You: i crack myself up
You: hi seriously though
Stranger: pole or hole!
You: whaaaat? whoa
You: what in the world
You: could that even mean?
You: oh wait i get it
You: but theres no question mark!
You: im sorry
Stranger: kw pole or hole?
You: kilowatt pole or hole?
You: what is that?
You: is that a gang sign?
You: kw, what is that? korean wiggas?
Stranger: it means that u have dick thats a pole an
Stranger: an if u r female thats a hole!
You: really though brava!
Stranger: so u pole or a sexy hole
Stranger: thank u!
Stranger: ok its ok know!
You: i mean wow
You: pole or hole, wow
You: dude remember when you said that funny thing?
You: Stranger: Hello
You: You: You: hi
You: are you kinda old and wise to talk to?
Stranger: im wise but not all that old
You: ok ok
You: an open minded person?
You: alright then
You: brothersister in humanity
You: i feel the omegle may not be an infinite feedback loop of psychic trauma
You: im gonna post my old conversation into this one
You: You: You: You: hi
Stranger: gay male here
You: im a female :/
You: with big boobies
Stranger: im gay
You: i know!
Stranger: i got big boobies 2
Stranger: ikr sooooooooooo coooooooooollllllll
You: is that korean slang?
You: are you flashing gang signs?
You: damn i saw doh!
You: uh oh
You: hook me up with your straight brother
Stranger: he is mine
You: he dint
Stranger: my bro
Stranger: not urs
You: im uh
You: posting my last conversation.
You: its not something im proud of
Stranger: lol ;d
Stranger: u female, yes?
You: ya sure. with big old boobies
Stranger: how old r u?
You: quarter century
You: whats that the gold aniversary? copper?
You: are you flashing gang signs? what are those?
You: uh sorry
You: i regurgitated
You: this last conversation
You: into this one
You: sorry i should have said “that” last conversation
Stranger: can I read it one second
You: take 20
Stranger: lol what’s all that about
You: those are actually 2 different conversations
You: now we are on #3
You: think of this like return of the jedi
You: read it and analyse it
Stranger: What is it
You: i dont really know…
You: what really is it? like it as a thing? what is that?
You: im confused now
You: but fear not, ever lucid
Stranger: help you ?
You: as fast a typist as a thinker
Stranger: what ?
You: wait what cant you understand?
Stranger: > ?
Stranger: what ?
You: give it a good old fashion rakin’!
You: deeper down the rabbit hole
You: this must be the uhm, 5th circle! where narcissists go!
Stranger: Lol wat
Stranger: Im 43
You: watt. a unit for measuring power. 1 joule per second=1W
You: =no definition
Stranger: ( ====?
You: is that supposed to be a penis?
You: are you flashing gang signs?
Stranger: u liked it!lol dont u!
You: i do like it. i love it
You: into the blob you are sucked!
You: whats that? wht?
You: is that a gang sign?
Stranger: no no!
Stranger: so ur a dude then!
You: im not only a dude
You: im a very dude’ly dude
Stranger: but dont use it!its my signature move!
You: doodelly dood
You: dude bro
You: thats what im talking about
You: some real dudely dude time
For my next story, I’ve decided to give my character some kind of deadline, maybe even a fatal one, a deathline. I don’t know much about them yet, I’m pretty sure they are a boy, and that their name starts with the letter K. I don’t know why K, I don’t like the name Kyle, or Ken, or Kevin. I wish there were fancier K names but instead I’m going to have to make one up/glean one. “Kickabod”
Poor Kickabod was born with a bomb in his belly. As he grew, so did the bomb. The bomb is made of heavy metals, and gunpowder, and watermelon seeds and chewing gum. All of those things his Momma told him not to swallow. “Get that gunpowder out of your mouth!” she would cry, pinching his mouth open and reaching in with her fingers.
When Kickabod was a young boy he would run away from home for weeks at a time. His home wasn’t abusive or anything, they had plenty of food and enough towels for everybody. It was just that when he was home he wasn’t free to do what he loved most. His parents were doctors you see, and they were very concerned about his gastrobombitosis. Every few days his father, Dr. Crumpinsteam, would hoist Kickabod up onto his knee, and he would use his stethoscope and one of those reflex-testing rubber hammers to bonk and bang at Kickabod’s protruding gut. This annoyed Kickabod so much that he grew to hate his father, and whenever he smelled the smell of rubber gloves or jalapeno potato chips (his father’s favorite) he would wretch and grow very sour. These check-ups caused Kickabod much dismay. He knew that he was a special boy, a medical anomaly, and that his parents had been keeping a journal in preparation for a book, about raising a bomb-boy. Whenever he would bring home an F on a math test, or whenever he would refuse to eat his Company Carrots, his mother and father would pull out their notebooks and begin questioning.
