Who wants to read some rough-as-guts-writing? Me, me, me! You, you, you? GREAT. I'm a founding member of a local Write Night (writer's group) and I need to choose one of my past exercises to re-write and/or extend.
If someone is incredibly bored and doesn't mind reading some unedited work, then check out the below and tell me which one to re-write, in other words, the one you'd like to read more of, because I'm torn between the three.
The Regular (Format: For the page)
Punts is a pub just down from the Nandos on the corner of Windsor and Kitts. It’s the red, white and blue affair, a palette that belongs as much to the heyday of the British Commonwealth as it does to the Land of the Free.
The owner, Leeds born Dagesse, bought the joint six years ago after finalising a divorce to a lady I know only as “the blazing inferno”. Whether that nickname has something to with hair colour, temperament or menopausal flushes, I’m not brave enough to ask- there is a permanent happy hour discount at stake and, more importantly, Dagesse is descended from Rhonda Valley mining stock, those men are as hard as the rock they grafted.
As far as I’m aware, the only woman in his life these days is Mary Bennett, a fox terrier whom whenever I see her, imbues me with a sudden sense of nostalgia and desire to dig out my late Grandfather’s HMV vinyl collection (a record label whose logo features a dog of the same breed).
Last Christmas I gifted Dagesse a 1962 Gene Pitney record from that collection so he could share in the reference. I’ve since seen he has thoroughly embraced it.
He’s framed the record and hung it over the dog bowl.
Unfortunately it’s at jowl level; so a mixture of coagulated spit and fragments of Hill’s Canine Ultra-Allergen Free have escaped digestion and partially obliterated the song title. What was once “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” has evolved into the gender flip, “a…ho…shot…bert…”.
Sometimes when it’s quiet Dagesse will join me for a Fosters, we’ll talk about José Mourinho's return to Chelsea, the shitty exchange rate and Cameron’s “millionaire’s tax cuts”- which (if we’re honest) we’d probably embrace, if we were in fact millionaires.
But we’re just two men drinking cheap beer, entertaining dreams of grandeur, in shoes we’d rather scuff than polish, in a pub called Punts.
Three Years to Go
Monologue: Character - Lisbeth, 32.
By the time I’m 35 I’ll either be dead or married.
Dead because what happens is that each time I get my heart broken, I leave.
And when I say leave…
I mean, I leave the country.
I leave everything behind.
Dead because I cast myself deeper and deeper into unknown lands and inhospitable landscapes; in the hope that Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Need’ will kick in and I’ll be so busy just trying to survive, that eventually I’ll never have to deal with anything. In between navigating unsealed roads on a 6th-hand Uralmoto to filtering water through the remains of a checkered keffiyeh, there’d be no time to process the petty. No time to wonder what went wrong, why they did what they did, why I did what I did and why I still do it.
Some questions are too difficult to ask.
Or perhaps it’s more, that the answers are too difficult to hear.
the Wadi Rum
Dead because my passport is a collage of stamps from countries people forbade me to visit, from my Mother to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But I never listened to them before, and can't see myself changing now.
Dead because, that'll eventually catch up with me.
In my absence, in the layer of silence I wear like a qiviut, I leave those I left behind with little but mystery, confusion, and a few megabytes of photos displaying a past they now question the authenticity of.
Ade, Leon, Vin, perhaps Daamin, they will monitor my social networks for the post of a song of shared significance or some subtle cry of despair that I can’t function in life without them.
The truth is I don’t. My lovers follow me like ghosts. Our histories, arguments and sweet words, knitted together, dragging behind me like a Bride’s train. From time to time, taking unexpected form, stealing my breath when I perform an archived e-mail search, or stumble across someone with a similar arch in their brows or slouch in their walk.
My disappointment when I register it's not one of them only serves to remind me there is another life out there. One I am simultaneously drawn to and run from.
And married, well...
Married because, it's always the unexpected which happens. Married because, it's so ridiculous it just might work. Married because, someone might finally convince me life is about more than just myself.
The Sale of Central Park (Format: For the page)
Everything is for sale. At the right price, in the right climate; especially in times of panic or greed. Where farcical suggestions, that on a normal day, would be dismissed on the scrap heap of incomprehension, suddenly become the beacon of hope - not because we think they are good ones, but because no one else proposes a solution.
Rising crime rates.
People are desperate. And if yours is the only voice speaking, then that is the one we will follow.
And so it came, that on this day Molly and I stood and watched the sun rise over the last hours of a national landmark. We were to witness history made by history lost.
Nothing lasts forever.
Not the things you grew up with.
Not the things you grow to care about.
Certainly not the things you love.
Molly has pockets stuffed with tulips and daffodils. She made a $50 donation to the Conservancy three years ago, she said she was only taking back what was hers.
I have a pry bar in my left hand, and my right, my right is protectively wrapped around an iron florette. It is attached to the arm of a bench I’ve “salvaged”. I think I can up-cycle the piece, and sell it on to a collector – once I re-stain the wood and remove the rusted donor plaque: “"C'est Lui Pour Moi, Moi Pour Lui, Dans La Vie" (in life, there is only him for me, and me for him).
She runs her finger over the brass inscription, with a longing I’ve come to recognise but learnt to ignore. That’s Molly. She thinks that somehow, as if, just by touching, she can transfer the passion of a past long gone and inject it into a hopeless present.
I wish I was a more willing subject.
I don’t know what happened.
I wonder if our relationship will endure much longer than the flowers suffocating in the depths of her polyester blazer. It seems a cruel and drawn out death.
