my moldering life on the planeta naranja

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hit the mute button i need to say something:

I couldn’t play the guitar.  And I didn’t want to go about looking for drumsticks, and plastic tubs to overturn to drum.  I didn’t have enough of my own poetry to read — so I came up with the idea to grab my boom box and speak some words over The Clash’s “Mensforth Hill” on the corner of N.E. 3rd Street and Biscayne Blvd.  Midway through my spoken word someone dropped a $5 bill in my upturned cap at my feet saying, “thanks, you just made my day — Sandinista is my favorite Clash record.”  This, unfortunately,  was the only thing I had memorized that day —  thee asynchronous voice over from my first film: 

“This is now.  The last war on drugs was a war on fructification.  It was fruit batty, it was fatty bruit.  I fructified on the crucifix cross and I crossed my own path when I got there.  I got there when the darkness overtook me and I wrote a novel without writing a novel word.  I chose something golden that sunk my Atocha.  I fructified in Dar Es Salaam.  I drive without opening my eyes on left turns.  I sleep inside a mosquito infested tent.   I tent on an assemblage of extracted teeth, and pull nothing but the difficult out of a magician’s top hat while the rabbit munches grass, oblivious, in the hallway.  I pass summer away with the spring in your step failing me.  I winter in the fog of your soulless fall.  I scarify my soul in the humorless sun of a long night in a clean well lighted place — which is actually a bullet ridden cafe in Lesotho during a monsoon month of dust and quiet whippoorwills.  I prune leafy trees leafless.  I’m hot with fleas fleecing your sister’s sake.  You said, “I got mine and you’ll be fine.”  I said, “summer is your sister’s fate in her schizophrenic haze and her strength is the weakness in her occipital lobe.”  You say my comedy was sublimely written, like it was written in Sumerian script in a Mandarin world.   I said, “ it’s analog to a lime habit.”   To which you plead, “let’s go to a limehouse,” moving your fingers in such a way that the air warps in pink swirls around your head and lights alternate in yellow and blue hues in your open mouth.  The words you create signify tranches of truncheons and luncheons on the grass in half-naked Roman reclines. A bottle of wine stoppered ordering the sky and a jaunty basket opened to the prying June moon.  Jejune.   Then you produce wildebeests and hyenas from your bloomer pockets — pantaloons full of cavorting beasties.  I produce a floral array of helium filled hydrangeas from my waistcoat pocket while a Berlin zeppelin flies drunken circles above us.  The man from Madagascar stands and announces the sinking of the Diego Garcia Islands.  I sing the song of hegemony of the albatross over other pelagic birds that abdicated when the penguins became kings of the universe…”

No one stopped to listen, most people kept walking (maybe annoyed by the distorted Clash song squelching from my speakers) then it occurred to me — they may not like my stuff, but if I pick up my hat and hold it out while scanning radio stations John Cage-style I’m bound to attract someone’s attention who enjoys what I’m playing.  And I hit a veritable vein — a boon.  A goldmine.  I made three more dollars over the next five hours ($8 total!) the most money I’d had in two weeks by just happening to fall on someone’s favorite song or group playing on the radio, and therefore brightening their day just a tad bit in the fleeting screed that is our existence.  About half hour in to my experiment I happened upon the college radio station playing “The Great Curve” by the Talking Heads and a woman in a black leather jacket that resembled Joan Jet dropped a dollar in my cap and said, “the best line David Byrne ever wrote: ‘the world moves on a woman’s hips.’  Thanks!”  I got another dollar sometime around 3 o’clock when I started shuffling my feet to keep the blood flowing through my cramping legs while I happened upon the oldies station and “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was playing and the man must have thought I was trying to do “the old soft shoe” and dropped 30 cents in the hat.  Over the next couple of hours I increased my haul, and I had my summer job laid out before me.  Fuck busking I thought.  A smile, a fresh set of batteries, and some movement and I’d be rolling in dough.

And then it got good to me and in future days I started playing my favorite long instrumentals from my cassette collection and made up stories on the spot.  I made a sign that read: “Extemporaneous stories extemporized just for YOU!”  At your prompt.  At your suggestion.  Here were a few of my favorites from that first week before it all went sour.  Someone would give me a prompt, for example: a portly gentleman in a black beret said, “make a story up about my CPA, Irving Katz;” a student carrying a copy of Naked Lunch said, “make a new story up about William S. Burroughs’s Eyeball Kid;” and a woman suggested I make a story up about a Cuban archivist named Clodomira.  I enjoyed making up these stories to instrumentals by Throbbing Gristle, The Velvet Underground and Thelonious Monk :

 

Katz, CPA

He hovered out to cloudland in search of the end of the rope that would pull him through the morning.  Up through wisps of cirrus, and further up through fat strato-cumulus — but no sign of the end of rope at the tail of an impossibly long length that receded deep into the sky’s bowels — where the cerulean gave way to indigo, violet and eventually blackness.

The countryside below was pleasant and undisturbed.  Rolling hills pockmarked with bails of rolled up straw.  A spearhead of geese briefly passed below him trumpeting surprise at his elevation.

