Friday, 28 December 2012

Bad Religion

I liked American Gods, I liked Anansi Boys so I was eager to read Good Omens.  I liked Crowley, I liked the first half of the book but inevitably it's sensibilities (and supreme Pratchett Englishness) overpowered the narrative and I stopped caring.  I don't know if it suffers from having two very distinct voices and there were some seriously good moments especially with the Four Other Horsemen but I wouldn't look forward to reading it again in the same way I'd look forward to checking in with Shadow.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Extra rye, easy on the eye

There's a lot made of the fact this is Bukowski's most autobiographical work but there's so much more to it than that.  I was disappointed in Hollywood, I had expected more the first time I read it and the second it just felt a little inflated towards the end but Ham on Rye is a masterclass in writing.  Perfect storytelling, perfect humour and the writing is as tight as lazer guided as it's ever going to be.  It has echoes of Fante without coming across as an imitation, it's beautifully penned and realistically romantic with every sentence.  I wish I could read it again for the first time.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

That's Me In The Spotlight

SO I GOT an author spotlight on an excellent blog ran by Californian writer Ryan L. Schneider.

It's a little intimidating writing knowing that your work will be pawed through by another writer. He's a prolific gent. If you're a fan of literature you should click [here] to check out his bibliography and [here] for the 10 Questions spotlight on his site.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Fante-tastic!

There's nothing to say here.  Fante is one of the most amazing writers who has ever graced the page and Ask the Dust is a book that will open a door in your mind you never even knew was there.  It's made even better when you read The Road to Los Angeles and you can see his working out, his blueprint for Bandini.


Friday, 7 December 2012

Get Lost!

AND DO IT FOR FREE.  Last Saturday my roman á clef novel Lost Angeles was released with a special offer for good measure.  This weekend you'll be able to grab yourself a copy of The Drunken Adventures of Doug Morgan in the Land of the Matinee Idol (or Lost Angeles as it's more commonly know) for free by clicking [here] if you're in the United Kingdom/Ireland/Any small Island to the west of Europe and [here] if you're from the U.S of A.

A few friends stumbled upon it recently and I warned them off reading it because I'm a shambolic impression of a man but I wanted to thank them for being excellent people and if you really want to thumb the 330 pages of my mind this weekend might be a good time to get it.

The paperback is also available [here] it's not free and it's not going to be...I've got to eat and make rent you know.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Talk about how much you like the style...

There are a ton of 'wannabe writers in bars' novels but I like how deWitt works with the genre to subvert your expectations.  He's an incredibly clever and atmospheric writer, there are moments are sheer brilliance, moments of dark depression and a sliver of triumph that smacks of the best and worst of humanity.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Lost Angeles - A Novel

SYNOPSIS
Full time whiskey enthusiast Doug Morgan is on a downward spiral.  Over the past two years the Irish man has played witness to the slow and steady decay of his life and he’s finally called time.  Haunted by an unacknowledged pain Doug swaps the white collar nine to five of Belfast for one last charge into oblivion in the City of Angels.  A scotch-soaked stranger in a strange land Doug befriends a series of like minded and self destructive vagabonds who, like him, are aiming for chaos.  In a city that sees thousands of people per year come to be discovered why has one man come to get lost?





CULTURAL REFERENCES
Doug Morgan owns a first edition of George Orwell’s 1984 which the Russian hostel owner destroys in front of him.


The Michelangelo Antonioni film La Notte is referenced as a Christmas present purchased for Doug by former girlfriend Kelly.  The film is about a relationship that is falling apart.


The screening at the Egyptian Theatre of The Naked Street took place in 2006.  Louden attended this performance, a performance which Anne Bancroft was scheduled to introduce before her death.

Doug and Billie watch Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now! which is the author’s favourite film and where his blog Knifed in Venice take it’s name.

While in conversation with an independent film producer, Winston, about his forthcoming Black-Naziploitation film Swasucka Doug references The Black Gestapo and Women’s Camp 119, these are Exploitation titles that Louden is interested in.

Lost Angeles - On Sale Now!

Irv's on Historical 66
IT'S DECEMBER 1ST and my nerves are shot to shit.  Today I've had to publish my book; when I decided on December 1st it was a good date because it was so far away...now look at us.  Lost Angeles is my roman á clef (or at least attempt at roman á clef) neo-beat novel about an alcoholic who goes to Los Angeles in order to kill himself (though it's more cheery than it sounds).  There's going to be an introductory offer on it and at $0.99 you'll even have change from a buck.  Amazon Prime customers will be able to grab themselves a copy of it for free because they're special and more than a little spoilt.

If you're interested you can grab a copy of Lost Angeles [here] or you can click on the cover below.  All I'd ask if you like it leave a review and if you don't well you can't please everyone; take your frustration out on your children.







