I can feel your anxiety from here.

Christmas is just over two weeks away and you’ve still got shopping to do.  You opted for the “lots of little presents” route, instead of the “one big enchilada” route, and now you find yourself a few gifts short of a stocking.  Worse, you’ve got one or more rockers on your list, and they’re such ungrateful snobs that you’re afraid to get them anything having to do with music for fear of the inevitable snarky comment ending with the word “lame.”

What’s an elf to do?

Relax- I’ve got you covered.

With the stunning WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of confidential or secret State Department cables, the website’s detractors have argued that America’s global bargaining position is immeasurably weakened, and that our diplomatic allies are imperiled by the sometimes damaging and damning revelations of behind-the-scenes decision-making.

At the same time, researchers at The Nervous Breakdown have discovered a treasure trove of information that will force a complete reassessment of the postwar literary climate—and perhaps forever change our notions of authorship. Samples:

Keef

By J.P. Smith

A&C Reviews

Musical autobiographies—apart from those by, say, Berlioz and Stravinsky, Art Pepper and Anita O’Day, which are genuinely enlightening—have always struck me as being about as helpful as interviews given by athletes after a game. Very little is said in a coherent fashion about an activity that has little to do with language. Being a rock star, however, is much more than the music: it’s the look, the attitude, the degree of untouchability one assumes. So I came to Keith Richards’s book (for which Little, Brown reportedly paid over seven million dollars) with heightened interest—this is Keith Richards, after all, not just a rock icon but the walking embodiment of a slow shrug and an extended middle finger—and, thanks to his choice of editor, with some very high hopes. James Fox is an old Etonian (i.e. nothing like Keith) who wrote White Mischief, a much-praised work of nonfiction dealing with the 1941 murder of the Earl of Erroll in the debauched British colony in Kenya known as the Happy Valley. At first it seemed an odd match (though the two men have known each other for years), but for the fact that the Rolling Stones are yet another colony of people who have been thrown into close proximity for so long that something had to give. If there’s been a murder, we haven’t heard about it yet. Oh wait: Brian Jones.

I used to be friendly with a movie star (though her career was in a slump at the time I knew her), and once, when we were talking about road rage, she said, “I always feel funny about flipping people off. I think it might be someone who can give me a job.”

For similar reasons, actors tend to be unnaturally upbeat in interviews. What did you think of the director? Oh, he’s great; he’s a genius. And the cast? They were wonderful, all of them; I was in heaven every day on the set.

But actors in private are a different story. I think such-and-such is awful, they’ll tell you; it’s bullshit that he got such great reviews. Of course, it also works the opposite way: actors love as much as they hate, though they might not want their enthusiasms broadcast, knowing how easily they can be misconstrued.

I am not Keith Richards. This undeniably true fact annoys me considerably.

What’s more, I am not in any way handsome or musically talented. This means that I am not, never have been and never will be a rock god. All I ever wanted to do is lounge around in villas in the south of France drinking wine, soaking up the sun and recording a bit of a classic rock album when I get bored of just being cool.

I imagine I’m not alone. Everyone wants to be something/somewhere different. People from London dream of New York and vice versa, people with straight hair wish it was curly and curly haired folk long only for straightness. I’m lucky; I have the worst of both worlds.

I am not cool; in trying to be cool I only become less cool. It’s 2010, and flared jeans are no longer cool. So now I’m just the quite short weirdo in flares with bad hair and the hallmark of British dentistry: a mouth that appears to have been designed by MC Escher and constructed from broken chalk and the nightmares of small children.

I am not cool, and this is why the only time I don’t sleep alone is when I fall asleep reading. It’s tragic, it really is. If only girls really liked quite short skinny weird looking guys in flares— especially ones with bad teeth and a long, wild bouquet of pubes for a hairstyle. If only there were a guy like me in the media to relate too… but TV is for cool people, and if you’re not cool then you at least have the decency to be good looking.

But I don’t begrudge the pretty people on television and the warm comfort they provide night after lonely night. Without pretty people on television masturbation is even more futile and drepressing than it is already…

I wrote a novel last year, and the second chapter I wrote was something of a cross between autobiography and prediction for the future:

”Brad Hannigan sat slumped back on the twenty five year old wingback chair in his claustrophobic grey cubicle. His mind drifted from thought to thought, never really focusing on one image long enough to process it and engage with it.

Most of the images in Brad’s mind were of topless young women he used to look at on computer screens when he was a student of English Literature at Pearford College. They were images burned onto his mind long ago, repetitively pleasuring himself to the same dirty Latina maids, first time anal virgins and nubile co-eds. Brad thought he was very clever; by only ever searching for ‘Latin’ ‘co-ed’ and ‘non-alcoholic cocktails’ anyone who happened to glance his search history would think he was a simply curious about ancient languages and healthy alternatives to mojitos.

