In Deep

30 July 2007

I've been working on a short story, for no good reason other than the fact that I have a million other things to do, many of them urgent and because right now I have hardly any free time. These are the perfect circumstances under which to start something new.

I'm going to put the story here in three chunks, starting today. I wont make a new entry for it – it will just get longer over the next days, so to speak.

[Weds 23.03: The whole story is added now].

Also check the new navigation options, RSS feed and archive access in this notebook (to the right). Thanks Sam. Its still work in progress but the few glitches should be ironed out soon.

In Deep

Over three days one May five separate young women report violent sexual assaults to the police in a particular capital city. The attacks are evidently related, the modus operandi similar, the women (all of them young, foreign, living alone) subjected to knife-point ordeals of escalating brutality, the details of which are barely kept out of the press. The police quickly begin their investigations; gathering evidence against a backdrop of public and media frenzy, appealing for witnesses, building photo-fits and profiles of the killer based on cross-referenced interviews with the women.

Once questioned and released from hospital each of the women is offered shelter and protection by the police, but each declines, preferring to stay with friends. Two of them make emotional appeals at press-conferences, a third sells her story to a newspaper which prints it in an edition from which all profits go to a charity, the fourth and the fifth remain silent.

As the days go by and public terror builds, the team of detective assigned to the case continue their forensics and their searches and the press goes mad with speculation about who the attacker might be, about where and when and how the next assault is going to come. WHAT KIND OF MONSTER? says the Daily Trumpet (or whatever). STREETS OF FEAR says the Herald. WHOS NEXT IN LINE? says another one. UNDER THE KNIFE says yet another, with a clever computer graphic that takes up the whole front page, and which shows the country’s silhouette and a fuck-off big knife just above it. All over the capital women stay home, shops selling rape alarms and other security products do well whilst tv and radio pundits, along with half the internet, go tirelessly over the known aspects of the case, using diagrams, maps and soundbites, re-enactments, interviews with profilers, statements from public officials and representatives of campaigning groups. The nation – sat crapping itself under the best tabloid headline of all – MAY DAYS OF TERROR – is basically on tenterhooks, waiting for ‘the Maniac’ to strike again.

And then something odd happens. The girls all disappear, overnight and no matter how hard they look the police cannot find them. The victims are vanished without trace.

*

There follow a few days of constant speculation – print and electronic outlets wrapt in the hysteria that only 'no news' can produce. The stories, theories and general nonsense get wilder and wilder – especially as leaks from the cops spark stories that it’s not just the girls themselves who’ve disappeared, but that in some cases their families, friends, lovers, lives are also gone – turned into dust, slipped away into a night of mist and shadows. The cops have got nothing and the government (provisional, and tottering anyway) is also under pressure and still there’s an rumour machine concerning the attacker – if and when he’ll ‘get back to work’, if its him that’s snatched the girls or murdered them or worse, if he’s working with a team, if he’s fled the country disguised as a priest or as whatever, or if he’s somehow gone to ground. The chief of Police (Bob something or other) goes on TV and urges calm. The newscasters ask difficult questions and the Bob bloke gets angry, ripping off his microphone and storming out of the studio, leaving an eerie calm that seems to extend across the nation.

Two days after the girls’ disappearance an extraordinary announcement relevant to the case is promised by the media spokesperson of a TV production outfit based in some suburb that most people have heard of though few are certain if they’ve ever been there.

At midday on May 23rd, in a function room at a centrally located New Medallion/LeisureTime Hotel there’s a long table, some microphones, three jugs of water and six glasses. Above the table there’s a powerpoint image via laptop and projection showing two words – IN DEEP – emblazoned on black background in bold, lime green sans serif typeface. There are delays and hold ups and a lot of restless journalists make phone mobile phonecalls, killing time in what one of then quips is the no-mans land of noon. A smattering of curious cops look on, already recounting the story of what a joke this stupid assignment was. Sometime around 1pm the spokesperson (think sweating man in a suit and pink tie) enters, flanked by a couple of uneasy underlings, takes a leather-look plastic seat, clears his throat and reads from a pre-prepared statement in bullet-points, declaring to those assembled that the whole story from start to finish, the girls, the rapes, the whole of it – is a fake. The attacks are fictional, the cops, the press and the public have all been duped, the girls are actresses, their fraught accusations and outbursts in the interview rooms at police stations, their emotional pleas at press conferences and in media profiles have simply been scripted exercises in bravura style.

