Ruby Island exists, abounding in cribs. It is based on quantum effrontery and the lights from its various residences can be discerned from outer space, relaying their zip code bling like a set of dentures whitened beyond compare. In this way, the owners of these properties are flouting the very essence of their mega-hits, all those million-selling combat missions which once graced the pop charts and the pages of Variety and the chubby screens of old-fashioned TVs.
At the moment these good folk on Ruby Island are hurting like everybody else. Here is one cry of their anguish.
Fifty million dollars is the new five hundred million dollars. I suggest that you bear this in mind if you remain bent on asking for help (you silly bender). It was Xabi Aguilera who wrote this to his nephew, in a moment of strain, after learning about Bear Stearns.
Not everybody agrees with this statement however. There is no complete consensus. The problem, writes P. Diddy, as I see it, is astonishingly heartfelt.
A large percentage of the residents on Ruby Island are being punk’d by their creditors. This is not a laughing matter. They go down to the marina and discover that their boats are no longer there. Where is the fun in a yacht-sized hole?
They wait for Ashton Kutcher to arrive and defuse this glaring oddity. It’s not as if he has far to travel. His compound is like a five-minute drive. Recently, pop-stars have been turning up outside Ashton’s compound daily to demand their revelatory moment of cathartic joy. They reach Ashton on the intercom and laugh hysterically at his voice. “You son of a gun! Taking my yacht like that! I take it I’ve been punk’d?”
“You’re like the third person today to make that mistake.”
“You mean I haven’t been tickled by MTV?”
“I suggest you talk to your accountant.”
“Piss off, Ashton,” says the singer from McFly.
One cul-de-sac is where white pop stars live. The neighbourhood watch is overseen by a man called Michael Bolton. He helps himself to soul food. He made his money during the reign of Casey Kasem and dutifully banked it. He takes time out from his punishing schedule to stay in touch with the police. Their squad cars are decked out in the livery of Louis Vuitton. They have not fired a shot in anger for a great many years.
They are guardians of homeliness.
Elsewhere on the island a smattering of Negritude is permitted (although unity is considered uppity and is therefore sternly disallowed). It is told at point-blank that it must misbehave in order to jump bail (you can watch these leaps on YouTube). It is offered a safe-house with one massive living room wall, waiting for another breakthrough in plasma technology just like Turtle from Entourage. From here it is sent by express delivery and sold up the river to the rainbow nation of teens.
At one point, every day was a marathon of labour-saving. Where these hours disappeared to was the swimming pool, the tennis court, lunch at The Beige Frond.
Now disaster has struck gold and the financial climate is filing all sorts of ungodly claims against hard-won complacency, paging whole gated communities in the name of Charles Ponzi as a way to get ahead. Its plan is to shave time from their extant leisure-mass and make it go to work for food and clothing like some jitterbugging bear. Bonnie Tyler compares this situation to a frat house prank gone wrong. Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher is reading his morning newspaper. It is screaming Armageddon and also appealing for calm.
The first ever town meeting is hastily convened in Hasselhoff’s ballroom. Now is not the time for glittering soirées. There is no point in denying it any longer—and nobody does. The truth is out there, already on the prowl.
“Perhaps,” says P. Diddy, “some good can come from this—a spirit of togetherness which I fear we might have lost in our pursuit of immense wealth.”
Everybody is waiting for somebody else to approve of this statement, and when Martin Tyler does, tentatively, they all follow suit, louder and then louder, trying to outdo each other in terms of enthusiasm.
“How about an auction of our extraneous property?” suggests Andrew Marr. “This appears to work online for regular people.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” says the singer from McFly. “My basement is full of useless shite.”
“The problem is that every one of my belongings tells a story,” says Jay Kay of Jamiroquai fame. “Do you really expect me to tamper with this linear narrative? You have to remember my career spans several decades. This is not a novella we’re talking about. One might consider it, with some legitimacy, the War and Peace of the jazz-funk world.”
“We all have to make sacrifices,” says P. Diddy.
“Fine,” says Jay Kay, “then you can start by getting rid of your spare plane.”
“Fine,” says P. Diddy. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Richard Clayderman, freshly returned from the Proms, floats another idea. This one a little more quixotic. He suggests building the world’s biggest Zeppelin in the shape of a PayPal shipping trolley. It will fly at low altitude over the earth, with thousands of ropes hanging down from its sides, moving at such a leisurely pace that all peoples will have time to affix their donations securely.
“The idea came to me last time I attended a traditional Greek wedding and watched, with utter fascination, as hard currency of all denominations was pinned to the bride. The Zeppelin will be a goodwill ambassador for all of us. A pioneer of the gift economy. I am very excited about this prospect.”
