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Jul. 29 2010 - 5:35 pm | 128 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Out of focus, fading to black?

In November 2008, this so-called Jet-Set Hobo was in Buenos Aires when he filed his first story for True/Slant. It was called ‘From Argentina with Love’, and was in some way concerned with what was the new James Bond movie, ‘A Portion of Condolence’.  If there was any actual film reviewing going on, I think it would have betrayed some disappointment. But greater disappointments were to come.

There could still be ‘A Scintilla of Comfort’. But you’ll have to read/scroll until the end of the piece for that.

For one thing, troubles at MGM indicate that after ‘A Quantum of Solace’ the James Bond series of movies has been suspended …indefinitely! As assiduous followers of this blog can tell you, one of my great, unfulfilled ambitions was to play a villain in a James Bond movie. Any villain. Naturally I would have preferred to be the doomed evil mastermind, but anyone of his windswept and interesting henchman would have sufficed.

This has been true ever since I used to go to the cinema as a toddler back in the 1960s with my rather glamorous mother, who I somehow sensed – even back then – wouldn’t have minded a certain former Edinburgh milkman slipping his JB monogrammed velvet slippers under her bed one fateful night.

It must have been jealousy on my part, but I wanted to turn the tables on Bond, or more literally, feed him to a shark tank, or slice him in two with a laser beam, or pull the levers on him in a remote controlled helicopter on a collision course with a mashing machine – anything to get rid of that infernal Queen & Country prat.

With the combined ages of Messers Connery and Moore now at 163, more recently I’d set my heart on little Daniel Craig. But now even that seems to be in doubt.

Ah, but back in those far-off, heady days of 2008, and at the tender age of just 42, I had other, equally romantic ideas about blogging, and what it might do for what I sometimes laughingly refer to as my career. That is, when I’m absolutely determined to burst the seams of trousers.  These ideas were about the “vision of a contributor and community driven news and opinion websites that would forever change the face of journalism”. And I misquote. Because actually, these weren’t so much ideas as warm, mushy feelings engendered by reading online interviews with our CEO, COO, CTO and all the other chiefs. The guys in the backroom who stop the frurckendeiser from being mixmitized, as I like to put it. I like to put it that way because I can’t be arsed getting to grips with the jargonology. Anyhoo, it all sounded so gee whiz this is straight out of the lab, let’s see what it does, it might change everything.

Like Kim Jong Il, who may not understand precisely how all this nuclear technology works, but sure-as-hell knows he’d like to use it, well, that for me was the blogosphere. I wasn’t quite sure how blogging for True/Slant was going to finally catapult my diabolical alter ego ‘The Jet-Set Hobo’ to literary fame, but I felt it had some part to play.

So, for nearly two years, in fits and starts but fairly regular great bursts of activity, I’ve thrown a lot of stuff at the wall here to see if it would stick. Travel stories straight and twisted, from the high and low end of the social scale; from Florentine restaurant reviews and Budapest’s little Hollywood all the way to gangsters in Belgrade and an assassination in Beirut.

I have regularly cast a rueful eye over the English Channel to comment on the degrading spectacle that British public life seems to have become in the last 15 or 20 years. I’m not a Republican, out to eviscerate the Royal Family, neither am I a toadying colonial.

From time to time, I’ve held forth on what might be called modern manners; such as what to wear when you’re abroad or how to conduct a foreign affair.  Perhaps I should have done a bit more of this sort of material, after all, no offence intended, but take a look around at some of the baseball cap and sweatpants wearing, Cheeto eating contributors and I assume consumers of this site who could certainly use an overhaul, please -nobody-say-makeover.

There’s been my Fiction, which I started to publish late in the game here, just after we all knew the end was nigh. Some of which it must be owed, such as Krakow Nights, is fairly dark matter. They’re all stories that have been told to me, I swear! Your correspondent has always lived a life of blameless domesticity which is why he is also able to turn out work such as his as-if-Jean Cocteau-wrote-a-children’s-book over-a-couple-of-afternoons minor masterpiece, The Wild Cats of Piran.

You see, now we really are getting to the crux of the matter. The Jet-Set Hobo has both literally and figuratively been all over the map since this blog began. Not enough focus, and I suppose if I do return in some shape or form it will be with a tighter focus. But can you blame me, entirely? Since I began this blog in November 08 I’ve lived in and filed reports from Buenos Aires, Auckland, Beirut, London and Budapest.

But wait, there’s more.

