Hard Math

I’ve been staying off the roads in Atlanta since the beginning of this here month of “JOOO-lye,” (as we say in the deep south), and for a very good reason. A new law went into effect July 1, a law that bans drivers from holding their cellphones while they are driving. 

Which isn’t a bad idea in theory, considering that most drivers conspicuously wield telephones the size of IMAX screens in front of their faces the entire time they are behind the wheel, causing near misses, dents, and wrecks throughout the metro area. What had me a bit nervous about being on the road when the new rule went into effect was the subconscious panic it would create on a good portion of the motorists who, now that they had nothing to stare at but the boring old road with boring old cars around them, would have a collective spasm. I imagined vehicular anarchy, a wild, city-wide freakout that would force drivers to careen into medians and ditches, down the opposite lanes of traffic, up the sides of buildings, into rivers, or launch themselves off half-built overpasses like the Dukes of Hazzard boys. They would behave like cats during a thunderstorm—clawing, climbing, scraping and screeching in an effort to get anywhere to feel safe. Without the reassuring glow of their all-knowing “Trancer” (my own term for any computerized rectangle that effectively cuts people off from organic communication), they may simply go back to blood, and head for the horizon. 

It seems that the initial hysteria has died down, and yet I’m still spending more time at home. Atlanta traffic sucks no matter what people have in front of them. In fact it’s no longer traffic, per se, but a big sludgy parking lot that tends to slowly drift, like continents, in certain directions. 

So I’m taking some time to clear out the scrub along the perimeter of my backyard, which has left me with a bunch of tree limbs and branches to get rid of. Ever diligent, I consulted my county’s website for the rules of proper disposal. To wit: “Branches themselves can be no longer than four feet and must be trimmed of leaves.” 

Check!

“And no branch may weigh over 50 lbs, and must be stacked neatly.” 

Check! 

I set out a tidy pile for pickup, happy to be in full compliance and well within the limits all around. So it was with some puzzlement when, on pick-up morning, I watched the garbage truck stop for a moment to scrutinize my pile, then drive away without collecting a single branch. 

Stumped, (pardon the pun), I went back to the website to make sure I had all the right parameters. I even looked for some hidden minutiae, as in, “If you sense that the trash collector is having a bad day, or is hungover, or is having a male menstrual moment in which he unexpectedly bursts into tears, you may have to gently encourage him to follow through.” 

Nothing. So I placed a call to Our Lady of the Red Tape to inquire as to what the problem might be. Not that I minded the trucks whizzing by as they ignored my piles of refuse, because when they fly by they create a nice breeze, and it is the summertime in Atlanta, after all, and we need all the breeze we can get. She told me directly that my pile was the problem. While the branches themselves were the right size, the pile itself was six-feet long, and they would only accept a maximum pile five feet in length.” 

“That’s where you are mistaken ma’am,” I said. “I don’t have one six-foot pile. I have two three-foot piles stacked side by side.” 

There was silence on the other end of the line, and I knew I was in trouble. If there is one thing that a bureaucrat hates, it’s an overly polite wiseass. 

“Actually, Ms. County Administrator, now that I think about it, I specifically created three two-foot piles, placed in consideration right next to each other to lessen the burden for our hard-working Debris Ambassadors. No wait, it’s all coming back to me. There are, in fact, six separate one-foot piles, placed in a precisely linear sequence so as not to tax our already overburdened Detritus Managers.”  

I could feel the waves of hatred coming through the phone as she took my information, saying she would get back in touch with me, which was county-speak for never hearing from anyone ever again.

“Dear, sweet, Ms. Administrator,” I said gently, “might I respectfully challenge you to a game of Nim?” 

“Oh it’s on, mother-f**ker,” she whispered, so as not to be picked up by the recording monitors for quality control. 

Nim, for the newcomers, is a mathematical strategy game in which various piles of sticks are laid out and removed by two opponents, and the person who retrieves the last stick is the loser. There are rules concerning how many can be removed and from what pile, and the idea is to force the challenger to clear one pile while guarding another. Over the next two weeks the garbage truck would screech to a stop in front of my stack of branches, idle thoughtfully next to it, pick an advantageous collection, and zoom away.  Then I would go out and remove a certain number, and on we played. I went out this past Monday to find one stick remaining, with a xeroxed piece of paper next to it bearing the image of an extended middle finger. I had lost. I hung the offending message on my fridge. Then I went out and picked up the last stick and threw it onto my neighbor’s lawn. 

