5cense

540> Rebirthing a proxy urchin in the boony flatlands of Santa Cruz, 1987

16 AUG 2017 | DC> Woke up last night cuz i felt something big moving around under the bed, pushing up on the mattress. I looked under w/ a flashlight + screamed when i saw this street urchin kid under there, but the kid was all mellow + didn’t scream back. After recovering, i asked “didn’t i scare u?” + s/he shrugged. The kid was sort of androgynous + of undetermined ethnicity. Each time i looked, s/he looked different, sometimes ½-black, other times Mexican or Indian, usually darker skinned, sometimes more boyish other times more girlish, never 100% anything. Always quiet + steadfast in character tho, but confident. I asked how s/he got in + s/he just said s/he wanted to sleep somewhere for 1 night where s/he felt safe. So i let the urchin stay, then started to go back to sleep but couldn't w/ them under the bed [btw, in the real moondough we have no "under the bed"... we sleep on the floor]. I looked back under + said my wife was out of town + s/he said “i know,” then i backpedaled + said “no, i didn’t mean it like that... what i meant is that there’s room on her side of the bed... I feel silly w/ u under there like this.” So s/he laid on the bed next to me so i wouldn't feel uncomfortable. But then w/ them laying next to me i couldn’t sleep, thinking about what society or "the authorities" wd think if they found them in our house, in bed w/ me. I prepared answers in my head of what to say: “it was like fucking Goldilocks, i came home + just found him, her, sleeping in my bed. What was i sposed to do, kick them out on the street?” I didn’t say anything out loud, but it was like s/he cd read my mind... s/he said s/he had a “home” s/he cd go to if i wanted them to leave, but they wouldn’t even notice s/he was gone. Then it was like i was there, at their "home," walking thru the janky orphanage—a cinder-block, inner-city dormitory w/ all sorts of illicit activity going on in the lobby. But i wasn’t really there, it was like a memory s/he implanted in my head to give me a visual. I knew i was being conned, that when i fell asleep s/he wd probably rob me. But i didn't care. And i didn’t want to interrogate them about what happened, where their parents were, etc. But it eventually came out (again, almost as if s/he implanted the information) that their father died (at least to them) + their mother gave them up when s/he was 3 or 4. I felt like i was helping them by talking to them, having them talk about their problems, but knew deep down—as did s/he—that s/he was the 1 helping me, that i was the 1 fucked up for living a “normal” life... that s/he cd teach me a thing or 2 about socialization in particular. Then it was like we were at Granny Nees house + although s/he was only around 10, s/he said s/he knew everybody in the area cuz this is where s/he grew up. S/he never met so + so in person, but remembered their mother talking about them + started to reel off names + Granny Nee was "oh yes, so + so was this + so + so was that" + they were sharing stories about the old neighborhood, so it was like the urchins references were validated. Tho i still felt s/he could’ve made all this stuff up (but again, i didn’t care if so, figured hats off for such an elaborate con job). Most things i said, s/he said “i know,” as if s/he knew the answer to everything already. Very streetwise. S/he asked what i did for a living + i said that i figured s/he wd know the answer to that + s/he said "i do, i just wanted to hear u say it + wanna help out w/ what u do, like be an apprentice intern or sumpin'." So i said i was a writer + that i doubted s/he cd help cuz it was complicated, besides running errands like making copies or getting coffee which s/he said s/he was cool with. S/he asked what i was working on + even tho s/he knew the answer i told them, that at the moment i was struggling w/ this piece called “Textilioma” + explained how it’s what happens when a doctor leaves behind a surgical instrument or sponge in a patient after an operation + how the previous book we wrote ended w/ a story about our father being embedded inside my brother + he got an operation to remove him + now i felt i needed to surgically embed my brother (w/ my father embedded within him) inside me, or at least come up w/ a metaphor for this, a way to tell the rest of the story. S/he acted like this was a no-brainer... the only solution was to actually have the procedure done, that’s the only way u can write about it w/ legitimacy. I explained my fear of doctors + surgeries, how i'd rather die before being cut open + operated on. That even a blood transfusion (my brother’s blood into my body) wouldn’t work cuz i was deathly afraid of needles. So s/he said s/he wd do it, "no problema." I said that wd be a huge pain in the ass for them + s/he chuckled under their breath + said “u got no idea... dis aint nada cumpared w/ the shit i gotta deal w/ day to day.” Again, it was like their helping me was helping them + vice-versa, a sort of reciprocal altruism. But before this—i explained, trying to act fatherly—a mutual trust needs to be formed + boundaries set (like not sleeping in the same bed) + of course when i said this, s/he said “I know”. The subject of adoption came up + s/he was like "u dont want to go down that road, they’re gonna make it next to impossible for u to do it legit. Way easier under the radar." So the urchin became my guinea pig, actually doing the things that i wrote about, so i could lie more effectively. I never asked their name—it was awkward to ask now as too much time had passed. I figured it'd come up in conversation. In trying to fish out their name i said i'd call them Chaulky White in the book, make them the author... tho, i added, it might be weird calling them Chaulky if s/he's not white, then kind of looked at them like, right? What is yr background anyways? S/he said s/he didn’t know, s/he remembered their biological mom being sort of mulatto, but also spoke spanish a lot at home. Then s/he said it wasn't so strange, that there was a black Chaulky White character in Boardwalk Empire. I said this didn’t happen until 2010 + my brother died in 1997, so we couldn’t make references like this. S/he said Boardwalk Empire took place during prohibition era, well before my brother died, so this made it okay. But i explained to them (again, trying to act fatherly) that it only mattered when the movie or series was released... people wd discover flaws in continuity + not believe the story.

