To create anything… is to believe, if only momentarily, you are capable of magic. These essays are about that magic — which is sometimes perilous, sometimes infectious, sometimes fragile, sometimes failed, sometimes infuriating, sometimes triumphant, and sometimes tragic. I went up there. I wrote. I tried to see.
—Tom Bissell, Magic Hours
Suicide carried off many. Drink and the devil took care of the rest.
—Robert Louis Stevenson
You can tell what kind of night it was by how many wine glasses are in the sink.
But i know we can’t all stay here forever, so i want to write my words on the face of today…. and then they’ll paint it.
If it doesn’t come from your heart, music just doesn’t work.
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
We were drinking absinthe Red Bulls, as i expected. Dave (he asked me to call him that) and i had met earlier at one of his shows in a local gymnasium. Why was Bowie playing a gym? Well, it was one of those fancy two-tiered gymnasiums, where you could look down upon the action from the second level and throw things and spit, except everybody was on their best behaviour for Bowie; paper airplanes only. Upon informing us that he’s Afraid of Americans, he twirled and headed for the lobby, his longcoat creating a cool umbrella-ish shape in the motion. I ducked out and spied him chatting up some young girls that were obviously amused by his Labyrinth haircut. He was suave and quite affable, even as the girls didn’t appear to realize who he was. What a gent. I approached him, introduced myself, and mentioned that i was in attendance at his Prague concert where he had the on-stage heart attack, and commended his valiant effort to carry on that show for as long as possible afterwards. I told him that the fellas and i often do imitations of that moment in horrible brit-ish accents - “I’m sorry, i can’t go on. I’m in incredible pain.” He seemed quite taken aback at first, then abruptly threw his head back with maniacal laughter and took me across the street for a slice of pepperoni and double cheese.
Oh what fresh hell is this? It’s about as fresh as an evening-old fart trapped under cover, released upon awakening, like breaking the seal on a can of crushed assholes. I’m shivering, lying on a cot beside the stage where i have just performed, while my boss is loading out my drums and saying i don’t have to be at work in the morning. I haven’t worked for him in a year and a half. I pack up the sweat-soaked cot, climb in the back of the Ford Econoline, and rumble out of the parking lot towards a radiant summer field, where i jump down into a small stream and commando a wooden raft. Paddling towards the towering cliffs now unfolding around me, i marvel at the heights that the indigenous peoples are willing to dive from, even though several limbs floating in the water beside me would suggest it as folly. Further down in the shallows, i part with my new buddy the raft and spy the doe-eyed kid from summer camp ‘83 that i kinda felt sorry for and who looks a bit like my cousin Fraser. We ascend the river bank and talk sheepishly at two girls in braces, and i get the sneaking suspicion that the one on the left becomes my first high school girlfriend. I trace figure eights in the sand with the antenna of my walkie talkie until we’re summoned to participate in the first round of the everfun games. I head off to climb the lookout tower, where i barbecue some burgers up top, and afterwards the grill scraper explodes in my hand like a firecracker. I float down and walk towards the camp lodge, which looks suspiciously like one of the longhouses from the replica Iroquois village in the south end of town. Decked out in my olive-coloured blazer from grade 13 grad, accented with a pair of baby blue New Balance jogging shorts, i proceed to re-organize the list of everfun events, while Mrs. Coupland, my grade 6 teacher with the runner’s legs, trucker’s mouth, and an undying love for Van Halen’s Jump, condones my initiative and then asks me to fuck her. Goddamn NyQuil.
It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?
Like the kling-klang king of the rim-ram room.
—Ben Sanderson, Leaving Las Vegas