Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sugar

I see you have a lot of problems,
And you probably need time
But you don't have time, no,
You only have money, and
Time is money...
and so is mine.

Oh what a shame, what a shame that is,
What an awful shame for your wife and kids.
You think it will be okay,
But I can tell you now
That you will burn before me.

Naked and ready
In your hotel
You just happen to be
Addicted to porn.
Well it's a mean, dark city
And we're just like all those people
A London problem, an eastern promise
You promised your wife all of your income
Now you let blonde fake lesbians
who pretend to be swedish
Suck it out of you,
Just suck it out of you.

Oh what a shame, what a shame that is,
What an awful shame for your wife and kids
You think it will be okay
But I can tell you now
That you will burn before me

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Stories about Smoking, Womanhood, Money and Age : Part 1


The moment I arrive in the smoking lounge, I start remembering an old self I had. It does not surprise me that even though a decade or more has passed, in which everything around it has changed at a ravishing speed, this old smoking lounge is still the same. Only the furnishings are a little more chipped – even more chipped – and the floor boards worn even thinner. The faces of the smokers within look just a little bit older and more worn-out. A classic case of the passage of one decade.

I sit on a wooden bench, which runs all along the side wall. An old coffee house table with a beer-stained marble top is unsteady on its feet before me. I kick it with one foot, and clamp it down with the other, to prevent my milky coffee from splashing out of its cereal bowl. I rock absent-mindedly back and forth, flick ashes approximately into an ugly ashtray of bottle brown glass, and imbue all my clothing with kilos of dead smoke, soaking every inch of my skin and the roots of my hair. I sit around by candle-light in this puffy silver, the chemical cloud.

It is February and I am happy to have found a place of comfort I still remember from before. I have come here to put a stop to my own unfurling life. This is where I will sit, day in, day out, and blow out every phantom of a painful story. This isn't London, where the money making wheel keeps everybody on their toes, where the soul's inner demons grow untended, well-watered by alcohol. This is a breathing space. And I'm smoking.

A few days go by. This place turns into a bar at night, and gets lively around late afternoon. In the daytime, I am largely alone here. A pleasing selection of indie bands and glamrock music is on the speakers, and I sit undisturbed with my laptop. My head is crowded: I am writing a book. As long as I won't make any new friends in here, it's perfect.

The first returning face will be a confused, somewhat traumatized-seeming black woman with a wooly hat, who walks in and out a lot with her arms crossed, muttering to herself, sometimes shouting, smoking, drinking teas, sitting motionless for half an hour staring out of the window, then getting agitated and leaving the place abruptly. I recognize the behaviour for having lived in a psychiatric ward before, and would love to offer her the feeling, in a small way, that she has an ally. Just in a small way : I am not able to help anyone in a big way. I want to be. This is part of my own get-well mission.

The seating order changes a few times, and faces reappear. I notice a tall and lithe, pale and elegant woman in her forties who always has perfect make-up and her hair in a bun, drinking red wine by the window and gazing out, with a closed moleskin book in front of her on the table. It is not long until she is joined by an intellectual type with grey hair and a velvet jacket, and I cannot help but eavesdrop as they sit and smoke – they are talking about other guests of the cafe, from yesterday or two nights ago. Apparently, someone said something a little too loudly at the drinking table. I notice that she is particular when it comes to hygiene, wiping the rim of her wine glass frequently. It goes with the perfect make-up, I figure. She looks attractive, chain smoking slim lights, and I like the sound of her voice, even if it sounds a little dry and a twinge depressed. It's February, in Berlin: ice cold and dark days. I zone out, again.

The days go by. These two women appear again and again. They know each other, as I soon realise, but they don't speak. The elegant tall one begins to acknowledge my existence: when she sees me coming in, she nods, and forces a smile. I know already that I would like to meet her, but I will leave it for her to make the first move. Let's see how long until...

One afternoon soon afterwards, I find myself sharing a table with an androgynous-looking young man. He has long blond hair and is extremely skinny, he is wearing a Japanese comics t-shirt with a shiny suit jacket, and has a sketchpad in front of him, into which he is busily drawing robots and fantasy machines. They remind me of the robotic monsters on display outside the cafe, and in the horror cabinet night club at the end of the backyard. As it turns out, he is a regular there as well. It is open until six in the morning, and people can smoke spliffs in there, which he tells me he quite enjoys. We end up sharing a bottle of red, and in the candle light I see the deep circles under his eyes. He tells me that he has been in and out of psychiatric clinics for the last few years. We talk at length about it, and it leaves me angry with the system – again.

In sum, my first conversation in Berlin ends up being about that. So much for leaving the past behind by moving somewhere new. We start to talk about the tall thin woman. It turns out he was waiting for her, but she failed to turn up. The bottle of wine he ordered had been for her, but now he is sharing it with me. He tells me that over the years, they have had a few erotic encounters, but that the connection always breaks off. On and off, like a faulty electric contact. I find it interesting, because I have already seen the woman. But something about prying on her stranger's love life feels dishonourable, and I shake off the thought of those two, entangled against a doorway, somewhere between here and the horror cabinet in the back. We split, and agree to meet again the following Thursday: same time, same place. Already in the parting, I have second thoughts about seeing him again but I decide to see how I feel about it one week from now.



