Sometimes I’m a Lizard

 

“Oooo-oui! That looks like some of that “High Powered Rocket Fuel” I’ve been hearing so much about lately!” said Wesley, wide-eyed. His breathing was in clumps, rolling out of him and down his chest as he handled the unmarked bottle of clear viscuous liquid Norman had produced from his orange satchel, twirling it slowly like a rotisserie gas-station hotdog, the liquid shuffling over itself in globs.

“Ah, why, yes Wes, it is some of that “High Powered Rocket Fuel”, replied Norman, tongue poking out of the edge of his mouth.

Things were getting out of hand; I wasn’t sure why I came here. There are those evenings when one realizes the exact proportions of their own depth only the moment after they’ve plunged slightly below, slightly too far to get back. Wes of course is a Mariana Trench of spiritual and psychic exploration- this I know. But evenings like this, when Wes puts on his multi-colored lights and that music, and strong drinks gave way to various strains of bud, and normal conversation turns mystical, and that strange aura burns off Wes and you feel it too, to say nothing of Wesley’s strange friends like Norman, who take too many washroom trips and spend slightly too much time in there and then foment a certain sinister weirdness- these evenings tend to sweep you away; High Powered Rocket Fuel hardly seems out of place. I am compelled.

“Well, let’s see what all the fuss is about” I say. Jesus! Why did I say that!

“Howard! Good man!” Wesley eyes appear to glow blue. He uncaps the bottle, tilts it, viscuous fluid inching towards him. “How much do I need?” he asks.

“Not much. A sip will do; a gulp will probably be over-doing.”

“Ha! Well, Norm, I’d be nothing if not a gulper and one who belabors any point that could be made. Here’s a point…of departure! Ha! Let’s go there! Let’s just abandon rational thought for the rest of tonight!” He takes a considerable chug; his face contorts and scrunches. “Good Lord! Miserable! It’s like eating glue!”

“It helps if you drink something with it.”

“Fucking right.” Norman has already taken a sip. I try to gauge how much he’s taken, but depth perception has become an issue for me.

The bottle is in my right hand. The liquid looks like molasses, clear, thick, granules of varying size floating around at varying paces.

“Jesus, it’s like a cosmos, uh, a galaxy!”. I’ve just said that aloud; no indication, thankfully, of either of them hearing me….or Spencer. Spencer! I forgot: Spencer is on the couch, passed out; he surpassed his depth almost immediately and has drowned, metaphorically speaking. Although, in the red and green light emanating from Wesley’s lamps, Spencer looks….spectral. Wrong word, probably. Jesus, I shouldn’t be drinking any of this. A sip, though; a sip.

But, of course, its more than a sip; tooooo drunk. A paste-like texture, warm; I imagine akin to eating damp paper towel.

“How quick does this work?” I stutter.

“Now” says Norman. He cocks an eyebrow; tongue now drooping out of the left side of his mouth, a curt and tense smirk slowly ascending up his face. His facial hair looks like writhing ants. Oh god: horrible paranoia: I can’t trust Norman.

Don’t trust Norman. He just wants to get us fucked up to laugh at us, or worse. But he is Wes’ friends….Jesus. I feel as though my legs are being slowly hoisted up in a hospital bed. It seems as though I can imagine a scenario of hospitalization for what seems to be intestinal inflammation whilst still maintaining stuttering conversation with Wes, who is now victim to a fit of giggles.

“Right now, I really want to watch television; I hope to God it works! I’d be devastated, just DEVASTATED otherwise! Hahaha!” he howls, head tilted back on the couch.

Television: Soccer Highlights: Sunderland against Newcastle: Sunderland wins in dramatic fashion at the last moment: Paulo Di Canio, manager of Sunderland, runs up and down the touchline screaming, leaping, punching the air.

“Hahahaha! He’s a LUNATIC! And a NAZI!” bellows Wesley. “And just look at those grub-faced people in the stands! Jesus. 40,000 people sitting together to watch teenagers kick a ball! My god! We’re all insane!”

This shit is hitting me weird. The room is normal beyond optical effects that my earlier combination of substances tends to produce, but my brain feels like a computer. I begin to understand the connectivity of synapses, veins, musculature; I am conceptualizing my body in exquisite detail. Flashes of my earlier hospital bed imaginings: Doc says I got the worms.

Television: A Show Called “Morgan Freeman Is God”, wherein Morgan Freeman explains all of phenomenological reality. This is Wesley’s favorite show.

“My savior! Norman! Have you seen this show before?”

“No”. Norman looks metallic in the easy-chair, inert, overly-observant; a fucking human-android drone.

Jesus, that can’t be real; but if it were real, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Like, I imagine, easily, that Norman could in fact be a highly sophisticated robot designed to spy on random people purely for the sake of spying on random people, an avatar of common experience. Like, people just watch video of this fucking robot going around living a normal (Oh my god! NORMal! That would make sense!), uh, a normal human life- well normal in the sense that using recreational drugs would be normal; just pure voyeurism and scopophilia to the max. And idiots would watch it, too.

“Jesus”

“Ha! You said it! Yes, Norm, this show is amazing. Did you know that Morgan Freeman understood the universe when he was a child?” Norman gives a noiseless chuckle. I don’t like him; his vibes are no good. And this shit is hitting me really weird; various strains of thought and cognition seem to be trailing off like laundry lines from my forehead, branching out in every direction; reverberating phrases repeated over one another until it becomes a mash of noise.

