Phantom Blog

A Tinker’s Cuss

Viewing posts from the A Tinker’s Cuss category

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 26/01/16

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 26 January 2016

 

Around two weeks ago I lost my favourite doggie, Bella. The veterinary surgeons put her to sleep here in New Zealand whilst I was trawling around in the USA. There were cellphone calls backwards and forwards and then Bella was gone. That’s how these things happen in the big wide world and I never got to hold Bella for the very last time.

Friends will tell you to ‘let go’ in these circumstances and then you feel like fire-bombing their house, but instead of that you say something like “Thanks very much” and you hope that they go away and never come back.

What is the purpose of having ‘friends’ like that?

About a week after Bella died my brother-in-law popped his clogs as well. My brother-in-law was about the epitome of good social skills. He always knew what kind of good and soothing word to insert into a conversation and just when to do that. He was a fun-lover and one got the impression that there wasn’t too much complex stuff going on with him. What you saw was what you got and what he said was what he meant. He had a good ‘vibe’ about him.

I’ve had a lot of people die around me during these last fifteen years or so. Mostly it comes as a big shock and then it’s gone again but for their presence which I feel at the strangest of times.

Obviously, we carry these memories in our minds and bodies until the very ends of our days. Some of us do what we can to ward the feelings off because ‘loss’ is a very distasteful business. There are other people who trade in loss by endless Internet posts as if they are trying and come to terms with what has just happened.

There is nothing in life that is bigger than loss.

For my part, I feel that if I think about the ones who have gone too much then I feel I will go with them to wherever they are. I’ve often wanted to do just that.

But I am terrified of all this and so I try to hang on to life and vitality even though it can seem entirely meaningless and for long periods of time.

But I do want to live because I have work to do, French cars to maintain, and I haven’t had my say.

I think they call all this business of living in functional denial ‘go forward’. This means don’t look back and just keep on careering into the future. I don’t think these people who make up these glib expressions have ever owned old French cars. Or they’ve never lost a great love because glib people can never have great loves to begin with.

Life can be a dreadfully sad business.

David Bowie died the next week and I did what I could to steel myself against the news.

If it wasn’t for David Bowie I just would never have worn half the clothes

I ever wore in my life and nor would I have applied woman’s makeup to my face in the early 1970s. I was an ugly woman let me tell you that.

We (my mates and me) all did make-up stuff and we coloured our hair and some of us even had a go at women’s high heel shoes and pretended we were gay. We had the earrings and the hand gestures too. At the same time, we had dreadful acne. We’d squeeze each other’s pimples.

David Bowie’s biggest thing to me was that he had the capability of changing everything about himself in a very quick manner. One day he would be in suit and the next day he would be wearing a United States Air Force MA1 flight jacket. He never appeared to have acne.

Me and my mates bonded over a very few key recording artists at the end of the 1960s and going through the early 1970s. Probably the two main recording artists were Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. The Beatles were who they were and the Rolling Stones were as well, but Hendrix and Bowie were probably our two main inspirations.

My mates were mainly musicians in Christchurch and we’d often meet for lunch downstairs at Beaths or Ballanytnes and it was always good fun.

You’d look around the table and see eyeliner and bright green or orange widely flared pants. The hair would be long and we’d get called names in the street. Borrie used to make our clothes or we’d get them at His Lordships.

David Bowie factored into almost everything we did in one way or another.

But I try not to look back and I just keep careering into the future and oftentimes that’s against the odds. I’m frightened you see.

I think death and old age frightens all of us. We look in the mirror and the make-up has gone.

Bella was a good little girl, she too had a remarkably gentle nature (like my brother-in-law) and I truly loved her. Animals have taught me a lot about people and oftentimes to just steer away from people. I wouldn’t wish the family I grew up in on anyone…. It’s not that any of them were necessarily bad either, they, like the rest of the world, were just lost. They lived in make-up.

 

Bella didn’t.

 

miss bell in the grass

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 16/12/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 16 December 2015

 

Another Xmas is upon us.

At this time of year, we are meant to be with our families (such as they might be) and to be all joyous and giving and everything else that goes around under that dear old mulberry tree where life is confusing at best.

We may look at people on the street at this time of year and they seem to be happy and winging their way home with a Xmas tree under each arm and whistling too. Here in America, I see glowing people wearing four layers of designer clothing as the winter closes in. That’s what they do to keep people at bay.

