Thursday, February 25, 2010

the blue knight: part 1, city of nest

Anything you use every day, you have the right to insist be exactly the way you want it. Dhalgren, however, presumes that anything he uses every day, meh. He'll settle for whatevs. He's felt the chain slipping on his chain ring (now and again) for months now. His brakes mostly work. His bar tape is peeling and gummy and the saddle's plastic cracks match the crumbling front tire wrapped around a warped front wheel shy a few spokes and wobbly (like a gap-toothed smile): a wine cork stuffed into the bar end holds some scraps of scraped-raw bar tape in. The whole apparatus is filthy, and certain of his kludges rattle without cease when in motion.

It's his philosophy that's at stake. All his bikes have girls' names, and his idea of bikes and women is to ride them into the ground and go get a new one. His taste in bikes is considerably better than his taste in women and this creaking heap of abused old touring bike fraying around the edges has outlasted all his jobs and all but one of his women. (At that, he's got tshirts that have endured half of his flailed life.) What isn't going on, bike or woman, is neglect or abuse. His compact is a partnership, use--hard and constant, to be sure, but entirely reciprocal. He never goes off of curbs: he opens every door and carries every parcel. Would be better if these didn't limn the absolute limits of his deference. Would be better if the absolute limits of his attentiveness weren't chain lube every half a year and constant cunnilingus. None of this was on his mind.(1)

Punks of a certain age generally have little interest in punk rock. Surely they had their run with the definitive exponents, the shirt brands now available at the mall, and know every word and most of the chords for the Ramones/Misfits/Clash/Sex Pistols/Black Flag(3)/Minor Threat(4) and they usually still have one of those ranked fairly high on the list of things they would/do actually put on deliberately to listen to(5), but those are vestiges, atavistic remnants, prototypical representations of the intersection of generic tropes and biographical periods of discovery.

All digressions aside,(8) punks frequently don't actually bother listening to punk rock. On purely aesthetic grounds, this isn't much of a surprise. The formal business of the genre generally involves stripping popular, often early, rock idioms down to the very basics--three chords, 4/4 time, verse/chorus structure, maybe a bridge. Short slogans for lyrics, short words. Choppy melodies. A brute limitation on both the acceptable combinatoric rules and the formal elements subject to same.

All this means it's a pretty quick procedure to assimilate all that these songs have to offer. The difference between the 10th time you've yeard "I've had it" and the 100th is just the addition of boredom: it's impossible to extract more information from this structure because there simply isn't any more there.

In general, then, we see punks gravitate towards formally simple works (trainwreck beats, lotta density on the low end) but with a little higher information content and unpredictability. Besides metal, there are three rap bands all punks like: NWA, Public Enemy, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Niklavs Dahlgren sat on his porch, glaring at a pair of bicycles. The Wu-Tang Clan played in the background.

Twenty blocks away, Ross glared at a chapbook. What's somewhere between the makings and leavings of one, anyway. Her right hand manipulated chopsticks, "toying idly" with the remnant of tempura in its little bin. Left hand shoved a blunt stub of pencil over some object on a paper scrap, then proposed an alternative in the margin. Lone people gravitate toward restaurants, as cooking for one is an arid endeavour. Lone people of introspective bent gravitate toward restaurants where they can sit alone without imposing/enduring a pariah vibe--one person at a four-top looks, entirely unavoidably, like a freak. A two-top isn't much better. A counter or a bar is ideal and far the idealer if the food can be eaten with one hand. This leaves the other free to handle the necessary book. The big Sapporo looked like a fucking barrel in her small hand, the pencil jutting awkwardly out unabandoned, and she'd put down all but a couple centimeters of the beer, yet still it sweated. Her chapbook was a response, in large part, to a pathetic letter she'd once been written by an ex, ostensibly an efford to explain the awkward post-relationship interactions he'd demanded, then chafed against, all the while pretty transparently advertisements of availability. (All noble things are touched with melancholy.)

Ross' initial response to the letter had been the continuation of her not ever calling or seeing him or thinking about him when he wasn't there. Eventually her rage at these rejectable, abandonable men, a lifetime of them and their sullen, impacted failings, coalesced a little, and she began to write. The project began as it always did, with a few dioramas sketched, x-actoed out of thin cardboard, pinned and pasted together. An empty street, the first, with men facing each other at top left and right corner, a woman in bottom right corner, facing left. Everybody blocky, chunky, a strange mix of profile and 3/4 recognizable from 2D side-scrolling brawlers. A couple pop-up portraits of the principals she counted as maybe the most satisfying drawings she'd ever made. She signalled for another beer. Tried to reread a piece, but had to exhale a vast and stale breath, look at the ceiling for a couple seconds and realize the limits of her stamina had been reached.

She left 3 on 27 after slamming the beer back with a practiced desperation.

As her bootheels hit the pavement, Niklavs Dahlgren's hand grabbed the wrench and he grunted with that leaning effort. He was not thinking about music, or punk, or even really thinking about his bike. He sat on an overturned milk crate, while white-guy-approved rap blared from a battered boom box. His hands were almost completely black, his roommate's toothbrush utterly ruined by chain filth and organic solvent. A choking cloud of sickly citrusesque hung unnoticed by Dhalgren, who had a huge hank of chew stuffed in his craw. Solvent dripped from the frame and spattered the frame and floor with the grime it carried. He spat a thumb-sized drool of browned water into an ancient glass coffee cup and glared at the acorn nut. The Wu-Tang Clan noted they were not to be fucked with. Dhalgren and a quart of beer sweated on the porch in the autumn afternoon sun.

Dhalgren never knew the mad monk, the venerable (and consecrated) Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien, and was an adherent of no coherent school on the matter of the soul. However. No coincidence that his bike is somehow sculpture/enactment of that soul, a manifestation and (thus a) product of it; nor that another dimension or moment of that soul has been fed, nurtured, bolstered and constituted by each moment he's spent riding and especially working on his old beater. Souls are tricky critters. It is--barely--possible to have one working with neither your hands nor words (symbols?), but the evolution of the species has pushed hard toward these avenues. There are those who even dis the bike/soul connection, pointing at the manifold chains 'tween car and penis, linkages b'tween them so robust it's actually not always possible to say what's standing for what. (Of course, those who do this pointing have forgotten a reasonably large percentage of the ensouled population.)

If Dhalgren ever got his brakes satisfactorily adjusted, he halfassed a handwash and whipped up spaghetti with meatballs. Put his plant on the back porch. Passed out hours later, a case study in the emotional capitalism of scarcity economics.(9)


Out at the knees--scarf, suit jacket, gloves, glasses, head wrapped in another scarf. The only flesh visible small angles and planes of the face and those fragile joints peeking and poking through battered denim.

Dahlgren saw her, of course, around, had seen her but barely noted her, just another severe (dyke?) bony chick, thin blood, big nose and eyes pale and darkhaired--altogether the kind of chick he always scores if he scores a chick and a fur piece away from the healthy, hefty athletic lady he currently craves.

Pushing back on 40 (hard), fifth city in--what--16 years, over a dozen cities lifetime and this one, she'd have to concede, no better. Not the fix or food she'd been, always, craving.

She'd mastered some of the magics (by affinity, and necessity, by habit and by inclination), she knew the free refills, the half-dollar books, the slow meals one-handed eaten so she could still read. These, the only ways to divorce time from money. She knew a rough brown blazer or a sweater, & hair pulled back, not too tight, would get her a men's near-pass--not invisible but rarely central either (the men who'd fancy her were the most likely to be incapable of mounting an assault on her clear shields).

A rough city, this east bay--immune, apparently, to the charm once wrought by Mr. Ford, by which wage and cost were welded together. Here, everything would be priced at a premium, life and labor excluded from the equation. For that matter, jobs themselves were hard to find.

Savagely proud, particularly about those things which mattered least, she'd been up against the wall before a job'd been offered. She deigned to notice, then accept. The offer.

(It is a disservice to this woman that I do not know her name. I shall compound this--I hope only to my expense--by pinning her with a Ross. [Rhyming only visually and by connotation with "loss", natch.])

