Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UsOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not -iSSuE- ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what TWENTY-SIX tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 05/31/96 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Tim Leary is dead.
When I was a senior in high school, I had a flyer from his show "How to Operate Your Brain" on my wall, and my father happened to see it.
"You like Timothy Leary?" he asked.
I replied that I did.
"He's done so much acid," my father explained, "he couldn't even complete a full sentence. His brain is fried."
Too bad most of the country sees him like this. It will probably take his death for people to see just how much of an impact he's had in the past thirty years. Hell, his eight circuit theory has been a useful model I've been using for a long time now. Read some Leary and learn something.
For me, Leary was to drug use what Crowley was to religion. He totally revamped the way I saw drug use, moving from pure escapism (for which reason I never used them) to mind expansion. For that I'll be ever grateful.
No letters this month. I don't feel loved. Someone hold me.
You can now all rejoice. The SoB mailing list has finally been set up. This is a manual list that I'm running out of Eudora, so if you send me a message with your email address, I'll add you. A little note about why you like the zine and something about yourself, what times you are at home, where the spare key is located, and the fastest route around your house to all your valuables would be appreciated as well. My email address, for those of you who can't page down all the way to the bottom of the zine, is <email@example.com>.
This is a pretty good issue. Noni Moon interviews Crux Ansata, and some very interesting things develop. Belgrave talks about the evils of advertising, and IWMNWN showers us with his masterful prose. I believe this is the second issue where Nathan's written all the fiction. I, for one, don't mind it.
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
For the May issue, Kilgore advised I talk with Crux Ansata. He told me Crux had been with the zine for most of the run, and besides, he had run a bunch of stuff. He also told me Crux lives in Austin, and could be easily conned into doing stuff for the zine, as long as you don't ask his permission first. So he told Crux he had to do the interview, and Crux said, "Um, ok."
I met him down at Jim's, on 183. It wasn't as far out of my way as the interview with I Wish My Name Were Nathan was, and at that time of night even 183 doesn't have too much traffic. The coffee is dirt cheap there, probably because it tastes like dirt, and you can't eat the food if you like life. I guess Crux likes that kind of thing, since he doesn't eat when he's out. How he puts away all that coffee, though, I don't know. I've cut the "Coffee?" "Yes, please"s in the interest of space.
Anyway, I followed his directions and went to the back of the Jim's to the booth to the right of the glass doors. He said to expect a few people there, so I sat down, put my recorder on the table, and started talking. The family sitting there looked very angry, though it took me a while to figure out why. After a while, I figured the three people in the booth across in the corner laughing at me probably knew something I didn't, so I apologized to the family, grabbed their ashtray and walked over to the corner.
CA: Sorry about that. I didn't expect there would be a family there at this time of night. They should have those kids in bed.
NM: Uh, no problem, I guess. You could have taken less time about it, though.
CA: What, and lose the opportunity to check you out and make sure you were alone? I don't think so.
NM: So, you must be Crux.
CA: Call me ansat.
CA: No, ansat. No capital.
NM: Ahhh, ok.
Introductions came next. Crux was in a black beret and eyeliner, a camouflage jacket and black clothes. His hair was a lot shorter than in the jpeg Kilgore had forwarded to me, but he later explained that was because he had to cut it all off for ROTC. The other two people were a smirking Nemo est Sanctus, with his finger stuck in the big black volume of Cornelius Agrippa he'd been reading from when I came in, and an angry, pouting Bobbi Sands.
NM: Kilgore told me you don't exist!
CA: Than why'd you come to interview me?!
NM: No! I mean the other two.
Nemo and Crux laughed. Bobbi sulked.
CA: Oh yeah, I told Kilgore that once. I told it to him as a joke. The last week of classes I told him I had once worked for the CiA and now just worked on a freelance basis infiltrating dissident groups. He didn't believe the CiA story, but he did believe the Bobbi and Nemo are myths story, and I didn't want to tell him I lied. He'll probably see this in the interview and figure we just made it up. He doesn't care, as long as the submissions keep rolling in, but this way all the paychecks will be in my name. I brought them along to have a talk before you showed up.
At this point Bobbi slid out of the stall and stormed off. I presume everyone here has read Crux's descriptions of Bobbi in his stories -- "The Tragedy of Bobbi Sands" particularly. They were pretty accurate. She was wearing one of those short leather jackets that come down just to the waist and a red leather skirt. She was looking slightly tousled from slouching in the booth, and stormed off through the non-smoking section angrily puffing a Marlboro.
NM: What's with her?
CA: Bobbi's been in a bit of a funk lately. She's been feeling kind of lost and meaningless, and that's got her depressed.
NeS: She's lost her raison d'etre.
CA: And that fucker hasn't been helping much.
NeS: I've been more of a help than you or her choose to realize.
After this outburst, there was silence for a couple of minutes as both of them fumed. I lit up another cigarette and felt uncomfortable.
NM: You know, in Russia they call these little pauses in conversation "quiet angels."
CA: Well, as a matter of fact, I did know that.
NM: So, where'd she go?
NeS: She's probably in the car right now. Or, more likely, walking around the Albertson's across the way over there. They're still open twenty four hours a day, and it is actually a good way to relieve depression to walk around a store with almost no one there. Look at the magazines and the books. Look at all the balloons and flowers. Around Valentine's Day is an especially good time to do it.
NM: You sound like you speak from experience.
NeS: I speak from ansat's experience.
CA: Shut up!
NM: Well, this is your interview, so I guess I should ask you to keep quiet, Nemo. Is there something you want to say about it, ansat?
CA: Not really, I guess. I'm kind of concerned about Bobbi. She's lost the flame. She's begun to doubt the value of her political ideals, and the use of fighting for what she believes in. She goes through these periods from time to time, but in her line of work to doubt is to die. And why do you sound like a therapist all of a sudden?
NM: So, she really does those things you write about? Terrorist raids and the like?
CA: You could say that. I couldn't.
NM: Why not?
CA: Criminal charges, you know. Have to keep the authorities guessing how much I say is true and how much is just made up. Don't you think it would suck if some cop got it into his head that you don't even exist, and that Bobbi doesn't even exist, and Nemo, and that I was writing this all by myself and admitting to terrorist raids? Don't you think that would leave me pretty legally culpable?
NM: Well, it's hard to imagine. Is getting arrested for your writing something you often worry about?
CA: Well, lately I've been more concerned about getting sued for it. Defamation of character and all that. Nemo has been working on one story that I said I won't forward to Kilgore until he has conned me into believing I won't end up being sued. It's about this really attractive girl in his ROTC class, but she's married, and probably wouldn't appreciate the story. And besides, it's not that good.
NM: You write about real people?
CA: Of course. All writers do. The trick to writing is always telling the truth, but doing so in a way that no one realizes that's what you're doing. A writer tells about his own experiences, filtered through his mind. What he writes about has happened, if only up there. Apparently, if they can figure out who you were writing about after you die, it's literary scholarship, but if they beat you to it they can sue you.
And then there was all the trouble and expense of fixing the house up after the Secret Service pulled that number. "Small caliber" my ass. A nine millimeter will put a hole in a wall just as well as one of those helicopter machine guns they assure me weren't used.
NM: I see. Ok. I suppose the biographical stuff comes now.
CA: I suppose so. Well, I'm twenty. Spent the first half of my life traveling around Europe and America with my family -- my father was in the Air Force -- and the second half trapped in this cultural backwater we so affectionately call Texas. I've been with the zine most of the run. My stuff started appearing in issue two.
NM: Did you work with WTAWTAA?
CA: You believed that underground zine story?
NM: Shouldn't I have?
CA: I don't know. You can't trust stuff people tell you, Noni, even in interviews. Unless you can get inside their heads, you can't be sure they're telling the truth.
Really, this whole SoB thing was my idea. About three years ago, the Agency asked me to round up some authors and start a zine. I couldn't be editor, of course, in case someone blew my cover before we needed to activate the zine. Make it innocuous, you know, get some credibility in the community. Run some wacky stuff. When the government decides it has come time to crack down, they know where to send their disinformation. About twenty-five percent of all people on the net are either active or sleeper agents for the CiA. Another thirty percent are Mossad, we're almost certain. For all I know, you're Mossad.
NM: And you don't mind me running this in the interview.
CA: No one will believe it. You shouldn't.
The party line is, back in 1993 I was co-sysop for a board called the Lions' Den. Kilgore called and mentioned something about starting a literary zine. I thought that sounded just boffo.
CA: Just boffo. So I arranged for the Den to be a distribution site, and then started submitting stuff.
NM: Is that how you met Kilgore?
CA: I met him at a UiL meet once, but I don't remember if that was before or after issue one came out. I think we started to be friends about two years ago come November.
NM: Do you mostly agree with the views that the other writers express?
CA: Sometimes. You see, I have this unfortunate habit in that whenever someone expresses an opinion, I automatically think the opposite. I can go into a conversation totally convinced of something, find the person I'm talking with has the same opinion, and walk away having convinced myself of the opposite side. I can usually see both sides, and can believe both sides, but I tend to believe the side that seems less popular at the time. In effect, hanging out with all these liberals has steadily pushed me into the Right Wing.
