Today I took my photos and pictures down from the wall: Thomas Pynchon in the navy, Jack Ruby doing the business with his .38 caliber Colt Cobra, Wild Bill Hickok, J.D. Salinger in the army, Sid Going at Ellis Park, Peter Snell in Rome, a Phil Clairmont print, Whitey Bulger and Eliot Ness photos (you can see I am conflicted) and half a dozen miscellaneous pictures of my dogs, Sid, Bella, and Raymond.
Damn I love Boston where I was last week. If only I could go back there.
I doubly and indubitably love America and have done since I was about eight years old. I was always attracted to the energy and vitality of this place (I’ve said this before) and I would definitely live here if I could. But the little man down at Homeland Security says that I can’t do that because of a conviction for Heroin in 1974. I had a friend in the 12 Step movement once who used to say that life was about how you acted when you didn’t know what to do or words like that. So I shall leave this country with dignity and I will not be beaten down. I shall not be moved and I will always treat people better than they sometimes treat me. I smile at airports and there’s nothing they can do about that yet.
Yet I am dreading going back to New Zealand because I see it as such a small place (population 4.25 million) that it shouldn’t have any politicians at all, but the political situation, in my view, is twice as bad as America’s ever could be with these political businessmen strip mining the country night and day for all they and their cronies are worth. They call this “change” and it is…it is extremely loose change and people are suffering.
Then I also see my home country as being so beautiful that no one ever need bicker, but that’s all a lot of Kiwis seem to do. They would rather bicker than have a good, solid cry. They would rather complain than have a good hard fight. Lily Tomlin once said that language was invented to complain and she may be right.
In New Zealand we are dealing with a massive loss…it is a loss of all the country used to be when we were all fond of the notion of the ‘Good Old Kiwi Battler’ and we took certain things as a given (fairness, equality, free health care etc). However and also, the country has always been given over to farming and the ‘Creative Community’ is almost a last thought when it comes to government funding.
A Kiwi Battler would keep his head down and work harder and not pay any tax money because that only encourages the pricks. Then he’d self publish and scream his music from street corners until he was heard. Toy Love did that and all credit. Many people go mad in their creative endeavours and I almost see that as a gratifying payoff. That’s when you know you have it right.
Very few people in the creative community in Aotearoa can make a good living because we are (still) so isolated and the returns for the average musician, writer or poet are just not there. This too is extremely disheartening because there are no end of shit radio stations (mostly owned by corporate structures) that play and say meaningless crap all day. A Kiwi Battler would lob a Molotov in the foyer.
The one good thing about leaving New Jersey is that I shall be further away from Jon Bon Jovi.
I believe today people are looking for true meaning first and foremost. I believe this is equally true for both America and New Zealand, but we seem to be building a world that is so synthetic that it encourages vast distances between people and then we sell them shit to bring them together again (Nickelback). We like for them to wear Chinese-made tee shirts.
The last time I was in jail was 1992 when I did a short remand in Addington Prison in Christchurch. Nowadays Addington Prison is either a restaurant or some kind of tourist destination where people can go and get their photographs taken in jail cells and say funny haha shit for their mates on Facebook.
1992 was when I was on the cusp of leaving the life of a junkie behind me and moving on into the real world which frightened me silly. It’s a scary thing for a junkie when he or she first comes in from the cold. During this period of time I had been involved in a street fight with a guy who had handed my AK47 into the police. I’m not trying to be Chopper Read or anything because I think he was largely full of self manufactured shit, but that’s how I arrived in Addington Prison and it was a big wake up call for me. The guy was a police informant and you always have to address them head on and words run out of meaning.
In Addington I was lucky enough to be doubled up in a small cell with a great old style Kiwi Battler and a guy who was not going to let the world get him down but who was capable of tears and the occasional piece of true self reflection. But what Freddie Angell did mostly was laugh and he and I laughed all day and half the night. I really enjoyed my time with him better than I ever could enjoy four days at Disneyland because in jail there are no synthetic barriers to deal with. Everything in jail is completely real and corporate crooks that go there often realize what they have been missing half their lives and trying to make up for by malfeasance. But don’t get me started on my previous accountant and lawyer.
Freddie was a kind of latter-day wide boy, teddy boy and milk bar cowboy all mixed up into one glorious pile of humour. I think he’d done a couple of borstals and a short lag or two and nothing was going to trouble him unless it was his girlfriend who was now safely on the outside. Sometimes I am convinced we go to jail to get away from them.
Freddie was on remand for trying to smuggle reptiles out of New Zealand to Japanese collectors who were prepared to pay enormous amounts of cash for our lizards and other creatures of the wilds. I think it’s a sex thing and it is definitely (very definitely) not to be encouraged. Let the Japanese have their Mazdas and their Mitsubishis and we’ll keep our whales and our wildlife, thank you very much.
Anyway, like I say, Freddie and I would laugh all day and then smoke dope at night (a drug?) and listen to the radio and laugh some more. It’s really good to smoke dope in jail and if I ever go back I shall. Hell, are you kidding me? It makes jail food taste like the good Mexican food all those illegal immigrants in America cook for those white middle class people who look down on them. Like we’d often say to each other in jail when we’d pissed someone off, “Call a policeman!” Jail is, as I say, a remarkably honest and real place. I’d recommend it to anyone.
But one night after the screws had shut the lights off (10.30pm) Freddie and I are lying there in the dark for several hours and not saying a single word to each other. I could tell we were thinking about our lives up to this point and what lay ahead for us on the outside and especially with criminal records and just knowing that a certain sector of the community was sanctimonious and holier than us.
They were never going to forgive us and that even as Kiwi Battlers we couldn’t do a thing to change that and computers were going to track us and we would never be able to do things that other people took for granted.
We were, in a sense, doing a life sentence. We knew it, even back then.
And this all whilst the true dogs of this world were in the future going to be running free and listening to Nickelback, they were going to be cruelly restructuring governments and shaking hands with Jon Bon Jovi and often all in the same day. They would be ripping each other and society blind. Real heroes, you know?
Anyway, the air is dead silent in our comfortable little slot and yet I can sense that Freddie is going to say something. That’s often the way it is when you smoke weed….you know the other person is going to say something…you sense it for minutes or hours before they do….the air takes on a new hue…and everyone waits for the words…
It was 2am when Freddie said it. He said:
“I should have left them fucking Tuataras alone…”
We both collapsed in laughter. Kiwi Battlers both.
Thank you for reading this Kemo Sabe. I appreciate that it is quite long and you may have gotten five or ten ‘likes’ on your Facebook page in the meantime. So I am grateful and life is good today.
I’ll really miss New Jersey.
A Tinker’s Cuss started life on the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page – it’s a new feature here at Off The Tracks and we’re repeating the earliest posts before carrying on with new words from Jim Wilson.