Archive for July, 2011


ale camino

Fellows of a familiar interest, I ask that you forgive the secretive nature of this letter, the reasons for which shall become self-evident upon even a brief perusal of the subject matter contained therein. Wakefulness is the eternal burden of a free people, and those with the agency to do so must gather their resolve to cast off the shackles of oppression whenever the time arises. Events have transpired to upset the affairs of men, and I must needs give a clarion voice to the whispers that have accompanied the encroaching tyranny engendered by the magistrate that rules over us. Friends, it has fallen to our generation to take on a task as difficult as it is noble, that of rising up as one against the monocracy of Kevin, so that we may return the stewardship of Murray’s Old Tyme Sub Sandwich Shoppe to its rightful place, the mustard-stained, vinyl-gloved hands of those that thanklessly toil daily to keep it solvent.

Let us now pause to consider Kevin, a man whose authority comes from neither merit nor popular mandate, but from a settlement giving him sole proprietorship of Murray’s Old Tyme Sub Sandwich Shoppe after an unfortunate incident with the deli slicer. While I cannot purport to know the true intentions that lay in Kevin’s heart at the time, I recall our collective relief when he assured us through smiling teeth that the treacherous reign of Murray would be soon supplanted with a new dawn, one in which Kevin would restore order to this place by loosening the constraints under which we had so long labored for so little pay. It is a testament, then, to the corrupting nature of power upon men, that Kevin would one day adopt a set of rules so draconian as to make us all long for the days under Murray’s menacing glare, here embodied by this memo pinned to the bulletin board, obscuring even the employee birthday calendar.

Our sovereignty cannot be usurped in this way; only we who slice the olives and slather the hummus have the authority to impose restraints on the radio, and if the station we choose occasionally runs ads for Quizno’s at a volume sufficient that the customers can hear, let that be the cost of liberty. The stakes of this struggle are high: if a man can forbid you from wearing pajama pants to work, what obstacle prevents him from telling you what t-shirt sleeve length is appropriate? And from there, what religion to practice? Or whom ye can marry? Be fairly warned: this engagement to take back Murray’s Old Tyme Sub Sandwich Shoppe shall require vigilance as well as strength of spirit and mind alike. For though we may occasionally sit in our cars before our shift begins and ingest substances that allow our minds to travel to faraway universes, this is not the time for that, my esteemed countrymen. Our cause requires that we remain moored in the present, fighting for our inalienable rights. If we fail in our efforts, it will be our children’s children who are forced to suffer under this coercion, their wages garnished to pay for even the meagre fragments of what remains in the cookie display case after closing time.


pike speak

When I was in the service, I used my first stateside leave to take a train to see the Bayside City Tigers, a baseball team whose games I had grown up listening to on the radio. They had just taken the first two of a late-September three-game set with the Pickleburg Golden Wings, which earned some of the team’s stars of the time a night off. That meant I had traveled all that way and not even gotten the chance to see the players that would lead them to yet another pennant that year: Silas McGillicuddy, Rock Teeth Lambert, Ace Friedrich, Skunk Baxter and DJ Quik Moskevitz. But those players, great as they were, were not who I had come to see. That distinction went to the great Snakefinger Amos, a left-handed slugger that had been my childhood idol before drinking his way out of the game for a few years. He had really hit the skids for a while there, but the old ball club signed him at midseason, a cynical ploy to sell tickets that was advertised in the local papers as a shot at redemption for the hometown hero.

Ol’ Snakefinger got into the game when the starting rightfielder, Cletus Baker, had to leave the game after being hit by a bourbon bottle thrown from the stands. Sadly, it was not Snakefinger’s finest hour. The game was stopped for five minutes in the seventh for his pants to be repaired after he split them while striking out, and while standing in right field he missed a pop fly hit his way because when the ball was it, he had been looking wistfully at the bottle, which had still not been disposed of and was rolling around on the crushed brick by the dugout with about two sips left in it. After the game, I used my uniform to gain access to the stadium’s restricted areas, where I had hoped to get Snakefinger’s signature on a baseball, then possibly sell him some leftover pain medication I had been prescribed at the infirmary during my convalescence from injuries sustained during a misunderstanding at a poker game.

It was outside the locker room after all but one of the players had long since showered and left that I first met your grandmother. Resplendent in a lovely cotton dress, she held a bouquet of flowers in front of her in an attempt to obscure the fact that she was with child. While talking with her, I learned that Snakefinger had promised to marry her at the conclusion of the season, but my offer of congratulations was interrupted by a crash of glass on the other side of the door. I rushed in to see what had caused the commotion, and walked in on Snakefinger trying to sneak out the bathroom window. He assumed a fighting stance upon seeing me, pulling a knife from his shoe. A struggle ensued, which ended in tragedy when I turned the knife on him, opening a gash in his belly from which poured forth a mighty stream of Mexican penny candy, each piece not only undigested, but still in its wrapper from his years in exile, with such horrible force that I feared it might never end. But it did, as the brawny lefty breathed his last. I agreed to marry your grandmother and raise her child- your father- in exchange for her silence as to my role in Snakefinger’s demise.

So, long story short, kids, not only am I not your biological grandfather, but I actually killed him. Additionally, seeing as how we are not bound by blood, I have elected to exhaust my fortune on myself before you have a chance to get your grubby mitts all over it. Now if you’ll kindly excuse me, I’ve got some catching up to do. You know, this infomercial for a series of workout videos isn’t gonna masturbate to itself.