She knew it only made things--but, then, sometimes you have to make things--worse, when she'd push up her sweater's sleeves, shave to the elbow her collared button-up and show off the thick, wide, faded lines. Bones and knives, spiders and bedraggled fathers: when half-glimpsed by her admirers, they seemed more runes, signs to conjure with (like her eyebrows) or a lost map of the one, fabled, fulfilling, city.

A hard face, more owlish than mousy, despite a frankly hawkish nose. Old fables are short on athletic women. This perhaps helps explain the difficulties in of her living her life. (Without maps, schemas, hints or walkthrus.)

Another box of wine, another can of soup.

Where to take your desk was to feel like you were hearing a song you'd never hear again or forget.

Another sheaf of pages cadged from the copier discards, covered in her cramped scrawl, her angry curiosity, nearly forlorn against the equations she sought to solve.
I will not commodify my inner life. Or am I just poor--broke and afraid, poverty ruling purse and person alike?

That Connie from the coffee shop, how is she, how does she when she hugs a customer, what does she see when she sees him seeing her (or what sees she when she sees him not!)? Her half-octave drop, the eye contact scattered like a handful of change as bait of the urchins, does she ever cramp or weep or open a jar for herself? I'm just being a cunt for knowing I'm better than her, larger and more filled, yet still wanting the pathetic moraine men's eyes leave to her...
Pages like this, some nights, others
Walking under the tracks earlier I thought of Kuarl and (her dots in a differently spaced hand) who CARES?

And not another entry for a month.

Black moods might last uninterrupted weeks, her skull grinding tectonic plates of fury and despair, shearing or buckling sometimes, the chasm resulting worse than the cataclysm. Because sometimes then things could get in.

Worse than this, though, were the strained stretches the world just bit from her and swallowed, August to December not forgotten or ignored, just absent from her memory, as they'd been absent from her experience, really.

First, it was always too hot--a stifling heat, now dry, now wet, always the air staying still. Windows Moses couldn't've opened with a hammer.

First thing to go was the boots, tall, brown and battered, unlovely with scars, burns and no polish. At nearly knee high and leathern, though, they didn't breathe for shit, ended up abandoned to an uncluttered corner of her rented room. She didn't know it, but that first weekend afternoon she struggled from sleep into her (solitary) afternoon and the boots seemed too much trouble, that day she was lost.

Still it was too hot. Nobody else layered up like she did, and the hallway to her floor was always punishingly hot, so she took to stripping down outside--shedding blazer and sweater or hoody, careful to keep cuffs shot past wrists and her lip uncurled.

Do they fucking get it, don't they? Do they see the keys clipped to my belt, three of them, one to a church, plus a corkscrew. It's got to be obvious to anybody's looking, but is anybody looking?

Lingering sometimes (almost always) over single-handed sushi, Ross thought of the boyfriends, the pinball players who stood tree-still at the machine, fingers and eyes moving fast, the pinball players who practically danced with the machine, feet and knees flying, slaps and hand-claps and shots, the criers and the huggers, the restrained and refined, the rich, the racist and the righteous, she remembered the secret pornographers and the sheepish masturbation. She remembered letting one drive, making another, coming like a rocket with a guy she barely tolerated and never getting off with one she'd wanted to love. She thought about one-night stands on a woman's couch, in a rich man's car, in her own bare room on a yoga mat on the floor.

It all seemed so fucking remote, the time of having cars, the time of being married. For that matter, the time of boyfriends, sex and regularly cleaned clothes.

Two pairs of jeans--newish thick stiff denim with a stout belt, old silk-thin pair, very nearly tight even on her bony thighs. It's a natural law that walking forms new and focuses old memories. How then could it be that four months had passed and nothing? Flasks snuck into infiltrated matinees, sushi three times a week (20 on 18) and smoking cigarettes rolled in the rain and nothing. 10,000 pages read and nothing. One-night stand or two, no surprise here nothing.

122 days and not a memory.

It's a long walk from her box of an apartment through the arid, pointless downtown, the reeking dampness of Chinatown and the horrifyingly loud filth of the tunnel to the island made out of trash. Or anyways built on it. There, just out of the tunnel's sullen maw, a bit past the glistening marina, squats a building nearly invisible in its bland brick squarity. It's a long walk, but Ross' spidery stride chewed miles and the urban always spat up something new for her to look at, a new wall scrawl or the street-gilt of broken glass or a man's excrement (once topped with a dime) and all the shoes and leavings of the city's evicted and rejected and mobile. That wheedling and strange building, though, she never did look at, her eyes sliding away as her gait broke down to a sidle, her mein altogether that of the abashed teenager she'd never been.

In her cube, her fingers moved like her walk: fast, aggressive, staccato. Her thumbs smacked the space bar "like it owed her money".
Hey wannah it the Hanson brothers show next week?
not as good as nomeansno
fun live show, though!
not if youve seen the realthing
Whoever used her cube on the day shift was one of the Lord's own slobs, she thought. A packrat and clutterbug addicted to printouts and postits, endless glossy paper ejaculated from sticker machines glimmering from the cardboard walls, crumbs and curly hair everywhere. Even so, when she was there, the space always would seem Spartan, empty.
broke brought my own
(Both more or less false. She'd stalk down to a place where she could see the marina's lights shake while she smoked a pinner. She'd eat her lunch at her desk, on the clock, as she always did, and she'd glare at the roll of bills in the Bustelo can after she hit the bank, as she always did.) She was angry with herself for being young and the prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with the change of fortune which was reshaping the world around her into a vision of squalor and insincerity. As she waited for the network or waited for the tool to render, she poured scorn and rage and contempt into another .txt file.(10)

Her completely unironic mental title for the bulk of her projects was Up against the vaginal walls, motherfucker!. Her chapbook was to be an evisceration of the asinine fellows of the city(11) intercalated with a highly ramified limning of the poverty of a woman's life considered in its economic, political, psychological, sexual and particularly intellectual aspects. It took the form of an extended insert for her fictional band's hypothetical single: entitled:
Mountings and Moleskins b/w Bummed at the Gyno

Angry walk "home" after work took her to nearly three, then sleepless gin hours until down and a sleep could come. This swing shift imposed a solitary schedule on the isolate Ross like few she'd known in her four decades. Impossible even to grab a quick drink with a coworker after, leaving for her long walk before anybody else was done with their own jobs. Morning and afternoons of slow drink and cold library sojourns, long sketches of graffiti, mural and stencil.

The city was signalling her, in its shrapnely way, responding to her pace. Just barely slow enough to gestalt the city, and in streets enough to synthesize its many sherds into most of a message. She was faster than some bikes, missed some stuff, but hasn't ever conceded that these ambiances are communicative, hasn't ever given her attention to this nurturing surround and (thus) has been fighting the city for 40-some years, always turning down the unfulfilling street, always stumbling into someone, always hearing nothing but the cacophony dozens of tuning instruments, never hearing the symphony cohere.

Six months she'd worked there, frowning silent through pointless meetings, meeting every overture with featurefree rejection, pouring boiling fury onto paper and into burgeoning desktop files, when the email to everyone arrived, naming no names as it insisted she stop violating the heretofore imaginary dress code. Six months and a week when it was announced that the piss tests they'd taken to secure this employment would need to be verified and reverified at random. Six months and three weeks when all files were moved from the desktops and harddrives to the server and made explicitly subject to inspection. Seven months when the "team" was cut by a third and a witheringly negative series of performance reviews began. Ross bought slacks, lost the jewelry, gave up the weed and the prework beers. Deleted all the files unread.

As she shed and abdicated the things that made her her, her father resurged somewhat, began to undodder in his trailer, began again to receive information from all life and pattern, again to slip his will into the warp and weft of the lives he chose.

A mode of summoning: quiet city night, fan on and very spare music very low. The city and the music will blend, mostly unheard, under the white noise, and the right ears there in the dark will come to hear the growls and gutterings of the cyclopean, subterranean forces that mostly drive the blind city.

