Archive for January, 2007


She wakes up slowly. The fragments of the dream that she can recall with ease she tries to fit together, all the while knowing that the picture will never be complete.

The pain is in the small of her back and in the space around her liver.

One day, she thinks, it’s all going to come down in a shower of stiff rain, rock and roll and dreadful shimmer. She’ll walk out, be absorbed by the storm, screaming, and no-one will hear.

But in the meantime she just wraps his big coat around her and bends her back into the wind again.

Life and death: a sequence of repeats, a movie that she watches again and again.

How does it all begin?

I of fish? You of pork? They of lamb and we of beef? He of lungs and she of teeth? It of brains and heart and liver and spleen and blood and unrecognizable flesh?

“Offal,” he tells her, “that’s where it starts and ends.”

Billy Mackenzie

It’s ten years since Billy’s death. I met him a few times and liked him a bit but I don’t think I came close to knowing him.

Nobody did.

To the music media at the time he was something of a sacred cow, no-one wanted to say it like it was.

Reading between the lines and drawing on personal experience he was a spoiled brat, really. He never knew what it was he wanted but was always confident that he could get it and, when he couldn’t, he’d convince himself and everybody else that he didn’t want it in the first place.

He had a head full of music, a lot of charm and an ear for a lyric but he never mastered an instrument. His voice was interesting and had a good range but he faked the high register and socially he was a bit of a prat.

And then there are the musicians he ate up and spat out: guys like Steven Reid, for example, the guitar player who co-wrote a lot of his stuff but never received any credit.

But hey, this is Galloway the iconoclast talking (if I can dis God I can dis Billy), so, if you worshiped him or if his memory is sacred to you, if you want to think of him as a lost, tortured soul, a tragic genius, you go ahead, my friend…

I won’t disillusion you.

Sing it to the angels Billy and rest in peace.

Died 22 Jan 1997.

Japanese Flashmob video

This is a clip from a Japanese comedy/prank show called Troop of One Hundred, where a 100-strong flashmob chases after random strangers. The victims’ reactions are priceless.

Translation of what the mobsters are shouting:

– For the 1st and 2nd scenes: “There’s a tsunami!” (tsunami da!)
– For the 3rd: “That’s the guy!!” (koitsu da!)
– Nothing for the 4th
– Last scene: “Watch out!” (abunai!)

Death by schism

There’s a guy on the penthouse balcony of a high-rise about to kill himself. A negotiator with a loud hailer is trying to convince him he shouldn’t jump:

“Stop, stop, don’t do it.”

The guy looks down and asks:

“Why not?”

“Well… there’s so much to live for.”

“What’s that then? My kids are on crack and my wife just eloped with their dealer.”

“Well, there’s your faith. Your religion.”

“Yes?”

“Are you religious?”

“Yes.”

“Me, too. Christian, Muslim or Jew?”

“Christian.”

“Me, too. Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Hey, far out. Me too. Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian?”

“Baptist.”

“Right on. Listen, are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Saviour?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Praise the Lord, we’re brothers. Tell me, are you Original Baptist Church of God or Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1917?”

“1917.”

“Hey, you know what, Jump, you filthy heathen heretic scum.”

“I have a dream” video clip

This is the entire address. It lasts about 17 minutes. What else do you need to do that can’t wait?

If you can’t remember it or if you’ve never experienced it or if you think it’s got nothing to do with your life —

CLICK HERE

Just do it.

Joseph Merrick said:

“My head is so big because it is full of dreams…

Do you know what happens when dreams cannot get out?”

Have you noticed that the older you get the more dead acquaintances you collect? It’s a sign of maturity, I guess.

In my twenties I knew one dead guy. His name was Steve. Married a Welsh girl. Two years later he was dead. Was it the food, the Celtic temperament, the weird sex, the in-laws, the heroin? My guess is that all of those factors contributed but it was the opiate that knocked him over the edge.

Then there was John Begg. He died of AIDS when I was in my mid-thirties. I’d known him as a living person since childhood. We grew up in the same Scottish tenements.

Which reminds me, Steve wasn’t my first dead friend at all, that was John’s brother David, whom John murdered when they were kids. It was something to do with religion. Real Catholic shit. Neither of them stood a chance.

Their father, a degenerate gambler, tried to kill himself by getting drunk and going to sleep with the gas on. He failed of course: spent so much money on booze he didn’t have enough coins to keep the meter fed.

Anyway, John never forgave himself for murdering his brother. At Her Majesty’s Pleasure he became an amateur psychopath. Then when they finally let him out he went full time, became a petty gangster and heroin addict — AKA The Knife Man — and served a manslaughter stretch of 7 years, with the usual discount for good behaviour and an HIV positive blood test.