“What is it about math you find particularly hard?” his father would ask.
“Is the reason that you’re failing the fact that you may die very soon?” queried his mother.
He couldn’t stand these interviews. He was 15 now, almost a grown up. He knew he wouldn’t need his parents for much longer.
The only thing that kept him going in this town was The Sharks, his street hockey team. Every weekend, he would cruise across Flatlandia, north to south, swinging his stick from the banana seat of his blue beach cruiser, bashing at trash in the road. In Crossword Puzzle Park he would meet his mates, 6 of the baddest, maddest, plaidest punks the whole county had to offer. There was TimTim, son of the town butcher, a stocky 14 year old who arm-wrestled for quarters down by the shipyard. There was Inky, not yet 16 and already completely covered in tattoos. Spitwad, who could nail a pigeon in the head with a loogie from 30 yards distance. Goyem, a Hasidic jew from Israel who sold all varieties of hallucinogenic drugs. Munchy, the goalie, hugely fat, bald at 15, hilariously funny, and flamingly homosexual. And lastly there was Xenia, the undisputed captain of the team, calm and collected, intellectual, she wrote the famous Sharks playbook, and had a slapshot that could break a ball into forty pieces and score forty points. She had everyone’s hearts in her duffle, but she only loved one boy, our poor doomed Kickabod.
“Hey Bloopface!” shouted Inky to Kickabod on this particular Saturday, as our poor hero rounded the corner from 33 down to 14 across.
“How’s your tummy tweating you BloopyBloo?”
“Clamp you, Oyster breathe”, said Kickabod, the locally recognized master of insults. “My Tummy treats me better than your mom treats the mailman.”
A collective “oooooooo” went up from the gathered kids, which quickly faded to laughter, light laughter that hurts nobody, everyone wants to get to the game as quickly as possible.
“OK scruffians, get your skates on!” yelled Xenia. A couple of boys from across town had arrived and had already set up the goals and drawn the middle circle with chalk.
“Who are these llama lords anyway?” asked Kickabod.
“They’re the Halfies,” said Spitwad, hocking a chunk out over his shoulder in distaste. “They just beat the Roundabout Racecars last week. Gave lil’ Camper a black eye with some dirty high sticking.”
“Ya, they’re a new team, we gotta show ‘em who runs this ghetto,” said TimTim.
“Rally boys! Let’s go! Let’s go!” shouted Xenia.
The Sharks got in their positions, Xenia in the middle for the face-off. Kickabod paired off with a Halfie twice his size, a big mean looking kid with dark eyes and hair. The tension mounted as a legless boy in an old rusty wheelchair scooted out to the circle carrying the tennis ball they used as a puck.
“C’mon Archie!” yelled somebody, “we ain’t all handicapped ya know!”
“Jar it, Horsemeat!” Archie shouted back, intentionally slowing his roll. He reached the center circle and dropped the ball with no hesitation, quickly about-facing and scooting off as fast as a spider in a blanket. The game was on.
Before the Halfie’s captain knew what had happened, Xenia had slipped the ball between his legs and took off. The Sharks were mobile now, taking up key positions and shooting off lightning fast passes. The Halfies stood mostly bewildered, unable to get a handle on the freaky, laughing kids and their razor sharp team game. Archie rang his little silver bell when he saw the Halfie’s net shake with the first goal of the game.
“Nice shot Goyem!” shouted Xenia.
“Hey fellas! Don’t be so hard on them cuties! I want to see a little action back here!” yelled Munchy, his facemask in his hands and his stick on the ground, resigned.
“Ha! No mercy for the newbies!” laughed Inky, lifting his shirt and revealing those same words in Olde English across his abdominal muscles. The Sharks laughed, they do every time.
The game went on like that for another 30 minutes. The poor Halfies could hardly keep the ball for a play, let alone score a goal on the humungous and intimidating Munchy. Archie called the game, 19-0, Sharks win again.
“That wasn’t even a game,” said TimTim afterwards, “I may as well have stayed home and played dress up with my sister”.
“We don’t care what you do on with your sister,” said Inky, to much laughter. The Halfies had packed up and left in shame, arguing and fighting amongst themselves.
“We’ve outgrown these little scratch matches,” said Goyem, “I think it’s time we got a match with The Unicorns.”
“Ya, bloop those one-horned donkeys,” said TimTim.
Through all the fuss and backslapping, Xenia held herself aloof. She sat off on a decrepit park bench and tied up her heavy boots, peeking up every so often to catch a glimpse of Kickabod, skating in backwards circles and laughing with the boys. She loved the way he skated, so fluidly. He moved his arms around in wild circles as if he were on ice, doing a show for the judges. He never glanced toward her.
