The story of man
Makes me sick
I don’t know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.
I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don’t know
Where to turn
In the Void
For no Church told me
No Guru holds me
Of New York
And on the cafeteria
O dead Ruby
Died of Shot
In Thirty Two,
Sounding like old times
And de bombed
Murder by the clock.
And I see Shadows
Dancing into Doom
In love, holding
TIght the lovely asses
Of the little girls
In love with sex
In white undergarments
At elevated windows
Hoping for the Worst.
I can’t take it
If I can’t hold
My little behind
To me in my room
Then it’s goodbye
Girls aren’t as good
As they look
Than you think
When it starts in
Hitting your head
In with Buzz
We’ve been waiting for you
Since Morning, Jack
Why were you so long
Dallying in the sooty room?
This transcendental Brilliance
Is the better part
Le uniche persone per me sono i pazzi, quelli che sono pazzi di vita, pazzi per le parole, pazzi da salvare, desiderosi di ogni cosa allo stesso tempo, quelli che non sbadigliano mai o dicono luoghi comuni, ma bruciano, bruciano, bruciano come favolosi fuochi d’artificio color giallo esplodendo come ragni attraverso le stelle"
Aujourd'hui, j'aurais dû déposer sur la tombe de Wiliam S. Burroughs, à St. Louis, ce poème, écrit sur un exemplaire du livre “The Yage Letters”.
Malheureusement suite à des soucis de santé, nous avons renoncé à y aller pour nous rendre directement à Chicago.
Ce n'est que partie remise car il n'est pas prêt de bouger… mais c'est quand même une grande déception pour moi !
Burroughs fait parti des rares écrivains qui ont changé ma vie avec Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (dont je vais aussi voir la tombe près de Boston) et Patti Smith.
Il y a eu un avant et après la lecture de son livre Junky, lorsque j'avais 18 ans, et depuis, à chaque voyage que je fais, il y a toujours un de ses écrits dans ma valise !
Burroughs s'est rendu souvent au Mexique, notamment pour rechercher des réponses aux questions universelles et aux siennes, plus intimes, à travers la prise de payotl.
Voici donc le poème écrit pour lui, dans un bus entre Mexico et Guadalajara.
Dans la fumée qui s'élève des plaines
Je te vois. Toi l'écrivain de ma vie
Toi l'occupant de mes nuits
Tu surgis des vallées mexicaines
Combien de rêves ont coulé
Le long de tes veines
Déferlante de peines
À contempler le ciel étoilé
Le peyotl dans le sang
Le visage de Jane t'entête
Ton fusil, un coup, plus de tête
Impossible de modifier le temps
Dans les rues grouillantes du Mexique
Cherchant par tous les moyens
Passant de mains en mains
La plante qui intoxique
Dans l'immensité du désert lacté
As-tu trouvé pourquoi et comment?
Le sens de la vie, du lointain firmament
William, je pense à toi
Quand je regarde les vastes plaines
Mes pas sur la terre mexicaine
William, je viens vers toi.
Today I read an article about a woman who fell in love with an author through his work. This young girl went unimaginable lenghts -or at least unbelievable by today’s standards- just to meet a man who knew nothing about her. She justified such a prescience and yearning to meet this person in the flesh simply by stating the following: “I had fallen in love with the soul of this man.”
I can’t help but to understand such a feeling for I have fallen in love with a girl who completely disregards my existence. Sound familiar? The problem involved in the equation isn’t
the classic infatuated guy who fails at capturing the attention of his crush, it is also relevant to take into consideration that such crush is at the exact opposite side of the world, has a different culture, speaks a bewilderingly peculiar language and potentially practices a distinct religion. It is melancholic and an utterly tragic elegy to say the least; no solace is to be found for those who share my position. But still, that which made me fix my attention on her goes way beyond the secular and mundane, it surpasses the boundaries of language, religion or dogma. With great dexterity she managed to display the very fabric of her soul and at the same time kept it hidden at plain sight, hadn’t it been for the internet I may have never known about her and I could have continued down my path in a milder, tamed life of blissful banalities. I once got in touch with her, the stir in my mind and the conviction I mustered about our compatibility urged me to do it. We had a rather brief exchange of words and ideas, yet the conversation stopped. I consider it safe to say that it didn’t become stagnant or stale but simply expired, as there was a reason for that to have happened there’s also another time for me to expand on that regard.
Going back to the story in point, the girl had the resolve to pack her things and head directly to the house of the writer that had made her swoon during the most sublime and romantic epoch of her life and, for the sake of love, they started a long lasting relationship which made them both live a heavenly tale of complicity, kindness, mutual admiration and absolute, irrevocable love.
