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."
NEXT WEEK: THE REPTILE CONSPIRACY
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.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Terra Incognita tends to be my favorite destination. I'm so happy when headed for some place I've never been before. And usually I don't have to go very far. Amazing how often we haven't fully explored the places near where we live.
Believe it or not, there are places here in Arizona that my wife Emily and I haven't seen before.
That could be reason enough,but we were getting into summer, and it was getting up past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Funny how you can find yourself saying, “It's only going to be 104 today . . .” People stagger around the sun-blasted streets of Phoenix, brain-fried and zombie-eyed, babbling obscenities and committing acts of public defication. The desire to escape from the heat island is strong.
Plus Em is working on a post-Apocaypse novel, and part of it is set in Northwest Arizona along the south rim on the Grand Canyon.
Yeah, I know “they” keep saying you should write about what you know, but deciding to write about something you don't know can be a license to explore, to learn, to go out and have adventures. After all, adventure is what this is all about, and why should fictional caracters have all the fun?
This would have to be more than just a day trip. We'd have to pull an overnighter. As soon as I got off from work, we got in the troque and headed north up I-17.
It got cooler. Funny how cool the ninties can feel after a few weeks over a hundred.
And suddenly . . . the wide open spaces . . . we relaxed, enjoyed the landscape.
This was still stuff we had seen before, and have gotten to know well, but we were out of our usual day-to-day routines, and clouds built up in the sky.
A faint rainbow made an appearance as we arrived in Flagstaff.
There were Ganesha seals over the doors of the office of our motel on Route 66. A lot of motels in the Southwest are run by people from India and Pakistan. The young men checking in ahead of us were from Germany.
On Route 66 we ate dinner at the Galaxy Diner. Its chrome and neon, Hollywood and hot rod décor has become a home on the road for us. We ate real American food – Black Angus steak, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob – delivered by a seven-foot tall, blonde waitress.
The next morning was cool (at least for us) and clear. It was great to breathe something that wasn't piping hot smog. We headed off to the mysterious northwest, toward the volcanoes, getting back onto Route 66 – you can't do the whole Route as it was, the modern highway system chopped it up long ago – into juniper country through the charming little town of Ash Fork, that hasn't quite become a tourist spot.
Then we seemed to have stumbled into a time warp. Burma Shave signs dotted the roadside, with rhyming messages about safe driving. Looks like some organization did it as a public service and to bring part of the traditional Route 66 experience into this century.
That brought us to Seligman, which has more ambition to attracting tourists than Ash Fork, with colorful signs, shops, ancient automoblies on display, and mannikins being dressed up in Wild West regalia.
We stopped at Route 66 Roadrunner for fancy-schmancy coffees (the kind I only drink on the road). A local oldies station played David Bowie's Young Americans while cutouts of John Wayne and Marylin Monroe looked on. I kept saying “Excuse me, sir,” to a an Elvis cutout.
Across the street (actually the Route) a guy sang and played Beatles songs on his guitar. In this day and age, vintage British pop has become postmodern Americana.
We kept seeing bikers. A middle-aged, multiracial group – the word “gang” didn't seem to fit here. They did seem to fit into the landscape. Not out of place at all.
Soon we were on Indian Road 18, entering the Hulapai Reservation. The fire danger was HIGH. The road looked a little pre-Apocalypse, as a sign warned ROUGH ROAD. Once again, these were wide open spaces, not many people, mostly cows, and the one of the only other vehicles we saw was labled FEDERAL POLICE.
It got dryer and more deserty as we approached the Havasupai Reservartion. The road went from cracked pre-Apocalyptic to disintegrating post-Apocalyptic. We could soon see the Grand Canyon.
Eventually we reached the south rim. Havasupai were bringing horses in trailers. Datura plants without flowers grew in the parking lot.
I heard a helicopter, but couldn't see it. The problem was, I kept looking up, expecting to see it in the sky. This was the Grand Canyon. After a while, the helicopter came up from below the rim.
Havasupai loaded supplies that were hooked to a cable, and the helicopter took it to their community in the Canyon. They live in America, the rest of us live on it.
The windshield bug splats were bigger, nastier, and juicier on the way back. We had tacos at El Charro in Prescott, and went back home via US 89 instead of I-17.