NM: Why do you do that, do you think?
CA: It's a defensive mechanism. I'm afraid to get too close to people, so I automatically alienate myself. It's rather unfortunate.
NM: Ouch. So, how would you describe yourself now?
CA: I'm a loser, Noni.
NM: I kind of meant politically.
CA: I know. I'm an anarcho-communist with National Socialist tendencies.
NM: I'm not going to ask; I don't even want to know.
CA: Well, that's something you wouldn't have to worry about unless you were me, Noni.
NM: So, what fuels your writing? Why do you continue to write?
CA: Well, I used to write because I had to, you know? I would have a story, and it would hurt too much to keep it in. That was a long time ago, though. Why do I keep writing? Because if I didn't, Kilgore would kill me. <laughs>
I guess the main thing that keeps me writing is a deep pain.
CA: Yes. I think about how the world could be perfect, and then I see all the imperfection in the world. It makes me depressed, and that makes me frustrated and angry. So I write.
NM: Why? To help you escape?
CA: Maybe. Maybe in my writing I have a little more power. You'll notice that my stories tend to be about people who find themselves in pain because of the imperfection in the world. That's what Bobbi in my stories is always trying to do: set things wrong right again, expropriate the expropriators, but she does it because they hurt her, too.
NeS: It's like in my story, "Confessional," where that character tries to make the world better in the only way he has the power to.
CA: Yes. There are never any good guys or bad guys, just people in pain because of the cruelties of reality. Through the eyes of the writer there can seem to be good guys and bad guys, but if you really look at the stories, there never really are.
NM: That sounds like real life.
NeS: Perish the thought! <laughing>
CA: I have no intention nor any desire to write something that reflects real life. There is no beauty in reality. There is beauty only in the artificial synthesis that the artist purifies through his art. There is no beauty in nature, or in this world. The only beauty that exists is that little bit of beauty that we, through our intelligence and soul, can create out of the base bits and pieces of reality.
I used to think I could create art for art's sake, beauty for beauty's sake, but I no longer believe that. I'm not interested in creating art for art's sake. She is a false goddess.
NM: Toilet paper: over or under?
CA: Over, of course! What heathen monster would run toilet paper under?!
NM: So you don't write for the sake of art. You do it because it makes you feel better?
CA: No, that isn't it, either. Because it doesn't make me feel that much better. I can write in my diary when I just need to write.
I used to write with the hope I could tell someone something, but I don't have anything to say. And I don't really think people are listening.
Come to think of it, I have no reason to write. I'm just in it for the sex and the drugs. <strained laughter>
NM: Well, then, what are some of your influences.
CA: By now, you should know. All that artificiality stuff is right out of the Decedents -- Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde especially. They have had a definite influence, especially in my philosophy. Robert Anton Wilson, of course, goes without saying. I really like Nabokov, and I have somewhat self consciously adopted some of his style into my own.
NM: Nabokov? The Lolita guy?
CA: Yes, the Lolita guy, and one of the greatest stylists of the twentieth century, in both Russian and English. And Lars Gustaffson. As a matter of fact, I'm reading his Funeral Music for Freemasons now.
NM: I'm not familiar with him.
CA: He is a Swedish author. Some time ago I came across his Sigismund in a bookstore, and then I had the opportunity to attend a class he taught at the University on the Swedish novel since World War II. I've read a number of his books.
NM: Which number?
CA: Um, six? I think that's right.
NM: What? No Vonnegut?
CA: Well, I read his Galapagos, but it didn't really move me. I'm borrowing one of Kilgore's copies of Slaughterhouse Six by Vonnegut now.
CA: Five what?
NM: Slaughterhouse Five.
CA: Oh, thank you. I've just never really been able to get into the whole modern writer thing. I like some, like Eccarius and Wilson, but as a movement I find it rather aesthetically displeasing.
NM: I see. What else have you been reading lately?
CA: Well, I don't read as fast as Kilgore, but I read frequently. Recently, I've read Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and the Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
CA: The introduction to my copy says, "Most people have heard of Abelard and Heloise as a pair of lovers as famous as Dante and Beatrice or Romeo and Juliet". When I read that, I thought, "I bet most people my age haven't heard of Dante and Beatrice, let alone Abelard and Heloise." It makes one tremble to think whether people my age would have heard of Romeo and Juliet if it wasn't for the movies.
Anyway, Abelard and Heloise were lovers in the twelfth century. They had a number of tragedies, one son, and eventually she became a nun in charge of a number of convents and he one of the most important theologians of the twelfth century. Their letters talk of their troubles, their love, and their theology. It really is fascinating.
NM: Boy, you really don't go for the modern writers. Twelfth century and sixth century?
CA: Fourth to fifth, actually.
NM: And a lot of religious texts.
CA: It all comes back to that same search for a reason for being. I failed to find it in art; I failed to find it in learning. I have been looking for it in religion.
You see, I don't see any value in anything except God, and God has His value by nature of being Himself. Once you've taken that perspective, one really can't find many purposes. God does not need me, and nothing I do can make God any better or happier, so I am left trying to find something worthwhile.
NM: Why don't you help people then, or something.
CA: Because I don't see any value in people, either. Everything will pass away except God, and what God chooses to preserve.
That does touch on my other Big Question: What do I owe my fellow man. I have never answered that one, either. If I don't owe other people anything, than the monastic life looks very appealing. I can lock myself up and just think and pray for my lifetime. Or even just kill myself. But if I owe something to someone else, then I need to find out what it is I need to do, for every minute I don't is a minute held against me.
I also happen to be hamstrung by the fact that I have an irrational need to feel necessary, with the knowledge that no one and nothing is necessary save God, who is necessary by definition. That is one of those strange loops that leads to insanity: I have an unfulfillable need.
NM: A "strange loop"?
CA: I think that's the term. A fundamental contradiction in my world view that cannot be resolved, and so slowly increases tension, which leads to schizophrenia and distortion of reality.
NM: Well, the first step to solving your problem is admitting you have one, I guess. <laughs>
CA: Nope, doesn't work that way. You see, these aren't superficial problems. These are the wiring under the board, so to speak. The only way to correct them would be to rebuild my -- uh -- ego? Anyway, to reformat my personality at the base level. Of course, what is the prime motivation of any entity?
CA: To survive as an entity. Didn't you read Bobbi's "History, Biology, Conspiracy", or whatever she called it? Obviously, my ego, or whatever it is I'm talking about, won't permit itself to be low level reformatted. It would resist. I may acknowledge that I need help, and know what kind of help I need, but I would still resist it because I am an animate being. The only way those strange loops can be worked out would be to break my psyche down completely, which could pretty much be done by one of those psychotherapy or drug rehab groups that work by breaking your personality and rebuilding it from the ground up, if they could make me undergo it and had strong windows.
NM: Strong windows?
CA: In order to break the psyche, they have to break resistance. Check this out: I know that having no self worth is a problem, but I do not consider myself worth fixing. Strange loop. So they have to break down my resistance so they could rebuild it. When that resistance is broken down, though -- the self-preservation I mentioned earlier -- the subject becomes suicidal. Didn't you ever read VALIS, by Philip K. Dick? Remember that scene in the drug rehab center all the way at the beginning?
NM: No, I -- wait, is that the one with Gloria?
CA: Yeah. They broke down her resistance, and she broke one of their windows.
NM: Do you often psychoanalyse yourself?
CA: Psychology is a hobby. When I was in Junior High I wanted to be a psychiatrist, so I read some textbooks and stuff. I still read Jung, Reich, and Reik from time to time, just for chuckles.
NM: That's a pretty vicious mindset you got there.
CA: I have another one. Check this out: I feel a need to be unique, but I know no one is. Another strange loop.
NM: Everyone is unique.
CA: Perhaps. But I don't believe it.
NM: Well, start. <laughter>
CA: That's not that big of one. The only thing it really deals with is love. I feel a need to be unique to someone, and what glory is there in being loved by someone who loves everyone?
NM: Do you have a girlfriend?
CA: I've been seeing someone for two and a half years this month. Sometimes I don't know if it is going to last -- we've had our problems -- but I deeply love her. In a way I don't love anyone else. <laughs>
NM: Are you aware that sounds kind of, well, co-dependent?
CA: What our society calls co-dependence, other societies called romantic love. Romeo and Juliet were co-dependent. Pyramus and Thisbe. Hero and Leander. Abelard and Heloise. Have you ever read the poetry of the Troubadours?
NM: No, can't say that I have.
CA: You're missing out. I was raised on the Middle Ages, chivalry, courtly love. King Arthur, Robin Hood, all that. Today, we would call that co-dependent. You know why?
CA: Because we are too focused on the individual in this society. (You see, there's a difference between Nathan and I.)
NM: (Yes, I remember that from the last interview.)
CA: Since we consider the society to be an accumulation of individuals and put the individual on a pedestal, we are crumbling as a society. I think Aristotle predicted that thousands of years ago: A democracy cannot survive because it would collapse into special interest groups and individuals.
So many things would not even be issues if we had a civic responsibility. Free speech? A responsible person doesn't need restrictions. Free press? Civic responsibility would solve it.
