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loraxbootstraps
14 May 2007 @ 01:19 am
MAY 14 THE END FIGHT BACK
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loraxbootstraps
27 April 2007 @ 03:56 pm
tonight i took a walk and sat on the curb watching a carnival at the end of the street, having a smoke, looking at the ugly whirl-a-whatevers and listening to the kids scream.

I just realized something, looking at my cell phone. I kept changing the background colors, glancing into a mirror at myself, illuminated by its glow. I swapped through them endlessly, searching for the perfect illumination, with just the right quality. Everyone who's anyone knows that when you're illuminated from below, you look odd and menacing. By what they don't realize is that the color of the light is so important. It has so much bearing on how I look to myself when I'm looking at myself, studying the effects I can manufacture with different colors of light.

Eyes don't look haggard and forlorn on their own. Well, they do - but not enough.

i remember as a kid, a carnival was a big deal to me, something cool and magical, but now i just see it as a bunch of drugged up gypsies trying to rape the town through exorbitantly priced cotton candy.

When I was young, I had fun in the blandest and tritest of ways. Deviously tween, I lost my virginity to inertia on some evening where the sun is forever going down. Like me, it was debating with itself, wondering how it would look passing over the horizon in atmosphere of different thickness and molecular composition. Like it, it was ever pure and purer.

Nowadays, those childhood ways run thick and sweet and sticky. They cluster in residue on my fingertips and I furiously scrub at them, trying to get my fingernails ever cleaner. I make a habit of digging through the dirt of myself, you know, wondering how I'll look cleaning off my fingertips from different sorts of dirt, different levels of wetness. This is because I'm genuine. We truehearts are forever in the process.

i saw a bunch of little guys unloading a truck of knockoff disney stuffed animals (mikey mouse?), and i got to feeling sad, jaded, wondering when my optimism all fell to pieces.

When people do things without wondering how they look to someone looking at himself with them as an externalized and inhuman mirror, I worry for their intellectual station. I condemn them - sure, but I worry about it through them, because surely they too must worry that they're not real. Projected solipsism is a sword that cuts no ways, but damn if I don't bleed neon green into the mirror, hemoraghing out my eyes.

i love this world and the people in it, love it and them dearly, all of them, but now it's different; still love, but profoundly sad.

It is only through self-referential and arrogant condescension that I love. I'll program that to appear on the background of the cell phone, now, and I'll see if I can see it reflected in the reflection of my eyes.
 
 
loraxbootstraps
22 April 2007 @ 10:47 pm
After Avec finished its set, I had to pee something fierce. So I wandered myself down to the bathrooms. The women's was occupied, and the men's was filled strange people applying facepaint. Three men and a woman, clustered around the urinals and the toilet in the one-person bathroom.

I really had to pee.

They would not leave.

I was drunk.

So I motioned to the urinal, and they acquiesced. And it was awkward. Oh, God, was it awkward. I strained my eyes shit so hard my forehead ached. And I thought of rivers, and streams, waterfalls, and the gently swelling tide on a white sand beech. I followed the course of water, through the air, down into the sea, my hands clutched on my dong, the facepainters behind me, gossiping with one another.

And I peed. It was not until later that I learned who those men and that women were. We avoided eye contact as I left the room.

And then, Entertainment System began their set.

Three guitars and a dummer - classic speed metal. They played their first number, and my mind was tugged by a familiarity with the tune. As my soul was yanked by how goddamn awesome they were. The lead guitarist was the most metal man I had ever seen. A giant, fat as fuck, with a mod of curly black hair, he roared beautifully, headbanged with the ease of a true master, and wailed like a risen God.

And then I recnogized the song - a track theme from F-Zero.

They went on in this vein, playing wonderfully well-done speed metal covers of old console games. They hit an epiphanic note with their Ducktales cover, they roared with their Darkwing Duck cover, and their Castlevania 2 was simply magnificent. I had never been so thoroughly rocked. I was afraid, for a moment, for how could this be topped?

They ended, asking for a few extra second, eight they said, to play one last song. They urged us to punch the air was they did. And they played the Final Fantasy battle victory song. Wonderful.

How would the Protomen fare in a live venue, when so much of their album was predicated on studio perfection and sound overlay? I was disquieted as I purchased their album and congratulated them.