Friday, 30 November 2012

Ten Years of Six

WE WENT TO the Limelight tonight for Electric Six as they were re-touring Fire making tonight a trip back to 2002 when I still had a liver and Belfast had a bowling alley that didn't look like a prostitutes bedroom.  It was all going well until I noticed the wave of people showing another wave of people photos of their kids on their iPhones.  Nothing like a tit drainer clutching an Eeyore to scream "Rock and Rolllll!"  There's something wrong with these people; anyway my book is out tomorrow and it would be lovely if you picked yourself up a copy.  It's important to point out that Dick Valentine has still go all the stage presence of a 19th century gentleman with a psychedelic addiction and an erection.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

This man is magical...fact

Bukowski is magical.  I'm still amazed how he manages to sum up in a handful of throw away words what other writers take pages and pages to flirt with and still can nail.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Knocked-Out

Donald Ray Pollock's voice is refreshing, powerful and more than a little dark.  I'm looking forward to reading what comes next as he is a powerhouse of writing potential.  A downbeaten, cynical tonic of a writer.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Old School eBook

THE FIRST FEW COPIES of Lost Angeles has made their way to me from the printers.  It's all been incredibly abstract up until this point and now I'm riddled with the piss inducing realisation that people (probably not many but some) are going to read my thoughts, fears and demons and I'm going to be judged by them. 

Chapter 1 is still available to thumb through, you can access it by clicking [here].  I'll sign off before my insecurities whisper the truths that only they know and get the better of me, in the meantime here's a photo what I've birthed.




Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose


A President for all

THEY SAY NEVER discuss sport or politics in conversation but screw that. I happen to love sport (Go Celts!) and politics is something that is a little too important not to be discussed. Today Americans go to the polls to exercise their say and though I don't have a voice in the outcome as a frequent lover of the new world I hope to God they make the right choice.

On one hand you have a guy who is being blamed for an inherited economy from an administration that proliferated fear and tax cuts for the top 1%. Obama's biggest fault (though not his only one) is that he hasn't cleaned up an 8 year fuck-fest quickly enough. The other hand has the poster boy for everything that's currently wrong with the RNC and the single biggest reason I'm ashamed to be a white male. His biggest plus is that his running mate is worse...and can barely be classified as human.


Hands up for white (male) supremacy
& tax relief for my friends

These men preach freedom and democracy as foreign policy while at the same time are attempting to erode the freedom of half their own country's population can exercise over their own bodies.  Ask yourself this If this was a black or hispanic issue rather than a woman issue, would they be getting away with so much? Would it be seen for what it is?  White (male) supremacy anyone?  There is no excuse for supporting a part/politican/stance that attempts at every turn to justify and classify rape, vilify those seeking abortions or treat those unfortunate enough to find themselves on welfare like criminals on probation (Scott's piss take initative).  Republican candidates across the vast plain of the U.S of A are deeply out of touch - or would be if out of touch was the appropriate terminology.  The truth of the matter is that they are hideously out of date and belong in the dark ages, they are no greater evolved or enlightened than the ancestors who left Europe some five hundred years ago, all you have to do is take a long hard look at Rick Scott (Governor of Florida) to see what's rotten in their party.


Governor of Florida or Gentleman from
Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

The American President likes to call himself "The leader of the free world" and though there's a lot wrong with this soundbite it's downright laughable with a Republican in office who'll happily make sure that this notion of a "free world" doesn't extend to anyone with a cervix. 

Good luck America, go and have your say and remember Spike Lee...do the right thing!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lost But Now Found - Lost Angeles Debuts A New Literary Voice

THERE'S ONLY 30 days to go until the release on Lost Angeles and I've another glowing review below.

First novels are a notoriously tricky endeavour, they are sometimes a self conscious re-rendering of the author’s favourite writers and sometimes a clinical enterprise. Any writer will know that it takes time to find a voice, I was surprised then to find that Lost Angeles was Louden’s first offering.

Following the exploits of protagonist Doug, the novel opens on his self imposed exile to Los Angeles.  Beginning at the doors of the arrivals lounge the reader is plunged into Los Angeles. A pacy first chapter sets up the narrative for his Los Angeles adventure; gang fights in the golden arches, biker bars on Sunset Boulevard and unlikely acquaintances. There’s a thrill, drama and whiskey haze that sets the tempo. Louden then takes the step that even some more established writers baulk at; he creates a dual narrative which takes the reader into Doug’s past in Belfast and allows them to experience the events that have brought Doug to this point in his life.

The Belfast chapters are filled with Doug’s pre Los Angeles reality and give the reader an instant visceral look into a relationship that is going sour. It’s the sense of loss and recalibration of a life after an important long term relationship that the reader experiences with Doug. The juxtaposition of his hedonistic quest in the warm sunshine of Los Angeles, and the heartache of the Belfast chapters which are captured against the grey cold post-Christmas January sun, create a novel of depth which tells two simultaneous narratives to their joined conclusion.

The myriad of Los Angeles debaucheries are both witty and memorable but the undercurrent of the past simmers beneath the surface until begins to boil over into Doug’s present. As the novel draws with pace and fervour to its inevitable endgame the reasons for Doug’s vehemently destructive nose dive through Venice Beach are illuminated as the final chapters become compulsive reading.

Louden takes his readers by the hand through Belfast and Los Angeles, a writer who clearly knows both cities, they are written so they feel like a part of the narrative; two very different characters embodying the story that surrounds them.  The writing is open and colloquial and although it comes from a very male voice it has an attitude to emotion and vulnerability that will appeal to both genders. What makes this novel such a good read is the truth which seems to be planted firmly in the narrative. It has a voice which has been missing from the bookshelves; Bukowski with heart and emotion, Tony Parsons with sarcasm, degeneracy and sex. They come together to create a work startling in its individual voice.

