moneys worth, bang out a few notes as they roar and applaud. A wee solo for you fine, fine people.

Thank Christ that's over. Or is it? We're striking the set. Of course we are, that makes sense. But for what? No point in asking, just strip it bare.

Okay, the DJ's here. Thank God. There's a good 50 people milling around. They look as bored as I do. Let's get this over with. I just need to jump the 38 back to Hackney. It's the 38 right? Fuck you, Gary, why are you putting me through this?

The DJ is scratching. Rejoice! The sooner he starts, the sooner he finishes. He wants us to make noise. We are not making noise. It dawns on me that if we don't all start yelling Lil' Wayne will never come out. Come on people, make some noise! Lil' Wayne! WOOOO! I try to whip up some enthusiasm.

There's Tom. Tom! Tom, you fucker! It's the 38 right? That gets me to Hackney? I can get booze 24 hours right? Oh you're busy. At least make some noise and help get -

There he is! Weezy, on stage. Rap, you fud! Get this over with. No, he won't. He's standing next to me now. You've not just let us down, you've let yourself down. I hope you're happy, Weezy. Don't look at me like that.

Fuck this, Tom can handle this shit. I'm going to go find the 38. It is the 38, right? To get to Hackney? Okay. I'm in Victoria station. There's Keira Knightley. She's standing next to a row of chocolate bars being greeted by what I assume is her boyfriend. Is that... there's a white chocolate bar behind her that has her face on it. I didn't realize she was that much of a corporate shill, not that I ever put that much thought into it.

I pick up one of the chocolate bars and I'm waving it in her face. Hey Keira I'm going to steal the chocolate you sponsored, you bitch! Haha, I love you!

I'm running now. Outside of Victoria station. A phone! I'll call Gary, make sure it's the 38. The 38 back to Hackney. I need change. No... I have a mobile phone.... Dialing.... Gary, you vicious bastard! Is it the 38? Is... Yeah? The 38 back to Hackney? I can get booze 24 hours right? Yeah... And you're still up? ......Yeah, I left it to Tom. I can't go back in. I had, there was a thing... and Keira Knightley was.... Yeah. The chocolate. Okay, bye.

I head to a corner shop and look at the chocolate bars. A lot more white chocolate available these days. I should probably steal a few of these. Inside a Russian prostitute and a dumpy shop clerk watch me.

I hear the shipyard horn blow.

Benylin Nightmare Oct. 5 2009

When I realized where I was I felt queasy. The summer heat, the humidity in the air, the golden hue of a sun slumping its way off at the end of a long day. I was standing on the rusty train tracks by the old station. I knew I could find you, I knew you were here. My sudden arrival made no sense, I could think of no logical reason as to why I would find myself in this town, in this country, at this time of year.

I'd had enough. Too many times now we had met under these circumstances and it was taking its toll on my heavy heart. I stormed up and down Railroad street, barging into every tavern and restaurant, marching into kitchens and busser stations. You were in none of them. And I had checked all but one.

Still? Would you still be in that place? After all of these years? My heart had sunk into my stomach. I marched in through the rear entrance, nauseous and shaking. I quickly swept the main restaurant and cut through the busser station and into the bar. And there you were.

You were dancing with a woman, a short haired brunette with glasses. I noticed the slight specks of sweat along your brow, the red that flushed through your pale cheeks. And then you looked upon me. I froze and wanted more than anything to storm out, to have never been there. For the very first time I felt terrified that this may be real.

"John-", you began.
"Don't!", I interrupted, "Just don't! This has to end now. It has to! This is killing me and it's not even real!"
"What are you talking about...", you looked afraid. People had gathered. This was not good.
"This! All of this!", I gesticulated wildly across the room, "It is not real, and this is not happening. But what it does- it's still breaking my heart. Every time I am in your embrace and it all comes back, all of it, it all comes back and it's so real. I can't! I can't!"
"Oh, John... it is, please.." you whispered, bottom lip trembling.
"It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you're crying, none of it does. I keep coming back here, and it keeps killing me. I can be irrational. I can be full of rage, it doesn't matter! It's not real!"

I reached for a glass at the nearest table, picked it up and threw it to the floor. The crowd that had gathered shuffled back a few steps as the glass smashed into a million pieces. I picked up a lime from the bar and squeezed it until it burst in my palm.

"This isn't my fault. You know that." you insisted.
"It still tastes bitter." I said, licking the lime juice that dripped down my wrist. Somehow I felt citrus had accentuated my point. I threw what was left of the lime to the ground and stormed out.

What was that? Where was I going? Where was I staying? Why hadn't I woken up? There is no way this was real. This couldn't really be happening. I tried to determine how I ended up here, for what purpose, but my ability to deduct such information from my brain had been turned off. So it mustn't be real? Not unless I had lost the ability to reason... But what if I had? And what if I just did that? To you?

I paced into a dark wood and everything that was summer and of days gone turned into an endless black of twisted branches, as the pale white sky turned a colder grey.