What you've just read is going toward the sequel of my book  "Cured Meat: Memoirs of a Psychiatric Runaway",  available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cured-Meat-Memoirs-Psychiatric-Runaway/dp/1497590442


Monday, 3 August 2015

http://paulmcveigh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-sunday-times-efg-short-story-award.html?m=1

Monday, 20 July 2015

Asif Kapadia's Amy Winehouse, Bulimia and Good Girls Gone Bad

It must be every bulimic’s worst nightmare to have their darkest secret broadcast on the big screen. Amy Winehouse had bulimia, as the public now knows. 
Asif Kapadia’s latest documentary repeatedly intimates that the leading cause of her death may well have been bulimia. Weight fluctuations and plastic surgery stories are the bread and butter of the celebrity media, and Amy Winehouse was not exactly an under-exposed star. She certainly became extremely thin during her rise to fame, and acquired some breast implants. We may dislike it, but we can’t deny that women in the public eye are subjected to an obscenely large volume of commentary upon their appearance, especially on their figure -- and women in entertainment most of all.

But for Amy Winehouse, the media focus in public portrayals always swerved to drink and drugs, to nocturnal escapades and horrible debacles. For Winehouse, the media had in store one very special thread of storytelling, a pre-existing Hollywood narrative: the “good girl gone bad”. Versions of this story were also spun out around Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and in pride of place, Courtney Love.

The structure of this tale and its character is simple, and it goes back to the fallen women of Victorian horror fiction, and further. It weaves its structural thread all the way back to the beginnings of western narrative in ancient times. It is a tale of a woman’s gradual estrangement from society, often connected with a narrative of insanity. It is, at its heart, a tragic tale.

To a degree, prefabricated tales and patterns are a helpful cognitive tool in society; but they remain inventions. The invented narrative of the drug-addled rockstar links Amy Winehouse’s story to the Kurt Cobain story, to Jim Morrison, to the myth of Club 27, and the rich web of rock mythology. Here, heroin is a cognitive prop: heroin is rock’n’roll, is edgy, and totally glamorizeabe. Bulimia can not be glamorized. By its very nature, bulimia is characterized by secrecy, disgust  and shame. It refuses to be seamed together correctly with a public image. 

Kapadia’s film boldly begins to work the bulimia aspect in, and drops it soon again. Perhaps with an awareness that the public expects a feisty rock lioness disaster story, rather than a story of fragility and bruised self-esteem. Several of Amy Winehouse’s close friends and collaborators give their accounts of what happened, and they intensely medicalize the memory with many tenets of pop-psychology. We hear that when in the presence of an addict, one must show tough love, that addiction puts a strain on those around you, that Amy Winehouse lacked self-control, that she had all the options, but chose the worse options, that she did it all herself. All these arguments lead up to one conclusion: there is no-one else to blame. The overall picture begs the question if the system as a whole is to blame.

Taken together, Kapadia’s picture is fascinatingly documents the human instinct to recoil away from responsibility and blame when a tragedy happens. It is an important group dynamic at the heart of our social functioning, and this is where the “good girl gone bad” narrative becomes useful -- and comes back to haunt everyone. Once it is understood that this story is simply the repetition of an ancient pattern, of a tale of gradual estrangement and isolation in plain sight, what is left is the knowledge that as a society we are ill equipped to include and protect those whose character and life go beyond certain limits of the usual. And Amy Winehouse went beyond a lot of limits. First of all, her disproportionately high achievements, talent and success set her apart from the rest. Drugs came later. And bulimia was there the whole time. It is incumbent upon everyone who considers themselves modern, to ask if the “self to blame” model is not just... a bit lame.


Friday, 3 July 2015

a local idiot, for example the barman

When a local idiot, for example the barman, would talk down to me, implying that I was a bit dim, and some guy in a well-worn semi-dinner jacket would chime in charmingly from the bar stool next to mine, which would give me the inkling of a headache, the thought process began “hey, forget them” -- and it would whisper in my head, “these guys are non-guys. This whole conversation has no meaning. You're away from your life. Your brain is a sponge soaked full of substances. All the corridors are bendy slopes now. This isn't even technically actually happening”.
That extended to a million other things too, to the point that nothing was really happening at all any more, if you asked me.
Just fuzzy curves and blank space, where a life could be

jewelled ears, and rhinestone brows, a silver rhino

Fine, so, it says here, dissolve this powder in warm water, and I did. It ripped open the pain of a few years gone, a chorus of frogs in the underworld started bouncing up and down. The monster reared its head again, as was to be expected. With diamond eyes, pearl and silver jewelled ears, and rhinestone brows, a silver rhino, a crystal head full of rainbow prisms and glittering spheres dangling like a Christmas forest.
It exhaled a chilling cloud of frozen soap bubbles and distant chimes. Golden naked bodies on the shore behind it, fashioned in heaven by the goldsmith to Hollywood, cut charmed silhouettes through a fluffy sunrise.
In a cotton ball universe, unworldly and eerie like the promise of immortality itself, glitter and doom........................

