Friday, July 15, 2011

Infinite Sweep of Humanity


The hotel’s wall’s suites shoot up towards the heaven’s darkness, though Jay and Bastien’s cline lead them into conversation filled with allusion, expectation, the idea of possibility.

“I don’t give a fuck about Skatemental, it’s no big deal, no New Deal.” said Bastien matter a fact, defiantly.

“Don’t give a fuck about Flip neither.” continues Bastien, saying it as if it was his pièce de résistance statement for the moment. He then puts his face close to the edge of the table, blocks off a nostril and violently hovers the line.

Bastien raises himself up, pinches the tip of his nose and gags.

Jason sits back lagged, lips and hands numb- slavering. Bastien’s Euro Marching Powder was better than the LA noise coke he was used to. By the fourth line, sitting in the suite with his ally that yacked out felt unexpectedly therapeutic- strangely a better idea than eating.

“I’m sick of suffering from Jamie Thomas’s sins. “ said Bastien. “Your relationship with God, is a personal, private thing. You don’t let people watch you pray- it’s arrogant. You don’t use Christian iconography to sell boards and recruit kids, only to lour them in so you can bully them around in your own cottage industry. There’s a reason they clowned on him at EMB, he was always trying to juice it! Fuck Jamie Thomas.”

“Naw, yeah Jamie Thomas is a fucking idiot.” said Jay, dusting off his lapel. “Using Fugazi songs to sell skate goods is a bit contradictory. I mean sure Ian McKay may have been wrong about ‘You are not what you own’. I mean, that’s bullshit. You are what you own! It’s a reflection of you. You can tell a lot about someone by the kind of car they drive, the shoes they wear. You can tell a lot about a woman from their purse. I remember Heather’s, my favorite. Anyways what I’m saying is: Ian Mckay was wrong, but Jamie doesn’t know this- probably isn’t even conscious that those lyrics are totally naive. He probably sings along: 'You are not what you own'. Yet he’s editing the cartridge footy to those songs only to sell the Zero brand identity. What a fucking idiot. ”

“Beware of false prophets, people- those who quote scripture for their own will”, says Bastien, benevolently raking the dust back and fourth.

Jay's eyes do the amphetamine dart at Bastien’s arm holding his student ID.

“So, I’ve been curious. What’s with that tat, man?” asked Jay skeptically, with a tone of accountability, pointing at the SRV in Century Capitals etched in Bastien’s skin. “What’s up with that?”

“Aw man, that’s my boy Stevie!” Bastien beating his heart with his fist.


“Stevie, man. “

“I don’t…”

“Stevie Ray Vaughn.”


“Yeah, Man. You heard him.”

“Yeah, like Little Wing.”

“Yeah. Yeah, well get this. You gotta hear this one. A couple of months ago, not too long ago, I was in Denis at café Bastille talking to this girl, Flo Castner. I bump into her there- like I know her from that place. Anyways she’s an aspiring thespian, studies at the drama academy, odd looking but beautiful in a wacky sort of way, has long red hair, pale white skin, dressed from head to toe in black- like a… what are they called? A beatnik, yeah, like a beatnik. But anyways she had a real folksy type demeanor, real downtown type vibe- is a transcendentalist- believes in the occult power of trees, things like that. She would say things like ‘In another life I could have been you’ and I’d say ‘Yeah, but then I wouldn’t have been the same person in that life’ and she would say ‘Yeah- that’s right. Lets work on that.’ But, so anyways one day we were sitting around at the Bastille and she asks me if I ever heard of Stevie Ray Vaughn. And I said sure I had. I heard him play in that one band and she asked me if I ever heard his solo stuff. I said 'no' and she said that he was something I should most definitely get hip to. We go to her brother’s apartment, this odd looking lawyer cat who wore James Joyce glasses- to go listen to some of Stevie’s solo records. Anyways her brother was real cool, said we could help ourselves thumb through his collection. Flo puts on this one song, “More Pretty Girls Than One” and as soon as the needle dropped, I sat right up, didn’t know if I was stoned or straight. What I heard was Stephen singing a whole lot of his own compositions all by himself… songs like 'Diet Coke Doesn’t Work', 'She Learned a Hard Lesson in an Old Texas Town', 'All the Girls in their Summer Dresses', 'The Girl Behind the Bar', 'This Land Is Your Land', 'Pastures of Plenty'. All these songs together, one after another made my head spin. It was like the land parted. I had heard Stevie’s old band, but never him alone, not in this kind of earth shattering way. I couldn’t believe it. Stephen had such a grip on things. He was so poetic and tough and rhythmic. He was like none of the other singers I have heard, and neither were his songs. His mannerisms, the way everything just rolled off his tongue, it all just knocked me down. It was like the record player itself had just picked me up and flung me across the room. I was listening to his diction too. He had a perfected singing style that it seemed like no one else had ever thought about. He would throw in the sound of the last letter of a word whenever he felt like it and it would come like a punch. The songs themselves, his repertoire, were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them. Not one mediocre song in the bunch. Stevie tore everything in his path to pieces. For me it was like an epiphany, like some heavy anchor had just plunged into the water’s harbor. That day I listened all afternoon to Stephen as if in a trance and I felt like I had discovered some essence of self command, that I was in the internal pocket of the system feeling more like myself than ever before. A voice in my head said, ‘So this is the game.’ I could sing all these songs, every single one of them and they were all I wanted to sing. It was like I had been in the dark and someone had turned on the main switch of a lighting conductor. Stephen’s songs then had a big effect on me, an influence on every move I made, what I ate and how I dressed, who I wanted to know, who I didn’t. After that skateboarding seemed so stupid- meaningless. I mean, it’s not art, it’s not that creative- I became embarrassed, ashamed of being the poster child of Flip. Stephen’s songs shook me to the bone and opened my eyes. Made me want to reconsider a lot of things. I made a decision, said to myself I was gonna be Stephen’s greatest disciple. Seems to me like a worthy thing.”

“But what about Flip? You grew up skating for them- they been lookin after you since back in the day.” Asked Jay concerned and confused.

“Fuck that! There aint no back in tha day shit! There’s only you, me, today, the game and that’s it.” snapped Bastien, offended Jay even brought up Flip, that he wasn’t talking about Stephen.

Bastien looked out the window with resignation, sighed, “Besides with the direction Flip has taken, I’m closer to a cartoon animator that a skateboarder.”

Bastien could be errie and sometimes illogical, terrifically intense and gave you goose bumps. Definitely a switched –on character, almost like a sorcerer.

Although Bastien was a physical prodigy and a genius in his own rite, Jay may have had some doubts. What he was saying about Stevie Ray seemed to make sense- but a lot of pro skaters though just because they were good at skating, they could naturally transition into anything else they wished, which wasn’t always such the case. Rob Dyrdek though he could write screenplays. Lance Mountain thought he could paint and do graphic design. Chad Muska thought he could produce. Tommy Guererro thought he could play guitar without being held accountable for writing lyrics.

Bastien, restless got up from the chair while Jay sat back, numb not knowing what to say.

Bastien walks to the closet and puts on a Stevie Ray Vaughn hat he had concealed, adjusted it on his head, almost looking through the wall mirror, “Let’s go downstairs and walk around or something, this rooms beginning to shrink.”


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Houston, Texas
Be kind, because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.