The Loon Star State

Now that the takeover of rural west Texas is unfolding, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the country surrenders. Resistance is futile. We should all just shut up and enjoy it. Forgive my haste. I have to type this entry in a hurry though, as I am due in my sealed underground bunker by nightfall or my handful of teenage brides will lock the door without me.

The military training operation known as “Jade Helm 15,” named ostensibly after a male or female porn star, is already in full swing. When the military announced the plan to run conflict simulations in some of the more deserted areas of the country–including parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi–some of the fringe element of Texas saw right through the flimsy trick. Immediately there were rumors that the perceived training exercises were actually the start of a complete takeover of a town that is not even listed on a map of the United States. Christoval, Texas. Because as everybody knows, the easiest way to attack somebody by surprise is to let them know months in advance.

Renown for its extremely valuable scrub brush, dirt, rusty pickups and bleached cattle bones, Christoval saw the writing on the wall. Obama is coming for your guns, bibles, and beer, and not necessarily in that order. While guns and bibles are easier to stumble over than tumbleweed, citizens fear disruption of the beer supply could cause a massive and unconditional surrender. There was talk that the local Wal-Mart store was going to be seized by guerilla units and used as an internment camp. Only a matter of time before the old Stars and Stripes is flying high over Christoval, a grim symbol of an all out assault on personal freedom.

“There’s already a re-education camp yonder,” one resident said.

“That’s always been there. It’s called a school,” explained an army representative.

West Texas can rest assured. Most hardcore military types probably dislike Obama as much as west Texas does, and so they aren’t very likely to follow an order instructing them to invade their own country. Even so, members of the Texas National Guard have been monitoring the military activities, because there is no better safeguard from highly trained Green Berets and Navy Seals than a retired sheriff and his drinking buddies in an old pickup truck looking through some binoculars.

I’m all for conspiracy theories. They keep life interesting. In fact the alien that lives in my basement and I de-fluoridate our tap water while watching old footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin romping around that Nevada soundstage in their “space” suits. It’s fun. The best part about conspiracy theories is that they are impossible to disprove. The clear absence of serious evidence only supports the deceptive nature of the issue. It’s like a soap opera plot. No matter how implausible, it can go on for decades. I wish everything in my life ran like that. I’d have renewable energy for like fifty years. No more gas bill. No more electric bill. Just my own personal power plant run entirely on bullshit.

And as for rounding people up and “detaining” them in Wal-Mart shopping centers, there is an easier way to do that without guns and intimidation. Just put a “Clearance Sale” sign in the window and you’ve got your voluntary incarceration. The whole town will be trampling each other to get inside. “Person who shops the longest gets a free pair of sweat pants and some cheap cosmetics.” People will be shuffling out of the place five years from now looking like Rip Van Winkle.

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It is only natural for people to be concerned about their safety. What with the Iran nuclear deal and the opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba, it seems like everything is going to pot. Hell, last month Godzilla was granted citizenship in Japan and given the rather respectable title of Tourism Ambassador. Honest. I read it in Time magazine and on the BBC. Christoval, Texas really has something to worry about now. What happens when the illegal immigrants in America start watching old Godzilla movies and realize the best path to citizenship is to lumber through major cities, breathing fire, swatting at planes and crushing buildings? Forget it. I’m going underground. More Alembics to come

This entry is dedicated to E.L. Doctorow 1931-2015

Shorty and the Trump

I love a good brawl. Throw a couple of screwheads into a sawdust pit and watch them whip each other into aspic. It is as cathartic for the spectators as it is for the fighters. The smell of sweat and blood is good for morale, all around, and with a couple of shrewd bets a man can hit the town afterwards in style.

Not since the rematch of Arturo Gatti and “Irish” Mickey Ward has an event been so eagerly anticipated. One of the main reasons is that billionaires usually don’t go at each other head-to-head. They have teams of lawyers and a hierarchy of minders, lieutenants and public relations lackeys to fight for them. Theirs are proxy battles, impotent gestures from luxury yachts in different oceans with little to no fallout.

So when the Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman “El Chapo” or “Shorty” Loera (the ridiculous amount of names alone commands a certain prestige) busted out of prison and then put a price tag of $100 million dollars on the weird orange head of Donald Trump, it was clear the gloves had come off.

