Art work in this month’s issue.
Median By Matt Lowe. Can be found at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mattlowe
1. Basementatilty 7. Off of the Edge
2. Bell Curve Ft. Sapient 8. Issac
3. No Guarantees 9. Too Slow
4. Heroes ($) 10. Over Again
5. Ill 11. Open Skies (%)
6. Circle Around (&) 12. Pride and Reason Ft. Erin Odessa *
Mutiny in Antioch December 15th
Matt Lowe’s band Greyspace, Random Images, 2009
Matt Lowe’s solo project, Median, 2012
Greyspace’s new album Blues in the Emerald City is out today and available at http://greyspacemusic.com/
Letter to the Editor
Nothing can come from Nothing: Speak Again by Jose Martinez
Achilles Meet not Hector by Jose Martinez
Nay, I am for all Waters by Tim Tang
Words from the Wise Ass by Christian Michael Sablan
I Want to Be President by Mister BA Political Science UC Berkeley
Lower than Density by Mister BA Political Science UC Berkeley
Matt Lowe: The Art of Music and Hiphop by John Tang
All-Nighter by Ms. Anonymous
Dead by Sunday by The Jason Jack
Excerpt from Himself Alone by Daniel Marks
Front cover: Timothy Tang, The Wise Owl Laughs at the Crowd, 2012, mixed media, courtesy private collection, Vacaville, CA. Back cover: Chris Cato, Brev Spread, 2012, pencil, courtesy private collection, Fairfield, CA.
Letter to the Editor
I was recently published in a small scale literary magazine distributed for free in various parts of the Bay Area. I was repulsed to discover the degree of sexism, ineffective shock value, and bigotry that some of the pieces contained. It would be one thing if the above three items were done halfway decently, and were also self-conscious and self-critical of these bents. None were, and served to illustrate the low to nonexistent ceiling of the particular author’s ability and imagination. Another disappointing facet: not a single female writer. The gender disparity urgently needs to be addressed. Thus derives the idea for a poem that frankly criticizes such content for the regressive banality that it patently is. I already have a title: Something Less Than Low Density.
Anonymous, Nov. 6, 2012
Welcome to the party!
John Tang, Traveling Tofu
A Little Spread of History: Brev Spread Volume 3, © 2012 Brev Spread
Founded August 2012, Brev Spread is published monthly and distributed by hand. We are looking to publish every visual form, including translation, review, poem, short play, excerpt, photography, illustration, musical notes, process commentary, etc. We are especially interested in work that is deeply committed and superior in execution.
Send queries, proposals, and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should be attached; work must be less than 1,700 words. Include biographical information for “Contributors” consideration. Response time may take up two weeks. Published contributor will receive two copies.
Multiple and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Work printed in Brev Spread will not be obliged to remain solely in the magazine except when restricted by law. In fact the entirety of this magazine should be reproduced without permission, though we do ask that an acknowledgment to the source be given. Brev Spread reserves the right to reprint all accepted poems in any subsequent issue, anthology, or collection. More details at our website http://www.brevspread.wordpress.com.
Brev Spread is printed and put together in our homes. If you would like to support Brev Spread, please contact Arian Cato at email@example.com.
Tied to a Balloon Knot
By Christian Michael Sablan: Comedian, Columnist, and Miserablist.
1. Ever wake up in the morning and think, “Wow…other than the 54 registered sex offenders, I live in such a beautiful little town…”
2. Ever confuse a midget with a chair, then ask him if he’s ever confused a butt plug with a booster seat, then apologize by asking him if he’d like to sit on your lap…
3. Don’t finger-pop a chick after an hour’s guitar practice and a sore knuckle, you’ll get carpel tunnel…
4. Ever see an Indian woman on her period draw the dot on her forehead, and miss…?
5. I’ve always wondered if gay rapists watch UFC with a notepad and a motive…
6. I read a story recently about a black kid who was thrown inside a moving washing machine. I couldn’t help but wonder, were the settings on whites or colored…?
