Monday, 16 February 2015

PE is an Evil

Today apart from music I speak about some personal things. You know PE, huh it is nothing but premature ejaculation that many men hide though we are professionally good at. Let me talk about it though it is bit off topic.

Three years ago I was in deep trouble with my sex life: I enjoyed intercourse but it lasted for all of two minutes. That probably meant my partners in bed didn’t enjoy it at all – they wanted me to last longer. And some of them took the trouble to very kindly tell me as well.

If there’s one thing worse than coming too quickly, I guess it’s being told by the woman you’ve taken to bed that unless you find out how to last longer in bed she’ll be walking out on you. (Mind you, that was the kick up the ass I needed to actually get up and do something to find out how to delay my ejaculation and make sex last longer.)

So that was the start of a journey through dozens of programs, techniques, books, websites, and even sex therapists. Talk about tedious! Finding out how to last longer in bed wasn’t difficult, as all I had to do was try all the ideas to delay my ejaculation that I found. Oddly enough, in some ways it was actually quite enjoyable – I certainly had a lot of sex, although sadly not with the same women for very long.

Anyway, it was my own fault, because looking back I can see now that some of those programs were so crazy that I should never even tried them, and I’ve certainly learned to last longer in bed much more quickly if I’d ignored them. Giving you the scoop on what works and what doesn’t is therefore my mission, in the hope that you can learn to last longer during sex and become as good a lover as I am.

Sounds a bit arrogant doesn’t it? However, it is true in all I mean to say is that with the right treatment program for premature ejaculation you can easily discover how to last longer in bed.

If I'm not writing in this space for a few days at a time

it generally means I'm either working on the novel, convincing people I don't know to get drunk with me, watching rock shows from the back row, negotiating my way out of potential incarceration situations, devoting extra effort to keeping my tender position on the wage slave ladder, taking advantage of my rare and ever-fading chances to see some of the fleeting things that happen every day in this town like the stupid Gates or some light festival, or running around town trying to get my camera fixed, or chasing people down I haven't seen in forever in some quixotic need to bounce new ideas off perfect strangers, or running just as hard in the other direction away from someone else trying to do exactly the same thing, or hiding out in my bunker waiting for Bob Novak to out me as a spy against my will, or walking across the Williamsburg Bridge and just enjoying the view at the apex where it feels like the whole world is your amphitheatre, or I'm bowling.

I am around if you need anything.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Steely Dan: I've Got Plenty Of Java & Chesterfield Kings, But I Feel Like Crying

Writing good songs is not something most people can do right out of the box. Sure, it's easier than writing books, but so is surgery. Give me four years of intensive training and I'd like to think I could carve up some future stiff and take out some big tumor or whatever out of 'em like I was carving up a turkey. But I've been at learning songcraft for a decade now, and I'm only getting the hang of it now, after leaving a thousand or more corpses horribly disfigured in my wake. Quality songwriting is a tough and evil business. It has killed off people way smarter than me, and I have seen it make otherwise eloquent people into blubbering idiots.

Not only that, but if you ask the punters in the high school halls & the shopping malls, no one really cares who wrote a song. Songwriters don't get their own charts, the songwriters' awards never make the primetime Grammy show (there's Best Record, but it ain't the same thing), they don't get their own love, not without some tousled muppet in a miniskirt flogging the damned things on a video somewere, or some strategic placement in a movie soundtrack or car commercial. The avenues to recognition for a songwriter who isn't physically attractive are few, and that's always been the case. It's understandable, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck.

Which makes the ascension of Steely Dan all the more wonderful. They were crack players who knew other crack players, and as a result their albums were always smooth and mellow-sounding wood-paneled opuses full of lush playing that drew your ear from one lead instrument to another like a movie star on a press junket.

