Monday, October 26, 2015

Twenty-five hours in London

  We arrived with the Underground from Heathrow at Green Park Station at 1.45 in the afternoon local time on October 20th, and left from the same spot almost exactly twenty-five hours later.
  My friend got a hotel room with another, but I didn’t. I had decided to stay awake all the time, both for financial reasons and in order to enjoy every second of the short stay, and I did. It’s also fairly easy for me, with preparations and lots of coffee to stay awake for thirty-six hours.
  We started off with dinner and coffee afterwards. The start of most of my London visits is the good meal and giant Cappuccino coffee, not necessarily in that order. It usually gives me what I call «the London feeling», kickstarting it, if you will, and it did this time as well.
  I didn’t meet up with many of my London friends this time, but mostly did photographing, dining and playing poker. Most of the photographing took place in and around Green Park, on Piccadilly and Piccadilly Circus. My plan before arrival was slightly more ambitious, but as usual, I just managed to do less than half of everything I had set out to do in London. Great distractions and inspirations are everywhere.
  Most of the photos were taken during twilight and the early evening. The mere process of doing them always feels great to me. The photographer always sees more than the human being alone, or rather, simplifying it: the process of the passionate art photographer taking photos makes the passionate human being see and even feel more.
  It dawned on me only much later that I had not filmed anything, not a single clip.
  I visited a few pubs as well, taking in the mood, having a few Guiness beers. It didn’t really affect me much, didn’t make me more intoxicated than I already was. The fairly brief visits still gave me a lot, in terms of inspiration and quiet experience, of taking in the mood at the various places.
  I was ready, very ready for the poker playing.
  The game itself turned out to be an unremarkable performance on my part. It wasn’t my evening. I usually win money, either a little or a lot when I play, but that night I didn’t. It happens and don’t usually bother me. I truly win or lose with the same mind or mindset.
  Playing poker is always a win/win situation for me. Whether or not I win or lose money, the mere process of playing always makes me dig deep into myself, and thus I open up myself, and inspiration blooms. I wrote notes and thoughts for two hours without break in my Diary of a Traveling Man after I stopped playing.
  I moved beyond an obstacle in my novel Lewis of Modern York I had wrestled with for months.
  I spent the night at the casino, leaving in the early morning for quite a few more intense experiences.
  I visited a quiet, concealed «townhall meeting» south of the river, not so much a meeting but an orientation about future events. It still made my spirit soar.
  I ended the London visit as I started it, with dining and coffee.
  It was all very intense. I felt like we spent weeks there, and not only twenty-five hours. I know I will reap the benefits of the Journey for weeks, both in terms of an elevated good mood and ongoing higher level of creativity.

  Postscript: It was my first time in the fairly new Heathrow Terminal 5. It was quite unremarkable. All airports, old and new seem more or less the same to me. We couldn’t help but noticing what a bad spot for disabled people it had to be, though. Getting around out there alone must be a nightmare for people with wheelchairs and those unable to walk the vast distances. I can’t imagine the so called Lichfield Suite for those with special needs and needs for special assistance, can counter that. While Gatwick has moving sidewalks, for instance, Terminal 5 doesn’t. There are other problems. A shiny new airport lacks essential facilities for disabled people. They need far more time and effort to get around compared to others. That’s more than typical for the new Great Society the current ruling political party in the UK wants to make, I guess.

  Second postscript: I ended up staying awake for forty-nine hours (and sleeping for fourteen the next day, waking up at six o’clock in the evening). Lots of new and intense thoughts need to be engraved.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The happy, positive anthem

  This is the first published poem from the new collection I'm slowly writing, one that might be published approximately ten years from now.

  I can hear the music
  I listen to the song
  I smell the stinking coffee
  The message is clear

  Our soldiers slaughter people
  In large numbers
  Our prime minister kills by proxy
  Our president sends drones
  To kill and maim children
  The message is clear

  People hear this old and new news
  They see what’s going on
  It’s not that difficult
  But they shrug
  And keep singing
  The happy and positive anthem
  The message is clear


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Things to do in London when burning with passion and life (IV)


  Saturday was a great day. Most of it went away in fever visions, but what I do remember was beyond great.
  Usually, when I travel with someone, I do not make an attempt to meet all my old friends in London, but this time I traveled alone, and it was an excellent time to catch up with as many people as possible, and because of that and also other, fortunate circumstances I did.
  We met in the loft apartment in Hampton Court. Almost all of them were there, the old gang, the squatters, artists, actors, rebels and witches (all of the above and more), Dorothy, Ruby, Alan, Camille, most of the adults and those who had been children more than twenty years ago.
  I remember the day as a series of amazing moments. My cold didn’t seem to matter, somehow. I was ill, really ill, feverish and practically half unconscious at times. I recall the day more like a dream than physical reality, remember embraces, happy conversation and beyond great companionship. It felt exactly like the time machine it was. I had met up quite a few times with these people since we parted company in 1993, but this was one of the few times almost everyone was present.
  We owned two rather small apartments in that building. One was made into sleeping quarters and the other a pure gathering space for the occasion.
  I remember that there was very little of the bullshit usually so prevalent during most mundane reunions. All of us share the distaste for such superficial gatherings. We don’t need to pretend and hype our emotions. They’re there, after all this time, no matter where we are.