7. I read recently Mitt Romney asked Ronald Reagan if he wanted to be the guest speaker at the Republican National Convention, and he responded with, “I’d rather be fuckin’ dead…”
8. I mistook a black chick with platinum teeth for an ash tray in a dark room recently—she got all mad. I told her thank god they were in, I had to pee, too. I’d have golden showered your pearly whites in a second…
9. I wonder what the female version of auto erotics asphyxia looks like…
10. I had a buddy of mine, actually my editor, ask me about the Jews. Told him their fascinating people, and the best at what they do. From Einstein, to Bruce, to Dylan. A tad cunty, but the best at what they do. And what can I put in words that Hitler didn’t put into action. He loved them so much he wanted them all to himself…
Here are some signs I’ve taken notice that are blatantly obvious that your relationship is purely physical. (1) You no longer like the person, in fact you’re waiting for them to break it off; you’d do it but you don’t have any other options, so you plow through it another shitty Californication episode; if you could blow yourself, you’d have left long ago. (2) Everything that comes out of their mouth infuriates you, like that feeling you get when your family asks you to help them move some furniture, that feeling of contempt, hatred, and disgust. And worse you’re not sure if they know if they are doing it on purpose. (3) You’re contemplating charging them for your services. But you pee in the sink every time you wash up, so you backtrack knowing you’re not sure how your karma will come back to you. (4) Regardless of the graphic nature of what went on in the bed room, you leave feeling raped; the moment they ask you if you missed them, it kills you a little inside. (5) 7 of the 10 alarms on your phone are specifically created to get you out of there, you’re never not on the clock. (6) You fake more orgasms than you achieve, and you don’t give a fuck about them getting off. Pun intended. (7) You’ve never met any of their friends, family, not even the neighbors and you avoid contact with the dog/cat. (8) Ever continue to watch some vintage Italian Porno after you starched the curtains? No one does. No man reviews porn, that would imply we made it through the first scene, a simple mouse click and you’re out of there. In real life it’s a different story. It’s horror, the attraction is completely gone, you have zero to talk about, you feel less of a man than when you walked in, about 30 fluid ounces to be exact. And now you’re really not on the clock. It’s the closest example of making small talk with a stranger as imaginable. (9) They could die and you’d be mildly shocked. You just pray it’s not around you, because not only do you have to wait around for the ambulance, you’re inconvenienced with writing a statement. (10) You’d be telling your friend what auto erotica asphyxia is like but you’re too scared to try because you know she’ll fuck it up. You can’t trust her to drink the children, let alone man her with a stop-watch and a slipknot. (11) I’m seeing her tonight, and this didn’t help one fucking bit.
I Will be President
By Mister BA Political Science ’12 UC Berkeley
It’s clear from Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign that to have a fighting chance, one must display as much consistency as possible, even if that consistency flies in the face of valuable traits, such as adaptability and accountability. Consequently, when I run for president, I will unabashedly campaign on the following platforms:
1. Unmitigated discrimination against minorities, women, LGBT people, and any “other”
suitable for denigration
2. Continued erosion of American liberties via a Patriot Act Addendum that takes a steaming
dump on the Bill of Rights, rationalizing the legislation as being in the “national interest” and
“necessary for national security”
3. Enshrining America’s unofficial religion—Protestantism—as the national form of spirituality,
and moving immediately to imprison, execute, or otherwise “disappear” any individual
espousing a different belief system
4. Promising to nuke the entire Middle-East into oblivion, as well as any uncooperative country
in possession of valuable resources and commodities, explaining that with an unsurpassed
military, there’s not a damn thing we can’t bomb with impunity
5. Nationalizing the outsourcing of labor, since it’s already a set trend, and the national
government is long overdue on its bandwagon
6. Recommencing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in earnest, alongside the revival of the Vietnam
War and the Civil War, just to prove the point that war is what makes America, America
Something Less Than Low Density
By Mister BA Political Science ’12 UC Berkeley
Fix your eyes–a puddle too shallow by
Half. Lurking in these immaterial depths
Lies the limpid, sunken movements of
Deadened, emaciated bigots. Beneath its
Surface rises just audible cries of tired
Chauvinism and sterile shock value.
With such laggardly motion, only inertia
Catalyzes. Like a petrified palisade left
Standing in an area remote, the only
Audience to its mute vigil indifferent
Animals, the passage of seasons, and
Days that by turns brighten and darken.
