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



Thursday, September 8, 2016

THREATS AND WARNINGS

After a month where I could barely get around to refilling my meds, breathing room is in sight. This past weekend I've talked a lot about having to “reconstruct meaning” for myself, which might sound a lot larger than it should. In short I'm having to re-teach myself to write and paint after being endlessly, relentlessly hampered for a while.
“Threats and Warnings” (new-ish one on cardboard) might not be the very LAST painting in the Apocalypse Series but it might be the last major one as I draw the whole thing to a close. Two series will continue----abstracts as part of a current series called “The Random” and a new series called “Hot Garbage”. The Purgatory and Apocalypse series were more based around symbolism and mythmaking----Hot Garbage will largely be figurative art (or my permutation thereof) for its own sake. All or most of the paintings in the series will be titled, “Hot Garbage”. Stay tuned. 

DISASSOCIATION AND THE APOCALYPSE

I've always glommed onto graffiti---I like the look of it---I like the coded history of layers of vandalistic scrawlings. One sure sign that I'm about done with the Ozark Experience is that the Army Corps of Engineers have done the dumbest thing on earth by fencing off the ruins of the hotel at Monte Ne...that, to me, was possibly the last holy or sacred place left in this region. Someone asked us a while ago what we found sacred about that place, and would we find it more sacred if preservationists fixed it up. My answer was more or less “no”. I like Coin Harvey's ruin for what it's become—--a hollowed-out hulk covered with the graffiti of the ages----a witchy mecca which we've celebrated in image and noise....



In the late 50s/early 60s you have this young hood who scrawls “Vic + Shelly” on those sodden walls....15 years later his disgrace of a longhaired son is partying at the same site and maybe he draws a pot leaf and/or some slogan on the wall......a few layers of vandalism have emerged since then---maybe he can see “Vic + Shelly”, maybe he can't. He has no idea that was left by his Dad, who he can't stand.....15 to 20 years down the road our stoner has cut his hair and moved on to a corporate job....his son, who's a wannabe gangsta, has now tagged the wall.....three generations of hooliganism in layers. Boggles the mind, huh?
Being autistic, I'm naturally riveted by this stuff and I can kind of get lost in it. Urban/public art enthralls me, but I have no head for it....these days if you gave me a couple of spraycans and said, “go!” I'd have no idea what to put on a wall or why.
These days, though, a part of my autism that's become more pronounced is just an increasing inability to fit my brain into any kind of linear communication----visual or non-visual. People talk like a bunch of goddamned chattering monkeys, I get tired of hearing them talk and I get tired of hearing myself talk and I just stop talking---don't even know what to say.
That level of disassociation fits pretty beautifully into the ethos of the Apocalypse, though. Mike McAdam and I developed this weird style of sloganeering, lexicon and cartoon art with the Apocalypse Krew---we had an identity forming even before we developed musically. It was an incoherent smear of smiley faces, frowney faces, suicidal dreg figures, recurring images and phrases that would dribble off from militant ravings to primal, screaming nonsense words that mostly were comprised of bunched-together, incompatible consonants. Sometimes I sqwzaaaazzztptgh. That still makes sense to me. It really made sense to me in my early-to-mid 20s when I went around in a state of constant angst and agitation and wanted to put my fist through everything.
That level of primal disassociation makes its way into much of the Apocalypse Series, and this painting as well. The heyday of my vandalism was probably as a teen or a young adult and most of it
  revolved around whatever bands I was listening to, which devolved into arguments (on the walls) about the merits of said bands. Pretty meat-and-potatoes. Basquiats, we were not. Banksy, we were not. We were not Banos, Iz the Wiz, Dondi or Lee.
Stylistically, that's the path I follow, here and elsewhere. As the painting is based around one of our songs, snippets of the song's lyrics appear, buried and obscured in layers and layers, as if some janitor keeps painting over the bad kids' etchings----the bad kids keep building a wall of written or drawn entropy as if to tell the hypothetical janitor, “nice try----paint again, Frank!” There is no concrete crystallization of the lyrical content in the space of the painting---just layers of obscured messages, none of which you'll ever get the entirety of. As we come to the surface, you'll see quotes from the Bible (that bit from Matthew about “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar”) accompanied by the quote from Vonnegut's fictional “Messiah”, Bokonon (“pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn't have the slightest idea what's really going on.”---words to live by!!!)----those are also obscured and marred. No thought completed. Or codified. Or anything.

