Archive for April, 2007


Underground

I’m in London over the weekend visiting some friends and taking photographs — I lived here for 30 years but its profile changes all the time and I like to keep track…

Alright.

On the underground (subway) I hear this:

‘Why steal or deal crack when you’ve got a sucker for a mother?’

Some profiles don’t change.

I expect this video to become ‘no longer available’ soon.

Advertisements

So you want to be a cop?

The ‘How to become a UK Police Officer’ information guide is an absolute must for anyone who is serious about joining the force.

Crammed full of insider tips and advice, it is brought to you by currently serving Police Officers.

To maximise your chance of success CLICK HERE NOW and get your definitive guide to every aspect of passing the Police selection process.

O.K. So you’ve watched the Kramer thing. Lots of people have.  It’s not the word, is it, you know, the ‘N’ word, that really pisses people off, is it?

It’s only a f**king word, man.

Black people use it all the time. To each other. Sometimes with affection.

No, that’s not what did it. Because words are beautiful and black people are beautiful and a word never harmed anyone.

No, it was the attitude and the context and the timing and the (lack of) talent.

Now, Lenny Bruce used the ‘N’ word a lot. He also used the ‘K’ word, the ‘M’ word, the ‘S’ word and ‘G’ knows how many others.

But…

Tom Lehrer knew a guy called Henry, who spelled his name H-E-N-3-R-Y. The 3 was silent.

Like the main character of my novel, Weird Metropolitan (to be published soon, keep checking this space for details), he was financially independent, having inherited his father’s tar-and-feather business, and so was able to devote his time to writing and philosophising and giving ‘helpful’ advice to people who were happier than himself.

In otherwords he was a kibitzer.

Anyway, inspired by Hen3ry, Tom wrote this song, in the tradition of the great old revival hymns. It might more accurately be described, he said, as ‘a survival hymn’.

Slippery Slope

(First published in May 2006)

Imagine there’s a small town somewhere out in the boondocks. Call it Raggedy End or Shimmering Stone, Dodge City or Nottingham, London, Barnsley, New York…

I’ve got it – let’s call it Slippery Slope.

Now let’s take it out of the boonies and place it in the secret centre of Your Town Anywhere, USA, UK or U Name It.

It exists, it’s a city within a city, it’s Cop Town and the potential for gradual deterioration of moral inhibitions hits you as soon as you arrive, the perceived sense of permissibility for deviant conduct is in the air you inhale at the coach stop as you wait to collect your bags.

There are cops everywhere. This is where they live, where they rest, where they internalise the conditions in which they work, conditions that don’t measure up to the rigours of the usual comfort zones, the ones to which we normal people have become accustomed.

In Slippery Slope cops can be cops.

Undercover work?

False identity and crime inducement?

Every day activities, son, like taking the kids to school or mowing the lawn.

Feeding disinformation to the media?

Making false promises to hostage takers and kidnappers?

Interviewing witnesses with a hidden agenda?

Employing deceptive interrogation techniques?

Making all kinds of excuses to avoid responding to “difficult to solve” crime reports?

Trading days off?

Selling desireable work assignments?

All quotidian aspects of life as a cop in Slippery Slope.

Imagine being a cop: you don’t make much money but you’ve got a heck of a lot of power.

So you learn how to play the game, how to angle yourself into cases requiring court appearances so you can put in for the overtime, how to strain the truth in order (at first) to protect loved ones and crime victims to whom you’re sympathetic, how to bend those skills towards more profitable activity.

Come on, all the guys do it, it’s called being a cop, for feck sake what you gonna do?

You come across more cash on a narcotics bust than the gross national product of some small countries… You gonna hand it over?

No way, my friend, I’ll tell you what your gonna do, what you gotta do.

It’s called the Four-way Shakedown. First you secure the cash, spread some of it around to make sure your buddies are sweet; then you seize the product; then you sell the product; then you arrest your customers for buying the product…

That’s what cops do, son, and in Slippery Slope you don’t have to feel bad about it, any of it.

Routine invasion of privacy via covert surveillance?

It’s like going to the bathroom.

Behaviour inconsistent with norms, values or ethics?

What norms? What values? What ethics?

Forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain?

Oh yeah!

Wrongdoings, violations of departmental procedure?

Only way to get the job done, son.

Unfair bias towards family or friends?

Well if you can’t look after your own, right…?  

I’m talking to some people in a bar the other day about the Spanish Civil War (a relative of mine travels to spain in the 1930s to fight against the fascists. He’s wounded and captured and spends some time in one of Franco’s concentration camps…) and things get a little heated and some meshuggener lets off with something so plain f**king stupid…

I won’t even insult you by repeating it. It’s a desperate moment.

Anyway, the thing is, I get so annoyed I lose my customary cool and call this shmuck an asshole (like it’s necessary?).

Bad move. For the next three days I’m haunted by this routine Bill Burroughs wrote before I was born:

‘Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk? His whole abdomen would move up and down, you dig, farting out the words. It was unlike anything I ever heard.

This ass talk had sort of a gut frequency. It hit you right down there like you gotta go. You know when the old colon gives you the elbow and it feels sorta cold inside, and you know all you have to do is turn loose?

