Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tuesday 03/24 2015
In Response to The Runaways’ Faust (Save Me or I’ll Die), Or; The Devil in the Poodle


Erin Kathryn Morril as Mephistopheles in The Runaways' play Faust (Save Me or I'll Die). Photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis.

Erin Kathryn Morril as Mephistopheles in The Runaways’ play Faust (Save Me or I’ll Die). Photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis.

In Response to The Runaways’ Faust (Save Me or I’ll Die), Or; The Devil in the Poodle

Hrrigh hr, hrrigh!, high and tight—martial—high and tight and sharp and loud, perfectly leveraged coitus more ferarum, it sounds like, someone throwing stone’s against Hel’s balcony window, it sounds like, yapping through a wound, it sounds like—that is not a metaphor! cheater! God-player!—echoing inside the gas chamber, inside the black cold furnace of the oven, the strangled yelps of a bouffant beast tearing at its very seams, split by the very devil herself, who is laying breast-down on the oven door in English suicide position, yapping and yelping and then growling, a high vicious whine like a bandsaw, then gargling like a man with his throat cut, roiling, she’s roiling inside the oven, all this dread ugly noise bouncing off the tight cold walls—lapping at them like the heat, the gas, the juices, the sustenance, the chemistry—and it builds, crescendos, almost orgasmic, this release, louder and uglier and fasterandtighterandmoreandmorefrightening … until, at last!, she springs forth from her fleshy prison, rends the goddamned dumb animal from the inside out, rolls violently from the distended belly of the beast and flops down supine upon the floor, black and viscous as the rank ejaculate of a monstrous squid monstrously frightened—dear god, she frightened it! she knotted the tentacles, gnashed the beak, opened wide the leviathan eye, caused the mantle to quiver, shot horror up and down and along the entire pulpous mass, made a thing of darkness tremble before an even greater black—and seething with a cruelty so immense it must be due abyssal gigantism—she is, after all, a product of her environment—and she pushes along the floor, legs twisted into grotesque angles, a giant creeping onyx locust with Lilith’s head gargling like the neck of the decollated, pushes and moans and finally speaks in a language we can both understand, speaks in this voice, this indomitable, eerie, siren-like beautiful voice gifted her by some brute tearing through the vocal folds like a boy’s first time fearful, fall-of-Saigon withdrawal, and she is offering, offering in this beautiful, ragged … no! serrated, serrated voice, she is offering in this serrated voice everything, and the meat is there, in the teeth, pushed up against the gums, one can hear it …

screaming! Caterwauling, really, a cooee sounding across the garage, running fast and easy along the flat poured cement, penetrating the cheap door into the cold, assembly line fought for luxury of the nouveau riche, running along marble countertops and climbing contractor white walls to vaulted cathedral living room ceilings, leaping across the divide to the open upstairs hallway, which sits like an exposed spine above the large-screen TV and home entertainment system and is well within a cooee of all of us in the kitchen, gathered around in horror, listening. It drowns out the deluge, whose flood waters had lapped against the car’s windows. It is a howl born in the tangled and frayed knots of what used to be her angle ligaments, and the wounded mother is screeching, beseeching his father and his father’s uncle from fighting, which they have—we cannot see this, but it is easy to imagine if one has ever seen domestic violence, the grappling, the throwing of hands, her forcing her way into the heaving, wet hot tightness like a cock, falling, yelling, the men standing agape and ashamed, fists still paroxysmal with rage, vibrating in the air like garrotes, fishing wire with marlins attached—and now, the tumult over, falling low into moans and sobs, aches instead of stabbing pains. The son is stone, is silent, his one hand—injured in the ancient past—clenching and unclenching in perfect mimesis of its perfect sibling, and he seethes in this richness while she cries in front of the fancy sports cars, and it makes sense, the strangeness, the eagerness to please, the love and devotion and gameness he shows to his friends, and the blood which ran down his wounded, powerful fist—not his own, of course—and onto the flat, ugly linoleum of the high school the week before prom, first true, and most beautiful, of the heralds of the coming end, the inevitable …