Donald “The Donald” Trump (a bit redundant) was not rattled. In fact he called the powerful leader of the Sinaloan drug cartel a “midget wimp,” and boasted that he himself would’ve broken out of prison in half the time it took “El Chapo” and would’ve done it better, with a gold-plated helicopter and at least ten “Miss America” contestants hanging from the landing rails. He declared himself the best at “prison escape” or any “escape, for that matter,” and that people like “El Chapo,” David Sweat, Richard Matt, D.B. Cooper, Frank Morris, the Anglin brothers, the Rats of Nimh, Dieter Dengler, the guy who wrote that pina colada song, Andy Dufresne, Rambo, that John Voight character from “Runaway Train,” and basically every captive from World War II were just losers that probably didn’t even own any golf courses, “although maybe one or two did, who knows?”

Leave it to Mr. Trump to underscore American excellence; that rich history of talent, intelligence and virtue that has made us Number One for the last century. On the other hand, our Dannemora prison escapees from last month could’ve learned a thing or two from “El Chapo.” Forget tinkering around the ventilation system for ten years. “El Chapo” actually had an underground motorcycle. That is about as cool as it gets. Usually immune to such petty jealousy, I couldn’t help thinking that I wanted an underground motorcycle. I even called my mother and asked why I had never been given an underground motorcycle when I was a kid? Then I told her not to bother answering. I knew why. It was because she didn’t love me. Mom then explained to me in that exasperated way that a parent explains things to a child forty years into his existence that the way it works is a person goes and gets a real job and then they can buy themselves all the underground motorcycles they want. “When you get underground motorcycles handed to you, then you don’t appreciate the underground motorcycle and it just becomes another thing that you neglect when your tiny little attention span moves from underground motorcycles to something equally as empty.” Then she hung up on me.

Anyway, “El Chapo” is now ready to take on his North American nemesis. Trump shows no sign of backing down, openly taunting “El Chapo.” The Donald doesn’t hide from anyone. He doesn’t need to. In fact, the Donald’s hair is an impressive example of aposematism, a brightly colored defense mechanism designed to repel predators. Something that fluorescent occurring in nature is usually highly poisonous, so watch out. No need to camouflage.

The feud between the two continental heavyweights began when Trump started bad-mouthing Mexicans. “Shorty” was highly offended when Trump accused most Mexicans of bringing drugs into America, which is a little unfair, except that El Chapo is the most powerful drug lord in Mexico and maybe, the world. That’s like Mickey Mouse going up to New York to protest the city’s war against rodents.

I was relieved to see that the pictures of “El Chapo” after his prison escape showed him sporting his dense broom of a mustache. It levels the playing field. I could think of the billionaires’ conflict only in terms of flamboyant choices in hair grooming. The Woolly Black Lip versus the Pumpkin Tsunami. One plagues the world with drugs. The other plagues the world with bad reality television and garish real estate. One wants to build a wall across the border. The other will cruise beneath it in his underground motorcycle. One is adored by his country’s citizens. The other one is Trump.

More Alembics to come

Red, White, and Blew

It is inadvisable to stick a firecracker in your mouth. Sure they look cool and taste great and once ignited can remove some of those annoying teeth that get in the way of cramming hot dogs and burgers down your throat at the neighborhood Fourth of July cookout. But when the top of your head comes off and your cheeks melt and your tongue burns like a viking funeral, you’ll wish you had exercised some caution.

According to the national anthem the bombs are supposed to be “bursting in air.” They are not supposed to be bursting under your foot, in your hand, on your head, up your ass, or any of the other creative ways people celebrate the birth of the nation. The ancient Chinese invented gunpowder accidentally while trying to develop an elixir for immortality as the story goes and, in a way, they succeeded brilliantly. There is no easier way to become eternal.

Americans know how to party because of one cherished rule, and that is the crazier the better. This code of debauchery is taken seriously. Much admired are the people who have the nerve to try and cheat death and when the grim reaper snags one in his bony claw, we understand that these are the stakes of the game.

Most Americans don’t receive formal pyrotechnics training. In fact, our experience with the use of explosives comes mostly from watching old roadrunner cartoons. From the great Wile E. Coyote we learn that there is no danger too great that can’t be eliminated by a trampoline. Horizontal or vertical, whether falling thousands of feet or rollerskating with a jet pack strapped to the shoulders, a trampoline can save you from almost anything.

Almost.

