Me and Kelly entered the USA at the end of May. I always get a second interview at Homeland Security. I’ve come to accept this. In the interview room, a beautiful Peruvian woman of about twenty-nine years of age was trying to explain to an officer why she had overstayed her visa by nine months last year. And how come she drove through the desert with a guy and stayed with him for six weeks in a dusty old motel room and didn’t know his name or even the name of the desert. She said that the motel had a refrigerator, but that was about all she could remember. She called the Homeland Security officer “Senor.”
I think I know where that motel is.
Me and Kelly attended the Berkeley Book Festival and gave out about 100 copies of the Phantom Billstickers Café Reader and talked to dozens of people about Kiwi poetry and music. People here love New Zealand. They often see it as an escape. When I tell them that New Zealand’s current government is almost as bad as theirs, they can scarcely believe it. I tell them that things are going to change and they act relieved.
At the book festival, I met quite a few of the old 60s and 70s radicals who now own publishing houses. I think they all thought Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon were bad enough and nowadays they are all fit to be tied. They have been bashing their heads against a merciless system for decades now and they are mostly punch drunk from the effort.
Me and Kelly went to a franchise coffee house (Peets) and there was a black guy of about 75 years of age sitting at a table with his girlfriend. They looked to be homeless, but they obviously cared deeply for each other. She wore a giant fur coat in temperatures approaching boiling point and she carried herself with a modicum of decorum and the utmost of style.
The black guy was about three fourths blind and his eyes were freckled with brown islands. He had a face that resembled a melanoma and huge hands that once could have thrown a supermarket trolley through a shop window in the good old days.
What this guy did was amazing. He sang a tune in a talking blues style and whilst he was doing this he drummed the table top with fingers bigger than drumsticks. The vocals were in perfect synchronicity with the drums and his knees went up and down. He had a huge smile on his face and his girlfriend’s face lit up with pleasure. The entire song consisted of just the one line:
“That Lucy’s a bad girl.”
He repeated it over and over like he knew.
She also smiled in a knowing way.
That song has stayed with me for two months now.
I think America is in a really bad place at present, but it continues to be a very exciting country and one which I love.
Every day more than 90 Americans die of overdoses of either Heroin, Fentanyl or prescription opioids. In New Jersey alone more than 2000 died of either Heroin or Fentanyl overdoses in 2016. This is more than those who died in car accidents, gun deaths and suicide combined.
According to the Wall Street Journal there have been more than 300,000 opioid overdose deaths since the late 1990s.
The newspapers and the news items all tell the same story and every single day: he was a star basketball player and she was a cheerleader, both dead at twenty years of age.
They usually die either in a bedroom at their parent’s place whilst the parents are watching television, or they die alone and under a bridge someplace.
What we have here is an inability to communicate.
Getting down on your knees and praying to God is not going to fix this and it is far bigger than Trump. Yesterday a special white house commission recommended to President Trump that he declare a national emergency.
Meanwhile everyone seems to be fixated on ‘personalities’ and this would include the President himself.
When you’re around this unhappy kind of environment for any period of time (and this environment is now worldwide), I believe you have to keep doing things that make you feel happy and satisfied even if you have to force yourself to do it. Then, you have to consistently turn your back on The Bad of everyday life. You are at war. News of Vladimir Putin will rot your brain. The North Koreans now have the capacity to launch an ICBM that could hit Hollywood!
In my case, I know that if I entertain The Bad in my life for any two days in a row then I’m going to be a goner. I’m out there by myself and I’m on a divine wind.
So, keeping in mind my theory about the need for ‘satisfaction’, me and Kelly went to a concert by The Who in ramshackle Atlantic City. Most days a walk up a hill in solitude fixes me, but this was The Who (or ‘The Two’ as Simon Sweetman so cleverly puts it). This was the key to satisfaction. This cost less than twenty or thirty decks of Heroin and it got me away from the internet and the 24-hour horror news cycle.
“Give people bad news, that’ll work. People need a release from their anger. We need to increase advertising revenue! Here, have another cheeseburger. It will sustain you! Some people will believe anything!”
I enjoyed The Who to the full. I walked on air when Pete Townshend wind-milled and Roger Daltry threw that microphone cord around. The songs sounded as perfect as they always did. The band opened with what seemed to be a 45 second version of “Can’t Explain” which was beautifully succinct and most precise.
It’s a sign of a band’s capabilities that they can come on stage and front 10,000+ people and lay down something like that. I felt like I was riding a Vespa and wearing a Fred Perry.
But what I really liked the most was studying Zak Starkey on the drums. This kid (born in 1965) was, to me, the real star. I thought about his mum, Maureen, a lot and about how Zak was given his first drum kit by his “Uncle Keith” when he was eight years old. I thought about his dad (“It’s not what you put in, it’s what you leave out.” – R. Starr) and all this whilst watching a very confident drummer, never too much, never too little, and perfectly in tune and right on time.
Zak and his own band have a new album called “Issues” and the album was advertised at the gig using the byline, “Zak’s Got Issues” and no doubt he has. I’ve scarcely met a drummer who hasn’t.
At Peets, the old guy at the table banging out “That Lucy’s a bad girl” was very sensuous (his voice deep and with a fine growl). He belted out Lucy’s song to a warm beat. He obviously had a huge heart and here he was banging this song out for a very beautiful woman who he probably took to a motel room in the desert one day. I think they are still there and lucky them. They may be homeless, but they are so obviously in Love.
Whether you make a million dollars a year or whether you are on the very bones of your rectum, if you are in Love then you are a millionaire. This is True Dinks.