Total Eclipse of the Heart, or Earth (Depending on where the ‘H’ is)

Some mysteries are tough to decipher. Like why does a ticket seller at a movie theater have to be behind three inches of bullet-proof glass? My bank teller, who has a few thousand dollars in her midst, can be grabbed with a simple lunge forward but the cashier sliding a worthless movie stub in my direction has to have more security than the pope?
Secondly, what happened to “Meatball,” my neighbor’s gregarious cat and frequent visitor to my yard whom we fear may have been devoured by coyotes. The trail, thus far, has gone cold.
Lastly, why does the moon sometimes consume, and then belch out in binger’s remorse, the entire sun?

It is this third enigma that has engulfed the city of Atlanta today as mobs of eager “Celestials” drive hellfire up to the North Georgia mountains for a brief glimpse of what is referred to as Totality, which is either the unifying oneness that connects all separate phenomena into one grand understanding, or a span of about five minutes in which it gets kinda dark, then not so much. I’m hoping that people achieve the former, yet I suspect it will end up being the latter. Instead of a total comprehension of the universal truth of things, I fear most spectators will be pissed off about all the traffic, a few people will fry their eyes out staring at the intense nimbus overhead, some suckers will pay $25 for an eclipse beer, which is a beer marked up 500% for an eclipse, and Pink Floyd will make another $20 million from their Dark Side of the Moon royalties.

Even in this age of regnant science it is nice to see people freak out over planetary rotation. Since the eclipse’s announcement I’ve talked to all manner of Neo-Mystics, who are digging into the phenomenon for the deeper meaning, or the Totality within the Totality. There is one couple who frequent the coffee shop up the block from me who plan on trying to conceive a child during Totality. It is obvious from their somewhat awkward public groping that they probably try to conceive a child when the sun rises, the sun sets, when the sun is out, when the moon is out, when the stars are out, when there are no stars, cloudy, thunderstorm, chance of showers, hot or cold. Anyhow, that is what they will be doing during Totality.
“Are you trying to birth Rosemary’s Baby?” I said.
“Who is Rosemary?” they said.
“Forget it. Good luck.”

There were a few doomsday types out in Little Five Points wearing sandwich boards encouraging me to repent for the Totality, because they had consulted some astrological charts and discovered that the Totality would last a thousand years instead of five minutes.
“Is it time for the end of the world again?” I said. “You guys get more mileage out of those sandwich boards than Trump gets from his Twitter account.”

And of course there were a few white supremacists that were boycotting the Totality because of the general blackness involved. It was all part of the grand conspiracy. The moon was in on it. They were sure of that. Lucky for them they still had their tiki torches and book burning and lack of melanin to justify their lazy form of superiority.

Yes, the birds, the bees, the lunatics and the street freaks get edgy during “syzygy,” (what a fun word! look at all those ‘y’s) but I wanted no part of it. Instead, I went to the movies. As I got into my car I noticed that “Meatball” the cat had returned, stretched out stoically in my front yard. We were worried for nothing.
There is a classic theater in the rundown and hip part of town that I drop in on from time to time. They show new releases and classic cult films. There is a filigreed series of gold lights descending systematically into the vector of an arrow pointed down toward the entrance. “This is Movie-Land!” it seems to suggest. Step into the magic and leave the world outside.

I got a ticket from the pale ghost of a woman posted in her Fort Knox-style glass booth and bought a bucket of popcorn from the man at the candy counter. He is roughly a million years old, pumping melted butter onto my popcorn with the measured concentration of Jackson Pollack creating one of his dripping masterpieces.
The usher led me to my seat. He is a militant fellow with a pencil thin mustache, a wilting bow tie, and a somewhat unsettling array of different sized flashlights attached to his utility belt. The smaller light sources, he explained to me, are for unobtrusive escorts. The larger, more blinding magnum beams are for raincoat masturbators, teenagers “necking,” and general belligerence. If everyone took their jobs this seriously the world would hum with the efficiency of a Rolls Royce engine.

I sat down in the otherwise empty theater to watch a showing of Orson Welles’s The Third Man. Two minutes into it, a fellow with a head like a prize watermelon sat down in front of me, completely obscuring 99% of the theater screen. The only part of the projection that I could see was a thin corona around the perimeter of his prodigious skull. How about that? I had witnessed the Totality after all. The man sat there for about a minute. Then, for reasons as mysterious as the universe itself, he got up slowly and chose another seat. Pleased with the eclipse, I sat back and watched Joseph Cotten search for the elusive Harry Lime.
More Alembics to come.


Blanking My Own Blank

(Warning: This essay contains what used to be strong language.)
I’m quite the fan of absurdist drama. Whether it is Jean Genet’s The Balcony, Francois Rabelais’s Pantagruel, Tom Robbins’s Jitterbug Perfume, Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose, or Anthony Scaramucci’s Leakers, Paranoiacs, and Oral-Onanism, I am impressed with the creative stretching and bending of raw reality. Western civilization needs artists like these to offer us a glimpse of our own potential, and in this fashion, the impossible becomes possible.

I believe it was the ancient philosopher Pliny the Elder who lectured, “Quam multi fire non posse, priusquam sent fact, judicantur?” Well said, Pliny. I heartily agree with the sentiment. How many things are considered impossible until they are actually done? Pliny’s words inspire my own imagination, or in other words, blank my own blank.

We pedestrians, rooted in reality, need certain “human telescopes” to help us peer past the horizon of our own limitations. Whether it is space exploration, gene-therapy treatment, or the improbable ability to bury our own heads into our crotches, the modern surrealist demonstrates that nothing is beyond reach. I can become my own masterpiece, or in other words, blank my own blank.

We admire the runner of a marathon, yet we look on in astonishment at the acrobat who seems to defy the very laws of gravity that everyone else must humbly obey. There is a difference between an artist that can paint down to the finest detail the exact likeness of a warty old king, and the artist that paints an enormous tongue rising like a tsunami to taste the tips of a sprawling metropolis. The former is the slave to reality, the latter its master. Each, however, follows its own muse, or in other words, blanks its own blank.

Not all hedge fund managers can be great artists, and they are rarely contortionists. The only things they are usually good at bending are the rules for risky investment. So it was doubly impressive to witness one of the modern surrealists questioning the limits of human gratification. In what will become known as quintessential Scaramuccian, I watched a brash Long Islander (hometown boy) put his foot in his mouth, his dick in his mouth, his asshole and everything else in his mouth and then spray it across the national consciousness. Not since Petr Pavlensky nailed his balls to Red Square has an act been so shamelessly grotesque. The Mooch was right, though. He wasn’t “trying” to touch his foreskin to his uvula. He was “effortlessly succeeding.” Job well done, Patrick Bateman. Now go murder a hooker.

Many artists have very volatile, short life spans. Dylan Thomas lasted thirty-nine years. Thomas Wolfe, thirty-eight. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, all twenty-seven, and Anthony Scaramucci, for all intents and purposes, lasted eleven days. It took him a little less than a fortnight to dig his own grave, or in other words, blank his own blank.

He suffered for his art. Join the club, Bubba.

Out of the moldy bread comes the penicillin, though. I’m more inspired than ever to blank my own blank. In blanking my own blank I can create my own bliss, and I invite everyone to do the same.
Blank your own blank. Build your own castle in the sky.
Blank your own blank. Resist your own demons.
Blank your own blank. Listen to your own sense of decency. Fill in the empty spaces with something that will lift others to a higher sense of social obligation. It will be a nice change of pace.
More blanks to blank.