Kinda because I got Covid:
So, Christmas was weird:
And the new year . . .
Kinda because I got Covid:
So, Christmas was weird:
And the new year . . .
December is always strange for me. So far, I’ve had a promising business opportunity, gotten lost driving home (I really need new glasses), and got stuck in a traffic jam.
The morning I wrote this, my wife Emily tested positive for Covid, so I took a test. It was negative. Now the two of us are cozy in our casa, both wearing masks. Her symptoms are mild, and we’ve both had all the shots and boosters, and my immune system had kept from as much as a cold for about fifteen years now, but then that means that some time something will come along that will kick your butt.
That which does not kill you, mutates and tries again. Viruses are nature's way of weeding out us old folks. And I’m getting old.
I got through 2020 without submitting anything. I was busy with Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin. Still made over $340.77 (book royalties and the reprint of “Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus” in Black Cat Weekly #24 from writing, glad I have the day job.
Hey, writers, working as a library page (the folks—usually a lot younger than me—who check in, sort, and shelve things) is a great way to get money. I wish somebody had told me about a few decades earlier . . .
Zyx is finally finished. Em is going over it. Going to try for a big time publisher, because making a wad of cash that allow us to retire to something other than a life of poverty would be nice. I’m nervous about it, like a bullfighter preparing to go into the ring. I may experience the psychological equivalent of being gored. And I’ll write about my adventures here and in Chicanonautica at La Bloga.
Ever year I resolve to draw more. Weird. Like giving yourself permission to masterbate more. I’ve never been able to make much money from art, but what making it does to my brain . . . Better than any drug, really. As Em works on the house, she keeps uncovering more of my old stuff. And Xochiquetzal replaced my broken scanner/printer, which makes doing art biz easier in our era. Come to think of it, I still haven’t scanned a lot of those old collages that resurfaced last year . . .
Lately, I’ve been going into the new year with no idea what’s going to happen. This year I’m daring to hope good things happen. Maybe I’m crazy. Then I also can’t shake that we’re in for more, well, like the last few years.
No matter what, I’m looking forward to running wild at 67 . . .
Update: Covid finally got me. Thanks to all vaccinations, it's mild. I'm quartantining, and watching a lot of wacko movies. Getting ready for whateverthehell . . .
It's a Mexican restaurant:
Also, a work of art:
That brings up the relationship Mexicans have with their stereotypes:
Because bad taste is in the eye of the beholder:
Emily and I left Hacienda Hogan before sunrise. It’s a five-hour drive from Glendale, Arizona to San Clemente California. We were going to SoCal for Thanksgiving with my family. Though gigs at universities had me in Riverside and San Diego, I hadn’t visited my family since some funerals over ten years ago. It was about damn time.
Soon we drifted out of town, down the I-10 into the desert that was like a black, starless void, with the sun rising behind us.
Not long after first light, we reached Quartzite, where gas was $3.89 a gallon. We pulled into a Terrible’s to top off the tank.
There was a big sign announcing CLEAN RESTROOMS, which was true. Instead of the usual open-air stalls, each sit-down toilet (the urinals were exposed as usual) was in its own small, tall room. It got pitch black when the door was closed. Luckily, I could find and figure out the futuristic light switch.
Across the street were some rusty dinosaurs.
There wasn’t much traffic. Even after we got to California. Not until we reached the outer reaches of the SoCal/ L.A. Sprawl. Since we were heading for San Clemente, and not West Covina, not much was familiar when we asked Siri for assistance navigating the freeways. Even they had changed—it was now a fascinating, complicated, concrete tangle under a heavy blanket of smog. What were these Fastracks and toll roads?
And finally, there was traffic.
My brain got sci-fi on me: How about a similar system for interstellar travel? Wormhole corridors with twists and turns and on- and offramps. Navigation would be complicated, wrong turns putting you on the wrong side of the Galaxy. A Siri/HAL 9000 type entity may be necessary. Of course there would be hyperspace traffic jams, timespace warp accidents, oh no, this a toll corridor . . .
