Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In a maze of woods, lying high up on a branch under a big scratchy blanket, watching a lot of dog-walking squares walking past and getting scared by a group of really skinny, jet-black wolfy panthers. When I come out of the tree and really try to figure out how to get out of the woods myself, I am carrying a briefcase that is twice as deep as a normal briefcase, and made entirely of metal. It's empty. Vampires start to walk the woods and I hit one in the face with the briefcase.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm holding a glass of some drink while standing on the balcony of a beachfront hotel room, watching a band from Baltimore set up their gear in the tide. There's maybe 6-7 other people milling about this hotel room, I'm guessing we're all on tour together. The room is pretty high up, 6th+ floor. (9th floor?) There's a modest crowd milling around on the beach down below.

The band starts playing. Small waves break on their amps. I haven't heard them before, I look at someone else on the balcony and make a pucker face. They comment that the band doesn't sound that great. "Sounds like legos," I say. I turn to go inside and the music abruptly stops. The singer of the band, a boy with a short brown beard, tells the audience there's some technical difficulties and invites them to visit the hotel room I am currently in for a while. I roll my eyes as loudly as I can.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Liz Flyntz shows me how to operate four video cameras which are stationed around a giant mansion that functions as an asylum for retarded people. I have a video screen which is squared off into four sections and I can use a joystick to pivot the cameras and turn them around. The retarded people run around and scream and seem to have fun. Somebody argues over whether or not it's OK to make a documentary about the retarded people but Liz argues that the rest of the world needs to see how they actually live in this asylum. If it's not OK for people to see it, the place probably shouldn't exist.

Some really weird bugs emerge from a plastic egg and fly onto the wall. I'm freaked out by them, they're too complicated and bright yellow to be normal bugs. Somebody squashes one of them and the other flies away.

I return to messing around with the cameras. I adjust this one, then that one, and then the next-- but then the view in the top left of the screen shrinks and shrinks and it seems the camera is falling from wherever it was stationed. The view doesn't disappear though, as I would figure it would if the camera was disconnected from its proper place. It must be wireless. It hits the ground and sits aimed up at the place where it used to be. It can see the ceiling, which none of the other cameras are able to see because they are too close to the ceiling and don't pivot that way. I imagine that the footage from the fall will most definitely be used in the final documentary, you couldn't fake a shot like that, even if it is just of a receding ceiling.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On tour (of course.) Huge house full of kids, almost all of them are younger. Tie dye shirts, headbands, neon. I keep thinking I’ve put down my cellphone somewhere which sends me into a panic— the idea of not being able to even text Roby surrounded by this kinda element is anathema, of course, and I’m putting a brave face on it because there’s kids here who seem really psyched and also fragile and the tiniest I-smell-shit face might seriously send them into a moody funk which I know will in turn disgust me and there is a wide chasm between our particular takes on those two states, a chasm over which further negotiation is not really possible and any progress will require mediation. But there will be no mediator. (Peacemaker? Who did Jesus actually make peace between again? I’m not being sarcastic, I really want to know. I guess I never got the impression that all those people who put down their stones went on to welcome the foxy sinner they had intended to brutalize into their community. [Sort of the problem about those kind of communities— the ones that appoint themselves the authority to punish, I guess: you can’t get outside. You’re either in or you’re brutalized into.] Putting down the stones, OK it’s a temporary peace, and I’m even willing to believe the bastards might not have killed her the next day. I think it was much more of a possibility back then, before all the distance and depersonalized propriety introduced by the more modern and more formal courts did.)

SO perhaps it is all chess to me. And I am losing a lot of pieces. But I value annihilation unconditionally, purely: if my own alone I am able to engender and enjoy I will not be selfish. Deep down, I think the idea that speaking reverentially of total annihilation might be a pose is itself a pose. We all pay closer attention when total annihilation becomes part of a story. Whether it’s a story on a news television show or in an epic action movie, in a history textbook or a sick comic: impending annihilation makes it easier to care. And it is hard not to revere such a powerful, Earth-changing force when you live in a world where things never change, except to get more lazy, and less original, and more convenient, and more vapid, and more volume, and more artificial, and so much compression, and ever more expensive.

We all start walking in a great big, meandering line out of the house. There’s so many. Hundreds. In a row. I have little conversations about the show with them. Not in any detail— only just, “Here we are, at the show, yep it’s the show. Some people are here, some people we know. We’re at a show tonight.”

In the distance there's a huge highway, glorious fourlane on either side. The line approaches it over a very long period of hours that just fly by due to everyone’s cheery demeanor and the genuine sense of euphoric anticipation I can smell all over them. We enter some kind of trench that looks like a pool, a long narrow pool, and it's filled with chlorinated water like a pool, too. The line moves into the pool and the water goes up to my shoulders. It runs parallel to the highway, but from the pool you can see all eight lanes. The highway is in the distance, it feels like we’re looking up at it but we must be looking down if we can see the whole thing, right? It’s so full of cars. And the cars are never stopped, or slow— but their flow doesn’t fluctuate at all. There is basically a steady and tightly confined beam of cars that never ceases, like molecules moving in opposite direction.

I have anger, does it matter where it originates? You point out calmly that my anger originates some place low and at some distance behind where I have assumed to be the source, as if this makes it go away. It doesn’t go away. And that’s why knowing the proper source of the anger is not information as valuable or powerful as knowing the proper receptacle for it. I believe I have written enough by now to make it clear that I have not selected the receptacles for my anger arbitrarily, or on some kind of whim.

We’re in the water, walking, talking, winding, this line of a thousand children. Some guy starts pushing his index finger hard into a space between my ribs, five inches beneath my nipple. He walks up to me and pushes with his finger right hard in that spot. I try swinging my arm and it swings so slow through the water. He keeps backing off and then approaching again to jab me in the same spot with the same outstretched pointer that he never relaxes or flexes.

Later, seemingly on a whole different tour. A tour with Lil’ Frodo. And others. From here. (A future RR?) In a huge house, it’s a house show. But this house is some kind of mansion. So many stairs, stairs going up and up and up. There’s a big line of kids, like the last line. I’m always moving somewhere with a few people ahead and behind, and the knowledge that there are even more people ahead and behind them, and we talk the whole time we’re moving and act even like we’re just in some transitional period, like when you’re in the elevator with people you don’t know on your way to the sixth floor of the H&H, or getting a ride home in someone’s car with other people who are getting rides home from the same driver. But we’re walking in the line, following where the people just in front of us seem to go— they’re talking, too, everyone’s talking and waiting and going to this show. At some point, people start sleeping on couches and on the floor, the show is tomorrow, I guess, and we all kinda find little nooks and spots to crash in the immediate vicinity of where we were in this line that is threading through the entire house and ending up (presumably) in the room that the show will be in. I text Roby, tell her about things, observations she would understand or value or discuss with me, it makes me feel a little better, more positive, and I am able to get to sleep, too.

I wake up and meet a bunch of people. The line disintegrates, I think, even though we all seemed to sleep with an unspoken assumption that it might be necessary to resume with it this morning, but I get the sense that now that most people were finding breakfast, finding their friends, and treating the whole house as the venue. It was a rich person’s house, very nice, very sparse, huge furry pelts on the walls. I meet an older woman. She is dressed gaudily and smiling in a very forced way, trying to make me feel welcome, so welcoming it is clearly sarcastic in that tactful, rich-matron way that says, “An inhuman amount of energy and effort is being expected of me right now, but I will rise to the occasion because I must, and I am strong enough to do it! Only because I am a fucking amazing and kick-ass hostess will I now pull off the impossible depth of servitude everyone here obviously expects of me!”

I assume this is the mother of the kid whose show this is, so I heap a few praises on him as a peace offering, to show that I am an exceptionally courteous freak and not like these other beasts who demand she play the role by refusing to subtly acknowledge it’s subtext, ie: the SOS flare she shoots off from the points of her teeth and from the punctuation of her polite jokes. She makes little of my praises, sweeping them aside but without malice: We’re already cool, you and I, you don’t have to do that. I feel pleased that we’re communicating on this level right off the bat. I assume that when you get older you waste less and less time testing the waters.

I follow her to the room where the show is going down. We play by house rules: no open bitching or kvetching like we can do at normal shows. We’re onto the next step: locate the martyrs and rally them with beautiful speeches. The more martyrs willing to symbolically carry the cross of our hostess, the more spectacular this gathering will be. Lack of sacrifice is what makes a party suck. REAL sacrifice— money has never counted, that is why Jesus’ second most important action (after the stones) is throwing the moneychangers out of the temple. Giving up your money is not a substitute for actual sacrifice: God doesn’t ask that you tithe 10% to the church because he’s some kind of ghostly banker or because he wants gymnasiums built behind the rectory: he’s making the point that he knows what the fuck money is about but he’s not interested in it. Taking 1% would be too confusing to you who reject the meek and the poor on principle. He takes 10%, a tiny fraction of 100%— which lesser powers strive to obtain from you even now.

I remember about my hair and the FBI: FEMALE PUSSY INSPECTOR shirt with it’s screenprinted bright pink new-age vagina, the leafy cunt from which a great mob of kokopellis and dead darwin fish are emerging, and I realize she is proud to be accompanied by a leper, because she knows I understand about the importance of sacrifice and that I will help her. The fact that I will be a leper while I help her elevates her, and that by elevating the hostess, the one who has sacrificed herself for the good of the party, we elevate the event. She is the living symbol of the event and we must sacrifice her properly, seriously, and not just abandon that job to one or two close to her and frolic like dogs, thinking that an undirected experience will spontaneously reach any kind of elevation comparable to that so assuredly achieved by a real sacrifice. So we must follow her lead and acknowledge her suffering tastefully in the subtext of our interactions and we must make sure that we hold nothing back for it is not only her last party but it is her death party.