I was afraid.
 
 
loraxbootstraps
22 April 2007 @ 03:49 pm
somewhere along the way i became simultaneously fascinated and horrified by emotion. it confuses, amuses, and sickens me, each of these reactions seemingly random to the situation itself. i wish i could feel nothing, and scarily, i believe i do feel nothing most of the time because i'm so used to my convincing and conditioning--you are what you eat think?

Somehow, I've started to hold differing opinions about mood, based on my mood. It's confusing and terrifying to think that I could possibly feel differently about different things at different times. Sometimes, I wish I could feel neutrally contented - and what's even more terrifying - sometimes I had no strong emotional response! But then, I'm so used to actively monitoring my mood and cognition - so who can know what terror and artificiality lies beneath the veneer? I could be happy - AT ANY MOMENT!

God save the Queen!

i wonder what all of this is for, i mean like really wonder, not just "oh why life! gigglies!" but like sad confusion and desperate disinterest as i look around and feel a headache coming on.

I wonder what it means that people feel different things and feel different ways at different times. It is a sad and desperate confusion matched only by the natural disinterest in mystifying such obvious triusms and natural states. I have a headache now. Ow. Coffee. Etc.

am i alone in that? i mean, am i really here? why anything? what is real? do i even really feel anything anymore?

Radical skepticism is the first and only refuge of the most stringently irrelevant bullshit.

feel like anything other than a cardboard cutout of myself, and i can see myself doing and saying things, but it's not really me doing them, it's just, you know, me doing them--acting.

Yeah, mean, I'm so real, I'm less real than an image of me. I am the only pipe that's not a pipe.

does this make sense to anyone?

Yeah, it's a load of crap. I've seen it before, will again, and on and anon.

if not, i was only kidding anyway.

o ok
 
 
 
loraxbootstraps
22 April 2007 @ 02:46 pm
Hm.  
the neighbor: yeah, we were friends for a ton of years, most of my childhood years. it was my first experience with a fanatical pleaser, with someone who looked up to me (god knows why). yeah, she was a little younger, so you know, of course she looked up to me, but she was also very smart, a little evil, always had to take my master plan one step closer to madness--the perfect sidekick really.

There was a neighbor. There still is a neighbor. We were friends, and now we aren't. I flatter myself that she flattered me. In truth, I pretend that she loved me, did everything, ran in circles, to force a smile out of me. Clever girl, wild, younger than me, enough so that I claimed implicit leadership. She was always willing to suspend disbelief for a single afternoon in that goddamn precious childhood way. She would believe that you can destroy the entire fucking neighborhood by feeding enough animals and constructing enough snowballs.

we accomplished a lot, we had lofty goals, missions, tasks to complete. it was like harriet the spy.. FROM HELL. we terrorized the poor neighborhood with my dad's expensive binoculars, not to mention our sick plots and schemes. i had the idea to turn the neighborhood cats to our side, make them love us more than them, make them listen only to us and not their owners. we bought delicious things and rounded up the cats from lawns and yards, riding bikes holding cats, cats in wagons, cats in baskets, and fed them treats and foods until they loved us. they purred, nuzzled our ankles, and we stood there laughing evilly and wringing our hands (no kidding).

We had notorized motherfucking agenda, cross-stitched, aimed like paper airplanes at the ultimate destruction of all we knew. On the face of it, it was all pure childhood pomp and circumstance, but there was slinking around in us that smacked of something else. The hint that you get when you know you've pretended too long and too far, that you know you're very close to identifying with the game. After a few summer weeks, the plans to turn the neighborhood cats to our side began to coalesce into...something else. They were fed, and the loved us for it, in that lazy sort of way cats love things. In the end, the binoculars just gave us a better vantage, a way to more securely know that the holocaust was complete. She took the fall, but only out of convenience for all involved. Oh, God, how did it come to that?

a group of giggly girls down the street which included the twins, well, they tried to steal her from me. fuck no, i didn't let them. i showed her how blind they were, how they didn't understand, didn't know what needed to be done here, didn't see the world as we did. of course, taking it one step closer to madness, she decided we should systematically destroy them. we began taking logs of their comings and goings, their habits, their particulars, and one day there was the epic bike chase that somehow resulted in a large fight between my hot-headed friend and our enemies. being the, ahem, adult in the situation, i remember pulling her away from them, a rock in her hand, telling her it'd be okay.

