Excerpt from a novel – New York

Posted on July 26, 2010 by

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When I stepped out of the hotel on the newly-gentrified Bowery and out into the street, I felt as though I had been plucked from the safety of my bed and deposited somewhere in the middle of a raging sea. Size and geometrical precision threatened. It was as though the city were a neatly arranged pinball machine in which the players had been allowed to go insane, substituting balls for motorcars and wave after wave of people, exhausting in their multiplicity. The great avenues were like strips cleaved from marble. The overwhelming impression was of heat, great clouds of hot smoke belching out from the great subway that snaked beneath the sidewalks. Hot dog stands, Walk / Don’t Walk signs, fortune tellers’ stalls in tower blocks, delis selling steaming coffee with pyramidically-piled fruit outside. Harried traders pushing glass doors out of apartments with expensive views of the Hudson. Personal assistants having drinks and complaining about their bosses on rooftop bar areas. Then the still-chaotic sweep of downtown. Dollar stores opposite million-dollar condominiums in Alphabet city. An old woman, alcoholic, crawls the pavement by lamplight outside Tompkins Square Park. Soho, its streets glittering with polished paving stones and vintage iron, with only the very richest artists still in residence, having been forced out by Prada, Comme, Versace.

            One night in a bar above Gansevoorst Street, I stood on the terrace and looked out over the river. A blond girl in ripped jeans and a biker jacket with diamante epaulettes came over and kissed me and I started to cry. The girl walked away and was replaced by a young man, with my haircut, who told me how much he enjoyed my outfit. The young man was with a group of friends who came over one by one and high-fived me. I didn’t know where Angela was. They recognised Jared from Jared’s World, and I didn’t know where Angela was and so I got in a cab downtown with them and we shot through traffic like mercury into the city’s bloodstream through a hypodermic and we arrived a while later at a nightclub, Labial, that one of the guys owned, and I was photographed by paparazzi on the way in, and we went to a private booth at the back. In the private booth the most beautiful young Asian girl I have ever seen was sitting with her legs splayed, open, across the seats touching herself intimately, shivering with each movement of her porcelain fingers, and when I had sat down next to her she unzipped my trousers and took me in her mouth, her head moving in exact syncopation with the movements of her hand. As this was going on one of the guys, Brad or Duane, or Penn, Blake Lively’s boyfriend, ordered Grey Goose and glasses and champagne. The music they were playing was European electro but when they brought the drink over they played the Star Wars theme, and Duane or Spencer from The Hills who was in Manhattan to do MTV with Heidi his girlfriend high-fived me and said way to go for escaping from the jungle. Apparently it had been all over twenty-four hour news, interrupted only for reports on the death of Nigel Serious, the British rock singer who had been found asphyxiated in his cellar that morning. I pulled out the iphone that was in my pocket and tried to call Angela but then realised I didn’t have her number. The DJ was playing Meet Murder My Angel by Soft Cell, and a young boy with piercings was trying to sit on my lap.

            At the second club we hit, Glitterati, on Avenue A, I was again photographed by paparazzi, but more significantly, the Jared’s World film crew also arrived. They’d been trailing me, but had been unable to get on the same flight with us.

            ‘Roger’s really mad,’ said the guy with the camera. ‘I’ve got him on the phone. He wants to talk to you.’ He handed me an iphone and I put it to my ear but all I could hear was a thin, strangulated dialling tone.

            Glitterati was like Labial but more so. I said to Spencer from The Hills ‘This place is like Labial but more so,’ and he laughed and high-fived me and he called over table-service and ordered a bottle of Grey Goose. While Duane was chopping out a line of cocaine on the low Japanese-style table in front of us, Mischa Barton from the O.C. came over to talk to Penn, and she congratulated me on the show, saying she had seen it in London. I offered her a drink, then asked her how many actresses had played her but she seemed not to understand me and walked away, texting a friend. The DJ was playing Duran Duran. A seventeen year old girl in a leather miniskirt with metal studs on it asked me to go to the bathroom with her. Table-service bought over a pile of sushi rolls and sashimi but no one ate.

