I was driving in Delaware the other day and saw a street sign warning me that I might at any time be swarmed by a flock of autistic children, specifically the silhouettes of autistic children playing football. Evidently the usual 'Autistic Child' street sign wasn't good enough for this street and the added excitement of the game of football was added. But why? What are we to think when casually driving through this sleepy part of Delaware? That we might be chased like a ball or coerced into having a quick game by a maths genius or 20 silhouettes of them? Has it become such a problem in the area that they felt it necessary to sign post it? Has an unwary traveller been set upon on his way through? An epidemic, perhaps? Quelle horreur! If so, what is in the water in Delaware? There IS a nuclear power station down the road and Delaware does boast mosquitos the size of birds (hence the mosquito is referred to as the "state bird" although the Fighting Blue Hen is actually the official State Bird - dwarfed by the resident mosquitos, by the way). In any event, I wonder how the parents of this flock of silhouetted football playing autistic children feel about their loved ones being 'sign posted'. The verb of it. Were I the parent of one I might prefer that he / she retains the right to the surprise attack upon passing motorists - i.e. dont sign post - or perhaps that he / she be better represented not by a footballer but linked to the more gentlemanly of sports, Rugby. I'm looking forward to Delaware sign posting all of it's other silhouetted possibilities on the side of it's roads such as 'Men That Wear Bandanas with Goatee Beards' and other wonderful creations.
The fundamental unit of time is the second, defined officially as “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom”. In other words, you measure the frequency of the microwave radiation emitted when electrons move between specified orbits or energy levels in caesium – and multiply it by 9,192,631,770 to get a second. Quite obvious really
I have a dentist. She's terribly nice. I wouldn't recognise her in the street without her mask on though. She likes to drop tools on me like drills and has a habit of banging neighbouring teeth with her machinery. Lots of drill dropping and banging of teeth. Every time I see her she does something bad to me and to make matters worse, I am terrified of dentists anyway. I've fainted more times in dentists than you and all of your friends have put together. I've fainted whilst being told what the procedure was going to be, even during the X ray bit. I tell them, the dentists, that I'm a nervous patient and they say "ah it's fine really" but they soon learn it's not 'really'. At the hands of Doctor Fang, to whom I was referred by the dentist that drops tools on me, I had my wisdom teeth removed recently. He was a nice chap but he didn't listen either when I told him about my hyper nervosa disposition to dentistry. As I fell over, just before I hit the floor and blacked out, I remember his last words were, or was, "Oh". But if you're going to fall flat on your face, a dentist's is a good place to do it, because they can put your face back together again on the spot. Dr Fang, wonderful guy.
Watch out, you might also get stuck on a train with 15 Japanese people mid way through their hip hop dance class. Mid way through their robotic hip hop dance class to be precise. All beaming satisfactorily at each other despite failing miserably at looking like they might be mistaken for being African American robots. "Oh yes" they say with a bad James 'japanese sub commander' Brown accents, with arms bent at 90 degree angles, their heads off axis as they gyrate to their own squeaks and mechanical noises. Their tutor, a black man in inflated leopard print trousers and a mouthful of gold urging them on with his own examples of impossibly realistic robotic movements, his kind reassurances and words of encouragement "yea baby you doin' it baby". This was happening, I remind you, on a train, exactly where I was standing, all about me, in a tunnel somewhere under New York. I put my bag down and joined in. It was superb. I moon walked all day afterwards.