Those silly, stupid girls. They tried to get her to listen to reason, when it became clear I'd have none of it. Tried to take her away from me, pull her back to safety and to Barbie. They failed, and in her repudiation she drove away the only people capable of understanding how serious this was becoming, and how terrible this would get. In my youth, I aided and abetted this, programmed it, systematically, with a terrorist's understanding of group dynamics. I called them blind and weak - and they were. The insinuation ran from there, trickled down the poor girl's brain into her heart, and before I knew it - I had a Polly Pocket Stormtrooper, living lies as a matter of course, and teasing around the outer edges of genuine violence. I pulled her out of the final intervention, rock in her hand, blood on her teeth. I had made a patsy, violent and cocksure.

we'd wander the woods for hours, sometimes a whole day, come back dirty and muddy with leaves in our hair. we'd try to summon spirits in the graveyard and dare each other to touch headstones we were sure were evil, to sit down on top of the graves, to say, "hey! come and get me!" i accidentally sliced my ankle on a jagged metal swing and didn't notice, it was gushing blood, blood all over, "emily! your leg!" and i looked down and said "uh, whoa, i should go home" and after that i was even cooler, someone who felt no pain. she'd feel my scar and wish for one of her own.

I began to take her to the woods for hours, sometimes the entire day. We'd return muddy and scraped, never a word what we did, never a peep of what we spoke of. Through the graveyards, we would wander, like precious little goths, only aggressive and mocking of the dead. We had weaponized our indolence and our childhood dreams, stabbed at the solemnity and pompousness of the grave, at the rustling quiet of the forest. I told her about The Plan, then, on these vague and long-lost days. I told her about the cats, and how we could turn them to us, what this would mean, what we could do. I was joking, at least...that's what my parents told the DA. Hers did the same. Mine are more convincing. I cut myself once, on a jagged metal swing, smirked in pretense as I acted the numb fool. She would feel the scar after that, and know I was for real. I tell myself I was just playing the badass, that I wasn't consciously trying to make her a subordinate, or a fall guy. I tell myself a lot of things. I echo my deposition.

my dad saved her on the field, the baseball diamond, it was wet after days of rain and she stepped in the mud and her feet stuck. i laughed, she laughed, but then we started to panic. she really couldn't move her feet, the suction was too much. i pulled, she laughed, i laughed, she pulled me, i fell down, she fell down, we were covered, COVERED in mud. my dad came back from walking the outskirts of the forest and pulled her out, but her shoes would remain forever.

Her idolatry spread to my family. I took her out one day into the mud, the deep, thick mud. The suction had made a minefield of the baseball diamond, and I lead her into into one of the more obvious sinkholes. We pulled and we pulled, and we laughed in that way where you laugh to give proof and testimony that it's not serious. And it wasn't. Of course it wasn't! What, for lack of shovels in the state, she'd die of starvation? Live the rest of her life out on the baseball diamond, brought meals, with a little ramada built over her to keep the rain out? I went and fetched my dad, and he pulled her out. The worship she held for him there went a long way towards pulling her from her parents, pulling her to mine, and to my version of events.

she couldn't go home like that, hell, i couldn't go home like that, and my dad knew it--my mom, her mom, they'd kill him for letting us get so dirty not to mention losing her brand new shoes to the vacuum. we sat in the truck on newspapers and wondered what we should do: "dad, we can clean up in a bathroom. go to the store, they have a bathroom" ... "yeah!" she said and he took us to a supermarket. this was awesome: she was shoeless, we were both covered, we dodged in and out of aisles, hiding behind the florist arrangements, stacks of canned yams, and finally made it to our destination.

