Wednesday, 28 November 2012

SEX AND THE DARK KNIGHT RISES MASSACRE

Psychiatric Wards are filled with people who dabbled in the Occult...- THE EXORCIST, WILLIAM PETER BLATTY

Ready or not/Here I come- READY OR NOT, THE DELFONICS

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My mind has been a bit muddled since I auto-suggestively passed out during the US Extended Cut of Kubrick's "The Shining" at the BFI a couple of weeks ago. I'm currently writing this on a battered A5 pad that is covered in words that may have meant something to me when I wrote them, but now seem like the ramblings of a schizoid split personality. I'm on the train to Beckenham Junction to give a tenner to Dr Ian Carstairs, who, like me, sees themselves as a professional psychiatric patient. Like me, he doesn't own a credit card, and since he's already booked his ticket for "The Shining" at the BFI on Sunday he's heading up to Embankment later to score me a seat. If something frightens me, I do it until I no longer feel that fear. I'm letting Kubrick into my head once again. Sitting opposite me, trying to ignore my thoughtful gaze (hey, I'm writing and I could be writing about him, which I am) is a twenty something professional wearing state of the art Dr Dre headphones and reading a copy of The Guardian dressed in a cheap but fashionable suit. Earlier today I was at a mate's house, who used to sell his body for alcohol. He detoxes for a month or two then gets back on it. Last night he interviewed me on camera, and then I passed out, and he made a drunken video of himself asking himself questions he would never dare to do were he in company and/or sober. I've been trying to hype up David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" to whoever I can, but my mate found it boring. I guess it's that rare beast, the sort of major studio release that can only appeal to people who read for pleasure. Above my seat is an NSPCC advert warning that 75,000 children will be on the streets this Christmas.

-------------------

"Is that your therapist face then?" I asked my therapist, feeling uneasy since she'd just asked me about my father and I had told her that when his mother died of cancer the day before my seventh birthday I still went out for a party at FunWorld and he told mum that he didn't think I cared.
"I was seven," I told my therapist. "I didn't know anything. Seven year olds don't understand anything."
"Are you comfortable talking about this?" That face again.
"Do you have something you want to tell me? A theory?"
She put on her therapist face again. I looked up at the clock. Forty minutes left. I started to imagine what she would look like naked.

----------------

Being totally transparent (Post-Empire is the fashionable phrase) then being on an acute psychiatric ward is like being on acid. They never get any more ordered, and they never, ever make any sense of any kind. You can act as normal, sane and ordered as you want, but you don't matter in there, and the only way out is to blag it to the psychiatrist, who holds all of the cards. Admitting bisexuality is a good one, or admitting some dark sexual abuse in your past, bullying at school, some delicious little trauma that you spin to satiate their innate and vicious optimism. I've just been told I can't fire my care worker. By my care worker. Who has just turned up on my doorstep to drive me to Blue Leaves House to receive my depot injection of Olanzapine, which slows down my thinking and helps me ingratiate easier into the wide and wonderful world.
"So I can't fire you?"
"No."
I'm struggling here. "So, are you a Reichian? Probably not. A Jungian? Or are you a Freud man?"
My care worker smiles. "Freud, Andrew. Freud."
I sigh. "Did you know that the word 'Columbine' is on phone predictive text?"

---------------------------

I'm wearing a red and brown striped top with two hundred pound Osiris sunglasses on talking to a psychiatric nurse called Fulden ("pronounced Ful-Dan") who is a pretty young thing from Turkey with a streak of pure malice that she manages to disguise from her family, I'm assuming, since she obviously feels some kind of horror at her status in this world, like they all do.
"So," she says. "What's your name?"
"You haven't heard of me? I'm famous on Pynchon Ward."
"Well," she says, "not that famous, I've never heard of you."
"So is this a problem with your training then?" I smile, adjusting my sunglasses. She can't help but feel exposed, and shoots me an awkward smile straight out of "Misery" that explains her position: You don't understand what pain is, Mister Man...
"Andrew!" I turn, and see Holly smiling at me with a look of sheer delight.
"I was just asking Fulden if she could define irony, Holly," I say, standing up.
"The injection is ready and waiting for you, I'm so glad you're being mature about all this."
I wish I had a gun. Although my debut novel "Smoking Is Cool", which was totally misread by everybody who read it, was written quickly in order that I would never have to murder a psychiatric nurse. I stand up, and Fulden looks orgasmic since she knows they're about to inject me. They live for this, these skanky farm girls who seek male weakness like a shark seeks human blood. The injection is administered into the buttock of your choice. It always hurts, but what's worse is the knowledge that everybody but you finds it utterly hilarious. I'm led into the medical room. Sarah, the head matron of Pynchon Ward has the injection laid out.
"Do you want to watch my YouTube video?" I ask.
"Andrew," Holly says, and I can almost see her salivate. The internet is filled with hidden sites that advertise the needle fetish of these lost souls.
"So, which side, Andrew?" Sarah asks, closing the door. Sarah is tall and plain, with greasy skin and bad dress sense. They would be lesbians if they didn't enjoy dominating men so much. I adjust my sunglasses, feeling the sheer pointlessness of any words.
"You're killing me with kindness," I sigh, "right side." I undo my belt, slide my trousers down.
"Sharp scratch!" The needle catches a nerve and they take longer than usual to withdraw the needle. Anybody can get sectioned. For anything. At any time. 
"Fuckit," I grimace, and Holly pats my arse and says:
"Don't swear, Andrew," she chides, and I turn round, in a brief moment of excruciating pain.
"You don't know why you enjoy this, do you Holly?"
"I'm helping you, Andrew. You're so talented!"
I do up my belt, feeling worn and used.
"It's a sex thing, Holly," I say, taking off my sunglasses. "That's all this is. It's a sex thing for you."

A.W.M 28/11/2012

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

JAMES DEEN AND THE MYSTICAL, MAGICAL STRUCTURE

I fight the ones that fight me- M.I.A

----------------------

I used to have a recurring dream where I died and went to hell. I went there so many times that I learnt that its geography, whilst consistent, was as abstract and illogical as the Overlook Hotel.