The only ripples that emanate result from
Stultified stone, shunted randomly by wintry
Wind. These stones are more than what
Meets the senses. Scrutinize and discover
Congregations of dimwitted troglodytes abuzz
Inside indentations and holes, convicted that
Progress backward is progress at all.
Frank inquiry: Is your sister nothing
More than orifices awaiting penal entry?
Was your mother’s womb, sea of afterbirth, and
Placenta merely an obstacle to intercourse?
Lived to the hilt like a myopic hermit in trivial
Solitude, passionate that he has divined every
Mystery by masticating on finger nails and stool.
Welcome to the 12th century. Welcome to
Irrelevance. With indefensible and antiquated
Beliefs in your clutches, nothing is surer than
Metamorphosing into a laughingstock. Enjoy
The enduring embers from the hearth of
Bitterness, whence comes the realization at
Advanced ages that in this mass of water that
Houses this mass of life, plankton outsizes and
Outpaces the quibbling spittle to which you amount.
The Art of Music and Hiphop
Next to highway twelve, on the edge of Fairfield and Suisun City, Matt Lowe resides in a quiet neighborhood. The land is flat. The sunlight hangs like a veil as the autumn clouds dissipate. The streets are clear of cars. In his apartment the living room is filled with recording and entertainment equipment, from a Playstation 3, a flat screen TV, and a shelf full of sitcoms and 90s movies to two monitor speakers, an Akai MPD Pad, and an I am T-Pain Mic Gold that auto-tunes. Then there is the white futon couch that ties the studio together. Mr. Lowe has two albums, one with his band Greyspace titled Random Images (2009) and a solo album titled Median (2012) Everyday Mr. Lowe works in parts on several projects. A hook one day, a bridge another day. His modesty goes unmatched. On the day of our interview he thanked me for being featured in the magazine, when in truth, he gave our magazine an air of professionalism. And when I realized I had lost my tape recorder, I asked,
Can we record on your microphone?
Mr. Lowe moved the condenser microphone closer to the dining table where we would have our interview. He plugged the microphone into what seemed to be an amplifier, then logged onto his MacBook, opened Logic Pro, and tested the voices in the program. Several minutes later he asked me to talk into the microphone. The quality of my voice on the monitor speakers was clear. Not an ounce of static was heard.
Thanks for letting us use your recording equipment.
Why did you change your name to Mr. Rhythmic to Matt Lowe?
I changed my name from Matt Lowe to Mr. Rhythmic, first. My name is what my dad gave me, then I changed it into Mr. Rhythmic. When I was getting into battling, I thought it highlighted a certain quality I had. But when I got my band, they all knew me as a mutual friend by my name. They never knew me as Mr. Rhythmic. The only people who knew me as Mr. Rhythmic were people from a small battle scene. So it just naturally faded off once I got my band, since we were all just friends. People didn’t walk around calling me, Hey Mr. Rhythmic.
Have you ever heard people say there is no real rap name? Or that all rap names are corny.
No, I have never heard of that. But I can see that to an extent. Being a fan of rap, all the rappers that I like don’t use their real names. I sort of see it from both sides. Making up your own name is a little corny, I guess, but in the same breath, there’s something that represents you, and no one knows you better than you. So if you’re going to put a title on yourself or have a title, it might as well be something that defines you as opposed to something you were given before you have any idea of who you were.
I remember you once said Qwel was your favorite artist, that he can stop Copywrite.
I said that?
And I can see why. Him and Brother Ali . . .
For the people who don’t know, Qwel is one of the members of a Chicago-based rap group called Typical Cats. It’s a little-known group that have their own underground following. For you who don’t know, you should go check them out. At any rate, he’s the nasally sounding one of the group. So when I said that, that was about the time The Harvest came out, which is a project he did with Maker. So Qwel and Maker, The Harvest. The reason why I liked him: One, the Typical Cats album was when punchlines were huge in rap. He had a bunch of crazy punchlines on there. He had a bunch interesting stuff from the Typical Cats album—I’m-fucking-dope-and-you-suck-raps—but it was all fresh and really cool over jazz samples. Then when Qwel and Maker came out, he did these crazy rhyme schemes—super intricate rhyme schemes—and I liked it because he went in a different direction. It was a much more serious album, and it had religious overtones that I could relate to at the time. He wasn’t scared to do topics most rappers shied away from. People weren’t doing stuff about religion, especially about religion in “I’m a religious person.” Almost everybody denounced religion. I liked how he was fearless in taking a step in a different direction on top of incredible technical achievements. That’s why I liked him.
