Thursday, March 26, 2015

FAT CHANCE

Bottles bottles took two bottles of prescription pills (one an antidepressant) one bottle of Thunderbird I'm only waiting for the world to cave in. Endgame. Dead. I'm already there, I know. Legs not going they're like rubber and they're not holding me up anymore and I can't think much a sensible thought through anymore they got a goddamned Johnny Mathis marathon playing on the radio Christ all I need but on it goes I can't stop it I can't even think about getting so ambitious that dialthing is much too fat away from this nice chair and much too complicated, now.
UNTIL THE TWELFTH OF NEVER
Damn
AND THAT'S A LONG, LONG TIME
All in my head truth to tell is you which is why I chose to pull the plug on me to begin with. I haven't seen you in a year or something but god DAMN it is hard to kill the image of you wedged in my head but that's why. That's why.
AND THAT'S A LONG, LONG TIME
I got all your cards and letters memorized and even now they don't fail me but ring and ring and ring.
“Joe please understand that despite what you think there is someone very special out there just for you.”
You so pristine in your presumptions don't get it. Ann Frank is dead and so am I. You apply your life on a different scale, one I wanted to share but terminal situation hoax I can't get into that world. Your life applies to people who go to the movies and believe all the shit they see. It applies to people who hear all those damn radio Johnny Mathis Marathons and believe what the songs go on about the cozy soft candlelight the fireplaces and the long walks on the beach. Every boy dresses like a perfect little Sears Supplement Mannequin. Hair never out of place. Delightful.
“There's a man in my life, now, and I guess you could say he's important to me...I feel healed, Joe, and ready to love again.”
IT'S NOT FOR ME TO SAY
Everything you say and write sticks into me like a knife, even with the booze and pills, it' hell, it's hell. I cannot wait for this to end.
“I am sorry, Joe, that I cannot be the one for you. You have misunderstood. There is and never was an 'Us', at least not in a romantic sense.”
Well, I'm a grown man, I've seen how things go and I certainly should have known better than to
“Things will work out for you, just keep trying. Please believe me, these aren't just words.”
RINNNG
The phone
RIINNNG
half daze in me and GODDAMMIT that Johnny Mathis shit won't stop playing I fumble and get the phone it spills onto the floor but I manage to keep my grab on the receiver shit who is this?
“Yeah”
“Hello, is this Joseph O'Connor?”
“Yeah.” Mute for a second and I hear tittering on the other side. “What are you laughing at?”
“Excuse me?”
“Why are you laughing?”
“Nobody's laughing.” These people are playing some kind of a game on me. “Mr. O'Connor, this is Maggie from First National. Our accounts show you to be---” her babble trails off into some kind of inaudible nonsense, like someone turned down the volume on her vocal cords.
“I'm sorry, what?”
“I said that our accounts show you to be buzz buzz buzz...”
“I'm sorry, what?”
“Mr. O'Connor, are you listening?”
“Just speak a little clearer, please, I don't understand what you're saying.”
She takes on a surly tone of voice, and I don't like that at all. “Mr. O'Connor. What I'm trying to tell you is that we buzzz buzzzzz buuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzzz”
“I'm sorry, what?”
“buuuuuuuuuzzzzzzzzz buuuuzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”
And I just let the phone hit the floor. Disbelief. They're playing some kind of crazy game with me and I just give up with them I
“I'm very happy with my new life,” you told me. It felt like a big blade slicing into the gut of me.
Call me when you get there, I said. You said you would. You didn't. And of course, in the mean came HIM.
I tried to bounce back from it I tried so hard to reconcile myself be your friend do the mature thing but it just hurt too much. Too, too much.
“If I ever share so much confidence in you,” you once said, “like if I ever in my letters mention anything sexual, please keep it to yourself. Don't tell it to any of my relatives or old friends or anything, because it's very personal....you I think I can share it with, because we've shared a lot of very personal conversation, but I'm into a lot of stuff, a lot of really unusual stuff....but I think I'm healthy.....”
Which became, “...and MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS about my sex life!” Damn, you, how could you, knowing, Jesus Christ, KNOWING how I feel about you, let me come right to the threshold of your bedroom door and the treat me like an unwelcome visitor? How? How?
CHANCES ARE
you're beyond my reach
BECAUSE I WEAR A SILLY GRIN
Gone, gone, you live away from me sleeping in HIS secure arms you live in an old cottage on the ocean now in your platonistic joy staying busy staying occupied leaving me all alone with this pain
THE MOMENT YOU COME INTO VIEW
I'm not hanging out for any more of this hurt and torture so easy for you to walk away from I have to live with
CHANCES ARE YOU THINK THAT I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU
I can feel it all melting away on me this is good it can all go away melt away I don't want to be a part of it anything anymore I can feel it all submerging beneath waves of unconscious comfort I don't want to be conscious anymore I don't want I don't want
CHANCES ARE YOUR CHANCES ARE AWFULLY GOOD
I can feel numb my head is up here
my body is down there
mine