But, at Xmas I always think of my friends who may be stuck on Methadone or may be in rehab or jail and they may even be dead because they couldn’t hack the pace. The pace quickens in our electrified and digital age. It’s love one day and a landslide the next.

I know everyone is pre-occupied with either American or New Zealand politics right now and the ‘political subjects’ of the day which may include Muslims, Guns, Donald Trump, Social Media and Climate Change.

In America in 2013 almost 25,000 people died of prescription drug overdoses and about 16,000 of the deaths were from prescription opiates. Heroin overdoses are not included in these figures. That makes the data all the more frightening. It’s not terrorism, it’s merely ‘junkies’. Junkies are the scum who come to borrow a glass of milk and sell your refrigerator for ten dollars.

So, that’s mainly what I think about when I’m not turning my mind to beauty. If I want to feel devastated, then I think of the people whose breathing gave out after one too many OxyContin.

Opiate overdose is a very lonely way to die and I’ve had a lot of mates who went way out west from far too many opiates or the ramifications of using those self-same drugs. Maybe it was the liver disease that got them or the heart attacks.

I’ve overdosed on opiates a few times and spent time in ‘Intensive Care’. I’m bound to say they were good drugs. I didn’t wake up thinking about politics, I woke up wanting to get loaded again with my mates.

My mates who died were all lonely people and in the end they didn’t ‘connect’ with anyone. They had no possibilities that excited them.

I also have friends who will pick up their methadone a day or two before Xmas and then consume it all at once. They’ll end up ‘hanging out’ on Xmas day and feeling a cold that goes right through to their very marrow. If they had twenty-five heaters in the house and even though it may be summer, it won’t make a damn bit of difference. They will have Antarctica within them until they get another dose.

I am speaking as someone who once spent a Xmas Day or two in jail whilst hanging out and that taught me a lot about life. No one is going to come and rescue you because no one can save you from yourself. That grip on one’s own throat is the hardest thing to remove in this life.

Drug addiction… Self-inflicted? I really don’t think so. I merely think that a lot of people in the world today do not know what to do with their Emotions and Feelings. Many people are in a very deep and miserable painful place and I feel for them. They might scream about John Key or Donald Trump for a while to alleviate the pressure of being powerless and isolated.

Or they might even drive accidentally into a bridge.

Personal responsibility? I believe in that as well. But I have to say I have met many  people in ‘recovery’ who, in my opinion, are way more toxic than they ever were when they were stoned. They might be dry and sober and yet spiritually malicious. They may be borderline personalities. Does praying to God help these people?

Yes, it’s no good trip for a lot of folk at Xmas. You may be around toxic people. Your own family might be a contagious disease.

But, my year went reasonably well. I have learned to keep moving and forge ahead.  I have something like 22 completed chapters of my memoir finished and Phantom Billstickers has done well and prevailed over the odds. That’s all very satisfying.

There’s been some great books this year and some very good music. I’ve admired some really gnarly cars and met some people I like a lot. I’ve taken some okay photographs and met some of the coolest doggies (and cats) on God’s Green Earth. I’ve walked in the woods a lot and admired mother nature for doing what she does. I’ve missed my own Mum a lot (1999 R.I.P) but I’m better with all that now.

I feel loved and that’s different for me. I’ve never really felt loved before and I’ve always been so difficult (in many ways) that it was impossible to love me. I regularly said ‘no’ to the ice-cream because I was afraid. But now I sense that I’m letting the veil down. It had to go and it belongs way back there in dear old Russell Street in Dunedin.

My parents were very good people but in our house sunshine wasn’t really allowed and the summer was outlawed. That’s probably why I listened to the Velvet Underground (and countless others) but those days are over now. I enjoy putting up poetry posters around the world like I mean it man. I now like sunshine better than a black jersey and a pair of sunglasses in a dark room.

Thanks to those who stuck to me like glue this year and all the others.

 

I am a work in progress.

 

Much Love,

 

Jim Wilson

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 20/11/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 20 November 2015

 

It could be I’m just peeved from restless dreams last night. I was dreaming about Levon Helm again. Levon was a truth teller and we all know that. You get them every so often in the music industry and then everyone grows a beard, gets glasses and boots like they were a graphic designer and follows in behind. The ones who follow make all the cash. The guy in the front gets cancer and a weight on his shoulders. Still, who’d want to be Phil Collins?

