Photo: Alida Bystrom
Photo: Ryan Catanese
Pg. 2 Pg. 3
You Are Here Overstanding
A Naturally Occurring Phenomena
By Jim Aguilar
By Victor Reznik
Spread The Word Pg. 11 Bantics Downpour Pg. 13 By Kelly Parshall Pg. 23 Pg. 25 Pg. 29
high Fashion On Fair Grounds By Amy Papantonio
The Arsonist Pt. 1
By Mitchell Underwood
Hop is Poetry Too Pg. 32 Hip Demons by Elzhi Grandma Pg. 36 By Owen Harris
Pg. 40 Driving East
By Natalie Lampert
Pg. 46 Pg. 54
disembodied sunlight By Zachary Hayes
g n i d n a t s r e v O By Jim Aguilar
Fuck glottogony! I yearn For life pre-lingua, sex Unadulterated by saints, Candles, promises. The first Sunset must have seemed like The god damn apocalypse, but What a great feeling! I think, therefore I think too much. Imagine talking only with Eyes and touchesâ€”writing with pictures. The first man Was an artist, if nothing else. Grammar and syntax Are inventions, ditto morality, love, order. The best and worst 3
Photo: Zach Stone
Unaffiliated Of all possible worlds, depending who you ask, hanging by a string Theory and pretending concrete. Maybe the next asteroid or global ice age Will change us back to animals, or push us on to something wholly unforeseeableâ€” Pure consciousness, no need for these troublesome and ever-failing corpses. Only then Can we hypothesize completion, finality. The body knows no teleology but its own rise And fall, a decomposition it almost yearns for by the end of its short, senseless span Inhabited by something calling itself soul, a return to something real, the indifferent soil.
Photo: Danni Quintos
A Naturally Occurring Phenomena Victor Reznik
Photo: Natalie Lampert
You and me and me and her. We are carbon bonded like ester no expert, except for I know when to disperse to freeze up and show remorse I’m that boy. That knows the cadence of four horsemen bringing apocalypse upon my lips as I press heat to her neck. Sharper than the nails in my coffin that I line with satin and cotton to make these fashionable allegories more comfortable to die in. See she claim Zion, but her mountains are just three little birds called 8 balls getting thrown in the corner pocket by corner men so green they’re called prophets they solve the mess of your adolescence and you pay for the lessons with someone else’s hard earned dollars. She caresses distress staring at its bare midriff as she searches the jagged edges of the bones for sex. Bones that lent themselves for spaces unoccupied valet’d but not validated driven around just to be displayed, disgraced, but not dismayed. Displaced, disengaged, defaced but never denied.
Prose Her public relations retaliate when clients don’t want to spend on her excess, so she finds advertising firms that specialize in her digressions. She constructs facades and spins stories in three dimensions, but when time collides with spaces that she doesn’t remember, every new old bathroom becomes a hrönir she swore she’s never seen before. As harbingers go, the hard benders get old and wrinkles emerge like scars from battles fought alone because Queen’s have no friends when their king has been dethroned, and I have a sense that she has lost control, and we have no other place to go. Seeking salvation behind the cheery oak of St. Paul’s she climbs over the bars and hides under the pews looking for God or just some other place to use. Through this whole process, I have decided to seek out hydrolysis and reduce myself to my original properties.
Photo: Taylor Brown
Cartoon: David Barnett
Spread The Word
Spread the word is a monthly feature where we share with our readers a word that has found its way into the vernacular of our everyday conversations with friends. These are sometimes real words with different meanings, and sometimes they are entirely made up. It’s kind of like Urban Dictionary if we were the only people on the planet. So spread the word.
Banter- an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks. Antics- a playful trick or prank; caper. Bantics, of course, is a combination of these two words. When a verbal barrage on a friend is just not enough, bantics are used to a) annoy your friend, and b) make you laugh. Pranks without constant harassment and namecalling are simply not enough for some people. The trouble, of course, is when two friends both enjoy their fair share of bantics. Jokes can go on for hours, often leading to brief scuffles or extreme headaches. Generally, this word is not spoken until it’s being addressed directly (e.g. stop the bantics, enough with the bantics, cut out the fucking bantics you giggling bastard). However, it can be equally useful in describing a night’s actions: “What did you all do last night?” “Just bantics.” All in all, bantics can be fun in small doses, but beware of competition with friends. When bantics become your primary way of relating to someone, it’s time to seek help. Spread the word.