The twisted, rocky hills were matched by the huge clouds, Em called them “cloud ships,” that filled the sky, getting thicker and darker. As we got closer to Phoenix they were stacked up around the heat island.
When the sun set, they closed in. There was a dust storm, a haboob. Then it cooled, and rained.
Photos by my wife, Em.
Monday, July 14, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
I could feel the missile close in on us. The chip saw to that. The very idea of the missile filled the chip with terminal info-lust.
Doc Burnout went into some serious evasive maneuvers that sent me, Obie, and the stun gun tumbling into the van's electronic inner coating. From the way the gadgets were complaining, it hurt them as much as it did us. The only thing in the vehicle that was having any fun was the Krell chip.
"It turns when I turn," said Doc, his voice growing high and trebly like a hysterical teenaged girl's, "I can't shake it."
"It must be targeting the electronic activity -- shut everything down!" said Obie, who had lost his glasses, but had gotten a grip on the passenger seat.
Meanwhile, the chip had me climbing the rear hatch, and focusing my eyes out the portholes when the missile appeared in them.
"It could damage the system," Doc whined.
"Would you rather die?" said Obie, recovering the stun gun, zapping a test spark.
"Life is so cruel," Doc said, flipping the cover off a big, red button, and pressing it with a shaky thumb.
All the van's electronics went dead in a slow flickering fade-out. Tears intermingled with sweat on Doc's quivering face.
Obie said a quick prayer to Papa Legba.
Of course, I couldn't help but keep focusing my eyeballs on the missile's painted face as if it were a potential lover. It was too skinny and didn't have large enough breasts for me, but the Krell chip thought it was just wonderful. Too bad they'd have to go through not only the van, but my skull and brain to get together.
"Is it gone?" Doc asked, barely managing to keep the van from sliding offroad.
I couldn't say anything.
Obie looked out both portholes, and looked grim. "Naw," he said. "It's slowed down, but it's still locked on our ass. Are you sure you shut down all the electronics on this tank?"
"Yes," Doc said, "It was built back in the seventies for God's sake!"
"Then why the hell?" Obie said.
I managed to point a finger at my bandaged cranium, and croak out, "In here, it's after the chip," just before the damned thing had me kick open the rear hatch and jump out at the missile.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Because in America, poetry springs out of the landscape:
It makes everybody into Americana:
But everybody doesn't think so:
Still, we write, even with primitive tools:
Monday, July 7, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
Being zapped by the stun gun and cattle prod had its bright sides: First, if your body has been hijacked by diabolical chip in your head, the electric jolt gives a few seconds of relief. Then, your disrupted nervous system overloads, and all the pain from any recent unwanted surgery fades down to a manageable level. Of course, you can't fight back, and have to let the thugs do whatever they want to you, but I was beginning to accept that this was all an essential part of life with the Krell chip.
There was something familiar about these two thugs. One was either a failed Hemingway or a Phil Dick lookalike (depending on how old you are) even though the earring and the slightly effeminate manner spoiled the effect. The other looked like a serious young, bespectacled African American scholar, until you noticed that at the points of his cheekbones there were tiny "x"-shaped scars ("Scarification, man," he explains, "the brothers in Dallas are really getting into it"). They were Doc Burnout, and Obeah X15, two sorta-friends of mine.
As they tossed me into the back of the van, I found that I could talk:
"Hey, I thought you guys couldn't stand each other."
"Shit happens," Doc said as he got behind the wheel and started the engine.
"And this is really big," said Obie, sitting down next to me, stun gun in hand.
Suddenly, the chip had me trying to get up and leap out of the rear porthole. Obie stopped me with a quick zap.
"Thanks," I said. "Now what is this all about?"
"Can't talk here," Doc said, pointing to a funky electronic display that was where a radio, cassette, or CD-player would have been in a sane person's van, "we're being monitored."
Could someone operate sophisticated electronic equipment while wearing a saguaro suit? My mind boggled. The chip buzzed.
"We have to find a safe zone," said Obie.
The chip took hold of me again, but luckily Obie got me with the stun gun before I could climb out the porthole.
Then the van's electronics has a seizure. Out of the porthole I saw what looked like a miniature Cruise missile decorated with the World War Two Flying Tigers' shark eyes and mouth. It looked mean and was catching up with us.