I'm feeling revolutionary, ever so mildly, from my arm chair, latent, pregnant with an urge to join the throngs down at Wall St. The great unwashed, but the emphasis is on Great. I've been down there. I've seen the 'sledgehammer cracks nut' ratio of police : peaceful protester. The boys in blue's firepower is impressive, glistening metal in the sunlight, the walkie talkies, the trucks and zip ties and the helicopters. I do so love the New York police for their harnessed aggression and ability to deliver on it immediately. Police states have always been kind to me so I doubt very much I would feel so forgiving if I were on the receiving end of a bit of police boot. And the protesters, their bad haircuts, the smelly armpits and general air of being unemployable made me second guess my support for them. Indeed, from my silent position standing down there I did examine them. They're a rag tag, unkempt bunch of ruffians under a noble cause, however. I owe them something and we all do, we do. What prevents me from going down there with my tent and cammo netting, in truth I know it's the only thing, is that my life would change dramatically were I arrested for protesting against what is essentially american government. Free speech can land you in a lot of hot water in some places and America is one of those places and I'm a guest here. My shameful passivity. This poem from Oscar is apt:- Not that I love thy children, whose dull eyes See nothing save their own unlovely woe, Whose minds know nothing, nothing care to know,-- But that the roar of thy Democracies, Thy reigns of Terror, thy great Anarchies, Mirror my wildest passions like the sea And give my rage a brother--! Liberty! For this sake only do thy dissonant cries Delight my discreet soul, else might all kings By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades Rob nations of their rights inviolate And I remain unmoved--and yet, and yet, These Christs that die upon the barricades, God knows it I am with them, in some things.
Italy is a wonderful place to go if you want to be treated like a shit by Italians surrounded by fountains. Whether you are surrounded by fountains or the Italians that treat you like a shit are surrounded by fountains, there is no shortage of fountains or statues of men with little penises and worn off noses, if that's your thing, around which you can be snarled at and abused in a language that you don't understand. And all for pizza and vino. Mind you, this is in Rome, Florence and Venice. The Italians there are all on the verge of murder and not surprising really. Tourists are everywhere, all over your back yard, on your doorstep taking photos of themselves with their tongues out, little funny hats with electric fans in them, it's hideous and even I armed with my nikon dslr big lense wanted to wipe out all the tourists on the behalf of our hosts. I wanted them to accept me and invite me in to drink pizza and vino with garlic and raucous laughter. To be slapped on the back. I would have perfect hair and I would have ten brothers, all bullfighters. But instead, as I stood there in my cargo shorts, my converse sneakers, my nike dry fit shirt, my sun glasses and gigantic camera, it was unlikely I might enjoy the familial bosom that Italy had to offer. So I just thought about how not to look like a tourist instead and it took up all of my time. Positano was the saving grace. Lovely people though I got the impression most of them were mad. Inbreeding, who knows. Good food, on the water, getting picked up by boat people, shuttling us all about to restaurants, drunk, smoking all the time. No patches, sadly. Would love to have seen some patches. Lovely swimming. Clear blue waters. Do go. Love this place http://www.lafenicepositano.com/
At the age of forty something I've woken up to a number of pill bottles on my bedside table. They have been there in a purely functional capacity for about 6 months but have somehow managed to go unnoticed in their massing in the same way that grass grows. Huddled together, the pharmaceutical arsenal now lined up under the lamp counts amongst it's own a fist of sleeping tablets, pain relievers and blood thinners, skin cream and an exhaustible supply of anti anxiety weaponry. All lain out for a long drawn out and futile war against the onset of old. Old usually surprises it's subjects, however slow it's approach, but I'm making a surprise attack on old and intend on catching it with it's pants down. A pincer movement, a right flank and a jump to the left. Confuse the enemy. Of course in time I shall have to call in additional troops to join those already on the table, marshaled and got in line by the legion of healthcare professionals at my deployment. Eventually it will be a giant team effort but a mere airbag between me and my demise. Hopefully a gentle deceleration as opposed to a short, sharp stop.
