Friday, May 19, 2017

THIS WEEK'S HOT NEW FEAR

In the S.E. Apocalypse Krew's song, “Kid Eternity”, we sing, “pull Dad's gun from the drawer/and aim it at my head/they'll sue Ozzy and be happy to have someone to blame”.
Obviously, it's locked into the zeitgeist of its times----the 80s, the Satanic Panic and all that happy horseshit. Even back then, no one was going to mistake us for politically correct. The protagonist of the song practices suicidal ideation and self-mutilation, literally cutting his nose (or ears) off to spite his face....or anyone else that irks him. Yeah, we know....maybe we're coarse, maybe we're insensitive....but that's how we roll. And at the end of the day, hopefully you learn it's okay to laugh at everything. Or at least think long and hard about what you're laughing at.
       We knew right from the outset we were on a collision course with certain easily-offended types and we were fine with that. Gimme a knee-jerk, pro-censorship person, I'm probably going to offend them. It always works out that way.....I'm there.
ON THE OTHER HAND, it's always an eye-opener when the pro-censorship knee-jerker goes after artists who DO handle things sensitively!
Care 2 is a Social Networking Website that brings together activists and enables them to create petitions and organize campaigns leaning toward human rights, animal rights, social justice, environmental issues and a variety of worthwhile rallying points. So it was a surprise to see some activists utilize Care2 to advocate censorship.


      One phrase that Mike and I have thrown around together since the 80s was “The Hot New Fear”, or “this week's hot fear” or other such variations on the subject.....and the hot new fear is always something that's literally sold like a bottle of mouthwash, and the media will usually jump on it and harp on it, exploiting it with little to no rational discourse or serious examination....it's usually some superficial scapegoat in the arts or entertainment, used to serve as a cultural “band-aid” to a larger problem people regard as too big to address (or too big to fail?).
Obviously, around the time we wrote “Kid Eternity” the Satanic Panic was in full bloom and the big fear was that if your kids listen to Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest they're going to commit suicide (and to hell with any deeper examination of issues like home life, mental health, chemical dependency or whatever---you're a terrible person if you even ask such questions!)
There have been lots of other handy fears, though....does your kid play Dungeons and Dragons? It'll turn the introverted little lamb into a babbling, Occult-practicing psychotic! Anybody remember the West Memphis 3? Three kids who were basically railroaded for a child murder due to the fact that they wore black and listened to Metallica----shit----one or two turns of circumstance and I coulda been Damien Echols! Natural Born Killers? Everyone from Bob Dole to John Grisham said it was gonna spawn a generation of homicidal maniacs. Marilyn Manson? Caused Columbine---y'know....if you disregard the fact that those two kids didn't even listen to him....
Today's fresh new fear is apparently this 13-episode Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why”. Since this show will apparently be responsible for all your childrens' deaths, let's bust it out of its virtual box and get a look at it.


