the dada magazine about nothing
N A D A
Greetings from Rural America! Please allow me to introduce you to Cecil, Wisconsin. Cecil is a town of five-hundred people with two churches, two gas stations, one post office, one laundromat, one town hall, one fire station and six bars. All of these businesses are on ONE street. People here drive huge trucks without using them for anything. And they stand outside these trucks and yell, “You look better walking away,” at two girls walking home. Who reply, “Go fuck yourself.” Tiny bridges over paved creeks have No Loitering signs posted for anyone who might dare stop and inspect the water. The people who live here act as though they had never seen a leather skirt in real life before. They drink beer that looks like piss while watching the Green Bay Packers. They live for it. They also enjoy hunting, riding snow mobiles and ice fishing while drinking this piss beer.
Sometimes they drink this piss beer while shooting at deer in pens. They feed the captive deer a special diet to develop antlers. These pitiful cousins of real deer aren’t shy of humans. I’ll bet you could shoot one in the face not three feet away if you wanted to. The people of Cecil don’t like hops or spicy food or tofu. They love Walmart, and video stores, perms, the eighties, the George Bush(es) and country music. They eat lots of fried fish, meat and potatoes. They don’t like homosexuality or I think any sexuality. Even though everyone has kids by the time they are twentytwo. So it’s not like people aren’t fucking. The kids learn about abstinence in schools. This way, when they get to be seventeen they can have a baby just like mom did. They love guns and gun rights most of all. They stand with the police. They also go to church. In fact Sunday is just about the only time the streets are crowded. They are a religious people, most of whom have never read the bible. But, they are good little sheep to their shepherds. There are other weird people near here too, the Amish and a cult. The cult put out a hit list on the city council. They own gas stations with signs about government conspiracies and only accept cash. Their compound is equipped with guards. Everyone hates the cult people and most refuse to patronize their gas stations. They used to own many other businesses, when they were trying to colonize the town, but they were boycotted and soon closed. Amish buggies often wake me up on weekend mornings and then sometimes you’ll see the buggy parked outside the laundromat. That makes it a lovely morning in my village. The Amish mostly keep to themselves. They sell fry pies at all the gas stations around here. Some people confuse the Amish for the cult members because they dress similarly. I’ve found both groups to be friendly and helpful. People generally tolerate the Amish. The Cecil residents aren’t as kind to the Menominee, their neighbors to the north. They tend to suspect them of theft, laziness and stupidity and drunkenness. They receive practically the same education in tribal schools as in Shawano County public schools. So if one group is stupid the other most likely is too. Cecilities’ opinions of the Menominee reflect a deep seated racism and general mean spiritedness towards difference. One man told me he “Wasn’t as racist as he could be.”, like it was a good thing.
The people of Cecil live on a lake that used to produce abundant quantities of wild rice. Menominee means ‘the people of the wild rice’. Shawano is the Menominee word for below. Shawano Lake was named this because it is below Keshena Falls on the Wolf River. Since the people of Shawano dammed the river and started dairies, the lake smells like swamp gas and grows only algae. But, the sunsets on the lake are very colorful. The residents take pontoon boats out on the lake all summer. They ignore that all of beaches are covered in bird shit because everyone has a boat. The Menominee Forest is an ecological marvel, it’s world renowned for its health and diversity. Forestry professionals from all over the world visit Menominee to observe their selective harvesting practices. The Menominee territory used to span from Green Bay south and west to Chicago. All of the Wisconsin farmland south of here was then a vast, dense, rich forest with woodland buffalo. Now, you know you are approaching Cecil because the air smells of cow manure. They don’t really like me here and I don’t really like them either. The women look like sluts from ten years ago. It was a bad look then and it’s no better now. The men are racist, sexist, homophobic jerkoffs and the women are too. They think that a woman’s uterus is open for public comment and debate. The residents say things like, “You don’t look like you’re from round these parts, little missy”, I had wanted to put up a sign that says, “Why come back?” facing the village. That way, perhaps someone on their way to work would read the sign, change their mind and drive off, never to return. But then they may infect others. No, its best they remain here. They get into enough trouble as it is. Cecilites helped to reelect a governor who doesn’t have a college degree. Beyond stripping worker’s unions of their collective bargaining rights and women of many of their reproductive rights: He is trying to make the Department of Natural Resources an advisory board for the governor and fire all its scientists, because they don’t like his mining plan. And people go along with it. They go along with it because they are radical idiots.