Some funerals, most funerals, are the sad parody of this ritual. They are humans trying to offer up one of their own conveniently just after that person had dropped dead of their own accord. You wouldn’t eat a rotten old corpse that had been cooked, but you expect God to? They dress and weep as mourning might be signified in an old play, their friends line up to express their condolences, and gesture toward the elevation of the dead through somber, plodding speeches while physically lowering the body into a deep place where they would never accidentally see it.

The only funeral that seemed even remotely convincing to me was one I attended held in the church of a man my mother suggested might be a confidence artist. He spoke for a long time and there were spotlighted singers and a multimedia slideshow. These are not the things that made it convincing, but I suppose they are physical manifestations of that thing.

The show is in a garage, a huge garage on the bottom floor. The ceiling isn’t too high and the only stairs down are iron and turn in a tightly-clenched spiral, sort of what I remember the stairs in the Statue of Liberty feeling like. There’s a table set up and most of the cast of The Sopranos is sitting there. And David Chase. The actors all seem to be in character, though. I take a seat at the table, expecting the hostess to sit beside me but I see she’s gone off to some other place just after I sat down, she’s talking to somebody else now and her back is to me. I remain at the table and Chase ceremoniously begins some kind of discussion. It is obvious the actors expect more of the audience to be paying attention. Tony Sirico is amazing to watch in person, I soon find out.

There is a young woman at the table I don’t recognize. She seems shy, kind of tame, perhaps a little too modest for my taste, but she is pretty. I quietly ask her while someone else is talking (drawing stares, although Tony doesn’t stop talking and everyone else pretends not to notice me after exchanging stinkeyes) who she is. She explains that she is the mother of the boy who set up the show. I didn’t expect that. She’s older than me, but not by much— she seems too young to be the mother of a child old enough to want to see Lil’ Frodo. I don’t heap praises on the child this time. I never had any genuine praises for him in the first place— he seems totally normal and our brief meeting did not lead me to believe exploring him any further would be a satisfying experience.

James Gandolfini seems personally hurt that so many kids, especially those still coming down the stairs, are not listening to dialogue the actors at the table are having. David Chase is putting a good face on it and I can’t tell whether or not it’s diplomatic or if he really doesn’t care about these little kids. His presence here must have something to do with the rich woman I had followed earlier.

I join the conversation and am not ignored. The actors seem to have all written this whole thing off mentally already so my intrusion doesn’t seem to bother them so much and it appears that since I deliver my lines feigning the whole time that I am honestly not aware that I am in the middle of a performance, they improv around me. If I had broke kayfabe, I bet one of them would have walked off, or maybe even slugged me.

When the dialogue finishes they all get up hastily to retreat to some other part of the house, or maybe leave entirely. I don’t try to approach them, I find a door outside and start ascending some wooden stairs that lead up to a series of different decks. There’s a line, though, so it’s slow going.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I’m in an airport in Texas, about to fly home from a tour, but looking at the series of little colorful pictures that represent the various destinations of my flight, I realize it’s not really going anywhere near Ba’al timor. I see that the flight is crossing the Atlantic at least once— I’d love to go back to England, which this one little picture with the beefeater in it obviously indicates— but there are a few other pictures in the sequence that are labeled in another language. Is this word here beneath the spinning blue lady the French-Canadian word for Montreal? If it is, that might be the closest this plane is getting to my house… I decide to take the next leg of the flight to southern Florida. It’ll put me on the right coast and at least there’s a layover afterwards where I can plan my next move. Maybe there will be an easier way to get home that will present itself.

I fall asleep right after takeoff. As the plane circles the Floridian airport, I’m awakened by an announcement from the captain. I look out the window and it’s late at night. I also see what appears to be a giant King Kong in a suit and hat thrusting his fists into the air next to a semi-circle of burning debris. The captain acknowledges that this seems unlikely and says he’s going to fly in a little closer, and if it looks really dangerous, we’ll go to another airport. We end up landing with no more explanation and I follow the rest of the passengers off the plane, through the terminal, and onto a boardwalk that is filled with people.

I walk along with the surging crowd, past a really interesting building that looks like some kind of gigantic hybrid of an amusement park Haunted House and a Lazer Tag place. There are huge sculptures of Lovecraft-looking beasts outside, stooped and snarling humanoids with ridges on their backs and limbs and nests of knotted tentacles hanging from their mouths, all of them in the same shade of yellow wax that looks soft and sweaty in the sun. The sculptures are cool but there are only really two different ones that are repeated along the side of this very long building. I can’t remember the sign that hung above… Kumpovol? Campovol? The place was called something like that, in red lettering that was maybe supposed to be reminiscent of bloody fingernail scratches clawed into some old wood. I stop and tell my posse— GZA, my friend’s little brother, and the ghost of my ex-girlfriend— that I have to check this place out. We go down a stairwell and the first door we come to leads to a room where a big party is being held. A bunch of jocko tourists are watching some sporting event on big TVs set in the wall around the bar. There’s a doorman and big, purple double-doors. I peek through the door as it swings open and see a lot of watches and bracelets and hairy arms coming out of rolled-up sleeves from button-down shirts: not my scene. At the top of the stairway, back on street level, there are a few picnic tables underneath an overhang. The posse and I decide to wait there until we can find out more about this place.

