“The book American Gods wishes it was.” --Despina Durand

Thursday, September 17, 2020

PANDEMIC VACATION: PART ONE

 


After spring and summer in quarantine, the whole world was going bugfuck. Emily and I needed a vacation bad, even if we had to wear masks and stay six feet away from everyone. 


Besides, we had planned the jaunt well in advance. Every year we take Margaret, Emily’s mother, on a road trip to New Mexico, and she was still looking forward to it.


Margaret was also 99 years old this foul year of 2020. Which would no doubt throw a few crunchy complications into the machinery. But then, with people going berserk over having to wear masks, the craziness was only a matter of degree.



That, combined with the hideous fact that this summer in Phoenix was the hottest in recorded history made us desperate to get out of there.


The previous night's storm tore up the trees on the street between the library where I work and the parking lot of the abandoned shopping mall across the street. Postapocalyptic. I had been overusing that word lately. That along with weird.

 


And my mood was weird on that last shift before escape. My bandidoization selfie only begins to capture what was brewing in my brain.


I felt that this one would be different. Not so much, "Whither goest thou, America?" as "America, are you still there?"


Emily and her mom picked me up after my shift ended. It still didn't seem real. Not until we got past the new pop-up communities and outlet malls, where the desert gives way to mountains, though saguaros still studded the vista.



Before Black Canyon City, part of the I-17 has been "adopted" by (as the sign says) URANTIA BOOK. That's the bible of a long-lived UFO cult. I've never seen any cultists picking trash by the roadside. Maybe flying saucers beam it all up.


But on this day, there were no saucers flying over Black Canyon City, only vultures.


On the road we saw occasional vehicles emblazoned with Trump stickers.


“We are getting into Trump territory," Emily observed.

Then, in the middle of nowhere we were engulfed by traffic. Of course, it was Friday, and people still go places on the weekend . . .



I was amusing myself doing a gonzo expressionist sketch of a cloud when Emily made an utterance that was somewhere between a gasp and a scream, with some profanity. Ahead of us, a rollover car accident happened. I looked up just in time to see the car land on its wheels with its windows shattered, and a dazed look on the face of the woman who was driving.


Emily pulled over, and dialed 911. Several cars also pulled over. The driver was soon mobbed by Good Samaritans. Maybe there's some hope for the human race after all.


The hills were scorched by recent fires, and lightning slashed a slate-grey sky as we approached Sedona. Margaret was cold, as it was under 90°F outside of the Metro Phoenix heat island. 


And there were more vultures in the sky. 


Or were they condors?



It rained as we entered Sedona, and we took a sight-seeing drive through Oak Creek Canyon. 


The streets weren’t as packed as they usually were in summer. The tourists wore masks and practiced social distancing. Shiny, new decorative metal fences divided the streets, and virginal parking meters were installed, but not yet operational.

 


Margaret would have preferred Oaxaca Mexican Restaurant, but it wasn’t wheelchair accessible, so we had dinner at the Cowboy Club. The burgers are so big you almost need to be able to unhinge your jaws like a snake to eat them, and they come with more fries than a rational being would attempt to eat in one sitting. Margaret had a chicken salad with a lot of kale.


At our hotel, the air buzzed with the sound of either cicadas or Them-style giant ants.

 


The next morning, we got up before sunrise, and saw stars.

After mochas and latte, we did another pass through gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon, into the sun, onward to New Mexico.


Soon we were on the Navajo Rez. Signs warned about COVID-19. Older signs were updated with bright new red and white OPEN stickers.


There were other signs along the picturesque, rocky way road: NAVAJOS FOR TRUMP. CHEE’S INDIAN STORE--NO FAKE DISCOUNTS. FORT COURAGE FOR SALE. VOTE TRUMP 2020. A McDonalds offered a green chile double cheeseburger. FRATELLI’S BISTRO & ICE CREAMERY. EL RANCHO: TRY A JOHN WAYNE BURGER. EXIT AHEAD FOR GALLUP REAL TRUE NATIVE CULTURE.



In this new environment, Margaret was too hot. We had to crank up the air conditioner.


Finally, a sign announced, MASKS REQUIRED IN NEW MEXICO.


Then it was bizarre rock formations, with occasional graffiti-covered, abandoned tourist straps, a coal plant, hogans, and fake plaster tipis. And a sign declaring KEEP NM IN BUSINESS.



Grants, a one-time uranium-mining town, I’m happy to say, is still as postapocalypitc as ever, with its crumbling Atomic Age decor. I tend to see travel as research, and places like this get the sci-fi bubbling in my head. Filmmakers, this is the locale for a low-budget masterpiece. 


Especially if you have to remind yourself to put on your mask before exiting the vehicle.


After getting waved through a sobriety checkpoint (is drunk driving a big problem during the pandemic?) I took photos that will be useful in the sci-fi business.



I also got one of an anti-mask signs in front of a thrift store.



Later we drove across the bridge to Milan, to get pick-up from El Ranchero Cafe.

 


It was a glorious 57°F the next morning. 


Watched HLN in the morning. We only watch cable while traveling, and it’s always like dispatches from another world, especially now. What are all these online get-rich-quick schemes? California is on fire. Two hurricanes are closing in on the Gulf Coast. There are more protests. Trump was slated to speak on all four days of the Republican National Convention. Is the story about the new Wonder Woman movie news or a commercial? And then there’s the pandemic news . . .



Grants was freshly festooned with some new decorations--satellite dishes with decals to make them look like Indian baskets. Clever, but not really that interesting. I made a note about them, and didn’t bother to take a photo.


Margaret was feeling better by this time. She was talkative, and got into the car by herself.


At the Allsup’s gas station at the edge of town, an old, masked vato pedaled by, the radio bungee’d to his handlebars playing Norteño.