Governor Scott Walk is an evil man but not an idiot. He uses the power given to him by idiots to screw over poor people, Indians, women, students and workers; everyone except undereducated white people and the wealthy. Mr. Walker does this out of a hatred and fear of the disadvantaged. One can suspect from his speeches and policies that he lacks empathy. The majority of Cecil residents are old, retired people who always vote. They don’t think deeply about things because they are separated from the larger world. False media allows them to feel connected and afraid. They are easily sidetracked by gruesome reports of terrorism. Many residents believe that Fox news is an accurate depiction of the state of the world and that all valuable information can be discovered through it. Wisconsin is evidence of what happens when politicians defund education. It’s a vicious cycle of poor education leading to uninformed or immature decision making. They’re undereducated people electing undereducated officials. Then they slash education funding because they are afraid of people who are educated. In more cases than not the resident’s lack of education, exposure to important events and information makes conversation with them fruitless. They don’t have to experience anything larger, greater or different. They don’t like different. But they are radical idiots with guns. And I see how that happens now. This place is where these idiots come from. Rural America is a scary place for intelligent people. Please, don’t ever come here.
Is masturbation still a thing? I definitely still do it. Also, I've really been into cliffsides lately. I've been masturbating to cliffsides lately. Sometimes they'll just be some pictures on the internet or something but I really get off when I drive out to a cliffside and blow a load over the side of it. If there's a river or any stream of water in it I like to cum in those too and watch my sperm float downstream, unaware of my apathy for its now pointless existence. Sometimes I imagine that I knocked up some hot fish though and somewhere out there is a mermaid that I'll have to pay child support for one day. I aint paying for shit. I'm pretty sure it's unlikely, because fish have fish pussys and not human pussys. I aint paying for shit though, really.
The screams drifted in on the breeze through my third floor apartment window – distant and muffled but with a subtle crescendo. Initially I paid no heed. What with the church down the alley offering a homeless shelter and needle exchange services for the neighborhoods ubiquitous vagrants I had become all too used to raucous singing, belligerent bellowing, shouts and threats and their retorts and even blood curdling screams rarely got my attention anymore. R. and I continued our musing on politics or the economy or whatever it was but the shrieking continued unabated with increasing volume and frequency. Usually the roister below would die out after a brief call and response but this time the continuity piqued my interest. “Hold on,” I interrupted R., “Let’s go out on the fire escape. I think some shit’s going down.” Upon ducking through the window I saw before me what was at once a tragic and titillating scene. Lying in the crosswalk of 42nd and University was an unrecognizable mound of – presumably female – human flesh and a lanky, bedraggled street rat contriving in vain to hoist to its feet what had surely once been a human being but was now a suffering soul in the depths of hell. Although a handful of curiosity seekers had stopped to linger kitty-corner, the dozen or so passersby ambulating through the crosswalk exhibited valour of the most laudable and passed unperturbed by the seemingly invisible couple, deaf to the reproaches which were incomprehensible to me from where I was standing. After a moment the writhing heap of flesh rolled over to reveal a short crop of purple stubble upon a head which bore a handsome if not contorted face – all of this belonging to a generous but still well-proportioned body.
The opprobrium could now reach my ears and fucks and I hate yous now punctuated the shrieks. The poor boy couldn’t have been half the mass of his companion and try as he might to cajole her upright, our hero was completely at a loss. At length the corpulent banshee rose, fended off her quixotic rescuer and staggered down the street out of view. “Grab your cigarettes R. We need to see this story through to its exciting conclusion.” By the time we had descended the three flights of stairs and rounded the corner she was out of sight. R. balked. On his face was a barely discernable mix of pity for the girl and shame that the growing number of onlookers, myself included, were taking in another creature’s descent into the abyss. R.’s conscience got the better of him and he decided to go for a sandwich but I felt it my duty as a writer to see the story through to its end, however cruel it may be. I found her at the end of the block. She was lying face down in front of the 71 express, still very much alive and unscathed and had evidently thrown herself in front of a stationary bus. The police were on the scene now and after draping what looked like a yellow plastic tarp over her, undertook what little effort was necessary to restrain her. The mob was beginning to assemble – the gawkers, the gapers and the amateur phone film crew. Was it to monitor the police for any use of excessive force or to take home for a good laugh? The shrieks went on enveloping declarations of “I’m beautiful!” and “I’m worthless!” The paramedics arrived and began their work and I mucked off pondering to myself whether I might not buy that acid from the kid in front of the post office after all.
My friend on the other end of the line likes the lines that indict the pharmaceutical industry, those psychotropic killers jumping off labels where the money is, where they put DFW and Robin Williams' bodies, under water.
I tell him thanks, but I hope I don't stay as crippled as I am in that poem, or this, although I'm finally crippled enough to be considered for a book.
Beauty's not a verb; it's just another reason that artists starve, So editors can see it: blighted mitochondria of the normative body that was.
Don't suffer the little children unto non-normative monsters like me, worse off than a junkie; all I'm left with, approximately, is rhyme. At least junkies die. When is it enough? Is my beauty a verb now that my verbs are still? But only a verb is a verbâ€” all else: inaction.
