Thoughts On The Dead

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

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Sweet And Bitter Fruit

Virginia, you slut.

I Say We Hear Him Out

I’m trying, Enthusiasts, I truly am. I’m trying to imagine who could be the other side in a dispute with Nazis where I’d be stymied to pick a side. Almost all of them are fictional. Let’s see…

The Khmer Rouge On one hand, I’m Jewish; on the other, I wear glasses. No matter who wins this one, I’m getting executed. This one’s a tie.

Soviets We did this already, and I think backing Uncle Joe was the way to go.

Zombies Trick question: you pretend to partner with the Nazis to kill all the zombies, then shoot all the Nazis. Zombies are morally superior to Nazis because they have no choice in the matter: zombies are driven by voodoo or magic or a virus or whatever; Nazis chose to be assholes. Also, there are no racist zombies. Zombie’ll eat anyone’s brains. (Would a Nazi zombie refuse to eat Jew brains? And if you dropped him in Tel Aviv, he’d starve to death?)

Werewolfs C’mon. Werewolfs are dangerous three nights out of the month. Nazis are always Nazis. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the elusive werenazi.

The Galactic Empire Listen, if you were anyone but an Alderaanian, you loved the Empire. Peace and order, plus a strong Imperial Credit. Going with the Empire.

Multiple Garbage Bags Full of Herpes Garbage bags stay in one place, but Nazis invade Poland. Winner: Garbage Bags Full of Herpes.

Mongol Horde People get the Mongol Horde wrong. They just wanted money and land. If you cooperated with them, your village would get their protection and you could keep your language and gods. The Nazis did not have that arrangement. Again, I must side against the Nazis.

Draculas Draculas can only harm you on average 12 hours a day; not so with Nazis. Point: Draculas.

Giant Spiders With Dicks For Fangs Fine, I would choose the Nazis over the dick-spiders. You got me.

In Which Both Sides Can Be Argued

Sorry if I haven’t been very funny the past few days.

Or ever.

Shut up, you. I go to write a little make-em-up, and then I remember: oh, right, Nazis. Gentiles do not know this, but all Jews are born with Spidey-Sense for the tenets of National Socialism. The hairs on our arms go up.

Could you call them goosestep-bumps?

You could, yes. But let’s try to focus on something entirely inconsequential and get our minds off the world. We shall now have an incredibly shallow debate: hear, hear OR here, here? (Thanks to Murray in the Comment Section for inspiring this distraction.)

On one hand, this is not even a question: the Oxford English Dictionary says that the phrase is “hear, hear” and it’s been in common usage since the 1600’s. On the other hand, the OED is an English dictionary, and I speak American.

Hear, hear is easily explainable. In agreeing with a speaker or a specific point made, one might yell “I hear that” or “I hear you” and just as “God be with you” got shortened to “goodbye” over the years, so did “hear, hear.”

But I always liked “here, here.” I always picture a coffee shop in Boston before the Revolution. Samuel Adams is giving a speech and Ethan Allen stands up and says, “This motherfucker here? This motherfucker here is my motherfucker here.” (Ethan Allen was notoriously foul-mouthed.) And then everyone poured out some hard cider for Crispus Attucks.

Are you getting to a point?

No. Not at all. Just trying to avoid thinking about Nazis.

This motherfucker here.

What I’m talking about.

Charlottesville: An FAQ

What the fuck just happened?

Nazis started a riot in Virginia.

That sounds like a simplistic interpretation.

Necessarily so. Truth is so often obscured by detail. Many people have been obsessing about this detail and that today as a way of not mentioning the truth, which is that Nazis started a riot in Virginia.

You really shouldn’t go throwing that word around.

Virginia?

Nazis.

Nazis!? Where!?

Stop that.

They were either Nazis, or they all had the same cramp in their right arm. And, you know, the Nazi flags and tattoos and uniforms. Oh, and people wound up dead, which is very Nazi-like.

But they weren’t all Nazis.

Dude, did you just pull a #NOTALLNAZIS with me?

What I’m asking is: do they call themselves Nazis?

Who gives a fuck what they call themselves? NAMBLA called themselves “boy-lovers,” but the rest of us didn’t have to go along with them. Best to call a spade a spade, especially when that spade’s a Nazi. We must be as adamant in our language as they are slippery in theirs. All of this alt-right/white nationalist/ethnostatist/whatever the fuck is just there to obfuscate. This is an “if the jackboot fits” situation.