“When I was boy I was fascinated by my shadow”

“Ha! I TOLD you! Wait for the visuals!”

“It seemed strange to me that the only way I could perceive light was its absence. It made me wonder: what is nothing? Does it have tangible properties? Could it in fact be….something…after all?”

“Hahahahahahahaha!” Wesley’s laughter is enveloping the room, like that pink insulator shit behind the walls; like it’s coming from the walls. Good Lord!

On the television: sudden zoom into Morgan Freeman’s right eye, in which is contained the Milky Way; continued zoom towards the patch of the Milky Way which contains the Solar system; faster zoom, past the Oort Cloud, past what one assumes is Pluto, over Neptune, under Uranus, between the rings of Saturn, right next to the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, its many moons hurtling past like beads of sweat, continuing through a multitude of asteroids, past Mars, Earth growing larger and larger in the screen; slower zoom, through clouds, towards north America, over the mid-west, birds eye view towards a city, streets, trees, apartment, through the ceiling- stop, hovering now, fly-on-the-ceiling view overlooking a living room: a young man wearing a paisley robe drinks liberally from an unmarked bottle containing a viscous and clear liquid; another sits sprawled in a bean bag chair, appearing to be stoned to the gills; a figure who has been lying down sits up and looks at the television, which portrays the very same room.

“Woah! Its us!” Spencer shouts. Woah! Its us! Shouts the figure on the television. Atop a manikin whose head has been removed is a camera. Cut to said camera: pov : man on the floor heaves with ruptures of silent laughter; man on bean bag looks on in utter horror; man on couch begins drinking from the unmarked bottle.

I look up and see a moth or cricket or spider or some fucking bug on the ceiling; it does not appear to have a camera attached to it. Looking back at the television, I see Wesley’s face contorted with manic laughter bathed in orange light on the screen.

“Wait!” He shouts, channelling to some random tennis match amid more rippling giggling. “I’ve got an idea. My apartment is perfect for like, a talk show!”

“What?” I’m confused. Spencer lies back down and is again unconscious; his non-prescription glasses fall to the floor.

“I agree” says Norman, scratching at his chin.

“Yes! We’re going to film it, too, from each of our own perspectives, then we can edit it and do shit with tryptich and whatever else. It’ll be great!”

“How?”

“Our phones! So let’s make our characters….so I think it should be a literary show, don’t you?”

“Absolutely. Let’s be co-hosts, Wes, and we’ll be interviewing Howard about a new book he’s just published.” Rasps Norm.

“Ooooh yes! You dig that, Howard?”

“I think so.”

“Okay! So, I’ll be called Kyle Francois. Norm, you can be Ryan- or Norm. Co-host; side-kick, yes? Howard, how about Jesse Marks, author?”

“Works for me”. I feel as though someone is hugging me from behind.

“Okay! Great! So, Jesse (hahaha!), wait outside until I come get you; we’ll just like, roll with it. You can improv, right? Hahaha! Okay!”

He seems different. Wesley is one to take a bit or joke or whatever as far as it will go, and he seems to have created a backstory for this character known only to him.

Outside is cold. Wesley lives near a small creek, and I can hear ducks being throttled by an animal that is making a wretched and high-pitched squeal. My phone is on, camera set to video. I am recording Wesley’s door, white, plain, for an unknown amount of time. A disconcerting sense of hollowness enters my mind, that somehow there’s nothing behind this door, that I’ve been duped.

But then Kyle Francois opens the door, and I enter into a room that is bathed in orange, the multi-colored bulbs replaced. A song is playing which sounds like National Health….or something like that. Kyle and Norm are pantomiming laughter and jovial gesturing, Kyle sitting agile and cat-like on the arm of the large blue easy chair where Norm reclines, hands clasped together. Kyle has changed his threads, replaced his robe with red-grey camouflage shorts, a heavy wool plaid jacket, and hiking boots; Norm has put on a snap-brim cap.

“Let’s fade out the music, ” Kyle whispers to Norm. His voice has changed slightly from Wesley’s, which I suppose makes sense since he isn’t Wesley…

“Welcome, welcome to another episode of the….show. This week we have the pleasure of having Jesse Marks, who’s just put out a new novel. But first: Norm, would you offer Jesse a drink?”

“Of course! Jesse….what’ll you drink?”

“Ahhh, well, I’m a whiskey man, in truth….uhhhhh” I’m toooo drunk and toooo stoned and tooooo Rocket Powered. Kyle is talking in a bizarre mixture of antiquated idioms and a vibrant jutting hep-type vernacular. Norm returns with a glass that is half whiskey and half High Powered Rocket Fuel.

They begin discussing the newest book Jesse Marks has written about a man who grapples with the conflicting religious beliefs of his Scientologist father and his Orthordox Jewish mother amid the chaos of the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in NYC.   I watch, live, on my phone’s camera as Jesse Marks responds in listing, slurred, nonsensical answers, punctuated with crude grunts and curses. None of it makes any sense. Kyle is tossing a pen in the air and catching between his fingers:

“But what does the protagonist WANT! What does he want! Norm, his protagonist wants something, I ask him what that is!”

“Kyle, I’d say given the motivational ambiguity, perhaps the protagonist, Roger, wants what he already has.”

“Ahhh splendid! Do you agree, Jesse?”

