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Film

Film: Nomadland (2020)

On the surface, Nomadland is a deeply empathetic and visually beautiful picture of nomadic life in America. Having originally been Frances’ McDormands’ idea that she went to Chloé Zhao with, the narrative follows ‘houseless’ Fern (Frances McDormand) on her journey following the loss of her livelihood and her husband, and then intertwines this with the stories of real non-acting nomads along the way. Although, I have to say it, and ‘it’ is that something about Nomadland does not sit right with me as a viewer. The more I think about Nomadland, the more I think of reasons why this would have been so much better as an artistically driven documentary than a star-studded weaving of real nomadic life with the picturesque images of Fern’s fictitious nomadic experience.

To start on the lighter note, Nomadland is undeniably beautiful, and Zhao has drove home a film-making style that employs realism; there is a clear narrative here, intertwined with real-life experiences of Linda May and Charlene Swankie, that is somewhat indistinguishable from the truth. Zhao’s interest in the rural American life of nomads cast adrift by late capitalism pours through as Fern’s journey takes her across the United States, with beautiful visual language accompanied by an almost absent, yet incredibly powerful score provided by Ludovico Einaudi. Zhao has definitely taken an adventurous and daring approach which I can respect her for; an approach that is probably going to win her and her peers a lot of awards too. I can greatly appreciate the nomadic way of life becoming more popular and more desirable in the order of chaos that is normal, tethered life. However, I cannot help but feel as though the non-actors here – our real nomads – have been done a disservice.

While I can appreciate the film at a surface level, it does not go much deeper than that because Nomadland takes a few liberties; a few too many for me to be able to overlook them and appreciate the film on a deeper level. Being based on Bruder’s 2017 novel, Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century, I expected more of a statement from Zhao’s film adaptation; more specifically, Amazon get off way too easily here. Fern has no complaints about her work with Amazon and because the film acts as a character study, we see Bruder’s excruciating indignation regarding capitalist exploitation switched out for a rather mixed message about freedom and loss that downplays the issues with gig labour, Amazon’s scheme for retirees, and ultimately, the reality of the journeys that nomads are on. In Bruder’s book, Linda May sharply declares that she hates working with Amazon, and deems the company to be “the biggest slave owner in the world”. Yet, in all of her clarity on camera, these opinions are omitted during Nomadland, in favour of showing us more of Fern’s compassion and sorrow. Additionally, think back to Charlene Swankie and her terminal cancer; this was an invented plot device. Swankie herself has never had cancer, yet she does share (off-screen) that “my ex-husband died of brain cancer, so that made me emotional during filming. My character is 99% me. I am fiercely independent and seldom ever ask others to help me, so it was exceedingly difficult to act like I needed Fern’s help. That 1% was acting.” Again, Nomadland’s message of human experience becomes muddled here; if this is a picture centred on universal human experiences and emotions, then why are we not showing more of the true stories of these nomadic non-actors on screen? Why are we showing more images of Fern refusing help and housing?

Frances McDormand’s role here is one of the more subtle roles of her career and I will not downplay her compassion and empathy here, as it undoubtedly shows. However, by simply omitting the mistreatment and exploitation that is a part of so many nomads’ lives, the filmmakers here end up diminishing their issues and our final outcome disappoints overall. That being said, Zhao did not intend to make a political piece, and this is a picture that will bring comfort to many. Zhao told Indiewire that she wished to avoid politics: “I tried to focus on human experience and things that I feel go beyond political statements to be more universal – the loss of a loved one, searching for home.” With this in mind, and the politics of Amazon and gig work at the back of our minds, Nomadland can easily be interpreted in two ways: it is the story of a woman running from her losses after everything she knew had vanished; but it is also a story of so many Americans who feel disconnected from society and lost within their own lives. It is easy to find comfort in Nomadland to an extent, as its images of anxiety and unrest are something we are all familiar with right now, and its gestures of kindness and being at one with nature are beautiful gestures which we all need reminding of.

