Junkyard Bastards

Well fuck. The power just went out, again. If I were to tally the pros and cons of the Canada House building my graph would likely tip in the favor of the cons. This is not a place of efficacy or construction. This is not a place of pragmatism and order. It is certainly not a place that makes sense. Nonsense reigns supreme in the citadel of madness that has enveloped my life. This is a monastary of chaos and we, as the new order of tenants, have read the rules. No upward momentum, no clean counters, no decent brooms, half of the recommended equipment, socks must be sacrificed and the final rule, drugs everywhere.
In here, my body becomes a refuge for wayward chemicals on the run from the law. If my eyes aren’t chemically peeled back by amphetamines, my legs are wobbly from alcohol. If my head isn’t sunk into my chest from vicodin, my skull is on fire with acid and if we’re dry in the department of felonious drugs, then we go back to smoking pot. On the occasion that we’re all the way out of all the good shit, we smoke cigarettes. I hate cigarettes. I smoke them anyway.
Those fucking cigarettes. I’ve quit smoking them five or six times but every time I get drunk, I can move backward in time to before I left those glorious cylinders of tobacco. It’s ridiculous. I loathe the acrid whisps that slither down into my lungs. I hate the black loogies that crawl out of my my sinus but it’s all worth it to satisfy an image. There’s something Sysyphian about lasting a week without the bastards and then, come friday night and the battalions of liquor, landing back in the junkyard with a well-packed bone rolling in my fingers. I look at it, remember the most recent promise I made to myself, nestle it in my lips and ask for a lighter. Once I reclaim my post outside the bar, I search for an attractive stranger to say nothing to. Luckily, those kinds of strangers come in droves.
Imaginary conversations leading to love-making in cars and the nights Steve Mariott sings about float around my head while I eye-fuck every filled pair of jeans that passes by. Leaning against the wall, trying to look aloof while simultaneously looking around for a pair of glazed eyes belonging to a woman as sexually frustrated as me. The eyes never float by. Maybe I don’t wait long enough, maybe the hours are fucked, who cares. Either way, I offer a final prayer to the mistress of the night and walk back into the bar to nurse my whiskey back to health. After all, you wouldn’t want to go into the chaos unprepared would you?

He gets it.

He gets it.

Hail Satan

Hail Satan
Here’s why: Satanists get a bad rap. Fortunately, that isn’t the only reason. The last thing we need is someone crying about how no one says nice things about Satanists. Satanists are misunderstood, but the evangelical Satanists are the stereotype. Those guys are exactly the reason why it’s fun to not be one of them and yell “Hail Satan!
When someone who isn’t in traditional satanic garb does a widely approved task and shouts “Hail Satan!” triumphantly, the context doesn’t match the situation – and people hate that. The people that are immediately disgusted are who the phonetic bullets are aimed at. In America, the people who are usually immediately disgusted by Satanism are Christians.
If you think Satan is bad, then you have to be Christian. If you think Satan is real, in any sense, you have to be Christian. It would be logical to assume that a Christian would express some disapproval of anyone openly praising Satan. So we have our target demographic. This is where things get tricky.
As a little Christ, Christians are held to a fairly strict ethical code. A code the Christians in America don’t follow at all. The way they follow is a way without judgment, for God will judge you. This piece is especially pertinent to our purposes here. The reaction of the common American Christian to our phonetic bullet, obviously, is judgment. Weird. So aside from the joy gleaned from catching someone in their hypocrisy, the advocate of Satanism gets a few other tasty morsels of triumph. The advocate gets the chance to throw an absurd fear back in the face of its host, the chance to use a stranger’s philosophy against them, and the chance to facilitate learning.
The third point deserves some clarification. At face value, it’s reasonably difficult to see how anyone can learn anything from this situation besides “Fuck that guy.” Which is true. Learning can only take place in this situation if the target doesn’t immediately shrink away because of the discomfort. And this is where the more personal aspect comes in, rather, this is why I enjoy yelling “Hail Satan!
Spiritual growth cannot be achieved without discomfort. If you think comfortable thoughts all the time, you will create a reality based on your virtuousness in the best case scenario. I appreciate optimism but statistically, it’s usually not the best case scenario. More to the point, if you go around thinking you’re a perfect Christian and only that, you create an intangible machine in your head that will keep you totally blind to the contours and freckles of life.
Shouting “Hail Satan!” forces the target to confront a source of great discomfort. Granted, it’s somewhat violent and overall, a negative way to spur on the forces of education – but so is letting your kid fall on its face so it can learn to walk.

