Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Making of Martinez: The Kosher Rican

Posted on | July 21, 2010 | 2 Comments

"Colony of Losers Evolution" by Patrick Campbell

The power is out.

The manager’s office is the perfect place to commit a murder. Matthew feels awkward, hoping to have suspicions assuaged. Unfortunately this is not to be. He is in fact working in a madhouse.

“So they are all crazy?” my brother asks. “As in mentally unbalanced?”

“All of them,” agrees the manager cheerfully, revealing his yellow teeth, passing my brother a cookie to nibble on with an immaculately manicured hand. “You’ll do well here, Mr. Kimber. There is a lot of room for advancement. Though we prefer the term mentally ill.  People with problems who need something to occupy themselves.”

“And receiving returned Reader’s Digests is therapeutic?” my brother asks, choking down the remains of the cookie.

“Koolaid?” asks the manager, lifting a jug of purple juice.

“I’m fine.”

“It’s the lifting and arranging that they find pleasant,” says the manager. “You know what they say about idle hands.”

“What about sorting the death threats?” Matthew asks. They get a lot of death threats. People in Australia seem to hate Reader’s Digest to the extent that they enjoy describing terrible things they would like to do to the workers on a fairly regular basis.

“Someone has to do it,” says the manager. “And they don’t have much of a choice.”

This is not where Matthew expected to end up.

My brother Matthew launched himself across the globe looking for the world he had only read about in books. He left the night after his first album was released, leaving behind his dreams to see the world.

His companion was a man by the name of Mike Sheehan, a beat boxer with a relentless desire for women, conversation and newfound friends. Hanging out on the beaches where Sheehan had made his past epic journey to the land down under a year previous, Matthew watched him weave his magic. Surrounded by football hooligans and their big teethed whores he began to wonder what he was doing here. After many sleepless nights under bunks rocked by the bodies of sweaty patchouli scented tourists, he began to get hostile and wanted to leave the hostel.

After the first couple of weeks it became abundantly clear that the bromance needed to break up.

While being immensely social himself, Matthew needs time to himself.  After a while conversations about the universe and endless prompting to freestyle over adhoc beatbox started to drive him crazy. Like many people with a temper my brother lets the fuse get lit, pours gasoline on it and explodes.  Sheehan agreed they should take time apart and went off on his own.

My brother found himself a place in an eight person house in the suburbs of Sydney, which reminded him of the Sackville of his native Nova Scotia. Looking in the yellow pages under P he found a job just down the street in a packaging plant.

This is not an ordinary packaging plant.

My brother came to realize there was something off almost immediately.

Enjoying his morning coffee a coworker approached him. The man had a beard down to his waist, hair that hadn’t been washed in as long as it took him to grow said beard and a trench coat.

“Good morning,” says his fellow employee. “My name is Willie.”

“Good day, mate,” says my brother, trying out Australian slang to see if he can make it sound natural.

“Welcome to the team,” exclaims Willie, ripping open his jacket to expose a particularly small and withered penis.

Matthew notices that few of his fellow employees seem at all perturbed  by the man exposing himself. They proceed with their shelving as though nothing was amiss.

“Willie, stop that,” says a man in a business suit, who Matthew will soon discover has been hired exclusively to make sure that Willie keeps his wiener to himself.  “You know what we say about keeping the coat buttoned up.  Ok. It’s time out time.”

Willie buttons his coat and leaves for time out.

“Sorry,” says the man in the business suit. “He’s just being friendly.”

“I see,” says Matthew.

“Don’t worry, young man,” says. “You have a bright future here. Soon you won’t even notice the quirks.”

The man in the business suit goes off in search of Willie. His job is to retrain Willie to stop flashing strangers. He says that he has been having more success as of late.

Strangely enough my brother excels in the cuckoo’s nest. He rollerblades to work, has a warm cup of coffee and begins his day.  He waves to his coworkers, engages them in conversation, sometimes sensible, other times completely nonsensical babblings he follows without losing a step.

In the madhouse even the staff become inmates says the manager when he isn’t giving himself a manicure and offering my brother a cookie and koolaid.

They were right. My brother was destined to climb high in the ranks.

Soon he was named assistant manager. This happened as a result of the former assistant manager biting Willie’s neck after being flashed at lunch. Biting was unacceptable behavior and he was fired rather than sent into time out.

