the dada magazine about nothing
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Donn called on a Wednesday. The day after I got fired. Donn with two ‘N’s. He was very specific about that. He was calling because the water to the building was going to be shut off and he needed to come over and test our backflow prevention device. It kept water from flowing from the radiator back into the fresh water supply. Simple enough. He was all business on the phone, but lightened up after a little bit. I was at the coffee shop looking for jobs and had to go home and check to see if the door to the room with the radiator was open. I wasn’t really sure what the radiator looked like and Donn said it was some big piece of machinery with a tag on it. He couldn’t describe the machine but gave me a very detailed description of the tag: “About four by four, yellow in a plastic sheath. It’ll be hanging from a pipe. It’ll have my name on it. If you see my name on it you will know it is the radiator.” I couldn’t find it so I figured the door to the room with the radiator was not open. I called the building maintenance guy Jeff to come open the room. Jeff might be mentally retarded. I’m not totally sure. Donn came on Friday morning. He was this little square man with glasses and he carried a tackle box. Affable. I asked him if I could come along and watch. He said no problem.
We went downstairs to the basement and I showed him the radiator. It was a big boxy metal machine. He opened the tackle box and pulled out what looked like a big pressure gauge with a few tubes coming out of it. The tubes were red, black and green. He hooked one of each of the tubes into three color coded valves. The valves started spraying water. Donn mentioned that it was okay, but not great. He said that he would have to replace the valves within the next year. He told me that these needed to be checked once a year and that the landlord had pretty much ignored the test last year to the point that the city was threatening to shut off our water in two weeks if it didnâ€™t get checked out. The needle on the gauge jumped up to nine PSID, then he turned another valve and it dropped down to eight PSID. He mentioned that it should be about the same but that the leaking valves would compromise the pressure a little bit. Then he turned another valve to check that the relief valve was working. When he turned it some water came out of the bottom of the valves. He screwed the check valves back in and disconnected his tester. And that was it. It took all of five minutes.
He filled out a report and we talked for a little bit about plumbing and his bad heart and geothermal heating. I mentioned that I had just lost my job. He seemed to take it very seriously and recommended getting a contractor’s license. He had one but almost never used it. He said it was good to have but you needed to be ‘handy’. It was funny because ‘handy’ sounded like a foreign word. Like when you hear a foreign word that is used commonly and it sounds sort of frivolous but really holds a lot of gravity. Handy had always meant to me like when a person is useful around the house but when Donn said it the word took on a lot more meaning. It was sort of this very deep innate skill, maybe a preternatural spatial ability. The god given talent to make ‘something’ out of little more than nothing. It felt good to communicate with Donn. He was very straightforward and open. He said I could be a postal carrier, or work for the government. They always have jobs and they have great benefits. We said goodbye at the door and he wished me luck. His hands were so full I had to hold the door for him.
Manipulation is a child’s game, she had too much ice cream on her face as she narrated for me to take it with grains of salt or serious. Something about family. Smiles deep in expansion, birth. Rather than say: too much too soon she ate faster, listing the reasons children are expendable They shit in front yards and cupped hands, It’s irresponsible, really. She cupped her belly like a secret, I waited for a confession or character break. Both crumbling on the plate slowly, with the muffin and Aerosmith cover It’s not my business, but it just seems rash I couldn’t agree more, or care less. How many drunk singles does it take to get to the center of a pregnancy? The waiter, nods at my coffee, He needs a pack of cigarettes (and an actual bedframe) She continues her spew, The environment, love is dead, what a waste of 20 years of your life, and I agree, yeah, what a fucking waste.