While I agree that not every new picture made needs to be explicitly political to drive home a message, I simply cannot understand why Nomadland casted real nomads in a drama about their experiences – high and low – to then intertwine a less-vulnerable and much more supported character that essentially diminishes the real human experiences of Linda, Swankie, Wells and many other nomads. Nomadland can have the fact that is it beautiful, and in areas it is incredibly touching, but the film feels like a missed opportunity more than anything – maybe that is the point – but it simply feels as if the filmmakers here have intertwined the likes of a fictitious narrative purely in an attempt to resonate with a wider audience, and of course, the Academy. Regardless of this, I stand by the fact that nomadic life and experience has been somewhat done a disservice in Nomadland; the portraits painted of our characters here (both real and fictional) are ones that are painted with empathy and respect, so I have no doubts that Zhao really intended to create a touching, but non-political, picture here. Yet, I think a more powerful picture could have been made out of the fact that with nomadic life, there is no driving into the sunset, and we owe more screen-time to the stories of nomads themselves and Bruder’s condemnation of late capitalism, than that of a picturesque horizon.

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Film

Film: American Mary (2012)

‘Everything is forgivable, if you do a good job.’ but this doesn’t apply to Mary Mason.

American Mary is my first watch by the Soska twins, and while it did leave me with mixed feelings, those feelings did not feature a moment of boredom. 

I do not like to start my reviews on a negative, but I would be lying if I didn’t note that the refreshing lack of boredom was also unfortunately accompanied by a few too many moments of disappointment. The daftest moment being that when Mary’s beloved Nana passes away, the first thing she does is delete her contact from her phone. Mary’s Nana passing away provided absolutely nothing additional to the plot, and the writing of this moment (I’m sorry Soska twins) was nothing less than stupid, unnecessary and unrealistic. This is unfortunately how I felt about a lot of the script, and American Mary’s rather rushed ending. 

Similarly, and as many other reviews have already noted before me, I am incredibly troubled by the rape-revenge narrative prevalent in female-led horror films. I am additionally troubled by the unnecessary sexualisation of females in horror – however, this did not stop my queer gore whore self from relishing in Katharine Isabelle pouring blood all over herself as she dances, and it also did not stop me from taking some form of pleasure in seeing her get her revenge. Yet, seeing Mary clad in tight PVC as she tortures her r*pist still troubles me – I feel as though the Soska twins almost definitely intended for Mary’s sexualisation to be in fact a form of her power; she is very much in control of her own body after her attack. This still doesn’t stop the horrific and unnecessarily long r*pe scene from troubling myself and other viewers. The video footage taken of Mary during her attack could’ve sufficed. While it is important for films to be graphic and feature violence to really burn messages into audiences’ minds, the r*pe scene of American Mary (and many other female-fronted horror, both classic and contemporary) seemed like yet another scene almost made for perverted male-viewing pleasure. For those of you have seen the likes of The Last House of the Left, or I Spit on Your Grave… you will know what I mean – and this greatly disappoints me from the female director-writer duo.

What I also found troubling – but fun – about American Mary, is how we are also led to genuinely be a fan of all the characters here (bar Mary’s r*pists). Lance, Beatrice, Ruby, and even Billy, all seemed to have some sort of weird sympathetic space in my heart by the end of the film – even though the likes of Lance and Billy maybe shouldn’t have done. However, when a man offers you ‘titties and shrimp’ following your brutal murder of your r*pist and a cop… it’s hard to not love him. With that being said, this film had a lot to offer besides its main plot. That being said though, I cannot fail to mention the scene in which Mary walks in on Billy receiving head from a ‘new girl’. Mary had shown no interest in Billy up until this point – and maybe she suddenly desired him after learning he had killed Dr. Walsh for her (however, it is not explicitly stated that Mary knows this and only an assumption) – but it still does not make sense to be in a film that begins with discussions of female empowerment. Mary’s anger should’ve been directed at Billy, for being just another sleazebag if anything, rather than Billy being turned into a ‘victim of unrequited love’ that we are almost asked to sympathise with.