Okay, fine. Why were they in Charlottesville?

I told you: to start a riot. Same reason they get their speakers booked on ultra-liberal college campuses. They went there to cause trouble.

But they didn’t say that. What was the stated reason?

Ah. To defend a statue of Robert E. Lee.

What’s happening to the statue?

Being taken down.

Why?

The treason.

Again: glib. The Civil War was an important event in our history, and you can’t just throw away history.

Agreed. But you don’t have to erect a giant statue of a traitorous slaver in a public park. And again: Lee committed treason. There aren’t any statues of Quisling in fucking Oslo, are there? Besides, these guys aren’t real history buffs. They don’t care about the Civil War so much as the bit before it when it was okay to own black people.

So the Nazis came to defend a statue.

No. I can’t keep repeating myself. They came to start a riot.

Fine, but isn’t the best thing to do to take the high road? Maybe we should just ignore them.

We tried that last time. For, like, all of the 30’s.

How’d it work?

It didn’t. Turns out we should have strangled the baby in the cradle. Hitler even said so.

He did?

Sure. And, you know: you can trust Hitler.

Can we get back to Charlottesville?

I don’t want to go there. Place is full of Nazis.

Can’t some of the blame be put on the counter-protestors?

Sure. Same way the gunshot wound in the burglar can be blamed on the homeowner. These Nazi fucks went to someone else’s home and paraded around with their guns strapped to them while chanting about killing Jews.

And so the antifa have the right to resort to violence?

By “antifa,” do you mean “people opposed to Nazis?”

I suppose.

Okay.

No one should be assaulted for their beliefs.

No one was. They were assaulted because of their actions. They stood up with a group whose tenet is destruction and murder along racial lines. That’s an action.

But what about the First–

THE FIRST AMENDMENT APPLIES TO THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT!

You don’t have to yell.

Don’t be stupid and I won’t yell. The First Amendment was actually upheld in this debacle, as the Nazis were given a permit to march on public streets.

Why are they doing this?

The Nazis?

Yeah.

Because they’re human, so they’re monsters.

What about the people who went to protest them?

They went because they’re human, too.

Three people died.

They did.

Are more going to?

They will.

Why is this happening?

Donald Trump.

That’s a simplistic interpretation.

Truth is so often obscured by detail.

The Greatest Antifascists

Assholes create their own enemies. The hateful and combative will always find someone to blame and punish, and then–much like Ben Franklin’s frying fish–come up with reasons afterwards. Assholes are always forced into action by the people they set out to hurt; it’s a recurring theme. Anti-fascists were invented by fascists. Not just fascists, but Fascists. The first use of the word was by Mussolini’s band of bumblers: the Italian secret police were called the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell’Antifascismo. (For those of you who don’t speak Italian, then just look at the phrase again. Not that tough to figure out.)

Anti-fascist organizations became popular, and often brutally crushed, throughout Europe in the years between the Wars. Some took to the hills to fight guerilla battles against the government forces, harrying supply lines and sabotaging power and transport. The anti-fascists took up arms in Spain against Franco. The bells tolled in Catalonia. Hitler tried out a new idea in a city called Guernica.

America did not have much of an organized anti-fascism movement before the Second World War. There were the Bunds, and the American Nazi Party, and the Jewish street kids and mobsters would fight them.

But then the War started, and we learned quickly.

This is what an anti-fascist looks like:

That’s Rudy Tokiwa from K Company of the 442nd Regimental Combat Force. This picture was taken on July 15, 1944. The 442nd had just taken the Castelina Marittima.

Here are more anti-fascists:

These are the men of the Red Ball Express; they drove the deuce-and-a-half trucks that supplied and fed the American forces.

Here’s an anti-fascist named Norwood:

That man was born in North Carolina in 1918 and given the name Norwood Dorman. The statue behind him is a tribute to the Italian soldiers of World War One. Norwood’s pose is a comment on the cyclical nature of human bullshit.

For years, this photo was dated to December 7th. It was actually taken at a training exercise a few weeks prior. No matter: they’re aiming their hoses at fascism.

Did you know an anti-fascist was the last man to bat .400?

That’s Ted Williams, and he hated fascism so much that he learned to fly a plane so he could shoot at it from above. A few years later, Ted would reenlist so he could get back in a plane at shoot at Communism.