We took her to the nearest public restroom in a local hardware store, and here was the opening. As we dodged, weaving through visual obstruction, to reach the the restroom and wash the mud out of us, I made a side trip - to the pesticide aisle. I had accelerated the cat plans. What love is there greater than that imagined and attributed to the dead? Those darts never miss, no matter how carelessly thrown. They are an infinite dartboard, every space in the middle, and no matter how bad your aim - you'll hit. And they'll love you as they're gone. Or they'll hate you. Really, it's moot, and for a child - and I was a child - moot means love for cats, hatred for parents, and fear for the younger children.

we had these piece of shit walkie talkies, i think they were yellow. we used them to coordinate swims in the am after our parents had gone to sleep. if they didn't work, a small rock at the window did, and we'd float in inflated donuts and wonder what we'd do with our lives. i said i'd marry someone brilliant and foreign (even then i liked accents), she said she'd never marry, and would devote her life to capturing criminals. this made us both laugh.

I bought us walkie talkies. They made everything...official, easy. Militarism is nine tenths equipment and uniforms. We used to them to plan swimming, at first, then focused more and more on the sorts of things you can only really say to just one other person from a great distance. Things there...really are no body language for. You see Anthony Hopkins, and you assume that's how a psychopath washes his hands or how a murderer reads the newspaper - but you have no fucking idea. They're just guessing, going for the lowest common denominator of creepy. I connived her to renounce romance, the married life, propped up my own aspirations in that vein, and then... I lead her to that old shed in the woods, where I'd hid the poison. Quarts of the stuff. We stared across the rotting wooden at one another, speaking to each other through the walkie talkies, holding them up like masks. It was born, there.

somewhere along the way i decided she had to stop. she had to start thinking for herself and stop depending on me. i made other friends, and she was still there waiting in front of my house. i pushed her away horribly, and i regret this even now as we exchange the courtesies of casual waves and smalltalk. she's doing well, she's studying forensics, she seems a little lost but mostly happy, but i wonder if sometimes she sits outside smoking a cigarette and remembers our secrets and pacts, swimming at 1am, our plans for cats.

I tried to pull the plug. This is in court records, in case you don't believe me. I tried to stop it, to stop her. But she ran with it, literally. Ran with it, and before you knew it, the neighborhood was choked and pressed down by the weight of howling old ladies and weeping children. The cats were dead. They lined the streets before animal protection dragged the corpses out, like some perverse Sesame Street Guernica. It was hot out, and the smell was really unforgettable. They were assumed to just be sleeping, until the heat got to them and they ripened. The cops were quicker about this than I could have imagined - no one credits them with competence until it's too late. I had decided that she had to stop, that she had gone...too far. I tried. It's in the deposition.

I see her sometimes. She still lives here. She can't really move anywhere. Her parents lead her everywhere. They don't blame me. I tried to stop her. I tried to prevent it. Her eyes have that patient air to them, that distance you see attempted in psychological thrillers. She hasn't checked out. She has just so much and such strange perspective now, that even to deal wtih the mundane just doesn't make any sense. I think she forgives me.

but maybe that's just me.

But, the catatonic are like dead cats that way. It's easy to say they love you.
 
 
loraxbootstraps
22 April 2007 @ 03:21 am
I imagine that I am hired by Quentin Tarantino to argue his case to studio executives and the producers of his next hit movie, Rape Diveslasher.

"But these chracters - they just talk for 10 minutes about how they're GOING to say something, and then when they say it - it's not even interesting! It's just blank foreshadowing for the sendup of this, admittedly, witty one-liner half an hour later, but, I mean, WHY do you need this much boring exposition?! It doesn't even reveal anything, or develop the characters, or establish a theme! Unless the theme is wordiness! And why do they talk like Pitchfork Media?!"

"Look, here's the thing. This is real. It's so real - it's realer than real. The problem here isn't that the dialogue is nonsensical and self-referential to the point of masturbating a masturbation while staring in a mirror - that's not it. The problem is that this is realer than reality.

Quentin has simply become so powerful, so full of...wisdom and observation, that he's outpaced existence itself! THE UNIVERSE IS NO LONGER REAL ENOUGH FOR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY! GRAVITY IS AN AFFECTATION TO HIS BRILLIANCE, CAUSALITY A NUISANCE TO BE DEALT WITH IN EDITING!

I TELL YOU, MAN, THE VERY MOTIVATIONS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DRIVES THAT FUEL HUMAN ACTION ARE BUT CLICHE, HINDRANCES TO THE PURITY OF HIS ART, SO GREAT IT IS THAT OUR WORDS WE USE TO DESCRIBE IT ARE INSULTS TO ITS BRILLIANCE!"