Yesterday afternoon a young couple checked into this old Victorian-style boarding house where I am staying in New Jersey. I have the very top garret on the third floor and there is a shoebox room next to me and the young couple got it.

The guy bore a close resemblance to Steve McQueen and he looked like he’d fight anything going and lots of things that weren’t going as well. He must have been 28 and he drove a ’78 Corvette Stingray with plenty of rust and deeply sensuous headlights. This young man had dirty blond hair and wore Peter Fonda sunglasses. His co-offender was a Guatemalan woman, about 19, and she was sultry, beautiful and obviously difficult to please. Like all of them she wore red, which is the colour of her temperament. Jet-black hair tumbled across her face and down her back. She also had black eyes. They all do. I’ve met a few.

The man was a New Jersey hillbilly and she was a free spirit. I’ve seen it before. In the end, no one is happy.

In the middle of the night, I was woken by sounds that were like a Panzer division moving into the forests around Stalingrad in 1942. I could hear the tanks screeching and thrusting and then reversing back for cover as the Red Army retaliated in the snow. Or seemingly so. There was a rhythm, a climb and a crescendo to all of this and it went up and down and it was demonic. I began to hear Shostakovich’s “The Leningrad Symphony”, but I also recognised that Levon Helm was driving one of them tanks. He wanted the ultimate fruition and victory as well. It’s not very often you get that in this make-believe and pretend world. The tank commanders were screaming over their radios to each other and laughing deliriously. Leningrad or Petersburg what does it matter, it’s always the same old story. It’s a wolf pack out there and it’s coming to get you if you stand still.

With all these noises coming from the shoebox, I slowly came to realise that there was also a film crew in the hallway. I had a spiritual awakening when I grasped that all this was all about a remaking of “Debbie Does Dallas”. Yes, all of this was synthetic and none of it was real at all. It seems everyone has a role to play and they more comfortable doing that.

But, I felt very disappointed.

Like everyone, when I am pushed too far I can retaliate and I have certain principles which I will fight for. I have a decent sort of fury, but I have learnt the hard way that it is pointless to fight with the ‘eggs’ of this life. My grandmother had red hair, my mother had flecks of it and I have the temperament as well.

Here are some of the things that slut me to the very bottom of my ball bag and some that I love as well:

 

  1. Critics who are merely wrecking balls. I despise them. There’s a lot of beauty in this life. These ‘critics’ often have a stab at people who have talent and have worked hard to get where they are. We should respect them for that. These free roaming critics are not Lester Bangs and they ain’t Kenneth Tynan. Mind you, the public does like to see people thrown to the lions. Some people just wake up in the morning looking for something to hate.”A neurosis is a secret that you don’t know you are keeping.” – K. Tynan.Still, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to Phil Collins and there are some New Zealand bands that deserve to be on a fishing boat off the Chatham Islands.

 

  1. Political Correctness. This is just one more way of stopping people from expressing themselves. Then the people who can’t have their say vote the way the noisy people don’t like. This silent majority don’t like being screamed at by Internet bullies and so they just make sure they vote. I have some good friends who work in a gas station here in New Jersey and they just say what they think. None of them are on Facebook and I’m sure they carry Glocks. To each man his own.

 

  1. I don’t like a lot about ‘social welfare’ because I believe it creates dependency and encourages the idea that someone else should pay for your pity party. Further to this I might add that I Love social welfare where it is truly needed. My mum and dad died in Dunedin, New Zealand with mere pennies to their name. If they lived in this day and age they could not afford ‘commercialised rest home care’ as we now have in New Zealand.

 

  1. I detest the fact that many of our elderly go without because some bike gang is selling amphetamine and is on the dole at the same time.

 

  1. Now jail and imprisonment: There are some Morts in this life who need to be locked up forever. Then there are some people who feel sorry for these people. They stir up others in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘mercy’. Norman Mailer campaigned to get Jack Henry Abbot out of jail in the 1970s (1980s?) and then he (Jack Henry Abbot) stabbed a waiter a month later. Criminals usually want to wreck everything in their lives because they are afraid of the sunlight. They are there to take and not to give. I’ve been to jail; I know what it’s like. I enjoyed it. We all laughed a lot. We were the kind of people who would take advantage of anything.

 

  1. If you are going to be a doctor, you should do it for Love and not a Maserati in the driveway. You don’t need the silk shirts and ties, you need to wear a sack and give your expertise away.

