May 17, 2007

John K. Lattimer, a New Jersey urologist who treated Nazis during the Nuremburg trials, who was the first nongovernmental specialst to view JFK's autopsy records and assassination evidence, and who owned Napoleon's penis, died last Thursday at the age of 92.

May he rest in peace.

May 14, 2007

Hello my name

The two long windows on either side of the door were both broken. When the door between them opened and closed more glass came down, broke away from the web-cracked pane and fell, like chandelier rain. He walked back and forth through the door, opening it and closing it obsessively over and over and watching the window break more and more at each pass and hearing the glass beneath his feet grind between his hard soles and the cement. His thoughts were like that. Funneled down too narrow, too narrow. Until he couldn't get away.

He sat on the beach in his suit. Black suit and white shirt like a Hoover man or a vacuum salesman. He wrapped his arms around his knees pressed to his chest, waiting for someone to come get him. Little bits of sand were sticking to the polish on his shoes. A washed out sand castle set like a lump surrounded by a moat from last week, from the fake feeling of summer that swept California in September, late this year, swept children and weekenders out to the the beach for a last blast of sun and sea salt and the construction of castles.

Today was gray. Today was Tuesday. The beach was empty except for Dick, sitting there looking away. The sun was slowly covered by the afternoon as the shadows of clouds traced their way in from the Pacific and over the sand in rolls and on up to the hills that were green with the first fall rain, green barely seen through the long brown summer season's turn.

Half a jelly fish lay strangled by sea weed. The weed knotted around the middle, like for a lynching, now dried out and brittle.

He wasn't supposed to be here. He was supposed to have something to do. There were still hours left before the polls closed. He should be supervising. He should be making phone calls. He should be out there. Hello my name is Dick and I want to be your congressman. Hello my name is Dick. Hello my name is Dick. Hello my name is Dick. Hello my name. He should be screaming at staffers and quoting predictions to pundits and running one last attack on his opponent, mentioning accidentally that she is a Jew, mentioning subtly that she is East Coast money, mentioning anonymously that she is a communist and pink down to her underwear. Instead he was here, sitting.

He could be preparing, instead of sitting here. But he couldn't any more. They would expect to see him tonight. Expect a party. Except a speech with his arm around his Good Republican Wife and saying thank you, thank you. Saying victory with his arms raised. Or a concession. They would expect him if he lost too. Expected him to say thank you, thank you, say next time, say I appreciate all of your work and you couldn't have worked harder. They would shake his hand and say whatever they had to say repeatedly, obsessively.

If he wasn't doing that he should have been sleeping. Seventy two hours with only four on the campaign couch, two at a time before he would shower and shave and leave again, slamming the door behind him. His eyes were sandy. His eyes were red. His throat was red and raw and his neck met his shoulders with a searing feeling and the sleepless wind was raising his hair on end.

He wasn't focusing. He was just holding his knees. His eyes were blank looking at the Pacific. He had sort of hoped they'd find him, rush up talking from too far away, talking before he could hear and he would turn and uncomprehendingly watch their mumbling mouths in the wind. They never came. He sat there in the empty sand looking at nothing, looking at the ocean. Let the wind blow the clouds up to the mountain line and let the clouds back up over the coast casting everything gray. And he despaired.

When he stood up there was a butt-mark in the sand where he'd sat.

May 9, 2007

Airplane air


It sounded like a leak in a balloon. It sounded like an exhale. Escaping air. It sounded like the siphoning off of oxygen, up there at 2,500 feet.

It sounded like TSSSSssssssssss
                                                                    whhhhhh


Leonard Darby Jr. listened. He could hear it. He tried to lean his seat to recline but somebody's knees were already rammed into the small of his back and so he tilted just his head. Laying his wide neck on the scratchy gray airplane seat, he looking up at the little round light, dimmed down, and the open air nozzle, lisping away, and the unlit button with the picture of a tiny cocktail glass. He could feel his head get fat with pressure and his ears swell up with wax until the sound of the airplane engine was only a thick buzz. The sound, though, it slipped through and it made him think of a dehydration chamber.

The land air was gone now. The cabin was blimped out with airplane air and it was putting all the passengers to sleep. Except Leonard. Leonard's brain was wrinkling like a plum turning to a prune, he thought, the liquid was being sucked from his skin, raising up layers of little burned bumps, and the color in his pupils was drying up until his eyeballs would be blind white.

This was after the stewardesses had pantomimed disaster. A gay man and an old wide woman and younger one who was really short, all wearing night-sky colored uniforms with a triangle theme, had all stood in the aisle doing the hand motions. The three of them in unison pointed to the line of lights on the floor. The three of them in unison held imaginary masks to their faces. The three of them in unison strapped flotation devices to their breasts and they all pointed at different emergency exits, located in the front, middle and rear of the plane. It looked like they were miming swimming and it looked they were signing along with a Sunday school song that he had never heard.

This was after the pilot had announced the destination, saying what everybody already knew.