            At 00.21 I checked my phone again for Angela’s number, or to see whether she had called me, but she hadn’t. I thought about Googling Jared Montague to work out what I was meant to say next. The girl in the booth next to me was talking about Roland Bathes and Michel Hollouebecque and her thesis at NYU but I didn’t understand her. A model was arguing with Penn about the Prada menswear show. It looked as though it might get physical. Candles were lit above the dancefloor and they started playing classical music. I was given a shot of Sambucca and I went to the bathroom to do another line of coke with a guy from the Jared’s World production team, a geek in a Breton shirt who would never have got in here without me, who joked that he wasn’t filming anything even though he kept his camera running the whole time.

            Peter Doherty came over to our booth and we discussed Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers, and he tried to kiss me but only in a jokey sort of way. The DJ put on House of the Jealous Lovers.

            Someone said they knew about this S&M party going on at this banker’s place over by the river, so we jumped a cab outside the laundromat on Fourteenth Street. On the way I wanted to talk to someone about how great Saul Bellow’s Seize The Day was, but no-one had heard of him and anyway it was out of character and I had to be careful. Then I thought about Jared and I wanted to talk to him and so I called UK directory enquiries long distance and asked if they had his phone number and the woman on the other end laughed and said even if I did, do you think I would give it to you, and so I hung up and Spencer and Penn and Blake Lively all laughed at me for calling up to find out my own telephone number.

            The apartment was a loft somewhere in Tribaca, an eighties-throwback piece of gentrified ‘raw space’ straight out of Jay McInerney or Brett Easton Ellis. The place was open-plan, and about forty people were milling around drinking cocktails. There was a DJ playing Welcome To The Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes To Hollywood from an iPad. In a corner with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the mirror, a naked guy in his mid-forties with a paunch had his wrists shackled to his ankles, and was being hit with a riding crop by a hard-faced young girl in expensive lingerie. The DJ played a remix of Master and Servant by Depeche Mode. Aside from the one couple there was little actual S&M going on, but people were dressed in leather and rubber and PVC and a couple of guys had military uniforms on. Blake and Penn had left, but Duane and Dirk and Damon were still there and we all looked conspicuous wearing jeans and blazers and Ed Hardy t-shirts and caps, but it didn’t matter because a young Ukrainian woman who claimed to be the girlfriend of the owner of the building recognised Jared from the show and welcomed us all in anyway. Behind me, the camera crew high-fived with Duane and Dirk and Damon. The DJ played Poker Face by Lady Gaga, and I heard someone saying that she was going to be huge, even bigger than Madonna, and someone else say she had been overexposed. Someone asked me what I thought, and I found it difficult momentarily to speak, but then I managed to say that I wondered which incarnation of Lady Gaga would get the most famous, and everyone was silent for a moment and then they started laughing and slapping me on the back and high-fiving again.

            At 3.05am I felt very sick and went out onto the roof terrace, and vomited over the side down sixty floors. I watched as the vomit disintegrated into the air, and discrete parts fell in slow motion like stars. I felt a hand on my leather jacket and I was pulled upright and I recognised Zucker Flailing, the footballer, standing behind me. I greeted him and asked him where was Jared? was he OK? but Zucker just shook his head and walked away, back into the penthouse.

            At 4.21am I found myself in deep conversation with two market analysts about the state of the US media industry with specific regard to the future of the New York Times. Having little to usefully add, I went over and stared meaningfully at a Yucca plant in the corner by the door, wondering whether its owner was being ironic or if he really meant it.

            At 4.45 a group of models from Woman showed up with their booker, a screamingly camp guy called Darren who hit on me in the toilets. When I came out, the girl with the riding crop came over and asked if I’d like to be spanked. Then Lily Allen and Lindsay Lohan came and told Duane they knew about a great party which was happening in a club over at the Meatpacking district, and so twelve of us left and got into Lindsay’s stretch limo and shot across town. Lindsay told me she liked the show but otherwise didn’t say much and seemed constantly to be on the phone. Duane started to make out with Heidi Montaug who had come back without Spencer. A guy from Philadelphia threatened to punch me. I looked down at my hands and they were covered thickly with ash. I had no idea how. I felt like crying again or going back to the hotel but I had no memory of where I was staying and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

            When we got to the club, which was accessible via a lift in the hotel of which it was a part, the film crew told me they were going for Guinness in an Irish pub round the corner and would join me again in five. ‘Call Roger,’ said one, ‘He really needs to speak to you,’ so I call him from my iPhone but I must be out of range as the line is dead. 

