Title: Sport 37

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2009, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 37: Winter 2009

Amy Brown

page 98

Amy Brown

Listen to The Fall

I'm listening to The Fall—it isn't so unapproachable. I genuinely find it upbeat and melodious. The melody's not in his voice though, so, those who can sing can't sing along. I don't doubt that Mark E. Smith would tell me to fuck off if we were to meet. There are only so many characters in the world and he's the bastard (the Bernard Black, the Picasso, the Larkin).

What do I know about The Fall? What I have learnt from my friends. Mark E. Smith is the true punk. Intelligent and belligerent—ruthless.

A well-dressed ranter with bad teeth and a few wives. Sam admires Mark E. Smith. He is reading a biography of the fallen—the drummers and bassists, guitarists and girlfriends scattered and replaced along the way.

One wife hated finding Mark in their bed with strange women so she left. It's lucky you're pretty and clever, Sam says, otherwise I'd be tempted too. I had assumed that Mark E. Smith never lasted six years in a relationship, but was wrong. His most enduring band mate stayed seventeen years then quit due to Smith's cruelty. That's the only documented case of Smith's apologising and crying. I've been with Sam six years. He's been playing with his drummer for ten. When we all move to Melbourne in a month, this family will only get stranger. If it's me singing and your granny on the bongos then it's The Fall, Mark E. Smith said—a follower of Captain Beefheart, who locked his band up in a shed without food until their noise was suitably desperate. Trout Mask Replica, the result of this, I do find unapproachable. Sam's band notices mid-thirties Germans hanging around page 99 after gigs, comparing them to The Fall. This is an even greater compliment than 'foetal alcohol syndrome Morrissey'. Do you actually like their music? I have trouble dividing the sounds from their origins. I like the boys. I like the shadows of what Sam listens to darkening the corners of his own songs. I like trying, and always failing, to find myself in the lyrics. You're always in my poems, I say. He doesn't look grateful. I won't write you a love song, he says, it's too hard and uninteresting. In sixty days this family will only get stranger. I don't doubt that, if we met, Mark would tell me to fuck off.

page 100

No Xmas for Mark E. Smith

after Live at the Witch Trials

The X in Xmas is a substitute crucifix for Christ,
I imagine as I sidle up to a fruit machine.
We are each frigid stars in our futures and pasts.
I stay at home—live on snacks, potatoes in packs.

I sidled up to a fruit machine. This I was imagining:
someone's always on my tracks,
so I stay at home, live on snacks, potatoes in packs.
The years go in circles.

Someone's always on my tracks:
A Spurs fan, a warrior, a happy no-hoper. I think slow
and the years go in circles.
Everybody likes me; they think I'm a crazy

Spurs fan, warrior, happy no-hoper. I think slow,
but pull my string and I'll do my thing.
Everybody likes me, they think I'm crazy.
I feel trapped by mutual affection.

Pull my string and I'll do my thing.
We are frigid stars in our futures and pasts
(I feel trapped by mutual affection);
the X in Xmas is a substitute crucifix for Christ.

page 101

Ode to the Sharpie Crows

Haruki Murakami's sharpie crows: angry
connoisseurs of cakes, pecking each other
to death over a delicious and offensive
unfamiliar treat; blind, ugly, disgusting
as mole rats. A band stole the name. When
the new Sharpie Crows (not Counting Crows,
not Sheryl Crow) went on tour they stopped
in Eketahuna and the blind guitarist chucked
a firework at an old woman who hissed, 'Evil!'

It fizzed like a green sherbet in the gutter. The
singer bought a stuffed sausage from Keitha's
Café and held his stomach for the rest of the trip.
Their lyrics are set in the Congo, grind axes with
Rupert Murdoch, John Key and Frank Bainimarama.
They're not punk or shoegaze or surf or metal or rock.
They scream like a car after a crash or a heartbroken
couple after two bottles of cheap brandy. They drink
Double Brown and once tried asking for sponsorship.

Some of them roll an elegant cigarette others cook
a good chilli or pumpkin soup. One politely asks,
'Do you mind if I put some Björk on?' while another
sniffs your hair and sighs, 'Ah, woman.' When they're
topless, listening to trance music in a hot living room
full of bodies on acid and E—when they're spinning
you fast around and around—it's possible to lose track
of who's who. 'They're the most diverse band I've ever
seen,' a fan once observed, clinically.

page 102

On the door at Bluenote

get out here now
you fuckin whore
before I smack you
in the face and shatter
your fuckin jaw
and make
an example out of you

baby settle
down did you hear that
I'm so embarrassed
I'm so sorry
what are you selling
how much for the CD
shit I don't have any
money on me
sorry baby
I'm so sorry
and embarrassed
you had to see that

She's standing behind me with her hands
on my shoulders. I've never been punched

in the face by a man. Something would break.
He has large arms. If I had to reach up and stop
blood, if the bouncer pulled him off, I'd be famous.

page 103

His girlfriend still holds my shoulders. She's sober
and doesn't sound scared. It's not your fault,
I tell her. She looks at me with pity.

Natasha Hay punched me because I fell into her
at a party. There was more to it than that, I think.
She said something like, fuckin' bitch I'm gonna

get you, then got me in the eye. I wish I hadn't
cried. It wasn't the pain that made me; it was the
hatred, which I hadn't earned since primary school.

Four years later, when I was walking down Havelock Road,
a woman leaned out of a passing Mazda and shouted
Ha ha, Amy Brown, you bitch—I punched you and you cried.