dissolution! Entropy, heat death, everything must in due course die, up to and including and especially the universe itself. The systems are all around us, some our own, others, for lack of better accreditation, God’s, and they are so immense and complex and whole as to be invisible, in the same way the marionette cannot see its strings, nor the ant farm ant its plastic walls. We live and breathe and fuck and die within systems; our every action and nuance decided by a billion factors, only a fraction of which we have any hope of comprehending. They are so omnipotent and omnipresent as to be inscrutable, completely resistant to study as is because they are “as is;” it would be like comprehending a whale from inside its stomach. And yet we know! We have learned, and grown, and have gathered to our own breast a ken—infinitesimal! pathetic! but ours—which is our single greatest achievement, among the finest in the very universe; the anatomists, the dissectors, scalpel in hand …

and too deep. Christ, too deep; the thing is leaking everywhere, our Guide to Elucidation, our Charon, Squishy the Cancer Cat. And Mary is mad at me, and she rolls her eyes, these massive Kohl eyes—they were filled with tears before, as she halted our anatomy study (not a euphemism; we are speaking literally, here) and sobbed on my shoulder, mourned her mother, who had died in a car accident on her way home from dropping Mary off and whose passing was the reason she now needed so much study—and she plucks the instrument from me, still glistening with fatty viscera (we were supposed to only be skinning!) and she looks down at the cats belly, and we both know it is wrong … too gray, too much, all of this extra flesh we did not know was there, could not have known was there, should not be there, all exposed from an accidental—I think?—plunge, and our lab instructor comes over, seems delighted at my gaff, tells us the cat was pregnant or had been recently with child, tells us to cut deeper, search, there may be a fetus … and Kacie pales and wavers and hits the floor, a victim of … 

the gross, naked thrilling horror of discovery; we have only gained what we have now via hacking, clumsy butchery. That is changing; with every advancing second, our blades become sharper, our hands steadier. We destroy, destroy for answers; debride ourselves of strictures and structures and systems so that we may explore and understand them. Think of nature, of the food web you learn about in elementary school. Which is the only creature capable of comprehending the food web? The only creature who exists, if not outside of it, than certainly above it! We may affect ourselves upon it, and soon we will no longer be beholden; already no other living thing has graced this planet so capable of extricating itself from the web as we are, and someday soon we may throw off the agglutinative silk and exist completely outside nature, a horrifying notion which is also among the most beautiful ideals ever striven for. Imagine! Being completely free, outside of the systems of our earth so that we may be able to finally parse them, en totalite, can finally see …

him. I see him, walking along the road, the rapist, and she is sitting in the passenger seat, and I see her see him, see her eyes squeeze shut, her face crumple, her body slump and cower—almost imperceptibly! brave angel, best human being I have ever known—and I drift, in mind and vehicle, I drift towards him, and hit the rough shoulder, and she jerks her shoulders, looks up, sees him, sees me, sees where we are, and she yanks on the wheel and puts us back on the road and her eyes are pleading, pleading with me, and we both sit and vibrate on the verge of cathartic, thorax shaking sobs, and I learn something about me, and she learns something about me, knowledge …

gained via violence! All knowledge worth having is born of destruction; we cannot rive the skulls of our enemies barehanded, and we learn weapons, tools; we set fire to the Western world and shock ourselves, send our brains—screaming primal shrieks—into abstract thought. We take among our most telescopic leaps via the brute smashing—smashing—together of atoms, like children, desire and ambition our cruel parents (and they fuck you up, your mum and dad), and the greatest advancements in human understanding come about because of the brilliant death, billions of years ago, of stars, a death which has also given birth to us, the narcissus bloom of the very Universe, children of sidereal immolation; we see existence only through the patina of death, us and everything we know swimming through it as fish; the answers are found in the abyss, and the abyss is found everywhere, linking everything, spooky motion of unimaginable, impossible Jovian proportions. There is only one proper way, one path forward, a simple catechism for progress, dread vicious violent fatal vital progress: remove, indulge, elucidate, immolate; burn it all down, and divine the answers from the ashes.


