Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spiritual Alchemy

The author is Minister Faust. The title is "The Alchemists of Kush". There's just a handful of artists in any medium whose work I'll buy sight-unseen based on name alone. This guy is one of them. #1 -- even if you're scratching your head wondering what a "Kush" is, buy it, it's $2.99. #2 -- even if you've never read anything that asked you to pay more attention than you would a TV guide, read it, it will likely alter a few of your thought patterns. #3 -- scratch yourself and reveal the gold underneath. Spiritual Alchemy is real.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Existential Weekends Suck

I think I missed last Wednesday's scheduled story day, so here's a quickie for Monday after a very existential weekend.


Prehistoric Jesus didn’t work out. Premature transfiguration. Inquisition Jesus kept slipping on the blood. No traction, no peace. Sitcom Jesus had all the right ingredients but wasn’t funny enough to want to buy the entire first season on DVD. And why they thought to put an annoying kid in the cast no one knows. Tomorrow we’ll have Techno Jesus.

And tomorrow is another day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bubba Was My Best Good Friend

After hearing that the sole black character in the new X-Men movie gets bumped off (no, that is by no means a spoiler), I decided to post this old story I wrote:


Dying had become pretty old for Len Turman by the time he turned forty-six. He’d played the voice of a robot, and the robot had died. He’d been the young black dude in a platoon of brave men, and he’d died. He’d played a sword-wielding immortal and felt good that in the film he was supposed to have lived over four thousand years…until an older and evil immortal deceived and decapitated him. He’d had things rammed into him, poured over him, sliced diagonally across him, shot through him, horribly-gone-wrong spliced into him, lemming-ed off a cliff, absorbed, bitten in half, exploded, knifed, poisoned, burned, and even—as the only black man in a film about the French revolution—guillotined. He’d performed every stunt imaginable and acted against a rainbow assortment of special effects screens. He had yet to have onscreen sex, which is why he got into acting in the first damn place, and today was his birthday. Birthdays were tailor-made for deciding when certain shit was about to stop.

Len Turman made calls. He wasn’t a bad actor, so he made convincing calls. By the time he was done there were twelve black men of varying ages, incomes and acting abilities parked outside his home. Of the twelve, two were famous enough for paparazzi, and before you knew it Len Turman was in front of the TV cameras looking the world dead in the eye and telling Hollywood:

“We quit.

“No more will we die while lesser actors go on to numerous sequels. No more will we turn our backs on wounded villains or provide chewable ethnic flavor.”

“Well,” somebody said.

“We are not your surprise twist endings, your tragi-comic sidekicks, or your security officers. We are actors, dammit—”

“Well, well.”

“We are men!”

“Full grown.”

“We are not going to be the characters everybody knows not to invest too much attention in!”

“Bubba was my best good friend!”

“Oh, no! To quote our great acting brother, we are huge, we are monumental… King Kong ain’t got shit on me!”

“Jungle boogie!”

“Effective immediately, if the subplot calls for somebody to die, it’s gonna be from somebody a whole lot shades lighter than me.”

So a bunch of light-skinned brothers got work. But it wasn’t the same, everybody knew it. Movie-goers knew it. The right expectation just wasn’t there. The ‘Why A Brother Gotta Die?’ movement kept growing and growing, until eight months later Len was found buck naked and OD’d, between two silicon mounds whose dark carpet most certainly did not match the highlights on her planted blonde head.

Word quickly filtered on the street that Len Turman was a known titty man. Jessica Kitaen’s titties were fake, but they were the best fake money could buy. Fox News aired snotty hourly segments on the so-called ‘Man with a Mission’, and it didn’t take long before light-skinned brothers returned to working as lawyers or shifty boyfriends. Darker brothers returned to work too: Hollywood memorialized Len Turman the only way it knew how. Made a bunch of movies about him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday Story Day

The Aliens Cloned Trent Darcell by Zig Zag Claybourne, copyright, pat pending and not available over the counter; ask your doctor if this is right for you

Here’s the thing: don’t jump out an airplane without first making sure there’s no UFO under you, ‘cause those suckers will swoop on you in a heartbeat, and then there’s the butt probes, the nut ‘trodes, the nasal lubes, the ear drum licklers, the blind taste tests and the nipple surprise.

