“Seamus, I thought of you on the weekend.”
“I came across the word Brobdingnagian
and wondered if the office verbalist knew of that one?”
“Very tall? From Swift; Gulliver’s Travels?”
“I was just pleased because I thought
you were going to say I was the office vulgarian.”
“You were reading Swift?”
“No I was preparing the PowerPoint display for that
quick and dirty strategy huddle we had on this morning
and I looked up lofty in the thesaurus.
Lofty goals, high hopes, tall ambitions.”
“Careful now Scotty you don’t want to boil the ocean.
Best to stick to the low-hanging fruit.
Capture some of the organic unlockables.”
“I mean I like Jemima loads but all that bullshit
that was coming out of her mouth
like she’d swallowed The Office DVD box set
and some epicac and was now vomiting it all out on me.
The word for it is logorrhea.”
“Literally word diarrhea!”
“Do you give scores in these review thingies?”
“Yeah I just gave her top marks for everything
because she is actually really good
and I just don’t care anymore.”
“You going out for lunch today?”
“Nah. Bánh mì, Uber Eats, al desko.
Going to listen to the cricket on the radio via my Bluetooth headset
so it looks like I’m taking calls,
working through lunch, then I can knock off at 3:30,
make it over for the last session.”
“How is strategy going? Have you figured out
that mind melter you were telling me about?
“You know that is really weird.
The draft submission was full of all these strange inaccuracies.
We still can’t quite work out how to crack the paradigm shift
and break up the anchored keystones,
at least not without punching some puppies.”
“Targeting autumn quarter
or is winter more in line with market expectations?”
“Unless we can unriddle these enigma pieces,
it might be not be till spring.”
“Holy moly! Have you taken a helicopter view?
Mapped the contours? Peeled the onion?”
“I feel like we’ve tried everything
short of reading War and Peace to Mr Regulator
and he still won’t rubberstamp our price methodology.
“I’ll see you back in the salt mines Seamus.”
“Young Brandon, how are you?”
“I’m taking these pills to try and quit smoking
and they make me nauseous.”
I can’t help but be captious.”
“Do you ever actually vomit?”
“No I just feel the waves washing over me
and so I like to be close to the toilet.
Never lasts longer than 15 minutes.”
“And you’re off the coffin nails?”
“Yeah this drug’s amazing.
It makes you hate smoking.
Sucks all the fun out—
“Holy moly Brandon! Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Ugh. Oh God.
Feels like I’m giving birth to an emu egg out of my mouth…”
“…And then swallowing it back down again.”
“And it’s like this every day?”
“Twice. Take a second one after dinner.”
“And it’s just the nausea?
You never actually puke?”
“Only once at the start did I actually spew.
That’s why I always end up in the toilet.
Just in case.”
“Make sure you wash your hands when
you’re done there buddy.
I wash mine for a full minute 20 times per day.
Why I never get a cold and can keep coming back
to this house of joy every day.”
A Reporter At Large
Exclusive By Seamus Anatinus
The liner notes for God’s Plan list six songwriters: Aubrey Graham, Ronald LaTour, Daveon Jackson, Matthew Samuels, Noah Shebib and Patrick Quaresma. Aubrey Graham is Drake’s real name, LaTour is a producer better known by his moniker Cardi, Jackson raps as Yung Exclusive, Samuels produces under the pseudonym Boi-1da (gettit?) and Shebib likes to simply go by 40.
And then there’s Patrick Quaresma.
Unlike the other songwriters on God’s Plan, Quaresma is not a force in music production. He doesn’t have his own Spotify artist account, Wikipedia page or nom de guerre. He is a nobody listed alongside serious somebodies. He is not so much a famous rapper as he is a freelance risk consultant by day and an amateur poet with a dormant degree in Social Psychology by night. He is not from Canada or even the United States but from Australia. He doesn’t travel with an unwieldy entourage of hangers-on of capricious utility but he does love his Mum.
Quaresma’s claim to fame and place among God’s P(l)antheon of scribes is that he wrote the instantly intoxicating vocal hook that elevates this trap-adjacent pop-rap number from pedestrian to eminently worthy of its 11 weeks atop the the Billboard Hot 100.
