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A Tinker’s Cuss

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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 06/05/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 6 March 2015

 

The bloke in the photograph with me is Terry, an old style hillbilly from Tennessee. Me and Terry shared a single-wide in a trailer park off the Calfkiller Road in Cookeville, Tennessee during the winter and spring of 1991.

I was struggling to get ‘clean’ from narcotics at the time and going to lots of 12 Step meetings and the like. Terry had supposedly been free of drugs for about three years, but shortly after I moved in I found that he had burgled some kind of motorcycle shop and was selling the leather jackets and doing a roaring trade. He was also selling Dilaudid (like a kiss from an angel Dilaudid is) and handguns. These days I think junkies sell rocket-propelled grenades.

Sleeping on the lounge floor in the trailer was a 17 year old Indian ‘squaw’ called Rachel and Terry would say: “Get you some of that.” Rachel’s boyfriend, Billy, was in a juvenile jail at the time. Billy was a real good bloke and a quintessential and qualitative hillbilly type, but Rachel and Billy just couldn’t hold it together and it was like a mule talking to a fish.

When the drugs and alcohol step into a person’s life in the way they did for Rachel and Billy, then being just one day clean is a mind altering and genuine miracle.

There is much less of a social welfare system in the USA than in New Zealand and so when an addict hits ‘rock bottom’ it tends to go deeper and deeper. It is hard to know what to do, but I think drug addiction is strangling much of society and we need to find out why these people are unhappy. Because I’m ‘old school’, I think they actually are unhappy and that there is no glamour in drug addiction. Keith Richards or no Keith Richards.

You want to smoke a joint? Fine. That’s not drug addiction as I know it.

While I was living with Terry I met another hillbilly at an AA meeting and he saved my life. I worked on his lifestyle farm for about a year. He was a tough gentleman who had been of quite a substantial rank in the US Army. I built up my ‘clean time’ and became fit and healthy again. I received constant care and love from a staunch group of people for the longest time and I became less afraid. I was then more capable of making new friends and they sustained me and still do. These people are on a different pathway in life to the black suited demons that I used to hang around with. Evil is as evil does. No question about that. Watch what they do because they are still doing it.

I met my good mate Russell Pirie in about 1973 in Christchurch. We shot a lot of speed together and my overwhelming memory of him is that soon after we met we were in Cashel Street on his Suzuki 500. It was a bright and sunny Christchurch day and the Garden City is world class on days like this and y’all know that.

On this day, the speed that we had been shooting had made us paranoid and Russell thought he saw a cop (Jim Marshall, head of the drug squad at the time) and so he gunned the bike through town. He didn’t stop until we were crouched behind a rock somewhere out in Ferrymead and shooting speed again. I have no idea how we explained that to ourselves. I also think Jim Marshall was in Queenstown at the time.

Russell was an adopted kid of part Maori descent (but raised by white people) and I have noticed over time that adopted kids sometimes have a harder time of it and quite a few become addicts. They often have no sense of attachment and have shaky lives because of that fact.

Russell did a detention centre leg and he may have done two or three borstals in Invercargill. Then he might have done a small one in Paparua. I honestly can’t remember, but I do know that he did at least one borstal and something in Pap. He was dead proud of all of this. He was a real good looking bloke and with a heart of gold, but I think he was looking desperately for something his whole life through. We shared girlfriends, we shared needles, we did all that good stuff and we were ‘attached’ as much as we could be. When you’re racing down Ferry Road on a Suzuki 500 at 75mph, or more, then you are definitely attached.

At one point in Christchurch we were all having a hard time getting a decent supply of opiates and speed and so Russell became hooked on barbiturates (Tuinal, Seconal, Nembutal). Doctors used to throw these in the streets for all comers like it was all a lollie scramble. They (the doctors and drugs companies) also kept inventing these drugs that supposedly cured drug addiction and each one was worse than the last. I got out alive (today) how about you?

