Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From the Trenches of Desolation Row.

We had a wake for Auntie Jack at the Piccolo Bar last weekend, it always amazes me how a mob comes out of the woodwork after a death, we humans love to commiserate and reminisce with our fellow lifers in the face of omnipresent death and OBLIVION. It was agreed by everyone that for all Jack's curmudgeon-like carrying on, he was an unforgettable character, shining explosively from the void, and we all miss him badly, there's a hole in the cafe that no longer growls witticisms in repartee. Dennis the basker warbled Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and we all sang along to it, a fitting piece of poetry for that soul's journey upon planet Earth. In the jaws of pain and horror, how awesome it is to be alive and in with a chance at Ecstasy.

The oldtimers hang upon the Piccolo like a life-raft, time is fleeting and flesh is frail. Ayesha the Drag(on Lady) is working herself up to another Dementia furore, cursing the heavens and spitting chips over little nothings. Lately she's been wearing crazy head-dresses of plastic flowers like Bloody Mary in meltdown or covered in faux fur like a cross between Zsa Zsa Gaboring and a dead cat. She'll blow someday like an Asian volcano and I dont want to be in the vicinity, last time she kicked a kid in the guts at a kiddies' birthday party, and lately she's been aiming her abuse at me, whose always got a flippant word for her, like "how's Lee Pong Poo today?" as she's notorious, in her madness, for not bathing daily.

She still thinks the spotlight of "Les Girls" is shining upon her, any camera within a hundred miles she rushes to pose in front of, a star in her own toilet break. What a comedown for her to discover that she was flung to the cutting-room floor of the film "Cross Life", the latest tittilating expose on Sydney's gentrifing declasse red-light district, and she seems to blame me for it, just because I heap scorn on fame whores. I just hope she doesn't drop dead in the gutter on Roslyn Street where she's already had fainting fits, there's a crowd of ghosts in front of the Piccolo and no room for any more.

We had a hissing spat yesterday like two cats locked in a dumpster and it feels like we got the bad air cleared for now she's being nice to me, she knows how sharp my claws are, in her non-fame fever I only have to remind her that she was actually sacked from Les Girls, too bitchy even for that crew. It's a pity we disempowered gronks in the gutter have only each other's skin to shred in our angst, the out-of-reach ELITE depend upon it. Harsh realities like the Iraqui war have got us spewing in sheer sadness and horror with only each other to take it out on. Many conformist patrons of the Piccolo Cafe ogle me like they've never seen such a nasty, spitting pink poofy cat before, but hey, I'd rather grate on robopathic nerves than be demure and melt into the wallpaper like an insipid celebrity worshipper, I may not be nice but at least I'm real.

(Only the other day I was telling a friend, new to the Cafe, about the "old times", when Vitto worked the nightshift. You could come here at 3 am if you were restless and there'd always be some action, someone to rave with, guitar strumming, juke box rocking, ganjha smoke filling the small room till it resembled a sauna, in reality a hothouse for existential raconteurs, pop culture surfers and dispossessed deadbeats. Some nights it boiled over into a punch-up, yours trully often twisted on the hotspot and beat up too, pot smoke wafting like fog up Roslyn street. The Piccolo was notorious, the Daily Terror did it's screaming heebie-jeebie Sunday paper shock treatment, the pigs raided the Cafe repetitively, Vitto go fatigued and paranoid and swapped over to the day shift, fights dwindled to a minimum and, drug free, we sip our coffee and natter how wild and fun it once was. No more fighting, thank nogod, we're sick of the fistfights.

It's a shock when it's me who still comes under attack, I find it hard to humour fools and have to bite my tongue when I'm made to deal with them at the Cafe, compassion wears thin, most people seem to stay alive by manipulating their fellows. Take Fat Greg's side-kick Barry, he really makes me bunch up my fist. Recently he offered to buy groceries for this crippled 70 year old gerrie named Carlito, taking his last $50, then returned with a bullshit tale of how the cops had stopped him and taken the money from him. The truth is he has a wicked poker machine habit and he blew the $50 in 7 seconds. When the old decrepit fumed and replied how he thought Barry had ripped him off, the hefty retard slapped the old fellow around, right in the doorway of the Piccolo, where PEACE had long been declared.

All of Roslyn street was pissed off, old folks should be protected, not brutalised, otherwsie the area falls, the junkies, gamblers and crooks will make mince-meat of all of us. Fat Greg's been rushing about effusing endless apologies, his "adopted son" is existentially challenged, we have to make allowances, in three weeks he'll dredge up another $50 to pay the gerrie back, he's got his own "pokie habit" to deal with. I think the Barry the Beast should be locked in a cage in a back-yard and occassionally poked with a stick, I'm tired of being under threat at a simple rendevous like a Cafe, even if it is on Desolation Row.

Other than this tawdry drama there's been no action at the Cafe, just Vitto slaving dawn to dusk and anxious about his ancient sister who is dying by inches at St. Vinnies hospital. One day, if I stay alive long enough, and when everybody else is mulched back into the VOID, I will tell the full story of the Piccolo and it's gallery of rogues passing thru as I know where the bodies are buried, the 1001 filmmakers and journos who rush the dump to get their thin slice of the Bohemian pie only get the bullshit facade, it's the lifers like me who learn the nitty gritty for somehow I get people confessing all to me, the truth is always amazing, more twisted than a horror movie.