“Uhhhhh….I just wanted to convey a man’s attempt to connect to a natural truth in the face of an artificial….uhhhhh…”

“What about your controversial over-use of semi-colons?”

“Shit…maaan…..9/11 WAS a fucking semi-colon in history….shiiit”
“Hahahaha!”

Fade to Black.

Dino Remembers: The Worst Valentine’s Day Party Ever

[As you may be aware, Dino Manonne is a man of many adventures and exploits, peaks and nadirs, (near) successes and catastrophic failures, all of which make him a vast mountain range of experience.  From time to time, he sits down and types some of them out for us: Dino Remembers– Jesse]

 

DINO! DINO! DINO!

DINO! DINO! DINO!

A Total Fucking Waste of My Time: I Blow My One Chance of Collaborating with and Fucking Goldie Hawn

So it’s Valentine’s Day, 1981 or ’82. Don’t quite remember because, again, I was pretty fucked up and 1972 until 1985 feels like it all happened over a weekend. Doesn’t matter.

But anyway, we’re at Clive’s house for his Valentine’s Day shindig, which back in those days was basically a fuck fest. I am very lucky to have been invited to this party- no idea how it happened. Crystal Grass* was never a “big deal” at any point, I’ll freely admit. But I suppose in the music business or any business it helps to “know people”, and we certainly knew people who allowed us to score some high quality “party favors”, which was certainly another large part of Clive’s parties.

So it’s a fun night, we’re up our own noses, schmoozing, boozing, and I see Goldie Hawn. Now, I was certainly a fan, and on top of that, she’d been talking to Clive about trying out another record, because I mean every fucking movie star tried out a record in those days, so I’m thinking I can get in on all of that, if you catch my drift.

So I amble over there, probably white-nosed and google eyed, but fuck it. It’s a fucking party and it’s not like everyone else there wasn’t a jittering freak, too. I’m talking like 6 words at once- basically like, “this is going to be both a chance for Goldie to break out again and for a new direction for the band we shouldn’t be thinking too much about all this fucking bullshit space or cowboy shit we need get back to thick cuts and thick jams and shit and “Goldie” was a pretty solid album but it was like fucking 4 or 5 years too late and like it could’ve been more thick if you feel me like it sounds like she’s skipping in a fucking garden for some of those tracks she needs to be like screaming you know fucking primal grooves if you feel me because that’s the thing these days Clive is shit is fucking plastic like we need goop on our tracks you know what I mean like I can see like Goldie like standing over a fucking manhole cover like fucking hefting it up and screaming down into the gutter at the fucking rats and vermin and alligators you feel me and like they’re making this wretched fucking retort roaring back up at her and you just put like a hefty fucking beat on top of that right and it’s fucking see-saw this fucking you know balance between good and evil but there’s a bit of each in both if you know what I mean Clive I’ve got the fucking tapes I’ve been laying this shit down Clive you feel me?”

And what was so great about those days was Clive was not entirely opposed to the idea, based on my pitch, and I was getting some fucking traction. Goldie wasn’t completely on board but then again, what the fuck did she know about music, anyway?

So I’m feeling pretty alright, it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s Clive’s party, let’s fucking party. There was a band there, which I think I was actually supposed to be a part of, but again, back then people just kind of did whatever the fuck the wanted. So I’m trying to warm up to Goldie because I’m fucked up and I wanna jam, schmoozing some more with Clive because I need to get my name on something that isn’t just B level back up shit.

Then the band is playing, and Clive, whose now as totally out of his fucking gourd as I am, for some reason wants me to get up and sing some shit or something. I don’t really know for sure anymore. So fuck it, sure, let’s sing a song or whatever. But at this point I’m just thinking about Goldie, seal the fucking deal. So I stumble up there and I’m just going to fucking nail it:

So that’s my big fucking oeuvre, which I’m pretty convinced as gone over swimmingly. It has not. In fact, the general atmosphere of uncontrolled libidinousness has freaked Goldie the fuck out, and she now has changed her mind about not only working with me but with the whole album. Not good.

It was these sorts of things which, in looking back, definitely contributed to my early exit from the band and the first of a few hiatuses from the business. But by the same token, fuck it, you know?

By Dino

*Dino was keyboardist and back up singer for Crystal Grass from 1976-1981, a group led by singer/songwriter Steve Leach.

Lint

The other day I was a bit of lint under my dresser.

I lay motionless in the shade, time not existing for me, as centuries passed by me and days accumulated like little bits of paper. I watched a thousand people build false-fronted saloons with swing doors. Volcanoes developed on my now unused loafers.

It’s too cold.

“It’s too cold!”

One year I saw an ant; he sniffed, felt me with his feelers, then dragged me away. There was only darkness.

Rick the Ant argued unsuccessfully with the other ants that perhaps they should leave apartment no. 7. There were only a handful of them left; maybe they should start over somewhere else.

But they wouldn’t listen. They could smell something yummy in the kitchen, and they all went running toward it.

When the inevitable happened, when they were all coated in cleaning fluid, slowly suffocating on the fumes or drowning in puddles, Rick really couldn’t complain: it was really yummy.

Denny–Meditation #2: Muffin/Pizza

dooooosh

Whatupskis!  So, it’s been awhile, dooders.  Totes my bad.  But I’ve been doing a lot of artistic shit on the side, to say nothing of the fact that I kinda view all of my life as a living novel/art instillation, so, like, putting things down on paper or on the internet just seems kinda inadequate, amiright?

