CS Louis is a regular contributor to What Youth. His column though is as inconsistent as it is amazing. So in this compilation, we’ve included some unreleased material, some pieces that were only released in print — as well as our favorite 5 online columns from the year, including his rather ceremonious and inspired farewell to social media and Instagram.
5. ON NEIL YOUNG’S BOOK WAGING HEAVY PEACE
Neil Young is not a handsome man. His sharp jaw and squinted eyes sink under an overhanging furrowed brow and give him a maniacal look. At 65, he is also not a young man. But I recently trusted this old maniac for the 512 pages of his book Waging Heavy Peace.
I trust his intentions (He literally wants to save recorded music with his latest project Pono). I trust his musical integrity. (He has bounced between more backing bands and arrangements than perhaps any singer/songwriter. They include CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, and a few other permutations.) And with each move, it was all about the music — motivated by creating the most enchanting songs he was capable of in-between dodging US immigration for over a decade, the swarms of groupies, very much enjoying some cannabis and losing a couple of his best mates to heroine.
The language is candid and personal like a journal entry. Neil plainly states that he’s writing to avoid touring because he injured his toe, or stopped smoking weed and drinking alcohol, or to personally fund Pono, or to reunite with his songwriting — but to be honest I think he’s writing to honor his father.
Neil’s father was a working journalist all of his life — and his most memorable words of advice were simple: “write every day.”
Not every sentence formed a developed paragraph of brilliant literature, and I doubt Neil knows what a thesaurus is, and there are grammatical errors throughout. It’s the rare piece of art that is the rough draft before the editor fucks it all up. But it has plenty to say. It’s a snapshot in time when LA had a semblance of soul. I spent the entire read daydreaming of the era my generation and every one after will forever miss in California. A welcome break from feeling like a target audience.
So if you dig Neil Young’s music or ’70s bush or music, then relax and be entertained by Waging Heavy Peace. Either way you’ll have helped pay for Neil’s Broken Arrow Ranch, his collection of classic American automobiles displayed at Feelgoods, or his mentally challenged son’s 24-hour-a-day caring team. And those are all better causes than useless electronic plastic encased garbage the ad wizards feel intent on pumping down our throats thoughtlessly. Coincidentally, this was my first read on iBooks. What a revelation! —CS Louis
A few quotes to get the feel:
“I got invited to Radio Recorders to see Ray Charles, and I walk into the studio, and Ray’s playin’ all the piano parts with his left hand, reading a braille score with his right hand, singing the vocal live while a full orchestra played behind him. So I sat there and I watched. And I went, ‘This is how records are made. Put everybody in the fuckin’ room and off we go.’ In those days everybody knew they had to go in, get their dick hard at the same time and deliver. And three hours later they walked out the fuckin’ door with a record in their pocket, man.”
“Honey slides were made with grass and honey cooked together and stirred in a frying pan until a black gooey substance was left in the pan. A couple spoonful’s of that and you would be laid-back into the middle of next week. The record was slow and dreamy, kind of underwater without bubbles.”
“It was an LP recorded in audio vérité, if you will, while completely intoxicated on Jose Cuervo tequila. We would not start recording until midnight, when we were so fucked up we could hardly walk. One night Joni Mitchell came in and did “Raised on Robbery” in the most sexy and revealing version that song ever had. She still refuses to let me release it.”
“The car was there for every event tied to that record. Every night after those sessions, we rode the Black Queen home to the Sunset Marquis on Alta Loma in Hollywood, weaving down Santa Monica Boulevard at three or four in the morning, completely wrecked on tequila, and we made it, so there is a God.”
“It’s very easy for people to forget what rock and roll really is. Look man, I’m forty-seven years old, and I grew up in Wyoming, and I stole cars and drove five hundred miles to watch Little Richard, and I wanna tell you somethin’ — when I saw this guy come out in a gold suit, fuckin’ hair flyin’, and leapt up onstage and come down on his piano bangin’ and goin’ fuckin’ nuts in Salt Lake City. I went, “Hey man, I wanna be like him. This is what I want.” Even today he’s a scary dude. He’s the real thing. Rock and roll.”
“Nothing else mattered to us then. I can remember singing that song with them in the studio like it was this morning. There was no success, nothing to live up to, just love and music and life and youth. That was a happy time. That is Crazy Horse.”
4. HIS INSTAGRAM FAREWELL
I want this to be personal. Thankfully I have only amassed 104 of you and it will be.
Fuck that I deliberated this as if it were a real decision. As if it were risky and it was important and worth pondering.