NM: You're starting to sound more like Nathan. He was pushing responsibility, too.
CA: Gee, you're right. Guess I'll have to realign my sociopolitical world view again. To get the full life out of your brain it is important to have regular gestalt rotation.
About now, three or four sheriffs walked in, followed by a still puffing Bobbi. The sheriffs sat down at a nearby table, and Bobbi stepped behind me. Nemo and Crux exchanged a classic Dragnet meaningful glance, Nemo nodded, and everything went dark as Bobbi (I assume) pulled a bag over my head.
Kicking and screaming, they carried me past the sheriffs, said, "Hello", and rather unceremoniously tossed me in the back of the car.
Is it only me, or have others become aware of new techniques being employed in advertising? Advertising in essence isn't wrong, it is a way in which we can be informed of new products. But, and this is a big but, more and more advertising is infiltrating our everyday lives, we cannot open our eyes in the morning without some form of advertising staring back at us.
By definition, advertising is: (The Maquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary) "advertise -v t 3. to offer (an article) for sale or (a vacancy) to applicants, etc., by placing an advertisement in a newspaper, magazine, etc. " (This being the most relevant definition, pg.13, if you are wanting to check the other definitions)
Another definition, given by The Educational Resources Informational Center (ERIC), in an article titled 'Educating The Consumer About Advertising' (author Stephen S. Gottlieb) is: "Advertising can be defined as communication which promotes the purchase of products and services, and advertisements are pervasive in the American culture."
No longer do these definitions of passive advertising hold true. Increasingly, if we apathetically allow the advertisements to wash over our TV dulled minds, we are not given a choice if we want to buy or not, at some point, the ad we just watched will force us to buy the product it promotes. That is, if we are not conscious of the intricate workings behind the glossy fantasy worlds they portray. This is what I am hoping to do with this article, to open the eyes of you, dear reader, and to make you aware of the new techniques they are employing.
"If this text makes only one person think, then it has served it's purpose."
1. THE LINE BETWEEN ADVERTISING AND ENTERTAINMENT IS BLURRING.
Once, if I remember correctly, somewhere in that wash of rose-coloured childhood memories, I can recall being able to tell where the advertising finished and the entertainment began, not anymore, dear consumer. In the apparent evolved entertainment society of today, the advertising IS the entertainment.
1.1 Product Placement, or Advertising Through Association With An Icon.
Next time you are watching that favourite TV show, wide eyed, open mouthed and in an induced state of stupor, drag your eyes off of the action, and focus on the foreground, and on the backgrounds. Notice the way that certain products are placed? The way that the piece of walking talking silicon picks up that can of soft drink, selectively holding the label to the camera.
Try looking in the peripheral of the main focus next time you go and see a movie, this is also another great place to see the wonders of product placement in action. This form of advertising is a passive one, but it does have its very own insidious quality.
The way that product placement works, is by taking the advertising out of it's own domain, and placing it in situations where it is seen to be a part of everyday life. A character on the telly casually walking to the fridge, while reciting lines, and casually saying "Do you want a drink?" to another character, whilst grabbing the article from the fridge, and making sure the products label is visible, doesn't seem so much to be advertising, but just something that is done.
This is the crux of my point. The companies take the advertising out of a noticeably familiar advertising situation, where the consumer knows that the company is pushing their product, and creatively place it into the script, where it seems to become just part of every day life. Couple this with the association of a prominent famous figure actually liking the product (they probably don't though, and remember, the people on the TV aren't really real), and we have a potent purchase stimulus....
"Well if Kramer likes it, then damn it, it must have SOMETHING going for it, I'll just try it once to see what it's like." There, the advertising has worked it's wicked way, a sale has been made which was directly influenced by the advertising. The other form of product placement, is the way in which company logos sort of weasel their way into the backdrops of shots on the TV and in movies.
It seems to the impressionable mind of the viewer that it is only a part of the backdrop, hell, it happens so much, we can be excused for not noticing it. It isn't just the one instance of the logo appearing which works, it is the repetition of the same logo over and over which causes it to lodge in our minds and induce sales.
Next time you are in a supermarket, stand back and look at a shelf. The products that stand out and say "BUY ME" are the ones that carry a logo which has been repeated to us time and time before. One last point. This sort of advertising just doesn't randomly occur. Big corporate dollars are spent to ensure that certain products appear. Sometimes I wonder who is writing the scripts, the writers or the money?
1.2 The New Soap-Opera Ads
I'm sure that we have all seen these new breed of ads which have started to insult our intelligence. It is an obvious form of product and service advertising, however, turning an ad into a soap opera turns the attention away from the advertising platform and to the actual soap opera element of the campaign, making the advertising more appealing to the consumer. While the actual product push is still recognizably there, the person watching the ad doesn't shut it out as much because there is something new to keep the interest up, while the product push still works it's way into the head of the watcher.
Even though these ads annoy the shit out of some of us, they still work, because the old adage 'bad publicity is the same as good publicity' is very true. I have heard people saying, "Have you seen that new [insert company here] ad, isn't it bad/stupid/annoying?" These people don't like the ad, but it has worked inversely because it is still producing interest about the company and the products it is advertising and WILL bring about sales because of it.
1.3 The 1 Hour Advertising Phenomena
Who's idea was it to create these TV shows about advertising? The worlds greatest commercials blah... blah... blah. You sit there for an hour watching ads, then in between this barrage, we get more ads. This is what we class as entertainment? I worry about the intelligence of people who consider it as such. Again, lots of money is spent to get these shows to put up certain ads. Is it just a coincidence that a certain soft drink always gets a staring role? Me thinks not.
2. THE CONSUMER PAYING TO ADVERTISE HAS NOW BECOME A FASHION STATEMENT
One of the most subversive and ingenious techniques would have to be making the consumer pay for a companies advertising by creating a whole designer market for company logos. Please understand this is a totally manufactured market.
Let's look at the logic and agenda behind this: a big company makes it desirable/fashionable to wear its clothing. This clothing is a generic garment, be it a T-shirt, shoes, socks whatever, with the actual logo as the buying point. For some reason, the products apparent quality and value for money is tangenial to the logo the product carries and how much money it costs. When someone buys one of these products and wears it around, they become a walking, talking corporate billboard, the irony being that this person actually payed for it.
2.1 Manufacturing The Market.
The above is probably an unnecessary explanation to most of you , but where the engine of this consumer band wagon lies is in the superfluously extravagant and over-financed advertising campaigns. Instead of searching for a market, these companies just create their own. Let us take as a very valid example (one of the many), the Australian band Silverchair.
I am not going to let my own personal views come into play here. This is not the basis for this example. What the basis is, however, is the way that this band has been used by their record company to manufacture a whole generation of children into a profit machine. The band itself is unquestionably popular with a certain section of the population. This is the angle which is being worked, targeting this section of the population by over publicising the band in formats which would be viewed by them, that is teenie-bopper mags, mainstream saturday morning music shows etc.
I am not pointing towards record sales for Silverchair here, which do come into play, but rather the way that the band members are always wearing different T-Shirts of other bands. I don't think I have seen them wearing anything else apart from cut-off knee length army pants, or some other knee length pants, the ever present flannelette shirt and a band t-shirt. All these band shirts are, coincidentally(?), bands which are marketed by the company which markets Silverchair. Isn't that just cosy? Now what do we see coming out of this? I know I have sat down and watched hundreds of people walking about in, wait for it, a flanny, knee-length pants and a band t-shirt. Admittedly this clothing style has been around far longer than the band, but why all of a sudden do we have an influx of young Silverchair fans dressing exactly the same, all of them like little clones of the band members?
What the companies get out of this should be obvious. Large increases in t-shirt sales, each sale basicly ensures a CD sale of the band that the shirt is advertising, due to the walking-corporate-billboard-and-I-paid-for-it effect. Add to this a tangent of something I was talking about before, Association With An Icon. By making Silverchair wear t-shirts advertising other bands (you thought they chose to do it?), an association is made by their fans somewhere along the line of "cool, Silverchair wears that bands' t-shirt, they must like them, I might just buy that CD sometime." Again, sales are boosted by this line of thought.
This is not the only way that wearing advertising has been made fashionable. Whole new markets and areas within existing markets have been manufactured. A few of these are:
--== American Basketball/Football/Baseball: Whole sub-cultures have been manufactured around these sports in the same way as described above.
--== The Beauty Myth: "We will tell you what is beautiful and what isn't. Our products are what make people beautiful. To be happy you must be beautiful, and to be beautiful you must buy our clothing and cosmetics."
--== Social Status Enhancing Shoes That Can Be Worn As A T-Shirt: It seems strange that some companies which primarily manufacture shoes, are making billions out of manufacturing whole clothing cultures around their shoes. We all know the companies in question.
