This is where it starts.
For myself, I can only imagine. Shaky YouTube video, Montreal, Paris, Lorca. Blood wedding. Selene shot the Manson tour last summer from the photo pit. Red pulsing smokescreen, confusion, the crowd long past gone wild. Then the opening chords, the curtain falling as the band bites into it. If I was your vampire...
She's finishing her senior year at Boulder High. I get robotic phone calls from her school. Selene... was... absent for... period... 01. The woman's disembodied voice actually says it like that: oh one. As if how many goddam periods are there for Christ's sake? The voice says it wants me to call a certain number. I hang up. I saw the best minds of her generation, too. No shadows, no reflections here.
A month or so later, we're out driving after dinner. We get together twice a week. Sometimes she just tolerates my stupid questions. So how's school? Been to any shows this week? How'd you do on that paper about Puritan Divines? Are you shooting skag yet? It's difficult being a parent these days. You do the best you can. I worry about her career. Last week I bought her a full frontal vinyl horsehead mask and we talked about Dada and Man Ray. You've got potential, I tell her. We laugh.
So yeah, we were out driving the backroads around Boulder. Housing developments and horse farms. Random. Thus the mask idea, though it's definitely a longer story. It's past dusk, summer ending, the high range still darkly silhouetted against the Western sky and Selene hunting up tunes on the radio. Suddenly it's M. Manson and I crank it. We round a bend and there's this bank of radio telescopes on the left, pointing straight up at the night. If I was your vampire...
You had to be there.
Pictures at an exhibition. Photographs matted and hung in a gallery. A little chilly. Hardwood floors, muted voices echoing. I'll meet you there at 6:30. Flash and snap of city life. Taxi!
Yesterday I went to the Social Security office. Took me months to even find it. Applying for disability benefits just isn't something I do. But the guy was OK. I had to wait two weeks, gather medical records, account numbers, addresses, get a birth certificate -- I don't think I'd ever seen mine. Was I even born? I guess so, because there it was in the FedEx packet. I have a valid US passport, but they wouldn't take that. They have a lot of special rules.
It only took about two hours, all told. Now it will take "three to five months" to find out the results of my petition. It's almost religious. We who have recourse to Thee. When I was young, probably drinking, driving around town, probably high on something too, it was always a woman. I mean, when John Lennon was singing don't let me DOWN. He wasn't talking about the Social Security Administration. How the mighty have fallen. Just say no, kids.
Afterwards, I thought I'd buy myself an early dinner at Laudisio's. In my pocket I had the last folding money I'm about to see for quite some time. Three to five months, anyway. But first, a book. Gotta have a book if you're gonna have dinner and there's no one along to talk to. So I went to Borders.
I got myself a double iced espresso (in a paper cup, please) and started on the second floor. Western Philosophy, you gotta be kidding. It's only one bay's worth, with things like Joseph Chilton Pearce and other crap doesn't belong there. They let the publishers tell them what category the books should be in, and J.C. Pearce's latest says like Sociology / Philosophy on the back covers. What an asshole. But I've given up railing about it. Who's to tell? Hey, buddy, look at what section they stuck this piece of shit in!
Nothing social about it. I love bookstores. They're the only place, outside of my apartment, where I feel at home. Actually, I don't really feel at home in my apartment, either, but at least I have a cat who understands. She spends a lot of her time somewhere else. Don't look at me, I have no idea. I've thought of attaching a miniature video camera to her collar -- if she had a collar -- and that way finding out where she goes. But it would take more energy than my curiosity demands. So I just open the door for her when she wants back in. Hey, I say. So in that sense, I guess it's home.
Bookstores aren't quite like that. Maybe they used to be, I wouldn't know. People keep pretty much to themselves. And it's not just bookstores. Yesterday I had a talk with my mailman. I hadn't seen him in months. Fred is his name. Do you know that Allan Dulles tried to buy the entire world supply of LSD from Sandoz in 1954? Went to Switzerland with a quarter million bucks in a bag, no lie. Fred said he didn't know that. I had the feeling afterward he might think I'm a little nuts. He's a good guy and I like him, so I hope he doesn't think that.
Our worlds are circumscribed in ways we never imagine until it's far too late.