I was alarmed by the more spectacular stories of the weekend’s fireworks casualties. I could sympathize. I had been in those same situations before. At a party. The bonfire is raging. The burgers are almost cooked to perfection on the grill. The beer supply runs out. Natural to want to strap an Acme rocket to your back in order to get up to the gas station as quickly as possible to pick up a few cases. Much faster than a car, more fun, and you avoid having to round people up to shuffle their vehicles in the driveway because you got there early and parked too close to the house and now you’re all blocked in. Rockets, though, are notoriously hard to control. The angle of trajectory is difficult to calculate and landing is a bitch. It is easy to get impatient, but when even a cartoon coyote noted for his temerity is standing over you shaking his head, it has all gone way too far.

Call me primitive, but my reptilian brain stem tries to avoid explosions. They are generally detrimental to the cohesive properties of the human body. Sure everybody has something they wish they could change about themselves–more prominent nose, better muscle tone, less flab, stronger hairline–but fireworks tend to be indiscriminate.

“I wish there was some way I could be everywhere at once,” a woman said to me on an airplane recently, lamenting her hectic lifestyle. I told her what can’t be accomplished with some sensible scheduling is easily achieved with a pack of M-80s, a book of matches and a case of beer for anesthesia. Totally the wrong thing to say on a jumbo jet, as I found out. The woman switched seats, called the flight attendant over and had a hushed exchange. The flight crew kept a narrow surveillance on me for the rest of the trip.

We as a species seem to still have a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder from the Big Bang birth of the universe. I read a quote recently that said that people have a natural, temporal nostalgia for the decade they were born in. Quite right, I thought, but maybe it goes back much farther, and explosives, in some way, are meager attempts to enter from the nothingness in the beginning to the glorious cosmos that shattered into being directly after the magic alchemy.

I didn’t watch any fireworks this year. I was still somewhat haunted by a strange conversation I had with some random geek at a bar a few weeks ago. I don’t know how I got roped into it. It was obvious the guy was champing at the bit to bleed off some of his insanity. Somewhere in his mid to late sixties, he began by listing his putative accolades–a series of improbable achievements. Chief Operating Officer, Inventor, Naval Officer, Professor Emeritus, Explorer, Five-Star Chef, Criminal Profiler, titles that had no specifics to them whatsoever. He also went to Harvard.

“For lunch once?” I said.

“I’ve got the shirt to prove it.”

He went on to explain to me that there was this huge historical conspiracy theory that atom bombs were bad for people. Not so, said he. To support his theory he cited as evidence the fact that he had been to both Nagasaki and Hiroshima recently and was quite impressed at how magnificent the two cities are. Beautiful buildings, well-behaved children and some of the best water he had ever tasted. As far as he knew, no residual radiation.

“Do you suggest dropping one on say, Detroit?” I offered. “They could use a helping hand.”

“You see what I’m saying?”

“Greece’s rising debt could use a good atom bomb,” I said.

“Possibilities are endless.”

“I won’t even get into the mess in my attic. Good solid mushroom cloud would give me a nice open floor plan.”

“I have a unique way of looking at things,” he said.

“Yes. And people who eat their own shit have unique dietary needs,” I said. “Doesn’t mean I’d like to adopt them.”

“Don’t believe what they tell you.”

“Who are they?”

We are so dumb we believe anything.”

“What we?”

“People are too gullible.”

“I agree. In fact I haven’t believed a word you said this whole time.”

“Shall I again list my achievements?”

“No need.”

I wasn’t giving him the respect he craved. He chalked me up to a lost cause. I was one of the lotus-eaters, a mote in the mass of people duped by big media and public relations campaigns. As I let the air out of his tires in the parking lot, (too dangerous to drive, I thought) I imagined him riding the big bomb down like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, yelling like a rube, and instead of annihilation he just emerges from the radiation cloud, dusting himself off and bragging that he has cured himself of his gout and dyspepsia.

Best of luck to him.

More Alembics to come.

Suicide (E)-Mission

Sperm cells of the world, listen up. Allow me a moment of your time. I would not intrude on your busy migration schedule unless it was very important. Might I appeal to your sense of decency before your mob makes that collective run for the big fleshy globule in which you seek to gain admittance?

I hate to put an unfair burden on you tiny swimmers, but science has proven that this whole thing starts with you and so I’m going right for the root of the problem. I never like to bear bad news, but almost none of you will make it into your intended destination, the waiting female egg. To use a rather morbid joke, it is a suicide emission for all but one intrepid gamete. Cheer up though. For most of you the work will be over. Afterwards you can kick back and relax, knowing that nothing more is expected of you. It’s Miller Time, as we say here on the outside.

