Photos: Ryan Catanese
Table of Contents Pg. 2
You Are Here
State of The Union
Spread the Word
Pg. 11 Pg. 21
By Ryan Catanese
Ol â€™ Girl
On Life and Death By Caroline Matthews
Hip Hop is Poetry Too Impossible by Wu Tang Clan
On Maybe Quitting Smoking
Pg. 37 Pg. 40 Pg. 46 Pg. 59
By Jim Aguilar
Yoga Chemo Queen By Zach Hayes
By Matt McGraw
What a Rip-off!
n o i n U e h t f o e t a t S
By Ryan Catanese
Look at how far we’ve come! Look at what we’ve done! There’s a black man in the white house and gay people in sitcoms. Everything is fixed, right? What do we have to be mad about? they say. We must be spoiled, everything is given to us, we all have cars and we are all in college, we can’t complain, right? Where are the beats of our generation—the ones who are truly mad to live—or are we all happily watching YouTube videos about Woodstock and reminiscing, dreaming about the good ol’ days? I will tell you: I, too, have seen great minds in my generation who felt the deafening crescendo of the beat beat beat beat beat in their chest, the orgasmic supernova of go! Who pace and race and chase and consume and grow old realizing that they chug and chug but still thirst.
Photo: Maggie Pahos
I have seen those same minds on daily diets of pills, blues on Monday, reds on Tuesday, no whites on Wednesdays, better not drink on the yellows, you’ll certainly die—t wo in the morning, t wo at night, just a couple more at the last bit of daylight—drunk, mumbling, naked and stumbling on a high that a certified doctor prescribed, cursing and wishing they had never been diagnosed in the first place. They’ll give you a complex then they’ll give it a name said Andrew Bird, and these great minds are manic or hyperactive or manically hyperactive—if not, they’re just crazy, give them some Ritalin, right? 21st century drugs more advanced than shotgun blast lobotomies, but no less barbaric, sniper fire slowly chipping away at that flame in their chest until they are shells without the crab, smoothing out the edges until their brains, once raw and vibrant, are smooth, a wet lump of clay, ready to be molded—more humane, they say, but it is cheap, like a pickpocket snatching at your wallet on the subway. Screenshot: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Who are our hippies? The potheads, acidheads, dead heads and Led heads? They all moved on, getting their angry fix and their sinister kicks. Not seeing the truth, not being enlightened, not having their feelings or senses heightened, just getting “fucked up”, and that’s the end goal, and after a while it starts taking its toll, and soon we’re a generation not Lost or Forgotten, not dead not alive, just plain rotten. A kid dug On the Road, packed a bag and stuck out his thumb, wanting to be given the Pearl but was picked up by a killer, or a rapist, or a racist, a thief, a bitch, a snitch, it doesn’t matter which. I’ve seen great minds who wanted anything, to be full, to be enlightened, who danced and sang and fucked and smoked and went to jail for it while watching their parents hack and cough through robotic breathers, wither and die from their smoke, but not the illegal kind. Who smoked and went to jail after watching his dad, who picked up the bottle and beat up his wife, but he still loves her, they have a great life. 5
Photo: Jim Aguilar
unaffiliated Because they have a nice house, they have a great job, have mutual funds and are deacons at church. Not like those bums who are out all alone, they read the Bible so they can cast the first stone; who gasped and were shocked by an oval office blowjob, but didn’t blink an eye when we chased down Saddam. I see geniuses in psychiatric wards and criminals wearing ties, holding briefcases, and making decisions. Those same people who lived through Vietnam, the generation of flower children who vowed to make love not war or drop acid not bombs, starting “conflicts,” be careful not to say wars, gambling like addicts and my generation are their poker chips. We try to be optimistic, we try to stay calm, we’re quiet and docile, but we tick tick tick like a bomb—Ginsberg asked nicely, you only nodded with courtesy, so I ask it again with a little more urgency: America is this correct? This is what I see on the television set. Just tell me and be honest so I can know when it comes. In the meantime I’ll go refill my prescription.
Photo: 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.
Ol’ Girl is a term used widely in the south, commonly referring to a girl with implicit sexual connotations. However, ol’ girl is not a girlfriend. In fact, you may never even have talked to the girl in question. Take for example this scenario: “Hey, check out ol’ girl over there.” “Ol’ girl with the braids?” “Nah, ol’ girl with the miniskirt.”
Regardless, the term is generally reserved for any girl that is being kept anonymous. She may be a girlfriend, a hookup, or simply a friend-with-benefits Whichever way it’s used, it either keeps the girl’s identity in the dark or assumes knowledge of who you might be referring to. Ol’ Girl is useful in that it is a way of referring to a lady friend without applying possessive terms. She is never ‘my ol’ girl’, and thus the pseudo-relationship is relieved of many of the pitfalls of “serious dating”. Ol’ girl likely has more than one suitor, but the casual term implies casual expectations.
Photo: Barbara Grinnell
Nevertheless, Ol’ Girl is not just any lady you happen to trick into liking you. There is a measure of respect in the term. She doesn’t take shit, but she doesn’t cause unnecessary drama either. She is your getaway, your mini-vacation, your Ol’ Girl. So use it wisely.
Spread The Word.
