Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

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The Good News

Are you there, God? It’s me, TotD.

“I AM THAT I AM.”

I never quite understood what that–

“SILENCE! I AM THE ALPHA AND OMEGA. I AM THE MORNING STAR AND THE EVENHACH HACH HACH…Listen, kid, I’m not gonna do the voice.”

Cool by me. You sounded like Wally, anyway.

“Or a less-Southern Elvis.”

Sure.

“What do you want? I’m busy.”

Because it’s the Sabbath?

“No. College football. Just lost a bundle on Nebraska.”

Didn’t you know how it was going to turn out?

“Of course. I just didn’t believe it. I mean, c’mon. The Northern Illinois Huskies?”

True. I won’t take up too much of your time.

“Ahem.”

Sorry, sorry. I won’t take up too much of Your time.

“Put some respect on my pronouns.”

I apologize.

“You are forgiven.”

Okay, real quick. Um, here goes: why me?

“Why not you?”

Well, what did I ever do to You?

“What did you have for lunch?”

Cuban sandwich.

“So good.”

The best.

“It’s just ethnic ham and cheese, but still. Yummo. Buuuuuut can’t be mixing the meat and dairy.”

Really? I’m being punished because I didn’t keep kosher?

“Nah, I’m just fucking with you. Go nuts on the shrimp and wash it down with chocolate milk for all I care.”

Phew. So, why?

“Because you’re a fucking moron, and you constantly act against your self-interest.”

What about the hurricane?

“The hurricane that I provided you with shelter from?”

Yeah.

“Uh-huh. And besides, I didn’t send the hurricane. I spun the roulette wheel a few billion years ago and the ball lands where it wants. I don’t send weather at people. You’re thinking of Poseidon.”

Oh.

“Furthermore, if I was going to send a storm, it wouldn’t be named Irma. It would be something awesome.”

Like?

“Ronnie James Dio.”

That is a pretty awesome name.

“I truly don’t need your approval.”

Sorry. What about my computer?

“The one you took your eyes off in a crowd of strangers?”

Yes?

“Wait, you don’t have a computer? So what are you writing this on?”

Someone sent me their old one.

“Uh-huh. For free?”

Yeah.

“Did they, in fact, eat the shipping?”

They did.

“Overnighted the sucker across an entire continent just so you could write your little stories?”

Yeah.

“Wanna shut the fuck up?”

I should, but I don’t want to.

“There you go, kid. Everything bad that’s ever happened to you–fucking EVER–has been your own fault. I’ve been looking out for you. Sometimes I look like family members; sometimes I look like strangers on the internet. Hell, sometimes I look like cops who didn’t want to be bothered with paperwork. You ought to be thanking me, but instead you whine and cast blame. You remember the story of Job?”

Yes.

“Well, you didn’t fucking understand it, did you?”

God, in all honesty, You don’t come off too well in that story.

“Huh. Really? Watch out for the lightning.”

What light–

SHWAKATHOOM!

–ningJESUS!

“Yes?”

“He wasn’t talking to you, dumbass!”

“Don’t call me dumbass, Dad!”

“Did you take the garbage out?”

“I SAID I’D DO IT!”

DOOR SLAMMING NOISE

Kids, huh?

“I tell ya. Just hangs around the house all day.”

That’s rough.

“You have no idea how many job interviews I’ve gotten for Him. I think He gave up somewhere along the way.”

I can relate.

“Course you can. You’re a whiny little momma’s boy like He is. Now, um, ahem.”

“GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.”

Yes, sir.

“Last fucking warning.”

Yes, sir.

“Or I’ll give you a reason to ask ‘Why me?'”

Yes, sir.

“I pulled your ass out of the fire on several occasions this week. That’s over. From now on, I’m only helping you if you help yourself.”

Yes, sir.

“Now fuck off.”

Yes, sir.

God?

“Whaaaaaat?”

One more question.

“Getting on my last nerve, kid.”

Quick one.

“Go.”

Can I see Your face?

“Sure.”

Huh.

“Surprised?”

Not really, no.

“No one is.”

SHWAKATHOOM!

FUCK! What was that for!?

“Reminder. This is your last last chance, asshole.”

Yes, sir.

Bad news

Backpack with my computer got stolen. Posts will be light or not at all for a while. 

Bowling With The Homies

Hey, Holly Bowling. Whatcha doing?

“Me? You have to bother me?”

Phil yells at me, Bobby has too much crap in his sweatpants, and Jim James kinda scares me a little.

“What about Ross James?”

The whole James family scares me. Beardos.

“Great.”

So, how you doing? I see you brought your hat.

“Leave the hat alone.”

Does it have a road case?

“Please stop talking to me. I’m concentrating.”

What are you playing?

“Dark Star.”

It’s just a jam in D minor.

“Please don’t say–”

The saddest of all keys.

“–the saddest…you’re so original.”

How’s that all-girl jam band coming together?

“It’s not. I’m very happy with my career, and I don’t need advice from you. Holy shit, do I not need advice from you.”

Oh, no. You’re right. I give terrible advice. You need a manager.

“I have a–”

CELL PHONE NOISE

“Where is that coming from? Bobby’s sweatpants?”

He really does have a lot of junk in there.

CELL PHONE NOISE

“I left my phone backstage.”

Check your hat.

“Stop making fun of my hat.”

I’m celebrating it. Check under your hat.”

“Yup. Phone.”

Told you.”

“You’re rolling with Bowling.”

“Great phone greeting, Holl. Perfect.”

“I know this rasp.”

“Holly, it’s Benjy Eisen in a chipmunk costume.”

“Where’d you get a chipmunk costume?”

“Stole it from Brent.”

“Why are you in a chipmunk costume?”

“Don’t worry about the chipmunk costume. This is not about the chipmunk costume. You’d look great in a chipmunk costume.”

“What do you want, Benjy?”

“I wanna take your career to the next level.”

“No, thank you.”

“Listen to my idea first.”

“What?”

“Jam-themed holiday album.”

“No.”

“It’s called Have A Holly, Holly Christmas.”

“Nooooooo.”

“What if I told you I could get you a sponsor?”

“A sponsor?”

“Absolutely. How do you feel about wearing a chipmunk costume onstage?”

“I’m hanging up.”

“Is Billy there?”

DIAL TONE NOISE EVEN THOUGH PHONES DO NOT DO THAT ANY MORE

“Can you leave me out of your little make-em-ups, please?”

I promise nothing, Holly Bowling.

“You suck.”

Do you consider your last name to be more of a gerund or a participle?

Holly?

Holly?

“HEY!”

Oh, hi, Phil.

“Fuck off!”

Your hair looks great.

“I know. Fuck off.”

Okay.

Fuck You, Donny

I don’t say it enough. Fuck you, Donny; you’re a monkey’s cunt-hair and when that big, greasy heart of yours goes, I’ll whistle Dixie.

Fuck your demented blabbering and your 200-word vocabulary and your mouth that reminds me of a dead dog’s asshole.

Fuck your hobbled conscience–if it ever learned to walk in the first place–and your pathetic need for your father’s love.

Fuck your thin, orange skin.

Fuck your racism and all your little toads who just ask questions–But how exactly is he racist?–and your winks and whistles.

Fuck you for not reading. Do you even have a favorite band, you soulless cocksucker?

Fuck you for your incompetence. Shit, Dubya was a dunce, but he managed to fuck the world up real good; you can’t even do that.

Fuck you for making me nostalgic for Dubya.

Fuck your blithe know-nothingism, your historical glissandi, your “you’ll see in two weeks” bullshit.

Fuck you for thinking we’re stupid enough to ever believe you.

Fuck you for sitting your fat ass where Teddy Roosevelt wrote and thought and led.

Fuck your golf clubs, and fuck golf in general.

Fuck you on behalf of the Mexicans, the manatees, the homosexuals, and the hurricanes. And Harriet Tubman; fuck you on behalf of Harriet Tubman, Donny. And the Christ, too, for tho He is surely infinite and therefore you are of the Christ, if the Christ is infinite, then He must also be a complete asshole in need of a stomping.

Fuck you for embarrassing me, you ape made of shit.

Fuck you for embarrassing America, whom you do not love, just use as a whore.

Fuck you, Donny.

And God fuck us all, everyone.

Notes From The Wayside

Alabam’ don’t give a damn.

And neither does Cupertino. Let no hurricane put its chocks in forward progress, no. The new Apple X-Gonna-Take-It-From-Ya featuring SUPEREYES technology was announced today: O, happy day, Enthusiasts. No headphone jack or TouchHump® tech for this one, just a proprietary IV stick that collects your DNA straight from your brachiocephalic and unlocks the new OS, which is laden with features you’ve never imagined, or wanted, or will ever use.

The emojis fucking move, man.

Apple promises that your DNA will remain secret right up until the second their lobbyists get Congress to make it legal to sell.

Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

And if you can’t trust Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, then who can you trust? I think that sentiment is in the Bible, too, but the Bible has absolutely no guitar solos, and is therefore untrustworthy. (There’s a horn player who can really blow in one of the stories, but fuck jazz.)

