Thursday, September 30, 2010

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 44: enlightened

It’s September, 1969, and a young soldier named Harvey returns from ‘Nam to his wretched home town in the New Mexico wastelands.

His first day back he kills the bully Bull Thorndyke in self-defense. The big rancher Big Jake Johnstone immediately hires Harvey to act as guide to two guests of his, the beautiful and mysterious couple Dick and Daphne Ridpath (AKA “Smith”).

Later that same night Dick kills a member of the brutal motorcycle gang the Motorpsychos. Their leader, a former Oxford don called Moloch, vows revenge.

Two international assassins named Hans Grupler and Marlene are also stopping as guests at the ranch, along with two suspected government agents named Philips and Adams, and a dissipated English rock star named Derek Squitters.

Big Jake’s beautiful daughter Hope has had an attack of hysterics on Dick and Daphne’s bed.

And this is still only the beginning of this masterwork, which, says Harold Bloom in a recent issue of Boy's Life, “...contains all of life, and so much more."

(Click here for our previous episode; go here for the first chapter of Larry Winchester's A Town Called Disdain, a Desilu Production.)

When Dick got back from his shower he was sporting an erection, so Daphne stopped what she was doing (looking for those missing seashell-blue panties from Chez Ghislaine), pulled off his robe, he was sweating profusely poor thing, she pulled him over to the bed and naked as she already was she climbed into it and grabbed a couple of pillows and told him to go right ahead.

And oddly enough something about the animal-waste way the air smelled coming in through the window looking out on the brown land and the darkening mountains returned her mind to the little village at the foothills of the Himalayas where they had gone to study at the feet of the Maharishi.

Dick had expressed some dubiety but Daphne’s friend Mia had been absolutely rapturous about the Maharishi and she offered to pay their way so off they went.

Dick’s jazz
boîte in Paris had been burnt in the student riots and he was in a glum mood. But wouldn’t you know it Dick Mr. Skeptical was soon this terrific convert just chanting the livelong day.

But not Daphne. Two or three minutes of chanting were plenty for her, thank you.

All these people would be sitting in this temple place just chanting like mad and Daphne would excuse herself saying she had to go to the ladies’ room, and she would go outside and light up a bidi, one of these cunning little native cigarettes, and then take a long stroll along the Ganges.

Little Indian boys and girls would trail along behind her. She supposed she cut an exotic figure for them. Nearly six feet tall, her hair in a pixie and dyed honey blonde. (Mia later copied the style and did quite well by it.)

The children were all barefoot, wearing shorts and no shirts.

She would sit by the river, looking at it and up at the enormous mountains.

The children squatting all about her looking at her quietly with their huge brown eyes.

Then strolling along a bit more, smelling the wood burning in the villagers’ stoves and the cooking smells of odd foods and spices, the smells of animals and growth and rot.

Goats and cows standing by the road, people coming out of their little houses to look at her.

The children followed her everywhere.

On the third day she discovered this tennis club and she went in, had a cocktail and became great friends with the people in the bar there.

The days went on and each day Daphne sat and chanted for a bit, each time trying to stick it out for at least five minutes.

But after two or three minutes she got up “to go to the ladies’ room”.

Her little Indian friends would be on the road outside, and she took to bringing them presents, little trinkets and whatnot that she would pick up in the temple when no one was looking.

One day she forgot to bring them anything so she gave them an English
Vogue she had in her handbag, and they were quite ecstatic about that.

She pointed out the various models and named them for the kids.

“This is Jean Shrimpton. Say Jean Shrimpton.”

“Jean Sheenton,” they said.

“And this is Twiggy. Say Twiggy.”

“Teegy,” they said.

In their turn the children gave her little white rock candies.

And off she would stroll, sucking on the rock candy, and down to the club where she would play tennis and swim and have lunch and cocktails that she never had to pay for.

Several men made heavy plays for her, but as usual with men the more ardent they got the more boring they became.

And one day one of the Maharishi’s assistants told Daphne that the Maharishi would like to have a private talk with her.

Daphne met with him in this comfortable little room where he sat crosslegged on a low couch covered with gaily colored pillows.

He called her my child and beckoned her to sit on the rug by his side where some more gaily colored pillows were strewn.

Daphne curled up on the pillows, folding her legs under her. She was fresh from the tennis court where she had beaten this young English tea merchant in three straight sets; a couple of weeks’ daily practice on the excellent red clay court had sharpened her game marvelously, and she felt quite close to that merciless form she had shown in leading the Bryn Mawr women to the regional championship back in ‘64. She had showered and changed into a crisp white full-skirted dress that she thought made her look like an actress in one of those movies about people in exotic locations with handsome plantation owners and rugged great white hunters.