This ∀ll came to us last night (w/ sum embellishments, but udderwise perty much comme ça) as we fell asleep thinking about how to wrap our head around volume II of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY'... the benefits of not drinking—productive dreaming + sleeping. We also re-watched The Matrix, so that might of had an influenze. Too bad they had to put in all them stupid fight scenes + make it so typically Hollywood. De todos modos, nada moss going on on the homefront. Our bedder-½ still in flooded Nepal. Still have yet to turn on AC or water plants here in DC, it's been so cool + rainy so far this August. We've sent out review copies of A Raft Manifest + now it's just the waiting game... we feel further + further detached from the book by the day. Now getting back into character as Chaulky White (or having this urchin channel him for us). But 1st we feel a pressing need to finish archiving the 80s... to catch up to where we left off (vol II starts circa 1990), now we're up to 1987. We still dint keep a journal back then (b-sides sum stray lyrics, sum of wich we scan'd below), so this is all from memory. And we also don't have many photos from this time.

At the beginning of 1987 we moved to Santa Cruz. We transferred to UCSC that winter semester (or rather quarter, since UCSC is on the quarter system, w/ 3 quarters, which never made sense). UCSC has this thing (as do probly most universities) where they assign u a college + encourage u to dorm there to make friends + establish community, etc. but after our experience at boarding school, we had no intrest in this shit. The first 6 months we got a rental out in the boonies above Santa Cruz, in Bonny Doon. Great for running... as long as u stuck to the road. The second u got off the road, gun-toting guys on ATVs + motorcycles wd come screaming out of nowhere... major pot-growing region. Raids w/ dozens of cop cars were common-place along Empire Grade (the road we lived on). We felt sort of isolated up there, but couldn't afford rent down in Santa Cruz, so rather then spend $400 a month on rent, we figured we'd buy a camper for $4000 + it wd effectively pay itself off after 10 months. UCSC had this camper lot, but the waiting list was long, so in the fall of 2017 we parked the camper we bought (a Ford 150 truck w/ a camper shell on the back—hardly room to stand, but it had a stove + propane refrigerator, etc.) in some crazy hippy woman's backyard in town. We had a toilet in our camper, but it was a pain in the ass to empty the tank, so we used a toilet she had on her back porch ( that she put there for that very purpose + charged $50 a month, for that, an electrical outlet + not having to worry about getting harassed by police or towed). We did have a shower in our camper (the water wd just dump into this woman's backyard, next to some industrial building... here's the spot on google maps, looks like they've since razed her house + now it's just an empty lot. And the apartment buildings across the street weren't there, used to be a bakery of some sort in that spot... + a soup kitchen, so lots of homeless people loitered around). It was next to the train tracks + a tunnel that was a shortcut to downtown if u were brave enough to walk in the dark + timed it with the train schedules). We used to call this landlady Rebertha (tho this wasn't her real name) cuz she used to do rebirthing (a.k.a. primal therapy)... so we'd often hear her clients screaming at the top of their lungs.

17 Aug> At some point our 1st car (a '66 Mustang) died on us... we were driving down off the mountain (probly visiting S, who we still dated long distance) late at night going around a corner when the steering column just snapped + we couldn't turn either way. Luckily we ran straight up a bank + not off a cliff... came to a stop in some bushes. We calmly got out + walked the 10 miles or so home. Figured we were pressing our luck (the axle already broke in Moffet Field delivering a pizza, and the ball joints had also given out) so the next day we called the "Glue Factory" + sold the Mustang for parts. Then we got a black '66 VW bug (no coincidence that our first 2 cars were made in the year we were born) for $50, which served us well the rest of our time at Santa Cruz... didn't have a single issue w/ her (her name was Sara .. + our Mustang we called Winston)... if we did, we'd look under her hood + figure out what went broke or fell off. We only have photos of our camper + bug later (once Chaulky + i went to town on them w/ spray paint) maybe i'll show them in the next post.