Tuesday 03/17 2015
Death Rattle

” … death!, thousand eyed, six-legged, sword-endowed, floccose sickly-sweet smelling death in the personage of a honey bee, listing to one side like the Costa Concordia, vascular window pane wings over its corpse like a widow’s umbrella … “

Read the rest of my review of Philip von Zweck’s exhibition at 65Grand in New American Paintings

Tuesday 03/17 2015
The Conscientious Man

“In Fond Du Lac, Wis., Russell introduces us to Tim Friede, who has taken man’s desire for inviolability to its intoxicating extreme, purging himself of even the most recognized and acknowledged of flaws: our susceptibility to snake venom. Friede is a practitioner of mithridatism, named for the Poison King, Mithradates VI, who immunized himself so effectively against the various foul defenses of nature that even Rome’s best poisoners could not make him sick. Friede voluntarily envenomates himself—when Russell sees him, via snake-and-fang—to inoculate against the serpents: an African water cobra, even a black mamba does not kill Friede. When Russell leaves him, he is hunched pitifully over a space heater alone, limbs still rigid.”

Read the rest of my review of Kent Russell’s I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son at Paste Magazine

Wednesday 03/11 2015
On the Edge of the Pit: Cockfighting in America

“John’s roosters sit in custom-made, round wire enclosures, replete with roofs and roosts and overturned buckets they can use to huddle out of the wind, along the tops of two gentle ridges which jut into his backyard like a snake’s tongue, a small pond—frozen now—between them, a small land bridge connecting the two where the fork splits. When it was legal for him to fight his birds, John says these ridges were thick with gamecocks; as it stands now, the ones on the ridge directly behind the house shares space with a swing set and a white tom turkey. The operation is a shadow of what it once was, John’s only focus now on breeding—keeping the bloodlines alive—and the roosters are sullen in the frigid cold.

And yet, they are beautiful! These are not the scrawny roosters of the barn yard, nor the fattened walking breasts of the food industry; these birds are proud, fierce, with long, cascading feathers covering their breasts like a lion’s mane and a dazzling array of colors; the reds, in particular, are beautiful, the rich carmine of their leonine adornment fading into a deeper spiced rum hue, their wings a deep, luxe of greens and purples which shimmer like heat and which spread into their tails, held highly like iridescent fountains. The gamecock’s legs are long and powerful, its chest like a cursive G; looking at them is like seeing a doberman instead of a labrador, an AK-47 instead of a squirrel rifle, beautiful machines designed for singular purposes.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Wednesday 03/4 2015
The Life of the Other Tom Brady

“Because fate is particularly cruel, Tom—born in Bloomington, Indiana—is also a devout Indianapolis Colts fan, which makes him something of a pariah whenever he gathers with other Circle City faithful. His Roscoe Village apartment is covered in Colts paraphernalia, including a framed Jim Sorgi jersey and various Colts flags; his bedroom doorway is flanked by the flag of the United States and the Navy torch-bearing flag of Indiana, the whole place pretty well steeped in sigils declaring that he, despite that name, is a member in good standing of Chicago’s proud, quiet Hoosier diaspora. The whole thing is really pretty heavy, sport and love and pain and expectations all attached to a name he drags from show to show and bears as a standard and a cross. It’s also just his name, and just one of the things he drags onstage with him.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Tuesday 03/3 2015
Titans Eat Their Young

“The Monopolists may be—should be—the misericordia with which the final deathblow is dealt the Darrow myth, although romantic Exceptionalism dies hard on these shores and Pilon’s thrust, while swift, is not particularly sharp. The book is superlative journalism, yet it reads as just that, and while one sympathizes with the monumental task of applying electric flesh to a skeleton so old, a sentence like “Clank, clank, clank went the keys of the agent’s typewriter” is simply too viciously brute to not be castigated here. Such moments are few, and seem indicative of the desperate battering ram sentence all writers must avail themselves of once in a while, with Pilon’s just being a bit blunter, even as its cause is more righteous.”

Read the rest of my review of Mary Pilon’s The Monopolists at Paste Magazine.