Oct 29, 2008

Farmers Market Pumpkin Man

Farmers Market man
What that meant

Home alone, a 39-year-old woman called her sister to say she'd been shot.

Geetha Kittrell Huggins spoke to her sister by cell phone, but the sister didn't immediately understand, didn't quite comprehend what that meant, "shot," so Huggins said it a second time.

She'd been shot. She'd been shot in her arm and her side and she was bleeding badly.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily: Woman killed in home burglary

Oct 28, 2008

Cloaked in confusion and metaphors

The scariest dream I've ever had was just of red.

I've dreamed of falling, dreamed of murder, dreamed of earthquakes and of the ground eating people. I've awakened frightened of inanimate objects, of turning into a monster, of paralysis, and of walking around without clothes. But the one that terrified me most, out of all the years of nightmares, was just an opaque red.

Like an empty field filled with sulfur smoke, like a blank wasteland tinted by blood, it was just me and red nothing, and I was on the ground, in the fetal position, trying to fold up into myself.

I don't know why. I don't know where the subconscious terror came from or why it emerged from the muddle of sleep in that mask of vagueness. But then, fear is like that. It isn't rational, it doesn't appear in well-lighted rooms, and it always comes cloaked in confusions and metaphors.

Read the full column @ the Clayton News Daily:
What are we afraid of?
Bill, the Boy Who Thought He Could Fight Them All
a story from the Clapping Carnival Rasp project

A boy named Bill was bound-up by snakes, when he woke up one morning. One snake was wrapped tight around his feet. It was like a python. A second one was around his neck, squeezing and slithering, and a third snake’s face was in Bill’s face, its tongue tasting the inside of his nose.

Bill screamed, like anyone would scream, if they were startled awake by snakes. He tried to kick the one snake free, and tried to snatch the other away from his neck. He snatched and kicked but nothing happened. Then he noticed the giant spinning spider. Hanging above his bed, spinning and spinning a spider with empty eyes and saw legs was coming down from the ceiling, coming down at his head. The boy named Bill opened up his mouth to scream, to shout for his mother, but the snake was choking him and when he gulped at the air, all there was there was a dry, red-dye fog. It filled the room and his mouth. It tasted like milk and day-old dirt.

Bill beat back the snakes with a yelp. He rolled away from the descending spider, falling off of his bed. He landed on all fours, and then he felt crickets crunch under him. He felt hordes more attack him, eating away at his skin. He felt their feet, a million feet, and they were tearing at him. There was like an army of them, and they were singing. It was a weird song and they sang, “Munch munch. Munch munch. Bones and flesh and eyes to crunch. Munch munch. Munch munch. A bunch of boy to eat and tear, we eat him ‘til he isn’t there. Munch munch.”

A boy named Bill ran into his mother’s kitchen, yelling, “Don’t eat me.” His mother was in some other room and she said, “Bill? Did you eat you pill, Bill? You know you’re supposed to every night.” But Bill grabbed a rag and a box of matches, and rushed back in to fight them all.

He lit one edge of the rag catch fire and then swung it, flung it into the middle of the room, onto the bed and the pile of messed-up sheets. The flame flickered and then caught. The little bonfire burned and then started sucking everything into itself. There was like a whooshing inhale and the snakes were sucked into the fire, and the fire crackled. Then there was a burning inhale, and the bed sheets and the bed, the crickets and the crickets’ song, all of them were dragged into the fire by some invisible force of fire, and all of them burned with screaming. Bill laughed. Bill clapped his hands. Bill knew he could beat them all. But then the fire started pulling at the walls and pulling at Bill, so the boy ran to find and fight all the things he had to fight. He ran back into the kitchen and grabbed a big butcher knife, and then he ran outside.

He could beat them all. He yelled out, “Yeaaaaaah!” And he waved his knife around. He ran down a little hill, through a stand of small trees, and he attacked a farting car. The little green and yellow car went “pffftttt!” and Bill went, “Yeaaaah!” and stabbed both the back tires. He felt really good. All his life, he’d been scared. All his life, things had been attacking him and now, he knew he had to fight back. Know he knew he could win. He ran up to the gas station, on the corner, in the reflection of the window there was a man shouting swear words at him and calling him names and sticking out his tongue, so Bill bashed in the window. Then the man was gone. Inside the store a four-foot nest of eyes gave him a look. So Bill stabbed one eye and another eye and another, jabbing the knife in hard until the slit gushed purple eye juice and then the nest collapsed into a puddle of broken glass. The gas station owner, a tall man with a Buddha hat, said “Beeeel? What are you doing, Beeeel? Is there ah probleem here? Do not smash my wine display. Go. You bad boy. Go. You must go out of my store.”

A boy named Bill ran into a gas station parking lot, shouting like a maniac. He kicked over a shopping cart, and then kicked it three times and shouted three times. He waved his knife in the air and shouted like he’d never stop. He danced and laughed because now he knew he could win. He could fight back and fight them all and he could win.

He danced like Michael Jackson, and then he did an Irish jig. He ran in place like he’d made a super bowl touch down, waving his arms like Rocky on the stairs, and then he spun around and yelled "Whoooo!" Bill spun around, and then the deputies shot him.

One time, two times, three they shot him. The bullets slithered like snakes through the air and then they hit him, there and there and there, and then a boy named Bill was dead.

Oct 25, 2008

STIPPED OUT PUMP
A torn-down, stripped-out gas station
& the scene of the officer-involved, fatal shooting of a mentally ill teen


1. Why exactly should it be considered a compliment to be called a poet?
2. What is the other side's best impulse?
3. Why are political partisans humorless?
4. How did "socialism" come to equal "government intervention"?
5. Why do I always come back to philosophy and theory, when I really believe in stories and images?
6. What philosophical question should be regularly asked?
7. How does redemption happen?

Deep glamour
Why are politicians marriages so awful?
Buckley on his own
Why is 'asshole' a strategy for the new atheists?
Every girl wants to marry a pirate
Contest: Rebranding books
The conservative collapse
10 reasons for a bigger, better beard
Peter Pan and the God-Man
Worst romance novel covers of last year
Politics of political portraits
Ebert on Bette Davis' cigerette
Where pundits become pundits
Questioning Bukowski
_ There is, after all, a certain indignity in fighting the class war for 107 years only to find one’s chosen style of governance employed on behalf of the other — which is to say, the very upper — class.
_ since that night, and especially since his death in 2003, Johnny Cash has become for some the craggy patron saint of redemption
Working for the working-class vote
Cop reporter answers questions
Obama & Baldwin: After the death of the father
Elietist: words
Talking head affiliation quiz
"Socialist" is not an epithet
Robocop on a unicorn
The decline of journalism is journalists fault
Does conservatism end in conspiracy-mongering?
Political hypocracy
Every man a Derrida?
Everyone still gets Derrida wrong
Beautiful movie posters
Solar close-ups (the sun is quiet)
Will Tarantion mess up the Holocaust?
Gilliam: Count of surrealism
The Lee Atwater boogie
Fact checking, is it just white noise?
Graphs that lie
Point about lingusitic distinction of instructions here
Recruiting the youth to monasticism
New York cheat sheets
Joe Biden's role
No demographics, only lifestyles

Oct 22, 2008

Dethroned Cotton

A stray field of cotton. It looked like it was lost.

It looked like something forgotten from when it was important, symbolic, a source of strength. It was growing in a rolling field down a back road, behind the race track. The pavement ends and turns to gravel -- gray rocks too thick for traction in the middle, rutted troughs of mud on the sides -- and the road comes down a ditch, goes up through some trees, and opens up onto the cotton.

I'm not sure why it's there. There's probably enough to harvest and pay for the seed and the time, but not when you compare it to the cost of the land.

There's still more than a million acres of cotton grown in Georgia and each acre, on average, produces 800 pounds of white puffballs, after the extraction of lint, oil and seeds. More than a million acres, but not around here.

Old people have told me the cotton crops left here when the machines made big flat fields better than small curvy ones. The farmland left here when there was more money to be made in working at the airport, or the ford plant, and farms were offered up to developments. The people who remember people who used to farm, they left like a decade ago.

What's weird, though, isn't that it's just there. What's weird is the way cotton means something, but actually doesn't any more, the way symbols gone through a gin and been cleaned of all it’s weight, leaving it real but insubstantial.

