Archive for September, 2011


the kind of prostitute you meet at church

While difficult to identify due to the legendary painter’s stubborn refusal to sign his paintings, the work of Giuseppe Rakneberg ranks among the art world’s great treasures. Over the course of his short life, Rakneberg’s work went from being a simple outpouring of youthful exuberance to a means of coping with the parade of personal tragedies that marked his later years, running the full scope of human emotions along the way.

At the age of 23, his promising career was dealt a potentially fatal blow when he was struck blind, necessitating a complete change in the burgeoning master’s style and technique. Worsening the difficulty for him were the constant reminders from his mother that he would have still had his eyesight had he only learned to limit the time he spent locked in the bathroom during his adolescence. Guilt associated with his mother had already at that point informed some of Rakneberg’s early work, through which he attempted to find redemption in the wake of his perceived role in her health problems, the beginnings of which had coincided with his having stepped on a crack at the age of seven. Rakneberg increasingly viewed art as a way to escape a troubled home life, in which he was charged with caring for his younger brother, who had become a burden on the family after his face had become stuck like that.

Despondent and penniless, Rakneberg took a job as a house painter, having convinced a contractor that he could save him money by being able to work after hours and without the aid of bright spotlights. Though he struggled at first, with time and practice he eventually elevated house painting to an art form, first finding a voice for his pain with the seminal work Blank White Bedroom Wall (1959). Over the next decade, the demand for Rakneberg’s house paintings grew to the point where he was commissioned for larger and more prestigious projects, culminating in an invitation to paint the new cafetorium at the Minnesota School for the Deaf. The resultant work was his masterpiece, the aqua blue walls of Cafetorium Interior (1968) a statement of such clarity and complexity that it left him in a particularly fragile emotional state at its completion. At the unveiling ceremony, this would prove to be his downfall, as the American Sign Language for applause, enthusiastically yet inaudibly displayed by all in attendance, left him with the mistaken impression that his work had not been well-received, since he could not see the crowd cheering wildly, and he went home and took his own life. Compounding the calamity, his loved ones discovered while going through his possessions that he had only needed one more stamp on his card to get a free sub sandwich.

So you can see why the asking price for this house is above market value. Think of it as a bargain, as it is not only a real estate investment, but an important work of art. The seller also requests that you not paint over the eaves, regardless of their disrepair.

Thanks again to Rebecca. She’s an ideas man.


just how badly do you need this kidney medicine, anyway?

He sits in his car outside the seedy motel with nothing but his own moist breath to keep him company, and nothing to show for hours of waiting for the couple to emerge from their illicit love den. In a long career as a private investigator, he has only sensed the full weight of vocational pointlessness one other time, when he spent a week tailing a drug dealer who a client had described as wearing a ring that said “SNOW”, only to despair once he finally got close enough to discover that the ring actually said “MONS.” It all contributes to his growing suspicion that in more ways than one, he is lost in time. World’s becoming the kind of place where a man can’t stand outside a convenience store and discreetly offer to buy cigs for passing teenagers anymore without some nosy bitch hitting him with mace. And not the spray, either; how’d she fit a medieval weapon into that little handbag, anyway?

The fatigue from lonely hours creeping by interminably does unpleasant things to his mind. Hours before, his subconscious had twisted the few sounds reaching his ear from the ballgame on the radio into a phrase he imagines as the title of an 80s t-and-a comedy. Lowball 3. He pats his jacket pocket for the two rolls of film he took earlier in the week. From them, the damning images he expects will reveal themselves the next day in his darkroom will by themselves be sufficient to justify that big retainer fee the pretty, stuck-up lady had initially balked at paying, but something in him felt like being cruel and finding out more.