not mine

I'm under water now bobbing sinking

CHANCES ARE
too many wounds
your house I swear I see it your little cottage on the ocean and I'm going deep you're fading going dark in the wash of water forever I wonder if your manthing is with you now and I laugh I wonder if you ever did
last I heard from you I laughed I cried
“I would like to consider you my friend, still.”
CHANCES ARE
Fat chance.
I'm going away from this place now fading

YOUR CHANCES ARE







Fat Chance” (circa early 90s) was a tough sell....one editor told me she “couldn't with any kind of conscience” run such a story. I finally placed it in a beautiful German Journal called THE MOWER ('93? '94?) and they ran it both in English and translated into German, along with another story I wrote. It was a great journal----featured gorgeous color plates and a split 7” single with Clutch----and that was my first exposure to that band, whom I liked very much. Still do.
Guy ODs to Johnny Mathis marathon on the radio....cute gimmick. The suicide was fake----the pain was very real and very personal. It was a good picture of my life at that time. Art---whether it was poetry, fiction, music with a band or a picture----its creation, perpetuation and preservation, was the only reason I didn't blow my goddamn fucking head off back in those days. It serves me well even now.
What I would tell anyone going through similar hurt is, put it out there and make it your gift to the world. You could save your own life, and who knows? You might save someone else's.
You never know.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

1957

1957 (Titicut Blues)


raymond you’ve been rotting away in bridgewater state hospital since
before i was born
i’m not sure if they’re force feeding you mush in a monkey cell or
if you’re finally taking the dirt nap out in the yard
apologies for not keeping up
not sure if anyone thanked you for mom and dad’s wedding present
singing castrati in the park trumps waterford crystal any day and
you made the news from whitman to niagra, top of the world, ma
growing up in your shadow was a bitch
afraid of loud noises, not playing well with others
liking monster movies better than football
my guesstimated palmistry led to singing castrati
expectations i caught hints of, expectations i couldn’t comprehend
a monkey cell with my name on it
hearing, “he’ll never have a normal life,”
hearing, “we have to keep him away from his younger brother,”
hearing, “keep him away from the neighborhood kids,”
hearing, “I had a cousin who was just like you.”
your shadow like a millstone, a suffocating blanket
because biology is destiny
because ignorance is morality
because some people can’t make the fine distinction
between high functioning autism and violent, homicidal pedophilia
raymond my childhood is locked up with you in bridgewater state hospital
thanks
and on the off chance that you’re still above ground
don’t bother writing back

Published in BARKING SYCAMORES 2014https://barkingsycamores.wordpress.com/


The first thing I tell people when they ask about 1957 is that it was the year my parents got married.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/07/29/50_years_ago_a_crime_that_spawned_center/

It was as horrific a crime as the city of Brockton has witnessed.
Fifty years ago last week, on July 26, 1957, two young brothers from Stoughton were reported missing after a summer outing at D.W. Field Park in Brockton. The nude, burned bodies of John, 12, and Paul Logan, 11, were found nearby the following day.
Their murder, and what followed, left its mark not only on the family and friends of the boys, but also on the region. Outrage over the crime helped create what is today the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in Bridgewater. And the state's sex offender laws were overhauled in the wake of events that day.
The Logan brothers had taken a bus from neighboring Stoughton to one of the swimming ponds at Brockton's 800-acre park. When they failed to return home that afternoon, a search began. All Brockton police and firefighters were called into duty to comb the area.
It was learned that the boys had been swimming that day at the park's Ellis Brett Pond. Initially it was feared that they had drowned, and the pond was drained. Other ponds were dragged as part of the search effort.
The worst fears were realized the following morning when Firefighter Robert Gould went to investigate smoke coming from a gully near Thirty Acre Pond.
There he found the charred bodies, bound together by rope. The boys had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest and abdomen.
Investigators found a house key, apparently dropped inadvertently, under the bodies.
Police took that key to the home of Raymond Ohlson, 21, of Brockton.
Ohlson was known to the police. He had been released seven weeks earlier from the Concord Reformatory, where he had been incarcerated since the age of 15 for a sex crime that had occurred in 1951 at the same park -- barely 100 yards from where the Logan brothers were found.
The key fit Ohlson's door.
Under police questioning, he confessed to the murders. Taken to the crime scene, he described in detail how he lured the boys away from the pond, then assaulted and killed them.
The crime outraged area residents, who pressed lawmakers to revise the law so that sex offenders would not be freed to repeat their crimes.
Ohlson had originally been sentenced in 1951 to 10 years, but a court decision in 1955 reduced his sentence to six.
"That particular crime had a tremendous impact," said Charles Correia, 72, of Taunton, who spent three decades with the state Department of Correction.
Correia recalled how reaction to the boys' murders fed support for a law authorizing the treatment center, which opened less than two years later.
It was specifically targeted, he said, at repeat sex offenders.
"The state started to focus much more on treatment," he said, "and added many mental health clinicians in an attempt to rehabilitate repeat offenders."
A state-issued booklet titled, "A Chronology of the Correctional Facility at Bridgewater" by Kimberly M. Urban, published in 1987, noted that the murders of the Logan brothers led to many revisions in the sex-offender laws, and supported funding for the Treatment Center.
The center today houses 559 patients and inmates, and its population in recent years has hovered around that number.
Nearly all of its residents have been convicted of rape, molestation, or other sexual assaults.
The center -- part of the larger Bridgewater Correctional Complex, which includes Bridgewater State Hospital and the Old Colony Correctional Center -- is seen as an important element in the state's correctional alternatives.
Ironically, Ohlson never entered the facility his crime created.
He was determined by the courts to be incompetent to stand trial for the murders, and was committed to Bridgewater State Hospital.
Ohlson spent the remainder of his life there, largely uneventfully, until his death in 2003.
"He was the most docile inmate. He almost seemed like he enjoyed it there at the state hospital," Correia said. "He blended in. He never created problems or got into any trouble.
"Some of these types of sex criminals almost know deep down that it's dangerous for them to be on the street."
Asked if it were within the realm of possibility that Ohlson actually planted the house key under the bodies so that he would get caught, Correia responded, "As crazy as that sounds, that wouldn't shock me."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

THE GREAT TRADITION


The downtown streets are packed, festive; On the gazebo the oompah band flurries into its third, bouncing, beerhall-cum-Souza number while towheaded boys, all Dennis the Menace lookalikes, and brightly dressed, ribbon-adorned, pigtailed girls frollick together, pell mell, waving sparklers, playing cowboy, playing soldier, playing ninja, playing damsel. They rampage 'round adult legs, chalking up those Sunday playkid ground-in grass stains.
All around the atmosphere screams Holiday, shouts triumph and it's as if the whole town has united as a colossal family. Sad heroes sit apart in chaise lounges, toasting weenies and reveling amongst their own gritty, rusting fraternity, in their past glories, deeds and misdeeds (with a bitter snicker and an elbow to the ribs)--those of rural and urban persuasion roll in by the carload, tying up the roads for miles---they're all bubbly, patient, high-spirited in their Sunday patriotic celebration roaring Norman Rockwell slick, streamlined post-Eisenhower wide-eyed cartoon futurism best—te cars are polished flawless, like new, like nouveau-riche immaculate and everyone's putting on a showy show, giving it their all.
In front of the bank, a hawker brandishes his wares---fried dough, soft pretzels, funnel cakes, corn dogs, ceremoniously overpriced---children jump and run and play fetch with their dogs in the rubble of the old newspaper building. The grass isn't green here; it runs the gamut from greener to greenest, always---over by the municipal center the parade floats that rolled through that morning are parked, in wait of reverent disassembly.
On slanted sidestreets the high school's cream posture and rage atop their proud, waxed, mighty, dadbought pickup trucks and the anthem pumping their heroics is the bawdy, gang's-all-here-let's-do-some-good-boys sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd—what was yore name, little girl---the virile young futurehopes show their mettle, strutting their stuff, waving their banners and dishing out their brand of civic-minded justice by kicking the shit out of anyone who doesn't look right...from the ramparts, the parade-used judges' stand and the kissing booths, their heaven-complexioned, next door sweethearts bat their eyelashes and applaud along with the frumping, wizened town fathers, who gloat and beam with approval as they relish victory...
In the center, in the sights of old city hall, around the gazebo, the fountain and the foothills in the park, the population thickens...the coming event looms heavy in the air with the mosquitoes, the smells of char-burnt meats and various liniments, all clashing in a sensory quarrel. In the nearby field, calloused civic backbreakers labor and sweat feverishly as they push to erect the gallows stands in time to begin the second day of festivities...in the oaks near the clearing a resistant, thrashing, malcontented few are quietly hauled off to the vans and a great cheer goes up as the night's main event begins—bold streaks rain from the sky with incredible screeches---incandescent reds, greens, blues, whites, pinks...they spiral and blaze and explode before they can reach the ground. The children, bug eyed and gleamy of tooth, point upward with nervous glee, piggyback on their shoulderpadded, drycleaned patriarchs---”Mommy! Daddy! Look,” they delight, “the angels are dying! The angels are dying!”

Published 1993 in FAIRY TALES FROM THE URBAN UNDERGROUND (Yorkville Press)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

THE SHRILL

I enter the Crash Zone as if it's some sort of garden party, which is to say uninvited but accepted nonetheless----the whole process very democratic in nature. Quotas have become difficult to maintain and they are willing to spill anyone they can into their wastebasket.
It's a siren night and the sky is as ever endless pitch black yawning over downtown like doom. Neon wails hell in pink, blue, yellow and red, most of all red, and I hear my mother's voice.....
It's all nightscream manic beating delirium as usual on the weekend and the sights and sounds ring immortal...the Stagnant Brothers are on their day in day out shit the overalls rage in the punies' faces bender having raised their routine hell by the Soup Kitchen for supper and now they pursue their bully act by the railroad tracks—I saw them bashing---they had Johnny the Owl Boy trapped in their brutal circle and now he's screwed because he has no friends at his back----the Stags kick the piss out of him and once he's a ragged, unconscious moppet he's just no damn fun to 'em anymore and so they leave him there as if he were naught but discarded furniture---Old Ben and the Preach come along and hoist him vomiting and spitting teeth he is carried his poor sorry beaten carcass home and at one point they're literally having to peel his face away from the pavement-----
The bell in the faraway tower factory industrial clock bongs ten ominously the bloody scenes segue in and out an off-duty traffic cop appears, admonishes the lot of them drunkenly and then vanishes; I feel my wretched hands cramp up and icy pain inches up my wrists. The wigged-out Mariah in her funeral lace her hair flung wildly as she shrieks in terror---I watch her face redden, burn, then crumble like an overcooked, failed ceramic object----
Misbegotten and used up on the corner of Main and Atrocity there is a sexually abused childrens' choir all bruised and in mourning---they weep spring showers and a random co will pause every rotation to shake his club at them...their tears shower and river into the gutter into the sewer and tiny streams traverse the complex body-work of pipes around the underside of the city....the tears spill out amongst the piss and shit and bleach and waste of the whole population, curse the waste, damn the waste---tears flow down the solemn, violated river intermingle with the sewage and out east toward forever...
Meanwhile, topside, all lights blazing in storefronts flicker a tiny second and my eyes and my nerves explode. Broken glass flies and dances—my hair instantaneously goes gray and peels exitedly from my scalp and temples like porcupine quills of fable and all is a careening negative lightning image----
A child is running sideways and reckless up the street, pointing, “the angels are dying,” she yells, “the angels are dying!” I believe her. She and several hundred little friends charge up the street in careless flocks.
The whole street seems to tip diagonally and tons of garbage and paper and debris sail off along the axis to oblivion----cars smash left, right and sideways----
The huge crystal angel sculpture in the center of town explodes and sends itself everywhere in fragments---some several green bystanders are decapitated. Couples and stray dogs fuck and defecate wildly on park benches---quote one witness to the action, “it got real hard to tell the humans from the animals. All had shit all over 'em, but that was, like, beside the point.”
The great titanic angel figure shatters with a great noise and rains its silvery, ragged spore all a kaleidoscopic apocalypse where is my angel? Where is the cataclysm blizzard from whence it came? There is snow in the gutter and the cripple sleeps crutches by his side in an eerie, singing brick and snow revelation wonderland dream silent yet wailing out in the towering, menacing black----
I hear the choirs singing and buzzing off into nothing like transistorized flies emitting telepathic deathscreams. I can't stop any of it. Worlds, entire worlds snuff out under my eyelids and it is all too crowded too much-----in the oriental bazaar rope bridges collapse sending hundreds of hapless consumers plunging to their deaths the flimsy, ornate paper pagoda lamps floating down the ugly stream dampening and shorting out, the only sign that anyone had ever been there to begin with.
Everything's dying in a mournful, contorted collision---my head involuntarily draws on an old playground rhyme cartoon fairytale slice of imagery the stately loving angel I kneel before reaches over and draws a circle on my forehead....
Neon blasts and sparks and the black claims another mechanical victim and the fairytale sprites follow the angels all exploding into falling crystalline ash----
The bald woman yelps like a dog and tears down the street Olympic and hypermotivated because her ass is on fire. Her pillbox hat flies off and tumbles in the opposite direction.
Cletus storms past looking hatefully through everything. He kicks a child and spits at nothing in particular—up the street towards certain oblivion he goes surly in his muscle shirt and looking for a war. Good luck, Cletus---I'm sure you'll find a few.
I'm crawling the sidewalk, now, so low I can taste the ghosts of the whole town's shoes. If there's anything Christ alive in this place where is it? Can I touch something that won't draw blood? I grasp and clutch at singed air...I think my thumb is broken and there's a sharp pain in my stomach that makes me frightened to look down there. I gotta puke....
Ambulances and fire engines and cruisers scream by in a blaring cacophony—I can see the woman over there doubled over grieving---she's belting gospel lugubrious agony like a tortured Mahalia Jackson black armband shatter mercy poster child of woe----she screams in synchronization with every siren shrilling in this shit city---my mother often told me the sound of sirens distressed her; she said it always reminded her of the pain someone somewhere was going through and I know what she meant---the shrill makes me shiver in the strange, dark warmcold and I wish I could hide. My mother said, “God, how those sirens disturb me. They sound like people crying.”
Published 1993 in FAIRY TALES FROM THE URBAN UNDERGROUND (Yorkville Press)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

VAGABONDS

https://www.createspace.com/5325844

Latest installment, here, of VAGABONDS: ANTHOLOGY OF THE MAD ONES. Check it out----this is a ballsy journal and my short story, "Shit Flavored Shit", is  a part of it.....
Here's an oldie, speaking of Vagabonds.....I'm ***PRETTY SURE*** this was run, back in the day, by an old zine called VAGABOND'S HOUSE.....

DISEMBODIED TIRADE #1

unceasingly, and what rips in my moribund headhell is the distant, lonely ghostyowl of the hound two towns over.....it raises cold, ominous, frightfully isolated in the stillhush of the sad night. You, dear, you ask when you finally reach that fabled edge, “what is it that you see?” I tell you I see the thing that makes the alleycats screech in the pitch----what brings on madness and sets the animal-men running, brawling---when no one is attentive and you're lurking and poking behind your curtain of false security, that gossamer-flimsy veneer slips, flutters, smashes into a million pieces. The Collective Soul rolls about snapping and drooling and shitting; it stares into me with predatorial alarm, caught with its proverbial knickers dangling---wander away, it growls, wander away, and it blunders to readjust its sloppy, disheveled visage. Revelation. And who has been raped, you or me? Knowledge is Trauma, and the

melt


copyright 1994 C.F. Roberts/2015 Molotov Editions


     The Disembodied Tirades were part of a non-linear "Novella" I did (and I put the word "novella" in quotes because it's not like it had a plot or definitive characters in it or anything----) called RED, WHITE, BLACK AND BLUE, back in the late 90s. Mostly just an insano word salad that said, "life is horrific and the world is run by and for terrible people and we're all screwed and we all crowd around the TV every night, watch it and love every minute of it". Simple, eh? One writer friend critiqued it and said it was probably, on the whole, too derivative of Burroughs, which is probably an apt criticism.  A lot of the chapters or subchapters did end up getting run in some small presses. The Tirades were just these little angsty interstitial prose blasts between chapters. There were about four of them, I think.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

BLOG ROULETTE

                                                                www.cfrobertsart.com

Been chewing on a number of issues lately----one thing I haven't done up to now with this blog is write on a personal level----poetry, yeah----fiction & prose, sure----art sometimes, of course----seldom in this arena have I just sat & jawed with you----so right now I'm gonna do that....
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
Seen the movie? Nah....me neither.
I could probably start at ground zero, as a writer and a friend of writers---as someone who's watched at least one generation of underappreciated scribes churn out some superior and intellectually turned-on erotica get summarily ignored and dismissed while this toe jam sells zillions.....it goes beyond that, though.
Lots of the BDSM people have gone off at length about how the book and/or movie mischaracterizes the lifestyle as romanticized abuse and codependence----basically a variation or extreme caricature of 1950s marriage. I've personally got no dog in that race, and the BDSM crowd don't need me in their peanut gallery....they have plenty of their own eloquent speakers.
I've hypothesized for years that THE STORY OF O is a parable about Codependence, Abuse and loss of identity wrapped up in a veneer of Erotica....friends and I have gone round and round about that, and of course, Pauline Reage is no longer around to speak for herself on the issue----but I think that's the line in the sand between smart erotic literature and dumb....I doubt EL James, or whatever her name is, has ever taken a moment to ponder such enigmas.
The neat thing about 50 SHADES, though, is, not since BATTLEFIELD EARTH have I witnessed a book endure so much open snarking....google yourself 50 SHADES OF GREY EXCERPTS and have a ball....
This one was my running favorite:

His pointer finger circled my puckered love cave.  ‘Are you ready for this?’ he mewled, smirking at me like a mother hamster about to eat her three-legged young.”

He mewled? He MEWLED!!!! You know what that is, right???? That's the sound a cat makes!!!! The above hilarity had me following my better half around the apartment for weeks, making randy overtures in a voice similar to Henrietta Pussycat from the old Mister Rogers Show. “Heeey, baby....meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow!!!!” 
And then I wonder why she seems to be in such a hurry to leave the room.
I've come to find out, however, that the above chestnut may be fake---not in the book at all. And yeah, I'm crushed. Is there no actual mewling in this book? Oh, please, God----tell me there's mewling......
Of course, whether there is or not there are plenty of great, cringeworthy passages to go around....

"I don't remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible."

Yeah, actually, I think it was in Deuteronomy somewhere.

I suck harder and harder … Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”

I'm gonna just reiterate what I've been saying for at least a year, now, three legged hamsters or no....all my writer friends need to be out there securing book deals, 'cause if the bar's this low, there's gold in them thar hills!
Shit, maybe even I can score one....
Anybody see the Oscars this year? Nah....me neither. We've come to realize that the “Oscar Movie” is almost a subgenre unto itself and is as easily identifiable as any other.....most of them are “serious films” with opulent set design and respectable budgets.....most of them are ponderous in nature, trying to call attention to themselves as “important”. The only flick in the running I'm all that interested in seeing is “Birdman”, which sounds pretty smart and I'm a Michael Keaton fan----glad to see the guy working.
I largely dislike Award Shows and find them useless---I've noticed that whether we like them or not and whether we watch them or not, we're all compelled to talk about moments from the shows...everybody's got to weigh in on what an asshole Kanye is, and inevitably that weird NAKED LUNCH moment sinks in and we realize, “oh, no----we're TALKING ABOUT KANYE!!!!”
So I didn't watch the Oscars, but probably like everybody else, I emerged with some takeaways from our culturally-shared “Oscar Osmosis”.
ONE OF THE BIG ONES: It's always funny when someone who, objectively, is and always has been a pretty good singer, does something slightly different and everyone's jaw drops because they never realized she could sing. So, what, I guess y'all were just too mesmerized by the meat dress the whole time?
Whether you wanna cross the street for what she's selling or not is one thing, but yeah---the girl's got talent.
The larger issue that got me thinking about is the perceived opposition between talent and outre performance, and like most dichotomies it's a fake dichotomy that doesn't hold water. Outre artists always run the risk of alienating audiences but therein lies a litmus test...we're interested in those that PASS the test.
Back in the heyday of “The Abbey of the Lemur” it was a given that x number of viewers would be offended, shocked, put off, whatever. I was never interested in the people who knee-jerked and failed the test (to quote Jodorowsky; “why would you make a film for that person? They are blind!”), I was interested in the cool people who got it.
 
Another film in the Oscar mix was “American Sniper”, which has inspired a lot of passionate reactions and it's also one I'm not especially interested in seeing. I was kind of spellbound last week as the trial wound to a close and couldn't help but see it as a classic case of the Darwin Awards....I mean, what sane, intelligent person thinks it's a good idea to take a guy with PTSD to a gun range?
“Geez, Chris, what're we gonna do about the crazy guy???”
“I'm not sure, but I think he needs help....let's take him shooting!” And no disrespect meant to the dead, but....DERP!!!!!!
Okay----enough of that.
Two weeks ago (give or take) I learned that Fayetteville's PEG Cable Administrator (or whatever title it is they give to them now), Fritz Gisler, was moving on to greener pastures....I've been meaning to write about it for quite some time but am only now getting the opportunity to sit down and reflect on it.
Fritz was a polarizing figure in the Fayetteville City Government...depending on where you stood he either ushered in a new era of spic-and-span professionalism and upped the technical level of Fayetteville's Access Channels or he was complicit in ruining them. As with most things the truth was probably somewhere in the middle.
It would probably surprise a lot of people (and Fritz might be included in that) to learn that I never disliked the man. I defriended and blocked him on Facebook (something I almost never do) for Security reasons---this was 2010, in the midst of the old CAT Board's meltdown, and he was just too heavily tied into the whole thing....I had family to protect, so the cut was made.
It was a decidedly insane time in many of our lives---friends became enemies, people seemingly went crazy, the worst was brought out in a lot of people and a lot of lives were damaged...most of us moved on. Because of the arrogant, duplicitous nature of politics in general (and city government in particular)(as well as the eternal Rashumon Effect that seems pervasive in Fayetteville) some of us are resigned to the fact that we'll never know the whole story. My belief with Fritz has always been that he came into his position with a mandate....those crazy folks down at Access are always fussing, fighting and complaining....see what you can do to streamline the operation and see if you can shut up all those flaky, handwringing hippie activists down there!!!
And if that's the case, Fritz came in and did the job he was paid to do----don't hate the player---hate the game.
Some change was definitely needed at the PEG Center....whether it got what it needed or whether it just got neutered is a matter of perspective. A lot of the struggle down there was a collision of ideologies----mindsets from a corporate world versus mindsets from the activist community....tech heads versus idealogues. A Tech Head will look at a tape library and say, “is there any way we can just get rid of all these old VHS Tapes?! We could put in a whole array of state-of-the-art doohickeys along this wall!” The Idealogue's response: “Are you insane??? That's a heritage archive of this whole city! This is the story of peoples' lives, their endeavors---people who've died have been on these tapes!!!!! This is history!!!!!” They'll go round and round on these issues and they never will agree.
And so the heritage archive prevails, but it's stashed away in a prop closet where the public can't peruse it----back in the day anyone in the public could come down, comb through the library and request that any tape be aired...now the only programs the public can request are those they've produced themselves.
This is what you're left with when the Tech Heads win.
And so Public and Government Access limp along, although for the most part they just seem to be on life support....most of the time I go down there the place is all but empty. They have a lot of great new equipment that nobody seems to be using; There's a clean professionalism but no sense of community or public outreach; Using the equipment is now free if you can muddle through, what----six to eight weeks worth of classes? There seems to be a dearth of the Great Unwashed down there these days----nobody's showing up with their dog, there are less homeless and/or mentally ill and/or mentally challenged down there----so the atmosphere's nice....mostly just pretty people....when they bother to show. It's no longer “For Everybody”......is it “For Anybody”?
So....y'know.....yeah.
Fritz joined various members of VIPA at the PEG Center last time we had a meeting down there-----he seemed genuinely concerned about the way things were going and he wanted to know what we might think could be done to rekindle public interest in the place.
They could get it back----who knows? The lesson is that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The future is unwritten.
Good luck in your travels to come, Chief.


THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
THE DREAM SYNDICATE-”The Days of Wine and Roses”
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-”The Velvet Underground and Nico”
TAME IMPALA-”Lonerism”