Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Conversations with Guy Debord (2)

"Shimmy, are you busy?"

I smelled smoke. The ripe odor of Gauloises, a cloud of fish, sweet and sour pigeon feathers ripped from bone.

Roman Polanski and Guy Debord are the only people I know who smoke Gauloises.

"Shimmy," it was Debord's assured voice. "I want to take you snorkeling."

"What about sea urchins, moray eels, riptides, coral reefs, masks, and Caspar Weinberger?"

Debord used a coffee cup as an ashtray.

"The smug acceptance of what exists," he said, "can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion."

A disgraced white milk-bottle cap ring sat on the floor between the dining room table and the edge of the rug. Its way of being is round and vulnerable. I can pounce anytime.

"We can choose an area of rocky outcropping that attracts fish," he said. "It's as comfortable as a warm bath. As effortless as floating."

"Debord, did you know that Cheney submits a contract rider for every hotel suite at which he stays when he surfaces from his spider hole?"

He scratched the tip of his nose. The shadow of his elbow darted across the milk-bottle cap ring then disappeared.

Someone closed a door in the hallway. What if Brian, the downstairs neighbor, is coming to feed me again? Should I hide in the South Forest of the apartment? Under the spare room bed? Behind Guy Debord's large plain shoes?

"I want to go diving with you," he said.

His shoes are black, and even the laces are polished. I sniffed the edge of his right sole. I smelled the damp pavement of 9 Rue Git-le-Coeur, where the Seine bobbles up your nose. I licked my left arm.

I said, "According to Cheney's 'Vice-Presidential Doomsday Requirements,' the temperature of every suite must be 68 degrees and all TVs must be pre-set to Pravda."

"As they will be for everyone in the United States, Shimmy, when voting rights are suspended in 2008. The division of spectacular tasks preserves the entirety of the existing order and especially the dominant pole of its development."

"The Doomsday Suite must be stocked with brewed decaffeinated coffee, four cans of caffeine-free Diet Sprite, an iron maiden, a stout plank and leather restraints for waterboarding, two bottles of sparkling water (Calistoga or Perrier) for Lady Macbeth Cheney, a Skinner Box, extra lamps, and a carafe of piranha."

Debord said, "Dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity as soon as economic abundance extends to the processing of such raw materials."

"The White House is a primitive horde watching us watch ourselves. It's why Mrs. Alito cries all the time."

"Remember, Shimmy, that the admirable people in whom the system personifies itself are well known for not being what they are. They became great people by stooping below the reality of the smallest individual life, and everyone knows it."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Episode Seven: "Ann Coulter Death Trip"

RHODA: Is Ann Coulter the Angel of Death?

MARY: The President of the War on Terror is concerned about the broader message Ann Coulter sends to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

RHODA: That's why she's not guarding our ports anymore in New Orleans, Miami, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York.

MARY: It's almost spring and round glazed moths will fly into my mouth. They taste like mustard.

RHODA: Mary, a couple months ago, Ann Coulter told an audience at Philander Smith College: "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice [John Paul] Stevens’ creme brulee."

MARY: How come she wasn't arrested? Why isn't Ann Coulter in jail right now?

RHODA: If I said that in an airport screening line or on a wiretapped phone call, I'd be propped on a milk crate in Abu Ghraib.

MARY: With a hood over your head, Rhoda, and wires attached to your fingers.

RHODA: Mary, you'll be electrocuted if you don't eat the creme brulee.

MARY: Ann Coulter is upright and cunning, like a large, wet cardboard box.

RHODA: In January 2002, she said: "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."

MARY: Ann Coulter thinks about dead people when she's making love.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Guinea Pig Heart of Darkness Makes You Disappear

Tony walked around the apartment reciting Aase Berg's poem, "In the Heart of the Guinea Pig Darkness" (trans. Johannes Göransson).

"Shimmy, 'the gorge is swarming with guinea pigs,'" Tony said Wednesday morning, as he dumped Science Diet Hairball Control pellets in my food dish. He made the dishwasher wheeze.

His heavy shoes walked into the living room. He placed a milk-bottle-cap ring underneath the carpet. A whiff of curd on his fingertips.

"'They crawl on each other like spiders,'" he said. I hid from Aase Berg between the sofa and the wall. My tail brushed the sudden pale-white radiator.

These past two weeks, he recited this terrifying poem to me -- "here in the gorge, here in the stack, here in the heart of the guinea-pig darkness."

Now he is gone.

He read the poem out loud every day, then Wednesday he just disappeared. Today is Sunday -- so where is he? The guinea pigs took him away with their magic words.

Aase Berg says guinea pigs "are born, they hatch, out of caves and holes."

No, Aase Berg! Guinea pigs' calves are tender, their bones make you thirsty. Their eyes are dumb as tin cans. They don't swarm -- because you hunt them. Their noses twitch. They fill the space with gloom then you eat them. Their surrender is orderly, and they sag in your mouth like jelly.