O-Brien lives and thrives. Poor Ross flounders, fails, dies. Nothing quite so simple as declaring life to constitute a zero-sum game. More that power extracted, harnessed, imposed, etc., is. Is.

Ross took her mother-in-law's tongue to work one thursday, by the bus, and it thrived there in the cube, among the ergo-stretching diagrams and productivity shortcut enhancement printouts adorning her walls. The tuesday before that, she'd lost her stout sheaf of writings, absently abandoning them after another burger lunch, as O-Brien rode a wave of power he hadn't felt in half a century of cheap gin on ice. Dhalgren outlined a horror novel about a beautiful woman on the back of an envelope, then tore it open to outline some porn about vampires, two stories that would eventually get him well and truly paid. His basil plant died and he called his ex to apologize for being a bad caretaker, unshruggingly telling her "I'm not for sale; I'm just here for fun": they had some cataclysmic sex, the kind only accessible to people with a lot of shared history, a commitment to acting as though unfinished business doesn't exist, superbly toned core muscles, a lot of unfinished business, enough trust to engage in condomless rough sex in a drunken evening, obliterated night and beer-floated morning while wearing out three holes and grinding blood into a man's beard and the spiky forest around his cock.

What's at stake here is that (t)his bike isn't so much a sculpture of his soul as a transformation of it--the same thing, transposed into a different medium or dimension. The ancient and unlubed and filthy chain driving everything side to side and only accidentally forward(2) and the bar tape scraped clean to metal by crashes on both sides, then covered in blackly looped wraps of electrical tape, the plastic fender held over the back wheel only by a scrap piece of rusted chain, the gap-toothed front wheel wobbling eccentrically and the cracking tires, these are not exponents of failure or neglect. They're just the indexes of daily hard use accumulated sorites-like into an actual history, an atlas of time, rather than place; a soul.

The contribution of activity willed and unwilled to the creation, supplementation and maintenance of the/a soul--so you get chipped away at by the latter, mostly, but can be scaffolded and erected (hopefully more than merely shored up) by those things done with intention and enthusiasm.

In terms pertaining to the base, what might make a man fix a bicycle? Well, he'd bought a little porn, at the flea market, but he'd used it already and a chasm of afternoon had lain before him, horrifying in its emptiness, its pointlessness. So much he could fill the time with and so little of it that could amount to anything.

This is true. From the standpoint of physics, the process of riding a bike is precisely steering in a way such that the bike doesn't tip over.

[body paragraphs above and these notes taken from On the soft generosity of bass neck: Some inquiries into some values, Jarkko Clenninden, forthcoming, Kuolema/Jokerit Press.]
Interesting split here--Black Flag released half a dozen singles with 3 or 4 different singers before settling down with (the) one with whom they'd achieve their greatest fame, some ice-cream vendor named Henry Rollins. Now, this incarnation actually released full-length albums. In vast quantities, actually. However, it's notable that:
a) the first record is extra-great and incorporates some material from earlier singles
b) everything after side 1 of the second record is basically dogshit

Oddly, there are still punks who take Henry Rollins seriusly. You'd think doing a Gap ad and sucking at everything for decades would put paid to his credibility, but, apparently, no.

Slightly younger punks will generally replace these with something like Operation Ivy/Crimpshrine/Filth, a riot grrl band or maybe a local/regional act. When punks of this age meet those of that slightly older age, they will, as of this writing, no longer engage in long, impossibly stuffy symposia on the provenance of emo.

This reveals the thoroughgoing obsolesence of my musical-facilitation modalities. Everyone I know uses their computer as the primary locus of their music collection. Indeed, generally at this point the computer is the sole location of their collection.

My artifacts comprise a couple hundred cassette tapes, a half-dozen milk crates of vinyl, a couple beer boxes of 7" and a short bookcase of CDs. I have a computer with a couple dozen of those CDs ripped to .mp3s so I can listen to them on a walkman of 1 gig capacity.

What I listen to is thus savagely constrained by where I listen to it. In the kitchen or bathroom, it's one of the few dozen tapes not currently languishing in storage, played through a flea market boom box, in my room it's generally a CD, as my turntable is usually buried under a moraine of CD cases, empties, spit cups, trade paperbacks and shit. Out of the house, I'm down to my walkman. This technical limitation, purely mechanical and material, constrains my practice thoroughly--so thoroughly that it is difficult for me to consider the psychology of those whose entire library of music is customarily carted around in their gleaming Chrome bag.

In operational terms, we(6) could probably get away with replacing "choose to listen to" with "doesn't roll eyes and immediately hit 'skip'".


I try by this rhetorical flourish to obtain your complicity.

Probably not.

The capitalism of the heart, the belief that the essences of life too can be seized and hoarded, that you can corner the market on confidence, stage a hostile takeover of happiness. It's based on scarcity economics, the notion or perhaps the feeling that there's not enough to go around, and the belief that these intangible phenomena exist in a fixed quantity to be scrambled for, rather than that you can only increase them by giving them away.

[Ross' application letter to the Thorn Triad--once recorded by that noted blogger]
They [my old opinions] have deceived me sadly. I was taught to think, and I was willing to believe, that genius was not a bawd, that virtue was not a mask, that liberty was not a name, that love had its seat in the human heart. Now I would care little if these words were struck out of the dictionary, or if I had never heard them.

Buffoons, poltroons, idiots, imbeciles, assholes & elbows, this job. I am become surrounded all day every day by the worst and most pedestrian sort, who judge the shoddiness of their performance acceptable b/c they disdain their assignment.

I am sure they all know neither who nor how they are.

Base Frank seems to think that slovenly dress and a rigorously shambling swagger will insulate him from the environmen(t). As though nobody's read Bourdieu. Ghastly forced jocularity in all his workplace communication betrays his internalized anxieties, however; the only interesting question is whether or to what degree he's managing to fool himself. (An uninteresting question: which is correcter:
His bicycle exceeds his ignorance
His ignorance is exceeded by his bicycle)

Karen. White pants always make me think that asshole's never had a period.

Are you familiar with operating in an office environment dominated by the cubicle?

I am not tall, and I do not walk around much. Even so it is not hard to observe necks craning, backs briefly straining straight that eyes may rove over the near. What are they looking for?

How many? How many days can a person go without one single connection, a single conversation, how many days in a row?(12)

My days? Barring a little surreptitious auto-erotism and homosexuality--absolutely nothing. But don't push your luck. I won't always play my part. For the actress is the female part of me, and as a female I am an idiot, archaic, a slave of instinct who can't exercise her intelligence. As I write, I live. I write as a man. For "The universe has insulted him, and like his prototype, King Lear, he has run all his grief and anger into one pool of hatred."

Coffeeshop citizens with expensive journals a-scribbled, cigarettes hand-rolled and heads headbanded. XY chromosomes to be sure but lives lived as gestures mainly against any positively valued version of western masculinity. Young athletes in the early stages of consumption. Men with taste and opinions, if not always jobs. One could go on. Ross did.

Here is a conversation she would never (get to) have.

"It's not about social conditions. It's about the soul."

"But, you see," he said infinitely gently, "that's the same."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zolomon's Jewels: the story of poor Ross (prologue)

This is not dedicated to anyone.