 

  1. If you are in a band or in the Arts, then appreciate that good management will get you to where you want to go whilst you are laying in your bed at 2pm having your toenails painted, taking drugs, and screwing the bass player’s girlfriend. Give thanks and appreciation because you most probably are not the centre of the universe. Your manager might have more talent than you. The guy who owns the venue deserves some respect as well.

 

  1. I abhor ‘commercial radio’ and commercial media because I believe it is helping to create an ever more unreal environment. I believe a country (and radio and media) that is run by businessmen will have a hefty price to pay in health care because people need a real and genuine culture to dress themselves in. In New Zealand, we have mostly dreadful radio, television and newspapers. New Zealand is just too small to have schlock.

 

  1. ‘News Shows’ – don’t get me started. And this goes double for Internet ‘posts’. I am sure that someone will tell us all soon that water is bad for us and that we should drink more orange juice.

 

  1. The business of taking sides is irksome but if I had to take a guess I would say that Russia is a criminal enterprise and that Israel might act the way it does because of the holocaust. I’d say that Isis needs a damn good killing.

 

  1. Paradoxically, I don’t much like people who stand on the sidelines either, but me? I prefer to build for Beauty.

 

  1. Methadone Clinics? I don’t like them (though I have met some very good souls within them) because it’s so easy to be having a bad day and to go in and complain and come out dependent on a brand new drug that will do more harm than good.

 

  1. I can’t say I like people who take three or four pieces of hand luggage on commercial airlines flights. By and large it is not the Americans who do this anymore, it is people from those countries that are going through explosive capitalist growth. These people are also becoming very loud. Rampant capitalism encourages people to not think about how others may feel.

 

  1. It annoys me that one has to pay to visit Karl Marx’s grave in London. But I’ve also read he was a spendthrift who put his missus through hell. It obviously ain’t what you dance, it’s the way you dance it. People will say what they want to believe.

 

  1. I despise ‘liberals’ who promise to help and then just never return your telephone calls. The best lessons I have heard in this life are from people who told me to go away and do it myself. I have always found liberals to promise all these things to everyone without any effort required because they like looking gushingly in the mirror at themselves. There is not enough money nor expertise in this world to meet everyone’s desires, wants and ‘needs’.

 

  1. I can’t say I like the idea of government funds being allocated to people who work off a system and then pay off their mates. That ain’t rock and roll, that’s genocide. It’s just not cool.

 

  1. I spell and punctuate as I see fit. On my arm is tattooed ” ‘Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry. – Jack Kerouac’ “. Jack was a rolling and tumbling kind of writer and I like that.

 

  1. I saw a politician complaining about car park charges in Christchurch recently. Is this a job? Liberate the people and give them free car parks? That don’t sound right to me.

 

  1. Punk Rock Music changed my life. The night I saw The Vauxhalls in the Mt Pleasant Community Centre Hall in Christchurch I was uplifted. That gig gave me strength and impetus.

 

  1. I don’t see how anyone could write a book after Don Quixote but I’m glad a few people did: Thomas Pynchon, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, W. Faulkner, F. Dostoevsky, L. Tolstoy, Michel Houellebecq and Janet Frame. I can’t say I like any Irish guff, but then, in our consciousness we are all drunken Irish men and women. It’s worms in there baby. Keep coming back, we love you!

 

  1. However, I like a good Irish beef stew. Don’t tell me about tofu; use your time in a more valuable way.

 

  1. I wish my dad had stood up. He’s been dead for 35 years or more and I’m still waiting. I use his voice in the meantime.

 

  1. I admire people who have had to fight for everything they have got. Inherited wealth ruins people and whole countries.

 

  1. It’s hard to write from the heart. They kill people like that.

 

  1. I love poets. In New Zealand I can immediately think of four or five who deserve statues in the park. These people are the true heroes. It’s hard to write from the soul, but I’ve already said that. It’s much easier to just give the people what they want and then to climb the pop charts and to pretend it’s art at the same time. They’ll buy you champagne for that.

 

  1. Graham Brazier was a True Legend as was Daniel Keighley. Both men had huge hearts. They died for it.

 

  1. Some people make better music drunk than when they are sober. Just being ‘sober’ is not an excuse for having no life. In my books, you can be 35 years sober and in a worse state than a drunk down the street.

 

  1. If you work for someone else, try and bypass how difficult you find them to be and strive to be patient and grateful. There are times when this is just impossible because psychopaths and sociopaths sometimes rise to the top. But, I often find that people and employees would rather complain about the boss than go and do something for themselves.