This is bullshit.
I follow children because they are attractive and post frequently. I follow dudes who post pictures of my hometown to reminisce even though they are no talent ass clowns. I follow dudes from my new home who are ambivalent to my existence. I follow a couple of actual mates also but I’m confident our relationship is unaffected by their posts or mine.
Fuck that I shit at work and see who posted a photo about not being at work. Fuck that I awake serene and senseless and grab my phone like a fiend each morning. Fuck that I lay next to my naked girlfriend playing with this retarded shit and not her at night.
Call me undisciplined and you will be correct. Call me a social media pervert and I’ll remind you that so is everyone else.
This is no longer a pastime I wish to actively pursue and this is why: Fuck you Instagram, goodbye.
I did it to MySpace in 2003 and then Facebook in 2008. Still seem to be living and breathing. Panting in fact. Drinking draft beer, laughing with friends and getting God damned tubed just the same.
And my last picture? It’s my dick, with an all-black filter. —CS Louis
3. HIS GUIDE TO CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Town is best described in verse. Prose’s rigid and confined structure will always feel contrived describing the raw swirling ocean of peoples trying to co-habitate the southern tip of Africa, or the Mother City, as she is affectionately known. She has a natural energy — it makes you love all girls, women and even men. You can drink the water; you can breathe the air and run amok in a port that wont even notice you out of place.
HOW: Remember when you wanted to dig a hole through the earth to China, well you would’ve been turtle-heading in South Africa if you had ever looked at a fuckin’ map. Get here on an airplane, several airplanes. From California you connect through Europe (Amsterdam, London or Frankfurt) and hopefully fly direct to Cape Town at about eleven hours each leg plus or minus a layover joint, pint, or bier. From the east coast you can fly direct with a stopover in Senegal to refuel, to Johannesburg in 16 hours and then connect to Cape Town in two hours. You’ll want to whizz through Jo-Burg rapidly, think of a rich Arizonian who’s painfully friendly and sits in a lot of traffic daydreaming about relocating to Cape Town.
SURVIVING THE TRAVEL: A long story short, it ends up taking over thirty hours travel time and crosses ten time zones and you’ll arrive like a vampire at noon seeking a toothbrush, shower and personal space. My advice is to have a damn drink to tweak your mind further around towards a full rotation, meet a new friend at the Power and the Glory on Buitengracht Street and then make love for the remaining twelve hours to get you back on schedule, minus two days. Stay anywhere in Cape Town CBD or “town” as it is referred to, awake to Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean across from a sea of tower cranes and shipyards, skip the cable car tourist buses and have a quiet coffee at Deluxe Coffeeworks on Church Street. You will be ridiculed by the staff of ardent coffee Nazis and no matter what you order, will receive a flat-white. Next, hop into the searing cold sea at Glen Beach in Camps Bay to receive a humble dose of reality.
THE MOTHER DRAWS US ALL IN (The African Melting Pot): The ancient San tribes, the Xhosa (pronounced with a click by placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth), the Dutch pilgrims who missed Plymouth Rock and since known as the Afrikaans (the white tribe of Africa), the French seeking Terroir, the Indians and Malays that made love with the Afrikaans and today are referred to as coloured (not considered derogatory), the British Empire fucking it all up like normal, the Zulu Empire starting wars and shit, the Germans being German, the Homosexuals (Cape Town is the third point of the Pink Triangle), and the Congolese, Nigerians, Zimbabweans, and Malawians whom all used to be doctors in their own country before civil turmoil — but somebody’s gotta feed the rest of Africa.
SURFBOARDS: After your thirty minute maximum ice-bath chasing your too-high-performance-hybrid shortboard around after your comp leash snaps, and realizing the guys in the hoods and gloves look way happier than you, go visit Volker at Sport and Surf on Long Street for a decent leash, suitable surf craft and extra rubber. Two years ago Channel Islands came to South Africa, and although they are twice the price of a local shape at $600, they are, well, Merricks. Or if you’re really clever, killing time at work before departure, shoot Dave at DVG shapes an email a month (make it two he is a shaper after all) before you arrive to shape you a couple custom tuned sticks that are more accustomed to the Cape’s board-breaking waters. Plus sharks don’t eat local shapes. At $300 bucks each you are truly a deranged, self-absorbed fool if you even ponder lugging a boardbag through 3 to 5 airports with 3 to 5 potential fee-rapings along the way.