Working Man

Throughout most of my life, I have held jobs of no consequence. Being a tour guide meant walking gullible people through a tourist trap for minimum wage – that was a job for pot money. Then I somehow convinced the human resources department at Jackson Community College to take me on as an IT member. I have rudimentary understanding of computers – apparently I have a greater understanding of persuasion, who knew? This was also the first time I had two jobs and the first time I vowed to never do that to myself again. As you can see, I take my vows pretty seriously. 

The next place I ended up was the desert of unemployment. I ran in circles for a year-and-a-half wondering why no one would hire a long-haired hate-machine who actively attempted to reject policy – I fired the intelligence contractor I was using at this time and plugged myself into a more reasonable group of thoughts. Unemployment is debilitating. In the  beginning, people come up and congratulate you on not having to work. For a while, this is fun. That while lasts about a week before the boredom begins to drill holes in your mind. Out of the holes leaks your powers of reason. Steadily it drains out, eroding the initial hole until your better parts gush out of your face in instances of word vomit and nosebleeds. In short, fuck being unemployed.

After wandering that desert, I used a technique taught to me at a very young age by several men more wise than I. I pulled my head out of my ass. What I mean to say is, I overcame my absurd philosophical opposition to getting a fast-food job. A friend of mine was leaving her post at Marco’s Pizza and I asked her to essentially give her job to me. She put in the word, I aced the interview (Difficult, huh?) and then I had a job at Marco’s. The pizza shop was fun, pretty girls, fun summer antics, awkward flirtations, race fan-hate and all sorts of goofy shenanigans happened in those greasy halls. I learned a lot about myself and where I thought I was headed in life. 

During this chapter, I maintained an apartment with a brother of mine. We called it the adobe, or maybe that was just me, either way we had one and it was pretty cool. There was a hound biting just behind my heels. That was when I saw how easy it is to settle into mediocrity. I was in a familiar place, with familiar people, no surprises would come, I could make a modest living and die as if nothing ever happened. I found this appalling. That was worse than suicide to me. “At least you stay alive and have something of your own.” Fuck you. I would never be happy with that life that Townes Van Zandt sang about. I would never be happy just waiting around to die. 

There’s a part here where I had a girlfriend. It ended up sucking. I use the word ‘sucking’ because I don’t have the time to string together enough expletives to convey an accurate sense of how fucking horrible it ended up being. Jesus Hewlett Packard Christ. Sometimes, when I hear a high-pitched voice say “Hey!” like she did, I have flashbacks and drop to the floor screaming. That’s how it goes, right?

I avoided the gravitational field of the soul-devouring hive-mind that is the Hometown – a creature made of wasted potential and ignorance that looks so damn cute to the unambitious. My comrade gave me an opportunity to room with him for a few months before we began renting the house that would take me into the present. I slept on his floor in Ann Arbor for three months while going to school and working at the Produce Station. This was the most suicidal I have ever been. Give yourself a day off, man. You will go fucking insane if you don’t.

This lasted until last August when I lost my job at the Produce Station. A local classmate helped me acquire a position at the Ann Arbor T-shirt Company which went well for a few months until my same comrade helped me acquire a job at Costco as a food demonstrator or sales associate. I carried that job all the way up to this May when I realized I wanted a job that used my body and not my patience. Once again, I quested for a new job. I searched catacombs of craigslist for manual labor positions until I found one that suited the bill perfectly. I became a mover. My job was to lift heavy things and then set them back down. Brilliant.

