At first you think, what a touch cos hes a good looking lad from northern Ireland and he can fight pretty good and the girls wanna give him their numbers and hes getting paid for his photographs and hes been around the block a few times but now hes taking me out for steak at some private supper club and his work is on the walls and the maître de comes up to the table and says hi garreth and hes got 2000 pounds credit in the gaff and all hes got to do is sign at the end of the nite and you think to yourself, fuck I want some of that.
So theres a fashion shoot and he calls me and says do you want to be my assistant theres 50 quid in it and I say yea and I bounce around some freezing wherehouse in hackney for eight hours setting up the lites and handing him his polaroid and the people are ok I guess and they say hello and I smile and say im the assistant and hes being charming and focused and professional and every body seems to think that what they are doing is really important you know the hair guy with his cowboy hat and the two make up artists who take three hours to get it just right and the stylist and the prop lady and the skinny little model girls who I have to hold the heater up to while hes changing the film because their fucking freezing cold in their little outfits and she just flew in from Milan and shes going to new york tomorrow and in the end I say hey garreth I gotta go walk my dogs and he says ok and I leave and on my way home on the train I think to myself what the fuck was that about ? who fucking cares ? but they pay you right ?
They pay you.
It seems to me that every body who is doing well in this world are kind of the same and that every body who is having a fucking hard time of it you could classify as different and I don’t mean existential middle class angst different I mean 24 stitches in your skull cap different or a bullet hole in the back of your knee different and occaisonly the doing well people like to look at photographs of the having a hard time of it people and if you do it right and know enough well people in high places you can even call it art
That’s me with the blue wall behind me and my hands, that are coverd in paint, held up to my face and that’s me again standing against the same wall eight years before with my arm in a cast after I punched out the windows at the rehab and that’s dead nick and mickey and cosmic dave and herman and sir simon and sophie with a belly full of baby standing naked in the garden at the back of her house and he gave me a black bin bag full of clothes the second time we met because I didn’t have much and every time he went away he brought me something back from Tokyo, mexico city, new york, Australia, goa, singapore I don’t know I cant remember but when I said well your living the life now hey boyo he kind of laughed and looked away
Im not supposed to write about the photographs, good, id rather write about violence and damage and crime and dim heroin and the self destructive choices some people make when whats on offer doesn’t cut the cheese and if by some weird coincidence you happen to have a camera while the shits going down bully for you because you might be able to climb out of the mess just for long enough to fly around the world for a while but when you get back its gonna be right there waiting for you,
Every fucking day
I am a nobody and the more I embrace my nobodyness the stronger I become because im fucking free, when garreth first started taking photos of me he knew my history, he knew id just finished a tour of the American penal system and kicked a twenty year heroin habit and had been turning to mould for three years in an earls court hostel living on methadone linctus and anti phycotich medication , I think he had a year clean and I was now in a rehab in Clapham that hed been in himself and I met him in the ‘rooms’ of na and we just clicked.
He showed me his photographs, the neighbourhood hoodlums and the old fuckers past there day with the tats on their big bellys at the bar the boys from brighton who hed shot heroin with when he had slipped beneath the cracks, the faces you meet on a journey into the wastelands, I know these faces, I know these people , these are my people.
So if your not in a band or a movie star or a politician or a budding author or an aspiring personality why the fuck would you think that having your photograph taken is of any purpose ? and your not getting paid ? what ? are you gonna send it to mom? Shes got enough on the mantle piece, or maybe shed just rather forget you, no you think that somehow because you’re a nobody that if a somebody is interested enough to ask you to pose for them that somehow afterwards you will be validated and your position in the nobody world that you live in will somehow be elevated, silly boy, youv been con’d and its your own fault for being a fool,
Beautiful fools, I love them to, the princes of degradation going nowhere fast with a big fuck you and the scars to prove it, or maybe its just in their eyes
I think blind marks my favourite, think about it, you’re a junkie and you cant see a thing and you never have and all you can do is have faith that that’s really a shot of heroin that this girl is sticking in your arm and the little plastic ball in your hand you just paid sixty quid out of your disability living allowance to purchase is not just a ball of wax its crack god please let it be crack and when your buzzer goes at three am and two guys come in and say hi man and then beat you up and rob you and all the time you thought they were your friends, but hey that’s just life, youl get over it, what else are you going to do ? get clean ? alright, that’s something I suppose.