It's a way of life. It's a way of life for more people than will probably admit to it.
MAKING IT WITCHY

Why use the Manson family as Icons?
Without condoning any of their crimes, the chaos of what they brought to the world is a deeply ingrained part of the geography of my youth. Think of them less as Icons or people to be admired---more as signposts. This is the kind of ride you're in for. It'll get ugly----it'll get bloody. There will be taboos----there will be loud, gibbering, scary madness.

Flashback to 1998 or so: My roommate and I are at a Rave. Mostly we're there to hawk our hallucinogenic videos to a DJ (which winds up being a fruitless endeavor) but we're also ripped and trying to have a good time. I had dreadlocks at the time-----some raver kid walks up to us and starts asking us, “are you peaceful hippies, or are you the other kind?” I think we were taken aback by the question----what the hell did that mean? We tried to assure him that we were “peaceful”----I don't know---maybe he was intimidated and thinking we were redneck bikers who were going to kick his ecstasy-gobbling ass. But a part of me kind of enjoys the fact that we might have been the “Other” kind of Hippie. And his worst nightmare.
At another time several of us went out on a Sunday (early evening) to a Chinese Buffet that we used to frequent back in the day....I think it was one of those lost weekends where we all got pretty blasted. We were probably all pretty bedraggled----again, I had the dreads, which were probably down to my knees by this time---one friend of mine was wearing a tie-dyed shirt, a pair of really gnarly sunglasses and a pentagram necklace---and no, I don't mean a pentacle----I mean A PENTAGRAM----upside down, evil, Satan, yadda yadda yadda. Stoner Metal bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Acid King, Fu Manchu and Monster Magnet were burgeoning at the time and it all kind of made sense to me.
The late church crowd was probably in effect (Sunday in the Ozarks, after all) but I'll tell you this: At least one table in our general vicinity cleared----they asked to be seated elsewhere. The population cleared FAST.
That turned me on.....it still kind of does, to be honest.
Our public access show, “The Abbey of the Lemur”, really played into the same impulse, of course. Dark Counterculture. Think the MC5 and the White Panthers----that was us. In the late 90s/early 2000s.
I was never a Peace, Love and Flowers guy. I mean, I am----ultimately that's what I want for everyone----flowers optional----but I've known people over the years who were of the school of “you can't get mad...anger is WRONG! Anger is BAD!” Thing about a lot of those people is, I watched them go crazy. BAD crazy. MEAN crazy. HARMFUL TO THOSE AROUND THEM crazy. And the most sanctimonious people I knew became the most horrible people I ever met.
Anger's fine....anger helps bring about justice. Anger is an energy. You want to be able to work past that anger and get yourself to a healthy, sane place....but anger, in and of itself, is a good thing to stay in touch with. Anger helps you get shit done. 
Anyway, the Apocalypse Series has about run its course. By the time our album comes out I probably will have moved past it to something new.....things will get different but the piss and vinegar remains.


THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:

ANTHRAX-Among the Living
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED-First Issue
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED-Second Edition/Metal Box
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-White Light/White Heat

copyright 2016 Molotov Editions



Saturday, August 20, 2016

HELLO, UGLY---ANOTHER EXCERPT






Once again I'm working the screenplay for a film version of my first novel, HELLO, UGLY. This first pass at a new draft has been fruitful---I've gotten the damn thing's length down to somewhere in the “Star Wars” ballpark. As the drafting continues, I'm sure it'll get tighter, me being the chronic revisionist that I am.
One bit that won't make the cut is this nugget of dialogue between Jack and his Mom. And I love this scene, but for the screenplay, it's going 'bye-bye.


Serving me a tuna melt, my Mother says, “you look awful, Jack.” It's just the two of us for supper tonight. The old man's taking care of his own business. Dad's running away from his dead son. Daddy's little dead boy.
I mumble thanks to my Mother for the sandwich, Mrs. Congeniality who yelled at me from the window of a strange house and I start hating myself. Jesus Christ, I think, it was a dream, a dream, just a dream, but I'm scared and I don't feel too guilty for thinking that because deep down I know it really went down.
“What happened to you?” She asks. It's the tenth time she's asked me. She's asking again because I didn't say anything the other nine times. “How did your clothes get so dirty?”
“Fell,” I mutter. It's a lie, but hopefully it'll shut her up.
“Where did you fall?”
“School.”
“When?”
“On my way out. I was going to the, uh, the student parking lot.” I can't think. What do I want to say? Words are all jammed up in my throat.
“And...?”
“Uh....I don't know. I slipped on the wet grass and I fell down a slope. I landed in the mud.”
“Did anyone see you?”
“Yeah, sure. I guess lots of people saw me.”
“Well, did they help you?” She asks.
“No.”
“Why not?”
Shrugging my shoulders and reaching for the Pepsi bottle, “why should they? None of their business.”
“Well, Jack, I find it hard to believe that all those people saw you fall and none of them helped you.”
“Why?”
“I know if I saw anyone fall down the way you did, I'd help them,” she offers and I smile but I think she's lying. I mean, she's told me before that she was a member of the Varsity Club when she was in school and I know none of those people would ever pick me up if I fell. And then there's the whole dream thing where she shouted at me. Anyone who would do that wouldn't help me if I fell in a mud puddle. But I know it was just a dream. No, it wasn't. Yes, it was.
“Not everyone's like you, Mom,” I reassure her.
“Oh, well, Jack, come on! I don't think that everyone's that bad, do you?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, Jack.”
“You can ignore it if you want,” I tell her, “but people prove it to me every day.”
“Oh, Jack.”
Oh, Jack, oh, Jack. “Oh, Mom.”
“Pass the chips,” and I fork her over the bag of Ruffles.
“You know what Anne Frank said,” she informs me as she digs into the bag, “in the middle of the Holocaust, hiding from the Nazis, she said that she still believed people were basically good inside.”
“Anne Frank is a lampshade.”
“My God, Jack!”
“S'true!”
She pauses for a minute to rethink her strategy. “Zoe would have helped you,” she finally says.
“Yeah, well,” I deadpan and don't look at her. She's quiet for a minute and I think she's gotten the hint not to go there.
We sit in hair-trigger silence. Eating our sandwiches. Crunching our chips. Drinking our drinks. Thinking our fear.
She breaks the ice with a new subject. “Jack,” she says, “do you know a boy at your school named Billy Arsenault?”
I stop, mid-munch. “Who?”
“Billy Arsenault.”
Punch in the face, notebook over the head, oh, Jackie, Jackie, suck my left nut just once, “yeah, I know him.”
“Do you know his mother's in the hospital?”
Raising my eyebrows, “that right?”
“Yes,” she says with some kind of childlike concern eclipsing her face.
“What happened?”
“I guess she suffered a stroke. She was tending to the flowers in her garden and it started to rain. She was gathering up her gardening tools and then she clutched her head and fell down. She's in the hospital, now, and I hear she's in serious condition. They say she might not live through the night.”
“How did you find this out?"
“I was talking on the phone earlier with Shirley Eagen. You remember Shirley. She lives next door to the Arsenaults.”
“Huh.”
“Isn't that awful? Imagine how Billy must feel.”
I munch on my sandwich and I mull it over for a minute. The first thing I think of is my childhood. Going to the beach with Mom. Collecting seashells and getting a sunburn. Her rubbing ointment on my sore, red arms and back. Mom telling me stories, reading me books. Mom and Grandma taking me to movies. I wonder if Arsenault has a lot of memories like these. I bet he does. I bet this situation's rough on him. I try to imagine what it must be like, going through this kind of shit with his mother. I think and I think and I stare at the neglected bread crust on my plate.
“Good,” I say.


Copyright 1990 C.F. Roberts/2016 Molotov Editions

*****

I was contemplating the irony of this scene today---the story is about at its tipping point and the cheese is really sliding off Jack's cracker. He doesn't trust his mother, mostly due to delusional notions, but he enters into this debate with her about the ethics of helping people who've fallen into mud puddles and the fact is, this did not happen. He's lying through his teeth about the entire story. So who, here, is untrustworthy? Sadly, Jack himself isn't even sure what the truth is.

THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:

THE TUBES-Now
THE TUBES-Love Bomb
THE SCORPIONS-Fly to the Rainbow

Monday, August 8, 2016

DENTISTRY IN NEW KOWLOON

Snubby Schwartz says to me, “you got that twenty you owe Slick?”
Because it's Snubby and because his teeth are two rows of stainless steel hooks and slightly curved nails, it sounds more like, “wooat vat venny yo Vick?”
After a while you get used to it and you start adapting to Snubby-speak.
I fork over the twenty without a word. There's no better convincer in the world than to have Snubby standing there staring balefully at you like some hideous deep sea creature. But it's what makes him the best bill collector in New Kowloon----that winning smile.
He eyes the bill almost absentmindedly, half-whispering to himself, “Varevarevareware.....” He does this a lot---probably reveling in the fact that he's still capable of speech. “Varewareware.....” He recedes back into the teeming Friday night crowd.
He's a New Kowloon success story, Snubby is----he came here with dreams of anarchy and endless free trim, nothing but the shirt on his back and no marketable skills. One bad run-in with the Red Dragons and cheap New Kowloon dentistry did the rest.
Anyone's welcome to come in and mind their own business, of course----but when they settled here, the clarion call went up; New Kowloon needs doctors, scientist, civil engineers. Yes, in spite of all your dirtiest, most pessimistic hopes, anarchy needs doers. Cops. Psychologists. IT guys. Dentists.
Some have the good economical sense to play it cheap and work with what they have. They don't get to cush it in the upper strata of the city, but they get lots of customers, they get a loyal base and goddammit, they never go hungry. If they don't get paid in legal tender(or whatever passes for it----bitcoin? Hell Money?) then they're awash in dope, guns, pussy, dick, macaroni art or whateverthehell else you can use.
He's a libertarian hero, you know, like a bottomfeeding George Washington. There's a hierarchy of dentistry here in New Kowloon. See, if you were a Trust Fund Baby who rolled in here, you'd have it made. Can you get guns? Drugs? Women? A private army? You can probably get a nice set of pearly whites installed in your yammering craw. Snubby, for one, was not so lucky----all he came here with was a hope in his heart and a willingness to raise some hell.
It's not a pretty thing.
Some of us Americans grew up on tales of George Washington and his wooden teeth....the truth, sadly, was way past those fabled cherry trees and a whole lot else besides. Wooden teeth? Shit. Try nails, screws, chunks of plywood, monopoly game pieces, chunks of particle board from Ikea and even wads of paper. It was a septic hellhole that would scare the living piss out of a Komodo Dragon....that was the mouth of the Father of Our Country......
Father of my FORMER Country. When you hit New Kowloon you renounce citizenship everywhere. You're given the flag of the city and you're told you can pledge allegiance to it if you wish or desecrate it if you don't. It's no big deal.
But I digress.
Snubby's network of gnarled appliances aren't about to make anyone comfortable. It's a selling point for his services as a collector. I find myself wondering whether he ever gets any. As is a big edict in New Kowloon, my big inclination is MYOB. He's no fun to be around, but where there's a will in New Kowloon there's a way. Once he got the new oral setup and went to work for the big boys, the core members of the Red Dragons started turning up dead. The shadow of the Dragons that are left pretty much operate under some big dog's thumb, which was definitely not the case back in the day. Me, I turn a blind eye. MYOB. Something tells me whoever's buttering Snubby's bread , he's doing alright for himself.


      from DISPATCHES FROM NEW KOWLOON, a work in progress
copyright 2016 C.F. Roberts/ Molotov Editions 


THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS-Rembrandt Pussyhorse/Cream Corn
TYPE O NEGATIVE-Life is Killing Me
BUTTER 08-Self-Titled