martes, 15 de diciembre de 2020

Get yourself a copy of The Price of Return

When Pep Gun receives a visit from a lookalike robot who quickly copies his mannerisms and claims to be instructed to take his place as the lodger of his flat, Pep understands the best he can do under the circumstances is run away as fast and far as he can. With the help of a colleague from work he manages to escape to the countryside, away from the city and the internet of things which is able to track his every move. Pep becomes the unlikely hero of his own story, an anxious adventure which lands him under a tree with a bag of food and utensils. With the promise of regular refill Pep begins laying out a place for himself, a total nobody but free from the super brain that’s following most of us and deciding for us what our lives should be like. Pep knows, as soon as he becomes somebody, showing even the slightest trace of a somebody, police will quickly be all over him and anything could happen after what has already happened. Or so thought Pep. Police were not impressed and charged him with trace and retrieve costs, but that happens only later on. First, Pep has to learn to love his dirt floor den under cover of plant life and to do so he will have to control his fear of nature. Luckily, there seems to be very little wildlife around, insects also notably failing, giving the city dweller he is much needed respite.

Pep is a healer of sorts in his spare time. He sucks off negative energy from depressed and otherwise unhappy people, to give them a short look into a happier version of themselves, which they then must see to extend up till the next session. More than anything, Pep sees the robot’s appearance as interference with his well-established private practice. Some people perhaps didn’t like him keeping individuals away from pills. It’s easy to get paranoid when you are trying to be totally alone because it’s really the only safe thing you can do. Nobody to talk to and no alcohol either, unless you had brought a bottle, so you had better find something to keep the mind busy.

Pep needs focus to keep himself sane and he chooses to write the story of his escape, the one he is at that very moment experiencing, hoping success may render him immune from the law. Nobody wants to see a beloved author get into trouble, do they? Even so, there doesn’t seem to be any other way out of his predicament. So, Pep starts writing. He is turning his adventure into a story for popular consumption.


In spite of all the hardships, The Price Of Return is a funny story, full of crazy situations as they happen when you’re out of place in a place where there is no place to go. For instance, people do the weirdest things when they think nobody sees them and for some the great outdoors are the best place to freak out, so there are lots of cyclists and other intruders of his initial hideout habitat he was told would be remote. Pep witnesses plain repulsive stuff and everyday madness and even steaming sex - so as not to forget the good sex thriller fans - and he is close to interfering a couple of times, but it would be the immediate end of his escape. And he’s not ready for that, yet.


Want to read the full story? For only € 4.49 ($ 4.99) you can order The Price of Return as e-book from Kobo, Scribd, Barnes & Noble or Apple. Pdfs for phone reading or printables can be ordered straight from the author. Send an email to:, stating the preferred format, phone, A5 or B5.


lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2020

10.6 seconds, an instant T-shirt moment


I was there, on the 22nd of June 1986. Well, I was not present in the magnificently looking Azteca Stadium in Mexico DF, of course, I was at home in front of a giant black-and-white tv set, what we considered giant in those days. Colour tv’s were still expensive back then, whereas a second hand black-and-white one could be had for the equivalent of fifty euros. Besides, watching television was a much more relaxing activity without screaming colours giving you a taste of reality. So I was sat in the sofa on a balmy summer’s evening, noon in Mexico, ready to watch Argentina consume their revenge on England, the country that four years previously had fought what looked like a colonial war to retain its possession of a group of tiny islands off the Argentinian coast after the Argentinian army had occupied them in a move of gratuitous aggression. The nationalist frenzy England were being served as a reaction by Margaret Thatcher, managed to severely dent my enthusiasm for that weird and wonderful island which had given the world great pop music, bizarre food and a style of football which on the continent was considered ridiculous, out of fashion and counter-productive. Little wonder, that most of us rooted for Argentina to give perfidious Albion a good beating, and our hopes were resting on the shoulders of that diminutive star of nineteen eighties’ football, Diego Maradona.