Australia had a peculiar practice in regards to dealing with their mentally ill. As the government paid to keep them housed, took care of their medications and small needs they used them as a cheap labor force to offset the cost.

Corporations were given access to a psychotic slave labour force for the very affordable price of 1.96 an hour.

Good days were the ones where everyone took their meds. Bad days were when people forgot and naked hijinx ensued.

One day Willie flashed a man who was urinating in the corner. Matthew barely blinked. It was at this point he knew that he had to move on.

**********************************************************

He dials the phone, twirling his Hasidic dreads with his finger, nervously waiting for the dial tone. This is the fourth time he was supposed to call and forgot.

The email said it was important.

“You know it doesn’t matter what time zone you are in.  You are always fucking late,” says DJ Moves, Canada’s most prolific producer and one of my brother’s best friends.

“I lost track of time,” says Matthew. “What’s so fucking important?”

“Being a jerk when I have such good news for ya,” says Moves.

“What?”

Matthew doesn’t like guessing games.

“I sent your tape to ATAK,” says Moves.  ATAK is the first underground tape trading website. ATAK sells underground hip hop tapes and allows independent an artists a way to get out to the masses. “Ten copies. Sold out in a fucking day. People love Deny. They can’t get enough of that shit. “

“Really?” asks Matthew.

“Things are blowing up in Hali,” says Move. “People are getting put on. Vice came down here and did a shoot.”

“Yeah?” asks Matthew, momentarily shocked into monosyllables.

“They made it look Harlem but whatever,” says Moves. “Buck and Sixtoo are getting huge play in San Francisco. You too man. They know you up there. And in Hali people are actually coming to the shows. And every couple days people approach me and ask where you are. You’re missing it man. You gotta be here.”

The cause of my brother’s success can be traced to the man known today as P-Diddy.

After the death of Tupac and Notorious BIG, hip hop took a turn for the worse.   Puffy Combs and Mase stepped up to replace them and gradually rap music went from the classics of 93 to the crass empty popularity of 1996.  Watered down raps and R and B hooks took the place of real raps.  Waiting in the wings, groups like Company Flow and MF Doom’s early manifestation as KMD begin a new movement.

Feeling as though hip hop had failed him, Matthew and his middle class suburbanite friends began to mine their own experiences for material.  Taking on the belief that everyone suffered no matter what economic class they belonged to, they sought to create a new genre in direct contrast with P-Diddy’s rank commercialism.

Leaving Halifax after his first release “Maximum Well Being” , he took four cassettes with him.  Latrix, Jugganauts, Diamond D and the Psychotic Neurotics and an album of beats to write to.  Inspired and alone, he looked for other people on the same path.

And he met Meta Bass N Breath.

Composed of three rappers, one from New York, one from LA and another from Sydney they formed a group. Freestyling over flute and Digiroo they were the closest thing to what my brother wanted his own music to become.  Spending his nights recording freestyles with their live band they provided a calm to balance the insanity of working at the asylum warehouse.

They played big festivals and gave Matt his first taste of performing in front of large crowds.

One day, resting on the beach, his friend Baba comes over, holding a copy of Rolling Stone. On the cover is a handsome black man who resembles Lenny Kravitz. Matt’s eyes scroll down.  The handsome black man’s name is Maxwell.

“Fuck,” says Matthew.

“He’s much better looking than you,” says Baba.

“I noticed,” says Matthew.

“Should probably change your name,” says Baba.

“Yup.”

He made a name for himself. Now someone stole it.

Fuck.

He started to miss home where everything he dreamed of seemed to be happening.  He quit the madhouse and left the country.  In the middle of the night he bought a plane ticket to Thailand. He wasn’t ready to go home yet. There was more of the world to see.

**********************************************************************************

The day he arrived in Thailand their economy collapsed.

Which was better for Matthew than it was for the people of Thailand. Broke and on his last dollars he found himself rich.

1 US dollar traded for 78 bots. For a US dollar he could purchase a delicious meal, with all the appetizers you could ask for and a couple drinks.

He spent his time at Full Moon parties, doing lots of drugs and lots of women.  Sleepless nights followed lazy mornings, feasting on Thai cuisine. At night he howled at the moon and Thai women with pretty smiles and little English. Drunk as a man yelling out of a taxi he made legions of friends whose names he didn’t remember.

Finding himself overcome by indulgence he sought out solitude and an end to the great hangover that came with each and every morning.

One day a monk approached Matthew and asked if he could teach him English. Having little money left he agreed.

