Tag Archives: Warren Ellis

Someone Else Noticed

Nick Cave wrote another book.  It’s called The Sick Bag Song, and tonight at The Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, he read selections from the book to a live audience.  I was there, of course.  I arrived at 5:45pm and stood in line with all the young goths.  My younger brother arrived at 6:30pm and bought us each a Schlitz.  A security guard came around and asked if we already had tickets.  I nodded that yes, we most certainly did.

“Then why are we in this line?” my brother asked, innocently.

“Because the seats are unassigned.”

“And this starts at…8:00pm?”

I smiled.  He smiled.  I was happy he had agreed to come to something few people would be interested in seeing with me.

I don’t yet own a copy of The Sick Bag Song, but based on what I witnessed tonight, I can confidently describe it as poetic exploration colliding with memoir.  Nick Cave wrote the book during his tour of the United States last year, and, as he said tonight, the narrator is, “A guy who also happens to be on a tour of the U.S. and looks a lot like me.”  Each chapter is titled after a different city visited on the tour, although the chapters aren’t telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  At least I don’t think they are.

The selections I heard were mostly depictions of actual events told with Nick Cave’s signature fantastical doom.  In a story about meeting Bob Dylan at Glastonbury, for instance, Nick Cave writes that the torrential rain had formed a lake that separated his trailer from Bob Dylan’s.  Naturally, Bob Dylan climbed into a boat powered by a bag of wind to cross the lake — or as Nick Cave said, “moat” —  and say “hello.”  The boat bit may not have happened, but I have read about Nick Cave meeting Bob Dylan in the rain at Glastonbury. The chapter titled “Los Angeles,” however, is more of a fever dream about a woman on a bed in a hotel in West Hollywood.  The narrator calls himself a “small God,” and then, after the woman raises her “gash” to the sky, the narrator becomes an “erect God.”  Those are the only details I can recall of the writing.  Jim Morrison would have loved it.

(To change things up a bit during the live reading tonight, we were shown a film of Nick Cave reading this chapter.  I admire and adore this man, but there are times where I find him downright hilarious, regardless of whether or not he’s trying to be.  This film was one of those times.)

Nick Cave himself was in a comparatively pleasant mood.  He smiled more than once, and didn’t even get too cross when his headset was having technical difficulties.  “It works for Madonna,” he cracked.  He also seemed very excited to read from his book.  An interviewer sat on the stage with him and asked him questions to keep things moving, and Nick Cave always went back to asking, “Shall I read some more?”

Finally, we reached the Q&A section of the show.  I was at a different Nick Cave Q&A last July, during which he seemed horrified to be the star of the evening.  That night, I managed to summon every bit of courage I had and ever will have, and asked him a question using complete sentences.  He answered it, but I only remember my question and not his answer.  I remember speaking clearly into the microphone and thinking, “Holy shit, I’m not fucking this up!”  When I was finished talking, I steadied myself on the seat in front of me.  My heart was racing and I was sweating underneath my new Free People dress.  “Nick Cave is addressing me,” I thought, as I concentrated on my breath.  According to my dad, who witnessed the entire thing, Nick Cave gave me a very thoughtful answer.

“I think he really appreciated your question,” my dad whispered.  “No one else has asked him anything good.”

I didn’t feel like putting myself through that kind of stress again.  Besides, I still haven’t read The Sick Bag Song.

No one in the audience asked a truly great question this evening either, but Nick Cave did a truly great job of remaining dry and funny as opposed to dry and dour.  Someone asked him about what he said earlier regarding the narrator that “looks a lot like” him, and whether Nick Cave the man is different from Nick Cave the rockstar.  He confirmed, “That just becomes who you are.”

Nick Cave wears fierce suits.  Nick Cave is married to a model.  Nick Cave idolizes Elvis and has not yet quit smoking cigarettes.  This is who he presents to the world, and this is who he is.  Amanda Palmer once wrote a great blog about meeting Nick Cave in a hotel after he had picked up his dry cleaning.  To me, her anecdote authenticates the whole thing.  Nick Cave isn’t being handed a rented suit by a stylist before each show — the suits that transform him from Skinny Australian Guy into Nick Cave are his own Goddamn suits that he drops off at the cleaners.

I wonder how he feels about wire hangers.

More questions went by.  “What’s a movie you saw recently that you loved?”  “I saw that movie ‘Foxcatcher.’  Fucking amazing.”  “How do you feel about music streaming and art no longer being tangible?”  “I have a manager that handles all that.”  “Are there any new bands that you follow?”  “No.”