The first half, in my memory, was nothing special, England well-organised at the back and Argentina seeming to lack the inventiveness to get behind. Then came the second half. Five minutes in, Maradona was approaching the English penalty box. He played the ball to I heard was Valdano, who scooped it up for Maradona to jump for the header, a great jump but never high enough for the overplayed pass. The English goalie, not expecting to be troubled by the 5-foot 5-inch finest footballer of his generation by a long shot, readied himself to calmly collect the leather sphere with a lazy show jump. But then the short guy raised his arm like a ballet dancer, straight and purposefully, and let the ball ricochet off his hand into the net. It was a handsome move and it was the clearest example of handball ever, yet the linesman stayed mute and the referee conceded the goal. Argentina were one-nil up. England were fuming.


It was a brazen act of gamesmanship and should have been punished with a yellow card, yet the fact that Argentina were winning was just what many had been hoping for. Let those English go to hell, if they couldn’t be defeated in a fair way, then an unfair one would do just fine. This was knock-out football and we wanted to see England sent home. It is also true that having a corrupt worldview was considered cool that year.


Just a couple of minutes later, Maradona received a short flick in his own half, elegantly avoided an opponent’s challenge with a double back flip which left the other look the wrong way and then set off on a rush which would leave football fans mesmerised. Cleverly looking for space to avoid further challenges from those big, strong, well-trained English players, Maradona ran towards the English goal, having to change direction a few times to keep them away. The ball, whether it was on his golden left foot or just a few feet away, always seemed to do as he wanted it to behave. This was classic Maradona, no other football player had such complete understanding with the ball, such technical and mental command, as if both were cut from the same cloth. Platini and Van Basten come to mind as challengers. The inseparable duo nearing the penalty box, I unconsciously sat up straight. This had to be a goal, it just had to. Anything less would be utter disappointment. Fate, the stars, the gods of sport, whoever were in control of destiny at that very moment, simply had to guide the player and his ball past the final obstacles to a point were a shot at goal couldn’t go wrong. People around the world wanted it that way, and in their common desire a worldwide instant admission was expressed that a wonder was happening before our eyes, the start of a cult. The moment seemed to come four yards into the box, with the keeper rushing out and a clear gap left to the far corner. Yet, Maradona chose to play it safe and round the goalie as well. My heart stopped beating for a split second, as the daunting figure of one of those big English defenders loomed large just to the right of Maradona. He wasn’t going to tackle him of the ball, was he? With so much weight attached to the moment, these crucial two seconds seemed to drag out into what felt like a minute. Argentina clearly needed a second goal, as they were not the better side and there was the ongoing danger of Blighty scoring themselves (as they would a good ten minutes before the end). Also, the fate of a nation was hanging in the balance. Were they going to get the satisfaction of having sent a promising English squad home, and receive at least a minor settlement for their failed efforts to kick the Brits off those rocks, a stupid move in itself by a bloody regime that felt unwanted, or were they heading for double defeat?


Ever so slowly in that timeframe I was in, Maradona went past the keeper, now only having to find the right balance to shoot the ball into an empty goal. Already, the charging defender had initiated his final desperate lunge, going to the ground and stretching his leg towards where he targeted the ball to be. Maradona really needed to act quickly now, or the ball might be picked off his feet. There was a clear possibility of a penalty here, but after such a magnificent rush that would have been an anti-climax, even if no one expected the golden boy to miss from the spot. No, he had to score now. Football demanded it, his country demanded it, history demanded it. The clichés were dripping from my black-and-white screen.


And so it was. While never totally clear whether it was Maradona himself or rather the defender’s toe that sent the ball goal bound, it definitely went in and the world erupted in joy and celebration. The globe’s finest football player had scored the greatest goal. It was the total instant T-shirt moment. Never again would we see such a rush, until some twenty years later another magical player copied his compatriot’s effort with a remarkably similar run, albeit against an opponent of lesser calibre. But that was still very far in the future on that sunny, miraculous day in the summer of 1986. And now he is dead, too old to die young and to young to die old. Gracias, Diego, por su arte.

