[deleted from the original draft of
Incidents of Egotourism in the Temporary World]
Ever since my mother pressed and plasticked my umbilical cord, I've been a collector. You should have seen me with hoards of ziplocks with keepsakes sealed for posterity—the collection of my own fingernail clippings, my cat Peanut's whiskers, locust shells picked from the highest heights I'd reach in our yard's trees, feather collections: a 1970s furniture-style television box actually weighed down with a freight of crowfeathers, the old microwave box dazzlingly packed with the bright plumes of bluejays, cardinals, and the yellow flicker, our state bird. Not to speak of my development's dead birds that I'd pierce with two sticks and carry skewered to bury beneath our back porch. I even collected all the mainstream objects of pre-adolescent desire—the baseball, football, and basketball cards, the Star Wars action figures, the Star Trek dolls I'd strip of their Spock-blue and Kirk-gold uniforms and then mummify in transparent tape—thereby creating my own variety of syndicated television idols that my mother'd eventually peel of their tapewear and revesture in traditional mini-uniforms.
Collections. How once I collected Disney cards that came in Tastycakes packages while in Majorca when I was just eight. For awhile I taped MTV videos so at any instant I could cue and view John Cougar's "Hurts So Good"—the first video I ever saw.
Soon every video will be stored in and easily retrieved from a vast
pay-per-view downloadable storehouse. How ahead of the times I was in the
creation of my own private archive!
I was no electronic prodigy, no Edison or Einstein (both long time NJ residents) of mixing and mastering and so the crop of sound I sowed never sprouted, died in the ground, it's lost in the great crawlspaces, or tossed into the boundless garbage cans of my lush suburban household.
I thank my dear premenopausal mother for pressing and plasticking my umbilical cord. Imagine if the physical and symbolic strand connecting myself to my heritage was decaying fodder for bacteria and scavengers rather than a well-preserved link. Somewhere in a safety deposit box, along with the assorted semi-valuable heirlooms and important documents, rests the irrefutable proof of my natural birth and lineage.
—So what? You're a freakish collector, one who fetishizes the most trifling trifles of your existence. What is it? Your messianic latencies? You save in order to endow a storehouse of relics to be dealt via sixty-minute infomercials to a nation of devouts?
Come off it.
How un-Zen. Why burden yourself with ziplocked and Tuperware-sealed baggage that'll certainly hinder any of your own private passion-week's ascents as I'm sure you'd dub your eventual demise.
C'mon kid. Grow up. You didn't own your umbilical cord. It wasn't–isn't yours. Break into that safety deposit box, tear open the plastic, and set that shit alight!
Why this preoccupation with history, with heritage, the new Millennium dawns and all you can speak of are the trivialities of your own deep dark night.
I say there's no history. The only history is the biography of your future-yet-to-come.
Forget these autofellatiating fancies. No matter how far you'll stretch that neck you'll never impregnate yourself with your oral regurgitations! C'mon now. Lay flat. Supine. Straighten yourself out of this egocentric oroborosian circle you've contorted yourself into in pursuit of your own asexual and historical kundalini.
—Yes. Yes. You're so right. I thank you for this precise critique that attacks me with the same developing intensity as a well-generalled advance progressing from reconnaissance to airstrikes to ground-troop support and clean-up. It's all very well-founded. And all I can say in response is that your critique clarifies the position I shall do my dammedest to exemplify.
In fact I have in the works a self-help instructional pop-up book that clearly delineates the stringent techniques and esoteric theoreticals—beyond the obvious self-satisfaction—of autofellatio. A full-page advertisement for this upcoming release is forthcoming.
But seriously folks, I should reveal the motive behind my this hectic preamble. Yeah. You're right. Just a preamble. A set-up. Here it comes now. Listen:
Ever since my mother pressed and plasticked my umbilical cord, I've been a collector. Now I'm 25, a quarter-century-old living at the last one and thirty-three-and-a-third of the century. And let me get this straight, air-tight and ziplocked, stored away for posterity's perusal. Let me set the record straight. Let me drop the needle on the wax at the right rotational speed.
As already noted in the preamble above, I'm a preternatural collector. So now I'm older. No longer bent on sealing away my nail clippings. Now that I shave, I do not save my shorn bristles. Now I collect lots slated for development.
You've seen the ubiquitous signs: LOTS FOR SALE. SO MANY ACRES AVAILABLE. BUILD-TO-SUIT. SO MANY POTENTIAL UNITS.