Speaking of which, the latest video-nasty I've relished was "Hostel 2", the critics hated it and gave it zero stars, "torture-porn" they all crowed, but they're not horror-heads and love to wear their morality upon their sleeves to broadcast what good citizens they are, but they're really just media apologists for a cruel system involving a 'profits-at-any-cost' Money-god, they hate social critique dressed in terror. Take the movie's premise, that in this world, if you're rich and nasty enough, you can join a monstrous private club, bid on hapless captured backpacker tourists ( a real terror for us world travellors) and buy yourself an innocent victim to torture at your own pleasure, a spot-on metaphor for our class-ridden world. And most fans of horror-stories doesn't identify with the torturer, thank you (not), we identify with the individual who turns the table on the fuckers and escapes in the end!

I've been devouring lots of cyberpunk novels lately, the only genre that trully fills me in on present and future realities/possibilities, and one can't get past the Masters, William Gibson (Idoru, Pattern Recognition), Neal Stephenson (The Diamond Age, Cobweb) and Bruce Sterling (Holy Fire, Heavy Weather). In the latter is the scary idea of "lifeboat cannibals", power-mongering creeps who, in an overcrowded decaying world, prey on others and bump off as many as possible, so that "lifeboat planet earth" has more room for them. They invent and spread disease, encourage terrorism, create nuclear meltdowns, push WAR as the answer to Earth's overcrowding problems, rather than encourage half the planet's population to go "QUEER" for instance, fascists have always favoured the 'death wish' over the 'pleasure principle'. (For what are poofs good for except bashing up?) All these cyberpunk concepts ring true and add fuel to my hard-arsed surrealism, no wonder I'm a hissing, spitting cat on Desolation Row.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Another Cute Northcott Story.

Most nights here in the trenches of Northcott war-zone are blessedly silent and peaceful tho I do hold my breath, taking nothing for granted, for chaos can explode at any moment. 1001 humans living on top of each other can be a disaster waiting to happen and noise is the greatest of our woes but there's no succour for I forgo calling the police as it's like inviting shreiking harpies into the heady mix. The list of noisome phenomena is endless, no wonder we have massacres and suicides, yet I doubt prolonged 'bad noise' would be a good defence at a trial for assault.

We've had a faulty fire alarm for years that often shreds the peace, clanging away at all hours for no good reason, the fired brigade wailing to the rescue, then stomping and shouting, more clanging as the dammed alarm is tested, thus sleep can never be regular. For the last few weeks there's been an ultra-sonic whine ringing thru the nights like tinnitus of the collective head, it's source unfathomable and me ready to run amok with an axe, it's piercing my brain like an ice-pick. We've got jackhammers throbbing thu.out the days while they renovate the crumbling towers, and the garbage trucks trundle and crash, the cleaners clatter and smash, for my flat is near the dumpsters. Ambulences and police sirens scream at the ongoing Estate emergencies and every fortnight the dreaded lawn-mower brigade shows up to tear away at any wayward blade of grass, machine-grinding from Hell, all the gardens chopped to bits whether they need pruning or not for this army of contractors wants the easy money the Estate provides, vegetation and resting invalids be dammed.

Then there's my next door neighbours, Cursula and Bawl, whose constant bickering pierces my lounge-room wall, him berating her slovenly existence, her whingeing defence of her leprous honour, then their reconciliation with bad musical duets that grate on my nerves, him on guitar and her on tink-plink piano, and their lovie-dovie smooching that churns my guts, ending in a crscendo of sexual bellowing, as if a rhino is mounting a hippopotamus. Because she's filled her flat with garbage and junk that's stacked to the ceiling, any of her fellow drug-fucked friends that come visiting can't fit in so she holds her moronic soirees outside, in front of my door, and for hours I have to listen to inane trivia, "gee, if you put a photo of Kylie Minogue and Dolly Parton next to each other, you'd swear they were sisters." I scream thru the door, "try photos of Cursula and King Cong next to each other!"

More hours of saccharine compliments upon her filthy lifestyle, "Wow Cursula, you managed to bake a sludge cake using dirty dishes, that's clever!" till I have to bite my tongue and handcuff myself to my bed or otherwise I'm going to run out there with a baseball bat and knock her teeth down her throat. I've begged her to desist, she just moos like the cow she is and carries on chewing the cud, there's no explaining the waste of space that drug abusers create.

On the other side of me I've got Eric the Viking Beserker, howling hideously at the nights, cursing every passer-by, and climbing thru his window every 7 minutes, the window shudders open then screeches closed, over and over, he's lost his front door key again. The other day he pissed his pants as he clambered thru, a trail of noxious yellow running down the wall and across the footpath. The gay couple down the other end of the verandah shreiked outrage at the sight of it, they have a cleanliness fetish, Tony the Tooth Fairy is forever hosing down the concrete while his obnoxious paramour, Dravid the Undertaker, drunk as a punk 24/7, yells abuse at the heavens, "it's those dole bludgers, those pensioners, they make the bloody mess, they won't work, they own nothing, THEY OWN NOTHING...!", this last repeated like a mantra, all he owns is a black Bat-mobile, big deal.