“Well Hampers, I’d better skeedattle, Mom’s makin frog legs tonight,” said Munchy, to a resounding “eeeeeeew!”
And like that, one by one, they took off on their skates and bicycles, leaving Xenia on the same park bench, drenched in sweat and squirts from her water bottle. But before Kickabod could round the corner onto Alphabet Street, he heard her voice cry out, “Hey Kicky! Wait up!”
“Uh… hey Xenia, what’s up?”
“I want to show you something, wanna boat with me to the canal real quick?” she asked excitedly.
“Uh, ya sure, what is it?”
“I don’t want to wreck it for you, you’ll just have to see for yourself.” And off they went, silently walking west towards the big empty canal that borders Flatlandia.
A few awkward minutes and a few triangular miles later, Xenia worked up the courage to gut spill on a topic that had been knotting her. She knew she could trust Kickabod, he had never been the type to judge. She needed to tell someone, and something about him told her that whatever she said wouldn’t faze him.
“So Kickabod,” she began, “I bet I know something you don’t know.”
“I bet you know tons of stuff I don’t know,” said Kickabod, uncomfortably.
“Haha, I’m not that much older than you lil’ guy.” She regretted calling him that, it was an awful thing she always said to her friends, she didn’t know why she wanted everyone to be lil’ guy. “Ya but actually, aren’t you curious?”
“Nah,” said Kickabod. Xenia clammed up, and they didn’t say much else until they came to the canal. It’s steep muddy walls rising out of a field across the street from them and some busted out crusty houses, no one home. The two of them walked out into the dry grass and a few grasshoppers scattered. The muddy incline had dried in the mid day sun, and the dust they knocked up as they climbed fell slowly in strange patterns, like food coloring in a bowl of water. They reached the top, and Kickabod looked behind them at their skates and his bike, stashed in a scrubby bunch of war-thistle.
“Check it out,” said Xenia, staring down the dry banks of the canal. Kickabod walked beside her, and immediately saw what it was she was talking about. Laying on it’s side in the mud, with no tracks or clues to it’s origin, was what looked like a retrofitted Winnebago. A colossus metal bus, wheels and all, covered in dust, but still shining rays into their eyes. Protruding high into the air was a long angular wing, with a jet engine. There was a decal on the underside of the wing, it said “Hope For The Future.”
“Sacred Scat!” shouted Kickabod, holding his hair in his hands and smiling with his mouth open. Xenia was smiling too, looking at him. “Cool huh?” was what she said.
“Wow! What the hat is that thing?”
“Well it looks like a plane right?” asked Xenia.
“That’s a pretty lame plane then!” said Kickabod. “It looks like somebody built that in metal shop!” It did in fact. Even from where they stood the welding looked shoddy, and the decal was sloppy, with poorly chosen colors: blue, orange, and pink.
“You wanna go in there?” asked Xenia, “I haven’t gone in yet.”
“Well ya I do, but how will we get back up? I don’t think I could climb that slope.”
“Hmm, well, why don’t you go down there, and I’ll go get my stick to hoist you back up,” Xenia was writing the plays.
Kickabod looked from her to the bus-plane. He squinted, trying to see through the tinted front window, and anxiously tapping on his belly through his thin t-shirt. “Ya, ok,” he said, and he returned the confident smile that Xenia was giving him.
With a leap, Kickabod was scooting and hopping down the bank, kicking up dust and rocks. At the bottom, he glanced up and saw that Xenia was gone from the ridge. The high afternoon sun blinded him, and he rubbed at his eyes for a moment, seeing colorful explosions in his eyelids. His eyes adjusted, and he walked into the shadow of the spaceship. He put out his hand, and touched the cool grey metal. He pushed at the deflated front tire, hanging in the air above his head. He looked around for a door, but the traditional bus entrance was smashed into the earth. He searched around and around, climbing onto the smashed right wing, bonking and stomping on the shell of the behemoth.
“You see anything!?” shouted Xenia, back where he left her, holding her stick and covering her eyes.
“Nah! I can’t find a way in!”
“There’s no emergency exit!? Like on the roof!?”
Doesn’t she think I would have tried that? He thought. Then he had another much more aweful thought. If I can’t get in, then whoever crashed this here can’t get out.
“I’m gonna break the window!” he yelled. “Throw me your stick!”
“I don’t know, I don’t think you should do that!” she gripped her stick, her most prized possession, and started to wish she hadn’t brought him out here. What was it she wanted bringing him here anyway? “Let’s go Kickabod! I don’t want to stay here anymore!”
“Listen Xenia! Whoever landed this thing might still be alive in there! We gotta at least check right!?”
A few silent moments go by, Kickabod staring up to where he imagined her face to be, hand over his eyes. Finally, wordlessly, her stick came spinning through the air, and he snagged it expertly, like a twirling baton.