It is said that pornography is the hardest addiction to give up due to it’s visual nature; you will eventually forget how good beer tastes, how sweet cigarettes once were, but once you’ve seen a poor German hitchhiker ‘stuffed in every hole’ because she didn’t have money for gas then you’ll see her poor, red sweaty face and hear her flesh muffled screaming forever…”

In the story Brad Hannigan is a journalist in the near future, as print journalism is dying out. His existence is pretty futile. He is totally uncool.

That’s me: uncool. And what’s worse is now I have to scrap the second paragraph because someone invented InPrivate browsing. The advert says it’s so you can buy secret gifts online, but I doubt that anyone ever uses it for that purpose and instead uses it either for hacking into partners e-mails/social network accounts or, more likely, wanking with wild abandon with no worry of the fact seeping into the hard drive forever the effluence of a wet dream seeping through the sheets and into mattress.

‘You’re funny though’ people say. Sometimes— usually quantifying this statement with ‘sometimes’ or ‘quite.’

This is true. One of the proudest moments of my life is the time my scriptwriting tutor told me he thought I had talent for comedy. Normally this would be quite pleasant, but this guy was in The Life of Brian, worked with Monty Python on other occasions and also worked with Douglas Adams. That… that was pretty cool.

And that’s all I’ve got really— the brief moments when being funny equates to coolness. It’s rare, but it happens.

But I don’t want that. I want to be in my villa abusing heroin, groupies and vintage guitars. If classic rock and television has taught me anything it’s that girls like guys with bad attitudes, awesome boots and excessively large belt buckles. Also: alcohol abuse. Yeah, alcohol is cool.

Except when I drink too much I am not cool. Except one time when we had to go to a fancy dress totally in character. I went as Keith Richards, stole two bottles of wine, farted loudly in front of everyone and fell asleep on the stairs when I got home.

That was kind of borderline— it’s both cool and uncool. On the one hand someone said I was an impressive method actor, on the other a girl in a wheelchair recoiled in horror when I opened my gruesomely-toothed mouth to speak.

Mostly though ‘rock and roll drinking’ ends with me asleep in the hallway, outside my bedroom door or on my bedroom floor; the girl in the next room thought I died once because she heard me stumble up the stairs, open the door and then, after a brief pause, a loud thud as a body hit the floor. She stopped worrying once I started to snore.

I want desperately to be cool. I want to be able to swagger around like a rock star and snort cocaine off silver platters and whatever else elegantly wasted rockers do besides making awesome music. I want girls to be impressed by my existence.

I made a film recently, for part of my university course. I left it until the very last minute. Even then I still found time to go to London and a birthday party where I ‘drank like a rock star.’ I made it with a lot of help from my friend Sam in one night. It was then edited the next day whilst watching National Treasure 2.

I had to show the film on a large screen to the rest of my class. It went down incredibly well— lots of laughs and an amazing round of applause. A lot of people came to talk to me afterwards. People were quoting from a film I’d made at five o’clock in the morning two days before.

People were impressed— girls were impressed.

And really, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? I mean Keith and me. And Jesus, look at his teeth back in the day… Keith was never trying to be cool (this is the only instance where trying already means you’re failing) he was just using all the talents at his disposal to get some satisfaction.*

I’ve been going about it all wrong the whole time. Sure, the villa in France and sunshine and shagging supermodels/actresses/both is way more fun than sitting in a dark room writing pages of shit like this in the vague hope that eventually you’ll strike comedy gold, but it amounts to the same thing in the end.

 We’re alike me and Keith, we just want some girls.**







*I know, I’m better than this.

**So, so much better than this…

A friend from Tennessee told me I should interview Audrey Braun. I had never heard of her though her name sounded vaguely familiar. A week later her book, A SMALL FORTUNE, and a stack of European tabloids (L’Espresso, Bild, Paris Match, and the Daily Mirror) showed up in a box at my door. I perused the magazines and in issue after issue, some of them dating back to 1983, were snapshots and fleeting mentions of Audrey Braun. There was Audrey Braun at a disco with Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Audrey Braun on the arm of weathered French rocker Johnny Hallyday, and then another photo later of Audrey Braun canoodling with Johnny Hallyday’s son, David. There were shots of her topless on a yacht floating in the Mediterranean with Keith Richards, Patti Hansen, and what looks to be Albert II of Monaco turning his back to the camera (the article was about Richards, the photo only named him and Hansen). There was even an article that linked Audrey Braun to Milan Kundera around the time The Unbearable Lightness of Being was being made into a movie. Our mutual friend says she was up for a part in the film but Kundera, who allegedly had “business” dealings with her father, thought she was “too young, too blond, and far too temperamental.” Additionally, our mutual friend claims that Daniel Day-Lewis (who starred in the movie) was overheard saying he wouldn’t work with Braun because her feet were grotesquely small.