3. SUBLIMINAL ADVERTISING
After reading that subtitle, I have probably lost all credibility and the interest of some of you, dear consumers. Stay with me on this one. What images sprung into your minds? Hidden messages in 'rock' music telling the kiddies to go out and burn grandma? Or maybe an ominous droning voice in piped music repeating 'buy... buy... buy...'? Do you want to know the really scary thing? The latter is true. Audio cassettes and CD's are now for sale, and being used, in supermarkets and other stores. These pump out your garden variety elevator music, BUT, they have subliminal messages. They are marketed as subliminal tapes and bought as such, and you, dear consumers, are none the wiser. Why believe me, though? Below are two (rather lengthy) quotes from an article titled "The Battle For Your Mind" by a professional American hypnotist, Dick Sutphen. He reinforces his knowledge by saying: "...In talking about this subject, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be."
"...The oldest audio subliminal technique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music. So, subliminals are impossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique is patented and, when I wanted to develop my own line of subliminal audio cassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory. My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to some talented Hollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found a way to psycho-acoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that they are projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving them the effect of being part of the music. But we found that, in using this technique, there is no way to reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words, although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannot be monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.
"If we were able to come up with this technique as easily as we did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, with unlimited U.S. Government and [corporate] advertising funding. And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what is behind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voice behind the voice to which you are listening."
The series, by Wilson Bryan Key, Ph.D., on subliminals in advertising and political campaigns, well documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising in newspapers, magazines and posters.
The big question about subliminals is: Do they work? And I guarantee you that they do -- not only from the response of those who have used my tapes, but from the results of such programs as the subliminals behind the music in department stores. SUPPOSEDLY, the only message is instructions to not steal. One East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in thefts in the first nine months of testing....
"...The more we find out about how human beings work through today's highly advanced technological research, the more we learn to control human beings. And what probably scares me the most is that the medium for takeover is already in place! That television set in your living room and bedroom is doing a lot more than just entertaining you!
"Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of the body's own opiates: enkephalins and beta-endorphines, chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good -- and you want to come back for more.
"Recent tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that, while viewers were watching television, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered state... in trance more often than not. They were getting their beta-endorphine "fix."
"To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG [electroencephalograph] machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children's brains produced a majority of alpha brain waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than thirty seconds!
"Most viewers are ALREADY hypnotized! To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation, perceived ONLY by the subconscious mind -- the ideal pace at which to generate deep hypnosis.
"The commercials or suggestions presented following this alpha-inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that has somnambulistic-depth [sleep walking - Bel] ability could very well accept the suggestions as commands -- as long as those commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion, or self-preservation.
"The medium for takeover is here! By the age of 16, children have spent ten thousand to fifteen thousand hours watching television! That is MORE time than they spend in school! In the average home, the television set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per day -- an increase of nine minutes from last year, and three times the average rate of increase during the 1970s.
"It obviously isn't getting better. We are rapidly moving into an alpha-level world -- very possibly, the Orwellian world of "1984": placid, glassy-eyed, and responding obediently to instructions... "
That is all that I will say about this facet of the subject. I wish now to enter a new realm of subliminal advertising. The above techniques may or may not exist. This is for you to decide. If it does exist, however, it is unnecessary in today's society. Corporations can blatantly tell people what to do and what to buy, achieving the same effects, but not using the same techniques as the controversial forms of subliminal advertising which I touched on above.
3.1 Subliminal Advertising Has Now Reached A More Blatant Level
Advertising seems to be manifesting from just informing, to blatantly instructing consumers to buy. Walk down any aisle at the supermarket, have a look at the shelves and the little advertising blurbs you see splattered around, 'Buy our Product', 'Buy our product and this will happen to you...', and many, many more. I become angered by the audacity of these corporations, but many people are not even consciously aware of this. Are all the people I see at the local supermarket completely oblivious they are being 'instructed' to buy certain products? You will find this blatant form of subliminal quite easily, in fact. The more you look around when you are out and about in happy-go-lucky-consumer land.
3.1.1 The Competition Advertising Campaign
Another little trick used by companies is the competition campaign. This advertising ploy is fairly well embedded into our consumer psyche. It is where a company takes all attention away from the product and places it instead in what the consumer could possibly win by purchasing the product repeatedly. How can you class this as subliminal? I hear you ask. Well, subliminal, by definition, is (again, The Maquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary. pg 951) "SUBLIMINAL. being or operating below the threshold of consciousness or perception;subconscious."
I have seen friends and strangers fall prey to these crafty competition campaigns. They were working on a conscious level when the decision was made to purchase, but out of the different choices that could be made, in most cases, the product of choice is the one which carries a competition stimulus. Therefore, the advertising IS subliminal because it made the consumer purchase the product by telling them that if they do, they will gain material wealth. The subconscious clicks into play, the prize seems to be something that the consumer needs, and the sale is made on this point, not actually the need to have the product which is purchased. The choice from the many products displayed is made on the manufactured subconscious desire to gain material wealth.
3.1.2 The Insertion Of Slogans Into Our Every Day Speech
At an alarming rate, we are being conditioned to repeat advertising slogans as part of our everyday speech. Aldous Huxley used the term 'sleep-teaching' or 'hypnopaedia' in his book 'Brave New World', where people are `morally' conditioned to do and say things in response to every day situations, by having constructed phrases repeated to them while they are asleep as children. In today's society, this is happening to children and adults alike, and we don't have to be asleep for it to work.
Companies carefully construct slogans which they drum into us. I will not repeat any of them here, as I would be falling prey to what I am trying to illuminate, but have a look around you at the amount of times that certain slogans are repeated. In the mediums of television and radio, these slogans also carry a simple tune, which is created to be memorable, and the slogan is rhythmically repeated or sung with this tune. Have another read of the quotes from Dick Sutphen which I used at the start of this section, where he is talking about the speech following the pattern of the music.
Now I hope you may see why Subliminal advertising has reached a more blatant level. The messages no longer need to be hidden from us, because they achieve the same goals when they are staring us in the face. People all around us repeat these embedded slogans and catch phrases as every day speech, including them as they would any old cliched saying or anecdote. Walking, talking advertising machines is what most of us are becoming, and we are oblivious to it. Some of us even think it humorous, laughing at the way some companies advertise their products, and making jokes out of catch phrases. These are the people who just can't see the manipulation for the advertising, and if they can, they are apathetic and uncaring toward the control.
4. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW KIND HEARTED THE CAMPAIGN MAY SEEM, IT'S THE PROFIT MARGINS THAT DRIVE IT FORWARDS.
For all the good intentions of these multinationals when they have their charity campaigns, where they affiliate themselves with a `worthy' cause, if there wasn't something in it for them, do you think they would bother ? What most people don't realise is that the money they give to these organizations is a token gesture to make them seem like the good guys, while their coffers grow larger as they play on the good nature of consumers.
How often has a product decision been made on the fact that you may be doing something worthwhile in giving money to a company that states '5 cents out of every purchase will go towards [insert charity organization here]" or something along those lines? I am not saying here that this money doesn't actually end up going to these charity organizations. It would have to unless the company itself would be up for some fairly hefty court cases. What I am trying to point out is, for all the 'seemingly' good intentions of the company, they are only in it for the money they will get out of it, the reputation it builds for the company, and the future sales it will generate because of this assumed reputation.
Please understand clearly. These companies care about money and money only, and will employ any tactic they can to get more of it. Maybe the figures will illuminate this a bit more. Below is a hypothetical situation, however much it may seem to sound quite a lot like a real life situation. Believe me, it is meant to be that way.
A hypothetical situation in consumer land.... Public interest has been generated by the Mainstream Media about the plight of a race of people who have been grossly mistreated by their government, in a part of the world which nearly no one has heard of until now. Everyone is walking through the pastel coloured streets of consumer land talking about how terrible it is, saying nasty things about the government, and so on. They have a feeling of helplessness about the whole situation, because watching the TV and shopping, which is what all good consumers do, isn't going to do anything to help these people. So they don't try. They just continue to say how bad it is to their friends as they hand their credit card over the counter to the person at the checkout. A global spanning multinational hamburger chain pricks it's ears up. It jumps on the band wagon, starting a large advertising campaign. The multinational, under this premise, is saying that over a two day period, 5 cents out of every burger sold will go toward helping these people.
Ok, now that the situation has been set, let's have a look at the figures. For simplicity, let us assume that the average burger price is $1.50, on average it cost this company 30 cents for the actual `food' part of this burger (which is not an over exaggerated assumption), and that 40 cents of this price goes toward other costs like wages, electricity, etc. So all up we have a $1.50 burger, costing the company 70 cents, and making a clear profit of 60 cents.
Over a normal 2 day period, this company sells 1000 burgers, generating a normal profit of $600. Over the 2 day period when the campaign is on, they sell 1,700 burgers, making an increase of 700 burger sales which can be directly linked to their 'good will' campaign. Now 5 cents out of each of these sales goes towards helping these people. So out of their $1,020 clear profit for these two days, only $85 is donated, making their profit $935. The company itself has gained a $335 increase because of this campaign, and the poor people who everyone is feeling so sorry for only get $85 out of it, which would only pay a small part of the costs to get food to them, if there was enough money to actually buy food for them in the first place.
The multinational has exploited these people to gain more money, and the people who inhabit not-a-care-in-the-world consumer land, are completely oblivious to the fact that the only people they have helped are the owners of the multinational hamburger chain, and they don't care, because they have had their hit of 'helping their fellow people.' After that, nothing else matters.