Unicyclists are a strange breed, aren’t they. I don’t want to get sued so I’m merely expressing an opinion here but it’s an opinion based on fact, I’m sure. They are possessed of the circus gene, the desire to juggle and eat fire and cohort with midgets driving midget fire trucks. But the circus left town on these guys, crept out whilst they were sleeping one morning and left them because they were too weird even for the bearded ladies, the strong men and sword swallowers. In any event, their one man shows don’t quite have the draw of the big tent and it’s this craving for the spotlight and the applause and the roll of the drum that has them out among us, terrifying the elderly on pavements with their jerky adjustments, arms spread out like tightrope walkers and always with a face that betrays a self conscious desire to be looked at whilst pretending not to notice when people do. What could be worse? Only the progeny of a unicyclist could amplify my dislike for unicyclists. The very idea that two if them might get together physically and bring another one into the world. What a concentrate of absurdity, their creation not yet familiar with the ways of circus, dressed up in a midget fireman’s costume. What chance in life will that child unicyclist have? Next week I will be discussing my dislike of people that juggle sand bags with their feet in union square.
Fort Tilden is an overgrown and disused fort from which the Americans used to blast shells 25 miles out into the sea at passing ships, quite accurately apparently, but now it's a beach being rediscovered by marauding bicyclists with picnics. And come we did, armed with ice boxes and gallons of ale. Upon arrival my two legs merely dislocated themselves from me which left me somewhat horizontal for the remainder of the day there, savaged by beach flies and surrounded by ten naked woman. After allowing the sun to have it's way with me for 3 hours or so, after my feet had turned purple, I decided I might die if I didn't leave then and there. I left and took the road back up to Crown Heights, an epic journey on a bicycle, especially after a few beers. All that pedaling took it's toll on my poor bottom I'm afraid and two days later my hands and fingers are still numb. And I'm convinced I have a culture of sand flies about to hatch from one of my arms as there is a faint buzzing noise coming from one of my elbows.
A man named Bruce strode / limped casually up the drive in 84'ish and knocked on the door. He'd come to look at my father's maserati mexico which, despite being a 1968 model, only had 25,000 miles on the clock. It had been kept in meticulous condition by my father who in turn delegated it's upkeep to a couple of transvestite car mechanics / body restorers who went by the name of Les Girls, just off the 1-95 in Miami. I did like that car. So enter Bruce. Bruce had a look over the car from behind his mustache and promised to buy it there and then. My father asked him about the cause of his limp. As Bruce was wearing shorts this was obviously obvious; that being that Bruce only had one leg that was real. His other leg, or pretend leg, was made of rubber and he'd decorated it with painted toe nails. Quite what a one legged man wanted with an italian sports car with a very much manual gearbox and racing clutch, one can only guess. The odds of him even getting to the bottom of the drive were not good. In any case, we never found out because he didn't buy the car. But he did stay with us for a week, in and out of the pool, in the drinks cabinet, in the bath, the kitchen, with the dogs on the sofa etc etc. I went out on the boat one day and he came too, waving his stump at women on the beach. He loved to do that, raising it up and down so quickly that it was a blur, extolling it's virtues with a "yeeha!". I never quite understood his logic - how could a third of a leg be any better than a full one? Only now that I am of adult mind, do I truly understand what he was trying to convey to those girls on the beach. What an innocent view I evidently had at the age of 15. But my father was able to see, quite instantly, the entertainment value of having a one legged man at his drinks parties. "This is Bruce with one leg", my father would say. An excellent conversation starter, if you're ever lost for one. Bruce loved it and the more fun he was having the higher an angle he rested his leg at. A preposterous invention of a man but the world was richer in some ways because of him.
I've always wanted one. It's a bit of a 'must have' if you're a male and over 180 lbs and can handle yourself. Unless your stalker is a male too and larger than you, in which case it's not good. Anyway, I had a temporary stalker the other day on the train. A bright blue crushed velvet tracksuit and long impossibly black hair down to his/her waist, that he/she stroked constantly whilst smiling at me like a cannibal might when stirring soup. It was sufficiently disconcerting enough for me to change carriages, limping at full speed from one to the other when we pulled into the next station. It wasn't long before he/she decided to swap carriages too and come and smile at me and stroke his/her hair in that bright blue crushed velvet tracksuit and do it from the seat immediately opposite me. Had I longer hair I might have tried stroking my hair in the same manner just for the hell of it. It would have been a synchronized hair stroking event on the train, complete with professional ballroom dancing smiles.
