Is it just me, or does Jared Leto look like his award winning role is going to be in a Charles Manson biopic?
Well, I did hear that he says he wants to play a pedophile.
He said he's be training for it.
How to you train for ... OH, SHIT!
Is it just me, or does Jared Leto look like his award winning role is going to be in a Charles Manson biopic?
Well, I did hear that he says he wants to play a pedophile.
He said he's be training for it.
How to you train for ... OH, SHIT!
Disassociation Tomato 2023 November 18
We jumped through a portal and came out the armoire door in a hotel room. I went over to the window and saw the downtown skyline. It seemed like we were on the fourth or fifth floor of the hotel.
I put down my backpack on the shelf that had a chair and could be used for a desk. Above it was a TV screen that looked like the main display panel on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. It was a beautiful, massive screen. It looked like it took up the space of the entire wall.
Also, it was SO THIN. Barely bigger than the thickness of a cigar box.
I asked Acsa how they did that – I mean, TVs have tubes and electronics and stuff in them. These are things my friends know better than I do, but I’ve never paid attention much. All I know is that our TV is on a big shelving unit, which is also made for my dad’s stereo equipment, and sits right on top of the space where he keeps his record collection.
This TV was mounted on the wall, and also had an arm where it could be pulled out and moved to an angle, probably so that you could see it better from the bed.
There was only one bed.
And two of us.
“I need to tell you something,” Acsa said. She took off the hat and the goggles and sat down on the edge of the bed. “COVID is bad. I mean, really bad. Actually worse than the Flu Epidemic of 1919.”
“That the Spanish Flu?” I asked.
“If that’s what you guys call it, yeah. But COVID is not only worse because it killed millions, and I mean MILLIONS across the world, but it was also worse because it destroyed the ability of people to agree on what reality is.”
“What does that even mean?” I asked her.
“It means this,” she held up her tricorder (I am not going to call it a “cell” – no way, no how, not ever. It is a tricorder!) “Everyone was hooked to this. Everyone believed this. And there were many many MANY voices on this, and they were all chattering away, and they confused so many people that many more people died. People died who didn’t need to die. And really, there is no amount of mathematical study of probablity or Potentialities that will ever give us an accurate number of who might have been saved and who might have lived.”
“That’s horrible!” I said.
“Yes, it is. And now, I want to tell you, that you could have stopped this.”
That was weird. Look, she just took me to some Mad Max post-Apolcaptic hellscape, and I’d been seeing deserted streets and empty grocery stores and people afraid to get close to each other, and everyone masked up and running around like they are all “duck and cover” and now Acsa is telling me that somehow I’m the key to all this?
I was like, “No. No way.” I’m not THAT guy in THOSE novels who has the secret to “save the day” and all that. Not me.
It wasn’t me, though. It all had to do my band, the Ardmore Gongmongers
Asca laid out the case like this: Dan Maxwell, our bass player, the third of the triad that is the Ardmore Gongmongers, the same guy who described himself as the “John Entwistle” of the group, and wrote songs like “Cecil the Aardvark” (I heard it – it was on the iPod. It’s HILARIOUS!) … was the same guy who COULD HAVE STOPPED COVID.
Ok, I can tell that you guys are probably rolling your eyes right now, but let me try to explain it to you the way Acsa explained it to me: Dan, after the band broke up after college, went on to continue his studies in biology, and became a biologist working for a diabetes medicine manufacturer, looking for better diabetes drugs.
If Dan HAD NOT been in the band, he WOULD HAVE met a Chinese exchange student in his medical program, and he would have gone into the field of virology, where he and she would be married and work with both American and Chinese companies, working on treatments for various viruses – like the Spanish Flu of 1919.
What is the one way that Dan takes this course?
No Ardmore Gongmongers.
There are no Ardmore Gongmongers if I’m dead.
By a gunshot to my head.
So that’s how it plays out. Yeah, it’s kind of like a twisted “It’s a Wonderful Life” – kinda like what Howard the Duck experienced in Bizarre Adventures #34 (I love that issue, by the way – I have a mint copy that I keep sealed and I have a copy that I read)
I told Acsa, “Look, in a world with all these millions of people …”
“Billions,” she corrected me.