My friend’s little brother disappears and reappears a little while later to announce that the Lazer Tag part of this establishment is down another set of steps just inside the double-door of the party room. He says it’s not like a Lazer Tag where you shoot other people but one where you walk through a creepy, winding maze with rooms decorated to look like swamps and creepy New England sea-side towns and you shoot giant Lovecraftian monsters that jump out at you, supposedly like the fearsome wax beasts that stand along the side of the building. There are a lot of people walking up and down the boardwalk, a lot of people at this party, people always going up and down the stairs.

Some younger kid who senses from my looks that I’ll be sympathetic, approaches and hands me a laminated card that’s maybe 11” high by 6” wide. It’s divided into eight squares, each one depicting a portion of a screenshot from some NES game. The first 7 are all of different appearances of some piano-playing man in a suit and hat, sitting at a piano with a slim, flapper-looking babe next to him in a feather boa. The final shot is of a King Kong in a suit, presumably the final boss of whatever game the other pictures are from. The kid enthusiastically explains to me that this card is proof that the King Kong I saw at the airport was racist and wants me to agree with him. GZA, either bored or creeped out by this kid, quietly signals to me that he’s going to go check out that party. I try to politely shoo the kid with the laminated card away but he insists on explaining the entire ending sequence of this game to me in detail, how the piano man that appears innocuously in the background of several levels turns out to be the final boss, and how he and his flapper babe morph into giant King Kongs (their clothing grows to fit their new incarnations— his hat does, too) and how before you fight him he sings a song into mic while a spotlight shines on him.

Then Yao Ming and his manager show up. I’m saved from the kid by Ming’s manager’s pushy insistence that she talk to me right away. Ming sits smiling at the picnic table with me, the manager remains standing, too caffeinated to sit. She reminds me of the favor Ming did me a year or two ago— one I didn’t ask for, I remind her, but Ming interrupts to explain how needlessly generous the favor was regardless. The manager continues to explain how Ming is going to be a master chef now and he needs me to return the favor by getting in touch with my “contacts” and getting him a cooking show on cable.

It turns out Ming is some kind of extravagantly rich dilettante, and that before he decided to be a great basketball player, he had varying success in a few other careers: one of which was music, which is how he and I know each other. I tell the pushy pair that I don’t have any “contacts” at the moment who would be able to just hand Ming a cable cooking show, and try to leave it at that, but they’re so insistent I find myself telling them that they’ll have to at least give me time to talk to the “contacts” I do have to see if they know anybody who might be able to help. Ming reminds me again of the old favor he did for me, and I remind him again that you can’t give just somebody something completely out of the blue and then call for repayment later. He is unmoved by my arguments, always stressing the extreme generosity of his original kindness to me. I suggest that he might be able to easily get a show on PBS without my help— he seems into the idea, likes how he might be able to spin it as the most community-oriented of cooking shows— the most generous.

I abruptly announce I’m ready to try out the Lazer Tag game, gambling on my hunch that there’s no way Ming’s manager would do a frivolous thing like that (she’d never do anything where she might appear out of her element, you know?) and that Ming won’t do it either if it means his manager won’t be with him. The kid with the laminated card has been lurking nearby and now perks up, obviously planning to invite himself along. The ghost of my ex-girlfriend criticizes the hour at which I usually wake up.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big party in big house, there's a room in the basement that opens into a little bricked-in courtyard that contains a patio and pool. It looks nice, I check it out and plan to go in there, but first I continue exploring the place. Upstairs, some kind of show just happened. Some people are taking down their gear-- a big band with like 7 or 8 kids in it, smiling Rainbow Coalition-type group with lots of instruments, keyboards, cheap hand percussion like shakers and shit. One of the guys in the band has a really large girlfriend who sits at a laptop doing ebay during their set and while they take down. I look over her shoulder to try and see what she's ebaying but I can't really tell, looks like she's got her own ebay store, though.

I go back downstairs to the pool room and find that the entire room is under a few feet of water. A skinny guy with long-ish brown hair and glasses tells me that he might be the one responsible: he was throwing around some glitter and thinks that maybe glitter has clogged up the pool's filters and caused this flooding.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's early in the afternoon and I'm just back from a trip and trying to contact an important girl. I am waiting around the house of some people I barely know, calling this girl and leaving messages and waiting to hear back from her. I am ready to leave the house but will not do so until I find out where this girl is and find out where I can meet her.

Time passes and I am still waiting for the call. One of the guys who lives in the house tries to be friendly, but I am too anxious because I have not yet heard from the girl. A girl I knew from a long time ago is here, too, and is very excited to see me, but I am too preoccupied to be excited with her. I excuse myself and wander through the upstairs of the house, eventually finding a bedroom that I enter, shutting the door behind me. It seems to be the bedroom of a young boy, although I find it hard to believe anybody young enough to explain the decor of this room would live in this particular house. I stand on the bed, with my shoes right on top of an oversized and brightly-colored comforter, listening (again) to an old voice mail message left for me by this girl I am looking for, hoping there is something there I missed before which will relieve me of the anxiety I feel.