While my list of issues with American Mary seems rather daunting, I did enjoy the film. Without the unnecessary rape scene, failed messages of female empowerment, and poor dialogue, this film could have easily exceeded my current opinion of it, but I will never be able to award a film that features such graphic r*pe scenes but yearns to scream ‘female empowerment’ more than 3 stars (out of 5). The premise of the film is incredibly strong, but I feel the Soska twins could’ve gone in a different direction that did not essentially glorify Mary’s brutal attack. The film in itself was still crafted wonderfully – the Soska twins employed a creative mixture of shots, some beautiful uses of light and music, and did a very good job of showing rather than telling. Through the character of Ruby Realgirl, and Mary’s eventual career in body-modification, we are provided with a lot of ideas regarding female empowerment, beauty-standards, objectification and sexualisation of women that I found to be quite powerful and quite important, but unfortunately, we simply did not see enough of Ruby (or even Beatrice, really) for this to overpower the issues I have with the film.

The ending was incredibly unexpected, but without any spoilers, I couldn’t have seen Mary ending up in any other way once we got to the final half an hour of this film. It did feel a little disappointing overall, but realistically, Mary was soon no longer a desperate student, and became what we can only describe as the ‘monstrous feminine’. Overall, the Soska twins have provided an entertaining film that is aesthetically pleasing to view and constantly keeps you guessing. The dark humour and unique side-characters really brought this film together for me and made me enjoy it overall, but sadly, I can’t help but with the Soska twins could’ve created something a lot more powerful here.

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Film

Film: His House (2020)

‘Your ghosts follow you. They never leave.’

As his debut feature, Remi Weekes’ His House is packed to the brim with commentary and this is a film I’ll likely discuss, and recommend, for a long time. 

Weekes documents the horror, and inescapable trauma, of the refugee experience – particularly at the hands of the British asylum system and systematic racism. The pressure to adapt to a new environment while simultaneously handling displacement, racism and trauma is portrayed through the nightmares and visions of our characters, Bol and Rial, as they live as asylum seekers in London. 

Although the film was a slow burn, and some of the visual horror felt unnecessary, Weekes really stands apart from other directors in his portrayal of what I’d say is the most important aspect of the film – trauma. His House shows us that the ghosts of our past are brought with us everywhere we go, and in the case of Bol and Rial’s tragic circumstances, these ghosts can really push us to our limits. 

This is a promising start to Remi Weeke’s career. His horror debut doesn’t just tackle class and racial borders, but the plight of refugees too, and I commend Weekes for packing so much important social commentary into one short film. His House ultimately reminds audiences that this is a true story of trauma and not just a haunted house tale; and it makes me incredibly excited to see Remi Weekes future work.

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Film

Film: Saint Maud (2019)

Saint Maud presents itself as a story of the darkest depths of loneliness and what this can really do to a person such as our beloved Maud. Sent to be a carer for a dancer and choreographer who is slowly dying from lymphoma, Maud tries to save her, but ultimately this is not the fate her God has decided for her. 

Rose Glass captures the trauma that Maud has faced wonderfully on screen – or at least, as wonderfully as you can capture a true tragedy. As a character, Maud is undeniably lost. She wants to feel love, to feel wanted and ultimately, she wantsto tackle her demons. As Maud went through every motion, it seemed to be Glass’ intention that the audience felt it with her. I did, and Rose Glass created a wonderful piece of art with Saint Maud

If more details had been revealed about Maud’s dark past, the exegesis of the narrative could have been entirely different. Which is what helps to make Saint Maud quite beautiful – the puzzle pieces of Maud’s backstory leave her fate entirely open to various interpretations from its viewers. 

As her directorial debut, Rose Glass has presented us with an incredibly strong female-fronted horror film. I just hope that Glass’ brings us a longer feature next time.

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Film

Film: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

‘Love one another.’