As it is with several love stories of the kind which unfold in the realm of real life; the couple had a fulfilling life despite never marrying and eventually parting ways. For all, they never grew distant even when death came to claim the life of the writer who at certain point of their tumultuous realtionship happened to prevent her from commiting suicide after the loss of her mother.
This man, was Jack Kerouac.
When we love someone any attempt of rational understanding of our emotions (besides commonly futile) may effectively go way beyond the essentially impossible, the metaphysical nature of the fortuitous and improbable interactions we sustain with all the persons we come across in our time on this earth is captivating and in our rush towards uncertain finalities we leave them unadvertent, completely disregarding how miraculous it is that we get to meet those persons alltogether. However, loving somebody, makes us inmortal. Love makes us thrive, it provides us with the power of stopping time, of having a better understanding of our individual purpose and makes us perform in intrinsically baffling ways in which, perhaps, our genuine personality resides.
Love is the apotheosis of the human condition, the decisions we make allowing ourselves to be carried away by the fevers of this emotion rarely aren’t momentuos and this certainly is the main source of disappointment for several persons in their latter years since they prescinded from such unique chances and continued to live a life of longing and speculation.
Hesitation is the antithesis to the culmination of all of our romantic aspirations.
‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
I wake up smiling. Before showering, I play my morning tune. Sun is shining and the weather is sweet, make you wanna move your dancing feet … It’s impossible to say no to a Bob’s morning session. In fact, every human in this world should experience – at least once – getting out of bed with that sweet melody. A mellow mood will linger for the rest of the day. Once the shower is part of the past, my next duty is to quietly march to my nearest café. Compulsory to have my coffee nearby, no more than a five-minute walk. My only real ‘must’ when moving to a new place: my café. I must have the impression my barista’s waiting for me. My barista knows me. My barista knows the perfect temperature of my coffee. My barista doesn’t ask if I’m going to have the coffee there or if I’m going to take it away. My barista doesn’t ask me if I desire a large or small cup. My barista knows I’m going to have a flat white on their premises. Sitting down at a small rustic wooden table with my computer or my book or my magazines or just my music.
Literally, that royal morning, the sun was shining. After so many failed attempts, Matteo was going to cook lunch for me. He was going to pick me up near my house, at a bus station at 10am but between an Argentinian and an Italian, time starts to lose sense and relevance. At 9:50 I text him. I’m going to be twenty minutes late. Instantly he answers back saying he’s going to be a late as well – perfect bouquet. Maybe that’s why I feel so comfortable around Italians. We are identical when it comes to punctuality. We appreciate similar things in life. We talk out-loud. We have exaggerated body language. We transform a simple conversation into a deep and passionate symposium. We talk about food as if we were members of the Nobel Prize jury. We will never be gratified with our coffees. For some strange reason, we always end up talking about football-fútbol–calcio and remembering the latest ten World Cups. We love to extend – infinitely – a reunion, because there’s always time for one more coffee or one more glass of wine or one more coffee. The day before, Matteo told me he would take care of the food and drinks. My only concern was to enjoy – amen. Without even noticing it, I arrived ten minutes late to the bus station and he picked me up ten minutes late – another perfect blend.
Exquisite temperature. Dazzling breeze. I get into the car and put my window down. Matteo sets the destination in the GPS and slightly accelerates. The Sous Chef was going to cook for me in a remote open-air spot. No restaurants, no menus, no waiters, driving to his favourite place on the Gold Coast. A place where he’s able to connect with nature; where he’s able to unplug himself from the kitchen; where he plays with his daughters; where he isolates from his daily life and unleashes his mind. I just had to lay back and appreciate the ride.
While chatting about our past lives, women, experiences and dreams he remembers I was listening to my ipod when he picked me up. I guess those tiny details are the ones which make me not young anymore. An ipod.
‘Play some of your music!’ Matteo urges. The highest compliment I could ever receive. Not so long ago I attended a music festival and was fixated with Gary Clark Jr. A flawless mixture of blues, rock and roars of liberty. I plug in my device and without anaesthesia I set the beast free … when my train pulls in … Matteo stares at me, smiles and raises the volume. Delightful ether. Our destination: Hinze Dam. It’s going to be my first time there and I totally trust his taste. We take a fairy-tale road. Enormous ancient trees on both sides drawing beautiful picturesque shadows along the pavement. The air seems skinny and pure and fresh. The music slowly stabbing my heart. Sunglasses, 70’s attitudes and smiles. The sun caressing my skin. Life passing by.
The GPS reveals we are getting closer. We look like two fugitives exploring the outback, looking for a place to hide. Suddenly we arrive.