Here are a couple of Russell Pirie stories from this period of time:

Russell ‘stepped out’ the whole public bar in Warners Hotel in Christchurch one day. This was where the Polynesians drank at the time and Russell woke up on the South Brighton bus stop several hours later.

One time Russell, high on barbiturates, dove into a swimming pool. Unfortunately, the pool was empty and Russell suffered quite severe injuries. He climbed out and dived in again. Broken collarbones were his forte. He had a passion for self-degradation. Junkies often do. Hard to arrest that.

At one stage in 1975 I burgled a chemist shop and there was pure Heroin in it. My co-offender and I were hot (I was on bail for other chemist shop burglaries at the time) and so we ended up dividing the dope in Russell’s flat down England Street. This was as far away from the cops as we could get and it wasn’t very far.

Whilst we were dividing the jar of Heroin over a Formica counter, some was spilling. We were in a hurry of course and Russell was scratching up what we were spilling. He shot it and overdosed and turned blue on the floor he did.

At the time Russell was going out with ‘Bill’ Rowling’s daughter and Wallace was Prime Minister of New Zealand. Russell had been to government house and had fallen asleep in the spaghetti bolognese at dinner which he, of course, found to be hilarious. I still laugh about it myself.

In England Street, down by the famous England Street hall, Bill’s daughter (Janey?) was on the floor trying to force a fish tank hose down Russell’s throat to help him breathe. My co-offender and I beat the feet as junkies worldwide like to do. My co-offender died of a Heroin overdose in Warner’s Hotel the next night. The cops came and got me to identify the body, wouldn’t you?

But, Russell lived and went on to shoot some guy dead with a gun in Christchurch some years later as part of a drug deal. That’s closing the deal for sure. He ended up doing ‘life’ in Paremoremo and a lot of it in ‘D Block’. I visited him from time to time and he never stopped laughing. Good Christ we laughed.

He got out (a life sentence at the time was anywhere between 10-15 years) and received some sort of payment through ACC as we all have done in our time. It’s a bad move for an addict to use such funds to get a Harley Davidson and Russell came off that bike in South Brighton and il est mort. I miss him, of course I do, I still laugh sometimes when I think of what we did.

“Addiction” is a savage ‘disease’ and there are many strands to it. People often hurt themselves and many times they laugh. They have strange and unusual accidents and even years after they have been ‘clean and sober’. The devil follows them closely and makes smash and grab attempts at taking them back to what they managed to leave and with a great deal of grief and sorrow to boot.

There are various branches and subsets of the disease of addiction and I must say I have often found some clean and sober people to be more difficult than ‘using’ junkies who tend to get to the truth and quickly. But, you know, the quality of mercy is never strained…

I am glad I have moved forward. I do (as they say) get by with a little help from my friends. Here’s to you, Russell Pirie…

 

Dude.

 

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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 19/03/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 19 March 2015

 

I wanted to say a little bit about the French person here on Koh Samui in Thailand.

The French person gets about the place with an innate sense of superiority and casts around sneering at the whole human race and exfoliating socialist fumes on everyone. They believe that everyone would be fine if they only did as they (the French person) wished.

The French person always has two selfie sticks in both back pockets. Now, it’s difficult to sit down with four selfie sticks aboard and it’s just lucky that the French person likes to stand as they deliver you a lecture stemming from their deep and inner intellectualism and academic egalitarian working-class background.

I remember having two French teachers in high school. The first one’s name was Evans and his Christian name was so strange I can’t for the life of me recall it. He taught us in one of those big towers at Otago Boys’ High School in Dunedin. What I most remember about him was that he thought France was infinitely superior to Great Britain and then by association New Zealand. He flung his long, gangly arms wide open and around as he spoke like he was getting ready to sign a peace treaty with the rebels in Algeria and yet at the same time wanted to tell them just how morally in the wrong they were. He had enormous hairy nostrils that flared cavernously as he paced up and down the room with his cane ready to deliver a decent Froggie Thwack as he went. He owed it to us and that was the egalitarian part of the equation.

