Tag Archive: drugs


A Chill

Dear Arabella,

How is Arcadia?

I’m missing you too much.

I think I’ve been on the road too long this time.

The dream has no beginning or end and I always wake up at the same time: just before the door opens and the tall man is about to enter the room.

The experience never lasts beyond this point and there is no continuation.

But it is the way with dreams that the dreamer is both actor and director and knows every aspect of the script.

I know that the tall man is beyond the door.

I know his tuneless whistle and dry cough, the bad tattoo on his right earlobe, the jingling of loose change in his trouser pocket against his thigh as he walks and I know that seconds after I wake he will be in the room and the pale, red-haired girl will blanch even paler and the young man in the light-weight khaki Summer suit tied by his hands and feet to the chair will scream.

And though I have never heard that scream I will always remember it.

And the dreamer will be gone, running through the dimly lit corridor into the lobby, past the fat key-man sleeping at the reception desk and out into the driveway like a tabloid sensation, into the road, crossing the intersection, caught in the squealing headlights, creased by the slipstream.

But there is no freedom.

He might run this road forever and never be even falsely free.

To run is not to find freedom.

To run is merely to express the desire for freedom and desire is of no consequence.

We are simply protozoa bursting, vainly attempting bifurcation, hopelessly blind to the impossibility of success.

I will never know why those people are in that damnable and accursed place, will never hear their names in anything but hellish tongues, will never know why the bed is strewn with spent matches or what it is that makes the girl turn away from the window and smile just before the door opens.

But I will sleep again and dream again and again and again and I will shiver.

The chill in that room: the same chill that lives in the marrow of the dwarf’s spine.

And my heart pounds with the relentlessness of a living steam-hammer, the shock-waves like bullets striking my synapses as I struggle to take in the scene from my hide in a corner somewhere deep in that room that has no right or reason to exist for anyone but me and the dwarf.

The Amok-man scenario, the Mexican Motel room sequence played in dumb-show by crippled actors on a broken set to a symphony of traffic whooshing through the rain and meeting and parting at the intersection.

The same monstrous tableau with the unmade bed in the smoke-filled alcove, its pale, dirty pink candlewick coverlet awry and its faded paisley-patterned mattress exposed and littered with spent matches, a purple wash in a jagged wedge of luminosity from the down-lighter.

And everywhere the chill.

A chill of homelessness and late night early morning train stations, of highways, of strange bedrooms and other lives and other dreams, of the commingled breath of unknown lovers…

A witch freezes the dwarf’s semen, murders his sperm moments before he comes.

Will write again soon.

Love,

Jon.

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JJ and Billy the Pill

The future? It begins with the meaning of profanity. In the beginning was the word and the word was profane. Take the term substance abuse, for example. Some Christians no doubt believe that substance abuse is profane: you know, the body is a temple of God?

JJ and Billy the Pill have been awake for days searching for the meaning of profanity. Now they’re down to their last fragments of pills, combing the trash for roaches and skimming the bags for powder residue.

While Billy’s in the john, JJ scrapes together enough powder for a line and surreptitiously ingests it.

‘It’s stage 5 in the countdown to the end of the world,’ he tells Billy on his return.

Billy says:

‘I want to email everyone I know and tell them how much I love them.’

Now, Billy’s not known as ‘the Pill’ for no reason. You see, he’s been a user so long the only people he knows are dealers and connections.

JJ tells him:

‘Are you mad? It’s the end of the world.’

‘Mmm,’ Billy replies, ‘so you think I shoudn’t bother?’

‘Do what you like, man. It’s the end of the world.’

Billy thinks for a moment then says:

‘But what if nothing happens, you know, what if the world doesn’t end and we all wake up tomorrow and everything’s still here?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Well, all those people that I emailed would know how much I love them…’

‘Mmm,’ JJ says, gathering up the rest of the pill fragments and hiding them in an empty Marlboro packet, ‘I guess then we’ll have to start counting down again…’

That’s what I love about substance abuse, the virtuous circularity.

So, it’s been another slow year.

You know that feeling, when you’re the only one (I mean one, get it?) in a crowd to see a single magpie? Man, that’s a f**ker.