It’s a fantastic first novel that delves into the picaresque genre, creating a very modern romantic hero, or perhaps antihero. A novel that can be read and re-read but will still retain its moment in time due to its episodic structure. It is an ultimately multifaceted piece of literature that at its heart beats a debauched, messed up look at love and loss.

-Dr Dawn Hargy PhD

Read the first chapter of Lost Angeles for free [here] before it comes out on December 1st 2012.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Going Postal

POST OFFICE - Charles Bukowski [1971]

Bukowski has a way of underwriting a story that cuts passed the posturing and delivers the raw unflinching truth.  Post Office is the first example of how a fantastic brain can create a pleasure for the eyes.  A hero for all us working class stiffs.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Lost Angeles – From Belfast to L.A., a Ride for the Reader

ANOTHER GREAT REVIEW of Lost Angeles has arrived from Wendy Powers, co-author of The Testament of Judith Barton who generously took time out of her schedule to not only read my little book but also to share her thoughts...

Doug, the protagonist and narrator of Dave Louden’s debut novel, Lost Angeles, may find himself lost as he navigates between memories of his native Belfast and the L.A. to which he’s run; but the reader is never lost in the sure hands of this storyteller.
From the opening chapter which catapults Doug into Los Angeles, straight off the plane from Belfast and into a near-fight in a fast food box, the reader is taken for a ride.  Louden owes a debt to Bukowski, but he has nevertheless his own original voice: wry, sharp and sarcastic, confident.  He has an amazing facility with words which may be a tribute to the Irish gift for story-telling, but is surely his own gift, too.  Doug is in control of the telling of the tale – if not his own life.
Louden has a knack for writing sentences that seem too off-hand to be coy, contrasting urban grit and philosophical ideals in phrases like "devour chicken wings like life does dreams.”  The writing feels as if it’s been written in a white heat, and it pulls the reader along for the ride. 
The punctuation flows lifelike, but hard to say if that is a fault of the writing or a very purposeful capture of the narrator’s voice.  It is a man’s voice, to be sure, one with which a female reader may occasionally have trouble connecting – especially in regards to the high number of sexual escapades, which make some chapters read as a Penthouse tale.  But having said that, they are entertaining chapters, to be sure.
Some female characters could bear to be more three-dimensional, less a fantasy or nightmare in Doug’s mind.  Though whether that is a fault of the story-telling, or a brilliant insight into Doug’s point-of-view, hard to say.  When we meet Kelly, the woman with whom Doug has had the best chance, perhaps of creating a long-term life, their relationship is already disintegrating; but she remains a force in the novel, a comparison against the many other women Doug meets, till it’s no surprise if yet still shocking in its sadness to find out that what drove Doug to L.A. was Kelly’s fate.
From the sunny days and neon-lit nights of L.A., to the rainy and dark winter afternoons of Belfast, Louden has an especial gift for capturing cities as if they were characters themselves.  As Doug walks through them, you feel these two cities’ respective breath on your back, their rhythm and beat, as a musical underscore to the story.
Louden also exhibits an admirable facility for handling changes in time and place.  From the narrator’s memories of childhood and lost loves in Belfast, to his episodic wanderings through L.A., the reader is whisked back and forth in time and place with ease.  The novel feels as if it must have been carefully plotted, yet reads with a naturalism that contradicts that.
Lost Angeles partakes of the picaresque genre, except that Doug does grow as a character, coming to grips with what has hurt him so by the end of the novel.  The story earns its ending, in which Doug, having exorcised his ghosts, or at least come to grips with them by staring them straight on, finds his calling.  This reader, for one, hopes that the author of Lost Angeles has, too.  The novel’s final sentence is perfection.


Lost Angeles is available from December 1st 2012 in Paperback and Kindle.
To read the first chapter click [here].

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lost Angeles

Four star review from Serenity's Lovely Reads for LOST ANGELES out December 1st 2012 on Kindle and Paperback.  See for yourself with the first chapter [here], reviewers looking an advanced copy can email me [here].

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cats Make Novels Easy

I HAVE JUST discovered the greatest thing that's existed on the Internet, it could well be the reason the Internet was created. I don't always need a reason to write, motivation comes easy when you're a white collar slave but if you're someone that requires a gentle push in the right direction check this out.

It's called Written Kitten and for every 500 words you pump into it you are delivered a new picture of a kitty-cat. Novels, novellas and poetry has never been so easy to pen.  I dumped the first chapter of my book into it and look what I got!
My mind is blown.  You can check out Written Kitten [here] and if you want please feel free to drop by and check out Chapter 1 of Lost Angeles [here].  I'm still looking reviews so if you'd like to read it all and for free drop me a line.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Let Them Eat Bat-Cake

I HAD A BIRTHDAY recently.  I'm pretty easy to buy for, usually anything Batman related or Exploitation related (for Knifed in Venice) and I'm good.  The better half bakes a lot, she used to bake more but she stopped so I didn't top out at 600lbs for my birthday but she takes up the baking challenge every year.  Every year she asks what cake I want for my birthday, every year I say "Don't be worrying kid I don't need a cake" but she keeps pushing so I stick it to her.  Last year I asked for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cake.  She made it, Raphael of course, this year I yelped "Batman baby Batman!".
You wouldn't think I'm 31, she keeps me young.  I ended up with a decent enough wee haul.  Centurions DVD for the inner child (granted my inner child is a little closer to the surface than most), a grappling gun from original mould used to make the gun for Batman Begins and an Exploitation boxset to keep Knifed in Venice ticking over.  I'm told Molly (our pug) picked the Centurions DVD, I don't doubt it.  Check out her DVD programming [here].  The next photo isn't really me, she adds glitter and hearts to everything she touches, I'm more of a beer rings and surgical scars man myself.
Finally here's a little scale.  This god-damn cake lasted a week with a full office of munchers working at it between the hours of 9 and 5.  Respect.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Reviews for Lost Angeles

I'M ON THE look-out for people who'd be interested in reviewing my book Lost Angeles, which is due out on Saturday 1st December.  If you're interested in the kind of novel that happens, stories of everyday life, love, alcohol and the odd exchange of O faces then please hit me up [here] and I'll happily provide you with a copy of my book to review.