After reading the tabloids, I opened the book. And indeed, this woman who doesn’t appear to have ever had a career (other than being the charming daughter of wealthy and very secretive Americans) is quite a talented writer. A SMALL FORTUNE is a sexy, mysterious romp with literary overtones. Erica Jong meets Harlan Coben on a sticky summer night.

I immediately sent Audrey Braun an email requesting that we do an interview over the phone. She sent me her number, but it turns out she rarely answers her phone. When I finally did get through to her (her almost-babyish voice reminds me of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks), she said, “Can’t talk now, I’m in Target buying No. 7 Breast Cream.” And then she hung up. Seriously. The last person who hung up on me was Rita Gore in ninth grade who believed a false rumor that I had made out with her boyfriend, Denny Garcia, behind the dunes at Devereaux beach. I sent Audrey Braun an email with a single word: Target? She wrote back, “It’s the only place that carries No. 7. Breast cream. Buy some. Every woman should use it.” After dozens more attempts to get Audrey Braun on the phone, I gave up and sent her an email with 19 questions about her book, her life, her slightly famous parents, and her romances. Most of the questions came back blank, with no response (she refused to discuss any of the celebrities noted above). Next to the question of how old she was, Audrey Braun wrote, “N.A.” Not applicable?

I feel I should disclose that after my one sentence conversation with Audrey Braun I went to Target and bought some No. 7 Breast Cream. I’m now walking around with silky, creamy Audrey Braun breasts. Unfortunately, I still can’t figure out how to live the Audrey Braun life.

SIX (out of 19) QUESTIONS FOR AUDREY BRAUN

Q. Your first novel, A SMALL FORTUNE, is scintillating, thrilling, and full of intrigue. Oh, it’s sexy, too! Everything I’ve read about your life is equally thrilling. Is it true that your next book will be a memoir?

A. Have you read David Shield’s new book Reality Hunger? Don’t ask me to explain it. When I try I go mute. My head fills with rusty cogs when it comes to understanding the bigger question of “what is the REAL truth” and “how accurate is memory REALLY?” Then there’s emotional truth, which is just a smart lie that gets to the bigger truth inside ourselves. Right? I think that’s right. But to answer your question, some people think THIS book is a memoir. Ever since I read Reality Hunger I’m no longer comfortable questioning someone else’s reality. Does that answer your question?

Q. Someone I know who was at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference with you told me that for years you were the mistress of a married European royal. I tried to check this out with someone else who knows you and he claimed you were a mistress to a royal but not a European royal. Can you clarify this? Are you still involved with him?

A. Wait. Still involved with whom? The ‘someone else’ who claims to know me? Ha! Not after this I won’t be. You know, Jessica, it’s hard to talk about the Royal Days. I don’t blame you for asking. I just can’t go there without the powers that be going off like a Russian firing squad. However, I will say this: Borders move. One day you’re part of Europe sipping an espresso in the sun, the next day you’re living in the Eastern bloc, drinking water from a rubber hose.

Q. An article in the Daily Mirror claims you didn’t find out that your father was in the CIA until after his death. How did this affect the way you viewed your childhood, the years in European boarding schools, etc.?

A. All men are enigmas. The minute you think you’ve got one figured out is right about the time you need to turn around and open up your math book and start studying the facts (a little something I picked up during my Lichtenstein school days). That about sums it up. Pardon the pun. Sorry. I can’t really discuss my father. Talk about a Russian firing squad! No. I’m kidding. Don’t print that. You’re deleting this, right?

Q. Okay, more rumors (there are so many of them!): Is it true that your grandmother was a Ziegfeld girl and your mother was a Rockette?

A. Wow. You’ve really done your homework. Let’s dance. David Bowie wrote that. Put on your red shoes and dance with me. Who do you think he was talking about? Mmm hmn. Yes.

Q. Let’s not ignore your fabulous book! Where did you find these characters? Is Celia based on someone you know?

A. Funny how things come full circle. She knows who she is and if at any time she wants to come forward and talk about her story, not to mention “Benicio’s”story it’s fine with me. I wish her well, I really do, and I don’t say this out of any kind of jealousy or grudge or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I just wish she’d stop forwarding all those youtube videos. How many times does someone need to see a cat flush a toilet? I don’t care if it’s a Persian one either.

Q. Anything you want to clear up about your international reputation—are you as uninhibited (I read about the naked fountain swimming in Cannes) as people say?

A. Two things: I have beautiful breasts.