Siri’s route led us to a toll road, but we managed to avoid it.
This may be an Orange County rather than an L.A. thing--I couldn’t see any urban funkiness from the freeways. A long time ago there was that mural of an Aztec warrior emerging from a pyramid-shaped spaceship . . . Does anybody else remember it? Here all you can see are rolling hills and neighborhoods that look like they were extruded from a post-suburban sprawl generating colony machine.
Is SoCal real? I’ve been wondering that since I lived there.
Californians could take over–or save–the world. Instead they manufacture new entertainment franchises that stumble over themselves as they struggle to win over another brave new world.
Finally, we reached my sister’s house in San Clemente. Reconnected with family. Important, but not for public consumption.
We kept smelling gas in the kitchen. Turns out the new oven had a leak. The guy from the gas company stuck DANGER signs on it. It looked like it might be pizza for Thanksgiving, but then, as corny as it sounds, it really is all about family, not the sacrificial bird.
I did some writing talk with my nephew Miles. Guess I’m somekinda mentor.
Even though they ordered dinner from Sancho’s Tacos, they insisted on taking us–by way of the Harbor Holiday lights at Dana Point–to pick it up. Turns out the place not only has excellent food (it was crowded, with lines spilling out into the parking lot), it had fantastic decor: Murals, paintings in a lowrider/Ed “Big Daddy” Roth/Ratfink style. And there was even an ape! It needs to become a Chicano Mecca.
Last, we watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean and the ghostly outlines of Catalina and San Clemente islands from my sister’s living room.
We woke up early the next morning. It was dark at 5 AM, which would have 6 AM back in Arizona–guess Daylight Savings Time is back.
My sister let us know about the sunrise via text. It was spectacular. Yes, you can see the sun set and rise over the Pacific from that living room.
During the night, my sister managed to borrow a roaster, and was using it. We had fresh pumpkin pie and turkey for an early dinner. When they discovered that they were out of mayonnaise, my mom made some. More family showed up.
Because Emily works in retail, and tomorrow was Black Friday, we had to leave early.
On the way back Siri led us into another toll road. We went through it, realizing that we could pay at the website and had five days to do it.
SoCal looks like a luxury Mars colony, crumbling in places, getting more crumbly and post-apocalyptic as we made our way west, to Arizona, where it got dark–a black, starless void.
Chicanonautica reviews Paul Theroux's On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey, at La Bloga.
He knows Mexico:
And is renowned writer:
He explores the border:
And other dangerous places:
¡Feliz Día de los Guajalotes, cabrones! When you’re reading this, I’ll be in the middle of an insane road trip to California, the state of my birth, to have the usual turkey ritual dinner and hang out with my family. I’ll be taking pictures and notes and will probably come up with some revelations to share.
Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to decolonialize Thanksgiving. I’m not a fan of the Puritan tradition—as far as I’m concerned, it’s the USA’s fatal flaw—but the native food that they appropriated and altered is tasty.
We should shoot some recognition over to Chalchiuhtotolin, the Aztec Turkey God. Think of him, maybe even mispronounce his name as you sacrifice the bird.
This is while the FDA has just taken the first steps toward allowing the sale of cultivate “no kill” meat. We used to call it “vat grown.” I wonder if it will be the same without the bones? Will the gods approve?
Speaking of bones. The femur (the top of the drumstick) of a turkey is a scaled down version of that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We’re eating dinosaur, kids!
If they manage to Jurassic Park T-Rex DNA, someday we’ll be able to have “no kill” dino meat on Thanksgiving. How do you like them sacrifices, Chalchiuhtotolin?
Chicanonautica ricochets into the Arizona midterms, at La Bloga.