Phoot: Alida Bystrom
h t a e D d n A e f i L n O By Caroline Matthews
There’s a room in the front of our house that doesn’t match the others. All the other ones are clean. They get their attention once a week from Lucy, the woman who gives more care to the house than its owners. The art on these walls is expensive. The hardwood floors are even more expensive. The furniture looks barely loved, except for the few couch pillows out of place and paper clutter laying along the dinner table. But the front room, the front room is disgusting. It’s positioned next to the front door, clearly defining it as a front room, but it’s more like a back room. 11
Photo: Maggie Pahos
The paint never got the attention that the rest of the house got. One wall is entirely outfitted in white Ikea shelving from top to bottom. The carpet has several stains from a dog that’s been gone for eight years. The couch screams Pier Imports. There are drawers everywhere covered and filled with stacks of receipts, paper work, printed photographs, old magazines, CD cases, jars of colored pencils, mechanical pencils, No. 2 pencils. There are pens too. And paints and brushes and calculators and rulers and ribbons and wrapping paper and paper grocery bags of ill-fitting clothes, new tooth brushes, old tooth brushes, Dixie cups, hairbrushes, landscaping plans, blueprints, a wedding dress, too many prom dresses, baby clothes, envelopes, shit, shit, shit. Gram’s wig is in there too. It’s in an orange and brown Coach box. The perfect sized box for mailing brownies with chunks of dark chocolate and sugar cookies from a bag with peanut M&Ms to a friend. The perfect sized box to hide a deceased woman’s ugly, white, bowl-shaped and very synthetic wig. The perfect sized box to hold in my hands and look down into and put back immediately.
Classy’s collar is in there too, a worn burgundy ring of nylon with two dog tags, one blue and one silver, and hairs woven in between its grains. Hair used to be all over our house. You couldn’t touch her without a monsoon of brown and gold billowing into the air. I used to pet her with a paper towel. Taking her for a walk was a very laughable adventure that would end in planted feet, excessive whistling and clapping, frustration over a stupid dog, and lots of “You stupid dog.” She wasn’t the kind you’d throw a stick at. She ran around on her own in the yard, throwing tufts of dirt and dried grass into the air with her back legs. Sure she’d sit on the back porch with me as I colored on our patio table, but that was it for interaction.
Photo: Maggie Pahos
Clearly I’m not an animal lover. My first pet fish jumped clear out of its tank and onto the kitchen counter. It wasn’t found until after dinnertime. She was gone by then. I giggled behind Dad when he dropped her toilet paper covered carcass into the bowl. I even pressed the handle down, my eyes tear free and open. Classy retired from the track at age 7 and we welcomed her into our home my first Christmas at our new house, the same house we’re still in, the house with the front room. I was a very pissed off four-year-old when my mom brought her home. She wasn’t one of the 101 Dalmatians from the VHS movie or the big white one named Blanca across the street or a little golden puppy that sometimes graced the cover of my bedtime bible, American Girl. She was a Grey Hound. How the hell is that supposed to be cute?
It concerns me even more that I never missed her or cried when her liver died during a family vacation and the kennel let her struggle on until we could return home and say our goodbyes. I remember my brother sitting next to her motionless body, glass eyes rolling around the room and up and down our towers for bodies. I laughed at him as he cried and rubbed the bones of her rib cage like a washboard, releasing her hairs like dandelion seeds in the wind. The air was cold and smelled of chain linked fence and cement. I didn’t watch her die. Mom took my brother and me home and returned to watch a veterinarian inject an anesthetic overdose into her thin muscle tissue. I was in my mother’s bed, wrapped in her and my father’s quilts, watching Tom and Jerry. I was thirteen. It was an embarrassing guilty pleasure that did not leave the house. My mom cried. She dug a whole next to the dog’s favorite flowers, the ones that were more tempting than the dust-covered brown pebbles called her dog food. In a few years, my mom would laugh at how much it cost to cremate a dog, especially one that was never replaced. 13
Screenshot: Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus
My mom grew up with dogs. Her father made a hobby out of breeding them for quail hunting, an activity he’s continued well into his seventies. There was one that they’d show affection to, one that Gram would drop undercooked pancakes to on the kitchen floor. Ministers raised my dad, a whole clan of them. They’re focus was put on unwed mothers and reinventing the homeless, not animals. Gram was a family woman. She kept everyone together. Four Aprils in a row, she made the whole extended family make their way to North Carolina for “Camp Rose,” a family reunion of sorts that involved mornings at the barn with the dogs and horses and afternoons in the pool. She made hor’dourves of cold shrimp and cocktail sauce, Wheat Thins and blue cheese balls and artichoke dip. Dinner was Granddaddy’s thing. He grilled while she made vodka tonics. Everyone called her “a fighter” after she died. She had breast cancer when my mother was little. There are old photographs of her holding my Gerber Baby look-a-like mother with bandanas wrapped around her head. Years and years later, tumors began to riddle her body. One stuck out of her right cheek like a hard boiled egg. She’d try to cover it with a skin-colored 4 by 4 inch bandage. When it was removed to prevent spreading, the doctors damaged the nerves that told her tongue what was hot or sweet or velvety or bitter. A rectangular section along the roof of her mouth was ripped Photo: Maggie Pahos
out, along with all six front teeth, to remove the egg-tumor. Her right eye drooped below its socket and her bifocals acted as magnifying glasses, drawing extreme attention to the very deformity that tried to save her. She was a Chanel suit wearing dame stuck in an emaciated ogre’s body. It got to her lungs and spread along her bones, deep within the marrow. She couldn’t walk without a cane. She went a year disfigured. People used to stare at her because of her Cartier watch, vintage Mercedes convertible and golf socks that matched her polo. The looks shifted from want to pity. But she still rocked the St. Johns. She still waved her hand at waiters, wanting another drink or her meat put on the grill for another minute. The top on that Mercedes sure as hell never got put up— she never stopped loving the things or the people that made her happy. Chemo came next. Radiation too. It was a battle, one that I can give no emotions to but respect. To fight, to never give up, to let your body consume you beyond any emotion or experience— that deserves ultimate respect.
I never saw Gram suffer. She kept it quiet and tucked away, like all the shit in our front room. There were pains from her toes to her skull piled along a buckling shelf, but you’d never know it. She kept the door closed. She pushed the great things in her life to the front with the help of a nurse, even until the end when hospice would stay daily in her home. 15
Photo: Maggie Pahos
My mom and her sister went out to get their hair cut and colored when Gram died. She was in bed, holding my Granddaddy’s hand. He said it was awful watching pain take over both body and soul like that. He knew that she had let go. The grief erased from her face as she lay there completely at peace with the outcome of her struggle. The love that was given to that woman was enormous. It never stopped.