Buuuuuut I know Jesse asked me to pitch in from time to time, so I got really fucked up and looked through my fridge last nite.  FEED YOUR HEAD.
————————————————-

Oh man…..I’m really hungry. I’m so hungry….so hungry….that….I don’t know what to get in the fridge….guess…..guess I’ll take a look.

 It’s…..fridge is so cold.

 Oh…I think, uh, I think I had….some muffins.  Let’s see. 

 Ohhhhhhh no there’s, there’s, uh…..no muffins.  Maybe I ate them yesterday……

 Sometimes I forget……muffins…..well, uh, well, maybe I have some, oh, uh, some pizza leftover from the other day: no, no pizza, either.  I’d really like some pizza….like, pizza with some pepperoni, yeah that’d be sweet….and maybe, uh, sausage….yeah….yeah…that’d be good, yeah..and maybe some mushrooms too, yeah….mushrooms, uh, mushrooms are okay on a pizza for me….yeah….and…oh, it would tastes so good….yeah….it’s almost like I can taste it now.  Pretty good. Yeah.

 I guess I could go and, uh, get it now: call the place, uh, order my pizza then walk down there to get the pizza then walk back here and eat the pizza.  Yeah, sweet, I think, I think….I think that’s what I’ll do….make the call.  Yeah.  I’ve got a loud phone, I forget.

 There, I ordered it.

But it’s….oh!  But its really…it’s so cold….just…..no way, too much.  I’m going to be hungry forever….forever….

———-

Yeah, I know.  Pretty fucking awesome.  Yeah, I know.  It is kinda like Burroughs and Joyce looking through a fridge together.  Thanks.

Well, chowser Bowser.  I’ll check in later with some more BOOM BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.

–Denny

Conversations in Back Room — “Emoji”

Unknown

Everywhere, at all times, in mostly industrialized countries with populations bent on riding the technological bomb to its undetermined destination, conversations are happening in back rooms. These are not the sort of back rooms littered on black and white film tape or etched into the docile minds of the media hungry — there are not the back rooms of gangsters or card sharks. These rooms are everywhere and penetrate everything, and in these rooms conversations are taking place with no context. Mobile devices and computers hide these rooms from public view and mute these conversations to only the participants; I don’t know why, I don’t know the reason, but I know the consequence. Conversations are being moved to these back rooms, these automated screens on these mobile devices, and those who rant against this movement are deemed “out of the times” or “technology laggards”. We were all once benefactors of great conversation: and then the mob turned on us, calling anyone who listened in to look for truth or colloquial language damning names, like “eaves-dropper” or “busy-body”.

And so, we, the only species on Earth with the ability to speak, have tucked away and hoarded our conversations, translating them into computer code. We’ve traded the timbre of a bellowing for the hollow thud of a thumb against glass; we’ve given language to the computers, forking over all the meat while we humans scrape the bone for satisfaction. The human population emaciates itself in the name of technological progress and wonders why individuals feel so alienated, isolated, and confused.

We need conversation. Not the emotionless, self-absorbed conversation text messaging and chat rooms so easily supply, but conversation that fills halls with laughter or corners with despair. And so I hold the mirror up and show how truly emaciated conversation, and humanity, has become.

This is a conversation between a brother and a sister in a back room somewhere between the keyboard and the cell phone.

JFH

The View from the Timber

Unknown

The slope was steep on the way up to 2464 Timberview Drive and it had been snowing. In the midst of the coldest winter on record for some 20 years, the newspaper had sent me out to take pictures of a newly built country home 15 miles south of known civilization. I simply detested this assignment — I knew what it was before they sent me out: a prostitution of my pen. Sent to interview a couple about their newly built house on a newly settled street, I received orders to write an article, a fluff piece, on the house so the advertisers could get their hands on the names list of contractors I was to dutifully procure. Who did the window treatments, who put in the foundation, what was the price of being chained to a piece of government-taxed land: compile it into a list and give it to the advertisers so they can sell. Advertisers ran almost everything now. Everywhere I went, there they were, waiting like hoarding crack feigns fresh off a trip. The only value they found out of the written word could be calculated mathematically, dissected and studied, then birthed into some malnourished form of profit-driven culture change. The newspaper needed profit and the advertisers needed commission. So I was sent to invade a house and inspect a lifestyle.

I barely got up the hill. Too steep for the ignorant young or the cautious old; one too fast, one too slow. I am barely the third bear of this hill, just the right cocktail of the indifference of the young and the panic of the old. My tires spun a couple of times, but not enough to bother the cattle in what looked like a 40-acre pen to the right of my now parked four-door sedan. Brown cattle, the ones with the white trim over some of their faces and their hooves. I waited for approximately two minutes as the heat went out from the car. The winters are getting worse in Iowa, especially for the humans. Some poor bastard was beaten and shoved out of a car a city over in Cedar Rapids. The beating didn’t kill him, neither the collision at 45 mph with frozen concrete — it was the freeze. The humans couldn’t kill him, but he didn’t have the hide for nature. Neither do I, in earnest. Sitting in the car, watching my breath turn visible, I imagined dying 20 feet away from the cows and a driveway from my lower-evolved assignment. I brought an invisible cigarette to my lips and lit it with an invisible Zippo. I closed my eyes as invisible nicotine spurred my brain. The difference between placebo nicotine and electrical currents firing the synapses is invisible, like the difference between the frozen guy and me, sitting in the car.

