Thursday, August 10, 2006

fortunate son

Fortunate Son, Walter Mosely.
I've read other things by Mr. Mosely. His most popular titles reside on the mystery shelf and concern one E.Z. Rawlins, a school janitor who does a little freelance private eye work, set in the South of the 1940's. The shade of Zora Neal Huston haunts them. They're good books, damned good, but this one is amazing.

Now I'm having problems trying to describe this book. I will admit right up front that I'm biting off way more than I can chew. The best I can do for you here is to describe my experience of reading it. I'm afraid that doesn't make for much of a book review. It does mean that Mosely is a better writer than I have the ability to quantify.
This is a miraculous piece of writing.

First of all, I cannot tell you with complete assurance who the central characters are. Could be three of them. There are probably two; there might be only one. That one could very possibly be the author, and by that I mean the unseen writer, not Walter Mosely the personality. It's very like Indonesian shadow puppets in this way: we are not on the side where the shadows act out the story, but the other side, the one which frankly admits the presence of the puppeteers without even the apology of dark clothing.

On the surface this is a story of brothers parted and reunited and the lives they lived in the interim. Life is not terribly kind to these two men. We aren't spared anything. And if that was the only level upon which the story existed it would be enough. The recounting holds you hostage. Touch it and it rings; it sounds that true. And that holds true for every man and woman who walks across the stage as well.

Mosely draws his charactors without visible effort. Each person stands out exactly like the subjects of a Diane Arbus photograph do: very stark, very detailed, more real in black and white than color could make them, but at that same distance from us as well. Mosely makes no appeals on behalf of, or in opposition to any one player. He simply places them onto the table one at a time.

The dominance of Fate is central. Now normally this is something I have a big problem with in a book, believing as I do in self determination. Fact remains that none of these characters are the captain of their own ship, not completely. Fortune and love are irresistable and dispassionate, overwhelming forces in these peoples' lives...but they neither save or condemn the people driven by them. This isn't Bronte. And for me, that saves the narrative. Mosely moves the pieces around the board with complete impassivity. It's chilling, and it takes your breath away.

In the end I simply can't tell you that it 'meant' any one thing conclusively, or if it meant any one thing at all, other than 'some people had some things happen to them and it turned out so'. That could very well be the case; in fact I strongly suspect that it is.
And that is rather repellent.
And rather wonderful, too.
Because after all, Mosely knew what the outcome would be from the start.
God damn, this man can WRITE.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


This would be Venus. She was supposed to have arisen from the ocean, born from 'sea foam'.
Where did the foam in the sea come from?
Well, there was this huge fight between this giant guy and his giant father in Heaven and one thing lead to another, and someones giant severed dick ended up in the bay.
Surprised, to say the least, at being parted suddenly from its' owner and dropped into ice-cold water, it squitted and flapped. As would you....thus, 'sea foam': a euphemism for 'jizz and bloody guck frothed up by a giant severed dick flapping and spazzing around in the ocean'.

Little did she realize that she would practically had to lock herself in the friggin' bathroom in order to get five minutes alone. The poor woman was destined to spend the remainder of her days surrounded by extraneous nudes and semi-nudes. Worse, they all suffered terribly from an infestation of flying babies so they spent a lot of time running around and whacking at them with a broom.

One day there was a terrible midair flying baby collision with Venus caught right in the middle.

Her contact lenses fell out and in the ensuing mad scramble they were crushed underfoot.
Due to the lack of qualified optometrists in the Golden Age it was decided that she would be married off to a seeing eye husband.

There were problems from the start.

"You are as pretty as a whole bunch of shiny socket wrenches."

"Um......................ok then."

Time did not improve matters.

"What do I spy wiv my liddo eye? Could it be someones....coochy?

"Yes. For the hundredth time today, its my damn coochy. Would you please go read a book?"

At her wits' end, Venus secretly placed an ad in the Olympian Auto Trader and Personal Classifieds:
"Gorgeous twenty-something female, zaftig, fun loving, kids, not very married, seeks discreet man for sexy fun. You are: hwp, physically attractive, s/ok, d/ok, rs/ok, std/ok, kids/ok, previous felony convictions/ok. You have a passion for the romantic. Must be very open minded and not put off by the possibility of being wet on by flying babies. reply GRE35 463337."