Going into technique, the West Coast seems to have an affinity for poly-syllables or poly-syllabic rhymes, that goes with The Saurus and all the way back to Scribble Jam and . . .
Whatever people are into, whether you are into a sport or an art form or anything, there are going to be certain things—if you’re deep into it—you’re going to care about a lot of things people are not going to care about. To me, poly-syllabic rhyme is just part of the art form. I don’t think a professional basketball player would say, People playing basketball at the local park are ruining basketball, the same way all rappers who are into poly-syllabic rhymes would say, People who use one-syllable rhymes are ruining rap. I don’t think that’s the case either.
Is form more important than content or just as important?
That depends on the listener. That depends on the audience you’re trying to target. It’s appropriate in certain cases. If I want to tell a story, the story is the focus. If I’m just doing a track, displaying what I can do, a narrative isn’t that important at all. The short answer: It’s not more important.
What do you care about more?
I try to put equal weight on them, but not equal weight all the time. On certain songs or certain parts of the verse, I want to display the form. Then I keep in the back of my mind the content to put out a positive message. They’re both important equally.
I watched your battle. You said Beavv had a good performance. Is it because his lines dropped easier because they were simpler rhymes?
We were in Stockton, and he had a lot of people who knew he was from Stockton. He has a good following over there. If you were there a handful of people thought he won live. I can’t take away from his stage presence. I don’t think his lines dropped better because they were simpler. I think maybe I was ill-rehearsed, and I could’ve delivered my lines better. When it got to the internet, people had their own way about it.
Before Median, you had the album Greyspace. I see a recurring theme in being in the middle. What’s your take on this theme?
Generally, the way I like to live my life is to see both sides of everything. I don’t like to approach things with an unwillingness to see things from an opposite perspective. So before I make a move or anything, I try to see what the opposite side might say about that. It keeps me balanced.
In your track, for example, “The Bell Curve” with Sapient from Sandpeople—and the bell curve stating who’s the best at something—maybe you’re saying we need to destroy that system. Or maybe I didn’t understand it.
There are the people in the middle, people in the extremes. The project is trying to reach across all those parts. I’m not trying to destroy where people are at. I do want to reach out to all sides, that there’s someone who will listen to all sides. It’s about reaching to everybody. If you’re extreme on one side or you’re extreme on the other side, the music is for you still.
You were a drummer in high school, and now you teach at various schools. How important are the drums in hiphop?
I wouldn’t say the drums aren’t particularly important to hiphop. It tends to be the trend right now, or has been the trend, but a lot of great hiphop songs don’t have drums.
Or when you produce, you said you have an easier time thinking in drums than in melody.
Yes. The reason for that is rap is closer to drums than it is to melody—because of the inherent rhythmic qualities. The pitches of it don’t matter as much. A lot of the best rappers take pitch into consideration, but they sort of pedal one note and maybe go from that to another note, here and there. They sort of stab in different directions. Generally speaking, the focus of it is on rhythm and what you say. The musical qualities that rap has are more rhythmic than it is melodic.
Battle rap is coming back since Scribble Jam. Would you ever use battle rap as a platform?
A lot of rappers have done it successfully. It’s a good way to reach a new audience. It’s a market a lot of people will see you from. I don’t find myself particularly interested in using it as a platform—not that because I don’t respect it. I enjoy battle rap a lot—my particular skill sets don’t lend itself to being a successful battler. That’s just the way it is. I can’t see myself being successful in that arena. I’ll still watch it, but I’m not looking to participate in it too much.
Any battle rappers you follow?
I follow Okwerdz because my band is based out in Stockton. We went on tour with Okwerdz for two weeks one summer. He sort of like the homey. He’s super talented. There was a handful I like to watch when Grind Time was having its heyday. But I don’t follow a particular battle MC too much. I just catch them when I can.
Normally it’s bad luck to talk about future projects. If you’re not worried about it, any new projects coming out?