WEATHER: Cape Town lies at the convergence of the Benguela Current from Antarctica and the Agulhas Current from India creating up to a twenty-degree seawater difference on any given day across a four-mile wide strip of peninsula. The differential creates a relentless southeast wind (offshore on the Atlantic side) throughout their summer each year. Watch the Cape Town portion of the 1966 Endless Summer and be blown away. The wind is known as the Cape Doctor because it blows any pollution away and leaves Cape Town’s air cleaner than Scandinavia’s.
IN THE WATER (SUMMER): On day one you wont have a word to spare while running down the dunes into a crystalline sea of barreling beachbreak perfection. Day three will become tiresome as you retrieve your board from OUT to sea after a wave in the 45 degree water dislodges it, whacking you in the face and garnering a few reasonably priced African stitches. On day five you will be curled up in a ball unable to walk out the door for fear of the sky falling, sobbing like a baby, necking brandy, wishing the air around you would remain static for even one second. And while you’re strapping on your 4/3 and assorted neoprene goodies, keep in mind it’s summer, one hundred degrees with bikini-clad babies everywhere.
IN THE WATER (WINTER): In winter the wind switches to northwest during storms and often still in between opening up a lot more stretches of the coastline. Spend some of the thirty hours on the plane looking at a map to unlock these beauties and maybe bring a shark repellent leash. There are weekly swells swinging west to east 1000 Kilometers south in the Roaring Forties, and you did remember your 9′ 6″ right? Whatever size wave it is you’re comfortable with can be found in Cape Town during the winter. Or you can sneak into a more swell-shadowed cove for something only reasonably overhead. And you have heard of J-Bay, right?
WHEN: Plan your trip depending on what you seek grasshopper. Summer offers long days, warm dry breezes in the wine lands acting like a Huguenot, with bustling eves at Caprice in Camps Bay rubbing shoulders with Leo DiCaprio, European models and rich douches in pop-collared Polos. There is always a head high wave somewhere if you know where to look, and if not remember that it’s winter in Europe and all of their models (especially the hedonistic, pleasure seeking variety) are in Cape Town to snort lines of blow off of their producer’s dicks, and well son, that could very well be your dick with a couple well-placed white lies.
And winter is a mix of wild and wooly seas wrapped around a fireplace, drinking wine and reminiscing about your surf survival earlier that day. On the biggest days, I’d recommend leaving the boards at home, grabbing your lady from night one (remember her?) and spend the day exploring the peninsula by car.
DAY TRIP: Start at the Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay on the Indian Ocean side. During your presumable hangover, it will feel like the cafe’s patrons are crawling down your back, but realign your delicately balanced mood and order the day’s omelet, sip a cappuccino, and throw down a high quality shit before hitting the road south for the day. You’ll wrap through sad little drinking towns along the False Bay side of the peninsula and arrive at the Cape Point Reserve. The main attraction is the lighthouse at the end of the Cape of Good Hope on the southern most tip, but be sure to explore the little side roads that veer off occasionally to the left and right. Each has a treasure or African buck, ostriches, baboons, and dassie rats and a system of hiking trails set along the rugged coastline of surging bull kelp. Bring a picnic, have an afternoon beer, get your new friend naked in nature. But do remember that three of the five deadliest snakes reside here.
On the way back to the city, stop off in Hout Bay for some ribs at Pirates and good old-fashioned binge drinking. There’s a flourishing swingers scene and group sex may be on the menu for the most adventurist sailors.
BEERS: Upon returning to the city, drop off the lass like a gentleman. There’s sure to be some rugby on in the afternoon. Try Fireman’s Arms for a draught beer. The local beers are Castle (think Bud), Hansa (think Coors), Black Label (think ether) and they’re all cheap and refreshing. You’ll also find Amstel and Windhoek everywhere and although they are technically not local, most Saffas treat these lovely green-bottled lagers affectionately like domestics.
ART: If it’s a Thursday, the city’s art galleries have a collective open house with free drinks and couples walking along Long and Kloof streets around dusk. Try Salon 91 for a more accessible collection from younger local artists, most of them ladies. It’s a super un-creepy way to get them talking, buy a piece to take home, and take them out dancing for God’s sake.
CLUBS: Hop into a taxi and direct it towards Assembly where all the cool kids hang out. At first you’ll be disappointed with the electronic nature (house, deep house, trance, cranium-ringing garbage), but remember there’s a large European influence in Cape Town and they suck at making music.