  We spoke about old times, the present and what’s to come with equal fervor, and we lived it in equal measure, lived the present, looking forward to tomorrow.


Friday, October 09, 2015

Author’s word - Black Dragon

  It sometimes looks bad for comic book heroes, but they still triumph over impossible odds, even death. They have to, for Marvel and DC to stay in the mainstream publishing business. The status quo, even though it might be rocked now and then must be maintained.
  I have no such restraints, of course. I can, like I always do, with any story take it more than a few steps further.
  I was never impressed with Watchmen, for instance. Even though it was hailed as such, it wasn’t that much of a departure from the norm, except for those getting off on normality and the average and dull and repetitive storytelling, and I see the praise it received as pure mainstream bullshit.
  The Dark Knight was merely one more right wing nut job (Frank Miller) describing his oppressive view of mankind.
  But in spite of the frustrations, the fact that most comics insult our intelligence (like most novels published by established publishers also do) I have always enjoyed reading comics. They were a comfort and an inspiration to a child hungering for creativity and imagination. I was able to put aside my skepticism, and embrace the important, crucial «suspense of disbelief» tenet. I learned that a somewhat adult story, beyond the fairy tales also should only be measured within its own context, by its own merit, within the rules established in that particular story.
  But my objections remained and Black Dragon is a result of the long, growing trickle of frustration, of all the paths not taken by established comic book writers and editors and publishers. I always kind of suspected that I would write a story like this some night, but I waited, waited patiently until I felt ready, and in 2008, when I started on this one, I was.
  The thoughts in my head were ripe and ready to fall off the tree.
  You will «recognize» the powers and some of the characters, of course. That is practically inevitable. There are only so many variations to go around. But you will find them skewed, distorted here compared to your expectations and teachings and brainwashing many years of comic book reading has visited upon you. My wish to inject hardcore realism into everything I write is certainly very much present here as well. In short, beneath their powers and masks the people described are pretty much… human, with true faults and frailties and weaknesses, existing in a society not that different from the one you experience every day.
  The mainstream publishers tried that now and then, I guess. They kept failing, because they brought the constraints of the old and stale with them into the professed new.
  This is a novel, of course and not a comic book, not a story told in pictures and words, but «only» in words, but I have been focusing on the visuals even more than I usually do, and people keep telling me I am very good with visuals, with the painting of words.
  Black Dragon is the last started on so far of what I deem my fourth generation novels. Obviously I wrote it faster than the others, among them Afterglow Dust. On occasion I had the feeling that it wrote itself and doing so effortlessly to boot.
  There is one particular distinct characteristic here you will probably notice…
  This isn’t a novel about comics and shouldn’t be seen as such, but an independent and self-contained story. Only its appearance is deliberately comics-like.
  It certainly moves beyond any perceived constraints of comics and also mainstream novels. Its shit-load of transgression begins early and continues throughout the book.
  I'm happy to say that I've gone totally overboard with this one…
  If this is ever made into a movie, one indisputably faithful to the novel, it will be a great victory for us in the anti-censorship movement.
  I’m quite pleased with the result. The story could have been longer, told in more than one book. It could have been shorter, with a tighter plot. I think it is just about the right length.
  And this is a Universe, one I can return to and explore further later, if the imagination (not the fancy) strikes me.

  And I probably will.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Things to do in London when burning with passion and life (III)



  Dorothy has only one major «flaw»: she refuses to have her picture taken…
  I woke up early, my cold in full «bloom», making it impossible for me to sleep anymore. I studied her face line by line (struggling with my hazy vision), and was very tempted to take her picture, but that would not have been very respectful, so I didn’t.
  We had breakfast at the bright hall inside Paddington Station, nothing fancy, just filling our bellies. We separated not long after that, agreeing to meet up again the next day, hardly able to contain our excitement.

  I met Marc later that day at the Brewmaster pub. The two of us first met there three years ago. We encountered each other on Twitter a little before that, discovering that we have a lot in common, both as artists and human beings. We hit off right away.
  I wasn’t at my best, to say it the least. My cold was in full bloom and I was soaked in sweat, looking like I had spent hours in a sauna or something. Two cups of coffee just before I got there still made me more than a passable conversation partner. We spoke at length, filled with passion. Our meeting/conversation was just as interesting as it usually is.
  Marc showed me the way to the poetry club I had been searching for later. It was as he pointed out, both hard and easy to locate. We didn’t walk inside. I just didn’t feel up to it physically that day.
  The rest of Friday was pretty much ruined for me. I just returned to the hotel and crashed, and stayed like that without any improvement. The evening and night were spent in and out of delirious (far from delicious) dreaming.
  The second half of Friday was not the best part of my London visit. I did manage, like always to write something, to scribble a few notes, though. My time is rarely a total waste.

  But this is as close as I’ve come to that in a long time.