Game Over. 

More Alembics… 

Space Invaders

From the origins of time (the 1980s) comes the story of an army of poorly pixelated space aliens descending on a kind of spurting nipple lone gunman, with nothing more to guard him than three crude cylinders as he fends off the onslaught. The space beasts drop ever nearer to Earth, with their mother ship cruising back and forth above, gaining in speed as they approach the ground, unleashing a barrage of vertical drizzle heavy artillery to the fuzzy chomp-chomp of bad sound effects. 

If this sounds terrifying, I assure you it is no fantasy. It is the Atari version of Space Invaders, an all-out alien attack, relentless and rabid, with no quarter asked and none given. Prophetic as the well choreographed cluster of space octopi, Easter Island statues, cyclopses and houses with feet are to the general safety of the world, people still ignored the warning signs. 

Not me. 

Even as a kid I realized that our space military was severely underfunded and understaffed. Lucky then that there is a plan to put an elite unit of astro-soldiers into orbit to blast the shit out of any of these menacing creatures as they approach our ionosphere in order to loot our resources and enslave the population. 

Because NASA is fearing budget cuts they have released an alarming report, detailing the detection of thousands of armies mobilizing on our neighboring planets, ready to swarm our pale blue dot. There are dragons on Mercury, vermin on Venus, the red scourge on Mars, giants on Jupiter, Saturn can be used like a great big radial saw, space hemorrhoids on Uranus, nomads on Neptune, pirates on Pluto. And that is just our solar system. Who knows what lies beyond, although, if an army of space killers actually makes it to Earth from a few light years away, by definition they will be way more evolved than we are, and will eat our space cadets like floating marshmallows. After that they will descend to pick through the rest of us from Australia to Russia, from Greenland to Disneyland, from Ybor City to New York City, although, as Humphrey Bogart told the Nazis in the movie Casablanca, “There are some sections of New York City I would advise you not to try and invade.” 

Indeed, the island of Manhattan may be the only population that survives a full-on alien attack. The residents already know how to deal with diversity on a massive scale, the endemic lower class is pretty handy with a switchblade, you can’t beat the food, and they’ve got the Philharmonic and the Museum of Modern Art, which for some people is a universal form of psychological torture. Even a big blob of evil alien pus from Zebulon-3 would be paralyzed in front of a Marcel Duchamp exhibit, shaking its big globular head and muttering, “I just don’t get it.” Failing that, the club crowd could just party them to death. There is always something to do in that town, and the fun never stops. After three days of cocaine and mescal the space goblins would be keeling over headfirst trying to keep up with the drag queens, our first and most effective line of defense. Drag queens are like the Seal Team Six of extraterrestrial combat. Considering their line of work they aren’t afraid of anything, and have pretty much seen it all. Then we can dump our interstellar adversaries in the East River. After all, that waterway can’t get any worse. 

On second thought, maybe that is all wrong. Perhaps diplomacy is the key to the future of the galaxy. Go ahead and shake hands with an alien. It would be cool to have a friend that is pure silicon that is not from Los Angeles. Although we are amazing as a planet when it comes to peace, love, sustainability, compassion, understanding, education, equality, efficiency, freedom from fear, and calm reasoning, I suppose we can always do a little bit better, and maybe they can show us how. After all violence breeds violence, and a little goodwill can go a long way.  In 1933 Andre Malraux wrote that the sons of torture victims make great terrorists. I suspect that holds true from one side of the universe to the other, as well as the flip side of that equation. 

These days when I want to play Space Invaders I have to go to a bar called the Smog Cutter. They have a backroom with old school video games. I open up a tab, grab a beer and begin vying to win the high score, and with my valedictory status I can boast on my application to the Space Army that I am top gun. I blast away at the primitive yet highly advanced space monsters and they blast away at me, encroaching ever forward. Finally I’m outnumbered as they hover right above me. Then the screen freezes. “Damn,” I mutter. Old piece of crap. Before I go grab the manager to get my money back I get a laugh out of the stuck display. On the old screen, in between the group of aliens and my player, my laser bullet and another laser bullet are frozen next to each other, creating an equal sign. 

