Monday, September 1, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
Out in the parking lot, an unmarked helicopter was hovering over Doc Burnout's van, shining a spotlight on it, looking cornball sci-fi as all hell.
"Stay away from it!" screamed Obeah X15. "Looks like a trap!"
It looked that way to me, too, only I wasn't the one in control of my brain at that particular moment. The Krell chip had detected the sweet electromagnetic signature of running computers, and had me zeroing in on full-out attack mode.
The rear hatch was open and waiting like the horizontally-hinged mandibles of a sacrifice-starved mechanical spider-goddess. I dived in like a willing partner in my own oblivion. The helicopter turned off its spotlight, and the doors slammed shut, leaving me in the cool, dim illumination of the monitor screens and light-emitting diodes of Doc's onboard information system.
The chip purred with delight.
I nearly snapped my neck trying to look at all the screens at once. So much information; so little time --- not to mention neurons.
The faint sound of Doc crying "Stop you thieves!" was drowned out by the roar of the van starting up. There was no driver. The dashboard displays flickered while the wheel and pedals worked themselves.
I didn't have time to wonder how it was possible. The damned chip had me bouncing around trying to absorb as much of the ambient information as possible. Between that and the shifting g-forces of the van's random trajectory, I was expecting to be bashed to a bloody pulp as my eyes and ears caught scattered bytes of precious information:
Do not attempt to adjust your input -- large cockroaches infest the White House and Congress -- all sources deny everything -- cover-up is suspected -- Pornography and viruses on the information highway -- organized crime to blame -- writer researching parallels between CIA mind-control technology and Haitian voodoo dies of drug overdose -- The Surgeon General warns that cerebral implants may be hazardous to your health -- Extinction of the saguaro cactus no longer considered imminent -- sightings in non-desert regions and urban areas -- Virtual reality has been found to have similar marijuana-like side-effects -- even after short term usage -- Law enforcement has discovered new plant-based drugs -- outlaw genetic engineering suspected -- we are controlling transmission --
Then the light leaking in through the windshield and portholes got a little brighter. Suddenly, there were no g-forces. I was floating. Weightless.
NEXT WEEK: WE HAVE LIFTOFF
Monday, August 25, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
The caffeine from the iced-tea hadn't pulled me out of my stupor when Obeah X15 and Doc Burnout proceeded with a simultaneous overlapping info-dump that I couldn't have followed without the help of the Krell chip. Obie recapped his discovery of the conspiracy to make giant lizards while Doc kept switching from his tracking down the Kafka virus to his not being able to find his lover at Sky Harbor Airport in the morning.
All the while the Nigerian kept his eyes on us and typed into his laptop.
"I made a royal pest of myself, but there was no sign of her, the plane arrived from Bogota, but she wasn't there." Doc was getting incoherent.
"Wadiya mean 'she?'" Obie sneered.
"It what Lalaita likes to be called." I said.
"He's a guy! I don't care what kinda state-of-the-art artificial boobs he keeps going down to South American to get. Anyone with a weenie is he!" Obie ranted.
"So what about the Kafka virus?" I asked, trying to change the subject. "How could it possibly change people into cockroaches when they turn off their computers?"
The Nigerian looked concerned.
"Yeah," said Obie. "It's plain impossible."
"How should I know?" Doc took a long sip of ice-tea. "I'm just reporting the data I've gathered."
Obie's smile got evil. "Hey, maybe Lalaita changed into a cockroach."
"You're so insensitive," said Doc.
The Krell chip shuffled some stuff and threw it into my brain. "Maybe there's an extra high level of peyote pollen in the desert air right now. We're all gang-hallucinating."
The Nigerian looked particularly worried about that, even though Doc and Obie blew it off, while I spotted a saguaro moving around the entrance to Monkey Ward in my peripheral vision.
"I've also been hearing rumors about a new drug on the streets," said Doc.
"Yeah, me too," said Obie. "Somekinda newfangled recombination of opium and coca -- could be bad news!"