The cotton calls up slogans and songs, ad campaigns and short hand descriptions of a region, a culture, a way of life. King Cotton, cotton balls get rotten, look away Dixie land. When cotton's king and men are chattel, Eli Whitney, ante bellum, down South/back home, George Washington Carver could've beaten the boll weevil, but didn't even try ... But I bounced around on a rut-riven road, thinking I should of turned the other way but anyway wanting to see what's here, and the cotton field is just a field of short plants, with these little blossoming balls of dirty white puffs.

They're just puffballs. Absorbing sun. Not really signifying nothing.

Oct 21, 2008

Satan, as played by a Georgia Baptist

Do you remember saying all that Jesus stuff gives you the creeps?

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
'Going through hell' at Corinth Baptist
The backwards souls

I was wandering around the city recently, waiting for something, and I found my way to a downtown library. In the reading room upstairs, there was an old man sleeping. He looked a little like the old man with the story about the backward soles. He was slumped over in a chair where the sun would come in and warm his back and his neck. He had a book, "No Country for Old Men," open to a random page, and he smelled of urine.

To me, though, he didn't seem any more lost than the rest of us.

Read the full column @ the Clayton News Daily: The lost men
The Tarantino detail

Right now, the woman who tops the Most Wanted lists is a 29-year-old with acne. She killed two people with a shotgun, dumped the bodies in a dumpster, was convicted and sent to prison 101 years, and then escaped. It is not clear how she escaped. The federal law enforcement agency’s press release doesn’t include that detail, which is unimportant.

The woman is, however, currently “at large,” “on the lam,” “on the run,” and “most wanted.” She has a red and blue tattoo of a target on right butt cheek.

Oct 18, 2008

A national mood oscillating

Loren Coleman said the hoax was "definitely a very big deal," and the biggest Bigfoot hoax in the last decade, if not the last century. He said the scenario is only really comparable to the Francois de Loys hoax of 1929. Coleman believes both hoaxes captured a national mood oscillating from gullibility to skepticism, and points out that both hoaxes happened right before a major economic crisis.

"There's a gullibility, and then this aggressive skepticism," Coleman said. "It's almost as if people felt the stock market was a hoax, or the housing market was a hoax. People can look at this Georgia situation and get into all the questions: Why was I fooled? What was it about this? Was it just me? Was I just that gullible?"

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
'Bigfoot' hoax sells for $250,000 -- maybe

Oct 17, 2008

What we hear

An ice cream truck, down the street, plays slow classical music. Adult music. Wine and cheese and fall music.

No one runs after the ice cream truck.

Oct 16, 2008

Avoid the temptations

At first, they prayed for healing, for deliverance, and for Jesus to take away the pain.

A year ago, at a candle light memorial for Edward "Boo-Man" Mills, a 17-year-old who was murdered while selling marijuana on a Sunday afternoon on Flint River Road, the people prayed in tongues, a prayer language some Christians say they use when they don't know the words to pray.

Then they prayed for justice. At a second memorial held in May, when prosecutors' blunders reduced the suspected murder's possible prison sentence from life to just a few years, the people prayed for Jesus to "make it right." They held lighted candles in the evening, at the scene of the murder, and asked God to give them justice.

But the tone was different on Tuesday. At the third candlelight memorial, on the anniversary of the young man's murder, more than 50 people gathered at dusk at the scene of the shooting and again they sang, again they prayed, but this time, they asked God to protect their children and encourage young people to avoid the temptations of fast money, the street and the devil.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Mourners talk of avoiding lure of fast money

Oct 14, 2008

A thousand flowers

Oct 13, 2008

So she can ask

When the doctor told Danielle King her husband was dead, she said he was lying.

She had waited in a little room in Southern Regional Medical Center, in the early morning hours of that day in May 2007, and the doctors worked on her husband as the 29-year-old man faded, was resuscitated, and finally faded away.

"I was just hysterical," Danielle King recalled, a year and five months later. "I told him he was lying. To this day, I can't believe it. I ain't lying, my husband was no saint, but he wasn't no bad man."

When Derek King died, shot to death while smoking a cigarette on the back patio of a College Park apartment, his wife wanted to know what happened. She wanted explanations. She asked the detectives what they knew, asked the doctors for details, asked the people who had been there with Derek when he was shot, and she learned the excruciating facts. But she still has one question.

She wants to know why. She knows there's only one person who can say why her husband was shot in the chest, and she wants him caught, so she can look at him and ask, "Why?"