I wish id had a camera, it’s a stuped game to play but fuck it after he showed me larry clarks Tulsa everything got clear and strong and fell into place and I knew that I had a right to declare my experience. But the thing was I had entered another world, I was walking around with hopes and asspirations and the world I wanted to document was the world id left behind, the shadow world, the flatline graveyard of the soon to be dead or imprisoned, the chaos of the have nots who arnet going to go out quietly lining up for some shitty ass job on minimum wage and behaving themselves so the parasitocracy can park up the BMW outside Julies supper club and not have to worry about it getting stolen while they spend the equivalent of a weeks dole check on a candle lit dinner
But hey, im just a dreamer, everyone seems to be going out quietly these days, myself included, no commitment no action no agency just a series of snotty self piteous simpers and token gestures at a fraudulent resistance that crumbles at the first sign of a traffic warden cresting the ridge of Westbourne park road,.
So Theres work to be done
in order to sacrifice the hypnotized comforts that we all aspire too as soon as the needle drops from our arm we have to take a look around and survey the tundra.
You have to be able to take a beating and then get up right away, if you can do that then half of the things you think are unthinkable just fade away.
So when I first started getting better I found that I had this energy in me, this force or power or whatever you want to call it, it was kind of beautiful but dangerous at the same time, like an eight year old child with a loaded pistol in his hand.
Bang bang bang
Have you heard the one about the photographer in the dust fields of the sudanese drought lands who was out hunting good copy and how he happened to come across a big black vulture standing staring at a small emaciated child who had collapsed in the sand? and the photographer knows that this is the moment he has been working so hard for, this is his calling card to success, click click click change the film, shit please don’t let that baby get up, not yet, hold still baby
Click click click new york times, national geographic,
Click click click 20 thousand 30 thousand 40 thousand
Click click click Pulitzer prize
Three months later the photographer was found dead in the front seat of his pick up truck from carbon monoxide poisoning. Ha ha ha…what ? you don’t think that’s funny ? well neither do i.
So whats your problem asshole ?
Who me ?
Yea fuck head you and your smug little token refusals to comply and your superior ass attitude towards people who claim to be perfectly content, just because you cant fit in to the party doesn’t mean that the partys gotta change its rules just so you can find a place at the bar you know, shit I seen you sniffing around the crumbs of celebrity, I seen you claiming to be an artist and smiling when they handed you an envelope full of cash, I seen you up at the job center telling them how your realy trying and then runnin down to the cash machine to see if they sent you your 67 pounds, money money money, huh shit face ? don’t try to pretend your not involved in this, your up to your fuckin neck asshole.
Yea well I got dogs to feed and a girlfriend who likes having a thousand dumb choices on her television and has been conned into constantly upgrading her mobile, and flying out of Stanstead once a year for five days in Crete.
Oh right! So your gonna blame her that you’re a fuckin hypocrite huh?
No, I don’t blame her, shes innocent, she doesn’t know any different, im just seeing how hard it is not to compromise your way into complacency and servitude all because you think your in love and try to honour that persons decisions about what she believes is necessary for her well being
Well what about you ? Huh dick head, what experiences do you claim your potential for integrity upon ?
Well I know I can live off of what’s left on your plate at the restaurant, I know that I never have to drive a car to get where im going ,I know I can walk barefoot for life like my ancestors, I know I can lay down on the bank of the river and wake up when the sun is rising in the east, I know I can sit in a prison cell for years at a time with a blank book and a pencil and fill the pages with rich visions and conversations held with the spirits of wolves and dead children and then leave it on the floor of my cell when they open it to release me, leave it there with out having to show it to anyone else in order to validate myself threw their eyes, or to take it with me to hold on to in case I forget, because its all right here in my heart, all of it mother fucker.
I know plenty about photography, I also know the worlds not fair because like my good friend William says, if it was he would be doing a life sentence, what I don’t know is how to express the rage I feel at the exploitation of the ignorant and thus the innocent at the hands of the cultural elite, and that’s probably because im still fucked up and its personal, but in the end what isn’t ?
This book is personal, its Gareth’s song and if other people want to say gee that’s great! Well then that’s good, and if they don’t, fuck them and if your just in it for the money or to elevate your social standing, rest assured the art worlds full of cunts like you, legs spread wide so the fat cock of corporate aesthetics can squeeze every little drop of bullshit pr out of the fuck fest your engaged in ..
And the wind shall say; ‘here were decent godless people;
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls’.
(Elliot, chorus from the ROCK)
The last time we did some shots together it wasn’t the same, I was somebody different than I used to be, the edge was gone, the craziness was gone, the raw exuberance was definitely missing and as hes clicking away I had this sinking feeling in my stomach that I was letting him down but I couldn’t help it, this whole charade had lost any meaning for me and at the time I felt like this was a bad thing, but now I think it was just fucking fine and anyway just before I said that’s enough I took of my shirt and carved up my chest a bit with a razor blade for old times sake, I mean he’s my pal right ? its not his fault that I had spent my whole life creating some psychotic clown routine, he was just there to take some photographs.