"Jesus, man. You've gone mad! MAD!"

"Mad, am I? MAD?! Hahahahahahaha! I have stood before PEOPLE, REAL HUMAN PEOPLE WITH EYEBALLS THAT DO NOT EXPLODE, WHO DRIVE CARS THAT WERE NOT DISCONTINUED TWENTY YEARS AGO, AND WHO TALK ABOUT THINGS MORE THAN A HUNDRED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD KNOW AND CARE ABOUT!

I...I have done this...I...I have HEARD MYSELF. A motif of a jukebox record, selecting songs no one has heard of, twenty minutes of sexy twentysomethings dancing in a bar, to establish that they are young...I've...defended the decision to make extraneous satellite characters, the only in the whole of a two hour movie that speak like actual people - I have defended their aesthetic demonization, on the grounds that their coherence is a sin correlate and absolute with their comprehensibility.

I do not know myself. Have lost myself. I am paid. I...I...I've done...questionable things."

"But none of this explains why any of this is necessary for the movie!"

"Do you know what it is to live in fear? I...wait...what? Necessary? Necessary?! THIS IS A MOVIE ABOUT A BAND OF TIME TRAVELING STIRPPER-WARRIORS FROM 1978 FIGHTING A WANDERING TRUCK DRIVER-RAPIST AND HIS ARMY OF CLONED BANK ROBBERS! NECESSITY HAS AS MUCH TO DO WITH THIS AS WE HAVE TO DO WITH THE INTERPLAN ROCKET SYSTEM TO THE MARTIAN COLONIES!!!!!

DO NOT QUESTION THE WORKINGS OF TARANTINO, LEST YOUR MIND BE BLOWN BEYOND REPAIR, YOUR AGE MADE MANIFEST, AND ALL YOUR SECRETARIES ABANDON THEIR AFFAIRS!"

"I...I, will the movie, will it profit?"

"They all profit. They always profit. God save me, they profit."

"Then I suppose we'll allow him, the, uh, artistic liberty."

"I've...seen things you people wouldn't believe. Entire scenes exploding off the shoulder of establishing a tone about the tone about the content of a speech no one cares about...jump cuts glittering in post, made on the basis of referencing old 70's homages to French movies about noir movies from the 40's...all these moments...will be lost, like gunshots, in a monologue about Superman. Time...to die..."

Because any situation so horrible that I should find myself defending such unutterable drivel, such bizarrely incompetent trash, there really is no other ending, no other resolution. Only an attempt, however imperfect, to mirror Hauer as Roy Baty could save me. And I doubt it would be enough.
 
 
loraxbootstraps
15 April 2007 @ 09:35 pm
The first band was called Avec. They were decent. The woman was an effective vocalist in the sultry whisper to shrieking school, and she played a decent lead guitar - BUT DID SHE DO MORE?! The only other member was a practiced and talented drummer - or WAS HE?. They informed us they were the Avec Duo. The full Avec, perhaps called Avec Quattro, toured separately.

They played screamo. Good screamo, but it was still screamo. At the end of the day, they had nothing to say that rose above their over-distorted instruments. They switched places midway through the set, from drums to guitar, but doing so didn't really accomplish much. It wasn't as though anyone was sitting there, waiting, thinking, "OH, MAN, WAIT UNTIL THEY SWAP PLACES!" It was a virtuoso's flourish, but they played no etudes. Why?

The lyrics that stuck with me, whispered in that, "OH, MAN, YOU JUST KNOW SHE'S ABOUT TO SCREAM THIS IN A FEW SECONDS!" way - "If you want me to push, then I'll push, but if you want me to pull, why tell me to push?" Indeed. Why would I do that? It spoke to me, Avec, that girl with her hot in a jewish art school sort of way, with her whispering and her screaming. If I want someone to pull from now on - I shall not tell them to push, no matter how willing they may be to push.

I've had problems with this in the past, telling people to do the polar opposite of what I want them to do, without sarcastic or reverse psychological intent. I've often wondered how it was I pushed so many people away without wanting intending to - but now I realize my mistake. An absence of hyphens, and a crucial and crippling conflation between pushing and pulling.