Monsieur Evans tried to teach us how to speak French by starting with the nasal passages and arms first and by then working backwards. If he weren’t so damn interesting he would have been a completely repulsive human being. I believe the whole Flying Nun music explosion started as anguish in one of those classrooms and most probably in those nostrils right there. I bet Monsieur Evans drove a Ford out of a feeling of doing something generous for the Americans too.

The second French teacher was at Linwood High School in Christchurch. His name was Peter Sharp and he was a very good-looking, blonde haired athletic type. From memory, he played cricket for the Canterbury cricket team and he was very good at it. He commanded everyone’s attention in the classroom and then he demanded utmost concentration. If he thought you weren’t concentrating, then he’d fast bowl a piece of chalk at you. I believe he did this merely so that he could get some bowling practice in. I don’t know how well he aged. I can merely tell you that he was a prick when he was young. But I think we learned a lot from him too and there’s the rub.

My parents and I moved to Christchurch from Dunedin when I was 13 or 14. My brother died in a tractor accident on a road gang in Dunedin shortly after that.

When we moved to Christchurch, I met one of my very best mates and a joker who was a brother to me his whole life through. His name was Mike Jones and his mum owned a dairy down by the railway tracks on Wilson’s Road. Our family lived just across the street. My mum worked in Melhuish’s pickle factory that was almost next door to our house and my dad worked at Stainless Castings in Woolston. This was good work for both of them and they enjoyed it. It took me a while to get used to a Christchurch summer after a Dunedin one, but I enjoyed the change. Christchurch just seemed to have more fresh air.

A notion of what being a brother means is that he has been with me my whole life through and I have always cherished having good mates. There is nothing better for me than the feeling of being part of a team.

Mike Jones played bass in various Christchurch bands and when we were sixteen we hired the Mount Pleasant Community Centre hall to run dances. This would have been in 1968. We did a lot of these gigs and it was wildly good fun. We did gigs in the halls all around Christchurch in fact and this was well before bands really played the pubs as all hotels closed at 6pm.

The Mount Pleasant Community Centre Hall was mostly where I ‘cut my teeth’ in Kiwi music. I saw what could happen and not much new came after this. Oh, they keep on calling it different names, but it’s basically the same. We would get 600 or 800 people in that hall on a Saturday night and there would be ten bouncers working for us. You needed ten bouncers because half the hall might have had 570 people and the other half had 30 ‘Epitaph Riders’. The Epitaph Riders were the local bike gang well before everyone was either in a bike gang or selling coffee or amphetamines.

I remember that after these dances, Mike and I and a half a dozen others drove our Bradfords, Bedfords, Austins and Vauxhalls down to the Silver Grille on Manchester Street for a late night steak. I always drove a Volkswagen but mostly because I can’t stand the French. I guess you know.

One of our bouncers at these hall gigs (known in wrestling circles as ‘Dr Death’) ended up being a screw in Paparua Prison when I was incarcerated there on drugs offences a few years later. Then some of those Epitaph Riders became my best mates in jail. Dougal Johnson was one of them and but for him (and a few others) I would have been a real broken arse. As it was, I enjoyed it.

Loss, what do I know about loss? What could I possibly know…

Mike Jones became a junkie for a while and ended up in jail for manufacturing Heroin in the 1980s. I have many proud memories of him and here is one: at one time in Christchurch one of the ‘heaviest’ guys around was known as Griff and he terrorised many in the ‘home-bake community’ by taking their dope off them and other ‘rorts that a junkie will pull in order to survive.

‘Griff’ went around to Mike’s place one day in South Brighton and demanded Mike’s Morphine. Mike refused and so Griff got out a pair of scissors to cut a finger off. Mike was highly intoxicated and not making any sense at all, but he bellowed: “Go ahead” and this was when Griff had the scissors open across Mike’s fingers and he was screaming and ready to go as well. “Go ahead!”