I have only begun to outline the various subversive ways in which advertising is being inflicted upon us. Whilst writing this, I have been continually asking myself for justification on why I find these methods insidious, annoying, intrusive and wrong. I am sure some of you may be flaunting with the same questions.
It is because choice is slowly being replaced by direct orders to buy. Manipulative commercials that seem so harmless to the casual observer, but when you begin to ignore the rose coloured tint and peer into the inner workings, they take on a whole new light. I hope that I have opened the eyes of you, dear reader, into this realm which lies carefully hidden behind the facade of consumerism. These observations above lead onto other observations, hopefully allowing you to wade through the crap, so that you can make informed purchases, not manufactured ones. While the rest of the population gets swept along with the blind current that is todays consumer based society, where the mighty dollar is all that is needed to fulfill your life, where the mighty dollar is a better substitute for reality than reality itself, because the mighty dollar can make you forget what is really happening, and create a fantasy world for you to inhabit.
One last subject I would like to point out is the Chain Of Ownership. Next time you are at the supermarket, have a look at the fine print on the back of the product you are about to purchase. You may find something like "[blah... blah] is a division of [blah... blah]". Now toddle around until you find a product which is openly produced by the larger company, look at the back again, and you may just find that this company is owned by another larger one again. For about 5 minutes of work, you can easily see where your money is going to go, not just to the company which you think you are purchasing the product from, but to the larger company which own this one, and so on up the chain of ownership.
Make sure you are aware what each of these companies are doing to the planet and it's inhabitants. By giving your money to these companies, you are in fact supporting what they do. If you don't want your money to go to these companies, it doesn't have to. There are bound to be many products of equal value and quality which by purchasing you are not supporting the actions of these large multinationals. What are these actions? Well, let's have a quick look....
--== An extremely large hamburger chain, started in America. It sells french fries etc. If you support this company, you are supporting the depletion of the Amazon, and a whole stack of other issues. There is a lot of good writing on what this company is actually doing to the planet. Some of your local political and environmental organizations should be able to help you to find this literature.
--== One of the world's largest cotton and synthetic fibre manufacturers, who are American based and owned, and who own, or have controlling interests in a good percentage of the Australian market. If your money gets through to these people, you are inadvertantly supporting the prohibition of the hemp fibre. Just watch out where your money is going to go the next time you buy toilet paper. A major tissue manufacturer is affiliated with these people. The tissue manufacturer is owned by another company, who in turn has a close relationship to the American company described above. Anyone who knows their facts about the criminalisation of Hemp, should know the American company I am referring to.
--== A well know confectionery manufacturer, mainly chocolate products, who is/was supplying off-milk and milk by products to third world countries like Africa, where the African people, who have a genetic lactose intolerance, are dying because of it. Your monetary support of this company is helping to apathetically poison millions of people world wide, just so that this company can get fatter off the governmental money paid to them.
Just to point towards a few. Sorry about the vagueness when describing the companies in question, but legal attention is not on my "list of things to do today". I hope I have opened the eyes of a few.
At a complete loss for words.
Kids eat candy all year long -- now, that's a fact. This realization struck me one day when James and I were sitting out behind the toolshed eating a pound bag of Whoppers. We knew the secret that all kids knew but most parents forgot -- you can't save Whoppers. You have to eat them right away, and as James and I firmly believed, as quickly as possible. Sometimes we got sick and puked later, but it was no matter.
We'd finished the whole bag of Whoppers and were leaning against the wall of the shed, fidgeting like caged monkeys. James didn't look like he wanted to stand up, so I read the Whoppers bag. In a tiny little section next to the ingredients, I saw a box with "Leaf" written in it and a phone number to call, if you wanted to give suggestions or bitch at them. Obviously, I'd never had a reason to bitch at Leaf. Those guys made great candy. But, in my sugar high, I decided I should give them my congratulations and heartfelt support. Any American kid would do it, but not necessarily brag about it, if you know what I mean.
So, I got up and told James I was going to call up Leaf. A gleam came to his eye.
"Aw, swank! Say, what do you think they'll send you?" he asked.
I was dumbfounded. I hadn't thought of the prospects of getting free shit just for calling.
"You sure they'd send me something?"
"Yeah, Nate! What the hell, how many people do you know call that number, ever? Those operators are prolly dying for some attention!"
A gleam came to my eye. Maybe I'd get a stuffed Leaf leaf, or some free candy, or a free subscription to Leaf magazine. My hands trembled. I nodded stoutly at James and ran inside to place the call.
Well, as it turns out, the call was a big disappointment. There was this lady on the other end, and she was acting like she was expecting hell. I was a kid, so she suspected a practical joke, and my heartfelt outpouring of emotion tainted with the greedy lust of freebies only confirmed her suspicions. She did ask my name, and I was sort of scared to, but I didn't want to sound guilty, so I gave it. Even my middle name, Phobias. I figured, what, would the FBI start a file on me? But that was all. I hung up the phone and felt disappointed. I guess I'd expected too much. That was probably why the phone number was printed so tiny on the bag, because they didn't want people to get let down and sue. I trudged back out behind the shed and sat down again without a word.
Three days later right after school, I was in my room whacking off to pictures of Silverchair when the doorbell rang. I quickly pulled up my shorts over my greasy boner and rubbed my hands on a towel and hurried to the door. No one else in my family was home at the time so I had to answer it.
I unlocked the door and swung it open to reveal the image of a white- haired old man. He held his hat in his hands and smiled very nicely.
"Hello, old man," I said. "Are you lost? If so, I'll have to call the police." I remembered my mother's rehearsed words to the letter.
The man's eyes widened in fright and he waved a hand in self-defense. "Wait a second!" he cried. "Are you Nathan Almerad?"
Why, damn, I sure was, so I said, "Yes, why?"
He resumed his business with some trepidation. "Then I'm not lost, you see there? As -- as our records show, you called up Leaf three days ago at three p.m. to applaud our products, namely the delicacy known as Whoppers --"
My jaw fell open. At first I assumed it was an FBI guy -- it takes all kinds -- but once he revealed he was one of them, one of those Leafers, I was thunderstruck with awe.
"-- are you Mr. Leaf?!" I shrieked.
"-- er, no, son, I'm --"
"-- can you do tricks then?" I asked.
"-- er, what? no, I --"
"-- so you're bringing free shit!" I exclaimed.
"No, no, son, I come in peace!" the old man cried. I fell silent. He put his finger to his lip, wondering what had happened. Both of us stood there confused in the doorway.
"Come in and sit down," I offered him, not merely out of kindness to my elders, but also as a diversion so I could get James to witness the results of my phone call, however strange.
I led the man to the couch and told him to wait a second. Then I rushed into my room, hid the Silverchair pictures and the Vaseline, and told James to get out of the closet.
"Is it my mom again?" he asked. "Don't let her at me!"
"No, man, it's a Leaf guy! A guy from Leaf! Those Whoppers people! The ones who make Whoppers!"
"I understood you the first time," he said. "What's he want?"
"I have no clue, but he's waiting in the living room."
So we went back into the living room and sat in two chairs facing the couch where I had pushed down the old man.
"Who's this?" he asked suspiciously.
"This is my friend James. He was a witness to the call. I mean, he knows I made the call. He wasn't like breathing over my shoulder at the time or anything. He loves Leaf stuff too. He woulda called, but we didn't both want to bug you, you know?" I explained. "Is it okay?"
"Sure, sure, it's better, in fact. I could use the help of two boys like you. You see, Leaf is in trouble."
I became apprehensive. Was it because Whoppers got stale too damned fast for people to eat? Was it lack of household recognition? Mafia pressure?
He continued. "Leaf is having financial problems."
James clutched his wallet, saying, "How much do you need?"
The old man broke into tears of laughter. After half a minute of it, he exclaimed with a hearty grin, "I always forget how stupid children are!" Then, apologetically, "No, James, I'm afraid your allowance can't help our troubles."
It was really ironic because James was adept at computer crime and his wallet contained an account number good for hundreds of millions of dollars. I never believed he'd have the balls to use it, but it was good to tell stories about.
"No, our financial problems are a little more complex than that. It's a whole bunch of grown-up money mumbo-jumbo, but the basic point is, we're getting stale."
"The Whoppers?" I asked.
The old man shook his head with a smirk. "No, our whole product line, meaning what we sell. We haven't added a new product in years, and the kids are getting too comfortable with us, trying other brands, and all that. I mean, you'd think it would be easy to make a new product -- there are so many ingredients -- chocolate, whipped marshmallows, resinous glaze, soy lecithin, yellow #9 -- just mix some new things together, and sell it. That is our ideology, you know. But our blood is old. We've turned conservative. New candy is bad news. That's why I've come to you boys. I've recently been hired to test-market some new varieties of candy I've come up with."
James and I gawked at each other. It was a sugary dream come true.
"You make candy?" I asked incredulously.
"Oh, yes, it's true," he said. "I came up with some new recipes and concepts and shapes, and the boys in the lab made samples of it for testing. Whether this candy makes it to market will be entirely up to you."