One for sorrow…

But why me. I mean, I’m in a crowd, you know? And it’s just me that gets the sorrow-vision?

It’s because I’m an atheist, isn’t it? It’s because I’m not quite black, isn’t it? Because I’m half a Jew?

I’m a f**king gypsy. That’s why. Don’t try to tell me I’m wrong.

I blame it on slow jazz and bottled water. If I believed in God or Rock and Roll I’d have no problem.

But I don’t, so it’s got to be that I listen to too much vacuum-cleaner-bass-jazz and drink too much Evian.

No-one told me it’s a sin.

Last week I go to London. I’m attending this party at the Porchester Rooms, thrown by a very good friend of mine who’s extremely talented, has had a lot of luck and has won this extremely prestigious award.

Anyway, we have a drink back-stage, I tell her I love her dearly and, though I’m dying of a tumour in my heart, she shouldn’t let that ruin her night.

It won’t.

So I leave her and visit the cloakroom, blow my nose. Then I take my place at a table reserved for me up front of the stage. The waiter brings a bottle of something French. I tell him to take it away.

‘Get me a bottle of Tequila and some olives,’ I tell him.

Suddenly I’m surrounded by these very serious, very legit looking guys with press badges. Seems they want to interview me.

‘So, what have you done since **** **** ****?’ asks one.

‘Nothing that would interest you,’ I tell him, thinking naively that now they’ll all go off and leave me alone. I’ve been out of the public eye too long.

‘Did you re-marry, after ****** died?’

The Tequila arrives. I do the salt and lime thing.

‘Yup!’

He pulls out a notebook and starts scribbling. Some of the others take Dictaphones and MP3s out of their breast pockets and place them in the middle of the table.

‘And what happened to that one?’ asks the scribbler.

‘Are you still trying to write comedy?’ asks a Dictaphone guy.

‘They say you’re not funny anymore,’ says a young MP3 guy with a cold-sore on his upper lip.

So, I have a long drink and think I’ll throw in a stock comic cliche line and they’ll know it’s a put-on:

‘My second marriage was broken up by my mother-in-law.’

‘Oh-oh! Mother-in-law jokes,’ says the waiter beneath his breath.

The scribbler scribbles, a couple of the Dictaphone guys adjust volumes, there’s a general surge of activity.

‘That’s funny… mother-in-law jokes. What happened?’ ask the hacks as one voice.

‘Well, let’s see. My mother-in-law broke up our marriage. One day wife number two comes home early from work and finds us in bed together.’

‘What? Your mother-in-law in bed with you?’

‘Yeah, that’s right.”

‘Well, that’s disgusting!’

‘Oh, well, she was horny and she came on to me…’

‘With your mother? Well, that’s psychotic!’

‘Why? It was her mother, not mine.’

Then the lights dim, the band starts up, my friend stumbles on stage and the audience applauds.

A guy closely resembling myself leaves by an alley exit.

Soon it will be summer.

So, thinking about a slow death…

So recently I started smoking again and I’m coughing a lot. A long term prognosis?

Cancer!

The Government tells me that I get cancer through smoking and I continue smoking.

Why? Because I’m a good citizen. You know how much tax we pay on a pack of cigarettes in the UK? 80%.

Also, smoking encourages me to be more tolerant. No longer can I point a finger at a drunk or a heroin addict and tell him:

‘What’s the matter with you, man? Aren’t you using your brains? You keep drinking, you keep shooting that shit and it’s ruining your health, your family, your business…’

He’s got a lot of brains. That has nothing to do with it. He’s going to keep drinking or cranking up and I’m going to keep smoking.

As of July 1st smoking will be outlawed in all enclosed public areas and work spaces in England. They already did it in Scotland and Ireland.

People have been talking about the economic consequences: you know, all that lost tax revenue if people stop smoking? That’s not going to happen and the Government knows it.

I’ve been thinking more about what the tobacco companies are going to do. Well, they’re not going to stop selling cigarettes, are they?

I can’t knock them for that, because everything is profit-motivated and a lot of people depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihoods. So what will they do?