GIRLS: On the way out the door, you’re not far from Mavericks and it is morally sound in a foreign country to sample the local booty. However, this local institution is filled with Sharapovas and Kournikovas and you’re just gonna have to make a judgment call regarding morality. At the time of this issue’s print, the current exchange rate yields reasonably priced trips to the “upstairs” VIP and who knows, you may return with a Russian bride by way of Cape Town.
2. THE ECONOMICS OF A HANGOVER PURCHASE
Last night I was JD Rockefeller but the Latino version. Endowing the arts, buying kalimotxos, schmoozing Argentine musicians, spinning women and hailing cabs on a winterlike eve.
Today I have $9.99. And perhaps more pertinently limited bandwidth, limited patience, fits of anxiety and tremoring hands. I tried to shred it off in two foot onshore slop but when I started snapping on 12 year olds having the time of their lives, my session was over.
The wheels of my car are not round. They whhhhrrrr and whhhzzzzzz in a cyclic tempo as I imagine they scrape the edges of their open caliper. I procured a stack of bricks from my neighbor’s yard while the bull terrier was not watching. Simply locating the jack and I had already broken a sweat. Up the front driver’s side wheel ascended and then I stacked bricks under what appeared to be a substantial enough piece of chassis to support the cars weight while I jacked up the back. It was thoughtless and unnecessary and risky and in this moment directly after – I have found satisfaction. Enough fulfillment that I’m now prepared to replenish lost fluids and am about to make a purchase on the Internet because today I have $9.99.
My most salient memory of last night was remarkably the drive home. You see normally I’m blacked out at this point on a Friday, and given that I have no evidence of coming home other than my car in the driveway, I probably was. But the memory of ((Sounder)) is still playing in my head. It’s beaten down and apathetic. It’s harmonious and the lyrics bring a perverse smile to my face as I hummed them this morning in bed. I know nothing about ((Sounder)) and neither does the Internet. Google’ing yielded nada. I do not know if they have more than the two albums on my phone. I do not believe they have ever enjoyed radio playtime. I just went on iTunes and learned they indeed have more than two albums. Five in fact. I’m shopping like I do for wine: purely on the quality of artwork on the label. And ive chosen the “Howlingest Call” purely ’cause the cover is fucking sick. I want to print it on a poster and put it on my living room wall. And this moment I am now downloading it. In a legitimate grown-up purchasing type way. Then I will test drive my car’s rotated tire performance. Perhaps the whrzzing will have subsided marginally and give my scattered demeanor some calm. Then I will go to white-bread suburbia and push a trolley towards food that makes tender heads throb less and suicidal gastronomies settle. And I will hum some ((Sounder)) strolling down the aisle perving on moms.
I bet you thought I was gonna spend $9.99 on Cluster, huh? Maybe next time I get fucked up the night before and once I have purchased ((Sounder))’s entire catalog.
When the timing is right. — CS Louis
1. J BAY IS SHARKY AS FUCK
Originally posted in What Youth Issue 12
There has been a lot to digest since Mick was bumped by at shark. Most people here speak very quickly and are clearly sure nothing has changed and I’m sure they are right. But I am scared. I am scared of the wind blowing outside when it rattles the sliding door to my bedroom and that the cracked panes will come crashing in with all the blustery weather. Or that the incessant bowing of the vinyl frames is in fact an unsavory character coming to not rob me of discreet and valuable Apple products that have a known street-value, but is on drugs that the impoverished create using garden chemicals and commit acts they have no recollection of in the morning. I’ve been fiddling my right ear lobe for 72 hours because it seems to have an elevated body temperature, and I’m convinced it’s cancer from the southern hemisphere’s ozone hole. I once had unprotected sex and have spent decades fearful of a HIV test cause what if, ya know? I park my car in an aging hospital and hold my breath as I run up the stair flights for fear of super-bug inhalation. I’m worried that I got out of bed next to my beautiful wife to write in the middle of the night and that I barely resisted when my psyche desired a cup of rum. When I poured the rum there were brownish flecks that I thought could be anthrax and then I remembered trying to burn down the forest a few weeks back dancing around the bottle like a goddamn heathen chasing away evil spirits. I pricked my finger on a lime tree branch and cursed the night as I threw it on the fire and when I poured this rum tonight it dripped onto my left pointer finger and stung deep as if had just been punctured. There was a half full glass of water and I remembered that I’m sure to develop a gallstone in my latter years from decades of coffee, spirits and dehydration. I chugged it down and upon walking back to the study an adolescent, yet still relatively large, rain spider ran across my path and I caught myself from shrieking and scaring everyone around as much as I am afraid. Every day. Of everything. Of what happens next, or if an opportunity is lost.
