Tag Archives: Ross Gardiner

Research – Warm-up

 

Research

 

* For an explanation of this project click here

‘Huh, I feel like I’m being interviewed on television,’ he said, sinking back in the chair. He allowed his shoulders to kneed around the back of the chair for a comfortable space. ‘So what exactly are you going to ask me Julie?’

I smiled at him. He glanced at the notebook in my hands, and then shuffled his shoulders around again against the back of the chair. He crossed his legs, and then uncrossed them again. I glanced at the question written at the top of the otherwise blank page. I dragged a finger down the page, over the lines. I watched his fingers drumming nervously on the padded arms of the chair.

I leant over to the tape deck beside the fireplace and pressed the red record button. I relaxed back in my chair.

‘This is Julie Roth, interviewing Douglas….’

‘O’Hara’ said Doug.

‘Douglas O’Hara. Okay Doug, we’ll start with your earliest childhood memory. Can you tell me about that?’ I said.

Doug looked up to the light and narrowed his eyes to slits. I’d started to notice that people looked to light bulbs for answers deep in their past. Perhaps there was something about the bright light that could expose these dormant memories from the dark corners in which they sat. Doug seemed to squish his face up, even clasp his jaw little, and I could tell that the exertion the recollection of this memory was taking was pushing Doug somewhere he hadn’t been for a while.

‘I was about three, or four maybe-‘

‘Which was it Doug? Three or four?’

‘Eh, three.’

‘You’re sure?’ I said.

‘Yes.’

‘Okay, so what happened Doug? Don’t worry, you’re doing great.’

I gave him a quick smile to reassure him. He was still rolling his shoulders around, doing things with his legs, desperate to find the seated equivalent of crossing his arms.

‘I remember being outside, sitting the empty driveway, in fall.’

‘Whose driveway?’

‘Our driveway.’

‘How did you know it was fall?’

‘There were leaves everywhere. Brown, orange, fall leaves.’

He leant forward and took a drink of water. I could see him shaking a little. He sat back in his chair and looked again to the light.

‘And who was there with you Doug?’

Doug kept looking to the light. He squinted at it again before pinching his nose and ruffling his brow.

‘I don’t recall.’

‘Doug, who was there with you?’

‘I don’t recall.’

‘Try harder.’

‘I, I…don’t….I can’t remember who was there, I can’t. But, but there was, someone.’

I looked down to my notebook and quickly scribbled my thoughts. I kept my exterior completely stoic, but inside I beamed.

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Sixes – Korea Peoples Asia Pussy

Based on true story that happened to two friends of mine last weekend.

Hello?

Hello my friend!

Hello? Can uh, can I help you?

Yes.

What uh, what can I do for you?

You know the Asians?

 

I think you’ve got the wrong house, man.

It’s in this this buildings no? The Asians? Here.

There might be people from Asia in here, but I don’t know everyone here.

No the Asians? Korea peoples?

Perhaps.

Hats?

 

Try the intercom thing. You see, that thing there?

No no friend, this thing is no good. I need the pussy.

What?

The pussy. Asian pussy.

Uhhh…

Korea peoples Asia pussy.

 

Okay, I think maybe you’d better –

Hookers. I want it.

I really don’t think there are any of those here.

I need it. The hookers. Big hookers.

Have you – What’s that on your wrist?

Hands?

 

Which hospital did you come from?

I don’t know. Friend, where the pussy?

No, no the hospital. Which hospital?

It’s a big one. My friend, the Korea hookers I wanna see.

Uhh. This is too much man.

No, no, no too much. I have the money. See see?

 

It’s early dude, go away, I’m just not in the mood for this right now.

This the door?

The door to what dude? No hookers here. No me gusta, fuckin’, hookers, por fa-fuckin’-vor!

What?

Just get the fuck outta here man.

Yes! Fuck. I wanna the fuck all the big Asia pussy.

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Messages in Bottles – Part Two

The following photographs are of a sort of literary street art project I worked on with the help of my close friend Anders Rostad. All bottles washed up onto the streets of downtown Los Angeles and contained anonymous letters from five young people struggling to cope with the pressures of their lives.