martes, 15 de septiembre de 2020

A lopsided history of the last 50 years

I wrote this story two years ago. Time to publish it again

I was six years old half a century ago when youths around the world caught on with the new craze which had sprung up the year before in USA and perhaps England: if we all take enough drugs to be peaceful, we might live life in a completely different way, not just the common people but the chiefs and the bosses, if still needed, as well. Now ain't that a gas? This wonderful sounding idea was pushed upon the nascent anti-Vietnam war movement, brought along by spaced-out eighteen year old nitwits who could only talk about music and love as a concept, with the express aim to dillute its resolve with indifference and inaction. Peace, man, all you need is love. 'Cause that's the thing, music was heavily involved in this scam, this psyop as it would be called these days. In Los Angeles in 1966, a number of bands were readily formed to convey carefully scripted messages, and thanks to lots of airplay and lavishly positive press they were big from day one. The whole show was organised and paid for by the CIA and involved talented children of families belonging to the higher ranks of military and intelligence. Famously, The Doors singer Jim Morrison's father was commander of the fleet which performed the Gulf of Tonkin false flag, and there were many more with funny stories. But things didn't exactly work out as planned. The youths, uneducated and unknowing, weren't necessarily stupid. So they did pick up on the war thing while perhaps some musicians forgot their designated role and became true spokespersons for the new generation, paying for this sin with their lives, and by the early seventies society in its majority felt it was time for a new approach, away from the war for profit scam. According to gonzo reporter Hunter Thompson, then US president Nixon at some point understood he couldn't fight the swelling tide and had better channel it into calmer waters. And that's exactly what happened in the next five years: everybody took a break from reality. The seventies (74-79) were a totally weird and goofy adventure where only fun and nonsense counted. The western world became a giant Brady bunch (and me desperately trying not to be one of those boys). It was all paid for by non-existing money of course, so when Wall Street invited Iran to pull the plug on them the wonderful dream quickly evaporated, leaving us with the cold turkey of a short deep crisis and a decade long aftermath.


With the new reality, no work, no housing, cheap drugs, came the need for new music as well. The pullers of strings had already set up the scene with the introduction of punk in 76, another hike at giving no shit, followed by a turn to computers as the saviour of pop music, and of the rest of society also. Punk was fun for a year, rolling out across the channel in waves and reaching the outlying shores latest, both in shine and demise. Yet again, the masses proved smarter than their overlords wish to see them. They understood punk's message as having nothing to expect from those in control. It's you and what you do, nobody else there, and many young people went for that idea. It took the nineties to cash in on the effort, suddenly there was money around again, but the attitude was born in those bleak early eighties.


Or perhaps they do know, our controlling elite. After a couple thousand years of manipulating society they perfectly understand our nature and that is why they like giving us hardship to get us back to work after we have once again become too complacent, which is of course our preferred state of being. Remember the noughties, anyone, how comfortably we were waiting for the next crash to happen? Well, it came when some started believing it might never happen after all. End of history, endless controlled growth, that kind of dangerous nonsense. They are poachers, our leaders, they hide behind trees and start financial crises, invent sanctions and declare war to get us off our lazy arses. You might think, if we were more responsible, wouldn't they have less need to unleash their wrath? 'Cause that's the thing, it's all so unappealing, so very byblical in its approach, full of moral outrage and deliberate punishment of the innocent to induce maximum fear, as if they honestly enjoyed the good book. I actually don't mind people being led by their beliefs, I like to think it is indeed a natural state of affairs for most. They are busy running everyday life and find letting other people have a go at organising the set-up a practical solution. They have always lived by this principle. This is why I don't believe people are easily desillusioned when an unexpected dream of honest affairs dies out, something our treacherous media love to stress, as they were sufficiently prepared for the coming disingenuity. Nothing new, here. People believe because they want to believe. They are sad, yes, an opportunity was lost, but they happily move on to the next challenge. This is how most people live their lives, full of love and energy, waiting for the day their leaders will finally understand those angry parent methods are absolutely dysfunctional.


Many ordinary westerners have sworn off their gods and try to live by the heavily pushed ideal of universal brotherhood, another psyop if ever there was one, deliberately blind to the immediate effects on their personal situation this position creates. Mind you, being a well-embedded big city professional is not the same as always being the last to find work, in this respect. It's all too easy to tell off the downtrodden who feel they have little to gain from the deliberate mash-up of the world's cultures. To them it's just new rules and more competition. Why can't the lords come up with a better script? one wonders. If we all work together in smart ways and stop reproducing for a while, we might sail those rocks in unison. No need to cut away at the playground. Unfortunately, the master's image seems to be the total opposite: just them in their computer generated garden of eden and the memory of us some old fable about how we did it to ourselves. Not to be repeated, precious children! You can see the little ones chilling at the thought of having to live through such horrible times, not yet aware that with ten parents each they should be cool on the matter. Next phase: population reduction is so successful that it becomes a hype and all types of back to zero cults spring up. And, by the way, should it all come to a sudden end, they can forget about surviving anywhere beyond ten years in their South Island hide-outs. A droplet of time in eternity, is that worth mocking nature for and bringing it to its final destruction? Only to those who don't believe in survival, one would say.



