By Niall Cuddy

 

Rightly arrives.  Right on time.  We dine.  On fags and coffee.  Rightly goes through his set.  It's good but I never practice on a gig day.  Besides I'm busy moving between kitchen and bedroom window, don't want to miss that DHL guy.  So how was the open mic?  Bad.  Tom finished off with Jackpot Baby (again) and Loki had 'technical' issues (again).   Ended up with the house guitar and the mob semi-furious.  The Cannonball cut through the shroud of cigarette mist and landed on the runt of the litter.  A little shitter that went by the name of Trixie.  She had a toxic soul and a lazy eye.  They carried us out of there as the sky turned red.  ”…..you hit the jackpot baby when you hit on me.

 

Rightly finishes and starts again.  His megalomanic way could be viewed as obtrusive, almost repulsive.  I admire him for it.  It's genuine, funny.  Endearing.  Inspirational.  I throw a quick glance out the window.  Up Eberswalder, down Eberswalder.  TRAM. PARK. MIST. GREY. TRAFFIC. BLUE.  I'll tear it up tonight though - Rightly from the kitchen.  I know you will, I also know that I'll wipe the tiles with him.  A van pulls up.  No sign just white.  Lo and behold the DHL crispy snaps into the blue and out of the back with a parcel.  Making a delivery.  Ok, this must be him.  Drop off – Pick up, it makes sense.  Think our guy is here.  Another glance.  50 kg's & waiting.  I hope the bastard takes it.  The luggage that is.  Waiting.  He's back.  In.  The van.  Spinning into traffic.  What the fuck?  Who's the co-ordinator on this shit?  My shit? My SHIT.  My shit.  50 kg's (and the rest) of my shit.

 

Am I guilty of these:-  Crimes of mis-spent faith and unfulfilled dreams?  Of man and desire?  Potato stench and grass clippings?  I want to get blind drunk.  FAST.  How fast is the speed of water?   Relax! Rightly put it.  How come?  I should've paid the extra and taken a time.  Between 8.30 and 7.  Shit, I gotta be in TiK by 7.30.  It's now 5 and traffic's building.  FAST.  We need the remoteness of mortality.  We need that fragment of memento.  We need the folly of genius.  We need the epistemic impossibility of perpetual motion.  TiK TOCK.  We need beer.  The quint-essence.  A good idea to seize, fully, the shank of the city.  Four flights I make it.  To the street.  The sun is down as a big freeze closes in.  I turn the corner without a future in mind, grab six Berliners by the throat.  Got to keep it together somewhat.  Back around.  Traffic is heavy.  The trams are loaded.  Everything is bursting at the seams in this town.  The van pulls up again.  This time in front of my building.  Damn that DHL guy.  He's up to the door.  Searching.  For me.  I'm behind him.  Bottles clanging in the bag.  He turns around, scanner in hand.  His head is the same colour as his jacket.  Yellow and red.  Sprachen di Englisch?.....think you're looking for me.  The screen lights him up.  He checks the names then holds the thing up to my face.  OK, we'll be right down.

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This isn't Tokyo man.  This is Berlin.  If you want a photo then you PAY ME MAN!  Loki grabs the phone from the unwelcome snapper and throws it my way.  It ends up on my lap.  I hand it back.  What do I care if someone decides to catch a pose for fakebook?  I'm just glad we're on our way at last (minus 50 kg's).  Three black riders.  On the tram.  Cutting down Danziger.  Into the heart of the city.  I've been sitting on the same ticket for 6 months, since SchmockWitz, and always on the lookout.  Oh to be a valid Thick Paddy.  It never comes.  Loki is pissed.  People keep taking his picture.  What does he expect?  Torquoise tights.  Red velvet boots and feathers to match.  T-shirt that says ”Big women whatcha gonna do to me?”  Auburn curly locks and pencil line moustache.  He looks like a musketeer on mescaline.  He is a musketeer on mescaline.  Taking up the door.  Three strings to his guitar.  Lashing out an improv about the infinite loop and the prison of shitty arses.  It's full of pain.  For the listener!  So they SNAP.  SNAP.  SNAP it up.  He loves it.  A thoroughbred exhibitionist.  Him and his girlfriend work for charity.  Fuck For Forest.  Making adult movies that save the earth (I hope to Christ he's better at porn than improv).  The more they fuck, the more the trees grow.  Busy doing their bit for the environment.  I'm busy too.  Turning beer into piss.  Down two Berliners and onto my third.  The tram rattles on towards Friederichshain.  Meanwhile, Rightly reminds me that I'm an artist.  A piss artist perhaps.  He should know.  He sounds like Ringo Starr reciting Lord Byron.  A silken drama from northern England.  He goes on..... there's no rules.....but....ah, everyman's a notion.....but.... uhm, you haven't got what it takes to quit......  I stop listening, close my eyes and sink into a dream.  Under the covers with my old French teacher.  She's helping me to conjugate the verb To Be.  My workbook is tatty.  I tell her that I'll fix it up.  What I really mean is that I'll fix her up.  I'm just about to stick my tongue in her ear.  The tram swerves and knocks me out of it.  I notice that I'm getting hard.  Je suis en train de disque!  Loki keeps on rocking.  Rightly keeps on rolling.  I take a swig.  It feels good to be a black rider.