It was August 12th when she died and I had spent that entire summer living with a family and teaching English classes in Mexico. It was the summer both of gain and loss. I spent one day in a neighboring city with my host mother buying stupid things like McDonalds and souvenirs. I had a free minute to call home, something I was unable to do for weeks. I was seventeen. My dad answered. He said “dying” and “can’t walk” and “bad.” I hated him for telling me like it was— so blunt. He did it again when I had returned home to the States. I acquired a questionable eye infection from my trip, along with five scorpion bites and frail figure from a dirty peach that sent me into vomiting fits with episodes of hallucinations one night. Dad brought me to the only eye doctor in Houston open on a Sunday. My mom was with Gram in North Carolina and we were on our own. He barely could throw a frozen pizza into the oven. While going over insurance information with the receptionist, he used the words “look,” “I don’t know” and “my wife’s with her dying mother.” That word again. That awful word. The only word that made this all real. It was such an easy word, but that was only the second time I had heard it. Each time was like a bullet. Pow! Gram! Pow! Dead!
Photos: Maggie Pahos and David Barnett
Photo: Grant Barry
I didn’t cry over Classy. She was a dumb, dumb dog. But my mom and brother did. And my friends missed her. I sound like an ice queen, but there was a time when I had a heart for that dog. We had just gotten her when my father carried her shivering body into their bedroom and laid her onto her beanbag-like bed. There was a tray of loose ice laid out in front of her and a few deep purple strings under her, holding together the incision that made her unisex. I was too young to understand. But I knew she was sad. She was hurting. That was the only time I’ve seen my father be affectionate. He loved on her like his own baby, coaxing her pain with each gingerly pat on her soft head. No one would tell me why she wouldn’t stop whimpering. My dad kept on taking care of her until she was up and rolling around in the back yard, biting and reaching at her healing scars.
I had just come home from a baseball game with my friends. I was sitting at the computer, the one in the front room, when my dad told me Gram died. I was done. I fell to the floor. My mom’s mother was dead— a woman only 64-years-old with so much life in her, but not enough to fuel her any farther. The glue of the Rose family— gone. I knew my mom would never be the same. I was so afraid of it, too. With no friends to call and no mother to fold into and weep, I got up from the front room floor, the plastic fibers within the carpet scratching at my knees and palms. There were streaks of mascara rubbed into the beige grass that still smelt like Classy, but I didn’t reach for a Kleenex to smudge them out. I went to my father, searching for a comfort I knew I wouldn’t get. I crawled under the quilt next to him, wanting a kiss, a touch, a hand, anything. His show was on and I was asked to go to bed in my own room. I wasn’t even there for five minutes. I took a
picture frame, a box of tissues, the remote and threw them against the wall. I screamed and used words I did not mean. He slapped me with a strength I never knew he had, just like the affection I saw him give Classy. Mom told me one night after the dishes were put away that this house, the house she worked so hard to remodel and make her own, was not worth keeping if my father, someone who thought two weeks of mourning was enough, lived under it too. The steady depression that consumed my brother’s entire life exploded one night while he was at school in San Antonio. The dean asked him to withdrawal. The change of scenery from dorm room to bedroom did not do him any good. Sometimes he wouldn’t
Photo: Alida Bystrom
come out, not even for a shower or dinner. My mom seemed completely sedated for most of my senior year of high school. I was thankful that the swim season was in full swing— that and school kept me out of the house until dinnertime. We all died when Gram left. There hasn’t been a “Camp Rose” since. I go to school an hour and a half drive from my grandfather and I haven’t seen him since May. Things change. Life is about rotation and renewal, death and birth, gain and loss. Mothers hold families together, and when they die, the family changes. Dogs don’t have the same effect. They’re a companion, not a cook, dishwasher, lover, shoe-tier, lunch-packer, supporter, cheerleader, iron fist or therapist. They’re animals. They live to survive. They have instincts. Evolution prepared them for struggle. Mothers have a similar evolution in the sense that they learn from their predecessors. They learn from their own mothers yet grow into themselves, creating a force of both repetition and individuality.
I am 21-years-old. I have no responsibilities but to get an education, both about myself and the world. It’s a selfish time in one’s life, the time before becoming a mother. The things I do to my body— the foods I eat, the beers I drink, the weed I smoke— selfish. It is when my body is shared with another to create a new life that I will understand what my mother went through three years ago. The loss of a dog, an animal without voice or support, means nothing to me. My brother didn’t cry when Gram died, but bawled over that dumb dumb dog. My father kissed that dumb dumb dog’s head when she was in pain, but hit me when I was hurting. I lied. I hate that dog. We never got a new Classy or a new Gram, even though Granddaddy married a gold-digging work-out obsessed 50-year-old a few months after the anniversary of her death. I’ll never call that braud anything that sounds like my own blood. She has pulled my grandfather from my family, dangling an imaginary key that opens the door to eternal happiness and youth over his combed-over, liver-spot-sprinkled head. We replace all the things in that front room over an over again. We go to the store and forget we’ve already got three boxes of Bic black pens. We buy new Christmas wrapping paper every year even though there’s still some from last year. If any clutter actually leaves the room, either to GoodWill or a yard sale, the empty space along a dustless surface or beneath a shelf is filled within days. That room never gets emptied, yet life can become so full and within a flick of a switch gets cleared completely out.