            The party was full of fashionistas and must have had a Death theme as everyone was wearing skulls or was dressed as skeletons. Lilly Allen did an impromptu PA, singing Ghost Town by the Specials. After that the DJ played The More You ignore Me the Closer I Get by Morrissey. Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung came over to say hello and introduced me to a fashion editor from NyLon magazine who claimed to have slept with me and then started an argument about Stendhal. I told her I preferred Zola anyway, then realised this was out of character and I’d have to be careful.

            At 5.10am the DJ played Stuart Price’s remix of the Jared’s World theme tune, and Amelia Ford walked in with a group of five girls, saw me and walked straight out again. I got up and followed them out, shouting for her to stop, I needed to find Jared, but she kept on walking and when she reached her limo she spoke to her security guy and he came at me with a tyre iron so I had to go back inside.

            When I got back inside the club I went to the bathroom I saw that my Dsquared t-shirt was ripped and covered in blood stains. I had no idea how.

            The DJ was playing You Never Give Me Your Money by the Beatles.

            At 6.15am Duane, Dirk, Lauren from The Hills, Mischa Barton, three guys from Queens and a young college professor from Yale and I were at the  ******* diner on Gansevoorst. Mischa and Lauren were talking about Deathcab for Cutie, while one of the guys from Queens arm-wrestled Duane. I said, ‘I don’t know who any of you people are,’ but they all ignored me and carried on talking, and the Yale professor tried to interest me in an article he was writing about Baudrillard and would I like to be interviewed. Dirk said the kippers here were great and so I ordered the watermelon and coffee, and my iPhone buzzed and there was a missed call from a withheld number. Lauren and Mischa played with my hair and said maybe I would look good with a Mohawk and they put eyeliner on me. My throat was burning so I took a drink of water but then my head was buzzing and the water didn’t help and I needed more cocaine but no-one had any, and Dirk said he had a contact in a project in the East Village but it was a tough neighbourhood and maybe I could wait until later.

            The DJ was playing Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. I could smell fresh bread baking in the kitchen. I felt sick and I wanted to vomit. Outside the diner I could see three photographers with their lenses trained on me. The Jared’s World production team, who appeared to have drunk through their hangovers, were sitting at the next table down.

            Anabel, Duane’s girlfriend showed up straight from an all-nighter at the Skewer club wearing a baby-doll nightie, and holding a teddy bear.

            I remembered the name of the hotel, so I got up and, before anyone could stop me, I walked out into the street and hailed a cab. The sun made everything look as though it had sharp edges, even the clouds. The cab driver was a Palestinian. He listened to loud disco on the radio all the way back to the hotel and I was too tired to tell him to turn it off. My Aviators were broken but I put them on anyway.

            When I got back to the suite it was empty; Angela had gone. I sat down on the bed and put on a U2 live DVD from the hotel’s collection and wept. When I finished I checked the answering machine. There were three messages from Roger which I skipped over. There was a message from Blake Lively inviting me out to Fire Island, and a guy from Interview Magazine had heard I was in town and wanted to profile me. I deleted all of them.

            On the bed, there was a note.

Dear Jared,

Well, I guess this is goodbye. My management company have caught up with me and ordered me back to London.

I can say honestly it was a pleasure meeting you.

Yours affectionately,

            Angela.

P.S. If you want to know where he is, I can tell you: they took him back to your old flat.

I reached for the phone again and dialled my old telephone number, but it had been cut off. I checked the iPhone but something I must have crushed the screen as it looked as though it had been flooded with ink.

I took all my clothes off and went for a shower. I didn’t feel better. I felt worse. I went to the minibar and took out the bottle of Grey Goose and poured a glass, which I drank while calling British Airways and booking a flight to London. Then I called reception and told them to have a car ready. The hotel bill would go to Jared’s World.

The production guys helped me pack and promised to give the room a quick once-over after I had left.

In the car on the way to JFK I read Page Six, which carried a report about me called Jared Montague: Out of the jungle and into the wild.

My head hit the window. I slept.

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