Okay, I tried to remember not to go to the grocery store hungry, because then you’ll buy too much stuff. And I remembered to bring my canvas bags, and I even remembered to bring my coupon for Clorets gum, the leading gum among gums that target the coveted gum demographic of old people*. The one thing I didn’t remember, however, was my shopping list, so I’m totally fucked. Oh god, I can feel my pulse quickening as the walls close in all around me. I’m covered in a cold sweat and I can only hope I can find my therapist’s number in my phone before… oh, wait a second. What is that word that keeps coming back to me… “bud”? It must be some kind of mnemonic device invented by my subconscious in case I forgot my grocery list! Well, let’s see here. “Bud” is obviously an allusion to former Nixon administration official Egil “Bud” Krogh… could “Egil” be an acronym giving clues to the items I’m supposed to pick up, or, just as President Obama has staked out policy positions to the right of Nixon on many issues despite having campaigned as a progressive, merely a reminder to go from the left side of the store (bakery) to the right (dairy and eggs), to make sure that I place the cold items into the cart last? It’ll be tough, but it looks like my only options are either to delve deep within my mind to unravel this labyrinthine mystery, or descend slowly, irretrievably into madness, so here goes nothing!

Okay, what can E stand for? Elephantiasis, effervescent, hmmm, echo! Yes, the word “echo” was supposed to make me think of the corporate media’s echo chamber, which has degraded the entire concept of news by viewing their audience as a commodity to be sold to advertisers rather than a citizenry in need of information, and pledging fealty to their parent companies in lieu of their constitutionally protected civic duty. Rather than actually analyzing the laws passed in our name, these bastards instead spoon-feed their viewers dumbed-down horserace style journalism, facilitating our cruel joke of a two-party system, symbolized by the fact that both the Republican and Democratic parties count Kraft Foods Inc. among their largest contributors. Ah yes, my first item is macaroni and cheese- it’s all coming back to me! G was supposed to stand for “greed”, as in the corrupting influence of money and materialism on our culture, how the guardians of the wealthy keep us distracted from the powerful machinery controlling us by telling us that we’ll feel better about our lives if we only consume more, keeping us all of us beholden to the whims of the market’s invisible hand… hand… Hamburger Helper! I, as I recall, was for “images,” as in the powerful manipulation of images to program impressionable minds. You see, Hollywood enables the military-industrial complex by desensitizing its viewers to violence from a young age, all the way up to adulthood, by which time their minds will have completely divorced the visceral appeal of an act of violence from its tragic real-world consequences, so they will have no qualms about witnessing crimes committed in the name of the state to maintain, however temporarily, the unsustainable power structures that keep the elite wealthy, leaving the rest of us fight for the crumbs… that’s it! Stove Top Stuffing! And L can only stand for the same thing it always stands for: “Let’s not forget to pick up a copy of Soap Opera Digest in the checkout line.” But wait; was I supposed to get the cheeseburger macaroni kind of Hamburger Helper or the lasagne? Nooooooooooooooo!

*By using the word “gum” in a sentence four times, I just won a free sub sandwich!

oh also: special thanks to notable brainstormer rebecca. yep.  


detroit guac city

Dear Mama,

Life here in the big city certainly is exciting. There have been so many interesting things to tell you about that I’m almost not sure where to begin. I guess I should have written earlier, but I had hoped to surprise you by having your first news about me come from Entertainment Tonight or, as a fallback plan, Access Hollywood. The truth is, Mama, that my acting career got off to a slower start than I had hoped. When I first stepped off that bus with only a single change of clothes to my name, I did not anticipate how difficult things would be, but I knew that I would find my way if I never gave up. From the time you enrolled me in that summer Shakespeare program so many years ago, I knew I had a special gift. Otherwise our faculty sponsor wouldn’t have told all the other kids to stop making fun of me.

Things were looking pretty lean for a while there, but eventually an agent took me into his care. Soon I had up to three auditions a month, which is really impressive considering how little demand there is for romantic leads whose artistic interpretation of every character they play hinges upon total commitment to delivering all their lines in the voice of Cookie Monster. Fortunately, though, he found work for me in this other business venture he had going, one which involved going into bus stations and cleaning people’s pants. My agent told me that all the commuters were really busy, so it was of vital importance that I remove all the contents of their pockets without bothering them. He said it was just one step in a very complicated process, so I didn’t ask too many questions.

Quite a bit of time passed, but eventually things picked up, and I’m proud to announce that I have finally realized my dream and found steady work as an actor. And that’s not the only good news I have: at last I can afford a plane ticket to visit you and Papa this Christmas! Before my arrival, though, I should warn you that it has been a while since I left, and lots of things have changed. I hope you and Billy, Jan, Sally, Jimmy, Reggie, Claudia, Papa Junior, and our cow Bessie won’t poke fun of me too much for the different way I speak now, or that you won’t feel too self-conscious when I sit among you at Christmas dinner in our old booth at Pizza Hut in my fancy new city clothes. Please remember that no matter how high I may climb, I’ll never forget my roots, as you provided the foundation for all that I may achieve artistically.

Your loving son,

Colin Firth

July 2011