Henceforth, I operate through pure sheering force, mediated, god willing, with angles and inclined planes.

Then came the break, where I peed with some mysterious strangers.

--

--
 
 
Current Music: Protomen
 
 
loraxbootstraps
15 April 2007 @ 05:24 pm
I went to the Protomen concert. Mike and I went forth from the apartment to Union Station, called cab, and got lost. Bitterly lost in the void between DC quadrants, running back and forth across NW and NE, with only the city's reasonably-priced zone-based cabfare system to protect us.

Eventually, we did find the bar, and it was strange. Never had I been in a more insular establishment. A New Orleans theme, every surface was covered in faux-gumbo and voodoo knicknacks, the entire place gloomed over in garish, dingy red neon. The entire bar turned and regarded us with the mute and conspiratorial suspicion, made idle by expectation, but sinister for all of that. They knew their names, those of their peers - and not ours. It wasn't hostility or the fear and angst towards strangers, but the promise of both if we stepped out of line. Regulars are great fans of regularity. We sat in one of the empty giant red booths, pre-fab from whatever companies they are that create these things for the burgeoning ticky-tacky 50's diner market.

They were a motley bunch that regarded us. Dressed as flowery romantic cowboys, some, others like Halloween zapatistas, renegade high school students liberating the candy of the bourgeosie children for a more equitable consumption round the bong of the people. But they had blown past that point, stretched outwards while the style remained impossibly constant. It had grown anachronistic at first, and then eventually purely iconoclastic. They were middleaged men, bearded in the way that shines as a clear signal of the knowledge of progressive rock, clearly keen to marijuana, potbellied from beer. A repudiation in the celebration, camp to a degree I'd never seen, with a ruthless efficiency and smug satisfaction generally reserved for the most elegant of ironies.

I was, in short, well pleased.

Mike and I began to order beer as the Johnny Cash started playing, discussing genetics and politics and whether or not the regulars, those insular others in the periphery were going to attack us. We had no idea who they were. I knew only their fondness for Johnny Cash, their insularity, and their strange costumes. Mike was nervous, but then, he has yet to realize the love of Johnny Cash protects all who bear it from one another - what harm can come to two people who have heard and known Johnny Cash? Two men who know Hell do not strike each other.

Eventually, time came nigh, and we went upstairs, up past old indie band posters, too small for mass adolescent consumption, up past the rickety stairs, past the smoking patio, into the tiniest venue in all the world. An attic with a massive sound system and a tiny stage, a bar at the back. The gimmicky doorman stamped our hands with the fleur de lis. And we waited, as I perused the strangers for to name them as a cast.

There were the Group, as I called them before I knew them. Most in their 30's, in their cowboy cum freedom fighter outfits. Strange sorts that mingled among themselves and spoke of things carefully selected that only they should know.

There was the hipster couple, eyeglasses and tight brown leather jackets selected, no doubt, with great care. What purpose wearing clothing that doesn't perfectly frame your eyes with just enough awkwardness, that does not so tightly frame your narrow little shoulderblades?

There was the Rocker, filthy, flowing black hair to his shredded-jeans-clasped ass. Eyes glazed with booze (How?! At 10 PM?!), he brought his own world with him. This world he projected out before him in a proper 5 foot radius, his rockosphere, within which he was God and King. It was right. Any concert without at least one of his sort is no place to be. He keeps the world in balance, prevents an aesthetic shift towards the hipster couple. Without him, their eyeglasses would too perfectly refract the fluorescent stagelights, amplified by their pomposity. Ineffectual and sulfurous fires would be set, and the place would become uninhabitable for the stink of it.

But who really drew my eye was the Grayshirt. Fat, he was, soft and with the glasses of a proper nerd. We entered with him in tow somehow, Mike and I, and we were all instinctively careful that he was not with us, that we were not with him. Yet there we were, in the same tiny room, with the same dozen odd people, for the same professed reason - but not with each other. His choice, much as ours. He was not there to make friends. Grayshirt had everything of the perfect nerd, puffy, fat arms, barrel, downy soft torso, ill-fitting clothes. He reeked of old spice. But, his time would come.