Last Friday me and Raf went up town to see the US Extended Edition of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" at the BFI. By the time we made it to Clockhouse (made semi-famous by Mike Skinner in a photo in his first Streets album) I'd been awake for twenty five hours. Dressed in the height of grunge hoody chic, I didn't spot the policeman who followed us down to the London train. We'd both bought coffees, wandering far down the platform, and I was expounding on the circular narrative of the movie and how it gets scarier the more times you watch it, when the PC smiled and walked over to us.
"Alright fellas," he said, "how's things?"
Raf looked uneasy.
"Yeah, not bad, not bad," I grinned.
"I like to see who's out and about," the PC said. I noted his thick Irish accent. "Y'know, make sure everybody's okay."
"You're Irish," I said.
"Oh yeah, oh yeah, I am." He had a strange smile on his face.
"Have you been to County Wicklow?" I asked. "I have family there. You know Bray Head? The hill with the cross?"
"Oh yeah, beautiful down there. In the south." There was a hint of menace in his emphasis. "Lovely people. In the south. So, I think.... do I know you from somewhere? You seem awfully familiar! You haven't been doing anything you shouldn't? Come on fellas," he sighed, "let's get out of the rain so I can take your details. Just to be on the safe side..."
He took down our names and addresses and told us he'd be in touch. On the train to Waterloo East we were subdued. We both felt a little dirty.

--------------

"I recorded a video," I tell Holly. Holly is the girl who works at Blue Leaves House, she's popped into the outreach centre and I'm passing the ten minutes before therapy with a little bit of shameless self-promotion. Holly is the girl who administers my depot injection. It's difficult outwardly flirting with somebody who asks you to undo your belt, slide down your trousers giggles and says, "sharp scratch!" just before the needle catches a nerve. It always hurts. Afterwards she usually pats my arse before I have to wait three hours on the ward to ensure that I don't have a heart attack. It's romantic in an awkward kinda way.
"It's had 130 hits in six days," I say. There is a nervous looking hoody seated opposite. I clock him for mother issues. It's the old classic. 
"You should be due for your injection soon," she replies, blushing a little. My therapist pops out of the door.
"Thanks for waiting, are you ready Andrew?"
"I'll be down today," I say to Holly, standing up.
"Brilliant," Holly says, adjusting her glasses as I smile and follow my therapist into room 13.
"Back once again for the renegade master," I sigh, taking a seat, assuming the position. Legs open but crossed at the ankle, hands behind my head, eyes open but with no contact.
"I recorded a video," I tell her.
"Wow. Of what?"
"Me singing. One take. Live recording of Rockin' In The Free World. It's up on YouTube. It's had 130 hits."
"Impressive."
"I also seem to wake up earlier nowadays. My sleep pattern is reconfiguring."
"Which is a good thing. We talked last week about...self harm."
I slide up my hoody. The scars are healing.
"Looks sore," she says.
"They're superficial. Cut to bring blood. Ritualistic. They'll fade before Spain."
"So you're going? I thought you were undecided."
"I've sent off for my passport. I do need a holiday."
"Yes, it's been quite a year for you."
I make the briefest of eye contact.
"In the secure unit the rules are different than in prison. I've never been to prison so I have no real frame of reference in literal terms. Only from the prison memoirs I've read and serious films. Like Scum, or Animal Factory, Chopper, Bronson, the good ones. We talked a lot about Chopper and Bronson in the secure unit."
"What were the conclusions?"
I look above her head to the bookshelves of psychiatric textbooks.
"Some kid in there wanted to start a riot after we watched Chopper. Somebody else told me that Bronson was pure evil and should never be released. Yet another thought that Bronson and Chopper brought it on themselves. The head loonie referred to himself as a Jewish Nazi and always wore a top hat and cloak. He used to trick people into drinking his piss."
"No!"
"He tricked me too."
"God," my therapist says.
"I thanked him," I continue, making eye contact. "It was a useful lesson. The day before they discharged him I told him that I did everything with my family in the back of my mind. I couldn't allow myself to lose my battles because I thought it would hurt them. Do you want to know what he said?"
"Go on..."
I smile. "You'll win."

-------------

After a coffee in our local West End Costa's, me and Raf were walking to the BFI to queue up for standby tickets to "The Shining".
"That was weird," I said. The Christmas lights were up. Smart dressed girls in mink coats and pretty hats.
"The stop and search. Yeah. He did it in a really horrible way. It's how they do it."
"I mean," I said, lighting a cigarette, "I've only been arrested once. But I was strip searched. It wasn't registered on my file."
Suddenly Raf stopped a tall, slightly grungy guy with Dr Dre headphones in.
"Mate, Shipwrecked! I know you!"
The guy removed his earphones, looking nervous.
"Excuse me?"
"You were in Shipwrecked! Wow!"
"Umm," the guy said.
"Nah, what's your name?"
"Laurence Fox?"
"Yeah! I seen you in something! Wicked, yeah, Laurence Fox!"
Laurence Fox shook his hand and walked away quickly.
"Who was that? What's Shipwrecked?"
Raf looked pleased with himself. "Shipwrecked is like T.O.W.I.E for rich people."
"Was he on it?"
"Nah, he's an actor. Downton Abbey I think. Or that one... Minder is it?"
"Starfucker," I sighed, exhaling.

---------------

"I saw The Shining on Friday," I tell my therapist. "At the BFI."
"Ooh, I love The Shining!"
"Yeah but get this," I grin, "it was the US extended version. There was like half an hour extra footage. Freaked the hell out of me. And all the audience were fashionati, people who only do as others do in order to fit into a transgender scene. They were laughing..."
"Oh dear."
"I don't think I've ever been more unsettled in a cinema. And I kept nodding off and hallucinating that Jack Nicholson was wearing glasses. In all the new footage... dunno. It was like Stanley Kubrick had planned this release posthumously just to fuck with me. There's this weird bit at the end with skeletons and cobwebs. And people were laughing... I mean the key theme," I adjust my glasses, "is the loss of a sense of time. They keep hitting you with random TUESDAYS, and THURSDAYS, and MONDAYS, and it's just done to inspire to you the idea that time isn't real. I swear it was auto-suggestive-hypnosis. I've been obsessed with that film for nearly twenty years."