James and I smiled widely. This was truly an honor, being the first testers of totally new and unheard-of Leaf candies. My mind was spinning with the possibilities. I'd never seen banana filling, for instance. Nor a candy with a crunchy inside and a soft outside except for Whoppers -- and there had to be another angle on that puppy. Perhaps this man would supply it.
"Can we give you ideas too?" James asked, reading my mind. "Wouldn't that be helpful too?"
The old man nodded. "Why certainly! That was another thing I was going to say. My mind isn't as great as it used to be. I'd love the advice of some open young minds for new Leaf product ideas. It would be so... so... beautiful," he said, starting to cry. He dropped his head into his hands and openly wept.
"The only problem with this is, you won't get any recognition for it," he blubbered.
"What a fucking bum deal!" James cried.
"Sssssh, James, you'll scare the pitiful old man," I whispered.
"I agree, son, it's not fair. But you see, I was assigned to test-market to groups of middle-aged men, who've lost their taste buds and care more about their teeth and their diet and their diabetes to be of any use. I pestered the big corporate monster to do this, to allow real actual children to get involved in the creative process, but they rejected me." He looked up. "You see, this was all my idea, to seek out the two or three children who call the comments line every year, and give them the chance to help out. It's the least I can do."
I was awed. Never before had I actually been given the chance to use my creativity outside of school, and realizing that doing so was prohibited filled me with a rebellious sense of purpose, a will to change things and do right.
"Were any of Leaf's current products secretly designed by kids?" James asked, wringing his hands in excitement.
"Yes, in fact. You know those Sixlets thingies? A girl named Jenny came up with that. Chocolate balls in multi-colored chocolate shells. Pure simplicity, isn't it? That's the mind of a child for you."
"Wow," James said. "The best thing about those things is that you can just stuff a whole bunch in your mouth and let the shells melt and the chocolate drip down your throat. No effort required. Total rush too."
"That's just what Jenny had in mind, God bless her. The real essence of candy is the fun." Then the old man wiped his eyes and sat up straight. "And, in case you had any doubts whatsoever about being my helpers --"
We emphatically shook our heads no.
"-- well, great! -- is anyone ready for some Triple-Chocolate Hyper Cubes?"
James moaned openly. I'd heard that moan before when I was waiting in his closet for him to wank and I started to giggle. James looked up, realizing what I was laughing at, and he started to laugh too. The old man laughed as well.
When we stopped, the old man hobbled out to his car to get a heavy suitcase. My eyes were bulging at the thought of what was inside. James and I writhed on the couch.
"Now, boys, close your eyes and you will get a big surprise," the old man said. James sneered at the rhyme and reluctantly shut his eyes. I closed my eyes too.
I tasted all kinds of chocolatey sweetness. My mouth tingled with excitement. All kinds of sugar, oh, all kinds. I saw James melt all over the couch. I... the world, the world, it grew inside me, it...
I woke up on the floor with a headache, looked around, and saw that James and I were completely naked. Everything in the room was gone. I shook James awake.
He looked around himelf and put his hand to his head. "Oh, man, not again," he groaned.
I nodded solemnly.
"Did that old faggot drop a Hyper Cube behind him?"
I looked around. I shook my head no.
"Damn. Nate, you gotta stop answering the door."
"Yeah, yeah," I said. "Whatsay we go get some Milk Duds, huh?"
His eyes lit up. "Hell yeah!"
We were off.
From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat May 04 14:07:18 1996 Received: from KOSHER.SPRINTNET.NET by hogshead.usox.edu (5.61/1.35) id AA18040; Sat, 04 May 96 14:07:12 -0600 Received: from mailman.yaxtax.org by KOSHER.SPRINTNET.NET with UUCP (8.6.4/SMI-4.1) AA24339; Sat, 04 May 96 13:07:56 -0700 From: email@example.com (Nathan Almerad) Message-Id: <9605041307.AA24339@mailman.yaxtax.org> Subject: Re: online again To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy) Date: Sat, 04 May 1996 13:07:55 -0700 (MST) In-Reply-To: <9605031107.AA15596@hogshead.usox.edu> from "Jeremy" at May 03, 96 11:07:41 pm X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.4 PL20] Content-Type: text Content-Length: 9351 Status: OR Hey Jeremy! So you're back online, huh, you sexy motherfucker?! Oh wow, this is just so great! So you suddenly decided to get an account again... I guess you weren't too happy when you had your other one cancelled four months ago. Damn, four months... it seems like forever, you know. I've been thinking of you off and on since then. Mainly on. *grin* I always wanted to know what made you leave like that. I heard it had something to do with falling behind at school, right? At least that's what I heard. I always thought you were a pretty good student, so, it was prolly best that you left so you wouldn't get screwed over in class. Uh... yeah. Hmmm. Enough small talk, I guess. I don't really know what to say here. The whole thing's just weird. You disappear suddenly... my messages bounce back from your account, that's when I knew something was wrong... and then nothing for four months... and then you appear again, with this fucking cryptic message: > Hey Nate, I'm back online as "email@example.com". Write back if > you feel like it. Hell yeah I'll write you back! What are you thinking? I love you, you know. Yeah, trite but true. What's been worrying me since I got your message is, "did I do something?" I mean, you never said anything... no hate mail, no mailbombs, no nothing... But the tone of the message makes it look like you maybe thought I got mad at you. I never did, though. I mean, sure, we fought like rats several times, I remember, but I always thought it was okay afterwards. Damn, wasn't it? SHIT I wish you hadn't gone out of state to that fucking expensive college of yours!!! So much gets lost in the communication, dammit. I guess it all started to go downhill after you moved. We didn't get in touch as often as we said we would. Too far to travel every week... or month... or year.... I could stand that. I remember saying, yeah, that'd be okay, I can always picture you in my head, etc. I still can, too. Man, one of the best memories I've had with you was two summers ago at Carrie's house. Remember that? You better, wanker. :) Remember, Carrie and Jamie and you and I had been driving around Austin, and then she got that damned ticket in Juncture for weaving in the wind, and then we all came back to Carrie's house out of utter humiliation? Nothing had gone right that whole night... they'd just closed our favorite Hardee's, and we had to get food at that skanky Taco Bell with the shortage of fresh tortillas... I think I spat out the whole mess. But then we all decided to band together in abject humiliation and piss-offery? It's really funny when you think how silly and teenagery we all were just two summers back. But I remember we both made it through the night... Jamie'd brought that godawful cross-dressing movie for us all to watch... you and I sat on the sofa intermittently yelling out insults at the TV and pretending to snore. And I remember you got so disgusted with the stupid movie that you left and went into the other room... Jamie and Carrie loved it though, they thought it was so "camp"... What the hell's with this "camp" thing, making a mockery outta being queer? That's what you said, I remember, when I followed you into the other room. And I said, nothing's funny about it, it's all very serious... And at that, you got that fucking erotic boyish grin on your face... And then you said you agreed... But I was nervous so I just sat down on the floor and nodded. I remember sitting there with my eyes shut listening to the movie. I heard random voices wafting in from Carrie and Jamie and the TV, and it was getting pretty hypnotizing sitting in the dark like that. Then you whispered for me to come sit next to you. I opened my eyes and looked around and you'd moved to the couch. I didn't know what to think, partly because I'd been expecting something like it to happen for so long that it didn't seem real. This chill went up my spine and I decided to go through with it. I made sure, though. I sat apart from you and then you said, why are you sitting so far away? So I scooted over right next to you. You had that fucking erotic grin again and I just had to smile. And sweat. I felt the trickles of moisture sliding down my arms and I shivered. You noticed it and grinned wider, and I saw all your teeth... Damn, that was so fucking erotic. I just get off on that sort of thing, that must be why I like to kiss so much. :) Then right there it all fell into place. You brave bastard, you, you just put your arm around me and kissed me. Damn, I'll never forget that as long as I live, not even when I get old and senile and shit my pants every night. I musta jumped when you did that, 'cuz you just swung your other arm around and held me tight. I couldn't move and I didn't want to. I just sat there, twisted around on the couch, clamped to your face, eyes wide open and bugging out, enjoying every second of it. That's the amazing part, too. It was only like five seconds, but I remember all of that more clearly than all of high school and college so far. I knew then that you had the same feelings for me that I'd had for you. So when you finally let go and left me stunned, instantly all the weight was off my shoulders, all the worries and suspicions vanished, and I just fell back onto the couch and tried to catch my breath. You relaxed too. When you'd kissed me, I looked at your forehead and you had such a tense furrowed brow, like you wondered if I'd try to hit you. Farthest thing from my mind, I tell you that. And I remember turning my head over to look at you, and I saw the flickers of light from the TV room racing over your face, and you had this puzzled and excited and wondering expression, wanting to know what I'd do... so I just smiled at you... and you let your head fall back against the couch and breathed a sigh of relief. Damn, that had been the most fucking awesome thing I'd ever been through. And I mean, it didn't even end there, not with one of us running out of the room to act like we didn't mean it or anything. No, we just lay back against the couch and dreamily listened to the word music streaming in from the TV room, and then we leaned our heads together, and we just sat like that for ten minutes until Carrie came in wondering where we'd gone to. But she smiled at us, and that was cool, and she said the movie was over. So then we had to go home. Jeremy, I remember that and ever other experience we've ever had together clearly. I've never lost my fondness for you. I can never get your face, with your smiling mouth, eyes, and ears, out of my mind. It haunts me silly. And you always seemed to feel the same way about me. And... and that just makes it that much harder to figure out why you disappeared for four months without telling me why. When was it -- early January, right after you returned to school, I thought everything was going along just fine... we'd once again agreed to get used to being out of reaching distance and to keep up with each other... Well, I guess I agreed to get used to being out of reaching distance, and I thought we'd keep up... I mean, I have to assume your absence was due to us, because otherwise you would've tried to contact me... I sent you a few letters, I remember, which you never answered... And then that creepy message you just sent me... Totally over my head, right over my fucking head. So... why? What happened? Did you get your account revoked for completely unrelated reasons? Did you lose a thumb, rendering it impossible to open my letters? Did you, oh, lose interest at the sight of the first tight little freshman ass you saw? An ass by the name of Hunter? YES, you motherfucking son of a bitch, I know all about it! I couldn't restrain myself any longer. I know, I know, I know! Your poor sweet mother told me! I called her up a month or so after you "disappeared," worrying for your life, and she, the poor soul, has to break the news to me! You bastard, putting your mother through that. I felt so sorry for her. For you, however... ha! You didn't have a care in the world, felchin' bottom-feeder. Certainly I can sympathize, however; I know how overpowering lust can be sometimes... it certainly made me stupid enough to think I could trust you. So, how does this "Hunter" taste, eh? Like chicken? Do all the young ones taste like chicken? I hear he's a business major. I guess your taste... er, convictions... went out the window, eh? All the brilliant conversations we had about the damning influence of money and its defecating smears all over our culture... all that just went out the window when your little prick started to squirm, right?! I could've fuckin' sworn we had a mutual thing going! Sigh... Love the sinner, hate the sin...? How about just FUCK YOU, you fucking hypocrite?! FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU gently, FUCK YOU bloody with a crowbar! I think I'm going to come up for a visit in the near future, to give you and "Hunter" my blessings. Remind me to bring my favorite nine-iron, will you, dear? Just you dare writing back, asshole, just you dare... we'll see who'll disappear again. Love as always, Nathan --- Nathan Almerad <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Chris thinks ``Bryce Carston'' is a dumb name. Chris fucks ass, but he's cool."