Weird. 

More Alembics….

I Fought The Law and The Purple People Eater Won

It is a strange and unnerving thing to be a law abiding citizen, a man of the outside natural world, a bohemian of coffee shops, booze halls and art studios and did I mention booze halls, who suddenly finds himself sitting in a courtroom for one of the most bizarre charges ever to land in the lap of jurisprudence. The Fulton County court was packed that day, the honorable Judge Bufo presiding. Guilty or innocent, we were all treated with sarcastic disdain by the bailiffs as we filed in, collectively threatened with contempt because a few puddle heads couldn’t figure out how to remove their hats and turn off their cellphones. Never has there been a more scrupulous polarization of authority and delinquency than in a courtroom, particularly this kind of strange cattle call. And when the cops, the judge and the solicitors start admonishing the crowd for petty infractions like whispering to the person sitting next to them, then we all kind of reflexively adopt the “fuck you” attitude of the outlaw. I was amused at how naturally the setup breeds its own dynamic.

I was answering a rather strange citation. I had been given a ticket for speeding, except here is the thing… I was sitting in the passenger seat at the time.

My first brush with “The Law” happened when I was about four years old. Recently instructed on the finer points of spelling, I had innocently picked up a permanent marker and went into my parents’ bedroom. It was laundry day, and the mattress had been stripped of all the sheets. I had a king-sized canvas, and I went to work, spelling the two new words I had learned, in this case, “SHIT” and “ASS” in a fine and careful lettering. Proud of my recent publication, I showed it off to my mother, who had returned from the laundry room with a gasp of shock and horror. Even then my writing was controversial, and I was thrashed accordingly. Seething from the injustice of it all, I hired an appeals lawyer, in this case my mom’s sister, who pointed out that while the text was a bit licentious, “At least he spelled it right.”

And now here I am, a lifetime later, answering a charge of “Failure to Convince the Operator of a Speeding Vehicle to Slow Down.” It all started when my truck spluttered to a miserable death on the highway a few months back. Something had gone wonky under the hood. The demon that controls my engine was angry. So I took a 1950’s Uber, or in other words, I stuck my thumb out at the flow of traffic and hitched a ride to the next exit. A twitchy, high-strung woman pulled over and agreed to give me a lift. She stabbed that gas pedal down and we rocketed off into oblivion. A mile up the road we were pulled over by a cop. Immediately she complained to the police officer that I had exerted an unnecessary and undue pressure on her to go as fast as possible. She was only a waif of a woman and I was a big crazy man with big crazy male ways. The officer agreed and handed me the ticket. I was about to protest, when my chauffeur whispered to me to shut up unless I wanted to be cited for the trunkful of methamphetamine too.

The court has the ultimate advantage over the accused. It’s their home turf. I watched as a parade of misfits and non compos mentis types were led up to the podium. Every once in a while a handcuffed individual would appear from a side door and be made to sit in their own little penalty box. We in the normal gallery could at least take some consolation in the fact that we weren’t in the shackled category. My favorite guy was some wild and broken genius who had somehow got caught after dumping 5,000 used tires on a desolate stretch of road in South Fulton. The cops finally noticed when the stack got taller than the surrounding trees.

“One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater…”

Shit, where did that come from? Oh yes, my stupid brain. Every once in a while, in times of extreme stress, my mental jukebox will play dumb songs to torment me, and something in my head had hit the ‘play’ button on the old Sheb Wooley song. Then I realized what was happening. Follow me, please. Theoretically a people-eating monster would indeed be a cold-blooded murderer, and since I was sitting in court, I was now seeing a one-eyed, one-horned, handcuffed and despondent purple people eater being led into the little penalty box on the far side of the room. I knew I never should’ve taken that hit of acid in college that one time. In fact I blamed Sheb Wooley, whose name alone sounds a bit monster-ish, as well as a string of god-awful pop music that had plagued us for decades. These were the real criminals, robbing us of good taste: “One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater,” “You’re a pink toothbrush I’m a blue toothbrush,” “Up and away my beautiful balloon,” “Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy,” and a host of other wrenching pop tunes. Like any psychedelic court scene, I was now watching lollipops, toothbrushes, balloons, zombies, Katy Perry’s left shark, puppies, a rhinestone cowboy, dandelions and everything else get led into the dock.