I know this because I’m watching one insert things into me right now. Actually, not so much me. I’m the clone.

Here’s what I see: in a bar fight, aliens would get their asses handed to them. Poor little gray Poindexters couldn’t beat a girl off a boy band, and I know boy bands ‘cause I used to be in one.

I’m Trent Darcell.

Any psychics picking this up will need to call the Enquirer on my behalf. Trent Darcell is not at an undisclosed location in Australia, no matter how they like to make jokes about ‘Outback Mountain.’ Stupid gay cowboy movie. Right now just about every orifice I have has something blinking sticking out of it, and I do not enjoy it in the least, so, no, Trent Darcell is not gay.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Ok, so Seinfeld did that, but I make it fresh again.

They look exactly like what everybody thinks, because that’s who’s been coming here the past umpteen years. They’ve got pictures lining the walls: Telly Savalas, ’78; Hugh Hefner, ’94; both Bushes George, ’98 and 2008 respectively; David Bowie, ’71, ’77, ’80, ’84; Monroe, ’58.

Of course, a group photo with the King, ’92.

Deal with it.

They got people in pictures in French costumes, but those are probably people from the Revolution. Trent Darcell failed history. Marie Antoinette, Marie Osmond, what’s the difference? There’s some black dudes, there’s some Jap dudes, this scientist I swear I’ve seen before ‘cause he’s got this cool wheelchair and robot voice, like ‘I am Locutus of Borg,’ but more mechanical, and some old-school politicians. Like Nixon. I recognize him. These little gray fucks’ve been zipping earth forever, man, like they ain’t got shit else to do. Trent Darcell is supposed to be skydiving! Not watching Trent Darcell get anal probed ten times better than that faggot Diamond Lane. Little London prick says boy bands are dead; says Lip Patrol is a bunch of 40-somethings trying to project teenage anguish. Teenage anguish drives, man. Drives everything. Even little gray alien fucks have teenage anguish. Trent Darcell has a private air fleet. Little West End twit can’t say the same.

I’m supposed to learn from watching Trent Darcell. From what I understand, clones are given this genetic blip so they can broadcast to each other sometimes, which is cool ‘cause I get to have sex with starlets and back-up dancers. Back-up dancers put out poon for the ages. There’s this one named Kimmie gave me head while I was burying the bone—tell me how that’s possible!

He’s a lucky bastard.

When they get tired probing for the day we’re popped in the same cell but separated by a clear half-wall it’d be too much trouble climbing over. Trent usually doesn’t feel like climbing anyway.

“Rougher than usual today, man?”

“Shut the fuck up.”

Dumb ass called me Thing One when they dropped me out the vat and introduced me to him, so I call him Thing Two. How I came from somebody so stupid I’ll never know.

“You cried today, man. You do everyday but today was epic.” I waited. He didn’t respond. “You cried like a leedle—”

“Shut up!” he spat. Literally. Our chronic shame was Trent Darcell was a wet mouth. Couldn’t give an interview without sharing saliva, so he licked his lips all the time because some of the black dudes did it and looked cool.

“Listen, man, Spock (is that cool or what?) told me I’d be out of here soon, so maybe you wanna act like we’re fam and I pass along any messages, y’know?”

“You’re a copy.”

“You ain’t?”

“Trent Darcell—”

“Has never composed a melody, has never written, never read, can’t truly sing and certainly never thought in ways that are unique and amazing. Dude, my new brain is the shit. Check this out—” And I hit him with my latest song. I’ve got three albums ready to drop, in my mind. To do justice to them, though, I’ll have to go solo.