“It sounds like so much bullshit to me,” surmises Jay Kay of Jamiroquai fame, putting a dampener on proceedings.
The good folks here on Ruby Island are bang up to date when it comes to social networking. They want very much to keep their fans in the loop and address any fledgling dissidence. To this end, everybody is using a web tool called ‘P’ at the moment (It is pronounced ‘Fuh’ and was dreamt up by one of those greatly annoying youths—out on a skunk-binge during his second year of Further Education—who is now highly able to retire).
The beauty of ‘P’ is that it provides one’s legion of admirers with a vowel-based update on what you are doing in your real-life.
Here are some recent online publications.
E, types the singer from Dollar.
U, types the singer from Nickelback.
O, types Dan Brown.
I, types Tracey Emin.
A, types P. Diddy.
A, types the singer from Aqua.
“I suggest we get in touch with these tax refugees at the earliest opportunity and explain that we are basically a free-standing Swiss canton,” says the singer from McFly. “We could quite easily hire out a moribund pleasure-liner and start up a ferry service to bring them over here.”
“What will we charge them for resident status?” asks Andrew Marr.
“Nothing. It will be sufficient for us to bask in their prestige.”
“What about the pleasure-liner?” asks the singer from Nickelback. “Who’s going to pay for that?”
“The boat ride is business as usual. Free Argyle socks and then we screw them on soft drinks and rig the games of chance.”
“And what will they do when they get here?” Asks the singer from Dollar.
“Spend freely. Revitalise The Beige Frond. Also join up with our complimentary militia. One must consider the numbers involved and counter the growing threat of Echo Beach.”
“Let’s not overlook the United States of America in our quest for financial reinforcements,” says P. Diddy. “The flight risk there is enormous amongst the well-to-do. Their patriotism is threadbare at best, especially since Bill O’Reilly unearthed The Protocols of Huggy Bear.”
On Tuesday evening everybody makes their excuses and fails to attend the scheduled meeting in Hasselhoff’s ballroom. This is because they’re all watching with keen interest as Neverland falls under the hammer, hunkered down in their mud-rooms, heartened by the bidding war which threatens to break out in response to the Crown Prince of Pop’s highly irregular fate.
The big guns of fandom are ready for action, wielding their unhealthy obsessions in spite of the failing economy. They are dipping into those reserves of spending power long kept dry with exactly this moment in mind. Either that or else they are begging, borrowing, stealing, selling off their lesser interests in order to raise the correct amount to buy Michael out of his house and home. Flooding the market with autographs of Bob Newhart and Tom Selleck action figures.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own pieces of an absolute legend, courtesy of his many creditors. These creditors are trying to nudge Michael in the same direction as another prince—Siddhartha—by divesting him of all those possessions he has accrued down the years.
Lot 36: Sequinned catcher’s mitt presented
by Kofi Annan.
Lot 57: Ruby-studded waffle maker. A gift
from Boba Fett.
Lot 98: Portrait of a Motown artist as a very
confused young man.
Lot 112: Anti-Bad Vibe Spectacles, purchased from
the back pages of Mad magazine in an effort
to repel the artist called Prince.
Lot 126: A signed plaster cast of Jarvis
Everything must go. The entire trove of eye candy. The hammer is ready to fall on Jacko’s visual sweet tooth and floss its latter-day worth. So this is how it ends: his life to date seized on by memorabiliacs.
Misunderstandings, misunderstandings, as far as the mind can see. Michael knows exactly how the broader economy feels now that it’s been told to make some kind of sense and break with its former objectives, indulging logic like never before. The closing numbers are being treated like shit, doctored with so many questions. It is not the treatment they are used to. Once upon a time they had momo and gapped up in the am as a matter of course.
“Yesterday the truth was a horse’s severed head warding off all-comers”, says P. Diddy, somewhat wryly, “and today it’s a red under the bed going after us all.”
Michael has sent out a promotional video to potential bidders, on the advice of his counsellors, in order to verify, beyond all doubt, that his wealth is no longer occluded and that his assets are on general release. This film lasts for five minutes, and shows him leaving Neverland forever and ever. The director told him to look forlorn during filming, like he was hurt inside. This was the easiest thing in the world to do, because Michael was definitely hurting inside. As he looked back one last time, the sun appeared to be sitting in judgement on the property as a whole, perched above the gazebo where he had once kept large primates in various stages of undress.
What awaits the pop prince now? A tribute gala for Robert Mugabe? A sponsored bungee jump off the cliff of Cape Hope? These and many other ventures will have to be considered now that his life has contracted stage fright and his stardust is fleeing the scene.
The drummer from T’Pau is watching a newsflash on his television set. The images are being beamed at him from London Town. There’s a right old ding-dong over at the Houses of Parliament, up there on the garbled roof. Scores of fingered politicians are roaming about at these giddy heights, straying close to the ledge as if they had leaping on their minds. They will not go over the edge, however, despite its ease of use. They have families to consider. Families and constituents.
A crowd has formed below, as you might expect. The public, for the most part, would like these parliamentarians to jump without killing themselves in the process. It would be fitting if they should limp away, of their own hapless volition, to the nearest hospital—which they have already voted to close.
The emergency committee has asked that Jay Kay (of Jamiroquai fame) forfeit one piece of headgear from his enormous collection. To this end, Jay Kay (of Jamiroquai fame) has spent the last four hours in his hat-closet, trying to find something to give away; but every hat that he no longer finds aesthetically appealing nonetheless possesses great sentimental value. If it isn’t one thing then it’s another, and he casts a loving eye over them all.
Of course, there is the faux-buffalo headgear he wore on the cover of Emergency on Planet Earth. JK would be the first to admit it looks ridiculous, and yet what memories this hat contains…
I am not the one who started this financial crisis, thinks Jay Kay. That’s right, he thinks, it’s not my fault at all. With this idea at the forefront of his thinking, and of the uppermost vehemence, Jay Kay storms out of his hat closet and heads for P. Diddy’s palazzo, ready to give the rapper this very piece of his mind: “Who started this credit crunch, P. Diddy? It certainly wasn’t me,” he says.
“Nobody is saying that,” says P. Diddy, the very model of reason.
“Then why do I have to forfeit one of my hats?”
“We all have to do our bit right now.”
“I don’t see why.”
“What can I tell you?”
“That I don’t have to forfeit a hat.”
“I can’t exempt you, Jay Kay, much as I would like to. What about the hat you wore on the cover of Emergency on Planet Earth? The big buffalo one? Do you really need that?”
“Winter is on its way. What happens if there’s a cold snap? I’ll need that hat to keep my head warm. Or do you think it’s alright for me to freeze to death?”
P. Diddy’s monumental patience, tested to the limit, begins to fail this test. “Maybe you’d prefer to make your way to Jalopy Creek,” he says, “and speak to Bobby Sebo directly and ask him to address the money tree on your behalf?”
“Maybe I will,” answers Jay Kay, only the tone of his voice is extremely unconvincing.
“And while it may be true that you didn’t initiate the credit crunch, I tell you what I think you did do: break into the musical vaults and make off with any number of rare grooves.”
“Those grooves were all open source, P. Diddy. Every single one of them.”
“I don’t know, Jay Kay. I have my doubts. I think you may have taken what didn’t belong to you and turned it into a fleet of vintage sports cars in order to speed away from the scene of the crime.”
“You can talk!” exclaims Jay Kay (of Jamiroquai fame). “Everybody knows that you stole off with the very best of Sting!”
Giddi Stavanger is the reigning Art Supremacist on Ruby Island. According to no less an authority than Veal Monthly, she is “the most refined young artist ever to be produced by Norwegian Crude Oil.”
People look askance at my love for American Hip-Hop, says Giddi, but in this way I am only acknowledging my enormous debt to black gold. I am playing with the audience’s pre-conceived stupidity, Giddi says. I am hacking into my trust fund and thereby subverting rock and roll.
Stavanger made her first breakthrough around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and it was Veal Monthly who recently called her “Hedda Gabler wreaking havoc out there on Facebook.” Although a week later her status had changed to “The Hedy Lamarr of Deep Buttered Soul.”
Last month Giddi Stavanger came across her present entourage of Chinese boat-people. The story can be told here in short. She was trawling the length of Echo Beach on a Wednesday afternoon—beach-combing for polymers—when she found this ragged troupe at the far end of an otherwise gritty corridor, out towards Jalopy Creek, sat cross-legged on the sand, roasting a sarpa salpa over a makeshift hearth.
One psychedelic fish between twenty-two castaways. It didn’t look good for these boat-people, it has to be said. Not until Stavanger rubbed each of them down with her heavenly sarong and found that they all scrubbed up nicely in a purely conceptual light. Greatly encouraged by this procedure, Giddi led them back to her intensive Art Farm—a half hour walk at best—and gave them a Think-Pod each that they might support her career arc like a succession of minor cantilevers.
Now she likes to think of these Chinese as her oriental posse, like the one that flanks Gwen Stefani in her music videos, blurring the line between employees and pals. Stavanger has even thought about designing bespoke leisurewear for them to flounce around in.
