Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Gasoline Files (First Excerpt)


"I used to be fat. I mean a reeeeaaaallllll FAT! FUCK!" Nathan said, spittle forming at the edges of his mouth.

"And my dad. He was an asshole... a drunk asshole who also happened to be a volunteer figherfighter and he used to tell me son; You know what happens to all that goo when a person goes up in flames? I do. It ain't pretty but there's some sort of twisted beauty in it. Just like with a lot a things that ain't too pretty."

Nathan R Robinson II (better known as lightbringer13 to the more unsavory online message boards he frequented), set aside a cigarette from his well worn pack of Reds, tugged at his greasy hair and let out a sigh before continuing.

"Fire, the chemical catalyst that gives every starving cell in your body what it wants That transcendent liberation that the christfags- important to note here that Jews and Arabs are just as much christfag as the Catholic kiddie-fuckers, but anyway... The christfags would have you believe that you have to die for their God. That the only way to free yourself from this putrid body is through tolerance and obedience. Nah, it isn't. It's through violence. Good. Old. Fashioned. Violence. Whatever is out there...beyond all of this. And you better fuckin believe me that I've seen it. Known it. What I can anyway, that it wants us to scream to it that we exist. So... very shortly from now. I'm going to be screaming."

Nathan, pre-soaked in high octane gasoline courtesy of the Shell station down the street, lit his cigarette. The rest should go without saying.

"My condolences," Ed felt the first tinges of light rain beginning to fall as Nathan's casket was lowered into the ground (a modern homage to ancient times. Rites of blood and passage into an afterlife, far beyond the human substrate it blossomed from).

"Thank you. Nathan was- he was very sick. We both know you did the best you could," Nathan's father (Gerald Smith, and step-father to be exact. The drunken turbulence of his youth replaced with an archetypal father figure... It wasn't enough "I'm not enough Gerald thought to himself but we're getting off track...) held his wife close. Ed had a fleeting thought of her legs, how nice they looked in her slim black dress "a little risque for a wake but what the hell?"

"I'm sorry," he said. Ed's room-temperature, academic way of approaching life providing a shield of detachment from the pain of death, and questioning one's own eventual expiration.

"You know-" Gerald said with some hesitation. "Nate was... he was involved with someone-something rather before he passed away. Whatever those people were on, or up to. It wasn't good. They were mostly online... He spent so much time locked in his rooms taring into that damn computer... I don't know what he told you about any of that, but I can't help but think that it had something to do with...everything. Everything that just happened. It goes deeper than him being troubled. There's something truly evil at the root of it all." 

Yang 2020: A Libertarian Perspective

When I first heard  about Yang a mere 3-(ish) months ago, I was skeptical. A Silicon Valley technocrat, running on the same empty platitudes and stale rhetoric as his predecessors... great. Then, as Yang started to pop up in the online spaces I navigate, I started to do some investigating. Articles covering his plan to decriminalize opiates, the attention he drew to mental health in the wake of late-capitalism, his pledge to pull big tech out of the shadowy cabal it occupies (and yes, this includes the military technological industry) and mold it into an asset for the people and most famously his proposal for a UBI and VAT tax system. I became all the more intrigued. 

As someone who for all of their adult life, has sought... unorthodox approaches to tackling societal issues, approaches often operating outside the reach of the state, standing up to its monopoly on force with little care for God and government, I've been interested in technology not just as a novelty, or a utility but as a means to meet this end. But it is quite the doubled edged sword. The same technology that could reduce pollution, give people bodily autonomy and lead to a post-scarcity economy is also the same technology that spies on, exploits and murders people (directly and indirectly) at home and all over the globe. Yang seems to recognize this and is proposing bold solutions.

I think the case can be made that not much of what these solutions entail is opposed to libertarian principles. The UBI has been championed by both socialists and the descendants of the Austrian economists (Milton Friedman in particular) as a way to efficaciously meet people's needs and to streamline the cost of services provided by the welfare-state. It would allow for more people to not only become homeowners and small business owners but to pool their collective assets together at the local level to fund all manner of community projects that operate under the umbrella of a new sort of "socialism" (or localism) and can reflect the interests of both the Left and the Right. To quote Taki Magazine's Andrew Yang and the Post-Nationalist Future

"If Yang’s vision were to be successfully implemented, rightists of the future could focus squarely on issues of freedom of speech and association, and peacefully create their own microcommunities and neo-tribes within a globalized, technologized, economic order. Is the way we’ve been thinking about nationalism an obsolete holdover from the 20th century? Should we give up on the idea of seeing our cultural identity reflected in our government? Andrew Yang’s campaign inspires these types of questions."