For hours now he has been passing the time by fantasizing that her husband is mixed up in some heavy shit, like murder-for-hire or coke smuggling, instead of just doing the lady two cubicles over at work. He wonders whether it would be advisable to stash a condom in his jacket pocket before going over to tell the wife the bad news, then pisses into an empty bottle of laundry detergent and reaches around to toss it onto a pile of newspapers and sub sandwich wrappers in the backseat. 6:45am and not a sign of them. Above and to the east, a lone purple cloud, narrow and long, cuts across the pale pre-dawn sky like an errant brushstroke.


i miss wearing your kimono

Girl, it’s been so long since you and I talked. And I must confess that in the ensuing time since I last heard the dulcet tones of your voice, the flowers in my garden have seemed a little less colorful. Food has not tasted as good. And I can’t listen to our songs until I get my stereo back from the subwoofer professionals at Best Buy. Seriously, what’s taking them so goddamn long, girl?  My lady, you know that when it comes to the language of intimacy, I am only fluent in one dialect, and it involves weed, Teddy Pendergrass records, and tons of eye contact while we gets down. Although you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve recently added candles to the mix. I’ll leave it to your imagination whether I’m gonna fill the room with the erotic Christmas-y aroma of peppermint, or the sensual spicy cinnamon bouquet of pumpkin pie the next time we meet.

While I am away, I hope that you will not forget me, or think that I have forgotten you. Verily, every night I fall to sleep imagining our next sexy rendezvous, in which we will adjourn to the hot tub after generous servings of stuffed-crust pizza-flavored vodka. Muffin, it saddens me to think that if only we had the sense to go to the back of the wardrobe, we could have been in Narnia this whole time (this metaphor will make more sense after I debut this new sex-trick I want to try on you). My point is that while your absence has been difficult to abide, our time away only strengthens my resolve to one day bone you again. So strong are my feelings for you, that not even the judge’s explicit instructions mandating that neither I nor my fellow jurors contact anyone while we are sequestered- lest the dirty cop that killed that kid while drunk driving a stolen car with a briefcase carrying $10,000 in bribes in the trunk- go free on a technicality, can keep me from expressing them.



One of the major drawbacks to showing an early aptitude for competitive watermelon seed spitting is the haste with which they whisk you off to the academy at the first sign of promise- sometimes as early as age 9. For me at least, getting caught up in the rush to find the next Blaine Gerhard (or for the girls, Demeter Monroe) deprived my career arc of many of the surprise turns that make life interesting, and I always found that disappointing. Of course, that disappointment was offset to some degree by the money, cars, women and drugs. They just hand them to you, at a young enough age that you can enjoy all these indulgences in a thoroughly uncomplicated way. But what if, on the fast track to stardom, I had discovered in year five that I had wanted nothing more than to work in, I dunno, a bulk candy store? Your early years of training are pretty jam-packed, with every minute of your day scheduled, but once you reach the professional touring circuit you suddenly find yourself on the road with a lot of time on your hands. For many of us, our training kicks in and, as if by rote, we spend those long hotel room hours studying film of our opponents, experimenting with new watermelon seed-spitting techniques, or having a personal trainer ice down our seed spitting muscles after a lengthy shiatsu massage session. For me, it was not the case; my problems began once I permitted myself to dream beyond my narrow world.

With my mind elsewhere, I began to slip down the leaderboard at most competitions. At the age when many of my contemporaries were hitting their career peaks, I began to fear that I had reached my apex with an obscure rulebook technicality-aided victory at the Arkansas County Fair, so I turned to performance-enhancing drugs to keep my name in the rankings. And while I wasn’t wild about the halitosis and sexual dysfunction that were side effects of the twelve daily injections that made up my regimen, I grew to really dislike the face I was seeing in the mirror (for reasons beyond the velvet-covered antlers budding from my forehead, a secondary effect the doctors had neglected to mention). So, after much deliberation, I decided not to return to the tour even after serving my two-year suspension for conduct unbecoming a professional watermelon seed spitter. Admittedly, my decision was made a bit easier by the fact that I had already been released from my endorsement contracts with King Vitaman cereal and Tag Heuer watches, but I was also never entirely comfortable with the fact that in 85 percent of all the photos ever taken of me, I have varying amounts of expectorate running down my chin. It’s been a tough road, but if I hadn’t taken it, I wouldn’t be able to pass this hard-earned wisdom on to you. So take my advice and get a half-pound of the gummi soda bottles; they’re extra fresh today.

September 2011
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