One day last week, Tuesday I think, I woke up to grey skies. A regular occurrence in pretty much every town I’ve lived in, but here in Ciudad de México, I’ve woken up to blue skies pretty much every morning. Not a bad life, I know, and I’m not complaining, but for someone who grew up in England, it’s a little monotonous.
But then, it’s like missing pork pies or scotch eggs: I eat food here that intrinsically is way better than either of those, but sometimes, I just wanna stand in the kitchen dipping a flaky sausage roll into a small pool of HP sauce.
Last night at the baseball game, I was chatting to my friend. We were having one of those “what do you want from life?” conversations. It’s something I think about fairly abstractly a lot. But it was the first time in a while where I’ve vocalised those thoughts. I’ve moved around a lot over the past three-and-a-half years. That movement has kind of mirrored my mental state: unsettled. But I’m beginning to fully appreciate that I really do like living in the Americas. Particularly Mexico. I feel happier here than in Europe. On a surface level, the food is fantastic, the weather is great, I can turn on the TV and watch English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Argentinian, and Mexican football. I can go to baseball games, I can watch Major League games on telly, and in the winter, there’s a ton of NFL, too. It’s a city that feels like it’s doing its best just to keep up: there are potholes, broken pavements, constant massive amounts of trash, a swelteringly hot subway that has to have separate women-only sections because men behave like dicks, but it’s still awesome. And the people are happy.
Not that people in England or Germany aren’t happy, but from what I see on a daily basis, life is hard for Mexicans. They work hard. And long hours. For money that to you or I would be insulting. My rent is more than a prison guard earns in a month. And it’s still half of what I was paying in Berlin. Still, when prison guards earn so little, it’s no wonder that narco lords mysteriously escape from prison here.
Importantly, though, I feel happier here. The same old brain spume sloshes around being ugly and stinky, but I’m getting better, I think. So I wonder if this is the place. Of course, that brain stink taps on my shoulder at 2am now and again to ask if I will ever be truly happy and settled in a place. But fuck him, I like it here. And I’m getting close to the point where I’m thinking of trying to get resident’s visa (or whatever it is called here).
The place where I live is a strangely arranged building. This apartment has two floors which criss-cross with the apartment across the hall: our ground floor is at the front of the building, and our upstairs is at the back of the building. Across the hall, their apartment has that alignment reversed. The people in that apartment moved in after I did, and the very first weekend, they left a note mentioning that their bedroom is above our lounge’s balcony and that if we are talking on the balcony, it disturbs them. The note was signed, “Shakira.” For a nano-second, I got my hopes up. Not sure of her or her fella’s nationality, but the note she left was in English (she’d obviously heard me talking on the balcony), but it wasn’t perfectly written. The sort of mistakes non-native speakers make were visible. (Still, her English is way better than my written Spanish.) The irony is, the couple of times that we’ve been talking on the balcony are eclipsed by the all-day-long yap yap yapping of her dogs. She’s got five of the fuckers. All tiny terrier things. It’s only a couple of them that yap, though. A couple is enough. The other day, I heard a man and woman talking in the corridor, I was near the front door, so spied through the peephole. First thing I noticed: it wasn’t that Shakira. This one had dark hair and even if it was a wig to fool the photographers, I’d recognise Shakira’s ass if it was on the other side of a peephole. And this is the thing I find odd: she spoke to the yapping dogs that greeted her at the door in accented English. “Why are you making so much noise? What the fuck!? What the fuck!? What the fuck!?” Maybe Mr. Shakira is a native English speaker. Or maybe her spidey senses knew I was on the other side of the peep hole and it was all for show.
Some house keeping over at the main site. I’ve not done a huge amount of FFF stuff so far in 2011. Mostly is is because of the Flip Flop Fly Ball stuff. I’ve been doing a fair bit of new stuff over there because, with the book coming out in July, I need to keep up my, ahem, presence. After the sales disasters that were Fun Fun Fun and Atlas, Schmatlas, I’d quite like a successful book, so my free time is spent creating new baseball-themed stuff. But there is new stuff now and again. The iPod and iPad drawings all go up there in the Much Fuck it’s Drawing section.
I have, though, done a wee tinker with the home page, introducing a brief news section near the top of the page, so if you do periodically check in over there, you’ll see what the most recent stuff is. And I’ve updated the G Things section, which is basically filleting some of the better arty little things that I quickly chuck up here on the blog but don’t really command their own page on FFF. I go through the blog maybe once every six months to do the filleting, but it’s been about two years since I last did it, so if that interests you it’s there.
And there’s some other stuff that kind of does deserve to be given a proper home, and is now listed on the main page. First, something from 2008-09, the Public bathroom trilogy. Three videos of me washing my hands in three museum bathrooms. A video of a Squirrel playing last summer in Toronto. A couple of paintings, collectively titled Rooftop parties. Another painting, this time with a Spanish title, Nuestra nada de Guadalupe (Our nothing of Guadalupe). And a wee wee story I wrote from FAQ Magazine, called What are you thinking about? And the recent new Twitter search poem has been added to that growing-at-a-glacial-pace collection of “poetry.”