The house looked like any house you could imagine copied and replicated on the outskirts of a metropolitan area. No country flair, no barn-style architecture, no shade of red; just a suburban house too far from a city. I saw the house and I forgot why I quit smoking. It looked like the beginning of something dark and insidious lurking around the outside of the structure. The outside was caked in a sad imitation, a sort of copy so saturated with artistic ignorance that was better labeled as mockery. Charcoal gray panel siding with a rock pattern shingled roof and double-paneled windows.The only redeemable quality to the house was that it was built into a hill with the front facing east and the back facing west. Large east and west windows make for apple mornings and caramel evenings: a feast of texture for the retinas. But the house still found my spine: people were building these houses usually reserved for suburban cages in undeveloped areas; moreover, people are wanting these designs, like a blind man wanting a blind fold. Humans are going deeper into cultural depression as the children of this depression are being born without a glimpse of the outside, compounding the side effects. I shuttered as the winter breeze punctured the holes in my scarf and I knocked on the door.

I’d never seen the couple I was supposed to meet and had only spoken to the wife on the phone. She sounded what could only be described as chipper: a condition in which the affected neglects negative emotions and focuses on only positivity. As her voice came through the phone, I couldn’t imagine her sitting, staring into space, drinking alone in that impressive dark, or getting high to dull the space where all the lecherous emotions go — I couldn’t imagine her seriously considering jumping from a bridge or yelling at her mother for passing on faulty genes. She seemed too eager to invite me, a total stranger bent on inspecting and publishing, into her private dwelling. People always seem too eager to their doors to slick entities promising fame or fortune or even the slightest sexual advance. My dwelling is a temple of self-loathing which frees a paranoid mongrel from worry about outside influences. It is the summation of an equation steeped in an overt distrust of all things human and cultivated by years spent marinating my brain in that cult called Catholicism. If fame and fortune in the form of an amateur journalist knock at their door, people always seem to answer.

Or maybe these are the ravings of some over-masturbated lunatic with sociopathic tendencies towards commitment. Even looking at the house, I could feel myself simultaneously overwhelmed with putrid hatred and lung-squeezing jealousy of unknown origin. To be settled in a place to call my own is the dream, the authorities told me. Truthfully, I’ve spent nights imagining idealized scenes in which I’m pulling weeds out of a tended garden or separating my perennials while my pregnant wife, with her hair in a pony tail exposing the cross necklace I gave her for Christmas, sits in the shade. The cerebral magic lantern shows typically end in broken mirrors and bleeding knuckles. The implanted memories leave with the blood but the brokenness stays.

A strawberry blonde woman with a freckled complexion named Alex opened the door and I walked in, apologizing for uncontrollable aspects of life like the snow on my shoes and cold air. The inside of the house was just as deplorable as the outside, but oddly I wanted to be there. The warmth of the inside deceived my distrust of new people, as I felt welcome and security in this new place. It disgusted me, as I knew the decorating was engineered to illicit this feeling. But emotions are slimy bastards designed to corrupt logical reasoning. Like the jealousy that pulled at my kidneys as the woman’s husband poked his head into the entry way. Get a hold of yourself, man, I thought.

I snapped a few pictures of the living room and asked a few questions about the open floor plan. I looked too long at the woman before diverting my attention toward the husband, I knew it. I examined the husband’s face for signs that he caught on. Ogling a man’s wife in middle America is grounds for loading a hunting rifle and aiming it with vengeful intent. Paranoia nearly took over as the three of us walked through the couple’s bedroom and into another small room littered with unassembled parts.

It looked to be the makings of a dresser or a wooden dog cage and Alex could see me trying to put the piece together in my head. It caused her some embarrassment, for which I felt sorry.

“We’re expecting,” she said feeling her belly with the tender part of her palm. “This is going to be the nursery.”

The piece came together immediately. Young couple, husband, wife, newly built home in the country, affection at the door, baby on the way: it all had an eerily familiar feeling, like deja vu in reverse. And then I stepped back and saw the assembled product. This was the summation to an equation parallel to the summation I was living. If only a few variables had changed in the past, this would have been my future or, rather, my present. Like some drifting spirit, I had been inspecting an alternate present in which I compromised and chose the magic lantern show instead of gambling on isolation and belief in self-reliance.

I had a considerable urge to put my hand where her uterous would be located, just to feel innocence in creation. I abstained, but with the strangest reluctance: in a sense, I felt the baby could have easily been mine, even though I’d never met the woman who was carrying it. The paranoia set in quickly then, awaking me from the implanted memory. Something needed to be broken as the rage and the pain set in. I left in a feverish pace, one that seemed to startle Alex and her husband, making me feel all the more pained. I found my manners and leaned on automation until I got into my car and drove down the hill.

I drove away fast, not caring about the snow. Comfort and implanted desire had disarmed my emotional defenses, hijacking my entire nervous system. A drop of compromise in the chemical ocean made the sharks come; a butterfly called home flapped its wings and my brain became a hurricane. I worried I didn’t have enough for the article, but I figured I could study the pictures later. The headline would read, “A home with a view,” or some such nonsense.

I slammed the car wheel with my palm and I tasted salt water from my lips. I drove on, fighting the lantern show and telling myself I didn’t believe in magic.

JFH

The Mating Dance of the Human Being

Unknown

Once, when I was a younger man, I witnessed the primal mating dance of the human being. It is an experience that has clung to the interior of my ribs like a devil fetus refused to be pushed out. I wrote it down at the time, contemplating and examining its consequences. I found it last night, found merit in it, and translated it onto this page and through this medium to bring to you. I have blanked out the names, so those who do not want to be recognized can find bliss in others’ ignorance. I do not know what it will bring you; maybe sadness, maybe inclusion. But for all the piece’s immature, slightly sexist tone, I do know this: it can be conquered. 

Two girls in the age of naivety shrieked as the -21 degree wind chill found their exposed upper thighs while they walked on one sidewalk bordering a stretch of road near College Green park. A pack of boys thought men with oversized brows and Internet-designed muscles shifted glances as an apathetic bouncer checked IDs, as if he could mistake their neanderthal eyes dilated by large breasts and youthful epidermis. J— and I, looking for something different in a monotonous setting, slipped up the poorly shoveled stairs to an apartment door that can be unlocked with any key.

Iowa City stripped bare: likeminded cattle seeking warm spots to gather in the pen. It’s like that at night; everyone tries to find a warm place, a warm body, people to share heat with. The lonely, trapped by evolutionary disparity, grasp their pillows in an attempt to satisfy this primal urge — but it never helps. Circle two dots and a line with a felt-tip marker and a face may emerge, but it will never really smile or generate its own heat. J— bumped the lock, straddled the brown bag holding his whiskey bottle, and went  in. I followed in line, like a calf, ready for nothing.

The party began as any party does. People showed up, picked their particular intoxicant or drug, and began to indulge. Personal intoxicants vary: some choose the embrace of alcohol, some choose the cerebral detachment of cannabis. By any method, be it natural or induced, members registered to minor social events like house parties or conversations over cocktails seek what is believed cannot be found in day-to-day life: endorphins, glandular engagement, increased electrical responses across dying synapses. This party began with no discernible difference from any other social gathering. But the night promising nothing held in its grasp a lens through which the true decrepit and insidious, but primordial, nature of previously-acceptable acquaintances were proven: an attractive woman.

Choosing ones relational attachments, as I do, is a strenuous process. Dispassionate as it may sound, the process is akin to patriotic torture, in which one individual performs a series of tests to determine where loyalties lie. Though not as dramatic as water boarding, nor as violent as the application of electrodes, my tests come over a period of time as external opportunities reveal themselves: a drunken conversation, a suggestion to engage in gross behavior, a secret admission. These provide me with information regarding a person’s character and disposition towards various pertinent issues. No one passes the tests, but that is the point. Get too close and the protected man always loses, always hurts, always self-destructs.

J— passed enough of the tests to be labeled as a friend, one I hold most dear, and would loyally and dramatically kill for. Loyalty is reciprocated, as is a lovely fondness. But he doesn’t systematically eliminate his companions based on cold and unrelenting self-sabotage; he gives people the chance to fully employ their destructive tendencies before he shuts them out. Flawed as I see this method of differentiating friendlies from foes, it earns him a certain popularity and allows for invitation to such social gatherings as this. Enough popularity to invite a friend of his own, who goes grumbling but secretly content to examine the opposing side’s trenches for weakness and the like.

The five players in this parabolic tale were sufficiently intoxicated by the time the blonde woman entered the room. Pre-hormonal rebellion, the room had a cordial vibration, a sort of warmth. Men clinked glasses and bottles foamed at the neck; the music echoed at a floating pace; calm descended on overworked minds and underworked sexual appendages. A man J— nicknamed C— B— hosted the party, and he drank an imported lager with an easy smell, pouring the golden liquid into a goblet with each new draw. J— enjoys giving people nicknames, I’m not sure why and it’s a conversation yet to be had, but he’s all together good at it. “Captain Blood” is a fantastic label that inspires the imagination and gives unearned weight to the named. Most at the party had a J— M— nickname: D— the M—, Take-it-to-the M— (or M—a-million), the M—ist. Nicknames are a sign of appreciation and acceptance from J—, something to make people feel included or a part. Inclusion: the mood of the gathering up to the invasion of the woman. Everyone was included, a part, members of a collective without power or competition. All members are included in paradise until the dick measuring begins: the only reason I hope human are all relieved of their appendages in paradise as their ticket to get in.

When she walked in, the room didn’t necessarily go silent, but I can see how the situation could be hyperbolized as such. A few people carried on conversations in their ignorance of the siren spirit, but they only had their eyes and lack of auditory focus to blame. The attractive woman, a flaxen-haired maiden from Minnesota, was single, the first problem, quickly followed by the second problem: she was newly single. To the less evolved but prominent majority, a single woman is a creature that is alluring, but a newly-single woman is something to be conquered and hung up on the wall like a trophy from a profitable hunt. E— was her name and her voice alone inflicted enough hormones upon the group of needy, desperate, and generally pathetic men.

The dynamic of the room immediately changed and caused me some psychological whiplash. Suddenly, as if it had always been there, symptoms of ape-like hormones began to take affect on the individuals. I saw tuffs of thick hair explode through knuckle skin and fingers crinkle into calloused fists. Nostrils flared among the members and eyes darted from competition to prize to competition to prize. Drinking became more erratic and purposeful, as if the amount of alcohol consumed measured the level of testosterone in the blood. J— remained my lone human companion, as buddy-buddies with inclusive nicknames made a full transition into ancestral primates.

I found myself trapped in a cage with C— B—: a loud conversation, no! an interrogation, about my feelings towards all things Illinois.

“Why do you hate Chicago?”

“I don’t hate Chicago, I hate the people who have come from Chicago and created an amusement park out of this city.”

“What do you know about Chicago?”

“I’m not talking about the city, I’m talking about the people.”

“Like you would know anything coming from Iowa.”

I knew what he was saying, not the interrogation as that was mostly a cover for the subtext, the subtext.

“I’m going to fuck this female, you bastard, get the fuck out of my line of sight.”

“I’m not looking to play this game, guy. I’m not looking to fight about this.”

“You fuck, I will beat you down.”

“I’m not partaking in this.”

“You are not worthy of mating with this female!”

It’s something I’ve never understood, this dance. I felt myself fall into it a couple times, looked down and saw the hair grow on my forearms. New hormones flooded my veins when I looked at her. Electrical synapses long unused fired. But the thought of taking her as a prize only brought disgust and guilt, an old Pavlovian response from catechism. I don’t know her and there are times, when I grasp the pillow at night, that I did know the idea of her. I look at, think of, examine the primal urge and power dynamic of my peer male and wonder if there is something truly wrong; if there is a broken part inside with nothing but disgust for everything this dance stands for, and in turn, nothing but disgust for what it yields. Maybe, just maybe, I would like this woman. Personal intimacies issues aside, I might. But how does one win without fighting? Inclusion cannot come from degrees of exclusion. A relationship cannot come out of this ritual, nor in these times can the relationship circumvent it. It’s a paradoxical entity now, the romantic relationship, as both parties have to thread themselves through expectation and neanderthalic attitudes to find anything genuine.

J— and I departed, and as we did, J— politely invited the room to his apartment for a gathering the following night. The invitation was directed towards the woman, I know. It was his way of not fighting, of not participating, but acting on the possibility of romance. It was just like his selection of friends: warm, inviting, non-presumptuous, inclusive. He was the better man in the room and the room didn’t know how to respond.  The apes I had seen earlier in the evening dissipated and men began thinking about their actions. J— and I retreated towards the door, the room still silent with moral contemplation. For a moment, I thought logic and reason mixed with compassion and stability would overcome the ape-like ritual I had seen not a moment earlier. I thought it was time for these beings to be men, not apes, but respectful, passionate, romantic men.

But no. C— B— suggested they go to the bars, a more fertile hunting ground, as he was getting nowhere with the flaxen-haired maiden. They turned back immediately, they were evolved for a moment, but turned back into these wild beasts shrieking the name of their favorite hunting ground. Snakes slithered in my veins as I felt my heart burn. The better man had lost and my dark passenger hated. I turned around and yelled at near top of my lungs, “Go fuck yourselves!”

They laughed, it was all a joke to them. J— and I wondered off into the night towards cold pillows and faces that can’t smile.

On power and the evolved

Unknown

My general opinion towards politicians is similar to what I imagine the puppet master’s opinion towards his puppets is: pull enough strings and they are bound to dance. It’s inevitable when two men debate one another or compete or try in some way to get the best of the other simultaneously that one man must win; one man, for whatever concretely superfluous value, must be the better of the two. The aim is simple in most cases. Yes, dear reader, there are rare times when the aim is not simple, mostly when this aim is married with propaganda and general fuzzy feelings meant to reinforce some grandly grotesque idea. But, even in these (rare) cases, the aim is the same: win the argument, beat the competition, rise in power.

And this is the heart of politics: the dynamics of power, or how to control a large segment of the population using, largely in democratic politics, rhetoric. Power is the simple aim. Power over the other man; power over those who oppose you; power over each other.

There are many in the world who find themselves born into a society not governed by a democratic set of ideas. I do not know, or pretend to know, what life is in any country other than the United States of America. A man can visit the bazaar, haggle with someone over the price of a tuna filet, go back to his hostel and find some way to cook the dead fish, but never understand what that process means to the society. That, however, is culture, and though culture is intertwined with political structures, the two are distinct and separate. But still, through all my ignorance of the exotically mundane, I am solidly with Winston Churchill who said, Democracy is the worst form of government besides every other form.

The more evolved form of human relations, the purest vein of human existence, is the absence of government. Opponents, ones mostly scared of the idea or in no way can comprehend what is being described,  coin this anti-government sentiment as “anarchy.” Anarchy, through propaganda and rhetoric mixed with politics, immediately pulls images from news reels, from films, from imagination of chaos: mobs running, looting, killing, stabbing, shooting; people like cattle in an uncontrollable stampede, like cattle without funnels to show them to the slaughterhouse, like cattle who realized they are trapped in a system that forces a them to eat a certain way, to drink a certain way, to live a certain way. Chaos is panic, the adrenaline in a person’s heart, the realization that the populous is nothing but a herd of cattle in political systems. But, just like panic, chaos is temporary and fleeting. Political pundits broadcast over free air the examples of chaos and interpret it as anarchy. This is what anarchy is like, they say, the chaos of waking up from a coma, of realizing you are cattle. Anarchy, therefore, cannot be trusted, because the insidious truth at the end of the tunnel is the belief that people cannot be trusted.