Another classic Spike Lee joint, the auteur employs his anguish and his confidence throughout the unfolding of Da 5 Bloods. With bold storytelling, in-depth character studies and constant travelling between the past and the present, Lee paints a picture of real tension as four friends journey back to Vietnam on a hunt for their friends remains – and the treasure that they left there so many years prior. However, Lee’s film is much more than just a treasure hunt that pays homage to the likes of Apocalypse Now and The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Although Da 5 Bloods sometimes feels as though three different films on the same subject matter have been intertwined with each other, this doesn’t take away from what Spike Lee is trying to portray. In fact, the chaos of this approach seems to add to Spike Lee’s message – and for the most part, it is necessary. The combination of aspect ratios (and 16mm film!), transitions between the present day and our characters memories, the appearance of real footage and images from the war itself all work together almost seamlessly to present the interminable continuum of war.

It is also important to note that the performance of Delroy Lindo, especially during his almost-insane monologues, acts as one that almost perfectly represents the torture of PTSD. The deep personal relationships that are at play here, and what becomes of them by the end of the film, reminds audiences that the war is far from over.

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Creative

Story: A Scene from 1940

This story is a little more vulgar than usual as it’s based on a Charles Bukowski poem I love. Experimenting with manifesting emotion and reactions in readers by using intense narratives rather than descriptions.

I don’t recall ever enjoying school. Most of my time had been a blur, with much of it having been spent either drinking in cleaner’s cupboards or boy’s bathroom stalls just to get me through until the end of the day. Although, there is one particular day that appears to me often clearer than the present.

He caught me in the boy’s bathroom. I thought I’d locked the stall behind me but with my lack of sobriety I’d clearly made a grave mistake and soon enough, Johnny kicked the door in hoping to go for a lash but instead discovered me gulping from a 35cl of white rum like my life depended on it.

“What the fuck Casey?” he snarled.

I shrugged and got up, slightly disgruntled and completely dishevelled. Johnny was an alright guy, he wouldn’t care too much if I offered him a swig. As far as I could care, I was on my way to the cleaner’s cupboard to polish the bottle off before lunch was over. Johnny, however, didn’t want to move as you can probably expect.

“I knew you were a bad-ass.”

I stared at him for a long time and he didn’t break my gaze. I had to back down. I vividly remember this harmless kid had made me feel so pathetic all within a matter of seconds.

“You always sat in the back of my art class and never said anything. Then I saw you in that fight with that kid a couple days ago, the small cunt with the straw hair. You know him? You beat him up real bad, Casey.”

I don’t know what he wanted from this conversation, or lack thereof, and I won’t ever know. Did he think I would be his friend? I tried to break past him again and retreat into my serene bubble of me, my rum and my own head but he really wanted to talk.

“You’re rare, Casey. Guys like you sure are rare. You’re raw, you don’t give a fuck. You make your own rules!”

Beaming like a puppy, I knew I had to kick him down from his pedestal.

“Fuck off. Get your fucking face out of mine.”

I was as venomous as I could be whilst wobbling from side to side. He saw this. I gritted my teeth and gripped my bottle so hard I felt as though I might just smash it over his head but he backed off and I waded away from him.

“You see what I mean?” his shout echoed in the bathroom.

I was exiting by now, bottle now in pocket and already feeling more cool-headed. I could’ve befriended Johnny that day. Perhaps I would’ve had somebody to sit with me in bathroom stalls and talk about my dad with. Or maybe, just maybe, I’d have shown him the scars and the bruises, and he’d have brought me home to his quaint family and they’d have taken me in like one of their own. Maybe I’d be making a living right now rather than drinking my own weight in cheap red wine and using loose change to pay to fuck women who resembled my worst nightmares most evenings. Trawling through rejection letter after rejection letter and deliberating ways to kill myself.

But the thing with Johnny was that he had outwitted me entirely. Of all the things I was strong enough to handle; copious amounts of alcohol, my dads’ fists, a lack of guidance in life… praise was the only thing I couldn’t handle.

