From time to time, I've been asked why my blog reveals little or nothing about the "real" me. Why is the name vaguely Spanish-sounding and why do I take refuge behind the pseudonym of a dead Romanian playwright? Well, my modus operandi is misdirection: post-modern prestidigitation rather than pop revelation.
Nevertheless, my friend Laura recently asked me to do an interview for a society she helps to run, the IHIQS , and, with uncharacteristic candour, I agreed to reveal a little of "myself." I figured I might as well reproduce it here. It's out there anyway so it might as well be in here:
Where are you from – originally and at present?
Originally, I’m from a small town in southwest Scotland called Dumfries. Like many small Scottish towns, Dumfries is a net exporter of mediocre students to institutions of further education in central Scotland. Once seduced by the bright lights and hedonistic delights of the big city, the finest young provincial minds rarely return. Consequently, I’ve been mining an ever-diminishing seam of faux-sophistication in Edinburgh for over a quarter of a century.
What is your current occupation? What is your fantasy occupation?
DJ/music promoter/club proprietor/entrepreneur. I’ve always done exactly what I’ve wanted to do, so there is no disparity between my real and my fantasy occupation. I wouldn’t swap my job for anyone else’s. Having said that, when the Jacuzzi Attendant at the Playboy Mansion finally retires, “Hef” could probably persuade me to “flip a career 180.”
How do you like to spend your free time?
I have very little time, and none of it is free. Time is an idling assassin, but I like to spend as much of my dwindling allocation as possible with my 3-year-old daughter. Every moment with her is a precious pearl smuggled away from an unsuspecting oyster.
Share an unexpected but life-changing event in your past.
My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly when I was a few weeks old. I have no recollection of her. I’ve often wondered how different my life, and that of my father, would have been had she lived. Perhaps I’ve over-estimated the effect of her absence. It’s possible that we’d have turned out just as bad had she stuck around.
What subjects interest you in particular?
Booze, broads, blackjack, big band music, bacchanalia, burlesque, bossa nova. That’s just the “b”s. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to know about the “c”s.
Name one thing about you that would surprise people.
Surprise is an anomalous brushstroke on a canvas of familiarity. It’s hard to gauge how surprised others could possibly be about someone they know nothing about. Few inmates of this virtual penitentiary will know anything of me, though a couple of old-timers might experience a flicker of recognition as the long-incarcerated, increasingly-emaciated ghost that passes for my virtual persona manifests itself pathetically in the dead of night.
The capacity to be surprised varies wildly: some might regard the news that I used to be an enforcer for the Genovese crime family as a mundane revelation, while others would be shocked that I once dated a mud wrestler. Needless to say, only one of those confessions is true, the other merely a figment of my over-productive imagination.
In a solipsistic, artificial world such as this it’s presumptuous to assume that other virtual entities are sufficiently interested in, engaged by, or enamoured with any other as to be startled by an unexpectedly anomalous characteristic displayed by it. The heightened virtual realm is subject to the inexorable arithmetic of escalation: the things that pass for surprising developments or shocking revelations in the real world merely constitute a regular day in cyberspace, such are the exaggerated virtual personae we present in lieu of our authentic selves in this milieu.
I’m assuming, therefore, that this ostensibly innocuous question is really a subversive attempt to disclose the dissonance between the artificial and “authentic” personae we present as ourselves in, respectively, our virtual and real lives. It’s a sugar-coated invitation and the temptation for members to divest their virtual veils under the glare of the spotlight is almost irresistible: striptease is invariably motivated by a combination of vanity and insecurity and, of course, these traits are almost as alien to this society as beach volleyball is to Siberia. Needless to say, I’m just another egocentric exhibitionist, but, unlike some, I won’t go all the way. Burlesque, rather than pole dancing, is my revelatory medium of choice.
Cutting to the synthetic chase: My “authentic” self bears little or no resemblance to the fictional construct. I’m told that I’m “surprisingly” laid-back in real life so, I guess, the answer to the question is that I’m surprisingly dull. I know it would be sexier to be consistently surprising, but I just don’t have the energy to keep it up.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My daughter is my only achievement capable of aspiring to greatness. The remainder of my output is merely the ill-conceived, retarded product of a shotgun marriage between limited talent and laziness.
If you could travel back in time, to what era and location would you go, and why?