He rounded back, and without hesitation, ran at the glinting windshield, stick cocked back, running like a Germanic warrior, Thor ready to strike with all the might of a bolt of lightning.
WHACK! The fissure that ran out from the impact rang a pitch that would terrify any ice fisher. Dust and tiny shards of tinted glass knocked loose and slid to the ground. Kickabod laughed out loud despite himself, and wound his war hammer back with the same tautness as the smile on his face. SMASH! He broke clear through the window, a hole that could fit his fist. WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! Slowly, he broke through the prison wall, and when the hole was large enough to step through, he kicked at the knives of glass bordering his portal, and shouted into the darkness.
“Is there anybody in there?” he managed to shout through his panting. He stepped into the hole and disappeared from Xenia’s sight.
“What do you see!?” she shouted, “Kickabod what’s in there!?” No answer, she looked behind her at the row of houses in the distance, across the field, on the road, she saw people, a group of kids walking their bikes.
As he moved passed the instruments in the cabin, nothing more unusual than a city bus it seemed, his eyes adjusted to the dark dusty glow inside. The inside of the ship was a mess, several suitcases had exploded and left the interior littered with red cloth, nothing but red. He picked up a piece and unfolded it, a long hooded robe. What the Hades? He thought. These are some wicked cultish threads.
He continued to dig through the refuse, tossing more and more red clothes behind him. He found a few odd objects, bottles of ink, books of world history, a Richard Nixon mask, a ukulele, a small silver key, a headlamp! With the push of a button he had illuminated the rest of the bus’ innards. Staring at the ceiling, he let out a long exaggerated whistle. There, in full color, was a large mural, or more like it, a comic strip. It seemed to read from the top right corner, spiraling counter-clockwise into the center. The first panel depicted a small village of oddly shaped huts, surrounded by an expansive desert scrubland. Walking amongst the huts were figures, clad in the scarlet cloaks. He followed the story panel to panel. Here the figures are seen around a fire, one is kneeling near the flame, the cloak covered all their faces but Kickabod got the sense that this was a meeting of dire importance. In the kneeling ones arms there was a bundle of red cloth, another figure, draping down, a dead curtain. The next picture was of an excavation, mounds of sand being hauled out of a large pit, in the center of which, a silver shining wingtip protruded from the dust.
CLACK. TING! TACK! The sound of rocks hitting the hull of the bus. It must be Xenia, he thought, I never seen her so nervous before. “Hold your Norsemen!” he yelled. “Kickabod! Th— —-fies! —- —t of th—-!” He could barely hear her. “Jesus grease us, what is it!?” he shouted, turning toward the broken window with the headlamp still clinging to his forehead.
He stepped out of the portal to the sound of shouting and laughter. Rocks were falling from the sky and crashing all around him. He looked up to where Xenia stood, but she stood no more. She had hit the deck, attempting to dodge the stones that someone was hurling at her. “Xenia!” she looked down at him and winced as a dirtclod exploded against the side of her head. Kickabod filled to spilling with rage and confusion. It must be those bass turds the Halfies, that’s what she was trying to tell me. “Get down here Xenia!” he shouted, dodging the downpour of rock and dirt. She looked at him and back at the attackers, undecided. “CLAMMIT XENIA!”
With that she had made up her mind, and down she came tumbling into the canal. He ran to her and helped her under the wing of the bus. The rocks stopped flying, and they heard a nasally voice call, “Thanks for the bike, baby!” Then the laughter trailed off, and there was no sound at all.
“Those phalluses, that union of carrion! That sewage! That silt! That slop!” he was so angry, he was stuck on S, and Xenia didn’t say a word until he had finally made it from “sludge” to “party of putrescence”. “Kickabod, we’re stuck down here.” It was true, even by stacking on top of one another, there was no way out. The banks of the canal were too steep, too high up. They lamented this as the sun finally left them and the rocketbago in shadow.
Kickabod and Xenia, after walking several hundred yards in each direction looking for a ladder, had come to the realization that they’d be spending the night in the ditch. “May as well get comfortable,” said Xenia. Kickabod was glad it was so dark, he felt himself blushing. “We should stay in the bus, it’s getting cold,” she said, and soon after they had stepped through the window they heard the patter of raindrops on the hull of the ship. The two of them, shivering, each picked up a red robe, and then another, they made a pile and reclined against the slanted floor and wall.
“This is so ludicrous,” said Xenia, “where could this thing have come from? Is it from another planet?”
“I don’t know, look at the drawings on the ceiling,” said Kickabod, acting disinterested. She took the headlamp from him and started sharing her thoughts as she read the glyphs.