Yang also recognizes the collapse that we are facing. We live in an age where as Nietzsche proclaimed "God is dead." Moral and meta-physical meta-narratives are all too easily, ripped apart. Rigid cultural lines are no longer drawn in the sand (in an era where everything is appropriated) and as far as the role of technology in this is concerned, it has diffused...everything. Our identities, the most basic tenets of what it means to be a human (specifically a human in the Western world) are now a simulacra. Corporate neo-liberalism (state subsidized capitalism) has opportunistically subverted this change, Yang seeks to take it back.

One book I've been cracking into is Nick Land's Fanged Noumena, a collection of essays with a heavy futurist bent. Since traveling the rails on the #yangtrain I see this collection of work as more relevant now more than ever (all the more impressive considering that most of it was written in the 90's!) especially the following;

The future wants to steal your soul and vaporize it in nanotechnics.

One/zero, light/dark, Neuromancer/Wintermute.

Cybergothic vampirically contaminates and assetstrips the Marxian Critique of political economy, scrambling it with the following theses:

1) Anthropormorphic surplus-value is not analytically extricable from transhuman machineries.

2) Markets, desire and science fiction are all parts of the infrastructure.

3) Virtual Capital-Extinction is immanent to production.

The short-term is already hacked by the long-term.

The medium-term is reefed on schizophrenia.

The long-term is cancelled…

We're at the crossroads of unfathomable change. We need to either suck it up and learn/extract what we can from it or collapse... Yang is just the beginning but he IS what we need in the here and now. #securethebag

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Lonesome King

This took place during the eclipse of the August 2017.

Omaha to Illinois. A good seven hour drive back home running on coffee and the few crumbs of cocaine I'd managed to save for myself, I arrived just in time to catch the eclipse... a black mass overtaking the sun makes a person think about certain things and after the beer, stims and good times I'd just had I was in the mood for some deep introspection. I'd procured a good stockpile of DXM in the form of "triple C's" a while ago and decided that this would be a good time to use it... All of it 1100 or so mgs).

After the eclipse had passed. After taking off my rose colored glasses designed for viewing said eclipse. After making my way back from the front yard to my basement apartment in the very strung out fashion I'd become accustomed to, I downed the pills... All of them.

It's enough to make me nauseous as I sit here writing this. The sick orgy of oversea chemicals that hit my stomach in one fell swoop. But I digress. Now it was time to play the waiting game.

I'd formed a ritual out of it. Lay down. Turn on a "slice of life" style documentary, or pretentious art-house film and wait for the magic and believe you me, the magic came in spades.

After some time, I was consumed. Any frame  of reference for reality I'd known before shrunk down to the size of a needle point. My vision became a teseract of sights and sounds each edge containing a world of its own that all began bleeding into mine. Suddenly I found myself in a ramshackle camp on the side of a mountain. I was surrounded by hiking and climbing gear. I made my way to the top, occasionally leaving this space to visit the neighboring reality of hyper-space entities. I eventually reached the summit and was greeted by another camp site. Someone had been here before. As I pondered this I noticed my body (or whatever it had become at this point). Merging with it forming a space of living architecture and that's when the voices started.

"Lonesome is the journey of a King.

Your crown manifests at the price of a dream.

A sovereign soul is what you sought.

Now this is your throne. 

The sanctum madness bought."

I was the shack atop a mountain. The desolate wind, my breath. Immobile. Intimate. Alone. I now knew what that place between being and non-being felt like.

It starts to get hazy here. Suffice to say I was in a semi-sober state a few hours later. The sun had set. The eclipse I'd gazed at a life time ago its harbinger. I went outside to smoke a cigarette and process all of it. Life moved on. New jobs. New relationships. New triumphs and short-comings alike. Coming up on two years later and I'm still not sure how to go about it... Processing that. Processing most things.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Time and Time (Again)

"Time is a spiral ya know."

Pan Handlin' John spit on the ground after taking a healthy drag off of his cigarillo.

"Some just ain't ready to see it but it don't make no difference. Time is a spiral, looping into a fine point, comin back around again. Eternal recurrence they call it."