‘So, this is the place my friend.’ Matteo sighs. A peaceful area dressed in green. Just a few humans, mostly families with children. Blue sky. Barbecue area. Short thick grass playing between strong immense trees. On the horizon, a huge peak made of stones captures my attention. A beautiful human invention. A beautiful place. Thanks Matteo. I help him to grab all the things from the car and we conquer one table improvising a cleaning kit for the filthy barbecue. First things first, we open a couple of beers. Cheers. Salud. Chin Chin. Once we have the first godsend sip, we start toasting the breads for the bruschettas. I’m trying to create the right setting where he can feel at home. Once I feel he is submerged into his cooking-world I dare to shoot.
‘Are you happy at work?’ Matteo prefers to think before vomiting words or opinions. Thank God but he isn’t entirely prepared for that question while gilding those breads. He contemplates and without gestation and to my surprise says no. For the last couples of weeks I’d had the feeling he was not having fun at work, he wasn’t feeling complete and I totally understand why. Matteo is the genuine traditional Italian chef. He cares about ingredients, flavours, colours, textures, blending, seasoning, cooking, temperature, platting … he cares. He fully compromises himself with every single plate the kitchen delivers. Everything should look balmy and picture-perfect. He intensively stares at every plate searching for something he feels is not in the precise place. The outcome should be spotless – there are no greys. For Matteo, perfection isn’t negotiable. But there are always ‘buts’ in life. Cucina Vivo doesn’t strive for the same kind of perfection. The business-view overcomes the love-for-food. Frankly, I do understand. Having more than three hundred guests in just one night requires a mind for business not food. Matteo was jammed in between his two selves. Trying to find an equilibrium and he was having a rough time. Sometimes working fourteen hours in a twenty-four hour day, waking up, having a coffee and saying to his family “I’ll see you tomorrow” isn’t a life at all.
Italy. Torino. Matteo was seventeen years old and his parents decided to invest all their money in a restaurant. Both architects. They’d enough money to move to Hawaii or the French Polynesia and live the rest of their days drinking coconut water, grilling fresh fish and wearing Panama hats.
‘But it was their egos that forced them to build something for me.’ Matteo mumbles. He didn’t even ask for it and they did it anyway. He remembers by that time he’d finished school and hadn’t been the classic bright student. Young Matteo was completely lost and his dad asked him if he would like to become a chef.
‘That’s kind of cool! Why not?’ Young Matteo replied. Now he jokes out loud when he remembers that moment with his father. His parents decided to buy an already functioning restaurant. A successful business in a beautiful place next to the river. A Godsend place for a teenager who has just finished school. Matteo realises now it wasn’t a smart move. Without any experience they tried to tame a business they didn’t know a damn thing about it. Matteo, who was supposed to have his first encounters with the kitchen, was not even there. Along with his cousin, they were waiters.
‘We didn’t even know what to do or where to put the dockets! It was a complete disaster!’ He laughs serenely while he remembers. His father had an artistic mind and honestly didn’t know how to run a business. They had the restaurant for one and a half years and by the end they were just paying bills. But I can feel Matteo’s enthusiasm recalling an experience that marked his professional career. Food has always been protagonist in his life. The memories linger: helping his family in the kitchen, chopping vegetables, asking the names of different species, his first contact with spiciness, the aromas … his relationship with the kitchen has been always there. Latent.
The loafs for the bruschettas are ready. We wander to our table where the rest of the ingredients are waiting for us. Smashed avocado with chords of garlic and chilli. Slow cooked tomatoes and on top, gorgeous balsamic vinegar. While devouring the bruschettas I’m distracted by the dam, mesmerised by that intriguing massive wall. An impressive human creation in the middle of a hypnotising landscape. The bruschettas are simply majestic and the entire scene makes them even more stylish. The Italian recipe: simplicity, noble ingredients, vibrant colours and enchanting flavours. Sounds easy and it’s not. For those who believe cooking isn’t an art, as Jules Winnfield would say: ‘I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker!’ I dare anyone who doesn’t appreciate food as art to prepare me some delights. But I just don’t want to force food into my body, I want to have a slight orgasm while tasting it.
Born in Torino and brought up Christian, my Sous Chef has lived 33 years in this world and now practises Buddhism.
‘There’s no God’s will, it’s just up to you.’ Matteo strikes. His father became a Buddhist a long time ago. ‘I thought he was out of his mind when he started practising and meeting Buddhist people.’
Growing up in Italy, most certainly, means growing up Christian. Easy to understand for an Argentinian. I also grew up Christian. Attending church once a week, every Sunday for one unsexy hour.
Then one arbitrary day in Rome, Matteo was enlightened. Standing in the middle of the Piazza San Pietro he remembers the Pope saying that younger generations shouldn’t use condoms because everything happens for a cause. In that exact moment his mind cracked and Christianity was demystified. He decided to leave religion behind and continued on his own journey.