Thursday, 2 July 2015

And night flowers grow

A blackened English church
Spikes a devilish tower,
And injects the poor cloud
From the dark womb of the city.

In the church they're doing twelve-steps,
And yet still nobody
Finds a friend in Jesus
Any more.

It’s the curse of Center Point.

Jesus and Jesusette, a divinely entangled couple of hippies,
An owl on their one bare shoulder,
Like ancient gods waltzing around,
They sprinkle stardust
In the dark of boarded-up mansions
So the tall and gaunt, alcoholic grande dame
Awakens an anger that’s been sleeping
And it runs, and sparks up revenge.

"My character deranged my mother",
The foul breath of old ills
Hangs in the damp.

"Would you like some gingerbread?"
"Everywhere I go, food is offered.
I wish that I could eat my own feelings".

Crunchy rejection
Fried frustrated dreams
Bad luck, Saint Giles,
Your soul is spilt.

I’m sitting in a lounge here
That’s darkened, and abandoned,
In a place that was cursed.
I recall the old Gallows.

It’s a strange ghost, this alcohol.
For a heartbeat, Gin Lane rises beside you.
Like a pop-up window of the brain,
Your path was hung with over-crowded Hogarths,
You stroked a dog from another century,
The glass trembled,
You nearly made it,
But the thought slips,
Like a helium balloon.

A nurse whispers
“Here is your medication”
Your life is derelict,
Like the house you sleep in.

"On a hot day,
I would love to go urban-tanning with you
On the roofs, and then spend an enchanted night
Jumping fences into public gardens"

Follow the little white stones
That I threw along the way
They glow in the moonshine
Like little seeds
And night flowers grow,
Sway in the wind like spectral nymphs
And guide your way to a new land


 my debut novel, Cured Meat
 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cured-Meat-Memoirs-Psychiatric-Runaway-ebook/dp/B00JUCH6DS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402961285&sr=1-1

Monday, 4 May 2015

Voltaire's Gelato

The people of the 17th century, say, didn't have electricity. There were no department store lighting ceremonies, no Christmas light parades. There was no Valentine's day. But were there sprinkled donuts? 
The pastel spectacle of a sinking sun in winter. The people of the 17th century could see these copper and silver tones of glacial sea water mirroring pink and translucent skies. Blankets of foam and frost-crowned sea shores with crumbled sand. There for whoever wanted to recreate it through the medium of sprinkled cupcakes. 

In a learned ice cream parlour, I once picked up an illustrated book on the history of gelato; I began to wonder how it was possible to make gelato without electricity. I pictured Voltaire having a cream cone, topped with florets of sugary roses. The delicate, transparent and fragranced presentation of candied fruits, most vividly known to me now through the cocktail cherry, is an ancient craft. I often think this fabled delicacy in its peach satin and velvet lined presentation box, draped in rose-embroidered lace napkins, as described by old authors. Every time I see raspberry lipstick in superdrug, I think of Voltaire's gelato; every time I see lace and satin corsets, I think of the fruity presentation box; and in each cute patent leather buckle, sleeps a tiny piece of Selfridge's Christmas magic. 

I speak in jest, my mouth has been to the drugstore and into the arcane land where women bear the patrimony of old fictions as an object of our culture's appetite. Women for eating, for licking, like a role-reversed of Hansel and Gretel tale : Gretel is the Hansel. She's in the cage, intended for roasting and dining out on. The girl is not fattened as much as she is starved and has her body glossed, decorated in florets and sumptuous creamy lace, laden with fragrant feathers, candy icing on her lips, and fruity little charm pendants. It's that Reverse Gretel who I see staring back at me all around from pictures and amongst the models in fashion magazines ignited by blue flames like sugar cubes in absynth.

The microcosmonaut


Old Victorian houses in London
20th century Soho; its lights-out
a dark scene in squats
a surreal house of magic and bric-a-brac
women who self-objectify
vacuous private members clubs in central London
yoga enthused vegans with a superiority complex
a secret funeral
a confused young woman
a monochrome apartment full of sex
a smoking area fishbowl and its actors
a gaunt, tall and lean alcoholic, self-styled grande dame
a public library that doubles up as shelter at night
Tinseltown-on-sea
creepy amusement parks
the curse of center-point
trinket-universes in the bars and dives of Berlin
the public lido and urban tanning





I'm the author of Cured Meat : Memoirs of a Psychiatric Runaway. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Festive Hallucination (Christmas)