We thought we might major in the biological sciences at 1st... until we took (+ failed) chemistry. Physics on the other hand came easy. While chemistry to us just seemed to involve a lot of rote memorization of arbitrary abstractions, physics really drilled down to the origin of why things were the way they were. We also took classes in art + music (played in the Gamelan ensemble throughout our whole time), we just thought majoring in music or art was silly, nothing you can be "taught". And we didn't want to ruin our enjoyment of it.

We still made music—pretty much all we did in our spare time—but since we now lived in the back of a pickup truck we had to taper down our collection of instruments (speaking of purging... living in a camper really forces u to minimize... before this, we collected all sorts of junk that we had to get rid of before going to Santa Cruz). We did keep some drums in S's chicken coop, but otherwise our recordings in this era just used guitars (a 12-string acoustic, a Gibson SE, a slide guitar + an old hollow body), a bass + a sampling drum machine, recorded on our trusty Tascam 4-track. We actually started to write "songs" + progressed from industrial/punk/sound collages to more of a folksy sound (tho still brooding).

"Black Blood" (1987)

+ here's the lyrics to the above (as we recall, taken straight from a dream we had):

Here's a few more we recorded in Rebirtha's backyard:

"Trial and Error" (1987)

"Fishes in Green" (1987)

"Imprint of Fossils" (1987)

"A Point" (1987)

+ th lyrics to A Point:

Seems the music was Jesus + Mary Chain inspired (we mixed all the tracks together + fed it through a shitty little tube amp so it wd sound like 1 instrument feeding back on itself). The lyrics might have been inspired by reading Flatland, which just so happens we picked up last week at the Georgetown flea market. We remember reading it around this time in Santa Cruz + really digging it, but reading it now, we can't get past the blatant sexism. Some might argue that it's satire, reflective of the Victorian values of the era (it was first published in 1884), but it has nothing to do w/ the plot or mathematical subject matter + just seems like festering underlying personal values Abbott couldn't help but interject into the book. It's not just 1 passing comment, but he goes on + on about it... for example, he refers to a solider class (triangles) as "creatures almost on a level with women in their lack of intelligence" + a few pages later says "'Once a woman, always a woman' is a Decree of Nature; and the very Laws of Evolution seem suspended in her disfavour." We don't remember this sexism before.... maybe cuz we 1st read it in the 80s when people cared less about such things, but we were at Santa Cruz, a stronghold for feminism so was reminded of it every day. Anyway, if u can get past the sexism, it's a pretty trippy thought-provoking book about these beings (shapes) that live in a 2-dimensional world. It was first published pseudonymously as "A Square" + later attributed to Edwin A. Abbott (a schoolmaster w/ little formal training in mathematics).

cover to the original edition of Flatland

Some more homegrown tunes from around this time (the 1st probly Felt-inspired... we were heavily into them, as well as Durutti Column):

"Asleep at the Wheel" (1987)[used for the trailer for Ark Codex ±0]

"Under a Cloud" (1987)

+ the original lyrics (tho they ended up being very different): [1° verse shd be: I heard the unheard silence/ drifting from the sea/ sweeping thru th void/ pressing down/ down upon me, yah // + all is flat + still/ as we walk away/ walk away, yah ... + 2° verse shd be: I saw you there under a cloud/ on the edge of the endless plane/ u stood poised like a statue/ waiting for the rain/ waiting in vain, yah ... (after that as shown)]

"A Branch There Lays" (1987)

On the last 2 u mite detect the influence of The Edge's guitar work, right after Joshua Tree, when we calculated that to get The Edge's sound set yr delay pedal to 1/e of the beat (where e = the natural logarithm).

Anyhow, dats what we was up to, messing round w/ music + math in Santa Cruz, or the "murder capital of the world" as it was affectionately called in the '70s + '80s (all it takes is a few drug-addled nutjobs to skew the stats in a small town) .... meanwhile our brother-½ Chaulky was in art school in Pasadena. 1987 was around the height of his door-painting period. When we visited him around this time we used to go rummaging around looking for used doors that he'd would then paint on.

2 of Chaulky's door paintings


Chaulky posing w/ 1 of his door paintings



 539 <( )> 541 > Frankincense hurricaned in the bush of ghosts (Santa Cruz + Central America, 1988)

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