With that the Nigerian's eyes got real big. He shut down his laptop, and before he could close the lid, changed into a king-sized cockroach. I got up, screamed and bolted a few nanoseconds before the crowd went berserk. Obie and Doc followed me through Miracle Mile to the nearest exit.
So did the saguaro.
NEXT WEEK: PARKING LOT TRAUMA
Friday, August 22, 2014
There's Aztec regalia, dance and Nahuatl in the streets:
They're recharging their energy at Teotihuacán. (Which is actually, preAztec, but then if only had a dime for everytime I saw the Aztec Sun Stone identified as the "Mayan" calendar . . .)
And the Mexica Movement is going beyond Aztlán:
We all need to spend time at Nican Tlaca Univeristy:
It really is wonderful world:
Monday, August 18, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
Obeah X15 and Doc Burnout popped open the doors and ran for the main entrance of Christown. I struggled in pain in slow motion, pulled the keys out of the ignition, got out and locked the doors, and followed.
The moon was full. According to local folklore science fiction writers were hanging out in the corner JB's while other strange creatures homed in on the mall like iron filings to a magnet. If you listened carefully you might hear naked Wiccans practicing a ritual in nearby swimming pool.
I nearly bumped into a Mayan guy who was contemplating a spilled Slurpee between his sandaled feet. He looked at me from under his straw cowboy hat, gave a beatific grin and said, "Hasta luego," which means 'until we meet again.' He must have been another urban dreamwalker. I wished him "Buenos suerte."
The mall was packed. Anglos of every breed, Chicanos, Navajos, African Americanos, suntanned Asians, Mayans, Aztecs, Hindus, and assorted recombinations, were merrily milling about. Overweight security guards oversaw it all like walking Buddhas. Nobody noticed my stubbled and scarred head. Like Obie often said, "Christown is a happy medium among malls; people with walkie-talkies don't harass the people of color, and you don't get gangsters signing at you."
But I still couldn't find Obie and Doc. Had they ditched me? Then, the chip noticed a bookstore where a bespectacled black clerk was trying to close up and sent me lurching toward it.
Suddenly, someone grabbed my arm. It was Obie.
"What took you?" he said. "We were afraid we'd have to go back to van."
I stammered and held out the keys.
"Oh, thank goodness," Doc said as he grabbed them. "Did you lock?"
I shook my head.
"I tell you," Doc went on, "Phoenix is getting just as bad a L.A.!"
They pushed me to a table at Miracle Mile where three iced-teas were waiting for us.
"No walking saguaros. No big lizards. No giant cockroaches. I guess it's safe to talk here."
Maybe. There was a Nigerian at the next table looking straight at us typing into a laptop as some Fela Anikulapo-Kuti leaked out of his Walkman. He seemed to be taking notes on our conversation.
NEXT WEEK WEEK: COCKROACHES AND BREAST-IMPLANTS
Monday, August 11, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
"Honest guys," I said, feeling my face, there was stubble, and some swelling, "you'd think you'd never seen a banged-up face before." Then I felt some scarring. "Uh-oh!"
I looked up into the rearview mirror. I almost screamed. The puffiness would eventually go away, but those two railroad-track-looking scars making a big "X" across my face made me permanent low-budget horror movie material. I shed a couple of tears that flowed along the scars when they hit them.
"Too bad." Burnout shook his head. "You were such a cutie."
"You ain't gonna be able to pass for Anglo any more, blue eyes," said Obie as he touched the tiny "x's" scratched onto his cheekbones. "You make me look like a timid dilettante in scarification."
"I'm doomed," I whined. "Vampiko will hate this."
"Don't be so sure, Flash." Obie smirked. "Vampiko likes the spooky stuff." He then smiled in a way that made me want to punch him.
Burnout leaned back and looked me over. "It does give you a sort of ultra-butch appeal."
I groaned. "So what do we do now?"
