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'd e c e m b e r d e c m e m b e r e d'


december kinda slipped away from me last year, a bit of this, a bit of that, some reading, some work, another trip to noo yoik for hostess elisabeth's birthday and before i knew it, the leprous, fat arse of christmas had descended upon me and i hadn't posted diddly. shame on me. consider, dear reader, the below confused mess of quotes, thoughts and no doubt inaccurate observations as some paltry recompense...

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""i refuse to 'look up'. optimism nauseates me. it is perverse. since man's fall, his proper position in the universe has been one of misery.""

- from 'a confederacy of dunces' by john kennedy toole

www.chengwin.com -street theatre, or new religion in the making? which side are you on?

stuart is a theatrical agent.
me: how are you?
stuart: oh, fine. very busy though.

me: really?
stuart: yeah. we had a phone call this morning from a production company who are looking for a dwarf to have sex as part of a reality tv show, so i've been calling up all these dwarves and offering them sex on national television.
me: um... so basically what you've been doing is 'dwarf pimping'?
stuart: ...

last week i told a girl that i thought the scarf she'd asked me to wear made me look a bit gay. "don't worry," she said "the scarf isn't making you look gay." the implication of course being that i didn't need any help in that area.

"the gyro had widened; the great chain of being had snapped like so many paper clips strung together by some drooling idiot; death, destruction, anarchy, progress, ambition, and self-improvement were to be piers' new fate. and a vicious fate it was to be: now he was faced with the perversion of having to go to work."

- from 'a confederacy of dunces' by john kennedy toole

spooky goings on: walking from the living room, i passed the kitchen doorway and continued into the bathroom to wash my hands. a while later i became aware of a strange hissing sound. i dried my hands and went to check to see if the television was making the noise. it wasn't. the cold water tap in the kitchen was. even though when i passed the kitchen door i hadn't noticed it (and surely would have), the tap was now almost fully on. i was the only one in the house. confused rather than scared, i turned it off. that night in bed i kept hearing strange noises in my room, things shifting, settling; not surprising considering the state my room is in, but still... that night i dreamt that i was walking through the countryside when i saw my parents bungalow (which isn't in the countryside but that's dreams for you) i go inside and find a number of strangers in the lounge. i ask them what the fuck they think they're doing there and they reply that they can't leave, that the house is a trap and once inside you can never leave. at this point i notice a huge hole in the garden leading down to fuck knows what horrors. suddenly i'm in my living room and a young boy (14 / 15 ish) comes in, dressed in old fashioned clothes (white shirt black waistcoat). i remember he had a very red face, as if embarrassed or angry. i asked him how he got into the house and what the fuck he thought he was doing in my living room. he replied that it was his living room and what the fuck did i think i was doing in it? there i woke up. hostess elisabeth is convinced that we have a ghost and that i have now met him.

"... i suspected that the obscene jazz issuing forth from the loud speakers on the walls of the factory was at the root of the apathy which i was witnessing among the workers. the psyche can be bombarded only so much by these rhythms before it begins to crumble and atrophy... obviously continual response to the music had developed within them an almost pavlovian response to the noise, a response which they believed was pleasure. having spent countless hours of my life watching these blighted children on television dancing to this sort of music, i knew the physical spasm which it was supposed to illicit..."

- from 'a confederacy of dunces' by john kennedy toole

up at the crack of dawn to fly to new york... hostess elisabeth's radio alarm is still on as we gather our shit together; and what song's playing? yep, don mclean's 'american pie', the same song about buddy holly dying in a plane crash that was playing at the airport last time we flew out... (see diary entry 'start spreading the news') hmmm, it's a good thing i don't believe in omens.

american breakfast tv: footage of a rodeo monkey called whiplash, riding a sheep dog, herding sheep. no, no, really. www.whiplashrides.com -they need to give this little fella his own show... or presidency.

day one and for breakfast i order pancakes, scrambled eggs and three, count em, three kinds of pork: sausage, ham and bacon. i call it the breakfast of kings... suicide on the installment plan never tasted so good.

"passing the mirror, naked, he seemed to see a rubens in the glass. that thickened, tightened feeling around the gut and saddle, making him feel that he was, to say the least of it, a couple of hundred bowel-movements behind the game. there was nothing wrong with xan that a year in the lavatory wouldn't cure. but where would he find that year?"

- from 'yellow dog' by martin amis

cold finally descends on new york and scarves get higher and tighter, breath steams, shoulders hike upwards. it refuses to get above zero for four days. walking back from the 23rd st. subway to our hotel at about 6pm, we pass madison park and notice a tiny white and grey kitten sheltering from the wind between two flower boxes; the unavoidable oohs and aaahs and we go off to our hotel. it's only then that we get to thinking: what the hell's a kitten doing stranded in a small park, surrounded by roads, some distance from any recognisable home? we tell ourselves that it must have wandered out and will now no doubt have gone home or been found by its owner and we shuffle off out to the metro wine bar for steak.

and christ almighty 'kobe style' beef steak is even better than we remembered it. never has steak been so soft, so buttery, so melt-in-the-mouth unbe-fucking-lievably gorgeous. go. try. eat. succumb.