I was fifteen then.

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Creative

Story: A Deal with God

He quite clearly hadn’t lived the most comfortable of lives, which I’d observed from the lack of congeniality about his appearance; countless stains and makeshift patchwork were seething across his clothing, adding to his rattled demeanour. I’ve always told myself it’s wrong to be so judgemental of those around us, but it was near impossible to not make the assumption that whoever this being might be, he was most certainly damaged. Some would say beyond repair.

As the last of the September sun bore down upon my back, making the bitter winds slightly more manageable, I’d realised that I had spent a lonesome few hours back at the campsite in which we were residing for the weekend. As boredom began to creep in and I grew increasingly uneasy with my own company, Edgar lapped around the innumerable hills that faced our camp with Pacino, our mercilessly energetic border collie, no doubt wearing themselves out in the process. I envied them for being out there, wherever there was, and enjoying the natural amenities that our weekends abode in the Dales had to offer. However, this didn’t make me any less bitter about the untimely ankle injury I had sustained just a few days before when galavanting around one of the local nature reserves with the dog.

Despite being confined to the housewife role of the campsite, there wasn’t particularly anything bad about cooking, reading and taking in the fresh air – but that was all that there was here for me. It was mightily unfortunate that I couldn’t explore as I’d wished to, but the surroundings were far too glorious for me to mind all that much. To one side we had rolling hills of various heights and shapes, then the other featured the most gemstone-blue lake I had seen throughout all of my trips here. As if that hadn’t been enough to have me feeling tranquil in my own company, it was swarming with ducks, geese and swans. Unusually so compared to our previous visits, but all the more comforting in such a way. It was refreshing to be solitary for a little while with my book, the birds and even the curious man in the distance failed to unnerve me. Regardless, Edgar adored this place far too much for me to ever consider ruining it for him.

The oddity that was also staying at our campsite continued on, pacing from tree to bush to rock and back again, all whilst mumbling to himself utterances that I had no chance of deciphering from this distance. His unbalanced character made me cautious but a large part of me sensed that he would bring me no harm. I had mused upon how he could’ve got here with nothing but his battered tent considering we were in the middle of nowhere but I suppose that for a man of his nature, then wandering on foot is no real issue. I found myself observing the man for long periods of time, often forgetting what page I had even been reading in my book as I allowed it to close itself up in my lap whilst I stared on. I was so invested in his movements. He didn’t waltz about like he was in distress but almost as though he was meditating—there was an undeniable eloquence about his movements. No matter how deranged he may have been, the man had an enigmatic presence that was hard to ignore. In more ways than one, I began to find myself frustrated and increasingly desperate to know what thoughts must’ve been surging through his mind at that moment as he continued to gracefully pace in such an unusual way.

Failing to wake me up from my trance, Edgar and Pacino had seemed to of approached camp in such a way as though they didn’t want to disturb me or the remarkable company that we had if they had even noticed him down by the lake. I had been so engaged in my observations that I’d failed to even notice them walking towards me until they’d appeared directly besides me. Clumsily, I’d also forgotten to put any food on for the pair too. Edgar didn’t fail to express his dissatisfaction at the fact.

I continued to daydream for a moment, but this time whilst looking over Edgar’s shoulder and amongst the hills again, almost as though he still wasn’t there. It must’ve been around six or seven in the evening by this point as our yellow ball of fire had changed to hues of orange, almost tangerine, that were acceptable to stare at as it continued to sink down and almost seemingly meet the earth. The sky was emblazoned with shades of pink that were as radiant as ripe fruit and once moreover, I was somewhat in awe as I took all of this in – Edgar’s unruly expression disturbing the corner of this image in which I was admiring.

‘Did I disturb you?’ He uttered, almost in annoyance but reigning his displeasure back in.

‘Oh no, don’t be silly, I was just observing our company for the evening.’ I politely remarked, having nodded behind him.