I was thinking the other day in the shower that it would have perhaps been good to get in more fist fights as a child.
Perhaps I would realize not everything is out to kill or deceive me. That the days keep moving and I all my worries are in fact completely insignificant whether or not one is nursing a shiner or a bruised ego. But I did not fight anyone as a child — my mother wouldn’t let me – she raised me sensitively. She reminded me that boys can wear pink if they are comfortable in their sexuality when I was ten. She would not tolerate guns or even gesturing a trigger pull with a pistol shaped hand. Racism was absolutely out of the question. And I would be much better off having developed an addiction to black tar heroin rather than puff even a single cigarette trying to look cool in a black leather jacket.
And here I am, I never smoked or did a drug, never punched a person intending to inflict maximum pain, I am more kind to animals than many humans that I fear will deceive me. Often the fears build on one another exponentially. In fact, it’s why I can’t smoke pot. It is overwhelming and everytime I have been presented with a fight or flight moment – off I flew, away from whatever perceived dangers there were.
My pussiness is well documented around those I grew up with. They gasped with disbelief when I announced I would be moving to Cape Town seven years ago. Almost purely cause of the breadth and depth of the shark population. I gasped too the first time I visited. I had a stick-on patch of shark camo that resembled a zebra that I was given as a cruel gift to perplex attacking sharks when they looked up at the surface presumably expecting a tuft of seal fur. I arrived at Port Elizabeth airport and I remember saying to myself, “What do you love?” rhetorically as a way of reminding myself that I had perhaps not yet lived and possibly loved nothing, and hence had nothing to lose. I somehow survived Jeffrey’s Bay, almost believing that I was most likely to be bludgeoned to death by a hundred-strong pod of dolphins racing down the point like in Momentum UTI. I purchased a beer at the bottle shop across the street and a single homeless man asked me for my change. I believe I galloped at pace away from him and never bought another beer on my own the rest of my stay. On the way back to Cape Town one of the guys I met in Jeffrey’s wanted to do the Bloukrans bungy jump. “Second highest in the world” it read and I sneered to myself that anything over 100 feet was really just a pissing contest. And so I drank half a bottle of Cuban rum and ate a pack or rainbow cookies at 9 a.m. and jumped off the damn bridge with my new friend. The girl I was with thought it was to impress her, she believes that to this day, but I was actively trying to do things I didn’t want to do. Like go right on my backhand, like be a shark sushi platter. I remember Ross jumped first and came up exhilarated – ready to go again. I was in near tears though. Immediately upon jumping I clinched every muscle in my body and closed my eyes and whether audibly or not, screamed “mommy” into my head. Several times until I was back in terra firma and then I passed out for the rest of the drive in a Honda Civic hatchback.
It’s been seven years here. Almost every day in the water. There are certainly spots I avoid, some cause of sharks, and some cause of snakes on the trail down to the beach, others cause of thugs in the bushes, too much surging bull kelp tugging at your leash, even one bay where European men dangle their euro-peckers perched high upon the pointiest rock along the shoreline in a distant silhouette for all to marvel.
I am completely scared of sharks, every day, cause there’s fuckin lots of them swimming under me all the time and I don’t trust their primal intentions. But I think Mick will be fine, because he’s not like me and didn’t run when faced with fear that would have stopped my heart. It’s cause he’s from Coolangatta where heavies hide in the bushes with lead pipes behind the hungry-jacks and you cant trust their intentions either and he’s probably been in lots of fights cause he had to defend Dean Morrsion growing up.
Will there be a J Bay contest next year? Maybe. Are the behavioral patterns of adolescent great whites along the South African coast being habituated to associating humans with food due to shark cage diving? Probably. Do you believe those who regularly enjoy sharky waters have thought twice about a mere investigatory bump? Unlikely. And do you really believe Mick’s quarter-inch diameter leg rope was enough to deter a predating apex predator? No.
Since the incident I often imagine the man who was driving the boat and circled mick’s mickless board while pointing at the crew on the ski for confirmation that Mick had all ten fingers and all ten toes, and I’m positive after the ordeal he thankfully placed his boat on the trailer that afternoon and said a prayer to the snake gods that nothing worse happened. Then he trailered his rig back to Cape Town more carefully than he had on the way up the coast only days before. And then he kissed his wife and children goodnight and thanked the snake gods again. But he was never surprised it happened. J Bay is sharky as fuck. —CS Louis