But Tony recited this poem over and over and now he's gone.

The poem made him disappear. It's cagey, it's a spell, a panic, an incantation. It insinuated itself into the apartment and then made him disappear.

Last week he sat on the sofa drinking coffee and said to me: "'Now I love you and now I fear you.' Come out from under the coffee table and 'roll out your guinea-pig body on the baking sheet.'"

It's the most terrifying poem in the world. He recited it over and over, then the witchy guinea-pig spell took hold -- and now he's gone. I'm more afraid of this poem than I am of rain, venetian blinds, trash bags, clapping hands, lemon rinds, rolling desk chairs, ringtones, anaesthesia, or Eugene Chadbourne.

Aase Berg, please bring Tony back. And stop scaring me with your poems.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My Interview with Pravda (Part II of II)

[Continued from yesterday]

Brit Hume said, "It's in south Texas. Wide-open spaces, a lot of brush cover, fairly shallow. But it's wild quail. It's some of the best quail hunting anyplace in the country."

"A low-ranking Politburo member visited me last night," I explained. "It was Randall Larson, Director of the Institute for Homeland Security. He climbed the tree outside the spare room window. He waved his arms, as if that could chase away the pestilent squirrel family living in the bole."

"Now, it strikes me that you must have known that this was going to be a national story," Brit Hume said.

"Larson's face was pale, a brackish yellow sheen wiped across his eyes."

"Tell me what happened," Brit Hume said. The comfortable hump of his stomach rose and fell.

I haven't even begun to eat all the plants in the apartment, especially the new green one with the fat, bumpy fronds that smell like petroleum and bacon.

I said, "His accent is Texan. I was appalled. I rushed to coat my body with my tongue."

"Would you describe him as a close friend?"

"When are the hibakusha coming to protect our ports from Ann Coulter?"

"Is he just a friendly acquaintance?"

"I asked him outright: Why is Ann Coulter guarding U.S. ports in Miami, New Orleans, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, and Philadelphia? She hates democracy, hates the troops, and can't hold a job."

"There was just two of you then?" Brit Hume asked. A sound engineer rushed to wipe the blood off his American flag lapel.

"The only God Randall Larson knows is Mammon."

"What was he wearing?"

"I tried to explain to him that Ann Coulter hates democracy even more than the President of the War on Terror does."

"What was he wearing?"

"In 2002, Ann Coulter said: My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

"Then what?"

"Larson postured on a low-hung branch," I said. "He cracked and blabbed his idiotic huckster tumbleweed drawl."

"Tell me more about it."

"Larson said, Ann Coulter is not going to affect port security. I mean, Indiana leased its toll road for 75 years to an Australian company and a Spanish company, so that's a legitimate debate. Do we want to do that? I just don't see the security element in this.

"Then what?"

"I trotted into the dining room and showed Tony the tail dangling from my prodigious mouth."

Was that a goldfish in the window?

"But, Shimmy, there were some things you knew," Brit Hume said. The corner of his upper lip curled, a hang-nail smile.

He continued: "I mean, you knew Whittington had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew Dick Cheney shot him."

"Australia and Spain rent a highway in Indiana. But just looking at Ann Coulter is like stepping into the path of a tuberculosis cough."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Interview with Pravda (Part I of II)

Yesterday, Brit Hume from Pravda dragged a technical crew into the apartment for an interview.

I was flattered by all the attention. Wires, lights, bloodstains on Brit Hume's flag lapel, work boots, headphones, light meters, undertaker's rouge, chrome splashed in an electrical socket, cordovans, and some talk of water-boarding.

"How is Mr. Whittington?" he asked me. I leaned against the bottom of my chair and stared at Brit Hume's black socks. You could look up his pant leg to the spot where the pasty flesh of his ankles began.

This is what the legs of Pravda correspondents look like. Lugubrious, pedestrian, milky.

"He still has Vice-Presidential buckshot coursing through his body," I said. "I talked to him yesterday about his heart problem. He's hiding underneath a futon."

"How did you feel when you heard about that?"

"We don't have a futon anymore."

Pravda brought German shepherds from Abu Ghraib on leashes. I insisted they stay outside the apartment. Sean Hannity was in the hallway, watching them, but they barked. My taut haunches could shred.

"Tell me what happened," Brit Hume said. His legs were crossed and he pulled up his left sock. A twitch, the pulpous magma bags below his eyes.

I will not be picked up. You cannot touch me. I hone my fangs every morning on my Alito-mouse with the red construction-paper tail.

"This morning I broke into the laundry room and launched a Persian Gulf War pincer move on a long string of mint-flavored dental floss. I buried it alive underneath the carpet. Just like Schwarzkopf and the troops did to the Iraqi army in 1991."

I licked my stellar left haunch. I jumped on the chair across from Brit Hume, then straightaway washed the sweet puffy fur of my right haunch. I settled into sphinx posture on the chair, staring at Brit Hume and the Pravda crew the whole time. I'm watching them. A German shepherd barked beyond the door.