“Billions,” I said. “Not just one guy can change things like that.”
“No,” she admitted, “Dan doesn’t make a cure for COVID or anything, but he and his wife work on a team that helps to mitigate the spread. What they do doesn’t STOP it, but it makes it so that not everybody dies. And when COVID is just like the flu, it never makes all the people freak out and confuse so many people.”
And to show me what happened, Acsa showed me on her tricorder. We also spent all afternoon watching the television.
I saw people in Italy, not leaving their houses, singing to each other from their balconies.
I saw refrigerator trucks parked outside of hospitals in New York City, where they were holding all the dead because people were dying so fast and filling up their morgues.
I saw stories of people emptying shelves of toilet paper. (Didn’t really understand the toilet paper. I mean, come on guys, just use a washcloth if you have to!) (I know that might sound gross, but … for real!)
Then I saw government officials of the state saying that we needed to get people back to work and if that means that they give COVID to grandma and grandpa and they die, then that’s the price to be paid to make sure that America stays strong.
That last one really hit me. That I think weirded me out more than anything else. That sounded like what they taught us in school that the Soviets tell their people. DIE so that the STATE can live.
What the hell kind of place IS 2020, when my country started sounding like the Commies?
And then … she showed me the other news: the idea that spread that the government had made COVID to kill the elderly. Ideas that the Jews had made COVID. That the Liberals had made COVID. That the Chinese had made COVID to kill THEIR elderly, but they just messed up and it got out of their contol. That the Chinese had made COVID to kill AMERICANS.
That COVID didn’t exist.
That it was just the flu, and the government was using it to control people.
Acsa said, “These were real deaths, real deaths of real people, but the real death was the truth.”
“What was the truth?” I asked her. “What exactly IS the truth?”
“The Truth,” she told me, “is that everyone who lives anywhere HAS to agree on what reality is. If they don’t agree on what is happening in front of their eyes, everyone dies. Alone and scratching at each other’s eyes.”
Look, I know this is hard to believe. This is hard for me to believe, even now. But this is the part where I have to let you know that this is coming. It’s coming. It’ll be here in 35 years. I don’t know if I’ll be still around to see it – I mean, to see it AGAIN. But it’s real.
Acsa knew it only as the past, because she was born decades after it. But for her, it was still in the memories of those who’d lived through it, and there had been a lot of “sorting out” she called it, to determine what could reliably be called the “truth” because the survivors who had lived through it were the ones who had completely different sides.
Which is weird, because all the old people I know are in total agreement: they all grew up in the Depression, they all fought in World War II, they all lived through the 50s and saw their kids become adults in the 60s, and they all agree that everyone my age has it good and that none of us would ever be able to live through the same kind of hardships they had when they were all 15 years old.
Acsa’s old people are completely different. Half of them say that the world was ripped apart by COVID, and the other half say that COVID never happened and no one ever died, and that the other half just created COVID in their minds in order to try to take their guns away.
I can kinda see why Acsa wanted to spend most of her time with dragons rather than with people.
Why we can't have nice things.
No idea if any of the grooming accusations are true, but let's just all admit that there are no safe spaces anywhere and it's very sad when some of the spaces we hope were safe turn out not to be ... or at least are accused of not being safe.
But then, I haven't been using the forums anyway. I just use NaNoWriMo to try to finish my novel.
The Dead Kandinskys say,
"They tell us to buy the Dip but they never tell us how much the Dip costs?
Last time when we bought the Dip, we got the Dip home, and it turned out to be a Doofus.
So, we returned it, but they would only exchange it for a Dork."
As I sat there, reading, the owner of the bookstore came over with a stack of books crocked under his arm, which he started shelving. The man looked like he was almost seven feet tall, and had a grey hair that looked like it was once auburn, there were still flecks of red among the grey, which made me think of Autumn turning into Winter, and his long arms and big hands made him look like the perfect Book-Shelving-Machine, the way he pushed books aside to make space for others.