“From the laboratory in the castle east,
to the master bedroom where the vampires feast,
the ghouls all came from their humble abodes,
to get a jolt from my electrodes. They did the mash. They did the monster mash.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, things really got out of hand when the purple people eater chewed through his chains and, as is natural to his species, ate the bailiff, the stenographer and the judge. I figured that was tantamount to an adjournment of the court, until the big monster banged the gavel and burped my name out. He was in charge now and he wasn’t going to let the rest of us get away with anything. I approached the bench. He found me guilty and told me that I could either feed him my money or my body, which was exactly what Judge Bufo would’ve said, and I dutifully chose the former. He gobbled it down right then and there, and before he nodded off for a midday nap rife with drooling and snoring he told me to have a nice day. I walked outside into the cool, free air, and never felt better. Freedom is most thoroughly enjoyed after a few hours in a courtroom. I decided, because I have a reputation to uphold, to never tell anybody about the crazy monster tableau I had just imagined.
It will be our secret.
More Alembics to come.

The Same Old Scum Sucker

I often vow to myself that if I ever become sickeningly rich, my life won’t change one bit. I will still pocket handfuls of complimentary mints from Gus’s Diner up the block from me near the highway, open twenty-four hours, truckers welcome. I will take every mint available, leaving nothing for the rotten, sour breath of commercial drivers or the prostitutes that may be employed to deal with it.

I will still pee out the window of my gilded mobile home to avoid those ridiculous water and sewage fees.

I will still hoard ketchup packets and napkins from stingy fast food chains reluctant to give them away without the threat of bodily harm to the listless cashier.

I will still clog up checkout lines of all shapes and sizes with my aggressive haggling over every scanned item. “I could’ve sworn that was on sale. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise! Check it again!”

I will still panhandle every Sunday, weather permitting, in front of my local MARTA train station. I will still appear ragged, sunken and shame-faced, avoiding eye contact, sock covered hand extended, thanking the people for their generosity. (The public’s munificence always seems to be a bit more munificent on Sunday, go figure.) I will still drag myself away with about $150 in loose change, tax free, at the end of the work day, to spend the money ironically, like instead of getting a really nice bottle of whiskey with my loot I will just buy a case of old Monkey Shoulder. I would much rather reek of a lot of cheap booze than a moderate amount of fancy booze, and that is one thing that will never change about me, no matter how rich I become.

Most of all, like G.E.’s Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt, every time I fly someplace in my private plane, I will take along at least one other plane.

Even without being rich I know that there is nothing more embarrassing than showing up to a private airport with the same airplane as another smug billionaire. It’s like showing up to an 80s Jazzercise class in the same leg warmers as Olivia Newton-John. It’s like showing up to the BET Music Awards with the same golden chalice as Lil’ Jon. It’s like showing up to a pizza party with the same meat-topped Sicilian extravaganza as Papa John. It’s like showing up to a jazz concert with the same smooth New Orleans piano licks as Dr. John. It’s like showing up to a charity ball with the same gap in the teeth as Elton John. It’s like showing up to the filming of “Diamonds are Forever” with the same hot red hair and go-go boots as Jill St. John. (In keeping with the extravagant miser-hoarder aspect of this essay, I shall milk every joke until it is bone dry and dead. Mission accomplished on that last part.)