John's face twitched as he exhaled one last time. His aforementioned cigarillo landing with surgical precision into whatever (probably) carcinogenic mess he'd coughed up on the ground. He reached for the 20 sack in his coat pocket with a fine tuned instinct. It was a reflex at this point. Like moth to flame. 

"You boys don't do'er like me." 

Another wheeze, another wad of spit (some remnants clinging to his beard this time). Another death rattle.

"Once ya get on the spike well... that whole time spiral. It gets to movin a lot faster."

"Jesus, what's that guy's deal," asked Tom, transferring the bag to his coat pocket as he and White Mike walked away. 

"Too much dope, too much meth, too much...everything. Too much'a life." 

Pan Handlin' John lived in corner. Arrests, failing health, all manner of gang bangers. None of it was of any consequence. He always returned here like some mythologic ghetto-Christ. Far more loyal to the binds of fate than the binds of time... Maybe there was something to his "spiral" theory after all.  White Mike didn't think about it too much. He always knew where to get dope and a growing habit above all else, stayed hungry. All sorts of alliances were made on the fringes of society to keep it fed.

"So... have you ever, ya know?" Mike asked.

"What shot dope?" 

"Yeah. Sorry I guess I-"

"Don't do it man," Tom interrupted.

"It's not worth it. I mean it might be but I don't hate the world that much yet." He chuckled (only halfway lightheartedly).

"I was just curious. I mean, I sure as shit know I won't end up like that guy."

"Yeah, I second that. He seems to have WAY more goin on than dope but-"

Tome paused to light a cigarette.

"You never really know ya know?"

"I guess... Can I get shorts on that?"

"Yeah sure. You know that guy is ate-the-fuck-up but he's right... I wasn't kidding. Don't do it."

[A couple-ish years later]

"What have we got."

"White male, early 20's. Overdose. He got Narcan on the way but he's fading again."

"Okay, prep some more."

Later-much later that evening. Dr. Glover sat quietly in his study sipping some overpriced bourbon. Somewhere, halfway across the country (but very likely, much closer than that) someone else was dying. Maybe the made it through, or made it back. Or maybe not. Grad school, med school, a 2 year residency. None of that prepared a person for fighting death's shadow in whatever sort of chemically engineered, super-war this was. It didn't make any sense but there was money to be made, a Hippocratic Oath to keep and questions like this to ponder.

White Mike came to in the ED. back from the void with no one but a rather bored looking nurse for company. A cold, panicked sweat gripped every inch of his soul. The unnamed nurse, went through the typical series of questions. How long? How much? How often? White Mike found himself in a Wendy's bathroom a few days later, digging for a fresh vein. he thought about the old days. He thought about Tom (dead). He thought about Panhandlin' John (?). He thought about a lot of things. 

'Time is a spiral," He breathed heavily to himself as the shot registered and the nod that only Chinese fent analogues could provide kicked in."

"Time... is a spiral."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Review

I really wanted to like this film. I really did. I was hoping for a stylized and scathing critique of the lust, consumerism of "high society" rooted firmly in transgressive fiction. Something akin to American Psycho or even something (in part) evoking Infinite Jest and by all appearances (if the trailer was any indicator) it initially presented as such. What I got however, was a schlocky combination of Final Destination and Insert generic ghost story here. 

Velvet Buzzsaw committed a lot of sins but what killed it for me is that it began with such a genuinely interesting premise. The world building of the elite contemporary art scene (a microcosm of the American petty bourgeoisie) got off to a strong start.Russo's line of "I've gone from anarchist to purveyor of good taste" was particularly striking for me. The plot thickened as Vetril Dease the aged resident of a slummy apartment complex passes away in the lobby leaving his life's work a prolific collection of art ripe for the taking. The catch? He left specific instructions to have it destroyed. One can't help but think of real life outsider artist Henry Darger when recanting this tale. 

As the art world is taken by storm Josephina (Zawe Ashton... more on her later) Rhodora Haze (Rener Russo) and Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) both seek to profit off of the newly discovered cache of art. As pointed out earlier, a strong start only to be hijacked by the same elements of any generic horor flick of the 2010's. Unsurprisingly, Dease's ghost returns, embodied within his art to reek havoc on the people who dishonored his last dying wish. The cast all expereince increasing paranoia and then die in a manner of gruesome (yet very un-creative) ways and there we have it. There are also of course, a fair amount of sex scenes in between all this.