Now, since that is the case, let me explain that we’ve got a little problem on our side of the “fence.” While you may think it is over and done with once you embed yourselves in that fleshy egg and start dividing and multiplying like a frantic mathematician, for us the problem may only be beginning. As you know, traffic is a nuisance. I need only to cite the fact that there are 250,000,000 of you little tadpoles swimming for your lives every time you are unleashed up a rather narrow birth canal and into an even narrower fallopian tube. We fully formed humans have traffic too, and believe me it is just as bad on the outside and getting worse.

I live in a city called Atlanta, but it might as well be anywhere else. New York. Los Angeles. Chicago. Miami. You get the picture. You could end up in any one of these places as well and when you do you will be surrounded by a lot of people that were once little sperm like yourself. You may find too, much to your horror and dismay, that a lot of them are as crazy as shit-house rats and don’t even want to be here.

For example in my town, a few weeks ago, a tiny teaspoon of ejaculate that over the course of many years morphed into a chronically unstable woman drove her car straight into oncoming traffic on an extremely busy highway because she wanted to shut her brain off. You can imagine the mess she created.

A few months ago a mentally unstable airline pilot crashed an enormous plane because he wanted to shut his brain off, a brain that was so sick that it felt the need to take 200 or so other people along with him. He left nothing but a recording of eerily controlled breathing. I can’t make this stuff up.

A few years ago two tablespoons of deluded little puddles of protein eventually set off big bombs during a marathon. You little fellows would like marathons. It is a competition that is right up your alley. There is only one winner, but all involved can take great pride in the accomplishment. Those two tiny puddles of protein that set off the bombs are pretty much dead now, one way or another, which would have been better had it happened before they got the bombing idea.

Most recently, a frail, deluded man-child bearing a striking resemblance to an enormous sperm cell (look at yourselves in the mirror and then magnify that by a trillion trillion) killed eight innocent people at a church because his meager brain was so totally confused, impotent and angry. How ironic, considering how much of a rush his tiny sperm cell must’ve been in as it raced up the birth canal twenty years ago.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. All of these confused, violent humans were once little versions of you guys swimming as fast as they could in order to fertilize an egg and become a person. Needless to say these people have been a complete waste of perfectly good ejaculate. I’m sure with almost a quarter of a billion other candidates, we could’ve had a better result. So, tiny sperm cells, we need your help. If you would be so kind as to identify, profile if you will, certain potentially problematic swimmers in your group, you’d really be saving all the rest of us a whole lot of grief. We need innovators and visionaries. We need resourceful and resilient intelligence. We don’t need angry little creeps. We don’t need ruthless selfishness.

So…if you notice any of your fellow spermatozoa bragging about their superior genetic information while acting all lazy and dopey, keep an eye on them. If any of them wet their bed, or try to start fires, or torture small animals, or whatever the microcellular equivalent of all that is, you need to run interference. In addition be on the lookout for plotters, malcontents, sociopaths, abusers, misogynists, bigots, sadists, bullies and xenophobes. If you notice a sperm with anger issues, a sperm that has bouts of mania followed by periods of depression, a sperm that shows tendencies toward any type of violence whatsoever, then it is time to form a blockade. What I’m saying is keep an eye out for the troublemakers. Any gamete trying to sabotage the pipes down there–epididymis, cremasters–is just going to make a big old shit-stinking mess of the bigger world in the ensuing decades if they happen to escape. Inguinal hernias don’t just happen. It means you’ve got some undesirables trying to tear the place down. Today’s warped urethra is tomorrow’s mass murder.

Furthermore, any of these little buggers seem too eager, like they’ve got an agenda, and the rest of you are going to have to take action. You put them in the back of the line with some LeBeau-style zone blitz to confuse and neutralize them. I’m no microbiologist. You guys work it out. Today’s premature ejaculation is tomorrow’s terror plot.

With any luck the bad ones will be reincarnated as something other than a human. Maybe they can come back as a pine cone, something in which very little is expected of them. They can just lay around in the grass and that is that. How nice does that sound? I’m almost jealous. Once the offending gamete is identified, you may want to have some faction just dive bomb the little miscreant. Knock him silly until his disorientation is so severe he’d be lucky to locate his own tail. A punch drunk sperm cell will probably just shuffle off in any old direction like the town drunk. It is important to buy yourselves a little time. Whichever one of you is lucky enough to form into a human will be extremely grateful you did.

Happy Fourth of July

More Alembics to come.