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the dada magazine about nothing

N A D A


Given the endless proliferation of options we have in every realm of our post-modern existence, even the most banal of choices can be overwhelming, even crippling. Deciding when we’ve outlived any usefulness we may have ever had can present a daunting task indeed. With this easy-to-use chart you can take the guess work out of befuddling existential quandaries and decide with speed and ease whether to keep going or to end it all.

Should you take a final bow?


Special Agent Dana Scully, FBI Transcript of Autopsy Report Monday, September 16th, 1996. 7:56 PM Victim is ___1___, age ___2___ I will begin with the external examination. The body is covered in some kind of ___3___ substance, it’s consistency is similar to ___4___, with a slightly ___5___ish color. Markings around the neck suggest cause of death to be strangulation. It appears the victim was ___6___ing at the time of death. The victim’s ___7___ appear to have been removed in a violent matter, as if bit or torn off by an animal of some kind. It is unclear whether this was done posthumously or prior to time of death. Victim appears to have been killed roughly ___8___ hours ago, as rigor mortis has not yet set in. I will proceed now with a Y incision. Victim’s lungs appear ___9___. There is nosign of inhalation of any ___10___s. The victim’s ___11___ is missing, though there is no sign of extraction on the body. Upon further inspection, the victim’s corneas and tongue appear to be coated with some kind of ___12____ substance. It is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Under a microscope it appears to be some kind of bacteria, and it seems to be ___13___ing. I am collecting a sample to send to the ___14___ for further tests. I am also noting a small ___15___ on the base of the victim’s neck. It is unclear whether this contributed to the victim’s death.X-rays reveal several ___16___ masses inside the victim’s skull. I will now perform a cranial inspection to conclude the autopsy. What the- ___17___. -End of tape1 Name ________________________ 11 Internal Organ ________________________ 2 Number ______________________ 3 Adjective ___________________ 12 Adjective _____________________ 4 Food ________________________ 13 Verb __________________________ 5 Color _______________________ 14 Noun, place ________________________ 6 Verb ________________________ 7 Appendage ___________________ 15 Noun, object _______________________ 8 Number ______________________ 9 Adjective ___________________ 16 Adjective _____________________ 10 Noun _______________________ 17 Exclamation ___________________


The crumbling facade of old churches, a stone wrenching itself as if wet, the shouts of school children being cradled by their mothers, letters formed before the flood plastered over diners, the warm smell of leather, red lights. The sun is in shambles, the winter is coming. Walking among the dew, the weary eyes of transatlantic cargo ships, the strange smells of prisons, of sewers, of trash, vomit. Waking among the charred remains of cities, dreaming of underground fortresses, talk talk talk talk. Reinvention, the wheel, the cotton gin, a rosary that dangled among cables in place of shoes. The sidewalk is heavy at midnight, lighter in the morning, everything remains in the visible dimensions of carrion, crossing and then bowing, a three legged woman of forty (or somewhere thereabouts) stumbles through the traffic weeping. (What am I doing here?) Silence, the doldrum scream of incarnate ghosts, the vertebrae of oysters, of clams of ancient titans that wrestled the oceans for their love and then lost. A river that runs backward (or appears so, zooming in, and then out) my glass eye has shattered. Walking and then more walking. The dazed look of children, the swift graceful craning of necks, a stampede heard only through echoes among a perilous valley. Horns among a mantel piece. Smokey blue ovals that can be heard in silence. There are certain stares that only the officers of the Luftwaffe SS gave each other. Hello said in a tone more sarcastic then friendly.


