(born 19th November 1937)
Murdered in Eton Avenue, Hampstead, London March 14, 2005
Like a sudden CLIMAX
To a medieval JOUST
The wrecking AXE
ON THE SCREAMING HOWLING
Poor messed up BRIAN
Utterly off his HIGH HORSE
Huddled on his quaking knees in EARLY MORNING Eton Avenue
Unable to ward off with DUSTBIN LID SHIELD
The HAILING DOWN AXE BLOWS
Pulping his sixty-seven year old
Sun tanned balding head
By Brian's WELL DRESSED old FRIEND
As he hits
HIS HOWLING DYING MEAT TARGET...
"TWENTY YEARS YOU HAD THIS COMING MESS-IT!"
Adding, for the staggered passers by, "STAY AWAY,
it's a PRIVATE MATTER."
NO INTERVENTION CAME.
Once Brian's head was almost free to ROLL
Joseph calmly waited for the LAW
HOLDING HIS BLOODY AXE BESIDE THE CORPSE
He looked a man RELIEVED HIS TASK WAS DONE.
After they'd led the SATISFIED VICTOR to his CELL
Brian is TAPED OFF INSIDE A SQUARE
UTTERLY KNOCKED OUT INSIDE THEIR RING
LYING DEAD IN ETON AVENUE
Like he'd become ANOTHER REFERENCE POINT
In the history of `REVENGE ART'.
Exactly one hundred years after the BIRTH of `Les Mademoiselles D'Avignon',
another CUBIST CHARACTER hits the DUST. A cubist character? IN EVERY SENSE.
Despite the fact that Brian's body took its last breath of air whilst being
decapitated by an old acquaintance, many of his multi-faceted personalities
will STILL CARRY ON thriving inside the hearts and minds of his old fellow
travellers...and who knows, maybe there'll be some NEW ONES.
The thing about Brian is he's so multi-layered...like a Picasso or Braque
cubist COLLAGE...there is NO POINT in trying to be so called `objective'.
Even to one person, Brian could be MANY UNSUSPECTED DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.
Bearing this in mind, I will not be surprised to hear that I've upset some
of Brian's friends by this account. My main aim is to be true to the `Brian'
Brian knows I jived with.
On one level, Brian was like a be-bop saxophonist who'd HOCKED HIS
HORN...and then...lost the ticket. A BEAT POET who got STAGE FRIGHT and LOST THE PLOT. This seemed to have happened to him when his was about twenty-one.
That was the year before I met him in 1959 outside my BEATNIK caff,`The
House of Sam Widges' in Soho.
He seemed perplexed by his inability to actualise his aspirations, and
was...as an alternative...living off women as a sort of existential form of
art. Of course this way of going about things didn't meet the approval of
all his `inner characters', so he frequently seemed to be immersed in an
atmosphere of humorous NIHILISM...like he was living inside a FIENDISH
CARTOON. His mind a steady sweep of bric-a brac left over from many
artistic epochs, and ideas from obscure foreign films mixed with images
of kinky sex and ordinary daily life.
Standing outside Sams on that summer evening, Brian looked every bit the
gigolo that he was at that time. Extremely slim and sun-tanned, Brian was
dressed in a new BLACK corduroy suit and Spanish beach shoes. He could have
been ACTING in a Fellini film.
There was a blonde tart hanging on to his arm who he seemed to IGNORE like
she was not supposed to be in HIS script. In front of her, Brian went on about how
he was being kept by a voluptuous French countess who he lived with in
He said he was OBSESSED by Tapies, the Spanish abstract painter and was
trying to paint in the same vein. He invited me to stay with him and his countess
Zee...and then added I might find his `work' not up to much. He sort of
admitted that he was living off his looks...and that he believed his
physical presentation and ATTITUDE was a work of art! Brian found it very
AMUSING that a lot of very BEAUTIFUL WOMEN found his calculated COLDNESS
It was very difficult to ever know if Brian was sincere or not...on any
subject. He was like one of those ACTORS in search of an author. It was like
he was always playing two tunes in his head at the same time. Switching from
one to the other. He could be very kind and helpful but suddenly switch and
be WILDLY VIOLENT!!! At the time I visited him in Paris in 1960 he told me
Zee enjoyed being BEATEN UP!!!
He was very taken with the Beat Poets and spent some time with Ginsberg in
Athens. In Paris Brian hung out around the Beat Hotel and got to know Brian
Gyson, Bill Burroughs and Gregory Corso. Their restless energy turned Brian
on. Brian was a prowler and like them he was never SETTLED. Or CENTRED.
It was like he felt DRIVEN to ACT out one part after the other. Courting petty crime.
Weaving through the Paris drug scene. Getting BUST with a massive amount of MANDIES and
getting locked up for a lot longer than he thought he deserved.
Getting a few paintings exhibited.
Then he became OBSESSED by photography. It was his passport to a justifiable
EMOTIONAL COLDNESS. He liked the way LIFE could be FROZEN inside an IMAGE.
Not surprisingly this led him to become a speed freak. So EXTREME he almost
copped it that way. He found it very funny...when he was coming round from a
close O.D. to be asked the name of the Prime minister. He had no idea. He
told me that the first thing he thought when he came round was...`why isn't
Marsha-(his wife)-in the same near death state as me?' He believed that HIS
WOMAN should die for HIM! He told me he was SO ANGRY that she was O.K.
He wondered why I didn't find this idea FUNNY? His humour moved through weird
dimensions...like it suddenly exhibited CLAWS!!! For instance he loved to tell the story
of how he tried to murder his parents when he was about seven years old.
Unseen by them, he slipped a bar of soap into the tea-pot brewing on the kitchen table.
Brain then calmly sat on the floor and waited to see his mother and father....at last....
Drop DEAD! You can imagine the beating he got after they'd spat out the foul tasting tea
and discovered the bar of soap.
We went through some very heavy SCRAPES together in Paris and in Notting
Hill gate. But even in the most opressive situations....Brian could somehow discern a humerous perspective....and suddenly we would be cracking up with wild laughter.
Then twenty-five years ago Brian became an OBSESSIVE DIARIST. After I came
back from India in 1984 I took Brian to hear Krishnamurti and then when he
came to stay with me in the Highlands of Scotland I laid on him a biography
of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Ramana seemed to turn the key for him. He set his
mind on going to Arunchala. I don't know what Brian was writing every day
but it seemed that he felt COMPELLED to record everything that was happening
around him. I never saw a word of what he wrote.
I don't think Brian ever looked after a woman. Women were there to look
after Brian. And in India Brian hit the jackpot. He moved into a brothel fifty miles
south of Madras. The whores, all TRIBAL WOMEN, loved him he said. He showed me photos of some of these very dark skinned creatures posing naked with
Brian. Their non-possessiveness gave Brian the emotional space he'd always
yearned for but had never been given. What Brian had always craved for was
CONSTANT ADULATION and from all accounts, it seems the brothel staff laid it
on him with a shovel. He didn't care WHY they admired him so much. It was
NECTAR for him. He fell in love with MOTHER INDIA. And it softened Brian
very noticeably. He told me not long ago that he felt he was sorting out his
KARMA...by the way he was living in India. A few days before he died he told
me that he planned to DIE IN INDIA.
Joseph had other IDEAS.
neil oram 23 March 2005