One

 

One Letter

 

Two

 

Two Letter

 

Three

 

Three Letter

 

Four

 

Four Letter

 

Five

 

Five Letter

 

Six

 

Six Letter

 

Thank you for your interest. I’ll post the letters over the next couple of days.

Please feel free to share x

 

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#Christmas

F**k yeah.

Yes.

Dear glorious reader,

I tried to write a Christmas post in order to make the most of #christmas searches on Twitter. But I couldn’t write anything of any creative value. I had something wonderful planned, with a coherent structure and tangible themes, but like the clustered rock of pistachio waste waiting impatiently at the bottom of my stomach, I couldn’t get it out.

So I’m stuck with this, shit.

I’ve been drinking a lot and gorging myself on pistachios, so needless to say my brain is a long and winding way from being in the right place to address you all formally and wonderfully. I have been busy basking in a truly American festive vacation.

I’ve been waist deep in trifle, mummified in glittered wrapping paper, prickled by polyurethane Ontario Spruce, oodling at fluffy snow, sneezing into embalmed toilet paper, laughing at John Candy trying to make it to Cheboygan, burping Bud Light and Alaskan salmon carbonate fumes, warming by a paraffin faux-wooden fire ignited by a switch on the wall, hoping not to have to say grace, wishing I’d never brought up Obamacare, unable to answer Entertainment questions from Trivial Pursuit from 1981, trying to learn the names of the starting line-up of the LA Lakers (I’ve got Kobe Briant, World Peace, Dwight Howhard and Steve/Kevin Nash, and that’s it so far), and being eternally grateful for every single great deed done for me in the name love.

This has been my first Christmas in America, and it has been absolutely wonderful.

I love you all and I hope that you had a fantastic holiday. Let’s keep the pistachio party going until 2013!

Gawd Bless

RG x

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Why Do You Dance? – Part One

unmade-bed1

*

The room was small. It was slightly rectangular in shape, and about eight feet in height. There were doors and doorways leading to other rooms, but this was the central room. You could tell that much from the furniture, the composition and the heavier looking door with the peep hole on the far wall. The apartment itself would have been called a ‘studio’, and this room would have been a living room in the day, and a bedroom at night. The walls of the room were an off-white that was once just white. The scuffed lacquer of the dark hardwood floors still reflected the light, albeit with a dull haze. A single bulb hung from the ceiling by a chord that matched the walls in color. It pressed a spotlight onto the center of the room. This was where she stood.

In the corner was a bed. The sheets lay ruffled and slept in. They still bore the rough outline of a deep sleep. There was a bedside table next to the bed. The lamp was on. It illuminated the small square surface of the table. There was a book titled ‘Norwegian Wood’. A glass of water sat there too. There were thousands of little bubbles inside the still water. A small astray with several crushed lipsticked butts sat full, between the glass and the book. The drawer on the bedside table lay half open. Inside thick black eyes smiled and peered out from a large glossy photograph, hiding in the still darkness that held back the light.

There was a window next to the bed. The heavy drapes were drawn but for a bright crack. Through that bright crack was a semi-suburban neighborhood, backdropped by the Hollywood hills. From that window one could see parking lots, pylons, chain metal fences, and the odd black silhouette of a palm tree blocking the light from the sun. Through the crack a beam of sunlight stretched across the dark hardwood floor. Speckles of dust from the heavy old drapes filled the beam of light. The drapes swung slightly from a breeze that crept in through the heavy window that was propped open by a plant pot. The pot contained a cactus, parched in dry cracked earth. It looked hours from death. The late fall breeze smelt crisp, mixing with the light scent of the stale cigarettes was being whipped around the room with nothing to cling to.

Clothes lay in loose piles on the floor. Some were waiting patiently to be folded. Others waited impatiently to be cleaned. There were lots of deep reds, browns and blacks separated by splashes of laced pink and bold childish yellows. Bras lay exposed and open on the floor. Thongs sat delicately crushed atop dresses and tucked in jeans . The chord from a hairdryer ran across the floor, under a pile of clothes, and out next to a bag of makeup that sat across from itself in front of a full length mirror. The bag was part of some carefully planned clutter. There was a circular space in the center of the mess, framed by mascara, lipstick, a flat iron, and a stagnant amber liquid inside a long stemmed wine glass.