“The name’s Thomas.” “My name is Misha, I'm not from around here.” I believe we owe it to one another to say things correctly, (Parra, 1975) or not say anything at all. I found The Red and The Black among trash the other day. I am not so pretentious as to pretend to know what it means. “It's the beginning of the war,” says Thomas, white hair and frowns, “it’s about the endless struggle to reclaim the earth.” He grins, showing missing teeth. The faint, energy saving, light-bulbs create the impression of a halo around his head. “Do you own this bar?” Grinning and nodding. “Why is it themed like a country club in Montana?” “Because New York is about creating a semblance of either its own past, or of a different world, the darkness that cannot touch images, that we create inside of ourselves because we are too weak to accept spatial reality.” “I would argue that reality is a creation Thomas. This conversation is happening, but the times are all switched around, this is 1987, my mother is carrying me through the remains of Moscow, my father is in prison, and you, by now are dead - I am hearing this through blood and math.” Thomas nods. Walking around the bar he lurches like a corpse, spindly remains. A hard life - I am sure. Outside, there is a chill in the air, a backwards hat with a gun and upon the gun a crow. A scowl that snakes through the grates and penetrates bones. Somebody is wearing a shirt bearing a portrait of Raquel Dalton (as a joke?). The word FUNERAL written in large block letters follows me for several city blocks. Later I find a pamphlet with a short blurb about the EZLN. I huddle in a staircase and cry myself to sleep. In the elevator of the social service building a man shits his pants, the smell is faintly sweet (like Manischewits or rats gnawing on composted vegetables). He turns to me, grinning, in an embarrassed tone he whispers, “Twenty years of rough sex.” He is dying and it is obvious why.


For a long time the case worker speaks to me about the dangers of heroin use. I meekly raise my hand (something I haven't done since I was eight) and point to a list of pros and cons I have written about self-annihilation. The case worker speaks with a hint of Haitian creole that I find soothing; under Astride I controlled my own gang of ghosts who would appear and dissipate at will, they left severed fingers in the fault line that runs like a kiss through Port Au Prince. Anything is possible. Time lessens the blows done to life, power, my dear, is eternal. He turns his back to me, gently picking up the phone chained to an event-less desk and begins howling in perfect French. “Would you like a monkey? My friend recently started a business dealing with exotic goods and he can't get rid of the damn thing.” A full set of brown teeth carefully smoothed of cancer stand in a crooked shoreline. Eyes the color of coal. I wander the streets of Brooklyn for hours before finding the same staircase and begin crying more. The monkey bites me in the pre-dawn as the first humans wake up (construction workers, house painters, junkies, nurses, the subway creaks through the alley of stars). I name him Andre (after Breton) and decide to keep him. I circle back to where Thomas and I first met on a frozen December night, when he asked if I had a dick. “Yes.” I replied. “Does it work?” he asked. I think I smiled as he led me up a flight of stairs and I fucked him on a roof. His body was cold, even as the rhythm increased, even as my temperature rose and then fell, and later as he sat beside me naked I could see that he was dead. The bar is gone. A church built only of steel and glass in its place. Teresa of Alva appears to me, my eyes closing, the dusk settling like silk around the city. Her lips are soft.


When I wake up the monkey is gone, I find myself chained to a hospitable bed. Somebody screams, the bellow aching, from the far end of the hall. A steady pounding of footsteps. I pass out. I wake up to the monkey shitting in my hair on the cement stairs of a brownstone, blankly staring into the endless acres of houses and smoke, I force my eyes shut, and steadily gaze into the year 1987.