I realize that the location along the Corridor's sprawling density is attractive. I realize that development, like language, is a virus that replicates itself. But I, collector-extraordinaire, mastermind of this solipsistic time capsule, auto-fellatiating martyr for the good of all literate humanity, part-clown, part-dervish—I have taken an oath to cease my trifling storages, to focus my will on the preservation of these corn, soy, and oatfields, as ineffectual and as desperately in need of my benign, hegemonic, colonialistic-crusade as my could-have-been-forgotten-forever nail clippings, cat whiskers, and whatever other ephemera I transformed into fixture.
Like the Star Trek dolls I once disrobed and taped-up, I plan to save from subdivisonal extinction these barely productive plots and transform them into something special and meaningful through my own efforts as symbolized in the application of adhesive transparencies. Yes. I want to mummify these corn, soy, and oat fields. Symbolically speaking-preserve them from development, preserve them from the transforming Tonka trucks set on digging foundations for weak and cliched architecture skinned with particle board and vinyl siding and eventually set on housing and sheltering a crop of offspring—who'll grow without ever driving past a field of shoulder high corn, who'll never even get to ignore a harvestable crop, who'll only know, instead of corn, soy, and oats, the names of the three faux-britanical mini-mansion models that constitute their entire neighborhood of two-hundred sixteen units varied every third.
And so I set out to curb the development of these only slightly productive fields.
And just as I set out on recounting my noble crusade, you interrupt:
—“What makes you so self-righteous? Why do you romanticize a few acres of corn? What of the poor farmer's decision, hard labored land producing hardly any hard cash—with children's college applications pending and hovering over the corn, soy, and oatfields like a whirly-bird of financial anxiety, the loans payable over the next twenty years depending on the fucking corn sales since the children are only interested in deconstructing Melrose and/or eventually securing the academic acceptance and prestige of Rock-n-Roll Studies? The poor farmer's daughter weaned on corn, soy, and oats waxing pathetically about Charlie Watts' importance as the terminal prototype of sympathetic drummers as opposed to Mitch Mitchell or Ginger Baker's Elvin Jones-inspired around-the-beat torrential-yet-equal quasi-support. What to do if the farmer's only son seems interested only in the Quakerbridge Mall's Gap's incentive plan to eventually dress the mannequins after four years of serious retail dedication? Obviously the farmer's weighed the psychological and spiritual consequences of selling the family forty acres and after reducing it to the figures dished out by perspective buyers, K. Hovanian—who brought such warm and well-adapted transformations to the wild wild woods that really give true meaning to the term development.
When faced with the raw numbers, when idealism and heritage, these thematic intangibles, hypothetically stack-up: they're revealed for what they are—a set of blank cards, or at best, tricksters, jokers intent on fooling you out of many millions of hard cash, currency aptly-titled, for to remain current, how can one subsist on idealism and heritage. Like corn, you actually see it in your own shit, which, like your financial well-being, you flush down the tubes.”
—Well-stated, my friend All I say in my defense is this: is it not more worthy to maintain possession of the land, to value your land not in terms of potential income accrued in exchange for the harvest, but in terms of the land itself and the incremental sprouting of the crop, to value the crop and not the cash, the outburst of your labors rather than the sell-out of your land, and now excuse me if I sound Jesse Jackson-pedantic—the point is sentimental, the point is that quixotic quantitative called the quality of your life. Is it not more worthy to symbolically mummify your land in adhesive acetate and transform your land into a wrapped acreage like Cristo's wrapped Reichstag—to turn your land into some sort of derivative conceptual art realized across the heads of the stalks of your crop? This sort of irrational passive demonstration of the absurdity of selling your land to the subdividers...is this not more worthy? Are there not excellent state schools to which your young idealistic avant-institutional Christgau can realize her dream of respectability for rockabilly without sacrificing your lifework, your fate, your land, the natural extension of your regenerative identity. I say wrap a few acres in acetate and charge three-bucks admission to thrill seekers seeking an oddity, a form of entertainment that's absolutely bodily, more surreal and disorientating than any ride in the dark at any United Artists or Sony Cinemas. You need an agressive regimen of agrit-prop tourismo. And so I challenge you. And since you scoff and rationally write me off as a clown, the joker that deals a deck of theoretical blanks, I rise to your occasion.
