Obo: OL

the digital oasis

I've got a copy of the script... how? Stole it. Script girl left her clip board on the wall when she took five for some reason... so I'm reading it now, sitting outside the Cafe Damascus. Slow going. In French.

Must be market day or something. The churro boys are doing big business, trays of deep fried dough on their heads, working the Zoco and the cafes. Hustlers everywhere, selling all kinds of crap... or trying to buy your shirt, your jeans, your boots... your rings, even your freakin' underwear. Passport too.

"Haunted by his loss, he will return to this location where each step makes the blood pump faster like a step towards love or towards death."

Look up from the page, see the Poet and Naomi crossing the Zoco, followed by a cameraman and the usual clutch of curious locals. She looks great, like a priestess from a lost African temple or an abandoned extraterrestial harem. He looks ET too, like he's a re-animated dreamer... a walking antenna, a creature who functions telepathically. Yeah, he's weird... but when he's beside Naomi, he's beautiful. Without even thinking, I set down the script and tele-photo them myself.

Be damned if they don't stop, look my direction. Feel embarrassed, like I've been caught out. How stupid is that? Check behind me, see if they're looking at somebody else... but the patrons are all sitting looking at the Zoco. Even the guys in the black robes, Tuareg nomads in town for bullets and Gitanes. Blue sand scarves and gold chains. Cool. The movie is watching the audience.

Crazy world, isn't it? We photo our actions, our fantasies. Light hits the earth like words hit the page.

Cameras are everywhere, even in this forgotten town. Buzz in the crew says Cocteau's even bought time on the Marienbad I satellite, which crosses this region 4 times a day. Topographical resolution down to 10 meters real-time. Amigo, that's a spy sat where I come from. Maybe it's looking for water, the ruins of ancient civilizations, minerals of mass destruction... but we're all part of that movie. The digital oasis.

How many ways can you film a single scene? What's he looking for?

Obo: OL

the Garden of Omar

Flashback. Couple of weeks ago I'm in Marrakesh, watching the snake men in the market... gambling on the camel races... buying carpets that may or may not be forwarded to L.A. I'm in a slow manic drift, a dream spiral, thinking of Hendrix and wondering if I'll run into Brian Jones... as I'm sure neither of these two rockers are really dead, just hanging out in Morocco... stoned transcendental slaves to the mysterious occult of dope, desert, and Moorish music. Boy sopranos of the hashish dens, pipe orchestras of the Atlas... phantom vocalists of the star desert and ex-pat avant gardists dedicated to the 21st harmonic. I carry these images like a gambler carries a deck of cards.

But... somehow none of this is working for me. Marrakesh is almost civilized... a theme park for the unbelievers with bucks, a merchant mall like any other. Maybe it's because I'm alone. I'm looking inward, as we all need to do at key moments in a life... but reality keeps getting in the way.

Was staying in a boutique hotel called The Garden of Omar. Nice. This is where I run into Kate. Thought it was my sister, no kidding.

This is when I take my cell, throw it in the fountain with the gold fish.

Obo: OL

down to zero

Amuse myself watching the fishermen on the reefs as the crew goes through its usual preparations. There's a boutre out there, one of those small sloops with a sail, looks like a sultan's slipper. Could be from the Ivory Coast.

Least they're catching something. These clowns just don't seem to be able to catch the light... the light the Poet says he wants.

Naomi's naked below the gown her dresser solicitously wraps her in as we wait. That's what it's come to: day six, take thirty something, and she's down to zero.

A peep show for the fish. Or whoever the hell the Poet thinks is out there, for sure as hell we're destined to become a cargo cult. This is the theatre of ritual, a homage to some unseen god. Can't be for the money... or I'm missing something.

Don't get me wrong. I see beauty in the freeze frame... the way we're all lined up on the sea wall like a magnificent painting.

Here we go: Naomi sheds her robe, steps up to her mark, faces the sea.

Obo: OL

the spot you see when you close your eyes

Roof of the Hotel Babar. Late afternoon. Sun sinking behind a cloud bank on the horizon. Magic light on the magic walls of Obo.

Paul is looking through binoculars.

I see him, he says. Big yacht.

He's talking about Kyprios, who's rumoured to be in the area.

Big mother, he says. I see it in Port of Spain, swear I do.

Hands me the nocs.

I see it, I say. Like a clipper.
Party boat, says Paul. I see this baby in the keys.
This is Kyprios? I say.
Muthafugga, says Paul. That's what I want.
No you don't, I say. The up-keep is tres hideous.
I make it pay, says Paul. That is a fuggin money machine.
Kid, I say. Believe me when I say the insurance alone...
Captain Paul need no insurance, says Paul. I run with the pirates.

I'm watching... but don't know if he's coming or going... or just passing by.

No coincidence, I say.
He got money in this, says Paul.
The movie? I say. How do you know?
My boss, says Paul.
Thought these guys were enemies, I say. This Kyp guy and Cocteau.

Paul shrugs. Sometimes think he bullshits, makes it up as he goes along. Still, movies cost money. A Greek with Euros could be a producer.

Kate joins us, but stays back a bit. Jokes, says she has yellow fever... no longer looks like a chi chi Princess Di on a land mine mission. Gray like cigarette ash. Hides her face in a scarf. Yeah... she's caught something alright. Voice is husky.

I simply hate the food here, she says. They poisoned me.
Just a bug, says Paul.
Tried a doctor? I say.
Here? she says. In Obo? Not on your life.
Have a peek, I say... offer Kate the binoculars.
What am I expected to see? she says.
Fate, I say.
Kyprios, says Paul.

She takes a look.

That yacht is Kyprios? she says.
Paul thinks so, I say.
I think it's him, says Paul. Cecil say he coming.
Yes, but is he welcome? says Kate.
Sure, I say. He can stand in for me.
Are you leaving? says Kate.
Yeah, I say. This movie is bullshit.
Fed up, eh, says Kate. Don't blame you. I learned something new today.
What's that, I say. Obo is really Club Med?
"I" found out why the script you nicked doesn't have an ending, says Kate.
Oh... you gained an audience with his highness Roy Cocteau, I say.
No, says Kate. That Irish Shakespearean actor told me.
He tell you anything, chica, says Paul. He hot for you.
He told me the movie you're in is just a decoy, says Kate. Monsieur Cocteau is the real movie. That's why he has a camera on himself all the time.
You're kidding, right? I say. The 1st unit stuff is decoy?
What Liam says, yes, says Kate. Just fluff to deceive the Obo authorities.
What authorities? I say. The cops? The mullahs?
The authorities, says Kate. Whoever they are.
Lotta heavy dudes in Obo, says Paul. Knives, guns, religion.
Cocteau is his own movie? I say.
He's an auteur, says Kate. He's multi-media.
He the star, says Paul. He the man.
What about Naomi? I say.
Oh yes, says Kate. She the woman.

What craziness! Don't know if I'm pissed because my vanity is hurt or because I feel like a chump. If I was Jim Morrison, I'd drop my pants right now.

Kate, I say. Did you know this all along?
I swear, she says. No way.

Once again I look beyond the walls of Obo at the sea and the curve of the horizon. The yacht? With no binoculars, Kyprios is just a dot, like the spot you see when you close your eyes.

Obo: OL

two large statues

Moonlight. Silver sea. Satellite crosses the heavens, travelling east. I'm on the sea wall, breathing the tropical air, the solitude. Two large statues mark the spots Naomi and I occupy during our daily reruns of the same scene. The futility of it all is manifest in their blind eyes, which contain neither reality nor mythology. The Poet's obsession is my obsession, however, despite the fact that they no longer need me.

I'm tempted to knock them over... like a teenage vandal in a graveyard... destroy the symmetry of their twin shadows and the absurd game they represent. Venus and Mars or whatever the man thinks they are. In fact, I'm just about to heave Mars onto his ass when I hear someone moaning... a vagrant nomad, a stoned phosphate miner, a sailor... or maybe one of the crew, drunk on too many Frankensteins.

Hang back in the shadows, watch... and lo, who should emerge but the Poet himself, moaning with the deep private anguish he yearns to make public in his own special artistic way. He's moving slowly along the wall, his bare feet and loose cottons like the uniform of a patient who's wandered away from his colonial hospital bed. Is he sleep-walking? He stops, turns towards the moon and the sea. Pourquoi, pourquoi, he moans, oh pourquoi... why did she have to go?

He stands there for what seems like eternity before he shuffles off, disappears into the tower. I'm thinking he's gonna go up top, maybe jump or something... but no, he just vanishes into the shadows like he's returned to the catacombs and the crypt he calls home. Weird. Haven't witnessed too many moments of private anguish... if anguish is what this is. Look around, see no cameraman... although this doesn't mean there isn't one stationed somewhere like a cyclops in this mad fortress of dream.

I slink away, absurdly guilty.

12. Kief Ugly »»