Painting: Joey Schmissrauter
d e t a i l i f f a n U
Hip Hop Is Poetry
Impossible Wu-Tang Clan Photo: boykings.com
Fusion of the five elements, to search for the higher intelligence Women walk around celibate, livin irrelevant The most benevolent king, communicatin through your dreams Mental pictures been painted, Allah’s heard and seen everywhere, throughout your surroundin atmosphere Troposphere, thermosphere, stratosphere Can you imagine from one single idea, everything appeared here Understanding makes my truth, crystal clear Innocent black immigrants locked in housing tenemants Eighty-Five percent tenants depend on welfare recipients Stapleton’s been stamped as a concentration camp At night I walk through, third eye is bright as a street lamp
Photo: Taylor Brown
Electric microbes, robotic probes Taking telescope pictures of globe, babies getting pierced with microchips stuffed inside their earlobes, then examinated Blood contaminated, vaccinated, lives fabricated Exaggerated authorization, Food and Drug Administration Testin poison in prison population My occupation’s to stop the innauguration of Satan Some claim that it was Reagan, so I come to slay men like Bartholemew, cause every particle is physical article was diabolical to the last visible molecule A space night like Rom, consume planets like Unicron Blasting photon bombs from the arm like Galvatron
Feature United Nations, gun fire style patient Formulatin rap plural acapella occupation Conquer land like Napoleon, military bomb fest We want sanitary food, planetary conquest Thug peoples on some hardco’ body shit Get your shit together ‘fore the fuck Illuminati hit Dreams is free in escape of sleep For a fool peep jewels, keep tools for tough time The rule of rough mind, elevate, stay behind The sun gotta shine, keep on, cremate the whole Babylon, times up, move on Kings on your pawn, checkmate, no fakes opposed through the gate, case closed Things get froze, when it comes time, chosen ones were holding guns, we take flight with no fright and attack, never fear cause our words is clear What’s been done can’t be undone Son, we can’t care Cause the last days and times are surely here Snakes and flakes get blown, by the rightous ones Divine minds bind, we unified as one Half of black hope, we half broke, smoke a bowl of weed shit Our everlastin answers stay flyin over Egypt
Photo: Alida Bystrom
Call an ambulance, Jamie been shot, word to Kemit Don’t go Son, nigga you my motherfuckin heart Stay still Son, don’t move, just think about Keeba She’ll be three in January, your young God needs you The ambulance is taking too long Everybody get the fuck back, excuse me bitch, gimme your jack One, seven one eight, nine one one, low battery, damn Blood comin out his mouth, he bleedin badly Nahhh Jamie, don’t start that shit Keep your head up, if you escape hell we gettin fucked up When we was eight, we went to Bat Day to see the Yanks In Sixty-Nine, his father and mines, they robbed banks He pointed to the charm on his neck With his last bit of energy left, told me rock it with respect I opened it, seen the God holdin his kids Photogenic, tears just burst out my wig
Photo: Grant Barry
Feature Plus he dropped one, oh shit, here come his Old Earth With no shoes on, screamin holdin her breasts with a gown on She fell and then lightly touched his jaw, kissed him Rubbed his hair, turned around the ambulance was there Plus the blue coats, Officer Lough, took it as a joke Weeks ago he strip-searched the God and gave him back his coke Bitches yellin, Beenie Man swung on Helen In the back of a cop car, dirty tarts are tellin But suddenly a chill came through it was weird Felt like my man, was cast out my heaven now we share Laid on the stretcher, blood on his Wally’s like ketchup Deep like the full assassination with a sketch of it It can’t be, from Yohoo to Lee’s Second grade humped the teachers, about to leave Finally this closed chapter, comes to an end He was announced, pronounced dead, y’all, at twelve ten
Photo: Ryan Catanese
g n i k o m S g n i t t i u Q e b y a M n O by Jim Aguilar
re. It is u s a le p t c e of a perf e p y can one t e t r c o e f m r t e p a h e h e is t tisfied. W a s n u A cigarett e n o ian Gray r s o e v D a f le o t e i r nd he Pictu T , e exquisite, a ld i W scar want? ~O
I’ve been too scared to write this essay for a while now. There are no pro-smoking essays anymore, so that whole “quitting” thing has to come up at some point. Even considering quitting cigarettes frightens me. If I “succeed” I won’t get to smoke again, robbing me of one of my simplest and most dependable pleasures. If I fail, it will only make it harder next time I try to quit. So I have brushed off the question until now. Ignorance, when it comes to tobacco, is indeed bliss. I guess the first question is why. Not why to quit—there are plenty of doctors and scary commercials to cover that subject. The why that interests me is: why do I smoke? My knee-jerk answer is, well, because I do. Why don’t you brush and floss after every meal? Because you don’t, right? But being honest with myself, this is more of an assessment than a reason. So I’ll try again.
Photo: Maggie Pahos
unaffiliated I smoke because I enjoy it. I smoke because it’s great bee repellent. I smoke because I like rationing out my day with seven to twenty 5-minute breaks. I smoke so I can walk out of a party when I feel like it. I smoke so you can’t tell that I haven’t done laundry in a month. All these reasons, or “excuses” as some like to call them, are true to a certain extent, but they certainly don’t tell the whole story. I smoke because I can, or at least that’s how I started. Maybe I smoke now because I am addicted. As a wise animated potatochip spokesman once wagered, “I bet you can’t have just one.” It’s eerie how well some food slogans fit this vice of mine, even ironic maybe, since cigarettes are often looked at as a way to quell hunger pangs. Maybe the cigarette companies, after being exiled from the advertising market (remember when the government killed Joe Camel?), sold their mottos-in-waiting to food companies. “Once you pop the fun don’t stop.” Well, that’s true except for winters, when a surly cough has the tendency to camp out in your chest cavity and you spend ten minutes every morning hacking up the mucus that has sneakattacked your throat while you slept. Photo: David Barnett
Article Every winter at Elon, I have marched down to the Health Center to huddle with the sickly masses, mostly fellow smokers. We will compare spoils later, like kids after Halloween, over a painful but well-earned third or fourth cigarette of the day. We’ll talk briefly of quitting the damn things altogether, “at least until I get better”. Meanwhile, the nurses at the Health Center are just as eager for spring as we are. The monotony of diagnosing Smoker’s Cough all day alters their usually objective tone. “Are you a smoker?” they ask during the pre-examination. Certainly they already know the answer, if not from the symptoms I wrote down then perhaps from the musty odor of my sweatshirt or the yellow coating on my teeth. “You know, this would be an excellent time to quit,” they implore, in a sincere, motherly voice. One even tried to swing me with statistics: “Did you know smokers are 60% more likely to die?” I get these fun facts and warnings constantly. “You know there’s rat poison in there?” Oh yeah, did you know your fruits and vegetables are covered in pesticides and your meat has been genetically altered and raised in a pen no bigger than its body? “It’s a disgusting habit!” So is masturbation and being an asshole, but that doesn’t stop most people. “Did you know every cigarette takes 15 minutes off your life?” Did you know every movie you watch takes two hours off yours?