"You're the owner, right?"
"Yes," he said, smiling.
"Nice place you got here."
"Thanks. I think so, certainly." From the stack that he was carrying, he pulled one and handed it out to me. It was a thin trade paperback, looked well-worn and read. I took it and looked at the cover, a grey cover with an illustration on the front of a boy with a dragon and a cat.
The title was "Catcher of the Writers."
I looked up at the owner of the bookshop. I don't even think I said anything. I think my mouth was just open. He smiled at me and moved past me, toward the back sections, where I think Acsa was wandering around. His grey cardigan flapped open and I saw that he was wearing a t-shirt that had the words Ardmore Gongmongers wrapped in a circle around what looked like a shovel. The shirt was old and faded, and I got the impression that he got it when he saw the band in concert, several decades ago.
I opened up the book and the first line was "I hated the way she smoked, the last time I saw her alive."
Those words really hit me. I didn't know why then, and still don't, now - how I knew, I mean. But they were written about my mom. I just knew. The description went on to talk about the bandages around her wrists, and the way they trembled as he held her cigarette in the mental ward at the top floor of St John's Hospital.
Yes - exactly where I am now. In the same room. Telling you all this onto this stupid tape machine.
Look, I'm getting a little tired here and I kinda want to stop here. Let's pick this up tomorrow, OK?
OK, let's start again. Guess I'll get back to where I was - in the Catcher of the Writers.
After the intro, it went on to say, if I can remember it all, something like this:
If you really want to hear about it, you’d probably want to know what really gave me the love of reading and literature and all that, but honestly, I’m not going to tell you – not because I’m some sort of Holden Caulfield jerk*, but because I truly do not know.
There was an asterisk after "jerk" and at the bottom of the page was printed
*I am a different kind of jerk, entirely)
Then, the book goes on with this story of a story that he - me, I guess - had read somewhere...
I remember a short story that I read once. A Christmas story. It was written sometime between the 20s, to the 50s... probably 40s are the most likely. I think it was in a collection of short stories that had been printed in the New Yorker.
It was about 4 pages long, and it was about a guy, can't remember his name, but I think it was George. He walked up the steps to a Christmas party, and when he walked inside, all the presents were sitting on the table, and while everybody else was congregated in the other room, he went through the tags and added his name to each one. "... and George"
Such as "Love from Charles and Sue ... and George!"
Or maybe the story was at a wedding reception ... that would make more sense.
I don't know. That's all I can remember. Kills me that I can't remember the story, or be able to find it. I've looked through my books, the collections of short stories, the collections of Christmas stories, collections of New Yorker stories, but I can't find it.
Really freaked me out how this writing sounded just like me. I kid you not, it was like it was written by me and at the same time, FOR me. Part of me was smiling because I was thinking, "Cool! A book written by me that I didn't have to do any work on!"
Yeah, I know by now this meant that at some point I'd have to put in the work on this book - writing, reading, notes, plotting, researching, editing, re-reading, MORE editing, all that crap. But I bet there would be a TON of people who would love to just have an idea and then just it into some machine that would spit out a book for them.
But then I thought, that would probably be a loser way to go. I mean, can you really call it YOUR book if you didn't really put the work into it?
But anyway, I skipped through the Catcher of the Writers and the main aspect of it seemed to be that this guy (me) comes to realize that his main point in life is to encourage other writers, other artists, other musicians, to create, create, create.
It keeps coming back to the idea that the creative impulse inside humans is the only thing that ultimately saves us from destroying ourselves entirely, both as individuals and as a collective body.
(That's a quote I lifted from the book)
Another passage that I read that really struck me was this - goes something like:
Marcel Proust once wrote, “… the only true paradise is always the paradise we have lost.”
But what if that’s not true?
At least not entirely?
What if the one true paradise is the one that we have never seen?
The one that we wish for, the one we yearn for? the one that we see in our dreams?
What if the one true paradise is the spouse that we have created in our minds?