There is nothing new in the message, and I don't pay attention to any of the other voice mails I have saved, instead scrutinizing the framed posters that hang on the bedroom's walls. They are curiously all fireman-themed. To my right hangs a poster with some robotic, skeletal firefighters-- looking kind of like dollar-store Terminators-- and right beside it is a poster of The Simpsons with Homer dressed as a fireman, clutching an out-of-control firehose. His two eldest children are also hanging on to the huge, whipping firehose, while Marge and the baby look on worried from the grass below. On the wall to my left is a more traditional poster honoring the heroism of American firefighters.

The important girl calls me. She is at some guy's house, some guy she doesn't know. She met him in the woods today. Two of his friends, though, are people I kind of know, people I have seen around, and they are there, too. I try, but I cannot convince the girl to leave that place and come meet me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For weeks we've been getting hints that a particular Asian country might attack the US. Then one night on the news we see a man in a parka standing next to a huge hole in the middle of a landscpae of ice. He's holding a microphone-- he's a reporter. He tells us that it's possible that the US has shot a nuclear missile into the Arctic Circle. As of now, there is no confirmation whether or not the US really did this or what the motive might be. There is, however, what appears to be a slow stream of lava coming from deep inside the hole.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Middle of a tour. Show at a hotel-resort in North Carolina. It's short, it's only 5:30 PM when both bands are finished. Not a big crowd. All my merch gets wet because it gets put inside some kind of bar on top of a bunch of ice that melts over the course of the show. I'm worried that the record jackets are going to stick together when they dry and rip when I try to pull them apart.

One of the other guys on the tour comes up and asks me what I think of driving straight to the coast after load-out and taking a 7-hour ferry ride to Atlanta. "You go out into the ocean and save a bunch of time that way." I like boat rides, so I tell him I'm into it. He tells me that we might do it, there are some other factors that need to align properly if it's to go down. I wonder what they are.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In a car, Roby and I in the back, driving a short distance away from some kind of fest where we had just watched a band play under a small white tent to an audience of about 14. I think the fest was almost over and everyone else was watching some other band at some other stage that I didn't get near because it was too crowded. I met a hilarious guy with dreads that I cracked jokes with too much and so I didn't really pay attention to the band and I cannot describe them for you. But anyway in the car Johnny was driving and I was sitting behind him and somebody else was in the passenger seat and Roby was beside me. I dozed off, slouched down in the seat with my head on my own shoulder for a pillow, like I've seen Gooby do, and when I woke up I thought I saw a barn coming right for the car. I wanted to yell out but I was sleepy and slow and remembered that I might do that too often when it's not called for, yelling at the driver. But we did hit the barn. We went right through one wall and hit another and the hood crunched just as I hoped it would.

Nobody was hurt, though. The car was still drivable and we drove home. It was a rental, I think, but no insurance. It turned out that the fourth guy in the car had witnessed an abduction in Cairo and he was being hunted down for extradition to a jail there, although I was pretty sure he was just a random witness and wasn't even fully aware of what he had actually seen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Almost a dozen bands are playing at Floristree and I’m one of them meant to go on near the end. It’s been a while since I’ve played and instead of hanging out there at the space I’m hanging out on a boat docked nearby. The boat is big. Below decks there’s a room that’s like a lobby/restaraunt/bar of a nice resort hotel, and some stairs that lead down to a handful of cabins and up to a lounge area. I don’t know most of the people here except for Steve Olson. Some of them look like they are on vacation— like maybe this boat is a kind of hotel.

I rode a bus from Floristree to get to the boat. We crossed a Baltimore I have seen at least once before but never while awake. It’s long and there’s water along the eastern edge, like Chicago, but it’s more narrow and there is more of a NYC level of skyscrapers going on.

In the boat, I go to the counter where a woman is selling food. There’s a lot of different things you can buy, like a tupperware containing 8 poppyseed bagels stacked on top of one another, or a tupperware containing 8 flavored cream cheese bricks stacked on top of one another, or hot dogs. I pull two bills out of my pocket— a five and a one curled into a tight tube— and I uncurl them and I look at the glowing menu above the counter (it includes a few pictures of gourmet-looking hoagies) and at the lit display case where the bagels and other tupperware-wearing delicacies are kept behind glass. I talk with the lady about what I ought to get with my six dollars and I believe I did get something but I can’t remember what it is now.

I take my food item to the lounge and talk to Steve— we try and discern what the deal is with the other people on the boat. Our guesses are amusing but we assume they are probably not very accurate. It’s getting later and later and no one has called me to tell me whether I ought to be back at the Floristree yet. I feel anxious about that but not anxious enough to turn my cell on. Mark Brown is around here somewhere, I think— he’ll tell me if it gets too late, right? I walk to the stairs that go down to the cabins and notice that the stairwell is almost completely full of water. The bottom level is definitely completely full of water. I turn around and tell Steve that we should get the hell off the boat because it’s sinking.