And then, the first crested the stairs, lugging their equipment past the bouncer.

---

---
 
 
Current Music: Protomen
 
 
loraxbootstraps
27 February 2007 @ 10:30 am
..?  
What's this, then? What's THIS, you say? I can prompt MYSELF? And I could all along? Just had to stop making the distinction, had to realize that the things I care about don't need space battles, don't need archetypal borrowed characters?

But -

Yes, I under -

Well, if that's true, then -

...oh.

Touche, self, touche. As always, you have my number.

... ... ...

And it all ended, the semester, everything, with that damn party. Going back, it just wans't the same, would never be the same again. It wasn't a matter of lost innocence, or an exposition of innocence not being there at all. It was the opposite, really. It was a proof of innocence, a re-establishment of innocence, the Confirmation and the Crowning of All Innocence. The whole thing, from beginning to end, played out with the naivete and the purity of intention of World War II propaganda. It came from the internet, or at least it first appeared there, and it never really left.

The facebook was abuzz with the upcoming event. It promised to be a real treat of a thing, dozens of people, liquor of all types. Even the rarer stuff, the Bailey's of the collegiate scene that shows up so rarely at the big get-togethers. Not just PBR, oh no, and not just Gordon's vodka. This was no mere house party. Nor was it one of amoeba-like lesser parties that rise up after the basketball team won. It was singular, self-contained, and it promised to be absolutely choice. Just one catch.

"Celebration of MLK day!" the announcement gushed in that special language of select irony. The koine of internet sarcasm, where the accent is placed on the semi-colon parenthesis. The titular typface promised "more of the same from last year." Another great even that was, the cream of the crop all in costumed formal attire. It was a "Celebration of Black History Month," an odd theme. Myself, I prefer to keep my costumed partying confined to Memorial Day, out of respect. But then, I'm not the sort who gets invited to these parties. The attendees were good enough to provide pictures of last year's bash, so one could more easily identify who does get those invitation. Great pale and forced-tanned expanses of smiling, grimacing suburbanites leered back at me through the monitor.

Their hands were duct taped to 40's. They wore red and white checked scarves, giant Fubu pants. Dressed up and out to the hilt of home-made stereotypic attire. They flashed thin approximation of gang signs and they they wore blackface. Their red-glazed drunken eyes shone above their massive, enormous, elephantine shit-eating grins. And above and below, right and left, their costumes told their story. "Black people," they began, and paused, in the great pregnant pause of the drunkard.

"Black people are a tale told by an idiot, full of driving this way and leering that way, signifying nothing." And like that true scotsman, I too found myself staring the witches in the eyes, a mite confused by the rancor of it. I waited, then, kept my antiticipation down and to myself. Like a child waiting for a birthday, I knew it would come, and that watching calendars would do nothing to make the fallout any less sweet. The schadenfreude would be rich and creamy, like a good chowder.

And so, oh, so it was. Roaming bands of protesters alighted across the campus. The administration took up the angry unity of "HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN HERE?! The student newspapers grew ten pages that day. They found, suddenly, they had hearts of loving and overt tolerance. Angry ironists twittered anonymously in their editorial columns, tangoing back and forth with those who took offense. The unloved bastard children of the easier half of dadaism, they couldn't understand the big deal. "Chill out!" they cried, in the language of the offended, but with a strange, alien accent.

As for the partiers, little was heard and less was known. Like a frat who (OOPS!) has a pledge die on them, they had taken to the shadows, become darker and harder to see at night than anyone could have anticipated. Rumors spoke of secret disciplinary committes. Warnings were heard in the night of mob rule, of the end of academia, of the political correctness gestapo carrying any of us away who failed to meet their ease of reference handbook on racism. The professors were caught up as well, as incapable of escaping the tidal swell as any of us.

Ah, those professors. They pontificated now more than ever, more grandly, more absolutely. The sociologists had prepared long for this, and allied with the statistics professors. An entire underground tunnel of facts and figures had been dug and was in use twenty-four hours a day - and on weekends too! The this and the that of it - histories and prophecies. The poli sci worked like the frantic swiss, moving currency and credibility around in strange and confusing patterns, and somewhere in the distance, the grognards of the pre-law professorships bided their time, tenured to the hilt, staring with heavy-lidded and disapproving eyes.