Photo: Alida Bystrom
unaffiliated Yes, I knew these things when I started, I want to say to them. Yes, I know them now. Logically, it doesn’t make much sense—a living being, knowingly harming itself, with no apparent benefit for itself or others. But I’m not the only one: • an aimless, belligerent mob writhes and stumbles through the local bar, probing each other for confidence, or consciousness, only to end up with Chlamydia. • My co-workers take their thirty-minute lunches at McDonalds, sliding fries into the open crevices of their burger, which reciprocates by soaking the remaining scraps below in its runoff. No, we are not robots. Nor are we animals, most of whom seem much more efficient and less suicidal than your average homo sapiens. The consciousness that we have been assured deems us “rulers of the earth” has in fact made us much less. It has made us destroyers, of our world and ourselves. Being able to reason does not condemn us to a rational life. The bar-goers I mentioned above like to drink even though it damages their liver, but their consolation is a social one. And although there is certainly a social aspect to smoking, I tend to use it more as a shield than a peace pipe. By constantly blowing this foul, deadly venom on myself and unfortunate passers-by, I am testing their resolve to get to know me. In fact, I try to make myself as physically repugnant as is personally comfortable, a sort-of weeding out of shallow would-be friends. Then if I connect with someone, I know not only that they don’t care about superficialities, but also that I have earned their friendship on wit and charm alone, along with perhaps a bit of fetishism of the unclean on their part. As for the BigMac-lovers, their high cholesterol and clogged arteries are balanced by the efficiency of fast food. It is cheap and speedy and kills their hunger. Smoking, on the other hand, is the bane of efficiency, even in the most morbid sense. There are much quicker and more effective methods of suicide, after all. Smoking also combats efficiency in the workplace. A friend of mine became a smoker only because the breaks for employees at Dairy Queen were limited to cigarette-length. What else was he gonna do? Work an extra five minutes? Stretch out in the parking lot for a power nap? 30
Article My first cigarette was a John Player Blue, an Irish brand that my friend from Dublin had bought a carton of at the duty-free shop. Walking the streets past midnight, he explained how to inhale the smoke into my lungs, taking a puff of the cigarette, then another imaginary one after I pulled it away from my lips. I smoked on and off in Chile, where I spent my senior year of high school, mostly Kent and Lucky Strike. When I came back, I began hanging out with a new group of friends, two of whom were renting an apartment downtown for the summer. It was then (summerâ€™06) that I started smoking regularly, a habit that began by savoring just one cigarette each time after inhaling that other famously smokeable plant.
During freshman year, I went through a Turkish Royals phase and then discovered menthols, after which I switched to Marlboro Milds, a light blend of regular tobacco and minty fiberglass-infused tobacco. Sophomore year, I began to roll my own cigarettes after seeing my friend thumbing through a pouch when I was home for break. She had been at school in Chicago, where a pack of cigarettes cost too much to sustain her torrid affair with Camel Lights. I got her a book and a carton that Christmas. 31
Photo: Maggie Pahos
I still roll my own cigarettes, usually with Bali-Shag tobacco. I smoke about ten a day, about half of what I did when I was buying packs. They are unfiltered, though, which means I might be doing more damage than ever to my lungs. Some of my friends make fun of me for it; they ask me if I feel like a cowboy. Others think it’s neat, ten little smoke-able art projects a day. I know these details are pedantic, but they are also undeniably mine, as are my lungs—scary doctors and commercials be damned. I don’t respond well to preaching; they speak like angels and behave like men. ********** That period right before college was probably my favorite time as a smoker. I wasn’t yet legally allowed to buy them, which undoubtedly made them a bit more special. But also, I was only smoking about five or six cigarettes a day, and none while driving or walking from place to place like I do now. If I regret anything about my habit, it is this: that cigarettes have ceased to become something I savor. Sometimes I get that feeling back; the first one of the day on my back porch, or a menthol while on mushrooms—but it’s always fleeting. For the most part, they have become background noise, something to do while going from point A to point B.
Photo: Maggie Pahos
Smoking, for me, should be a stationary act—an act of reflection, not distraction. A cigarette is a gesture of revolt, not just against the body but also the daily schedule, it is one of the few remaining excuses to sit silently. Smoking while driving, in this sense, is the revolutionary equivalent of a Che Guevara t-shirt; that is, totally contrary to it’s intention. What is this bullshit? Smoking as a revolt? I just realized I sound like a fourteen year old girl, stealing mom’s Virginia Slims and smoking them behind the shed. I guess all smokers share something. The difference is that she is still in the shadows of her oppressors. In my case, I look around and find no one telling me how to live my life. This takes most of the fun out of it. No longer is it an act of freedom but rather one of captivity. Instead of an expression of choice, it has become one of habit—stagnant, sickly habit. My adversary is a three-inch paper tube stuffed with dried leaves. Now that it is in ink, I may have found a way out of this vice; the same way I came in. I smoked because I could, because I was free to do so and I had a choice in the matter. My new freedom could be a negation of the first, an acknowledgement of its temporality. If I quit, it will be because I can. ******
Painting: Joey Schmissrauter
d e t a i l i f f a n U
n o i h s a F igh
In this month’s edition of High Fashion, we examine the latest, trendiest fashions of the homeless/soon-to-be homeless. This month’s model is Caroline Matthews, who proves that that stunning outfit that made your ass look great on Saturday doesn’t look so hot on Sunday morning.
yoga chemo queen (to Francesca) By Zach Hayes
Photo: Alida Bystrom
the yoga woman bends and poses around a cluster of tumors, small neat and terse stitches close the once easy access portal to her inner soul, head shaved, tattooed and cancer strewn about the laughing smile of her little girl who kills, maims, and revives on a playground her little girl, straight out of a postmodern novel, or a story set in the collections of stories in a damn good postmodern bible, she cries for tossed shoes as onlookers and short-banged Freuds talk art therapy, 37
they’re wretched and miserably kind all oms and matzo ball doughs, wheat germ jizm they drink to cover up the pack a day guilt that burns in their throats, all oms, all oms, it’s just chants and chants, they pose and dress and dress in trash and die of tumors, soft smelly tumors which hug warm beneath the skin as lace winged mittens and fur balls, a shaved head, yoga chemo queen she’s upside down on a jungle gym she poses, she’s living
Photo: Maggie Pahos
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.
The Zombies-Odessey and Oracle (1968)
Maybe the most slept-on British Invasion band other than the Kinks, this album from The Zombies is a must-have for anyone who likes the melodic, quasipsychedelic pop of that era. Their harmonies are on par with anyone since the Beach Boys, and the subject matter is just subversive enough to be interesting. Highlights are the clever “Care of Cell 44” and the tragic “Butcher’s Tale”, with its haunting organ/voice combo that is literally hair-raising at times.
Blu and Exile- Below The Heavens (2007)
The hardest part about this album is deciding which half of this duo impresses most. Blu’s witty, articulate verses are striking, but are complemented by a diverse collection of beats from Exile, who samples everything from soul to jazz to Braveheart. It’s refreshing to hear a voice as new and energized as Blu, and Los Angeles is a great backdrop for the bright, varied tracklist. Among the best here are “The Narrow Path”, a plea to his folks “that flowing ain’t easy”, and “The World Is…(Below The Heavens)”, which addresses Blu’s religious attitudes in a tenor that is questioning, not preachy. This is real introspection on wax, unlike Kid Cudi’s popular lonely stoner bit that at times feels forced and trivial.
Endorsements Max Richter- Memoryhouse (2002)
Contemporary composers have perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in music. Living up to multiple centuries of the most grandiose, bombastic genres in the history of art is damn near impossible. Therefore, modern composers like Richter are forced to create their own narrative. This album’s story is that of the twentieth century, and if you can’t hear the wars and triumphs of the 1900’s in songs like “Last Days” or “Sarajevo”, you need to re-read your history books and come back to it later.
Literature Memoirs From The House Of The Dead -Dostoevsky (1862)
Siberian prison memoirs from one of the greatest novelists of all time? Count me in. A rare look into the most transformative event of Dostoevksy’s life, Memoirs is incredibly written and shockingly captivating. Among the most impressive sections are ‘the sauna scene’ and the gruesome stay inside the prison hospital. Most remarkable are Dostoevsky’s characters, a motley crew of prisoners, guards, and wardens brought to life by his incisive eyes and nuanced descriptions. Better non-fiction is hard to find in our time or any.
unaffiliated New Orleans, Mon Amour - Codrescu (2006)
Codrescu’s surrealist writing style fits perfectly with the most bizarre city in the States. This collection of essays from the late 80’s up to postKatrina is a private look into New Orleans culture from the perspective of a surrealist Romanian transplant. His love for the city and its inhabitants is both palpable and contagious. He alternates smoothly between the roles of story-teller, social critic, and amateur historian. The environment he creates of a society whose cares are entirely momentary foreshadows the natural disaster that forever changed the city, and his post-Katrina work at the end of the book is honest, poignant, and deeply humanistic.
American Dreams: Lost and Found Terkel (1987) In this collection of interviews, Studs Terkel again reveals himself not to be an incredible listener, but also a brilliant questioner. He lets his subjects—Americans from all ages, races, and walks of life—tell their own stories, but it is hard to believe that all of them could be so interesting in everyday life. Terkel has a knack for pulling out the most universal motifs from separate, particular examples. This is Americana at its best, a project that is not afraid to face the fragile yet confident psyche of the average man and woman of our country. 42
Endorsements Cinema Nobody Knows- Koreeda (2004) Based on a true story, Koreeda presents us with a premise: a mother leaves her four children alone for months at a time with hardly enough money to get by and only vague promises about returning “some time soon”. Akira, her oldest child, is thrown into a role he is in now way prepared for, but his effort is astounding. Giving away any more details would rob you the intense emotion felt on first viewing of this film, but be prepared for a well-paced, beautifully photographed journey.
Naked- Leigh (1993) This movie is not for the faint of heart of the faint of hearing. David Thewlis’ violently sarcastic droll carries this ambling, harsh film. The main character’s world is one that revolves completely around his own satisfaction and, to a lesser degree, the unhappiness of those around him. Speaking with the tongue of a man with nothing to lose, he pries for weakness with almost surgical precision, and will never let an opportunity to berate his verbal opponent go by. The dialogue in this film was mostly improvised by the characters, and it is clear that Thewlis enjoyed creating his misanthropic sociopath. You, against your will, might enjoy him too.
unaffiliated O Lucky Man!
Anderson (1973) Described by its writer/director as an allegory on life in a capitalist society, Malcolm McDowell (of Clockwork Orange fame) is thrown around Europe in a maelstrom of misunderstandings, experiments, and banalities. Some have called this film a reenvisioning of Voltaireâ€™s Candide, for no matter how dire the situation, McDowellâ€™s Mick Travis is constantly wearing a smile. One hilarious example is when he is assaulted by the homeless for attempting to bring them bread and soup. In the end, his constant optimism is tested to its limits, and the viewer is inspired and dumb-founded by his unrelenting enjoyment of the tortures of life.