      I sat down and binge-watched “13 Reasons Why” (I keep wanting to call it “13 Ways to Die”) a few weeks ago pretty much based on the fact that I found the premise interesting. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, “13 Reasons Why” is the story of this high school kid, Hannah Baker, who kills herself and leaves a series of cassette tapes detailing the events that led to her suicide to be distributed among the various parties she considers “responsible”, and as the tapes (and her narrative) unravel, the lives of those around her, the “accused”, unravel. Some (most notably the protagonist) are angry, some are dismayed and others are trying to fight to keep a lid on the whole thing for fear that it will “destroy the school” ( tenuous defense of a construct that makes little sense to anyone standing outside such an asinine bubble world).
Personally, I fucking LOVED this show.....no ifs, ands or buts. I don't think I was ready for how smart it was going to be. On one level, yes, it unflinchingly takes on a lot of the hard issues teens deal with, from harassment to bullying to rape to gossip to stalking to slut-shaming—on other levels, while the show, per se, definitely takes Hannah's “side”, it turns around and shows you that she doesn't necessarily see the whole picture---some of the events don't necessarily follow her side of the story and some of the kids in the story aren't necessarily as bad as she makes them out to be. When there's a scene where she asks Clay, the main protagonist of the story, if he thinks she could ever be as pretty as this one other character, homeboy shits in his wheaties by being like, huh? She walks away and says, “never mind----you just answered the question,” and we the viewers see that it's just one more nail in her coffin....but it's a mistake anyone could make. I could make that mistake. You could make that mistake.
So, yeah---incredibly smart show....not only does it nail everything kids are facing in school from peer pressure to bullying to suicide, to unresponsive authority figures to an entire culture that bolsters and reinforces the pecking order, it shows you the bottom line of suicide---the grief of the parents and friends—the damage left in its wake. The acting is uniformly great, especially from the two young leads----they'll rip your heart out.
Does it have the potential to resonate with young audiences in ways that might make authority figures uncomfortable? Yeah----it does. After I got done it took me several days to get “13 Reasons” and its haunted teens the hell out of my head. But that also begs the question, if authority figures are uncomfortable with that, what does it say about them? Seriously, guys----too scary? Too big an issue to deal with?
Sorry, I know----I'm being a dick about this. But you know what? Having actually lost friends to suicide, I can be a dick about this.
One thing I was unaware of was that “13 Reasons Why” is also a popular, best-selling Young Adult novel that has been revered among young audiences for a decade, now. I'm not very conversant in the topic of contemporary YA Lit, which is strange, I guess, as my first novel qualifies, technically, as “YA”----(and I'm still looking for a publisher----hint, hint!) (It covers many of the same topics----hint! HINT!)(You can read excerpts right here on this blog----HINT!!!! HINT!!!!) (Naw----I'm not self-serving in the least, am I?)-----but it's something I genuinely have not followed. Apparently it's a sufficiently beloved book to where, when the TV adaptation was announced, young fans confronted the producers and told them, in no uncertain terms, “don't fuck this up!” So obviously, much to the chagrin of some knee-jerk types, this material hits very close to home. Between the book and the show, why does this story resonate with kids?
Well, don't believe for a second it's because the story and themes were generated in a vacuum. This shit happens all the time----it was going on when I was a kid way back in the Mesozoic Era, and precious little seems to change. “13 Reasons” doesn't come by its attacks in a one-dimensional manner---the parents in the show are not cutout characters. They genuinely care for and are worried for their kids and frequently find themselves closed off from genuine communication----and there's no dressing that up---that's very often on the kids. But I think that one part of the story that gets under the skin of all the concerned adults (SPOILERS!!!!) is the last “Reason Why”----the well-intentioned-but-ineffectual student counselor whose answer to rape is basically “try to forget about it”.
Does the “culture” of a school cover up and engage in apologetics for its favored students? Betcha I can say “yes” faster than you can choke out the word “Steubenville”....like I said, no one, not the producers of the show nor the author of the book, pulled this concept out of a vacuum. Think these notions of hopeless reaching out to an adult authority figure never happen? Think the authorities are all-knowing sages who can solve all the problems of youth? Then you have to answer to this:


         So where were the concerned and able adults when this kid was being knocked unconscious in full view of the security cameras?
Eight years old. EIGHT. Yeah----good job, authorities.
And ultimately that's the problem I have with these reactionary activists....rather than actually reach out and help end the abuses and negligence that helps motivate kids toward despair, they'd prefer this easier “band-aid” route-----because taking on the hallowed pecking order is too hard...and deep down, we all love the blessed, besotted, motherfucking pecking order down to its apple-pie-and-stick-shift-drivin' Jesus core, so let's micromanage and/or ban a TV show, instead.
       To quote comedian and political commentator Jimmy Dore, "we're a nation of adult children of alcoholics....we don't get mad at the guy who screwed you over----we get mad at the guy who pointed it out and let you know about the guy screwing you over."
        Agreed, Jimmy. Well said.

         Go, Hot New Fear, Go! Except you're never that new, are you? It's the same old shit, over and over.
Except that maybe, for a change, things are a little better. Some counselors and psychiatrists have taken a new approach...they've seen the “provocative” potential of “13 Reasons” as the opportunity for a “teaching moment”----parents, watch this with your kids and take this as an entryway to a dialogue. Listen to your kids. Find out what's happening in their lives. If what you're seeing on this show rings true with them, find out why.
SMART. FOR A CHANGE. So, hey, as grumpy as I get about these things----maybe we can evolve past the bad old days of the Satanic Panic.
Be nice if someone made sure the gang at CARE 2 (or at least some of their petitioners) got the memo.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ACQUAINTANCE