The main path that cuts thru the whole Estate runs past my front door and I get all the marauding mobs in my face, drunken louts yahooing, Abbos shattering beer bottles, ICE-zombies shouting murder, domestic quarrels weeping and begging at 3am like restless ghosts from the ancient cemetary buried under the foundations of Northcott Compound. Stolen cars are set alight and exploded in the carpark, furniture is tossed from 21st floor balconies and zombies drag trash from the garbage dump in the twilight of dawn, Cursula in the vanguard, broken furniture scraped and banged thru her door just when I'm finally falling asleep. All this noise swells up into a tsunami of caterwauling, a symphony of cacophony, an 1812 overture of angst and recrimination, and I'm swept away, down into a whirlpool of sonic vibrations, my quantum consciousness dissolved, madness filling the void.

All of which brings me to the cute story about Northcott. Some years ago, after a hard night-shift in the House of the Dying, I was trying to sleep when the most god-awful machine thumping threw me from my bed. So loud the walls shuddered and my nerve-ends frayed and exploded. I rushed outside to find a fifty-something moron pushing a pneumatic machine that sprays water, he's swishing trash and leaves from the footpath, ripping up the peace worse than a jack-hammer. I scream over the racket for him to turn the machine off, it's giving me a nervous breakdown, is a terrible waste of water and hasn't he ever heard of a broom. He just looked at me vacant-brained and kept waving his water-wand at a few twigs and cigarette butts.

I yelled and yelled but he was impervious to my admonishments, grunting "it's my job, fuck off!" An ancient old man in a dressing gown hung over the 4th floor balcony and yelled, "yeah, stop the noise, turn that bloody machine off!" I felt somewhat vindicated so I kept squawking, "turn that fucking hell-macine off!" The thump/whine noise increased in pitch the louder I yelled, my brains felt like they were shredding out my arse and the mentally challenged cleaner carried on oblivious, spray spray, thump, thump. I went over the edge and grabbed at the cumbersome machine, wrestling to the death with it like it was some invading Dalek, heavy as an armoured tank, in my rage I flipped it over onto it's side, the thump-thump whining dwindling to a wheezing gasp. The retarded cleaner's face swelled with outrage, he adveanced upon me waving his water-wand and sprayed me head to toe with dirty water till I was drenched and sqeaking like a drowned rat.

I spluttered fury and ran back into my flat and for the second time in my life I rang the cops, I had gone into meltdown and wasn't thinking clearly. Within 7 minutes a matching pair of pigs showed up, as if spewed from a conveyor belt, the usual blonde female with a pony-tail chewing gum, the fat male behind her scowling over her shoulder. She asked me what the big emergency was and I told her how I'd been assaulted by the moronic cleaner with a spray device. They went over to the retard and questioned him, him jabbering away and pointing at his precious machine as if it was a sacred relic I'd desecrated.

They marched back to me peering from my doorway and growled, "look mate, what's your problem? He says you attacked his machine!" "We have enough noise around here, the garbage trucks, the fire alarms, without that moron adding to it with a ridiculous machine from Hell!" "Mate, I've got garbage trucks out front of my place, that's city life for you, we all have to put up with it, he's only doing his job." "The noise here is out of control, there's a lot of old, sick people here who can't stand it and that moron has to add to it with a bullshit piece of make-work, an unneccesary job they've thrown to a retard to give him something to do, like why can't he use a broom?" "Mate, he's only doing his job! And if you keep it up we'll drag YOU away!" "Gee, thanks for all your help, remind me not to call the police again when there's trouble!"

I slammed the door in their grumpy red-faces and prayed they wouldn't take the issue further. I could be murdered with a chain-saw and I won't ever consider ringing the cops, they're useless. I must say, that retarded cleaner ran off and never did come back with his infernal machine, the front-office must have got wind of the affair and told him to desist, so flipping out can get results but it's a pity I have to suffer madness to get 7 minutes of peace.

When I was a young man I fled to the Himalaya mountains looking for a cave where I could meditate in peace and find some kind of enlightenment. But in the deepest jungle and highest crag someone always found me, a grass-cutter or goatherd, a curious cop or zealous tourist, there was no getting away from humanity, anywhere. In my old age I've discovered my apartment can be like a mountain cave, if I discourage most people from visiting me, can keep it reasonably quiet, I can meditate and contemplate the mystery of the Universe and my existence in peace, it's like a monastic cell.

But society hates a drop-out, they drag you into the bumptious world willing or not, and I go screaming. Somehow I'll just have to switch that scream over to my all-soothing mantra, instead of "fuck, fuck, fuck!" it wil have to be"AUM, AUM, AUM" or otherwise I will go mad and there'll be a new Surry Hills massacre at Northcott. Not so cute.