I’m still at that job. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I feel like I’ve accomplished something during my day. Hard physical labor is self-validating because you have a tangible consequence for your effort. I lifted an entire bedroom set – now I am sweaty – I must be trying hard – trying hard means I have a good work ethic – this feels good – I can continue trying hard. A perpetual motion machine is tipped off in the mind of a male that allows us to enjoy putting our bodies through stressful situations and eventually makes us excited to tangle with a difficult object. I describe this as a perpetual motion machine because the end is the beginning. Trying hard makes you want to try hard. This is the secret of work ethic, this is the occult knowledge that working men have and teenage boys fumble for. When you put the effort in, to anything, you receive a feeling of satisfaction that drives you to put more effort in. It does no good to analyze the phenomenon too closely as understanding too fully allows for accidental tweaks in the otherwise perfect process. This is the same process that kept men storming off into the jungle to kill animals they couldn’t see. As my blue-collar friends at work would say: “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” 

If you have an uncomfortable creature lurking in the corners of your mind that assails you with destructive comments, burn it away with raw effort. Get yourself a job or hobby that requires nothing but intense effort. Sometimes you don’t need someone to talk to in order to flush these senseless feelings that disturb and frighten – sometimes you just need to sweat. Now go get ’em.

House of Faith

Is there really any reason to have faith?

Haven’t we lost more than that already?

The rally of the practically useless

Is no place for the remnants of reason.

We have divided ourselves amongst this house,

And we shall watch as it falls.

 

 

However, we are not what falls.

Of this, I do have faith.

Even a hut with a dirt floor is a house,

We needn’t give up already,

For this, there is no reason.

Cowardice is useless.

 

Faith outside ourselves is also useless

And with only that, each of us falls.

For this, there is a simple reason:

The only plunders received from faith

Were in our posession already.

We were born inside this house.

 

We’ve made a home of this house

But unhappy safety is useless.

And I’m sure you knew already,

That boredom is the cause of many falls.

Of this I need not a modicum of faith,

For I wield the battalions of reason.

 

Now let us put aside our reason

So that we may feel around the house

And let it rest on foundations of faith,

Though it seems a bit useless.

The house we love never falls

Of this, you knew nothing already.

 

We have played this game already

And dodged the realms of reason,

Where each one of us falls.

The street has replaced our house,

But it had become useless.

With only myself left, I place my faith.

 

Already, we radiate the forces of reason:

That which falls is that which is useless.

Our house will stand, of this I have faith.

 

The Fix

     I’m going to rail on about drugs for a moment here. Drugs are a vastly interesting field of observation. I’ve done a reasonable amount of drugs in my short years and the main thing I’ve learned is that most people get high – on something. More people than not smoke, drink, snort, eat, parachute, mainline and generally take, drugs. In fact, I find more conviction for drugs in the people who do the legal ones. The drinkers love themselves a beer; they crack a cold one after work or they make a quick mixie in the mid-afternoon. They find some way, every day, to fill a container with alcohol and take the edge off. Smokers undergo the same cycle, albeit a bit faster. Smokers wake up, hock the crusted fumes from the depths of their lungs and plop the square between the lips. All in the first five minutes of the day. They have their morning smoke just to make sure there is no chance they will suck a full breath of air this day. Now the seal is broken, they must smoke to survive. Every hour or so, every 30 minutes for the heavy, they must go to their designated area and light one up – maybe even spit out a catchphrase before they do. Something like “Hey, smoke ’em if you got ’em.” That way the wheezy murmurs of the smoking gaggle sound more like bugles celebrating the arrival of royalty. The smokers try to sing with the bugles but all the high notes sound like wet cardboard in a blender so they force a chuckle and go back to smoking. Can’t quite deny that sense of community in a smoking area though. It’s very similar to the community of snobs who discuss frivolous options for their caffeinated beverages. This level of use or abuse has the most addicts in denial.