The Religion section was also a bust. I tried. I looked at stuff I'd totally ignored on my last half dozen visits. Nothing. Ditto Psychology. A wasteland. Picture me anesthetized upon a table. And I was getting really hungry by this point. In fact I was fucking starving. So I grabbed the first thing I saw that looked half interesting -- a new biography of Aimee Semple McPherson, about whom I know next to nothing except that she was spiritually weird (oxymoron alert) and had seriously right-wing inclinations. OK, then. I queue up, I pay, I get out of there.
To my great disappointment, it turned out that Laudisio's was serving only from its "Intermezzo" menu, it still being only like 4:30. Will that be all right, sir? I scan the thing. Finger food at best. No, that will not be all right. I split and end up eating ziti and sausage at the California Pizza Kitchen up the block. Damn. But it's OK. What was I expecting anyway? This is what salvation must be like after a while.
In three to five months, I bet a nice bowl of ziti will look like haven in a heartless world, once I am truly feeling the sting of the Lasch. I can see myself sitting at an off-ramp with a sign that says Will Work for Amazon Gift Certificates.
I've once again taken to downloading TV episodes off iTunes. The new season of House isn't going to be available there, I understand, which is mildly bumming me out. It's amazing to me that the guy's a junkie. Not like teevee in my day, I can tell you. Popping vicodin and being way too smart. And, though I hesitate to divulge this, I've watched all the episodes of 24, wherein our hero, Jack Bauer, actually does say nukular. So I started watching this thing called The Outfit. OMG. I have long resisted any temptation to take certain crypto-fascist German historians seriously, but I am coming to the sad conclusion that Spengler may have been onto something with his whole Untergang des Abendlandes schtick. America, when will your cowboys read Blowback?
The chicks in that thing, the wives of our brave men in uniform? They are way beyond Stepford. I almost get acid flashbacks. It's like they're written really dumb, but in some way that pushes the postmodern envelope into veritable paroxysms of ironic overdrive. It must be a secret message. The show is trying to tell us something about the shadow of the real maybe. I give it the benefit of the doubt, and half a thumb up, as if I'm trying to hitchhike into another dimension. It's true that I no longer take recreational drugs. But this is what drugs were made for. Sometimes I feel that I'm wasting my life.
Even this is too connected, though. Too linear and literal. What you're missing is my internal background soliloquy as to whether that pastrami I left lying out on the counter for the last three days would kill me if I ate it. Didn't the Stones say that "the meat I eat for dinner must be hung up for a week"? There's a whole cultural history that goes with that. Letting the pheasant get "high," and so on. The late arrival of refrigeration in Victorian London. The decadent love of the upper classes for the rich smell of offal. But I despair of unpacking the intertextual culs-de-sac even such seemingly simple considerations lead me into. Everything is miscellaneous? Tell me about it. Maybe I'll just play it safe. Whip up some nice macaroni and cheese.
The elevator in the new Borders store was made by ThyssenKrupp. It has a tasty logo indicating that above the control panel. Thyssen and Krupp were the two largest arms manufacturers in Nazi Germany. In fact, if you ask at the desk, the helpful Borders clerk will be happy to order you a copy of The Arms of Krupp:1587-1968, which is unfortunately no longer in stock. Fortunately, I found a used copy which I got in trade for some junk books I was trying to get rid of anyway. I opened it at random to page 487 and learned that around 1943, Krupp was having labor problems. It got heavy with its workforce and there were severe repercussions. For instance, the Ukrainian mistress of one Krupp executive gave him a land mine disguised as a hot water bottle. He took it to bed and was dismembered by the blast. I look again at the logo on the elevator and remind myself that, while I find it disturbing, things do tend to work out in the end.
Between the news and primetime, America is trying to figure out who she is. This has been going on a long time. She's been staring into the mirror of her vanity for ages. Between Maslow's hierarchy and the undeniable evolutionary edge those canine incisors have provided, what will become of us? I've been toying with the idea of registering as a Republican. After all, affluence offers an obvious leg-up on my core esteem needs. But what bothers me is what we'll advertise on our bumper stickers when we finally get 'er done!
I know. Let's get married and shop at the PX. Let's unleash nukular hell on the Pakis and ragheads and those nappy-headed non-swimmers of NOLA. Shit, let's do something! Otherwise, it's just wait around for Jesus, and how fun is that?
I wish I could show you the way out of your moral morass, your confusion, your cowardice. And I would, if you'd let me. If you tilt your head back and squint just so, you can see the Star of Bethlehem. Strike a pose, baby. Hold it, yeah. Vogue!
Now, if I was your vampire...