I was at this party in a derelict hotel. The party was Mulligan’s, a shadowy leather boy I’d only heard of in passing whispers of disquiet. Along crumbling hallways I lurched, spliffed and looking for a light, past occasional knots of revelers, half-open doors like half-open eyes squinting at tangles of flesh on mildewed beds. And everywhere the blues-sized heartbeat of reggae pulse thumped from a hundred speakers of a hundred different sizes, disembodies cones nailed to the walls, trailing multi-colored speaker wire in intestinal looping trails down to the amp and decks in the kitchens.
Down in a corner of the kitchens gnomish, middle-aged black men in fedoras, refugee bus drivers, were selling shots of Jamaica 151 proof rum in paper cups, playing dominos, light flashing like warning beacons, dread fireflies in the dense, ganja smoke-laden air. The djs were spinning hot, black vinyl, fresh over the water from Trenchtown, beats unavailable at the Virgin Megastore, the whole building quivering and shuddering. The white boys played with the black girls, the black girls played the white boys, the spliff was now but a shadow of its former self and I was floating from room to room, Rock Against Racism dreams spilling through my head in kaleidoscopic avalanche.
In the lobby Mulligan was holding court, mouth working, arms flailing, spewing Irish Italian unlikelihoods at a small knot of admirers, a gift of the gab the world rarely saw. Lucky world. He was standing in front of his latest painting, a six-foot square canvas upon which a massively endowed Minotaur capered across the obligatory black and white checked floor. A hefty line of speed later, hovered from a cracked glass coffee table and suddenly Mulligan’s blag was pouring directly into my ear, and my ear alone. His elfin features slipped and shifted with malicious glee beneath the peroxide dread tangle of his hair as he enthused about this bass guitar he’d just bought.
“Thing is,” he said, “you’re one of the best guitarists in town and I was wonderin’ if you’d teach me how to play it. The bass, that is. See, there’s this gorgeous girl I’ve decided I’m in love with and I really wanna impress her.”
And my ear and ego were hooked, lined and sunk before I even knew it.
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders