Wednesday, July 18, 2018

LIL' THOUGHT BOMBS





MASKING TAPE i plaster
on a phony face a smile
devoid of meaning and
sincerity then i remove
it
no point
no point
habit keeps this facade
this forced conformity
repellent, anathema
no reason
no reason
care too little for
protocol to superimpose
this fallacy
mask of enthusiasm dies
under deadweight of truth
you see these eyes dead
balls of clay lodged in
my face the mask no longer
fits vitality will not
flicker on this screen
no effort
no effort
why lie to you?
myself?
today i found out about you
how you're just like every
one else i can't show my
eyes without betrayal of
their screaming weeping
wounded nakedness




EXIT singed
remnants of
this room
blasted hole
of my outgo
vapor trail
static lingers
electric pieces
of me i
cling to shards
of floorboard
of your consciousness
this burnt pile
of wreckage
simple seconds
mute exit
one bullet
one delusion
empty handed
empty chamber
buzzing after
glow my ghost
coagulates for
a look at the
carnage
no answers
no response
exit
just exit
just walk away
from all of this


HERE the pug
turns to the
diva and requests
a guesstimated
death toll



Copyright 1993 Shockbox Press, 2018 Molotov Editions

These lil' poems were part of a (lost) chapbook I did called THOUGHTBOMB 2462. Haven't seen it in years----if there's a master copy on my person I've sure not found it. Too bad, too, as it was kind of a fave. As you can see by the samples it all followed kind of a unified structure and I was kinda proud of it. The big centerpiece was this longish, self-indulgent poem called “Coffee Table Cerebellum Fugue”. “CTCF” was kind of a conscious tribute to a lot of the language-centered poets that were floating around the small press at the time---Sheila Murphy, John M. Bennett, Jake Berry and the like. I never really understood what most of them were getting at, but I liked it.

******

So on Social Media and elsewhere everyone is running around with their hair on fire what with Trumpy, Putin and the latest string of more-or-less token, symbolic Mueller “indictments”. I don't doubt there are some folks out there who are waiting for myself and others to eat some degree of crow, especially as I've been maintaining for quite a while, now, that Russiagate is a lot of bullshit fueled by wishful thinking.
You'll get this paltry concession out of me: It would seem as though we've ascertained that the origin of the DNC “hack” may, indeed have been Russia. And sorry, those of you who are waiting for handwringing, apologies, wailing and gnashing of teeth....but I'm unimpressed by all of this.
I mean, I know you're all panicking and life is terrible and your hair is on fire---and I know, democracy and woe is us and Trump and Putin are butt buddies, and we're going to share 800 shrill memes that express this, and TreasonTM and the Pee Pee tape that we JUST KNOW must exist somewhere, and...and...and....
….and then I shrug my shoulders and say, “well, if the Democrats hadn't RIGGED THEIR OWN PRIMARY....”
I basically don't care WHO was responsible for the DNC Leak----but I'm still glad it happened. We deserve that transparency and we deserve the truth.
And since this whole “who leaked the leak?” business is settled (as far as we know), whaddya say we put the horse back in front of the cart for the first time in a year and change and deal with the REAL issue at hand, which is the one I've been screaming about for a very long time, now?
Namely, (yes) that THE DEMOCRATS RIGGED THEIR OWN PRIMARY. End of discussion. Good night. Mic drop.
And I know you're going to say, “NO, Chuck, NO! That's not important right now, because TRUMP, and because Rachel Maddow, and because the pee-pee tape! And Look, Chuck, LOOK! MEMES!!!!”
And then I say, no----and your insistence that it doesn't matter makes you the world's worst hypocrite. I mean, I get it---you're concerned (and you might not be wrong) about democracy and how bad foreign actors might compromise our ability to have free and fair elections. To which I'll reply once again....THE. GOD. DAMN. DEMOCRATS. RIGGED. THEIR. OWN. PRIMARY. Thereby proving that we don't HAVE free and fair elections.
Now, where was I....? OH. YEAH. Mic Drop.
I've heard further protestations that the Democrats did nothing that was technically “illegal”---unethical, maybe, but not illegal. And my response to that would be, if you're going to engage in apologetics for unethical behavior, then you don't stand a chance when illegal comes down the pike.
And I'm sure there are those of you who are nonplussed by all of this. “But....but....TRUMP!!!!! Life was hunky dory in the good ole US of A until November 2016! It's the worst time ever in history!”
To which I say, the Rape of Nanking called. They want you to keep it the hell down. They're trying to sleep.
Clean your own damn house, #McResistance....then we'll talk.

THISWEEK'S PLAYLIST:
  1. GENE LOVES JEZEBEL-Promise
  2. THE DAMNED-Evil Spirits
  3. THE DAMNED-Strawberries

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

HANNIBAL SHOOTING FISH IN A BUCKET



When any image of Hannibal appears in my head, it's always sure to be that of him in Kurt Donner's garage in July of 1992. He was shooting fish in Kurt's wash bucket.
We (Henry, Paul, Shelley, Steve, Hannibal and I) were all staying the weekend at Kurt's place upstate. I woke up in the spare room to the banging. Kurt and the others weren't around; Maybe they'd gone out to the lake. No matter—I seemed to be alone and those blasts were sounding on the other end of the house.
I headed across the house and traced the noise to the garage. I was afraid. The sounds, I'd identified as gunshots.
Between shots, I heard Hannibal swearing. I opened the door to the garage with a mix of relief, anger and bewilderment.
Hannibal had a rifle and was standing on top of a step ladder. Below him on the floor was Kurt's wash bucket (so small I'm loath to call it a tub). It was full of water and some terrible splashing was going on within.
Hannibal fired into the bucket. “Sonofabitch,” he snarled, “oooh, how they move around!”
“Hannibal!”
Hannibal froze and glared my way. “Jesus! You scared me.”
I laughed. I didn't find it funny, but I laughed. “Well, fachrissakes, you woke me up!”
“It's almost Noon, anyway,” he shrugged, and fired into the water again.
“That's hardly the point...what the hell are you doing?”
“Killing the fish,” said Hannibal, “if they quit moving.”
I looked in the wash bucket. Two big trout, at least one of them grazed and bleeding, swimming in circles, were in the bucket. Water was running out through a number of holes. “What's with these fish?” I asked.
“Caught 'em this morning while the rest of you were sleeping.”
“Well, why the hell are you shooting at them?”
Hannibal said nothing. He reloaded and wouldn't look at me.
“Hannibal?” He aimed once more into the draining water. “Where's Kurt? Where's everyone?”
“Fishing,” scoffed Hannibal. “Downa the lake.” He shot again.
Chunks of blasted meat and scales floated in the deepening red. “Hannibal,” I said, shaking my head, “I don't understand you, bro.”
“I know.”
I left and shut the door behind me. I needed some air.

****

That night we had a big fish fry. Kurt was playing some old Lil Feat bootlegs and he, Shelley and Henry would get up from the table and break into sporadic hippie dance jags.
Convo seesawed and overlapped like dinner conversation will. Hannibal just stared at the table and said nothing.
Steve was into the hippie music. He declared that he didn't think any good rock'n'roll had been recorded since, maybe, 1975 or so.
Shelley's brother, Cal, had come up and joined us by that time. “What about Bowie?” He asked. “Or Lou Reed?”
“Fag music,” grumbled Steve.
“You ought to check out some early '80s progressive punk stuff,” I offered, “like Husker Du, Black Flag, the Minutemen, Sonic Youth....”
“I don't want to,” said Steve.
“You should. Hey, I'll do you up a tape. It won't cost you.”
Steve was bullheaded, though. “I don't want to,” he said.
The subject of rock'n'roll was becoming a sticky one. Henry threw in some Miles Davis. Things went on amicably. Then the sound of chair legs scraping on linoleum. Hannibal got up and bolted out the screen door.
“Is he okay?” Asked Kurt.
“Apparently not,” cracked Cal.
“He's been quiet all night.”
“I don't know,” I replied. I hadn't told anyone about the fish incident.
We all headed out back. Hannibal was on his hands and knees, vomiting in the gulley. I guess the fish disagreed with him.
It was peculiar. Between retches, I thought I heard him laughing.

Copyright 1990 C.F. Roberts, 2018 Molotov Editions

         “Hannibal Shooting Fish in a Bucket” is part of what I call “The Brookdale Cycle” or “The Extended Brookdale Mythos”----which is my fancy-ass way of saying it's a handful of short stories that revolve kinda loosely around my first novel, HELLO, UGLY and its setting, the fictional town of Brookdale, New Hampshire. Most of the stories center around two characters, either Old Man Delprete (who's referenced in the book but who's long-since out of the picture and faded into local legend by the time the action of the book takes place) and this story's subject, Mike Hannibal.

Hannibal is really just a peripheral character in HELLO---in a book whose main characters tend to be marginalized misfit kids, Hannibal is the kind of unpleasant worm burner that even those misfits are wary of. For whatever reason I found Hannibal to be an interesting enough character to where I revisited him in a couple of different stories. The other story, which is one of the single ugliest stories I've ever written, is relatively recent and I'm still shopping it around to potential publishers----hence you're not gonna see it in this blog anytime soon. I briefly brought “Hannibal Shooting Fish” back into circulation recently and what you're reading is a slight rewrite of the story I was peddling around in the early '90s, but hell with it---no avail----stick a fork in it----it's done.
This particular story picks up after the action in HELLO, UGLY where Hannibal is an adult. He's hanging with a gang of friends and acquaintances but as per usual, he sticks out like a sore thumb.
I think what I was getting at with the shooting of fish and then Hannibal getting sick on seafood at the end of the story was your basic stock Christ symbology---I played with a lot of religious ideas and imagery at that time and I think what I was shooting for was a picture of Hannibal's actions as a “rejection of Christ”....although “Christ”, such as it is here, is more a supernatural proxy for general morality, human decency or just good things in general. I'm not particularly religious and this is not a religious story, per se. Pretty much just a character sketch---one unsavory individual doing stupid shit. Theater of the Irrational.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
THE S.E. APOCALYPSE KREW-"RISE" (plug, plug)
STARCRAWLER-S/T
RUSH-"MOVING PICTURES"

Thursday, July 5, 2018

CIRCA MID '90S

THAT'S HOW THEY GETCHA

and so i'm slamming away on the
assembly line packing books in
boxes--i've got it down to a system,
now--fitting in configurations of five
like clockwork--it took me a while
to get the hang of it but here i am
slogging away for the next three
hours---wiley is falling behind after
showing me a few useful tricks and
i'm impressed by my increasing level of success--
--rat in the proletarian maze of industry,
hammering away on pointless activities run
by a clock---it gets boring, naturally,
so i turn it into a private game,
exceeding wiley's progress and as i get better
and better i'm thinking, i've gotcha,
wiley, you old fart, i've really
gotcha, i'm catching up to your slow
old ass--then i realize, hell, i'm
a rube of the first order--i fell
for the game, hook, line and
dead brain cells--that's how you
become a cog in their machine;
that's how they getcha.



HOW CHRISTIAN OF YOU!

the graffiti in the bathroom
read, "let God show you fuckin'

fags the way home...
                               ...Hell"




WHY I HATE TV TALK SHOWS

the bleachers are packed with a greek chorus
of screeching baboons and barking dogs
exercising loud righteous indignation,
braying hellacious disapproval and
otherwise passing judgment on guests who
look differently, act differently, dress
differently, raised some hell, broke some
rules, fucked someone, killed someone,
dared to do ANYTHING
            but stay home and watch TV.




Copyright 1995, 1996, 2018 Molotov Editions

         In my last several months in Nashua, NH I was living in this slum for about $100 a week. I had quit my 14 year hotel job in a 3-month master plan to cash in my 401(k) and relocate to Arkansas. In the months while I was waiting for that money to get cut loose I was frequenting this fly-by-night temp agency around the corner, who would bus us all out to this book binding plant in Westford, Mass. They paid you by the day and a neighborhood bar down the street would cash the checks. After I left the state my Mom told me that agency had folded up as if it were never there. No huge surprise. These poems are some of my output from around that time.



THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
STARCRAWLER-S/T
OMD-DAZZLE SHIPS
COM TRUISE-ITERATION

Friday, June 1, 2018

“IF YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM, GET OUT OF THE WAY”: YOUR ONE LOUSY TRIGGER WARNING (WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE S.E. APOCALYPSE KREW ALBUM COMES OUT)



If producing “The Abbey of the Lemur” for 20 years has taught me anything, it's that people will cue up like it's the ticket line at Disneyland for the opportunity to be offended so they can clutch their pearls in outrage. That sounds hyperbolic, but I'm not joking. One amusing upside to our beating Bob Emenegger's 2003 Obscenity Rap (prompted, according to some, by actors within the Fayetteville City Government, and most definitely spurred on in the public eye by some of their close allies in the local print media) was that it gave people a rough education to the Miller Obscenity Test---because nobody could fathom the fact that we knew and were able to follow those guidelines. People had begun calling in to Fayetteville's Public Access station asking for copies of the Miller Standards in an effort to play amateur District Attorney and try to bust us for Obscenity (it never worked).
While my goal has never been to actively offend audiences (more to entertain, inspire and stimulate----offensiveness is just sometimes a natural by-product of these other goals) the will to provoke has always been in my DNA. When Mike McAdam and I formed the S.E. Apocalypse Krew back in the 80s, some of the paramount things firing me up were the puritanical machinations of the PMRC in their efforts to censor music. Kicking against the pricks is just so deeply ingrained in my nature it's just going to come out of me no matter what the hell I'm doing.
So we knew, back in the 80s and 90s, when we wrote a lot of these songs, that they had potential to push some buttons. Now, in these hypersensitive times, it feels like the potential is more ripe than ever. On our album cover, we proudly boast “No Trigger Warnings”, but in the interest of fairness, because some folks rove around with a score card, if you're punching your ticket for this wild ride, here's a laundry list of trigger warnings, your last shot across the bough----and if pearl-clutching happens to be your pastime-of-choice, we gotcha covered----there's something for everyone.

     “Threats and Warnings”


WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Authority figures of all stripes, parents, educators, politicians and media.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: A demonic ripdown of all things good, decent and respectable.
WHAT IT IS: Angry polemic against all authority, censorship, safe spaces and people who like to try and candy coat the world.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: All the aforementioned.

“Time Bomb”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: People who are comfortable, in charge and invested in a system where people fall through the cracks, PC types, pleebs, neoliberals and winners.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Portrait of a man on a rampage---it's bad news bears, man....
WHAT IT IS: Portrait of a man hitting his last straw---and if that scares you, maybe it should.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: All of the above.

“Kid Eternity”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: The overly sensitive, parents, suicide survivors, cutters, histrionics, censorship types, do-gooders, the psychiatric community, people who have no sense of humor.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: An abomination---a tasteless, sick joke.
WHAT IT IS: A lampoon of social hysteria, moral panic and emotional necrophilia with a special dash of disdain for those who opportunistically blame music, movies or video games when a kid goes off the rails.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Those who opportunistically blame music, movies or video games when a kid goes off the rails.

“Medicine Cabinet”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Uptight adults, straight edgers, M.A.D.D., D.A.R.E. And the Just Say No Crowd.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: A song that advocates drug abuse.
WHAT IT IS: A song that talks about drug abuse and addiction in an unapologetically non-judgmental fashion.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Anyone who can't get past propaganda.

“Waiting for Melissa”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Easy listening fans, Led Zeppelin.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: A smokin' hot instrumental.
WHAT IT IS: A smokin' hot instrumental.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Absolutely no one.

“Jesus on a Stick”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Religious people, bigots, conservatives, alt righters, PC liberals, the kinds of SJWs that take everything literally, Trump Supporters.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: A questionably-humored appeal to bigotry and violence.
WHAT IT IS: A savagely humorous indictment of religious bigotry and those who abuse it for fun and profit.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Xenophobes, Christians who are bothered over being equated with xenophobes (and, you know, y'all really SHOULD be bothered!)

“Melissa”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: People with delicate sensibilities, feminists, SJWs, PC-types.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Senselessly misogynistic, hateful garbage that implies violence.
WHAT IT IS: Senselessly juvenile, obnoxious racket wrapped up in puerile contempt for no good reason and to no good end.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: You. Yeah. You.

“Pig”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: People who think songs should be nice, unobjectionable and provide good examples for young people.
WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE: Pure, unbridled hatred and hostility.
WHAT IT IS: Pure, unbridled hatred and hostility but it's kind of laughing up its sleeve over the whole thing.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Your mama.

“Rise”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Meek people with delicate sensibilities.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Advocacy for aggression and insensitivity.
WHAT IT IS: Anthem and rallying cry for the Dreg Movement.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: The complacent, people on victim trips, those who benefit from complacency and victim trips.

“Keep Walking”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Sensitive types, SJWs, Red Pillers, people who get laid.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Bitter, resentful Incel angst.
WHAT IT IS: An anthem of hope and empowerment for guys and girls who aren't getting any.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: If you think you might be, you probably should be.

“Truth is Dead”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Politicians, professional liars, punditry, poll takers and self-help gurus.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Jazzy music wrapped around a rant against media, politics and lies.
WHAT IT IS: Jazzy music wrapped around a rant against media, politics and lies.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: People who think any of this shit matters.

“Fear and Hate”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Probably anyone in earshot.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: A barreling, abrasive blast of foulmouthed, hostile invective for no discernible reason; Harmful, hateful screaming and threats. Ooooh, angry is bad!!!!!! Stop that!!!! Don't be angry!!!!!
WHAT IT IS: An unsettlingly cathartic swipe at Bully Culture in any and all forms.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: The top of the food chain.

“23”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Bad Parents, bad lovers, people who like good singing.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Ethereal angst.
WHAT IT IS: Ethereal, ambiguous angst.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Abusers, manipulators, gaslighters.

“Black”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: People who think songs should be happy.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Doom, gloom, paranoia and despair, a piece of music that unfortunately gives voice to disenfranchisement.
WHAT IT IS: Doom, gloom, paranoia and despair, a piece of music that fortunately gives voice to disenfranchisement.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Anyone who happens to be a part of the problem.

“Outsider”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: The fortunate, elistists, neoliberals, exploiters, the well-adjusted, the ignorant, homeowners.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: The story of a loser on a rampage.
WHAT IT IS: The story of a loser who's probably not doing a goddamn thing.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Most definitely the homeowners.

“The Candidate's a Religious Man Talking Blues”
WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Republicans, Democrats, the Establishment, the Punditry, Washington Insiders.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: An ignorant folk song that lampoons the leaders we hold sacred.
WHAT IT IS: An irreverent throwback to the classic protest song.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Politicos of all stripes, spin doctors, social climbers, people who think any of this sad spectacle means anything.

“First Stare”

WHO'LL BE OFFENDED: Pop fans, censorship types, PC feminists, SJWs, weenies, people with dainty palates, twee types, fans of love songs, romantics, dorks.
WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE: Vapid ballad that slides abruptly into a barrage of noise that advocates violence against women.
WHAT IT IS: A goof on asinine top 40 love songs.
WHO SHOULD BE OFFENDED: Humans.


       RISE will be released soon. Stay tuned right here for details.

############

PIG MAN LEVEL TWO: As a lot of you know, late-ish last summer my entire life fell into a hole (in my heel) and I've been struggling to get out ever since. In week two after the skin graft I went back to the doctor to check my progress. I was told the graft had slid but it was still an improvement and what happened wasn't on me. I've been off my foot 95% of the time, and they've told me to just keep doing what I'm doing. Because this happened, of course, I'm inclined to double down on the whole Staying-off-the-foot thang. So I might be scarce 'round these hyar parts for the near future. Don't panic.....still here.

WHAT I'M READING:
A big struggle I've had over the past several years is one that no writer should have to admit to: My snowballing inability to get through a book. Because we're Culture Vultures in this house, the stack of books we've accumulated (that I haven't read) has just grown and grown. And it's not that the books are bad----it's just a bug in my own brain. Which is to say, sorry, fellow scribes, for this egregious infraction----it's not you....it's me.
My latest exercise (over the past several months) has been trying to apply the Japanese business concept of “Kaizen” to my life.....kind of a gradual, incremental improvement model. Take baby steps. Read a page a day. Do an exercise. Try to build on that foundation.
I have good days and bad days, but the gradual rebuilding process is not going badly. So here are some of the books that I'm using to help pull myself up out of the literacy “basement”:

HARLAN ELLISON-I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM
RICHARD BRAUTIGAN-TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA
RICHARD BRAUTIGAN-THE PILL VERSUS THE SPRINGHILL MINING DISASTER
ALAN MOORE AND J.H. WILLIAMSON III-PROMETHEA VOL.1

I'm gettin' there.

THISWEEK'S PLAYLIST:
BLUE OYSTER CULT-Agents of Fortune
POESIE NOIR-Pity for the Self or We'll Teach You to Dance
ALICE COOPER-Love it to Death


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Revisiting SOMETHING HAPPENED







WARNING: If you haven't read SOMETHING HAPPENED and don't know about its shock ending---if you've decided you WANT to read the book and don't want to know how it ends----back off now, because I'll be talking extensively about the ending here. In short: SPOILER ALERT!!!!!
***
Joseph Heller's literary career stands tall on one incredibly formidable foundation: CATCH-22. And that's one helluva foundation, folks-----yes, I admit it, CATCH-22 is one of my favorite novels of all time---from young adulthood up to today, this batshit crazy, ultra-dark comedy has informed most of my views on war, business, authority, bureaucracy, and just about all systems of control. Plenty has been said about CATCH-22 and I can never say enough.....but I'm not here to talk about that today.
After a long lunchtime discussion with my wife last week about our capitalist system and the encouragements it puts on us as a society I thought again about Heller's oft-overlooked second novel. It's time to talk about SOMETHING HAPPENED.
Bob Slocum's got problems; he's got a lot of problems. He's got workplace problems, marital problems, parenting problems and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
He's a paranoid cog vying for a leg up in the corporate machine he works in....most of the colleagues he fears and hates yet seeks to impress are color-coded by name---Black, White, Brown, Green...one co-worker on his way out the door is handicapped and Slocum fantasizes endlessly about kicking his weak leg. He is presumably being groomed to replace this fellow, and he can almost taste it.
He's in a miserable, loveless marriage, his teenage daughter is rebelling and his oldest son is having problems at school. Turns out the kid doesn't play well with others. (“I try to give him a will to win,” complains the kid's gym coach in a parent-teacher conference. “He don't have one. When he's ahead in one of the relay races, do you know what he does? He starts laughing. He does that. And then he slows down and waits for the other guys to catch up. Can you imagine?”) His younger son, Derek (the only family member to whom Slocum actually attributes a name) is ironically the least human of the bunch---obviously severely handicapped (physically, mentally---no doubt both) and the Slocums keep him locked away from the world. Poor Bob frets endlessly about Derek----what are they going to do with him? Should they institutionalize him?
Slocum also moons endlessly about the one who got away, Virginia Markowitz, his long ago office crush, who committed suicide years before. Bob plays long, tortured, drain circling games of What If.
Bob Slocum is one miserable sonofabitch, and he's not especially likeable.
And laying all these cards on the table, how do I begin to sing the praises of this long, solipsistic book that slogs on and on inside the head of its own loathsome (and self-loathing) protagonist while he spends page after page navel-gazing and wallowing in his own private pity party with no discernible end in sight?
SOMETHING HAPPENED is one of my favorite books, and that's no mean feat when you consider the fact that it's over 500 pages long, meanders along in lugubrious fashion and basically has NO PLOT WHATSOEVER....
Maybe it's that the slow-shudder depressiveness played so well into my own back in my 20s when I first read it, but this much I tend to doubt---I never had aspirations to be another ant in the hill and I think I always had more going on in me as far as ideals and attitude. Plus, I could think of several other people I turned on to the book, and they didn't really match the Bob Slocum mindset either. Maybe, is it hangs in the light of cinematic favorites like “Taxi Driver”, deep down we're just maladjusts blundering through the darkness, trying to find our way----and maybe we're all pulled instinctively to rubberneck at a downward spiral.
Or sudden salvation.
Or something possibly worse.
Regardless, we watch Bob Slocum's slow, morbid dissolution as his brain spins in circles, contemplating what it was that brought him to this point in his life---what, indeed, happened? He wonders as we're swallowed by a deep crawl into nothing-----until, very abruptly, the titular “SOMETHING”---happens.
And....SPOILER ALERT.
***

Toward the very end of the second-to-last chapter, Slocum's mooning obsessively about the growing rift between himself and his little boy when there's a commotion and he witnesses the kid pinned underneath a car which has crashed into a storefront. In a blue panic, Bob runs to his boy, who's bloodied and screaming, and holds him tight.
“I have to do something,” Heller, as Slocum, writes. “I hug his face deeper into the crook of my shoulder. I hug him tightly with both my arms. I squeeze.”
Later at the hospital, Bob weeps copiously as the boy is pronounced dead.
In the last chapter, things take a drastic and unexpected turn---after the loss of his son, it's almost as if Slocum's entire life falls neatly into place. Despite the trauma and grief, he....WAITAMINNIT.
BACK IT UP FOR A SEC.

'Death,' says the doctor, 'was due to asphyxiation. The boy was smothered. He had superficial lacerations of the scalp and face, a bruised hip, a deep cut on his arm. That was all. Even his spleen was intact.' “

HE KILLED HIS KID!!!!! HE KILLED HIS KID!!!! HOLY BLOODY FUCKBALLS, HE SUFFOCATED HIS OWN KID!!!!!!!!!
There's a telling point toward the end of the second-to-last chapter, just prior to this abrupt climax, where Heller, as Slocum, writes, “I want my little boy back too.
I don't want to lose him.
I do.”
That passage can read one of two ways. You can read it, “I don't want to lose my boy but I lose him anyway”, or you can read it as, “I don't want to lose my boy, but I do want to lose him.”
Things work out perfect for Bob Slocum after he performs a sort of “self-exorcism”------by smothering his son, who refuses to accept the all-American sacrament of competition, he kills the last remnant of human decency within himself. At that point, he is officially ready to climb the ladder.
GODDAMN. GODDAMN, GODDAMN!!!!! Do you see what I'm saying, here?
His marital problems even out, he and his wife decide (at least temporarily) to refrain from sending Derek off to a home and at work he's able to advance with flying colors and everyone is “pleased with the way I've taken command”.
And Heller's telling us, there's something wrong with this picture.
NO DIGGITY.
At the end of the day, Slocum has to murder that one sliver of hope and goodness within himself----that one fly in the ointment of almighty capitalism---the “problem child” in his ethical makeup, in order to advance in life. That's just a trifle disturbing!
You can grab the brass ring if you want it. What are you willing to lose in the process?


YANKEE POT ROAST #2000: BAD NEWS FOR MY FELLOW NEWZIES

Most people who know me know that I work in the News Industry. Being a genuine weirdo and also someone who probably leans further to the left than the average----well, the average STADIUM full of people, I have my struggles in that setting. And no one bristles harder than my co-workers when they hear the term, “fake news” thrown around. I don't really blame them, either. The people I work with every day at a little local affiliate are serious about what they're doing and I watch them strive hard every day to get stories right. My beef is never with them.
The Big Boys, I got issues with. A lot of issues.
A Monmouth University Poll that was released last month casts a pall over our humble profession that should have my fellow newsies very concerned. And sorry, guys----but I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
Thanks, off the top, to Kyle Kulinski and his YouTube channel, SECULAR TALK, where I originally heard about the poll.
77 % say major news outlets report “Fake News”, the poll says. That's a grabber of a headline---both alarming and yet, at the same time, easy for the average cosmopolitan elitist to write off. Sure, they might say, that's an alarming trend, but it's all knuckle-dragging Trumpazoids who follow their leader's every edict, pronouncement and outrageous lie, right?
Uh....sorry, but, no.
The poll in question is squarely bipartisan...
25 per cent of respondents define “Fake News” as false information that is designed to mislead----and that falls pretty well into the realm of how former President Barack Obama defined it when he decried the phenomenon in the press----it's what first popularized the term and we could look at that definition as the “According to Hoyle” definition.
A lot of people, particularly liberals, rallied behind Obama when he made these statements. I wasn't one of them, for reasons that should soon become obvious.
When you throw the term, “Fake News”, out there, it's not your term anymore----it belongs to everyone----and it invites all-and-sundry to fix whatever definition they want on the phrase.
Hence, Fox News grab it and use it however they want. Hence, Donald Trump seizes it and does whatever he wants. My liberal friends might wring their hands and cry “foul” over this, but Obama opened that door. Sorry----he just did. And if you didn't see that coming, well, there are plenty of eye doctors you can visit.
A second, salient point in the poll shows that sixty-five per cent in the poll say that Fake News includes what is covered and what is not covered. Story selection equals bias. In other words, not just lying by commission, but lying by O-mission.
And adherents to the original point might be disturbed by that deviation from Obama's definition, but you know what, kids?
I wholeheartedly AGREE with them. Bias---particularly ESTABLISHMENT bias----***IS*** fake news. Throw a fit and cry all you want. Call me a Russia-Bot. I don't give a rat's ass.
A third point is that forty-two per cent of respondents believe major mainstream news outlets disseminate false information in order to push a political agenda. Eighty-three per cent believe outside groups----major interest groups and lobbies---plant propaganda.
Again----I agree.
And as I said earlier----reponses to this poll are more or less across the board. These definitions are supported by 89 % of Republicans, 82 % of independents and 61 % of Democrats.
Be afraid. You should be.
So should our leaders.
As Kulinski none-too-subtlely puts it, “we live in an age of constant bullshit”, and everyone sees through it except for those slinging it. Don't forget to duck, pilgrim.

******

Speaking of bullshit, have you heard about notable partisan hack Joy Reid and her homophobia problem? Pull up a chair, 'cause it's a good one...apparently Ms. Reid recently got called out for some old blogs she wrote that were homo-and-transphobic in nature. As a stalwart of pseudo-liberal MSNBC, Joy can't be havin' that kind of a sociopolitical albatross around her neck....not she who has railed on identity politics over class consciousness----it just doesn't look good, y'know?
So what does she do? Does she swallow her pride and admit she was wrong? Nope----she obfuscates and blames HACKERS. Yep----she was claiming that she'd been hacked, the old blog posts weren't hers----except that they were. Held up to scrutiny for obvious falsehoods, Reid backpedaled, offered half-assed apologies and maintains that she didn't remember writing those blogs because it's so far away from who she is today that she didn't even recognize the words as her own.
And if you believe that, have I got a bridge for you.
TRUE CONFESSION TIME: Once upon a long ago time, your humble narrator was homophobic. Yep---no joke. A lot of it was based in my religious upbringing and a lot of it was just a defense mechanism within the teenage pecking order----but when I was a kid I threw the term, “faggot”, around with the best of 'em. Of course, I had no clue a lot of the kids I palled around with were gay (and probably deserved some kind of spirit award for kindly putting up with MY bullshit)---sure, the kids we all hated called them faggots, but hey! Everyone you didn't like was a faggot back then. Youth in the '70s.
How I eventually broke free of that kind of thinking as an adult was getting to know REAL GAY PEOPLE (as opposed to their being some abstract spoken about by demagogues) and understanding that they were just regular people like everyone else.
Okay, so I don't like Reid anyway, but if she'd just come out and said, “yeah, that was me back then but it's not me, now, I'm sorry”, it would have been no harm/no foul. We all have stupid old shit we have to work past.
But hackers had a time machine, and they went back to the year whatever and posted incriminating blogs, huh? Kinda reminds me of the Democratic Establishment she gives her fealty to. Embarrassed by the fact that you got caught rigging your own primary? Blame it on “The Russians”.
See? They even tell similar lies!

********

As long as I'm on my yankee pot roast high horse, that whole annual White House Correspondents' Circle Jerk----er, dinner---happened as I was working on this blog and I got to YouTube back (because other than this the annual affair doesn't interest me much at all---) and see the meteoric rise of Michelle Wolf as the great comic mind of this generation. She handily and savagely ripped the Trump Administration, the Democrats (“you guys don't do....ANYTHING!”) and the entire noxious, gladhanding, self-fellating nature of these dinners and the establishment press itself. The whole monologue was pretty spot-on and the press's flailing display of pearl clutching and loud castigation afterwards was a perfect example of how Wolf was right about absolutely EVERYTHING SHE SAID. She particularly nailed the press's pathetic obsession with decorum (last refuge of the disingenuous) and the hypocritical, self-sabotaging culture of “access journalism” which is no good way to run a fourth estate...their collective umbrage shows their true mettle and marks them as an institution that essentially needs to be thrown into a fire.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
The S.E. Apocalypse Krew-Rise
Blue Oyster Cult-Secret Treaties
Blue Oyster Cult-Spectres
THE FUTURE (mix CD)

NEXT TIME: For all you geniuses who seem to go out of your way looking for something to find offensive, I've got a special gift for everyone.

Friday, March 30, 2018

BLOG ROULETTE 2018



I USED TO HAVE AN ANT FARM

Snippets of dialogue occasionally pop into my head
unasked for
one guy will make a statement, another
will respond and the duo will go
back and forth in some half-formed, half-rational
conversation
it comes to me in almost a half conscious fever
dream and just plays out it
really happens

on this one particular night eleventh hour
work night I'm sitting bored in front of my computer
waiting for the night to wrap up when the
one guy in my head declares,
“I used to have an ant farm.”

The second guy responds with a broad question,
as if he were a vaudeville straight man, asking,
“what happened?”
He never responds with anything like, “why are you telling me this?”
Or, “tell me more about your ant farm.” His reaction
is always just blunt, broad, damn nigh scripted
queries like, “what happened?”

The first guy answers back simply, “they died,”
and the conversation is over.
They all kind of go that way and I'm
left to do what I will with the result.

The work night is over and I embark on a couple of
needed days off.. In the space of those days one
friend informs me she's had what appears to be
another mini-stroke. I tell her she needs to seek medical
help, knowing in advance she probably won't
Another friend writes and tells me he's been diagnosed
with a “slight case” of liver cancer and I know from
past family experience there are no “slight cases”
of liver cancer.

Saturday marks the beginning of my work week.
My wife is off with her mother, shopping and doing
all the other things they do---her usual Saturday.
As the time comes when I usually head off to work
I haven't heard from her all day
Usually it's endless phone tag and before I head out I
call to touch base
She tells me she's sitting in the waiting room of
a 24 hour medical clinic
after suffering sudden, out-of-nowhere
pains in her arms and shoulder
and dizziness
no, she tells me, it's probably not an emergency
no, her mother concurs, we don't think it's a
heart attack

and I drive to work, thinking,
I used to have an ant farm
I used to have an ant farm
I used to have an ant farm.....


3/29/18

**********

          It hit me last night, going through my old blogs, that I haven't done a new blog since, what? Back in October? Mostly it's general derailment....this injury has slowed me down and made every aspect of my life suffer....my personal life, my mobility, my painting, my website, video production, music----you name it----my whole life has kind of hit a wall.

Now----with the ordeal almost in my rear view mirror (Praise the Lord and pass the Regranex!), I can start working toward getting shit back on track.
Still and all, it's not that I've been idle. I actually started work on a number of politically-oriented blogs (four, to be exact) that I've all but given up on. Part of it is the terminal nature of current events---you have to strike while the iron is hot or forget about it. If you run out of steam it's over. Part of it is the sad wisdom that I'm like your favorite alcoholic relative that starts ranting and raving incoherently at the Thanksgiving table---nobody likes it when I get political. Not that I can help it---I've just become THAT GUY that breaks out into vitriol and invective at the drop of a hat---and despite the fact that the last overtly political blog I did was the most highly-viewed one I ever did, I put my finger out into the wind, licking it beforehand for whatever reason they do that on all the old cartoons, and no, just, no, just no.....you don't wanna know.

        The writing and other nonsense continues, though, and the future is ripe with promise---in the coming days, you'll see the S.E. Apocalypse Krew's album, RISE, finally be released----I'm also going to be firing out new blogs----quickest arriving will be a jam on one of my favorite novels ever, Joseph Heller's overlooked SOMETHING HAPPENED.


OH---YEAH----in addition to all of this, the 20th anniversary of “The Abbey of the Lemur” has passed unceremoniously, largely due to the injury in question....but don't expect this to remain the status quo. I'm working, as we eyeball each other, feeble reader, on the rough screenplay for a feature-length TAOTL documentary that will be the final word on our run of infamy. Don't touch that dial!

**********

Speaking of politics (at least in the broader sense of the word, which is what I prefer to deal with), working in a newsroom brings all kinds of interesting tidbits down the transom. Sure, a lot of it makes me want to retch and throw rocks, but what can I say about that? Your favorite Autistic, alcoholic relative strikes again.
But on to the tidbit in question, which did indeed make me want to retch and throw rocks. From our people in DC, more or less verbatim: A new report shows the Opioid Epidemic costs the U.S. Economy billions of dollars every year. It goes on to say that the human price of this crisis is devastating (and it's nice to see some acknowledgment, here, that there's a “human price”), but there's an economic price as well. A new report from the American Action Forum (a DC-based advocacy group that promotes center-right public policy) says nearly a million people were unemployed because of opioid addiction in 2015, and the numbers would seem to only be getting worse.
Translation: Just say no to drugs, kids----because if you do drugs, you're depriving our sainted Oligarchy of exploitable labor, and that hurts the Bottom Line.
And don't get me wrong, here----when it comes to the abuse of and/or addiction to opioids, I agree, say no. But I feel like I got a peek into the worst workings of the work machine with this faceful of an Alan Greenspan wet dream.......
Speaking of such icky business, a friend shared an article from the NEW YORKER last night (Yeah----I know----yawn!----Wearing my affiliation with NYC's Unbearables on my sleeve, there) that talked about the downside of what's now referred to as “The Gig Economy”. It was actually a pretty good read-----much of it centered around ride-share giant Lyft and their promotion involving a driver who gives birth on the job. I'm just gonna link to the article, because the writer, Jia Tolentino, says it better than I will.
       Again, this whole notion of a “Gig Economy” is kind of a Neoliberal spank bank feature----picture an entire workforce of at-will contractors gigging away in some variety of part-time servitude, without benefits. Welcome to the future.

I got into a minor flap with one cat, who, as far as I can tell, is getting fat off sales commissions, when I bluntly wrote, “it all needs to come down.” He responded, “what the hell does that even mean?”
If you're one of the lucky few who are making out like a bandit in the Gig Economy, I haven't got time to explain it to you. Sorry---diplomacy was never my strong suit.
'Kay----getting off my proletarian high horse for now.