 

FATE:  A man who cannot fart.  

FART:  Army fatigues & rifles etc.

 

I have invented too much of me.  The cage.  The mole.  The thief.  The sage.  The reasons and the questions and the shadows.  What shadows have brought me right here?  Tram.  Stop.

Our stop, except for Loki.  He continues to Warshauer Str for a session with FFF in Kreuzberg.  He'll be down later he tells us but I know he won't show.  We give him the brothel handshake, Rightly and I and get off.  It's the last time I see him.

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I love this part of Berlin.  Rigaer Str., Friederichshain.  Sort of a fresh blade.  At this time of day, this time of year.  7pm, sharp and cold as Hell.  Predictions for tonite; flower it.  gotta get involved.  do this very weird Now.  long hard bean eating competition... Happening.  Like gentrification.  Like fate.  Berlin, a hub for new young start-ups.  That's me -  a young up-start!  A clear spot.  The man with no history.  Nothing to heart but a fistful of beauty scuttling around dem jaysus bones of mine.  And what about the rest?  The squats are cutting deals now.  Either that or 2000 cops will be smashing the door down come Mayday.  Hipsters hang out at The Craic Den or the O.T. Bar.  Bland-full & Soul-less.  Rightly reminisces - I remember when you had to climb through a window to get into a bar around here.  Just after the wall came down.  Those days are gone, it's all change.-  All change?  Last week I caught Anus Butterfly at “73”.  The band not the condition.  Naked black and tight as fuck.  It was fun and the beer flowed.  Cheaply.  The week before they had two drummers and seven saxophonists in there.  Crammed into that tiny space.  A myriad of cats in various stages of erratic flange.......with nowhere to run but straight through your brain.  Acid-fuel-injection-hardcore-prog-jazz.  How do you top that?  Good is bad is change is change is everywhere.

 

Watching Rightly perform is similar to stacking wood.  Nothing seems to fit yet everything falls into place.  The smirkers are seething and the hopeless are searching.  For the truth.  For the truth, consumed by the dirt, not locked away in some golden tabernacle, is always in the last place you look.  

 

A stillness stretches over the night.  The air is liquid crystal.  Kooky and lucid.  You could pierce the sky with a thumbnail and let it all syphon off out into the ether.  My thoughts, hard-edged and condensed as we move in silence towards TiK.  The booze is taking effect and I'm beginning to feel sentimental.  About this place.  About getting the hell out.  Tonight is ”Thursday Sounds Like....”  and Rightly is the opener and I'm the headliner.  My last shot in Berlin.  At TiK - Theatre im Kino.  A raw gem in a pile of rubble.  A white minaret whence only the reckless shall fall.  Though I'm not brave enough to fall.  As the monkey, who flung from the tree his dangling eye that was ripped blazing from his skull in a fit of primordial audacity.  All the while laughing in the face of his fellow simian deviants.  If only I were that gallant in my delivery.  Instead I wallow behind a countenance of black molasses.  A veritable dick saft reticent, sacharin.  With the strangeness of a new hand.  That is my show.

....................................