Chapter 1 is available [here].

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Quick Message

SO BELOW I've added chapter 1 of Lost Angeles.  I've recently discovered I'm more of a fucking cliché than even I was willing to believe as not only do I like a drink but I'm also incredibly reluctant to put anything I do out into the public realm.  I thought "maybe I could just write them for me to read" but that seemed incredibly stupid, even to me.  So I didn't.  Instead I've put chapter 1 out there.  They say your first book regardless of how hard you fight it will be (at least in part) autobiographical, I'll leave you with that and a hope you're not one of those fucking internet trolls with a high brow opinion and limited vocabulary...

Lost Angeles: Chapter 1

1

“How the fuck did I end up here?!” I asked myself. 
This wasn’t a matter of direction; I had always been a talented maps man.  I remember being a small child and being dragged out from my cartoons to go shopping with my mother.  Having taken a wrong turn on the Shankill Road with her we were facing the prospect of being blind lost in a part of Belfast which was, at the time, no friend of the Roman Catholic.  I was able to lead her back to the main road and familiar grounds because it was the same direction as a Superman action figure I had seen and immediately coveted.  I never got the figure. 
Situationally I ended up in fucking God knows where the majority of the time because of my mouth. Seemingly it’s cabled with a high speed fibre optic connection whereas my brain was still waiting it out on dial up circa 1994.  No, the reason for my quizzical rhetoric was a completely different one. It was however one I was unable to confront while my stomach was trying to digest itself.  Thankfully one hundred yards away was the welcoming glow of a McDonald’s Golden Arch, it’s depressing to admit that my first act on Hollywood Blvd was to capitulate to the capitalist agenda but I was fresh off a thirty hour budget journey and still slightly perplexed as to how the fuck I ended up here.  How it had all come to this moment.
The supposedly comforting thing about multi-national fast food establishments like these is that they’re all the same; their familiarity breeds a homing sense in the timid and unadventurous.  Wrestling my fatigue and hunger cramps I dumped one lead foot in front of the other down the most familiar street in the world.  I was almost hyperactive with the sensory stimulus that emanated from every Yellow Cab, hot dog vendor, beat-boxer and Marilyn Monroe impersonator.  The sound of a city was always my favourite part of travel.  The bus trip to Belfast International Airport and away from what passes as a buzzing metropolis in Ireland weaned me off the natural sounds of the urban sprawl.  Airport noises are the same in whatever city you reside in.  People of all Nationalities quizzing people of all Nationalities on where their gate is, inaudible P.A announcements and the crying of children never seems to gets tired, regardless of time zone.  The first time you can tangibly understand that you’re not in Kansas anymore is the moment the automatic doors in Arrivals spits you out on to the street like an un-wanting mother.  The temperature, the light, the hum infects you as you experience the heartbeat of the City. 
Eventually you get used to it and you lose the ability to hear its rhythm, the beautiful sound of a place in existence.  Los Angeles had an odd rhythm; you were convinced you knew it.  Hollywood had saturated your waking life with enough representations of it that you’re openly confident that when you experience it the life of the City will beat as one with the heart in your chest but that’s total bullshit.  The sound of L.A is louder, deeper, more fierce and animalistic than you know.  The night air is gentle, the automotive sound rampant and unrelenting, the glow dreamlike.  It’s one of the most exhilarating first encounters you’ll ever have, it seemed almost cheap to taint it with a burger flogging clown but the gut wants what the gut wants and mine had a hankering for a beef patty with the option of a toy.
I kissed goodbye to my cherry popping encounter with the sensory fuck that was Hollywood Blvd and stepped into the harsh fluorescent world of cheese burgers and supersize.  Unsurprisingly for a fast food eatery on the busiest street in the world the place could do with a little tenderness being shown to it.  The floor tiles were chipped and had an odd grey colour that imbued everyone who stepped on it and left them with a squeaky embrace with each step.  I was so hungry, so wowed by the life of the City that I hadn’t given consideration to how I was going to pay for my Big Mac meal.  I had money but it was all the money in the world to me. 
It was the noughties, a retarded Floridian pretending to be a cowboy was in the White House and it was two US Dollars to the one British Pound.  This meant if I was going to complete this transaction with the nice but clearly tired Ethiopian gentleman behind the counter I was going to have to tug at the ten thousand dollars in my back pocket.  I would have to pray to God that my wallet didn’t ejaculate my entire life out on to the floor in front of a vagrant half-conscious man in the corner of the room and a group of aspiring hip hop artists free-styling the shit out of it twenty feet from me.  Wriggling around, two fingers deep in my back end like some teenage boy unsure what he should be tugging at inside his girlfriend’s nether region I wrestled a fifty free.  Granted a little bigger, a little flashier than I was looking for but at least I wasn’t trying to fight six people off everything I had left in the world.
As I’m sized up by 25 Cent and M&M I take my first non in-flight meal in over a day and sit at what is the furthest table from everyone.  The G-Star sponsored crew offer up rhymes about bitches while the vagrant is now very awake, beyond alert and having a fully fledged argument with himself. 
            “If I had half the chances you had I’d been twice the man by now you ungrateful shit,” he snarled before spitting back with “you cheeky son-of-a-cunt, I ought to beat you were you lie.” 
The one-sided nature of the argument washed past the staff without the slightest flicker or acknowledgement.  If it wasn’t for the fact that he was causing great unease in the NWAnnabes I would have been slightly more disturbed and less amused by the whole situation.  Swallowing my burger in three bites I moved on to the fries, “before this night was over I might have to hit this place again” I thought.  The profanity spitting hobo let out an enormous roar.  His attempts to stab himself in the hand with a plastic knife proved more successful than he could have predicted.  The force placed on the white child-friendly blade caused it to snap creating a newly formed sharpened splintered shard of a utensil that, under his momentum struck bone between his index and his fuck you finger.  The howling of the hobo caused the gang of youths not to hear the door open nor the footsteps of five more children of the hip hop generation enter.  They didn’t hear the door close either but they heard the next part for sure. 