To my relief, Edgar had turned and his back faced me thus allowing me to peer around him so I could continue staring too. Yet, within our momentary exchange, the creature’s demeanour had transformed into that of something completely foreign to what I had been observing prior to Edgar’s return.

His awkward yet innocuous manner before had become that of pure fury and rage. He swung for the branches of the trees violently – disturbing the still scene painted behind him of the sun setting amongst the pomegranate-pink sky – as if they were limbs which he chose to tear from their sockets; running back and forth from the water, kicking it in a frenzy and drowning whatever he’d manage to take. We stared for a while, unsure of how to deal with someone so strange looking and now, strange acting, as he began to curse at the sky and engage in seemingly nonsensical rants. Many could assume this was the product of mental illness or some sort of ritual and attempted to leave him to it, moving themselves as far away from the scene of his crime against nature as much as possible, but before I could even suggest so, Edgar succumbed to his own masculinity, choosing to call the man over and intervene.

It came as a shock to me that this maddened being had stopped in its tracks without hesitation when Edgar called, and what shocked me even more, or perhaps enlightened me, was his response to our query about his anger. The man’s behaviour subdued again as he approached and gentle as ever, petted our dear pup and smiled at us both, revealing the most perfect set of teeth. My facial expression was perhaps more disturbed than it had been throughout the entire trip at this – the care in which his teeth had been granted unnerved me when compared to the state that his clothes were currently in – and I think he caught on to my surprise as he began to explain himself.

‘It’s unexplainable. Perhaps… it could be a control thing. Nature leads us to think our surroundings are so poetic, swarming with beauty and mystery. We are misled into thinking nature offers us a distraction and serenity. Yet, all we do is find ourselves tangled within its knots.’ He stared at my ankle now, elevated on the camping chair in front of me, almost as though he knew of the unpleasant fall personally.

‘Nature forces us to relish in our demons, to hate who we are. Yet, no matter how much we rage, nature rages stronger and stronger until… well… that’s it. But I refuse to let it.’ He paused to take a breath and continue pampering our spaniel for a moment.

Me and Edgar exchanged a concerned glance for what might come next as the entire interaction became more unnerving. Perhaps the first mutual feeling we’d had in months. I stifled a giggle at the thought and turned back to the situation at hand that was unfolding. There were no mumbles or fury like before, but well-spoken English and a strong southern accent, yet before we could really try to summon up a reaction to the man himself, he’d beat us to it.

‘We can all be a God if we try hard enough.’

And with that, he had sent dumbfounded looks across our faces as he descended on hurriedly packing up his tent and walking away almost as though we’d disturbed whatever he had been embarking on just moments before. The mood had changed for the evening and the colour of the sky transformed from admirable pink tones to a deep purple, then to a black speckled blanket above us as we continued to sit in silence and wonder what we’d bore witness to that evening. A part of me felt like I certainly could’ve had an encounter with God, with the abnormal sense of awe I had been feeling, but really it had appeared to me that this was nothing but a man with unfinished business.

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Creative

Story: Laureate of an American Lowlife

A short story dedicated to the life of Charles Bukowski. Based on the following writing prompt: Strangers at a bus stop, trying to mind their business, are persistently engaged with by a chatty, seemingly homeless, man.

The ridicule that came alongside refusing to follow the values which society held was what demoralised him. He didn’t mind the fact that he was different to those who surrounded him, but he did mind the fact that there was little justice for the creative; there was no stability or safety for the ones who were deemed to be weaker.

He spent most of his lifetime expecting to be adored, with smiles in his direction and hats tipped towards him as he graced the streets, but little did he know that his only friendship would be with a bottle; occasionally, a decrepit typewriter. He didn’t see the problem with drinking. If something bad happens, you drink to forget; if something good happens, you drink to celebrate; and if nothing happens, you drink to make something happen. Whilst sobriety coats his mind for a little while longer, he wonders if that’s how he got here – finding his only solace at a cramped, communal waiting area. Things were bad and really, they were boring. As much as he tried to form an ordinary life and earn an unremarkable wage, there was no comfort to be sought out in the routine nine to five.