He followed the monk back to the monastery and spent three months there, waking up at 6 am to do gardening and teach the monks English before breakfast and an afternoon of collecting money in the streets. He spent his off time reading Herman Hesse, filling notebooks with poetry, listening to his Walkman and the cassette of instrumentals he took with him all those many months ago, the night of circus rides and raves.

One day the notebook was full.

He was ready to go home.

***************************************************************

My brother will freely admit that he enjoys a drink or two.  On this particular night he had a few more than a few. But he is at the Marquee, where mannequins stare down at you from the ceiling, sofas sit off to the side of the dance floor and more importantly my brother gets free drinks before he performs.

He is giddy and brimming with ADD energy. He is with his best friends in the world and they are busting his balls.

“I walk down the catwalk,” says Matthew.

He shows how he walks confidently down the catwalk smiling with his eyes, nose held up in the air defiantly.  “And then I turn.”  His dreads turn with him, adding a little Bob Marly to his modeling.

“So Matty, tell me why exactly they want to model?” asks his childhood friend Noah, aka Kunga 219.

“The big nose?” asks DJ Gordski, who many years late will run this same club.

“Nah, I think it is something else,” says Noah. “Could you tell us how you became Calvin Klein?”

He knows the punch line. They have asked him to say it half a dozen times.

“They said I looked vaguely ethnic,” says Matthew.

“Vaguely ethnic?” asks Noah.

“I appeal to everyone,” says Matthew.  “I could be Islamic, Jewish, Italian, Scottish. Anything. A mutt that everyone loves to look at.”

His friends laugh and take a deep pull from their drinks.

“So what are you fucking Raoul Macgregor, the Spanish scot?” asks Noah.

“Nah he’s Mikhail Smith, the Russian brit,” says Gordski.

“Fuck that, he’s Achmed Goldstein, the Arab Jew,” says Noah.

“Nah, he’s Joshua Martinez, the Puerto Rican Jew,” says Moves. “He’s tanned. It works. Josh.”

Matthew has never liked his first name. Everyone had it. All the way through school every class had three or four Matthew’s and he was called Kimber everywhere he went. He needs a name. This might be it.

“Outside for some herbal refreshment?” asks Noah.

The crew drunken loud agrees and heads out. They’re joined by Miles and Tachichi, both drunk out of their minds and laughing about shit that happened when they were kids.

Freestyles are kicked. Jokes are offensive and hilarious as the best jokes always are. He’s finally back with the people he grew up with and things are better than they have ever been before.

He doesn’t know it yet but he’ll spend the next ten years making music with these same friends. Touring the world, rocking shows for people who don’t even speak English with the same fucks he went to high school with.

“Get the fuck in here,” says a security guard. “Things are about to kick off. You are up first, Matty. ”

He always gets nervous before a show and he usually gets drunk. The booze calms his tornado like energy and allows him to reach the zen state he learned in the monasteries of Thailand. Only his heart is pounding in his chest. They crush cigarettes butts in their wake as they make their way to the stage, moving through the gigantic ashtray that was the Marquee of old.

Noah whispers in his ear, “The show is being broadcast live to CKDU.”

Matthew nods. “Alright.”

“Watch this,” says Noah.

Noah walks to the front of the stage and speaks into the microphone.

“And I’d like to introduce one of Nova Scotia’s finest rappers back from a long trip overseas,” says Noah.  Applause comes from the audience filled with girls from high school and friends from University.  He can see every girl he ever fell in love with staring back at him.

He’s finally home.

“Let’s give it up for Josh Martinez,” shouts Noah into the microphone.

And that’s how my brother become Matthew Edward Kimber became Josh Martinez.   Soon more will be told of the adventures of the Hispanic Jewish rap star.

Until then……….

Shalom.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Making of Martinez: The Kosher Rican”

  1. matty kimber
    July 21st, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    wow. this is really getting good. i wonder how it turns out.
    spelling 101 – the thai currency is called the baht…other than that, gorgeous…my life gets more interesting with each read.

  2. Julia Smith
    July 23rd, 2010 @ 4:52 am

    Matt – saw this over on your FB page: ‘but it felt wholesome because they were outdoors’
    So funny. Enjoyed reading about your odyssey.

    Michael – Your writing is stellar. Just pulls me in.
    Julia Smith´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen – 168 – 13 International Folk Dances For Male Dancers My ComLuv Profile

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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