The life of a billsticker gets to be pretty interesting at times, out there in the rain and with no clear idea of what to do and winds hurling down them alleys. Wellington say, gale force, show must go on, wouldn’t you know it? Are you going to shit, or get off the pot?
Still, we never quit five minutes before the miracle and even when there are posters blowing down the streets and no paste and nowhere to get it from neither. I love a good ‘double negative’ because sometimes that’s the only way to describe a situation adequately. I often use triple negatives in difficult situations.
All this time, whilst you are in that alley, trying to paste a poster to a wall and it (the poster) keeps on blowing around you, the promoter is asleep after calling room service for a nightcap. They will scream at you tomorrow for not paying them all due credit and not realising that they hung the moon and all its attendant stars. How could it possibly be that you didn’t get their posters up? You did and they are just double guessing you.
Meanwhile, the band (or act) is down the brothel with the dancing girls getting their ego serviced and you are (as they say) lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Easter Time too. Poetry being the only way to put it all into words most of the time. Gravity fails and negativity won’t pull you through.
Every so often I get an email asking how does one start a billsticking company. I received one last week from a bloke in the United Kingdom.
Here’s my letter to a young billsticker:
You must be mad. I mean riotously and joyously mad. You must be off your rocker and be barkin’ bleedin’ mad. You must be prepared to send Chutney to Hutney and you must be able to enjoy things that others scorn. You must be able to move whilst others remain frozen and they will collect the money and awards. You must sing the body electric at the top of your voice. “Acceptance” of all these things shall be the whole of the law.
This past Monday was Labour Day in the USA and I drove to Rahway, New Jersey to put up poem posters by Kiwis. The basic idea is you travel down Route 1 from Princeton for thirty miles and you go past a never ending array of malls and designer stores, all of which serve to enforce the myth that no one ever need get naked and that Gucci will somehow prevent you from dying.
The very early morning light is the best time to put up posters. It’s magic to see the sun coming up on a horizon miles and miles away and to know you are doing good. It’s like someone has opened all the windows and doors in the universe and let some fresh air in. This feeling makes everything worthwhile.
The best thing to do with a poster company is to keep it simple. I’ve had no end of people coming to me with advice over the years. They wanted to do this and that and then this and that again. I’ve always felt relieved when they found someone else to pick on. People can talk, can’t they? A good and simple idea can be right in front of their snouts and they want to see their own jaws flap.
Stay away from lawyers and accountants as much as you possibly can. Get a good, simple, down to earth lawyer and work out a system that allows you to go out and create and work. That’s the blessing. You want to be able to work at maximum capacity and any great effort requires a team. You must build a team of believers because it will get rough. There’s a Great White Whale out there….
Most people, if their gig goes wrong, will not be able to take a good and long look at themselves and they will want to blame something or someone. You, as a billsticker, are not at the ‘glamour end’ of the entertainment ‘industry’ and you might ‘get it’ and regularly. Don’t be hurt, these people will go sooner or later. You will see them down at the working men’s club supping a tall one and looking for comfort. Their ego is not their amigo.
You will meet some pretty interesting people on the streets at 5am. Firemen, police, prostitutes and people with no place to sleep. Talk to them and as you will hear real wisdom and it will always be interesting. Look after them if you can. There is nothing in this life like an underdog with nothing to lose for they will always speak the truth. They have never heard of Greenpeace because they are just trying to survive and they are up against it all. They have love. Losers have nothing but love.
Lease poster sites and talk to city councils about putting in poster bollards. The nature of our cities has changed a lot and Bohemia has largely gone. Sooner or later all our cities will look like the insides of a Dunkin’ Donuts store. You must talk, repeatedly, to the councils about space to put up posters because cities thrive on fresh air and banker’s buildings have us all gasping.
Kemo Sabe, I’m going to finish this here because I have posters to put up and it’s raining and I can hardly wait. I shall carry on with this next week. Just find something you believe in and work at it with all your might. Find out why your energy is blocked if you can’t do this (work with all your might) and then try and try again.
To all my friends at the International Brotherhood of Billstickers, I love you madly. I’ll see you in the glue and we’ll get it in our hair together. Always together.
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.