We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:
Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.
It has been an embarrassing eternity since we were here. So many best laid plans laid waste over the last four months as the acute need to float a revitalized web presence took precedence over matters more engaging. We’d confidently predicted a broadside from Oxford, for instance, beneath who’s dreaming spires we whiled away an early quarter of February; a worthy meditation on New College choirboys, the treble voice and tent-assembly beneath a starchy surplice. Salty ruminations on wife-swapping in small Shropshire towns, on lard as a leitmotif in Norfolk pig porn and a whole novella devoted to the Chinese man who perished after his friends stuck a hungry marsh eel up his bottom as a drunken prank. But every time we pulled the articulated monitor arm over the barcalounger and hooked up the catheter to the paddling-pool, the mean voice of conscience inserted itself between us and our pleasure, cajoling, imploring us to ‘please get rid of that fucking Italian-Teutonic brown piece of shit you think is so clever and entertaining (but is actually nothing short of incomprehensible, unnavigable and wholly irritating) and replace it with something that shows pictures and tells us how the fuck we can find you. You’re an agent, you asshole. You’re not fucking Oscar Wilde, no matter how much you flounce about in a dressing gown, twisting a camelia. You’re flogging pictures to poisoners. Wake up. You think some bladder of drivel about vestal vaginas in middle-eastern churches is going to pay your photographers’ mortgages? Or interviewing a complete idiot with a Jacobean name who appears to be little more than a flaccid pornographer, specializing in sparrowy women, poorly groomed, skinny as whippets? Nobody has read a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins in the best part of a century, dude, your portentous analogies to the photographer/agent relationship are falling on deaf ears. And who gives a dog’s cock whether or not you’re enjoying yourself? In case you haven’t noticed, your website is the colour of faeces. You left boarding school nearly thirty years ago, isn’t it about time you made an effort to elevate the discourse beyond naughty tittering in the dorm after lights-out? If rather than squandering midnight hours recomposing ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ into an unfathomable reverie on erectile dysfunction, you’d instead left the Beefeater on the nightstand, signed on to Agency Access and sent clear and informative emails about your photographers’ work to every creative in Christendom … maybe you would have landed that Third Wellfleet Bank of Priapus library of images from The Buttock Alliance in Des Moines. Or are you still operating under the misguided assumption that paid work is the product of fostering a chimera of wit and intelligence, rather than dogged legwork, cold-calling, portfolio breakfasts and attendance at LeBook Connections in every city between here and Kathmandu? You may scoff at a trayful of Dunkin’ Donuts in a windowless conference-room; you may sneer at a dousing of Eau Savage and some bewitching techniques of fanning promotional cards on Formica; but then I guess you’ll be the smugly penniless one working from a semen-encrusted storage space in Canarsie while the big boys with the freshly enameled bridgework, the portraits of themselves above their desks and their initials etched into frosted glass cubicle dividers are coining the Caspian Trousers dollars from Fystme Corky Allbright & Sweetling.
Humbled and browbeaten by the angry voices in our head, we traded the quill and parchment for the trusty plastic stylus, heaved our suety saddlebags to the side and mounted the Wacom. In allotments and bathhouses from Berlin to Bushwick, iPhones buzzed, Blackberrys beeped as the clarion call for assistance was picked up by loyal lieutenants in faraway locations: Lucas Mulder and Mark Ohe, the former for his Q like understanding of web architecture, the latter for his Wiccan familiarity with the lost art of album design. The agency houseboy, Emiliano, in tube top and Buena Vista shorty-shorts was commanded to fire up the jets in Julian’s heart-shaped, fibreglass thinktank. Santa Maria Novella ‘Angels of Florence’ bubble bath was decanted. And in sashayed the boys.
Three months and several cases of Asti Spumante later, a new website is birthed. And Josef Albers spins in his grave. The Grand School of Holy Julian has been hounded into retirement, along with its dysenteric interface and widget translations. No longer will anyone gaze at a picture of an office in Beijing and ponder the profound meaning of ‘a turtle eats a thing of the Ass of Man’ or ‘large blacks! To the inside or the outside’. No more calls to Kit from concerned patrons informing us that our website has been hijacked by the Children of the New Wehrmacht. Winston Churchill girding the loins of a nation? Gone. Micheal Caine’s Italian Job roll-call over the roar of original Mini Coopers? Mothballed. Never again will the thoughtful viewer peruse Dean Kaufman’s airy interiors to the accompaniment of Adolf Hitler proclaiming of the annexation of the Sudetenland. We have bent to the tired chorus of criticism and exasperation and embraced Dwell-like simplicity. White. Helvetica Neue. More white. Titles. Thumbnails. Pictures. The new site is so straightforward it could be navigated by a dachshund.
Which begs the question … why the fuck are people still confused?