The Chinese, for their part, do not care much about this carry-on. They keep to a strict diet of sarpa salpa and this means that they are always someplace elsewhere, playing hooky from the space-time continuum, reaping the Northern Lights. This psychedelic influence is writ large in the work they produce, and then wrongly attributed to Stavanger’s unique artistic vision. Let’s be perfectly fair, however—there are no real losers in this creative transaction.
Dan Brown, master of speculative fiction, is taking time out from writing his forthcoming blockbuster. He should really be hard at work, but instead he is deeply involved in a tourney of games with the singer from Nickelback. (It is a fine example of male competitiveness, which involves serious money changing hands.) There are games of chance and games of skill for these two men to compete in. At the moment they are playing checkers and Dan Brown is winning hands down, having already trounced the singer earlier at tic-tac-toe.
The singer from Nickelback recently lost a large lump sum to an incontinent hedge fund and is now chasing these sizeable losses by any means necessary, up to and including playing board games for cash. As a result, he is now into Brown for many thousands of dollars. Although Dan Brown loves the taste of victory itself, he finds the size of these winnings unsettling. The money itself is not so important to him. He suspects the same cannot be said of the singer from Nickelback, and for this reason he keeps saying, “Just pay me back whenever you can.” Unfortunately, Brown’s fiscal queasiness only encourages the singer from Nickelback to dig a bigger hole for himself. A line of credit is extended to the lead vocalist and he lowers himself down on it as if descending a well which has a devil at the bottom.
It’s time, thinks the singer from Nickelback, to get back into the studio, emote freely, and cut myself a new disc. Sing the blues once more. He thinks he can employ all of this financial misery during the recording session by disguising it as a woman and pretending that this woman has recently broken his heart. Tania will be his codename for the fact that he is now cash-poor.
The main problem is that the more he owes to Brown, the less inclined the singer is to go back to work, aware that all the money from his next record will go straight into Brown’s pocket. This realisation promotes a feeling of lassitude and finds the singer from Nickelback creatively hamstrung.
The internet also depresses him, what with its contempt for copyright, tone-deaf hunger and epochal greed. Maybe he could start a blog and write in truth about his predicament? If he had ten thousand followers and every one of these followers pledged only four dollars a month then he could cover his latest mortgage payment. The singer from Nickelback is mulling over all these questions when he should be attending to the game at hand, and in the process he loses his concentration. Because of this lapse, Brown is able to assert his superiority and unleash a game-winning leapfrog across the board, sweeping up all the remaining black counters.
“How do you like them apples!” asks Dan Brown. At the very moment of victory he cannot help himself, although moments later he feels terrible about this gloating. “Listen,” he says, “don’t worry about the money. Just pay me back whenever you can.”
But the singer from Nickelback has only hatred in his heart and it speaks to him of implacable default. In your dreams, Dan Brown, he thinks. In your mutherfucking sleep.
As the singer from Aqua moves out of his home to go live on Echo Beach with sundry Third World types, a new resident by the name of Lucky Lane moves in to Number 54. He is a 220-pound behemoth, Togolese born, startlingly effeminate; a newly crowned primetime fashion Czar who is visibly exempt from his own sartorial decrees (personally Lane dresses like a bum. The decision is imperious).
Having hitched his star to the credit crunch, Lane is now on the up and up. His show goes out at 8.30pm on a Thursday evening and is watched religiously by millions of idiots. It is called Why Cry, Fly-Guy, When You Can Always Try Once More? As such, it is a showcase for Lucky’s mammoth optimism. For half an hour each week, he looks to bully the shit out of the starkest financial truths like the lunatic contrarian that he is—as if, in so doing, he is capable of getting the current financial climate to take a long hard look at itself and accept full responsibility for the harm it has done to people like Jay Kay of Jamiroquai fame, P. Diddy, and the singer from Nickelback. There is something almost shamanic about Lane’s audacity: the presenter appears to be a force of nature, ready to slug it out with “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” ™
He is a man-mountain possessed of great dexterity, tremendously nimble on his feet.
The format for this show involves Lucky calling round at pop stars’ mansions, unannounced, and breaking into their bedrooms in order to rouse them from their hard-won stupors. The silk sheets are ripped from them, ceremoniously, and their foetal positions are summarily unpicked by Lane’s iron grasp (there is no end to this big gay’s tough love). Next he forces these dislocated celebrities into their shower units, and, if necessary, scrubs their backs vigorously with a loofah while briefing them on the day that lies ahead. If any alarm is shown, on account of their nakedness and Lane’s own homosexuality, he is quick to dismiss it as absurd. He rises above any prurient suggestion with matronly aplomb and rubs them down afterwards with a strange, soothing, and genuinely asexual vigour.