This was after his mother had smiled and said she was so proud and be safe and would he be okay. This was after Leonard Darby Sr. had prayed for safe travels standing on the airport sidewalk, putting his wide mechanic's hand on Leonard Darby Jr.'s head and saying, Dear God we pray this trip, this airplane journey across this country, will bring our dear son closer to your son, Jesus Chirst. This was after his mother had called him Little Lenny, even though she knew he hated that name, said it and smiled with a tilted head.

This was after he had wandered into the news stand thinking about buying a Hustler but had gotten too nervous at the black shinny wrapper showing nothing but a blonde girl's head, her eyes half closed and mouth half open, and had purchased instead the latest edition of the New Yorker.

Now the New Yorker was stuck between his fat leg and the arm rest and the magazine cover was stuck to the skin of his thigh. The legs of his shorts were scooting up as he slid down in the seat and the cover of the magazine was stuck to the hairless skin, leaving splotchy images on his leg, images of cats dressed like famous scientists.

Leonard was 17. This was his first time in an airplane. He was fat boy who still went to youth group but didn't believe in Jesus anymore, who didn't know how to pump his own gas but wanted to become J. Robert Oppenheimer. He never smiled because his teeth were crooked and yellow and if he forgot, when he remembered he closed his mouth and clenched his jaw until it hurt behind his ears. He was going to see his older sister in California where she was successful and beautiful and well adjusted. He had asked her if they could go see Skywalker Ranch and she said that was in Northern California and had launched into a speech about cinematography and he had decided not to ask her anything else ever again.

The cloud cover broke and he looked out the little window, out over the edge of the metal wing and the wing's winding turbine and he saw spotty scrub brush in the desert and the unmarked imaginary line that marked the beginning of Mexico. The pilot on the speaker system said where they were going and when they would get there. The pilot on the speaker system said when they got there it would be local time and 98 degrees. The pilot said they were headed into a headwind and he said Mexico was on the left side of the aircraft. Most of the passengers ignored him by sleeping and Leonard didn't hear anything except the sound of escaping air.

It sounded like an old man whistling through his nose.

It sounded like the fluid of a womb had been stuck with a needle and was being drawn out into the suction of a vacuum, leaving Leonard inside the steel stomach shriveling up like an aborted fetus.

Leonard wanted to scream. He tried to scream. But there wasn't any air. His tongue turned popsicle red and he was breathing through his open mouth in short, shallow pants. He could feel his hands withering. He could feel his skin wrinkling and the brain fluid evaporating out of his gray matter and leaving it in tiny little brittle flakes.

His pupils were drying up and his eyeballs were probably totally white.

His sister was supposed to pick him up. She was supposed to wait by the baggage claim. She was going to stand there, Leonard knew, with her weight on one hip and hand on the other, checking her watch and sighing at having to wait for him.

The other passengers would wake up and get their bags. The business-black rolling suitcases would be picked up by men talking into cellphones in cellphone voices. The floral-print samsonites would be picked up by women with white curled hair wearing oversized sunglasses. The backpacks would be picked up by girls in flip-flops and short shorts and tank tops on their way to get flower tattoos and tan at the beach. The other passengers would wake up and get their bags, but nothing that normal would ever happen to Leonard again.

Leonard's bag was blue, royal blue. His bag was new. It was tagged DFW-LAX and it would go around and around and around in circles forever on the conveyor belt at the baggage claim. He'd never make it to the baggage claim. He'd never find his sister and never see California.

He would fumble out of the airplane blind, waving his deformed arms in front of him, bumped around by people and by blank walls. He'd wander around the airport like that saying Jesus Mama Jesus Mama. He'd make moaning noises and he'd bulge his eyeballs out to try to see. Dribble would be coming out of his mouth and everyone would look at him like he had leprosy or nuclear radiation or AIDs. Kids would scream Go away and girls would throw up and scientists would probably dissect his corpse. He would be a freak.

May 4, 2007

Aaron Lee Jones, who was convicted of two brutal and drunken 1978 murders and also of stabbing three children and their grandmother, whose appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court was rejected on Wednesday and whose appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on Thursay and whose final request was to have a Bible sent to his mother, was executed by lethal injection at 6:29 p.m. today at the age of 55.

May he rest in peace.

May 2, 2007

Attempts to extricate ourselves

What if the true Evil of our societies is not the capitalist dynamics as such, but the attempts to extricate ourselves from it (while profiting from it), to carve out self-enclosed communal spaces, from "gated communities" to exclusive racial or religious groups? That is to say, is the point of The Village not precisely to demonstrate that, today, a return to an authentic community in which speech still directly expresses true emotions, etc. - the village of the socialist utopia - is a fake which can only be staged as a spectacle for the very rich? The exemplary figure of Evil are today not ordinary consumers who pollute environment and live in a violent world of disintegrating social links, but those (top managers, etc.) who, while fully engaged in creating conditions for such universal devastation and pollution, exempt themselves from the results of their own activity, living in gated communities, eating organic food, taking holidays in wild preserves, etc.
            - Slovoj Zizek from a new film guide.

Live chicken. Fresh killed.
Palahniuk manufactures novels.
Architecture typography.
Chess for American kids.
Nixon in theater.
Internet cartography.
Feel just like Cagney?
Ad spots. Artistic freedom.
Evangelical numbers.
O'Neill at Sing Sing
Radio communion.