You can’t and don’t call a policeman in a situation like this. Not before or after. You know it, the other guy knows it. Mike kept his fingers and the Morphine.

Funny the things you can feel proud of.

The stuff I know about Kiwi music doesn’t seem to fit into any particular format. I see others write about Kiwi music and I mostly don’t enjoy reading it (or worse I get angry). It seems that they always miss what are, for me, essential points. But I think we’re probably all like this (we have unique experiences) and meanwhile Facebook is driving us all mad and wanting our fingers to boot. They already have our minds it would seem.

I am committed to not looking at Facebook after 4pm. I’d rather get some fresh air.

Mike died about six years ago after he had interferon treatment for Hepatitis C which is not a very popular thing to get and yet a virus that almost all junkies attract. The treatment is worse than the virus. He developed liver cancer and he went to the wall very quickly. His voice is with me every day and mostly the way he played bass. I feel it rather than hear it and the man went to his grave still capable of raising a snarl.

 

Who could wish for more?

 

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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 05/03/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 5 March 2015

 

It has been a long time since I have written a blog but make no bones about it, I have had plenty to say all along the way.

I am in Thailand as I write this. I am taking a break from the pressure of running a small business (approximately fifty or sixty employees) in New Zealand. To make matters worse, that business centres around the Arts. New Zealand is a small country and once someone ‘makes it’ they hardly ever get to live in the equivalent of Tammy Wynette’s mansion. This is because we just don’t have the population base to support a high standard of living for many of our best creators. In fact, the risk of success in New Zealand is that you may become a household name and get your dole cut off. This doesn’t deter everyone and many people are growing beards and getting tattoos to groom themselves for stardom as we speak. There are endless ‘selfies’ on Facebook in dubious poses and still there are many disappointed people about the place. There are some very fine artists who have gotten thoroughly used to the idea that success is where you sell 50 copies of your vinyl album to your mates. These mates love them and love is the best fuel I know of. I applaud people who take this route and I like people who are able to live on love.

Yet in New Zealand we have untold government subsidies available for hacks to make a living by rehashing the past or by releasing bland and pustular shit, but it’s always a case of being ‘in the know’. If you know someone who knows someone, then there’s a small chance you will get a grant and many people live year in and year out from this source. There are various awards for them and this makes it all makes the ghastly appear seemly.

In my country life for many is to try and follow a bureaucratic process which can be extremely painful. If you can’t navigate that process then you are in the shit and you may be endlessly dismayed and saddened by life itself. But once you have successfully navigated the system just once, you may get to join in with a whole lot of often bland people whose one saving grace may be that they never upset each other. It is like giving a Heroin addict Methadone to keep them quiet and there is money for shit if you know the right people. The best artists I know are never on television and they scarcely ever get grants and subsidies and I am grateful for that. They struggle over every single word and this shows and it is equally beautiful and vulnerable. You know that it is true and it is not ‘manufactured’.

Don’t think that I am unhappy with all this because I am not. Since I was sixteen I have cut my own track and it possibly happened earlier as the result of a great fear of becoming dependent. I am happy in the conviction that Kiwis produce some of the very best literature and music in the world and I have been witness to a lot of it. I have plenty of satisfying memories and they tend to sustain me. Many is the time I have driven over the Kilmog with my mates in a rusted out van in order to play some ratty old gig in Dunedin. Or I’ve stood on the door of the Hotel Ashburton and dealt with 30 drunk farm boys. It’s all beer and skittles until the glass jugs start flying around the room, but that was fun in a way as well. That too was real.

I have seen a lot of powerful statements made in my time through the arts.

On these excursions in the vans, my mates and I would start laughing in Christchurch and we might have ended up in Rattray Street, Dunedin six or eight hours later. The Standard Vanguard van (or Bedford) would break down multiple times and yet we’d arrive at Eddie Chin’s club with someone’s pantyhose being used as a fan belt replacement. They always belonged to the drummer and we always arrived just fifteen minutes before the band was due on stage. Eddie would pay us in what he called ‘cigarette money’ and this did us the world of good. He was a very kind man.