A young man stood up to ask a question.  He was wearing a red sweatshirt.

“I drove here all the way from Alaska to see you,” he said.  Nick Cave was sweet.  He managed a, “thank you.”  The young man continued, “What I really want is to ask you about Gladiator Part II, but instead I’ll ask you about what you said about being the man versus the mask. Does that get difficult? I mean, Tom Waits does it and he does fine with it, but it killed Hemingway.”

Dorky, for sure.  Not only was he asking a question that had already been answered, he also referenced Nick Cave’s fabled failure of a Gladiator Part II screenplay.  I cringed.

Nick Cave didn’t care about any of that.  Instead, he immediately became serious and snapped, “I don’t wanna say anything about Tom Waits.”  The guy tried repeating the question with greater clarity, but Nick Cave cut him off: “I can’t say anything about Tom Waits.  I don’t wanna go there.”

This absolutely fucking alarmed me.  “I don’t wanna go there”?  Go where?  Is Tom Waits a “there” that you cannot go to, Nick Cave?  What’s the T?  Spill it, Nick Cave!

Earlier in the evening, someone had asked Nick Cave why artists “stop growing.”  He said that he didn’t know because things are “different for everyone.”  Could it have been that Nick Cave didn’t want to speak about Tom Waits because he felt he’d be speaking for Tom Waits?  Or did he want to avoid the subject of Tom Waits at all costs because he was afraid of letting loose and tearing Tom Waits apart?

Nick Cave got quiet again.  “Do you wanna ask a different question?” he said to the young man from Alaska, who replied, “What happened to Gladiator Part II?”  Nick Cave didn’t crack a smile as he said, “That’s between me, Russell Crow, and a trash bin.”

The Q&A ended.  The theater emptied.  My brother and I made our way to our cars.  We were in separate lots on opposite sides of the street, so we hugged on the sidewalk and parted ways.  As I walked toward my car, I spotted the guy from Alaska.  I recognized him instantly, thanks to his red sweatshirt.  He was fishing something out of the back seat of his car.  I decided to talk to a stranger.

“He got really strange at the mention of Tom Waits, didn’t he?”

He looked up at me, startled.  A wad of chewing tobacco peaked up from behind his lower lip.  His eyes widened as he realized what I was referring to.

“Oh my God!” he yelled, doing his best not to spit his chew in my face.  “I’m so glad someone else noticed that!”

“Yeah,” I said, becoming very pleased with myself for deciding to stop and chat, “I wonder if he didn’t wanna talk about Tom Waits out of respect, or because, ya know, he doesn’t like Tom Waits.”

“Exactly!” he shouted.  “That would be so weird!”

“Well, you can’t Google search one of them without finding a picture of the other, I said.”

He spat tobacco juice into a cup.

“It’s Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits,” he said.  “I mean, that’s it.  It’s them.”

“And Leonard Cohen,” I said.

“Right!”

He paused.

“Can I hug you?”

Because we live in a fucked up world, I immediately took note of whether or not the back door of his car was still open.  I figured that if it were open, he could easily shove me inside and drive me back to Alaska with him.  Screw it, I thought.  Hug the Nick Cave fan who drove here from motherfucking Alaska and said the words “Gladiator Part II” to Nick Cave’s face.  Hug him.  Hug a fellow crazy fan who bought a ticket to this random fucking show at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.  Hug the guy who is just as distraught as you are by the idea that Nick Cave doesn’t like Tom Waits.  Do it, Steff.  Just do it.  You’re safe.  Nick Cave fans don’t kill each other.  There’s no crying in baseball.  Goonies never say ‘die’.

I hugged him.  He hugged me back.  When we broke our embrace, he repeated, “I’m so glad someone else noticed that.”

We chatted for another minute about the show.  He spit more tobacco juice into his cup, but this time he apologized for his “disgusting habit.”

“I would love to ask Nick Cave if he ever hears from Shane MacGowan,” I said.

He chuckled briefly, and added, “I would love to ask him if he would give me Warren Ellis’s phone number.”

Our BFF moment was over.  He had changed the subject from Shane MacGowan to Warren Ellis.  I wasn’t disappointed, but there was nothing more to be said.

“Have a safe drive back,” I said.

“You have a good night,” he replied.

I turned and began to walk away.  Over my shoulder, I heard him yell, “I am so glad you said something!”

I turned my head and smiled at him, then continued to my car and smiled to myself.  I do hope he has a safe drive back, and I do hope Nick Cave at least respects Tom Waits, and I do hope that everyone gets to experience the occasional pleasant interaction with a stranger who is only as crazy as they are.

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Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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