jueves, 10 de septiembre de 2020



as sung by Iggy Pop back in 1970



image by BrittPM


In the midst of the covid craze, the subterranean traveller could no longer go underground, as there was nowhere to go anymore besides the metro, which was forbidden territory for him as he wasn't going to wear a fucking facemask. No cattle yet. So he cruised the streets and the parks of his city, the latter pleasant and cool hideouts from the ticket police. He saw people everywhere wearing the mask, some he knew and some he thought he knew. It got difficult to recognise people because so many adapted their behaviour to the new rules. No contact? Fine, then it's just us and the internet and the neighbours we quietly pass by. Poor subterranean! In his measured existence, there was no room for obedience. He had always roamed the lower circles of society to come up with stories of resistance. He was a mood reporter and it was all he knew. He wasn't a real human being and he was aware of that, so how should he make the change-over normal people so easily seemed to make? The traveller was who he was made to be and he certainly wasn't ready yet. Remember, you can't change attitudes all the time as a character. It's like a Hollywood make-over, they don't usually go back. Besides, it wasn't even September, so enjoy the summer a bit more.


There were some beautiful girls in his neighbourhood. They were still walking up and down the high street, showing their amazing legs and laughing together. Their boyfriends were often busy with their telephones, causing the subterranean in passing to search their eyes for a moment and mutter a few words with marcello innocence. Now that they were wearing their mouth masks, his interest was changing. He couldn't talk to them or even come near – which was a good thing in itself – so what he was left seeing were their bodies. Long, tall bones and cutie eyes, but no expression. To be sure, even as a character the subterranean traveller considered himself a bit old for these gazelles, he just loved having small talk with all women he happened upon, an impossible ideal which nevertheless deserved being pursued. Or so he felt.


The subterranean meets his equally unreal friends when they appear in a story together and he hasn't seen any of them for a while, his entertainer busy understanding reality. He feels he has no other choice than to go out and meet real people. But those masks! And the fear behind them, or the sullenness, the bored acceptance, the miraculous hope that this will soon be over, a message many parents feel pressed to tell their suffering children. Six-year-olds tortured at school while there are hardly people dying anymore! All these emotions are related to the mask. It has so far proven devilishly difficult to see people with masks as people without masks, a necessity if we ever want to recognise each other again. Fortunately, there is the internet. Depending on your connection, you get to see slightly weird images of your contacts with telephone quality voices. It's similarly not real, but it doesn't seem to affect people's thinking so much. In the end, the traveller needs his neighbours, plain and simple. He can still go to bars, but if he is the only one sitting there's nobody to listen in on. So there's the street and the masks to get round to. The subterranean traveller suddenly feels a strong urge to grab the first person and hold them tight to his aging breast. Might get him in all kinds of trouble though.


There's people in cars who all are wearing breath masks, even the little ones, and the windows well-shut. They usually drive very unsafely. These people don't believe the government. They check the internet for the harshest measures anywhere in the world and they apply them on themselves. Ain't no virus gonna catch us, they think. At the grocery store everybody is wearing masks, as has been customary in shops since day one, but at least distancing is impossible, so some smells are exchanged in passing, even if we don’t fully notice. There's a mother of two outside waiting little ones whom the traveller fancies. He pretends to be looking for a peach opposite her apples and gives her his curious look, once again marcello style. She smiles under her mask, he can clearly see. His return smile tells her to liberate herself from the signal cloth for a moment, but she can't. Mothers can't make mistakes. That's okay, the subterranean acquiesces, take care of your babies. It could have sounded condescending and it would have in previous circumstances, but her guilt stigma made her embrace the traveller's outreach with unrestrained desire. Not to be outed, of course, this desire, as desires were dangerous, but heartfelt nevertheless. Don't worry, she smiled again and this time the subterranean traveller saw she had a really nice face.