Among the things Ross didn't know (no emotional codebreaker), silent and grinding things, roots writhing penile and tentactular deep in bone-choked subterranean clay, here thick clot-blocks heavy with glints of grit, there sliding with runnels of ditchwater pulsing down from the burial pond nearby festering through unkennable strata of crust, was that at the center of that beigely bland building hunkered a mute threat squat, a convergence of malevolent force, several tendrils horribly entertwined like the proverbial nest of snakes but this time no viperish bolus but a sundering nexus of every vicious angle modernity plays 'gainst our hoarse, yammering little lives, empty by default until the straining-toward whatever goal comes shining clear (?) from some sad, thin intersection between biography and history--good sex, a faithful, competent body, task assignments blending challenge and possibility, fetter-free exponenting of your sense of who you might really be, sleeping late when you can, whatever--a vile, rotten nexus of pressure and selfishness and extraction, bullying and judgment and lack and walls and bars and surveillance, expectations left unclear and murky desires designing exitless hotel-lives of juiceless, watery hopes even so unsatisfied: poor Ross didn't know life the world hated her with plans cruelly to use her, grind her every protruding feature away, mash her to a gruel-like paste undifferentiatable from any of these other humans blasted into oblivion. She just thought she had a job.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A hangnail of a handjob

Envelope: Beer label
Letterhead: Milkcrate
Postmark: obliterated


I am most pleased to hear you had an exciting death. I read about it in this threat, written in wood glue on my hangnail, and which I enclose bandaged for your review. I feel so elated about this that I would giggle if not for my “vitamins.” I deposited a fascinating and massive condolence into one of the plastic tumblers in your travel collection while thinking of you and forgiving God. My little anima, you are the most amazing woman I know--would you pass that on to the TT? I’ve changed my plans and will meet him at the cottage the day before it happens. I haven’t left you! Do not worry about your heart, you aroused most caring when your tits fell. Your idea about Collision reminds me of something I read on the wall in a Santa Destroy toilet. Please remember to pack your Wellingtons, the lake is awful wet inside the Realm. Let me hear how you do, darling, send me your dampish panicle of flesh shortly before you depart.


Enclosed hangnail:
Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien take note daddy-o: girl stuffed into three pairs of Wellingtons dead in the lake past the Trailer District. Yours?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

showdown in the standard deviation kingdom b/w gone with the snow

the Union Forever

Christ. How old is this guy? Middle of the night, bars closed, Collision's invited a lady back to his place to listen to records. Shockingly, she has said yes. In a so sadly fucked development, Collision was actually treating this like an opportunity to play and listen to music.

He was perched on a 2-high stack of of milk crates, playing guitar and singing. A shock, his singing voice turned out to be pretty good--throaty shouts bounced off the stupid concrete walls while pudgy fingers moved competently along steel strings. He'd been obsessed with the White Stripes the last couple months, and his song is a (slightly dumbed down) rewrite of their version of Death Letter.

Neither a powerhouse singer nor a particularly gifted soloist, this song isn't a terrific fit for his skills, but he's working himself up to a full-on roar, while the riff spills around the floorboards, slick as soap. Scandalously, the woman's eyes aren't rolling or glazed over, and if Collision (a) puts down the (fucking) guitar (and very soon, at that) (b) fixes the nice lady a drink (c) asks her a question/listens to the answer/asks a reasonable second question, he might still get his dick wet salvage the situation.

For the moment, and to heighten the suspense, let's listen in on the song, however.

Blues for Annie
well I only been in love
3 times on this earth
'n' that's hardly been enough time
t' d'termine the worth of my birth
yeah I only been in love 3 times
in all my nights on th' earth

I know a lot about death
don't know nothin' 'bout taxes
an' all I know about love is
I ain't supposed to play with matches
yes I burned down the place I lived
just trying to heat that mattress
yes I burned up all my love
cuz I couldn't heat that mattress

I don't like to shoot no pool
but she sure makes me wanna bawl
I don't believe in heaven
but that girl she made me fall
and I don't believe in begging
but that girl sure made me crawl
if I was heading for her bedding
don't think I'd be sad at all

yes she left my heart
one broken joke

And we'll just fade out there, shall we? Without peering ahead. In the interest of discretion.

i'm finding it harder to be a gentleman

(Why are all the songs looking for a sad girl?)

Chris Collision sat at the bar, rinsed already in the early evening. His nails were already filthy. A little nervous energy left, he shredded his coaster, dropping bits where the judged the ashtray should have been.

Fucking California.

Some hours into this session, it wasn't clear he knew a handjob from a hangnail, fixated on a wash of needs fanned out like a half-shuffled deck. A plane ticket, maybe, or a shallow grave, a hug, the death of hope, solace, passion, a companionable ear, a mouth around his meat, clean socks and a new notebook, a month to ride the rails with a job at the end, better gin, a ringing phone and being left alone, a wife you don't have to live with and a life you can, a woman, another drink, a woman a woman a woman.

Head-flick flagged the barman, "What're you looking for?"

A tiny woman walked by, hips oddly wide on a sticky frame barely five feet high, stiff gait in cowboy boots under child's jeans. "Somethin' that hurts a lot less than this," Collision muttered, head turned mostly to check the ass.

"What you say, partner?"

"Gin and tonic. Splash of bitters."

"Sure. 'Nother Bud?"


It only really went bad when he reached for his wallet and winced. Peril of placing keepsakes near your holdings' that the simplest commercial transactions can morph instantly into real fucking bummers cuz you just want to buy a goddamned round for yourself and you stagger onto a little chunk of metal she gave you you didn't remember was still in there, tucked behind yr ID. Black hole for emotions, there, pulling all intention and heart on into it and seriously just wrecking the remainder of the evening. Load of bullshit there.

the Same Boy You've Always Known

Collision had gotten himself a job. It wasn't a good job, but it was a job. He got off in the afternoon, tired in the brain and body but his heart racing and ready for...something. His lizard-brain and spine firing irregular and wild, every nerve and thew thrilling and desperate for company. And still he was new in town, another typical lonely man in a lonely city, so the company was the company of strangers, the sharing little more than proximity.

So the post-work was a slow comedown, a couple of hours of relaxing amidst and into the partial satisfaction(s) from copping a buzz alone in public, studying faces like the background music and just floating, semi-permeable, body and else separated and simultaneously more one than normal*, eventually able just to be without the tensions and rage of normal life.

*Vinegar and oil not yet well blended.

Little Room b/w Offend in Every Way

Chris Collision didn't actually hate himself. Of an early afternoon, he'd recamp to his rented room, his bed a loft like barracks. Grunt a somewhat amiable grunt to any roommate, spend most of his time in the kitchen.

Specifically, one time:
Chris Collision strode through his apartment, breaking no rhythm with nods to present housemates nor guests, a frown for piss darker and more pungent than he'd expected from a shift spent, in the main, hydrating.

One egg fried hard and cut to strips, a quarter of an onion cooked low, four corn tortillas and if it's a good week, maybe half a Roma tomato, some avocado. Once even some cilantro.

The whole thing: two cast iron pans, one cleaver. His entire kitchen fleet culinary arsenal squadron.

An hour or so under the homemade loft, leaning back in his metal folding chair; one foot propped high, the clipboard on his knee and scribble his big noir tone poems, love songs to the books that showed him a world behind the world, where lonely men have heroism, stubborn men are rewarded and angry men find reasonable targets.

The bartender, a vast man and placid in his bowling shirt, took geologic time picking his songs. Collision, possessed of no particular sense of humor when waiting on a drink nor propriety at any time, quipped "I like your tent," when the guy got back around behind the bar.

His annoying husky growl actually carried audibly, this time, but at least he didn't whine upon the "the' fuck out, Jack" edict.

i can learn

Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien is elderly, attenuated, superannuated, at this point. Half a geist, shuffling around his Santa Destroy cottage (reduced by time and malevolent entropy to a trailer) in a peignoir, vermillion paste caked on thin lips and sunken cheeks, hiking up his thighhighs, he hasn't got long left. He hasn't had long left for a long time now.

He knows about Collision--he knows all fucking about Chris Collision, you c'n believe that, ace chief--those scant miles to the northwest, but they haven't met. O-Brien hasn't worked with anybody in/for years, when the ragged remnants of the Enthusiasts of the Inscrutable purged even such fringey-religious types as as the venerable Brofather his own self. (This decision O-Brien never tires of calling "a clerical error".) Plus, Collision isn't really O-Brien's style, grading out pretty piss-poorly on verve, panache, and grit, though scoring pretty well on vim and zest. Dash and flair still count as incompletes.

Here is something the aging, doddered (doggering, aged? adding? added? doggerel?) wizard knows: his potency derives from his abandonment of his immediate family (cf apostasy, abdication). His absence has facilitated misfortune, and that precise quantity of energy has been his to wield and direct. That family is all gone now, of course, so that well is dry and O-Brien has become feeble.