“It’s all here! The story of this bus and the weird red robes! Look here, here’s them digging this thing up in the desert, heres them test flying it. So strange, in each panel there are more dead figures. Look Kickabod! They’re packing their things! Blast off! Looks like they’ve been around, in this panel they’re in a rainforest, in this one they’re on an island. Holy Bowly, Antarctica! I wonder how long they were flying this thing. Why would they come here? I guess that wasn’t their first choice obviously…..” She stopped, and got silent. The headlamp turned off.
“Kickabod…” she frightened him in the darkness, he jumped to hear her voice so close to him. “I need to tell you something now. I’ve been thinking about this, wanting to tell you, it’s about the Sharks.”
“What about em?” He started edging away, she followed.
“I have to leave the team Kicko. I’ve been recruited by the Unicorns.”
The only sound after that was the rain.
“Kickabod? Aren’t you gonna say something? Are you mad?”
“No, I uh. I guess that’s fine. The others might get cheeked though.”
“Dammit, you never seem to care about anything you know that? I could tell you I was dying, I could tell you I was in love with you, you wouldn’t care about any of it!”
“Geez Xenia, it’s not like that. I do care about stuff. I just can’t take anything to seriously, you know? My life isn’t exactly care free.”
Another rainy silence. He felt her hand on his, her other hand, hand sandwich. A faint ticking sound, tick. tick. tick. tick.. tick.. tick.. tick… tick…. tick… tick. She kissed him, missed him by a fraction. She kissed him again, nothing but net.
The search parties roaming the streets all crouched down and covered their heads. The explosion was felt all over flatlandia, satellite service was interrupted, peoples radios made crazy new songs. Kickabod’s parents looked at one another, dropped their flashlights, and collapsed sobbing into each others arms. The Sharks, a minute before speeding all around the city on their skates, fell to their kneepads and grieved as ash blended with rain and fell, black cruddy splotches painting everything. Their search was over, their friend had alerted them to his location, he had told them that he was everywhere now. The searchers picked themselves up and hurried towards the blast’s epicenter.
When they reached the Canal they found a smoldering pillar of fire reaching to the sky. Scraps of metal lay around the field, and they dug through them. Xenia, miraculously, had survived. They found her huddled inside what looked like a jet engine, stuffed with red cloth. She popped out like a pimento from an olive, stunned and quiet, speechless. The fire was soon put out by the rain, and the townsponges headed home, soaked inside and out.
A month passed before the Sharks got together again. Play was somber, they kept looking for that 7th piece, the perfect pass was missing, and they were totally, unequivocally bummed. The only cheer they got was from their new logo. Munchy had found it in an alley by his house. It was a scrap of metal with a picture on it, two sharks kissing on a red background.
The epic and awesome story of how I began to write again is as follows:
I wondered out loud to myself “what could possibly be more redundant, obsolete, and ridiculous than my own life? I know! Ill write a review of So by peter Gabriel, on cassette!” the layers of uselessness and wasted time peeled like a floppy steamed artichoke. I began to see myself as a bit of a writer god, creating whole universes of facebook friends, I decided to tour California reading poetry, im still waiting to. then I just took off, crazy days, long benders. Why do I even have these stupid cassettes? I decided to write a communique back to every musical artist represented in my small collection of tapes.
-So ,by Peter Gabriel
I thought I liked this song, “sledgehammer”. Im not so sure now. It was one of my favorite jams on the slurry that is easy listening hotel radio. Why is there seriously a minute in between every track on this album? Way to use the silence peter. The next song is called “don’t give up” and kate bush is being compressed into mush. She sings “don’t give up, cause you have friends, don’t give up, youre not the only one, don’t give up, no reason to be ashamed”. Peter Gabriel takes stands on shit like giving up. This song is actually tight “that voice again”, Manu Katche is the drummer and the beat is stealably rightous. Im sure that’s an overdubbed snare sound though. Side a complete, meh I gave it a chance.
-Krossed Out .by Kris Kross
“Cant stop the bum rush” is a marvel, a solid foundation for a whole generation of backward clothes wearing scamps who rap and rob people. The beat for the next song is all glass breaking and intimidating whooping sounds. “woop woop”, these kids were like what, 14, 15? Theyre stoned! Get these kids in an afterschool program. Where I can SCHOOLem on how to riproprippityRAP. These flows are hilarious! “i learned to never miss the bus again”. Once again the beat is killin it, no wonder, its Jermaine Dupri!