The I-5 looks the same as the stretch between New York and Connecticut, or, rather, the other way around. Highways haven’t always meant escape or salvation, understanding or weakness. I buy weed from Robert Lee, twenty-nine, crack dealer, semi-homeless. I try not to laugh at his bitterness, the loss of his heavy handed slang that escapes only during the pauses in those small moments when he reflects on his parents. It’s not the nineties anymore he tells me suddenly. I stare at him and we evaluate all that this could mean, I turn my head in a way that I have seen all my life, a slow bend to the earth on my left and the sky on my right, I don’t really know what to say. Robert Lee slicks his tongue before puffing out his cheeks and gurgling or choking on his tongue. You alright? He chuckles without looking at me, we laugh into the strip malls of Fife, and slowly fall into our seats. Khaled isn’t at the station to meet me, I decide to wait for a little bit in a small bar called the Double Down Tavern, past its tiny holding capacity with a limited variety of rednecks watching baseball. You like baseball?, the bartender asks, anxious as I constantly gaze (probably more bewildered than I let on). Not since Griffey was king, I answer. For reasons that I will never know, the bartender looks at me with the strained, detached love of a mother watching her firstborn being sentenced. He shakes wearily and asks a man dribbling chill onto an old Carhartt hoodie if he’s finished with his vodka and tonic. Khaled texts me to say that he's still stuck in the CD. His Grandma is making a meal in his honor Figures. I text Annie and ask if she still stays in Tacoma. She does and agrees to meet me. As I drink more and more, I find myself a sudden expert on baseball. I bet a guy thirty bucks that the Mariners will lose. They don’t, and in fact end up beating the Royals 3-1, at least by the 8th inning, at which point I leave discreetly and meet Annie on Pacific towards the southeast side of the city at another redneck dive bar, unfortunately called Moe's. Is the Simpson’s reference intentional? I ask Annie rolls her eyes. If it is, is that any better? A man lumbers toward me, he’s wearing high-waisted jeans for overweight men that are eerily reminiscent to the husky jeans worn by impoverished eight year olds. Fuck. Annie whispers to me. What? That’s, my neighbor, sorry.
The man is drunk and runs his fingers slowly across his chest, rippling over the folds of his Seahawks t-shirt as would a tongue against the minor movement guiding water through a brook. He slides un-invited into the booth and situates himself altogether too close to me. Hey girl, he spits toward Annie, Who’s your friend? Ahmed Where you from? Seattle. Really? he cocks his eye. He looks a lot like Sean Connery, albeit weathered to ruin by drinking and the variety of trades he has been in and out of, at one point or another in his life. I recite the Hadith. He looks bewildered I recite it again. Annie gets up to leave and I follow, she throws a glance and glares. Even from behind I can see the stretch of her dimples softly collapse at the break of her ears. Why didn’t you tell me earlier you were coming down here? I kind of just came here to say goodbye to Khaled Where is he, anyways? His grandma is making a meal in his honor, I guess. Seriously, isn’t he about to go jail for selling drugs? Well your grandma isn’t going to stop loving you just because you sold some dope. But a meal, I mean really? I want a grandma cooked meal. Start hustling. Does he know you're leaving? I don’t know if I’m leaving A wheel treads through grass, a train is creeping into the yards on the south side. Annie looks at me, a seagull circles over a puddle. What's your neighbor's story? I ask. I’m drunk. He’s like King of the Hill style white trash. Gravel spits into the street. I laugh. A part of me wants that. A part of you doesn’t want anything. I want to play my part. Annie turns on her right heel and spits on me. You want to submerge into a ridiculous idealization of what you're not. Khaled texts me about being back in thirty minutes. He has meth. You peel parts of what you are and replace them with who you want to be, in the end, you were never really yourself anyway, you were only acting and then forgot.