Pink icing and multicolor sprinkles, glitter nail varnish, acrylic clothes and the flashing lights of commerce, this is my modernity. Just after Christmas now and the shopping streets, department stores and big malls are wilting the season's décor. Santa comes out as a fake, belonging to the mythology of consumerism. If there was a historical Santa, he perhaps lived in the shadows. The idea of him was exponentially inflated. In an industrial culture, shopping is an end in itself. Every item comes hundred-fold. A thousand shopping malls have given Santa a thousand faces. Illuminated window decorations of a thousand little places have orchestrated a fantasy land rich with reindeers, snow on slopes, furry boots, scrumptious hampers, glittering bells, and candy cornucopias. So many little objects, all from Santa-land: gingerbread hearts, snowflake jumpers, patent leather Mary-Janes. A world of miniatures dangles from plastic pines, when every product imaginable comes wrapped in red and gold. In my mind, a fairy tale fantasy with no story line rises from the myriad little symbols that meet the eye. It lurks behind commercials and in the voices of radio presenters, and seeps into the bloodstream by way of Christmas dishes, cakes and spicy coffees. It bewitches all of early winter, wreathig twinkling decorations on everything. 

This is my modernity. If there were no shopping malls, there would be no Santa. There would be no gift wrapping industry, no e-voucher platforms, and no Christmas specials. The soul would unstick itself from this mould that's been laid out for souls to fall into. Like a heavy trainer sole on sticky Tarmac in summer, it would leave a depressed trace in the ground, and rise from a cultured sclerosis.