Well it won’t be down to them, it’ll be the responsibility of the spin-merchants, the PR people and the advertising agencies, won’t it?

One way out would be to make it cool to have cancer, turn cancer into something desirable, make cancer a status symbol in the community.

They could start with covert, soft-sell advertisements in movies and soap operas, guys talking in two-minute spots, you know:

‘Say, Mike, haven’t seen you in a couple of years. You really look great.’

‘Why shouldn’t I? I’ve got cancer!’

‘Are you kidding me, Mike? Well, that’s terrible.’

‘Terrible the way you see it, not the way I see it. I was making about £15,000 a year as a male nurse. Now since I got cancer, with consolidated benefits and an early pension… I mean, you never see any schlub with cancer, do you? Who has it? Doctors, lawyers, judges, actors, rock stars… What am I, crazy? Are you? No, my friend, it’s… the rich people. They’re keeping it away from us, man, with all those charity drives they have…’

‘Mmm, and it’s really good for you?’

‘Certainly is.’

‘Well, that’s fantastic. How do you get it?’

‘Marlboro lights!’

Run it…

Girl Alarm

I know the girl in the bar by sight. Our eyes meet and I nod. Her phone rings. An odd ring-tone. Sounds like a klaxon. A car alarm. A smoke alarm. A personality alarm.

I sense that her life is on fire or overheating or being tampered with in some way. So we arrange to meet after the show.

There’s a club in the city called the Candy Box. It’s a place for people who work in the leisure industry. You know, waitresses, bartenders, casino monkeys…

Anyway, I meet her there. The bar is tended by a typist and an insurance salesman. While I wait for the drinks I could dictate War and peace and earn a four year no claims bonus.

Eventually we’re equipped. So we head for an intimate table in a dark booth and start up a little conversation.

‘My father is dying of cancer,’ she tells me, ‘I’m grieving already.’

‘Why?’ I ask insensitively.

‘I’ll tell you why.’ she says.

Then she tells me:

‘With cancer you never stop grieving. Some people say you grieve twice but I don’t think that’s the half of it. I don’t think you ever stop… just go on and on and on… grieving, you know? I’d striven for so long to be like him. Time was what I struggled against. I fought for time. Then I had it. The problem then was that I didn’t have the energy, the passion.’

‘Ah, the passion,’ I counter, meaningfully.

‘The solution is a sure one,’ I continue, ‘but the side consequences might be scary…’

‘Hey, talk to the hand, motherf**ker. If you got it I can carry it. You know what I’ve been through already?’ she says.

So we go back to my house, smoke some weed, snort a couple of Gs of best toot and drink the largest part of a bottle of whiskey (it’s Irish, right. So don’t be a kibitzer and correct the spelling).

Turns out her name’s Penny.

In the morning I tell her:

‘We should have a baby, Penny. We should have a little boy and call him Carlos, after my father. He died of cancer, you know… and with cancer you always grieve twice.’  

A comment on gun crime in the UK

Below is a comment by Ms Vaughan, which I received in response to my Gun crime in the UK post (11/09/06). I decided to publish it here because of its current relevance.

22 February 2007, 12:31:43 | Ms Vaughan
I am a Connexions Personal Adviser working in South London and I come into contact with young people everyday.

In light of the recent shootings in the Black community involving young people, I feel that it is now time for us to offer practical ways to tackle the problems and move forward.

I believe that everyone in our community should be coming together now. I think that they need to be shown that they can overcome all things with only a little determination, confidence in oneself and nurturing from family and school.

I am pleased to share with you a web site that promotes this and will be of interest to everyone in our community: http://www.school-info4u.com

A particular demand exists for a web site that delivers clear and specific advice to parents and carers who are raising African-Caribbean children.

School-info4u.com has the leverage to make a difference.

This free resource aims to tackle many of the problems that are causing these young people to ‘go off track’. This might be in relation to various issues, ranging from school exclusion, gang culture etc.

I guess most people might find it deeply uncomfortable talking about what’s really going on with the state of our youth. But as long as we choose complacency over awareness, we can’t change the status quo. In fact, the problems will likely grow in magnitude until people are finally forced to open their eyes and deal with the consequences. As is the case now!