Listening at DSHS there is a girl at the window trying to get detox therapy. Her and her friend - dressed well, talking cheerily – chat with the agent about treatment options. “So how does this go down?” she asks. “Well there are a lot of ways to go about it: there is the fifteen day program, the thirty day program, a forty five day program and the lo… loham…” she trails off, “What?”the friend says. “Who’s the girl that has been in rehab forever?” “Lindsey Lohan?” the friend says. “Yeah Lindsey Lohan. There’s the Lindsey Lohan option.” “I am Lindsey Lohan!” the rehabbing girl says while breaking out into laughter. After she leaves there is a bunch of awkward laughter between a person behind the teller window and the burley, bald, white guy who is setting things up on the floor. At first it sounds like they are making a joke but then it turns out that the white guy is pissed. ‘Am I gonna have to come out there’ the guy in the booth says, ‘I donno, if you want to.’ ‘Okay, well I’ll wait until you calm down to a four.’ ‘Oh, it’s a lot worse than that’ the burly white guy says. I think that’s when the last vestiges of the joke evaporated. The white burly guy comes out from behind his desk and walks over and behind the booth. ‘I just don’t like it when people talk behind my back. That’s all. I was gonna tell you, I called you an idiot, but I was gonna say it to your face. I just don’t like it when someone talks behind my back.’ At first I could hear them but then there was a bunch of shushing and they were whispering. A minute went by, then they were laughing. Everything was okay. What was said? How did he turn around so fast?


‘So I was driving to work the other day and the traffic was fucking nuts, like backed up for miles. I kid you not, it took ten minutes to make a right hand turn. I didn’t even want to turn right but it was my only option, ya know? Because of the traffic.’ She looked like she was about to cry. ‘I see, it was either seven am or four pm.’ ‘Exactly, one of those. Anyhow, this old beat up Volvo finally lets me merge. Like a hallelujah moment, grateful as fuck. And that’s when it started. This marauding vessel sailed into my stream of thought and pillaged my sanity. All I could think about was the man driving the Volvo. At first I was just obsessed over how cute he was. But soon the ship dumped visions of Thomas (he looked like a Thomas) and my first, second and third dates. I couldn’t help looking into the rear view mirror every five, three, two seconds. See the progression here? This ship’s decimated my grasp on reality. At that point it launched a barrage of cannon balls on the levees that keep my stream of consciousness in check. I pictured our wedding, the house we’ll live in and our children. In my mind it was all inevitable.’ At this I stand up from my seat, casually pick up the garbage can and puke up my breakfast burrito. Wiping my mouth, I manage to reply. ‘Why are you telling me this? Wouldn’t you have more fun gabbing with your girlfriends over cosmos than sitting here wasting my time with this inane chatter?’ ‘What do you mean why? Obviously I want you to hunt down the ship and destroy it! I fall in love at least ten times a day. It’s exhausting. Retard.’ And now she really does start crying. ‘Hang on a sec.’ Lifting up the phone. ‘Hey Bev, can you make a note to never admit a woman into my office ever again? Yes that does include you. Thanks.’ ‘I apologize for the interruption. Where were we? Oh yes. Just so we’re clear, you do realize that I don’t in fact captain a ship for the British Royal Navy? I’m a surgeon, not an able bodied seaman. Therefore, I’m not in the business of chasing down neurological pirate ships and bringing them to chemical justice. Is that quite clear?’ ‘…’ She stared at me as though I had failed to beat her with a crow bar. And she was exceedingly disappointed. ‘This may be a bit of a long shot, but have you ever considered therapy?’ At this, her palpable desire for death reached its withered hand across the table and slapped me across the face.