Other people keep walking around like the water problem doesn’t concern them, as if it were being attended to by some professional already, even though I can’t find any evidence that anyone besides me has taken it seriously enough to mention out loud. I’m creeped and I make my way out of the boat. Steve goes to find somebody else he knows on the boat and I don’t see him again after that. When I get out of the boat I’m naked except for a towel wrapped around my waist.

Instead of being docked at a dock or any noticeable maritime location, leaving the boat dumps me into a dark parking lot. There’s lots of people around, the kind of steady, clumpy, dumpy crowds you see walking from parking garages to Camden Yards when there’s baseball games. No one points out my nudity but it’s embarassing. I get a City Paper to hold casually at crotch-level while I walk across the street to a lit-up bus shelter.

I recognize a guy there sitting on the ground— curly, dark hair and nearly-olive skin, tall and slim and smiling and has smiling eyes and I think he comes off a little like a Greek Big Bird. He recognizes me, too. We don’t know each other very well—I don’t think we’ve ever actually conversed to any depth— but I am happy to know anyone at all at this bus stop and the big Bird-Man is always nice to everyone who engages him and we make much out of having seen each other a few times before. He doesn’t mention the fact that I am almost naked.

I watch a big crowd of like 7 or 8 fat high schoolers get into a fight on the opposite sidewalk. I can’t tell how serious the fight is but it looks funny and I try to watch even though the big Bird-man keeps standing in my way, blocking my view (but unintentionally.) I don’t tell him he’s in my way— I’d hate to tell the big Bird-Man he’s in my way and then have to see him smile and apologize because then I’d start apologizing and smiling and the idea of us smiling and apologizing to each other over something neither of us really care about makes me feel dark, so I just skip the whole thing. The fat kids are probably all friends just horsing around, anyway.

I can tell it’s a lot later than it was before, I might be missing my set— the whole show, really. What would I play anyway? Is anyone going to notice I’m not there? Is anyone going to be sad? I can’t imagine who would be sad, and trying to think about where my phone might be seems like a painful process, so I decide to just wait for the bus and ride back to Floristree and just deal when I get there. I cross the street, though, to sit next to a wall away from the bus shelter where my nudity is all lit up—- I don’t want people to think I’m getting off exposing myself at the bus stop or something.

When the bus turns the corner, it stops with its headlights right on me, and I hold up my paper and my arm to shield my eyes. I can’t see how many people are on the bus but I imagine it’s probably full and they’ve all got to be laughing at my naked ass. No one has mentioned it yet but I can’t believe they’re not all noticing. I turn around and go behind the little wall and back onto the boat. It’s tilted like crazy now, and water is up to my neck in that lounge area. The lobby and cabins are totally submerged. A big black goat is loose in here, too, and doesn’t stop following me around when he sees me. He walks around a railing in the center of the lounge that’s still dry, the last thing dry in the room. He can only walk on 3/4s of it though because the tilting has put one corner of it into the drink. I wade around with water up to my chin, trying to stay out of striking distance of the railing while the goat, obviously frustrated, follows and snarls and sniffs maliciously.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hilarious return of the classic: first day of tour, just a few hours before the show starts, in some town that looks cousin to Blacksburg or Bloomington or possibly Athens. I’m in a new band with Matt and two other guys. I’m the just-singer. I make a set list of all Alice In Chains covers and I am more excited about this set than I have been about any show in the last few years. Maybe ever. No seriously, maybe ever— I’m better at this now, I’ve never been less afraid of audiences or more convinced that I know how to effortlessly put all the effort I can into leading them right up to my rib cage so they can peek in between the slats...

I close my eyes and visualize how nuclear the room will go when we hit the opening notes of “Would?” to start our set. I run over the lyrics to “Rotten Apple” and “Brother” in my head, focusing on my favorite verse from each song so that if I get nervous and forget some words, I can just repeat those really awesome verses every time. It wouldn’t be so bad:

“My-eye-eye-eye-eye /
gift of self is raped /
My-aye-aye-aye-aye /
privacy is raped /

(I know this maybe isn’t the actual line here but it’s how I always sing it)

“And yet I find, and yet I find /
repeating in my head /
If I can’t be my own /
I’d feel better dead.”

(The “Brother” verse I like is, of course, the bit that talks about the bloodstained roses “because my hand is / pulling them hard as I can.”)

