Sunday, 22 November 2015

Like a Walmart Guitar

Procrastinating with Perry Iles

Elvis Presley once said that opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one. We each have a viewpoint too, and each one is unique. Sometimes we don’t like other people’s viewpoints and we punch them in the mouth. Sometimes we do like other people’s viewpoints and we take them home and have lots of energetic sex with them. “Heeey, yeah, you like the films of Jean-Luc Godard too! Please take me home and fuck me.” Viewpoints are good that way—they offer you an immediate insight into who’s an arse and who isn’t. From my viewpoint, David Cameron is an arse. Well, actually he’s a pig-fucking upper-class bell-end; mostly harmless, like Douglas Adams’s Earth. The harmful ones are the policymakers, Ian Duncan-Smith playing Goebbels to Cameron’s Hitler while the media moguls pull our strings and tell us who to hate as they distract us with music, dancing and cake-baking competitions. And sometimes even people with the same logical outlook get it wrong. For example, over the last couple of weeks people who don’t like being killed are teaching people who like killing that killing is wrong by killing them. As Elvis said, the eye-for-an-eye philosophy will only result in a rush on white sticks and labradors.

And from David Cameron’s viewpoint, I’m probably an arse, contributing bugger-all to the economy, wandering around this otherwise pretty little country all fat and ugly and old in my scruffy triple-XL t-shirt, stained joggers and broken shoes. I doubt Jeremy Clarkson would stop and offer me a lift either. He’d probably wind his window down and yell “Get a job! Buy a car!” before accelerating into the middle distance, eating an endangered species that had been cruelly cooked. I doubt anyone would stop for me. I look like a refugee only drier. I look like one of those quiet types with my wild hair and my untrained dogs. Inside I might be a calm, thoughtful pacifist but I look like a fucking nutjob who’s escaped from the nearest squirrel-farm. I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter to marry me, but then I guess I wouldn’t anyway, really. You know, even if I did wear a nice suit like some dads do.

But I know things, me. I know things because the government tells me them on a special radio channel through the fillings in my teeth. I know next week’s lottery result but I’m not going to tell you for the common good. But there are some things I don’t know. For example, until the other day I thought the Eagles of Death Metal actually played death metal and I was going to take my daughter to see them. Not in Paris, you understand, I’d have waited until they got to Glasgow. So thanks, ISIS, you’ve saved me a few quid there. Because they aren’t death metal, so my daughter wants to go and see Septic Flesh or Cephalic Carnage or Cradle of Filth or some other band instead. Fine by me, I like a bit of noise as long as it’s not gunshots. And now I also know that the Eagles of Death Metal aren’t the actual Eagles, mainly because they don’t play bland, easy-listening shite about desperadoes with guns who want to kill people. ISIS may have been out riding fences for too long now, but terrorism has increased my knowledge base. It’s almost as good as school that way...

I have a strong viewpoint on music. I don’t like much of it. Anything that involves hairstyles or Louis Walsh, for example. I don’t like that. I don’t like Daniel O’Donnell or Gary Barlow or U2. I have no CDs by the London Symphony Orchestra, even when they did the Who’s Greatest Hits and had to smash up all their violins and cellos and stuff at the end. I’m not that fond of Adele; I can’t find it in me to actually take offence to the poor girl, but like Enya she’s just silence that’s been coloured in. So I have a viewpoint, and the best way to underline a viewpoint is by using a Kalashnikov. I’d start with Westlife and go on from there…

The Kalashnikov is the modern must-have fashion accessory that really defines your character, like cheap aftershave for spotty boys. The Kalashnikov is the shark of the armaments world. Sharks have done little in the way of evolving over the last 300 million years or so. They are perfectly designed killing machines. They have no conscience, no sense of guilt, and in their marine domain they are the top predators. They don’t need to evolve because they’re fine just the way they are. Kalashnikovs are like that. They were invented around the end of World War II, when the Russians found themselves comprehensively outgunned by the Germans and needed something cheap ‘n’ cheerful to fight back with. Enter Mikhail Kalashnikov, son of a peasant who’d had all his possessions confiscated by the Soviet government during some purge or other. You know, that bit where the heroes of the People’s Revolution killed 25 million or so of their own citizens for some reason or other. Anyway, young Mikhail copied a few basic designs from captured German weaponry and by the late forties he’d come up with the original AK47. The design hasn’t changed much since then. Like the shark, it doesn’t really need to. The rifle is simple and so easy to operate that even a child can use it. And they frequently do, mostly in Africa. It’s basically plywood and cheap metal, like a Walmart guitar. But the Kalashnikov is so basic and rudimentary that you can get sand in it, or water, or mud, or tears, and the great thing is that it’ll still work and you can carry on killing people with it until the cows come home. Then you can kill them too and have a burger.

The Kalashnikov was very profitable, and is still much in demand by humans due its great efficiency in killing other humans who have a different viewpoint to yours. This happens a lot, because we’re humans. It has long been the world’s most popular assault rifle, and you can fit thirty bright little bullets into its cute little banana-shaped magazine, and when you’ve killed lots of people you can just click in a new magazine and kill lots more. It’s child’s play, and it’s ideal for reinforcing your opinion and your point of view and for breaking the ice—and much more besides—at parties. It’s quite pretty in its post-modern, brutalist way. It’s a minimalist work of art. You can just imagine Andy Warhol silk-screening them pink. But for its utilitarian purpose it’s light, it doesn’t break or jam because of its elegantly simple operating system, it’s a plug and play, point and click type of toy that just goes “bang-bang, you’re dead.”