Yes, I have a huge reservoir of good memories and it’s just as well because some of my very best mates couldn’t get liver replacements in time and they got buried along with their Fenders. They were usually unknowns and rank outsiders, all of them. Yes, they were that good. No one ever picked them up when they were poor and starving and they didn’t ask for it either.

Thailand, like many places in the world, is experiencing some sort of boom right now and the economy seems to be taking a shot at the moon. No one can govern this country and so the military must do that job on behalf of the monarchy. At least this cuts down on the politicians usurping each other and nothing good being achieved as a result.

Here you can go into almost any doctor’s surgery and buy a used kidney for about $3 USD and if your body rejects it, then the doctor will give you $6 back in cash money. A new liver is about $5 and you can play these things like an accordion. I am kidding of course, but you get the picture.

Koh Samui (where I am currently) is full of Russian holidaymakers. They are one of the major tourist groups here. The locals tell me they are all as mean as cat’s piss and they don’t give anything away for nothing because everybody has to pay.

The men all seem to have tattoos of Vladimir Putin on their forearms and they universally appear to be about fifty-five – sixty-five years old. They have greying crewcuts atop heads that seem to be about 25 inches wide. Their necks are bigger than the Clutha River and they obviously have more volume as they are continuously throwing back alcohol. There are various gold chains around the necks and their eyes are a piercing psychopathic blue. Their stomachs are large, red and swollen and their scrotums are barely covered by a pair of striped ‘speedos’. Whilst they disgust me, one must always have manners around them. They were the first to make it out of Putin’s new Russia and as such they are greedy and dangerous. The Russian currency has dropped in value by more than half recently and these guys are playing for keeps. They don’t talk, they grunt and it’s like talking to a tree to try and converse with them. I guess Putin purchased their loyalty.

The Russian women, on the other hand, have also had a little too much Borscht and Vodka. They are usually vastly overweight as well and yet they insist on wearing flowery bikinis. They often have wiry blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. It’s difficult for me to imagine a kind word ever going backwards and forwards between them and their husbands – they just don’t seem to have the shape of jaw for any good sentiments. They wear gold earrings and have multiple large rings on each hand. Then there is usually a series of bracelets that go all the way up to their armpits.

You might call these people Vladimir and Olga and they are a stereotype, but whereas it is all synthetic it is also visibly real in a killing kind of way.

No doubt these Russians have close ties to the Yakuza as well because making money these days seems to be related to a political gang of one order or another. It is not what you know, it is who you know. In this sense, Russia is much like China, Japan, France or Italy. Come to think about it there are also many parallels to New Zealand where money revolves around cows, banking, accountancy, and the sale of amphetamines and houses. Then the more you can pay for a lawyer, the better you will do financially in life. If you know a politician then you are set up for a good game. Promise your loyalty away and you will live a prosperous life and the insurance companies will always cover you.

I saw a Russian couple chastise their child this morning at breakfast. The father dragged the little boy of approximately three years of age across the floor whilst he was kicking and screaming. I think he had spilled some orange juice and I felt sure they were conditioning him so he could join Spetnaz at some stage in the future. We’ve all watched these television shows where a Marine sergeant abuses his troops in order to turn them into better soldiers with a higher kill count and I feel these parents were getting in some early conditioning. They say it’s love and so it must be.

The parents were treating the little boy like human rubbish and I feel that he may grow up to treat others the same. I am convinced this is how it all happens. Money is God and expediency seems to be the key in the nurturing or otherwise of the child. Society will pay the bill and it will be rendered time and again. Apparently it costs the US Government $810 million US dollars to buy a B-2 bomber and then $135,000 USD to keep it in the air for an hour. This according to a recent article in ‘The Atlantic’ (a good source).

The ‘culture’ of any country has a tremendous effect on how children grow up and what that country becomes as a result. What any child needs is to be able to express himself or herself in an environment that rewards him or her for what they are doing when it comes from the heart and is genuinely good. Encouragement in the right direction does a lot more than chastisement and brutality. Nurturing is true Gold.

I am very fond of the arts because I think if you encourage and nurture people in that direction and give them plenty of love and bring forward the health in them then I figure that things will eventually get better. There may be some poets flying B-2s, but none that I know of. Most poets I know earn nothing.

It’s been clichéd to all hell and back but I do think love and genuineness are the very best armaments we can ever produce.

I’m going down the beach.

 

Keep the Faith,

 

 

Jim Wilson

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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 30/09/13

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 30 August 2013

 

Last week I was writing about my brother and putting up poetry posters in Trenton, New Jersey. Then I went on to discuss prison and the catacombs below my apartment here in Princeton, New Jersey. I mentioned the interesting people one meets down there in the tunnels and I always write about the healing power of travel and facing the oncoming road. Nothing goes away unless one faces it and anxiety usually has an end, but I will never read poetry in public.

My brother died when I was fourteen as I mentioned. He tried to take a tractor up a ridge that was simply too much for him and the tractor. My father taught him how to drive farm vehicles when our family lived on a farm up the Pig Root near Ranfurly/Middlemarch/Dunback in New Zealand. This is getting on towards Central Otago and is one of the most beautiful parts of Aotearoa. My dad was a tractor driver/farm labourer and my mum did the cooking for the men.

The Bell family owned the land (‘Shag Valley Station’ or ‘Bell Station’) and they were pretty good people. Our family moved to Dunedin when there were three kids at high school and I was born there. I’m proud of being born in Dunedin because it’s a great city. My Uncle Les lived with us and he was shell-shocked in WW2, maybe at Alamein where he was, but he was also in Greece at Mt Olympus and that was no picnic either. He could barely string a sentence together, but he was a hell of a guy and he used to laugh a lot. He was a real ‘moral compass’. Before the war, he was in the merchant navy and my mum used to say that he had been in every prison in the world for drunkenness. Like I say, one hell of a bloke and not a bad bone in his body. Give me a drunk with a moral compass over a sober psychopath any day.

My Uncle Les was still able to work (he was the boilerman at Kempthorne Prosser, the big drug company) and he bought us our first television. He had a number of Ford V8s and Morris 8’s that he couldn’t drive because of his ‘condition’. My brother used to drive them and take me out with him and I’d be standing on the seat screaming for us to go faster. Colin did drive faster and too much was never enough.

My sisters liked ‘safe’ pop music like Elvis Presley around the house, but my brother, he liked Jerry Lee Lewis. I am eternally grateful as you can imagine. My dad liked Hank Williams, William Faulkner and Erskine Caldwell and that is better still. Those artists/writers all serve to give you no delusions about life and all it deals out. They help you face reality.

A couple of days ago it was Janet Frame’s birthday in New Zealand. I still get messed up with the international-date-line and I have no idea what comes first and I don’t really want to know. Someone, usually someone on Facebook, will tell me these things in some kind of lecturing tone when I go wrong. Like I say, in this life seven people will cheer for you to get ahead and three people will tell you where you are going wrong and they will desperately try and hold you back.  It’s like they live for that. I faced all that on Russell Street, Dunedin when I was a kid and I still face it. But it’s better now. The only kind of freedom is internal, I reckon.

Anyway, Janet Frame. I have lived with Janet Frame all my life and she has always meant a lot to me. She came to mean even more about five or six years ago when I did my second course of interferon for Hepatitis C. At that point she got right into my bones and I’m sure she healed me even more than that horrendous drug did. Good literature will do that because it will tell you that you are never alone, not down in the catacombs, not ever. Not much can ‘follow’ you when you are on interferon, but Janet Frame’s writing always did.

