NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS 3: THE TRUTH ABOUT MONGO SANTAMARIA
"And then, soon, if the story is just that little bit too weird for dull people to explain away or loosen up with the great monkey-wrench of reason, and someone takes the time to circulate the story with the new added element of humour or irony now attached to it, it then joins the worldwide stream of stories, half-truths and myths until we can no longer tell what is fiction or fact, and don't really care either way. So long as we're thinking about such things, it distracts us away from the shortcomings of our own lives."
Ben Myers returns!
COPYRIGHT © 2006, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Someonesent me a copy of a hand-made leaflet that was part of a wider collection of posters unpeeled from the walls of New York like the skin of a great big apple, which, of course it already is, and displayed for all to see as it slowly rots and decays in the sun and fumes and chaos of it all. It said:
MISSING DOG HEAD
You finding Ling Lang's head?
Someone come into yard, kill dog,
cut off head of dog.
Ling-Lang very good dog
Very much want head return
The words sat below a head-shot of a watery-eyed poodle, the type of unsettling species that often looks better with its head than without. But that's just me.
Naturally, it all read like such a bad Charlie Chan version of life that it seemed incredulous, and a bit racist too. But no. This is New York, and dog's heads go missing all the time and, so it seems, some people really do write as if they're telling the punchline of a bad Western-born joke about backwards Eastern ways
Besides, they say truth is stranger than fiction, so there are few surprises these days; the stranger the scenario, the more likely it happened. A poodle is inexplicably decapitated in the night? Sure, why not?
Such are the increased levels of all-round horrorshow behaviour that I've begun to recognize a general formula to explain the eccentric, strange and sordid events whose retellings circulate the world like a Homeric epic played on fast-forward. The formula is this: at any given point someone, somewhere in the world is doing something pretty fucked up.
It's a simple formula, but then the best ones usually are, being as they are the truth distilled into its simplest form.
And then, soon, if the story is just that little bit too weird for dull people to explain away or loosen up with the great monkey-wrench of reason, and someone takes the time to circulate the story with the new added element of humour or irony now attached to it, it then joins the worldwide stream of stories, half-truths and myths until we can no longer tell what is fiction or fact, and don't really care either way. So long as we're thinking about such things, it distracts us away from the shortcomings of our own lives.
Your girlfriend is cheating on you? Think of poor Ling-Lang's head.
Harbouring a guilty secret? It can't be as bad as that of Ling-Lang's decapitator as he thrashes his leg through another hot, sleepless city night.
Naturally the internet provides a home for all the world's weirdness, drawing together myths and anecdotes and strange scribblings together like a massive museum dedicated to mental illness. For if the internet is good for anything, it is the metamorphosis of literature into new elastic forms and the empowerment of information at the fingertips like dirt under the nails of a farm labourer.
And once you start wandering round the museum it's hard not to be enthralled. But it doesn't end there, for people send me many more stories and pictures and images down the wires of the world for my entertainment, such as the notes on the true story of 'Protein Man'.
Protein Man was also known as Stanley Green, a typically English eccentric who from 1968 to 1993 wandered the length of Oxford Street campaigning against the dangers of too much protein in the diet. His medium was that old-time version of the internet, the sandwich board. And this is what it said on it:
Which I think you will agree is one of the greatest poems you might ever have read. I enjoy the fact that 'bird' is considered as potentially a debilitating pursuit as 'sitting' and that the measurement of 'passion' is directly disproportionate to the intake of pretty much all the food groups, bar fruit and vegetables, all of which prompts all sorts of follow-up questions, such as what prompted such a theory - and what inspired the zealous thirty-five year mission to spread this anti-protein gospel?
These are things that keep me awake at night; this and wondering what happened to poor little Ling-Lang's head. And why. Or what possesses someone to carefully write out, copy and either paste or distribute posters or handbills such as the one I saw that simply said: THIS LOOKS LIKE A GOOD PLACE TO MASTURBATE.
When Protein Man died in 1993 he was such a recognizable part of the local history and the world of sandwich board architecture that the Museum of London acquired his placards and a complete collection of his hand-printed books, Eight Passion Proteins. Perhaps one day they'll finally ease off on the Shakespeare and begin to teach the works of Protein Man to show what subjects the great bards of the closing days of twentieth century concerned themselves with.
The streets are paved with such poetry and literature, strange confessionals and biographies. Step out there and you'll see.
Here's another gluey bill poster from the parking meters and brownstones of New York, the largest living library of the street literature of the strange. The difference about this one is that is concerns a figure who was already successful and internationally renowned within his chosen field of Latin percussion -- a man who got his wings in Perez Prado's orchestra in the 1950's and was once described by no less than Rolling Stone as "the best conga player in the world…those solo's will blow your mind" - and therefore wasn't relying on urban myth and cheap Xerox'd handbills to squeeze his fifteen minutes of fame out of life.
THE TRUTH ABOUT
Did you enjoy Mongo Santamaria's music?
Good for you, but he really is a pig! The
bandages on his fingers do not imply a
gentle man. He is a game player and compulsive womanizer.
Have you gotten a STD from Mongo
Santamaria? Welcome to the club! You
are not alone.
WE ARE A SELF HELP GROUP
Contact us at
28-04 33rd Ave
Box 4H, L.I.C 111006
For a free, detailed story on the life of MONGO SANTAMARIA, who is a con artist, thief, coke head, deliberate spreader of sexually transmittable diseases, notorious liar, racist, sexist, violent and sadistic abuser of women, communist and Fidel Castro lover, please send an SASE to the above address. Don't miss out on the shocking truth of this monster! One has to judge him not by the pounding sound he creates on his instrument but by his low, horrifying scandalous behaviour!
Of all the bongo's battered, it is his STD's and ungentlemanly bandaged figures for which he is now being immortalized. But who wouldn't want to read the great novel of Mongo Santamaria, literature that begins and ends on the lampposts of Queens and reads like the greatest treatment for a Hollywood movie patiently waiting to be made before all the ex-lovers of the world unite in hatred for it or its cock rots and finally falls off altogether?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
3:AM columnist Ben Myers is a writer and music journalist. His first novel The Book Of Fuck was nominated for the 3:AM Good Sex Writing prize and is being published in Italian as Il Dio Della Scopota in July 2005. He has also written a number of music biographies and runs the Captains Of Industry Record label.