They've been prepping me for my first sight of it for a few weeks, now.
Robin, Val and Ross have all been very supportive. They've answered all my questions----who, what and why, and they've been patient. They know it can't be easy.
For the last two or three days (Two that I remember—it feels like it must have been three but I can't recall), they've made vain attempts to show it to me. I freaked, It wasn't their fault. I wasn't ready yet, mentally, physically, philosophically, and we'd be right on the verge and then I'd panic and they'd have to give me a shot and let me sleep awhile. They've been good. They understand.
I think I'm ready now.
All the same they've been cautious. They let me stay comfortable, allowing me to sleep in today, and Robin's been grilling me the whole time (“Are you sure you're ready for this? You know we're not going to force it on you if you don't feel you can handle it....”).
I want to. I have to. All logic points to the fact that I must. You can't live your life ignorant; you must see and understand the things that affect your life and environment. I have assured them, Robin and Valerie and the rest, that I feel this way, and they agree. I'm comfortable with the fact that they're beside me, behind me, and regardless of what happens or what I see, they give me security.
The three of them are seated around me, Val, Robin and Ross, true friends, and they're with me....”okay,” says Val, “are you all set?”
“Yes,” I tell her. “I know you've been waiting to get it over with.” She runs her hand through my hair.
“Let's not bandy,” says Robin. “Show him.” I am relaxed.
Robin and Ross show it to me---they don't make any big to-do about it. A glance between them and the the unveiling.
My first thought about seeing it face-to-face is simply, “oh.” After the second I need to take in and think about what I see, in crashes the revulsion, then fear and now I'm screaming, screaming, clawing and climbing and screaming oh Christ get it away get it away don't let it touch me---
Val is battering me now this is Val and now she's battering me smashig me and I can't believe it Jesus Val it's me, Cal, Cal, your brother oh stop hurting me and I'm fighting retreating all the while crying no and then she shrieks out, “Cal! Stop! Cal, you're clawing me! You're hurting me!” And that makes me stop because I don't want to hurt her but I'm scared as hell I can't stop screaming my legs are giving out---
“Cal!” Yells Robin. “Chill, man! We told you, it won't hurt you!”
“He can't handle it,” I hear Ross saying---now the three of them are holding me down. I'm still screaming. I can't stop. Christ oh Christ stop---”deal with it,” yells Robin. Hard love. “Deal with it, Cal! Did I stick with you this far to have you melt on me?” He slaps my face. “Deal with it!”
“Noooo,” I whimper.
“Cal,” says Val, “open your eyes.”
“I can't,” I cry. “I can't, I can't, oh please don't make me I can't take it don't make me look OH GOD NO DON'T MAKE ME---”
“Cal!” Booms Ross. “You're stronger than this! Open your eyes!”
“Nooooooo!!!!”
“Open them,” says Robin.
“Christ, Robin,” harps Val, “He can't handle it! He wasn't ready!”
“Ross, force his eyes open,” says Robin, ironclad, mind made up oh Robin, you bastard, how could you betray me like this???
Robin and Ross force my eyes open; I struggle and fight and object but they outmuscle me and hold me fast.
“Oh, Cal, oh, my poor Cal,” weeps Val. “it's okay, Cal, we told you---we know it's horrible, but it won't hurt you.”
They force me to stare at it into it oh God I am afraid it's hell it's calamity---”deal with it,” shouts Robin and I try I stop struggling I stare it's inconceivable and it stares back it stares back oh my God but like they say it just stand there and.
“I'm scared,” I tell them.
“We know,” and they stroke me and touch me soft and relax their grips....
“What is it?” I wail. “Jesus. What is it?”
“What do you think it is?” Asks Ross. “It's like you, me, anybody.”
“Ross, I'm sorry,” I cry. “I know, I know, you told me, but how? Oh, God.....why? Why?”
“Sssshhhhh,” sooths Val, cuddling me, coddling me. “It's okay, it's okay.”
“You know why,” Ross tells me. He's trying not to sound impatient. “We spent almost three weeks telling you.”
“I'm sorry,” I scream.
“It's okay,” says Val. “Jesus, Ross, we all knew it was going to be hard on him!”
“I know,” grudges Ross. “I'm sorry, Cal.”
“S'okay,” I cry. “S'okay....I know.” I stare at it---at once I can't stop looking at it but at the same time I want to shut these cursed fucking eyes and never open them again. “Oh, God,” lamenting, “oh, God, it's here, isn't it? It's always been here, hasn't it?”
“Yes,” Valerie whispers, rocking me back and forth. “Sshhhhhhh.”
“It's here,” says Robin, touching my shoulder gently. “It'll always be here.”
“Oh, God,” I moan. Finally, they let me close my eyes. I feel like I've earned it.

