For Brendan

This morning I had a shock, a very good friend of mine, Brendan Mullen, the real Godfather of Punk, died in California last October. We’d been later-day Beats, but the vast expanse of sea that grew between us, meant that for the last twenty years we hadn’t so much as written a letter. The last time I heard from Brendan was when he sent me a copy of Jim Morrison’s The Wilderness, he told me he’d found it in Allen Ginsberg’s City Lights book store in San Francisco. I suspect though, he would have found in a dime store in New York. But that wouldn’t matter, Brendan would simply have been living our dream of turning the truth into something far more romantic than reality. I don’t have the book any more, an old friend of mine, Mike Wood, borrowed it. Mike and I were good friends too, so it didn’t bother me that he was sharing this gift from Brendan, but now, under the circumstances, I would be nice to at least hold it again. Brendan and I were wild children in Manchester in the 70s. We lived on beer, guile, anxiety and drugs. We were both beautiful and a little bit insane and we shared an ambition to become writers … inexplicably we’d washed up together at the Ashtonunder-Lyne Reporter. We did something in the early 70s – something happened and I don’t know what. But Brendan and I left the Reporter with twin clouds of shame hanging over us. Whatever we did might have been shocking, outrageous, immoral or just plain crazy … but there is no doubt it would have been very very funny. Brendan decided to head for New York and decided I should go with him. Almost that same day I found out I was to be an unmarried father. So, at 19 years old, I tried to face up to my responsibilities. Brendan sailed for New York alone. My ambition to be a writer was fulfilled partially as I tore a fairly successful career out of journalism. But Brendan in his own eccentric, single-minded, romantic way became the new Godfather of Punk. He opened a 10,000-square-foot basement behind a porn theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. He also made it as a music journalist.

When I heard he was dead, I had a picture of him in the recesses of my mind. He was still young, still dynamic, charismatic, dramatic, still drunk, still stoned … but he was 60. A few minutes ago I saw a recent picture of him, he was unrecognisable, skinny, beat up, bald. I looked in the mirror … I have the same tracks in my face. All I can say is, farewell Brendan. You will always be my friend.

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