I’ve had visceral, deep body reactions to somebody else’s writing on three occasions. The first was when I was young, still in high school, and someone lent me a copy of John O’Grady’s novel, They’re a Weird Mob, written under the name of Nino Culotta. It made me laugh. Out loud. For real.
I didn’t think much about it at the time. I just wanted to know how O’Grady had worked that magic trick, reaching out across time and space with a few splotches of ink on paper, to pull such a powerful reaction from me. Deep, rolling belly laughs.
I spent way too many nights copying out page after page of that book, trying to crack its secrets. I should’ve been studying. My school results might’ve been better if I had, and yet I still think of that private act of plagiarism as one of the best investments I ever made.
Fast forward a couple of years and I had copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Reading it felt as though Thompson was rewriting my source code. It was another strangely physical experience. As I raced through that hallucinogenic book, I started to see things differently.
Another decade on, and it happened again, this time with Douglas Coupland’s Generation X. It was like Coupland had reached into my head and turned it inside out, like an old sock.
That’s partly why I write.
I’m trying, and inevitably failing, to recreate the coolest fucking magic trick ever : creating that weird connection to somebody who isn’t even there.
For a long time before He Died With A Felafel In His Hand, I tried to work the magic through feature articles. Thompson had been a feature writer for Rolling Stone, and so I became a feature writer for Rolling Stone. He experimented successfully with the form.
I, er... well, I experimented too.
I’m returning to that experiment here. For you. And to see if I can nail it this time.
For me, that answers the question of what is even the point.
I’ll totally keep pounding on the monsters who are ruining everything. Every Thursday or Friday, I’ll drop that word bomb into a target rich environment. That’s what a subscription pays for, you magnificent bastards.
But I’m gonna try give you and everyone else a bit more than that. I’m gonna go back where I started, when I had a business card that simply read: Things Found Out. Stories Written.
Maybe once a week, maybe once a fortnight, depending on the accelerating madness of the world, I’ll tell you a story that isn’t all rhetorical violence and dark, absurd humour.
There are things I want to know.
And I want you know to know them too.
Like, how the fuck did the crack smoke fever dream of 5G conspiracy theories come to cross-infect the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m gonna work on that one first.