The Sands Casino, Las Vegas in the early 60s: On stage, Sinatra accompanied by The Count Basie Orchestra. Sweet parcels of sound couriered directly to your table courtesy of The Chairman of the Board/Present Day: The Presidential Suite at The Bellagio. The Holy Trinity: Marvin Gaye’s music, a showgirl and room service/ March 28 1968: Bobby Darin at the Copacabana Club, New York. Backed by the Joseph Merle Orchestra, Darin delivers Mack The Knife with the all precision, confidence and authority of a Mafia hitman conveying a bullet straight into his victim’s cerebellum/The Cote d’Azur, July 1966: Ellington, Ella, Espresso, El Ninos & Elle/Swingin’ Sixties, Sergio Mendes, Caipirinhas on Copacabana Beach, a gorgeous girl from Ipanema, bossa nova on the boomin’ system. Jobim’s mellifluous melodies, “tender like two-day lobster-red Rio sunburn”/Midnight in Manhattan, mid-90s, martinis, dancing and romancing at The Rainbow Room/Club Hi-Ho, somewhere off the Reefs of Gizmar, sometime in the future, in the last light of a dying sun: Extra-terrestrial Earth Wind & Ice doppelgangers jammin' Siberian-style; snare drum sounding crisp and dry as winter in Tunguska, tighter than security at a Presidential motorcade. Tomorrow’s Girls ~ “a virus wearing pumps and pearls” ~ polymorphous perversity on the permafrost/Beat-era San Francisco, some subterranean jazz joint, Jack Kerouac talkin’ all that jazz. Slim Gaillard’s drivin’ that Groove Juice Special /A smoky club in Montemarte, discussing Derrida, impressing the chicks with a working knowledge of French Symbolism, drinking Absinthe and smoking jazz cigarettes while some impromptu bebop combo on a cartographic tip valiantly attempts to map the mysterious contours of John Coltane’s A Love Supreme . A slinky piece of homework in Givenchy shades is giving me the Hepburn stare and I’m floating on air….
In other words…. Anywhere, anytime: “ When in Rome…”
Truthfully, I don’t much care if it’s the Rome of the Empire, The Renaissance or La Dolce Vita. Just give me a hot chick, a bottle of booze & some good music and I’m in clover.
What do you consider to be your best trait?
I’m generous to a fault. I always buy the first round of drinks.
What trait do you deplore in other people?
I always buy the first round of drinks.
What skill do you lack that you’d love to have?
I used to lack the skill to love. Then my daughter arrived. Now I need a dimmer switch to turn down the intensity.
Which superhero would you be and why?
My “rugged” looks ensure that I’d be much more likely to be cast in the role of a villain than a hero. I’d style myself as a subversive super-villain. From behind a deceptively evil façade, deep within my super-villain’s remote tropical island lair, I’d devote a significant proportion of my time to doing good, just to confound the expectations of others.
If you could choose to have either the ability to be invisible or the ability to read minds, which would you choose and why?
The ability to read minds sounds like a camp, kitschy, retro-futuristic concept from a bad science fiction novel: simultaneously far-fetched and quaintly reductive. The concept “mind-reading” implies that the participants would have to be drearily literal-minded for such a talent to yield a comprehensive insight. One could suggest, with equal absurdity, that the ability to audit minds might be sufficient to exhaustively elucidate and illuminate the mental processes of the business-minded.
I cling to the sentimental delusion that my mental multiverse is more like a synaesthetic symphony than a book, and that my words, expressed or not, are merely the polyrhythmic clatter of the percussion section.
So, I guess, I’ll continue to be El Hombre Invisible .
How did you find IHIQS?
The only possible excuses for Googling such an unwieldy acronym are design and dyslexia. Neither excuse is capable of boosting my “street cred” into warp drive, but dyslexic serendipity sounds like a moderately convincing plea in mitigation.
What forums do you find most interesting? Most maddening?
I find the question maddening, because my superficial knowledge of Latin (and consequent pedantic tendencies) compels me to observe that “forums” should really be “fora.” The truly maddening thing is that, shortly after pointing this out, I’ll be unable to resist the temptation to chastise myself for making an issue out of something so trivial. [Note from Laura: Ewan, if I'm going to be spanked by someone, I can think of no better person than you. Thank you. May I have another?]
It’s probably a good thing that I don’t immerse myself in the fora deeply enough to be able to tell the difference between the maddening and the interesting ones. I’d guess that all IHIQS fora contain at least a kernel of interest, buried deep beneath maddeningly obfuscatory layers of chatter and irrelevance.
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
I’d rather regret something I have done than something I haven’t done.