The old place had fallen into disrepair. The landlord had somehow managed to set the ceiling on fire with a blow torch. The offices above us left the water running and flooded the upper floors for two days. The resulting trickles of putrid water reached our basement suite the morning of the third day. Lorraine splashed around in the living room puddles like a jolly flamingo. She was unfazed by the unexpected water feature and relished in its pungent aroma. I awoke groggily to the unmistakable sound of an impromptu pool party. She had filled the room with rubber duckies and merrily tried to drown each one in turn. Unfazed by buoyancy or the laws of physics Lorraine continued on with her doomed mission to massacre the flock. Eventually she gave up and tied little rocks to each one. Upon entering the 'living room' I was assaulted by a visual display that would make anyone with a sense of decency sick to their stomach. Lorraine was perched on the top of a newly constructed bookshelf chucking sticks at our recently adopted beaver. 'Whats with the beaver?'
Lorraine only nodded. I approached the magnificent creature with a sense of awe and despair. The poor defenseless beaver was rushing around like a chastised puppy. As sticks plopped down in front of it, it would dash after them, then they would whip back up and plop down again. This was no sanctuary for homeless swamp creatures. This was more akin to the sea world of dog fights. 'You're a terrible person.' I said this already knowing the consequences. She immediately whipped the stick away from the tormented beaver and flung it at my face. The jagged end caught me under the jaw and caused my upper teeth to penetrate my lip. She cackled with glee. 'It's not my fault that you won't get me a dog. I've got to settle for this beaver.'
'Where the hell did you find a beaver in the middle of Cleveland? This isn't exactly the epicenter of nature preserves. And you're obviously a fucking sadist.' At this she only smirked The beaver is a noble beast. They are industrious and vicious. Beavers are not known for their friendly dispositions. Come between a beaver and its dam and you are sure to be in endless peril. They are grumpy and irksome.
Animal control did not understand my predicament. The officer would not agree to come to my aid without an elaborate tale about how the riparian creature had found its way into my urban squat. I managed to construct a heroic, heartwarming story of woe which would have made my eigth grade English teacher proud. Had he heard my telling of these events he would have determined that I had a future in literature or politics. The officer arrived and assessed the situation diplomatically. The beaver offered a weak toothy grin. He splashed around as though all was well with the world. She had folded him into her evil plot to drive me nuts. I explained to the officer that the beaver had become a burden and we were unsure of how to dispose of him. The beaver slapped his tail on the lake in my direction. Lorraine tried to whip the officer but he proved too shifty and quick to be ensnared by her lasso. We were at an impasse. Lorraine and the beaver engaged in a well orchestrated conspiracy against myself and the animal control officer. His name was Ted. They cuddled on the coach and the beaver came when she called him. Perplexed, the officer had no choice but to inquire as to whether the beaver was truly a burden at all. 'Look at this face. How could anything with teeth like this ever be anything but a joy to be around?' Lorraine attempted a coo. This resulted in a whiney drawl like a little girls' plea. It was pathetic to watch. The officer left me a leash for the beaver and ...jjhj
We’ve all seen it: the screaming child on the airplane, the tantrum throwing brat in the candy aisle of the supermarket, the kicking, screaming, biting, intransigent menace being gently and patiently carried down the sidewalk by exhausted, dissolute parents – children in need of nothing more than a heady slap. This spoiled generation of post-millennials being raised by a generation who clearly never got an ounce of discipline from their own parents. But what can we do in an age where Liberals and so-called progressives have invaded even the sanctity of our own homes to dictate what discipline, if any, we can mete out to our children? The Liberal conspiracy goes all the way to the top so that even public servants are legally bound to report well-meaning parents for so-called ‘abuse’. In this climate of politically correct parenting how can we restore the authority parents have lost and resurrect the filial veneration that children once had? The following is meant to instruct parents on strategies for disciplining a recalcitrant and insubordinate child without leaving any discernible marks for snooping teachers or doctors to discover.
- Solitary Confinement/Sensory Deprivation This classic disciplinary method goes back to time immemorial. Any small enclosed space will do, providing that it can be locked from without. Depending on the size of the child this could be anything from a shed or closet all the way down to large drawer or kitchen cabinet. The key is the absence of any light, so be sure to remove any lightbulbs or other luminous devices prior to interning the child. The child may kick and scream for varying lengths of time depending on their obduracy but you must wait diligently until the child understands the futility of doing so. Even a few short hours of sensory deprivation can quickly induce intense feelings of anxiety, dejection, and depression, none of which leave any traceable evidence. If the enclosed space is small enough that the child cannot fully extend his legs there will be the added benefits of stress positioning.