So his mouth is hanging when I finish the a capella and do a sweet beat box fadeout on my chest.

“Came up with that last night when you wouldn’t talk to me. Hey, didn’t mean to make you cry. That’s a beautiful song, ain’t it? You would never have done that.” Spock just happened to be walking by. He gave me the thumbs up. My head bobbed with the appreciative nod. “All right. Look, man, it’s cool. I’m you, right, so it ain’t like you’ll be missing out. It’s a two point-oh world, man. I pod, I phone, I am. Hell, they might have some three-tittied Kirk chick out in space for you. I’m probably the one getting the short end. Earth, man.” I shrugged. “That’s like going down on somebody when their hotter sister coulda gone down on you.”

He grabbed hold of a knob grafted to his chest. I saw the look in his eye.

“Aw, man, don’t try that again. Spock!? Spock!”

He came padding back in that soft sissy-run aliens have. Spoke perfect English.

“What?” he said.

Like they’re not supposed to know English? Even Trent Darcell knows enough Spanish to order beer and get laid.

I pointed.

“Dammit, Trent, leave that alone!” Spock said. Spock looked at me. “He knows all that does is hurt him, right? You know all that does is hurt you, right? It’s not like that’s a mind control thing. It’s a shunt. Ok? Leave it alone. We’ll need that tomorrow.”

“Three-tittied women, Trent.”

“Where?” said Spock, the little gill flaps under his chin puffing with excitement. Universal love, man. Little dude thought I might have found something in the library he hadn’t looked up yet. We were cool and all but I didn’t have time to humor him. Trent was about to do it. He yanked that port, screamed, feinted, sprayed blood on the way down, and didn’t wake up in time to see me off.

First place I hit was Sydney ‘cause, hell, they were going to print it anyway. Appeared in a club at the downcrest of pumping and didn’t get recognized till I told these two ladies to get on stage with me and try to keep up. We did a half hour set straight out of Lip Patrol’s videos and the ladies stayed so synched with me people swore later the whole thing’d been choreographed. Trent Darcell doesn’t play instruments but I told somebody I needed a guitar, and wherever they found one at three in the morning I don’t know, but it was red, slick, and came with a fast-moving roadie who hooked me up and leveled me out so tight I hired him on the spot.

I played clunky at first and hammed it up till I learned the sounds, then I played till 4 a.m., giving these lucky bastards half the glorious album I planned to drop next week. My dancers just stared slack-jawed at me. I think I had my picture taken more that night than my entire career. Camera phones stuck out like lighters to capture the ephemeral essential, which on the spot became the title of the album.

The morning news said it all: Who IS Trent Darcell? When I left that club I got on a plane, got home to L.A., phoned my sky diving pilot who hadn’t wanted to be implicated in Trent Darcell’s likely death to let him know everything was cool. He was unemployed but everything was cool. I didn’t give a single interview, which drove them crazy. I pushed porn off the internet for almost an hour. Blogs, news, posts, searches. Who the hell was Trent Darcell, ‘cause no way was he the man from Lip Patrol.

“Trent, you wanna take this call?” My roadie-manager-main man kept my guitar clean and my calls blocked. This one was on the private band line. Rang with our breakout song’s ringtone. “Girrrlllll,” boom boom boom boom, “slap my beats—”

“With yo teats,” I adlibbed. “Put it through.”

“Trent, what the fuck, man?” said Taylor. “Hell’s all this?”


“Talent, motherfucker! What the fuck, you tryin’ to leave the band? Make us look bad?” He sounded like he was in tears. “We coulda made that album, man! I can’t even get on Leno now, man. I fucked Hilton last night and I can’t even get on Leno! Leno, you pasty bastard! Everybody wants to know how the hell Trent is suddenly popping off like a rabbit on Vialis! You’re the number three man, man, you’re the safe one! I’m the brooder, Tawan’s the black dude, Tommie’s the bad boy, you’re Trent: you know the steps and get the milfs. You’re the milf-man!”

