So, one of the get-back-to-sanity methods I’ve used this time is Bill Hicks.
I first discovered Bill through my little brother, who sat me down in front of Revelations a few years back, then there was a documentary on Radio 2 which I listened to at work the other day. Ordered the DVDs on Monday, they arrived on Wednesday and since then…
It’s a bit like the first time I discovered Jim Morrison (insofar as I can remember those strange, long-ago days). It’s a lot like the first time I saw V For Vendetta. There’s not many things that actually make me really really think about the world, but Bill Hicks is one of them. For that, I hope Bill knows, sees and is glad.
Like many things, it’s something I needed to get to at the right time. I saw Revelations years ago, and although I really liked it, it didn’t hit the same thought-chord as it does now. Perhaps I needed The Daily Show, The Colbert Report to show me that satire in America now is good, but not great… to point me towards Bill from the right context. I also needed Cook & Moore and their Derek & Clive, the British satire boom, to put it all into context.
Most of all, I needed to see comedy like Bill in the context of finding it funny but not necessarily laughing out loud. Besides, after Derek & Clive, nothing Goatboy says can possibly turn my stomach – after the i-watched-the-coverage-of-the-dead-pope-and-i-got-the-horn bit, everything seems rather tame.
There’s not much that I could say about Bill Hicks that hasn’t already been said, and probably better said. All I can say is that I’ve sat here nodding, smiling and laughing since Wednesday. This is a man who, like Dave Allen, told life as it was. He was a man of great humanity, no matter how vitriolic his shows might seem (mostly to those who disagree with him).
Isn’t it great to have a comic stand there for an hour and a half pointing out all our faults and flaws, and the evil in the world… who then ends by saying “hey man, let’s take all the money we spend on war and instead use it to feed the world and explore space!” That’s the kind of program I can get with.
Besides, the man was cynical, barbed and loved rock music. He’s me, only funnier. Maybe if I drank, smoked and ‘shroomed, I’d be Bill Hicks. He spoke of the people who came to us and said “it’s only a ride” and were killed for it… and then became one of them. Listen to him, man, because the man, he makes sense.
Mostly, I found myself sat here thinking “God, I wish Bill was here to talk to us about now.” The great irony of this statement is that you can watch him, in Revelations particularly and none of it is out of date. Hell, most of the fucking names are still the same! All you do is swap Quayle for Cheney, Major for Blair/Brown and… oh me my!
As part of my rehabilitation to re-enter the world of humans, I went to the National Gallery & The National Portrait Gallery this afternoon. I could’ve sat at home watching shite old movies (or Bill Hicks), but I forced myself to clothe myself and travel over to Trafalgar Square.
I like very old paintings of myths and religious episodes and I like portraits, so it’s my kind of bag.
Of course, it made me feel better. There’s not much better than having Dylan piped into your ears and surrounding yourself with some of the most wondrous works of beauty and art in the world. Stood in front of St Catherine and the Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, or the Virgin Mary by Sassoferrato, or the Da Vinci cartoon, or the rest of it, it’s easy to believe in the ability of humans to create great beauty instead of just destroying it.
At times like those, I allow my cynicism to melt away just a little, and allow myself to believe that actually, humanity might not be totally doomed. Were I rich enough, I would travel around the world to seek out the works of Raphael – no print in a book or online compares to the experience of actually seeing a painting close enough to see the brushstrokes.
Of course, seeing those paintings, I now yearn and wish for Florence. I can’t win.
I have excellent friends, by the way. I have no idea why they put up with me, but I’m very glad they do. If I feel better, it’s because of them first, Bill Hicks a distant second and Raphael thirdmost.
I suppose that the way to tell a true friend is the same as a true love- you can show your worst, your very worst qualities to them and they will still look you in the eye and care about you, love you.
I get the feeling you know, that in Friends, they all rather go their own ways after the end, no longer kept together by easy geography. I live no closer than 80 miles to my very very best friends, and it doesn’t matter. I just need to scuffing remember that.
In other news, the Dylan movie, I’m Not There, in which like, seven people play The Bob, looks like it’s either going to suck big time or rock big time. Being cynical and having seen the trailer, I’m going with the first. With someone like Dylan, I can’t imagine who’d rather watch other people pretending to be him when you can watch the man himself in things like Don’t Look Back.