At the other end of the room a heavy drape was nailed to the wall. The nails stuck out at odd crooked angles, clinging to the heavy, deep red cloth. A teal green sofa sat in front of the drape. It had space for two sitting, or one laying. It didn’t have any cushions on it. About four feet from the sofa sat two brown boxes stacked on top of one another. A laptop sat on the boxes, pointing at the teal sofa and the burgundy drape. On either side of the laptop sat a tall free-standing light that pointed at the sofa where someone sat or lay.

There was a doorway without a door that led to the kitchen. The shadow of a person moved around in the kitchen floor. It was long and thin, and moved in controlled motions. The thin dark lines on the floor looked and moved like arms. A naked girl walked through the doorway and stopped in the center of the room. She looked around the room. The light from the crack in the drapes cut a line directly up her body and between her large breasts that hung slightly from her chest. She pushed her hand deep into her thick black hair and cradled her head as she scaled the floor. As her eyes moved across the clutter she caught sight of herself in the mirror.

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Shit’s Still Hard

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S’cuse me mam?

S’cuse me. Mam?

Yes?

I, eh, I couldn’t trouble you for a dollar, for the bus, could I?

I’m sorry. I don’t really have anything.

 

You live around here?

I’m sorry?

Do you live around here?

Yes. I do.

Me too. Up at the US Bank.

Okay.

 

Do you think I look like Mike Tyson?

Eh, I don’t know what he looks like.

People say I look like him.

What do you say?

I say he looks like me.

That’s a good answer.

 

But I eh, I’m on that three strikes thing. You know that?

No.

Well, it’s like this: I been to jail two times, one more and they throw away the fuckin’ key. Pardon my Spanish.

I’m really sorry to hear that.

That’s okay. I’m fightin’ it. And don’t nobody want to fight with someone who looks like Mike Tyson.

Or someone that Mike Tyson looks like…

 

But it was the drugs, you know?

Yeah?

Terrible things. You don’t take the drugs. They take you.

That’s what people have told me.

Been clean for over two years now. But shit’s still hard. Pardon my German.

I’m sure. But you’re doing really well.

 

I see that you’re married.

Uh huh.

Well, don’t you tell your husband this, but you make my heart beat so hard.

That’s so sweet. Thank you.

Don’t you tell him now. And I’ll be on my way. You have a wonderful day now.

You too. You too.

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Descriptions – Part Three

You can find part two of this story here.

 

**

“So, you’ve got a skillet and a measuring cup. Anything else?” the lady asked me, looking over her little reading glasses at the receipt she was writing.

“No.”

“Okay, let’s call it $10” she said, smiling.

I smiled too.

***

He sat down on that old chair with his drink. He looked around the dark room. The outlines of things were all around him and frames hung on the wall. In that thick darkness they were just vague descriptions of some faces that could be recalled from memory. There was a single streak of light coming in from the crack in the drapes. Little speckles of dust floated in the light, making their way back to the carpet again. He took a big slow drink. The dust speckles whipped up and around with the path of his arm. He closed his eyes and breathed in through his nose as the oaky liquid sank into him, and the old damp scent that covered the room hung like a heavy leather cloak drying.

Even though he’d been here as long as he had, the scent of age was slightly transparent. The new paint smell now hid a few feet below the surface. Over the years it had drifted out of the little crack in the window, and slowly sank into the old carpet he laid over the varnished pine. Every time he stepped on that old carpet he could feel the hard wood beneath, and smell that old sour scent rising up, leaving the new paint trailing behind it. When he sat on the chair a plume of dust-speckled smoke being pushed up and around him, consuming his body. He would let himself sink into the chair and be embraced by the scent of use. He could faintly smell the people that sat in it before him. He could smell the rooms that it had been in before this one. And I think he could faintly smell himself. Something about those deep breaths said that he was in there, somewhere.