No electricity means no air conditioning and no refrigeration. The food has already rotted and soon the walls and carpeting will, too; it’s as if humans weren’t supposed to live here. We won’t soon, no matter if the power comes back on or not. The traffic lights are randomly working–two on and then one off and then three on and two off–and so I creep through the intersections while every shithead around me plays on Facebook and speeds past me.

Everything is not abnormal, though: the cops still have black kids handcuffed and sitting on the curb on the Main Drag. Nice of them to keep up appearances. I’m still getting calls offering to reduce the fees on my credit cards.

“Which card?” I ask.

“Whichever,” they respond.

I got a pocketful of quarters
And I’m heading to the arcade.

The shutters have been drawn back, mostly. There are several kinds:

  • Rolldowns, for the businesses.
  • Sliders for the rich folks that meet in the middle of the window and lock KAHCHUMP with just a flick of the wrist.
  • Aluminum slats that store in the bedroom closets of poor folks.

My mother has sliders. I have slats. She has power. I do not. I am sitting in a bar called Elmo’s There are white women in tube tops and black women in their daytime wigs. One of those new-fashioned jukeboxes that look like massive smart phones and cost a buck for two songs. No matter where you sit, you can watch ex-jocks discuss the Broncos’ win. Two Golden Tee machines with the trackballs that go SHWISH.

Pac-Man, too.

To my left is an art school girl with a tattoo of a rose on her thigh. It is half-colored in; she is saving up to finish it. She has a sketchbook and a bottle of Beck’s, and she is practicing drawing eyeballs. I am the only in the room wearing his baseball cap the proper way; everyone else has theirs on backwards.

Linkin Park? Avenged Sevenfold? Hoobastank? Jesus, are they playing Hoobastank? They are playing the music you would expect a bar in Florida to be playing at 3:45 in the afternoon. I have my earbuds halfway into my brain and 10/19/73 blaring.

When the waitress wipes down the table, I can see down her tank top. She brings me a Heineken and asks me if everything’s all right.

I take my earbuds out to be polite.

“Ehhhh,” I say.

She laughs as though I had told a joke.

I think about hitting on the art school girl. My week’s ruined, why not hers?

Treat me like a fool…

Florida Power & Light keeps texting me.

“Avoid downed power lines, especially the ones jerking around and spitting sparks.”

“Flood water is not potable.”

“Don’t run generators indoors.”

I’m beginning to think Florida Power & Light has a low opinion of my intelligence.

I do not sniff the coke,
I only smoke the sensemilla.

There may be no easier game than “Spot the coke dealer” in a Florida bar. He’s chewing on a swizzle stick and has his hat on backwards and looks like Justin Timberlake.

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.

You can still smoke in bars in Florida because of course you can still smoke in bars in Florida. This is the kind of place where the waitress brings you your drinks with a butt dangling from their mouth.

Gabba gabba
We accept you
We accept you
One of us.

I have turned my hat around backwards, ordered chicken wings, pre-ordered my iPhone X-Gonne-Take-It-From-Ya, removed my trousers and put on shorts, tongue-kissed the downed power lines. I am Florida Man, yes I am, and me and the gators are gonna figure out this four-way stop sign and blast Nickelback until the jewels fall out of our assholes.

I am assuming alligators have assholes.

The James Gang

“I’d like you to meet my son.”

Not your son, Bobby.

“We’ve got the same beard.”

You don’t.

“Well, he’s already in the will, so it’s a moot point now. What, uh, is his name?”

Jim James.

“Nah.”

Swear.

“If I told you my name was Bobby Roberts, what would you say?”

Fake news.

“There you go. Have you, uh, met my nipple?”

I haven’t.

“Brought the little guy out with me today. He gets all cooped up sometimes.”

Sure

“Besides, I wanted my nipple to meet my son.”

Right.

Phony Shark

“Duh-nuh.”

Stop that.

“DUH-NUH.”

Knock it off, Hurricane Shark.

“DUH-NUH DUH-NUH DADDLE-ODDLE-AHHHHH!”

You done?

“I’m eating up all the childrens.”

Fuck you for making me say this, but you are fake news.

“Noooooooo.”

Yes. You were photoshopped, like, a dozen years ago.

“Narrative.”

What?

“You’re pushing your biased narrative and putting people in danger.”

No one’s in danger because you don’t exist, Hurricane Shark.

“If I don’t exist, then why is my name capitalized? Checkmate.”

Not a checkmate. You are not real. There are no sharks on the Florida Turnpike.

“You’re right.”

Thank you.