Friday, September 11, 2020

CHICANONAUTICA ZOOMS INTO US IN FLUX


Chicanonautica, at La Bloga, goes behind the scenes on my latest interview.

I’ve been interviewed before:



And read from my work:



And have done promotion:



Then, there’s that other Ernest Hogan:


Saturday, August 29, 2020

SCENES FROM THE SUMMER OF COVID


I haven’t done one of these photoblogs since June. And now the Summer of COVID is almost over. How did that happen? It seems to have gone on forever, but happening in slow-motion at the same time. Contradictory. Time dilation. Time distortion. Time warp. Time . . .


All fluxed up.



Though I'm not feeling like a mummified lizard. Things have actually been pretty good for me considering the condition the world is in. My writing career not only refuses to die, but has taken on a life of its own, and keeps dragging me into furious activity. Watch this space for important announcements.


Soon.



Of course it leaves me feeling burned out. I really need a vacation at this point. A string of weeks when I can spend a lot of time not moving around much and indulging in absurd amusements would be nice . . .



And I am going on a vacation of sorts. A weird vacation. Mostly inside the car or wearing masks. Social distancing. 


Yeah. I'll be writing it up and taking pictures.



I'd also like to work on my novel, you know, Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin. It needs for me to do some long, serious pick and shovel stuff, not just on-the-run gonzo fragments. I want to at least have a sloppy rough draft done by the hideous conclusion of 2020.


 

And it's been hot. Arizona's hottest summer on record. Let's that one sink in. Is that sizzling I hear?



Suddenly, I get another email from a professor. He wants to know if I want to participate in a panel about Latinx sf. I asked if it's going to be a virtual panel . . . And of course it is.



That's how my life is. All this apocalyptic stuff, then ZAZZ! It's my career calling with a list demands.



I'm always happy to do the writer stuff--especially if it involves money. You can contact me through this blog, and I'm on Facebook and Twitter. My brain is sizzling and I'm fantasizing about being unproductive just for the sheer hell of it.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

“MARIACHIS OF MARS” REPRINTED

 


 “. . . 20 of the best science fiction stories about Mars published over the past two decades by top-notch authors of the genre.” It’s The 2020 Look at Mars Fiction Book. In paperback and ebook, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free!


I’m one of the top-notch authors, and my story is The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars.


Here’s the opening paragraph:


Yeah, I know, I don’t look like him. But then again, who or what is Paco Cohen, anyway? Was he that kid born in Texas, or the myth created on Mars? Maybe I don’t look like the hologram that sings my songs, but I kind of sound like Paco Cohen--if he were ripped to shreds and sloppily put back together again.

Friday, August 14, 2020

CHICANONAUTICA REVEALS THE SECRET ORIGIN OF MY FLUX STORY

Get the inside dope on my latest story in Chicanonautica  over at La Bloga.


Out of a world that’s all fluxed-up:



With viruses running amok:



Quarantining is the thing to do:



Can we customize ourselves?


Sunday, August 2, 2020

ERNESTO STORY IN US IN FLUX


I’ve got another story out, and it’s free online, thanks to Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination and their Us in Flux project. It’s called “Tomorrow is Another Daze” and was inspired by the world’s current fluxed-up situation.

And on August 10 at 1 PM, Arizona time, there’s going to be live video event in which I’ll be interviewed by Frederick Luis Aldama of Ohio State University. It’s also free, but you have to register.

So, go and read the story now. It starts like this:

Lalo was in the middle of making Huevos Rancheros Microöndas when the doorbell rattled.

Friday, July 31, 2020

CHICANONAUTICA GETS POSTMODERN AT THE CANCIÓN CANNIBAL CABARET



Chicanonautica is all postmodern cannibalization over at La Bloga.

So watch out all you fugees:


It ain’t London that’s calling:


It's stirring up rememories:


And it’s marching your way:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

ERNESTO ON MEXICAN COMIC BOOKS




New York Times bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia (buy her Mexican Gothic and anything else with her name one it!) published an interesting article at Tor.Com, titled A Brief History of Mexican Horror Comics Books. It’s fine introduction to a subject that deserves a lot more attention. Congratz, again, Silvia!

I’m proud to have contributed to the article. When she was working on it Silvia contacted me and asked if I could send her some scans from my collection. I’m responsible for the images of sleazy, dog-eared historietas. 

I’m not an expert on the subject, just a guy who stumbled on something he finds fascinating and can't get enough information about, but I’ve written about it in both Mondo Ernesto and my Chicanonautica column for La Bloga.


Here are some links if you’re interested:








Friday, July 17, 2020

CHICANONAUTICA MAKES UNSECURE PHONE CHATTER


Chicanonautica is all revelations from an unsecure phone call with José Torres-Tama, over at La Bloga.

He's asking for witnesses:


And bringing things up to date:



The Taco Truck Theater lives:


What more can he need?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

HIGH AZTECH REVIEW-A-RAMA


Ever since the original publisher did its dirty trick and didn't send out review copies of High Aztech, I've been on the look out for reviews, and like answers to all the sacrifices I've made over the years, they keep coming. A new one came in last week. Thanks to Scott Duncan of Somos en escrito.

It's full of great quotable stuff like this:

There is action, media gloss and gaze and blood sacrifice tech. Characters like the Televangelical couple for Mexica gods. A Garbage Queen and gangster lord with identity crises. Virus hallucinations, giants walking the land…it’s the book that really shows off Hogan’s recombocultural and Mondo style.

In looking for I was delighted to see how many more reviews there are on Amazon.

There are also a lot on Goodreads.

Keep it up folks! I even like the ones were you say you can't get into my style, and find me offensive.

And I if you haven't read this exciting, funny, outrageous novel about viruses changing the world, what the Mictlán are you waiting for?