He sat forward in the chair and reached for the old lamp with the watercolor shade. He pulled the dainty little beaded string. Light burst around the room and brought detail to everything. The warm golden hue bathed the faces on the wall, pressing a white ball of light on the glass of the frames.

Noir shadows, exaggerating every expression of the room, pushed up to the ceiling at fierce gradients. The corners of the room remained dark. From that heavy darkness I watched him take another drink and scan the faces on the wall.

He put his hand on the lamp and tilted it, moving it slightly, turning the shadows at their base. He looked at every face on the wall, allowed every detail to sink in again, and moved on. The light came around to the corner in which I sat. I felt its warmth cut across me. I watched his eyes scan across the photograph next to me. His eyeballs twitched onto every feature. They moved to me. I saw his lids widen from behind his glasses. His hand slid into his coat pocket and pulled out two photographs.  He held them up and dropped the light onto them. I fell into darkness. The light lit the photos and reflected back to him. The shadows cut thick black lines across his face. He lifted the light back to me. I saw that a little smile had formed on his tired face.

He stood up and started walking towards me, lifting dust and pungent scent up from the old used carpet. He picked me up off the mantle piece and lay me face down. I felt him unscrew the back of the frame and pull me out. His fingers felt drunk, clumsy, impatient. He took me back to the chair and sat me on his lap. He put down pictures of these two older people. They were new. I hadn’t seen them before. He carefully opened the drawer on the little side table next to the old chair. He took out the picture of that little black and white boy again. He looked at the picture. The corners of the photograph quivered in his hands. A tear formed in the corner of his eye and burst across his lid, before sliding down the contours of his expression.

He placed the little boy down carefully next to me. We looked a little alike. I was a year or two older maybe. We both sat, on a knee each, under the older people. He looked at all of us together. Another tear rolled down his face, caught on the tip of his smile. He threw back the last of the whiskey into his mouth. The rounded edges of the melting ice cubes hit his lips, and slid to the bottom of the glass. He looked to the ceiling and started to weep. We lay on his lap as quiet as tears, together, just transplanted memories that sank like diving bells into the scent that drowned us all.

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Descriptions – Part One

I found what I was looking for in an old worn shoebox. The shoebox was in the bottom of the closet. The closet was in the corner of the study. The study was at the back of the house, over looking the over grown garden. I knew that they would be somewhere like that. I’d checked under the bed in the man’s room. I’d looked in the drawers in his dresser. I looked on his messy, cluttered desk. I knew that they would be somewhere. Somewhere hidden, so that they didn’t interfere with anything around them.

I pulled out the shoebox and looked around before I opened it. There were people mulling around, picking things up and checking price tags. A lot of things didn’t have price tags. Some people liked those things. I was one of those people. I could hear them in the other rooms haggling over prices of things. I heard people saying things like, “Oh, this would be nice in the den” and “I wish this hadn’t been painted white”.

I looked back at the shoebox. It was an old thing. Maybe from the early eighties. The old price tag was still on the box. The corners had been frayed and bashed in. They had started to burst out of their shape and show their little card fibers. I could smell the box over the smell of mothballs and the carpet. It smelt like old paper that had been soaked in the rain and dried in the sun. Everything in the house smelled so old and stale, but this box had a little freshness still trapped inside it.

I opened the box and saw a mass of paper and cards and receipts and pictures. All the paper had turned a light brown and a little crispy, like it had been blasted by time. I pushed my hand down onto the paper. I heard it crunch a little, like dead leaves. I started carefully picking through the box. The same handwriting marked everything. It was the handwriting of an older man. It was sharp and pointed. It was elegant. Thought was given to each dip and swoop of the pen. I started to flick through things, pulling something out now and again to look at it. I looked at strips of paper with thoughts and reminders written on them, postcards, from Paris, Rome, Cairo, letters, from Ohio, Delaware, Ontario, and photographs, from places I didn’t know.

I pulled out a postcard. It was a painting of some 50s saloon bar in Vegas. I turned it over.