Before he’s done the guy makes it clear – with powerpoint showing scripts, rehearsals and production notes – that what we've all been witness to – spread across prime time already like a dog crushed by a juggernaut – in the preceding MAY DAYS OF TERROR, is simply a viral marketing stunt for a new TV show starting soon on Channel Z. In Deep, it transpires, is 10 part drama series about a cop called out of retirement to solve a series of brutal rapes and sexual assaults which are reported to the police in a particular capital city over a three day period by five separate young women. Broadcasts are scheduled for the following week.

The sweating bloke from the media firm is taken away for questioning by the police and his life like that of his miserable associates is soon buried in a welter of charges, claims, suits, counter claims and investigations concerning their role in the events, the time-wasting of the police, as well as broader questions about fraud, ethics, business acumen and general malpractice. The show in question – In Deep – is withdrawn but soon reinstated, beginning in the 9.30 post-watershed slot on a major network who've bought out the disgraced and bankrupted rival channel that initially would've shown it, the network premiere now framed by a series of panel-discussions, hand-wringing comment-pieces, and off-the-shelf documentaries about the History of Viralistic Marketing and Great Serial Sex-Offenders of the Past.

In Deep eventually, and somewhat against the odds, is a big success. Despite caution in the first instance the critics are swayed by its strong characterisation, by the vivid sense of dramatic development and by the sassy, self-mocking and ironic flavour to much of writer Slop Charlton’s script. Its classy post-modern TV with attitude, they say, not trash.

Director Jaunt Ishmael and lighting cameraman Ray Davies are feted at parties all over town while Slop Charlton is sought after for all kinds of projects, many prestigious, some ridiculous and others insane. Leading man Twat Poshman (who plays a journalist going it alone in an investigation of the rapes, against the wishes of his editor played by Pete Thownsend) is soon a regular on Parkinson, J. Leno, Totale’s Turns etc, constantly doorstepped by paparazzi and It girls.

Veteran star of other cop shows such as Crowbar & Zebra Head – Kurt Jaw – is widely praised for his role as the wise-cracking detective. The critics go wild in fact. Similar accolades are handed out to both Rand Holefall as Jaw’s brow-beaten assistant and to Clint Verbiage for his cameo as the capitals long-suffering Chief of Police. Newcomers Slit Cleavage, Hysteria Walton, Svelte Crush and Jade Agenda all bring subtle interpretations and nuances to the role of brutalised victims. The show is stolen though by the fifth victim – played with a verve and edgy commitment that will many think will bring her success when the awards season comes – the Iraqi actress Lauren Nadada.

Simply put, Nadada steals scene after scene, her optimism under torture seems boundless and inspiring and her eventual death at the hands of the Maniac (played by Keith Richards) remains what Hassan Blundell writing in the National Express arts column called "..a classic mix of CGI and Lee Strasberg." Indeed its not long before the cops own recordings of her original police-cell interviews are leaked to the internet and these reality-infused tapes are themselves widely heralded as an amazing performance under extraordinary circumstances. She’s a star and we will be hearing a lot more of her, when losers like Holly Finkton have been long forgotten. Hear me now – it wasn't for nothing that the Italian composer Varabese Sarabande – who scored In Deep for tv and will re-score it for next year’s cinema version – took the liberty of removing all music from Nadada's scenes. "She didn't need anything" he said, "Some girls bring their own soundtracks. There was no need to heighten the emotion, it was all already there."
 

Structuralist Narrative for Kids

29 July 2007

With exaggerated disdain S. explains the structure of Power Rangers episodes.

"First a monster appears. Then the Power Rangers fight it. Then the monster gets all big, gets bigger. Then the Power Rangers go in those machine things. Then they beat the monster…"

"It's the same every time..", he says, then adds "I hate it".

*

V meanwhile sent me this nice para from a spam/scam mail with a
rhythm like Dr. Seuss.

Note. FEDEX SPEED SERVICES COMPANY LTD. don't know the contents of the Box. I registered it as a BOX of an Africa cloths. They don't know it contents money. this is to avoid them delaying with the BOX. don't let them know that is money that is in that Box.

Daily Grind

26 July 2007

You wake and try calling your friends, but they're not picking up their mobiles. So you log-in to this online game that you all play, and you find them in the game – at the site of some complicated battle they're involved in, or some mission with swords and gold and stuff like that and anyhow you ask if its OK to come over and they say OK, no worries. So you shut the computer and head out.