The sun shone in dreamily through an open window, its rays touching upon the multitude of items strewn about the room, casting a glow upon the dust that covered the least recently disturbed objects. A long rectangular piece of metal nailed above the door announced that this was NORMAN BINNETS ROOM!.
Farthest away from the sun's penetrating beams in the corner of the room lay a dense pile of clothing: t-shirts cheaply imprinted with slogans for soft drinks, radio stations, and tourist traps; black and blue Levi's jeans with long, skinny legs and outhanging pockets; balled-up jockey shorts and short white socks with holes in the toes. Two years ago Norman's mother had liberated this pile from his room for a short time until he informed her that these clothes weren't meant to be thrown out. Since then the pile maintained a stable environment, remaining variegated and lively with the body heat of new daily immigrants, and keeping small with the weekly expurgation of its filthiest citizens.
Next closest to the sun lay notebooks, textbooks, folders, and papers. All of these came from his recently completed first year in college. The care taken in neatly arranging the notebooks, textbooks, folders, and papers instantly revealed the love he had for school. The Biology in Motion textbook had taken a crash diet after Dr. Garrett's final exam, its weight brought down to a svelte six pounds after Norman ripped out several chapters. His economics reading, hosting a conservative slant on the subject and aptly titled Economics, lay open on the ground, its arms spread out limply from its cracked spine, having fallen from the sky to its doom on the musty dusty rug. Norman had been clutching his calculus book at his side when he first entered Professor Jenga's class. Jenga introduced the subject, saying, "Before y'all can integrate the whole of calculus into your minds, you must learn to differentiate the vital concepts." Only Norman hadn't laughed. The textbook lay cowering in shame against the wall of his room. An Introduction to Concepts of Primitive Art behemoth represented a desperate attempt in Norman's search for a major. His fifth book, an English literature text for a required freshman course, had been the only item Norman could sell back to the bookstore, as well as the only book he had enjoyed. Norman looked forward to the summer.
In a ring around Norman's bed were scattered hundreds of candy wrappers, appearing in the sun to be glimmering pieces of precious metals. These protective sheaths had been tossed into this region after being removed from Hershey's Nuggets and Hershey's Kisses and occasionally Hershey's Miniatures, and being balled up and flicked there by the learned forefinger and thumb of Norman Binnet. These chocolatey Hershey's products were the latest to take over Norman's heart; he didn't need to look hard to see the shadows in the dust from previous inhabitants, such as Bubble Yum, Double Bubble, and Bazooka. He didn't toss away a Bazooka wrapper unless he'd already seen the joke an unconscionable number of times; the unique ones he kept in an old elementary-school pencil box, in which the musky smell of pencils and crayons was slowly being overpowered by that of pink bubblegum.
The corona of brightest, happiest sunlight from the edges of the open window lit upon a few disjointed piles of Bongo Comics: "Simpsons", "Bartman", and "Radioactive Man"; and the four "Life in Hell" books he had bought himself for Christmas. The comic books were often folded open to pages of particular humorous interest; the books were heavily dogeared. This paper- based brand of interest was as recent to Norman as his chocolate kick; the comics themselves were fairly new, and he had started absent-mindedly buying them during his first year of college. His love for the Simpsons, however, was as old as middle of the first Fox-televised season of the show; at his moment of infatuation he hadn't been too late to catch up with the originals in the Tracey Ullman Show.
And basking in the glow of the sun, sprawled-out and half-naked, lay Norman Binnet. He was on top of the covers, or on top of the part of the covers that he hadn't pushed off the bed with his feet. His right arm rested near his head, the thumb touching an ear; his left hand lay comfortably across his thigh. His left leg sat straight while the right bent under it, supporting it on its foot.
On the endtable next to his bed among empty cans of OK soda sat a portable cassette player playing "Automatic for the People" by REM. A drowsy breeze blew in through the window, bringing in the smell of flowers and leaves and cut grass. A slight smile graced his face. His eyelids were lightly closed, closed in a trusting way that can only be had at home under the warming glow of the early afternoon sun.
Norman had willed himself not to think about his first year in college, an act he achieved only by not admitting to himself that he was doing it. That Tuesday morning he wasn't thinking about college at all; not even high school or junior high. In his mind were stirring the nostalgic and euphoric memories of summers long past, in particular, the summer after his fifth-grade year when he was eleven and swinging in the hammock that had been in his back yard. On that day, whether it had been a result of the weather or that his body hadn't yet started producing man-sweat, he had gone completely unbothered by gnats and mosquitoes. Where he lay eight years later, the atmosphere had the same peaceful, idyllic quality, and good screens covered the windows.
He remembered back to that day in 1986 when his greatest concern was the possibility that the ropes holding the hammock in place could slip. That thought was even banished to the back of his mind -- who'd even seen the ropes budge in the past two years? Swinging gently side-to-side, Norman watched the wispy clouds in the radiant blue sky drift past his field of vision through the gaps in the limbs and swaying leaves of the trees above. He'd told himself that the only thing that would have made this lazy cozy hammock better would have been a cold glass of lemonade. And he had it resting on his stomach. A chilly ring of condensation seeped through his shirt.
What was school back then? He tried hard to remember. He was sure it bore no resemblance to the year of college he'd just trudged through. It had no stressful tests, midterms, or finals. No papers assigned in the last week of school. Fifth grade didn't have anything to do with schoolwork, it seemed. The most persistent memories in his head were goofing off with his friends in class. Such as Jarred and Timmy. They'd developed secret hand signals for communicating across the classroom, since Mrs. Janson had separated them. The signals conveyed important information about how long it was until lunch (only Jarred had a watch), if Mrs. Janson was about to return to the classroom, and if Freddie was secretly eating candy (whereupon Timmy would tap his shoulder and ask for some).
He and Jarred and Timmy had come up with numerous games to play during recess. The playground was huge, including the fields used during gym class. Although strictly against the rules, the three had also exercised imminent domain and incorporated the alleys of grass between the wings of their oddly constructed school. They had progressed far beyond hide-n-seek. They played spy, where one of the three, designated the spy, would infiltrate groups of uninvolved classmates and bring back important secrets (they never called it "gossip," of course). Sometimes Timmy would beautifully narrate a high-seas adventure from the top rungs of a jungle gym and take anyone nearby on an exhilarating (and sometimes maniacal) voyage to Australia. And sometimes, in examples of extraordinary organization and leadership, the three would mobilize more than a hundred fifth-graders and stampede groups of sixth- graders hogging the baseball fields and basketball courts. Hide-n-seek, however, was still fun as hell too.