Yes, in this fashion he learned that gravity had another end for him.  The rope did not materialize, and in that one brief moment before he plummeted he wished he could stay up here forever…

Abruptly he thought of the placenta that trailed him out of his mother’s womb and how he missed its warm and comforting presence.  He had never thought of the placenta he and his mother shared, but now for some reason he missed it with a gnawing in his gut.

He wished he could have the placenta installed somewhere in his home.  Maybe floating in a vat of thick translucent fluid in a glass tank as if it were a new Damien Hirst installation.

Or maybe on a dark biomorphic pedestal as if it were a Louise Bourgoise piece.  Then he settled on the vision of having a film loop of the placenta projected onto a white orb in Tony Ousler style.  Yes, that would do.  He took out a pad from his desk and did a photorealistic drawing of the placenta, a la early Chuck Close.  He then drew the film loop projection environment as Ousler might.

He was pleased.  He now harbored feelings for the placenta that he once felt for his wife.

In her place, in that space vacated by her memory, hovered the placenta.  Beatific.

He couldn’t stop looking at images of placentas on the web.  Fresh.  Day old.  Desiccated.  Dog, cow, elephant, all types of placentas.  He could not control himself.  He locked his office door.  He unzipped his pants.

Later, he called his mother and asked about the whereabouts of the now 37 year old placenta.  His mother pleaded with him to get professional help.  She told him never to call back.

His vision flashed.  He was transported into another office, in another time, in the not so distant past.

It was the time of his childhood.  He could feel it.  It was this office.  His office thirty years ago.  Many of the buildings outside the window were the same, but the sixty story tower that now anchored the city, and other skyscrapers, were missing.  The cars below were long and rectangular, of a mid-1970’s appearance.

And just as quickly he was back in his office.  It was 2006.  His computer monitor displayed the New York Times story about Saddam Hussein’s execution date being set, and the Decemberists’ “Crane Wife” was playing on iTunes.

He was panting.

 

The Eyeball Kid

The voice of Spice, the synthetic marijuana, told him to go and surrender himself to the firefighters down the street.

Then it was the voice of God echoing through the hallway.  The fern transmogrified into a green anole that bit its own tail in half.  The smaller tip began to speak in Aramaic, not that he knew Aramaic, but somehow he intuited it was Aramaic.

The tail said I have a gun.  I will kill you if you don’t turn yourself over to the firemen across the street.  Go now, man.  Go!  Go, before I smite you.  Go and repent.

The tail writhed and grew in to a gherkin that glowed in the blue redeeming light of Jesus.  He vomited the Bengali lentils and brown rice he had at lunch.  He felt lighter, better now.

He was compelled to pee in the ficus bonsai on the coffee table, despite the perfectly clean bathroom down the hall.  It was Dolores’s day to clean on Wednesday, and it had been freshly cleaned this morning.

He walked across the street to the firehouse and kneeled before the firefighters.  He begged forgiveness and eternal fealty to all things firefighter related.  The firefighters were surprised in the midst of a late lunch after a gnarly five alarm wildcat at noon.

“The hand of God compels me,” he cried. “Please!”

As the chief came sliding down the pole, Eusebio thought he saw the son of God descending from the heavens…

 

Clodomira

She wanted to stab her writing hand, but instead she focused on the portrait of Fidel Castro on the wall.  She was long accustomed to falling into a meditative state by staring at Fidel’s philtrum.  It was oddly naked, as if exposed in flagrante, by two quickly drawn curtains of wiry black hairs.

She had reworked the sentences for the eighth time.  She was finding it increasingly arduous to make the connection between Epicurus, Batista’s foreign policy toward post-war Europe, and any of the 4,000 species of lice she was familiar with — especially the pubic louse.  Her favorite.

She couldn’t reconcile the Epicurean school that thought by avoiding politics, gadflys, and avoiding involvement with gods or an afterlife, and by involving oneself with trusted friends and a life of simplicity one would achieve the calmness and simplicity of ataraxia.

She was desirous of the Stoics ataraxia now. It was, afterall, the key element in achieveing apatheia — a state of calmness and imperturbability — in the pursuit of virtue.

She wrote that Batista was a slovenly glutton and diverted US foreign aid to his coffers.  She wrote about the pubic louse epidemic of 1975, and how it reached epidemic levels in Angola.  The Cuban troops could barely sight their targets for the incessant scratching of their huevos.

Coño, que metraca,” they were often heard crying, instantly giving up their positions to the South African mercenaries in the early days of the Angolan expedition.  They were easily picked off.  The State’s resources were diverted to deal with the pubic lice plague of 1975.  It was either that or forgo the doctrines of Comrade Che Guevara’s early incursions into the Congo and Africa, writ large.

Clodomira was having such difficulty with all this unruly data, and she found herself gripping her letter opener — her bayonet from the Bay of Pigs —  tightly and hovering just below the base of the knuckle of her ring finger.  She stopped herself when she imagined Fidel recoiling at the sight of her hand.  She was to interview with him next week for the Directorate of the Citizens Brigade in Defense of the Revolution.

No, she decided.  I’ll keep the hand at least through then…

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About istsfor manity

i'm a truncated word-person looking for an assemblage of extracted teeth in a tent full of mosquitoes (and currently writing a novel without writing a novel word) and pulling nothing but the difficult out of the top hat while the bunny munches grass in the hallway. you might say: i’m thee asynchronous voice over in search of a film....
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