Venus soon realized that she should have filled in some of the 'background information' blanks a little more completely.

"Hey there little fellow, you know what? Your mommy is my aunt! That's right! Her and my father had the same father! ...Well, at least part of the same father. So you're my cousin! Cool, huh?"

Next she tried singles night at the off-leash park.

"Sweetie, go play on the swing, ok? Go on now!"
"Hey mister! Can I pet your dog?"
"Honey, mommy said go play on the swing!"
"Are you going to party with mommy?"
"Honey, now do as mommy said..."
"Are you my new uncle?"

Before too long the first boyfriend got wind of the second boyfriend.

"I told him to fix the box spring! He was only checking the- Hey! Really! I asked him to fix the-Hey! He was just, he wasn't hiding! Oh my God! He had to go under the bed to fix the box spring! Really! Are you listening to me?"

And the husband got wind of the first boyfriend.

" Ya see? Ya see? The guy didn't even take off his hat!"
"Wow, he sure didn't! Damn! Didnt even take off the hat! Ther it is, right on toppa his head! Yep, theres his hat! Wow. didn't even have time to take the damn hat off. Wow."

Now divorced and destitute, Venus was forced to apply for Welfare. Fortunately the allowance for dependants was quite generous in her case.
A thoroughly depressed Venus started hitting happy hour down at the local country and western bar.

"Come on, honey. lets go back inside now. "
"Shh. whuzzat?"
"Oh come on...Buy momma another Lone Star."
"Aw fuck; a siren. Ya wanna hand me them chickens baby? Daddy's gotta boogie."

All too often her nights ended in the 'Luv-R's Sweet' at the Budget Travel-Inn.

"Wow, you know, this is my favorite room...what a great bed, think this a pillow top? Gee, its nice! I'll bet it's a Sealy. I love those Sealy mattresses, don't you?"

"Um, ever....uh...done it on the floor? Because I've, uh, always wanted to do it, you know, on the floor...?"

She tried hanging around the video arcade at the mall under the mistaken assumption that a younger man might be just what the doctor ordered.

"Beep! Beep!"
" Would you please-"
"Beep beep! Hooooonk!"
"Now come on-'
"Beep! HOOONK! Beep!"

It wasn't.

"Iiiiiii'm gonna honk it!"
"Now, no you aren't! Now come on!"
"Yes I am! I'm gonna honk it!
"No, you aren't gonna honk it! Be serious! Give me a kiss."
"Uh oh! Here comes Mr. Hand!"

No matter how many limber-limbed, famous-footed* snipper-whappers she dated.

"Ooooooweeeeeoooowaaaaaaark...Hello! Hello? SOS! This is Ice Station Zebra! Can anybody hear me? Ssssss..."

...just plugging along, all those young, young men, trying and trying...

" Now ok, fine, we're in the treehouse. Now what did you want to show m-"


"See my new puppy? Say hi to the nice lady, Sparky! Sparky says, 'Wow, lady, you sure got a nice pair of ti-"

"Um, ok. thats good."

....until finally she realized that there is such a thing as 'too young'.

Reacting violently and passionately to her plight as is a goddess' wont she flung herself headlong into the DARK SIDE OF PHYSICAL PASSION.

"Oh come on, let me! You know you want it!"
"Ew get OFF me! Come on now!"
"Come on! I wont hurtcha! Lemme blow some big ol' wet farts all over that ass! Fbbbbbbpt! Come on baby! Turn around! Apppppbbbbtt! Thbbbbbbt!'"

Early forays into kink were dissappointing.

Later ventures provoked nothing but dismay.

" Oh my beloved...I have been waiting for you my whole life. You are my everything. My moon. My stars. My..."
"..My foot."
"And I shall name it 'Footy-wooty'."
"Well that's just great. Listen, asshole, I shaved for you, ok? And the face is up this way."

And she ended up with a really, really, really, really, really bad case of crabs.

Things were getting desparate. What good was it being 'Goddess of Love' if you couldn't find any?

