In 2002 a gentleman by the name of Ryan Todd offered me the opportunity to write a series of columns for an online magazine called Pastiche. The magazine has since vanished, so I resurrect the best of those columns here.
Column Number 2: Freedom
18 June 2002
In 1992 I learned what freedom was. Cornered in a Florentine ghetto by a gang of neo-Nazis, I was forced at knife-point to fight a bitch Presa Canarioto the death. She was named Giselle, and she was armed with her God-given teeth and claws. I, on the other hand, who had been stripped naked and kicked repeatedly with steel toe boots for half an hour before the match, was armed with only a fork. Most men would not have survived the beating, much less the confrontation with the animal that followed, but of course you know who won. And as I strolled dazed and victorious into the sunshine, the crimson blood of a dozen teen-age skinheads glinting on my nude form, astonished tourists began snapping photographs of me. "What? What?" I asked, blinded by their flashes. A day later all was explained when I saw the headline in a local tabloid. The English translation: "Michelangelo's David Comes to Life!" And there I was, in the accompanying photograph, holding much the same pose as the one assumed by the subject of that immortal sculpture. I have to laugh, for certainly the size of my, ahem, assets should have alerted them to the fact that I had not really Pygmalionly stepped off a podium in the Galleria Dell' Accademia.
But I don't wish to be remembered as the columnist who tried to get away with the word "Pygmalionly." I wish to be remembered as one who lived, who laughed, who inspired legions of adoring 13 year-olds to wear T-shirts with his likeness emblazoned on the fronts.
I am already such a legend amongst Eurodance music fans. My likeness stares down from the walls of four million Slovakian girls' bedrooms. German fathers tell their boys, "If you grow up to be as successful as Mr. Lava I will be proud to call you My Son!" French mothers say to difficult children, "Eat your asparagus; it will make you grow up to be big and strong like the greatest Eurodance DJ on the planet: Mr. Lava!"
But in America my claim to fame is being Elton John's neighbor. Everywhere I go in this red white and fucking blue land people want to know what it's like living in a penthouse suite above the guy. This curiosity has led to some frustrating situations. Like the time Rolling Stone said they wanted to do an article about the rise of Eurodance in the states and wished to profile me in a sidebar. It was a trick; the Eurodance article never came, but a spread on Elton John did, garnished with my words: "Elton's nice and a bit of a square." The publication, of course, was then circulated to millions of college fraternity boys. "I used to think that Mr. Lava was cool," said one William & Mary Sigma Chi, "but after the Elton diss, I think he SUCKS HARD!"
Well, in order to sate your curiosity about my relationship with Mr. John, I offer you this story, which, oddly enough, also has something to do with freedom. Gather 'round. Yes, yes, you too! Be not afraid, for Uncle Lava is going to share with you a story about the Elton! Is everybody comfortable? OK! Here we go!
About three years ago, while I was doing massive amounts of cocaine, I picked up from my coffee table a beautiful AK-47 that had been presented to me as a gift by a member of the firing squad that had executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. At some point I got this crazy idea to just start shooting the thing, so I ran about the penthouse riddling the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. Oh reader! As Veronique had had her Veronika, I knew then that my astrotwin was a student protestor in Bucharest! "THE REVOLUTION!" I cried breathlessly, with flashing eyes and floating hair.
Well, several bullets went through the floor and shredded a Gregory Crewdson print hanging on Elton's wall downstairs. Or so Elton says. And so ballistics tests supposedly confirmed. And so a jury of idiots believed.
Elton probably called security first, but security won't fuck with me. So up came Elton himself in his bathrobe and slippers. He knocked purposefully on my door. I peered catiously through the peep hole and noted a displeased look on the man's face. He knocked again and I stood still hoping he'd go away. But he kept on knocking.
"Mr. Lava! Mr. Lava!" he said.
"Hello?" I shouted through the door.
"It's Elton! Your downstairs neighbor! Can I have a word with you?"
"LIBERTY!" I shouted.
"Open the door, Mr. Lava. Open the door before I kick it down!"
"We are all brothers in freedom, Mr. John! But I warn you: I am armed!" I readjusted my grip on the assault rifle with tense, sweaty hands.
"Now, Mr. Lava, I know you're not really going to"
My whole body shook to the kicks of the AK-47 as 400 rounds a minute chewed through the door. The shooting seemed to go on forever"Five minutes!" Elton exclaimed some months later in court. The penthouse was strobed, the door Swiss-cheesed, and it was beautiful man, just beautiful.
When I had run out of bullets, a silent period followed during which I took in the smell of the smoke, the hot metal, and the charred wood. It was the smell of democracy.
"Right," Elton said tiredly through the remains of my door. "Well. I think we can work this out. Just open the door and let's talk. Man to man."
I decided to chance it. After all, if any of the bullets had hit him he was probably too weak to fight. I turned the door knob very slowly. The door creaked open.
"RAUGGHHHH!!!" Elton screamed, lunging wildly.
"BRACK!" I replied, falling backwards.
And so we went at it, tearing hair, throwing punches, wrestling the gun out of one another's hands and pointing the barrel at the other's head, occasionally getting confused and pointing the barrel at our own heads. Even the bitch in Florence was not as fierce as this Extremely Angry Elton John.
In the end it proved to be a pretty even match, for at some point we just got pooped. We lay supinely on the floor amidst the remains of my Fräbel glassware collection.
"You know, I used to live in this penthouse," Elton said distantly, staring up at the ceiling that was once his but is now mine all mine.
"FREEDOM!" I cried, pumping a fist into the air.
"You owe me one Crewdson," he said, holding up an index finger as he got back onto his feet again. "I'll let you know how much tomorrow."
"LIBERATION!" I shouted.
"Fuck it," he said tiredly, shuffling slowly into the hallway. "Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it."
You'd think after sharing such an adventure that Elton and I would be best buds, but apparently the Loin King is too good for the values our country espouses. So we don't talk much anymore. If we find ourselves on the same elevator we tend to stand in opposite corners and stare somberly at our own reflections. But you knowand I told him this once, I really didI love that "Ziggy Stardust" song. If he could get back to writing tunes like those again he'd be back in the penthouse.
When he is not writing for Pastiche, or spinning Italo house in Bratislava, Mr. Lava tends to his Eurodance Web site at www.kingpigeon.com.
Pastiche Column 2: Freedom (18 June 2002)
Pastiche Column 4: World Cup Final (02 July 2002)
Pastiche Column 5: Giorgia (09 July 2002)
Pastiche Column 6: A Date With Mr. Lava (16 July 2002)
Pastiche Column 7: Human Origins (13 August 2002)
Pastiche Column 8: Le Funk (27 August 2002)