She often wrote about matters/situations/places/feelings of which I know well: the train station at Palmerston in Otago (another uncle of mine owned the dairy there – he was the family success story), family dynamics, Oamaru, Carroll Street in Dunedin, Seacliff, the Occidental Hotel in Christchurch, the fear of putting your hand out to be published and so on and so forth. And sometimes just the general ‘Fear’. The scenario at the mental hospital in ‘Gorse is Not People’ I feel, having spent some time in both Cherry Farm and Sunnyside trying to drop a nefarious junk habit in the 1970s. When I read her writing I can feel and smell the walls in Seacliff. I’ve often been to the sea there and gazed out. Loneliest place on earth I reckon and I can still hear the sobs, every time a coconut.

A lot of people seem to have distorted views of writers/celebrities/recording artists and they write of them, and they ‘review’ (now there’s a word) them and often they are destructive as well. They sometimes hurt sensitive people to the core and I myself have been hurt deeply, even though I’m not suggesting I am either a writer, a celebrity or an artist. I’m just a song and dance man. Bridgette Bardot got to the stage where she was disgusted with the whole human race and then she never went out. It’s an act of courage to ‘go out’ and sometimes it’s not easy doing my washing down in the catacombs either.

I think Janet Frame was just shy and she couldn’t stand all the palaver. I’m with her. I also think Jerry Salinger was probably the same and Thomas Pynchon as well. These people often attract others who are overly interested and who pry and want, somehow, to suck on their success. They usually go looking for bad things and, lo and behold, they find them. There’s money in shit. I myself am guilty of prying as I have been up Jerry Salinger’s driveway (when he was alive) and I have had his wife scowl at me. I guess we are all guilty as we want something they have. I’d give my right arm to be able to write half as good as Janet Frame.

Anyway, here I am in America and I’m busy putting up poetry posters. I love it and if I don’t put up posters during a day then I figure that I really haven’t done well. I haven’t gone out there and shaken my fist at the sky and just thought, “you know, fuck it… It’s not El Alamein.”

I’d hate to end up like some of these Americans/Kiwis who sit on the couch suffering from celebriphilia and eating donuts and hurling abuse at the screen when Lindsay Lohan (or, pick a name) comes on. I don’t want to be one of these dudes who thinks they can write better poetry than Bob Dylan and didn’t he just copy it, anyway? Also, I don’t hate the US government nor any government and I’m not here to blow smoke up your ass. I just do what I do and, as my Uncle Les could sometimes struggle to get out, “worse things happen at sea”. He was right and there was a man.

 

Thank you Kemo Sabe.

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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 15/09/13

Yesterday in New Jersey I was racing that pissant Toyota Prius down I-95 about as fast as it could go when an incredible thunderstorm broke and lightning went zig-zagging across the sky. The rain began to beat down so bad that I had to take refuge in a truck stop and wait until the whole thing had blown over. It had become really difficult to see the road ahead and the atmosphere was turning black and the sky seemed to be closing in. Thunder was booming like it was Black Sabbath. I turned the stereo up and this is the one thing Toyota do very well: they allow you to escape. The weather kind of reminded me of growing up on Russell Street, Dunedin, where the sky also got pretty black. Back then there was nothing I liked to do better than go and play up in the bush when it was pelting down. I like those kinds of memories. I hold on to them and they guide me.

I had woken up in a feverish state of mind and I was off to put up some poem posters in Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey. I wished I was driving a V8, even a clapped out V8 like I have done so many times before. William Burroughs used to say “an old Ford will never let you down” and I know this to be true. Trenton is only about twenty miles from Princeton and the two are as different as chalk and cheese.

Trenton is an interesting city and if the local newspapers are to be believed it is in almost total disarray and I happen to like cities like this. The mayor has been indicted for something or other and is due to go to trial, every second real estate developer is in jail, the police chief is fighting with everyone and Governor Chris Christie won’t give anyone more cops. He can’t afford to as there is no dosh left for relief. In other words, it is a city abandoned by everyone except the fast food chains and I’d hate to be working the night shift.