“Step into the light, brother,” is all there is to say. Band’s over. Mothers I’d like to fuck, huh? As of now, mothers and daughters better work tandem.

“You can’t break up the band! Three’s don’t break up the band!”

Ain’t nothing worse than a whining lead singer.

“Taylor—” Wait. I’m picking up images, my hand gropes the air for comprehension, I’m frowning—“Gotta let you go,” and when I disconnect I drop the phone in the koi pond and sit to collect myself a minute. Canoli the Roadie of Doom waits ready to fiddle and adjust me as necessary. I nod him off. “I’m good, man. It’s a sunny day. Ogle groupies.” Canoli’s handsome enough to get laid on his own, but fly fishing within my sphere, hey, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. The two ladies lounging around my reflecting pool were pure Marlin, man. Too beautiful for relations without sprinklings of Darcell’s pixie dust. Tranced so deep now everyday was Never Never Land and Sydney, Australia was just a dream.

I’m not sure what I saw but it felt like a man asking another man for sex with the kind of anticipation a kid saves for the end of a rainy day, then it was gone. It was weird. It made me sit in the sun for the rest of the day waiting for that sensation to come back. When it did, it was more like, like the electricity you get when you know somebody is secretly attracted to you and they ain’t half bad themselves. Got a hard on lasted three days. Fortunately my new groupies were in and of themselves medicinal arts.

The new album had four songs that four different politicians picked up to prove they were hip and conscious. The Religious Right picked Onion Up Yours, can you believe it? But the bass line drove you down a gnomic path and the lyrics wouldn’t let you swing them one way to another. Lyrics were bad ass mofos that did your wife and looked you in the eye and said I’ma do you too. Right had been achin’ for some muscle for years.

Canoli had a fit but I told him be cool. I didn’t own the music. Nobody owned the music. It was a dove.

“Yeah, man, but this is what it sounds like when doves cry. Stupid politicians.”

“Brother, they’ll lodge onion so far up that ass they won’t help but be exposed.”

We studied with yogis. Secretly funded coups to get rid of piss-ant despots and get food to their people because, y’know, damn. Got to sit in on high-level policy talks about national healthcare and, let me tell you, that’s some sticky air. Humid as a bastard with too much money and not enough hair.

I released the next album two months later. Called it The Reinvention. Thirty-six damn songs and not a single throwaway. Hailed by critics worldwide as the first ever Great American Novel set to music. I became so huge I became small. I could walk into restaurants without getting mobbed because anybody who truly listened to The Reinvention knew that fawning shit wasn’t cool. Canoli even got to riff on that one, a few acoustic interludes tied in timbre to the theme. Again, teach a man to fish. He’d wanted to riff his whole life. I told him to go electric but he said no, he wanted to slow it down a little.

After he released his album, Roadie of Doom, we celebrated like crazy. Bono had done the rooftops; The Beatles had done the rooftops; even Lip Patrol had done the rooftops. But when me and Canoli did it we took it to the stars. To the stars. My red guitar and his tan acoustic on top of a squat parking garage, downtown Detroit. Why Detroit? Because something the little alien dudes put in the water there makes Detroit rock! Windsor across the water was pissing themselves because they couldn’t see. Through the whole concert I picked up imagery from at least a hundred clones on the four-sided clog below, black dudes, business dudes, yuppie dudes, dick dudes, pussy girls and trampoline artistes, every one of them humping up on whosoever was in front of their pants because you don’t get to watch your host being probed without developing a healthy taste for it yourself; and because everybody was groovin’ anyway and I’d learned to play my jams as if I was fingering labial lips.

Trent Darcell brought the freaking sixties back.

I swear to God somebody got penetrated when I kicked in the slow jams. Hell, if I closed my eyes I wasn’t sure if I was playing the guitar or my boner. All I knew was Detroit was about to experience the greatest orgasm it’d ever had two hours after this crowd dispersed.