People who can't breathe behind the damn thing often free their nose and sometimes even their mouth, having it hanging below their chin as if they were back in school again. Others wear it on their wrist, elbow or even ankle during off limit activities. These are exercise, eating and smoking. People love off limit activities. They can be free again as long as they have the occasional beer and snack. Bars without terrace meanwhile are quietly closing. The measures favour some businesses and kill off other ones, it's easy to imagine many owners nervously awaiting the next rule jumping out of the hat. Will it crush me or do I get to live another day? It's all becoming a lottery. On a long ago written novel the traveller's entertainer had glued the title Tombola!, an in those days perhaps not fully understood description of fate which was now coming apparent in rather perverted fashion. Then again, the novel did not pretend to go beyond cynicism as a solution for human suffering.


The subterranean traveller is ready to get hot over those mouth-masked girls. There's the mother whose life he is not going to upset, not unless she pertinently so wishes, that is. And then there's the girls, the only other ones who seem to be aware of his presence. He sees them one night at a sidewalk terrace, showing each other their smiles, and manages to share their table. Boyfriends are out of sight. Tonight they are their normal selves, as they engage in two of the off limit activities. The idea of some exercise suddenly nestles in the traveller's brain. He gets over it by giving them a funny old geezer story and elicits some laughs. Paqui, the one with the beautiful face and not so beautiful legs, hits back with a story of her own while Elsa, the pretty one with the amazing legs, is throwing him all kinds of assurances, using her whole face and personality to lure him into her world. The subterranean feels totally intimidated. Not so fast, girls, I don't think my entertainer had such developments in mind. Then again, they could be equally unreal, put here to give his report a needed edge. So he is bungling between two possible outcomes, as is his preferred stance. He asks Elsa if she has an adventure to share and she has. She tells it straight to his face and it's about sex with two men at the same time. The subterranean traveller smiles and tries to hide his growing interest. All ears. And something else too, laughs Paqui. The traveller is now wondering whether he will soon be introduced to the other man or that Paqui turns out to be the number three. It's a whole new bungle position and a good lot further down the road. 


Nothing happened in the end. The subterranean had an entertaining evening with two early tweens who told him a lot about young people's thinking and after he had paid for their drinks, he said Elsa and Paqui goodnight. I'll be waiting for the next time, Elsa said with a hot kiss and a shameless hand in his crotch. Smelling her sweat, he promised somewhat stupidly to keep the dream alive. Paqui then did exactly the same, she was the better kisser in fact, leaving him aroused and assured Elsa's story was about them and those girls had a clever way of operating together. Need to plea with my maker, he thought. After a deeply satisfying sleep the subterranean traveller once again hit the streets of his sterilized neighbourhood. All wearing their fig leaf, forbidden to breathe and speak, forbidden to make contact, forbidden to work, forbidden to make money and live. Our new safe world is as empty as a stock photo, laced with fear and disinfectant. Angst essen Seele auf (fear eats your soul), as the ever more popular and accurate Fassbinder quip explains. Meanwhile people are being expelled from consumer paradise in growing numbers.