*

I say: to the swimming pool.
S. says: yes, to the swimming pool, and don't spare the imaginary horses.

An Annotated Version of your Own Head

25 July 2007
Hannah Kozak

My friend K wrote, saying that my previous fragment here on disappearance/double lives/doppelgangers made her think of this collection of images which show stunt double/actress Hannah Kozac next to people that she was doubling for, mainly in various David Lynch movies.

The stills themselves seem like troubling real-world extensions of Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.

K wrote: “it looks like the beginning of a big collection. and something about  star quality, and then suddenly a picture of her on fire.

*

Third part of a three part interview with William Gibson at Amazon, in advance of the release for his new one Spook Country which I’m really looking forward to after Pattern Recognition, has this nice interchange on writing and using google.

Amazon.com: So are you able to google during your writing day, or do you have to block that off and say, all right–

Gibson: No, I’ve got Word open on top of Firefox.

Amazon.com: That’s very courageous.

Gibson: It’s kind of the only way I can do it. It’s replaced looking out the window, but I have to have–

Amazon.com: You need a certain stimulation to work off of.

Gibson: Yeah, I need a certain stimulation. It kind of feels like when you’re floating underwater and you’re breathing through a straw. The open Firefox is the straw: like, I can get out of this if I have to. I can stay under until I can’t stand it anymore, and then I go to BoingBoing or something.

Amazon.com: I think for some writers, they’d never get back in the pool with Google open to them.

Gibson: It’s not that interesting for me. I’m okay with it because it doesn’t pull me in that much. The thing that limits you with Google is what you can think of to google, really. There’s some kind of personal best limitation on it, unless you get lucky and something you google throws up something you’ve never seen before. You’re still really inside some annotated version of your own head.

All Over Everything

24 July 2007

You are woken by the sound of a child five metres away, sat on the floor, assembling and disassembling Lego, as carefully and quietly as it is possible to do so.

*

When you check mail there is spam with the subject-line 'big king'. Later, when the mood dips, they write to you with more Viagra/Stock Offers under the headings 'laser down', 'compressed tabloid' and 'surly pocket'.

 Someone has arrived at my site using the search terms/keywords 'live not exist' and 'i do not exist'. Phillosophy students or anxious teenagers? Someone with other motives (?) arrived from the search term 'where does Meg Ryan live?'. Hint: this info cannot be found on my site.

*

V reporting an overheard phone conversation:

a guy in the line behind me at duane read
23/07/2007 16:24
talking on the phone very loudly
23/07/2007 16:24
First he says 'why have you not called that girl yet?'
23/07/2007 16:25
then pause then he says
'shes a fucking assistant district attorney you idiot. and now theres fucking reporters everywhere. and that little bitch, i want her handcuffed when you take her out and i want her picture all over everything..

23/07/2007 16:26
..cos that guy – hes a litle faggot – he wont keep his fucking mouth shut'
23/07/2007 16:26
the checkout girl and i were looking at each other like 'oooo kkkk'

The Closest You Can Come To Escape

23 July 2007

A nice invite for my video Starfucker as part of a show which will be in Stadtgalerie, Bern this September 8 – October 21st.

Curator Barnaby Drabble wrote me:

I originally saw the work in a hotel in St Sebastian at around three in the morning when i drunkenly turned on the tv set in the corner of the room and encountered the work (in Spanish) broadcast on a late night arts channel. I was thoroughly confused about what exactly I was watching, I had been hoping for figure skating.

The show Ein Zweites Leben/A Second Life sounds great in fact, with the following narrative explaining part of it’s rationale:

As a short and easy overlooked side-plot in his most famous detective novel The Maltese Falcon, the American author Dashiel Hammet introduces us to the story of an everyday estate-agent named Flitcraft who, after a close brush with death on his lunch-break, leaves his wife and baby and simply disappears. When Hammet’s detective Sam Spade manages to track him down he finds him living under an assumed name in another suburb, similar to the one he lived in before, married to a woman more or less the same age as his wife, with a baby much like the one he left behind. When confronted by Spade, Flitcraft shows no remorse, explaining that in his organized life this was the closest he could come to escape.

In the third in a series of international exhibitions looking at contemporary pop-cultural phenomena the British curator Barnaby Drabble shows works from a selection of artists who deal with issues of re-enactment, multiple identities, double-agency and parallel worlds…

 

Homework

20 July 2007

Kids in Conakry, Guinea gather late at night to revise for exams in the airport’s main carpark, vying for positions under the streetamps. The country’s economy is in severe crisis and most of the country, under martial law, is currently without electric power. A scene that’s at the same time too strange, vivid and touching, too depressing and somehow optimistic to have been invented – with a reality like this one Science Fiction scarcely seems necessary.