In Trenton, there are reports of children wearing bullet-proof vests to play in the streets and a local social welfare reform group is saying that the reason people are becoming obese is that they are too afraid to go outside and exercise. Heroin is priced at an all-time low of $5 a bag and it is being sold on the steps of the local state government with brand names like “Permanent Vacation”. Two bags and you’re gonna blow like Ornette Coleman whether you want to or not. I say there are bad lieutenants in about one of every four cop cars. Hypocrisy rains down like thunder.
I don’t particularly like seeing the excitement of destruction in front of my very eyes, but I do prefer a little more of a Bohemian landscape as opposed to the corporate scenery around Princeton and where nothing particularly real is ever said or done. People in Princeton don’t seem to know how very wealthy they are and it is extremely common to see women climbing into huge Mercedes SUVs the size of Knox church with four or five designer store bags. Sometimes their husbands trail behind with the other three. The store below my small apartment sells cheese and they proudly state that the average American eats 40 lbs of cheese a year. I know.

I find Americans are often so self-absorbed that though they are incredibly well-mannered, they practically never listen to what you say. They haven’t been able to hear the Arab/Muslim world and they won’t hear you either. This creates incredible dissonance if you let it. And I don’t think they have got all this alone in the developing world either. I think the further you go up the scale of wealth and particularly in white, middle-class areas, the more you will see that people are doing very well thank you, that they have completely closed ears, and they may not even fling you a piece of cake. Auckland, New Zealand is very much like this as it becomes more and more of a millionaires’ playground.

I have found the only way to have a decent conversation with a lot of these self-absorbed types is to start jabbering on about Dan Carter right from the get-go and only then you may have a slight chance of coming away feeling refreshed. If you bring Merhts into the conversation it is also uplifting and sometimes even Jonny Wilkinson works. The biggest mistake you can ever make is to think that anyone is ever listening to you and so you must pleasure yourself. I often think of Zinzan’s drop goal and it passes the time of day in a less lonely way. You have to work yourself up to getting manic and then you have to start to jabber. Facebook is a happy hunting ground for this kind of shit.

When the weather cleared a bit and the sky brightened up, I got into Trenton and scattered a few poem posters by Kiwis on lamp posts and I truly whistled while I worked. I didn’t have any trouble and you just never know if the way the media is reporting things is the way it truly is. So what I try and do about most things in life is just keep my mind on rugby, poetry, coffee, dogs, and literature. For a while in Princeton I was streaming the New Zealand news shows on my computer each night, but I noticed that I began to feel a bit touchy and a tad disgusted after a few days. Then I switched off the television and now I feel much better. I don’t watch all those crime watch or crime shows either because they are mostly full of shit. I find shows like ‘Border Patrol’ to be beneath contempt. Sometimes I used to admire the suits of the news presenters but I never wanted them.

I was in another working class city last week, too. I had to go to Flemington, New Jersey to get a toothache fixed. I’m sensible enough to know now that if you travel to a poor part of town or to a poor city then you may get dental care at a much lower price. But in the case of Flemington and at this dental surgery, I was completely wrong. Over these past couple of decades, dentists have become very hungry and they want to sell all these new products and just as quickly as possible. This one dentist was working patients in about six different booths all at once and with about three or four assistants. He may as well have been on roller skates like he was Speedy Gonzales and he was out to drain everyone’s pockets to the maximum. I don’t know what kept him to the feverish pitch he was in, but I didn’t find it attractive. He took a cursory look in my gob and told me that if I didn’t get two teeth capped immediately, then I would need total hip and knee replacement surgery. In the end, I insisted on just the one filling. These people have a power over vulnerable people and they can get them to buy. So I never think the problem is just the corporates, the politicians or the banks, I think the problem is all of us. It’s very destructive.

 

I walked out and put up some poetry posters.

 

Thank you for sticking with me, Kemo Sabe.

 

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