Well this talking hit you right down there, a bubbly, thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell.

This man worked for a carnival, you dig, and to start with it was like a novelty ventriloquist act. Real funny, too, at first. He had a number he called The Better ‘Ole that was a scream, I tell you. I forget most of it but it was clever. Like:

‘Oh I say, are you still down there, old thing?’

‘Nah I had to go relieve myself.’

After a while the ass start talking on its own. He would go in without anything prepared and his ass would ad-lib and toss the gags back at him every time.

Then it developed sort of teeth-like little raspy in-curving hooks and started eating. He thought this was cute at first and built an act around it, but the asshole would eat its way through his pants and start talking on the street, shouting out it wanted equal rights.

It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags. Nobody loved it and it wanted to be kissed same as any other mouth.

Finally it talked all the time day and night, you could hear him for blocks screaming at it to shut up, and beating it with his fist, and sticking candles up it, but nothing did any good and the asshole said to him:

‘It’s you who will shut up in the end not me. Because we don’t need you around here any more. I can talk and eat and shit.’

After that he began waking up in the morning with a transparent jelly like a tadpole’s tail all over his mouth. This jelly was what the scientists call UDT — un-differentiated tissue, which can grow into any kind of flesh on the human body.

He would tear it off his mouth and the pieces would stick to his hands like burning gasoline jelly and grow there, grow anywhere on him a glob of it fell.

So finally his mouth sealed over, and the whole head would have amputated spontaneous — (did you know there is a condition occurs in parts of Africa and only among Negroes where the little toe amputates spontaneously?) — except for the eyes, you dig?

That’s one thing the asshole couldn’t do was see. It needed the eyes. But nerve connections were blocked and infiltrated and atrophied so the brain couldn’t give orders any more. It was trapped in the skull, sealed off.

For a while you could see the silent, helpless suffering of the brain behind the eyes, then finally the brain must have died, because the eyes went out, and there was no more feeling in them than a crab’s eyes on the end of a stalk.’

So, listen, take it from someone who knows: the next time you’re in a conversation with someone who’s talking crap, accept that he or she is an asshole and, if you must say something, call him or her a shmuck.

You know it makes sense.

It’s late at night and I’m far from home.

I’m used to that.

Indeed, being far from home is not new to me.

As a kid I am a compulsive runaway.

I mean, who wants to be home all the time?

No, my concern is not due to any spatio-temporal confusion or separation.

What’s worrying me is the company I’m keeping.

She’s supposedly a friend of JJ’s; somebody said Billy the Pill might be a relative…

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

I won’t say you’re wrong and I won’t say you’re right, morality is irrelevant to this discourse.

‘Tell me,’ she says, ‘as a man who knows Shakespeare… is there a link between madness and creativity?’

Don’t you just love questions like that, at three in the morning, with a spleen full of lust?

She continues:

‘Shakespeare believes that creative genius is only a kiss away from insanity…’

I sense puckered lips invading my space, lips that, up to that temporal point have seemed luscious…

Suddenly the puckering thing threatens.

‘Another drink?’ I suggest.

She nods.

I escape to the kitchen, she starts reciting some crap from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

‘The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact. One sees more devils than vast hell can hold…’ etc. etc.

You’ll be familiar with that bit, I guess.

Now, I don’t ‘know’ Shakespeare, nobody ‘knows’ Shakespeare, I mean, I…

Look, personally I think Shakespeare is over-rated. I mean, the guy never writes an original plot, for Christ sake; just picks up on popular legends and such and moulds them into whatever is topical, like any writer does.

Anyway, this piece is not about Shakespeare.

However, the lunatics and the poets angle appeals to me: crazies and writers, scientists and cranks…

How do you tell the difference?

So, anyway, I’m fumbling around in her kitchen with bottles and glasses and chunks of ice, wishing I was at home, and her question is getting to me:

Is there a link between madness and creativity?

Is there a taxi for hire cruising somewhere close by?

There’s something on the floor, something suspiciously still.

Now, run this: I am totally phobic about cockroaches.

Run it again: I’m starting to hyper-ventilate right now, just typing the word, just thinking about it.

But the light in the kitchen is dim and I have drink taken, so I can’t be sure…

F**k it.

‘Your kitchen is infested with cockroaches’ I holler, ‘and you’re reciting Shakespeare?’

I suddenly remember a lecture given by a certain Professor Thomas, of a certain University’s psychology department:

‘There have always been people in societies and cultures who have different experiences of reality compared with the majority, and there’s always been an overlap between people who have those gifts, or insights, and people who are identified as suffering from mental illnesses…’

Cool, huh?

As things turn out, the cockroach is a cigarette burn, but, you know, I’m mad, I need an excuse to get out of there, and… well, let’s just call it creativity, shall we?

In fact it was Keith’s influence at Track Records in the late sixties that facilitated the release of You can’t beat people up… and Blind Man’s Movie.

Melanie Safka was backstage at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 1970:

‘Suddenly, the door burst open and in jumped Murray Roman and immediately they [Murray and Keith] went into an hilarious comedy routine… I can’t begin to tell you how much that cheered me up, and then they were gone.’

%d bloggers like this: