Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cold Chow Mein...

Recently I was playing the Tom Waits Game with Nate Flexer's deliciously deranged 'The Disassembled Man'. I counted 3 direct Tom Waits references, but I may have missed a couple. Let me know if you found more.

Maybe it's being disconnected from the constant novelty of the internet for a few days after moving apartment, but it made me reminisce about my first trip to Hong Kong. I was about as excited as I ever get for anything, but the thought occurred: What is there to actually do in HK? I mean, there's no Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Tate Modern, Secret Palace, MOMA, Empire State Buildings or anything of a par. In fact, apart from the movies and the je ne sais quoi, what is there?

As would any sane man, I asked myself the question: What would Tom Waits do?

And St Tom in his benevolence has given us the answer: Shore Leave, a Hong Kong drizzle in Cuban heels.

I don't wear Cuban heels, but otherwise I didn't do too bad on my HK/TW to do list.

in bad need of a shave    - check. No problem there.

and so I slopped at the corner on cold chow mein   - Oh yes. Multiple success.

and shot billiards with a midget
until the rain stopped    
-  Ok, I wouldn't quite call him a midget. And we didn't actually play billiards. This one is harder than you'd think.
and I bought a long sleeved shirt   
- Yes
with horses on the front    
- No
and some gum and a lighter and a knife  
- Yes, and yes. But no knife. Too 70s.
and a new deck of cards with girls on the back 
- Aha. Yes, a collection of Japanese erotica playing cards. Unfortunately they were heavily censored.
and I sat down and wrote a letter to my wife  
- skipped this one, as S.O. and I were sharing a room there didn't seem much point.

and I had a cold one at the Dragon   - Couldn't find THE Dragon, but certainly A Dragon
with some Filipino floor show   
- I've seen too many of those already, thanks
and talked baseball with a lieutenant
over a Singapore sling  
- Not a Lt. but otherwise yes. Hurray for Singapore Slings.
and I wondered how the same moon outside 
over this Chinatown fair
could look down on Illinois
and find you there  
- Don't know anybody in Illinois. Not very well, anyway. But close enough. I think I saw the moon. Or a moon. Something round, after several or more Singapore Slings.

Other occasions Tom has helped me out: I've never fallen in love with a Gun Street girl (again), never trusted a man in a blue trench coat, dangling from a rope of sand was enormous fun, and he helped me to fall out of windows with confetti in my hair. To date,  I have also never driven a car when I'm dead. Can't wait for my forthcoming trips to Singapore, Underground, and the Red Barn.

God bless our Tom.


  1. Nice piece, mate. I love Tom Waits but have never thought about playing the Tom Waits game. I'll have to try that next time I'm stuck somewhere.

  2. Waits is the music for lonely, deranged people. I love him.

  3. Tom Waits seems to be theme of the month. Just as I come to reply I find another reference - less subtle than Nate Flexer's game of 'insert your favourite lyrics into your novel' - in my current read: Josh Stallings' 'Beautful, Naked & Dead':

    "I called the cops from a payphone outside a liquor store. When they asked for my name I said it was Tom Waits, and that I lived at the corner of Heart Attack and Vine."

    Lonely and deranged? Guilty as charged, only round here we call it well-adjusted.