My Favourite Things – by C.C. O’HANLON

My Favourite Things
(Berlin, 2015)
 

 

sam shepard’s ‘motel chronicles’, glenn gould playing j.s. bach, books, gaff-rigged bristol pilot cutters, nautical charts, the idea of lamu island and zanzibar, ilford 35mm black & white film, expressions of love in spanish, the meaning of saudade, miles davis, john coltrane, conga drums and bongoes, the backstreets of marrakesh, naples and havana, my 20-year-old leather backpack, my leather-bound pocket atlas (a gift from a woman who worked for me), my maori bone hei matau, british ordnance survey maps, african and latina women, dark skin, long legs and firm round asses,‘oil notes’ by rick bass, joseph conrad’s ‘heart of darkness’, ‘the fly trap’ by fredrik sjöberg, bill drummond doing what he calls ‘art’ and his writings about it, malcolm mclaren talking about almost anything, german-made fountain pens, noodler’s inks, 20th century french novelists, analog moog synthesisers, joan didion’s early essays (especially ‘the white album’), the rolling stones’ original versions of ‘gimme shelter’ and ’sympathy for the devil’, ali farka touré’s modal riffs, the western isles and northwest coast of scotland in spring, the b&w photographs robert frank took in the ’50s as he drove across america, richard misrach’s ‘desert cantos’, wim wender’s ‘paris, texas’ and ‘wings of desire’ (i like his diaristic photo book, ‘once’, too), jim jarmusch’s ‘only lovers left alive’, indian ocean sailing dhows, old boat compasses, my vintage flying boat sextant, the cheap but accurate swiss wind-up watch my mother gave me when i first went to sea, that first glimpse of the mojave desert driving east from l.a. on interstate 40, and of morocco’s atlas mountains, at dawn, sailing through the straits of gibraltar from the west, the mediterranean sea, van morrison’s voice, and aretha franklin’s and julie driscoll’s, the ideas of john cage and of jean-luc godard, cornelius cardew’s ‘scratch music’, gorodish and alba in delacorta’s series of novels, ‘haunts of the black masseur’ by charles sprawson, peter beard’s collaged diaries, steve dilworth’s visceral sculpture, the smooth stones i’ve collected from beaches on three oceans, garlic, wasabi, peking duck in pancakes, ice-cold champagne (bollinger, when I can afford it, or louis roederer cristal), baden powell’s guitar-playing, samba, salvador de bahia, standing at the edge of an empty sahara, sailing a felucca up the nile, the writings of william burroughs, barry gifford and charlie smith, the history of zero, the smell of bangkok by the river at dawn, summer nights in tokyo, long periods of silence, hugging my children, playing my solid mahogany tenor ukulele (a 61st birthday gift from my wife), my fender telecaster and gibson lucille guitars, shona sculpture, an etching i have by armodio (‘l’urlatrice’), the songs of tom waits, alan ginsberg’s photos of beat writers – burroughs and paul bowles, especially – in new york and tangier, jack kerouac’s writings (even though i’ve outgrown them), ‘the outsider’ by colin wilson, bowles’ ‘the sheltering sky’, playing blackjack at caesars’, las vegas, in the early hours of a week-day morning, café tacuba’s huevos con molé in mexico city, the garden derek jarman made at prospect cottage in dungeness, jarman’s diaries, da vinci’s notebooks, don mccullin’s photographs and mary ellen mark’s when she was younger (the ones in goa), dancing alone to 60s’ soul music, the scent of frangipani, the white noise of heavy monsoonal rain, my long, old-school powell skateboard with big urethane wheels, early silver surfer comic books, 70s’ ‘avant-garde’ music scores from peters and universal edition, my all-mechanical olympus 35 sp camera and my rolleiflex tlr, cecil taylor on piano, dave holland on bass, ginger baker on drums, the movie version of joseph conrad’s ‘lord jim’, cary grant in ‘father goose’, david lean’s ‘lawrence of arabia’, donald cammell’s ‘perfomance’, snowdonia in mid-wales, taos in new mexico (and the sangre de cristo mountains), sailing close by stromboli on a calm, moonlit night, the smooth skin and skinny bodies of young japanese women, everything about italian women, palm trees, passionfruit, seedless grapes, mandarins, uncooked cherry tomatoes, the oakland raiders (even when they’re losing), swimming alone in a warm pool, the bath tubs at the ritz-carlton in singapore in the 90s, afternoon tea (pg tips) with scones, thick cream and damson jam (preferably tiptree’s), albert ayler on sax, derek bailey’s free-form solos on guitar, ‘colour: a natural history of the palette’ by victoria finlay, tom mccarthy’s ‘satin island’, william gibson’s science fiction, sylvie guillem dancing, van cliburn playing brahms’ second piano concerto, keith richards’ and john lee hooker’s grungy guitar licks, j.j. cale’s muted finger picking, the long solo voyages of bernard moitessier under sail and the writings that came from them, the voyages of david lewis and of bill tilman (aboard ‘mischief’), old tahiti ketches designed by john hanna, thomas colvin’s modern steel sailing junks, target shooting with a high-calibre handgun (like a colt python .357 magnum), watching dark frontal clouds gather ahead of a storm, the grim stillness of tornado weather in northern oklahoma, big hotel rooms, late night room service, landing in los angeles from the west late at night, yakitori at a basement place i know in hiroshima, the gharana of the tabla, welsh male voice choirs, playing scrabble, the lives of sir richard francis burton and t.e. lawrence, thom gunn’s poems, also e.e cummings’ and mira gonzalez’s, gore vidal on american politics, sex and other writers, the stone hanko engraved for me using an old form of katakana in hiroshima, hand-tooled knives, walking through rome early in the morning, rooftop terraces in trastevere, out-of-the-way trattorie in monti, vitello parmigiano, tortellini, stracciatella, and sambuca, the amalfi coast, iain sinclair writing about his walks around london, living in los angeles (when i have money), driving north from santa monica on the pacific coast highway, big sur 30 years ago,’60s american muscle cars, joyce singing ‘agua de março’ or astrud gilberto, or the version marisa monte and david byrne did for ‘red, hot and rio’, ‘sitting’ by cat stevens. ‘dumb things’ by paul kelly, the emotions singing ‘best of my love’, the idea of the congo and the mekong and of rusty tramp steamers sailing to up-river jungle ports, berlin in autumn just before the leaves fall, all the works of anselm kiefer and cy twombly, francesco clemente’s exotic watercolours, ‘the pugilist’ sculpted in iron by robert brennan, marilyn manson’s ‘we’re killing strangers’, smokey robinson’s ’tracks of my tears’, the first whiff of salt air and coconut oil at an australian surf beach, longboarding on a glassy point break at wategos in byron bay, the mexican movie ‘y tu mama tambien’, almodovar’s ‘todo sobre mi madre’ and ‘matador’, cluttered but stylish old parisian apartments, any clapboard boatshed and jetty on a quiet bay or river bank, a stone cottage above a rocky north atlantic shore (in nova scotia, maybe, or shetland), solitude.

[Berlin, November, 2015]

***
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***C.C. O’Hanlon is what the Germans call a lebenskünstler (‘life artist’). He has also been called ‘an indisciplined polymath’ and ‘a rogue’. He refuses to be called a writer, although he has published numerous essays, short stories, and diaristic photographs. He currently lives in Berlin. Find him on Twitter @ccohanlon ***
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