- Stress Positioning Stress positioning is the manipulation of the body into any position which, although may not be particularly painful for short periods of time, becomes increasingly painful after an extended time. This could be as simple as requiring the child to raise both arms fully extended (a favorite in South Korean public schools) to small enclosures in which the legs cannot be fully extended to the ever popular hanging the child upside down. The child may at first think the latter method is merely â€˜fun and gamesâ€™ but as blood pools in his head symptoms such as numbness in the extremities and severe headache will set in.
- Temperature Manipulation This can be done in a number of ways. Weather permitting you can leave the child out of doors without sufficient clothing. Another method is to draw a bath of ice water and submerge the child up to its neck. He is likely to resist at first but you must maintain vigilance until the child recognizes the futility of struggling. Hence this method works better with smaller children as older children are more difficult to restrain.
- ECT or Electro-Convulsive-Treatment This classic method, when executed correctly, leaves no discernible marks however it does require a rudimentary understanding of electronics. Therefore, you must make a complete circuit, and one which is suitably grounded. This can easily be done by tying some type of metal wire around the child’s wrist or ankle and the other end to a metal object of some sort – table leg, copper pipe, etc. Next a prod must be fashioned. This can be as simple a copper wire tied to a stick and connected to a power source. In adults ECT can go as high as 450 volts but the 120 volt power supply in any American home should be good enough for an obstreperous child. When administering the shock, select areas on the child’s body with high concentrations of nerve endings such as lips and tongue, nipples or genitals.
- Verbal Abuse Last but not least is traditional verbal abuse. Shouting is to be avoided as it merely escalates the situation and shows the parent to be unable to control his own emotions and compromising his authority. Rather, calmly yet sternly explain to the child his physical, intellectual and moral inferiority in the face of an adult who is superior in all ways. Bring up embarrassing or humiliating episodes from the child’s past. Toilet training mishaps are always effective. As the child’s parent you should be more familiar than anyone with your child’s insecurities. Make your child feel ugly, unlovable, to be a failure and a general burden. When done only once this will have little lasting effect on the child but with persistence you can whittle your child’s self-esteem down to virtually nothing and be left with a pliant, obedient, and respectful child.
When applied properly, these techniques will not only ensure a minimum of domestic strife but also make you the envy of your neighbors and friends who are struggling with their own children.
There is a world above this world, as there is a world under the ocean, as there is a thread of life that quivers in rotted pine and expired foliage, and as with the knowledge of gravity of the certainty that you will draw breath, the idea of two earths is inborn in all of us. Born as you were, you already know this, your window faces your own, and you have grown in parallel strides of limbs, although with some notable and slightly disconcerting changes. For one, your other you is like the president of your class, and a teacher’s pet and kind of boring, or not even boring, but more so sad, or hidden inside of their own skin. Also, you're a girl and other you is a boy, but even weirder your other parents are different. Your dad, for example is someone your own dad would probably not want you to be around. Your mom is the same, like she drinks a bottle of Sangria and watches Maury all day. But for yourself and your family everything is tranquil, on the other planet it’s totally tense and, as said, your dad is totally wack, like he is always yelling about how your mother is ruining the race, which is like ‘what the fuck (right?)’, and he drinks a lot of ‘colt 45’ which is what both you, and your other self, believe leads him to be such an unhappy asshole. Obviously these differences, which you naturally assume are similar for everybody else, are strange and being ten years old spend a sizeable (but not obsessive) amount of time thinking about them, but it’s not a worrying factor or anything. Still nobody ever talks about it, and what’s more, people rarely mention the other earth hovering in the sky above them. You aren’t a good student, it's ok, you're still smart, you just don’t care about school. You get a D- on a math test. Your dad cries, but that’s sorta just how he is. Weirdly, your mom, who doesn’t care normally, grounds you, which has never happened before. Everybody is unclear on what to do or how to precede, your dad still cries, your baby sister (who is three) throws her toys at you and proclaims that, you, in fact, are the dragon she has been looking for. You realize that if you and another you could lead dramatically different lives then you could also in fact, be a dragon.