------------

I was standing in the BFI standby ticket queue with M.I.A pumping in my earphones, trying to ignore the clerks making snide comments about me with his boyfriend. The night before I had released my YouTube video, and an Occult Publisher who've been toying with me for years now wanted me to record a music video naked.
I think it would be great for you, Andrew...

-------------

When I was nine (and I remember it vividly, it was a TUESDAY or a THURSDAY I think) I saw a spider fighting with a worm. The spider was lashing out at a trapped worm in the dirt under the climbing frame in my best mate's house. 

------------

"Time's up," my therapist says. "And I'm not sure you should."
"Record a music video naked?" I ask.
"I don't know if it would be a good...idea."
I smile. "It seems to be what people want, nowadays. And there I was thinking I was a serious novelist."
"Can you do Wednesday next week? No, Thursday. Actually no, Tuesday is better."

-------------

On screen two little girls were staring at Danny. 
"Come and play with us, Danny. Forever...and ever... and ever..."
All I could hear was laughter as I drifted into sleep, returning to the recurrent nightmares that take me on occasion... I woke up. Laughter. Applause. We wander out of the cinema, past a bar full of men dressed as women.
"Great party," one of them says.

A.W.M 21/11/2012

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

PLAN B AND THE DECONSTRUCTION OF POST-EMPIRE

"I'm not in love, but I'm gonna fuck you, til somebody better, comes along"- USER FRIENDLY, Marilyn Manson

-------

So I'm in Waterstones in Bromley killing an hour before therapy. I'm dressed how I usually dress, fashionable in a grunge meets hoody chic meets one step up from homeless way. iPod soundtrack? On the bus I was listening to a remix album by Infected Mushroom and now I'm vibing to "Things Done Changed" by Notorious B.I.G lazily browsing the True Crime section for something that leaps out at me. As is my wont I flick through the Charlie Bronson books, reading ten or so pages of a guide to surviving prison, a Michelin Guide for the darkest dungeons in Blighty. I was obsessive about Australian prison writer Mark Brandon Read's "Chopper" books until "Chopper 7: Empire of the Gun" which just seemed like he'd written it drunk in an hour. It disappointed me enough to write him a snarky (and exceptionally elaborate) email. His next book was called "A Fool and His Toes Are Soon Parted". I was paranoid for a while thinking he'd taken my message to heart. Fuckit. At least I'd be famous for something, huh? Anyway. I love Waterstones in Bromley. They've smartened it up, more space for the platter of information, giving credence to the inevitability of the digital age with its Kindle store nestled smartly in a booth of its own. I glide to the Philosophy section, flick through the new Jon Ronson since he investigates in this new epic a school shooting plot in Alaska, and I can only salivate over the awkward questions he'll pose. Nobody died, we can laugh. I hate having no money when I'm in a book shop. I head up the escalator, saunter through The Glades checking out a few girls and buy a Relentless with the change from my cigarettes. The Glades opened in 1990. It made the town. Family trips to Bromley would end with a Rainbow Cookie from the Cookie Jar, a Bon Jovi album on tape and if I was lucky, a trip to Game. I fondly remember the days of narrative computer puzzles, of floppy discs and point and click classics like "Space Quest", "Monkey Island" and "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis". I whacked up my parent's phone bill secretly calling up the helplines at two fifty per minute. These games defined Easters, Birthdays, Christmases, Weekends, My Dreams, defined my sense of narrative and my obsession with artistic immersion. I remember a "Space Quest" guidebook written sometime in the early nineties and taking my battered copy into school, reading aloud in the playground and denoting it a 'bible of the future'. I got some stick for that. A few dead arms. Didn't matter. I knew I was right.
On the 354 to Penge I flick to Magic FM to hear the news. As the newscaster wryly explains that ReThink are calling for an overhaul of psychiatric institutions regarding the savage and deadening treatment of schizophrenics, I feel like some kind of benevolent prophecy has been fulfilled. I put "Things Done Changed" back on, trying to stop myself from giggling.
Bromley segues into Beckenham and cruises down to the dirty, effervescently unhappy streets of Penge. Memories of getting ripped off by bolshy coke dealers, almost beaten senseless by coked up lords of the manor, I switch to Bloc Party's "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)" as I step off at the top of Maple Road (site of a botched shooting on Friday, February 13th 2009, the day "Bronson" launched Tom Hardy to superstardom). This is where I saw her last. She was walking down from the house I lived in for four years with the dregs of the area, sex offenders and sex abuse victims and young offenders and supervised medication and eighty quid a week with no way of getting out except to learn to embrace the patience of isolation. Her weight fluctuated on a loop. She dressed like a boy and wore her hood up. Fresh scars were a constant. She simply ran out of space to cut.

---------

"Oh, I didn't realize it was so warm in here," my therapist says as we enter the conference room. They say it is spaces and familiar smells, not the places themselves that bring deja vu. I feel like I am in the science block of my secondary school, the new buildings they erected after a grant from the government. That fresh paint and cheap carpet smell. She opens the tiny windows, offers me a seat.
"Arms, no arms, do you care?"
I take an armless seat and smile as an answer. Unlike previous botched attempts at therapy, there is no awkward silence.
"Have you seen "Ill Manors"?" I ask. "The Plan B film?"
She removes her pad. "I almost forgot," I say, "you've been taking notes."
"I haven't seen it. Is he good in it?"
"The young buck wrote and directed it."
"Any good?"
I assume my therapy pose, arms behind my head, no eye contact, legs apart but crossed at the ankle.
"You know those stop motion, is it stop motion? You know, shots of London sped up so it becomes dark and the lights stream within about ten seconds?"
"Yes, they do that a lot, don't they?"
"I think it's the first thing they teach you at film school."
"Was it a good film?"
I clench my fists, unclench. "Nope. The dude watched "Pulp Fiction" and thought he was a Godardian auteur based on hype and hyperbole. He raps throughout, just to let us understand for damn sure this is his movie. That he directed it. And wrote it. And presented it. And did all the songs. Which," I reconsider, "does actually make him an auteur."
She grins.
"Have you seen David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis"?"
"Hmm, he did "Naked Lunch". We talked about Burroughs."
"Insect dreams, yes. Like in "Oldboy". They occur when dissociation has occurred. When you no longer feel a position of any status within society. But I'm a little obsessed with "Cosmopolis". It's made me realize the appeal of R-Pax."
She notes this down, and then stops and says: "Who?"
"Robert Pattinson. You know, English pretty boy, the vampire tabloid fetish of unhappy thirteen year old girls."
"The "Twilight" guy?"
"The bastard mistress of E.L James. Stephanie Myers gave birth to a monster. "Fifty Shades of Grey" has just been nominated for the National Book Award. Fun never stops."
She puts her hand up gently. "Okay, so how are you? Maybe we could backtrack a little. It's a bit of show and tell again, isn't it? Empire? Post-Empire? That was...Empire."
I smile. I like how she tracks my past sessions. All the other therapists just wanted me to tell them how big/small my penis was.
"I self-harmed yesterday."
"Oh dear. How bad?"
"It's a control thing. Ritualized, superficial cuts. To offset suicidal thoughts." I roll up my sleeve. "I like how red they are."
"They look like somebody's scratched you. They're quite...artistic? That might not be the right word."
"That's what happens when you attempt to break the form of language. The study of linguistic semantics. Slicing words. Slicing and breaking structure. The quantum mathematics of poetry. It's...dangerous."
"Empire? Post-Empire?"
"Post-Empire. Which isn't much comfort."
"Okay, let's backtrack again. We were talking about suicidal thoughts. What kind of thoughts?"
My eyes meet hers for the briefest of instants.
"I was going to hang myself on Christmas Day."