     The next echelon of drugs is stuff like pot, mushrooms, vicodin, DXM, illegal drugs that any random person can acquire with little effort. These are the ‘dopers’. The people who champion this level of drug use are the high-ons and burn-outs, the Bill & Ted types, the people who seem high whether they are or not. The people here, are the dudes in drug-rugs, dread-locked, choker-chained, pukka-wearing, long-boarding, Coachella-endorsing, craft-making, tapestry-caped, a-religious, open-minded, Bob Dylan-obsessed, Greenpeace folk. Most of political backing for legalization of drugs happens in this chunk of the user-spectrum – primarily due to the young, active nature of the people involved.

     Then we get to the tippity-toppity pointed peak of chemical perversion: Hard drugs. This is the level where people get null and void. This is where you find the appallingly normal people, who play up center-field with the masses and not left-field with the wackos, who do one drug, a lot. This is the level with the addicts and the successful, the extreme cases of drug use. There are people at this level who can’t be deterred by normal barriers, people who can still hold a conversation while they’re soaked with urine and people who can run businesses, higher than a satellite. The economic elite, and the homeless pretty much dominate this whole spectrum. Naturally, you have your middle-class casual hard drug binger but they always have an in with one of the extremes. There are actually a surprising amount of parents in this category, lots of people from the previous generation who have had a ‘fling’ with heroin or cocaine. They didn’t smoke crack but they did rock up their coke and smoke it…but it was before the ‘crack thing’ – or whatever. My mom said she had a ‘fling’ with angel dust. That generation was the Dazed and Confused one though, so it’s not all that strange they’ve gotten themselves into a few escapades with high-octane chemicals.

      There is a morbid clarity that comes with these people. They can see one face of the world so clearly, like a clairvoyant sees the future of a falling rock, yet they have all the complexity of mediocrity that dilutes their speck of enlightenment into a form of neurotic genius that ends up being more of an affliction than a blessing. People here are like were-gods. They seem like complete turds until that stroke of authenticity comes around again and they lay a universal truth down on you like a blast of heat after walking out of an air-conditioned building. There are a lot of musicians up here who suck as people, but wail as sonic oracles prophesying the path that endless beauty will take on its why back to the blackness of forever.

     So buy the ticket and take the ride but don’t forget to look around and realize, that it is just a ride.

Post-Life Punk Rock

Well, shit. I have a cacophony of half-baked ideas for articles that will probably never make it passed the mental cutting-room floor – Or as I call it, the conceptual slaughterhouse. Within the conceptual slaughterhouse is a room at the center of the compound where the dismembered ideas use the vestiges of their unholy energies to fuse mis-matched limbs together like some kind of Franken-thought. That’s a bit flat for a fusion of incredible horror – How about we call it a Frankenberry-Thought? All in agreement? Good.

These Frankenberry-Thoughts are half alive and completely engulfed in lunacy. Most of the time they gnaw on the chains they aren’t connected to with their purplish-green gums. Leave them alone, they’re confused. Eventually, enough of them will realize their cohort’s chains taste like ass compared to their own shackles. With this realization, they will mobilize a combined effort to bust the walls out of my brain-prison like the corpses in Herbert West: Re-animator. Once freed (This is the hypothetical part) the Frankeberry-Thoughts will presumably form a haphazard punk band and attempt covers of NOFX covering Bad Religion covering The Clash…because Punk Rock is all about keeping traditions alive. After a small time in squalid poverty playing free shows to kids with absurd hair-dos, they find a spectral talent scout from Epitaph records and hit the big time as the world’s first Post-Life Punk Rock band.