High up on his throne atop Mt. Olympus, the Baby Jesus saw her plight and took pity. He flew down to have a word with her. She chased him off with a broom. He returned in his secret identity as the Holy Infant of Prague which set her mind at ease. (It is difficult to tell one flying baby from another, and even more difficult to keep ones expensive upholstery looking brand new in the midst of a flock of them.)

He sat her down and they had a nice heart to heart.
" Listen, it's like the Whitney Houston song. 'The greatest love of all' is to love yourself first. No, wait; Whitney might not be the best example. Lets use another. Aretha Franklin! All right! R E S P E C T! There we go. Respect! You have to respect yourself."
"Oh sweetheart, I think that was Otis Clay."
"No, Aretha Franklin recorded 'Respect' back in the...wait."
"Are you thinking of Etta James?"
"Aretha Franklin did 'Respect'; now I remember that clearly. 'R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me! I'm sure thats Aretha."
"I get your message, Infant of Prague. It's not worth going through a pair of diapers about."

And Venus took this advice to heart. Using drachmas she would have otherwise spent on cover charges and burning sex lube she started a home hostess business:
'Aphrodite's Arts: fine designer accents for the sensuous home'
She soon became known all over the heavens as the "Queen of the Hot-chkey Tchotchkes"

Her newfound financial independance engendered a newfound self-respect in her heart as well.

"WELL THATS WHAT YOU GET! 'Pull my finger' is NOT FOREPLAY! Capische?"

Yes, she'd found a whole new attitude when it came to men. No longer was she a plaything, tagging along begging a man for scraps of love and attention. Now she was in charge.

" Heeeeere comes Miss Hand! Uh Oh! Beep! Beeepbeep beeeeeep! Honk honk! Beep beep! Beeeeeep beepbeepbeep!"

And to celebrate, she went out and bought herself a brand new fancy hat.

Money probably better spent on new contact lenses.

Still, life was good now... in the TRAILERPARK OF THE GODS.

I just stuck this here because I liked the picture.

* Oh come on. Tell me you DON'T know that the foot sticking out on the left there is the Stomping Foot of Reknown from the opening sequence of each 'Monty Python' episode. Because it is.

Monday, August 07, 2006


The Yummy Biker and I have quite a collection of EasyRider magazines...not only the pathetic ones from the 'Eighties on, but the oh Jesus, zits and tits, low-rent EasyRiders, starting at issue #2. (Anyone out there have an ish #1 they'd like to part with? Even if its 'Riders UK, let me know in the comments and we'll do the email thing.)

This magazine had its' moments, and some moments were pure class, but it was never cool the way, say, underground comix were cool. EasyRiders was cool the way sleazy sideshow crap is cool...because it was fuck-you tasteless. For the times and the place it was pretty extreme. Sagging boobs, aging snatch, whiskey and beer, quaaludes, sodomy, needle tracks, white trash-sister humping-stuff. All the iron was Ameripean, all the women were nymphomaniacs and all the men were balldragging studs, of course.

Now all this romance existed primarily in the minds of two staffers- Spider, and 'Bandit' aka K. Randall Ball. The two of them also did about half of the writing in the early issues. Yes, Virginia, that includes the letters. (No! No! you mean to tell me that THE LETTERS IN EASYRIDERS WERE FAKED????? I know somebody who got their letter published in WordMonger though! My uncle! When he was in prison! etc.) To be fair, by the late 'Seventies much of the content came from outside submissions. Now, were those writers actual bike people?

Hmm. Are bears catholic? Does the pope shit in the woods?

Anyway, nobody cared. As far as the readership were concerned, this magazine defined THE SCENE. Bike people ate it up whole, without question, like it was candy. Really disgusting shit flavored candy with funky hairs and cockroach parts stuck all in it. Ate. It. Up.
I know I did.

Of course, I was 17 and I had NO GODDAMN SENSE.*

We cycle these vintage issues through our throne room reading rack about once every year or so and surprisingly they just get better with age.
In an Ed Wood kind of way.