Many regulars were confused by his placement. He was never without a bottle and never in his life had he thought to groom his face or his hair. His shirt nipped at his armpits whilst revealing the underneath of his ample stomach – presumably from all the bottle-contents he happened to consume during his rounds of people watching. Many found his face hard to look at, bulbous and grotesque; some found him comparable to the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. He begged to differ. He thought that he was handsome, a treat to every lady that saw him. They all desired him, but this was only after he’d had his third bottle.

He never boarded the bus, but he still chose to stand around for hours on end making pathetic and occasionally resentful chatter when he had the chance. They all thought he was entirely demented, but little did they know that they were speaking with a genius. A respectable man; that’s what he thought.

“You all just blindly grab at whatever there is!”

This wasn’t uncommon. Something was brewing inside of him that wanted to escape. Whilst a few would hope he’d stop wandering and leave, many knew that this was the start of his usual ‘fuck you’ to the world. Particularly those who stared him down up until this point, wondering why this filth wasn’t eradicated already.

“Communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Buddha, Christ, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporates and falls apart. People must find things to do while waiting to die! I guess it was nice of me to have a choice!”

Nothing out of the ordinary. After his first bottle, bitterness consumed him once again. His art was his craft, and nobody appreciated him then – as a failing writer – and nobody had a care in the world for him now, as the maniacal preacher. He found this to be his fuel, the fire in his loins that graced him during these outbursts and the reactions he summoned motivated him. Fear was evoked in many of the women surrounding him, just wishing to make their way to work on time. The stares weren’t enough to make him leave but rather, enough to make him want more stimulation.

“Your eyes – they’re beautiful. They’re wild, crazy, like some animal peering out of a forest on fire.”

This was the first time he’d warmed up to a lady in a few days which seemed to be a surprise to those who where regular to the stop. He frequented the women with aimless flattery most mornings and many evenings, none of which was ever reciprocated. These compliments shrouded in fakery where the only times that he softened his voice. He hated women. He didn’t want to, but they didn’t like him, so he hated them. Just as much as he hated everything else.

Nobody knew that once upon a time, his antics and deliberate clownish performances had once made him the king of an underground scene where ladies worshipped his words and men wished to bow down to him. He was a loyal man and up until his presence had been forgotten and his art form failed. He was a cordial man.

Now, all that he did was act as litter to a public space and persist that those who dared look at him were subordinate. He found them to be fools for not having a literary appreciation and even more so for not wishing to hear his poems or lyricisms.

“Oh, what! You don’t like the word cunt?”

Perhaps his most vile outburst to the crowd that gathered, nobody quite understood the gritty, darkened truth behind his magic. Nor did he, anymore.

Little did they know that he resided in a shed with his few clothes, his empty wine bottles and typewriter. He had a bed, not habitable by a human but fit for a monster. As his career went down in flames, his passion for alcohol soared with it. Everything that came from his mind was in a disarray, cluttered with profanities and vexation – the commoners at the bus stop didn’t want to hear it and neither did L.A. anymore. The underground had no time for him and whilst he looked for his ammunition from a bottle at a local bus stop each day, he remained an outsider.

Who would want to be such an asshole?

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Creative

Story: Desolation

Based on image prompt here.

Everything opposing me was unapologetically urban.

For as far as I could see, there wasn’t a single sign of life that wasn’t human; no trees, no blossoming flowers and no restless weeds attempting to fill the cracks in the pavement. Only monoliths of concrete soaring from each sidewalk in the same, ceaseless arrangement. I enjoyed my nights here because even though there was no chance of me seeing any stars, thanks to the fumes that consumed the sky, the lights that seared from every building acted as a man-made sky that was beautiful enough.