Photo: Alida Bystrom
f f ili
a n U
by Matt McGraw
Photo: Maggie Pahos
and it was a feeling that I couldn’t fully explain before I met Abby: a feeling that emanated deep in my chest and radiated outward, a gentle warmness that slowly consumed my body, until every part of me, my fingers, my toes, even the tips of my hair follicles, felt alive. It was strange, though, because for the first month that I knew her, or rather, knew of her, (she was merely my neighbor, renting the house adjacent, a shabby little early-20th century number, perfect for the 20somethings but not much else, coated with pale blue paint peeling from the sides, murky windows, shingles missing from the roof; a perfect complement to my house, a stucco mid-century glazed with yellow paint that I bought and always intended, but have yet to, fix up) she didn’t utter a word to me. Not a “hi, how are you,” a “what’s up,” or even a nod of the head. I was invisible, dead to her. 46
fiction But she was alive to me, the sounds of her house wafting across the void and invading my own. I could hear the revelry of her and her friends: The loud music, the loud voices, the sound of bottles clinking and smashing, drinks sloshing down throats or onto the floor, the clink of razorblades or credit cards against a mirror and the subsequent snort. The movements reverberated into my house and I could feel bodies careen into one another as they danced and the pitter-patter of feet as they scurried up the stairs to do more cocaine. Sometimes I left all the lights off in my house and let the light from Abby’s house bathe me in its soft glow.
Photos: Maggie Pahos
These moments of vicarious sensory living quickly became the highlight of my life. Since moving to Savannah, I hadn’t particularly flourished: my career (useless to mention) was floundering with my social life following suit. I was truly alone, trapped in this dirty, archaic city, with the hot, moist air pressing down against me, making me feel as if I couldn’t breathe. I was rapidly approaching middle-age with nothing to show for myself. It was too hard, I felt powerless against the flow of time and all that bullshit: just another middle-class cliché. My vacation became sitting alone in the dark letting other people live for me. 47
Photo: Alida Bystrom
It was that time. I ran around my house shutting off all the lights, rushing to my chair in the living a room to sit and be absorbed. I was feverish with anticipation. I could hear them arriving, I could feel the vibrations from their cars as they pulled up to the curb, from their doors as they slammed them, from their high-heels and alligator shoes as they clacked down the sidewalk to Abbyâ€™s house. I closed my eyes and imagined that I was one of them, dressed to the nines, sauntering up the front stairs and entering the warm glow of her house greeted byâ€” A sound. My trance was broken as my door creaked softly, the light from the street lamps slowly creeping down the hallway as I sat still, my eyes now wide open. Slowly, I turned my chair around on its swivel, being careful so as not make any noise, simultaneously reaching for an old nine-iron that acted as my remote control. I gripped it tightly, anticipating, waiting for the shadow to show itself, trying hard not to breathe. It crept closer with a steady click-clack, the old wood creaking below its feet. I reached the nine-iron toward the light switch, slowly, easing the metal onto the plastic. In a single fluid motion, I lunged from the chair screaming, trying to seem as menacing as possible, as I flipped the light switch, jumping into the hallway. 48
fiction “It’s okay. You can put down the golf club. I’m just looking for a corkscrew,” she said calmly, unfazed. She rested her hand on her hip as if she were somehow agitated with me for reacting so wildly to an intruder in my home. She held a bottle of wine in the other. “I didn’t think anybody was home. All of the lights were out,” she said, motioning to the other patches of darkness in the house. “Sorry, I just got home. I haven’t had a chance to turn on any lights,” I mumbled, still shocked by her placidity. “Just let me get the wine opener and I’ll be out of your hair.” She began walking toward me again, almost preternaturally knowing where the kitchen was. “Don’t you think you should ask first?” She stopped and turned toward me again, laughing softly and brushing her dark hair out of her face. In the light, I noticed how tan she actually was. “How rude of me, I haven’t even introduced myself. My name’s Abby, Abby Black,” she said, extending her hand. I shook it silently, not sure if I should divulge my own name. “And I would be much obliged if I could borrow a wine opener.”
Photo: Maggie Pahos 49
“By all means.” I said softly, gesturing her towards the kitchen, watching her disappear into the darkness, transforming into the soft click-clack of her heels against the linoleum. “Would you like a glass?” she called out. “I feel it’s the least I can do.” “Sure, glasses are in the top right cabinet.” I turned on the living room lights and sat back down in my chair, listening to her fumble around in the kitchen, looking at her silhouette as she poured the wine. It was a deep red color, like merlot, only fuller, the glass she handed me looking as if it were a goblet of blood.
“How long have you lived here in Savannah?” she asked as she leaned against the arm of the couch, taking a sip from her glass. “A couple years, I guess. I’ve sort of lost count. It all blends together after a while.” I looked down at my glass, swirling the contents. “Not a fan I take it?” “Not particularly. Too humid, too dirty, too old. Which begs the question: why would someone want to endure their 20s here?” “I think I have a different outlook on the city. Where you find it humid, filthy, and aged, I find it warm, rustic, and historic.” “Really? Those are the adjectives you would you use to describe this place: warm, rustic, and historic.” Photo: Grant Barry
“Absolutely. I love it here.” We both took another drink as an uncomfortable silence crept over us. I began to fidget, shifting my position in the chair, holding my glass in different hands, at different heights. Abby didn’t move at all, except to raise her glass to her lips, still positioned coolly against the arm of the couch. I could hear the clock ticking, the walls creaking, and the water in the pipes flowing. I looked around, afraid to make eye contact with her, feeling as if any sort of connection would give away what I did most nights. At first I hesitated to ask, merely stammering, aborting words as soon as they crept onto my tongue, scared she would realize why she really found me alone in the dark, but finally the silence was too much to bear: “Why are you so dressed up?” I nodded slightly toward her black cocktail dress and high-heeled shoes. “I’m just having some friends over.” “What, is it like a special occasion or something?” “You could call it that, I guess,” she shrugged. I looked down at my wine glass, unsure of where to go next, certain that I had drained the conversational pool. “Would you like to find out?” she asked finally. 51
Photo: Ryan Catanese
Photo: Grant Barry
“What?” I almost dropped my glass of wine. My back was suddenly erect and I was staring at her, my mouth agape. She smiled. “Would you like to come over and see for yourself whether or not what my friends and I are having is in fact a special occasion?” I didn’t know how to answer; I was stammering, trying to come up with the words. I looked down at myself, then at her, horrified at the sartorial gap between us. “Do I need to change into something, you know, more elegant?” “If you want to or you can go as you are. Dress really doesn’t matter.” But every time I had imagined myself being one of them, casually striding through Abby’s door, it wasn’t in street clothes, but something grander like everyone else. I ran upstairs, wine glass still in hand, and tore through my closet looking for something appropriate. I ripped shirts from hangers, holding them up to my chest in the mirror. Nothing was fitting. I would look like a fool, out of place, no better than if I were just alone in the dark wishing I was there. When I finally came back downstairs, I was wearing a black suit with a black shirt, open collared, with freshly shined shoes. “Very nice,” she said, interlocking her arm with mine. She led me the twenty steps down the sidewalk, our shoes click-clacking in unison, to her house. We walked up the steps and she opened the door. I stopped for a minute, not sure if it was real or a hallucination, and then slowly stepped into the light.