 

TiK is quiet when we arrive.  Klaus, the soundman is arranging the stage for me.  Candles.  Piano etc.  I'm deflating my ego.  Not through fear.  Through abandon.  How can I feel fear now?  The beer is on the house.  Not a bad start.  I take a seat at the bar sucking on a bottle.  Rightly and Klaus are foostering on stage.  

Then Palmela comes to mind.

When myself and Loki first encountered Palmela.  Down at Club DEL Monte in Mitte.  We were fired up.  

On Hoffmans and 'jellies'.  

She scrambled over.

Hey, do you like fun?  Do you like my tits man?  Pulling up her top to reveal a fine set of perfectly formed breasts.  I drunkenly nod my agreement staring at her knockers.  She's a cock!She's a cock!  Do you like her cock too?  (Loki can spot 'em a mile away.)  I know I have that capacity for change.  But I can only take it so far.  I'm too selfish.  To talk like her father did as she cries like a baby.  Whispering through the sobs - I'm a good girl.  I hold her head, stroking her hair.  Her shiny black eyes peering up at me.  Detatched and void through thick mascara.  I see myself reflected in the polished stones.  A prisoner of her gaze.  I want to hold her closer.  Protect her.  But do you like her cock too?  The woman in him is strong.  She parts her lips.  And I must.  Drill incision.  

 

Maybe I could learn.  Learn to love.  Love Palmela.  

 

This is how I escape the darkness.  Throwing feathers around the hole.  Drenching the angel in monkey blood.  Self harm is the most endured form of learning so I've been told.  Hell of the head.  Heaven of the body.  When there's nothing left and all I deem valuable is worthless.  Then the wormhole turns in on itself. . .  and scalds my sorrows with celestial rays.

..................................................

 

We're ready to go!  Unprecedented in timefuck.  I don't stop to wait for me.  That's the act of a desperado.  Palmela ain't fecund.  And I ain't Mr. Friendly stroking hand to cock with the fags and the klicks.  The stage is lit up, the audience sombre.  Klaus sits on the fader like an anxious penguin and keeps the mic hot.  I like it that way.  Even when I'm closer to the sky.  Flying until I disappear into the unknown.  But I KNOW I can't handle nothing.  A lost dance.  A stampede.  A swollen mickey.  A lonely heart.  The space in between.  ”He fights like Marvin Hagler.  Face like Steve McQueen.  Oh my father, oh my father, oh my father's mean . . .”  A  klavier that is more piano than forte.  Every so often an isolated handclap.  The crowd is scattered and confused.  Hoping at some point in time it's all going to make sense.  But my timing has always been off.  Christmas arrives too early or.  The money arrives too late.  Or not at all.  Living in the box with a blank screen in front of me.  Playing for an empty scratch.  ”. . .little boy you are devotion, you pushed through and divided that space”.

 

It's over now and out of my hands.  

The hat is pushed around.  45 bucks and 3 CD's.  And that's a good night!  The usual talk afterwards.  Some say that my act is quite theatrical.  Others are impressed at how I winged that song about the hoodoo gypsy.  Mostly people end up talking about themselves.  This is where I feel uneasy.  It's not that I'm adverse to other people’s thoughts & affections blah blah.  I'm just not that interested.  Rightly and a few others start up with the piano and guitars.  I'm relieved.  I can withdraw into this hiatus and be anonymous in the safety of the music.  The beer is flowing, fueling the concoction of melody.  Rightly and the boys are on fire and I'm alive.  Crooning and clanging on that old soft piano.  Bottles are broken and time-honored classics mangled in a stupefied bash.  Until at last they kick us out of there.  We end up back down at 73 but that place is dead.  It's early morning and the music is finished.  There's nothing more to it except catch a tram.  So glowing with a hat-ful of song and a gut-ful of sauce, I heave my gear in the freezing cold and wait for the next trolley to arrive.  It's forty minutes before one clatters up the track.