I could sing those verses over and over and I could make the crowd love it— we could make the songs twice as long and I could sell it, I know I could have them singing along with me and we’d take it up a notch every time, until everyone in the room knew exactly what the fuck we were singing about and why, until the guys in the band would just kinda stop playing and just stand on the stage baffled and amused by the sea of heads roaring the same words, no longer needing the crutch of the drums and distorted guitar to be able to feel the song happening. I hope to God no asshole starts clapping when they do that— when they stop playing their instruments I’m sure some turd will start the clap which will spread like syphilis through the crowd, turning my huge wall of voices into some gospel parody, I’d have to do something to make sure nobody clapped when the guys stopped playing…

But in the back of my head I know that Matt’s not going to want to play even one Alice In Chains cover, that very shortly I’m going to have to sing at least thirty straight minutes of brand newborn originals whose tunes I am, at that moment, unable to conjure mentally— Layne and Jerry are wailing away in there, my skull is the only practice space they can meet up and jam in anymore. I am powerless to evict them while they are singing together, I wouldn’t do it even if I could, I just won’t, I can’t even imagine a song that has nothing to do with bloody hands or gifts of self…

I walk across the stage, surveying the monitors and the outlets and nodding to myself and mumbling like pediatricians sometimes do during exams, not really talking to anyone, just trying to bring all the authority I know how to wield here to the front, to the ready. I still have my set list in my hand, and when I turn to look at something on the stage behind me I turn fast and deliberately and the paper makes a crinkling noise as it moves in the air. I talk to the sound guy and anybody else he talks to, looking as fast as I can for things besides this show and this stage that we might both like to talk about and really digging, not letting the conversation end at the first convenient spot or even the second— I talk and talk as if I had forgotten we were even there for a show, as if the concept of treating a sound guy like a waiter or butler had never even occurred to me and all the while I’m trying to tactfully discern whether he’s a pothead or not. When I gesture, I gesture with the hand that holds the set list and it whups and whaps whenever my hand flies out in some direction. My set list is written in Sharpie, and I still have the Sharpie in my back pocket, and some distant part of my brain wonders whether it’s our team’s only Sharpie, which would of course mean that if somehow the set is decided by whichever list looks the best at a real fast glance, there would be no choice but to at least open with “Would?” and see how it goes…

Do the other guys know the notes and chords and shit for “Would?” Matt almost certainly doesn’t, but I know he’s good enough that he could fake it if he wanted to. At this point I admit to myself I will probably not even bring up Alice in Chains to him, I will probably hide this set list in my bag and look at it again when I get home…

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ok, so first there's this rampaging wyrm underneath of Baltimore. Mechanoid, probably. It comes up spontaneously and wrecks buildings and people and cars fall and get buried under rubble. Nobody can tell when or where he will rise up next--- so our first step to stopping him is to rent a couple helicopters. The idea being, of course, that if we can watch the attacks from above we might be able to see some kind of pattern and begin to anticipate the wyrm's movements. My team is completely freelance here, no support from anyone, but luckily there are car rental places that have helicopters, and also fortunately driving a helicopter is pretty much only as difficult as driving a box truck, something I've done multiple times. I go rent one by myself and land it on the roof of the H&H. I guess I'm early or something because I then procede to go towards and lie down and look up at the beautiful blue sky and take a little nap.

I awake to the sight of a few other helicopters dropping a strange net over top of the H&H. It's not a densely woven net-- looks like a grid made of single cables spaced wide apart. At first I'm sure I'll be able to fly my helicopter up and out through it but as it is lowered my hopes for that are dashed-- the grid is just tight enough to keep the chopper in. I get worried (it's a rental) but I get more worried by the fact that there's a police cruiser parked on the roof now, too, and an old policeman is walking towards me. I grab my bubbler and try to move it into my pocket nonchalantly, like I'm just coincidentally waking up and have assumed the cop is here about something or somebody else. He smiles when he gets close and announces his (totally dubious, of couse) charge, telling me I'm a child molester. I smile back and tell him he's overplayed his hand-- shoulda gone with something more plausible, because now I know for certain somebody with a lot of political clout is trying to stop me from figuring out this business with the wyrm.

Later on I'm in a small rancher-style house in a town called Ghost Walker. It's right next to a man-made lake that used to be part of a tiny lil roadside tourist trap-- you'd ride a little submarine around past paper maché divers and scubamen and sea creatures and underwater speakers that played plinky music, General Midi kinda stuff. The subs are all gone but some of the paper maché sculptures are still down there. I call up Mark Brown on my cell and talk for a long time about something. At the end of the conversation I tell him to remind me to tell him about the time I worked in Ghost Walker next time we talk.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I see somebody familiar walking outside through the sliding-glass door in my parents' old basement. I'd know that bright-orange goatee anywhere-- it's JP, who I haven't seen since 9th or 10th grade. I let him and a younger girl that's with him in. We talk about how the house has changed-- "When I was in college," I tell him, "My parents put in a pool, but they filled it in again sometime since then." I gesture to the part of the yard where I assume the pool must have been. JP remarks on the apple tree with all the skulls in it and then offers me some tickets to a comedy showcase that's happening tonight. It's hosted by my uncle, the psychiatrist. JP was involved in some experiments my uncle did, it turns out. "How did you get out already?" I ask.

