‘You don’t know what they do to you when they know you can’t walk.’

I’ve been damned by some as an unbeliever, an anti-christ. It pleases me, therefore, and reinforces my self esteem, to know that to others I’m the cool atheist across the street.

My youngest daughter calls me daddy and my mother insists that I was brought up a good catholic kid and on the right track.

So I drink a lot of whisky. So did my grandfather. Who doesn’t? It’s a family thing. At the age of fifteen I was a good father to three kids and I always went to confession.

Now suddenly I’m an apostate Jew. I wake up one morning and that’s it.

Corner shop proprietor Anita Devi — I knew her father, he was like a Rabbi to me although he was an apostate Sikh — told local reporters: ‘I’m sorting the papers for the delivery wallahs, you know, like it’s 5am, and in walks Dustin Hoffman. “It’s not safe,” he says, “but I’m a very good driver, Mrs Robinson.” I ask you, do I look like a Nazi dentist?’

No comment, no jazz.

However, Kafka told me this sort of thing was a possibility and, hey Anita, he gave me a couple of other clues too: like, until this beard grew overnight I was Al Pacino a la Godfather 2, like an old dead uncle always insisted I should be. So learn the lesson: never judge a close relative by his cover.

And Bukowski told me once that when I realised I’d failed as a writer I could maybe scratch a living as an Ernesto Guevara look alike. Now I’m a 55 year-old, suburban Ratso Rizzo.

Life’s a bitch.

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Published in: on September 1, 2007 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kafka escapes

I am driving somewhere close to Manchester when it comes over me.

‘I feel like shit, or a bad facsimile of,’ I inform my navigator, ‘I could vomit for America (a mocking breeze bothers dandelions along the ha-ha) but she’s sick near to death already and no amount of hours spent watching futile movies out of Hollywood is gonna fix that.’

There’s nothing I can do about it, I realise. So I drive back to my hotel, pick up Kafka and check out.

‘As if I could puke for America, Kafka,’ I tell him laughingly, as the plane is taking off.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

J.J., Billy the Pill and God

The future. Think about it. What does it mean for you?

For me it begins with the meaning of profanity. In the beginning was the deed (followed by the word f**k) and the deed was profane and the Lord said, ‘F**k this shit, man!’

Mutatis mutandis, that’s what that whole drama with Adam and Eve is about, right?

You want to think about it another way?

Take the term substance abuse. Christians no doubt believe that to even admit that substance abuse exists is a sin, what with the body being a temple of God and such.

Screw them.

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

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

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

Billy says:

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

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

J.J. tells him:

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

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

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

Billy thinks for a moment then says:

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

‘Yeah?’

‘Well, all those people that I emailed would know how much I love them and, well, they might expect… something from me?’

‘Mmm,’ J.J. says, gathering up the rest of the pill fragments and hiding them in an empty Marlboro packet, ‘I guess then we’ll have to tell them to f**k off…’

‘And then we’ll have to start counting down again?’

‘F**king right.’

And it’s that virtuous circularity that draws Christianity and substance abuse together, makes them two parts of the same deal: they both rely on profanity to exist.

Get me?

Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Slippery Slope

Imagine a small town somewhere. Call it Raggedy End or Shimmering Stone, Dodge City or Nottingham, London, Barnsley, New York…

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

Now let’s take it out of the imagination and place it in the secret centre of Your town anywhere, USA, UK or U Name It.

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

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

In Slippery Slope cops can be cops.

Undercover work? False identity and crime inducement?

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

Feeding disinformation to the media?

Making false promises to hostage takers and kidnappers?
Interviewing witnesses with a hidden agenda?

Employing deceptive interrogation techniques?

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

Trading days off?

Selling desireable work assignments?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Routine invasion of privacy via covert surveillance?

It’s like going to the bathroom.

Behaviour inconsistent with norms, values or ethics?

What norms? What values? What ethics?

Forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain?

Oh yeah!

Wrongdoings, violations of departmental procedure?

Only way to get the job done, son.

Unfair bias towards family or friends?

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

Starve a fever?

A Native American is teaching his grandchildren about life. He says to them:

‘A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.

‘One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority.

‘The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

‘This same fight is going on inside you and every other person too.’
 
The children consider this for a moment and then one child asks his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’

The old man simply replies: ‘The one I feed.’

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:22 am  Leave a Comment  

‘Anyone with a rag on his head is fair game!’

You’ve heard of the Rotten Apple Fairy Tale? You know how it goes, it’s the standard establishment explanation for corruption or incompetence: He/she’s a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel.

According to this, rotten apples are either weak assholes in the guise of human beings, who have slipped through organisational screening processes and succumbed to the temptations inherent in positions of power, or deviant individuals who continue their deviance in an environment that gives them ample opportunity so to do.

Police departments, governments and the military tend to use the rotten apple theory or some variation of the rogue cop/amok soldier story to minimize public backlash after every exposed atrocity or act of corruption or incompetence.

Another approach is the occupational socialization explanation, the polar opposite of rotten apple theory — rotten barrel theory, if you will.

According to this view, the very structure of front line agencies of the State provides ample opportunity to learn the entrenched patterns of deviant power-based conduct that have been passed down through generations.

A functional explanation may be closer to the truth: corruption and institutionalised barbarism are inherent in society’s attempts to enforce unenforceable laws.

The footage below pertains to the current US ‘adventure’ in Iraq but it could, mutatis mutandis, be about Vietnam, Somalia or the ‘war’ against the Native American. 

Click here to watch.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:12 am  Comments (1)