Monday, January 30, 2006

Conversations with Guy Debord (1)

A whiff. A glance of catnip in my snout.

I rubbed my cheek against the bottom of the coffee table. I blinked. I was thinking something but I can't remember.

"I smell something," I said, blinking.

"The odor of the 'consumption celebrity,'" Guy Debord said. He was rolling a cigarette."Each of us believes himself to be a 'decision celebrity.' We think we possess a complete stock of accepted human qualities."

I licked my left arm. Debord stared at me.

"Official differences between stars are wiped out," he continued, "by the official similarity which is the presupposition of their excellence in everything."

A shadow rustled against the back bedroom wall and I rushed through the living room -- pounded past the bathroom, but not before checking a flash from the corner of my eye if the bathtub spigot was running -- and propelled one leap onto the bed.

Whence shadow? Where? What's that noise? A snow plow? Tow truck? Rock python? A Eugene Chadbourne CD with tin-can vibratto and scary screechy-peachy dissonance sabotaging my furry turret ears? A squeak, a cupboard opening, the slink of scissors opening a new bag of food? When was the noise?

Footsteps. French cigarette smoke. Who is Debord? The bedspread is red.

"Shimmy, the spectacle is the bottom line." Now he was leaning against the doorway of the spare room. I relaxed into sphinx posture. I sniffed the yellow air.

"I still smell something, Debord. And I saw a shadow rustling against the wall. I know what I saw."

"The spectacle has a tendence to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations. It can no longer be grasped directly."

"It was the shadow of an eagle or a snake or a squirrel or a tow truck. Or a hawk." I stared at my paws. They are white with pumpkin trim and I know they are really gorgeous.

"Of course, Shimmy." He smoked. "The spectacle naturally finds vision to be the privileged sense -- for humans, anyway -- which the sense of touch was for other epochs. The most mystifiable sense corresponds to the generalized abstraction of present-day society."

It's catnip, definitely. My yellow mouse. Alito-mouse. They put him under the rug. I see the hump of the rug, a string of mint dental floss tied to his construction-paper tail and protruding from the carpet edge.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Episode Five: "Satanic Majesties Mail Call"

We got a postcard from Uptown Animal Hospital.

Oh, my.

Shimmy's due for her rabies shot.

[A hawk in the window.]

There's some fun.

[A rock python in the bathtub drain. Dogs upstairs.]

Poor girl. She'll go crazy.

[Pleased to meet you, Dr. Lynndie England. These are my guardians, Tony and Shelly. They need you to give them a full medical checkup and cavity search. Here, have a smoke. Thumbs up!]

When should we make the appointment?

You don't have to.

It's for her own good.

[Careful, Tony. They don't have leash laws in Baghdad.]

Hasn't she been through enough? You spayed the poor thing in 1995. You never let her outside. You leave every day but don't come back home with squirrels or bats or ants. Where is her bag of moths? Is that a goldfish? Of course not. It's never a goldfish. Where did you hide Alito-mouse?

Murray, we open the back door for her just about every day. She goes out on the porch. Then runs back in 10 seconds later.

But then you shut it again.

She has to get that shot.

[Pack your bags. File your itinerary with the NSA. I'm sure Ahmed Chalabi would be happy to give you a tour of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.]

She will set herself on fire. She will defoliate the living room. You will think she's Linda Blair.

But the vet loves her. He distracted her when he gave her the shot last year. He made it easier for her, psychologically. He's kind.

She will vomit hairballs where you walk. She will scream. She will break into closets. She will knock pens and pencils from your desktops. She will drop a load in a place she's keeping secret. She will hide. She will not forgive you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Giant Mechanical Arm

A Chicago Streets-and-Sanitation worker in a basket at the end of a giant mechanical arm protruding from a truck parked on Greenvew Avenue just appeared in the air 10 feet from our second-story window. He's trimming branches from the English Oak Tree where obscene squirrels chased each other this morning. I step from the old newspaper basket I sleep in. Hiss at him. My tail down, curling between my legs. "This is why the spectator feels at home nowhere, because the spectacle is everywhere" (Debord).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mrs. Alito

Mrs. Alito cried because it's not Paris in 1968. Mrs. Alito cried when she heard Candy Barr died. Mrs. Alito cried because Orrin Hatch washed her feet. Mrs. Alito cried when she saw Titanic. Mrs. Alito cried when Mark Messier won the Stanley Cup. Mrs. Alito cried when she finished Seabiscuit. Mrs. Alito cried when she heard a tape of the Grateful Dead's 1973 Watkins Glen concert. Mrs. Alito cried because she saw Santa Claus and he said to her, "The spectacle is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity -- it covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory." Mrs. Alito cried when Ngo Dinh Diem won the Iraq election last year. Mrs. Alito cried when Scully saw Mulder in the window. Mrs. Alito cried because the dog cried.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I Made Mrs. Alito Cry

This morning, I played with my handsome new catnip mouse, Alito, in the dark living room. I washed his supple yellow felt body with my tongue, flicked paws at his delicious construction-paper red ribbon tail.