Here is something the aged wizard does not know: there is one relative left. He is ignorant of this relative, of her existence and her proximity; he is ignorant of her impending fate and the rushgush of energy her tragedy will unleash thru him one last time. He doesn't know his daughter's going to die.

He doesn't know he's going to die.

(Seriously: magic fucks you up that much; he can genuinely conceive what no rational mind could, that his essence might continue unabated eternal.)

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

Ross was on her fifth cigarette of the afternoon, and it was 1.30. She'd been awake since 9, up since 11, propped artfully in her window, smoking. Thinking and smoking. Early, her fingers yellow.

Sun flooded the room, limning each mote of dust and flake of ash, the sleeping bag on the bare mattress, the thick rubber-banded sheaf awaiting attention. Ross was tired after another night of gusty, light-grey sleep, and was tired of these days of broken things and nothing to do, days spent, like this one, rerevis(it)ing her sexual CV.

She was worried about her heart, a little, because she couldn't seem to bring her self to care much--nothing for the boys who'd pledged their love (and later, exploding in apoplectic snot and tears with rage and bitterness at her betrayal, pledging their loathing enmity), nothing for the men who'd applied themselves to the study of her orgasm, nothing for the unappealing admirers who'd wretchedly given, nothing for the husbands those whole-lifed attempts to a life, nothing for the wives abandoned, at least for a time, in her inconstant wake, nothing for the young women seduced out of the coffee shops, or the young men fucked for their roofed beds out of the bars, nothing for the times her whole heart had been in someone's hands, nothing for the times she'd suddenly become bored, then wholly lost, nothing for the devoted, broken men who gave her everything but a healthy, happy partner, nothing for the time that passed and the times the two people then couldn't recognize or remember the two who had been, nothing for the happy men whose dicks always got hard, nothing for the sad men whose cocks faltered and made 'verything worse, usually irrevocably. Nothing for the men who'd strayed inexplicably, or the men she'd wandered away from unpredictable capricious as an ill-flown kite, nothing for the addicted or for the entirely disassociated. Nothing for the men who wouldn't touch her on the rag, nothing for men who relished it.

Worst was nothing for herself, the common element in her entirely unsurprising and unexceptional history. Not even her usual amiable self-loathing registered. Like looking over a stranger's checkbook, in a language she didn't read--the numbers the same, the quantities in and out, but nothing attached or attending.

She could feel--felt--some little despair at not feeling, and this way emptiness curled and recurved into frothy feeling like bubbled water ensured it was time to drink. Unbeautiful Ross unpropped herself from the window and swooped up those acoutrements necessary for leaving, left.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

slippery catfish in imminent danger

Sometime some years back in oh let's say the '50s there was a bunch of scientists dicking around with the gloppy fruit result of their dicking around with molecules. Grabassing around the lab it were determined discovered that a glob of their new, useless substance, when cold and pulled would transmorph into frank strands; something close enough to previous nature-manipulations both animal and vegetal to lend itself to old known technologies like oh let's say weaving.

Which is why at a rather different time Charles Stolichnaya could stand in a wildly overpopulated kitchen wearing nothing but woven plastic from the hips down. (Girding your loins with heavy technology applied to dead dinosaurs is, beyond disputation, cool.) Shiny stiff plastic pants were rolled to just under the beginning of the curve bulge of his statuesque calves. Plastic socks were pushed to a foldy pool around each ankle. Wide wedges pushed against a stained, sticky floor as Stolichnaya's grapefruit machete twirled gaily, its mottled blade glinting consummately in smoke-clogged air.

The Rain's-Gone Cotillion rumbled splinterwise around him as Beat tried to wrap up his salad preparation. Smoking a joint like a noir hero'd smoke a cigarette, pinched nigh-forgotten between tight, insouciant lips, in honor of the permanent banishing of scarcity everywhere forever did not seem to be helping any momentum except the errant erratic sort possessed by his blade, and curlicued figure-eighteens were traced multiply as more than one partygoer had occasion to wish either they'd kept a wide berth from the kitchen or that 'ass would put the fucking cleaver away already.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

living on earth 101

The Thorn Triad once had a conversation, sometime in the middle 50s, all tweaked out of their fucking minds on speed prescribed so they could reattain their pre-kid figures post-kids. Flawless makeup over pallid skin, their hair starting to fray and stray, motormouthed and intense. Children, in the background, frolicked and scampered in their repressed ways. Mothers leaned toward one another, caparisoned in pastel plastics, ignoring their thin cold coffee in cheap china cups. The conversation they had escaped time and fled to the past. Eventually, the brute fact of vampiric activity combined with this conversation into an idea, and the Ministry of Science began to work on human-driven giant robots. As previously mentioned.*

"What If...a NINJA...was also a VAMPIRE!?"

"Idiot. THere's no such thing as ninjas."

"A highly-trained stealth warrior, a man already capable of evading any eye, penetrating any fortress, snuffing out a life near or far with hand, steel or even magic...suddenly gifted with a thirst for the stuff of very souls... What defense would--could!--humanity mankind muster 'gainst such a dire threat?"

"Obviously, only giant robots, controlled from within by tormented young jocks, could hope to stand between the huddled masses and these shadowy menaces."

"Yes! Technology and magic controlled into organic mineral armor, which can only be controlled by those why can Wear Their Souls on the Outside!"

"The vampires would HUNGER for such souls--"

"Well, yeah. Duh."

"But government magineers would build cunning Infernal Engines to boost the potency of these externalized souls, giving them, probably, the powers of saints-turned-angels! Heavenly fire theirs to command, their heartbeats windstorms--truly are they become Gaia's kidney and liver, filtering out the toxins feeding on her healthy micro-souls...

Yes, and as those filters, they would be able to command demons, tiny flying gremlins, helpmeet monsters with jagged faces and sharp hearts like chipped flint. Little rude tools, those hearts, big as Churchill's fists, and the monsters live strapped 'cross the waists and trunks of heroes, ready in bandoliers to deploy and seize environmental advantages.

Meanwhile, ninja vampires skulk and sneak, owning every darkness and exploding (from a lurk) into the throats of any nightmare. Eat like wolves made of termites, travelling always under the cover of shadow."

*Exposition is hard, guy.

beginning of the contradiction

[After WWI; left coast.]

Imagine a pair of leather(n) overalls, stitched thickly into a denim speedsuit. The effect is that of in-built chaps and apron, with belt-mount hardpoints, and bandolier loops ringing thigh and calf, crossing trunk. Charles Stolichnaya drags himself out of the steam tunnels, dusts off his home-made uniform, and prepares himself for another shift at the Ministry of Science.

He's essentially a janitor.

Most of his day is spent cleansing and polishing in the sub-basement assigned to Cold Metals. He looks like a robotic bug in home-made goggles--gleaming bronze bent bands retaining flashing disks of transparent aluminum, rings of cracked black cahoutec snug on his face, four leather(n) straps holding down the entire apparatus. (And butchering the haircut his long-suffering landlady gave him the other night.)

On his shoulders rest woefully underpadded canvas straps for the steam-power-pack he carries. It powers two pistons spinning a wheel to which attachments may be bolted, enhancing his work capacity. The glow of radium greens away, everywhere.

The sub-basement is vast, criscrossed with catwalks, and housing many of the Ministry's largest projects. Stolichnaya is finishing the polish job (chamois flying over brass and silver) on a collection of squat cylinders resolved into a vaguely humanoid form--"A good shape for a prototype design," sez Dr. Tesla, "because everything's gotta start somewhere." That august personage is due by after lunch to show Stolichnaya how to apply the newly-developed whalewax to the clunking automaton. (Stolichnaya has yet to develop a feel for the manifold possibilities of Leviathan Linament, and middle management has acquiesced to Tesla's desire to have a hands-on with the young janitor.)

The Ministry is developing humanoid armor for exclusively technical reasons--their goal being a specific kind of "enhancement of human capacities," a big device amplifying all a human's physical abilities seemed pretty natural. Plus, tanks, cranes and planes all prove to have control interfaces which are surpassingly daunting. It is theorized that a tool that walks and grips like a woman might be easier to operate.