full to the brim, we make our way home in the freezing cold and though hostess elisabeth is wary of going passed madison park in case the cat is still there, i convince her that it surely won't be and we walk on. at first we don't see it and i say "see? i told y-" and then it turns around and meows weakly, still huddled, shivering between the flower boxes. hostess elisabeth starts to cry, i start to wonder if maybe we could sneak it back into the hotel room (but then what the hell would we do with it?). we decide to ask whoever's behind the counter at the hotel to call someone but then elisabeth spots a man sitting in a bus dept. truck nearby. he has a cb radio. trying unsuccessfully to calm herself, hostess elisabeth asks the man if he'll call animal control and i think mainly because she seemed so upset he did so. cat saved. happy elisabeth.

we meet with chris sickness and other half melissa at 'the ace bar' in the village and to our astonishment, the doorman asks for our i.d. on entry. we don't know whether to feel flattered or sorry for the myopic fool. turns out he asks everyone. he sits there all night doing a very good impression of being cool, mean and moody, commendable really considering his job seems to consist of asking one question over and over again. chris arrives and tells us that he had no trouble spotting us as we stood out like a sore thumb: limeys perched awkwardly at the bar. hmmm. it would seem that it's very fashionable in new york to drink stella. chris seemed amused by my telling him that in london we call it 'wifebeater'.

before departing the land of eng, we managed to secure two tickets to see the pixies at the hammerstien ballroom. they were a band who kind of passed me by the first time around, not fitting into my psycho, needle-thin spectrum taste in music at the time but over the years i've grown to appreciate them a great deal. great songwriting, pure and simple. and they don't disappoint live. go see and you'll see. and hear.

after the gig we're walking home when we see that macy's department store is still open, at about 11 at night, due to close at midnight. in we go. it's a great feeling, walking around a huge, empty department store (a breed of shop i usually despise). much recommended. hostess elisabeth buys pajamas with cats and snowflakes on them, hereafter to be known as the 'commemorative pajamas' in memory of the cat she saved.

miscellaneous food related comments:
- we ate ice cream in f.a.o. schwartz which ended up costing more than dinner the night before. is that wrong?
- the chilli at the empire diner is g r e a t.
- the
36oz steak at angelo and maxies may look like a pushover between two people but no matter how much you eat, there always seems to be more still to consume. in short: a veritable breeze block of meat.

on the last day we go skating in central park. i'm doing fine but then fall quite spectacularly, down on my dodgy knee, then onto my back, a real clown fall, a real gonna fall! -no, i'm all right -gonna fall! -i'm ok. f a l l . hostess elisabeth is laughing so hard she finds it hard to breathe, let alone help me up. it's only later that we find that when i fell i snapped my credit card in half. the bruise lasted for weeks.

a selection of cds purchased across the pond: 'anger management' and 'untitled' - the cutthroats 9, 'turning it down since 2001' - noxagt, 'little stabs of happiness' - the vanity set, 'pigs of the roman empire' - melvins + lustmord, 'something really fishy, the "1.outside" outtakes' - david bowie, 'mit gas' - tomahawk, 'machine' - the yeah yeah yeahs, 'king of the delta blues' - charlie patton, 'onko' - mika vainio, 'trans europa express (german language version)' -kraftwerk.

on the flight home i'm chatted up by a male flight attendant who takes a shine to my jesus lizard t-shirt. is hostess elisabeth invisible? or am i just a lot gayer looking that i thought? i've chosen to be flattered. i've gotta take it where i can get it.

home again.

as part of my christmas present, hostess elisabeth bought me an hour's massage, an ordeal i'd been intrigued by for years yet had never undergone. "is there any part of your body you don't like being touched?" she asked me; several possible answers ran through my mind (spleen, colon, medula oblongata? -'how deep tissue' was this going to be?) i decided to merely answer "no" and see where the hour took me. i could actually feel her working away a knot in my right shoulder, as if there were a chunk of gristle that slowly melted back into my body. an odd feeling. the main thing i noticed about it is just how strangely time behaves during the hour, stopping dead, yet moving faster simultaneously. a very pleasant sixty minutes indeed. it reminded me of the old joke: a man goes to have a massage and afterwards the masseuse asks him "d'you want a wank?" christ, thinks the man, i didn't realise it was going to be that kind of massage, but the girl is very attractive and he thinks yeah, why not? "yes please" he answers. "ok, i'll wait outside" she says "only don't be long as there's more customers waiting."

"he thought: being drunk was a way of saying that, in your opinion, the universe was bullshit. no, more: it was a way of saying that you thought the universe was crap."

- from 'yellow dog' by martin amis

recommended: (audio) the pixies live or trans europa express -in german! / (comestible) kobe beef steak or empire chilli / (visual) whiplash the rodeo monkey / (sensorial) walking into a huge umbrella shredding wind fan or alone in macy's

reviled: (audio) the muted roar of pre-popped airplane ears or a pikey english accent in new york / (comestible) ... / (visual) a snapped credit card / (sensorial) my spectacular prat-fall