----------

If this were a Plan B movie we'd cut to a shot of London all sped up and lights shimmering and then some girl would get shot after whoring herself for crack and he'd be rapping about the problems of all girl gangs beating each other up for their Blackberrys and then shotting weed for guns and wideboy Nazis would be slicing up the faces of the dead girl and then Plan B would pop up and rap, "Oi, dis is real life bra, respect the hoody, I'll chib ya get me rich boy blah blah uh, cunt!" and then I'd be back in my parent's house aged 17 wearing black nail varnish and a Bloodhound Gang Hates You T-shirt and Kate would be looking nubile and hot with sex and my Dad would be ignoring me to offset his sexual angst and then Plan B would cap Kate, jerk off over the body and say "Word up, get off my estate! I'll release the hounds," and it will then be Friday the 13th of April 2001 where I say to Kate "I love you, I just don't like you," and she'd run out crying and Plan B would pop up and say, "who needs actions when you got words, sponsored by Plan B Productions," and I'll be too numb to notice he's patented a line from suicide icon Kurt Cobain. LOL. I love therapy...

--------------

A.W.M 14/11/2012

Sunday, 11 November 2012

DOMINATRIX

This is not an exit- AMERICAN PSYCHO, Bret Easton Ellis

---------


Yes. I have had sex with a professional dominatrix. Although, in hindsight, it wasn’t quite how I was expecting it to be. It wasn’t as systematic and well thought out as the scenes on Kink (and yes, if you’ve bought this book, you know exactly what I’m talking about) but it was a good experience. Painful, but good, nonetheless.
I’ll let your minds wander for a while as I exercise a little Post-Empire for my previous readers which include American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis.
As far as I can recall, I was not sexually abused as a child. I was an altar boy at my local Catholic Church, though. I enjoyed the ritual and mystical aspects of the incense and candles and the parading of the cross. I used to know the structure of the Catholic mass off by heart. I took my first Holy Confession when I was about seven or eight. What did I confess? I wasn’t too sure what to confess. I hadn’t really ever done anything. I told the priest (it was held in the staff room of my Catholic primary school) that I had told my sister to shut up. I think I had to recite a Hail Mary. How did I feel afterwards? A little used. The priest (who I won’t name) wound up having an affair with a married teacher at the school, which gave the local newspapers something to write about. She ended up dying of a brain tumour after giving birth to his child. God got his own back in the end. As funny as this sounds to Atheists (they have quite a heightened sense of irony) sometimes I think about him. He must have felt like it was a divine punishment. How could he not have even entertained that possibility? The carnal pleasures of the flesh that robbed him of his relationship with God ends with a baby and the death of the only woman he’d probably ever touched. It was one of the many secrets that my primary school kept close within its ranks. Reminds me of the time when there had been a prowler on the grounds. My sister (nine years old) was talking about it, and I was happily reaching the final level of Super Mario on the Gameboy.
“Mum, what’s rake?” She asked. “There’s a raker at school.”
Mum cleared her throat. “Rape.”
I paused the game. “What’s a raper then, mummy?” I asked.
“Yeah,” my sister said. “What’s a raper?”
It’s funny thinking back on this, because I’ve actually known quite a few rapists. I recently was released from The Tarn in Woolwich, a secure psychiatric unit. Everybody else in there, all the ‘clients’ as they’re called, were serious sexual and violent offenders. Except me. I was there for self-harm. I sliced up my arms with the smashed mirror in my room in Green Parks House, Farnborough, the acute ward I know better than anybody. The day before six nurses had tried to kill me with a forced overdose of Olanzapine and Lorazepam. They laughed at me as my mouth started to involuntarily close from the medication. When I wouldn’t bow down to their dominance, I was shipped off in a blackened box in the back of a police van to the secure unit. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. I had had a nervous breakdown after the Dark Knight Rises massacre in Colorado. I vomited after I had the horrifying inspiration that maybe James Holmes had read my first novel. I decided to punish myself and forced my mother to drive me to Green Parks. I thought I would get them to kill me if I acted like a violent psychopath. I am not a violent psychopath. But my performance was clearly convincing enough to inspire laughter from their end as I lay on the floor of the doctor’s office and the medication started to kick in, whispering a line from Marilyn Manson’s Born Villain:
“You don’t even want to know what I’m gonna do to you now..”
*