I had an operation on my knee a couple of weeks ago. They removed a piece of cartilage that had mutinied and was floating about and causing havoc, getting stuck in between the other more obedient bones in my knee thus sending sharp ripples of nerve screaming shrills into my poor little brain. Where the hell would we be without painkillers in times like this, I ask you? It shouldn't even be a question. It should be an exclamation. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be operated on in the old days with nothing but whisky to help you get through it, held down and being sawed at. And the surgeons were probably drunk too! The recovery would likely have been far worse than the operation itself. Or the non recovery. Nothing but whisky.... On the happy side of this, I do have painkillers and, what's more, I have whisky too so it's quite likely my liver will age by about 30 years in a matter of the next two weeks. But in addition to all of this, there has been an added complication. Blood clots joined the chorus; 4 of them harmonized in my calf muscle a couple of days after the operation until 2 got so bored they decided to canoe up my veins to set up camp in my right lung, via my heart. The technical term for this is pulmonary embolism and so large was the canoe that lodged in the main artery leading into my lungs that I had a more than 50/50 chance of snuffing it. They've got me on blood thinners now but for a moment it was a little hairy. Of course, the lovely Dr's and Nurse's that keep people like me alive for large amounts of money did their best to distract me from the real percentage of having a heart attack, dying or even worse...a stroke. They managed to "Put on a Happy Face" and "Always look on the bright side of life" as they wheeled me about at 50mph from one specialist machine and crew to another, all the time connected to a symphony of heart monitors and drip drip machines for percussion. For a man on the edge of meeting his maker, there sure were a lot of people smiling at me although it could have been the Oxycodone Acetaminophen distorting my perception. In fact, it all seemed like an Un Fun Disneyland experience. A series of unpleasant rides and hanging about waiting to get onto the next one. Take for example the evidently ever so popular Cat Scan ride, a line of recumbent mildly terrified customers all waiting our turn to get injected with a small bucket's load of radioactive liquid before being slid into a huge ominous looking multi million $ white donut machine. The only difference between, lets say, Space Mountain at Disneyland and the Cat Scan ride was that there wasn't a cardboard cut out of Mickey Mouse at the front of the queue with a sign saying "If you are are as tall as me you can get on this ride". Instead, as each new patient was wheeled forward to take the place of the last one, there was a Dr of sorts armed with a clipboard and another one of those disconcerting beaming smiles informing us in a thick German accent "Ven vee inject you vis ze radioacative liquid you vil feel a sense of varmth all over ze body but DON'T VORRY!" As I neared my turn one ratchet at a time I heard this over and over again so by ze time I got to ze front of ze queue I vas able to recite all ze instructions, verbatim. Actually, I quite enjoyed the Cat Scan ride as when they injected me viz ze radioactive liquid the damp warmth that washed over me felt like a large cow with a big wet tongue licking my balls. Whether that sensation comes at the hands of the Mickey Mouse club or the folk over at NYU Emergency Centre courtesy of United Healthcare, it's worth every penny.
If one goes up the stairs one leg at a time, as opposed to using both legs to propel oneself upwards, one has the opportunity in between steps to reflect on one's higher situation almost as if a passenger might notice a change of perspective from a roller-coaster during ascent. If one goes upwards two legs at a time, there is no pause in between step so there is little time to truly experience one's progress. The move upwards with two legs is a seamless move. With one leg, a segmented, disjointed journey, thus allowing the time to experience the experience of one legged ascent. The next time you go up some stairs, try doing it with only one leg. There is a zen hidden within it. Maybe not enough to write a book called "The Zen of going upstairs with one leg" but try it and then try telepathically communicating your thanks to me. I will hear you if I'm on the stairs.