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i feel no affinity. . .to the dogs anymore. . .i'm the alpha male you see and i watch my belly as it grows. . .and my hair falls out and my tooths. . .get yellow and loose. . .the dream advises full. . .of disguises. . .and codes that i need to crack. . .tik tak. . .that's a wham bam up the gikker. . .no rest for me mister cos i'm all for a soiree. . .just about half past free – that's a tall free. . .indeed i thought it would be nice to be free. . .of thought. . .first and foremost. . .like the holy ghost. . .never was depressed or worried about the future or the mortgage he had to pay. . .for chrissake. . .who made who?

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The edges are blurred.  Morning has come and gone.  And Lou Reed is dead.  All that remains - remnants of the subconscious left hanging like drapes in an abandoned house.  I've been awake for hours.  Lying on a matress.  In my room.  With my eyes closed and scratching my arse.  This is how I spend my time.  If it weren't for arse-scratching, suicide would've been the way years ago.  It's that simple.  I finally tear my hand away and pull myself up from the floor.  Standing there looking around the room.  At the blank walls.  Blank except for the word.  Sprayed in red.  Wojski.  Then the furnance.  The matress.  My desk.  And that's it.  And Lou Reed is dead.  I put on Symphonique No. 3 (ode to Venus) by Moondog.  I need to dull down the pounding in my head.  I'm dehydrated but I can't drink.  I can't eat.  The sweats take hold.  I know I'm going to puke very soon and it's going to be bad.  There's a knock at the door.  It's Rightly.  He's come to help with the rest of my shit.  I'm leaving this town.  Tonight.  Bound on a bus for Stockholm.  I ask him his plan and he pulls out a crossword puzzle.  You can't “google” self knowledge – says he.  He continues - If you are a learned man does it stand to reason?  For a reasonable man is not necessarily a learned man.  All we have learned has been passed down from another.  All except self knowledge which can only be discerned by the individual -.  I run to the jacks and retch a glob of bubbly white bile.  The sweat seeps out of me taking with it all my strength, all my purpose.  And all the while Rightly's voice, unperturbed, clatters about the place like a stone in an hallow shell.  I'm weak as a kitten.  Completely empty and chilled in an icy sudor.  

 

The journey to the central bus station is lengthy and subdued.  I have some bags and my guitar.  Luckily one jaunt on the S-Bahn is all it takes.  Rightly dissects the performances from the night before.  His words blast out like a machine gun, veering off this way and that on a flagrant course.  Bound for some destination that is beyond my regard.  My head and stomach are throbbing from a day spent hurling in the can.  And I'm still not out of the woods.  The station is crowded and the bus is waiting.  Overflowing with punters and luggage.  It's come all the way from Brno in Czech Republic.  The two drivers are stuffing the remaining bags in there.  Any free gap is filled.  I'm wondering if I'll get my shit on the thing at all.  Commuters stare out, blankly dreaming of a journey's end hours from now.  I bum a rolly from Rightly and watch as the smoke disappears into the night.  I want to be that smoke on the breeze.  With no form or substance, no direction.  Just floating into nothing.  A great sadness towers over me and I feel a sudden urge to go at myself.  Wank my tears away.  Brush them under the carpet of malfeasance along with the idea of me.  The bus is packed and ready to go.  Those Czech guys are geniuses in the art of concealment.  I hug Rightly and exchange promises of keeping in touch, respected visits and so forth.  And of course the brothel handshake.  I clammer onboard and the bus bales out onto the street.

....................................................

 

My dream of Berlin relieves me when I'm lazy with slumber and tired .  Tired of drying out the lining of my brain.  I feel out of control but I fell for it.  Living off the fumes from a rancid tank.  Just like Loki and Palmela and Rightly.  The tank is empty now and I don't feel like filling it up again.  I've too much to love.  

The idea of me.  Forget all that.  What else is there – inside of you?  Inside of you – what else is there?  That you KNOW?  Doomed to belief. I believed in the comic heroes.  I believed in Fender Telecaster.  I believed in Berlin.  I believed in the artist.  In ME.  Ultimately, I believed in a false destiny.

 

It's coming up to midnight and the bus hits the autobahn.  All is quiet except for the hum of the engine.  Running smoothly.  People are sleeping.  Some have been on this trip for thirteen hours.  Another seventeen to go until Stockholm.  Some trip.  I decide to catch a few zee's myself.  So I lay my head back.  Close my eyes and stop.  Believing.