“Well, my child, you do not seem to have much patience for our chanting nor for my lectures neither.”

“Oh no,” she said, “your highness darling it’s just I have the most weakest possible bladder. You can’t imagine.”

“But then why do you not return after you have voided your bladder my child.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well you know I hate to disturb the others with all my silly comings and goings.”

“The others are in a state of advanced meditation which makes them quite oblivious to the comings and goings of one small tiny little girl in our physical universe my child.”

“Well your excellency I am hardly what you might call small and tiny or little.”

“In the great scheme of things you are but a tiny mote in the eye of a gnat who has flown into the farthest reach of outer space where his buzzing cannot be heard by even the ears of ten thousand gods.”

“Chilling thought. Do you mind if I smoke?”

“Your lungs are meant to breathe only the goodness of pure air my child.”

“No. Really.” She took her cigarettes and lighter out of her pocket book. “Then why are you people always lighting incense every other second?”

In fact there was a censer burning incense right there at the foot of the old boy’s couch.

She lit her cigarette and clicked her lighter shut.

“And another thing,” she said, blowing out a stream of smoke. “If you’re such an all knowing wise man how come you don’t know you have a teensy bit of rice stuck in your beard?”

“I do?” He looked down and began fingering his long brindled beard.

“I mean, really,” went on Daphne, “and who made you the King of Wisdom? If you ask me you’ve got some racket going on here with all your rock-and-roll stars and movie actresses. I mean not that I blame you, everyone has to earn a dollar some way I suppose, but just don’t get so high and mighty with me.”

He had found the grain of rice and put it in an engraved golden plate. He put the plate down on the floor next to Daphne, and she tapped her ash into it.

“You have humbled me, my child.”

“Well, no hard feelings,” she said.

“I am but a weak thing, a mere insect --”

“I know, floating around out by Neptune, so far out even Flash Gordon couldn’t find you.”

“I feel it is I who could learn much from you my child.”

“I don’t know what.”

“I feel you know many things.”

“I feel you are full of baloney,” she said.

“I think that you could teach me my child. You have very strong
bagala energy.”

It sounded something like
bagala but she wasn’t quite sure at all, and she didn’t feel like asking him to repeat it.

“I myself,” he went on, “I have always been a person with strong
mamanana energy, which of course is the masculine counterpart to bagala energy.”

Or was he saying
baccalà energy, like the fish?

“When you combine a strong pure
bagala energy such as you have within you with a strong pure mamanana energy such as I have within me then when these two energies combine you have the even stronger energy the bagamamanana.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about, your worship. I must have been in the ladies’ room when you were covering this material.”

“It’s all in the pamphlets you’ve been given.”

“I’ve been meaning to get to those.”

“I am talking about the essence of male and the essence of female.”

“Oh,” said Daphne.

He was sitting up straight now, looking or rather leering down at her.

“I am talking about the joining together of the two corporeal hosts for the purposes of spiritual advancement.”

He had entwined his hands together now and he was breathing a bit heavily.

“Uh-huh,” said Daphne, suspecting where this was leading.

And sure enough before she knew it he had slipped down from the couch and had his arm around her, his hand gripping her arm.

“You have such strong
bagala,” he whispered, and his beard was suddenly all over her shoulder and she could feel his lips within it like some wet little animal crawling towards her neck.

So she gave him a hard elbow straight into his tubby little gut and he fell backwards gripping it.

“Oh,” he moaned. “My
mamanana. It is surging within me.”

He started to sit back up again and she put her hand on his chest and shoved him back down.

“Well,” she said, “this
bagala energy is surging right out of here, your holiness.”

She stood up and straightened out the skirt of her dress.

He raised a hand toward her.

“Please,” he implored.

“God,” said Daphne, taking a drag on her cigarette, and blowing it down at the old man. “You’re just another dirty filthy old man aren’t you. Is this real gold?”

She put her finger on a large ornately carved vase sitting on a table near the couch.

“Yes my child.”

“If you give it to me I won’t tell anyone about this disgraceful incident.”

“It is not mine to give. All here belongs to our community and all we have belongs to all the world.”

“Well that includes me then.”

She took the vase under her arm and walked out. They were able to sell it at Sotheby’s for five thousand pounds and this financed a quite pleasant vacation in Monaco.

Dick collapsed upon her and she let him stay there for a minute, their bagala and mamanana energies breathing into each other as one.

(Continued here. No one knows why.)