r u o p n w o D Kelly Parshall
April 7th, 2009. I lower my face into the sink and splash it with water. When I raise my head to look in the mirror, there is blood curling around the side of my mouth, forming a sort of grim mustache. I rub more water on my face and watch the diluted pink swirl in the basin. I don’t have time for a nosebleed. The blood is coming faster now, ebbing through the initial layer of toilet paper I hold to my face. I insulate it with another and lean over the sink, propping myself up with my elbows. I’ve been up for too long. I look down at the drain and think about the things that have unwittingly slipped inside it. One of my baby teeth. My last bobby pin. An earring Adam brought me from Alaska. After each of them rolled over the sink’s lip, I jammed my finger inside, as if feeling around a child’s mouth for a swallowed marble. If I only I hadn’t – In the case of the earring, I crawl under the cabinets beneath and shake the pipe’s throat in an attempt of extortion. I kept its partner. Hoping for what? Now it only reminds me of carelessness. I should toss it, but -- I toss my paper into the toilet. I don’t flush even though I know what it looks like. It’s my own damn bathroom. 13
Photo: Danni Quintos Illustration: Sophia Elson
February 26th, 2008. I’m sitting on my bed talking to Emily through a paper towel. She’s accustomed to the nosebleeds. She’s comfortable enough to talk to me through the bathroom door, let alone through a handful of paper. I’m usually at Adam’s so I tell her too many stories when I am around to compensate. Lately she’s been the one not around because she drove home to New Jersey at 3am last Saturday night. I didn’t discover she was gone until the next morning when she must have been in Maryland. I sat on her bed listening to the dead ring in my ear, feeling her kicking the phone under the seat in her car and curling her toes tighter around the acceleration. I thought about starting out after her and towing her back, but I am getting the sense she is farther away from me than a car can take me. If only I was here when she left. I could have clung on to her bike rack, fighting the wind the car kicks up on the highway.
My voice comes out only slightly pinched. I tell her stories about nosebleeds past and present. Opening my eyes in mid-bliss only to find myself dripping on Adam’s chest. Running out of my high school auditorium as soon as they announced our Headmaster’s death, not from grief but from nosebleed. Fortunately, she finds me more amusing than disgusting. We don’t talk about Alex and Charlie leaving or her spontaneous trip home. I came back from Africa last month to find that Alex had finally succumbed to the things in his own mind and dropped out. Charlie got expelled on Valentine’s Day. Our group of friends is small and cannot endure such blows lightly. Emily and I have spun loss around on our tongues long for weeks until it’s become a permanent fixture at the back of my throat. We gnaw on what-ifs until there remains absolutely nothing left to pick at. We try not to talk about how much we hate this place too much, for fear of turning the other against it. We are mutually sealed here now, unable to bear one more going.
February 3rd, 2008. I’m underneath Adam in bed, sniffing. Please not now. I draw my hand away from my nose and hold it to the slats of moonlight. I think Adam’s eyes are open, but he doesn’t notice me or the red ring around my nostril. I stare up at the blinds, the light from the sky and the streetlights cupping its edges. I sniff again; it’s my weapon for toughing it out. The blood pools in the back of my throat instead of leaving my body. Is he almost done? The tissue box is just out of my reach. I stop sniffing and a line of blood trickles down my cheek. I wipe it with my hand. I am pinned and cannot reach the tissues or anyone else or --. I could push him off me with a word, but in this moment I cannot bear another person leaving me, even if it is only to retrieve me a tissue. Instead I turn my head onto my shoulder and grip his shoulders like a bat clinging to the underside of a tree.
April 2nd, 2009. According to my notebook, I’ve had 20 nosebleeds since February 26th this year. There have been others before that, not to mention the ones I’ve forgotten to record. They are something I have categorized as a‘ lways there,’ never causing me enough worry or bother to see a doctor or research them further than my notebook. Only five of them have been my fault, meaning, I have blown, itched or irritated my nose to the point of drawing blood. For these, I suffer no indignation as I hold the bridge of my nose in an attempt to dam the flow. But when the blood splats onto my paper as I sketch or mattes my hair to my face as I sleep, that is where my outrage is generated. I have no control over these surges of blood that boil over and spill out of me. I can only deal with the aftermath – head tilted forward, fingers clamped over face, expelling the very thing from my body that I need. 15
Photo: Ryan Catanese
March 8th, 2008. My first thought is always – blood. I’m sitting out by the lake crying, so it makes sense that my nose is only tearing too. It’s long dark and no one is out but the geese who hang close to the bank with the algae. I’ve been sitting under the willow tree on my jacket long enough that they don’t hiss at me anymore. I left Emily in our room hours ago, but I can’t bear the heaviness anymore. We sit on opposite beds with the lights off, two bodiless faces cast blue by computer screens. We have gone through the same thing, but she regards not shutting down as betrayal. She told me she stopped going to class during the last days of winter term when Alex left. When she said she didn’t even go to the final, I could not grasp that level of self-sabotage. I’m trying to make things better for myself, but it’s hard when she sits at her desk, handwriting letters to Alex, Charlie and her parents. She leaves only to smoke cigarettes. The thin willow strands flume above me, as if I am sitting in the middle of a fountain untouched by its spray. I hold my finger up to the quivering moonlight to see if there is blood or not. By constantly checking, I prevent against a sudden outpour. I must keep talking at Emily to make her stop thinking so much. I could not prevent Alex from leaving. We drove on 95 on the same day; he going and me coming back. He didn’t tell me he was done when I called the day I returned from Africa. I suppose he was afraid I would try and talk him out of it. What can talking do? Dan told me from the bathroom floor as Alex packed his things in the next room. His clothes are still in his closet. I closed the door the other day so it wouldn’t feel like he was there anymore. The sprinklers turn on and mix their mist with the night fog. One spits its contents directly back into the lake, a model of futility. To fill a pond with a hose. I grab the ends of the flimsy willow branches and draw them about me like a shawl. If only. The bright lights from the intramural fields in the distance open up the bottom of the sky. The top of the sky is distinctly blue-violet, but the patch where the light bores appears to be the color of the faintest of my nosebleeds. I remember the second part of the saying, “red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” I’m not a sailor, but perhaps I can pretend with this body of water stretched in front of me that tomorrow will present a more peaceful horizon. Photo: Ryan Catanese
fiction February 10th, 2008. Adam has never had a nosebleed before, something which I view as strange as never eating a hamburger or getting a splinter. “Not even when you were little?” I say. “Not even in the winter?” Perhaps this is why he always seems more worried about mine, always hurrying to hand me a napkin. Although it might be he doesn’t want me bleeding on his shirts and pillows. “Why don’t you go to the doctor?” he asks. I shrug off his insistence; they’re nosebleeds, not tumors. They don’t hurt me, they just happen. He always wants me to take care of myself better than I do. If he presses it, I will tell him I’ll make an appointment the next time I’m home. I can’t give him any reason to leave. I allow too many things to happen to me, unable to summon the force to motivation to control my own world.
