Greetings and salutations my sweet readers and sycophants. Recent events have brought it to my attention that this blog has been sadly neglected of late. You might have imagined, being a dedicated reader, that I abandoned the thing when my life became utterly peaceful and pleasant and I had nothing left to bitch about. That is not so. One thing that I have learned trekking lonesome through this appalling world is that there is always stuff to bitch about, points to belabour, and – of course – that whenever you feel like you actually might possibly be starting to feel happy, there’s always some dick on the horizon just waiting to come along and fuck it all up for you. Trump or whoever.
It’s another blue blue cloudless day as I sit up here in my rooftop garden looking down through the palms at the shabby figures in the street. It was about this time last year my cousin Frankie Shitsville and I moved into a new apartment together. This as you can imagine was a necessary move since I had solemnly sworn never to visit Shitsville Ranch again while my father Archie Shitsville lived there (or lived at all). The place we found was top floor of a glorious Art Deco apartment block, built on a corner, which in typical deco style has some bizarre sculpture on the front that looks like a radio antenna Frankenstein might have harnessed for his electrification experiments. We can see the city skyline above the green green green of two parks lined with old established trees; directly opposite are some fresh minted apartments in a pseudo-historical style – sloping slate roofs, arched windows, rows of chimneys (chimneys!) – vaguely reminiscent of the rows of white Regency houses you might see in London, all renting at over $1000 a week to doctors and lawyers and the well-dressed elderly who don’t see any contradiction in wearing bedroom slippers and pearls on their days out, or the fact that a row of genuinely old houses was no doubt demolished to make way for these sparkling, faux-ancient abodes for the dull faux-gentry. Looking right there is a railway bridge and a wall of Russian brutalist style, and a row of park benches where one likes to sit and sip and smoke and watch pedigree dogs cavort through the blue shadows and autumnal leaves.
Two blocks up there is what Frankie informs me is a world famous icon in sport, and signs pointing every which way attempting to engage my interest in visiting something called the MUSEUM OF SPORT (shudder); in fact it’s so world-famous that red double-decker buses trundle round my apartment block every half hour thirty-six times a day. The recorded lecture drifts up to me as I smoke on my balcony looking across at the faux-chimneys. Often I notice the tourists craning their little heads to peer up at me in my finery and disdain before the bus mows on. I suppose they imagine they are getting a glimpse of local colour. But God only knows what the world would be if I was truly representative of the population.
Now you may recall how the infamous Frank Sinatra Blacklist had cast its great shadow over my life like a dark and purling, all-absorbing, hope-sucking, cunt-like storm cloud, and never, never, never, not once in my life had anything ever gone right for me, despite all of my good looks, charm, grace and riches. For one thing there was my Mother (she being the first misfortune). Then there was my father Archie (the second major impasse to success). And though I can hardly blame Frank Sinatra for either of those occurrences, it’s fair to say that they are representative of the kind of bad-luck which has befallen me every day since I first lit eyes upon this awful world.
But then it happened that (after a series of events which I have removed from this blog for legal reasons which will become clear) I saw the infamous Frank Sinatra Blacklist spiralling through the dark air down into a deep and impassable quarry. I even fancy I could hear Frank Snr sobbing on the wind as I watched its descent into hell. If it ever reached the bottom of the quarry, I’m sure the List burst into flames, or was torn to bits by fetid rats. In any case, assured of its destruction, I left Casa Sinatra on foot, and took the pink Cadillac from the road outside the gates, and headed on out into the Wide World with a brimming sense of coming good fortune. Fortune, you see, could not possibly fail to come with the destruction of the List; the List had been the only thing really holding me back all these years.
Eventually I ended in a sticky dough-nut shop, in a mall that sits half-way out of a town called Johnsonville, on Route 87. The name Johnsonville had endeared itself to me because of its no-name quality; here, in Johnsonville, I thought, there was no one of import, or significance, or even mild interest. In Johnsonville, everybody had names like Ana or Sara (there was always one letter missing to make them sound more foreign) though really they were just the sort of name a girl might have if the last you saw of her she was nostalgically fading into the fog or the ferns; they are the names of women who die at a convenient plot-point in order to give the protagonist a McGuffin and dramatic dynamism for the rest of the story. Here, I thought, in Johnsonville, I could not fail to make a fortune. After all, it is not hard to best red-necks. And it is never a chore to pull one over on the world’s most pitiful people.
As I perused the mall, which was a hub of activity (the elderly smoked on the benches while they waited for their grand-sons to return from playing Nintendo in the Department store) I thought, with a great sense of satisfaction, that Johnsonville, for people such as I, must be a place of ample opportunity and the kind of luck that gets so often overlooked by people without imagination. Mark: even there, in that suffocating place, of slightly twilight-like underwater lighting, where the Video (!) store was still hung with posters of Patrick Swayze in his prime, there were checked-shirted men to bedazzle, banks to rob, suckers for pyramid schemes aplenty devouring burgers in the food-court. I leaned against a ferny garden delineated by a curved wall of glazed brown bricks and dreamed up the plans for the kind of Real-Estate swindle my great-great-grandpappy Jack “Washington” Shitsville would be proud of. I could even run for mayor since the last Johnsonville mayor, who got in on a temperance ticket in 1962, had recently died after years and years of covert and almost constant tippling, to everyone’s great surprise, though I would have thought the ruddy complexion was a dead give away, but apparently red faces and wine noses, and the ordinary complexion of hicks are not too dissimilar to the untrained eye.
So there I was in the dough-nut shop. Next thing a gentlemen with an evidently hellish dental-care regime happened to ask what a purdy girl like me was doing in a place like Johnsonville. “Not really your kind of town, I woulda thunk,” he said.
I assured him it was. But then when I told him of the good fortune coming my way after the certain destruction of the Frank Sinatra Blacklist, his eyes really came alive. “Sure,” he said. “Ain’t nothing ye cain’t do, if ye can keep yer wits about ye. That’s why they call it the Land of OPPORTUNITY.” I thanked him for his kind words and conventional wisdom, and left him to pick up the bill. Then I went out into the parking-lot, almost blinded by the sunlight glittering along the rows of cars and their bull-bars.