Motivated by “delusions of Alexander Pope and Ogden Nash”, as Quaresma puts it, he penned the two lines that barely qualify as a half-rhyme for an Australian poetry journal’s Anti-Heroic Couplet Competition. It didn’t win but secured a minor placing, meaning it was published in a tranche of frivolous duos to be printed and posted to subscribers. One such reader was Fern Clarkinwell, host of a weekly highbrow literary chautauqua on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (think NPR but with no ads and full government funding)’s AM radio station. He liked the micropoem so much he called up Quaresma and had him read it down the line. Clarkinwell’s listenership is more passionate than large and it didn’t take long for this soundbite to become a Snapchat meme, nominally overlayed on footage of a teen in sweet repose on some laughably outre sleep-assistant contraption placed somewhere exotic (coffin in a shark tank, hammock strung up between Twickenham’s goalposts and a futon straddling Uluru are three classics of the genre). Drake heard the celebrated lines while thumbing through stories and was so enamoured he immediately got his people to reach out to Quaresma to secure the rights.
While Quaresma says the money has been nice, the real eye-opener has come from joining Drake on his hypertrophic 93-date North American summer tour.
“It’s a little bit surreal to be introduced to a screaming crowd while the opening bars play, and then to just sort of hang around until the drop. Everyone knows the words and sings along so they can’t hear me anyway.”
But as the accidental star reveals, it’s after the concert ends and the craven parasites have finally been unleached that his strange therapeutic repurposing is unleashed.
“Pretty much every night Aubrey knocks on my door and wants to chat. Normally around 1am, 1:30, after all the tedious post-show rigmarole is over.
“He drones on and on about all these perceived slights. There are the normal things you expect like reading too much into some Kendrick lyric, what colour wristband Serena is wearing at Indian Wells or absurd paranoia about Meek Mill’s hand gestures on Instagram. He’s obsessed with chart positions: a deep cut stalling in the 40s distresses him infinitely more than another #1 gives him any pleasure.
But, as Quaresma tells it, once through all his rabid social media hatescrolling, he finally starts on his underlying issues.
“I think he likes coming to me because I’m someone fresh to the scene, someone new to pursue for virginal adoration.”
I stopped Quaresma at this point to ask if there was such a thing as rapper-songwriter confidentiality, and if he were breaking it.
“Aubrey revels in being an open target. I think his only gripe would be in me telling you the story for free, not asking for money in exchange, he’s quite Trumpian in his transactionalism.”
And those issues…
“He frets constantly over how long friends take replying to messages. He talks about entering reply times into Google Sheets to empirically rank how much they care about him. In his mind, every girl-who-is-a-friend is secretly in love with him, while every girlfriend, current and former, is-was secretly just after his money. The more people around him, the lonelier he feels. He seems to vacillate between intensely idealising people who do him a good turn, like me with the poem, and then crazily devaluing them for something meaningless, like getting the wrong coffee.
“I was never convinced he had a true sense of his identity. For someone so successful and admired his only goals seem to involve getting another one over on people he’s surpassed years ago. I sometimes wonder if he’s a cutter. I know that he places huge, moronic bets on baseball matches, like $10,000 on the team first in the alphabet, which inevitably causes confusion over whether he and bookie are both going by the city name or the mascot.
“Everything is amplified. Where you and I might feel sadness, Aubrey feels grief. Panic instead of nerves, rage instead of annoyance, shame instead of embarrassment.”
Is this just the baggage that comes with unqualified genius?
“Maybe but why must he inflict insomnia upon the rest of us?”
Considering some of the shade Quaresma is throwing, I wondered aloud what Aubrey would think when he reads the prenominate diagnosis (which sounds just a little too precontrived for this skeptical journalist).
“I like Aubrey loads but it takes a lot of energy to be friends with him. Look, he’s a crazy narcissist. Hopefully he’ll be mad at me for a bit, let me get some sleep and then start missing me — come knock on my door again — my arms are always open.”