After a few successful tours through the area in World of Warcraft where the Undead people live (or…decay?) and a special appearance in Eric Powell’s The Goon, the demonic force that Glenn Danzig utilized for his career with The Misfits confronted the Frankenberry-Thoughts. Danzig attempted to use his favored technique: The Flaming Studded-Bracelet Punch – but the Frankenberry-Thoughts had one more trick up their sleeve. The dreaded concept album. It was their only hope. The Frankenberry-Thoughts began to use obscure chords and ludicrous melodies to form 13-minute songs about confusing metaphors which obliterated the attention span of Danzig. Now restless, Danzig attempted to displace his discomfort with a cigarette but he kept pacing in his listlessness. The Frankenberry-Thoughts knew he was going to crack but Danzig would make them work for it.

Once the crescendo of the Frankenberry-Thoughts’ opus collided with the spectral temporal membranes of Danzig, he couldn’t take it. His cigarette was gone, his patience was eroded, his balls were itchy, and he couldn’t tie his shoes. Danzig saw his defeat coming. He swore to defile the groupies of the Frankenberry-Thoughts one day but to his dismay, the Frankeberry-Thoughts spent too much time in the Misfit Dimension to continue their tour and Epitaph dropped them from the label. Drowning in obscurity, the Frankenberry-Thoughts moved back into my head like a freight-train lobotomy. They set their axes down (the drummer literally had an ax) and went back to their gnawing only now they returned with the knowledge of occult punk-demons and a disillusionment involving the Undead Music Industry.

WE ARE THE NIGHT

            

Image

       Since the first night I selected my own pajamas, they have been Batman pajamas. This is not mere coincidence or boyhood hero-worship, this is proof of the far-reaching influence of Batman. Batman is a typical hero, considering his goals, but only in that way does he relate to most characters in the DC universe. Batman has dense layers of psychological baggage that skew his position as a defender of the innocent into more of a Bat-themed martial arts gestapo. Yet, I do not know a single human being who thinks Batman sucks. What’s interesting to me, is why we’re okay with this. The quandary of Batman’s weight on our cultural mentality or, at least, what he represents is something deeply rooted in the minds of everyone who has seen him.

       In part, Batman illuminates the contradictory internal forces that drive us. His crusade for justice is, in itself, a beautiful and courageous moral quest but his motivations are entirely selfish. Bruce Wayne would have grown up to be a normal businessman engulfed in deals, projects and philanthropy had his parents not been murdered. It wouldn’t be impossible for Bruce to become a public crusader; cleaning up the city through economic and social reform as his father had but his selfishness caused him to turn down the grittier path. Bruce Wayne would never get the tiny bits of vengeance from laying the law down on goons without literally beating the black off their masks. He needs that. No amount of municipal power can bring him that close to psychological freedom. Even though his actions are motivated by his personal needs, the results are beneficial for everybody.

      That’s what everyone wants: To be in line with the massive cultural perspective on accident. Anyone would be like Jesus. No one gave Christ his mission of redemption, he just did it because it was the right thing to do, which is the same as Batman. No force literally decreed that Bruce Wayne shall dress as a Bat and maul criminals until peace reigns over Gotham. He does it because for him, it’s the right thing to do.

      This phenomenon speaks to our desires, especially as young adults who yearn for a destiny to be pressed upon us. Being forced into something is easier than choosing to do something. We can make ourselves happy despite the circumstances, and there is power in that but choosing to do something means we’ve unknowingly accepted the responsibility of being happy by choice. Being happy by choice is quite possibly the most difficult portion of our mental lives. Batman has the luxury of being forced into a lifestyle that coincides with the popular opinion of no-holds-barred righteousness. Translated, this means that he accidentally chose to be a pinnacle of humanity. Who doesn’t want to slip and end up as a hero?