Dirty needles and a jail-house tattoo, that’s what did for Johnny boy.

Of course if I’m really picky the first dead person I ever knew was my paternal grandfather, who split before I was born and, to my knowledge, never took drugs (unless you include whisky in that category).

And then there was Mr Kinair, my English teacher, who died of syphilitic brain disease when I was struggling with my A Levels. The short sighted, selfish bastard just couldn’t stay away from naughty prostitutes. But he never took drugs (at least that’s what he told me).

But you know, I’m no peasant: included in my list of dead friends are a couple of rock stars.

Dead rock stars, don’t you just love them?

They take care of you through the difficult adolescent years and, just when you reach that disillusioned stage, you know, where you’re starting to doubt their validity as useful icons (growing up) they let you off the hook by dying, usually of heroin overdoses, alcohol or sex. Saints that they are.

My first was Billy Mackenzie, patron saint of the Warbling Romantics, voice of an angel on crystal meth, the man behind the Associates. We were brought up in the same town, only he didn’t come from the slums. We never met in our native environment but first crossed paths some years later in Kings Cross, London. I interviewed him for an article about Celtic New Romantic brats, which I was trying to pitch to the NME.

I told him: “No Billy, I’m not that way inclined, you know…” And he said: “Fuck it, never mind. Just give me a few lines out of that wrap and I’ll take you to a nice club I know.”

That was in the early 80’s. Come Christmas 1997 he was dead by his own hand.

I blame myself.

Perhaps if I’d shared my Charlie with him that night, instead of telling him to “f**k off I need this to get up and go to work in the morning”, he wouldn’t have gone out and scored some smack and gotten to like it so much that it eventually depressed him to the point of suicide.

Because that’s what heroin does for you.

My other dead rock star acquaintance was Stuart Adamson. I met him when I was ligging on Big Country’s first UK tour. Their chief roadie, who shall remain nameless, sold me one of Stuart’s guitars — a lovely black Gibson Les Paul — for a gram of good Bolivian and a Turkish hooker called Tanya…

Of course, Stuart was never a smack-head; he was just a piss-artist.

Happy Birthday Bowie

Celebrities are fellow human beings who are better than us because lots of people know who they are. Everyone loves celebrities.

Even those who claim to despise celebrities would, if they were honest, prefer to share a drizzly afternoon birthday tea with a 60 year old David Bowie than spend one more second in my revolting non-celebrity company.

Here’s a montage of clips from 1969 to 2004 set to a live version of “Heroes”. It was put together by someone called Mike T and I think it’s pretty cool.

“Pillow Angel” or “Ghostly Flower”?

Like anyone with a modicum of compassion and humanity I am moved by the tragedy of the Ashley X story. I think of my own children and how I would cope.

And, whilst unsure about the ethics regarding such aggressive medical and surgical interventions as high-dose oestrogen therapy, hysterectomy and breast-bud removal, I cannot help but be respectful of her parents’ apparent pragmatism.

I have visited her father’s website, however, and I have to say that I find it extremely odd. The saccharine “Pillow Angel” sobriquet infantilises Ashley and suggests the sinister proposition that eternally small and cuddle-some disabled people are more acceptable (and perhaps less troublesome and easier on the eye) than ugly grown-up ones. 

Were I in this man’s position, I doubt that I could find enough faith in current medical opinion to accept entirely, as he seems to have done, the hopelessness of my child’s condition; I feel strongly that I would want to cling on to any (be it ever so slight) possibility that she might in some way develop beyond the “Pillow Angel” stage. Such a desire, I believe, arises out of my nature as a human being. 

“Our daughter Ashley had a normal birth, but her mental and motor faculties did not develop. Over the years, neurologists, geneticists and other specialists conducted every known traditional and experimental test, but still could not determine a diagnosis or a cause. Doctors call her condition ‘static encephalopathy of unknown etiology’…and one that will not improve.” (my italics)

Everything that has been done to Ashley is legitimised by the contention that the primary purpose is to increase her quality of life. The ethics committee that sanctioned the treatment reached its decision based on the medical opinion that she would not develop beyond the mental age of three months.

But the combined might of the medical establishment “could not determine a diagnosis or cause”.

If they can’t determine a cause how can they say with certainty that the condition will not, even marginally, improve? Such a prognosis is no more than a speculation. The assumption that because she has not changed so far she never will is not one I find 100% reliable. It’s a theory not a fact.

And who is to say that some medical advance in Ashley’s lifetime won’t make it possible for her to live a more “normal” adult life?

There are more questions of this nature but it’s pointless to ask them because it’s too late now, isn’t it?

http://ashleytreatment.spaces.live.com/blog/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,1983339,00.html.

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