domingo, 31 de mayo de 2020

Hami’s sneeze

While socially distancing himself well beyond the minimum limits set by the nunormle on a sunny Saturday morning, Hami let go a wild, explosive sneeze. And another one. And then another one. Always three of those liberating monsters. Many airmasked heads turned his way, some in anger and fright, others merely out of curiosity. Don’t worry! Hami, on his way to the nearby supermarket, called out, it’s those pollen again, happens to me every spring. While some people accepted his excuse, others grabbed their phones to take his picture and send it to a snitch page. That won’t be necessary, Hami yelled nervously, clasping his hands over his face, suddenly aware of the possible consequences of his sneeze. He turned and made his way up the hill where he could disappear between the shrub and tree of the municipal park there. Let things calm down while lying under some roots.
He was never going to make it, of course. Within thirty seconds of his movement, two police cars approached, one from either side. Hami couldn’t be bothered to look for an escape. With three guns pointing at him he had little choice but to accept defeat. Wouldn’t want to disturb the good neighbours with my blood spatting, right? They put him in the back of a car which had a glass partition like a London taxi and raced off to a nearby hospital.
In younger years, Hami might have seen the fun side of it all, enjoy the ride and remember the experience and stuff, but as a happily married father of two beautiful daughters he feared he might not be there for them for a while, just when they needed him most with the lockdown keeping them away from school. The whole madness was turning ridiculous, Hami thought, a tragicomedy with too many victims in its wake.
Look, I’m fine, he said when they pulled him out on arrival and handed him to a muscle-toned triage nurse with a giant moustache. See, it was just pollen.
That’s what we’re going to find out, his nurse said, handing him an airmask and latex gloves. It could be covid.
Hami felt the fear the word covid was causing him flush through his body and mind, so he had to close his eyes for a second and pretend life was as before, just to feel some strength flow back. Sure it could, he responded sympathetically, wrestling with his equipment, though it equally couldn’t. In fact, the chance it is something else is much greater still.
He felt the facemask condemning him to eternal silence and it hurt more than his pride, it hurt his soul. Ooh, ma soul, Little Richard already knew. They were not going to keep him here, were they? Had he become cattle already? We should be owned by now, another favoured singer reminded him.
The nurse threw an ever so short smile and started moving towards the interior of the hospital, inviting Hami to do the same. Such dangerous words can only be your individual responsibility, sir, he declared. Here we are fighting the disease.
Both the verb and the definite article shocked Hami more than he would have liked. Is it that bad? he struggled for words.
The nurse slowed his step and allowed for a short eye-meet which Hami, naturally inclined to the supernatural, accepted. We’re doing all we can. We follow the rules and we work hard, but people keep dying on us. We don’t understand.
He seemed honestly distressed, hence his willingness to inform a stranger, one delivered by the police and therefore suspected of bad intentions, why would he tell me? I can’t help you, mate. I can only make life easier for you by going home. Wouldn’t that be the best? Hami saw in his eyes the nurse totally agreed with his reasoning, yet acknowledging it was impossible.
You can’t, I’m afraid, we must all follow the protocol, he uttered with a pleading smile. With two policemen still following discretely behind them, in case he might get funny ideas, Hami was going to embrace that damned protocol himself, as well. It started with a quick temperature read which gave off 37.1. Oh, that’s quite normle for me, Hami shouted, but the damage was already done. I’m afraid we will have to keep you with us for a while, sir, his nurse announced. The norm says 37.0.
But I’ve got a family waiting for me, Hami tried.
Don’t worry, they will also be checked.
That sentence triggered an uncontrollable fear in Hami. He had been sitting in a chair while awaiting his verdict but now he jumped up and grabbed his nurse by the shoulder. Now don’t you dare touch my family, he snapped. The other pushed him away. Now don’t you dare touch me, mister, he rebuffed in a similar feline sound.
He was right, of course. And the policemen were already there to apprehend Hami.
Lock him up somewhere, nurse said, it’s not his turn yet.
Again a quick glance from soul to soul, trusting you to leave my dear ones in peace a while longer, my friend.
The agents pushed Hami ahead of them, discussing what to do with him. I ain’t gonna drive ‘round town with this here fucker. No worries, mate, I’ve got a nice place for him. Will nobody come and find him there. Out on the street, they pushed Hami into a narrow alley between the hospital’s old ward and the next-door apartment block, full of darkness and bad smells. Hami was freaking out. This is it, he knew, they’re going to shoot me, I’m going to die in some lousy alley. He wasn’t. They sat him on a stone doorstep and locked his waist to a bull’s ring lain in the wall.
Ain’t nobody gonna get ya outta here, mister, the other agent explained. But ya got ya arms and legs to defend yaselves.
Thanks for the comforting thought, Hami tried sarcasm. But it was true, he felt comforted by the idea they weren’t going to shoot him yet. The other policeman didn’t bother to check for any reaction to his words and walked away.
Don’t scream, the original agent advised, you will definitely attract the wrong people. Then he too was gone. It is possible that one or both of them had a quick look back before emerging from the alley. Though not advisable, these things keep happening.
Little has been heard from Hami ever since. He hasn’t used his telephone in any capacity. One could go and see that the lock had been opened cleanly, the bull’s ring was in no way scratched or damaged, but further tracks of Hami’s whereabouts remained undisclosed. Was he still alive? Was he being turned into a secret agent? We don’t know. All we know is his wife and kids have been left in peace so far.