            “Oh no the fuck you ain’t muthafucka!” Howled the Alpha of group two. 
The tough bravado was back on the faces of the NWAnnabes as they got to posturing and what the kids kindly refer to as ‘fronting’.  Ten teens stand toe to toe deadeye fucking each other.  All the while, the staff considers whether to break them up, throw them out, stop the vagrant from assaulting himself any further, or call the Police.  As a child of “the Troubles” and a product of the green side of the City I was raised in a community that held a deep rooted mistrust towards authority.  I had often remarked how I had never seen so many fat unemployed people with such a dislike for bacon.  At that moment in time I would have gladly taken the blues and authority of Los Angeles’ finest.  But they didn’t call the Poe Poe; instead they simply sank to the ground behind the counter like a well rehearsed ballet. 
            “What the fuck you talkin’ about bro?!” Retorted the NWAnnabes leader “You know we settled this, you better believe we’ll settle this again.” 
            “Any place any time bitch!  This is our muthafuckin’ table and this fuckin’ crib, yawl better bounce your fuckin’ asses elsewhere.”
Which side drew first I wasn’t entirely sure of, when there are ten guns being waved around gangsta style by people barely old enough to understand the damage they can do it’s not really that important.  It wasn’t the first gun I’d seen in my life, that one was a lot bigger and spitting out rounds, it wasn’t even the first gun that was pointed at me, but it was the first that I was convinced could accidentally fire, setting off a chain of trigger fingers that would make Quentin Tarantino hard for months.  For some unknown reason I ate through the entire standoff.  Whether  the mundane reality  of a jetlagged Paddy munching carnivorously on whatever was put in front of him or the realisation that shit just got a little too real was what pricked their perception I don’t know but both sides dropped back down to Defcon One before agreeing to resolve this territorial dispute on another occasion.  The NWAnnabes were visibly relieved; I fought the urge to say something I deemed hilarious enough that it needed to be aired.  I figured even if they had shit their pants, five testosterone fuelled teens carrying Glocks wouldn’t take kindly to it being highlighted, especially in front of someone who was visibly doing the same.  As the vagrant’s face passed through forced concentration to orgasmic pleasure, the smell of the human condition coincided with a satisfied grin.  The sharp stench of shit hit the air-conditioned off-white cell of the McDonald’s consumer foyer as I took the last sip from my large Coke and forced myself back on to my barking dogs.  25 Cent made eye contact with me, for the first time since I walked into the eatery I was on the same page as the NWAnnabes.
            “Keep pimpin’ Easy D.” I said, half hoping that my Irish accent was thick enough and unfamiliar enough that the comment would sink in long after I was gone. 
He nodded and with the scent of an old man’s faecal matter burning at my nostrils I stepped back into the buzzing, beeping, blinking and screaming pulse of City of Angels.
The hostel was at the top of a flight of stairs over a beaten down tattoo parlour that had, somehow, managed to survive the regeneration project that was Hollywood attempting to take pride in its most famous street.  That’s not to say it’s the only tattoo parlour on the Boulevard, far from it –but it’s the only one that looks like you could catch ‘the herpe’ from flicking through the artists catalogue.  The hostel was run by a Russian gentleman and his son who both looked like they lived in their once-white vests.  It was far from the industry standard when it came to cleanliness, but at ten dollars a night cleanliness could stay right by the side of Godliness, my purpose resided in lower places than the house of the Lord.  I had been in such a rush to explore my temporary home-land that I had failed to notice that the six man dorm room I had been allocated was, at least, partially populated by the possessions of like minded explorers and deviants. 
Thirty hours of travel was wearing thick upon me and with the stench of an unfamiliar turd partying in my nasal cavities a strategic retreat was the best course of action.  I needed to feel like a new man if I was going to tackle this City on night one.  The showers were those you’d find in an older model of school or military barracks; communal, no privacy. The wooden swing doors of the shower acted as a shield of sorts from the toilets. They were a beautiful barrier to the visual assault of swinging man meat from the eye-level vantage point of the seated toilet dweller.  The shower heads needed a little bit of muscle and lubrication to get going but once they did I found that the two settings would either kill any libido known to mankind or leave you on the burns ward, it was made tolerable by the idea that the female showers looked exactly the same.
Cleaned up, dried off and dressed not to impress but to at least look less like a tourist who’s slept in the same clothing while sitting upright twice. I made my way down the narrow carpeted corridor that lead to my room.  Music and world accents emanated from the communal space at the front of the building.  The hall lighting flickered and flashed revealing the sins of years past, the neglect of what must have been a once loved building.  The fluids that have been wiped off the walls but never properly cleaned, the traces of damage that leads all the way up to the slightly warped ceiling, the…  Bumping into a six foot blonde in bikini top and Daisy Dukes threw me for a second; I hadn’t expected to have collided with someone who in any other City would be out on a Friday night.  Her face was without spot, wrinkle, flawless.  Her eyes soft blue and her lips inviting; when she spoke it was with a Scottish finish to her sentences.
            “Christ…sorry!” Stumbled out of my mouth. 
            “Sorry I wasn’t really looking where I was goin’.” She replied as she handed me back my cleansing products. 
            “Perfectly fine, though we should probably exchange insurance details just in case.” I said. 