A man behind me touts the virtues of the site’s future plans to a confused tourist with an old city map. I silently refute each point:
“…the proposed construction will create jobs” (temporarily)
“…and include a set of residential buildings” (for the rich)
“…plus, without a central meeting point, it will decrease crime in the inner city” (pushing it out to the suburbs)
But the tourist nods, believing him to be true. Most would. He has a voice of a politician, steady and even. He has conviction. Me? I say nothing, as is my way.
The man examines the out-dated map and points the tourist in the direction of the Museum of Modern Art.
Molly takes ten paces to the left and tilts her head towards the growl of diesel motors, her dark eyes searching.
“This is it” she says needlessly, as if I can’t see what’s right in front of me.
In an earlier blog post I advocated 1960's Stax Record classic: "Hold on, I'm Comin' " as the theme tune for the sun coming up.
The lyrics work. In the context of the sunrise it's a bit like: "Everyone calm the f**k down, I've got this. Hold on, I'm comin.'" In case you were worried tomorrow wasn't coming, the sweet sounds of soul duo Sam & Dave will serenade you daily with the promise that it is.
But forget the sunrise for a moment.
It's not what this song is about. Dig a little deeper and you find out it was inspired by songwriter/producer David Porter's trip to the toilet to relieve himself after drinking copious amounts of coffee and suffering through an unproductive day of future hit making with songwriting partner Isaac Hayes.
As the story goes, Hayes yelled at David to hurry up and finish peeing so they could get back to work and actually write something to which Porter replied: "Hold on man, I'm coming." As soon as the words were out of his mouth Porter knew they'd be a killer name for a song.
Of course this evolved from it's humble porcelain throne beginnings to a song about a man being safe harbour for his lover. Although all bets are off on the bridge lyrics which could be argued to mean something completely different. I'll let you muse on that.
"Lemme hear ya'll
You talk to me
For satisfaction, oh, hold on
Call my name, oh, call my name yeah for quick reaction
Yeah yeah yeah yeah"
But it wasn't even that bridge that the conservative radio stations at the time had a problem with. It was the song title itself, it was too suggestive. So it was re-titled on all the US original vinyls to 'Hold on, I'm A-Comin', which I don't think is any better really? Minds will make the leap anyway. Conservatives probably more frequently than their counterparts.
The origins of the song however aren't what I really wanted talk about though. It's the album artwork. The turtle. Sam and Dave on the turtle. The great, big, gaudy cartoon turtle. I've been looking at it. And I've been trying to figure it out.
And I must have been one of the only people that has wondered about that bloody turtle because there is damn near no information on it on the Internet.
What I do know is that the cover was designed by Ronnie "Angel" Stoots who was behind the iconic Stax Records logo and artwork for musical releases by Eddie Floyd* and Otis Redding:
Unfortunately Stoot's passed away about a month ago so we'll never be able to ask him about the significance of the turtle on Sam & Dave's hit record. So we are only left with speculation.
Here are my theories:
1. The turtle is a characteristically slow animal. So they're not in a hurry to get wherever they're going if they're choosing the turtle over a cheetah or a hare. Therefore it could be a bit of a swag statement "Hey baby, I'm here for you - but in my own sweet time yeah". Making the song a bit of a backhanded promise. And soul, it's so much about the swag.
2. Stoots drew something he dreamt.
3. Stoots is from Memphis Tennessee and the Stax record label was born out of that scene. Guess what the native reptile of Tennessee is? The Box Turtle.
3.1 So we have the Box Turtle. But let's take it one step further and get Freudian on this. If you've read any Freudian case histories like the infamous Dora and her subsequent dream interpretation in which she had to save her jewellery box from the burning fire, you'll know Freud believes the 'box' is an allegory for the female reproductive system. Soul is as much about swag as it is about seduction, so it's not entirely without foundation.
But who knows really?
Stoots' has taken this musical mystery to his grave and therefore we can only look upon this vinyl artwork with an eternal: Why?, Perhaps and ...
*Why does Eddie Floyd have an axe? If he's knocking on wood I feel like he should have a hammer.
Possible sounds for the sun rising.
If the sun rise had a sound, what would it be?
It's not a rational question, I'm not talking about ambient noise like your alarm clock, birds twittering or the sound of your neighbor taking a shower through the wall. And, suspend disbelief before you bring physics into the mix that there is no sound in space, just think IF.
IF the action of the sun rising had a sound. What would it be? Something like this?
This? (Woman Sighing)
This? (Eggs Frying)
This? (Creaky Door)
This? (Balloon Inflating)
This? (Toaster Pop Up)
This? (Bottle Pop)
This? (Yes! Ha, ha, ha)
This? (Corporate Success YES)
And then part of me just thinks it should be accompanied by a song - similar to International Cricketers who choose a theme song to introduce their entry onto the field.
If the sun rise had a theme song, what would it be?
Personally, I don't think you can go too far wrong with a bit of Sam & Dave - "Don't worry, I'm coming".
Sunrise Image Courtesy of WikiMediaCommons.
I was born about 300 years too late to be an explorer. To be the first person to walk on the shores of a new land or put a human footprint next to the root of an unknown plant.
The closest I can get is walking in fresh snow. I live in a city, but when it snows, as it often does at the moment, it coats the pavement and the road.
The pavement is an icon of human industry. It reminds us there are people that live in this area. This is where they walk, where millions of feet have passed before.
You are not special.
You are just one of many.
Going where everyone has gone before.
But when it snows, nature reclaims that space. It makes that reminder of human industry disappear. Wild reclaims industry.
So, although I am about 300 years too late to be an explorer, one of my favorite things to do is to get up early and be the first person to walk down the street in the snow, as if I were the first person to ever walk down it.