In a state where the right to vote is sacred:
And the press is respected:
Not to mention insightful, and perceptive:
This just in:
When I was a kid, a lot of my heroes were mad scientists. People were always telling them that they were meddling in things that God meant for us to leave alone, and they would go and do it anyway. The result would be some kind of shitstorm, but somehow the world was left better in the smoldering aftermath. Human knowledge was expanded, and for a while, things sure got weird and exciting. And without that there’s no story, or movie, and life gets boring, and there’s nothing worse than that.
As an adult—a senior citizen, dammit!—I approach art, and life, like a mad scientist.
For example, I had all these old collages that recently emerged from the depths of my garage. It would have been enough to just scan them and show them off, but there were unexplored possibilities. . .
Why not mess around with them in GIMP and see what happens?
It did it, and the results accompany these words.
Way back in the 20th century, a guy named John Naisbitt published a book called Megatrends and introduced the concept high tech and high touch. The book is now largely forgotten, but high tech/high touch is still valid in the current era.
After hours of staring into a glowing screen I need to get up and move around. I tell people that it’s part of my exercise program, but it's probably more that I’m restless, in body as well as mind. It's probably why my art tends to be on the messy side. High touch in the age of high tech.
With GIMP, I like to randomly mess with things, screw with the contrast, colors, and filters. If I’m lucky it goes BOINK! and some kind of neopsychedelic electronic fuzz explodes across the picture plane, or at least some distortion that defies conventional aesthetics.
I’ve called myself an aesthetic terrorist in moments of divine inspiration. Or was that desperation?
Sometimes it smooths out the way the diverse elements being cut up are jammed together, even though I enjoy the shock effect of all the seams showing like a Frankenstein monstrosity. Maybe it can help in using these things for illustrations, book covers, or something useful.
A wannabe mad scientist has to earn a living . . .
I probably have the timeline scrambled. As usual. Everything turns into part of a collage eventually—the great cosmic recycling bin of existence . . .
Anyway, I’ve been without a printer/scanner since about the time Covid grabbed the world by the throat. Who knows? Maybe the virus killed the chingadera. You can never be sure about these things.
This had me and my wife following my dictum about how when the going gets tough, the tough get creative, learning that taping a strip of paper to a contract on a computer screen and emailing a JPEG of it does the legal hoodoo just as well an actual scrawl on a sheet of dead tree.
(I’m wondering if technology will soon make the written signature obsolete, but I digress.)
About that time, Emily (my wife for those of you who have better things to do than to memorize the details of my life) rushed out of the garage with an overstuffed, tattered manila envelope. It was full of a bunch of pieces of cardboard with pieces of paper glued to them. Collages.
They were something I did back in the late Seventies/early Eighties. This was a rough time for me. I was struggling to hack out a niche for myself in a world that didn’t seem to have a place for me. I had an unhealthy and unnatural compulsion to create.
These mishmoshes of surrealism and sci-fi were inspired by the collages of Max Ernst and by the fact that I had a lot of old magazines moldering under my bed. Playboy, Life, Science Digest, and others whose names I can’t remember.
I had a lot of fun making them, and they were seen by practically nobody. I had no outlet for them. I put some in my portfolio, and people were disturbed by them.
Seeing them again makes me glad to once again have a printer/scanner. They are delicate and will probably fall apart. I also look forward to posting them online (thank Xochiquetzal for the interwebs). Maybe more people will be disturbed.
I can always use them for illustrations.
And maybe they’ll snag me some money.
Yeah, I’m a hopeless case.
The ones shown here are only a few. Watch out for more.
“If Hunter S Thompson and Alfred Bester had a Chicano child, it would be this.” -- Dave Hutchinson
“Sometimes I read it front to back sometimes back to front. Sometimes I just drop down in the middle of it it and read anywhere. It's a great book.” – Misha Nogha
“. . . each of you with a wild mind and a cerveza or two under your belt should immediately buy it and see what truly imaginative, ALIVE, literature can be . . .” -- Arlan Andrews
". . . trailblazing, damn amazing . . . Vintage Gonzo Chicano SF" -- Saladin Ahmed.