            She laughs and a smile breaks “Jen,” she offered. 
            “Doug,” we shake hands.  It was playful but something was stirring. 
            “I’ve got to get back to my…” Pointing to the communal room. Jen smiles one last time before rushing off, her hips see-sawing me to near hypnosis. 
Entering my room I’m gifted with the sight of a grown man’s asshole as he stands bent over, naked, in the middle of the room rummaging through his suitcase. He is discarding everything seemingly everywhere looking for what must have been the treasure of the Sierra Madre. 
            “Woo!  Hope to god that thing’s not loaded, I’ve had enough things pointed at me this evening.” I quipped. 
Rising to a vertical stance he turns to face the sarcastic voice from over his shoulder. I hadn’t even met this person by traditional standards and I was already too familiar with his brown eye and now his man brain.  Forcing eye contact I introduce myself and once he throws on some fucking clothes he tells me his name is Rob.  He was originally from London but his folks took the decision to extract him from the English capital at an early age and relocate to Birmingham where his dad built ugly buildings for three decades. 
            “Concrete cocks!” Rob called them. 
Once retired his parents made the decision to move again, this time to Ibiza where they run a commune for fans of loud music and orally induced class B narcotics.  It was while working here that he met Rosie.  Not only was the alliteration pleasing but they were inseparable that entire summer on the party island.  Rosie ditched her job in Leeds by phone the night before she flew home and was waiting on Rob a week later when he touched down at the airport.  They were married before the Christmas of the same year and now, with the summer on the horizon again and their one year anniversary only just in the rear view he’s sitting in a hostel room smoking cigarettes while his wife is shacked up with a social worker named Gavin.
Rob was a man of fine spirit, especially when you consider the practical joke that faith had just fucking played on him.  He had arrived in Los Angeles a few days prior judging by the redness of his face and bald head.  As he lit another cigarette, the one that would see him power through to the ending of his story, he threw on a short sleeved Ben Sherman shirt.  A heavy black tattoo sat on his forearm; I passed no comment on it.  I had seen enough tattoos to be able to spy a cover job and something was telling me I would have got short odds on whose name once adorned his right wing. 
            “That is one sorry tale of woe you got there buddy.” I said as I exhaled a wave of smoke.
            “It is what it is man, you know?!” He batted philosophically. “I mean I miss her, I wanted to be with her for life, but life goes on.  You got any plans for tonight?” Asked Rob. 
            “Well seein’ that I’ve already bore witness to your balloon knot I was thinking about heading out and trying to forget some of the sensory interactions I’ve had tonight.” Said I. 
            “There was a few lads here yesterday, they’d said about the crackin’ time they had at some place called Rainbow.” Rob spoke with the kind of enthusiasm you’d associate with a child offering a well learned correct answer in front of a classroom of their peers. 
I had heard of the place, it sat on the Sunset Strip and was the perfect ice breaker for two comrades.  Agreeing I stuck my phone on charge and grabbed my wallet from the lining of my bag.  I momentarily debated about the wisdom of bring five figures to a bar with me but without being able to meet and examine the sphincter of the rest of the inhabitants of room 3 in the International Hostel I opted to trust the drunken version of myself over unidentified strangers…though it was a closely contested race.
Sunset Strip was awash with colour, noise, happy, tanned and catatonic faces.  In a one mile stretch it had more potential, living and regret than you could bathe yourself in if you had a lifetime to do little else.  The evening wind was warm, it felt like childhood summer holidays before we had to grow up and become aware of how incredibly shit the world had become.  Bar signs and street lights did battle for supremacy as the primary provision of light source.  Tipping the cab driver we present our I.D’s to the shovel handed doorman. He’s busy working some serious moves on impressionable young College girls who could no doubt buy and sell him when it came to street smarts. Entering the famous Rainbow Room was like stepping into your own biopic.  I wondered if things were different and if anything of importance ever came of my life who would play me in that movie, who would be crossing the Rainbow Room’s threshold in my place?   The weekend was in full swing in the City of Angels, bikers, bunnies and hipsters all congregated in the dimly lit church of alcohol.  The verbal buzz belonging to the place was loud enough to cancel out any music being played over the speaker system but I noticed just enough of Pet Sounds to feel at home.  While I was motionless, absorbing the atmosphere, Rob had been busy and charged to the bar as he emerged into my line of sight with several bottles of beer.  I take the moment required to applaud his amazing multi-buying skills before retrieving one.  We take refuge on the patio in a makeshift gazebo alongside the rest of Los Angeles’ dying breed of tobacco enthusiasts.
            “Friday night and we’re in L.A…amazin’ right?” mused my drinking buddy “So what’s brought you to L.A man?”   
“One tale of woe is my limit per day, you’re gonna have to wait till sunrise for that opus.” I said, throwing back my beer “Anyway, regardless of what brought me here I’m here it’s Friday night and some of these Angelians are makin’ me want to touch myself in ways that are not PG13.” I continued. 
We drank to new friends, to Los Angeles, and to touching ourselves and then we drank some more.  Conversation is a lost art form; conversation between drunken strangers requires a masterful brush stroke and was so fluid that we had to make a conscious effort to not spend the night cock blocking one another into oblivion.
With thirty minutes to last orders I replenished what had become our homage to recycling as empty green, brown and clear bottles lived side by side on a round wooden garden table of the Rainbow Room’s patio.  Rob, having brought his phone with him, was interrupted by an early morning call from the other side of the world and, based on the change in his voice and posture, it was Rosie.  With more beer than I could consume in half an hour I lit another cigarette only to be tapped on the shoulder by an athletic brunette in a dark tank top and a tartan skirt brandishing a red Marlboro. 