Some anti-fascists were hunky:

That nose is doing it for me.

And here are some more anti-fascists:

So when you hear “anti-fascist” used as an attempted pejorative, think of these men and women.

 

PS I didn’t want to be goofy, but I can’t help it:

“General Eisenhower?”

“What, General Jenkins?”

“Why does Patton get to wear whatever he wants?”

“Not this again.”

“It’s just not fair.”

“You’re absolutely right, Jenkins.”

“I am?”

“Yes. Go tell him to change.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“I thought so.”

A Note From A Village By A Lake

Why don’t you go back where you came from?

Toothy little fucks, the lot of you. Slums of Hackney got too full and you waltzed in here like you belonged. Like you could ever belong, as if you wouldn’t be spotted in a crowd every time. They told me in school the first of you came looking to practice your “religion,” but schools are just buildings full of lies. That “religion” of yours? Incompatible with civilized folks. Just look at your history and fuck off and take the Scots with you, Limey.

And the Irish. Seems like they’re everywhere nowadays, shoving their culture down your throat. “Wah, there’s no food. Wah, there’s no jobs.” Why don’t you stand up and fight for your country? Why is America responsible for your suffering? We can’t be the world’s babysitter.

The Germans, Jesus. Don’t get me started on the Germans. They infest neighborhoods and then there’s pretzels everywhere. And that fucking language of theirs that they insist on speaking in public where my children can hear it. Dutch, too. Dutch, German, who can tell the difference? Foreign is foreign.

The Swedes bring diseases, and the Finns have too many children. The Flemish steal.

So, why don’t you go back where you came from?

Who the fuck invited you, anyway?

Many Sides

One side: There is a wage gap in between men and women in this country.
Other side: Depends on how you look at the numbers.
Not a side: Women shouldn’t have the vote.

One side: Local de-industrialization and global economic trends have left vast swathes of the country underemployed.
Other side: The residents of those areas have, without fail, voted for their own problems.
Not a side: I’d like to stand in a park and yell “nigger” as loud as I can.

One side: Israel is under mortal threat from the countries surrounding it.
Other side: Israel is a human-rights nightmare that causes just as much chaos as anyone.
Not a side: The Holocaust didn’t happen, but I wish it did.

One side: Migrant workers should be legalized and given a pathway to citizenship if they so choose.
Other side: American jobs should be for Americans.
Not a side: Driving a car into a crowd.

Another Set Of Lists, One Noticeably Longer Than The Other

Who Has Basketball Head Talked Shit About?

  • Mexico.
  • Canada.
  • Australia.
  • Germany.
  • Great Britain.
  • NATO.
  • Disabled reporters.
  • Muslims.
  • Blacks.
  • Transgendered troops.
  • American POW’s.
  • Morning teevee anchors.
  • The press.
  • The leaders of his own political party.
  • His staff.
  • The FBI.
  • The CIA.
  • The state of New Hampshire.
  • Numerous comediennes.
  • The White House itself.

Who Has Basketball Head Not Talked Shit About?

  • Vladimir Putin.
  • Fucking Nazis.

A Medium-Sized List And Then A Very Short One

Things You May Be Neutral On

  • Sporting events.
  • Musical rivalries, i.e. Dead/Phish, Beatles/Stones, etc.
  • Best roller coaster.
  • Chinese food. (Some folks like spicy Szechuan, and others like savory Cantonese; equally acceptable positions.)
  • Prescriptivism v. Descriptivism.
  • Ending production and use of the penny.
  • Father John Misty.
  • Coffee or tea, even though the answer is coffee.

Things You May Not Be Neutral On

  • Fucking Nazis.

Check-In Time In Little Aleppo

The smoke alarms were sacred, untouchable, and entirely off-fucking-limits at the Hotel Synod. Everything else was negotiable. A man named Mellow West who liked room 323 once paid four months of back rent with a stolen piano. Francie Brush stabbed her boyfriend to death in 106, but the jury found her not guilty and she moved right back in. The other residents threw her a party with a cake. They used to listen to him beat her through the plaster walls. No one did anything at the time, but now they bought her a cake. Sex in the elevator would get you yelled at, and repelling from the roof to avoid paying rent would warrant more yelling, but if you touched the smoke alarms, then you were gone, because Frankie Teakettle would know if you’d touched them, because he personally inspected each one weekly.