     Batman physically embodies the insanity of regular people. Bruce Wayne is shackled by social norms while Batman can freely travel through the ludicrous fringes of society. Batman breaks out of the intangible restraints to literally deliver justice instead of playing at representational justice like the judicial system. A thief robs a jewelry store and Batman beats the piss out of him. The same situation under the judicial system would be treated by incarceration and citation. The latter is by far, the less enjoyable of the two. This is something we all understand but cannot act upon because our engagement with society forbids us from taking the law into our own hands. Batman weaponizes the law to bring about what he, and the rest of us, know to be right.

     Regular people live this desire out vicariously through Batman. Most of us can discern right from wrong and would prefer to pummel a transgressor rather than watch a lengthy trial that may turn against our favor. Batman has no fear of that because it doesn’t happen to him; He has the virtue of being insane.

     Insanity is defined as a a defect of reason, so much so that the subject doesn’t know what it is doing. I feel I can safely assume Batman has never second-guessed the implications of donning the cowl. He’s magnetized for retribution, Batman can’t stop himself from fighting crime. There have been several occasions where the Bat’s life has been destroyed and a few of his friends murdered but that didn’t deter him from his quest. Having justice as the goal somewhat justifies Batman’s insanity but it doesn’t exempt him from being a psychopath. Any man who leaps from rooftop to rooftop dressed in tight leather bat-suit is probably unstable, of that there is no argument. However, it is in this insanity where people find a kinship with Batman.

     A fanatical devotion to a specific area of life is what makes a master. Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Lee, Django Reinhardt and Rolling Stones are all examples of this. They do one thing but they do that one thing with such conviction that an observer can’t help but be pulled into one of their worlds by the gravity of their mastery. When someone reads a Batman comic, that someone understands the basic components of the story. Batman is going to endure some tragedy, be beaten passed the point of human comprehension and through his indomitable willpower, he will fight through all of it for the sake of what is right. The depths he pulls himself out of is what makes the story. People love to watch Batman go deeply into Hell just to rip himself out of the hopeless turmoil using completely irrational motivations. This isn’t a singular archetype though, Batman uses the same motivational techniques as most heroes we love: “Because I must.” There is no logic in this, there is no rationality, but there is a wide agreement among all people. Some things, you just have to do. This inability to rationally progress through a situation is common to us as readers. It’s staying the course regardless of the counter-intuitive logical process, it’s almost akin to simply refusing to die.

     Our most powerful motivations are irrational. Love, Hate, Despair, Boredom and a myriad of other emotions trump logic when it comes to pushing us along. No story has ever been created detailing the adventures of someone who calculates his chance of success and, based on that, goes on to play Madison Square Garden. This is simply because that doesn’t happen. Rationality is important for pragmatic decisions but pragmatism is marginalized by the poetry of finding your calling. Batman embodies this as he uses analysis to deduce results but when he comes to the climax of a mystery, it’s his complete refusal to lose – not his ability to win – that grants him triumph.

     The last thing that cements Batman into our collective memory is his double-life. Bruce Wayne and Batman are hyperbolic versions of the every-man’s public persona and the private persona. We understand this concept all too well. Batman is easier to relate to than Bruce Wayne. More of us feel like avengers of a forgotten creed than billionaires, just like how more of us relate to our social lives than our work lives. Batman has friends, Bruce Wayne does not. Similarly, our co-workers aren’t necessarily our friends. We go to work as Bruce Wayne and we wait until the sun goes down to become Batman. Most people have a face they show strangers and customers throughout the day, most people take on a form of censorship during work hours and in general, we stifle the more abstract sides of our personality until we are in privacy or the company of trusted friends. Bruce Wayne is an elaborate ruse Batman utilizes until he returns to the company of Alfred or the dark. He literally lives a double-life that we relate to. The only difference is Batman swings from extreme all the way across the spectrum to the other extreme while most of us scoot a few sections. We don’t curse at work and that may be the only difference but Bruce Wayne shifts his whole persona. His change in personality reflects the one we go through and this effect opens the channels through which we relate to Batman.