“Moon just left a note saying he was going to the desert to shoot snakes but frankly I’m worried about his state of mind”
These words were a rare public utterance by Miriam Cooney, the woman usually described by her Hollywood public relations boss, as “My Girl Monday-To-Friday-Including-High-Days-And-Holidays”
They are a footnote to a bizarre and rather poignant feud brewing between two distinct and highly eccentric personalities, Ernest Vivian “Moon” Conway and The Right Reverend Jimmy Quickly, each vying for position in the increasingly desperate, twilit world of showbusiness.
“If they can break into the computer at the Pentagon, then I suppose it is entirely possible that this supposed gentleman of the cloth can pass himself off as the legitimate voice of one of our most esteemed clients”, continued Miss Cooney.
Having just spent several hours in the company of a certain formerly angry and perpetually guilty man, who shall remain nameless, I can attest to the level of self-delusion at play in the world of such public relationships and image manipulation.
Cooney, who provides the modern communication skills for an irascible boss, resolutely wedded to the ribbon typewriter and fountain pen as the tools of his trade, is referring the fact that the Rev. Quickly has issued a number of curious and conflicting media statements via the Internet that were not sanctioned either by Moon Conway or the artists he represents.
In truth, their “esteemed clients” now number far more of those with careers that might-have-been rather than any that are about-to-be.
Still, Miriam Cooney continues her tale of woe.
“Mr. Conway even took his pearl-handled revolver with him; the one that he swore was given to him by Tex Ritter. I hope he doesn’t attempt anything rash”
Moments latter, in an uncharacteristic moment of disloyalty, she concedes that the pistol is probably a novelty store fake, although this admission betrays a genuine concern and the affection and gratitude that she feels towards Conway.
“Make no mistake, the man has imagination and in it he has the libido of a seventeen year old but he’s lived hard”, Cooney said of the 72-year old Moon Conway.
“He actually bears the constitution of a man ten years his senior. I don’t like the idea of him wandering out there in dust, firing blanks into the rocks”.
So, who or what could have triggered the extraordinary flight of this larger than life character, throwing what some might say is the kind of laughable tantrum more befitting one his charges?
The answer would seem to be “The Right Reverend” Jimmy Quickly. Given the spiritual concerns of some of my readers, I have placed his clerical title in quotation marks, as its provenance seems somewhat dubious.
What can be established is that Jimmy Quickly was briefly a student at a Jesuit seminary and at that time, also a promising amateur pugilist in the bantamweight class.
Unfortunately, these twin vocations did not prove to compatible. This was not due to any goodwill towards all men but because he was discovered to be running a betting syndicate during a round-robin tournament against Church of English curates and a team of visiting Methodist missionaries.
A talent for invention and disguise came to Jimmy Quickly’s aid upon expulsion from college. Despite being of modest background and means, he had always assumed the airs and manners of the officer class.
One may deduce that as a small boy, he had observed the way officers advanced socially compared to how his hard-working father, a quartermaster in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, fared during a posting to late-Colonial Kenya.
Although the Quickly family hailed from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, his father, Con and mother, May had met at a dance near her home in Leytonstone.
In his later occupation, Quickly found use of dropping into the argot of these Irish and East London societies without truly belonging to either.
He also quickly realized the advantage of adopting grand salutations such as “My Dear Boy” and appearing to possess the fastidious formal manners of the Upper Classes, while occasionally lapsing into a highly theatrical composite of blarney and rhyming slang that bore little relationship to the way people actually spoke.
This shape shifting and spiritual restlessness inevitably led Jimmy Quickly to a world in which disguise and illusion were positively valued and even passed as currency.
After drifting through the late 1960s in a series of deadening clerical jobs, it was 1972 that Quickly happened to attend a performance by the rightly forgotten theatrical rock group, The Hand-Stitched Houndstooth Revival.
The stuttering fortunes of the ensemble made them vulnerable to the opportunistic myth making of Jimmy Quickly in his newly invented persona as a promoter and road manager.
Realizing that the group was too unwieldy in scale to prosper, Quickly used another of his talents to first seduce, make pregnant and then abandon, the largely decorative, lead singer, Sable Melchett.
Other superfluous instrumentalists, such as percussionist and dancer, Nobby Bendix were equally cruelly cast aside. Bendix later sold his story to the newspapers but eked out a pitiful existence with the proceeds until his violent death in a drug-related crime incident.
By then the group had fluked a massive pan-European hit, when an excerpt from one of their concept albums was re-mixed and used as the theme for a beer commercial. H.H.R. woke up to find that they possessed none of the rights to either their composition or the hit recording.
Their novice manager absconded to the United States with the spoils of success and bartered this solitary hit for a career in the record industry during vastly more lucrative times.
Jimmy Quickly found a niche in publicity and later, in A&R, a realm of charlatans studded with the occasional visionary. Though he was clearly a mountebank of the first water, Quickly also possessed a rare cunning.
When his first American discovery, a prodigiously talented but anti-social group known as The Plunderers proved too ugly for public consumption, he signed them to secrecy agreements and used them as ghost musicians and singers for countless rock and pop novelty hits.
This single ruthless act and the royalties that he no doubt annexed financed a gilded life in which Jimmy Quickly ran with infinitely more talented artists and scene-makers, even those attached to competing record companies.
Any gathering worth the name saw him offer his ready wit and flattery along with a constant supply of pills, powder and potions.
There was a time in the mid-80s when “Going for a Jimmy” became watchwords for seeking some kind of narcotic or erotic pleasure in the inner circle of a particular, peculiar kind of party.
Needless to say, it did not take long for a spiritual crisis to overwhelm the fallen would-be priest.
After a spectacularly decadent publicity jaunt to an undisclosed location in Bolivia, during which he managed to see journalists from five major publications briefly held for ransom by Maoist guerrillas, a chastened Quickly claimed that he was entering the ministry.
The Church Of Free-Locution and Vision, known to cynics as the “Church of Free-Love and Loading”, was one of a number of mail-order ministries unburdened by the presence of an over-bearing deity or the need to pay taxes.
For a while, the now pious “Minister Of Information” flourished anew, acting as a spiritual guide and offering decorative advice to the vacuous and vulgar while providing alibis for any penitent drunks on the roster or in the company boardroom.
However, as the greedy python began consuming itself, the record industry that had once welcomed the audacity and barefaced cheek of the younger Jimmy Quickly, found less use for such an obvious sham artist even if he was wearing a dog collar and spouting incorrectly attributed passages of scripture and obscure philosophical tropes.
Still, most of Quickly’s indiscretions seem to have been buried in the collective amnesia of former clients, lovers and even among his many enemies in record company ranks.
The latter were apparently willing to buy his silence with a substantial stipend in the guise of numerous, fruitless consultancy contracts. That is until the purse was finally emptied over the last years of financial disaster.
What troubles this commentator is not that this dubious character has surfaced again and is allegedly stealing business from a far from admirable rival but that having run out of places to tell his tallest tales, it appears that The Right Reverend Jimmy Quickly has lately discovered that the World Wide Web could be one ready made for his lies.
While he enjoys fraudulent access to the service of apparently legitimate announcements about Moon Conway’s clientele, his dispatches should be treated with caution and suspicion, even as they raise a smile.
Odile W. Husband (neé O’Súlleabháin) is the popular music correspondent of “The Inquisitor” - an independent catholic journal on all matters cultural, satirical and spiritual.