Meeting Millicent (from the novel "Mythic Creatures" by jesse s. mitchell)

Meeting Millicent
by Jesse S. Mitchell

Sit at my desk, let the air blow around me…
I can see nothing but I know its all there.
A bit of Milton’s blindness
And I am lost but I can still feel the air
As it moves my hair…sitting at my desk
Perched above the ocean
Ocean and sky, frozen together in a point
Frozen apart, just a line carved in the breeze.
Sitting all alone, a picture I cannot see
A picture of beautiful things
Pretty perfect things…
I let the perfect stay pretty and the pretty I let be.
In the closet in my head, Skeleton man
Rattles his bones and clatters his teeth,
I am just a dead man waiting to happen
In the bony grins lies my key.
Sitting at my desk, letting the words fly
Flying out in order to fill up
Some empty person’s
Empty story.
Just a stray line sketched in the sky.

There beneath a canopy of yellowish green leaves sat a swaying blonde head. Under a stick straight sick grey tree Millicent sat in a daze. A million words flying by her ears and a thousand souls strolling before her eyes, all completely unnoticed. The whole park alive and she sat in its very center, a pin point dot, a speck, a mystic, a guru silent. Her hair pulled back tight and falling loosely down her back. Her tight sweater looked to be as old as she was, green and so far out of fashion that it cut a very flattering profile, black skirt and short black shoes, eyes glossed over and broken. No one really lives there anymore.
“I am writing a song, Jack.”
“You are?”
“Yes, the words that is, not the music. The air supplies the tune.”
“So it does.”
“Can you hear it? There is an F and an AM and a C or a G, I am not sure. I watch the wind blow, fast and then slow and then not at all. That is how I get the tempo.”
“Hmmm, try a Bm or a D, huh?”
“So you can hear it too?”
“No, not really.”
“It is for the Dharma Raja…in Bhutan.”
“Nice. So Millicent, did you walk down here?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“I didn’t see the Citroen.”
“Yes, the car…Henri took it with him when he left for Brussels.”
“Millicent, Henri has been gone for two years now.”
“No, I mean, what? Yes, so he has.”
“You still had the car yesterday.”
“And, Henri could not have taken it with him.”
“Because he has been gone for more than two years now.”
“Yes, yes he has…no, not so long, it has not been so long. He will be coming right back, you know.”
“Yeah, so…”
“I know why you are here, Jack, but I don’t have any here with me, I am afraid.”
“Okay, so…”
“Jack, I feel so naked but not alive…not naked and alive but more like naked and all blue and dead, all pulled out, oh like some pagan sacrifice…oh I am on fire, yeah but so cold, do you know what I mean?”
She reached out and touched my arm. People walking by began to slow down and glance our way.
“So where do we have to go?”
“You have to go with me.”
“Fine, that’s fine. Let’s go.”
“I think I would like to be called Minerva in another life. Oh, when the clouds are not so dark as they all are now. Do the clouds bother you, Jack? We could make them go away but no, no, no you like all the rain don’t you, yeah? The rainy rainy skies and bitters, yes, that is what you like. I remember. Oh, Jack, yes and I have painted your picture you know? Would you like to go and see it then? We have to go there anyway.”
“Where is it?”
“Where I do all my painting, of course. And where I keep the tea, yes…come on, yeah?”
“Yeah, lets go see. Can you even go back there?”
“Why of course, why wouldn’t I?”
“Didn’t they shut you out, board it all up and everything?”
“No, no not yet. Not until later, later.”
“Can you get all your stuff out then?”
“Yes, yes, come on come on, later later with all of that, yeah.”
“Okay, yes I am coming.”
We walked lightly along. I tried my best to follow her weightless steps but I could not keep up. I could not understand whatever spell it was that she was under. I could walk with the same kind of melody. I could not see the landscape in front of me in the same animation. We left green and growing things behind and put our feet down on the hard surfaces of commerce and city. And with wide eyes and dinosauric disappointment I thread my way though certain crowded spots of street and let fall my heavy heavy bits of heart and step. We walk slowly and then Millicent’s pace will quicken. She reaches her hand out and grabs me and pulls me close to her as an old man on a bicycle floats by me. We come to a hidden little alleyway between two tall grey rotten windowless buildings. We stop in front of a large iron gate halfway down the alley. It is black and spotted with rust and has a sign above it that reads neti, neti, neti, neti. Millicent leads me down the pathway hidden deep in the alley to a small abandoned building that appears to be made entirely out of glass. Large windows make the front and large windows on the side and large windows on the roof…just everywhere big clear glassy windows, some cracked, some completely broken out. I have been here before, many many times. This is where Millicent works and as far as I can tell, this is where Millicent lives.
“Here we are again, Jacky, the star chamber, huh? Where princes and potentates discussed the fates of politicals, enemies, friends, good horses and mistresses…yes. Jack, now be careful, there are cracks here and you may fall in. I would never hear from you again. There cracks above too, you know.” Millicent waved her hands and arms up in the air madly. “There are cracks above us, in the sky, in the ceiling and up we will fly, gone, gone, forever gone, Jack. Wouldn’t that be grand?”
“Everyone does eventually, right?”
“Oh yes, oh yes, they do, Jack. Marilyn Monroe is dead. Did you know that, Jack?”
“Actually, Ali said something about that but I didn’t know for sure just what he was talking about. But okay, I get it now. So, Millicent you got any weed here, then?”
“Yes, yes I do…look over there and you will see my painting of you.”
“I see a lot of paintings over there but I cannot tell which is which, I must say.”
I hand some rolled up money to Millicent and she hands me a wad of brown paper bag as she dashes by me.
“Is this it?”
“Look for yourself.”
I hesitate to unroll the paper bag, as I am sure green bud and pieces of leaves will fall out everywhere, so instead I hold the brown wad up to my nose. The smell is very strong. It is definitely what I came for.
“Smells nice.”
“Good, good…look this is the one, look.”
She points at a large red painting with a giant pale yellow moon in the corner. A small stick figure stands next to a childish drawing of a car, it looks like the Citroen, and stares down into some water…a river maybe, and watches as a bunch of bodies float by…it is a very strange painting.
“So this is it? Well, very nice, thank you.”
“No, thank you…yes yes, thank you…she said, yes that is what she said, I think.”
“Danken, hmmm, what is it…”
“Don’t speak German, Jack, no.”
“Why not?”
“Your German is terrible. I cannot stand to listen to it. Only your French is worse.”
“Okay, well, good day then.”
“Yes yes.”
I walk out of the building and down the path and through the gate and away I go…a bit disturbed but glad to have my tea.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2 poems