The sooner each one of us decides that we do want to know, and that we are willing to invite others to open their eyes too, the more easily we will be able to turn this situation around. I guess that this won’t happen overnight, but I retain optimism…a flicker of hope in these difficult times! 

For me it’s all about trying to do my little bit to try and transform our community…’ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach’.

I believe that any small thing that one person can do to help another will make all the difference and I feel as though I am doing this with the School-info4u.com project.

Take a look at http://www.school-info4u.com

Kindest regards

Ms Vaughan

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.

So, it’s a lazy Tuesday and I haven’t chased a dragon in ten years. The bastards don’t even flirt with me anymore.

Anyway, gets to noon and I can feel them beneath my skin — even after all this time you don’t forget.

So I take a cab, walk up the hill and buy a parrot.

Then it’s a lazy Wednesday.

I take a cab, walk up that hill and buy a parrot…

Edie Sedgwick: “After Hours” video

Edie Sedgwick was born in 1943. She met Andy Warhol in 1965 and became one of the Factory regulars around March of that year. Warhol has often been blamed for Edie’s descent into drug addiction and mental illness but her family has a history of both.

She was first institutionalized in the autumn of 1962 suffering from anorexia and, like her brother, attended the Silver Hill mental hospital. Her condition deteriorated until she weighed only ninety pounds, at which time she was transferred to Bloomingdale, the Westchester Division of New York Hospital.

Silver Hill was fairly liberal but Bloomingdale was very strict. Paradoxically, near the end of her stay there she became pregnant and had to have an abortion.

Bob Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde was released on May 16, 1966 and Edie is one of the women imaged on the inner sleeve. Some of the songs are rumoured to be about her. Nico thought that Dylan might have been referring to her in Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat. Others have claimed that the phrase “your debutante” on Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again refers to Edie. It’s also rumoured that just Like a Woman is about her.

Edie Sedgwick’s husband, Michael Post, woke up on the morning of November 16, 1971 to find her lying dead in bed next to him. The coronor classified her death as an “accident/suicide” caused by “acute barbituate intoxication.”

This video 0f “After Hours” is a weird-sexy-sad classic. The vocal is by Moe Tucker, drummer with the Velvets.

I remember a slum front room on a rain-broken morning. Weak sunlight filters through cracks in a raffia blind, throwing feint patterns onto a worn fireside rug.

A young woman sits on the rug with her knees drawn up supporting her face-down head. She’s crying. An occassional tear escapes and falls to the rug.

On a bed in the corner of the room a man half sits and half wants to leave.

“I must have turned over in the night a hundred times,” he tells her, his tone one of a strangely constructed question, “but I can’t remember saying ‘I love you’?”

************

Anthony is slowly

Disappearing.

“It’s this present tense experience,”

He says.

His foot faded away

Yesterday

And became

Nothing.

“History,” he tells me,

“Is what was present in the past.”

Now he’s footless

In the future

And fantasy

Free.

************

Conversation from an alley at the rear of the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, circa 1978. Speakers — quality and quantity — unknown.

Great band. What an act, man. Shark Fin Tsu and The Fishhead Gang…

— Little bit of this, little piece of that…

— We gonna back stage, yeah?

— Sure. Good ol’ frien’ a mine, Shark Fin… from the early days.

— Primo’s got a new drug… market research, get it?

— Well…

— Totally new, man, designer high, like wearing the synapses on the arse of your pants. Know what I mean?

— Human Secrets Agency (HSA) got it all sewn up… the whole market. Got human feelers out disguised as punks and rent-boys, soaking everything up.

— So, Paul Zanzibar is waiting for a cab… take him to the gig. Takes a new pill to pass the time.

— No sense no feeling…

— Blood simple. Arrives at the gig talking total nonsense…

— …and ‘ero’s trying to fin’ ‘er way out a chapter one!

— No mercy no surrender…

— Blood simple cry tough…

— Her real name is Amanda…

— Sure, I’ll have a mandie…

— Yeah, Shark Fin Amanda. Try to make it with her once but Human Secrets Agency has her all sewn up…

— No mandie no deal. 

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