"They still may be tracking us," said Burnout. "I can't tell with my electronics shut down."
Obie looked out over the steering wheel. "Well, I don't see any ambulatory saguaros or shark-faced missiles following us."
"They could still be watching us," Burnout said. "For all we know they have spy satellites."
Obie then made a screeching, controlled-drift left-turn.
"Who the hell are 'they?'" I asked once I got a grip on a panel full of cold hardware.
"Who knows?" Obie made a sudden stop for a red light. "Mayan revolutionaries? Televoodooists? The reptile conspiracy? You should see the messages my lady Califia has been sending from Nigeria. Maybe there's just been a heavy peyote-pollen count in Phoenix lately!"
The light turned green. Obie sent the van lurching ahead, and me tumbling backwards.
A huge lizard was clinging to the windows on the rear hatch. It's long tongue flicked out, then it lost its grip and fell away.
"Did you see that?" I asked.
"Hell, yes," said Obie, who made a few quick turns then brought us a screeching halt. "Let's get out of this thing -- pronto!"
Friday, August 8, 2014
How did I become one of the most successful Chicano writers of my generation? I tell in the latest Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.
You gotta be persistent:
And the right equipment helps:
Some of are just plain born that way:
And it's really great when we get paid:
Monday, August 4, 2014
"I have you covered," the saguaro said shaking the TEK-9, just in case we hadn't noticed it. A cellular phone then grew out of its other arm as it said, "Send a mobile unit to . . ."
Then a huge lizard -- it looked like a monitor, but was the size of a Doberman pincher -- leaped off the Alien Penis, onto the saguaro.
The saguaro went, "AIIEEEEEE!" like in a comic book.
Before any of us could breathe sighs of relief, the hiss of several more big lizards made us look around. They were coming at us, their shadows growing longer as the sun set.
Doc, Obie and I fell over each other as we scrambled back into the van.
"Gimme the keys," said Obie, who was in the driver's seat.
"No," said Doc,"you can't drive my van!"
A lizard clawed its way into the rear hatch. I kicked it in the jaw and screamed, "SOMEBODY drive! Now!"
Doc pouted, swallowed a squeak, and handed the keys to Obie, who had us jolting across the lawn in record time. The lizard let go of the rear bumper. I grabbed a cabinet that held some sophisticated electronics before I could be ejected.
"What's with all these oversized lizards?" I screamed as we bounced over the curb, into the street.
"It's the reptile conspiracy," said Obie, doing his best Malcolm X.
Doc rolled his eyes.
"Like I always said," Obie went on, "it's televoodooizing time here in the final act of the 20th century. People all over the world are force-feeding lizards with protein-rich reptile chow spiked with stuff like pituitary gland of pit bulls in an attempt to get the critters to reach their as yet unrealized maximum capacity. I've been investigating it, and it's getting heavy. I got some video off a satellite feed from Indonesia of these Komodo dragons that looked like Godzilla."
"What?" I said. The bandages were now all swinging loose about my head.
"It's an experiment in chaos ecology and the revival of reptile-friendly religions," Obie said, stopping for a red light.
"Well," Doc said with his characteristic limp-wristed hand-swish, "if you boys think you've had a rough day . . ."
The bandages were just about ready to let go. I couldn't wait. I took hold and ripped them off all at once. It only hurt a little bit.
Doc and Obie looked back at me and screamed.
Monday, July 28, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
We were in front of the church on 7th Avenue and Ocotillo, a futuristic thing, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Its most prominent feature was an obelisk out front that looked like an alien sex organ, ready to take off and launch mutagenic sperm into any passing 747 or even the space shuttle. To the enlightened in town it was known as the Church of the Alien Penis.
"Wow," I said, forgetting about the smoking missile I couldn't let go of. "Vampiko would have killed us if we hurt it."
The Alien Penis had become a central part of Vampiko's eclectic religious beliefs. She would often come here in her all-black Volkswagen on nights of the full moon, and bare her implant-enlarged breast to it. "It renews their power as sacred objects," she would explain.