A complete, but temporary, détente occurred during the detector check. Frankie Teakettle would not berate you for the rent, nor would he notice any obvious crimes. Perversions would be ignored, and so would messiness and stink. He would announce himself, unlock the door with his master-key, check the device that went BEEEEEEP to show its batteries were still good, exit without comment or eye contact, relock the door behind him. All of man’s happiness begins with his house not burning down, Frankie believed. And the Hotel Synod was the type of place prone to that sort of thing.

It was a candle-lighting clientele; it was a candle-forgetting clientele. Folks who stayed at the Synod smoked in bed, or they crawled under beds holding lit Zippos. Freebasing was popular.

Frankie Teakettle may or may not have owned the place. The lobby had glass doors that opened onto Clarke Street, and a threadbare green carpet. Art was crowded onto the walls, all from the hotel’s residents in lieu of rent. Some of the paintings were worth much more now than the rent had been, and some were worth nothing. Ratty yellow couch with plump buttons in the upholstery. The Christmas tree was fake, and left up all year but only turned on in December. The desk was made of oak, wide, and to the right of the doors. Frankie sat behind it, and behind him was a wall made up of cubbyholes that were full of letters and small packages and messages. Two elevators, the old kind where you pull the scissored door open and closed.

There was a dentist in 401, Doctor Horse, who engaged in an elaborate web of barter with the rest of the hotel. 401 was a large corner suite, and he had not left the hotel or used cash in twelve years. His office was in the living room: he had a chair and drill and lights and all that bullshit, and a junkie hygienist named Shirley Early who made extra money at night dominating men in the chair. Doctor Horse traded prescriptions for groceries and laundry, and cleanings for the rent. One time, he exchanged a root canal for a Rothko.

Rates were variable at the Hotel Synod. Painters with potential and drinking problems paid a little, slumming rich kids paid more. Movie stars would come up from Hollywood (a certain kind of movie star at least: the kind that mumbled and did not bathe) and they were charged double the rich kids’ price. Some of the rooms were a bed, a chair, a toilet without a shower; others wrapped around the corner of the building and had bathtubs. Long-timers and overnighters.

Johnny Mister liked Room 212. He was a Guitar Hero. He played for Little Aleppo’s own The Snug, and  he stayed at the Synod in Room 212 when he was not on the road; everyone hated him. The residents at the Synod did not instinctively loathe the rich. Some people just had the bad luck to be born into money, they figured. And they did not despise the poor or the broke, because most living at the hotel were poor or broke. But everyone hated the cheap, and Johnny Mister was cheap and so everyone hated him. He was a junkie who fainted around needles; he was always ripping off his neighbors. Smoking everyone’s cigarettes, and drinking their wine, and suddenly appearing when you’d ordered a pizza. Then he’d start trying to fuck your girlfriend (if you were a man) or you (if you were a woman or teenaged girl). Frankie Teakettle loved Johnny, though. His management paid his inflated rent six months in advance.

Room 109 no longer existed.

Boylan Burcke (pronounced burk-ee) had occupied 203 for years. The Beats all thanked him in their books, or fictionalized him, and the Hippie writers, too. Academics wrote theses on his poems, and the occasional article would call him a genius. When these articles came out, Boylan would take them to his dealers. Surely this kind of coverage, he would bullshit them, means a payday is around the corner. He had one slim collection to his name, The Hospitallers of the Downside.

Manky and overdrawn, these wobbling saviors!
These scarecrows on the sidewalk in afternoon’s lie!
Fortunata
–You bitch–
I fucked you in a diner bathroom
It was in Omaha
Your creamy asshole winked at me

It was about 120 pages of that sort of thing.

Boylan Burcke had a necktie he claimed belonged to Gerald Ford. It was burgundy with thin yellow stripes running diagonally across its face, and he said that President Ford’s son Jack had given it to him. If Boylan liked you, he would tie you off with it. If he didn’t like you, he would tie you off with it and swipe your dope.

There was always dope at the Hotel Synod. Waves of it. White that you mixed with water, and brown that you mixed with lemon juice. Lucy Twigg had the dope. She lived in 104, which was in the back and had a door that led out to the alley, and sat at a massive desk in her room with an apothecary’s cabinet behind her filled with pills and powders and liquids and occasionally suppositories. Lucy sat at her desk all day with huge rock and roll speakers pointed at her playing her latest obsession. She was small enough so that her feet did not hit the floor when she sat in her chair, but the shotgun under her desk was quite large, and so was the guy who stood behind her named Klaxon.