Not that they've found an operator yet. "Gibbering madness" is too strong a description for the reaction of the candidates to being encased in the HollowMan, but at the very least everybody's been pretty creeped out. If your heart seemed replaced by wheezing bladders, your joints now grinding gearwork, bowels filling with cinder and ash, you might well be prone to bad vibes.

It takes Charles Stolichnaya metric forever to get to work in the work in the morning. He's got to ride his high-wheeled bike thru the steam tunnels connecting Long Shore City with Coast Hill City. Sheer distance combines with the rudely paved streets and his tendency to dawdle. Luckily, he's got plenty of his time, because he has, in the parlance of a later era, no life.

Two years earlier, he'd ridden his bike from Gorge City, where he could no longer afford to study, nearly all the way to Queen City, where he'd been spawned, abandoned. Alas, his ordinary had juddered itself (in)to pieces, and he'd hopped trains the rest of the way to Coast Hill City. His half of an engineering degree got him in the door at the Ministry, but he's not yet worked his way up to bottlewasher.

He lives in the Breadfan Arms, a SRO built over the Four Winds Bar, a long brown rundown drive that Stolichnaya can barely afford to set foot in. Of a saturday, he'll ramble downstairs to wash dishes for the cook and sneak pitchers of porter, an engagement comprising the whole of his social life apart from the Ministry.

He'll start his saturday by waking up, still in his homemade speedsuit, strip, and pad down the hallway to the water closet. Washing by hand, he buckles the 'suit over the swingarm of the casement window to let it hangdry all afternoon. Most of his day, he'll sit on the floor, leaning against his bed, reading shoplifted pulps, or scribblesketching on one or another paper bag. A foul cigar's rarely far. Push-ups, masturbation. Staring out the window.

His writing is a multi-layered collage* of memories, plans, and dreams. In turn: (1) the Latvian exodus he hardly retains, the unspeakable blandness and emotional aridity of his Queen City childhood, his two years at sea, his two years of college, his tramp time in the before-now. (2) Bikes, mostly, but sundry airships, pencils that sharpen themselves, an updated sporran, some way to carry a music hall in your pocket. (3) Sex, mostly--Charles hasn't had sex since college, and even that had been a meager ration compared to his time at sea.

Like most young men who've been on their own for half a decade, Stolichnaya feels himself rather old, swathed in responsibility, affecting resignation until it's internalized enough to expel the disappointment that this...apparently, is all there is. Obviously he inclines a little toward the humorless.

So though he'd love--love--to break off a zesty piece, he won't really attempt. The rationalization being that he's too broke and bearded to attract a reasonable female, and too drunk and tired of the scene to go and rent a woman. (His self-involvement is such that it won't occur to him that he lives in a large, alienated urban surround, likely chock-full of women as lonely, lovely, and longing as himself. Why, it's likely that in his very own SRO building, there's a young poetess nursing a similar set of hedges against connection, similar ambivalences with respect to intimacy...) His buddy Potatoes, the cook at Four Winds Bar, has him doing experiments, though, with not-masturbating, and trying to get in touch with that infernal unfocused energy which results.

Potatoes tends to blow Stolichnaya's mind. This is a worldage still not quite adapted to dada, while Potatoes seems already to have read everything and discarded most except in the ways he can juxapose it. He's a seriously unhandsome man--scraggly beard, implausibly thin and rather clumsy, sundials for nose and adam's apple, zero chin, awful bangs over a forehead not quite symmetrical. Dresses like color-clashing is the toll he pays to get on Handjob Highway, heading toward Bustanut City.

But he's read everything, and doesn't seem to mind talking about any of it. He's got a disconcerting habit of rehearsing an argument before marshalling aught against it, but Solichnaya kinda likes it, finds the ebb and flow compelling and soothing. Plus it's sorta cool how Potatoes doesn't mind doing all the work in a conversation.

*Yes, I know the word palimpest.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A terrific little Book

Letterhead: Vaguely Labial
[Stockton Tunnel, Next Realm]

My one and only Collision/Stolichnaya/Sayonara/Zholtok,

I received your manuscript, Bloodied Fangs Shattered by Mine Iron Fist: A Esse Zholtok joint, and suddenly my hand is covered in sperm, or something concomitant (I cringe to think what), and since then I have put up for sale almost Everything: space maps, pentimento, virgins. On account of these changes, the three of us wrote some poems, which we enclose, and also the business card of a good dentist. You have the most beautiful fonts, and use them to lick my eyes, which I blink furiously, as I have never been very Visual. Publication, naturally, is out of the question. But just in case, how much money do you have? I loved you and only you in that movie. I want you to write your next book without clothes on. What is the longest answer you can think of? I still collect things like Economic Underdevelopment, Exploited Masses, and Extraordinary New Conditions. Don’t have your flows when you come to the Realm next, or I’ll compel you to a second spectacle of my inspirational sestinas.

Your Agent


“Drill Me, The Drain is Full of Hair”
“The Difference Between My Whole Tongue & You”
“Did You Remember to Flush?”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'll get you, I mean it

We might could (r)amble back up into The Future for a smidge, check in on ol' Collision. Seems the 'bag's been busy, underneath our radar, Going Thru Changes.

Tanned, rustic and uneasy under new firmament, the big fella bestrides the narrow Bay Area streets like an awkward, oft'-unhappy clod. But he's trying, in his limited way--hittin' those bricks, pressing some flesh, and continuing this late attempt to revise himself by swapping the surround. (Early returns suggest he's slumped into a rut anew, a sort of Slough of Despond retailored for the aggressively faithless. Hey, you try keeping your chin up with a belief structure characterized in the main by acceptance of limitation and scepticism re: transcendance.)

Anyways, he's a little down the moment, but yeahsure he'll befine. This is neither the hour for surrender nor an excuse for dilly-dallying!

He blew the core of his savings on a (fairly) shiny El Camino, which he can neither insure nor fuel. Nor, frightfully, can he aver its utility in tracking down that noted blogger.


The TT hunch on their haunches, gazing into a cauldron:

He jerks his head over to each side, sharply, to feel the pops before shoving chin to chest and heaving his shoulders downward. Working his jaw a bit, his lips purse to deposit a large amoeba of chew spit to the side of his boots.

This man stands to the side of a McMansion's door, an hour before dawn. It's chilly--there's dew everywhere--but he stands still, now, in a hooded sweatshirt over a woolen flannel, both with sleeves cut off. (Under those, where we can't see, is an old Iron Maiden shirt, arm-holes deeply cut.) His loins are girded with black fatigues, rolled above scarred jump boots. Part grunt, part sigh as he thrusts his hands into the hoody's marsupial pocket, pats...something, and squares himself before the door.

Splinters heave and groan as he strains each muscle and thew to make it through on the third kick.

Three kicks through a rich bitch's oak door makes a lot of noise, which is why a house apparently asleep a moment ago now disgorges three Irish Wolfhounds and two quick-stepping dudes in black suits. All five of them have studded collars of a strangely pale leather. The bipeds cradle, as they rush, sleek, stylish submachine guns, nicely complementing their sunglasses. The dogs brandish massive teeth and their sturdy frames, seemingly hewn from from something equally horse and bear.

Zholtok guesses wrong and goes first for the dogs, slide-stepping diagonally forward, dropping low and meeting the lead dog shoulder-to-shoulder. Anybody's guess whether the big man's plans might've worked, because the suits choose this moment to open fire, killing the two massive hounds nearest Zholtok. The suits are pretty good--short, controlled bursts--but they're too close together, as they discover when Zholtok takes them both down by hefting the nearest dog-corpse before him and rushing them both.

Right boot stomps hard on one man's throat as his left hand snatches a clip knife from his back pocket, then opens the blade; Zholtok sinks to a knee and shoves the blade into the second suit's eye, all in two or three barely-broken motions, and totally without looking.

Grates "Nice shoes, faggots." (Which isn't fair--they're vintage Air Force Ones, in excellent condition. Also the men's sexual habits really aren't relevant.) He hurtles up the stairs, the knife dripping viscously in his paw.