by horace p sternwall

illustrations and introductory note by rhoda penmarq

some apology might be deemed necessary for the first poem, an early effort of horace p sternwall's. it was in extremely poor taste even in its own day, but is far more so in these more enlightened times. it was written in an attempt to tap the "real american vernacular", and as a reaction to his own period of infatuation with the poetry of lovecraft, robert e howard, and - most unfortunately - lord dunsany. how the attempt at "real american" speech compares to the similar efforts of his bete noir ezra pound, i leave to the reader to judge. but surely a little bad taste can be countenanced if it helps to free the poet from the thrall of lord dunsany? - rp


i saw your mom at fourth and main

the clock struck twelve and it started to rain

she didn't hurry to get indoors

but kept on walkin with the rest of the _______

i kept on walkin, the rain didn't stop

a few blocks down i saw your pop

in front of the pet store where they sell canaries

with his hand on his hip with the rest of the _______

i saw your girl friend sitting all alone

eating horn and hardart out of house and home

now maybe some people like it like that

but she'll never get to heaven because she's too _______

i saw your grandpa, the poor old fool

dressed in his coffin like he's ready for school

the undertaker said, i don't know what he did

but he's so ugly i can't close the _______


i talked to the wind
and the wind died down
i talked to the trees
and they all left town

i talked to the stars
and they faded away
i talked to the night
and it turned to day

i talked to a flower
on a windowsill
i called it bob
and it said, i'm bill

i talked to a bottle
lying in the gutter
it looked up at me
and its eyelids fluttered

i talked to the drops
that were still left in it
they looked up at me
and said, hold on a minute

i talked to the glass
when the bottle broke
when it fell on the sidewalk
through a cloud of smoke

i talked to the smoke
as it drifted away
and then -
i had nothing more to say

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

paths... (4)

by human being

illustrations by rhoda penmarq and human being

fourth of five parts

to begin at the beginning, click here

the crow flew off

the crow on the wall flew off
the crow on the tall wall flew off
the crow on the tall wall cawed and flew off
the crow on the tall wall cawed once and flew off

i was watching the crow on the tall wall
i was watching the crow on the tall wall through the window

i was watching the crow on the tall wall through the closed window
i was watching the crow on the tall wall through the closed window for a long time

the crow flew off
the crow on the tall wall flew off
the crow on the tall wall flew off to continue its journey
the crow on the tall wall flew off to continue its long journey

i think... a journey is never short
i think... a journey has no beginning nor an end
i think... a journey is longer than life

i think of the crow and the next wall
i think of the wall and the next crow

i get up and open the window

the tall wall looks shorter

never seeing the ripples on the surface of water

she tattoos some tears on her cheeks
 paints some bleeding wounds on her hands
attaches a few feathers onto her hat
and when i laugh
she gets mad

shortcuts make the path longer

shadows on the wall
a windless afternoon
the path runs through his eyes

water always leaves haughty heights

to embrace lowly lands

craving hands that clutch
feeble wings that take flight
a feather-covered path that winds and winds

part 5