            “Can I bum a light?” She asked. 
            “Certainly can, could you sit with me while my friends on the phone so I don’t look like a complete fuckin’ loner?” I replied. 
She laughed before proceeding to park herself next to me and grab one of the surplus beers in one fluid movement; she was almost feline in motion, a nymph-like Julie Newmar as she oozed sexuality from the other side of the table.
            “Where you from cowboy?” She asked, exhaling smoke from her cigarette like it was her last.
             “Ireland.” I replied. I never trusted people’s understanding of geography, border difference or geo-political affairs to give me the rapturous welcome that being Irish often has when travelling across North America.  So I keep it simple, never Northern Ireland, never Belfast…just Ireland
            “That’s hot…like Colin Farrell right?” 
            Normally there’d be a correction inserted into the conversation, my own kind of editorial but she was too hot to argue with and my jeans were standing room only. To be honest a few hours of travel and a border aside she was right enough, which was good enough for me.
            “Aye.” Said I. 
            “I’m Sasha.” She smouldered. 
Sasha and I talked about music, KISS largely; she seemed unhealthily obsessed with the size of Gene Simmons’ tongue. We had agreed that if we ever encountered Mr. & Mrs. KISS she could have Gene show her it intimately in glorious Technicolor, while I went to my knees at the alter of Shannon Tweed’s almighty cooze.  Everything seemed sexual with her; she lived in Venice, less than a block from the Morrison house as she pointed out.  The way she constructed her sentences was mesmerising. She paired words and twisted phrases that shouldn’t have sounded appealing, yet when they dropped off her tongue they were absurdly sexual.  Rob arrived back at the table stressed. All of the evening’s camaraderie and good work trying to put Rosie in her concrete coffin in the heart of Birmingham was shot to shit.  He grabbed a beer and a cigarette and devoured both before looking up; he hadn’t noticed the addition of Sasha the sexy rock head.  He was so distracted by his brooding he certainly didn’t notice the momentary change of expression on her face as I slipped a third finger inside her. 
            “Oh…hello, you’ve been busy.” Rob directs to me “I’m Rob.” 
            “I’m Sasha, I’d shake your hand Rob and tell you how nice it is to meet you but I’ve currently got it wrapped around your friends cock.” 
If there was ever a moment that made man feel like God this was it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Robert Oppenheimer patted himself on the back, walked a little taller and generally felt like Mary of Nazareth’s Baby Daddy before the realisation that he’d just fucked up everything but it’s hardly a match for hearing a beautiful stranger talk about your wand.
The Oppenheimer moment was coming though. During the course of genital manipulation, Sasha’s proclamation and my unfamiliarity with her physical and relationship landscape, everything in the immediate area all conspired to fuck me. 
            “Hey what the fuck?!” Barked a hairy biker as he looks directly into my lap to see Sasha driving stick, before his eyes tracked the path of my arm as it became my hand and disappeared up and under Sasha’s skirt and deep into her lady purse. 
            “Oh fuck!” Sasha said before turning to look directly at me “You had better run Douggy!” 
            “Tank!!  Get over here some fuckin’ clown’s fuckin’ around with Sash!” The biker barked again. 
The wave of general revellers and Friday night roisterers parted as a torpedo-headed bull in biker leather and denim hurdled through bodies and bottles.  As Sasha is dragged away by the hairy one I jump to my feet with enough presence of mind to zip up before firing a handful of empties towards the charging cuckold.  Sprinting back into the bar I make a dart for the dance floor which will bring me back towards the front of the Rainbow Room, all the while someone is nipping at my heels.  Risking a drop in speed I glance behind me, Rob is tearing up the treads too.  We crash into the front door exploding it open into the face of one of the bikers.  The glass shatters, his head erupts with a blast of crimson before falling backwards over the bins to the side of the bar.  We race into the middle of the road and out in front of a Yellow Cab which by the grace of God- or whoever is in charge of miscellaneous hand jobs, stops and allows us to obtain safe passage.  As the cab pulls away the side of the vehicle is blasted by the body of an overgrown man in a rage.  I don’t think anyone could think less of either of us if we both admitted to carrying a brown load in our pants when faced with the prospect of having a gang of bikers ass stomp us to death.  Like all lapsed Catholics religion touches us at the most convenient moment and there’s few better than when facing a curbing.  The time for prayer was upon us, eyes were closed and the bull was at the door.  Just when bowels were about to be loosened a bellow from the front seat heralded the arrival of the Argentinean overworked, sweaty, superhero cabbie. His superpower may have been high cholesterol but he pulled the largest hand cannon I’d ever fucking seen, killed the engine and leapt from the cab. 
            “Who the fuck are you…fuckin’ with my cab!” Roared the Argentine. 
            We sat in the backseat, transfixed by the showdown outside. 
            “Fuckin’ moves fast for a big man, agile fucker!” I praised. 
            “What the fuck was that?” Asked Rob.  It was pretty non-accusatory but it wouldn’t take a Private Dick to know he was talking about my not-so private dick. 
            “I was as shocked as you but that lady had hands like a sculpture.” I replied.
            “I’m sure her ol’ man will appreciate that.” Clipped Rob. 
            I laughed, which set him off as the nervous energy escaped the both of us.  Having fended off our would-be murderer with his canon and barrages of Argentinean curses Supercabbie returned to drive us back to Hollywood Boulevard.  We found out we had a lot in common, he was a Manchester United nut and worshipped Gabriel Heinze, who had played left back for the Red Devils. Pleased to discover fellow United men he invited us to come visit him and Mrs. Cabbie in their secret hero base in Malibu.  It was only when he pulled up along the starred sidewalk that I realised what a pro Cab Guevara was.  Throughout everything he had left the metre running.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Pictures, 1000 words, etc