Bad Luck, Saint Giles

One day, I remember that I got distracted from something, and went for a random city wander in midst the sandwich papers, autumn leaves and flyers on the floor. Between the slowly awakening neons winking moodily at the city sunset from sleazy windows, from behind plastic palm trees garlanded with Christmas lights, tinsel and fake sunflowers, pushing the violet hour away slowly, with flickering fits and starts, as the blue velvet swirled in convulsively, grimly threatening to drown out all of the day’s light and life.
I kicked before me some crumpling night club flyers and looked at the long road before me, noticed a drug store to my left and remembered about some nail varnish that I wanted. Inside the store, I stood momentarily mesmerized by the long row of make-up displays, full of pink and silver, purple, green and red colours, black, yellow, and gold, too. I slowly picked up one nail varnish, turned the bottle on its head and watched the glittery, poison-colored paste move slowly and sluggishly, like amoebae, through the tiny glass vial. The glitter was very fine, in dark silver and purple tones, and it seemed strangely animated, the way it slowly let an air bubble swim from one side of the bottle to the other, like a cute brat popping bubble gum.
I stood there with the nail varnish, thinking, “I wonder if they are actually all as ugly as this, or whether some of these could pass for good taste”.
I picked up another. Here, the glitter was much less fine and dusty, and it was multicolour, more like confetti. It was swimming in bubble gum colour pink fluid, and had a similarly caterpillar-like way of moving its gooey consistency about, as I turned the bottle over and a bubble of air went through the body, like a pulse, it seemed.
The lip pencil section, with fragrances and tastes as well, had me particularly transfixed, as a dance of words like “ballet pink”, “blushing nude”, “sexy cherry”, and “dreamy decadence” stared into my eyes. “Such crudely misogynistic, pseudo-girly conceptual tags for such pathetic, distasteful goo”, I thought, “what a shambles”, as a big and bulging pink cloud fell over my brain.
I started to think pink handbags, Barbie dolls and watermelon martinis, white cars and palm trees, and then again, I started to think that all the make up and nail varnish I ever wore was like so much dust from a poisoned cloud settled on my skin, and on everybody else’s too, like so many worms and maggots moving over my lips and eyes and nails, a thought I found difficult to shake off.
Yes, I thought, I had recognized the decay to be what it was, decay, rather than the lavish joie de vivre that happy people fondly refer to as decadence. Creeping out of a rotting cake like a stray worm and trying to make it on my own amongst the bubblegum-plastered streets, ducking the crushing boot of society, seemed to me just as insane as staying in the mold, hatching in the familiar nest of desperation and thinly fading southern comforts, and whiskey sours rubbing off and off on purple velvet bar furnishings like a big, fat, vulgar fungus on the soul. - See more at: http://www.indieberlin.de/art/inebriated-philosophers-polly-trope.html#sthash.zk4fR9qJ.dpuf
One day, I remember that I got distracted from something, and went for a random city wander in midst the sandwich papers, autumn leaves and flyers on the floor. Between the slowly awakening neons winking moodily at the city sunset from sleazy windows, from behind plastic palm trees garlanded with Christmas lights, tinsel and fake sunflowers, pushing the violet hour away slowly, with flickering fits and starts, as the blue velvet swirled in convulsively, grimly threatening to drown out all of the day’s light and life.
I kicked before me some crumpling night club flyers and looked at the long road before me, noticed a drug store to my left and remembered about some nail varnish that I wanted. Inside the store, I stood momentarily mesmerized by the long row of make-up displays, full of pink and silver, purple, green and red colours, black, yellow, and gold, too. I slowly picked up one nail varnish, turned the bottle on its head and watched the glittery, poison-colored paste move slowly and sluggishly, like amoebae, through the tiny glass vial. The glitter was very fine, in dark silver and purple tones, and it seemed strangely animated, the way it slowly let an air bubble swim from one side of the bottle to the other, like a cute brat popping bubble gum.
I stood there with the nail varnish, thinking, “I wonder if they are actually all as ugly as this, or whether some of these could pass for good taste”.
I picked up another. Here, the glitter was much less fine and dusty, and it was multicolour, more like confetti. It was swimming in bubble gum colour pink fluid, and had a similarly caterpillar-like way of moving its gooey consistency about, as I turned the bottle over and a bubble of air went through the body, like a pulse, it seemed.
The lip pencil section, with fragrances and tastes as well, had me particularly transfixed, as a dance of words like “ballet pink”, “blushing nude”, “sexy cherry”, and “dreamy decadence” stared into my eyes. “Such crudely misogynistic, pseudo-girly conceptual tags for such pathetic, distasteful goo”, I thought, “what a shambles”, as a big and bulging pink cloud fell over my brain.
I started to think pink handbags, Barbie dolls and watermelon martinis, white cars and palm trees, and then again, I started to think that all the make up and nail varnish I ever wore was like so much dust from a poisoned cloud settled on my skin, and on everybody else’s too, like so many worms and maggots moving over my lips and eyes and nails, a thought I found difficult to shake off.
Yes, I thought, I had recognized the decay to be what it was, decay, rather than the lavish joie de vivre that happy people fondly refer to as decadence. Creeping out of a rotting cake like a stray worm and trying to make it on my own amongst the bubblegum-plastered streets, ducking the crushing boot of society, seemed to me just as insane as staying in the mold, hatching in the familiar nest of desperation and thinly fading southern comforts, and whiskey sours rubbing off and off on purple velvet bar furnishings like a big, fat, vulgar fungus on the soul. - See more at: http://www.indieberlin.de/art/inebriated-philosophers-polly-trope.html#sthash.zk4fR9qJ.dpuf
One day, I remember that I got distracted from something, and went for a random city wander in midst the sandwich papers, autumn leaves and flyers on the floor. Between the slowly awakening neons winking moodily at the city sunset from sleazy windows, from behind plastic palm trees garlanded with Christmas lights, tinsel and fake sunflowers, pushing the violet hour away slowly, with flickering fits and starts, as the blue velvet swirled in convulsively, grimly threatening to drown out all of the day’s light and life.
I kicked before me some crumpling night club flyers and looked at the long road before me, noticed a drug store to my left and remembered about some nail varnish that I wanted. Inside the store, I stood momentarily mesmerized by the long row of make-up displays, full of pink and silver, purple, green and red colours, black, yellow, and gold, too. I slowly picked up one nail varnish, turned the bottle on its head and watched the glittery, poison-colored paste move slowly and sluggishly, like amoebae, through the tiny glass vial. The glitter was very fine, in dark silver and purple tones, and it seemed strangely animated, the way it slowly let an air bubble swim from one side of the bottle to the other, like a cute brat popping bubble gum.
I stood there with the nail varnish, thinking, “I wonder if they are actually all as ugly as this, or whether some of these could pass for good taste”.
I picked up another. Here, the glitter was much less fine and dusty, and it was multicolour, more like confetti. It was swimming in bubble gum colour pink fluid, and had a similarly caterpillar-like way of moving its gooey consistency about, as I turned the bottle over and a bubble of air went through the body, like a pulse, it seemed.