**********

It's nice to see the angry public response to the whole Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal-----yeah, sorry—--I had about a month's jump on it from the rest of you because Lee Camp and Jimmy Dore broke it all the way back then. (Yeah—--I know----”RUSSIA BOT!!!!”---Suck my nuts, ya goddamn lemming) Forbes apparently wrote about it back in November, favorably. Think about that.
Anyway, thanks for finally getting pissed over something you should get pissed about, as opposed to all the silly hype over Russian Troll farms----nothing's sadder than watching sincere Hashtag Resistance-types working themselves into a frenzy while the neoliberals move the goalposts all over the field with shifting charges designed to foment a new cold war, fueled largely by abject fear and wishful thinking. Y'all have made conspiracy theories mainstream and acceptable. Kudos.
A lot of folks are (understandably) dealing Facebook out. I'm still here....I guess the dividing line between you and me is that, from 9/11, Bush and the Patriot Act on out, I always assumed my shit was being looked at anyway. Why this is new or shocking to any of you is a mystery to me.
So, until Big Brother or his surgical equivalent come knocking on my door (and it'd have to be a real slow day for me to be of interest), you all know where to find me.
Yeah. Tolja nobody likes it when I do this.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
FETISH/CANDYSHROUD-Demo
ANDI SEXGANG-Achilles in the Eurozone
ALICE COOPER-Love it to Death
L7-Slap Happy

Thursday, October 26, 2017

CARTOON LAND

  Last Thursday was the day the scheme of things pulled a shocker on me. It was fairly alarming when I stop and think about it. That's not even to say I was alarmed when it happened, but it did hit me as being an unexpected twist, and it's kinda stayed with me. I have to applaud the powers-that-be, whatever and wherever they are...they took me by surprise and I thought I was above that kind of susceptibility.
The path of my life was as systematic as any and I found it an amusing one. I'll admit that early on I was a victim of The Collective Ignorance (which may be the greatest running joke of all time); I was a little man hammering away in the workings of the big machine, as guilty as anyone else of thinking there was more to it. I was just part of the ruse and it was only a year ago I recognized the truth of things.
Still, regularity was the rule. Sure, I'd found my way around to seeing the humor in it, but at the same time it seemed neither proper nor necessary to change anything. Even as a player who saw the strings being yanked, I didn't think it gave me license to interject my own ideas into the plot. After all, why gum up a plan that's been successful for millennia, right?
Anyway, like I said, last Thursday was a real shocker.
It kicked off the same way as always, fairly indistinguishable from any other weekday morning in recent memory. The alarm clock blasted in my ear, like always. As usual, I hit the SNOOZE button, a good, reliable running gag, and found my way out of bed ten minutes later. Give or take.
I followed The Eternal Script religiously, shambling off to the bathroom for the essential dash of cold water but holding off on the shower and the shave. That's heavy activity and I can't scare up that kind of enthusiasm without a trip to the Espresso-Matic.
Diane was bustling about the kitchen in her own cantankerous, late-running frenzy---my wife, the morning caricature. On that eventful Thursday her motivation was the glasses. She couldn't find her glasses and that was the special impetus to her ranting.
She was blaming Britney, although Britney insisted that she hadn't even seen them. Diane was inclined more often than not to give the kids the benefit of the doubt, but she must have (like me) remembered Britney's latest schtick.
The latest gag that had wormed its way into Brit's lexicon was wanting to “wear glasses the way Mommy does when she reads.” Whenever Diane doffs the bifocals, Britney is sure to pick them up and throw them on.
I know, right? It's hilarious.
Diane acted upset when Brit added this attribute to her repertoire. She tried to reason with Brit, saying that the glasses were to correct her impaired vision, they weren't for a little girl whose eyesight was perfect, and, oh, Britney, you can damage your eyesight if you wear your Mommy's glasses!
Which led Brit to the logical progression of asking, “if I damage my eyesight, will I be able to wear glasses?” Diane became furious at this point, which was a silly (albeit predictable) way to be. What did she expect her to say? But sadly, I suppose, that's the flaw, and ultimately the purpose in Diane's personality; She's the quintessential foil----she doesn't expect the expected.
So off she went on that strange Thursday morning, all a-grumble, the course charted for her morning warpath. As I made my coffee and sat down at the kitchen table, I knew this scenario would end with Diane owing Brit an apology. The glasses would inevitably turn up in her coat pocket or something. It was a foreseeable conclusion, or at least I thought so, but it was ironclad, dependable, a classic-in-the-making....and dammit, the classics never die.
Brit and Brandon were sitting, mesmerized, eating their bowlfuls of the latest sugar-ball concoction, staring at their reflections, their four-color symbiotes, in the television. It was a DVD or some streaming cartoon show, I'm not sure which. Like everything else, it all begins to overlap and appear the same. It doesn't matter, though----either one is a passable sedative.
It was hard, though, as it sometimes is, to differentiate from the onscreen and offscreen action. The cartoons and the puppets squeak and yell and bounce and so do the kids watching them. They seem interchangeable much of the time. On this day, Brandon stuck out amid the TV room antics by complaining too much and letting his face drip.
“Daddeeeeee,” he whined, and I didn't answer. I figured it was fair, and in keeping with our routine, to give him several rounds of apathy.
“Daaadddeeeeeeee....”
“Daddy,” Brit chimed in.
“Daaaaddeeeee.....”
“Daddy, Brandon's crying! Daddy...”
“What's the matter, Brandon?”
“Daddy,” whimpering, his face running, “why do you and Mommy both have to go to work?”
That was an easy one. “So we can afford to give you nice things, son.”
“I don't want Mommy to work,” he cried, face like an open faucet. “I want Mommy to stay hooooommmme.”
“It's okay, Brandon,” being the consummate Daddy Character and trying to quell his noise. “When we pay off the mortgage, Mommy will quit her job.” Not that I expected my little five-year-old to understand the concept of a mortgage, nor even the absurdity that we might move before the mortgage was paid and have to start all over again, but it was a handy pacifier. The mortgage actually wouldn't be paid off for another ten years---by then Brandon would be old enough to stop caring. Solutions to long term problems come easy in this life.
It was then that Diane came through, owing Brit that apology. Beautiful. Like Clockwork. I marveled, as I often have, over the simplicity, the way everything just falls in its place that way.
I must, now, take my hat off to Diane. The imagination the bravery it must take to play the hand that she plays...the way she can come up with a new motivator for her routine every morning. It must take a lot of strain to maintain this kind of a daily character. I always had the easy role I the family. All I had to do was kick back, wear those elbow patches, play the model husband/father, smile and beam, patronize, pontificate and come up with the occasional piece of fortune cookie wisdom. Six months ago the elbow patches happened. I bought a Robert Young sweater. Diane doesn't even know who Robert Young was. It was a private joke, and one I really fancied. It was the ultimate symbol of my station in life and my chance to play it to the hilt. I figured if I could fake the part with half of Diane's conviction I'd be doing okay for myself.
After Diane apologized to Brit, she stomped around some more, no doubt having found some new, pressing detail to fret over. Brandon kept crying. I told him to get ready, as Brit was already doing. “Daddy's going to have you get off to school soon.”
“Noooo, Daddy, I don't want to gooooo!”
“Jesus, Bruce!” Religion, intruding upon my domestic bliss.
“What's the matter, hon?”
“Why don't you get moving?! How are the kids ever going to be prepared for the world out there the way you're setting examples?”
“What?”
“Bruce, for crying out loud! It's no wonder this house is going to hell! Nothing gets done unless I do it, nobody's ready on time in the mornings, JESUS!” Again, with the religion. “Aren't you concerned? You have somewhere to go, too! You've been missing more and more work, you linger in the mornings forever before you get up and do anything...what kind of an example are you setting for these kids?”
I took another sip of coffee. Brandon's nose was running. None of the moppets capering around on the television screen were upset or crying. It seemed to me that Brandon had good examples all around him.
Diane was mad, though. She couldn't get out the door fast enough. “People who slack off don't make it in the world anymore,” seizing her briefcase, “it's getting harder and harder. I can feel that----why can't you? I wish you'd help convey that more to your children,” high heels clacking on the porch, door slamming.
I stretched my inert bones. “Up and at 'em, kids.” I polished off the coffee and hit the shower.

########

I made it into the office a little over an hour later after packing the kids up and depositing them at school. Cicely, the kids' keeper, expressed her concern over how late they were. I guess it was okay, though, as she was smiling the whole time. Smiley. That girl never quits smiling. A delightful stick figure of a woman, a grotesque grin that graces my brain on the run five minutes a day, five days a week.
The flourescently-lit hallways of my workplace twist and wind and they all look alike. When I got to work I was just just walking around, admiring the strangeness of it all. It's easy to get lost there; I'm reminded of a recurring dream I have----it's high school, I have my schedule of classes and I can't find any of them. I end up dividing my school day between the cafeteria and the library (it's easy to catch a few Zs there). Eventually I realize there are finals for classes I've never gone to and I panic----somewhere in my head I'm still trapped in that school-reality of childhood where such things seem to matter. Here in the present I wandered the halls and wasn't sure where I was going or had been before. Sporadically, colleagues would come around corners, exit rooms and enter other rooms. It reminded me of all the old “Scooby Doo” cartoons. I laughed at this----it was almost as if giant, unseen masterminds were lifting dividers in a maze, allowing roaches to scramble from one refuge to the next, never actually escaping, just scurrying in the shadows.
In this configuration, what was I but one of the roaches who'd learned the trick? That was the amusing part, I think.
“Bruce?” It was Berrigan, calling me in for another chat. “You got a minute?”
“Sure!” I like Berrigan; He's the head roach. I've known him for years. He's a stationary figure in the maze, always there to greet you with his squinty eyes and constipated smile. He's as terrified as the other roaches when the dividers go up, always sending memos and calling meetings. He always talks friendly, whatever he has to tell you. It's an unbeatable shtick, because even if he happens to be dumping on you, it's impossible to hold it against him.
“Bruce,” taking his seat behind the desk, “I've got some bad news for you.”
I remember when I was young, my folks took me to see “Mary Poppins”. Mary sang a song in that movie, something about medicine going down. The song still holds true, I think, even if you aren't a tot. That hilarious, pained smile. Berrigan was sugar, even if he didn't know it.
“Things are getting tough for the company. Bruce, I've known you for a while, you've been with us forever, but you just haven't been pulling your weight like you used to, and these young guys, you know, they're just putting all the money on the books. It's a new world, my man.”
I let out a loud giggle. I just couldn't suppress it---this was rich. Berrigan looked askance at me, but he had a job to do and he wasn't about to let my good sense of humor stop him. “I told you this day might come,” he said, “ I encouraged you to watch your ass, but you didn't. You remember that?”
I just laughed.
“I told you the kinds of numbers you were going to have to pull in. You remember that? The top brass needs to trim the fat. You're the fat.”
I couldn't stop laughing. “The kids, “ I told him between guffaws, “their names are Britney and Brandon. They both start with a BR. It's like they're matching salt and pepper shakers! It's funny----you get it???” I laughed and then I cried. Then I laughed again.
“Bruce,” he said, “You need help. And maybe you should get help----but it's really not our problem anymore. You need to clean out your desk.”
He wasn't smiling anymore. I was still laughing, though. I got the joke---he didn't. I saw it coming, but even he didn't think I would. Insight. At that moment, I was the Head Roach.

######

To cut back on irrelevant details, Diane walked and she took the kids. Out the door she headed, Brandon and Brit each under one arm like two clumsy, flailing pieces of luggage. On her way out the door she harangued me about responsibility and tossed a few silly cliches around. I laughed and admired her guts, going through life with such narrowly-defined parameters.
I stayed home for a few days, ignored the phone and watched TV. The kids are gone, but there are other children in this house. I see them in the mornings, bouncing across the screen like rubber balls, singing jingles for some new, candy-striped toothpaste. They're my children, too, and I'm positive Diane and I spawned them right around the same time Brandon and Britney were conceived.
More and more, though, I spend less time at home. I spend more time at the park, watching everything fly by with technicolor vitality. Sometimes I don't stay home at all except to sleep and I know there's great danger in that. I know one day I'll head home and find my house gone, as if it had never been there.
I appreciate these latest developments----you could see it keeps me on my toes----but it's frustrating. Every day I sit in the park and the parade of life whirls and dances past me. But it pays me no mind----I'm a spectator, not a participant, it all passes me by and I can't touch it. It averts me, and I'm bothered by this. It know things will change, I just have to wait for the next step in the plot, the next funny wrinkle life throws my way. Hopefully it doesn't get here too late.

I'm getting impatient, though, and desperate. Yesterday I caught a pigeon and held it where I could stare into its eyes. Face to face. It was terrible, Even as it pecked, clawed, scratched and objected, its eyes were nothing but empty, black beads. It struggled, but it wouldn't show me anything, not an ounce of life on its face. I threatened it and beat it, but it held its ground, its eye-things remaining dull, black and inanimate. I grabbed its head in an angry last ditch to make it show me life, jerking it left, then right, front, then back, this way, then that. This way, then that.

Copyright 1991 C.F. Roberts, 2017 Molotov Editions
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
SWANS-"The Seer"
MINIVAN-Demo
VINNIE VINCENT/WARRIOR-Demos
EYEHATEGOD-Story of the Eye