please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

The Price of Admission

"It has often been remarked that men about to face death on the field of battle or, indeed, the very gallows itself, frantically seek solace in the sexual act. The same is true of the common hangover: a raw egg beaten up in Worcester Sauce or Tabasco is a useful placebo for the hung-over novice; a pint of flat or tepid ale is a kill-or-cure specific/emetic for those with leathern stomachs, while a brace of large brandies marks out your seasoned boozer who knows that he needs an empiric to get him back into the human race as quickly as may be. You may depend upon it, however, that the only sovereign cure for us men of iron is a brisk five minutes of what Jock (the narrarator's manservant) coarsely calls 'rumpy pumpy'. It is positively warranted to scour the cobwebs from the moss-infested skull; no home should be without it. Try some tomorrow. I shan't pretend that you can buy it at all reputable chemists but you will find a registry office in most large towns. I digress, I know, but usefully: these words of mine alone are worth the price of admission."

Yeah, but are they? The above is from "After You With The Pistol", by Kyril Bonfiglioni (1928-85), who was, would ya' guess, British. He was engaging in what I've seen described as "the conversation thing that the English do so well, where they can talk forever and never tell you a thing," by no less than Neil Gaiman, who is also British.
"After You With The Pistol" (perhaps as in "No, no, I insist: you're the one here with a gun, after all...", or "That guy is gunning for you. With a pistol.") is pretty much all like that. There's a story, but it's not very interesting or well written, and the reason to stick around is for little tangents like the above. He rhapsodizes in a way entirely superfluous to the plot about Seagulls, and how bad Chicago smells...
The Reverend O'Hare gave me this book for my birthday: he's always going to be a bigger fan of British humor than I am, but I have a certain appreciation for it. I mean, the guy just took himself a rather lengthy paragraph to explain how Fucking cures both hangovers and the fear of death.

B.R. Meyers, in "A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness In Modern Literature", would probably view endless gabbing like the above as overcompensation "of the sort always practiced by insecure writers". Yeah, kinda, but I even enjoy long, pointless conversations about trivial things, as long as we all agree that they're Just That, but also that we're going to act like they're not for the moment. Also, it even helps to cultivate and get used to Bores, since they comprise so much of Earth's population.
I mean, that's pretty much how I write, in novel form. The characters aren't characters at all: they're Ideas decked out as pretty little stick figures. This approach has a long pedigree in literature, and just because very few other people are doing it doesn't mean it's without worth. Indeed, most authors write from a limited perspective of Someone Much Like The Author, in which their inner struggles are catalogued in great detail, and other people are funny li'l phenomena they keep observing.
Fuck it. I'll take a book where the main character is The World any day over that. You're an English teacher who writes? And whose wife doesn't understand him? How very unique: please write a book about it.

People are interesting, but they're not so interesting that they're the only thing worth discussing. People have been doing that as long as there's been people, and with very little variation in the topic material.
I mean, Smile, by the Beach Boys (if indeed albums are novels too), was one of those long-awaited, if-you-could-hear-it-in-its-entirety-you'd-see-Gawd kinda things, and I think it's fucking awful. I'm going to have to surrender my Music Geek badge at the next trade seminar, but it's the kind of thing the rest of us would have left in our notebooks. It's just because it's all about what was going on in Brian Wilson's (and indeed, Van Dyke Parks's) head, and it strikes me as somewhere I don't wish to spend my time. Self-absorption is the heart and soul of all artistry, but never think in advance I care what your overweight, drug-addicted ass thinks.

(So wait a minute: what are you saying? That trivial ramblings are fine as long as they're not about You? That Can't Be It.)
Well, you're right, and I'm not sure it is. I mean, All Things Must Pass (poop joke, anyone?) by George Harrison is viewed by Me as one of the greatest albums ever made, but it's totally a Westerner jacking off about his Immense Spiritual Growth, and that's really played out. But it works because it's beautiful, even when it's songs with ridiculous titles like 'Beware of Evil', and 'Thanks For The Pepperoni'.
It works, in short, because it works, and that's no kind of boundary to set, I know. Maybe it's more of that Moment Out Of Time thing I like so well: you have been taken aside to have a little dream, or be given A Gift of Some Sort. It's not happening in real time, because that's where you spend most of your working hours, and that's not what Art is for.
But really? Some of the greatest art is about The Mundane, and rightfully so. Maybe there though because it shows you exactly how Surreal the Real is.

And living in a fantasy world all of one's own is boring, too. The ouvre of John "Ozzy" Osbourne is repeatedly marred by it, and often saved only by surrounding himself with excellent musicians. He's a profoundly stupid man on most days, and I love him dearly for so clearly not noticing this aspect of himself. When he sings all those songs about Evil, and the value of smoking marijuana, astral projection and how nuclear war is actually Satan's fault, I giggle uncontrollably.
There's a barbecue joint/smokehouse up in Bee's neck of the woods called 'U-licious'. We love it because that's one seriously retarded name there, and also for the clear lack of care about that fact the owner is displaying. It's so stupid, it's beautiful. The song 'Type-U Blood', by The Make Up is along the same lines, but knowingly so.
We often riff on a potential commercial for the joint: "Youuuu-licious? Meeee-licious!" It's that Unbridled Enthusiasm thing that so often cracks me up, even as it frustrates and annoys.
Or, as one of Matthew Hattie Hein's best jokes would have it: "Hysterectomy? Hysterecto-You, motherfucker!"

I think we've all learned a lot here today. One of those bands from the past I'm discovering all over again is Mott The Hoople. They wrote great, catchy tunes that presaged glam rock by a little bit, with not so much of the knowing irony that later bands did. And their name is Mott The Hoople.
Mott The fucking Hoople. As a kid, I imagined that this was someone's translation of 'meet the people', as spoken by someone out of their mind on quaaludes (for that matter, ain't the word quaalude great? It looks like how it makes you feel: not exactly onomatopoeia?). I still don't know why they were named that: the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock n' Roll has a lengthy entry that never once mentions it. I do like the fact that their first album was called Mott The Hoople, and their seventh and eighth albums were named Mott and The Hoople, respectively. They also did a song called 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople'.
I also like how the spell-check aspect here thinks 'mott' is a perfectly good word (when capitalized), but just can't get behind 'hoople'.



Blogger rich bachelor said...

And then of course there's 'Black Sabbath', by Black Sabbath, from the album "Black Sabbath".

11:07 AM  

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