“I’m on the Sawgrass Parkway.”

You are not. You are in the ocean like the rest of the sharks.

“Oh, keep us in our ghetto, huh? We’re fine in the ocean, but not living next to you?”

Yes.

“Wow. You hear that Jabby?”

Jabby?

“You talking shit?”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. I am not dealing with any fake sharks today. It’s September 11th and I have no power.

“That’s right, bitch. Sharks got the power now.”

I meant electricity.

“Don’t care what you meant. Me and Hurricane Shark gonna eat you.”

You won’t. Neither of you exist.

“You’re worse than PewDiePie.”

I’m not.

“Lefty!”

Oh, no.

“I’ll fuck you up, fucker.”

Goddammit, I am not in the mood for this right now.

“Have you talked to Katy lately? I got a call from an unlisted number and I think it was her.”

It wasn’t. She’s got more important things to deal with right now.

“What could be more important than me?”

Her single tanked.

“Shark tank?”

We’re done here.

You Find That Your Brothers And Sisters Have Gone

Tiff Garcia passed away today at the age of 79. Condolences to the Garcia family.

A Terrible Poem About The Eleventh

If I were blind
Or stupid as hell
Maybe one of those goldfish
–the mythical ones,
the ones with the Ferrari-fast memories–
I’d think that nothing had happened.

But I have eyes
And I take notes
–copious motherfuckers–
So it’s time to sweep up.

An Afternoon Date In Little Aleppo

Relationships have firsts. First date, first kiss, first fuck, first fight. Anniversaries for everything when you’re conducting a relationship. First gift, that’s a sweet one; first black eye, that’s not. Penny Arrabbiata had a guy buy her a ring once, diamonds and everything, but she didn’t want it and she let him down easy. Had another guy pop her in the jaw once, which she also did not want, and she smiled and apologized and calmed him down and fucked him until he slept, then she slammed a chair into his face, breaking his nose, both occipital bones, his left zygomatic, and concussing him to the point of insensation. Then she took a shit on his chest and left his dorm room. Luckily, this was the sixties and DNA testing did not exist yet, so she was not linked to the assault.

“That’s a delightful story.”

“Isn’t it?”

“I’ll bet you tell that to all the boys.”

“I do. Surprised I haven’t told you yet.”

“Runny?”

“Pardon?”

“The shit.”

“Oh. No, coiled and corn-speckled.”

Mr Venable laughed HA! like he was sneezing. First time for everything in a relationship, Penny Arrabbiata thought. First time for a kiss and for a fuck and for a fight and, if you were dating someone who owned a magical bookstore, first time for a bookworm uprising. She had fenced a bit at prep school, but she had never wielded a samurai sword before. It was in its scabbard hanging off her shoulder like a deadly purse. She had been waving it around while she walked until she nearly sliced Mr. Venable’s arm off.

“Dammit, woman!”

“Ooh, sorry.”

“I’m bleeding.”

“Just a little.”

“‘Just a little?’ A drop is too much. I prefer my blood inside me. And look at my shirt.”

“I’d prefer not to.”

It was 1969, and Mr. Venable was dressed like it. It did not suit him.

“Shirts don’t grow on trees, you know.”

“Money does. I’ll buy you a new one. I barely touched you, you know.”

They were in the second sub-basement to the left.

“Magical bookstore. Magical sword.”

“Mitsubishi?”

“Masamune.”

“We should get sushi after this.”

“Should we survive, there shall be sushi. Sheathe the sword.”

She did.

The overhead lights swayed though there was no wind at all. The air was stuffy and smelled like paper and punctuation. Penny had her boots on; they clomped on the maple planks that made up the floors of the bookstore with no title. The rows of shelves were not infinite, but just barely. Infinitesque, maybe. They were both wearing corduroy pants.

CHIKKA CHIKKA CHIKKA

“There!” he cried, and ran towards the sound of the bookworms; Penny followed. They made it to the corner of the space, where shelves junctioned off into each other and mingled: the Chemistry section abutted Politics and spawned Chemical Warfare. She had her hand on her sword, felt ridiculous, dropped her hand, CHIKKA CHIKKA, put her hand back on her sword. Mr. Venable sniffed around.

“I can smell them.”

Penny breathed in through her nose, deeply.

“What do they smell like?”

“Plagiarism.”

“Fuckers.”

He had a longsword. Sun-shaped pommel at the end of the white hilt. Simple cross-guard made from the same steel as the blade. There was writing down the edges of the blade in an abandoned language. If anyone could translate it, they would know it read “Cast me away that I might judge this bloody city,” but nobody could.