I pop outside for a cigarette. Me and Raf have gone to London to see The Shining at the BFI in Embankment and are killing time in a Costas in the West End. I am listening to Ready to Die by Notorious B.I.G, dressed in the height of non-fashion with cheap Reebok Classics, no-make jeans, a few hoodies and a ten quid beanie. Window shopping rich girls and getting uneasy looks (which of course pleases me) from up-market businessmen and middle class kids suffering the latest fashion craze with floppy hair, ironic T-shirts, oversized fluorescent sneakers and pipe-cleaner trousers. It seems that Generation Wuss (as Bret Easton Ellis has dubbed the new crop of ‘talent’) genuinely believe wearing Dr Dre headphones will actually help them crack the music industry. They’re still unaware that the music industry ceased to exist in the late nineties and is now a fully-fledged, fully operational entertainment industry, and it doesn’t matter how many plays you get on your MySpace/Soundcloud account, it all depends on how many cocks you suck or how easy you are to sell. Saying that though, if you crack YouTube you’re pretty much guaranteed a few thousand record sales. There is nothing genuine. There is nothing real. There is only commercial savvy and an ability to swallow your ego. Nobody is bigger than the competition. It’s an X Factor world. Deal with it. It’s the age of Justin Bieber, not Jeff Buckley. I can’t see that changing any time soon, if ever. We’re so atomised we’re not only a post-digital age, but a post-dating and (tragically) post-literature age as well. Out of the crowd I see a tall, distinguished man with a grey beard, prominent nose, iPod earphones in and a haunted look in his eyes. I realise it’s Stephen Fry. His fashion is impeccable, the sort of fashion that actually is high fashion, tailor made suits, three thousand pound scarf, shoes that cost more than my annual benefit income. I inhale on my cigarette, smiling wryly as he purposefully heads on toward Piccadilly Circus. I once read in an interview with Clint Eastwood that said he never slows down in a crowd, especially if he’s noticed. It’s funny. Stephen Fry is blocking me on Twitter. He looks good though, he’s lost weight, poor lamb. I finish my cigarette and wander back downstairs to Raf who’s fiddling with his Blackberry in the back corner. I pour myself another cup of breakfast tea from my half empty pot.
“Dude,” I say, taking out my earphones. “Guess who I just saw.”
“Avril Lavigne?”
“I wish,” I say wistfully. “Stephen Fry.”
I describe the encounter.
“Yeah, he has lost weight, and it probably was, y’know, he’d be out and about up here.”
“He’s one of the celebrities who are blocking me on Twitter.”
“Celebrities? More than one?”
“Yeah. Ricky Gervais won’t let me retweet him, E.L James is blocking me, Stephen Fry, The Literary Review, and Bret Easton Ellis’s boyfriend.”
Raf grins. “You’re just a little Twitter troll aren’t you.”
I sip my tea. “Dude, I’m the fucking God of Twitter trolls...”
I start to ponder on 2012, the worst year of my life. If I told you, you’d never believe me…

A.W.M 11/11/2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

MITT ROMNEY: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction"- Ken Alstad 

---------------

After the election (more fun than the Oscars) I went to the outreach clinic for my third session of psychotherapy. Last week I had been discussing William Burroughs and the Jungian imagery in the dreams I used to have where I was eaten alive by tarantulas.
"Last week," the therapist said. 
"Yes?"
"You mentioned a lot of things. A lot of topics were covered in... a very short space of time."
I'm tired and strung out on caffeine.
"Like Dennis Hopper in True Romance?"
She smiles. "I haven't seen it."
"You know, show and tell. I was showing you a lot of things, but telling you nothing. You know, Dennis Hopper is trying to hide the fact that he knows where his son is, and Christopher Walken talks to him about Sicilians and the art of lying. He says women have seventeen tells and men have fifteen."
"So women are better liars?" 
"Of course." 
She grins.
"He says Sicilians are the grand masters of deception."
"Oh. So what happens?"
I turn to look out of the window. "Dennis Hopper tells him that Sicilians were spawned by niggers and Christopher Walken shoots him in the head."
"So is that what you're doing now?"
I'm desperate for a cigarette already.
"Empire, Post-Empire. I think it's the most Empire scene about Post-Empire in cinema history."
"Can you translate that?" She asks.
"Empire means everything that predates the end of the Bush administration. It means closed, deceptive, living a lie. Barack Obama is the prophet of Post-Empire. Post-Empire is Lady Gaga, Empire is Michael Jackson."
"So last week was Empire then? I like that."
"I'm trying to be Post-Empire now but as far as I'm concerned I always was."
"And that means you want to tell the truth?"
"I'm not sure I haven't been but Bret Easton Ellis is convinced that I'm lost in the Empire and I'll never return. As for Marilyn Manson, hell. I don't think he likes me very much."
She notes this down. I never like making eye-contact during therapy. I try and sit in a non-confrontational manner, my hands behind my head, my legs apart. Out of the window is the garden where I've performed live music for the outreach clinic. I smile as I remember rapping "Fuck the Police" on a loud PA system and dividing my critics. They had hired two Community Support Officers to watch over the gig. The male PC looked pissed but I think I tickled the WPC a little. They love a bit of rebellion so long as there's a hint of glamour.
"Marilyn Manson, huh," she says after a moment.
"Sounds crazy," I reply. 
"A little bit."
"Are you a fan?"
"Can't say that I am." 
"He's pretty damn Empire."
"I can imagine."
"I think he's read Smoking Is Cool. I think Fred Durst has read it. I think Matt Stone and Trey Parker have read it too. Because most people don't read for pleasure, when I tell them I handed a copy of Smoking Is Cool to Bret Easton Ellis they don't understand what that means."
"What does it mean?"
"That I have a certain reputation in certain circles."
"What reputation?"
"Difficult to say. Part of me thinks I'm being groomed for a top position in the corporation, while the other part thinks that I'm a  serious problem that needs to be solved. So," I sigh, "kind of a bipolar reaction."
"You've talked before about your diagnosis."
"They wanted to classify me as a psychopath at one point."
"Really?"
"You piss off enough psychiatrists you'd be surprised at what they cook up."
"What is your opinion now?"
"I've been misinterpreted. Misrepresented."
"And you've spent...ten years now in the system?"
"Time flies, huh."
I take a look at her to work out a few key descriptive points for my blog. She dresses like my sister. Fashionable hippy chic. Scarves, boots, Osiris glasses, lots of browns and purples.
"And we talked about therapy too," she says.
"Yes. Freud was a child. The idea that you can, in some Hitchcock/Dali way appropriate some childhood trauma that will unlock your true inner self is like something out of Good Will Hunting."
"Yes. It's corny."
"That's what the psychiatrist at the secure unit told me. Told me I was Will Hunting."
She grins.
"Although there's a key scene in that movie that says that it's just as easy to create a Uni bomber as it is to create an Einstein. And anyway," I smile, cracking my knuckles, "I got a Double C in G.C.S.E science."
"So you're no Einstein."
"It's a damn shame."
"So how do you want to approach therapy?"
"Like Woody Allen. Although he lost it in the nineties."
"Oh, I love Woody Allen."
"Me too. But Vicki Cristina Barcelona was at best amateurish."
"Yeah," she replies. "I think he just wanted to make a movie with Scarlett Johansson looking sexy."
I can tell that my therapist finds me immensely entertaining. Me? I just enjoy having intellectual conversations. It's a rare occurrence. I spend most of my week alone thinking about the girl I knew who hung herself. Most of the time I am dropping Promethazine and obsessively tweeting random (but archly devised) satirical barbs.
"I want therapy that focuses on the here and now. I want therapy that will in some way help me work out why I was sectioned in the first place, and why the NHS psychiatric system and its mandate of enforced hospitalization is total bullshit."
"You're not the first person who's told me that."
"I'm overwhelmed with surprise."
"We talked about Burroughs last week."
"Yes, you're a clinical psychotherapist. I imagine you've experimented with automatic writing."
I can see her blush slightly.
"I also don't want to become a chapter in one of your books, Andrew."
"Of course not," I smile.
-----------
After the session I put in my earphones and listen to XXXO by M.I.A which is my current favourite song. Usually after previous attempts at therapy I would have some kind of emotional reaction, a need to get drunk, high, whatever. This time round I don't care. Romney, in hindsight, never really stood a chance. Obama has charmed Hollywood, and they run the show. Maybe not Fred Durst, but he's just a redneck cracker from Jacksonville. I can only see good things happening with a fully across the board healthcare system in the USA. I don't think it's hope he's peddling. Optimistic rationality. I used to say that Americans would never understand irony. I wrote two books about that conceit. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. All I can do is hope.