 

Lastly, I saw someone using a squeegee on car windows in the mist here in New Jersey the other morning. This guy was cleaning other peoples’ windscreens up and down the street and no one else would have known. I saw this as an act of Love & Faith. Try it, it works.

 

And, as John Adams said: “The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.”

 

That’s wisdom whereas I am just a fool.

 

59

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 22/10/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 22 October 2015

 

I am living in New Jersey and it is a very pleasant time of year with the leaves changing colours and everything. Shortly it will begin to get cold but as for now the air is merely fresh. The autumn colours of New Jersey are every bit as delightful as those in Central Otago. I love waking up to the sounds of V8 engines outside the window. I love it that it will snow in a month or so.

I’ve just spent five weeks travelling through Europe putting up poetry posters and mine is a privileged position for which I have a lot of gratitude. My life has never been easy but sometimes it has been very sweet.

I began putting up poetry posters wherever I could about six or seven years ago. The act of merely doing this expresses most everything that I believe about this life. When life has handed me a lemon (and it has done this many times) I have always steered towards that which is beautiful.

Some people, places and things exist only to drag other people down. A man does his best in difficult circumstances. There is so much bitterness, violence, sarcasm and irony floating around the world these days that you may have thought we would have changed as a species. And yet, I actually think we’ve all gotten worse. New accusations are leveled every day and seemingly everyone knows how to do things better. A bloke who has never worked in a manager’s position knows how to manage everything better and so on and so forth. A guy screws a chicken, ends up in jail, and is never forgiven. People like to hold on to things like an old-timer at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting who is still talking about that slice of toast and butter he had on that bad night 35 years ago.

I believe people can change.

But, it is a long way easier to carry a burden than it is to let it go and hatred and distemper are major burdens for people everywhere. In New Zealand, we have paradise on earth and yet I see so many unhappy citizens. A lot of them have everything they could possibly need and more.

I’ve had some very touching things happen to me lately.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Paris and then I flew into the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. It is always stressful for me to face Customs and Immigration in any country, but particularly in the USA.

I have to have a ‘waiver of ineligibility’ to enter here. I tried for more than twenty years (making some bad mistakes along the way) before I was granted one. I am not eligible to live in the USA because of a Heroin conviction dating from 1974 and I have convictions dating up to 1992 that make even coming here for a short period something that can be disputed and it has been.

But there is genuine human kindness at every turn and I just believe that people have a deep fear of being ‘touched’ emotionally. A lot of people would rather go in the direction of the anger.  I’ve been there and it was a bad trip. That place is where you lose all your faith.

At Customs and Immigration in Philly the first officer at the desk, looking at my computer profile, asked me what the hell I had done, had I smoked something weird back in the 1970 and listened to some Grateful Dead maybe? Well, that’s weird enough, but I said, “No, worse than that. It was Heroin and Cocaine and I took it the man’s way and I was a chemist burglar.”

He loosened up given my honesty and became a human soul and a kind and caring one at that. It’s remarkable where you can meet these people. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t being either defensive or angry, I was just being me. I am prepared to be vulnerable because I consider that I have nothing to lose. I’ve been kicked by the best in the trade.

On the walk out the back to my ‘second interview’, the officer walked like John Wayne and he was quite a cowboy. He must have been six foot three and he had quite a big mop of tousled, black, Italian hair. He told me that he’d just worked in downtown Philadelphia on security during the Pope’s visit. A good Catholic I would have thought. The new Pope seems like a very kind man and yet you see some people railing against him and suggesting there is some kind of conspiracy afoot.

At “Secondary” there were three officers sitting at an elevated bench slightly above me. They asked why I couldn’t get a Green Card and I said that having a Heroin conviction, even if it is from 1974, makes me completely ineligible. I said, “Not even an 85-year-old big time Jewish lawyer with nose hairs from downtown Philadelphia could fix that” and they howled with laughter and they hooted and gesticulated. That’s a damn good dose of humanity to be carrying on with. Laughter breaks ice.

The woman who interviewed me said that her brother was currently going through a Heroin relapse and this touched me to the very bottom of my soul. That’s what I live for. Poetry, music and writing quite often reach me in this way too and so I really am grateful. But I’m just like anyone else, I have a synthetic layer to be carrying on with and yet underneath am a frightened kid who likes to come out and play when it’s safe.