The door to Room 201 was always open, and lentils cooked all day and night. There was bread, too, and everyone was welcome except for Frankie Teakettle, who was not permitted in the room by court order. The rotating cast of robed residents called themselves the Holy Light Family and called Room 201 their ashram; they had never paid a dime in rent. Immediately after moving in, they sued the Synod claiming that charging them rent would be akin to taxation. Most will realize this argument as “not even terrible,” but the judge was drunk and found for the plaintiffs because she thought it was funny. The case was appealed, obviously, but Frankie quickly realized he was paying more to his lawyers than the room was worth, and so he dropped the case. He did get fucked up a couple times and go up there looking to beat some ass, though, and hence the restraining order.

In the morning, the pipes and the drunks would shake in just the same way. The sign by the elevator said No Overnight Guests.

Credit cards cutting lines on mirrors sound like CHAK CHAK CHAK shlip shlip CHAK CHAK CHAK and then shhhNORF and another sound, a human sound from a coated throat sticky with speed and mucus. Longtime residents could recognize each other by that sound, the little exhalation after a rail, sometimes it was ka-HAA and others went BROKH-bukh. Johnny Mister said “Rock and Roll” every time. You could tell the rich kids from the poets by what they snorted their coke with. The rich kids used hundreds. If the poets had a hundred, then they would have spent it on coke, so they use cut-up straws from the taco joint.

Slowest way to get high is via your stomach. Lot of absorption to do, gotta get through the liver’s five-hole. Your asshole is quicker: no matter what you shove up your ass, you’re going to feel it toot sweet. Faster than that is inhalation or insufflation, which the common folks call smoking or sniffing.

But nothing beats the needle.

Teachers and preachers don’t know this, but nurses and junkies do: there is more to the needle than the movies show. It is versatile, and it is a triune god like the Christ. Subcutaneous injections are used by diabetics to administer their insulin into the fat directly under the skin; intramuscular injections are for flu shots and antibiotics; intravenous injections are a sharp lever that opens the inside of your body up to the outside world just like your mother explicitly told you not to do. If you were going to use needles outside a hospital, then you needed to know this. Cocaine could be skin popped but not shot into the muscle. Some opiates could be delivered by all three methods, but some could not, and people had lost arms over the difference. Amphetamine should not be injected into either fat or muscle; it will abscess in both.

Speed is for the mainline, and Frankie Teakettle had no problem with that. It was his blood-brain barrier, and he’d cross it if he wanted to. His body was a free country, he thought, and so be it if its sovereignty be invaded. The problem some run into when injecting speed is the ratio. Thicker your paste in the cylinder, the harder the rush is going to hit and you’ll have a high like a black-body curve. This leads to the chasing of dragons. (People misunderstand that phrase, Frankie thought. Wasn’t that the dragon was fast and could fly away; it was that it would kill you if you caught it.) Three points in one milliliter. Nice and smooth. Keeps a man going on the long day’s journey into the next day. It was sustainable if you weren’t a pig. New point every time. Saline solution, not tap water. Swab the skin with disinfectant every time. Rotate sites. Don’t tell anyone where you keep your stash.

Time would win the war, but the battle could be yours. It would always be a Pyrrhic victory, but you could take the day if you were prepared to pay the price. Or if you did not know there was a price to be paid. Fatalism and stupidity are kissing cousins.

Frankie Teakettle sat behind the desk and vibrated like he had for years.

The Porters could handle it. The hotel’s porters had unionized long ago, and one of their demands was the capitalization of their title, so now they were Porters; they could handle it. The Porters picked up laundry and made introductions, and they chased off the Taft impersonators before they could hurl themselves into the bathtubs. They delivered drugs, for a price; pizza, for a slice. They were Montagnards and all of them answered to the name McGeorge. They had black uniforms with gold piping. Some of the guests fucked the Porters, and some got fucked by them, and others just tipped. No one knew exactly how many there were.

The doors opened outward onto Clarke Street, and the Porters would take your luggage if you had any. Many didn’t. There was a bed for you, though the room surrounding that bed could not be vouched for. The thin runners on the hallways floor were fraying and torn, and so was Frankie Teakettle at the front desk, but they would hold up. You could put off tomorrow, at least for today at the Hotel Synod, which is in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

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