We’re pretty much done with Greyspace’s next project called Blues in the Emerald City. I like the music we’re putting out. We’ve grown a lot as artists. We’ve learned a lot. We’re going in a lot of different directions musically. I started delving into more melodic things on Median, and it was cool my band let me do it on the band’s project, also. So we’re doing a lot more stuff on there.
It’s towards more jazz or hiphop?
It actually uses a lot of bluesy-type riffs.
—John Tang, November 12, 2012
By Ms. Anonymous
22:00: Dancing With the Stars is over. OK, I need to work on that report now.
24:00: I am not even half-way done. . . It’s OK, I’m good in the hood. Six hours to go.
01:30: I will sleep for one hour in this awkward sitting position.
02:00: I can’t get up! I can’t feel my legs! Omg, omg, omg.
02:30: Oh my word, I hope that rush of blood prevented any muscle damage.
05:00: What the heck! I will only have an hour and half to edit??!! I don’t even know
what I’m talking about in this report anymore!
06:50: Print, damnit, print!!!!! Why are you so slow today?????!!!!! PRINT!!!!!
07:10: Miracle. I made it on the bus.
09:10: I made it to school on time. . . before the professor. . . Why the heck did I rush?
10:30: Fudge, the professor is going to ask about our thoughts about the video. Err. . .
12:50: I’m hella hungry. And also hella lazy to walk anywhere. I guess the vending
machine will suffice.
13:15: That Cup o Noodle and Ruffles did not suffice.
13:20: Here come the microsleeps. . . in and out. . . in and out. . . Oh look, I’m not the
14:30: How long is the break? Who cares? I’m sleeping now. Wake me up later.
14:40: What the douche? Someone really just throw something over my head?
15:50: That class took way too long. I’m out of here.
16:45: Of course. No seats on BART at this time.
17:00: Someone have mercy on me and give me a seat!!! I haven’t had three hours of
sleep and I keep micro-sleeping and keep hitting this guy as I stand here!
17:15: OMG, I NEED A SEAT!!! Oh, geez, FINALLY.
17:30: *sigh* Need to wait for the bus now. Dang, those Cheetos are too expensive.
Whatever, I’ll wait.
18:00: FML!!! Out of all days, THIS is the one when the bus doesn’t show up??!! I want
18:10: I don’t want to hear your apologies, Mr. Bus Driver.
18:45: Finally arrived in town. OK, time to go vote for the election thing.
19:10: Wow, I cannot read the ballot to save the life out of me. Thank goodness for my
19:15: First time voting for the president. Received my sticker. Definitely not as
monumental as expected.
19:20: Say what? We’re going to make a stopover at the Taqueria now? I guess. . .
19:40: YUM, these carne asada fries are hella good. I don’t care if you want more, I’m
20:00: Facebook time!
20:30: What? Obama is winning? Or did win already? Did my vote even get counted yet?
20:40: I’m so excited to hear all the speeches!!
21:00: *knocked out on the couch and missed all speeches*
Dead by Sunday
By The Jason Jack
If I knew I’d be dead by Sunday, I never would have gone to the dentist the previous Monday. Yet, there I was, waiting for the oral surgeon bright and early at eight in the morning. What I found out that day would make my impending death seem like child’s play in comparison.
I lounged on the reclining chair in the operating room, reading an old issue of The Wall Street Journal. I couldn’t help but let the sterile room distract me from my read.
A glossy aluminum pan rested on a cart next to me covered with all sorts of alien probing instruments. The white lights from above proved debilitating, disorienting my vision with just a glance. The air, too, was distinctive—a bit thick, ten or so degrees hotter than I preferred, and filled with the aroma of antiseptic cloves.
Enduring the room’s science fiction ambiance, I could understand how most of my friends had “dentist anxiety”. Honestly, I wasn’t nervous at all and felt quite comfortable.
I dropped the newspaper onto a pile of magazines at my feet when the door opened. A tall man, with thick glasses and a gray, bushy beard, walked into the room and extended his hand to me.
“Hello, Clint, I’m Doctor Wolf.” If his white lab coat and identification tag did not make the point clear enough, his words did. I took his hand only to shock us both with a simple touch.
Doctor Wolf laughed, while he waved his hand around.
“Great way to start the morning, isn’t it?”
I smiled and leaned back. The doctor sat in a rolling chair next to me and flipped through a brown file with a single piece of paper in it. His eyes widened just a tad, and I knew why.