‘You think I haven’t tried that? I wouldn’t be here at all if my therapist weren’t such a ninny. Anyhow, he’s the one who recommended you.’ Her look was that of a slimy, spoiled child who had just spilled the proverbial beans. My eyes lit up exponentially, and I shot an unintentional smile in her direction. ‘May I ask, my dear, the name of your therapist?’ ‘Larry Summers, his office is over on…’ ‘Oh, I know exactly where his office is. Thank you Ms. Bedford, this has been very informative. My secretary will contact you soon as to the status of your case.’ ‘Hey Bev, Hold my calls. I’m heading home for lunch.’ When I arrived home Lorraine was nowhere in sight, which is generally impossible. ‘Hey woman!’ ‘Where you at?’ ‘Hello?’ Cracking open a can of Spaghetti-Os I got to thinking. The act of actually calling her name struck me as improbable and useless. An odd feeling of doubt washed over me and with it the realization that there was nothing to be done. Lorraine was not the sort of creature you can track down and reason with, even if you wanted to. She was more an animal I had unintentionally captured. As if on cue, the door flew open and there she stood. Looking enlivened in ways I hadn’t seen since the alteration. She appeared spritely and far less grotesque than usual, strangely humane. My mouth gaping, tomato sauce dribbled down my chin,. ‘What the bejesus are you hootin’ and hollarin’ fo? You think I done left yo sorry ass?’ In an effort to reclaim her Southern Connecticut roots she had taken up speaking in an old timey drawl. Stunned, I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I just stared at her as though she were a mythical god come to eat my soul. ‘Cat gottacha tongue, bubba?’ She proceeded to punch me in the arm like a naval lieutenant engaging in foreplay with his comrade. The can hit the floor and splattered everywhere. I still couldn’t bring myself to speak. This was strange behavior, even for Lorraine. ‘Alright daddy-o I’ma gonna go jack some pierogis and kielbasa from that vendor over on fifth. See if I can’t make him piss hisself again. Don’t forget to blink.’ ‘Hold up, I’m heading out too.’ I finally managed to say something and it hurt my throat. We exited together and parted ways.


Hobbling down the street I always try to propel myself over the cracks with my crutches, letting my foot touch the ground only when necessary. As I catapulted over a real mother fucker of a crack some guy rolled down his window and shouted blasphemous obscenities at me. ‘Fuckin’ asshole cocksucker! Why don’t you come over here and say that again.’ I changed direction mid leap and barreled headlong at the car, smashing my right crutch into the fucker’s side view mirror. The thing exploded into smithereens and cascaded in brilliant jagged rainbows. ‘That’s what you get for fucking with cripples, asswipe!’ I plowed down the street, knocking over at least three hundred little old ladies. ‘Fuckin’ cunts. ’ I muttered under my breath. One guy accosted me about my poor manners and I kicked him square in the junk without altering my rhythm. Nearing the sausage hut I started singing ‘Let there be Peace on Earth’ at the top of my asbestos infested lungs. When the fat little vendor saw me coming he turned ghostly white and began perspiring like a dehydrated racehorse. ‘Howdy pardner, happy to see me?’ ‘Hey lady, I don’t want no trouble.’ ‘Trouble? Who said anything about trouble? I just came down here to see my buddy Jimbo.’ As is my ritual I began chasing him around the cart, narrowly avoiding knocking him over multiple times. The thrill is in the chase, ya know? ‘Hey where ya goin? I just want to give my pal a hug!’ At this he started screaming madly and an aroma of urine reaches my olfactory center. ‘Oh, it’s alright Jimbo. I guess you’re not in a touchy feely mood today. How bout you just fill up one of them nice plastic bags with some grub I can take home to the misses? That’s right buckaroo just fill up that bag like a nice chap. And don’t skimp on the kraut and sauces this time.’ ‘Here ya go lady. Just like you wanted. Lots of kraut, lots of sauce.’ ‘Thanks Jimbo. Now how bout that hug?’


