Monday, 30 August 2010

made whole again (last judgment)

On holiday, reading an essay by Luc Sante, 'Our Friend The Cigarette':

'I picture a tableau from some secondary Last Judgment, when all the cigarettes I have smoked shall be made whole again, all of them piled up like cordwood in a space the size of a hangar. Let's see, thirty years approximately, an average of two packs a day, that would be four hundred thirty-eight thousand, give or take a few thousand. Nearly half a million, filtered and unfiltered, more than half of them hand-rolled, all but a handful white-papered.

All of them passed through my mouth, my throat, my lungs. Smoked in every possible circumstance and setting. All of them utterly eradicated by fire. But now they have returned, in their original form, with their biographies appended:

This Marlboro consumed outside the head shop in 1967 and immediately followed by a breath mint - I was barely adolescent.

This Gauloise with filter of tightly-rolled paper smoked while waiting to buy a ticket to 2001: A Space Odyssey, on its original release.

This Newport bummed from a friend, sucked in despair after the collapse of a crush that then seemed mountainous.

This hand-rolled Samson, wobbly and uncylindrical, representing an effort to learn to roll made in response to Scandinavian cigarette prices - so bumped up by taxes even thirty years ago that they cost four times what they did in America.

This nameless evil-smelling thing made by rolling up the contents of butts harvested from ashtrays the day after a wild party.

This Merit offered by a well-meaning friend but almost immediately stubbed out in horrified disgust - it tasted like burning fiberglass insulation.

This American Spirit, the last bit of recidivism after quitting'.

Luc Sante, Kill All Your Darlings: Pieces, 1990-2005, Portland, Oregon: Verse Chorus Press, 2007, 91-2. See also his brilliant essays on Bob Dylan's Chronicles, 'I Is Somebody Else', 142-64; and 'The Invention of the Blues', 177-206

Monday, 9 August 2010

sky rip (harrier & jaguar)

'Years ago I remember going for a walk with my dad in the Welsh hills. I must have been seven or eight and it was so quiet and beautiful and suddenly, out of nowhere came this Harrier jump jet which completely ripped up the sky. It was a completely transformative moment but we were left, literally with words knocked out of us, wondering how something that was such a monster could be so beautiful' - Fiona Banner, from an interview in the Guardian (28 June 2010): see here

Fiona Banner's 'Harrier and Jaguar' is at Tate Britain until 3 January 2011

Sunday, 8 August 2010

dad (5): normans

From a phone conversation today:

Dad: I’m getting a computer. A laptop.

Me: Oh great. At last! That’ll be good. I think you’ll get a lot of pleasure out of it.

Yes. I’ve got my eye on a Toshiba.

Okay. I’m a Mac man personally.

A what?

A Mac, Macintosh. Apple.

Is a Mac the same as an Apple?

Yes. Apple Macintosh. We just call them Macs.

They're bit too expensive for me, I think.

You’ll need broadband.

Yes, I’ve been told. And I’ve talked to BT about a package.

Oh good. Fantastic. Will Martin show you how to set it up and get it going?

Ooh yes, he’s very good. We’ve seen your website.

My what?

Martin found your website. He showed me a picture of a naked man with a big flag with a dog on his leg.

Oh. Blimey. Yes, okay: that’s Oleg Kulik.


Oleg Kulik. He’s a rather eccentric Russian performance artist. He used to do dog impersonations; he bit someone once, outside a gallery.

Oh. What’s he doing on your website?

It’s a blog. Oh, I don’t know, he’s quite funny. He’s a bit wild.

Is he? I’ve been watching ‘The Normans’ on television. There’s a new documentary.

Oh, have you?

They were a bit wild. Ooh, a rough old lot.

Are you in there? You being one of the Normans.

No, haven’t seen me yet.

Your name sort of means ‘Norman Norman’, doesn’t it. Norman Williams. Williams has Norman written all over it.

Does it?

Yes, it’s an old Norman word for helmet.

Is it?

I think so. Comes from Guillaume.

Oh yes, Guillaume.

Yes, Helmet. Do you know my name means ‘Beloved Helmet’. A combination of Hebrew and old Norman. David – beloved. And Williams – helmet. You named me Beloved Helmet.

Oh. That’s a good name.

Yes. David’s very Biblical.

Yes it is. By the time they got to me my family had exhausted the Biblical names so they turned to the Nordic names. Norman Eric.

But Norman’s Norman.

No, I’m not sure, I think it’s German or Scandinavian. A northerner. Maybe a viking.

Is it? Oh. So what were the other Biblical names in the family? Any good ones – an Ezekial, or a Leviticus? A Jehosaphat?

No no, James, and John, and Mary, that sort of thing. Although I think there was an Obadia …

No, really? Obadia? You're kidding.

No ...

Wow! Obadia Helmet. That’s a corker.

Although I’m not sure he was a Helmet …