“You’re reading that right, doctor,” I said. “This is my first visit to the dentist. Ever.”
“This is a bit . . . alarming. And you’re twenty nine years old?”
“Can you open your mouth for me, Clint?”
I did so, while the good man repositioned a mobile light fixture towards my mouth. He put a pair of gloves on before lightly probing my gums with his index finger.
“Just from a quick glance, you don’t seem to have anything to worry about. All those years without a checkup, it’s amazing. You must brush and floss every day.”
A grunt was all I could do with the doctor’s finger in my mouth, and grunt in agreement I did.
“I’m just sorry the x-ray didn’t come out. Just a page of reflected light. You won’t be charged for that, but I do expect you to come back once we get the machine working again. And don’t wait another twenty nine years.”
The doctor took his hand out of my mouth, placed his arms atop his lap, then looked me in the eyes.
“You’re here for a cleanup, I understand, but I would like to do a more thorough inspection given your . . . dental history.”
“Or lack of one.”
The doctor chuckled.
“Yes. Before we begin, why don’t you tell me why you’re really here today. I doubt after nearly three decades you’d come in for a routine checkup.”
“A tooth in the back of my mouth started to feel, well, weird about a month ago.”
“Can you describe this sensation for me?”
“It doesn’t hurt, it’s not throbbing. I guess it’s more of a light pressure. This has never happened before. Feels kind of odd.”
A smile crossed the doctor’s face. It looked as genuine as it could coming from a man named Wolf.
“You don’t have to worry about a thing, Clint. I’ll make sure you leave with a better understanding of why your tooth feels that way, and I’ll be as gentle as I can.”
I rested my head back, and the doctor clipped a small napkin around my neck. I assume to protect my shirt from shooting mouth secretions.
“Are you nervous?” He asked, picking up two utensils. One looked like a miniature prong and the other a pint sized chisel. I shrugged.
“Can’t really get nervous about something I have never experienced.”
“No. I guess you can’t. Now, if you can open your mouth again for me . . .”
The next half hour was like a construction site in my mouth. There were clangs, clatter, grunts, and the occasional jarring movements, but it was painless. The doctor seemed surprised when I told him my jaw wasn’t tired from remaining open for so long, so he decided to move onto my troubling tooth with my consent.
“I need you to stay still, okay?” he said, more of a direction to follow than a question. I felt the prongs pinch the sides of my tooth. “That’s odd.”
With the doctor’s two words, my logic concerning nervousness washed away. My heart beat faster, and I grunted.
“Hold on. I see something beneath the tooth. I’m going to try and wiggle it gently.”
Beneath the tooth? Wiggle gently? I clenched onto the sides of the chair, looked into the blaring lights covering the ceiling, closed my eyes, and inhaled the overpowering smell of antiseptic cloves. I finally understood where the fear of dentists came from.
Then, it got worse. Much worse.
The doctor mumbled at the same time I felt a pop in my mouth. He fell back, knocking over the pan of utensils on the way to the floor. He dropped the prongs and the white pebble between its vice grip in the process.
My heart skipped, while I jumped from my seat and hit my head on the mobile light fixture above.
“You removed my tooth? My tooth!”
The doctor coward back, his mouth slack jawed, his eyes wide open. He trembled, shook his head, and stared up at me with a mixture of confusion and fear. It was the same two emotions I felt.
I picked my tooth off of the ground and approached Doctor Wolf. He scooted away.
“What happened? What’s wrong with me?” My heart raced, my vision blurred, and my senses dulled while I waited for the oral surgeon to respond. He slowly lifted his hand and pointed at the mirror behind me.
I turned around and glanced at the tooth I held in my hand. A pair of red and blue nerve stems dangled from the bottom of it, and my gut wrenched.
Stumbling forward, I stared into the mirror and opened my mouth as far as it could go. There was a hole where my tooth had been. No blood. No puss, just an opened wound. And inside that hole were copper prongs sticking out of my gums along with two small blinking lights.
I stepped back, my head spinning, and somehow managed to bring the tooth in front of my face. Those weren’t nerves dangling from the bottom of my tooth, they were wires.
I stared at my reflection, into my eyes, and understood what had terrified the doctor.