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Woman seeks answer in husband's murder

Oct 11, 2008

Fire investigator

We were, of course, like everybody else, a bunch of signifying monkeys: Weather Underground redux
Sound of a tased possum
Net to catch bridge-jumpers
'I guess you don't want to talk to me anymore' Text messages as found language
Airports as the failure of the 20th century
The end of the New York Sun
As you do unto the middle class
Still looking for the religious left
Emily Dickinson's secret lover
Is the novel post-gay?
Rowan Williams and Fyodor Dostoevsky
Why are the Orwell diaries so boring? What do we learn from that?
Technology, temporality and mimesis
Toddler scarred with Bart Simpson tattoo
The hummus wars
What's taken, what's left behind.
Falsification, forgetfulness, Pete Seeger and Bill Buckley
Nobel physics prize for exploring hidden symmetries
A poem, or poetry?
Bob Dylan: A magnificently impenitent improviser
The passion of Dick Cheney
The perfidy of Dick Cheney
Roots of American Populism (secret: They throw better parties)
National Review editor for Obama
We need to know: McCain, Marion Barry and the house we live in
Dog whistle politics
An apology to Sarah Palin
Vote for life, vote for Obama
Partisan film problems
Best reporting on John McCain
Kids these days go left (we call them the disgruntled children of the moral majority)
The senate’s greatest novelist
Do the democrats got religion?
Why the white middle class is bitter: wage stagnation; socialism
We are forced to make choices without having the knowledge that would enable us to make them; or, as John Gray has put it: ‘We are forced to live as if we were free.’

-- Slovoj Zizek

Oct 10, 2008

Return to vomit

Since the Sarah Palin nomination brought out everyone's more base political instincts, with the economic crisis creating palpable panic, with the bailout/rescue leaving everyone confused or angry or freaked, with Republican rallies turning into mob scenes, complete with shouts of "stop him," "get him," and "kill him," the country is feeling a little too much like Drudge.

That's really the mood, the tone. It's like it's the fashion, this fall. There's that sort of hysteric hyperventilation, that clinging to the next news item, the next "revelation." Everyone has that daze on their face, too, like they've just hurdled from the stomach-turning ride, but they kind of liked it.

Oct 9, 2008

window spider

The spider in my basement window.
Looking for Joe

Joe is missing.

He is sick, he hasn't been seen in three months, and nobody knows where he went, or what has happened to him.

"I'm praying nobody did nothing to him," said Marilyn Denise Stewart, Joe's mother. "I'm very worried and I'm staying up all night ... I don't have any money to offer a reward. I don't have anything. I just want to know what happened to my child. I can't rest. I can't sleep. I just need to know what happened to Joe."

Joe DeAngelo Stewart is 21, bipolar, possibly schizophrenic and he hasn't been seen since July 4.

He picked up a disability check for $570 in July, in Morrow, and he cashed it that same day.

A City of Morrow police detective has checked every area hospital, every psychiatric ward, every jail and every morgue, but he can't find Joe.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily: Have you seen this man?

Oct 8, 2008

A little after 3:30 p.m., as a hearse idled at the end of Windwood Road, waiting for police cars and fire trucks to clear the way, investigators climbed the long ladder on a ladder truck, shooting photographs of the fatal scene from above.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
'That fire consumed everything': Two dead in duplex fire

Oct 7, 2008

Easier to say something's suspicious

It's not just blind denial, this impulse toward being a 9/11 Truther. It's not just a refusal to lose faith, but maybe more of a refusal to have faith in the first place. We choose cynicism. We choose scornful disbelief. What do they think we are, suckers?

I don't know if it started with Watergate, or the assassinations of 1968. I don't know if started with John F. Kennedy or Vietnam, of if it started back with the drunken populism of Andrew Jackson, the distrustfulness of the frontier or the founding documents signed by privateers. I know, though, that we are saturated with cynicism. We are proud of our disbelief, our sarcasm, our outsider status.

It's easier not to believe. It's easier to say something's suspicious, something smells. Unlike Fox Mulder, in the recent X-Files movie, we don't want to believe.

Read the whole column @ the Clayton News Daily: Surrendering a little to hope

Oct 6, 2008

A tear, a brutal look

Murdered Woman's Daughter
Almost abstract

The best photographs in the show took this level of intense attention and heightened it. These pictures were almost abstract, pushing a new vision of the ordinary until the known was almost, but not quite, unrecognizable. Daniel Piar, who won Best In Show, and Paul Conlan, who won first place, proved they are devotees of the art.