-Sixteen stone ,by Bush
Oh ya, I remember this song “breathe in breathe out etc.” his voice is distorted sometimes, randomly seeming, I think theres a lot of studio editing involved in making this band sound radio saturation ready. It turns out I didn’t really suck at guitar when I was 15, i was just made to listen to bush. Hahahaha is that a saxophone? Oh now hes singing “I am a whore, got a big old gun”, sheesh gavin, do you like nirvana? The drumming sucks bad, the singing is all cut and paste with cheesy effects, the guitar riffs are juvenile and d1 distortion mud, the lyrics, it sounds like he was just repeating “monkey on a drill” over and over, now hes shouting it. The song literally fell apart in a very uncharming way there at the end. Oh a ballad! I think I found the furthest backest of nicklebacks ancestors in this song “glycerin”. The guitar just got distorted but not louder, oh the palm muting. At least they had to hire out for some talent on this record, I hope the chamber orchestra were paid well.
Im into factoids. Im gonna write some toids right now.
BULLET the Indian tribe that lived here in the American river valley were called the Nisenan and they were freakin awesome. They didn’t have war, they had dance offs, and whoever got served hardest had to give the victor the spoils. Thus is the natural order of things. Mostly they were into eating stuff like acorn mush, deer flesh, and fishes from the river. There were more than a dozen species of fish native to the lower American, most importantly salmon, which are huge, and tasty on acorn mush crackers. The Nisenan were part of the larger Maidu tribe, peaceful shell and feather folk who lived in partially subterranean huts. When a dude wanted to marry a girl, he had to move in with her folks and help them hunt and keep the house clean. Once hed payed up in labor and shells and whatnot he could take the girly away to live with his family, where theyd stay in a little shanty in the backyard and pretty much fuck all day. I think that’s a pretty cool style don’t you?
BULLET in sacramento, theres a few superfund sites. If you don’t know what that is then you don’t know jack about Al Gore son. Basically he wanted to pool a bunch of money in a super-fund, and then, use that money to clean up super-fucked places like Mather field, and the old train yards downtown. The thing is, sacramento has a short but intense history of environmental damage doing. Remember, there were only about 400-500 people living around these parts before the miners came, enslaving the nisenan and peeing in the river. When Johnny Sutter’s boys found gold, all hell broke loose. Within 10 years the hills above sacramento were crawling with dirty, dirty men, scraping the river beds and crapping all along the banks. Then some guy invented this thing they called “the monitor”, which was a huge water cannon they used for leveling hills and finding precious precious gold. In order to run these things they had to build dams and redirect millions of gallons of water through hundreds of miles of sluices and aquaducts. The dirty men didn’t think much about what it might do to the valley below, blasting away whole hillsides and draining it all into the rio de Americano. Really they probably knew, but they didn’t care, cuz they were making bank and getting laid. All the silt and dust they deposited in the river washed away bridges, ruined farmland, flooded the new towns, and made the upper American impassable by riverboats. Whoops! Now how are they gonna get all their supplies up river? How are they gonna get all their lumber, granite, cobblestones, and precious precious gold downriver? No problem, they’ll just ship in some trains from the east, and use hundreds of reused emigrant covered-wagons to ship freight in the meantime. Better build some roads, better lay some tracks, better import some Chinese labor. Soon the valley was crosscut with roads, ramshackle seasonal bridges, and the tracks of several upstart train companys. Including the sacramento valley line, the sacramento-placer-nevada line, the California central line, the central pacific line, the western pacific line, and the northern electric. Central pacific built a bridge across the American in 1862, and 5 years later it burned up. They replaced it with another wooden one, then a steel one, the steel one fell into the river, taking a loaded train with it. Bridges collapsing was no big d in those early days. It was almost expected and people started to hold their breaths when theyd cross. All this crazy transport infrastructure called for a great big central railyard, and if youre from here you know this spot as the ghost yard. Nationally, its known as one of the worst polluted spots in the country, and a fine example of 19th century industrial practices like: burying metal shavings and busted train parts, dumping paint into giant pits, heavy stuff falling on peoples heads, heavy stuff rolling over peoples bodies, and fires starting. Once some friends and I got caught drinking box wine there amongst the rusted and busted train corpses, and some of my friends got taken to jail. I chased the cop car for a few blocks, thinking I dunno, id flip it over and save my friends. But they lost me, so I went to the arrestee’s house and crashed on their couch and drank the rest of the box wine. They were really pissed that I did that for some reason. That morning when they got back from jail, I got a few phone calls. One of the phone calls was from my girlfriend, she had slept with some other dude the night before and thought we should talk about it. The next phone call was from my job at the restaurant, they needed to fire me because they had me on camera stealing a bottle of olive oil. The next phone call was from my mom, telling me she was kicking me out of the shanty, I forget why, i think I just accepted it and hung up. After all that good news I decided I needed to mark the occasion, so I got a tattoo in my friends living room. The tattoo says “it was a mistake”, which is a really funny thing to get tattooed permanently onto your body and into your forever. You know, I don’t regret it. But I do regret all that terrible shit those cowboys and 49ers did to this place. We are living a legacy of destruction and greed in this valley. No matter what we do now, weve already paved paradise, weve already killed off dozens of useful and awesome native species. Now if you want to marry a girl you have to go out and get some precious precious gold. No girl wants to live in a one room partially subterranean mud thatch hut with me. This city is two stories sunk, and it smells like poopoo sewer here in the summertime. They still repaint sutters fort every few years, and if you fill out the junior ranger scavenger hunt ditto at the “American Indian” museum outside of those white walls, they’ll give you an authentic arrowhead.