In fact, the lid is off. My backup private airplane will have its own backup airplane, and that backup airplane will have its own backup airplane and just to be on the safe side, the reserve of the backup of the backup of the backup will probably need to have a backup. It’s the only way to travel. Because a rich guy has to be prepared for anything and everything. I may need the jet with the DJ booth and neon dance floor, or I may require the aircraft with the king water bed and jacuzzi. Or, in mid-air, I may decide to make an emergency landing to switch from the jet with the Art Deco, ultra-modern interior, to the rustic, moose lodge jet with the rotating fireplace and stuffed animal trophies. I may, at a capricious change of whim, decide I no longer want to splash around in my aqua jet, barreling down my fuselage-encased water slide at 30,000 feet. Instead I may prefer to be whipped like a pauper in my sadomasochistic, dungeon-themed private jet, fully equipped with live-aboard dominatrix and 1,000 fully charged, shame-inducing electrical prods. And I must always be able to utilize my jet designed in the shape of a pterodactyl. It is always a giddy thrill to instruct the pilots of that monster metal bird to make aggressive swoops down toward large crowds of people to scare the shit out of them.

As expected, I would be globe trotting with a hefty entourage of European supermodels, and of course some of them, due to ego clashes, superiority complexes and general human disdain, will not want to travel on the same plane with each other, and so my five, six, or seven plane escort will have enough space for every self-absorbed, walking human crisis, myself included.

It is an all too common refrain that money tends to change people. Penny wise and pound foolish, as they say. So I am proud to announce that I would never change. I would still be the harrowing, damaged, venal, petty, short-changing, rip-off artist I’ve been my whole life. Penny foolish and pound foolish, traveling the globe in my line of private airplanes with the type of money that tends to insulate from all consequence.

Who wants to come with me?

I suggest you make friends with me now because I promise to forget you as soon as the money comes pouring in. Unlike most people, I will owe my friends the respect of telling them how expendable they are before I am immersed in untold riches.

It’s just the kind of guy I am.

How refreshing.

Thanks for showing me the way, Jeff. In the words of Modern English, the 1982 power pop one hit wonders, “I’ll Stop the World, Immelt with You.”

More Alembics to come.

Open Letter to the Wealthy Perverts of the World from Johnny Americana

Note from the Blog Custodian: Since “paddytheduke,” the normal blog contributor, is being pressured to post this weird fan letter in an effort to stop the ongoing harassment of his wife and daughters, we at The Alembic are all too eager to see the matter resolved. Mr. Johnny Americana, a somewhat dumb-headed and lonely old acquaintance of “paddytheduke’s,” has demanded the use of this platform to petition leading perverts to advise him on how to exercise said perversions without fear of backlash. Mr. Americana, while purpose driven and blind with ambition, has always had the somewhat debilitating deficiency of being obsessed with the cult of personality at the expense of good sense. We fear he is not alone. Mr. Americana’s letter is posted as part of an agreement to cease and desist the intimidation of Mr. “theduke’s” family as soon as possible and we wish him the best of luck. Go right ahead, Mr. Americana.

Dear Wealthy Perverts of the World,
And you know who you are! There is no need to call you out by name. Suffice it to say that you hold important and powerful titles in the fields of politics, international banking, Hollywood, cable news, billion-dollar tech companies, British broadcasting institutions, and hell, pretty much anyplace you find a lot of money. Let me introduce myself. I am Johnny Americana, your number one fan. I am writing from the heavily guarded, involuntary therapy wing of the Cecil B. Jacobson rehabilitation center buried deep in the woods outside of Opelika, Alabama, a therapeutic stronghold at least a hundred miles in each direction from anything resembling a woman. We’re so desperate that a group of us tried to corner the crack of dawn yesterday morning, and old Zeke got caught with his pecker in a woodpile in the hopes that a toothless snake might be hiding in it.

Where was I?

I am writing on behalf of my fellow inmates to beseech you Captains of Industry for any advice you might have on how to properly offend a sexy slattern, a lusty Lolita, in short a depraved female, without falling victim to some of the harsher penalties put forth by our draconian, ultra-politically correct, no-longer-letting-men-be-men legal system. Note that I am pleading and imploring you, my fellow fellows, my fellow Y chromosome carriers, and not pestering you, harassing you, badgering you or assaulting you, like I would a gal who happened to be in the vicinity of me and my constantly erect dingus. We have been re-educated here to respect the personal space of all women, even the ones that you can tell kinda want it, like when they pretend they don’t but they really do, and they use their bodies to trap you because they are evil and dirty and sexually depraved and then they sue you because they feel guilty about it.

Where was I?