Conlan captured a line of red vinyl stools at a red counter, a composition turning some Art Deco décor into a timeless study of a single strong color and a collection of shapes.

Daniel Piar focused on a barn, with black-and-white studies of a joint in a beam and a leaning ladder.

Piar's pictures use the full range of light, from black to white, and his camera captures and emphasizes previously unnoticed details: The textures of unfinished wood, the gap around a nail, the way the lines of a ladder crosses the fall of shadow.

"This," the judges wrote, "is what a photograph should be."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Photos seek to show ordinary in new ways
Jim Crumley, whose crime novels pushed the genre past plot, through Vietnam and into the violence and lostness of the hardboiled, who was a veteran of the Philippines, unofficial mayor of Missoula, Montana and had his picture on the wall of a bar, died on Sept. 17 at the age of 68.

May he rest in peace.

Oct 2, 2008

Re-mapping: Atlas of the "real" world
What happened in Centralia
How many died in Dresden?
Homer's in the fabric of our culture
The Petraeus doctrine
Title stories
Sexiest engineering book ever
Communist Manifesto turns 160
The tallest abandoned building the world
What the media covers
Wanted: Intelligent research aliens
The chickens on 125th Street
Vampires revitalize Forks, Wash.?
Sonnets saved by post-avant?
Microsoft's inclusivity comeback
Judge used strange name to polical advantage
Fusion man flies over English Channel
Tom Wolfe isn't worried
Journalism's 'only one purpose: to make the reader read the story.
The last movie-poster artist
How Lil Wayne helped me survive my first year teaching in New Orleans
50 greatest villians in literature
How to find a good pen name
Perils of casting audiobooks
Obit writer answers questions
Modernist gas stations
Jonathan Letham reviews The Dark Knight
Not national, electoral politics
10 items or less
The problem of "the South" in "New Stories from the South"
The endurance of goth
The superstition of unbelief
You can't even talk about the stained glass ceiling
Aquinas translation project

Union leader: 'There’s not a single good reason for any worker — especially any union member — to vote against Barack Obama. There’s only one really bad reason to vote against him: because he’s not white.'
'I was denied communion for endorsing Obama'
Frame of the famous attraction

His hand on the long yellow lever, the Ferris wheel operator leans a little, pushes down and looks up at the wheel as it turns.

The wheel is empty, just the wheel without the seats, the frame of the famous carnival attraction. When the operator calls out a number, there are two men to carry the seats up to him and attach the seats to the wheel.

The operator is silent, except for the shouted numbers. He's staring off into the sky through wrap-around sunglasses, the kind people wear when they've had eye surgery, and he just leans on the lever, watching the empty slots for seats turn past him. Then, he stops and the wheel stops and he calls out, "Six."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily: The Carnival sets up in Jonesboro

Oct 1, 2008

FERRIS WHEEL OPERATOR

I don't know what it is I'm trying to say about circuses and carnivals.

I think it has something to with the contradictions, the internal contrasts. It's the jarred juxtapositions: Shiny and grimy, showy and laborious, traditional and rootless, venerable and suspect.

The tattooed man with the Oakie voice, attaching seats to the Ferris wheel, he says there's always somebody comes to take pictures when they're setting up, but sometimes it's the local paper and sometimes it's suspicious cops. He says, You know what I mean?

But I don't exactly know ... I just know I'm here again, not wanting to go to the show but wanting to see it set up. I come here again -- wanting to find out the obvious, the secret. I'm here wanting to understand the quotes from the Ferris wheel operator, who only rasps out numbers as instructions, from behind eye-surgery glasses, and the quotes from the fried dough man, who says he didn't really mean to do this with his life. I want to think, maybe, that they're somehow answers to questions I feel but can't say.

I just stay with safe questions, uninteresting ones. I just say, So when did you start doing this? Say, So what're you doing?

But I read the answers, as they come out in scribbled, wrinkled notes, like they're forecasts for interpretations of something serious.
Slim difference of e

Standing there Monday morning, a tattoo on his arm saying, "slim," and another on his chest saying, "slime," Knox said he never meant to kill Kimberly Jacobs, the 26-year-old social worker who was found two years ago, naked from the waist down and strangled to death in her apartment.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Neighbor pleads guilty to social worker's murder