‘I respect it, if God makes you happy, good for you! But I needed to believe in something.’
I sense he’s being sincere. He isn’t surprised when he realises I’m an atheist. In a way being a Buddhist means you’re a part time atheist. There are no Gods to worship. No Popes. No ‘religion’. There is no hell or heaven. Buddhism has strong philosophical roots and the main pillar is to believe in our personal development as enlightened beings. Is it egocentric? Yes. Do we live in an egocentric era? Yes. Do I think religions are old fashioned and are a true impediment to human evolution? Yes. But If I would have to choose one religion, I’d definitely step into Buddhism. No hesitation.
Don’t misunderstand me, I tell Mateo, I do respect religion. But sometimes I struggle to maintain a fluent conversation with people who adore and idolise a God because every single discussion ends up with ‘it’s God’s will’ or ‘it’s our destiny’ or ‘thanks be to God’. Such a simplistic approach to life. I guess there are different grades of idolatry: Matteo firmly agrees.
A couple of years ago he met an Asian girl living in Sidney. Online dating. She was so gorgeous he booked a ticket and flew down. She was ultra catholic. He felt so out of place that within twenty-four hours he was back home. We laugh. I asked him if he knows that the Pope is Argentinian. He looks puzzled.
‘For me the last Pope was German.’ I laugh and tell him he resigned a couple of years ago.
‘Now they can resign? It’s too hard to be Pope!’ Between laughs we punch the table with heavy fists. Then Matteo takes out a plastic container with fried rice, I explain to him the ‘new’ radical approach of this Pope. His openness to other religions, gay marriage, condoms, blah blah … the topic fades away when he shows me some lovely fresh prawns. Our main. Thanks Buddha.
Fresh silky prawns bought during the sunrise. Salt, pepper and olive oil. We move back to the barbecue to cook them little by little until they gain a biblical golden skin. Already tipsy, we open some more beers. To the prawns Matteo adds coconut milk with garlic, masala and parsley on top – tremendous fragrance. Salud. Chin Chin. Cheers and we attack those prawns without mercy. The Sous Chef is deeply in love and married to Setsuko, a stunning Japanese woman. They have two daughters with a terrific blend of features. A beauty that pains. A future beauty that will destroy Matteo’s jealousy. He loves to take care for them, to protect them and enjoy quality time with them. When I warn him that both girls are going to have so many suitors, he just closes his eyes trying not to imagine the situation. Matteo, my friend, you are going to have a hard time. Mark my words.
I love multi-cultural couples, says a lot about them and the way they tackle their lives. How they challenge their own boundaries, cultures and languages. I was intrigued with his fascination with Asian women.
‘When did you realise?’ I ask taking a sip from my Mexican beer. He remains silent for a while making himself restful.
‘I was 19,’ he says, perfect low pitch tricky tone and shiny eyes. After his family business extinguished, Matteo moved to Ireland, Dublin. He didn’t know why. Living there he met several Italians friends. I would say he used to be a good-catholic dude. A dude who avoided troubles and lived on the bright side of the moon. One night, his best temporary friend convinced him to go to a strip club – his first strip club ever.
‘Let’s go, only for ten minutes!’ His friend convinced him and Matteo found himself in a small underground place in the core of the city. He almost changed his mind when they were told to pay fifty euros just to get inside. They paid and went downstairs. Step after step he was regretting his decision but unexpectedly, he was mesmerised by the interior, not expecting to encounter such a good taste. Perfect illumination. Elegant, extravagant and … the women. He was struggling to breath normally. That precise instant when he decided he wasn’t going to stay just for ten minutes. They sat at the bar and ordered some drinks – classic move. An Asian girl approached him. He was already dripping sweat. She was pure class, pure magnificence and pure ecstasy. Chinese. He shyly ordered a glass of sparkling wine for his goddess but she was a professional in the art of love and made him feel comfortable. After some chitchat and with a rehearsed sensual smile she asked if he would like a private dance. Always an awkward moment. They walked to the room at the back and she explained how everything was going to work.
‘I was in love with her, I wanted to marry her!’ Matteo vigorously exhales. ‘She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever had in that particular moment of my life. Extraordinary. High-class. Natural beauty. She knew how to talk and how to touch. She made me feel comfortable. I stayed for the whole night. I was a backpacker. I was young.’ His breaking point. The reason why he loves Asian women. The reason why he kept chasing Asian beauty. I love that Setsuko knows this story and, maybe, she should feel grateful for it. An innocent memory that – at the same time – marked those next years of Matteo’s quest. Now they’ve built a family that should be hung in the Louvre. My congratulations.
Because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved … The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles …