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You were sad. I made you happy. You were needy. I made you self-reliant. You were dirty. I made you shine. These other sad sacks of shit can see their reflections in you now. And I’m just getting started, baby. Conceived in cold and mistrust, I’m not alive unless there’s a can of gasoline in my hand. I will see you all dance around the bonfire. I will punch a hole through the space time continuum. I’ll pull this world’s skirt hem up to its eyelashes. I’ll leave ‘em laughing. I’ll show ‘em how it’s done. And I will prevail.
Cue the calliope. Cookie stumbles through the fairgrounds, her eyes darting around, seeking something. Her black bangs look as if jostled by hand. She has a bandage on her forehead. Her skirt is ruffled. One of her black knee-highs has a run. Her mouth hangs ajar, and she emits little gasping noises whenever she’s about to bump into someone. Her eyes lock on a stairway leading down to hell. Men in black suits and women in fur coats file down the stairway, purposeful, businesslike, with vague smiles on their faces. She grasps at a man, but he’s only a cloud.
Hell is a long, awkward silence. Hell is chasing after airheaded girls, wanting something vague and undefined, and not being able to keep the dick up when it’s finally tendered. Hell is finding yourself stranded in reality. Hell is a nightmare you ignorantly mistake for a matter of waking record. Hell is teaching badly. Hell is being fully controlled as per your own softened will. Hell is refusing to better your circumstances. Hell is refusing to enjoy your circumstances. Hell is too much for lunch and malnutrition. Hell is a catchy tune. Hell is where you break in your shoes.
THE PUSSY WAS GOOD, BABY. MOST PUSSY IS. The smart ones were ruthless and the stupid ones, worthless. Yes or no, guilty or innocent, good or evil, dead or alive. Keep thinking in binary code and see where it takes you. Show up early. Kick in the door. Light up a smoke before you open fire. Start dumping. Teach ‘em a lesson. Teach a man to beg for his life and it’s fish dinner all around. Like Will Rogers said, even if you’re on the right track, if you stay in the same place you’re going to get run over.
The pizza joint closed at 9, and I usually left before 10 with a fresh pie riding shotgun, fixed pro bono by the sweethearts in the kitchen. I was getting paid to do what I would've been doing anyhow – driving around stoned, music cranked – and no one much cared if I got lost in the lazy Asheville summer. It was minimum plus tips. Peanut shells, but let me talk to you: A man feels like more of a man with 50 one dollar bills on his person than he does with two 20s and a 10. The city was mine.
Saxby Chasteen fancied himself a bit the rebellious thinker, principally for his refusal to kowtow to the charade that there was something inherently noble and admirable about America's working poor. He had no real compassion for the roly-poly layabouts bound to the stupefying glow of the teevee, nor did he waste any pity on that Cargo Cult surrounding lotteries and games of chance. Men should forego spirits until they can foot the bill for all the discord they might sow while tipsy. Common sense. Saxby Chasteen averted his unforgiving gaze. He chose not to watch the piglets wallow in filth.
A person or persons unknown must have stopped here to shave pubic hair, because it's scattered all over the pavement. A breeze (natural or artificial, I can't quite discern) picks up, and I'm trapped in a flurry of pubes. They sting and tickle my cheeks and brush against my squeezed eyelids. A few must somehow get inside my mouth. The flavor is sharp, organic and undeniably feminine. I push my lips and eyelids together with raging force, but the womanly essence has already set up shop inside my skull. The wind whips my body. My jacket inflates at my back.
Do not isolate yourself. A certain degree of privacy is clearly advisable. There are things about you that are no one else's lookout, and one best recuperates in relative solitude. However: Keep exclusively to yourself – skulk in silence – and your thoughts become as Pontormo's frescoes at San Lorenzo: Gruesome, out of proportion, distorted and in collision. ‘Tis wiser to court and seduce the world, keeping at hand the proper wisdom for distance and contact. A man is at his best when he is attuned, but not beholden, to the rest of the neighborhood, but comfortable sealed in his own skin.
DATE TO CHURCH. Opinions are of no use unless you're forceful with them. Opinions without argumentative power are a handicap. Nothing to no one. But you must alter your opinions often. Self-respect must outweigh all opinions, and you're more respectable if you can embrace new ideas just as tenderly and forcefully as you embraced the old ones. Thus, although I always passionately distrusted those that took comfort and sedation in thoughts of the supernatural, I found myself lured into a Voodoo enclave on the corner of Market and 3rd, in the heart of historic Baxter. Sipped wine, made small talk.
You are creative. You are a natural leader. Although you like to be liked, you will defend your opinions when under attack. You have an untapped reservoir of strength and sexual prowess. Your powers are not adequately understood by your peers. You feel that you don't get the breaks you deserve. You are often unsatisfied, a condition that dates back to your childhood. You feel you are holding out for answers, big answers to your big, bigger than words questions. You can be finicky, but are loyal to those that deserve it. You have impeccable taste, and are quite funny.
I was supposed to be on Amtrak to NYC a year ago today. Oh yes, it fucked my skull at the time, but I was never all that close to the actual bloodshed. I was at home, scarfing Papa John’s, listening to the radio and wondering if everything was about to go to shit. Thinking about Dr. Strangelove. Nothing special. Today, I’m still concerned more with corrosive paranoid hysteria than the prospect of instant annihilation. I still do lunch with my own mortality on a regular basis, and there’s nothing sexy about it. And my country remains in fearful decline.
Myron threw back another shot and loudly cursed the TV flickering in the corner of the barroom. He couldn’t abide TV with no sound. It was the sensation of a skullfuck that doesn’t bother to pass itself off as anything more respectful or meaningful. An unlubed prick straight into the eye socket. “If you’re going to fuck with ME,” slurred Myron, Old Crow and spittle dripping from his chin to the bar, “if you’re going to fuck with ME, you motherfuckers better at least, AT LEAST show me some dignity. It’s the only thing holding this country together, you motherfucker.”
According to a dispatch from the Euro art collective NSK, fear, among the beasts, is "professionalized," and thus a galvanizing and supremely elegant survival mechanism, while it slows and debilitates man. Perhaps that's the rub. Perhaps we've nothing useful to do with our fear. We've progressed past it without managing to purge it in the process, and we're left paralyzed by an outmoded instinct. It's fear that makes a man mutilate himself, or take a neckswing in the name of violent sexual arousal. It's that fear that keeps us watching for UFOs. There's got to be some USE for it.
Cookie had a way of making a man feel at ease. Her cheesecake looks and warm, innocent smile invited him in. Her squeaky voice and giggly demeanor suspended his insecurities. She let him know he needn’t impress her – she wasn’t out for a steady, and that wasn’t changing – so she actually got to know him. (A few wanted to brand Cookie, and she couldn’t feel too guilty about respectfully ditching them.) She wore a studded collar, and could coax the beast out of any man. Fucked them, sucked them, left them elated. Served as muse to aspiring filmmaker Lloyd Moon.
Debbie sensed dishonesty without having the explicit sense to avoid it. She knew there was a certain look to a person that meant her no harm, and that such a person would often harm her anyhow. She got stuck in the pissing rain and didn’t mind as much as she felt she was supposed to. She felt her way through strange territory colonized by those that didn’t use maps. She recorded her moments of speed-fueled inspiration in a notebook. At sunrise, she shivered beside a stack of notebooks filled with meaningless chickenscratches. She didn’t bellyache; she popped pills. She danced.
RETURN TO THE CARNIVAL, AMERICA. Reintroduce yourself. Run from your suburban catacombs as fast as your sleeping legs will carry you. Feel the champagne bubbles tickle your flesh. Find the brittle husks of your dead cities. Choose a metropolis to your liking, and bring it back to life. Be a part of something. Learn to live among your neighbors. Stop regressing and resume adaptation. Get back in the game. Get some goddamn exercise. Put some cherry back in those cheeks. Figure out your public transit system. Leave the dead ‘burbs to be engulfed by the super city of the future.
Dumb kid. Still believes that life is a series of choices. Can't understand why the folks can't buy her whatever it is. Thinks they're holding out on her. Has never been short on bread. Has never had to spend money on something she didn't want, but needed. Has never had to look down the barrel of eviction, or have her utilities shut off. Even if Mom has experienced that sort of shit, it hasn't been adequately explained. Hope she gets that notion out of her head soon enough. Gotta cut out the gimmie kids. Because they're fucking annoying, that's why.
Luther was ramming it deep in his Latina fuck buddy. The language barrier allowed him to babble whatever sort of degrading nonsense he wanted. It was like a porno without the laffs. The poor girl had no idea what the context of this fuck was for Luther. God only knows what she was getting out of it. The insecure bastard was fucking her so loud and hard that he didn't hear the door creak open. Didn't see the shadows shift when I crept up behind him. Luther stammered and cussed, the girl moaned. The gun barrel tapped on Luther's head.
What keeps you here? When there's so much else you could be doing. What makes this the dreary dive you insist on closing down night after night? Haven't you noticed a certain CONSISTENCY to the hours you piss away in this joint? Don't you think it might be wise to chase the action somewhere else? So what's your motivation, my man? Some sort of protracted publicity stunt? Just to see if these clowns are for real? Well, the day is winding down and new snow is falling on the slush. Meet us for happy hour. We'll talk of irrelevant things.
A few fresh marines got in the bus in Atlanta, drooling over the filthy strip clubs that dotted the neighborhood like herpes sores. Empty-headed loudmouths, looking for action that wasn't regimented. They must've been half insane from simultaneous exhaustion and boredom, packing a mandate to rip a new orifice in every laid-back innocent town. Ready to stomp a few pansies that did what they pleased all day. Well-versed in jarhead jargon like a prisoner knows the lingo that'll keep him relatively on-the-ball inside. I once pondered enlisting, just to beat my soul senseless. Don't feel that need as much now.
Thanks for the armchair psychoanalysis, punk. Let me remind you: You don't know a fucking thing about any of my motivations because you've never bothered to ask me. So I suppose you're free to jump to whatever bullshit conclusions serve your own murky purposes. Perhaps you'd best confine your little assumptions to matters in which you have some sort of personal experience. Oh, what's the use. Keep going after what you think you see, and it'll be a lot easier to frame the world with your own pungent inner experience, which is a damn sight more entertaining. Thanks and goodnight.
I met Francie on New Year's Eve, at a rural houseparty. She was a Steak and Ale waitress from South Carolina. We got acquainted as we toasted marshmallows on the bonfire. Our host was a beer snob, and I crafted a splendid clean-system drunk. The clarity scrubbed down my field of vision like a squeegee. She said she liked me because I seemed so laid back. It felt good to fool a stranger. We were two of the last five to leave. We went out into the woods as the sun rose. Some asshole finally broke into "New Year's Day."
Get out of your own head and you won't feel such a mandate to break into mine. I don't know if you've necessarily got anything to say. But I know that if you do – or if you ever do – you'll be lucky if it isn't permanently blocked out by your immense ego. Drop the persona. Let your adaptive mechanism speak for itself. Where have you been? What did you gain and what did it cost you? I've got nothing against diarism. I can even stomach self-mythology. I just don't think the self-mythology is serving YOU so well. So what now?
We need noise. We blast ourselves sick with it. We find the noise that confirms our assumptions. It hardly ever goes off. We crank the noise because we’re afraid. We’re afraid for different reasons. The picture blackens. The CD snaps silent mid-song. Jimmy pines for an imaginary past. Katherine wonders where the utilities are coming from. And I rip into myself like a fresh carcass. I carve every transgression into my flesh. I’m more brutal with myself than you could possibly be with me. Why do I do this? What good could it serve? Why not you instead of me?
We were drunk the first night we kissed. Naturally. We left the bar and huddled on a bank’s cement steps. Passing vehicles belched out thudding hip-hop. And we smeared our lips together as if we’d never see each other again. You were wearing your bubblegum tube top. When you would stretch to lean into me, your huge, soft tits would fall out. This happened several times, and I was occupied, so I didn’t stare. I knew I’d be seeing them again. I knew we would fuck like animals. I knew we would probably fall in love, that breezy September weekend.
THE ONLY SPIRITS YOU’VE SEEN TONIGHT ARE THE ONES I CAN SMELL ON YOUR BREATH. Give it up. It’s over. Forget about it. It never wrapped up because it never got started. ‘Twas only a dream. Wake up, smell the insecticide and hear things grinding along as always. Don’t think you’re ever going to register as more than a ripple. Put on your piss colored shades and wander about like so. Toughen yourself up: That’s the only solution there ever was. Let the journey grind to a halt. Get off the bus. What a load of odious self-serving bullshit propaganda.
TAKE IT TO THE BRYCG. Snow tires throw slush in your face. The colors of your self-portrait run, bleed and fade. A slug crawls in the crevasses. You sprinkle salt to no avail. It crawls under your door and straight into your private stash. All your money runs out before you even have the chance to squander it. You wallow in your inferiority when no one’s around, and can’t wash the stink of it off yourself before dinner. Your girlfriend’s creamy legs flex over my shoulders as I pound away. Your life is a fucking shambles. Especially compared to mine.
The man across from me was a surly bartender. Rage poured out from every pore in his face. Even his live-in girlfriend seemed to hold him at a respectful distance. One Friday night in autumn, he returned from the bar to find our parking lot clogged with SUVs, no doubt owing to the frat party in progress a block over. He went inside and retrived a Louisville Slugger. He roamed the lot purposefully, bashing doors, hoods, windshields and mirrors. Residents formed an audience, drinking and cheering. He posted a sign: Vandalism will continue until unauthorized parking ceases. Thanks, The Management.
I'm positive I could have you killed. I could do it myself. Your reflexes are shot, you're laughably vulnerable, you run with stooges I could easily coax around to my way of thinking with drugs or money. You're only alive right now because I've allowed you to survive this long. Don't ask me why. [Shrug.] You're powerless over me. My hate for you is as real as anything you've ever been, and a damn sight realer than anything you're ever likely to be. Precarious, yes? But not really. Fortunately, your life isn't worth my freedom. Don't fuck around with either.
So go ahead and operate under the assumption that things will automatically improve as some sort of cosmic reward for your dullard's perseverance. Use it to excuse yourself from wasted opportunities. Wasted breath. Wasted time and energy. All those many, many goddamn HALF-TRUTHS that smear your eyes like loads of shit from the watchful Bird God. But I wouldn't be so fucking smug about it. Or, fine, go ‘head. Your ability to zone out like that – an ability I don't quite share – might be your #1 strength when all your other muscles have atrophied. You can still clench your eyelids.
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