09/11/2012 A.W.M 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

BARACK OBAMA AND THE END OF POST-EMPIRE


BARACK OBAMA AND THE END OF POST-EMPIRE

---------------------------------------
Will I ever get to where I’m going? If I do, will I know, when I’m there?- INCUBUS, Nowhere Fast

You want me be somebody who I’m really not-
M.I.A, XXXO
--------------------------------------
It is 15.35pm on the 31st of October 2012, and I am writing this in black biro on a sheet of printer paper in the male lounge of Pynchon Ward, Blue Leaves House, a psychiatric hospital in South East London. A Nigerian nurse (complete with vicious tribal scars in sets of three down both cheeks) has just asked for his biro back exactly 45 seconds after I borrowed it. I am telling him that I am writing an essay, whilst writing that sentence, and now he has wondered away, confused. “Rape Me” by Nirvana is playing on repeat through my iPod, and I am now going to stop writing and go for a cigarette in the smoking pod with a crippled old man who keeps smashing windows on the outside world, and a young autistic boy who tried to cut his own throat and due to the guilt of this tried also to jump in front of a train. He was pulled back at the last minute.

I am now writing at 18.36pm on my current A4 binder pad. (I get through these thing quicker than an erection at an Annabel Chong gangbang.) M.I.A (my current favourite emcee) is pumping (harder than Annabel Chong, bless her) and I am debating what horror movies to watch, it being Halloween and all. I have a vast collection, but I also sign up to letmewatchthis.ch which means I can stream the uncut version of “Cannibal Holocaust” or “The Human Centipede: FIRST SEQUENCE” or “The Human Centipede: SECOND SEQUENCE” or “Martyrs” or “A Serbian Film” or any nightmare that some European devil wishes to share with me. I could always go with a huge cinematic error like Paul Schrader’s “Exorcist: Dominion”, purely for the fact that he is directing “The Canyons” from a script by Bret Easton Ellis, simply because I’ve met Bret Easton Ellis, and I gave him a signed copy of my 2009 debut novel “Smoking Is Cool”. The fact that it wasn’t signed to him is neither here nor there. I suppose I could always watch “Sex Mad Secretaries 2” (a great sequel) because it stars James Deen, who is the well-hung star of “The Canyons”, and I once tweeted him to say I was going to pimp him out to my posse. Why? I don’t know. Some people take Twitter so fucking seriously.
I had my second bout of psychotherapy this morning. Well, tell a lie, I’ve had psychotherapy before. After returning from a month in Amsterdam aged 19 (don’t ask) my mother took me to the Priory. I was more than happy to talk to the doctor (non-stop) for an hour about the novel I was writing about a school shooting at a posh grammar school in Kent, then called “A Very British Columbine”. He made a lot of notes. Years later, when I was recovering from crack cocaine addiction in Pynchon Ward, I asked her what he had said after our meeting.
“That you clearly had a mood disorder, Andrew.”
In my physical withdrawals and excruciating depression, I still managed to rise from my sweat sodden sheets.
“That son of a bitch,” I growled, “he told me he was really looking forward to reading it…”

I won’t tell you the name of my psychotherapist unless she does something to annoy me, which I don’t think she’ll do. I’ve known her to say hello to for years. When she was pregnant with her second child she asked me if I had any ideas for names.
“Flavor Flav,” I replied without hesitation.
“Old school,” she giggled, and I instantly trusted her.

-------------------
 We’re now knee deep into the session. Twenty five minutes had passed.
“Yes, the tragedy of the novelist. No matter how many books you write, the best one is always the one you haven’t written yet. You never write your masterpiece, and you never attain closure. And if you’re me, certain Hollywood types read it and suddenly there’s a meeting in some dark room and silencing me becomes the most important thing for them, and primarily just for a little while, just so I can hear the response, and then they go off and try and pretend to say that what I said wasn’t painful and attacked everything they’d ever believed.”
She stopped writing. “Huh?”
“Yeah, it ain’t easy being a literate satirist in today’s world.”
“Hollywood?”
“When people ask me who Bret Easton Ellis is, people will never understand just what has inadvertently happened to me.”
She looked at me. I was wearing three hoodies, a beanie, jeans, Reebok Classics and the awkward smile of a defiant rape victim.
“We were, uh, talking about the NHS and what you think worked, didn’t work, you know, so far.”
“Over the past ten years, you mean?”
“Yes.”
I cracked my knuckles, not out of habit but necessity. “Everything up until this meeting has been abusive. That’s if I’m being totally Post-Empire.”
Pause. “Post…Empire?”
I got the sneaking and deadening feeling that I would now have to explain myself.