Let’s get right to the turgid point, you wonderful dirty old bastards. These days it is a worldwide Roman orgy, and we all want to be Caligula. You know him, that wild, hedonistic leader of Ancient Italy. He really knew how to have a good time, that guy. He sold all his sisters into sexual slavery, promoted his favorite horse to lead consul, threw entire sections of coliseum spectators into the arena to be eaten by lions, and created huge floating palaces on Lake Nemi, where he chased women, buck naked, up and down the ornate mosaic floors from prow to stern. Once he had them cornered they had the choice of surrendering to his beastly appetite or throwing themselves into the surrounding waters to drown. Never let it be said they weren’t without options. We could all learn a thing or two from him, eh?

Where was I? (It is difficult to concentrate with this “rager” in the crotch section of my state issued hospital jumpsuit. Yet I must stay focused or they will unleash the chemical castration on me.)

Fellow Satyrs, there is really no difference between us, except for the fact that you stay at the nicest hotels, eat at the fanciest restaurants, travel in private planes, and wrap yourselves in the most elegant finery that modern tailors have to offer; while I sit in a quiet, padded room with bare walls, instructional pamphlets on “urge management,” and a bologna sandwich, that if you look at a certain way looks like, looks like, looks like I better behave myself or risk the old shock treatment again. I’ve had more electricity through my forehead than the power grid of lower Manhattan.

Where was I?

Fellow Skirt Chasers, we here at the Cecil B. Jacobson rehabilitation facility need your expertise. Not on how to expose ourselves to unsuspecting women, or how to grab them, or lick them, or corner them, or rip an article of clothing off of them for later enjoyment, or threaten them, or sniff them, or ask them to relieve themselves on my bare chest. Believe me, I have all that stuff down pat. I’m just sick and tired of being hassled by the cops for it, being forced to pay outrageous fees for a host of penalties and fines, to serve time in an isolated environment, and having to sign up for all sorts of registered lists just for doing what these women wanted me to do in the first place by walking within a hundred feet of me in any given public area.
What’s your secret? How do you escape the clutches of this endless legal tidal wave? It’s like for you guys you can jump out naked on an unsuspecting chambermaid, handcuff a junior executive to your desk chair, or check a pageant winner for an intact hymen and then head out to a business meeting an hour later like nothing ever happened. But for us lower class but no less American red-blooded males, it is like we are the women, and the legal system is the relentless, sex-obsessed man who keeps sticking its huge and intrusive proboscis into us until we hemorrhage. We are tired of being victimized. Is there some kind of world pervert slush fund you can set up, like a relief aid package for hurricane victims, so we can simply pay off our accusers and go about our merry way like nothing ever happened, until the next time it happens, at which time we will swear it is the last time it will happen, until the next time it happens. We want nothing more than to be afforded the decency of egregious, open masturbation toward any trollop who demands it by wearing a dress that rises above the knee or falls below the neck line. We look to you for answers. Please respond, the sooner the better, or we’ll simply start raping each other, or worse yet the wildlife out here in the goddamn wilderness.
Onanistically yours,
Johnny Americana.

P.S. We would like to retain decent legal counsel. If any of you bigwigs can get in touch with Cyrus R. Vance we would greatly appreciate it. We’ve all signed a collective IOU to contribute to his political campaign if and when we ever become solvent enough to do it. Until then…

Henry David Thoreau: Bitch Slappin’ Pimp

When I want a serious simulation of violence I head to the game room. There is no better way to go on a blind, murderous rampage than to plug in any number of first-person shooter games. Grand Theft Auto. Thrill Kill. Bullet to the Head. Me Pull Trigger, You Burst Open Sticky…stuff like that. There are a ton of options. The meaning of real life may be elusive, but when the meaning of a game is to carjack as many old ladies as you can, knock them over the head and use their meager social security money to get lap dances at the virtual strip club, a man is finally free from the lingering existential ambiguities of actual life. Nothing makes me happier at the end of a long day of computerized blood-letting on scorched city streets than to have a stripper twerking above me and my champagne bottle.

While I enjoy a good virtual spree killing, I am also a fan of classical literature.