"We're being targeted," screamed Doc Burnout.
Monday, June 30, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
My body refused to obey any command. When Vampiko bounced by, ready to go to work at the tittie bar, I couldn't check her out. That hurt.
"Flash, you've taken channel surfing to a new dimension." she said, then gave me a tonsil-tickler kiss -- and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. "Well, the least you could do is sit down."
I tried. After a while I managed to make my knees wobble.
"Are you mad at me?" she asked.
With great effort, I could say, "Naw. Can't move."
"Oh dear," she said, helping me onto the couch, "you must be really hurt under those bandages. Sacre-bleu! I wish I could stay, but the sun is going down, and it's time for my shift at Global Delights." She kissed me again, I responded a little.
"Oh goody," she said, "you should be all right. Tah-tah!"
The blood drained from my button finger, I fell asleep, or into a sort of trance. The chip didn't need my attention to suck up the information. Deep down inside, I was screaming.
Then a crudely animated cockroach -- like the ones on the library computer -- walked across the screen.
The chip then reminded me that in the last twenty minutes four news stories had flashed before my eyes about the Kafka virus -- first it fills a computer with electronic cockroaches, then all memory blanks. There's also a rumor that one user who turned his computer off before the cockroaches could do their thing somehow was transformed into a giant cockroach. A sound byte of a hysterical little girl describing her encounter with the giant insect was offered as proof.
Suddenly, a strange buzzing filled my head. I popped up off the couch, dropped the remote without bothering to turn the set off, and headed out the door. Something was calling the chip, and it was using my body as a vehicle. I was lucky that I got the door open before crashing through it.
The spectacular Phoenix sun blinded me as I stumbled my way through the maze of the Big Ugly Peach Apartments West complex. Nobody noticed me except for a lizard the size of a pit-bull and a saguaro that made a quick call on its cellular phone and disappeared.
I was weaving through the ring of parking lots when an ancient primer-gray Chevy van came to a screeching halt within splitting distance of me. Two guys leaped out, and began working me over with a stun gun and a cattle prod.
Friday, June 27, 2014
It seems like the whole world is hot for diversity there days:
But people can take it the wrong way, like this one from South Africa's answer to KFC:
And the EU had to apologise for this one:
Remember what happened when Coke tried to update its global village image?
So welcome to the 21st century:
Monday, June 23, 2014
©Ernest Hogan 2014
"They're watching me," I said, "Here. At Big Ugly Peach Apartments West. Of course, it makes sense."
I almost didn't hear my messages playing:
"Flash, this is Obeah X15, something went wrong with the Huevos Rancheros Microondas. I think something is happening. Something mondo hardcore weird, weirder than the reptile conspiracy. I'm going to scan for televoodoo on the internet. Catch me one via one mode or other. Bye."
"Burnout here. Flash, there's some stuff going on that you have to watch out for. We may be on the brink of some kind of crackdown or breakout or something. The Nigerians are in on it, so let me know if you have any dealings with them. Don't touch any computer if animated cockroaches appear on the screen -- it's a new virus. And have you noticed how saguaros seem to be walking all over town? I'm going out, but I'm not taking my pager for security reasons. Don't try to call me -- I'll reach you."
"Hey, you the kid who delivers stuff on his bike? I know a lotta people what needs things delivered without a lot of silly questions. I could get you a lot of jobs, if you just gimme sixty percent. I don't wanna leave my name or number, but I'll call back."
"There's no answer, I mean, it's a machine. Maybe they got him. Oh well."
When the machine clicked off, I felt cheated. The chip didn't like being cut off from an information stream. It gave me an instant headache.
"I need more," I said.
"What?" asked Vampiko, who was retouching her makeup for work. "More messages?"
"Information. I need more. Gotta have it."
"Why don't you watch TV or something?" she said, blending some shadow into her cleavage.
I leaped across the room, grabbed the remote, and had the tube glowing faster than I ever had before. I didn't look for anything to watch, just held down the upchannel button and watched the entire cable system flash by in fast blips. And I could follow it all. Megabytes of information flowing through my eyes, ears, and brain into the Krell chip.
It was happy. It jolted my brain into an endorphin dump. Then I was happy too.
I wanted to sit down, but couldn't. My finger hurt from holding down the button. I was a prisoner of information.