Coffee shop again, instant energy, instant inspiration. A moment ago I stood awkwardly at the front of the line, deciding what kind of soft food pillow id give my steamy bean broth. I was lucky, it was the right moment to be indecisive, the cashier was a bumbler. He removed the receipt covering and 10 yards of transactions popped out like snakes in a can. After a minute he gave up on rolling it all back in, tore it off and started over. Another minute passed as he consulted his coworker, the real barista, and unrolled a pack of quarters. By this time the people standing behind me, one of them legendary-to-me drummer zach hill, were laughing at something elusive to me. “hey dude” says one with a rat tail, “you’ve got a cockroach on your back, want me to flick it off for you?”. I played it cool, “really? Gross, I better flick it outside” and I walked to the employee only back door a few feet away. “hey dude dont go out that way” says the bumbler. I didn’t respond, trying one door, locked, then the other, and aiming my powerful fuck-you-finger, I launched the duffy vermin from my backpack. Good riddance, I think I’ll take a chocolate chocolate chip cookie.
“you guys going to that party across the street tonight?” I ask the gigglers. They hadn’t even heard of it. “ya I guess it’s a carnival party, with booths and bands and costumes and stuff, at the co-op house”, cool, they say. “thanks for the insect warning”, “no problem, it was on your back at first”, “ya its these old buildings, I don’t think ill tell my girlfriend that I probably picked it up at her house”. Coffee finally obtained, I sit down and pull out this computer, the bustedish one my brother brought home from Indonesia.
A few minutes later a bookish looking hipster sits by me, and we ignore each other politely. I glance up from the first paragraph a few times to look at summertime legs and cool looking t shirts, to watch the cops come in and wonder if its for something besides coffee, to smile at the suspender-clad asian girl approaching. “hey, this might sound weird, but do either of you want the rest of this hummus? We didn’t do anything to it I promise”, she asks my silent bench partner and I. “I would love your hummus” I stuttered, a phrase I must try again sometime in different context, “we’ll share it cuz you offered it to both of us”. Im just now looking at the last bite of lucky garlic bread and chickpea mess. Something would feel wrong about eating it, as if I should pay it forward or something.
As my bench partner studys a text book im getting jealous. What have I to study? My own inner life is the only thing that gets me writing these days, my only class, my own professor of me. What have I learned this semester? Ive learned that my body takes a very real summer vacation, and shuts itself down to ideas of schedule and productivity. This morning (2:30 pm), in the shower, I thought of something that I would think of, being me. I thought, the balance is in, the world is paying me back for the slights I perceived as a teenager. All that time I thought I was uncared for, all that time I thought my future was a starving and struggling wasteland that I wanted to avoid, all that time I thought my country didn’t give a shit about me or my friends, the times are easily proving me wrong. The federal government is turned around 180 and doing everything that us liberals have been screaming at it to do for decades. Im receiving checks of free money in the mail for my “hard times”, and ive been given a card with which to buy good quality local organic food for myself and my friends. Its as if the universe is saying “see? Youre taken care of! It really is up to you to take it further! You can be anything and do anything that you want! We’ll take care of the basics, and you, you prove that youre worth it”. It’s a relief, and it’s a challenge, maybe its turned me around, I sure don’t feel like smashing the system anymore, although id still never consider shooting someone to uphold it. I just said “never”, have I learned nothing this semester?
Coffee shop after coffee shop Ill struggle to write more things down. I’ll struggle to punctuate, spell, phrase things better, with more oomph. Wherever I am, ill be trying harder to give more of myself, the music I make, the ideas I carry around. I’ll try to hook it up, to help it out, to make the connections to make it happen. Most importantly, I’ll try harder to forget completely about the reward, because I’ve already got it, free coffee, and free hummus. Love for is better than love from, its more dependable.
Time to write a letter or two.
I wasn’t a very athletic kid, nor was i sharp with whittling or tying knots, in fact i quit cub scouts when i failed to make the webelos by dint of not carving an owl out of balsa wood, but i, like other kids, had to find somewhere to go in the summer time, my parents simply would not have me loafing around the house while they were at work for 2 and a half months of the year. So it came to be that between 4th and 5th grades, after my month in summer school, in which i probobly did make-up math classes, i elected to join my buddy Alex at Computer Camp.