He skated on the hardwood floors. I pressed him to my whiskers, rubbed dander along his yellow pelt.

Alito overtaken in my arms. I belly-rolled in my shadow.

Catnip sleeps inside him.

At the edge of the living-room rug, I pretended to walk away. Alito said, "I am a life-long registered Republican and have made the sort of modest political contributions that a federal employee can afford to Republican candidates and conservative causes. I just wanted a job in the Reagan administration."

Come to me! Hop in the spoon of my paws! I pushed him under the rug.

My mouse, I know all about your rugged membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton. Take off your eyeglasses. Come to me, my little reactionary babushka.

I lunged my gorgeous furry arm under the rug, swatted the glazed floorboards.

Where's my bag of moths?

I know all about the 1980s. You can't fool me, Alito- mouse. Not when I stare into your vainglorious eyes.

Ed Meese is hiring judges to serve at abandoned soccer stadiums. Now's the time, mousey.

I know how you look at me.

(It's kinda humid under the rug. I'm wiser now. I just wanted a job back then. Do you know how hard it was for right-wing judges to find work in the Reagan era?)

Nancy Pelosi watches bare trees sway out the living room window, her eyes follow the arc of a pigeon flying to the alley dumpster.

But the squirrel family lives in the tree outside the back window. You get there by jumping on the spare-room bed and walking along the north side of the window sill -- but check to make sure the air-conditioner isn't there. Look, there's a water bug.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On the Littoral Boundary Between "Literally" and "Litter Box"

This is for Aubra, keeper of the excellent Illiterally blog.

Yesterday, Tony watched "Animal Cops" on TV. I was in the room with him -- my twilight surveillance on the outrageous squirrel family in the tree out the back window.

I heard the animal cop say, "When we entered the home, we saw rabbits everywhere. They shredded paper all over the floor so they could go to the bathroom. It was literally a litter box."

No, it wasn't.

A litter box is a plastic, rectangular clubhouse placed somewhere in the apartment just far enough away from my food that I don't get mixed up. It's filled with little ambrosia gravel pellets you could play with all day if you weren't so tired. If Tony doesn't do a full-box change on the 7th day, I leave him a gift shaped like an Abu Ghraib pyramid at the edge of the south forest in the corner of the living room.

A litter box, therefore, is not literally a home full of abandoned rabbits. For Chrissakes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

List, III

1. Moe Tucker scared away my ghosts.
2. "I've found some pigeon bones down there. And Mary Wollstonecraft, who scared us mightily -- since we couldn't see anything except her glowing eyes in the distance."
3. Margaret Sanger scared the dog, and the dog scared the baby.
4. If Ann Coulter says something you do not want her to, try spraying her with water from a squirty bottle. This deters her from bad behavior, rather than making her scared of you.
5. Exene Cervenka scared the sparrows away.
6. Did Cookie Mueller make the sound of something falling? Or was she scared by something making something fall?
7. "A South African anthropologist said Thursday his research into the death nearly 2 million years ago of an ape-man shows human ancestors were hunted by birds."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Episode Four: "Alito Chooses Impeachment"

You know, Mary, I'm pretty excited about Samuel Alito's remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. He authorized the impeachment of the President of the War on Terror.

A mouse in Fort Sumner, New Mexico is thrown into a pile of burning leaves instead of eaten. It runs back into the house and sets it on fire.

It's really not that difficult, Mary. I don't know why no one else has done it. Just say it -- and in the saying of it, it happens.

Its tail could be dangling from your mouth but the house is on fire. Feathers are found on the back porch by Tytan, the dog who eats potato chips. I sleep through the offering of food.

Alito told the Judiciary Committee: "No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law." He's telling us what to do, Mary.

"Dear President of the War on Terror: You're not fit to peck water from my bowl or nibble yogurt from a dish left absent-mindedly on the floor. Let the impeachment begin!"

There. You say it. It happens in its own saying. It is finished. Let's see if Anderson Cooper says anything about what we just did.

The squirrel family scampers the tree outside the back window every day -- they sleep in its bole. I hate every single one of them. You can smell a tinkle of their arrogance through the screen window. Remember what J.L. Austin says, Rhoda?

"In saying what I do, I actually perform that action."

Nuzzle your face against Alito's. He just gave us the road map to peace.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My Newest Performance Piece

(after Chris Burden)

1. They turn off the lights.

2. They leave the apartment.

3. I creep into the kitchen. It is completely dark.

4. I eat for three hours from my bowl.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, Hiding Under the Bed

Why is thunder loud, and why so far up in the north?