“I’m a robot.”
Excerpt from Himself Alone
By Dan Marks
“I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s there, just sort of hangs there like a flytrap or something. You know, one of those sticky adhesive rolls looks like camera film dangling down on a porch. It hangs there and it’s gotten stronger and more vivid over the years, like burning brighter. Like turning up the brightness on a screen. Not pixelated and old-timey. Smooth-like. Which is odd like I said because it really doesn’t feel important. Put it this way, I wake up from a nightmare, I’m scared, breathing’s all elevated and I’m shaky if it’s a good one. Happy dreams mean I wake up, well, happy, goofy smile on my face or positive thoughts or what have you, depending on whatever happy means to your persuasion. But this thing, it’d be like if I woke up and in relation to what I’d just dreamt I couldn’t figure out how to feel about it. I remember the image clear as a fresh pond, and I think real hard about what had just happened before and after it and I can’t for the hell of me figure out what to think. Sounds silly and it is silly but jesus christ almighty try it. Not that you could if you wanted. The fucking thing is just…it’s just fucking there.
“So it’s been getting to me as I’m sure you can tell, how strong it is and how often it strikes me now and how damn vanilla it is regardless of the amount of times it comes on. Swear to god, one day it hit me, I counted, eight-hundred-and-ninety-seven times. I counted, I know. I almost went mad I shit you not.
“They paying you for this? You cold? They don’t really have to pay me I guess when they’re offering me free services, do they.
“It goes like we’re both at the table. Well, everyone’s at the table, but I can see her, the others I just know are there. She I remember is in a white nighty she had and I’m across from her. We’re eating and… actually now I think about it I think we’re eating. Pretty sure we are. Trying to describe it is giving me more trouble than I thought it would. No no not emotionally. It’s just I can’t seem to find a what do you call it narrative. There’s not one of those. All I can do is describe things that don’t really seem pertinent all the sudden. Important then, maybe. But now?”
A Cold Gaze of Inestimable Moment
“Aaron? What are you doing?”
The gallery’s room is coldly reverberative. There are no discernable smells or scents. Abernathy told her not to wear perfume, no scented deodorant even. The stark geometry and planned shadowing of the place are both familiar and unfamiliar, the way Aaron lying there and she sitting here is both familiar and not.
Aaron had brought himself up from the traditionally red, velvety red, chaise longue and slowly began peeling off his ratty sneakers and socks.
The socks make a sound when he pulls them off.
Deedee closes her eyes and breathes in in a focused and meditative way. Feet hit the tile and he dances his toes curiously, feeling the waters and when he does not shrink or surprisedly pull away he then stands and stretches and walks around the room. His feet pat the floor in a complicated slap and peel, the latter almost like the crisp peeling sound the removing of the socks had made.
Deedee removes her glasses and contemplatively bites on the right tip, watching Aaron. She gurbles a fascinated little sound. She tries to not think about how trite and meaningless the gestures are, how inflated they feel, insubstantial, gestures for an absent Them whom she scolds herself for inadvertently thinking of, byproduct of how well she had definitely not been thinking of them. There is a comfort in the performing and the watching of the benignly expected, and rather than deny this fact and its influence over her actions, she thinks instead about Abernathy’s breath. She allows her breathing to sync up with a steadiness she realizes she’d been looking for without knowing it. A measured pace. A pace that felt right and matched the room’s soundless brooding. It really is just godawful. The breath.
Deedee has a real practice, two real doctorates, and a whole cadre of flesh-and-blood incubators of neuroses, depressions, -phobias, -philias, and anxieties waiting probably at her door as she sits here trying not to think about them. She is a therapist playing a therapist. This thought about her clients was somewhat an exaggeration. They were most likely calling her, leaving messages, multiple messages, that would grow more frantic by the hour.
Aaron had said an intense desire to make fun of it, a burning god-awful inclination to mock his younger, feeling self. Something like that, he had said. Deedee was only sort of paying attention. Mea culpa, but she was having trouble focusing on the details of what he was saying. It was actually pretty frustrating for her, because she’d realized he was speaking and that she wasn’t listening, would tell herself to focus, and then realize she’d lost another series of his thoughts. Totally regressive, and she had by now given up on anything like a real, constructive session, getting the gist of his complaints and contenting herself with the broad strokes. He was now over at the wall looking over one of the paintings he’d been staring at from his recumbent distance for over three hours.
