Stop over in Johnsonville (To recap)


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.


Love from Heartsville

Philippe Halsman Photos 15

There were many times, high up in the hills on Shitsville Ranch, that the light under Francis’ door stayed on all night and the same record went round and round and round, til it seemed like Frankie had fallen asleep and it had got stuck in the groove. I thought he was methodically soaking, as indeed he was, getting more and more maudlin with the increase of gin and darkness, but it turns out he was also writing a tell-all biography about my father. It began as a eulogy, a poetic expression of love for a man he deeply admired from afar and had modelled himself on since his days as a teenage hoodlum in the 90s, when the definition of cool was to have a ponytail and one earring. But then the exercise turned into an extended article and then a book (read cynical money maker of questionable literary merit full of candid photos lifted with grimy fingers from my album that is full of beautiful famous people with their eyes closed) and Francis has just had it accepted for publication by the same folks who do that misspelled Underbelly series.


The problem I have with this is not the obvious one, that Francis is behaving as though Archie were stone dead when I know quite well that he’s alive, and happily ensconced in Shitsville Ranch. After I explained it to him carefully, Archie agreed with me that it was probably best that the world and Nancy Sinatra believed him to be dead. It would stop the Mafia coming after him and a lot of paternity suites. He rather fancied taking a new name, something dull and serviceable after the Liberace-sparkle of ‘Archibald Shitsville’. “David Jones,” he suggested.

“You can’t have David Jones, that’s Bowie’s real name,” I said.

“Tom then,” he said. “Tom Jones.” He liked the sound of it; this time I didn’t try to correct him.

‘Tom Jones’ is almost a new man. He has taken to lemon-and-cayenne pepper slimming drinks and I have bought him a Robomaid to follow him around in an attempt to combat the tides of filth; I only hope he doesn’t try to roger it the way he would a human maid, as the suction on those things is amazing and could end badly for him.

No: the reason I deeply resent Frankie’s book is that it’s so utterly false, and bathed in a sycophantic light unseen since the royal baby.

Mark. Where I would say ‘elephantine’ or Brando-sized, Frankie writes discursively of a man ‘struggling with time and tide’ who can at worst be accused of being overly fond of tarts. Where I would say ‘overly fond of tarts’, Frankie says, ‘a real ladies man.’  Where I would say ‘an immature narcissist drowning in the tides of his own filth’, Frankie writes of Archie’s youthful zest, ‘pride in his appearance’ and manful disregard of civilised conventions.

What is worse is that Frankie has been appearing on a lot of talk shows to promote the book, but as you know I was blacklisted by Frank Sinatra at the age of two, and though the man, Frank Snr, has been dead and buried a long time, take it from me that his ‘TV and Variety entertainers’ blacklist holds til this day, as the Industry’s mark of respect for the great crooning cunt; nobody has been so emphatically airbrushed from history since the Stalinist purges as I have.

Now cousin Francis rings to tell me that he has sold the rights for a Telemovie they will show on the Hallmark Channel. I couldn’t be more pleased.




Technically a lifeline is also enough rope to hang yourself with. I am keeping that in mind now that things in my life seem to have developed a kind of upside. I am presently ensconced in the sunny Greenacres Estate outside of the sunny state of Shitsville (TX) having absconded from Shitsville Ranch in the dead of night with my hefty Sinatra sympathy cheque.  Some jerk has made a TV show called “Shitsville Express” and I don’t want any of those sad fucks in support hosiery who go on bus tours to the “Neighbour’s” street in sunny Vermont South feeling ‘with it’ or ‘on-trend’ enough to jump into a ricketty charablanc and hightail it up the hill to peep at me and my splendid mid-century split-level Ranch and to leave their rubbish and empty Coke bottles in my hedges as such people are always wont to do.


The precise reason that I live high up in the hills on Shitsville Ranch is because I would like at every moment of my life to be mathematically or geographically and geopolitically as far removed from other people — those vile, vile, vile half-wits and mongoloids who call themselves ‘human beings’ — as it is possible to be. Every day they — the vile, vile people — say “we are getting better and better” and “technology is changing our lives” while reverting to the pre-evolutionary state of great apes who use simple tools and frogs’ mouths to masturbate with.