The second touching episode happened when I was having a burger down at Five Guys in Wayne, Pennsylvania. An old guy pulled into the parking lot in a Volvo Station Wagon. He had to be about 95 years of age and he was accompanied by a fine doggie that must have been heading for 37. I love people who love animals and my doggies have gotten me over some tough hills.

The old man was wearing a sweatshirt from a local high school and Mister Magoo type eyeglasses. The glasses had so much magnification that I am sure they would have highlighted Mars if a person with ordinary sight looked through them. This gentle looking man wasn’t an inch over five feet tall and he was almost completely doubled over.

At this age he was kind, of course he was. Anger cannot usually get people through a long life because it tends to chew up the body. Anger and fear often have people hiding in the corner of damp apartments and all by themselves. I’ve been there in my life and I didn’t like that very much. I put needles into my arms in those apartments and with water running down the wallpaper as well. At the time I thought I was shooting up love but I was really just loathing the world and myself.

At Five Guys, they have sacks of peanuts in their shells that you can eat whilst you wait on your order. I saw the old man hunch all the way out the door in small, kindly and unsure steps and then he slowly fed his dog peanuts. This made me feel really good and I need to see kindness to survive. I need kindness to get myself out of the building and to live my day.  I’m sure we all do and I think the best thing to do is to give kindness away wherever you can.

The third touching episode was at a shoe store. I had put the toe out of my sneakers on the European leg of the trip. I went to a shoe store owned by two Italian brothers. The brothers were both in their 60s. I believe the store is called “D’Amicantonio & Sons” and it is also in Wayne, Pa. The two brothers had me try on dozens of pairs of shoes over the course of two hours before I spent less than $85. Their grandfather, an immigrant from Italy, started the store in 1932 and it has existed since then. It is no fad or flight of the imagination, it is real.

Their father was in the USA Army at Anzio beach in 1944, which wasn’t a particularly nice place to be. The brothers (Lou and Bob) showed me two pairs of shoes that their grandfather had made in the 1930s for a woman who died before she got to wear them. Good manners and good service is one thing, but an authentic approach to life is something else again.

The brothers were dismayed that the internet had taken a lot of business, but they weren’t shrill and opinionated and they were philosophical. Sometimes in this life the best things don’t work and you have to let them go. The brothers felt to me to be sad yet true.

The new album by Keith Richards (‘Crosseyed Heart’ is superb and he has become easily the bluesman that his heroes (Robert Johnson and the like) were in their day. It is a tender, warm, sincere, and joyful album and is the best thing I have heard for probably a decade. Every so often one comes down the pike, a person unafraid to express himself in a good way.

In America, I’ve learned that there is a new trend in psychiatry back to ‘talk therapy’ (genuine human contact). In a major study conducted by the government, it has been found that many schizophrenics do better with talk and ‘understanding’ and a reduction in pharmaceutical intervention. Many schizophrenics have fewer hallucinations and are able to work better and have healthier lives by talking out their souls. I have thought this may have been the case all the way through these last two or three Prozac Decades (my term). I think it’s a crazy, crazy thing for any government to deprive a person of that which is real and that which touches us to our souls and that which so obviously sustains us. The tests results are not saying to jump off medication, they are merely saying that people like warmth and understanding as well and that this can improve people.

Anyway, that’s my five cents worth. I’m off to walk a hill by myself.

 

I hope love and peace live within you,

 

 

Jim Wilson

58

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 14/09/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 14 September 2015

 

I think a true thing about life is to find something you love and then to stick to it like glue. Love, after all, is more like oxygen than oxygen itself. And we do need lots of oxygen in this life.

It has been a week since Graham Brazier left us and I have been thinking about what to write since then. The day after he died my back gave out and I was in quite a bit of pain. Then I felt the huge, black scraping arm of death above me as well and I got just a little bit morbid there for a bit. Graham meant a lot to many of us here in the Shaky Isles. The very idea of Graham was huge in local music.

Many years ago, being a New Zealand rock ‘n’ roll promoter and needing a break from the sadness of it all and from just being me, I would travel to Penang for ‘Heroin Holidays’. I would stay at the glorious, old and decadent New China Hotel. This destination was on what you might call the ‘Beat Route’ and my mates and I would go there and read Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. We’d recite poetry and sing songs to each other. Then, spent, we’d fall asleep in each other’s arms like men can do if they try. The seemingly natural aggression of men would be gone for a while and we liked it leaving us. Sometimes we’d play cricket out the front of the hotel and we’d laugh a lot.