Russo and Gyllenhaal who need no introduction were absolutely brilliant in 2014's Nightcrawler. A truly harrowing tale of ambition gone horribly array and while both of their performances were at least serviceable here any they were clearly subdued and worst of all took a back seat to the leading lady, Zawe Ashton (aka Josephina). Her flat, uninspiring and at times outright unlikable performance took up far too much screen time. Her romantic and personal troubles were of no interest and I genuinely felt no emotional investment in her character. I'm admittedly unfamiliar with her filmography but this was a very disappointing introduction.

One bright spot (literally) was the set design. The art presented in the film was quite good. Captivating and definitely a plus in the world building aspect that I was quite fond of throughout. 

As someone who is quite the consumer of all manner of horror media who has also attended quite a few art galas in my day, I can say with confidence that this film fails at the whole lot. Fine art? Certainly not. Horror?  suppose it puts forth the bare minimum. Social commentary? Maybe in its own mind. It also seems to have a certain kind of pretentious ere to it. Whether this is because it wanted (and possibly was, studio edits can make or break many aspects of a film) to be something more than what it was, or because it really was a self indulgent mess is of little consequence. I feel safe in rating this film a 3/10. There are much better ways to kill an afternoon than Velvet Buzsaw. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Day in the Life

Mr. White sat at the public chess table in Ironwood Park quietly smoking a cigarette. He was alone for the time being and it was colder than usual. The wind sliced through his paper thin, god-knows-what sort of stained windbreaker and chilled the edges of whatever flesh his scraggly beard left uncovered.
"You look like shit."
Mr. White looked up. A man stood in front of him. A man from nowhere materializing from the atoms that make up the wind. Everything and nothing. A man dressed for a funeral, sporting a jet black (and undoubtedly overpriced) three piece suit, daubed with a faint cologne to mask the even fainter scent of corruption. A man he knew well.
"Waiting for you takes a toll." Mr. White said, after stomping what little remained of his cigarette out.
"Come now, Mr. White... that's hardly an excuse."
"Let's play. We're long overdue." Mr. White said his voice gripped by a sense of urgency he hadn't felt in some time.
"Very well old sport. Very well.
Jason opened his eyes very, very slowly. The invisible vice grips pressing against whatever brain cells he hadn't killed off last night, forcing it all to come into focus. The day old puke in the kitchen sink, the (mostly) empty bottle of Captain on his nightstand, the general atmosphere of dim squalor as the light of the sunrise he'd missed by several hours crept through the holes in his blinds all called him back from the netherworld of his dreams.
"Fuck me," he said to no one in particular. TV snow buzzing like a swarm of cicadas ("what a life, spend all your time underground waiting and waiting to reach maturity then you finally grow up. For one day, you get to eat and fuck as much as you want then- nothing. Death, the final curtain...what a fuckin life") he thought to himself between the throbbing pain. He reached for what was left of the rum and chugged it. No chaser, it was gonna be one of those days. He made his way outside to the bus stop (knowing that all roads lead to the liquor store), no shave, no shower... one of those days.
"You're slipping old sport. That was some rookie bullshit if I've ever seen it."
"Old sport?" Mr. White sighed
"Really topical humor."
Well-" the man in black moved his pawn to E5.
"I try to bring some levity to our little get-togethers but all jabs at 1920's lit aside, you seem... off. You have for a while now. What have I missed since last time?"
"Nothing you aren't familiar with. Nothing that you didn't set into motion yourself."
The man in black smiled in the shit-eating way that he always smiled.
"That's hardly polite. Scorning an old friend for showing genuine concern? We may have had our-differences but surely, surely we can put some of that aside. We've been through a lot together Mr. White. That ought to count for something."
"Rook to H3."
"Long day already?" the usually disinterested Arabic store-clerk asked. Jason said nothing. Even if he'd wanted to the hangover hadn't died down enough to make such banal small talk anything close to a reality.
"Yeah, I guess," Jason grunted.
"Pint of rum I take it?"
The thick smell of incense wasn't helping his hangover in the slightest.
"Five fifty."