“Do you smell a lake?”

“It’s the sword.”

“Why does your sword–”

“Shh!”

Both of them crouched down for no reason. Cocked their heads so their ears could do their best. They squinted their eyes, too. Humans think that squinting their eyes makes them hear better. (This is the corollary to turning down the car radio when you’re looking for a street sign.) Elephants can hear infrasonics through their feet, and foxes can hear a mouse’s heartbeat underground at a thousand paces, but humans can hear well enough. Mostly. So they cocked their heads and strained to hear.

chikka chikka chikka

Mr. Venable pointed–there–and stalked in the direction of his finger. Penny followed. She did not want to admit how much fun she was having; she had been raised coolly. Underplay it, dear. Emotions are so ethnic. Still, she smiled and fingered her katana. Crept forward with glee and bloodthirst but then she whispered,

“Wait.”

Penny dropped to her knees and put her ear against the wooden floor. Looked up at Mr. Venable. Nodded. He nodded back. She nodded back at his nodding. He nodded in return, and she said,

“Are we just gonna nod at each other?”

“We were trapped in a death spiral there. We could have perished. Thank you for pulling us out.”

She stood up and kissed him. Penny was used to men kissing her, but she kissed him and Mr. Venable kissed her back. And then they drew their swords.

“Once more into the breach?”

“Fuck, yeah.”

Some sub-basements were accessible via elevator, and others could only be gotten to with stairs. A few were self-encompassing and had no exits or entrances. One sub-basement wandered up and down the Main Drag and popped up in movie theaters and hair salons whenever it felt like it. Another was a contender for the welterweight belt in Malaysia.

The stairs creaked.

CHIKKA CHIKKA CHIKKA

They were in the History section; American History, more specifically. The official version and otherwise. Respectable books the weight of doorstops and pamphlets that would flutter away in the breeze.

“Can you smell them?”

“Plagiarism.”

“Little bastards.”

“The last frontier,” Mr. Venable said.

“What?”

“The last American frontier. Do you know what it was?”

Penny Arrabbiata looked left and right for monsters.

“What?”

“Just making conversation.”

“The last frontier? I don’t know. California, I’d suppose.”

“No.”

“Hawaii. Alaska. One of them.”

“Neither. The West was declared closed in 1897.”

“By who?”

“Some writer.”

“Ah.”

“Florida. Both the first and last settled place in America. You’ll recall St. Augustine.”

“Only as an answer to a trivia question.”

“More recognition than most towns get. Established in 1565.”

“Ancient.”

“For America, yes.”

There was a tortoiseshell cat atop one of the shelves to their right. She was watching for mice and had no interest in the history lesson. She had no name.

“Everything below the panhandle was unknown, at least to the white man, until 1900. A man named Frederick Willoughby mapped the Everglades in a canoe.”

“Why?”

“Someone paid him.”

“Ah.”

“A swamp. From Orlando down to the Keys. Simply swamp. Nothing to build on and nowhere to live. No mines at all. Nothing but useless land in the shape of a phallus.”

“A dickswamp.”

“Indeed. And white men could not live in a dickswamp. But white men could not resist seaside property. And there was never any winter in Florida, not a tiny little bit.”

“Your story is coming to a moral, I feel.”

“Indeed. In 1900, there were 300 white people living in Miami. Today, it is the third most populous state.”

Mr. Venable spun around on his heel, careful not to slice Penny’s face off with his sword, and gathered her in an arm and kissed her.

“And do you know why?”

“You’re the weirdest romantic.”

He kissed her again.

“And do you know why?”

“No, why?”

“The Army Corps of Engineers.”

She kissed him back.

“You’re getting me weirdly hot.”

“They dredged massive canals throughout the entire peninsula. The water drains into them, and back into the ocean. It was a project bigger than Rural Electrification or the Hoover Dam. You can turn a swamp into a neighborhood if you have enough money. The canals are deeper than the groundwater, and so everything flows into them and out. Away from the homes, and away from the retirees. Away from those tired of winter, and there is never any winter in Florida, not even a little bit.”

“What could go wrong with living where you shouldn’t?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Penny Arrabbiata’s hair was long and brown, and Mr. Venable needed a trim. Neither of them exercised, and they grasped each other by the waist and kissed.

“Marry me.”

“Okay.”

CHIKKA CHIKKA CHIKKA the bookworms were making a frontal assault. Mr. Venable ran towards them with his longsword that he did not quite know how to use, and so did Penny Arrabbiata with her katana, and the two of them beat the monsters back, but they would return. There were always monsters in the bookstore with no title, which was on the Main Drag in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

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