"What the fuck is this about?"

"Esse Zholtol, vampire hunter. Moderately popular series after the turn of the century. Pulp novels with strangely philosophical underpinnings...according to the back of the book, anyway."

"Hunh. Looks like Collision learns how to plot, and how to finish off a project!"

His deadly cargo joggles in its pouch, and doom surges toward the non-woman waiting regally upstairs.

"Well, most of the plots are pretty basic, and pretty recognizable, if you know Collision's tastes in fiction. He pretends that recycling that stuff is like 'sampling' and gave all these interviews about plagiarism as literary technique and all that shit, but I like genre fiction, and it's hard to see the guy as anything other than cynical, campy, patronizing, and full of shit."

"Strong words!"

"I'm a strong woman. I'll say this--his premise is pretty good. World's pretty recognizable, but there's a breed of vampires. This guy, Arturs Sandis "S.A." Zholtok doesn't know about any of this until one night he gets too drunk and under a BART bridge, he's attacked. Now, vampires are tough critters--generally, an average 'sucker should be able to overpower between five and ten humans. So it's odd that S.A. fends one off, no worse for wear despite having been taken in his cups.

The world reels around him, and he finds himself in a cave, near a pool of bubbling...something. Something that glows (greenish and eldritch, duh) and hums (lowly, like the rapid beating of a house-sized heart). Still he's got a weakly-twitching vamp by the neck. Gravity and the laws of visual perspective are both hella odd in that cavern.

The pool starts talking. It explains that its task, since the 'lutionary appearance of humankind, has been to usher souls from failed bodies into some sort of Next Realm, about which vanishingly little is said, but it's presented as a good thing, all in all. Pool goes on: vampires, with the thing where they feed on bloodsouls, prevent souls from attaining this transit. Over time, this has gotten to be a Big Deal, as the flow has slowed, and the pool is starving."

"This sounds vaguely familiar."

"Yeah, guy's a hack. So the pool tells SA that he can get powered-up and Go Forth to Kill Vampires, freeing their stolen bloodsoul-food to attain that Next Realm. Zholtok digs the program, learns the necessary ritual, and is On His Way.

The kinda cool part is the contrast between Zholtok and the vamps. Vamps tend to be stereotypical rich Euro-trash types--"

"Elites as parasites?"

"Totes. An' ol' SA, he's this huge shitkicker white-trash loser prick. Who essentially preys on vamps in the proportion in which they prey on humans."

"So he's a match for five or ten of them?"

"Yup. So the vamps are cheesed off, cuz not only is this guy kicking the shit out of them, but he's just tacky."

"Sounds awful."

"Well, the guy watched a lot of tv."

never get off the boat

While talking about small numbers of hard men on large boats, it is important not to be taken as talking about that wide world; I do not establish some correspondence, I reject Plato's manuvers--the making large of the small, the whole putting-things-in-caves bit. I don't want any thinking about 'oh, things happen on this boat like they do in the world'. No. Things in the world. Happen. Like they do on the boat.

People like to have sex. If you bring together a bunch of people together, in the absence of people they'd perhaps rather ordinarily be sexing up, sex is still going to be happening. But not on the Carpet-Bag! And not because of any authorial squeamishness, either...believe me, I got pig-friggin' reams of slash about Sayonara and Trelawney, and I'm looking for a likely-enough slot in the structure to feature same; it's just that aboard ship, the circumspect and shy aspects of their personalities wax. About the closest they come is a Wide berth around the bathrooms and the sack time, in order to offer masturbation with both maximum discretion and plausible deniability. On both sides.


You get, right, that there's no running water aboard the Spouter-Inn? Such bathing as happens involves the clean ashes of a dung fire, but in the main it's just two unyoung men well-adapted to the grime regime and its requirements. Contributes to a not-unpleasing bandity sort of a look, and an absolute rebuke to those childhood photos featuring sweater-vests.


Problem with history, or anyways "history", is how most folks still buy this notion progress. Most history is sort of a cod history, a bluffer's guide, and like all ideologies, history's just a handle bolted onto the world so's life can be made intelligible enough to bear. There's this paradox--you look at each individual things as it passes through time, and sure looks like that thing gets worse. 9 things outta 10, 'nyway.

So how overall are people thinking things (in gen'ral, as a (w)hole) is getting better?

The particular thing at hand what degraded over time is this tune Collision's humming (pretty well) as he assembles for his agent the manuscript for Bloodied Fangs Shattered by Mine Iron Fist: A Esse Zholtok joint. The tune used to be a delightful shanty once sung by Billy Trelawney--now the only words Collision "knows" are the chorus, which he renders as:
"I like my testicles
hey hey hey
I like my testicles" (& so on...)


An Original POEM
by that noted blogger...

To my pupil, Otis,

I take leave of my life.
My footsteps carry me
like clouds upon wind,
drifting in the pale light of the dawning day...
I go in search of adventure.

A poet who don't know it.


Four (4) books published under pseudonyms, determined to have been written by members of the Thorn Triad by that noted blogger:
Be the Girl All Guys Want
Understanding Men
Pick up Hot Women Nightly



The escape artist is anti-christian; maybe supra-xian. Xns posit enduring this world and recieving (maybe) a greater reward in a different world, later. Transcendance with time. Escape artists posit transcending right now--poof! No more chains! Here I am--here. It's me. (Not a soul, not an angel.) And I'm existing my ass off in this world of yours with its locks and its chains, but totally on my own mother-jumping terms.

You want to understand the trick?


Chains and locks can be escaped. That's the trick.

(The real trick is from their side: the claim that the locks, fences, clubs, chains and whatever are what has the power in this world.)


Dressing For Adventure:
Now, then, always &c

Men of a certain cast form relationships of various kinds with mere objects, you'd be surprised. Chris Collision spends a great deal of pleasant time wearing Ben Davis work pants--despite disliking their look*--in large measure because:
With zero effort You Can put the following things in the pockets without really bulging or sagging or looking like a jack-ass:

Front Left:

Cellular Telephone

Steel Ring for Pantleg (to keep unsnagg'd from Bike Chain)

Front Right:


.mp3 Player; earbud headphones

Marks-A-Lot marker

Benchmade knife

Back Left:


Can of Chewing Tobacco

Keys (multifarious)

Back Right:


And scattered around, according to whim, maybe a bike's front light, a pair of riding gloves, some cash, etc.

Nor is it uncommon for Collision to mount carrying pouches upon his leather belt, with a multitool, maybe a flashlight. And naturally he'd disdain leaving the house without his large bike bag--known to the ancient Enthusiasts of the Inscrutable as a Bag of Tricks.

Beat Sayonara girds his loins with a similar amount, though modulo the better part of a century's difference in the nature of the tools. No multitool nor clip knife for Charles, but a fixed-blade knife at his belt and a buck-knife in his pocket. Ansible key. The proverbial ass pocket of whiskey, married with a flask of straight gin. Couple stubs of pencil, sheafs of paper.

It would occur to neither man to carry any condom.

Don't infer that the obvious organizational challenge in/of change has much to do with why these men tend to strap on their trousers and keep them on, baby. Their own home oppositional subcultures positively value dirtiness, and a certain degree of simplicity: while both men retain vast quantities of information frozen into various media, otherwise their respective belongings'd fit comfortably in a hatchback.

*The cut is okay, baggy but stiff enough to avoid shapelessness; the fabric pills horribly after each laundering, unlike the similar Dickies brand, but the big problem is the line of the front pockets, which sports a curve Collision finds simultaneously fruity and vaguely labial.

**Another of Collision's staunchest brand loyalties. Stronger even than Adidas or Sega. Like unto Nintendo or Coca-Cola (Diet).

***Stolichnaya favors leather(n) pants, so pockets aren't really his thing. His Adventure Gear leans toward cunning little boxes stashed in the folds of his poety, piratic(al) shirts and bulky leather(n) belts with integrated pockets. The boxes thing he picked up in Japan, reining in ronin, freelancing for sundry constabularies; the belt thing is why he's known in certain circles as the Father of the Fanny Pack.

