ZDMT #29 - Ye Olde Cock Tavern

Outside Ye Olde Cock Tavern on Fleet Street in London was a big poster of me in a kind of Muammar Gaddafi pose that somebody was hitting with an empty bottle. I asked what he was doing and he said it had nothing to do with me; he was just trying to break the bottle, which was made of abnormally thick glass.

The aesthetic of this pub combines cool futurism with bourgeois Victorianism. It’s as close to experiencing a Steampunk diegesis as I’ll ever get. In fact, merely sitting at the bar and looking around does more for me than reading a steampunk novel, most of which promise so much and deliver so little and are beleaguered by excessive moodiness and artiste-like behavior on the part of characters and more importantly the authors that breathe bad breath into them. I assure you, there is no drama, no flâneury in Ye Olde Cock Tavern. There is only quiet and compelling spectacle.

Chapter 20 of Codename Prague, “In Outer Space, a Ceramic Mannequin without Arms & a Cracked Foot,” is a kind of prelude to the subsequent chapter, Passagenwerk, a play on Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. It reads:

“tumbled into a Disnified black hole. And Dr Hans Reinhart said, ‘Something caused all this. But what caused . . . the cause?’”

I had not read half of the chapter when I received a call from Dayton, Ohio. It was Andersen Prunty. Yes, it was. I had not spoken to him for awhile and decided to surrogate my reading with our conversation, putting Codename Prague aside, enabling the speaker function on my iphone and holding it up to the mic. Our conversation began with the usual exchange:

“Andy!”

“Fuck you.”

“Where are you?”

“Fuck you.”

“I was just thinking about you. I was going to call you. I swear.”

“Fuck you.”

From there we moved on to other topics. As always, our conversation culminated in a rant against the fetid state of the publishing industry and the suicidal ennui that results from reading virtually every book ever written. Before I knew it, the wide-eyed master of ceremonies was making a heated phone closing motion with his hand, pressing the fingers into the palm with his chin. It was time for me to go. I said goodbye, and went.