JP explains that the first couple times the experiment was run, my uncle and a group of people would live in a locked-down environment, a place they couldn't leave, and they'd have all their food and supplies and shit in an accessible place where everyone could see how much was left. When they did this, the experiment would run for weeks before they'd be tapped out. But in order to end the most recent run of the experiment early, in time for the comedy show, my uncle changed the experiment a little. First he made it so nobody could see how many food or supplies were left. Then he divided everyone up by age and gender, and you spent most of your time with that subgroup, away from the rest of the participants. Apparently, when they did this, the food and supplies ran out quickly and the experiment ended much, much earlier.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I throw on the lights and there are the bodies. I hadn't seen them when it happened, but I'm seeing them now, splayed in all different directions, and of course at that exact moment two little old ladies and a tiny white dog come around the corner. I'm relieved, really, that I don't have to look at the mess by myself-- that, actually, I probably won't be by myself ever again after this point. There's a head from the jaw up sitting on the ground near my feet, it landed upright and makes eye contact with one of the old ladies. She looks for a moment and then looks at me, angry. She speaks but not to me-- to her friend. From what she says I discover that she thinks I'm trying to trick them--- and she's angry, I think, at my assumption that she'd be frightened by my gory fakes just because she's old, female, or both. They walk on with their noses in the air, even the little white dog.

Somehow this makes it easier to get to work. I move and burn the bodies without any more interruptions.

Monday, January 28, 2008

While getting ready to play a festival in Scotland, I get a detailed vision of my next movie: it's a lot like PLANET EARTH, with the lingering shots and the so-HD-it-looks-CGI and the orchestra music, but there's no narration, and the subject is an eight year-old girl with Downs Syndrome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In the parking lot, a white van pulls up and sprays us with bullets fired from a loud automatic weapon. Miraculously, I'm only grazed, and Steve is untouched, but I can still hear the sound of the gun rattling in my skull.

We go inside, though-- Steve, Craig, and I. They seem ready to continue on with our day and I'm embarassed because I keep thinking about how that van probably followed us all the way from the airport and I never ever think to look for cars tailing me like that and they could just run up in here and spray the whole place again, couldn't they? I'm nervous, and it's showing, and the lady behind the counter asks what I want. I pretend I'm interested in some miniature Super Nintendo games they have under glass. I reminisce about particular backgrounds in a particular fighting game, trying to take my mind off the shooter.

We walk through a school to get to a recording studio. On the way, a girl explains all the things that are happening in town tonight, and it's like half a dozen things, most of which I would be interested in checking out if I wasn't leaking a little pee every time somebody closes a door anywhere in the building. Steve and Craig express interest in most, if not all, of these events, and my stomach drops-- I don't want to ruin this trip, but the only thing I can think about is getting away from public places asap.

We go back to the school. A lot of ppl I went to school with are sitting at long folding tables, writing out nametags and shit. I see a few I should probably say hi to, but I keep fixing my gaze on vague things in the distance so it looks like I'm looking for something for some important reason and can't talk at the moment. It works.

We leave to walk somewhere else. We walk up an paved incline towards a mall or something. There's a really tall apartment building behind us with a million window-units looking like cyborg barnacles. I notice that there's a thin sheet of water running down half the incline. At least I think it's water-- I bend down to touch it with my finger and I hear a laugh from the direction of the apartment building. I want to to start running, but the ground is wet, and I don't want Steve and Craig to think I'm a total pussy if this laughing is unrelated to the earlier shootings. I don't hear any shots, but I walk faster.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Driving a van full of kids around, we stop at a gas station that's next to a hotel. For some reason we have to stay here for a long time, sitting on the curb. Two women emerge from the hotel, one of them is screaming. "You want to take my money?" she screams at the other women. It looks like one is only partially dressed and has a bedsheet wrapped around her. The screamer keeps walking, right past us, but the other woman catches up and attacks her. I realize we have to leave because the fat man who runs the gas station is looking for me, although he doesn't know what I look like because I'm a lot older than when he last saw me.

Drive to my parent's old house in Baldwin. Relatives are getting in the van now. One of my uncles has a girlfriend who seems a little off. Roby and I sit in the kitchen and overhear her tell somebody else that she's (the girlfriend has) started doing crack again. But just a little bit. Seconds after she enters the room, I make a comment about her doing crack and she gets real offended. I realize I didn't mean to let on that I had heard, but I couldn't think of anything else so as soon as my mouth opened, I said it-- I said, "So how is more crack going?" or something like that.

When everyone's in the van, we depart. There's a DVD player in the van and somebody puts in a video that seems to be just a camera on the dashboard of a van, pointing out towards the road as the van drives through a rural part of England. Somebody says this is footage of how to get to wherever we're going from Leafy John's farm. On one hand, this seems good, because I don't know how to get where we're going and I'm driving. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure we left from my parents' old place, so we're not in England, so I don't know how the video will help. On the other hand, I kind of know Leafy John so maybe I could ask him about it. I turn around and ask him. He says not to drive on any of the bamboo ramps that are set up around the farms, they're not safe.

We drive up a stone stairway. The middle of the stairway is cut out, it drops straight down, so it's maybe more like two narrow stairways side by side. In the little hole in the middle, at the bottom, a young monkey sits with a chick he found. The monkey smooshes the chick up against his one eye gleefully, hurting the shit out of it. Then he smooshes it into his other eye until the chick is dead, then he eats it, happily. There's blood on and around his eyes and I can't tell if it's his or the chick's.