T’other night I took t upon me self to watch Jodorowsky’s Dune. I was at a bit of a loose end creatively, you know – procrastinating and lazing around on the couch watching Game of Thrones and all that jazz, when I should have been churning out the words at a rate of cliched knots and thinking about weighty matters of style and prose. Well, old Jodorowsky never fails to stimulate, shock, amaze and stir it up a bit. I’ve long been a fan of his cosmic world view, we could go back to that night when I first saw Santa Sangre.
It was in Dublin, a cold and damp city at the best of times but especially so in the depths of winter. I was working as an overworked and underpaid pasta chef in Temple Bar, had a motley bunch of friends and would have been in my early twenties full of life and doubts and drugs and alcohol. One such crew member was the singularly outrageous Dave ‘The Rave’ Hernandez. A curious blend of Irish-Latino blood with something else thrown into the mix that gave him an edge, an edge that would scare the living daylights out of most people but not I. The story was that his father was sold to the local circus in Columbia. What he did there I know not what but eventually escaped and fled to the States.
Dave lived in a typically damp and dark basement on Synge Street, with a dude called Naylor, if memory serves. Basements in Dublin are generally inhabited by dole recipients, students, old people and bronchitis sufferers. Now you could probably add in refugees of African and east European origin but that would be mere speculation on my part as I’ve not been there for a while. It was your average miserable Irish night, I’d finished work for the night and was eager for something to take my mind off the 245 plates of pasta I’d served up in the previous 6 hours. Chances are Dave had stuck his head in the kitchen window and roared obscenities at all and sundry, in this he excelled, before inviting me over to his gaff to partake of a few beers and whatever else was hiding under the carpet.
So off we went in the dank night with beers and wine in stow and nothing much else. You never knew who you were going to meet in the basement and this time was no exception; there was Tommy with the milk bottle glasses and friendly but dangerous face constantly looking over his shoulder for the cops, a spell in Mountjoy prison for armed robbery had given him an unhealthy paranoia; Carl was squeezed into a corner mumbling to himself looking every bit like a drugstore junkie, there was steam coming off his brown curly hair, don’t ask me why but there was; Naylor was sitting on throne number one looking cool and serious as usual with his denim waistcoat, check shirt and long dark hair falling down over his bare skull face. The air was thick with the pungent and acrid smell of hash and tobacco, a pot of tea was stewing on the two ring makeshift burner, beer cans, miniature bottles of spirits and ashtrays occupied any flat surface that was available for occupation.
“Hey cunts, I picked up this great video today from Abdul down the way. Trust me it’s gonna blow your minds if there’s anything left to blow, wink wink,” said Dave lewdly as he batted an eyelid. Nobody objected, everybody was swimming in their own sweet ocean of intoxication and hardly able to put up an objection or voice any form of intellectual interaction on the matter apart from the usual ‘Oh dear, what are we in for now?’
I was lying on the floor with a cushion for comfort and a nasty arctic draught shooting down my left side just to keep me honest. A hot cup of tea and a joint did little to warm me up as we were now into the dreaded month of February, the coldest and wettest month of the year. Dave assumed his position on throne number two(there were only two decent chairs in the cramped basement) and told Tommy to press play on the VCR. What followed was an orgy of the senses in glorious depravity and way the fuck out there craziness. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s world was as crazy as Dave’s, was stunning and uplifting, disturbing and just plain bat shit crazy. That night in the cold basement on Synge street a quare bunch of odd fellows basked in the vibrant colour of a Mexican circus complete with a painted lady, a dying elephant and a cast of mutants, freaks and odd-jobs. Everybody felt at home and for the next two hours or so we forgot all about the harsh world outside with its realities of life on the dole and eternal dampness.
From then on I was hooked into the cult like world of Jodorowsky, although he would never use a word like that. He would say that if that is what you think well then why don’t you turn over another tarot card and let’s see. I’ve since read his graphic novels, his books on tarot and the occult, seen all his films and taken a great deal of inspiration from his life and art. There was no way that I was going to miss out on a documentary on how he didn’t make Dune but came oh so close only to be undone by the Hollywood machine of 90 minute features with clear and easy to follow narrative. He was just too God damn way out there for Burbank. If you like Dali, H.R.Giger, Orson Welles, Dan O’Bannon, Chris Foss and the spiritual arts in general go check out this film.
This man is a legend at a sprightly 84 years old. He still has a mouth full of teeth and a head full of ideas. I sincerely hope that he can muster up the resolve to commit something beautiful to the silver screen again, and again and again. Here’s a brief review I wrote about his last film ‘The dance of Reality’.
Now where did I put that ‘to do’ list?