In the foyer of the hotel, there would be ten heavy-duty Chinese guys with sunglasses and wearing hats (it sometimes seemed like they were actually wearing tea cosies on their heads). They’d be playing poker and grimacing at each other. In the rooms, there were no carpeting or blankets, but there was a giant old ceiling fan that one could study for hours a day. This, to us, was a very worthwhile existence. We didn’t watch television or read the newspapers. The internet wasn’t around and so life was a lot more peaceful on that account as well. We didn’t hear every five minutes that a cop had been shot ten thousand miles away. We weren’t endlessly gazing at people who were obviously doing better than us.

But you had to be careful in Penang because nearby was the Australian Air Force base at Butterworth. You’d get drunken and violent Australians pumped up and walking the streets with prostitutes. In every stomp, they’d be defending their manhood and I’m sure alcohol does shrink the dicks of many men and often makes them belligerent as a compensation. They steal their love like thieves in the night.

At one stage at the New China, I shared a large room with some of these prostitutes and they’d tell me about the Australians. I always found it interesting what respectable men will do when they can and what lies beneath the ‘thin veneer of civilisation’.

Anyway, when you walked the streets of Penang dozens of people came up wanting to sell you the local delicacy, ‘Pink Rocks’ (Pink Rock Heroin). At that stage, it was what was keeping the economy afloat and now of course it’s shoes all around the world that keeps the money flowing in and out of the banks. We are all trading shoes with each other, man!

If a Heroin dealer really wanted to attract your attention he’d say: “I know the Chinaman.” What he was telling you was that he was extraordinarily well connected. My man was called Alphonse and I’m here to tell you he really did know the Chinaman.

If I remember correctly, the first time Hello Sailor came to my attention was when they played the Gladstone Hotel in Christchurch around about 1976 or 1977. The pub at that time was owned by local legend John McCarthy.  The gig room was booked by Robin ‘Oz’ Armstrong. These guys are two of the unsung heroes of New Zealand music. Oz told me a few years later that he’d be racing around town on the Sunday morning trying to sell 1000 Buddha Sticks in order to pay the band. That makes it a genuine gig and that’s what music used to be like. It probably still is this way but only if it’s real. It’s all a big gambling game.

Anyway, I can’t say that I knew Graham Brazier that particularly well and so I never really knew the Chinaman.  Hello Sailor played for me a lot over the years and Graham and Dave particularly seemed to always have a smile for everyone. The band came back to New Zealand from Los Angeles sometime in the late 1970s after exhausting themselves trying to go to ‘another level’ in the world. They didn’t crack America and yet they were truly of top shelf quality. Someone got a bad hand because this was one of the very best bands I have ever seen.

In music, it’s as much about ‘the breaks’ as much as anything. If you can play the kind of music that is getting very popular on radio, during your rise and yet make it seem like it’s all your own and that you created it, then you will probably do well. If you can look the part then this helps a lot as well. It’s also best to have sex with music journalists and it pays to wear skinny jeans and to have a beard and to sound wistful keeping in mind that everyone is lonely. If you have a lot of money behind you and a good marketing machine then you should break through. Rumours and photographs of your bad behaviour will help. Join in the popular political movements of the day and play the benefit gigs. There will be curry in your pot if you can do these things.

I saw Graham a lot over the years and at one stage I had quite a correspondence with Dave McArtney. In these last four years since I have been back in New Zealand, I’d call into Graham’s shop a bit. He did some writing and sketching for me and also sang me a song from time to time. Mostly, people surrounded him and he had 20,000 mates as everyone knows. This made it difficult for me to truly connect with him. He was hung like the Statue of Liberty and I’ve seen it.

Most of all what impresses me is that Graham was a good bloke and that is the highest realm in New Zealand. He was a man who had a great deal of feeling for the music he played so well. I mean he ‘felt it’, he wasn’t faking it for radio play and that would be beneath contempt for him. Graham also felt for the man or woman on the street who is just trying to cobble together a living. He was in the very same position. Times are hard as everyone knows and Graham never put himself above anyone. He said to a mate of mine one day that there were now more musicians than plumbers and he meant it in the way you might think he did. He stayed true until the day he died.

 

Keep the Faith,

 

Jim Wilson

 

57a

57b