The lip pencil section, with fragrances and tastes as well, had me particularly transfixed, as a dance of words like “ballet pink”, “blushing nude”, “sexy cherry”, and “dreamy decadence” stared into my eyes. “Such crudely misogynistic, pseudo-girly conceptual tags for such pathetic, distasteful goo”, I thought, “what a shambles”, as a big and bulging pink cloud fell over my brain.
I started to think pink handbags, Barbie dolls and watermelon martinis, white cars and palm trees, and then again, I started to think that all the make up and nail varnish I ever wore was like so much dust from a poisoned cloud settled on my skin, and on everybody else’s too, like so many worms and maggots moving over my lips and eyes and nails, a thought I found difficult to shake off.
Yes, I thought, I had recognized the decay to be what it was, decay, rather than the lavish joie de vivre that happy people fondly refer to as decadence. Creeping out of a rotting cake like a stray worm and trying to make it on my own amongst the bubblegum-plastered streets, ducking the crushing boot of society, seemed to me just as insane as staying in the mold, hatching in the familiar nest of desperation and thinly fading southern comforts, and whiskey sours rubbing off and off on purple velvet bar furnishings like a big, fat, vulgar fungus on the soul. - See more at: http://www.indieberlin.de/art/inebriated-philosophers-polly-trope.html#sthash.zk4fR9qJ.dpuf
One day, I remember that I got distracted from something, and went for a random city wander in midst the sandwich papers, autumn leaves and flyers on the floor. Between the slowly awakening neons winking moodily at the city sunset from sleazy windows, from behind plastic palm trees garlanded with Christmas lights, tinsel and fake sunflowers, pushing the violet hour away slowly, with flickering fits and starts, as the blue velvet swirled in convulsively, grimly threatening to drown out all of the day’s light and life.
I kicked before me some crumpling night club flyers and looked at the long road before me, noticed a drug store to my left and remembered about some nail varnish that I wanted. Inside the store, I stood momentarily mesmerized by the long row of make-up displays, full of pink and silver, purple, green and red colours, black, yellow, and gold, too. I slowly picked up one nail varnish, turned the bottle on its head and watched the glittery, poison-colored paste move slowly and sluggishly, like amoebae, through the tiny glass vial. The glitter was very fine, in dark silver and purple tones, and it seemed strangely animated, the way it slowly let an air bubble swim from one side of the bottle to the other, like a cute brat popping bubble gum.
I stood there with the nail varnish, thinking, “I wonder if they are actually all as ugly as this, or whether some of these could pass for good taste”.
I picked up another. Here, the glitter was much less fine and dusty, and it was multicolour, more like confetti. It was swimming in bubble gum colour pink fluid, and had a similarly caterpillar-like way of moving its gooey consistency about, as I turned the bottle over and a bubble of air went through the body, like a pulse, it seemed.
The lip pencil section, with fragrances and tastes as well, had me particularly transfixed, as a dance of words like “ballet pink”, “blushing nude”, “sexy cherry”, and “dreamy decadence” stared into my eyes. “Such crudely misogynistic, pseudo-girly conceptual tags for such pathetic, distasteful goo”, I thought, “what a shambles”, as a big and bulging pink cloud fell over my brain.
I started to think pink handbags, Barbie dolls and watermelon martinis, white cars and palm trees, and then again, I started to think that all the make up and nail varnish I ever wore was like so much dust from a poisoned cloud settled on my skin, and on everybody else’s too, like so many worms and maggots moving over my lips and eyes and nails, a thought I found difficult to shake off.
Yes, I thought, I had recognized the decay to be what it was, decay, rather than the lavish joie de vivre that happy people fondly refer to as decadence. Creeping out of a rotting cake like a stray worm and trying to make it on my own amongst the bubblegum-plastered streets, ducking the crushing boot of society, seemed to me just as insane as staying in the mold, hatching in the familiar nest of desperation and thinly fading southern comforts, and whiskey sours rubbing off and off on purple velvet bar furnishings like a big, fat, vulgar fungus on the soul. - See more at: http://www.indieberlin.de/art/inebriated-philosophers-polly-trope.html#sthash.zk4fR9qJ.dpuf
One day, I remember that I got distracted from something, and went for a random city wander in midst the sandwich papers, autumn leaves and flyers on the floor. Between the slowly awakening neons winking moodily at the city sunset from sleazy windows, from behind plastic palm trees garlanded with Christmas lights, tinsel and fake sunflowers, pushing the violet hour away slowly, with flickering fits and starts, as the blue velvet swirled in convulsively, grimly threatening to drown out all of the day’s light and life.
I kicked before me some crumpling night club flyers and looked at the long road before me, noticed a drug store to my left and remembered about some nail varnish that I wanted. Inside the store, I stood momentarily mesmerized by the long row of make-up displays, full of pink and silver, purple, green and red colours, black, yellow, and gold, too. I slowly picked up one nail varnish, turned the bottle on its head and watched the glittery, poison-colored paste move slowly and sluggishly, like amoebae, through the tiny glass vial. The glitter was very fine, in dark silver and purple tones, and it seemed strangely animated, the way it slowly let an air bubble swim from one side of the bottle to the other, like a cute brat popping bubble gum.
I stood there with the nail varnish, thinking, “I wonder if they are actually all as ugly as this, or whether some of these could pass for good taste”.
I picked up another. Here, the glitter was much less fine and dusty, and it was multicolour, more like confetti. It was swimming in bubble gum colour pink fluid, and had a similarly caterpillar-like way of moving its gooey consistency about, as I turned the bottle over and a bubble of air went through the body, like a pulse, it seemed.
The lip pencil section, with fragrances and tastes as well, had me particularly transfixed, as a dance of words like “ballet pink”, “blushing nude”, “sexy cherry”, and “dreamy decadence” stared into my eyes. “Such crudely misogynistic, pseudo-girly conceptual tags for such pathetic, distasteful goo”, I thought, “what a shambles”, as a big and bulging pink cloud fell over my brain.
I started to think pink handbags, Barbie dolls and watermelon martinis, white cars and palm trees, and then again, I started to think that all the make up and nail varnish I ever wore was like so much dust from a poisoned cloud settled on my skin, and on everybody else’s too, like so many worms and maggots moving over my lips and eyes and nails, a thought I found difficult to shake off.
Yes, I thought, I had recognized the decay to be what it was, decay, rather than the lavish joie de vivre that happy people fondly refer to as decadence. Creeping out of a rotting cake like a stray worm and trying to make it on my own amongst the bubblegum-plastered streets, ducking the crushing boot of society, seemed to me just as insane as staying in the mold, hatching in the familiar nest of desperation and thinly fading southern comforts, and whiskey sours rubbing off and off on purple velvet bar furnishings like a big, fat, vulgar fungus on the soul. - See more at: http://www.indieberlin.de/art/inebriated-philosophers-polly-trope.html#sthash.zk4fR9qJ
Bad Luck - Saint Giles
Down from Gin Lane
The old gallows
In the cellar
Of a grimy church
They're doing twelve steps,
And yet still nobody
Finds a friend in Jesus
Any more.