The other great thing about the Kalashnikov is its retail value and cost. It’s as cheap as chips, frankly. You can get one on the black market for between $30 and $120, depending on your civilisation and the social demographics and average income and skin tone of the people you want to kill. And of course they’re everywhere, like flies on shit. There are an estimated 100 million Kalashnikovs in the world, many of which are moody because silly Mikhail didn’t take out a patent until sometime in the eighties. They probably make them in China and you can get them on Alibaba or Ali Express. Hell, you can probably download and print the fucking things on any decent 3D printer. So anyway, there’s a Kalashnikov for every 60 people on the planet, roughly, and given that they have a thirty round magazine you could therefore pretty much wipe out the entire human race with them in a prolonged clatter of gunfire, although you’d find yourself in that whole “so…who killed Mr. Pink?” situation at the end unless the last shooter used the last bullet on himself and put the lot of us out of our misery. Brrrrrp! We all fall down. The handmaidens in paradise would be in for a busy night, put it that way—come the morning they’d all be walking like John Wayne and carrying their knickers home in their handbags. It’s interesting to think that if every Kalashnikov in the world has been used to kill only one person, then one single weapon is responsible for a hundred million fewer humans. I don’t know if Mikhail bears any sense of corporate responsibility for that. He probably had a poster on his bedroom wall that read “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Probably helped him sleep at night.

But he’s dead now. So it goes. He lived long and prospered, dying at the age of 94 in a private hospital in Russia in 2013. During his lifetime he was declared a Hero of Socialist Labour, he won the Stalin Prize and the Lenin Prize and the Order of St Andrew (which sounds far too Scottish to me. I know they enjoy a bit of a punch-up, but that’s stretching things). He was a Hero of the Russian People—in fact he won pretty much everything with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, but they gave that to Henry Kissinger instead, thereby preserving the concept of irony for future generations. The Kalashnikov firm produced guns for years, was the toast of arms dealers worldwide and did for guerilla warfare and terrorism what the tommy gun did for Al Capone and the Mafia. Probably kept Mark Thatcher in Rolls Royces too. But somewhere in the mix, the firm decided it needed a few more strings to its bow. Mikhail left the German branch of production to his grandson, the delightfully named Igor Kalashnikov, who limped off to his secret laboratory and began to produce umbrellas and vodka. No, really, he did. You can keep the rain off, get pissed and kill people, all from the same product base. I’m surprised the firm wasn’t bought up by capitalist investors like United Biscuits or Pedigree Petfoods or something, although I’m sure the concept would be laughed off Dragon’s Den and vetoed by Lord Sugar as a business plan on Wanker of the Week (sorry, that’s what we call The Apprentice in our house).

So Mikhail’s legacy is hangovers and bodies, but at least they’re dry. You can also get tasteful accessories for your gun—a nice bayonet perhaps, or a special carrying strap. You can be totally logo-ed up on your next killing spree—in fact given the media coverage you could probably sell advertising space on your balaclava too. “This terrorist is sponsored by Bin Laden Enterprises Plc.” or the Bank of Saudi Arabia, which I believe is pretty much the same thing. The Nike tick, the Golden Arches, I[Heart]Paris, even a bit of free space for victims’ charities—I’m sure even terrorists don’t lack a tiny spark of altruism. As it is, they’re probably tied to corporate sponsorship deals with the Toyota Land Cruiser—ISIS seem to have thousands of the bloody things, although when their freedom-fighters are riding through the streets of Damascus or Beirut impressing the girls by waving their Kalashnikovs in the air and firing at the sky (the great thing about firing at the sky is that you never miss, so they all consider themselves excellent marksmen and it makes them think their penises are a bit bigger too, I expect), none of them look like they’re wearing seatbelts, which seems a little reckless if you want to show your sponsors in their best light. I wonder what it’s like, going car-shopping for ISIS? Do you just pop into your local Toyota dealership and find a hair-gelled adolescent in a Matalan suit to discuss colourways and optional extras with? “Land Cruisers, mate. Desert Storm beige, please, with the fawn leather. And we’ll need aircon for the desert and some cupholders. Oh, and gun racks. Lots of gun racks. And can you give me a bit of discount if I order ten thousand? Only the Americans gave us all this money back in the day when Uncle Osama was pretending to fight the Ayatollah and we’ve got to spend it or they’ll want it back. Just make the receipt out to ISIS. That’s I-S-I-S, like the river in Oxford where Uncle Osama learned English. He’s got so many fond memories of the place. Lovely guys, the Brits, really polite…”

And of course, if you have a viewpoint, there’s nothing like a Kalashnikov to help put it across. You can get your voice heard by millions, and it’s very persuasive. “Think what I think, or I’ll blow your fucking head off!” It’s certainly a lot more persuasive than “I’m loving it” or “Life goes better with Coke”. Corporate terror, there’s the future. If you can’t beat ’em, shoot the bastards…


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