And yet, if you parse the lyrics Walter Becker & Donald Fagen came up with, not only are they genuinely esoteric in places, but by god they can be bitter and angry. They're the kind of guys who would never raise their voice, but would just one day climb out of their la-z-boy chair and shiv you in the chest, brushing the extra blood off their blazer before freshening their Stoli & Dr. Pepper and sitting back down to impassively watch you die.

Some of the better examples of their excellent work can be found in the Steely Dan Dictionary, which is at least nominally about the esoteric references Becker & Fagen put in their songs. Some of the stuff isn't all that out there; if you can't grok Lugers or who Charlie Parker was, then maybe you need to drink your big Black Cow and get out of here.

Steely Dan were geniuses. They could write the living shit out of a song, and slip it under your door while you slept and the cab was waiting to take them out of your life. I dig them deeply, and wish I knew half of what either of those two bastards know.

Actually, I know about that much.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Infante Story Continued

I left out about half of what I wanted to write about Infante yesterday, and now though the depth of the shadow he has placed across my life has not diminished, the urgency of the obituary is fading. I would, however, like to point you toward Babalu's excellent and touching reminiscence (with Andy Garcia's equally heartfelt reminiscences), and Venepoetics talks about how he came to Infante, and how it changed his life.

Perhaps more than Joyce, Infante set me up for a lifelong affair with words, and how they fit together and sound and smell and play and work. It was pure chance that I came across him first, instead of Borges or Burroughs or Beckett. I found all those and lots more soon enough, and Three Trapped Tigers wasn't even the first Latin novel I ever read -- that was The Death of Artemio Cruz, which I picked up for free at a library closing and inhaled like a like a post-virginity cigarette -- but TTT was the kind of experience that stays in Vegas and sends you postcards every month or two for the rest of your life that never, ever fail to work you right back up, no matter where you are or what's happening in your life.

It's no small part of why I'm still tilting at literature now, as I dust the last shards of adolescence off my jacket and pull back out on to the highway.

My heroes are dropping this week. There's a hole I need to fill. Excuse me.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Cowboys Always Have Been My Heroes

The death of Guillermo Cabrera Infante really hit me hard this morning. Two of the most significant literary figures of my life (the other being Hunter S. Thompson), less than a week apart. Shit, shit, shit.

Three Trapped Tigers (my Spanish sadly isn't nearly good enough to read Tres Tristes Tigres, and my Cuban even less so) was one of the most amazing literary works I have ever read, like a Havanan Ulysses-meets-American Graffiti with a B-List Hollywood supporting cast as long as La Estrella, the hideously obese opera singer in the book, was wide.

I have forced that book on more people than any other, by far, and I'll force it on you if you've never heard of it. In all my life, the number of books that exhibited the sheer range, not just in style but in the alpha and omega of what I think of as the human experience, not to mention the absolute joy of stringing words together and messing with them, the pace, the language, the way the ink looks on the page, everything, I can count the number of books like that that I've read on one hand. Ulysses, Hopscotch, maybe one or two others.

The one other piece of trivia I have about him (I've never known much) was that he headed the Cannes Film Festival Jury in 1994, the year that Pulp Fiction won the Palme D'Or. Somehow, the idea that he was among the first to proclaim that movie as a work of genius makes a world of sense.

It really sucks that he's gone. I had this fantasy where I'd be in London, and I'd look him up, and his number would be listed, and I'd invite him out for an hour and talk about jazz and salsa records and just shoot the shit with him. I did that with Walker Percy when I was 18, and it really helped at a time where I thought my writing was execrable. (Which it was, but I was 18. Aside from Pynchon and Rimbaud, who writes well at 18? Hush.)

I know he was 75, and lived a full and excellent life, beginning to end, but still. A man of his integrity, humor, class and talent will be missed all over, not just among Cuban emigrés and cineastes too smart for their friends. Certainly he'll be missed here, inside me.

Goodnight and thank you, Guillermo Cabrera Infante. You have made my life brighter and better, which is more than I ever would have expected from some old Cubano sinner cinemaniac I never met. Thanks for leaving something special behind.