So happy was I to see an advertisement for a game based on Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” Finally, I thought. The one thing I had been missing from my indiscriminate gunning down of random citizens was the meticulous philosophy of a nineteenth century transcendentalist who sought to “live deliberately.”

I was in a hurry that day and didn’t have time to actually read the particulars of the new game, and in a sense I didn’t need to. I have long considered myself somewhat of a Thoreau expert. My alternative interpretations of his ideas on solitude, economy and frugality are all the rage in America’s prison system. Felons write to me all the time, telling me that my explanations of solitude (or, don’t fuck with me), economy (or don’t touch my shit), and frugality (or don’t use all this shit at once) has really helped them do their hard time with a healthy perspective. I heard they were going to have a prison riot out in Corcoran in honor of me, but the guards got wise and the bloods were pelted with rubber bullets. They will try again, they assure me, as I also counsel about the importance of perseverance.

In the Walden game the character sets about implementing a life of solitude and quiet meditation at Walden pond, outside of Concord, Massachusetts. The character learns to relax and find harmony in the rural surroundings. In the first stage the character spends his time hoeing his garden, his beans and potatoes, all while quotes and suggestions by Thoreau himself are displayed across the bucolic setting. Then what happens, though, in the second stage, is that the character gets fed up with all this sitting around. He decides that there are two ways to enjoy solitude. One is to travel away from the public. The other is to singlehandedly gun down huge swaths of people with automatic weapons. As the game gets more violent, sinister and intense, Thoreau promises, in a voice that gets deeper and deeper, to build his serenity on a road of bones. When a first-person shooter executes an entire community, they will have all the solitude they need. Instead of hoeing a row of beans in the first part, the second part of the game is dedicated to beaning “a row of ho,” slapping them upside the head for talking back and withholding their earnings. Little known fact was that Thoreau had a vast stable of hookers to subsidize his scholarship. As Thoreau was fond of saying, “A man is rich in the number of things he can afford to let alone.” Which, loosely translated, means that sometimes a guy has to slap a bitch to cool her out. When Thoreau warns that men have become, “the tools of their tools,” what he means of course is that a gun doesn’t fire itself, and a bullet saved is a bullet wasted.

What the Walden game inevitably teaches is that a bloody-thirsty mania and a desire for the exercise of arts and humanities need not be mutually exclusive. Mankind is a complex species, rich in apparent contradiction, and the highest and lowest of human potential needs a stage to be acted out upon. Eventually the game player is given the option of dropping the gun, employing the service of a high-powered defense attorney, and watching his own insanity trial from a cage in the courtroom, like raving Russian cannibal Andrei Chikatilo. After the guilty verdict, the player is led down a dank hallway and given a bullet to the back of the head. The player then has the option of starting the game anew.

There is much to be learned from this video game, and I for one applaud its invention. Finally, Thoreau is given his true street cred for being an ass-kicking vigilante who just happened to go off to live among the majesty of the mountaintops, the clear mirror of the lake, the firmament of the stars. When Thoreau poses the rhetorical question, “Why should a man begin digging his grave as soon as he is born?” His answer, predictably, is because he, Thoreau, is coming to town to loot the place and burn it to the ground.

More Alembics to come, bitches.

Open Letter to Captain Henry “Tony” Wooten from Johnny Americana

Note from the Blog Custodian: Since “paddytheduke” the normal blog contributor is off trying to mediate the fight between Superman and Batman, he has agreed to let Mr. Johnny Americana post this written request for employment to the Dawson County sheriff’s department. Mr. Johnny Americana, a somewhat dumb-headed and misguided old acquaintance of “paddytheduke’s,” has demanded the use of this platform to implore sheriff’s candidate Tony Wooten to hire him on as a deputy in the rural Georgia county after seeing a video clip of Officer Wooten assaulting a journalist during a public political rally. Mr. Americana, while passionate about his beliefs, has always had the somewhat debilitating deficiency of misguided fervor. Mr. Americana’s letter is posted as a courtesy and we wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of gainful employment. Go right ahead, Mr. Americana.