Finally, after they were sure both the Alien Penis and the van were all right, Doc and Obie looked over at the missile and me.
They got these horrified looks. Doc gave out a lady-like scream.
"Flash," said Obie, "get away from that thing."
"I can't," I said, then coughed, "it won't let me!"
"It?" asked Obie.
"It!" said Doc. "Then you have it!"
"No," I said, as more of the bandages came loose from my face, "it has me!"
The missile shook, rattling my spine, and let out more lung-scorching smoke, then fell apart into tiny pieces. The pieces in turn fell apart and crumbled into a flakey dust that blew away in the evening breeze.
"Damn," said Doc, delicately stamping his foot. "I was hoping we could get it back to my place so I could examine and cannibalize it, could you imagine what software and hardware would be needed to . . ."
"Yeah," said Obie, with a sneer that shifted the position of his scarifications, "and what would you do with it? Let it sit in your storage locker next to your virus collection?"
"It's the most comprehensive collection of self-replicating programs on the planet!" shrieked Doc.
Meanwhile, now that the missile was junk, the chip gave me back control of my arms and legs. I assessed the damage: The burns on my hands, weren't too bad. The bandages were all hanging loose about my head by now.
Then something moved next to the Alien Penis. A saguaro.
"Hey," I squeaked, "guys . . ."
The saguaro pointed a TEK-9 at us and said, "Do not move."
Friday, July 25, 2014
This year I take my San Fermín report to Chicanonautica over at La Bloga, to make the Raza Cosmica connection.
As usual, it started with protests:
But people partied anyway:
The encierros were intense, especially at Dead Man's Curve:
John Hemingway talked to a reporter with wine-soaked hair before his co-author Bill Hillmann got gored:
And Mr. Testis rocked out:
Monday, July 21, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
It was the most unnatural act I ever participated in: I embraced the missile with all my strength. Obie flowed between the seats and into the space where a passenger's feet would go, and locked his bones into fetal position. Doc closed his eyes and breathlessly chanted, "Ohgodohgodohgod . . ." like he was trying to fake an orgasm.
The shark-faced mini-Cruise missile penetrated the van's cargo area, the rocket engine shut down, then, with the firing some cherry-bomb-like retrorockets that made Obie scream, "Driveby!" it settled in like shuttlecraft returning to the mothership. For a few grotesquely elongated seconds, we all wondered if it was going to explode. Then there was tooth-splintering jolt.
Doc's closed-eyes driving had us up on a well-manicured lawn.
"Open your eyes, you fool!" screamed Obie. "You got us offroad!"
Doc opened up his baby blues, twisted the wheel, locked the brakes and threw the van into a turf-ripping circular skid on this lawn that was too well-kept up and too big to be anybody's front yard. Or at least the front yard of anybody who couldn't afford armed guards and flesh-eating Rotweillers.
I tried to worry about it. The centrifugal force from the skid wasn't quite enough to dislodge the missile from the van, or my scorched hands from the missile -- it looked like a spatula would be required to set me free. Meanwhile, the Krell chip was singing a high-pitched, high-speed love song to the missile's onboard software that was pureeing my brain.
And then one of the bandages peeled loose from my head.
When the van finally came to skeleton-rattling halt, the missile and I shot out like a projectile turd onto mutilated greenery. There were no barking Rotweillers, or guards clicking the safety off their assault-rifles. My hands, arms, and legs burned like terminal hemorrhoids wherever they touched the missile.
A putrid-smelling grey-green smoke issued from the entire surface of the missile. The painted-on Flying Tiger shark face peeled off and blew away. I wished the chip would let me let go of the burning mess so I could run.
"Good thing Papa Legba made you stop in time," Obie told Doc, "you could have destroyed it!"
"That would have been a shame," said Doc.
The van was inches from a structure that looked like a huge, mechanoid alien penis.