December 20th, 2007. Underwater at the Walnut Street YMCA, I can see the lazy blood through my goggles. It makes the water seem like gelatin with its capacity to support the red helix. My sense of urgency is diminished with no possibility to permanent stain. I should probably get out of the water – chlorine can only kill so much. I’m a sucker for dead man’s float. I want to suspend myself in this swimming pool and watch the blood flow out of me, snaking itself around my wrists and through my hair. How long before someone says something? I am perfectly stationary; I do not act upon the water and in turn it does not act upon me. I do not move, do not think, until I must turn my head to the side for air. 17
Photo: Caroline Matthews
April 1st, 2008. Livid: a nosebleed has interrupted me on a run. Sniff as hard as I may, I cannot get out of this one without a mess. I didn’t realize I was bleeding until it was coursing down my face and although tissues may be made from trees, they do not grow on them. I walk in a bow, with my head in front of my body so I won’t drip on my running clothes. I’m in the ritzy neighborhood. Passing cars slow down to look at me, the bleeding girl. There is blood smeared from my nose to my ears and etching its path in cracks down my arms. “Do you need help?” asks one man from his window. I shake my head no and duck into a bamboo forest that exists on the edge of someone’s property. The bamboo encloses a creek bed. I step down into the moss and mud and splash water on my face. The blood keeps coming. I can’t find a suitable leaf, so I stand with my neck out over the water, watching the red droplets make their entry into the creek. I am angry when nosebleeds interrupt me when I feel powerful. When I rely on my own body to propel me where I want to go, I am in control. It thrills me that I can veer off the path into a cluster of bamboo, where cars cannot pass. There is nothing like turning my sights on a place and finding myself there ten minutes later, carried by my own legs. The nosebleeds ruin that. They slow me to a walk, reducing me to someone who needs help. I’m impatient to start running again. I’m closer to Adam’s apartment than my own, but I decide against retreating there. There are only so many times a person can listen to the same problem. I feel like my problems aren’t going to stop. Stop it. The bleeding hasn’t stopped. I start and stop two more times before it’s really over. When I look in the mirror at home, I see my teeth and tongue are stained pink. Photo: Natalie Lampert
April 17th. I will wait outside until my nose stops bleeding before I go to Dan’s. Charlie and Alex left their posters up in the apartment, as if to minimize their absence. Sometimes I go there just to take up space. There’s blood on the edge of my shirt so I pull it up and put it in my mouth. Something about the enzymes in saliva breaking down the stain. I think of my body acting against itself. Out the nose, back in the mouth. The moon is thick and yellow, but I can’t tell if the blood is gone. In my vision, the hand over my nose creates a sort of hill in the moon’s path. I stand and look at it for awhile, fashioning myself hidden. We refer to the spot behind the apartments where I’m standing as the land bridge. The straight strip of grass is flanked by the lake on one side. The ground drops off sharply in an incline to the other. Usually at night I’ll run it, arriving at Dan’s with grass clippings stuck to my wet feet. Tonight I stand and look at the narrow stretch in front of me. The moon is so bright that I can see my own shadow. It’s pinching its nose. With my body still, my thoughts settle back to where they usually circle: Emily. We have gone through the same thing, but the loss has swollen her head with bad thoughts until it rises from her shoulders like the fluid under a bruise. She walks to class each day with her brain tipped to the side, until I fear she too will tip. That she will cross this land bridge one night and fall and not have the will left in her elbows to prop herself back up. The water from the lake and brush down the hill will creep to the edges of their confines until they will converge upon her body and the bridge will be no more. And she? In the morning I will return and hack at the weeds and blow back the water, negotiating her release. 19
Photo: Barbara Grinnell
April 26th, 2008. I didn’t worry about my nose bleeding at my school’s annual mud party. I remember the heat, the murky pools of water, the bottle of liquor. I can’t tell these mud humans apart for the life of me. Everyone is gesturing, shouting. Where are my humans? I’m walking and the sun is too hot. I’m on my bike and then back again. Emily said she might come today, but I can’t pick her out amongst the other mudcaked bodies. I dive into the lake. The sprinkler isn’t feeding it today. It’s colder and deeper than I thought. I tuck my head under and push the water up until I touch the bottom. It’s always the coldest at the bottom. I swim to the end and back again. I am away from the chaos and the things that I can’t hold. I lay in the grass and at last the sun feels good on my body. I wake to Dan pulling me up. I think, I’m in Adam’s bed. I’m tired. No. He pulls me to my feet. I’m in my bed. I’m clean from the lake so it doesn’t matter. I hold my pillow so I can stop moving. I don’t take off my things. I sleep. There is a note next to my face. Emily – I am leaving, don’t try and talk me out of it. But on my pillow. I knew but I didn’t. She wrote these things. You knew she might have why didn’t you— I kick off the covers. She isn’t coming back next year she said it was too much for me. I am not enough. There is nothing left for me here. I am left. I sleep. I forget. When I open my eyes again, the room is dark. The note is gone. Something bad happened -- but what? I will not remember. I’m shaking because I’m cold. I go into the bathroom we share and turn on the shower all the way to the right. I watch steam eat up my face in the mirror. I sit on the floor and let the water beat directly down onto my skull. Won’t it pummel me small enough so I can slip down the drain -- with Adam’s earring and Alex and all the things that I can no longer hold?
Photo: Caroline Matthews
fiction April 18th, 2009. Another day: I get into the shower. I blow my nose into my hand and blood comes out. I let it go. The blood drips off the end of my nose. It runs down my neck lingering in my collarbone before spilling onto my chest. Just for fun, I rub my nose on my shoulder and drag it down my arm all the way to my thumb. It leaves a trail red as Georgian soil. I catch the blood in my hands and press them on my sides, making a sort of grotesque handprint banner. The way the blood reacts with my wet body reminds me of a watercolor painting. How the paint diffuses through the trails of water, lighter on the edges, forking off into tiny veins. I can’t help but think, so this is what I would look like if I were ever stabbed. I stand directly in the stream so the blood washes off but it’s still coming out of my nose. I’m rubbing suds through my hair and I’m not in the position to pinch. I wonder if one can pass out from a nosebleed. I turn the water warmer, feeling stubborn now. Grabbing the bridge of my nose feels like obeying. This red liquid doesn’t just stain my clothes or draw unsolicited attention to me: it reminds me how vulnerable I am. This stuff of life is inside me, working for my survival. Emily, Alex, Adam and Charlie are long gone, but if I’m here writing and processing through the pain of it all, then I have more or less of myself intact. I lean over to grab the shampoo and the blood drops directly to the ground, gathering around my feet. I don’t feel lightheaded, but the warm water is beginning to run thin, so I choke my nose’s flow. As I pinch, I drag my feet in the pooled up water, mixing the blood and the clear to create my own red sky.
Photo: Ryan Catanese
n o i h s a F igh
In this monthâ€™s edition of High Fashion, we examine the latest, trendiest fashions of the homeless/soon-tobe homeless. This monthâ€™s model is Ryan Catanese.
Total cost of outfit: $1.25
On Fair Grounds
My best friend and her new State Trooper boyfriend had gone out to the Durham Fair and pet a llama. She described to me how the animal drooled on her hands when she fed it her fried dough, how it was all gooped and stringy and that when she tried to wipe it on her pants, it clung to her palms and jeans like how paste clings to two sticky fingers when you try to pull them apart. I wondered how many times Iâ€™ve had that same feeling on my palms, my fingers, my jeans. It reminded me of semen. So I thought about how many times Iâ€™ve been wobbling on my knees on an uneven linoleum floor or a lumpy mattress giving a hand or a blow-job to 25
Photo: Danni Quintos
whichever man I thought could be mine for the night. I laughed as she spoke because her story just seemed so casual and bland, so very juvenile. While she and a man were giggling at the animal suckling sugar from underneath her fingernails, I was lathering up another man to be with, smelling like hot saliva and sweat. But she said that she wished I could have been there, too, so I stopped shaking my head and calling her silly. I had never thought it impulsive and I had thought that I was fine with being just a tongue Photo: Danni Quintos
or a loose pair of lips for a man, any man, and many men. But then I pictured my friend standing beside a lighted ticket booth, staring up at her man, unblinking, while he stroked his finger from her forehead to her chin, kissed her temple, and led her by the hand down to the fair grounds. And I remembered myself, naked with my hair down, waiting for the kiss on the clavicle. Instead I watched a man rub his hands from my neck to my breasts before tonguing the insides of my cheeks, before pressing the top of my head down to his pelvic bone. I wondered about us, she and myself, and then I decided who would actually sound more juvenile.
Photo: Natalie Lampert
n a crowded world over grown with weeds and parasites stands a monument to it all. Through years of decadence the world, enshrouded by these constraining, cancerous growths has withered away. A monument to thieves, liars, deceivers and subjective idealists it stands untouched on its foundation of a past time that gave birth to them all; these nosaying, offenders of life. Its creation constructed from poor, degenerative concrete blocks of holy â€˜wisdomâ€™ it stands immortalized and timeless in its existence. Only through its musty, dust covered foundation of a dark past do itâ€™s off spring regenerate once more in continuance with a disease ridden, dead brain that is contagious to the innocent, unwary, unknowing spirits. These spores sprung from the nucleus of an age of re-birth but for the spirit; an age of death. Knocking each young spirit from its foundation as if they were a series of falling dominos they strengthen their grip in their infectious manner, dividing the cells from within and taping shut the mouths of internal resistance. The inner glow is confided to and imprisoned within by this monument as it lies heavily in ones hearts for long in its shuttering, t wisting, and turning convulsions thus creating the gut wrenching phenomenon we experience as guilty conscience. 29
Photo: Caroline Matthews
onist Pt. 1
A conscience that is only guilty of its non-action, its non being in the world. In its strongest, fullest form its beacon of light is all but impenetrable and its rays, blinding to the eyes of these no-saying spirits, these condemners of life. These eyes that have become so grey and darkened over the course of time in witnessing their own evisceration would no longer be able to look upon this beacon for its rays of light are too bright to behold after having lain dormant for so long. However, despite this all but blinding penetration into reality and free, joyful existence it once expelled, the mere memory of its presence has long been diminished and eroded by the sands of time. Its being, masked by this monument, enclosed by its shudders within it exists only beneath the surface as an old photograph of the people we once were in a time forgotten. With all light restrained and fastened we go on living, existing, and forgetting ourselves inside our prism of mirrors that stare upon us with judge mental dominance. If only a glimmer were able to slip through it would all but shatter everything with the birth of a single spark! Upon the dark fortress an event of calamitous proportion is called for; an event of the most purifying flames. A fire which reduces to ash the wretched base of this monument, of its past and of blindness to free all shimmering light from within; I come to you condemners of spirit and life, of value and judgment as arsonist, barrier breaker, extinguisher of your flame. Verily, I destroy only to recreate, to reduce to ashes the foul parody of life and in it rise as the phoenix rises, reborn and strong once more. I come to you negative foot soldiers who deny life, I come to youâ€Ś..the arsonistâ€Ś Photo: Caroline Matthews
i l a i t f e f d a n U
Hip Hop Is Poetry
This Month: Demons
[Verse 1 - Elzhi] Look, I can feel the demons in my brain, creepin through the dark parts Got me tuckin different handguns in my Carhartt Sweater hood got the reaper hidin underneath, yo Every wonder why we rather die than let the beef go? Photos: content.onsmash.com, Detroitrap.com
Feature Stay feelin stress, greed, lust and jealousy My people cope by usin sess, speed, dust and LSD D, more than just a simple sickness It’s triple sixes, to haunt the Holy Temple scriptures And got the lost souls playin false roads They got ‘em, once they get inside ‘em, like crossbows It’s the demons, conjurin up images you dreamin Or screamin, it’s seems when you’re semen they schemin Got us paranoid, steppin out very cautious The same way we holdin guns, nuns carry crosses Forms of protection against the evil forces Of course there’s subjections, in your cerebral vortex The demons
You see, if you listen close, you can hear the song they sing Between good and evil, you’re just a puppet on a string It could be the Angel of Death or the Angel King A pitchfork with horns or a halo with wings 33
Photo: Caroline Matthews
unaffiliated If I broke the word down in acronyms, while usin part logic A demon could mean - destroyin every man off narcotics Drug epidemics, measure obsession needles Got dealers earnin money overnight Deceitful elections, monitor our nations While devilâ€™s effected, music out now on your stations Dirty, explicit, material, oozin negativity Distortin, eardrums mentally, overwhelmin nonsense Dysfuctional, educational, malfuctions, oppressed negroes Death, equals murder, oxygenâ€™s neglected Drama, extreme mayhem, ownin a necklace Diabetes enter many obese niggaz So, dreams eventually match, ordinary nightmares Department, eviction, management office notices Dreadful, evolved missiles operatin nuclear Why is this new to you?
D (D, D ...) - dark deception, deepest degree E (E, E ...) - enhanced evil, extraordinary envy M (M, M ...) - major malicious, miscellaneous mayhem O (O, O ...) - overload off, obnoxious obscenities N (N, N ...) - never nice nature, negative nemesis S (S, S ...) - several strange souls symbolizin stress S (S, S ...) - several strange souls symbolizin stress S (S, S ...) - several strange souls symbolizin stress Photo: Natalie Lampert
Grandma Owen Harris
Photo: Taylor Brown
The elderly, almost uniformly, dress like drooping flowers.
It is as if the irrigation of the mind trails in frequency starting in the early fifties.
Photos: Caroline Matthews,
Prose Onward they melt, slouch, grow brown spots, and some of them even catch blight.
Their voices gargle and grumble, their sentences seem to fade off into wilted silences.
Sometimes, though, a miracle occurs. In their late eighties and through their nineties many elderly personsâ€™ sprinklers suddenly switch back on. Though the fields are fallow, the water is flowing.
Photos: Caroline Matthews
unaffiliated The mental faculties may fail, but the imagination grows through it like weeds. Photo: Barbara Grinnell
They are bursting with spiritual vitality and so giddy they could fly, though their bodies are decrepit. Perhaps their last joyful leap, their final laughing lunge is that which leaves a wrinkled elderly body cold and abandoned like a pile of excrement to stain the rug. Photo: Ryan Catanese
t s a E g n i Driv
“Some days I think this one place isn’t enough. That’s when nothing is enough, when I want to live multiple lives and have the know-how and guts to love without limits. Those days, like today, I walk with a purpose but no destination. Only then do I see, at least momentarily, that most everything is here.” - Gretel Ehrlich, Looking for a Lost Dog
The sun is hitting my collarbone. That’s enough. I think it matters; I need to remember this moment of light. I touch my clavicle and feel it being warmed, the sun deciding to treat it to a square splotch of attention as I drive along the Pennsylvania turnpike. I look down to see the illumination but all I can see is a tiny sliver of light moving down into the shadow of my cleavage, settling on tiny golden hairs. I think I can break things down to when there is light and when there is not. There was none at five a.m.; I forgot I would be driving into the sun as I chased it east. The morning was shiny, a pronounced leak of colors - never mind which shades exactly - but they were too bright for me. Photo: Ryan Catanese
Fiction Too bright hurts. My eyes enjoy the struggle it takes to digest fine print in low light, and I only shower in the dark. I leave the bathroom door open a crack, enough to show me what is shampoo and what is soap (and what is the difference, can we use one for all of it?) but it is only in the dark I can remember the low-lit pubs where candle smoke curled around our sweating drinks and how we’d laugh, really laugh, throwing our heads back and closing our eyes, calling on some huge joyful force.
Remembering is important. We cannot live in a world without memory, history, all those –ory suffixes that indicate important things were said, done, and most of the time, left behind. A lady talking about India the other day said, “I was born and brought up in the city…Calcutta is like one’s first love who is difficult to forget but impossible to stay with as we often have to leave it for practical reasons.” Those practical reasons most often have to do with the future, which we’re always preparing for. I long for my past, for everything I’ve fallen in love with along the way; and I long, too, for my future, for something I can’t understand. Sometimes, I get scared that this is all there is. I’m still driving but nothing is changing, it’s been daytime for too long, but soon: the sun will set and the deep light it inspires will be more bruised than peachy – I will notice it for what it is not. 41
Photo: Natalie Lampert
unaffiliated The world will begin to disappear at five o’ clock and, soon, the darkness will decide to settle. I want to make the evening my whole day and if I could have anything, it would be that. I do not like sunsets for their prettiness. They inspire more important things than beauty – they are nature’s illustration of the in-between. I’m sure I am not the only one who cannot stay in one place for too long, afraid of standing still and missing out on feeling alive in the strange mess of places that are everywhere but here. A couple of weeks ago I taped a piece of blue stationery to my wall. It was a letter from my younger sister, not one to ever write letters or even call me unless prodded to do so, telling me not much of anything but everything she possibly could. “Me?” she wrote. “Well, I’ll be the one traveling the world, never quite calling any one place home.” I tell people she is the wisest person I know; her free spirit knows no limits and though I’m sure some day she will run off to Bali or Chile and resurface years later, brown and changed and magnificent, her fading blue letter will reassure me the love of a sister knows no limits or arbitrary borders, either.
Illustration: Sophia Elson
Fiction A red leaf falls on the windshield, sticks to the moistness. I take one hand off the steering wheel and press it against the windshield to make sure the leaf is bigger than my outstretched palm. I suddenly feel small and for a moment I forget where I am driving to, what am I doing?, like that split second before you open your eyes in bed in the morning but youâ€™re awake, you think, still half-dreaming, not sure where you are how you got there what this body is until you open your eyes, light and knowledge pouring in and for a split poignant second you wish you could be no one again. My bed at home is a cheap piece of Ikea furniture that my father and his friend spent four hours putting together after we moved in. I helped for ten minutes at the end, I didnâ€™t want to but I thought I should, have you ever shared in the success of something you couldnâ€™t have possibly succeeded at?
Photo: Danni Quintos
unaffiliated Too much thinking; I have to get off the road. In some odd turn of events I for once need to be stationary. I pull into a rest area, turn off the car and sit, feeling everything turn off around me. It is happiness to enjoy silence for just what it is. I was at a Starbucks like the one we’re in front of now once with Elise, a small young friend of mine, a seven-year-old with the soul of a seventy-year-old. She was so engrossed in telling me a story about her brother’s field trip to the Air and Space Museum that she leaned down with me as I kneeled to tie my shoe, clueless to how she was mirroring my actions and squatting on the floor for no reason. For her, the present was everything.
I don’t think I’ll make it across the turnpike by nightfall. Which is fine with me, of course. I’m not ready to be back in the east. I’d much rather spend the night in a small hotel off the side of the highway, somewhere between a big city and a small town. It will be run-down but I’ll find it cozy, and I’ll eat greasy food and play guitar lying down.
Photo: Taylor Brown
We at Unaffiliated like to dwell on the positive. So, rather than the typical ‘review’ format, we will give you 3 of our favorite movies, albums, and books. They’re not new, but they might be new to you. So check them out.
Hugh Masekela - Grrr (2003) Originally released in 1966, this early record is a nice introduction to the great South African trumpet player’s work. Masekela uses both his instrument and his voice to maximum capacity, especially in his earliest records, where his inexperience is both apparent and refreshing. His music at this stage is damn near unclassifiable, bridging the gap between familiar progressions on the horn and percussion that at times sound almost tribal in their simplicity. It also flows nicely, in order or on shuffle. Highlights are the playful, pulsating “Zuul and the Mexican” and the chant-like “Umaningi Bona”, the only song on this early release where Masekela’s impressive vocal skills are put to use. Equal parts Miles Davis and Fela Kuti, his talent blossoms all over this album.
Endorsements Various Artists- Dry Acid: Lee Perry Productions 1968-1969 (1998) The Mad Doctor of Jamaican music, Lee Perry’s influence on ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub is undeniable. What we are blessed with on this compilation is a snapshot of this influence. After listening to all twentysix tracks, in fact, it’s hard to believe that “Scratch” had time for his own releases of the time. Only six tracks here use Perry’s band The Upsetters, while the rest showcase some of the top Jamaican artists of the time, including a young Peter Tosh. Perry’s production never takes a backseat though, and his stoned, wandering melodies make even the most mundane lyrics sound interesting. Among the highlights are “I Caught You”, where a jumpy, slightly out of tune keyboard creeps behind the familiar backbeat, and “Since You Are Gone”, where Pat Kelly’s remarkable voice floats over a typically catchy Perry piano hook.
The Unicorns- Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003) As inexplicable as it is brilliant, this album is one that I gladly rediscover every year or so. Unfolding as a forty-minute narrative (one that is never quite coherent), The Unicorns reflect on ghosts, imagination, being in a band, and yes, unicorns. Their songs are as attention-deficient as the generation they speak to, sometimes changing melody and tempo three of four times within as many minutes. The two singers engage in childish call-and-responses, non sequitur sound effects are scattered throughout, and the keyboards sound almost joking. Among the best here are “The Clap”, a driving, raucous minute and a half with no clear message, and “I’m Ready to Die”, the melodramatic bookend on this strange journey of a record.
The Wire Season 1 DVD- David Simon (2004) You’re right, it’s not a movie. But it plays like one, a quality that makes The Wire, in my humble opinion, the greatest show ever to be put on television. The thirteen episodes in this first of five seasons is the best place to start, getting to know McNulty, Avon, and Omar right from the jump. Originally run on HBO, many people don’t know about the Baltimore-based cop/criminal show. I hesitate even to call it that, or to belittle the show’s complexities with a name like “drama”. Drama is present mind you, along with sadness, humor, boredom, and violence. David Simon presents us with a premise and believable characters, then seems to let the rest play out. Season 1 follows a special investigation of a criminal operation with multiple unresolved homicides to its name and a seemingly untouchable leader. This action is seen from both sides of the law, and the similarities between the bureaucracy, companionship, and hopelessness of both criminals and cops is perhaps the most endearing aspect of the show. Beware: if you have any pressing engagements in the next few weeks, don’t get this DVD, because I guarantee you will soon after be purchasing seasons 2-5.
Endorsements Kairo - Kurosawa (2001) Kyoshi Kurosawa gives us a truly modern horror story with this tale of isolation, technology, and the desire to live. Absent here are the tired genre clichés of American horror cinema, most of which has simply been doing its best Craven and Romero impersonations for the past thirty years. Kurosawa, who dwells in perhaps the most technologically minded country in the world, shows Tokyo’s quiet depopulation in a startlingly disturbing manner. Our two main characters slowly catch on to a strange internet video, which claims its victims by making them border their doors with red tape and seemingly dissolve into thin air. Kurosawa’s lens captures this apocalyptic crawl towards desertion with a strange, distant beauty. While the acting is sometimes the weak link here, the characters are likable enough, and the sheer terror found in various scenes is worth a watch. Perhaps more impressive is how this movie stays with the viewer for weeks afterward, a trace of a sentiment both deeply disturbing and vaguely optimistic. Make sure you don’t watch the American remake (Pulse) instead, as it was quickly stripped of most of its originality in favor of a more formulaic rendering. Screenshot: Kairo
Photo: Taylor Brown
Night On Earth- Jarmusch (1991) Five cabs, five cities, one night. That is the simple premise of Jim Jarmuschâ€™s humanistic ode to the taxi driver. The genuinely conversational tone and subject matter of the dialogue belies a complex web of similarities between the rides. The pieces, which could easily be watched as standalone films, are nevertheless benefited by the combined momentum of their chronology. The film begins on a violently bright Los Angeles day, where a chain-smoking Winona Ryder picks up a film executive, who attempts to woo her driver for a promising role, only to be told that it would mess up her plans to become a mechanic. It ends in the harsh early morning of Helsinki, where the three drunks in the cab are unaware of how their superficial whining is grinding on the driver. He sets them straight with a spine-chilling story, and the viewer is left to piece it all together, a process in which you and I may take completely different conclusions. The highlight is a frantic, almost slapstick segment in Rome, where Roberto Benigni verbally assails a clergyman riding in his backseat. 50
Endorsements Books Breakfast of championsVonnegut (1973) This short novel can and should be read in a single sitting. By the end of this strange journey, in which some of Vonnegut’s most famous characters make appearances, you will find yourself stunned by its jovial profundity. The subject matter is nothing less than life and death itself—the absurdity of a world in which cause and effect seem to have lost sway. Another refreshing aspect of this short novel is that Vonnegut provides small illustrations, which give the book an original quality. Fans of Vonnegut’s writing will deeply enjoy this books (likely more than once) and those who dislike Vonnegut’s flippancy with major existential issues are in for even more head-shaking, as he deals in this work with powers beyond himself, and even acknowledges doing so. Somehow, he once again pulls off a hilarious, profound, and humanistic work while scribbling drawing of assholes between pages. So it goes.