A nurse whispers
“Here is your medication”
Your life is derelict.
Black abandoned mansions,
Lounges for stranded dazes,
Coming soon : luxury flats.
.dpuf

Bad Luck - Saint Giles
Down from Gin Lane
The old gallows
In the cellar
Of a grimy church
They're doing twelve steps,
And yet still nobody
Finds a friend in Jesus
Any more.

A nurse whispers
“Here is your medication”
Your life is derelict.
Black abandoned mansions,
Lounges for stranded dazes,
Coming soon : luxury flats.


Uncanny

I go through family photos after hear death, three bags full. Some are framed, under glass. Dust is blinding this oval glass, like a tarnished mirror. The silver frame has gone black. Oblong teardrop-shapes and hand-like leaves curl inward around the photograph. A gaunt female face with vacant eyes is embossed in silver at the bottom, gives a blank stare from her bed of flowing hair. Hair swoops up the frame like electrified, and becomes one with the surreal vegetation. This disembodied lady, I now imagine, has her mermaid-tail and body floating like a phantom beneath the mirror's surface.

The young woman in the photo hails from that same old world of snakeskin clutches and Egyptian amulets. We are distantly related, but our features seem so alike i feel dizzy. "She had my face before me", it pounds through my head, "she walked around with it, used it up..."
At first the vanity shoots through, and I wonder if she aged well. Then, what kind of man undressed her, slipped fingers into her, and how she liked it. If she was ever raped. Probably. Most women at least once. The concept of having a doppelgänger suffering abuse is creepy, and I shake it off.

Did she have friends, and know people who looked just like ones i know? Soon, I see my whole life already duplicated in the past and all finished up, and even already forgotten. Bleak prospect. One day I'll just go out like a candle, and start the descent into total erasure from everybody's memory. Like this other me that came and went. Aside from the shapes of objects around her, the fashions, and the vernacular tongue she spoke, her life must have been just like mine. How else could she stare so dolefully out of an art-nouveau frame, if not by computing in her brain the exact same series of emotions that I have also felt. 
In the melting and psychotic plants, the wilting and heavy nature morte around the glass, the gaunt shadow, I recognize the drawn-out drawers of my life, its enchantments and its  exaggerations, pretences and elastic sub-plots. I recognize the grand insignificance of it all. Some would rush to say that's liberating, but in this attic, it only feels oppressive 
Some people talk about life after drug addiction, or after zyprexa and lithium, as life after death -- especially on conceited rock albums. Survivors of the Hollywood glitter and glam metal scene are particularly vocal about this, and I love their tribe. The huge spiky mullets, frilly shirts and leather bows, they secretly remind me of that arcane lady who looks just like me in her art-nouveau frame (which was modern and new at the time, so she would approve of my evolving tastes. Like me she was probably infinitely fickle when it comes to tastes, and knew the futility of taste in art). 
I secretly wonder if these mullets and cheetah print glitterati also found such a photo in their dead relative's stash. Perhaps they too found that their face is not even a one-off and their whole existence is a segment in an infinite loop. Until this moment, that woman's life had fallen into the well of oblivion.

That abandoned amusement park by the beach...

In reality, my life after drugs fell into a gauche cadence after the first year or two of rebirth, clarity, and upsurge. But let's face it, you don't hear from many of the artists after their first "rehab" product. After that, it's the sameyness of the self that weighs like a melting face on the shoulder. The return to things uncannily similar to the first round of life; the realization that there has been no true life, death or rebirth, but only a fluffy dustball of desires and frustrated wishes, followed by a padded and secretive flight into a fake new life, that claims to be a fresh start, spiraling out to blue skies and candy floss

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Erratic Corridors

The strings of destiny, rolling up lives in fast forward motion from the back in reverse, like a spiderweb, where the faulty particles got lost in erratic corridors and catapulted in a chaotic ball of mosquitoes over a muddy lake. all back to the centre and eaten up by the big spider -- a ghastly moment, when you put a bun in your mouth, and a fly starts vibrating on your tongue... Am I dead?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Dextrose (part 1)

He had met his wife in New York, on a roof terrace Champagne social, at one of these semi-formal gatherings for German ivy league graduates in international banking.
She had great table manners. Not acquired by tardy attendance at finishing school, but received effortlessly from a naturally elegant family, with a fine selection of relations. He could see that right away, he was smart that way.