The Deli people. Dino, Tony, the Italian family with their front yard of ostentatious fountains and copper-coated statues of Poseidon and Aphrodite symmetrically posing with wooden geese in an ovular bed of white gravel, right on the inroad to the town's most upper-middle class bastion of respectability and moderation, Better Homes and Gardens-inspired lawn and leaf, recipients of the Home Owner's / Daughter's of the Revolution Association's stamp of tasteful validity—the Deli People, an inroad to the preservation of all that's slated for the replication of the cashcrop of more better homes and gardens.
Crowley grew up in the Greene and tipped me off. His father donated so much hard-earned financial-market money to the Sunrise Foundation, headed by an inhabitant of my neighborhood, a certain Ms. Cervone, former Miss New Jersey, present or shall I say recently-past presider over the Manor's Deli, the centerpiece of the Manor's stripmall-provider of frozen yogurt, chinese cuisine, Beauty salon, rental videos, pizza etc to the barracks-style condos that sprouted out of a field that once represented the furthest peripheries of my youthful exploratory horizons.
The Deli People, the old Deli down by the Mobil station that's been there as long as I've lived-bought the new deli, bought out the competition, and so, while casually racking my endorphin-inspired jogging brain past one of those BUILD TO SUIT signs -- I pulled the string that straightened the labyrinthine knot that I'd been tying with regard to sentimentality and the preservation of defenseless corn, soy, and oatfields from the plotting subdividers.
I'd been reading up on the Nazca lines. The prehistoric gerbils and antelopes only visible from above which seemingly prove the existence of the extraterrestrial. The short of it is this: I designed a potential template based on the South Korean flag. A nice circle with a few curved slashes symmetrically orbiting the circle. A nice outline, a perfect form of some imaginary landing of extraterrestrial craft.
The Deli People don't remember me. They knew me as my father's son who'd played Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Phoenix, or whatever archetypal videogame they were leasing. They knew me in my Little League uniform and later as a prep school pitcher who'd sometimes stop in for Copenhagen and EZ Widers and once they mentioned to my dad that I'd stopped in for some dip and some papers, I understandably took my business elsewhere. Now we had a mutual cause.
I stalked them as they locked up one night and emerged from the shrubbery on the peripheries of their parking lot like a gospel-bearing messenger of economic opportunity.
I said something like this: "I've got a proposal. An opportunity. I've heard you've bought the Manor's deli and I've got a proposal, an opportunity, that may spark our individual concerns in the most mutually satisfying manner."
They looked as if they were about to draw their cell-phones and call the cops.
"Dig," I said conspiratorially. I nervously produced sketches I'd done on Crowley's Power Point and traced with my forefinger the colored bar graphs of outrageous potential income that could come in with the sale of commerative T-shirts, stickers, coasters, frisbees, assorted keychains and "I Walked the Alien Lines in Lawrenceville" bumper stickers etc...all the by-products of pulling off a successful hoax in hopes of bolstering the local tourist trade while preserving the threatened oatfield across Keefe Road from the Deli People's new venture.
They didn't remember me. They recognized me but couldn't place the face. They weren't interested. They said they were tired. They said they didn't need to bolster tourism. They said it would be an embarrassment that could cost them the business if they got caught. I was surprised they considered all the consequences so quickly. They said they'd keep quiet if I wanted to work alone. They said that if I went through with it I should print up all the bumper stickers, frisbees, and T-shirts and they'd sell everything. We'd split the profits fifty-fifty. I thought about questioning this fifty-fifty they came up with. I take the risks and print everything up and they ring up the sale and get half the profit. I should have told them to piss off.
Crowley once found a piece of glass in a calzone he got at the little
annexed pizzeria they run. Maybe I'll make that public. But instead of
telling them to piss off I decided to end the conversation, walk away and
tell them to forget everything I showed them. Eventually I forgot about
everything I thought. I lost the plans and the bar-graphs. Then about a
month later I saw in full-color on the cover of The Trentonian an aerial
photo of my exact design mysteriously burned into the field I'd set aside
for saving. The next day the FBI proved that the burns were an elaborate
hoax. In the local paper the mayor said it was a shame we all couldn't
cash in on the tourism that'd naturally flow along with people's curiosity.
I wondered if there was still a way to cash in on the failed hoax. It's
a shame. I'm sure if I were the one who tried to pull it off if I could
have brought something more than just the FBI to this ever-expanding town.
But I didn't try.
B R A V E S O U L S R E C E I V E
An Interview With An Autofellator
Archive of Recent Activities