So, you're grounded. And its during this period of time spent alone in your room that you realize other you is grounded too, although as noted before, it doesn’t make sense because you're basically a goodie two shoes, but there you are playing with your curls and sitting on the floor looking pensive. You decided to write a note to yourself, because you're bored but also in a way curious, like are you if you're not yourself (so to speak), what does that even mean? To be you? To not be you? Once, your aunt said that your great-grandfather (who died when you were two) was a spiteful man, and you have always been like: ‘How?’ how can your entire personality be spun around one or even a hundred words? And then, what's more, was your great grandfather’s other him a really happy guy or white or grandmother or a dog, like really, what are the rules about this whole ‘two earths thing’. Are you grounded simply because you’re grounded, cause and effect, in which case; how come you don’t get good grades and popularity, because as every ten year old knows, its probably going to get more important as time goes on. You write the first thing that comes to mind ‘Who are you?’ and immediately regret wasting a piece of paper. Other You writes back ‘you, duh’. You write ‘why are you grounded?’. You respond ‘I’m not. Playing is the devil’. You write ‘are you pentacostal?’ You write ‘no, thats the devil’. You write ‘ My dad says we’re rasta but he just smokes weed on the weekends’. You write ‘drugs are the devil’. You write ‘what isn’t the devil?’. You write ‘Father Jealous Devine’. You write ‘who’s that?’ You write ‘I don’t know, God?’. You write ‘ cool’. You write ‘Not really.’. You write ‘do you want to come over?’. You write ‘how?’ You write ‘good point’. You sit and stare at yourself for a seemingly infinite period of time. You write ‘I’m going to get a banana’. You write ‘why don’t you ever do your homework?’ You write ‘Its the devil, duh’. Your father is delicately cutting the branches of a miniature tree on the dining room table, there is sawdust everywhere but not in the actual pot. Your dad’s stoned, and then you remember it’s friday, you ask what he’s doing. He closes his eyes and says slowly,
‘bonsai. Hows being grounded?’ Your dad asks before breaking down. You comfort him and tell him its ok. Your mom tells a young man on the maury show that he needs to man the fuck up and take care of his kid. She beckons you over and asks you to get a bottle of Sangria and when you raise an eyebrow, she tells you there's a marathon on, they’re playing all twentyeight episodes that don’t involve paternity tests. That’s reason enough to celebrate. She gives you an extra fiver and smiles at your father trickling sawdust over the ‘bonsai’, because he doesn’t believe in candy or soda. Suddenly it dawns on you that something is missing. ‘Wheres Zadie?’ ‘Your cousins’ your mom shouts, ‘quit worrying about your sister and go get me my drink so I can go on and watch my shows, you're still grounded girl, you got twenty minutes.’ Your dad drys his eyes as you leave the house and walk down Jackson, and onto 23rd, until you get to the transit center, and sit on a bench for a minute just staring at the moon next to the earth. Where’s the other moon? As you prepare yourself for the rest of the journey you think that if there’s an answer, other you has it. The man at the corner store believes that you can speak Arabic, even though you just said you were from Georgia (He thinks you said Jordan, but being ten you have no idea its a country), and so the entire transaction is you shyly nodding as he speaks to you rapidly and slyly bags up your king size pack of skittles, two coca colas and one bottle of Sangria. You walk home. Nothing really happens, a homeless guy pees behind the library, and some weird looking teenagers yell something at you from a car but nothing special. When you return to your room you find yourself in your bed on top of the covers lounging with his shoes on. ‘Get your shoes off my bed. For being a goodie two shoes you're really rude.’ You apologize, and you accept. ‘I want to know what sin is’ you say.
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