Jason reached for his money. The yellowed teeth of store-clerk (he hadn't bothered learning his name after all this time) curling into a smile. His coffee scented breath exhaled into the air they both shared. A symbiosis of sorts. A reliable customer was exactly that, a reliable customer. Jason knew it. His friend the store-clerk knew it. The money and alcohol changed hands and Jason headed for the door. After looking around for a while for any cops that might be cruising by, he took a brisk walk to the back of the parking lot to take a few swigs before the bus ride home. He thought of a picture that the store-clerk kept by his register. A young girl 5 maybe 6, smiling. Genuinely smiling. Jason popped the cap and took the first of what would be many more swigs.
"Nice move. Maybe you're coming around."
The man in black always did this. He instilled false hope into Mr. White right before he swooped in with a victory. It had been like this for while now. It wasn't always but here lately, Mr. White had been slipping.
"Don't think that I don't know how you work your little hustle."
"A hustle? Why, I'm insulted." The man in black smiled.
"Time for a smoke break." Mr White lit one up his eyes still glued to the table best he could. It was going to be one of those days.
"Aye man, what you need?"
Jason looked at the skinny, twitchy guy to his right.
"Ah, no man I'm (burp) good."
Whoever it was said nothing and scurried away towards the front of the store.
"Cocaine really is one hell of a drug," Jason thought to himself now more than a quarter of the way through his pint... enough to starve off the withdrawals but definitely not enough for a good time. After one more gulp he followed suit and made his way back to the store entrance.
"I ain't gonna tell you again mother fucker. Give me your fuckin cash now! All of it!"
"Holy shit! Please, please I have a daughter... b-back in Pakistan. Please..."
Jason didn't have time to assess the situation. All he knew was that the twitchy fellow he'd ran into moments before had a  gun in the store clerk's face. Now was a time for action.
"Check," Mr. White said. His voice not quite as muffled. His breathing a little less labored.
"Hmm, I see..."
The man in black... his true colors were starting to show.
"Well, I suppose I'll have to fix that now won't I... It's been a while since you've put me in this predicament old sport."
"Save it. I'm not in the mood for any of your bullshit pleasantries. You'll have to figure out a way to fix it pretty soon. Time's running out."
Tiny, almost imperceptible beads of sweat began to form on the man in black's brow. As the hourglass loosened a few more grains of sand. Mr. White's lips curled into a smile of their own.
If the Marines had taught Jason anything, it was how to take out a target. One punch to the gut and an uppercut to the lower rib. One stomp on the wrist to disarm and one swift kick (also in the gut) to remove any chance of Cracky McCrackerson of being able to get up anytime soon. Jason grabbed the gun, gave it to the clerk (wracked by tremors, furiously dialing 911) and bolted out of the store. He ran through a labyrinth of back alleys and burnt out squats until he couldn't. Gasping for breath. He reached into his filthy hoodie, took one look at his pint of rot-got rum and tossed it at the broad side of the garage next to him. Shattering into too many pieces to even dream of putting back together. Spilling its lifeblood all over the streets. Jason collapsed in the middle of the hood. Alive. Fully alive. He began laughing, crying tugging at the loose pieces of asphalt because he could.
"Thank you... Th-Thank you!" Jason sobbed.
A light rain fell over him. On the corner of South 3rd and Taylor.
"Check mate.'" Mr. White said, his voice giving way to thunder as the skies opened up.
"No! No! im-FUCKING-possible!" The man in black screeched. The veins in his neck bulged. His jagged teeth were ripe with a lust for blood. He tried to reach for something (a gun, a knife whatever you want it to be) but it was too late. The rain that hit his skin instantly turned to steam. Pockets of flames erupted from under his suit. This wasn't any sort of fire that rain could put out. His flesh peeling and turning to ash as a chasm opened up below his chair. On-lookers stood like deer in the headlights as the man in black was swallowed up into the grave of flames beneath him.
"Better luck next time," Mr. White said with a wink and just as soon as it had happened. It vanished. The rain gave way to sunlight. Joggers and couples walking their dogs went about their business as usual. Children played on the nearby jungle gym. Mr. White, looked around, picked up a Sunday paper leftover from who knows who and breathed a sigh of relief.
3 months later, Jason sat in a VA halfway house quietly sipping his coffee. A letter from his hometown he'd received a couple weeks ago hung on his wall. Two words and nothing else.
شكرا جزيلا (Thank You)
For the first time in a long time. Jason closed his eyes, took a deep breath and smiled.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Art on Imgur #fleshgang

Some recent projects I've been working on (not of the penned variety, though I am hard at work on some new content/branching out a bit stylistically). These were made for fun with a deep dream generator. Hopefully they'll be appreciated by someone out there.