Aaron was possibly usually a frequenter of some type of mental health sessionry, but he wasn’t a patient of hers. They had been matched to one another by Abernathy, the exhibitor. Aaron’s problem (problems?) was (were) real though. It had been integral to the showing that Aaron be legitimate. He and many others had been vetted and interviewed and filled out a bunch of those bubble-filled sheets that they run through a machine for answers, had been given purposefully obvious and open-ended essay questions so that in answering they could lose themselves and their sense of self and just go on and on before admitting that they couldn’t finish, that they had in the course of this writing discovered that they really were slight, useless, bred to die. A surprisingly large amount of those surveyed actually finished the essays with these admissions. These were the ones like Aaron who were perfect for the exhibit.
Deedee, or Dr. Scagmallion, being into performance art herself, though of late more in the capacity of spectator than performer, drew on her own store of memories and classes and experiences to decide that genuine people forced to do what they genuinely did was the point of all this.
“Can you feel perpendicular?”
“Do you feel perpendicular, Aaron?”
He had his hands on his hips, elbows out. His head was kicked back and his mouth awed as he ran his eyes across the other paintings in the room. “I need an answer first, before I can reply.”
Next week a baseball player was going to be repeatedly home-running a baseball suspended from the center of the ceiling. There were a total of ten players, taking eight-hour shifts each. The following week would be a woman Abernathy had tracked down whom resembled closely enough a well-known reality TV personage. She was to spend the week in ten-hour shifts of standing around in Ray-Bans, talking on her phone; reclining, doing much the same things; generally just being interesting with her sexy uninterestingness. This woman will get a reality show that will last for one and a half seasons, and it will be based around this exhibit and her blossoming into a celebrity for being a celebrity lookalike. The show has already begun production, a camera following her around her home city of Odessa, Texas. So far they’ve shot 120 hours of footage of her going around telling friends and strangers alike why she’s being followed by cameras (there’s only one camera; saying there are multiple cameras makes it sound to the viewer like it’s a bigger production and like she’s a bigger deal than she is at the moment, and though only slightly will increase her importance in the viewer’s eyes, boosting also her status as celebrity. Get enough people watching and believing this she can exponentially increase her star power and correlatively what she can demand to be paid for appearances and ads) and how she’s off to San Francisco soon. A few Odessans tell her to watch out for the “homeosexuals” while she’s there; odd because she’s a woman and not a man, which ideally would be the gender that would have to watch out for whatever it was those few Odessans were luridly imagining. Those parts are eventually cut after heated deliberation about where America is issue-wise at the moment. Next month a tax lawyer would be set up with a desk in a doorwayless corner with an intensely focused lamp shining down onto the middle of his desk on some papers. He is to have tightly slicked-down hair, parted straight down the center, but otherwise will be free to be his usual self. And so on, each week something new, repeated for the duration of that week. This will continue 52 weeks, a yearlong display.
Abernathy had said that smells were too evocative, introduced a percentage of risk he wasn’t comfortable with trusting, and that he didn’t want to sensuously distract his viewers from what he called the “painfully stereotypically mundane.”
MS. ANONYMOUS cannot be contacted. Yep.
THE JASON JACK can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is Thejasonjack.com. The Jason Jack has been dreaming of his own unique worlds his entire life and has seized the opportunity to put his dreams to paper. When not thinking of ice cream socials and candy bars, he’s probably taking a nap. He inhabits a small bit of space somewhere on planet Earth, living primarily in his fantasies.
DANIEL MARKS can be contacted at email@example.com
CHRISTIAN MICHAEL SABLAN, Comedian, Columnist, and Miserablist. He can be contacted at twitter.com/ChristianSablah and firstname.lastname@example.org: “I knew comedy was all I was ever meant to do when I sat and thought about the failures, fuck up’s, and poorly thought out assumptions I ever made, and wished I did them worse. I’d be much funnier than I am now.”
MISTER BA POLITICAL SCIENCE ’12 UC BERKELEY cannot be contacted. Sorry.
Special Thanks to our friends of Brev Spread: Chris Parker and James Castro for their supreme awesomeness.