She was blond and well-proportioned, a muted violet dress flattering her shoulders, raspberry lips and a pearl necklace complimented her fresh skin, her nails were healthy and clear. Already he was dreaming of her crawling towards him, between white bedsheets in a loft apartment, flicking her hair and softly running her hands over his legs. He clasped the starchy napkin on his knees, threw it over the back of a chair, and moved towards her like a dolphin, so friendly and intelligent.

 “You know, banking is a good thing. We are good people. We shouldn't feel guilty about what we do. What is bad about banking is just how some people have abused it in a way to further their personal profits and the profits of their firms, rather than guiding the world's economy on the path of equality and to the satisfaction of everybody's needs,” he said to her. That was his edgy pick-up line, it never failed to spark debate.

As she turned around, she saw him for the first time, tall and blue-eyed, clean shaved in a dinner shirt, with Harvard cufflinks, given the occasion.
“People who say that banking is evil are just envious that they aren't able to work as hard as we do. We deserve our money. We work hard, on highly complex problems, and we work long hours”.

“Do you think the Euro will survive?”, he asked.
“No”, she answered. They smiled, and looked towards Ellis Island.
“I disagree with that. You know, all that needs to be done is, the fiscal agreements need to be adjusted”.
“What part of Germany are you from?” she asked.
“Frankfurt”, he said.
“I'm from Mainz”, she said.
“Do you want to live there again in the future?”
“Yes”, she said. “Isn't that the most natural thing for us to do, especially now that the German economy is on top?”
“I suppose so”, he said, “but, as I'm sure you know, it's just a bubble. It will burst”.

They left the party in his car, a silver 4-4, and drove to his loft.
Months later, they took the 4-4 to visit apartments. They wore white leather jackets and white leather gloves, and white leather trousers and boots to the visit. They wore flu masks and white nets in their hair, and yellow sunglasses. She had blue glitter on her face, and his face was painted with silver face paint.
The estate agent was helpful and courteous, and soon they signed a lease for an open plan apartment in Manhattan. They acted as if they were musicians, because that would help them justify their need for soundproof isolation of their new apartment. Styrophone cubes padding the walls inside, a double ceiling, double flooring, and double doors, that was what they needed.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Dear Youtube,

I am a 29 year old woman. The adverts I am getting are ALL about pregnancy. This is so extreme, I consider it sexual harrassment.

This customized media sh*tstorm surrounds every young woman at her computer. From every angle, little messages pop up suggesting that I should be getting pregnant, assuming that I want to, or need help in the process of getting pregnant. NO.

Let's say over an hour or two of watching youtube clips, I will see 20-30 short videos; almost each of these is preceded by adverts for "Clearblue baby test", "Persona fertility management device", etc. These adverts are full of bigoted assumptions on the role of women in society, the life and psychology of young women.

Unlike the women in the adverts, I'm not a housewife (women portrayed having tea with their female friends in the kitchen in the middle of the day).
I don't know if I want to have kids. If I will one day, I probably will do as my own mother did and wait until my career has taken shape. Also I would contemplate getting married first.

As you can see, the adverts you have tailored for me are completely inappropriate. But this is no coincidence; it is happening on a grand scale and it's the bigger picture that disturbs me.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Quirky Artist as a Mass Product

Twas the opening night of an art week, and I stepped out of my friend's cab, the street was packed and she too drunk to go on or even discuss the ins and outs of our evening with T.C. Boyle, and hiccuped up the stairs to her haven of elegance and pop art.
I snuck in with the most fashionable sardines in town to sip camparis with my favourite raspberry lipstick bar fly, in the arts bar at the corner. Who could imagine my disappointment when upon locating the suspect, she was seeing and being seen interlacing with yet another prince v.i.p. she had only just met! 
As I turned around to order a softdrink, i was already being invited to a cosy dinner a trois with the cutest blonde and her dirty old knight, so i soon realised that conversing with the ice bucket was now my most reasonable option. 
Oops! a drunken Englishman in cream suit and fresh out of St. Tropez was shouting, drinking white wine from a bottle, attempting to make a phone call through the bar's intercom. Oops! American artists, cigarette in hand, asking about friends' couches. 
And, of course, a few people in crazy wigs, to complete the picture. A familiar face popped out of the jungle, said hello, disappeared. A lot of beards, a lot of peroxide, a lot of odd jumpers and men in cardigans. 
Hello again ice bucket...

Friday, 2 January 2015

Goodbye Sailor

October, 2013:

Scented candles on my home-made shabby chic bedside table and a blank and fragile, indefinitely knowing nod from the silver Ophelia on the art nouveau mirror stood on it. Down duvets in washed out, grand-aunt florals , lilac though they were once purple. And minty teeth. And eucalyptus shampoo. So fresh. The expansive feeling that I have actually written the one book I always wanted to write, and I can tell it goodbye sailor .