This idea, this insidious idea, has led to a fractured human psyche. Romantic relationships to race relations to how to treat a homeless man on the street: this belief has infiltrated the subconscious human mind. Romance can’t be trusted because men are only looking for sex and women are only looking for security. Different races can’t be trusted because they only care about furthering their genetic pool. Don’t give a homeless man a dollar because he’ll buy crack with it. Don’t trust anyone because people will let you down and take from you and mistreat you and the only way you can survive in this world is to shut yourself off, just shut yourself off, and always be skeptical. Don’t trust anyone, except for the governing bodies, the political system. Trust the system, work hard, and you’ll prosper.

Prosper: like a person has a choice in the matter. Whoever came up with the idea that the only way a man can rise in the class structure is by increasing wealth through working, laboring, and torturing his existence in this world was clearly on the side of the aristocratic class. The idea that a man should work in society, that work is inherently good and honorable — even, or some times especially, at the expense of personal happiness — is by all means in opposition to happiness. Industry, innovation, exploration does not have to come from or be subsidized by governing bodies. Separate power dynamics and the need for power from these natural aspects of human culture and they will not die. Many have the notion that, if not governed, people would be unable to survive or thrive. Death would come to humanity, quickly and without mercy.

And perhaps it would now when the people still want to be governed, still buy into the idea that people can’t be trusted. This want inside people has been prevalent for centuries, from the creation of mythological gods who rule over them from the skies to democratic forms of government that manipulate through rhetoric and marketing. Perhaps, the evolution of the human being is not yet compliant with the independence and confidence needed to want to be free of political structures and restrictions. I suggest no glorious and permanent revolution, as one now would be unable to separate the lust for power from a human collective, but instead suggest waiting. Wait for the governed, the power hungry, to die — do not kill them, but instead tolerate them. Build your character and sharpen your intellect. This evolution of man will not happen in your lifetime or your children’s lifetime, but in thousands of year when humanity is ready. You will not be alive — you will have died from life long ago. You will not see humanity as you’d like, but do not find depression in this: find purpose. Begin to develop humanity for its evolution, find like minded people and begin a collective of humanity without corruption from power. Pass on what you have learned. That is your purpose, that is your goal.

JFH

“There You Go With All That ‘Balloons For Skin’ Talk Again”

He needs them to imagine it as echoes, the audience.  Uh, that is, he needs them to hear what he’s about to say as echoes; they’ll uh, hear the echoes, that is.  Oh yeah.  Money.

So he turns on the mic all cool like and says, “You imagine this is echoes…it echoes”.  Now for some serious fucking spiritual exploration on a grand scale.  Good lord, he was just visualizing electrical wiring where his nerves should be; or that his nerves ARE like, bio-genetic material!  But so he’s like excited, this dude, Wesley, Wes, who is excited.  Oh yeah, he’s higher than he’s ever been since last he had thought that, he’s primed, engine pumped, gas full, pistons of perrrception getting ready to burst and emit noxious fumes of wild imagery.  Oh yeah, oh yeah, and ohhhh yeah.

 “The body may not be kind, may not be kind

The body may not be kind, may not be kind

 But let’s go further, let’s go further,

No flesh, no bone, to brain tissue”

 Oh yeah, oh yea.  There it is hey!  Oh, he’s no longer speaking on the radio; he did repeat himself, not for the purpose of echo but because for its aesthetics it needed to be repeated.  But damn, that needs some actual echo.  He’s aware; it’s true.  Jesus.

Oh god, there is for fuck’s sake; there’s a fucking pad- magic pad!  Control panel of the Brain Plane.  He finds it and says it again, the phrase.

 “%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%”

 Oh god his words, his thoughts, the electricity and chemical synapse are erupting into his microphone; synthesis of art and cognition for him, right?  Maybe not, but like so he read somewhere that when you try to be creative your engaging in a light form, or at least an ‘acceptable’ form, of madness- like what, schizophrenia or something?  But like, so then everyone is just as fucking crazy as you because they accept this wild thing as something admirable.  What a thought for him.  He likes it.

“Like, so then we don’t like bad art things because we know they’re not honest to the utter madness that art is?  Or something like that?  Or what, just me?  I’m the only one who feels like having a song in your head means you’re hearing something that isn’t really there- you FUCKING LUNATICS!”

Oh God, he said that on air.  Well, they should hear it anyway.  Music is freaking him out, so disjointive: its wild Sun Ra and it sounds so sad and remorseful, but Sun Ra said his music was “joyous noise” like adulatory bits, songs of praise.  But he’s not feeling that way.

“Say something wild?  Uh, how about flesh made out of that synthesized rubber or whatever thing.  So it would cling to your bones and musculature and all that; but if you added enough air, like, your flesh would expand and your organs would be, like, I guess floating?  I’m not sure, actually, what the organs would do.”

“Man, this is a hell of a broadcast,” he thinks.  Says…..good Lord.

Is there a better way to do what he’s doing?  He’s not sure.  However, he now begins to execute a glorious maneuver: fucking psychic projection: his brain into mp3, transmitter synapses, brain is a broadcast apperatus….and shit

“Jeeeeeeeezus,” he huffs.  That’s a mildly threatening tone of voice his brain has taken on…or tone of thought.  He’s starting to feel slightly overwhelmed, reflexive accusatory shit making him awful uneasy….