I’m trying to be a bit more organised with my time, and I have about 40 Post-its on the wall and many of those are non-baseball notes for stuff I’d like to do for FFF soon, so fingers crossed.
Seeing as though this post is becoming a bunch of unconnected blah blah, I’d like to recommend listening to a recent podcast from The Word magazine. If you are outside the UK you may not know the magazine, and this may not be of interest, but for people of around my age, the recent podcast (episode 170) featuring Neil Tennant is excellent. If you grew up with the Ellen/Hepworth/Tennant era of Smash Hits, you’ll love it. Just to hear those three people talking about stuff is brilliant. It wouldn’t be over-estimating things to say that the early to mid eighties era of Smash Hits was a massive influence on my life. Pop music seemed clever, funny, stupid, and important in that magazine and I still thing of certain popstars by their Smash Hits-given nicknames. The Internet is awesome, obviously, but when virtually all of my pop music information came from one radio station (BBC Radio 1), one TV programme (Top of the Pops), and one magazine, I felt like it was my little world. I’d go home at lunchtime because I lived really close to my school, write down the top forty when it was announced and rush back and pass around the piece of paper so we all knew what was going up or down. Obviously, the charts mattered back then. And listening to this podcast reminded me of so many things from that time: the smell of sweets and cigarette smoke at the shop on the corner, the older kid who worked in the newsagent who kept a copy of Smash Hits for me every fortnight, and above all, the big stack of records in the dining room. So many memories lead back to that stack of records. And in particular, Dare by the Human League; a record my father bought, and that I also adored. I still get it out (well, scroll through my iTunes folder) every month or so. And it’s still probably my favourite album of my lifetime.
While I’m on the topic of podcasts: am I alone in feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of them? I subscribe to a few, ditch some, keep others, and I’m kind of at the point now where I really think I’m going to have to ditch podcasts that I actually like listening to. And I only subscribe to fourteen podcasts. I’ve got this perennial backlog of 8-15 hours of stuff. Every day I try and get through some, make some headway, but I never seem to get any where. And I end up feeling the burden of those backed-up hours. And sometimes, and this is insane, I feel guilty listening to music when I “should” be working on my podcasts. That’s not right, is it? Right now, because I’m typing, I’m not listening to a podcast, but part of me is trying to type quickly so I can get back to drawing and listening to men talking about the Houston Astros on the Baseball Prospectus podcast. I am, right now, listening to music. Fine fine musc. The Ronettes. Fuck, Phil Spector was good. And this kinda ties in with something else. Something else which deserves a new paragraph.
I love a whole heap of music written and produced by Phil Spector. He was awesome at his job. Utterly stunning songs. But, as Ronnie Spector’s autobiography described, he seems to be a, for want of a better word, cunt. I, as I assume you do, have differing feelings about people who are famous. I’m not talking about X Factor/Paris Hilton types. I’m talking about people who are famous because of some inherent talent in their chosen field. I’d rather Christian Bale hadn’t have been a dick in that tape, but ultimately it’s not gonna stop me enjoying his work. Similarly with ex-baseball player Barry Bonds. He, rather famously, was often a very rude man, particularly to the press. But somehow, I overlook that because he was a fantastic player. And it’s not his job to be a nice person. And with Phil Spector, I wonder where my morality lies if I can still listen to Baby, I Love You and not give a thought to the poor woman he shot dead, and the physical and mental abuse he heaped on Ronnie Spector. This is because I hate hate hate hearing Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part 2 being played at baseball games. My morality drew a line there. I still like the song. It’s pretty cool in a sludgy, stompy way, and it’s a pretty perfect song to hear at a sports event. But goddam, it irks me so when I see children clapping along and shouting “hey!” at games. It makes me want to write and print a flyer and distribute it to all the parents at the game pointing out exactly who is singing the song that your child is dancing to. Why do I get all Daily Mail about the Gary Glitter song, but not about Phil Spector? It’s not a particularly vociferous “think about the children” thing, cos most of the time, I don’t give a shit. I hate that adults have to put up with things aimed constantly at children. Don’t do that, children might be watching! Fuck off, that’s where parenting comes in (says the childless man). Or is it something a little more depressing to find out about myself: that I don’t want to give up on Spector’s music? But, because I don’t overly care about Glitter’s music, I can live without it, thus my morals push through my desire to stomp my feet and shout “hey!”? I don’t know, but suspect that is probably the case.
Anyway, this post is getting long. One more thing. I got back from the game last night, a little tipsy, baseball in hand, all happy and shit, popped open my laptop, checked Twitter, and saw a tweet from some guy I don’t know that said this: my fiancé and I got your Atlas Schmatlas Larry David tattooed. Hope that’s cool with you. (The Minipop drawing he’s talking about is featured in the Atlas, Schmatlas book. You can see the Minipop about half way down this page. The book, by the way, is still available from Amazon, should you wanna spend some money on a book that has been described as “awesome” by me when talking about it to a friend.) Here’s a photo of their tattoos. This, quite frankly, blows me fucking mind. That someone would like a drawing I did enough to have it tattooed. That’s fucking nuts. In a good way.