FROM THE WALLS: NOTES FROM LOCKED DOWN BROTHERS AND SISTERSMOUNT UP, LADIES! For one massive Aryan warrior" I'm 24, 5'9", 170 lbs,. and built to last! Free in three years, and seeking the pale, lusting flesh of an Aryan slam pig. No other forms of inferior scum need reply. Xxxxxxx Xxxx Box 1xx, So. Walpole, MA 02071

TENNESSEE "WHITE" HEADED PECKERWOOD: Slammed down in the blue grass. I'm 37, 5'6", and 175 lbs. of all-beef Tennessee pride. Would like to kick it with some of you fine "white" soft-tails. Steve "Hardluck" Wallace, #xxxxxx-ek, Dorm 1xxx Eastern Kentucky Corr. Complex, Box xxx, West Liberty, KY xxxxx

ITTY-BITTY-TITTY-LOVER down in a gator country prison, looking for a sweet or sour slut for life. I'm 38, 6'1", 250 lbs., have tats and operating Pan. Due out in '94. Write: Dennis "McNasty" McCarthy, xxxxxx-xx hamilton Corr. Institution, P.O. Box xxxx, Vasper, FL xxxxx

Now I wonder if any of these gentlemen ever found what they were looking for via the medium of these ads. Certainly the prospect of being somebody's' slam pig would rouse the tender feelings in any womans' soul.

Soup Kitchen
Listen up, bitch, because I've ben thinkin' about it, and I've got some plans for you and me. First, I want to give you an enema with a whole can of Campbell's Beef Chunky Style soup. Second, I want you to squat over my face and wrap your purple tongue around the scabs on my rock-hard crank. Third, when I'm about to blast a nut down your throat, I want to spread the crack of your flea-infested ass and have ya let loose with the Chunky Beef while screamin' at the top of your lungs "I've lost my baby! I've lost my baby!"
So what's the deal, bitch? Is is a date or what?
Walpole, Mass.

Hark; the iniminable literary voice of the notorious K. Randall Ball aka 'Bandit'.
Despite my best efforts, I could not convince Wyndham Triffid that Bandits' obvious talents rated him a place on the Triffid vacation reading list, and to this day I feel that was an unfair snub. Any fool can see the sheer magic which seeps from every lax, varicose orifice of Mr. Ball's prose. Well, you can.

(intro to article) Ya ever notice how some bros seem to have all the luck when it comes to finding restorable classic scoots? Me, I can't find my own asshole in the dark with both hands and a flashlight, much less hit a jackpot cache like this leg-wettin '47 Chief. But when ya get down to the actual factuals, as my uncle Zeke useta say, luck don't count for squat in this game. Instead, the cats who unearth these spoked gems from America's motor lode owe their "luck" to serious, unrelenting perseverance..."
and it continues.

On and on.

Here's a selection of Biker Mama Poetry. The original was illustrated** evocatively with a tender hand, a keen eye and a prosthetic foot by one Clark Calhoun, a man who knows his way around a womans' ass in a pair of cut offs:
THE BITCH ( I swear to you I am not making this up.)
She stands at the walls
and silently smiles.
She's packed a
hundred thousand
Seen 'em rise
and seen 'em fall,
the Bitch has fuckin' seen it all.
Packed behind some righteous bros,
laid 'em down
and let 'em go.
Polished chrome
throughout the night.
Dared some bitch
to pick a fight.
Ran for beers
and opened cans.
Did it all
to please that man.
Sewed the patches,
cooked his meals.
And dummied up
about the bills.
She loves every
moment living wild,
on the road,


And really, isn't that what its all about?

If I read of, or hear of, another oldschool biker lamenting how 'his bros' have been co-opted by the straight world I will flat fucking vomit. Those dipshits embraced the stereotype. Now they're crying about all the lames. Oh wah, the middle-management castrati are out riding SuperGlides, playing biker with their HOG rockers, wanting to buy some of that oldschool brand of BADASS. Well what the fuck did the fools expect; with all that lame shit out there defining the experience?

Adding further insult to injury, the preceding selections were not from EasyRider magazine proper, but what it became post-Guccione as it tottered along weakly, still dressed in its as-yet-unwashed 1971 bell bottoms: Biker Magazine.

Circa 1993.

* Although even then, I must admit to my credit, I figured it was bullshit. But hand it to 'em; they had the best rank jokes going, plus they showed full frontal.
Why yes, I have been a sick woman for a VERY long time indeed.
**oh how i wish i could get it to print.