From time to time, I’ve even posted some of my weird little movies online, which must really throw readers who come to True/Slant looking for either, broadly speaking, policy wonks discussing health care reform or otherwise smart people discussing articles with headlines like “Can sex with Dakota Fanning make Bela Lugosi hot again?” (Okay, I’m mixing it up a little there, but a headline like that would be more fun.)

Which brings us neatly to my final ‘beat’. When I’ve had enough of it, I’ve also vented against the mind-dumbing fatuity of celebrity culture. Yet some of my most popular posts have been about celebrities, so I can’t help but think I have failed in some way. I don’t just mean as a writer, but as a person. Because I can’t help watching and commenting on the tawdry parade of low life distraction that it is. For the record, I’m Team Oksana, all the way. So what if she is manipulative and a gold digger, (which I suppose she must be), you can see a train when it’s coming, can’t you? Besides, I never cared much for Mel Gibson and that was cemented for me by his revisionist historical movies. For example, painting the Brits of the War of Revolution as if they were the Gestapo. Plus I used to cringe whenever you’d see his co-stars talking with forced smiles about what a pranky prankster the Gibster was on set. But I digress as I am so wont to do. I’ve said that before too.

Perhaps it’s time for the Rogue Bond movie. Remember the Australian Bond, George Lazenby? Well, imagine him enjoying his sunset years at Strangways health farm, puttering about in a wheelchair, trying to get it on with the nurses. Along I come at the wheel of lawn tractor and crash straight into bank of rhododendrons. Later while recuperating, my character strikes up an unlikely friendship with the octogenarian secret agent, finally getting close enough to strangle him with a stethoscope, or his tie-your-0wn bow-tie. That’d truly be a happy end, for this fantasist at least. But I jest, I’m just jealous.

So anyway, a happy ending for my real future in the virtual sphere? I don’t know. I’ve migrated most of the stuff filed here over to another site, and I’ll be sure to post there when I have the energy and stamina for it. Like about once every five years.

I’m thinking of cancelling my facebook account too incidentally. All these people, putting all their junk out in public, affairs going toxic, surrendering all their personal data to a 26 year old fratboy. Hmm. When did we ever think that was a good idea? Privacy. It’s the new luxury. Besides, it’s occured to me many times how much like high school Facebook is, and I never particularly cared for that either.

So, we’re going to wrap this up, because it’s already 1200 words or so, and I think a good blog post is seldom no more than a thousand, just like eight hours is as long as you ever really can enjoy sitting in a plane, no matter how good the service. This isn’t quite goodbye however. It’s my understanding some of the True/Slant team are going to be asked to stay on in some new, transmogrified version of this site, and I’d quite like to be one of them …so you never know. Hmmm.

Besides, it’s not midnight EST on July 31st just yet, so we’ve time for a few more laughs and some goodbyes.

Stay tuned.


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    About Me

    I have never worked as a secret agent, but I did play one on TV: KGB spy Sergei Kukushkin in mini series The Company. More recently I played a debauched aristocrat in a tasty short film called Last Night in Buenos Aires. I was also the voice of the monster Buffalord in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, believe it or not. In 'real life' I am a Travel Writer, Scriptwriter, After-Dinner Speaker, Entrepreneur and man-about-many-towns who has written and produced television for Fox Networks UK, the UK Sci-Fi Channel and New Zealand animation facility The Funny Farm. I have also edited or contributed to numerous guidebooks, to cities like Buenos Aires, Florence and London - as well as dear old Budapest of course. Between December and February I was Guest Editor at Time Out Beirut. I have also been fortunate enough to write about travel (and whatever else moves me) for True/Slant as 'The Jet-Set Hobo.' Well, it seemed a fun way to sum up what might laughingly be referred to as my lifestyle, and the label has stuck. There are worse appellations, don't you think?

    See my profile »
    Followers: 62
    Contributor Since: November 2008
    Location:The transit lounge

    What I'm Up To

    The Wildcats of Piran

    pirancatIt may seem an odd occupation for a globe-trotting, nightlife loving bachelor, but over the last few months, I’ve been writing a children’s book called The wild cats of Piran. It’s about a colony of feral cats who live in a small medieval town on the Adriatic sea. The book is intended to appeal to very bright 9 year olds and up. The sort of thing a bookish, cat loving adult could enjoy whipping through in a long afternoon sitting in a snug armchair by an open fire. A great believer in letting the work speak for itself, if you’re at all interested, I suggest you contact the author directly, here and I’ll send you the first few chapters as an attachment. Thank you for listening.