unaffiliated Sick of nature- Gessner (2004) In this collection of essays, David Gessner reflects on topics as varied as they are interesting. From his post-college Ultimate Frisbee fascination to becoming a well-known nature writer (and the expectations this entails), Gessner weaves a web of critical moments in his life with both narrative and reflective precision. His influences are clear, in that he states explicitly the writers such as Thoreau, Edward Abbey, and Wallace Stegner that he constantly feels pressure to both emulate and live up to. Fortunately, Gessner’s voice is both new and original, and his strange fascinations with ospreys, Cape Cod, and pissing outdoors remind the reader that nature is most treasured when it constantly surprises us. Lockpick PornographyComeau (2005) Joey Comeau is, in some ways, his own cult phenomenon. He writes the internet comic, asofterworld.com, publishes hilarious cover letter satires at Overqualified.com, and with Lockpick Pornography, enters the world of the novel. Sarcastic, violent, and narcissistic, the characters in this work are alternately endearing and off-putting, to great effect. A bizarre love quadrangle is at the center of this work—they fuel each other’s needs for attention, approval, and a willingness to fuck shit up. Comeau writes with the intelligence and vitriol of someone who always wanted to be as liberated as his literary proxies, and the result is a fun, quick read that both shocks and amuses. The book is available online at lockpickbook.net. 52
disembodied sunlight by Zachary Hayes
Photo: Taylor Brown
is it not the light which pours in from the center of the sun- exploding outwards and onwards to bathe the planets I have come to regard with a deep seated and irreverent apathyâ€”that gives me this disfigured, disembodied form of myself? my shadow is a joke punchline blasted from fusion and hydrogen clusters, matrices which cage me and on which I can realize my own cage, iron bright and pushed against with a resounding thud;
and is not language but another trapping to which I roll over and am met with a motion stop, for you see, puedo escribir los versos mĂĄs tristes del mundo, but you would never understand, That is, the sun and the world and my cage and the languages I fortify them with shed light upon my face in the day, and all I see is another mask,
Prose I am a wax statue with tambourines for lips that clap incessantly, vomiting countless utterances to shake apart my foundation and leave me with mask and wax pieces in my aging hands, you know, puedo escribir los versos más tristes del mundo and I could tell you a sad story, I could tell you this story and for a moment we could imagine our cage or not even imagine it at all,
we could leave our cage and the shade from the bars would dissipate and our pale spots of skin would be covered in sunlight, and our skin would breathe ceaselessly till the story’s end when I exhale and slouch and you slouch to exhale smoke and say “shit”, oh yes we could do this over and over and never see our cages again, but where the sunlight?
Photo: Danni Quintos
Photo: Ryan Catanese
yes, our wax would disfigure and we’d stand in the light until the light was nothing more than all we knew, yes, we could and would forget the shade and time would cease to exist and our skin would tan and fall off in clods to mix in with the earth and stone and shade we’d never see again, no, we’ll never see again, our eyes will crust over with light and forget the sun and our reference point will be nothingness,
and our mouths will be closed and we’d forget to speak and bubbles of spit will drip out without feeling until all sound we make is drowned in puddles and we say nothing, and nothing will be our cage, because the sun decided to set our imaginations, our stories, our language, ablaze.
Cartoon: Joey Schmissrauter 57
join Unaffiliated would like to thank all of our contributors for this monthâ€™s issue. Without you, there would be nothing. And of course, you, the reader. Contributors: Jim Aguilar
Barbara Grinnell Zach Hayes Caroline Matthews Sophia Elson Maggie Pahos Joey Schmissrauter
unaffiliated If you have made it this far, that (hopefully) means that you in some way relate to what we have created. If that is the case, we would for you to join us. If you have any writings, any pictures, stories, songs, anything that you feel the need to express, we would love to include it in our publication.
To submit your work to Unaffiliated, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Ryan Catanese