The lot is teeming with girls and boys by the time Air France Flight 767 rounds the Gulf of Guinea at an hour-and-a-half before midnight. They hardly look up from their notes as the Boeing jet begins its spiraling descent over the dark city, or as the newly arrived passengers come out, shoving luggage carts over the cracked pavement.   

“I used to study by candlelight at home but that hurt my eyes. So I prefer to come here. We’re used to it,” says 18-year-old Mohamed Sharif, who sat under the fluorescent beam memorizing notes on the terrain of Mongolia for the geography portion of his college entrance test.

I found the story by a link at the excellent BoingBoing.

In Mail

A friend, E, from whom I didn't hear in a long while wrote this to me:

"the other day, I put on a jacket which I hadn't taken for ages. what I found in the pocket was a theatre ticket from 1994. A moment which made me really feel how fundamentally times have changed in the past 10 to 15 years. But which also brought back something from that time, you know, the Proust kind of thing. It was BAK Truppen at Theater am Turm Frankfurt. A company which probably no longer exists, a theatre which no longer exists. Even the money which the ticket was paid in no longer exists. (but both, this company and the theatre, had fundamentally shaped my vision of theatre/performance.) I know it sounds banal, but there are those moments which make things clear in an unexpected way. sharp. and at the same time such moments bring back an imprint of how one used to be, used to feel and no longer is. makes me think about in which way I no longer exist. I mean, the "I" from that time, from ten years ago, it just no longer exists. again, nothing to be sentimental about. strange enough that all the correspondance from those times still is hidden somewhere in the far back of my computer. hard to believe, taking into account how often one changes the computer, the crashes etc. but, no, it is still there, isn't even dusty, the system still can read it. of course I cannot go through it again, just one glimpse, there it says, "that I can´t know you like this". no. seeing it with different eyes, we used to say. but what really is it that's different? sediments of experiences. can I still write to you like this? for a moment I feel quite close…"
 

Small Pieces

19 July 2007

New Tony White story at 1001 Night’s Cast here, complete with the narrator cheerfully drawing attention to the total absurdity of his or her own selections of material. Once again (as I wrote about a little here) there’s a very beautiful sense of letting disconnected things (stories and voices) sit together in a suspension, and then just leaving it all for the reader to figure out.

I just caught up with the fact that The Fall’s Mark E. Smith made a collaboration with Mouse on Mars by name of Von Sudenfed. I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention. One track here.

 

Background Artist

17 July 2007

Days doing micro-editing on The Broken World – moving into the final phase with it. I love Word’s track changes function because it at least starts to show something of the layers and layers that a text has. Some of the sentences I am working on I must have written in their first form three years ago and they’ve been through endless variation, wholesale rewriting here, erasure, restoration, minute additions and subtractions. (See also my recent project for the Sheffield Pavilion in Venice – City Changes).

On the level I’m working at right now what’s interesting to me is that a lot of the work is so much refining (or pointless twiddling). I’m *supposed* to be tightening the structure in the middle of the book (which I am doing, honest) but at the same time I do get sucked into details. Waves of work in which I add words here and there, making it flow more easily, followed by days in which I decide this flow is too comfortable and I go thru removing the new stuff, even erasing words here and there from the original, cutting up the flow in places.

Another delight of this stage (or any stage) is the process of endlessly adding to or tweaking jokes. It’s amazing the amount of fun to be had just slightly changing the punch-line or pay-off of something, or adding a whole new clause to an already ridiculous sentence.

 

I get a sense doing this work, and again in writing the recent story for 1001 Nights Cast that somehow I trade majorly in comical irrelevance and apparent digression. Narrators/voices that are never really getting to the point, or who are straying from the point very often and as far as possible.  Also the totally irrelevant fact from the background pulled out as preposterous foreground. Makes me think (on a tangent) of that description of movie extras (or is it scenery painters?) – as ‘background artists’. Manipulation of background. As if foreground were (is in fact) only ever an excuse for what you are *really* doing, elsewhere.

 

*

 

Best graffiti of the week, an artfully dripped set of stencil capitals: YOU WANT IT SO BAD

 

*

Best sight of the week, so far: aeroplanes slowly criss-crossing the darkening sky above Central Park as we watched The Decemberists last night.

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