“I will never legally be allowed into the United States of America.”

This is the first line of Smoking Is Cool, my self-published debut novel, and in its brevity and with its sinister political connotations, it was my attempt to announce myself as the English equivalent to notorious American novelist Bret Easton Ellis.
The great irony to this is that when I met him at a book signing in Leadenhall Market in July 2010, the copy of the book I gave him began with the far more ambiguous (but no less an homage):

“I think it is January.”

Like the majority of well educated, middle class kids of my generation, Ellis tapped into the sexual nightmare that was unspoken, yet shared, the fear of latent homosexuality, the carnal nature of money, drugs and beauty. Indeed, a year later, while serving a stretch in hospital, I met a twenty something young man who was “very inspired” by both American Psycho, and the fact that I had queued up for three and half hours to meet him, and presented him with a copy of Lucio Fulci’s notorious video nasty New York Ripper and a signed copy of Smoking Is Cool. I cannot remember much of the conversation with the young man, I was still bloodied from the assault that had happened on a previous ward, and had been moved so they could send my attacker to a secure unit. I forget if I told him that Bret Easton Ellis was given the original version, with the real names of doctors, patients and psychologists that formed the largely truthful story of a 25 year old manic depressive attempting to both destroy the system and write his masterpiece whilst incarcerated in the Royal Edinburgh Psychiatric Hospital, and winds up destroying only his own soul. S.I.C is an ambitious failure in my mind, and I gleefully stole from such diverse sources as John Gray’s Straw Dogs and Black Mass, Phillip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect, and infamous Australian criminal Mark Brandon Read’s CHOPPER 4: Happiness is a Warm Gun. The New Statesman and the Literary Review both sent me warm, complimentary rejections when I requested a review, and The Big Issue, Loaded, Prospect, The Spectator and Bizarre didn’t reply at all. Empire, the most popular movie magazine in England, responded with a post-it note.
Smoking Is Cool is by no means a popular book, and has to date sold less than thirty copies, since its publication in August 2009. After the N.H.S bought a copy, they threatened litigation if I did not withdraw the book from sale, so instead I changed the names, slapped on a new first line (true for anybody who has been under a Section 3 of the Mental Health Act of 1983) and put a banner on the back:

THE BOOK THE N.H.S TRIED TO BAN!

The reason Bret got the staid, incendiary original is because I simply did not have the money to buy a new copy of my book, since self-publication requires you to purchase review copies at a discount. It is an honest way of doing it, and I am more than happy with the underground reputation that my anti-‘everything’ (read progress) satirical mini-epic has garnered me. But I’ll tell you one thing (and you’ll know why if you ever do read it) it certainly didn’t win me any friends.

I was born on April 11th, 1983, and was very much a child of the post-modern, ironic nineties. It may also interest you that I was born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck.
Waco, the first Gulf War, and Kurt Cobain’s suicide did not make my top three, primarily because I was too young to gauge the reaction and meaning of these events at the time. For me, and for many of my generation, the three key tabloid events of the 1990’s do not include Princess Diana’s death and funeral, which were themselves a public expression of guilt and shame directed at the tabloid media in itself.
The first sign that the western world was headed for trouble occurred in 1993, with the trial of two ten year old boys who had sexually assaulted and murdered six year old James Bulger. The events surrounding this horrifying event were put down by Blake Morrison in his ugly, battered non-fiction book, As If, which is a truly nasty read, and impossible to forget.
The massacre of a class of five year olds and their teacher in a school in Dunblane happened three years later, an event that the present writer remembers weeping over in 1996, age thirteen, when the gates of innocence were well and truly welded shut.
Three years later, in April 1999, two unattractive school bullies carried out a massacre at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado, ending the spree shooting with a double suicide. It transpired that the pair had planned the murders with the same level of preparation as the Oklahoma City Bombers, spending a year plotting the massacre and keeping a video diary.
After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, an already terrified Western World had its sanity snapped from the hinges, leading Coalition forces into open war against the Middle East, beginning first in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and, as of writing, Libya, whose dictator, Colonel Gaddafi, had his mutilated body proudly displayed on the front of the British gutter press, with some wag’s caption: THIS IS FOR LOCKERBIE. This was a message for Syria, the next target, I’m assuming, and a country that we will be fighting soon.
With the almost unbelievable influx of cheap, digital technology, some theorists state that the 21st century will be either the final age of human consciousness, or closer to a post-structuralist hyperreality where each individual will have the capacity to mould reality to their own design.
“Towards the end of the twentieth century we lost confidence in reality. Everything- identity, morality, time, space, gender, political alignment, relationships, memory, history- became provisional…
…The ‘rubber reality’ trend was in full swing well before the dawn of the third millennium- an arbitrary ticking over of the odometer, celebrated without the collapse of society that had been feared- and the world-changing events of 11 September 2001. The nightmares of Elm Street made fantasy mindscapes commonplace in horror films, with Freddy Krueger’s control over dreams allowing for sequences in which logic could be suspended for the sake of a scare.”
Kim Newman, Nightmare Movies (2010) p.449