I figured that by the time  Nancy Sinatra and cousin Frankie and my father Archie Shitsville awoke from their comas and worked out precisely who and what was still alive, (“Oh Nancy, dear Nancy, I did not mean to deceive you, it was a requiem for my heart which is dead,”) I would be far far away, sunning by the calm waters of a blue tiled pool, watching the fringe on the sun umbrella playing in the breeze. It is a return to God’s green and pleasant land, the endless blue days that one knew in one’s youth. There is a coral pink telephone here (unconnected) and the postman always rings twice as a warning.




You ought to drink less Coke (Part 3)


Let us just take a refreshing pause as we consider this Valkyrie on her modern-day horse; she is gorgeously pink and pleasantly dimpled and in so many ways a Titian vision of blonde loveliness ‘that could make a bishop kick in a stained-glass window’. Coke has crow-barred itself into this picture of joy and with its official stamp positioned itself as the preeminent consideration in the entirely spurious “Coke + beautiful woman = happiness” equation. Unfortunately adorning a product with a woman is no new trick and a marketing technique unlikely to lose its attraction any time soon; sidebar this lowest-common-denominator approach to advertising has also inflamed various kinds of terrible social problems by unintentionally reinforcing the equally spurious “woman = product” idea. While we take another refreshing pause in order to allow time for the blood to return to your brain I would like to casually suggest that advertising works by coupling the product it is trying to sell with something (abstract) that you actually want; and that the repetition of the same message over time establishes what seems like a ‘natural’ link between the two. Eventually we start thinking in shorthand; from “Coke + fantastically beautiful woman + fairground + holiday = happiness”, we collapse the equation:

“Coke […] = happiness.”


Sex, love, youth, happiness, friendship, freedom, Victory, (“one people, one nation,” if you live in Nazi Germany) and the “Carry On” motto of the British in WW2; Coke has corralled all of these magnificent, abstract things in order to peddle its sombre draught.  Of all of these evidently desirable things, a bottle of Coke is the only one that you can actually buy; and so we do. This is exactly the public relations technique that Edward Bernays (a nephew of Freud) theorised and was an expert of: appealing to irrational, unconscious desires in order to direct and control the behaviour of the masses.

Coca Cola ad 1906

The point I am eventually going to make if I ever stop getting distracted by the pictures (notice pretty fraulein with proffered face, breasts and tray in order of consideration) is that while companies like Coke are in the end only trying to sell us 5 cent bottles of syrupy carbonated water, with over a century’s worth of relentless propaganda it’s fair to say that we have not only been irretrievably charmed by their witch’s brew but also allowed them to define for us incredibly important concepts such as: “happiness”; “friendship” (Share a Coke with…) ; “the good things in life”; “quality family time” and indeed all “sunny and pleasant things”; that which is “home-like”; “purity and quality”; “leisure” and “refreshment” — even “health” (Coca-Cola revives and sustains, apparently; it has some undeniable yet indefinable connection to sports in any case) — in the same way that we allowed Coke to determine the way that we picture Saint Nicholas.

Coke has even bought shares in “democracy”. In the twenties and thirties Coke and all kinds of mass-manufactured products came to be thought of as a truly democratic thing: the standardisation and modern, effective methods of distribution meant any one and everyone, born high and low, from movie stars and fashionable sophisticates to okies in their old jalopy and young drifters like Bonnie and Clyde, from Fatty Arbuckle and his unfortunate paramour to the King of England — anyone could enjoy a bottle of delicious, refreshing Coca-Cola for 5 cents and know it was the same purity and quality as the one the other fellow was drinking. It was even possible for the refreshment of 5 cent Cokes to follow American soldiers around the globe during WWII — same as the Betty Grable pin-up. It is precisely this popular, ‘democratic’ appeal (and one-size-fits-all approach to international relations) which made the Coca-Cola Company extraordinarily successful and awesomely rich, and terrifyingly powerful, a lot like omniscient Santa with his ever-watchful twinkling eyes and comprehensive list of children who have been naughty or nice; those good children he leaves Coke-bottle-shaped presents for and those bad ones he brings litigation against.

Read Next: You Ought To Drink Less Coke, QED (Part Four)