When I returned from lunch I had six messages from prospective clients. You’d think with all of the pain and suffering inherent in the world people wouldn’t be in such a hurry to create more for themselves. You’d think that. But for some reason there’s a masochistic rat race among our species to acidify ourselves as quickly as possible. That’s where I come in with a bucket of baking soda to get those fuckers to erupt. Larry Summers, as you may remember, is the silly fat man who gained perspective by losing an eye. As proof of my favored status with god, Larry was the proud recipient of a miracle. Following our incredibly satisfactory encounter he was transformed from a two-bit quack to a highly respected member of the psychiatric community. Unfortunately for Larry, he never read the handbook that accompanies miracles. Rule #1 Never try to refer other lost causes to your guardian angel. It makes them cranky and in the famous words of Billy Crystal; ‘Rush a miracle man and you get rotten miracles. ‘Mister, I got a lady on hold for you. Says it’s urgent.’ ‘Bev, remember what I told you earlier? Well that goes double for phone calls. And if you ever allow that loony lady to cross the threshold of this office again I swear to god I will cook you up in my next batch of cupcakes. Now I have to meet with a Dr. Summers, cancel the rest of my appointments for the afternoon doll face.’ Reaching the door I spin around quickly towards Bev. ‘On second thought, call Frank and see if he’s out of class for the day. He can cover for me if he wants. See you tomorrow.’ Larry kept a small office over on Pine and Second. It was a dilapidated house in a neighborhood filled with dilapidated houses. You wouldn’t pick it out from a row of crack dens or a used car lots except for a small sign that hung in the front yard. Discount Psychiatry and Used Porn. Walk-ins Very Welcome. Inquire within. I felt right at home. The office didn’t have a front desk attendant or anything like that. Just a desk with a little bell and a sign that said to ring bell for service and ring twice to be ignored. Next to the bell was a tip jar. The walls were lined in vhs porn, used dildos and various devices of self-abuse. I’d have to take Lorraine here on our next date. I’d been promising her a second date for almost a year.


I rang the bell once, twice, three times, just to see. I waited several minutes with nary a reply. I rang the bell once. Almost on the moment of impact the door burst open and lil’ old Larry beckoned me into his inner chamber. ‘You’ve grown creepier.’ I told him with a grimace of approval. ‘And you’ve become illiterate.’ ‘The sign should read: Ring bell once for service, ring two times or more to be ignored.’ We giggled together like diddled school girls. ‘I suppose this is not a call for help? Not that I assume there is much of anything you would require help with. But supposing there were ever anything I could do to be of assistance to you, I am at your service, of course. He made a show of bowing a little bit. ‘Well Dr. Summers, you assumed correctly that this is not a personal visit. I am here to clear up a matter which has been perplexing me all morning. I received a visit from a Ms. Bedford. She sought assistance with a neurological pirate ship. For some reason she was under the impression that this was something I may be able to help her with. Your name was mentioned.’ ‘Well, my dear sir, you are in fact Ms. Bedford’s last hope. You see, I have been attempting to treat this affliction in her for two years now, with minimal results. She suffers from an odd variety of OCD which is resistant to every form of therapy I have brought against it. Her illness is noxious indeed.’ ‘Perhaps the failure to address this affliction is simply a representation of your own incompetence? Despite the eye patch and rumors of your renewed reputation I harbor doubts as to your effectiveness as a practitioner.’ Despite my desire for social decency a scowl freed itself onto my face. ‘Quite true, quite true indeed! I am but a louse of a therapist. But I have attempted on various occasions to pass her off on to more worthy practitioners. But she has proven an impossible nut to crack for even the greatest minds in my field. And so, I sent her to see an artist. Because what are artists for if not to pick up the slack for experts!’ I send a gentle smile in his direction. ‘Could I use your phone, please? There’s an important matter I’ve been negligent with.’ ‘By all means! Allow me to show you the way.’ He says it as though he’s trying to placate a shark.


Rejoining him, my primary goal is to assuage his guilt. We are in a delicate situation. It doesn’t matter how much he believes, only how strongly he wishes to believe. ‘I appreciate your confidence in my undertakings. I saw something in you, even then. It would appear that my interest in you was warranted and you seem greatly improved.’ ‘I am! More so than you could ever know. I aim now for constant awareness. I believe that was you’re metaphorical meaning all along.’ Jingling of the bell. ‘One moment please.’ Depression doesn’t contain the same allure it once did. At this moment I feel nothing but the agony of artistic defeat. Lorraine and Larry enter. Almost arm in arm. Instantly I regret calling her. He doesn’t deserve this, the fool. In the background ‘Dancing in the Street’ plays softly. As a silent witness I observe Lorraine dismounting from her crutches. They begin to flail in the air as the music increases in volume.


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