I WAS going to write a post here but I write too much.  I'm always writing.  I'm either firing through hundreds of emails per day; work related and otherwise or I'm tinkering with Lost Angeles while I still can.  Orson Welles once said "projects are never finished they're simply abandoned" - that guy had more truth in him than he knew what to do with.  If I'm not doing that I'm on the typer working through a first and now second draft of something else; something different and when I'm not doing that I'm either trying to update Knifed in Venice or pondering what to put down here.

I had wanted to use this blog as a way of getting people used to me and my way with words but I write too much.  I wanted people to maybe get an idea of what to expect before I give man-birth to my little book.  I'm going to be posting the first chapter on here shortly (that's bound to do it).  In the meantime I don't think there's a better way to get an idea of what Lost Angeles is about than to check out the photos from back in the day below and maybe drop by the Bookshelf.

Images by Ben Fox


In the chair; pre-ink
 
and the tattoo is underway

Serious men

Who have been kicked off the train

Friendships blossom

Making plans with Nigel

Paul

Draining one off

Getting Lost



Monday, 24 September 2012

The Pug Picks...

I'M PRETTY SURE when I get around to having kids that they're all going to be girls.  I was raised by my mum, dad wasn't around (probably because I wasn't old enough to buy a round).  Now I've got my fiancé and our little pug Molly - she's also 50% princess.  I'm used to playing servant to my ladies; herself says I love it really - I think she's probably right.  I don't even have first choice in my own living room when it comes to DVD selection.  Before you watch the below video bare two things in mind. 1. At this point I was a film programmer and 2. All decisions were final and honoured.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Fante, Fuel & Fun

I GOT MY copy of John Fante's The Road to Los Angeles this week. It's been three weeks coming so I've been really looking forward to it. Ignore the demonic glare of the pug, you get used to her after a while.

I'm currently writing so I'm going to put off reading Fante until I'm done. I love his work and the work of the writers he has influenced, I'd love nothing more than for people to think of his work when they're thumbing through mine but I know myself well enough to know how impressionable my writing can be especially with such a powerful influence.

The missus and I had our first proper night out in a while. Money is tight, she tells me we're in fuel poverty. I hadn't heard that before, didn't realise it was something else we would have to deal with. We're a little more fuel poor today as we drank most of what little cash we had left. At least we had fun; I am assuming we had fun as I don't remember most of it - which is usually a good sign.  It was a friends birthday, his 30th.  He had a barbecue (in the middle of Sep-fuckin-tember) and a casual BYOB (bring your own beef), he's probably regressing.  We all are really.

I'm nervous about letting people read my stuff. It's a working class condition that us North Belfast boys suffer from, "none of that artsy fartsy shite, get yourself a proper job". I've had proper jobs, hated most of them, bored by all of them so I figure I better get used to letting people read my artsy fartsy shite.

When I've worked myself up to it I'm going to post a chapter from Lost Angeles here...probably an early one, maybe chapter one. Hopefully not too many people have issues with it...and if they do well opinions and assholes and all that. Will wade through for the positives. I've had two cracking reviews of it to date (worth pointing out only two people have been allowed to read it). Can't really remember what I was reading at the time of writing it, I wonder what shines through.