Murder had outed. And it left none untouched but the science departments, the bastards, the inviolate iconoclasts that they were. Busying themselves only slightly, to watch what chips may fall, and where and how and when they could use this for ever more grant money. They had molecules to name, machines to build. And they toiled ever deeper, ever more silently into their caverns, ignoring the rarefied and ionized air above them. Their balrogs waited for another day.

And everywhere, on all lips, in every tone, every intonation, every denotation, and between the slanted lines of every connotation, there was a single recurring theme.

Freedom. Of. Speech.

Yes, freedom of speech, the ol' knuckleduster, greatuncle of every revolution. The canonized saint of all parties, all peoples, all benedictions and condemnations had been invoked. And like a conjured spirit, it howled across the campus, screaming wraithlike into the sky. The frightened students traveled in groups, kept their lights on through the night to ward it away, its confusing, incoherent message useless to their terrified ears. What did it want? Who controlled the ghost? The professors searched desperately for a way to banish the raging phantom, to find and restore the sanctity of its grave.

What could it want? Was it not WRONG to behave like childish psuedoracist douchebags? Was it not RIGHT to confront this? But disciplining free speech! Why, the slippery-slope of it beggared contemporary belief. No one would make much of a peep when They came for the morons, but who would be next? The humble, innocent race theorists? The women's department? Who could know? The djinni of the deep and angry sands care nought for intent. They feast on the heartsblood of those whose voices they can hear.

And though it all, of it all, ran the sickly-sweet stench of dogma. To complain or not to complain whirled through the air as the coin was tossed - are we populists?! Are we elitists?! Are we not college? Study us, do we not publish?! The search for a governing, universal rule of what is and is not hateful speech precluded all else. The quest for a legal standard in an extralegal situation was mounted and every white stag in a ten mile radius booked it to the highlands. The great professorial search parties returned angry and empty-handed, and settled for public debates. The debates went on. They dragged on. They tested the outermost limits of thesaurus sections on long and on useless. They began with no set definitions, and they ended with an agreement that setting definitions is really, really hard.

I watched with dying amusement and mounting horror as the event was transmuted, alchemically, into a fight between the individual and the collective. A fight was staged between the shadows of each - no individual showed up, and the collective didn't want to FIGHT, just to be HEARD. Through the latter half of the semester on through finals, the two great dotted-line superstars slugged it out, elitism and populism, back and forth. Up and down the libraries and the classrooms they pummeled one another, ineffectually. Discussion groups became ever more unbearable. The posturing, the sheer imagined atmospheric weight of them, forced air out of the room. Frantic gasping and shaking and raging replaced speech.

I was reminded of watching old silent images of Hitler giving speeches. He always seemed so comic, so absurd. Watching his arms, raging, incomprehensible. Like the hyperkinetic flailing of a cartoon, or the goofy liquid rising and falling of an astronaut on the moon. And I realized it was a matter of atmosphere, that everyone looks silly moving in an environment without gravity, without the causal framework of universal attraction, without g.

The example of the moment flickered, spluttered, and - eventually, miraculously, was gone. For nothing can shake the immutable, monied nature of college. It, too, runs in cycles, seasonal shifts. And its winter hibernation is as necessary as that of a grizzly bear. No amount of starvation or gluttony of posture can prevent it. We all slunk off back home, tired and beaten. We lost refugees of the war, Bosnian in our hearts now as well as on our placards, a little older and a little dumber for lack of consensus and common sense.

I took taxi to the airport, curious to find out how this would place out on my return. Where the old actors would find themselves. Would they continue the charge, seek a decisive verdict from - someone? Anyone? Would they begin anew beating eachother over the heads with their rhetorical katana, shifting around in those goofy Japanese stances of citation and quotation? What did it mean that it is always the silliest and stupidest things that become great tests - test cases, test debates? The exchange of dogmatism to no apparent gain outside reification and re-capitulation seemed an almost economic practice. Comparitive advantage for thise with excess production or deficits of populism and abstract meritocracy, socialism and libertarianism.

"Ayn Rand," I muttered as I boarded the plane, "You magnificent bastard - I READ YOUR BOOK!"