Camp Winthers is 3 miles south of soda springs off interstate 80 in the mountains, as a good summer camp should be, and we bussed there from our suburb all together in a unified school district yellow bus, huddled with our books and gameboys and comparing snack caches. the only candy i had were those little multi-colored sugar buttons that come on wax paper, this is my only memory of those candies, maybe because they are gross and i learned my lesson.
the bus ride was an excellent opportunity to show my awesome but somewhat sheltered friend alex some of the guerrila-war tactics i’d perfected in my long schoolbus career. i’d brought along a few drinking straws and q-tips, which seperate seem like harmless camp supplies, but together make a very effective blow-gun of medium-range accuracy. we managed to keep our identities secret for about 15 minutes as we terrorized the bus cabin from our back seat vantage point, but once we were outted it was full scale war. kids broke into factions, weapons were chosen, spitballs, jollyranchers, playing cards, some managed to deploy an airforce of paper airplanes. eventually peace was declared, and we turned our arsenal outwards to passing cars.
drawn by Juli Boggs
arriving at the camp we discovered that it was a multi-purpose facility, actually 2 summer camps in 1. emptying from busses across the parking lot was a large group of noticeably rowdier, generally taller, probobly older, and obviously healthier looking kids. turns out this was a combination computer/basketball camp. i think there might have been girls there too, but it didnt matter because they didnt really exist at that point. after our camper orientation and introduction to our counselor, Alex and i wasted no time in settling into our canvas tent. we had 2 other boys rooming with us who’s names i forget so let’s call them something fun like Porgy and Bess. Porgy was evidently rich, in kid terms, he had a cell phone that he would carry around, whether he had service or anyone to call or not i dont know, he was also chubby, and had a seemingly bottomless candy account at the camp store. Bess was a shy shy kid, either younger or just plain lamer than alex and i, always threatening to tell when we’d cuss, or crying when we’d tell ghost and murder stories at night. we decided we wouldnt spend much time in our tent. the next day, after a giggling farting night of half-sleep, we were introduced to the computer lab and led to our very own macintosh Performa 6400 to begin our programming education.
We used a program called Stagecast to create 2D games. basically the program allowed you to choose or create sprites or icons with non-graphical properties or rules that determine their behaviour and lay them in a 2D environment. for example, one could choose a very poorly rendered cartoon gerbil and set it on a line of “grass” icons along the bottom of the screen, then place an obstacle in its path to the right, lets say a cactus. the gerbil can be given a rule like “when there is no icon to the right of gerbil, gerbil advances right” then “when there is a cactus to the right of gerbil, gerbil advances up, then right, then right, then down”, hence jumping the dangerous obstacle and completing the adventure. we were in computer lab for 5 hours a day following instructions and programming sprites. at the end of the week my finished game consisted of a lazer-gun-wielding sheep that could skim back and forth along the bottom of the screen under an ever-shifting canopy of clouds. the clouds were inhabited by adult male gorrillas, and the icons would shift in a labryinth of targets. with patience and skill, one could shoot down each of the simians and win the game. i called it, creatively, “Monkey Blaster”.
drawn by Juli
The rest of the time at camp was spent doing outdoorsy type things that alex and i loathed. i particularly remember one episode of “fun” wherein we were woken up at 6am for a “polar bear swim” in the lake, from which i contracted giardia, a genus of anaerobic flagellated protozoan parasite that colonise and reproduce in the small intestines of several vertebrates, including me. The symptoms of Giardia, which may begin to appear 2 days after infection, include violent diarrhea, excess gas, stomach or abdominal cramps, upset stomach, and nausea. After 1-2 days of diarrhea, the opposite occurs, constipation for 4-7 days, still with acute gas production due to the parasite producing iron-sulfer proteins. basically i smelled and felt like a rotten egg for 2 weeks.
well thats pretty much the story, i left out some details but anyone whos been to summer camp remembers the motif, camp fires, dining hall spaghetti, hiking up mountains, performing skits, shooting a bow and arrow. I didnt fall in love but i did make one new friend, he was an older kid who had been going to the camp for years and alex already knew him, total goofball, he made us call him by his invented nickname “cap” but his real name was “Otzo” which is much cooler. Here’s a picture of Alex and I at our 8th grade graduation. He went on to get a degree in philosophy, which is awesome because we use to walk around the playground together at recess, playing imagination games and throwing around ideas like “what if the dinosaurs were actually super intelligent, foresaw their own extinction, and destroyed all evidence of their civilization?” calling ourselves philosophers. he works for google now, on the very edge of human evolution and technology. I work at a pizza place, but we still hang.