Sunday, 23 August 2015

‘Redbone’ by Matt Phillips, reviewed by Gunnar Davíðsson.

When you swing, swing hard.

“A little bit of bourbon, too much silence and enough walking and work to make a 38-year-old man’s feet hurt like hell. That’s what Calvin got today, and that’s what he’d get tomorrow. Until he got something else, something different.”
Well, something different was what he got. Calvin G. Redbone’s day starts off with a little coffee and a little bourbon just like it does every other day but after that it’s all downhill from there. First he loses his friend, Mister Salmons, then he loses his job courtesy of the slimy two-faced Seymour Aiken. It’s around now that he realises that “Calvin G. Redbone was a poor man, he was one poor sonofabitch.” And that ain’t no shit.
He hasn’t got much left apart from the saucy Marnie who lives in the same rundown trailer park they call Paradise and it’s getting so that he doesn’t have much left to lose at all. His day goes from bad to worse as he’s confronted by the greed of the tedious Ronald Grimace, asshole extraordinaire and Mister’s son, Grayson Salmons. Two men who enjoy making money for the sake of making money and treating men like shit for the sake of treating men like shit. Because, “When things are too easy for people, they turn into pricks.”
The local cop, Deputy Peach-fuzz does his best to keep Calvin on the straight and narrow but it becomes an ever-increasingly difficult task as it seems that everything he touches turns to dust. “The roses died and went to hell. Like a lot of people do. You try to bring a little beauty to the world and you end up killing something.”
The final back-breaking straw comes in the form of the lawyer his wife hired to fuck him over during their divorce.
“You’re the one she’s fucking?”
“Not how I’d put it, Mr. Redbone – nobody gets fucked in my house.”
“Nobody besides me, I guess.”
When a man’s had enough, he’s had enough. There are many things bourbon can fix but this seemingly isn’t one of them.
In Calvin G. Redbone Matt Phillips has created a character Jim Thompson would have been proud of and that ain’t no shit either. The pressure builds and builds inside the man’s head until the release valve blows its top and the tiny town of Bumblefuck Nowhere is swept away in his new-born rage. Armed with his trusty Louisville Slugger, Calvin is left with little choice but to do what must be done to set things straight again. So that’s just what he does.
Apparently the author’s favourite bourbon is Wild Turkey and it’s mine too. Why? Because that’s what Hunter S. used to drink and if it’s good enough for the doctor, then it’s good enough for me.
‘Redbone is out now through Number Thirteen Press.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The wit and the wisdom of Bob Mould and Hüsker Dü.

My brother gave me this album (Warehouse: Songs and Stories) for my twenty-third birthday. He knew that Hüsker Dü were my favourite band and now another twenty-three years later they still are. As incredible as the album is for some reason the part that has always stuck with me is Bob Mould's liner notes on the fold-out cover (we're talking about vinyl records back in those days). 

As the band matured and the members grew up hard and fast over the nine years they were together there appeared a reluctant maturity from within the maelstrom of their existence. The existence that was to be torn apart shortly after the release of this album by the drummer's heroin addiction and their manager's suicide. I still wear one of their t-shirts to gigs and am always approached by musicians who share my love of the band and their irrepressible and hugely emotional music. They were definitely not everyone's cup of tea but if everybody were to agree with you there would absolutely no chance that you were right.

"Sometimes you feel real old, older than you are. Check the aches and pains, the hairline, the demands of life. Responsibilities, responsibilities. Worse things have happened to all of us; the circus wasn’t as good as you thought it would be, the movie stunk, etc., etc…

"Punching the clock, punching the wall, hating your boss. You can’t go if you don’t know, and you can’t know if you don’t go. And everybody in the world has their own song in their heads. The best songs ever. Problem is figuring a way to get them out and present them to others.

"You’ve got to know where the brakes are. Enjoy life at a realistic pace. You crazy youngsters, what with your nightlife and everything. And it’s important to trust other people while putting stock in yourself as well. Re-evaluating your priorities, checking yourself daily.

"Not everybody is a victim of circumstance; conversely, nobody should feel like a martyr all the time. Problem? It’s hard enough to communicate these days; some of us don’t even get the chance. Some others don’t know they have a chance.

"When you travel frequently, you find a lot of images. And sometimes, you have to try and make the best of a bad situation: more often than not, we grin and bear it. Other times, you learn to enjoy some small facet of your predicament. Nothing too elaborate, just an attempt to adjust priorities. Revolution starts at home, preferably in the bathroom mirror.

"Example? Winter always comes too soon. This year was the worst I can remember, except when I was five years old. Pushed open the front door, got lost in the snow." - Bob Mould