18 Jul 2011

Diary of a Billsticker – Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

18 Jul 2011

This was an entirely agreeable poster run which took place over three or four days and featured a dozen Kiwi poets: Hinemoana Baker, Stephen Oliver, David Eggleton, Jay Clarkson, Aroha Harris, Becky Woodall, James K. Baxter, Bill Direen, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Serie Barford, Sonja Yelich and Selina Tusitala Marsh.

I put most of the posters up in the quiet of the early morning so as to get a full day’s ‘showing’ in. But, for all of this, I then felt compelled during the day to go around the place topping the existing posters up. I thought about the grids of each of these cities and how I could poster them from every different angle… But in the end, I settled for a small section of each place, because I have now obtained some little measure of ‘respectability’ in my life.

These days I’m only a wanted man down at the local Lion’s Club where they wish me to talk about being an entrepreneur and also about the ‘Art’ of positive thinking. It would be a shame to blow it all now by trying to hang a poetry poster on to a statue of Paul Revere. But when it comes to hanging a few posters, I do have something that closely resembles Tourette’s Syndrome and I can’t be told. There’s no “Higher Power” for that and I don’t get on my knees for anyone…. Not anymore anyway.

Massachusetts has fairly strict laws against postering and this did excite me to go out time and again. Honestly, it was like my Dad was in the room and I wanted to bust against everything and I must admit that I do like those words that I used to get to hear so often:

“Hey, what do you think you are doing?”

It was the negative comments that once kept me alive, made my blood flow, and defined me.  Besides, I’ve never understood how people could get so upset about a few posters on a wall. Now, having sat under the Bodhi Tree for a good long time, I’m a ‘success’ and I have to train myself to that end. But… Well hell, screw that. So, I put up poetry posters because it’s a good thing to do, it helps others, and it clears my head. I can bury whatever negative sentiments I have in the beauty of poetry. I think that’s a widespread use of poetry.

But, they can’t get me this time.  I’m going to play the game and I’m going to work inside the grooves and even though I may be thinking of a Tony Fomison painting all the time (‘What Shall We Tell Them?’) or even Keith Moon’s drumming… I’m just going to do what everyone else does and play along with the absurdity. I’m never going to become a Bore-a-Holic and I do try and put the posters exactly where they are allowed which in Boston and Cambridge is mainly nowhere. It’s all a perfect trap for people and I think expression and being heard is what people mainly want in this life. This is why poetry is so perfect and I’m working with some great poets here. If only everyone could express themselves is what I think.

I postered around the student accommodation area of Cambridge and this area is unusually tidy and well kept as you might think the minds therein must be. Both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are near, but the area is so clean (sterile in fact) that I think they’d be well served to have the university accommodation area from Dunedin (maybe Castle Street) dropped into the place and then everyone could maybe let it all hang out and probably feel much better for it all as well.

I’d throw in a ton of Speights Beer and open up a Cosmic Corner for them and then put on an Androidss gig. I’d also remove every bar of soap that I could. Sure I would do all of this…. Because I believe it. But you know, you can’t judge a book by its cover and I just hazard a guess that there is really plenty of bizarre thinking going on in these places and maybe even some jazz music as well…. It’s just the streets that wear these button-down collar shirts these days and it’s bad for people.

I know there must be a lot of anti-depressants prescribed here because in America there is. I even think there’s a new anti-depressant being marketed soon as the one you take when you miss your exit on the interstate. There’s another for people who want to take their clothes off at the airport security checks and exclaim ‘hey, I’m not a terrorist, you can quite easily tell that.’

I missed that one myself.

Anyway, it’s a shame to think that William S. Burroughs went to Harvard University. A real shame, because people like William Burroughs opened up the world for free expression.

Boston? Hell of a city. Just beautiful. Not many posters here either for the place that markets itself as the birthplace of American Freedom and Independence. But there is plenty of crime and really interesting crime at that.

It’s probably the place where the Irish Mob married the Italian Mob and gave the world the Heroin Trade (‘HT’) decades ago. I think the poppy growers in Afghanistan probably get down on their hands and knees each morning and thank their dear Lord that there is good old fashioned American crime and hypocrisy and that anything can be purchased on any street corner in the USA where Heroin is cheaper than buying a Paracetemol (Tylenol) for a headache and no doubt works better too.

The really interesting area in Boston where you can buy anything you want at any time is known as ‘The Combat Zone’. I walked through it many times because it’s just so interesting to see what people who don’t care and who are not afraid of jail will do. They should put a statue of Jean Genet right in the middle of it and I’d poster it. Society flares up in many different ways because superficiality is the order of the day.

Whitey Bulger was arrested a few weeks back. He was an old time South Boston crook (the American Trevor Edward Nash and then some) who had been on the lam for about fifteen years. He was second on the FBI’s ten most wanted listed listing after Osama Bin Laden who is at the bottom of some ocean these days. Whitey Bulger comes from another era in crime and probably a more honest one… If you can use the word ‘honest’ and ‘crime’ in the same sentence. He was an old time hood and was openly brutal instead of the way brutality is often measured out these days from behind a computer screen. I’d take Whitey Bulger any day. To me, these kinds of criminals (the Whitey Bulgers) are costing the country maybe tens of millions of dollars but there are criminals who are burning down the world and being idolised. Too much to think about…. And I pass. Where is my staple gun anyway?

In the end it’s all about poetry (which expresses so much) and I really enjoy my time in America just drifting around the place putting up posters as I go. It’s the best use of my time that I can think of.

It was a great poster run in these cities and I know it affected people because I received an email from a local reporter at a major newspaper who wanted to do a story.

On ya!

 

Keep the Faith,

 

Jim Wilson

48a 48c

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