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Friday, April 22, 2016

To the Weird and the Wonderful: Prince Rogers Nelson

(Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Who is that freak asked my mother when I proudly pulled out the Purple Rain vinyl record, from the HMV bag to show my parents how I had spent my pocket money. Yes, I said defiantly, “he is a freak and so am I”.  I was thirteen years old, had just fallen in love with the music of a freak named Prince, and was I damned proud of it.

As I turned and walked away I chuckled to myself, wondering how my mother would react when she heard the lyrics to Darling Nikki. 
I knew a girl named Nikki 
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine… 

My next act of teenage defiance was to go see Purple Rain the movie, which was A rated, and officially released the day after my birthday; which of course I took to be a sign. Therein lies the magic of Prince; I truly believe that people who found and loved his music will also have deeply personal connections, experiences and memories of this discovery. 

Prince once said “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand;” but yet it feels like he understood each one of us in a way few artists ever do. I love music and admire many bands and singers but there was something special about this freak. He was proud of being a freak. He was not scared of being weird, of being different, of being himself. And perhaps it was this deep, pure and unadulterated confidence in his being that came through in his music and gave us all permission to be teenage freaks.

Being a teenager is hard enough. Add pimples, girls, plumpness, girls and the complexities of navigating teendom increase exponentially. For me Prince was the beacon who helped us navigate those weird, wonderful and at times superficially torturous years. He gave us permission to go forth and be ourselves; pimples, warts and all.

Part of his allure was that unlike most pop stars he seemed shy, nervous and almost insular. It was like he wanted to share the genius of his musical soul and then hide from the fame that naturally accompanies it. Perhaps it was this quality that made him more endearing and made him feel more like a family member than a distant pop icon.

To a genius, recluse, singer, performer, hermit, producer, man, songwriter, guitar God, woman, dancer, the funk, the punk, the misfit, multi-instrumentalist and mysterious enigma we knew and loved – we finally know what it feel like when doves cry…

RIP Sweet, sweet Prince.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Back Room*. A short film

Image credit: Still from Gertie the Dinosaur (Windsor McCay, 1914)


We open in a smoke-filled private room of a high-end restaurant. We see a group of old white men in expensive looking suits sitting around a table. It is clear that they have finished eating dinner; they are now sipping cognac and enjoying Cuban cigars. Their body language shows that they are in the midst of a heated discussion and debate.  

Our meeting takes place a few weeks after Marco Rubio has quit the Republican primary race, after a humiliating defeat in his home state. 

Old White Man 1 
Kasich is pretty much out of this, it is now between Trump and Cruz... 

Old White Man 2 
…yeah, and THAT is basically why we are fucked and need a new plan... 

Old White Man 3 about being shit out of luck. How the hell could this happen. 
I was assured that Bush was a shoe-in. I mean who knew George W. 
would turn out to be the smarter son! Feel I should get my money back… 

Old White Man 4 
Oh, stop fuckin crying over spilt milk…
the question is how do we stop Cruz and Trump?  

Old White Man 5 
He is right. If we don’t stop them, then the gravy trains ends right here 
- for every person in this room…and that cannot be allowed to happen. 

Old White Man 6 
There is one way but it will require a united front… 

Old White Man 6 
We ALL need to rally around Ted Cruz. We need to do it publicly and loudly while also
making VERY clear that there will be no new establishment nominee inserted into the
equation, at the convention. 

Old White Man 2 
Ted Cruz - are you nuts? I mean that man is crazier than Trump. 
Cruz has a brain and an agenda, which makes him far more dangerous 
because unlike Trump he knows what he is doing…!!! 

Old White Man 3 
Yeah, that makes no sense at all. If I have to choose between the two, 
I would rather have a man who is bat shit crazy and has no idea what 
he is doing, than someone who knows exactly what he is doing  
– Cruz is far more dangerous to this party and our way of life. 

Old White Man 6 
Gentlemen, please! I understand the hesitation and fear 
in supporting a man whom none of us want in this party, 
leave alone to be the face of it. But this is the only way now. 

All the men look exasperated; some throw their hands up in despair while a few seem to be
muttering under their breath. 

Old White Man 6 
We need to let the race run out to the convention to kill this cancer. 
In states where Cruz has no chance Kasich will play spoiler 
and take votes from Trump. This way neither Cruz nor Trump will
have the votes needed to win outright… 

Old White Man 3 
…and once we make it to convention, they will be on our turf… 

Old White Man 4 
…and that means they will have to play by the rules. 

Old White Man 6 
…and we know that neither Cruz nor Trump will ever
win a delegate majority in the first two rounds of voting… 

For the first time we see smiles all around the table; a triumphant mood prevails. 

Old White Man 5 
Eliminate Cruz, dump Trump, Rubio can come back into play;
But so can pretty much anybody else in the third round of voting… 

Old White Man 4 
…and if it gets really ugly and nobody can agree then we will be forced into finding a
consensus candidate to come in and save the party… 

Old White Man 6 
…now the first thing we need to do is get Paul Ryan to hold a press conference and assure
everyone that he is neither seeking nor will accept the party’s nomination
under any circumstances…


*Note: this is a work of fiction. Please read and enjoy responsibly.