Dear Sheriff’s Captain Henry Wooten,

Henry, can I call you Tony? I hear all your friends call you Tony and I’d like to be your friend. Not only do I want to be your friend, I want to be your subordinate, your employee, your trusted soldier in the fight against crime. I was watching some footage of you recently and I must say I’m very impressed. I saw you take down a terrorist at that farm in North Georgia in just the nick of time. Score one for the good guys! Terrorists are everywhere these days, even in the rural south, which is scary. What’s even scarier is that they’ve developed such intricate disguises that you can hardly recognize them anymore. Take the one you so expertly disarmed. If I didn’t know any better I would’ve thought she was a thin, all-American, white woman instead of a hairy Middle Eastern Arab with a suicide belt. And that gun she was carrying looked an awful lot like a video camera. ISIS is always evolving, trying to stay one step ahead of us and if they can start looking like “us” there is no telling where they will show up next. Hell, this blonde, saggy broad sitting next to me at this bar could be a suicide bomber. (I know it’s a little early in the day but I needed a drink because I’m shaking with enthusiasm for the sheriff’s office and not because I have the DT’s.) Where was I? Oh yeah, terrorists are everywhere, even at the highest levels. I suspect that Clinton woman was trained by the mujahideen. I have a friend that said he got up close to her once during a town hall meeting and saw her filthy beard but the Lefties in the newsrooms are always airbrushing the damn thing away in pictures.

Back to you though Tony, Big T, Woo-Tang Clan, Woo-Woo! Wooten! Your heroism on that gamy pig farm saved lives that day. The “Talking Head” bureaucrats are always saying we need to collect the right “intelligence” about ISIS in order to defeat them, but you were like, fuck that, I don’t need no intelligence to know this woman is a threat. That frail looking woman, Nydia Tisdale (what kind of a name is Nydia, anyway? That ‘y’ in the middle just makes it look all foreign) anyway Nydia was about to kill all of you, but you threw yourself in the line of (video) fire and bent that crazy bitch’s arm behind her, even as some of the bystanders and even the state’s Attorney General looked on like you were nuts. We need less bystanders and more men of action like yourself and Corey Lewandowski, who wrestled that nosy reporter away from President Trump. (He got elected, right?) You and Mr. Lewandowski know that you can’t let these people come around exercising their right to freedom of the press. Today’s video recorder is tomorrow’s assault rifle, and today’s investigative journalist is tomorrow’s organic shrapnel. What’s the difference between a barbed question and an armor-piercing bullet? About three dollars a round. If you hire me on as deputy I can help stop the scourge.

You may be wondering about my credentials. First of all let me say that I take down women all the time, except that when I do it’s usually because I owe them for child support and they come at me like wild animals. Or when they tell my kids to stop smoking in front of their kids and all hell breaks loose… I’m just saying I have a lot of experience taking down women and could be a real valuable asset to your law enforcement team.

My actual work experience? Well, right now, Tony, Atomic T, Tonator, I’m working at a bakery down in the city. We make niche pastries. Our big sellers are “anatomical” cakes in the shapes of titties and ding-dongs. It used to be a real problem selling these specialty desserts to people we didn’t approve of, but now with the new Georgia law we can make sure that when we sell a big pair of cream pie titties we are selling them to a man and when we make a five-pound chocolate schlong we are selling it to a girls’ bachelorette party. God Bless America. See, I’m already kinda enforcing the law, right? It wouldn’t be that much of a jump to patrolling the streets looking for terrorists and sodomites and journalists who think they can just keep government open to the public. Transparency is for windows, Tony. You know what I’m talking about.  Speaking of which I threw an old boat anchor through the front window of that terrorist’s home today. April Fool’s Day, Nydia. You should’ve heard the fuckin shatter. You’ve gotta teach these journalists and terrorists that they can’t just record what politicians say, because on the extremely rare occasion they get caught saying something stupid they don’t need it advertised all over the place. If only we could just keep the internet open to people who love America and freedom. 

Yours belligerently,

Johnny Americana.

P.S.  I just heard President Trump isn’t elected yet, so I have to go put up campaign signs for him around Emory University. He needs the Muslim vote and they’ve got good Muslims over there, like the nerdy, quiet kind, who need to hear his message of hope and change, like he hopes they change what country they live in. Wooten for Sheriff!!

(More Alembics to come)