Afterwards, Lane raids their medicine cabinets and constructs a funeral pyre out of all manner of prescription drugs. These go up in a series of eerie little flames right there on the bathroom floor, like a miniature Aurora Borealis. He puts one mighty sympathetic arm around the dazed performer as they both watch this tiny conflagration and get high on the ascending fumes. Then, having chosen a tasteful outfit from their wardrobes and dressed them in it, Lane drags this week’s celebrity outside for some much-needed fresh air and lectures them on the robustness of capitalism. Oftentimes he takes these jaded pop stars down to the marina and makes them stare directly into their yacht-sized holes while telling them not to be so literal about these disappearances. “A yacht-sized hole! I think you need new spectacles, lover! What you’re looking at is tomorrow’s IPO!”
Lane is pitching a new aesthetic that, for obvious reasons, is appealing right now. He calls it “Post Chapter 11” or “Repossession Chic.” The look is 90% New Romany with a soupçon of Soviet Bloc thrown in. An offshoot of minimalism, it involves rethinking the role of one’s bailiffs and applauding their actions as instinctive Feng Shui.
If you go down to the marina tonight, a big surprise awaits you, if you haven’t already heard. Giddi Stavanger is unveiling her new multimedia installation. Now that all the yachts have left the marina on account of their repossession, for one night only Giddi is going to reinvent this empty dock as a contemporary art-space. In doing so, we will witness a glorious reclamation of spare-capacity as is happening throughout the world.
The name of the piece is Do You Like Fucky Fucky, Rubber Ducky, Or Are We Only The Best Of Friends? It consists of a seventeen-strong armada of weaponised butt plugs in various Day-Glo colours, lacquered with comic irony so as to render them virtually unsinkable. These floating sex toys are operated via remote control by a similar number of Stavanger’s Chinese art technicians, situated on the quayside.
The butt plugs in question are in hot pursuit of another dirigible, which is given a sporting head start in trying to make its bathetic escape. This fleeing vessel, operated by Stavanger herself, is in fact a plastic mallard duck with an inflamed anus, kindly donated by the drummer from T’Pau.
Meanwhile, for dramatic purposes, the overly calm waters of the sheltered harbour are being subjected to a perpetual wave motion—lending them the appearance of choppiness—in conjunction with Rolex the Watch.
Giddi’s dazzling installation may be interpreted variously as an open love letter to several influential gay men, a savage indictment of pornography, a paean to onanism, an exploration of gender politics, a hymn to Somalia, a critique of semiotics, a tribute to Bern Porter, Luigi Pirandello, or Robert Mirandique.
All the while, We Dream The Same Dream by Belinda Carlisle is being pumped out of a Jamaican sound system over by the Supper Marquee, time and time again. This ceaseless rewind is also part of Giddi’s aesthetic jape.
The catering company attending on this event is owned by Bobby Sebo, and your staff for the evening are various Third World types. There is an eight-foot high ice statue in the shape of Flavor Flav on the middle table of the saltwater buffet. It is holding up well, all things considered, especially as the evening is a relatively balmy one. The only thing to melt thus far is the large clock stationed around Flavor’s neck. This is dripping away at an alarming rate and bespattering the wide array of salmon cutlets directly underneath it. As a result, they are hardly fit for consumption.
“Tell me,” asks the reporter from Veal Magazine, “is the melting clock on the ice statue of Flavor Flav a cunning allusion to Dali’s corrupted timepieces?”
“Yes,” says Giddi Stavanger. “It is an allusion to Salvador Dali and his corrupted timepieces. You are very observant. I am deeply preoccupied by time.”
“And the salmon cutlets… this is a comment on the intensive farming practises which you find so appalling. You are aiming a blow against the robber barons of the Outer Hebrides, I believe? You are, in essence, calling for a return to sustainable practise?”
“The salmon cutlets are a call for the return of sustainable farming practise,” Giddi answers.
“Does this mean you are going to stop using processed foodstuffs as a medium and devote your life to the staggering poignancy of ice?”
“I will do both,” says Giddi. “In fact, in recognition of our global heatwave and the corresponding rush for dry earth, I have been commissioned by the Arctic Survey to work with a large slobbering glacier. My intention is to refashion this former land mass in situ and turn it into an enormous sculpture of Terminator X.”
“Do you have a provisional title for this work?”
“We Be Illing Not Chilling.”
“I discern a clever play on words.”
“And yet I register no disjunction between your earlier practise and this fresh courageous stance.”
“That is an interesting discovery of yours,” Giddi Stavanger says.