Having over consumed food and wine this Thanksgiving, I found myself simply unable to move. I felt so hideously handicapped with immobility that my brain actually started trying to find illogical solutions to the problem. The desperation to have this large alien body of food in me be somehow removed from my person, to free me once more to move my arms and legs like anybody else, was real and urgent. Not unlike, perhaps, the feeling of a woman who's been pregnant for 12 months. So as my brain lunged and lurched at possible options that might give me some reprieve I alighted at my next new business venture. The external stomach - much like an external hard drive - could be plugged into our sides and carried along in a stylish leather pouch much like those wonderful under armpit gun holsters that I so admire in Starsky And Hutch and other superb American police television programs. Your luncheon partners would be none the wiser as to your keeping an external stomach and would simply think that you are armed with a large pistol instead. Any overflow from your real stomach would be subtly "whisper pumped" (I've applied for patent) off to the other one. This would allow for far longer lunches and rather than having to digest it all there and then you could choose where and when to do so, drip feeding yourself the accumulated nutrients bit by bit throughout the day or night, depending on your preferences and settings. Imagine how empowered you will feel, to have taken control over how you want to eat. To be able to say "Waiter! May I have another steak and bottle of red wine please?" Next time you have a large lunch, ask yourself how you might feel if you reduced that full up feeling by say, 40%. And how about another ice cream whilst you're at it?
Lady Macbeth imagined all the scrubbing in the world wasn't enough to remove a spot of blood from her hands and in the same way this rapidly depleting box of tic tacs seems utterly ineffective at removing the fur from my tongue that I evidently put there with the myriad of alcoholic substances I think I consumed last night. I really ought to slow down a bit at my age. Not to mention it's expensive. Perhaps I should get some sort of sponsorship from Diageo or other generous drinks conglomerate. I might actually get very rich very quickly. Alas if diageo were that kind of benefactor they would probably get very poor very quickly and we would all run out of booze, so I suppose I will have to make do sponsoring myself for the time being. Of course I could go to alcoholics anonymous and get an altogether different kind of sponsor but where is the fun in that? As a young teen I would accompany my mother to alcoholics anonymous meetings in Knightsbridge in London, terrified as I sat there holding hands with coked up rock stars with bad breath and drunk judges, repeating over and over again the mantra "Keep coming back".
I got into a Jesus taxi yesterday that was a sort of miniature cathedral on wheels complete with a choir and incense and a model of the man god himself on the dashboard, his head angled slightly downward as if in adoration of a lamb or something equally infant like. As we bumped and swerved through the avenues and streets of manhattan his spring loaded head wobbled incessantly, his arms outstretched in an authentic 'come to jesus' manner. The strange thing about this was that I felt so relaxed in that rolling place of worship that I even found myself singing along to 'hallelujah' in Latin, rekindling my choir boy days and holding the bark of the outside word at bay for the few minutes it took for me to get my destination, the soho house club. My Haitian driver was called Earnest which is a miracle in itself in that Haitians aren't known for handing out Edwardian names as far as i know but as my mother likes to say "miracles DO happen".
Barbara Streisand is back in my dreams. She and the Queen of England have made regular appearances over the years. They've yet to appear together at the same time but it's probably only a matter of time until they do, according to the laws of probability. But last night it was just Barbara and me, in bed. And the light was soft, peeking through the mesh of the curtains and the sheets were ruffled and it was lovely and cosy. But it all turned really bad pretty quickly as an orange substance with the consistency of porridge began to leverage itself out from between her legs, like a slow but insistent lava flow. And this is where my doctor skills obviously kicked in because without any hesitation I knew exactly what to do. And so, utterly in vain, I spent the rest of the dream trying to push it back in, in a mild panic. Barbara wasn't phased at all. A consummate, unflappable professional she was - if not a little bit disinterested actually. A bit of a team effort might have been appreciated but I suppose we just do what we have to do. Thank God Her Majesty wasn't there though. I'm dutiful in my efforts to spare her such things. I never told her, for example, about the time I found Princess Anne and the Duchess of York living in a tent at the bottom of my garden, both training to become belly dancers. Princess Anne had a large opal in her navel. Please, God, where are these dreams coming from?