She followed the light, climbing over mounds, layers, clumps. What might be mounds of cast off clothes, left wet for months to form a semi-soft, unmovable layer, which might be weeks upon weeks of food wrappers, compressed down into a single long pulpy lump, the labels wracked to stitches by water and time, what could be hundreds of cables lain long and wrapped up tight. What might be flesh. As she moved the reflection of the light in the mirror, as if a beacon, faded from sight and seemed to project from above. She spoke the name again, the muscles in her throat quivering with fear. The sound, again, aborted in the mouthing stage, somewhere in the breathing stage, as if the air itself were nullifying the vibrations, as if the darkness itself were smothering the timbre of her head. She heard only the faintest whisper, the pared down strained section of her disembodied voice, the last word spoken by the old woman of her future self, moments before her death, fed back to her from a great distance, her voice transmuted into the pressing winds of a spectral arctic emptiness, seething up to her from the pitch silty emptiness of an abyssal plain. The voice and the light one and the same, coming from the same point, seeming to emanate from a high place in the pillars and folds of the conglomerated matter. It occurred to her now that what seemed to be a pointless jumble, what seemed to be a meaningless rise and fall of matter spun out from the world and combined there to hold an order. It held a symmetry so multifaceted, one occuring from a set of spatial dimensions so far beyond the three it was projected onto, that it appeared to be utter chaos. The symmetry of the full thing was visible to her for a fleeting instant, the edges so sharp,the lines repeated so endlessly, in ways so impossibly constructed that she convulsed,
impossibly constructed that she convulsed, covering her eyes with her hands. For that moment the world became so blindingly bright and she saw it, saw its true form. That this place was an alter, a temple, the holy of holies at the center of the city, an eternal site of ritual constructed and destroyed with geologic regularity. A layered shrine, the rings of approach laid out in the structure of the land, the form of the city, the shape of the building, the contents of the room, the climb of the tower at its absolute center. Opening her eyes the room returned to its immediate form: a shapeless, edgeless mass of cast off materials, steps made out of phonebooks or stacks of playing cards glued together, the walls formed out of punctured tire tubes or the dried out entrails of eaten beasts, the ceiling plastered with the remains of fast food meals, of sales receipts, of packing material, of useless bits of tape and thread, with the last few ounces of industrial glues and caulking seal and forming putty and mattress coils burned free from their fabric, stretched out and deformed and laid in as ribs. All of this, every last millimeter, every last crevice, those visible and not, every last inch and meter, dyed to the very bone with some sort of matte blackness, covered to the very atom in a kind of blackness that absorbed all light, all heat, all sound, all thought, all breath and movement. She found the first step up, the first small gap that would raise her up from the filth, from the decay, the first ascension that would bring her closer to that elusive blue light, the placeless emanation. There another step, and another, no reason to their placement no order to their orientation, no apparent equal period to set them apart from one another. The climb like no other she had undertaken, where all visible and auditory clues were dulled down to nothingness, were muted
to pure abstraction. She had to pull herself up by instinct alone, had to allow the world to form itself around her, give up control to the shape of the place, to the tectonic speed of the alter curving around her body, adjust to the shape of her mind, for the place itself was alive in a way that she could never understand. A form of life that seemed in no way like life to her.And allowing it thus, the thing provided her the illusion that she was moving, the thing finally gave her the illusion that it was in fact her body, and not it, that was moving, that it was her mind, not its own that was controlling her ascent. As she came finally to the very pinnacle, the covered turret mere inches away from the plastered ceiling, itself inches thick and insulated not with plaster and gypsum and fiberglass but with the threads of reality, the squirming, roiling tentacles, millions of miles long that slip through everything unseen, that skither behind the veneer of the world, that move and shoot and point and retract, here she found something simple, something she has known, the first real thing in the room, in the alter, that connected to any object she has seen and known before. Here they were: a wooden dinner chair, a small desk and a computer monitor. And there in the computer was the source of the glow, and there on the monitor was an image that she had never seen but which brought up deep pangs of recognition, which rang in her the tones of understanding. And she sat slowly before the computer, her eyes adjusting to the light, her mind acclimating to the advent of stimulation. And the image resolved into view: a womanâ€™s face made of pixels, a look of deep sadness, unmistakable, somehow conveyed in nothing more than a few thousand blocks of color, and behind this face, a city at night, the moon just visible over a sky scraper, the city silent but the remnants of life visible, those few last lights being turned on and off, the occasional glimmer of a turning car apparent.
Seconds passed, the image moved but did not repeat. She looked around the screen but there was no apparent course of action. On the keyboard, the letters were gone. Either rubbed off by years of use or taken off with some abrasive or solvent. She pressed enter and for a moment there was no movement, then slowly the face faded from view and the words Refudious 3 materialized onto the screen. And there unseen by her, buried in the depths of the detritus, surrounded by the weeks of gathering, by the meticulous accumulation and separation and preparation and assemblage, encased in the strictly prescribed elements of construction, cocooned in this material that had once been organic, then lost its life, then regained its life, in a place mere feet from where she sat but days, even weeks away, separated by an impenetrable labyrinth, there stood two eyes, totally camouflaged by the materials, totally independent of the room, of the space of the darkness and at one with it and surrounded by it and infiltrated with it, and there he watched, and there he sat perfectly silent, perfectly motionless, able to maintain his position perpetually with the patience and stoicism of a reclining stone Buddha, and there he waited, observing, finally placing his machine in motion, finally beginning the first movements of the ascension, finally beginning the first steps of the combination, finally reaching that purpose set into him countless ages ago and sleeping within him during that time, now ready to awake, now ready to spring forth and multiply and unleash its influence onto the world and cover the world and burn the world into something bright and new and never before seen.
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