The English youth riots in 2011 were blamed by some on race relations, police cruelty, poverty, and a whole host of other fashionable key words that gave politicians a voice box to sell their latest theory. The truth is they were less opportunistic carnage from a feral, angry youth, but highly orchestrated terrorism by savvy, computer literate young men and women who had, inevitably, matured into dark cynicism far quicker than any previous English generation. They had nothing whatsoever to do with the breakdown of the family or black marginalisation. As many white and Asian youths joined in with the black kids for the fun and games. It was the Lord of the Flies effect. When war is seen as a viable career option, and first person shoot em ups are becoming more and more realistic, the skunk fuelled, Eminem listening kids just wanted to enjoy themselves in the only way they knew how.
The awkward Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government turned down every single appeal from convicted rioters. Some, who had merely used social network sites like Facebook and Twitter to organise looting, were given mandatory sentences as high as four years, a length of time that one might spend for armed robbery or manslaughter.
A cynic might argue that these were moves made to ensure a frightened world that England was a benign place to visit for the impending 2012 London Olympics, and international tourists would be safe and more than able to spend money into the collapsing economy.
But of course the reasons behind the riots were never given open credence, and, in fact, the documentation by the media became more like an interactive film, with digital viewers able to watch multiple screens and hear commentaries by various celebrities and talking heads.
The hottest summer on record, where lightning storms mixed with heat so boiling that flowers burst into flames, certainly didn’t help. Added to this, Rupert Murdoch and the phone hacking scandals whereby the News of the World newspaper was forced into retirement after it transpired they had bugged the phones of the families of child murder victims, Amy Winehouse’s death at the notorious rockstar age of 27, the unarmed assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the impending ten year anniversary of 9/11, a new supposed war for oil in Libya…well. It may not be too much of a surprise that a generation who no longer read for pleasure and have little chance of earning a wage after school ends, who subsist on skunk and an ultra-realistic multitude of anarchist themed video games, our X Factor culture where musical talent is no longer groomed but groomed of individuality, an admired obsession with organised crime, a football culture that has long been corrupted by money and celebrity, would explode with a passion when the police shot dead an unarmed gangster in Tottenham, and take to the streets in a show of nihilistic joy.
I very much doubt it is a coincidence that the riots occurred very shortly after a deranged right wing writer (who had recently finished a 1000 page political tract) murdered 77 men, women and children in Norway, on the day before Amy Winehouse was found dead. Something had to blow. Everybody was mad as hell. Something was about to break.

He had always wanted to write a long book. God knows he’d lived an epic life. Cinema was a dead art-form, any idiot could tell you that. Even though nobody read anymore. Not like he did. But where do you find the time? As the Stones put it: “What a draaag it is, gettin’ old…” Secretly he hated writers. They had been given everything. A good education. Money. Holidays. And some of these nasty horror writers seemed to make a fortune out of making the world seem like an impossible, savage nightmare. He felt like Jack Nicholson typing away in The Shining. But even though she had died (not in a faceless hospital ward, he’d seen to that) and a long, lingering demise from Lung Cancer, her presence remained. At least he’d had a good woman. When he returned from the war (and it was no victory for his division) what else could he do? Marriage. Kids. A job. Twenty Rothman’s and a flutter on the ponies. Drinking? Sometimes. Drugs? Ha. Not in this fucking life.

“Mummy, can I interview Granddad for the book?”
Mummy smiled. “You need to brush your teeth.”
He paused, her little gentleman.
“Mummy,” he said.
“Yes, Andrew?”
“Mummy, when I become famous, do you mind if I play a really, really bad man? Do you mind if I use rude words?”
She smiled. “Go and brush your teeth, Andrew.”
“Yes mummy. I love you mummy. I think Dad is like Indiana Jones. Can I have some sweets?”
The inevitable barter for sweeties.
“Granddad’s bringing cakes.”
Andrew paused. Became serious. In a perfect, Bostonian accent he saluted: “Yes maam. We’ll surely win the war!”
And left the room, marching like a soldier. Mummy giggled.

Dad died sitting up in his chair. He was there sixteen hours before he was found. It ended me. Dad never wanted a son like me. I don’t know how I’m going to go on. Andrew is sixteen and he’s been on report at that fucking school. We keep finding cannabis, vodka and hardcore pornography in his room. How am I going to save this child?

“Did you ever kill anyone?” Andrew asks me. Paul is toddling around. Kids always want to hear the horror stories. They see Hitler as a cartoon.
“Aye, ah dinnae remember, lad.”
I fight the sadness and smile as he carefully writes down the answer. He’ll be a great man someday. Paul wanders over to me.
“Ba ba aba?” he asks quizzically. I give him a sweetie and make sure he doesn’t get it stuck in his throat. He’s three, a wee bairn.
“Next question,” Andrew says, looking jealous.
“Do you want a sweetie, Andrew?”
He considers this. “Yes,” he replies, “but I have to finish the book first.”
“Are you certain?”
Andrew looks down at his next question, smiles sweetly.
“What sort of rifles did you use?”
“I don’t remember.”
He looks disappointed.
“My memory isn’t what it used to be.”
I sigh, thinking about the drop. Training. The fear. That soft agony when I walk past a building site.
“What was it like being a POW?” Andrew asks.
“There was a guard. A German.”
“Mummy speaks German!” he says.
“Aye. The only two words he knew in English were Jesus Christ. We called him Jesus Christ the Friendly Guard.”
Andrew’s eyes bulge with excitement.
“Wow!”
Dave walks in. “Dad, want a beer?”
“We’re working here,” I sneer.
“Are you bothering Granddad, Andrew?” Dave says, looking nervous.
“No daddy, I’m writing my World War II book. I’m doing a interview.”
“AN interview,” Dave smiles.
“Whisky, David,” I say.
“I’ll have one too,” David sighs.
Paul falls over backwards, crawls over to Andrew and points at his book.
“Ba b aba? Mudda? Murder?”
We all stop.
“Mudddah! Murrrdder!” Paul giggles.
Andrew looks pensive. “Can I have a whisky?”
“Murder!” Paul says, proudly.
“What happened to Jesus Christ?” Clare asks, who has been sitting at the piano. She’s wearing her church dress and a little beret. Clare is nine.
“The Americans forgave him and he went home to his family,” I say, drinking my Bell’s in trembling fingers.
“Great!” Clare says, and starts to play Fur Elise.
---------------
And that will do for now. But as a treat for anybody who bothered to read this lazy attempt to explain exactly who I am and why and whatever, I am now leaving a contact number. If you want to talk to me, you can. I suppose if you want to track the phone and find out where I live and do whatever you feel like doing to me, since for some reason I have fractured some kind of identity in you that you worked a lifetime to create, go nuts. Or if you’re a publisher, musician or producer, please text me an address if you would like a few free copies of my debut album YOUR ONLY FRIENDS ARE MAKE BELIEVE and I will post them to you, wherever you are in the world. I am quite poor, but not poor enough not to talk to you or promote my music. Fuckit. You only live once, I suppose.

07583033391- (Ask for Andrew…)