“We need to talk when I get home. I’ve been thinking” it read. There was no address, no stamp and no sender information. Other than the handwriting.

I sat the box down and stared at the words again. I ran my fingers across the back. I felt the bumps in the ink like braille. I closed my eyes and breathed in. I smelled everything in the house around me, and imagined the man that lived there, and what he’d been thinking.

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Los Angeles (a la Woody Allen)

Inspired by this:

* Note: This is not how I actually feel about Los Angeles. I’m just having fun.

*

Chapter One. He loathed Los Angeles. Its languidly inefficient layout was a metaphor for every desperate, directionless souls that found themselves being tempted to the rocks of failure by the bright white siren on the hill known, as ‘Hollywood’.

Nah, ‘Siren’, I don’t know. It sounds too, eh, too, Hans Christian Anderson or something. Try again.

Chapter One. He loathed Los Angeles. The blue sky hung like a dust clad drape, and the lines of the city wheezed out in every direction, bringing with them an airborne virus of arrogance and vanity that infected every pore it touched. From the lavish sands of Hermosa Beach to most cavernous bowels of Skid Row, it writhed and spluttered on a deathbed fashioned by the hand it used to relentlessly pleasure itself.

That’s so grim. It’s not that bad. I mean, the weather’s incredible. Try again.

He loathed Los Angeles. He’d watch them all drown, one by one, in the oil-swirled gutter that once reflected their talentless-yet-realtively-good-looking faces among the few bright stars that hung in the dense charcoal sky.

No, no. It’s not their fault. I mean, everyone has the right to chase a dream. I mean, why not?

Chapter One. He loathed Los Angeles. It was where the American dream washed up onto the shore. Sure there were good bits, the odd message in a bottle, or a license plate from another country, but for the most part the sand was awash with condoms and syringes, spat out by the never ending tide that barely keeps the place from a foamy stagnation.

Jeez, where did that come from? Too gross. No, no, you’re not representing your true feelings. You’re saying what they want you to say. No, no, focus more. Okay-

Chapter One. He loathed Los Angeles. It was the junkyard where every dream that had ever been in a head on collision with reality was towed, stripped and used for bit parts, before being scrapped, and then dumped in the landfill known as the service industry.

I mean, you work in the service industry. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not over yet.

Chapter One. He loathed Los Angeles. So often prefaced by the word “Fuckin’”, it’s frequently ranked among the most unpopular cities in an increasingly unpopular America. The badly designed packaging for the worst product you’ve ever bought, every single aspect of Los Angeles and the people that dwell in it are geared towards inducing a state of revulsion normally reserved for rapists, pedophiles and rapist pedophiles.

*

Again, I’m just having fun. Don’t lose your mind. I actually rather like this city, but I can certainly see why many don’t.

*

The video below is Los Angeles without its make-up on. It’s a very different city from the one in the movies.

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Girls – Based on a True Story

* This happened to me twenty minutes ago as I stood outside Ralph’s with a guy I know from work.

Oooft, you see da girls man?
Yup, I see them.
Where you think they going?
To the fashion school.
Oh yeah? Maybe we too.
Nah, I don’t think so man.

Hey baby! Hey!
So you like the white girls then?
Eneeting man.
Anything?
Evereeting.
Everything. Awesome.

Black, whiiite, Mexicaaaan. Eneeting man.
You don’t have a preference?
No preferance man. Pussy. I love-ah da pussy.
Nice.
You have da preferance?
I don’t know. Probably the same.

I like-ah the fat ones.
Hmmm.
Ah like-ah da big titties, and da big ass. Haha.
I like tattoos.
Oh, I have-ah tattoos.
No, I meant girls with tattoos.

My tattoo is of fly.
You have a fly tattoo?
Ona my deek.
You have a fly tattoo on your dick?
Yeah man! Fahkin’ fly on my deek.
Jesus.

I have-ah him too man!
You have a Jesus tat too?
Yah, he do the crying. Crying da blad. See?
Oh yeah. Quality man.
Hey chicas! *Click *Click*
Does ‘chicas’ mean girls?

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