He also has little pockets in his hat and in some of his gaily-patterned scarves. Scarfs? Scarves.


between Charles Stolichnaya and Rose [sic] Selavy

"Yrs is a bachelor's position."

"Come again?"

"You have any kids?"


"See? Invest in the future, only then roll back unto me with your valentines to risk & uncertainty. You claim to fight the o'erweeningly powerful? You yrselves have a lot of power...which you (would) oppose to ours, which seeks only to protect everybody. Including the absolutely powerless, those you neither know nor care about. Those you'd abandon to their own."

"Protect? Or control?"

"One needs must control those who know not what they do."

"Prett' much ever'body, by yr lahts..."

(Stolichnaya has a sharpish drawl--a tall corn twang, vowels curving and cutting like a scimitar--on occasion. Tired, or dead drunk, sometimes for effect.)

"I would take away yr car keys. I would lock you in the rumpus room to keep you from driving drunk. I will repress the irresponsible for the favor of the vulnerable..."


Stolichnaya uses an ancient incantation, taught him by O-Brien some years back--
"what makes a bullet fly in a straight line?
why are people so unkind?"

His mind thus opened to the living information of the universe, he's immedately buffeted by a couple inconsequential recent facts:
Isn't it a little early for the pipe?
Did you learn your lesson?

But he's on his way to What He Wants to Know.


Back in the Day, Charles Stolichnaya came up as a jack-ass. He never did get down with the safety--his allegiance lay with the ordinary until well after his death. (Bike riders are always on the bleeding edge of Dressing for Adventure.) His enthusiasm for the velocipede drew him, with a kind of lugubrious inexorability, into the Enthusiasts of the Inscrutable and their Big Doings. Never mind exactly how, cowboy.

Probably Collision won't get to traipse a similar path. Poor fucker.


A Scene: Collision attempts to Help Billy Trelawney Fix their Gainly Airship.

"Geet the fuuck away from my lug-nuts with those pliers, Sayonara."


[from an interview with Chris Collision in 2022, months before he shot himself]

"Here's the deal, sparklehorse--vampires are real. And these books are barely ficdtion. I gussy 'em up a little, foreground the pussy and the punching, but Esse is me, the vampires are that noted blogger."


"Nevermind. Lemme explain a different way. I carried this around in my wallet for 13 years."

SF Chronicle, 3jun2008, B2.

"One case that intrigued authorities involved a prostitution ring that specialized in underage girls and allegedly catered to influential civic leaders.

Garnier was one of the officers assigned to do surveillance of the brothel on the edge of the Mission District."

(Garnier was shot, off-duty, but an AMT .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol, once in the temple, once in the right side.)

"These underagers? Permanently underage, if you get my drift. They preyed on those 'civic leaders' to secure their own power and wealth. Garnier shot two of the vamps the night of the famous raid, and was killed for it by an Internal Affairs officer, herself a vampire. And everybody knows it!"

"How come you're not targeted for exposing this?"

"Who says I haven't been? Like I said, tho', Esse's me...and we're a couple robust hombres."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

for Mister Miracle

"Why are you trying to watch Houdini performances?"

One nice thing about having a living Mister of Mastery like Flynn O-Brien around--you'll have a hyper-hacked ansible around, allowing you to cast your receptions thru time and space alike. Hard work, controlling and focussing, but then controlling and focussing one's attention is always pretty tough. Billy Trelawney has interrupted the singing of a shanty# to ask Charles Stolichnaya a question.

"Cuz I don't get it."

"Stage magics?"

"Naw, that makes sense, that hunger to see the world behind the world,* a struggle towards the transcendent 'n' 'nexplicable. What I don't get is this escape artist nonsense."$

"What's not to get?"

"...the appeal?"

"Don't most follks feel...chained, restrained, trapped? Are not most people truly confined in this history they inhabit and inherit but surely never chose? These little men and women--chickens and pigeons--herded about with fence and club, constrained to think the way a savagely few demand they think...dozens of iron prisons gerrymandered and always already refortified..."

"So they're tacitly responding to the metaphor, hn?"

"Yah. Explains the appeal of this stuff to (only) the masses. Rich folk neither need nor want their worlds mystified/enriched...they know how things work, they see their place clearly, and they're fine with it. And they don't like the escape metaphor either, for obvious reasons."

"Prolly, yeah, they'd prefer to continue to weigh like a nightmare on the bodies and brains of the living."

"Prolly. Not to change the subject, Beat, but if yer done watching the Tube..."


"Potatoes has intercepted some of the TT's communiques, plucked direct from the--"

"Luminiferous ether. Gotcha."

"Mostly--again--about milk...and moustaches."

"A potent totem, Jew. We best step lively 'til Mars, and e'en there, our backs best not remain unwatched...but then, you do know more'n yr share, eh?"+

Trelawney merely grunts an acknowledgement, attending in the main to his cigar. "What you think? Consult with Potatoes, try an' figger what the sororal order of sinister oddities's up to?"

O-Brien, who dislikes being bothered at home, has already dispatched a...dispatch, sorta a bluffer's guide to TT messages and their characteristic eldritch imagery. It goes like so.

'Milk is pretty xparent: a product made by a body that another body may grow. Physical analog of soul. May actually carry, xmit soul, as electricity may carry a message, or as stone might carry magnetism. Tied for importance with lesser blood and semen; more important than tears, or sweat, or any production of lung. Probably less important than greater blood. Or lensed breath.

Moustaches are the greatest symbol yet discovered for authority. Think on cops, firemen, politicians, performers in the erotic theatre. 'Nuff said.

Possibilites of combination? Fucking...spooky, lads. I mention only a few spacklings of potential.

Think on the nature of an authority rooted in soul-food. What resistance might we muster? Beware any mug sporting such a 'stache. I fear the new whiteness of Fu Manchu's eponymous face-fuzz may reflect his co-optation by the TT. --Leave that fucker to me.

All collocations entail simultaneous combination, as above, and contradiction, so below. Clearly, we must exploit and thrive upon the clash between healthy, nurtured souls and the nature of authority, so anathema thereto. Our keyword of resistance must be:
No Gods; No Masters; No Dairy.

#Shanty goes like so:
I walked the sands of time, and I loved and lost
They give their bodies to two time whores
They gambled every thing they got
A greedy mind cut out the cards

They even loved with another man's wife
They even loved her with other men
They've also drank a lot of wine
Some men have even had a good time

My life is natural, hey, hey, hey
My life is natural, I said, I said, I said
My life is natural, whoa, whoa, whoa
My life is natural
Maybe tomorrow a change in the life
Of the man in the street's gonna come
Maybe tomorrow--hope it's tomorrow

You got the sands of time and got 'em high
They've done their best to wreck their mind
Instead of joke they told a lie
They started wars so men could die now

To try to suss out what is evil
And what is good will take a mind wiser than mine
To start to setting the world to right
Is gonna take another Christ now

My life is natural, hey, hey, hey
My life is natural, I said, I said, I said
My life is natural, whoa, whoa, whoa
My life is natural
Maybe tomorrow a change in the life
Of the man in the streets gonna come
Maybe tomorrow--hope it's tomorrow

My life is natural, hey, hey, hey
My life is natural, I said, I said, I said
My life is natural, whoa, whoa, whoa
My life is natural, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
My life is natural, hey, hey, hey
My life is natural, I said, I said, I said
My life is natural, whoa, whoa, whoa
My life is natural

*Talking cars, train stations to magical ghettoes, streets where cats all fly...

$Also he doesn't get the urge to 'understand the trick'. By constitution and long experience, Stolichnaya loves to know just that it's magic.

+Billy Trelawney, years before, had bestrode the canals--and annals--of Mars, negotiating that rough-hewn frontier with panache and a deft violence discussed there to this day. It's an oral tradition: the only written record details only the aftermath of that period, when Throckmorton= had retired to open a tavern. He wholly inexplicably had written a moderately-popular memoir: The Barrooms of Barsoom: How the Toughest Cop on Mars Retired and Opened a Saloon.

Which Stolichnaya thinks is just a terrific little book.

=As he was then known.