The house that we have pieced together out of photos of houses in magazines, or the insides of houses that we have seen?
The rolling ocean when we live in a land-locked state?
The open fields when we are living in the urban jungle?
The paradise that we have lost is the one that we can never reclaim, but the one that we have not yet obtained, that paradise is always perfect, always true.
And that, right there, got me as well ... it speaks to the idea that we should always keep dreaming, keep creating: music, books, art, whatever, because at the end of the day, what we leave behind of our art is the only thing that we have given to the future, and it is the only thing that makes other people, as well as ourselves, feel as though life is worth living.
Art saves lives. Music, photography, poetry, all that stuff: it saves lives.
And sure, yeah, some - a lot, actually - of artists kill themselves, but have you ever wondered if maybe their art actually kept them alive longer than they would have otherwise?
Take Hemingway for example - he gave us all those books, all those short stories, but if he hadn't have been a writer, he probably would have taken himself out a long time before.
Look, I know you guys aren't letting me out of here anytime soon, but I'm telling you know, that ... I don't know how to say it ... but I - know better, now. I know.
Just wanted you guys to know that, too.
What We See When We Wear Funyons as Glasses
Now, to tell you the truth, it’s not like suddenly I was able to see them. It was a slow process. It started off just like a flicker of light, almost like a splinter, that flickered across my line of sight. Think of a shooting star – just a streak – and then there was another, and another.
Then, shapes began to form. I was still looking at the ceiling tiles, the corner where the ceiling meets the wall, and I could see the tops of the shelves, but the edges of everything began to shimmer. It’s sort of like the way the light dances in a small stream, when the sun is shining down, and it looks like little flecks of gold leaves on the water.
These flecks began to swirl and bend and form shapes, snake-like, that were taking place around the edges of the shadows of the ceiling and the walls and the bookshelves.
The whole thing gave me the feeling that I had the one time my dad and mom took me to see Dad’s uncle in Colorado, when I was maybe 8 or 9, and we all went out fishing on his lake, and I was to reach into the bucket to grab some minnows to the bait the hook, and the minnows were fast and silvery and slippery and almost impossible to catch with my hands – I remember laughing as slithered through my fingers. My uncle finally gave me a small net to grab them.
But this was kind of like that – little minnows slashing through the air.
Until they started to come a little bit more into focus, and then I could see that they were dragons. Like Kit – with the same shimmering scales that changed colors constantly, but they were obviously older dragons, full-grown, and they didn’t move with Kit’s puppy-like dog moves, no, these dragons moved with grace and smoothness and how they flew around the room showed that they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going.
It seemed like they were there and yet, were not. It’s hard to explain. Also, I couldn’t really tell their size – even though they seemed close by, they also seemed distant. I could tell that they were huge, wherever they were, but they were so close and yet so far away, that they did seem small with the distance.
“How come no one has ever seen these through the Funyons before?” I asked Acsa.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“I’m sure we’re not the first people who’ve ever held Funyons up to their eyes before.”
“Well yeah! As a kid I did it all the time. Never saw dragons then!”
“You didn’t give it enough time. And as a kid, you never got quiet enough to let yourself see them. But it’s really kind of sad that I’m showing you these dragons and all you can think about is eating Funyons when you were a kid. I mean, here I am showing you something AMAZING and you’re not even saying, ‘Wow Acsa! This is something almost NOBODY has ever seen before!’ but instead you’re all like ‘How come nobody’s noticed?’”
“Sorry,” I said, but that was instinctive. I really didn’t know what I was sorry FOR.
“Just look at them. Look at how they move, how they breathe, how they just … ARE. Aren’t they beautiful?”
“Yes,” I said. “Very beautiful.” But I wasn’t looking at the dragons at that moment. I was looking at her.
the guard was a really great guy, he just seemed kind of lonely. I guess that;s what all night security guards are like, having to wander around the places all night long with nobody to talk to. Plus they are probably asleep through most of the day when everybody is out and about and interacting, so they don't really have the same human interaction.