####

For several days they've kept a vigil with me. Val. Robin. Ross. I can't tell them enough how grateful I am. They say they know. Helping me to cope with all this horror----I'm not sure they do know.
Today it all went wrong. They left Blake to watch me. Like Blake, of all people, has any idea what gives. Blake is a fucking bastard.
I woke up and right out of the blue there was Blake and he was pissed. He said he'd been there several days (which I found very hard to believe) and he'd had to sedate me----he had bruises on his arm and cuts and bruises on his face and said I'd done this to him.
He then locked me in there with that thing----presumably to punish me.
The only comfort I found all that time, the only thing that took the edge of my fear, was that they told me, remember, Cal, remember, no matter how scared you are, it's at least that frightened.
Ross told me, when all else fails, don't show it your fear. Fear drives it wild, agitates it. That's why it bares its teeth. Just the same, I hid my face for what must have been hours, may have been days....
Finally, Val showed up and pulled me out, thankfully. She said Blake wouldn't be coming back.
She held me. Comforted me....
####

It took me a long time, but I learned to accept it as a part of my life. It's been a difficult process.
Do unto, the law my sad head keeps going back over---do unto, do unto, and I cry for it and understand it----its pains, its burdens....it didn't ask to be born----none of us asks to be born, and I always have to remind myself of that. Sometimes I feel an urge to collapse on it, to throw my arms around it and beg its forgiveness, but its repugnance keeps me at arm's length....
Still, I have learned to coexist with it----sometimes I stare at it for long, bewildered hours on end. I know that's hard to believe, but I do.
And I know and I see that in its own stunted intelligence it tries to reciprocate. The way it feebly reaches out, touches back in its questing, ham-fisted way.
I think it is possessed of a brilliant, blunt, unfortunate soul; when I reach out, it stares back placidly. It almost never blinks as I run my fingers along its smooth, flat, shiny face....


Originally published in THE MOWER. Copyright 1993 C.F. Roberts, 2016 Molotov Editions

Saturday, March 11, 2017

TURDUCKEN

It was getting cold out and Billy thought Duke would never show. Eventually, though, the blue pickup rolled up in front of the complex.
Come in outta the cold, boy,” bellowed Duke. Billy slipped into the passenger seat. “You in the doghouse again?”
I don’t want to talk about it,” said Billy, “just drive. Somewhere. Anywhere. Just drive.”
Duke pulled out. “No particular place to go,” he said in a sing-songy voice—some old tune. Chuck Berry? One of those old rock’n’roll guys, anyway.
Beers in the back,” Duke offered. Billy reached behind the seat and found the case of cold buds Duke had stashed back there. He didn’t waste any time popping one. He noticed, now, for the first time that Duke was steering with one hand, holding a beer in the other.
You know, “ Duke drawled after a few minutes, “I don’t give a shit what you and Alice might be going through tonight. Y’all are gonna be alright….I know. I like a girl with spirit.
Shit, redneck, you like her that much you can have her!”
Sorry, kid, I’m off the market,” Duke smiled.
Billy took another pull off the beer. “Anymore I just think she’s getting the upper hand in the relationship. I don’t know why it’s always gotta be a goddamn power struggle.”
Well,” said Duke, “there’s some women’s just bent that way. They think they gotta ‘train’ their men.”
Yeah, well, she’s gonna learn, I’m not here to be trained,” said Billy.
Duke laughed. “I know you’re deep in it, now—maybe you’ll pull past it tomorrow or maybe next week, but you kids have got a good thing….I know y’all fight now and again…”
Now and again,” huffed Billy, taking another pull off the beer.
I know y’all fight every now and again,” Duke repeated the phrase, louder and more firmly, as if he were trying to override Billy, “but that’s a good thing. You wanna stay real and grounded with your woman, and sometimes you just gotta have these knock-down-drag-outs. Me an’ Marlene have been together twenty goddamn years ---she stayed there for me the whole goddamn time I was in the big house.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah,” muttered Billy.
Well,” shrugged Duke, “yeah, yeah, yeah! I been around the block, I’ve had good times, I’ve had bad times, I’ve done hard time, which is the slowest time, the worst kind of time…I think I know whereof I speak…I ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know a few things!”
Maybe so,” sighed Billy, deflating. “Just…when I know what earthly good the knock-down-drag-outs produce, maybe….”he trailed off and shook his head.
I’ll try and bring my tea leaves and help you read ‘em kid,” Duke laughed. “You’ll be alright---ain’t nothing you two are goin’ through that folks ain’t been goin’ through since Biblical Times. Pass me another one of them beers, willya?”
The two men cruised on through the countryside for some time, shooting the shit on any number of subjects---how Meadows, the bullet-headed little sonofabitch, ever could have made assistant foreman; the lottery and whether either one of them would ever win it and what they might do with the money if they did; how the Hogs, as good as the season was going, would probably never have a championship program again; Alice’s obsession with “Dancing with the Stars”. Midway through “Dancing with the Stars”. Duke slammed on the brakes.
Shit,” yelled Billy.
Deer,” said Duke. Billy saw the deer wandering back off the road into the trees.
Christ,” said Billy, “just keep on telling the goddamn Democrats hunting is cruelty and we can’t thin the herds!”
I’d like to have thinned out the herd right there,” said Duke, taking his foot off the brake, “if it wouldn’t have cost me my truck….know how long it’s been since I had me some venison chili?”
I never cared a whole lot for deer, personally,” said Billy. Relaxing again. “I like my meat tender.”
Tender like your women?” Chuckled Duke. Billy shot him a wounded look, which made him laugh even harder. “Oh, now don’t start cryin’ on me---I’m just bustin’ your balls. Venison chili’s real good, Billy, you’d like it---you need to let it simmer and carmelize overnight. Nice’n’tender.”
Hey,” said Billy, switching gears, “what are the chances of your running by Wally World? I gotta pick us up a turkey for Thanksgiving.”
Duke’s eyes twinkled. “You sure you kids are gonna make it to Thanksgiving?”
Shit,” said Billy, rolling his eyes.
I think I can swing that trip for ya,” said Duke. “You know, me and Marlene are doing a Turducken this year!”
Tur-what?!”
A Turducken! That’s a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey! It’s a Turducken!”
Shit,” said Billy, “that’s like a bad wreck---you can’t identify the bodies, because you can’t tell where one bird ends and the other begins!” Duke laughed. “Turducken, huh?”
Turducken,” laughed Duke.
Billy smiled, then turned halfway and felt around in back. “I think we’re all outta beers, buddy…”
Uh-oh!”
Figure maybe we could swing back around to the liquor store?”
Doubt it,” said Duke, “it’s after midnight!”
Well, shit.”
Oh, it’s alright, I got more back at the house,” Duke said.
Cool.” A possum waddled out into the road. Duke swerved to avoid it.
Goddamn, Mister Compassionate, let’s get back to the house in one piece,” yelled Billy.
Nature’s little speedbumps,” sighed Duke, his heart sinking back down from his throat. It was then that a set of headlights pulled out behind them and caught up with them fast.
That’s a cop,” said Billy.
I’ve been drinkin’ off and on all day,” said Duke.
It’s cool,” said Billy. “Just drive straight, play it cool.”
I got a quarter in the glove compartment” Billy was now sensing the agitation in Duke’s voice.
Man, it’s alright,” said Billy. “You think they’re gonna be able to search you if you don’t let ‘em? You think they’re gonna want to do the paperwork? Just play it cool!”
They’re on us,” rasped Duke. He was looking alarmed, now.
Dammit, Duke,” cried Billy. “You draw these kinds of things to yourself…Alice told me about that---some shit on Oprah!”
Oprah?! What the fuck are you talkin’ about, Billy?!”
If you think you’re gonna get caught, then you’re gonna get caught!”
What the hell is that supposed to mean?!” Behind them, the cop turned on the blues.
Okay,” said Billy, “just pull over. Remember—you don’t have to let them search you!”
Fuck that shit,” yelled Duke. He floored it, just as they hit the Leatherwood Curves.
I’m not goin’ back to the joint!”
No, you’re not,” said Billy. “Duke, Jesus Christ, you’re making this something we can’t get out of!”
 I’m not going back,” screamed Duke as the cops gave chase. “I have a good life, it’s not ending like this!”
Duke was going so fast at this point that he nearly blew the guard rail. Turducken, Billy thought again. A carload of joyriding high school kids came around the bend and that was the last thing Billy knew.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

THREE FOR VAN GOGH

AGONY AND ECSTACY IN THE YELLOW HOUSE

gestation and
cross pollination
combustible elements
volatile combinations

gaugin a wild animal, whoring and partying
alive in the language of the world
vincent like a monk with laser intent
hitting the canvas with fever dream furor

vincent the idealist where the man who threw the book away
walked into an arrangement with the man
who had no idea there was a book to begin with

masterpieces and insurrection
mangled body parts in
a house of cards
collapsing

2/16/17






THE STRAIGHT MAN'S BURDEN
(for Theo)


when the fits have been thrown and the brawls have been won or lost
that one human alarm clock pulls us back in despite constant protests
when the parties and the dutiful gatekeepers let out existential sighs
take out their brooms and start in on the broken glass

it's these straight men in our respective routines
the ones who mop up after our collective disasters
who take the brickbats, who shoulder the burden of our crazy
babysitting us for little to no payoff
who suffer through our mood swings, our drinking and drugging,
our bipolar crests and troughs
who are there even when we're not
the good conductors who do their best to make sure the trains hit
the station on time


2/11/17 rev. 2/16/17


STENDAHLING

lost in firestorm representation
hails of orange and yellow as trees
i can see the rage and obsession
gesture art my tradition i look at
how the paint lands on canvas
that's where i go first
brushstrokes as a sickness makes
me sick you could say i'm
down with that sickness and i
know, vincent, i know

figures emerging from a sheet of oil and
what the hell were you thinking
how did you arrive at this?
the cosmos spins and roars while a
tiny village sleeps
i know---how can they sleep?
hexed by crows in a cornfield,
gun to the heart

i know, i know, i know.

i know, i know, i know.


2/16/17 rev. 2/18/17

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
BLACK SABBATH-Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
BLACK SABBATH-Sabotage
GHOST-Meliora
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-The Velvet Underground and Nico





Monday, January 2, 2017

POSTMORTEM: BAGGING AND TAGGING 2016

It's late December as I start writing this and we're coming up on all that Auld Lang Syne nonsense that helps us compartmentalize our lives into digestible blocks of time for posterity or whatever. Bag and tag it, it's done.
I'm probably competing with every sentient being in the Western World in my commentary on 2016, and yeah, yeah, I know, it was awful, eighty billion celebrities died and now we're all supposed to be mad at those tricky Russians who (allegedly) rigged our election by proving that the Democrats were unethical and rigged their primary. Or something to that effect. But I'm going to put another spin on it, and my grumpy ass is gonna be nice for a change.
2016, for me, was actually a pretty good year....I think that the jumping off point for me is that I tend to evaluate what happened over the course of a year by what I did, what I accomplished and so on. As such, I really liked 2016. I got to go back east and visit family members, some of whom I hadn't seen in a decade, some of whom I may never see again. I got to record vocals for my old band and we're going to release the damn thing as an album (Look out, everybody). Exciting new friendships happened, bonds were forged and I got to act in a movie. Rounding out the year, I got to help plan my first solo show as a visual artist.

 
My wife got to attend this kickass film festival in New York, she got to meet lots of longtime friends face-to-face for the first time and she solidified some new friendships; she appeared in a horror anthology and did her first-ever book signing; she got named music and culture editor for DIABOLIQUE, appeared on eighty bazillion podcasts and got involved in a whole slew of projects that will see the light of day in the coming months.
We're counting our blessings, because there've been quite a few.
Most people were bothered by the seemingly endless list of celebrity deaths this past year and yeah---we lost some heroes and some muses, to the point where a lot of folks were crying, “2016, stop killing people!” To me, 2015 was worse on that front, and I may have been yelling that a bit last year because we lost actual family and friends. My cousin gave me the best reality check ever when he told me, “shit happens, people die and I don't really assign blame to years for that.” And I may have lost an aunt that year, but he lost a mother---so if anyone was able to make that call, it was him. 
I was made aware, over the last week or two, of the condition called Apophenia, which is the tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data, e.g., to perceive patterns where there are none. It's a human condition----we all do it from time to time. This won't be the last time I mention it. Years aren't predatory entities....they don't actively hunt and kill people. I think I learned that in 9th grade Biology.
For the most part, of course, few if any of us actually believe that. We're talking figuratively---I just got tired of the figurative talk back in February or March.
As for celebrities? We miss who we miss, but celebrities have been dying since there were celebrities, and you can expect that to continue.
 
And yeah, the election was a dumpster fire, but they all are, realistically. I'm no fan of the loud orange guy, but I got through Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton pushing through NAFTA, GATT and the Telecommunications Act and repealing Glass-Steagall, Obama flushing Habeas Corpus down the toilet....we got this. My hope for all my lefty-liberal friends in the coming four years is that they'll all have a common Boogeyman, which will be nice-----'cause every time Uncle Barack messes with civil liberties they seem to conveniently ignore it....so that's something to look forward to. 

 
So we're walking into 2017 without negativity and hoping the seeds we've sewn bear some awesome fruit. Wishing peace, joy, action and prosperity for alla you and yours.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
TYPE O NEGATIVE-Bloody Kisses
TYPE O NEGATIVE-World Coming Down
RUSH-R40
RICK AND MORTY-Various Episodes


Friday, December 2, 2016

A DOCUMENT OF THE MADMAN'S ACTIONS IN THE WILDERNESS

Somewhere this week I caught word that some oompa loompa had pulled the old flag debate out of the freezer and had stuck it in the microwave so I thought it was time to unleash Josie.
         Josie is a secondary character in this novel-or-novella-thing I've had going called DOO-DAH DAYS IN MAMMON. He's a schizophrenic homeless guy who complains to the narrator about having ridden around town on buses all day with a turd in him, only to be turned out of City Hall at 5 PM when he's trying to use their restroom. That, for Josie, defines Politics. Fun and laffs for the whole family ensue.
It was a crisp September morning---a Saturday---When Josie wandered into the square in front of City Hall and dropped his drawers in front of God and everybody.
“I’m gonna take a shit,” he roared.
There was immediate motion in the crowd, like the scrambling chaos of the Zapruder film. Mothers shielding children's eyes. Some of the more erudite men in the crowd, who still had composure, were heard to cry, “no! Please don't do that!”
Josie eyed them resolutely and they could see, as he squatted, that he meant this more than he had ever meant anything in his life. More than when he stood on Main Street screaming at the traffic, more than when he told me he had spent six days inside The Dog. Government to Josie was a cold, impersonal, arbitrarily meaningless control over his bowels and this was his ultimate act of defiance.
It was Josie's defining moment, and it became the defining (and in some cases, dividing) moment of everyone in town.
Josie strained for a moment and then the steaming cascade came forth.
“It had little bits of red and green in it,” cracked Othmar later, “it was festive. Kinda like an early Christmas present to the world.”
“There was nothing funny about it,” griped one Earth Mama, her voice trembling. “My children saw shit. My children saw shit. That's not what I wanted for them....that's not how I raised them!”
The event was forever referred to in the newspapers, with no small amount of derision, as “Satyrday”. Much of that reference hinged upon Josie’s unkempt appearance.
Presumably if he'd been clean-shaven and well-dressed, the whole incident might have been forgotten in a week. But it was Josie, crazed Josie, unwashed Josie, Josie who collected a crazy check, got his meds (on the occasions when he was on his meds) at Community Council, Josie who screamed at traffic on main street, Josie who frightened small children and (perhaps more importantly) their parents, Josie who was fragrant in the Summer, Josie who just didn't look good in anyone's Campaign Commercial.
“I was there,” shuddered the Pillar of the Community. “I mean, I was at the Farmer's Market, buying some fresh kale, and I was close enough to smell him. It goes to show....you know, we say the Public is Welcome, but then maybe most of us agree that we need to draw some lines in the sand when we talk about who the 'Public' consists of!”
The beatdown wasn't immediate, but it wasn't long in coming, either. Josie, unfortunately, had a way of hanging around and glorying in every small victory----which is what made it devolve from a victory to a debacle in a matter of minutes. It wasn't like the Rodney King beatdown---no one filmed it or went racing to his defense...first of all because Josie made them all feel uncomfortable, also because Josie smelled bad, he used a lot of foul language and a lot of women on hand felt like he might rape them.
“It was at the Farmer's Market,” cried Emily. “The Farmer's Market! I just don't feel safe anymore....”
Few could argue that justice was dispensed.
“I wasn't there, but I heard all about it,” said Joe the Republican. “That's a good use of the taxpayers' dollars! You don't mess with those police! These freaks think they can expose their dirty assholes and take a shit in front of everyone, including the kids----ah-aaahhhh....bad move!!! Let me tell ya something....I wish I'd have been there to kick that guy's ass myself! This guy's got long hair, right? This is the way we used to do 'em in Lowell! The guy's got this ponytail, right? And you grab him by the ponytail and you jerk his head back and you take turns grinding out cigarettes on his chin! Yeah! That's how we handled 'em in Lowell!”
Our new Mayor didn't miss a trick-----within two weeks, eighty-six separate ordinances were written and approved by the City Council....it was a victory for those who claimed his predecessor hadn't authored nearly enough ordinances....there were ordinances about decorum and conduct at the Farmer's Market---ordinances about maintaining the freshness of the kale and other vegetables, ordinances about bodily fluids, ordinances about how they should or should not be dispensed. No concessions were made about people riding the bus all day with a turd in them. There were ordinances about proper attire at the Farmer's Market and what that attire might or might not consist of. There were ordinances about mental stability and what the criterea for that would be at the Farmer's Market. There were ordinances regarding the definition of “Citizen”---who fit the definition and who didn't. Who was permitted to buy, sell, or even show up at the town square at any time, for any reason. There were endless ordinances about personhood----who qualified as a “Person” at the Framer's Market and who didn't. There were titanic legal fracases (with multiple lawyers present) over the definition of the word, “Is”.
The newspapers ran sprawling articles on Josie---who he was, how he came to the point he had, why he was in jail, a laundry list of past sins. I read all of this. He was a child genius, a math prodigy who'd been accepted to the University at age 13. He cracked in his senior year and spent five years in and out of the looney bin. Four suicide attempts, numerous incarcerations for disorderly conduct.
None of these articles were written with any degree of empathy, at least as far as I could see---it was all a case of “what kind of psychopaths the universities were opening themselves up to if they continued following this bleeding heart agenda”.
Lots of cautionary tales. You know, in mathematics, there are no absolutes----that will turn your children to crime and drugs.
Josie was raped five times in the county lockup; The third time he was held for sixteen hours----forced to drink urine, sodomized with a toothbrush and then forced to brush his teeth with said utensil. The fifth time he had all his teeth knocked out. A fellow prisoner was quoted as saying it would “help him give better head”. In the end he had his face kicked in and spent the final six weeks of his sentence in the hospital.
People shrugged, laughed and forgot the whole thing. Most of the new-agey liberal types said they hoped he had “learned the right lessons” from the experience. 

Copyright 2014 C.F. Roberts/2016 Molotov Editions 

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:

HUSKER DU-"Zen Arcade"
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.-"First Issue"
IRON MAIDEN-First album



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

(An) AMBULATORY DUST BOWL

We're bombing down Mission Avenue when the tarp flaps on the little truck in front of us, kicking up gusts of its chalky discharge on us. And doesn't it just bring light to the self-inflicted stigma of going around acting like we're the Joads or something?
“Wooo!” She howls, “welcome to the rolling dust cloud a-go-go!”
“Yeah, home of the mouthful of dirt,” I add. “Future home of Little Burning Man, wherein I will open the festival with a set by my impending side band, Half Chub!”
And yes, if my ongoing duties for the S.E. Apocalypse Krew and 90 Lb. Tumor ever allow, Half Chub will conquer Little Burning Man and other questionable events, as well. We're going to play a lot of covers. What's that one band----that pseudo-ska band with the guy who died? Santeria? No----Sublime. We're gonna do lots of Sublime covers-----mental, free-form fusion jazz versions of Sublime tunes. Them and Saccharine Trust. Probably more Saccharine Trust than Sublime. I actually don't like Sublime all that much.
Wait 'til you see us. Half Chub, man....we're phenomenal. If only we could play....
Later, in an unguarded moment, I'm asked what inspired me to name a band Half Chub.
“Whaddya think?!” I guffaw.
In the ensuing hours we ghost around the main drag like sad detectives trying to find the dividing line between Burning Man Corner (or The Littlest Drainbows, as I like to call them) and Crime TeamTM. We're still not sure where it is.
       Why's it every time someone finds a weird item around here, everyone thinks it belongs to me?

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

       On a more serious note, after a river of time, I have an art show happening:

        That's right-----first solo show ever, in Rogers. Been unable to get a single foot in the door in Fayetteville, but Benton County has always been pretty good to me. They're lookin' better and better to me these days...
      More when I get a sec.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
GARY NUMAN-SPLINTER
THE REPLACEMENTS-TIM
THE REPLACEMENTS-HOOTENANY
HUSKER DU-NEW DAY RISING