Monday, 20 September 2010

Error 503

I am planning to use this whenever I get into unpleasant dialogues. Like last week at Lou Reed’s art installation in Queens. “Lou,” I said, “those pastels smack of the revisionist school of neoclassical poseur.” Lou fixes me a dead-eyed look. “What?” I should have said: “Error 503.” What I said instead was: “Sorry Lou, you are the craggy king.”


I remember the first time I heard the first Velvet Underground album. I almost thumped a man. I’d never heard such avant-garde noise before, let alone such skin-crawling screech and squeal. John Cale’s viola had me in spasms. The dual jangle that concludes “Venus in Furs” is the closest one’s ears will get to having an epileptic freak-out.

It occurs to me how difficult it is to describe Edinburgh in prose. Gosh. It is stuffed to the peepers with Georgian tenements whose interiors haven’t been refurbished since the 1970s. Universities, flats and chicken restaurants all operate out the same drab-slab weariness. I said this to Sandy McCall Smith the other day. I said: “Golly Sand, Edinburgh does not lend itself to colourful descriptiveness in prose.” He fixed me a sad-eyed look. “What?” I should have said: “Error 503.” What I said was: “Sorry Sand, you are the jowly king.”

Nico’s contributions to that album cannot be overlooked. “All Tomorrow’s Parties” would not be the same sans her expressive Teutonic drone. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” opens a small valve in one’s heart, pouring in liquid love. If you aren’t moved by Nico’s goblin gobblings, there is no soul in you. Error 503, forever.

(P.S. My story
EVERYTHING/nothing is in the flagship edition of 5923 Quarterly).

Christmas ‘Neath the Bridge of Sighs [co-authored with Christopher Allen] won the Strange Circle story contest. Prize was $$$ and top billing in the flagship edition of Strange Circle zine).


  1. I was in Edinburgh years ago for the Fringe Festival. Don't make me describe it or anything, but I thought it was stunning. Wry, saucy, a little floozyish, a little foppish, a little frayed velvet from an old comfortable sofa. Comfortable in its skin. Loved it.

  2. As long as it isn't a 404... In the future, all descriptions in literature will be replaced with error codes. "Juliet is 403 and I am about to give a 400. In the future people will argue that our love is 501, but in reality it is only 405."

    Congrats on the stories. Let's hope for no 404's.

  3. Barb: I should take an outsider's perspective. I'll go to the edge of Edinburgh with a notepad and squint.

    CC: That is an absolutely 402 idea. You are such a 406!

  4. I don't know how you can say Edinburgh defies description--the punk, braided, accordian rocking busker on the royal mile is so much description I couldn't possibly describer her! Wait a minute... okay... Error 503. I see your point.

    (I happened to ADORE Edinburgh--I was there all of 4 hours, lost for 3 of them, and I was totally enchanted, even in the empty cemetary--then again, my Harry Potter quest might have had something to do with it)

  5. Tart: I can get you JK Rowling's address. Just don't ask her if Voldemart is based on her. She hates that!