Kyle was like that - he had kind eyes, even if a little sad, Bad teeth, but that looked more genetic than from hygiene, and he kept running his hand through a big mop of dishwater blond hair that kept falling over his eyes as he talked. He told us about his days as a studio musician in Austin before he moved back here to take care of his brother, and he told us about the Ardmore Gongmongers, starting off as though we should know who they were.
Apparently they were a local band back in the late 80s and early 90s - and yeah, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I know that this is 1985 when I'm talking to you and making these tapes, and I know that this - all of this - is probably going to make you guys keep me locked behind those doors - but you guys asked me to tell you this story and so I'm telling it, and I'm just giving you what Kyle Staedelmeier said to Acsa and me. ... And McCartney. Like you should probably know by now, he couldn't see Kit.
Kit was, by the way, curled up around Kyle while Kyle spoke. Kit seemed to like listening to him talk about his band.
They were originally going to be named the Electric Slits, but then they either found out there was another band named that or close to that, or they thought they wouldn't be able to get shows with the name "slit" and they came up with the Gongmongers because that was an old 18th century title of a job for a guy who went down the streets of London, shoveling the shit off the streets. Because those were the days when people threw their chamber pots out the window onto the street, so somebody had to clean it up, right?
At this point, it reminded me that I'd read where James Joyce had written a collection of poetry called Chamber Music, which he always referred to as "Chamber Pot" music. Kind of the same way he called "Ulysses" "Useless-ees" - which truly, I always liked about the guy. I mean, when you can make stupid puns putting down the titles of your own books, that shows that you really know how language can work, how it can be twisted.
But yeah, back to Ardmore Gongmongers - Kyle said that no one in the band was actually FROM Ardmore, but it was a town close by, and they liked how it worked with Gongmongers, and then when they found out that town was named after a town in Pennsylvania and that the word was Gaelic for "High Place" they knew it fit - because all in all, they said that Ardmore Gongmongers gave the image of those who shovel shit from the top of a hill - meaning that they are throwing it DOWN on all the people at the BOTTOM of the hill. Plus, musically, they could do Irish trad, American folk, mix it all with punk and see what shook out.
I loved his explanation and I told him that I'd love to be in a band like that, and that's when Kyle said something weird to me, "Actually, you remind me of the screamer of our band. We called him the screamer, not the singer. His name was Matthew Laycox."
That's when I froze. Acsa and I hadn't said our names to him, and for a second I had not idea what he was on about. Was he a Collector who was just getting ready to nab us? What was going on here?
But then he started talking about how I looked like I could be the guy's son, or how I looked like HIS Matthew Laycox, only a few years younger, and it really did seem then that he was just going on through his memory. He hadn't seen Matthew in over 15 years, after the band broke up. He wouldn't say why. I got the feeling he didn't really want to tell us.
Acsa asked him, "Even if you haven't seen him in awhile, do you know anything about what he's doing now?"
"He had a woman he knocked up, and from what I hear, he's still married to her and she's making him work three jobs still, and their kid should be about your age" (pointing to me) "or about. That's why it's so weird that you look so much like him. Weird."
I didn't know what Acsa was getting at, but she seemed to want me to know about this OTHER Matthew, but then it was getting about time for the morning shift to get here, so Kyle told us we better be moving on. But before we left, he gave me a little shiny slim box, fit right in the palm of my hand. I asked him what it is, and he said, "You haven't seen an iPod? Where are you kids from, anyway?"
"Let's just say we're not from around here," Acsa said.
"Well, I want you guys to have my iPod, because it's got all the Ardmore Gongmongers songs on there, plus a few of my own over the years. I always just made music that I wanted to listen to, myself, but I'd be happy knowing that some people out there are carrying it to places ... not from around here."
He was smiling through those bad teeth and some part of me suddenly wanted to shake the guy's hand and tell him that I was sorry. Sorry for breaking up the band.
Sorry for something I hadn't even done. I knew that feeling very well. Always that.
But this time, I was sorry for something bad that I hadn't even done YET. That was a new feeling.