Photo: Alida Bystrom
I looked around in awe, noticing it was essentially the reverse of my house: the hallway and living room were on the opposite side of the room as was the staircase, as if the two homes, even though they were built at different points in the century, were twins separated at birth. She tapped me lightly on the arm and I snapped out of my trance, noticing she was holding two black velvet robes. “Where is everybody?” I asked, looking around at the empty downstairs. “They’ve already started upstairs.” “Okay.” I moved toward the stairs, but she gently grabbed my arm. “You know about the sickness, right?” “The sickness?” “Yes, the pestilence that has washed over the city.” I started to crack a smile but looked at the dead seriousness in her eyes, once brown, but now appearing to be a heavy obsidian color in the low light. “No, no I haven’t. Is it something I should be concerned about?” My voice was soft, confused. “Yes, very much so.” She began to climb the stairs. “That’s what we’re praying for tonight. An end. A cure for the sickness.” “Praying?” I said, still confused running up the stairs after her. “What do you mean praying?” “You’ll see.” She handed me one of the black robes and put the other one on. 53
We walked to the door at the end of the hall and she performed some complicated, rhythmic knock. It was mimicked by someone on the other side and the door flung open. Suddenly I could hear a low hum of chants, indecipherable, perhaps in some obscure language. The room was dark except for the low glow of a single candle. As I walked in, I noticed about twenty people crowded into the small room, all wearing the same black velvet robes, the hoods drawn up over their heads, all of them on their knees. “Abby, what the fuck is this?” I hissed under my breath. She didn’t answer. She walked away from me to the center of the room. Suddenly, my visions of revelry, of dancing, of cocaine, the simple pleasures of youth, faded from my mind and were replaced by the image of a single candle burning, dripping wax upon an altar with a basin sitting on it in the middle of twenty young, chanting, darkly-clad figures. I could hear a faint croaking. “Brothers, sisters, we have a new soul among us tonight,” Abby said, gesturing towards me. I could feel their gaze turn upon me. I waved sheepishly. “Hi, I’m her neighbor. I live next door.” Silence followed. I could still make out a faint croaking noise in the background.
Photo: Grant Barry 54
“Introibo ad altare Dei!” she shouted, raising the hood of her robe. “What, what does that mean? I don’t speak whatever language that is.” “Just step up to the altar.” As I walked toward the center of the room, the chanting continued, and as I got closer to the altar the croaking grew louder, transforming, becoming clearer: ribbetribbet. Ribbetribbet. I looked down in the basin and saw a frog, its skin (a light, pale green) barely recognizable in the flickering candle light, sitting in the center, seemingly unshaken by the chanting and shouting going on around it. It simply sat there, croaking, occasionally adjusting its stance. I looked back at Abby, scared, wanting nothing more than to be alone in the dark once again. “Pick it up.” “What?” “Pick up the creature!” She screamed. The others followed suit, changing the words of their chant, keeping the low monotone of it, hitting the floor with their hands between each iteration: pick up the creature. (clap) pick up the creature. (clap) pick up the creature. (clap) It all began to blend together: the chant, the clap, the creak of the wood floor under the weight of the forty hands hitting it, the frog croaking. My heart raced, my breathing increased, I looked around, everything swirling about me, and before I could realize what I had done, I was holding the frog in my right hand high in the air.
Photo: Grant Barry
Photo: Ryan Catanese
“Now,” Abby said, looking around the room, a sick smile spreading across her lips, “Crush it! End the sickness!” They began chanting again. Hitting the floor. I could feel my chest heave; I could feel the frog’s heartbeat in my hand, his body still slick and moist, apparently fresh from the creek. I closed my eyes and let the cacophony of sounds wash over me and squeezed the frog gently at first, holding my hand above the candle, the chanting increasing in anticipation. And then I crushed it: I felt the frog wither in my hands, blood seeping from its pores, its soft organs crushing against its skeleton, and I could feel a slight crinkle as its bones crushed. A cheer was emitted and I held the sacrifice in the air, the blood running down my wrist. They began chanting some nonsense about the sickness, about the eventual cure, but all I could hear was the sound of my own heartbeat, the almost audible feeling of my skin tingling. And I began to think, I hope the sickness never ends. I hope they never find a cure because standing there, holding that dead frog in the air, my forearm stained in its blood, I began to feel something, and it was a feeling that I couldn’t fully explain before I met Abby: a feeling that emanated deep in my chest and radiated outward, a gentle warmness that slowly consumed my body, until every part of me, my fingers, my toes, even the tips of my hair follicles, felt alive. *** 56
Photo: Barbara Grinnell
What a Rip
This monthâ€™s inspiration: www.qwantz.com
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 David Barnett Grant Barry Taylor Brown Alida Bystrom Ryan Catanese Barbara Grinnell Zach Hayes Caroline Matthews Matt McGraw 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: David Barnett 62