Detroit rock city.

Me and Canoli hung around the Westin Hotel lobby after that in these glass towers the people still call the Renaissance Center but the suits call the General Motors Headquarters. The car gods bought it, the car gods name it. Renaissance Center. I like it. Gleaming glass towers that look like glass spiders should live there, and at night, at night it’s like being in space. A billion lights travel across it. A billion lights sit fixed. A billion lights wink off. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a woman undressing after partying the night. There’s another high-rise hotel directly across the street. God bless fake invisibility.

So we got bored, went to my room, left the lights out and perused one such angel in bra and jeans brush her hair, search her suitcases, and finally, finally, pop that clasp after fifteen minutes.

Breasts as supple as fresh doughnuts.

Wrote a song about her.

Then I threw it away.

It took six months for me to look my first clone right in the face.

He said he’d been wanting to reach me for some time but, y’know, wife, children, responsibilities.

It was David fucking Bowie. The Thin White Duke himself.

The coolest person on the planet.

Ziggy Jehovah Stardust.

We met at Pink’s, signed enough autographs to buy a few minutes quiet time, and ate two of the most unhealthy, ambrosiatic hot dogs ever will be. By then the sun was setting. Smog refraction makes California sunsets kick the ass off anywhere.

“D’you know why they haven’t mastered faster than light travel yet?” Bowie asked in that cool, clipped accent of his.

“Not a clue.”

“Because it can’t. Been proven how many times? I mean, it’s why Einstein did all that bother with his relatives. Their ships don’t travel faster than light. Too much distance. No distance in time though.”

“Why’d they come here?”

Bowie smiled at me. “They never left.” That one blue eye of his and that one dilated eye of his hid all kinds of secrets of the ages. This man hadn’t written Rock and Roll Suicide for no reason.

I kinda hoped for some serious exposition but he just shook my hand and said, “Helluva album. Keep considering time, luv.”

Keep considering time.

I told Canoli I was a clone that very night. He’d just finished restringing my guitar and had plunked himself in the studio to tune it. Canoli could’ve been a Pope in another life. He had that kind of gravity. Told him the whole story, how I was really just a copy of a silly, trendy man.

Canoli scratched at that little piece of goatee directly under his lip, letting the universe swirl around his head before he flushed it all in with the black hole of thought.

“So we become these little gray fucks, huh?” He put his medicinal weed down. Wasn’t sick but why wait to fight the odds? “You guys here to save the world?”

Don’t be stupid. Of course he didn’t believe me. Not like people believe in Krishna or Jesus. He was just smart enough to take a good look at the other side.

“Not all clones are stars, man,” I told him.

He twanged the first of four chord progressions. I picked up his guitar, closed my eyes. I followed his jazz. Took a single hit off his weed. In a flash I’d analyzed it down to its chemical composition and realized why most people will never make the Dream Time: they’re too afraid to go to sleep. Weed, Xoloft, Xanax—it won’t take you there. Can’t. What was it Bowie sang?

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth. You pull on a finger, then another finger, then cigarette. The wall to wall is calling but you don’t linger ‘cause you forget: oh no no no, you’re a rock and roll suicide.

Next time I see Spock I’ve got some questions for his anthropology-major ass. Canoli wanted to know how we became gray shriveled fucks.

“You wanna call your next album The Clone Wars?” he said.

“Nah, been done.”

Canoli did a change up I didn’t see coming. I coughed a little bit. He stubbed out his weed. I smiled.

I strummed chaotic like a butterfly for a few, but I caught up.

“You be ready next time?” he asked me. So we both took it for granted that they were coming back for me at some point.

“Hell yeah.”

I was armed with the wisdom of the ages.

How cool is that?

Bowie’s song played on. Fame was all about being alone.

“…just turn on with me ‘cause you’re wonderful. Oh, give me your hands. Wonderful…”