When there are no lights to admire or people to watch through windows, things can be tiresome around here, but I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. This growing metropolis soon made me it’s first casualty and its inhabitants forgot about beauty and pleasure in exchange for constant, monotonous routines of work. They don’t enjoy life anymore; they just survive.

As a product of this municipality, I doubt there has been any second-thoughts to what I’ve described. In the first line of this dreary, melancholic monologue I said that everything was opposing me. I could’ve said that the cityscape was ahead of me, in front of me or simply just described what I saw without placing it anywhere.

I say opposing because not only was it in front of my eyes – it was against me too.

***

This morning, in the half-light, everything ahead of me was eerie. The cityscape was fantastic as ever although more frightening than it had been that previous day. I couldn’t quite figure out why things didn’t feel the same as they usually did. Even with the scurry of pedestrians on the streets and the horns of restless drivers, the air didn’t seem to move around me. I almost feel as though the lack of movement in the air was asphyxiating me even though I didn’t breathe anyways. My immediate surroundings seemed bereft of noise, almost as though I was in a bubble. I could only view; I couldn’t interact.

The sun travelled across the sky and hours passed like any normal day; yet, as they did, a feeling of alienation approached me. Despite the people outside, I was entirely alone. Nobody had come to visit me. I am a nocturnal piece and I was aware that I shouldn’t allow myself to venture during light hours, but you know what happened – I couldn’t help myself.

Something wasn’t right, and it couldn’t be shaken from me no matter how many people my vision focused on and false lives I created in my mind. My memory is hazy now. I remember every feeling as vivid and dynamic as though it was only a few minutes ago in which I experienced it but envisioning the scenario itself proves to be a task. I think I might’ve been created with that in mind.

I turned away from the window which I was blessed of being placed by and I can only remember that my soul left me there and then. I don’t know what struck me first but the rest of the room, lit only by the sky itself had been ransacked. Maybe not ransacked by thieves, but a careless team nonetheless. Everything had been taken but me – pages of well-loved books had been torn from their spines and left to wander the stained, glass-penetrated carpet. Amongst the mess, I was unaccompanied. Whilst I recognise that it was selfish, my only thought was my loneliness. I wanted to escape, to run down the street until someone caught me and examined me until I couldn’t handle it anymore but that wasn’t within me. Even if I did find some foreign courage to vacate that property and discover where the rest of my belongings had gone, I was attached to wires.

In my nonchalant state of eulogizing the city, I’d been too obedient to make any attempts at moving away from my position. Now that I did, I found that I couldn’t move far. Whether this was intentional, something more macabre or an attempt at making the modern world connect with me, I couldn’t recall these wires being pinned to me. Nobody knew of my animate state, so why they would want to keep me entrapped in this desolate, newly-diseased skyscraper is unknown. I had many questions but mainly I wondered why.

***

At the current moment, I scrawl this out onto the only scrap page from some sort of novel, probably Hemingway, that I could reach; I finally know why. The abandoned gallery, the destroyed books and the need to bound me – the disrespect towards what some would once value as treasures wasn’t entirely meaningless. As this city grows, so does technology and the need for instant gratification. Art doesn’t provide that anymore as it once did. My purpose has been served and now I am abandoned, left to be tortured by my surroundings as I watch this city destroy itself and forget about me.

Yet, there is still one question I am left to trouble myself with to pass time here and that’s the reasoning behind my captivity. Who had bound me here and left me? Did they know what I really am?

 

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Newspaper Article: Forgotten Football Giant

After sending countless emails and contacting an endless amount of sources, I managed to get my first article physically published into a newspaper. Small or big, I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of myself for getting my writing shared in the physical form.

Additionally, the content of the article is the tale of an even greater success and one that is personal to me. A late relative of mine, George Raynor, happened to be one of the most international football managers to come from England but is sadly forgotten nowadays despite his influence previously.

To add to the success that is getting published, I’ve managed to remind readers of my relative’s astounding career and I am proud of that.

Read the PDF of the article with The Star below:

Raynor, South Yorkshire’s Forgotten Football Giant