Where the hell were those two now? Norm remembered that Jarred had moved away in the eighth grade sometime, at least a year after they had parted ways. It was so strange, Norm thought, how kids in school saw moving in terms of their friends, but never their friends' families. He cringed at the much larger social and economic dimensions moving now had in his mind, wishing for a simpler outlook. Remembering again, Norm realized that Timmy, now Tim of course, went to the very same school he did. Like with Jarred, Norm and Tim had drifted apart since those raucous days of fifth grade. Too many other people had come between them, though. The population of Juncture had surged from 1981 to 1994, making it more and more difficult to know all the names and faces in the yearbooks. Indeed, he had stopped trying long before. Jarred and Timmy were lost for good.
Norm squirmed in bed and turned over on his side and stared at his clock. Time just keeps passing, he thought cynically, and I'm just sitting here doing nothing with it. Fuck it, he thought. I'll drown in the past.
He shut his eyes tight and imagined he was lying in the middle of 1986 and let the memories flow.
Later that summer, Norm and Jarred had taken their bikes out to explore the most dangerous places they could. At least that's how Norm saw it now, thinking back. Jarred lived on the far east side of Juncture, just blocks away from the city limits. The view of the undeveloped and generally wild land beyond the rusted barbed wire fence would have struck an adult with fear of snakes or visions of huge shopping malls, but to best friends Norm and Jarred it meant something entirely different. The tall grasses meant hiding places, the promise of undiscovered secrets, and the throat-tightening excitement of getting lost. To Norm, the last part was the best. Certainly he knew he would never really get lost -- a simple glance over the grasses would tell them where Juncture lay. As far as Norm and Jarred were concerned, there was no real possibility of getting lost; their youthful confidence and ignorance banished the thought into the imagination, where it lay in wait. The mere possibility that Juncture might not be there anymore when his eyes scanned the horizon, that the grasses were either so deep or so mysterious as to cause them to lose their way... those thoughts made it all the more exciting. A field of uncut wild grass was exciting!
The promise of undiscovered secrets in the depths of the grasses was very real. The boys' young minds hadn't been straitjacketed with mathematical rationality. A field of grass was not a field plus lots of grass; no, it was pure mystery what lay beyond the surface. Mere yards beyond the fence, Jarred found an old tire, with sunbaked rubber and a loose rusted wheel, inside of which were two lug nuts and a rusted-red cheap bent wrench. The thought of one Mr. Jack Oliver in 1973 changing his tire, becoming disgusted with his wrench and tossing the whole mess away before pushing his car home -- this thought did not enter their minds.
Maybe it was exactly what had happened and the only rational explanation, but Norm had devised the perfectly entrancing suggestion that some sort of strange animal living in the grasses had been eating this when they came across it. Obviously, you see, the lug nuts were food, the rusted wrench was a fork, and the inner wheel was a plate. What sort of animal would be able to eat lug nuts, though? Jarred surmised that it wouldn't chew the nuts, or else its strength would have already made it a danger to the people living nearby; instead, it dissolved the lug nuts in its caustic mouth. Walking further into the grass, they found a car battery broken and leaking into the ground. That, Jarred said, is what it uses to digest the lug nuts. Noticing the fact that battery acid and lug nuts remained untouched led to the undoubtable conclusion that the creatures hibernated during the summer -- otherwise they would be eating now. Norm corroborated the story, noticing that the rubber tire around the plate was there so that the plate would float in case of severe flooding. The creatures couldn't go underwater lest their battery acid mouths become disfunctional. It all made perfect sense.
Voyaging deeper into the tall field of grass, they came upon a huge ant mound, towering three feet high. At the sight, Norm and Jarred dropped the theatrics and appreciated the mound for what it was. Upon closer examination with sticks, they learned that the mound was luckily inactive. Think -- their mere footsteps could have set off an army of ants. Relieved that the mound was safe, they did what any eleven-year-olds would do, and stamped it into the ground.
That field of grass was by no means the only place the two explored that summer. Coming home with socks and shoelaces caked in burs, they learned that perhaps they should shift their attention to other sites of interest. Another memorable place was a crumbling two-story house within biking distance from Norm's house. The house, called the "old Craddock place," lay among several other abandoned homes but distinguished itself with a ghost legend. Apparently an elderly rich lady named Craddock had lived alone in the house according to the terms of her long-dead mother's will. After catching a mysterious disease no doctor could diagnose, she entered delirium and simply walked through the second-story window to her death. The kids who spread the legend Norm and Jarred's way had fierce disagreements as to where Craddock landed, but it was agreed that she was impaled on a tree limb. The house was rumored haunted, such that if you stood too close to the second-story window from which Craddock fell, a force would drive you toward it. For this reason the windows were securely boarded up.
Visiting the house was of course necessary if you were to call yourself brave, so Jarred and Norm obediently made the trek several times that summer. The trip to the house, made on bike, was a little over three miles, something both of them would have been proud to brag about, had they known. In any case, upon reaching the old Craddock place they were so tired out that they sat on the disheveled wooden fence bordering the house and drank the Capri Suns they'd brought.
Before going in, each swore to the other that if some force grabbed one of them, either the pull toward the window or old Craddock herself, that the other wouldn't run away, no matter how scared he was. Both claimed to doubt the existence of the force or the ghost, but inside, both needed the reassurance of loyalty. The oath was easily given and accepted between the two, for they trusted each other and were not in a summer friendship of convenience. What was that? When summer came, the rule was, all kids had friends. Rarely did a kid go out exploring alone, for example, because it wasn't fun that way. You had to have someone else around to share findings with. The best was to have a whole group of friends, because there was so such more variety. In any case, if you didn't live near your school friends, you made friends with the neighborhood kids, no matter how much you detested them. Such were friendships of convenience, created simply for the companionship. How alien that sounds now, Norm thought, knowing he wouldn't even talk to his neighbors now unless their cars collided.
The old Craddock house was captivating. It had been built long before modern housing conventions had come into style. Firstly, the house was made entirely of wood. Up in the far left side of the roof you could see evidence of a fire, in fact. Due to gaping holes in the roof and years of weathering, most all of the paint, inside and out, had been washed away. Only a few windows remained intact. Everywhere the walls sagged and leaned. A section of the second floor had fallen down into the living room, making an alternate route to the upper floor preferable to the dangerously dilapidated stairs. While the house was in serious disrepair, it was luckily not on the verge of collapsing entirely upon the two boys who ran about within it. Once, however, Jarred shoved on a beam and dislocated one corner of the house, after which the two didn't return.
Stepping into that old house had been exactly like stepping into the past. It was impossible not to feel as if the geometry of time had been warped by walking through the front door, since no other similar places existed in Juncture (the surrounding houses had to have been at least fifty years newer). The strained quality of the sunlight through the cracks in the walls and ceiling, into the atmosphere of disturbed dust eerily lit up the interior into monotonous shades of grey. Unidentified furniture and dying rodents lent a musky and stifling air to the less-ventilated corners, but these corners were the most interesting as well.
It only took the additional thought -- people lived here -- to completely overwhelm the mind. Who lived here? Last it was that old lady Craddock, dying in her bedroom on the second floor. How much of this deterioration took place when she was rotting away upstairs? How did her room compare to this? Climbing up the fallen floor into the second story, Norm and Jarred got a look at what they assumed was Craddock's room. A wide broken bed stood in the center of the room. The rumpled sheets on the bed exhibited various unidentifiable splotches and stains. On the floor sat an overturned bedpan. Looking toward the walls, one could see the three windows, one of which Craddock allegedly walked through. They were impossibly small to simply fall through -- was she pushed? Did she jump on purpose? The idea that it was all a legend never entered their minds. The windows suddenly seemed more sinister. Norm slowly approached one of the windows and screamed as he felt himself being drawn faster and faster toward it. The windows were boarded up but this offered no condolences. Crashing against the boards, he looked around himself with wide panicked eyes, seeing he was still alive, and ran out of the room right past Jarred.
The boys never found an explanation for the window's pull, and indeed, Norm hadn't tried to find out, and hadn't thought about it again until he'd completed his first year of college. Concentrating rationally, he realized that the floors were warped, and the downward slope of the floor was concealed by the large bed. He laughed to himself, having discovered the explanation so easily. Suddenly, however, he became depressed, realizing he'd destroyed the memory of the old Craddock place. In his adult mind the Craddock house became reduced to a shitty old deathtrap. How could that have been romantic? he chided himself. Stupid kids we were.
And instantly, in succession, his mind drove him to rationalize everything else he'd done as a kid. Goddamn, I can't believe we never got kidnapped what with how we played in all those rundown shitholes. That fucking field of grass -- why didn't they ever mow it? Didn't anyone own that land? They coulda done something better with that place that just fencing it off. And that dumb tire we found. Man, a fucking animal that dissolves lug nuts in its mouth? That's not biologically possible. Plus, animals can't subsist on iron. That's only a damned vitamin! I can't believe we didn't get lime disease or something from all the insects out there. And, oh jeez, I can't believe we passed fifth grade, what with all the playing around we did. I wonder if I missed something important along the line? Probably did. Should've paid attention closer. That fucking Timmy got us in so much trouble. I bet he's a mechanic now. What a waste.
Norm sat up in bed and scowled at his room. Damn, this is messy, he thought. How can I be respectable with such a dirty room? Fucking comic books! Oh man, and I have to find a job sometime or else I won't make any money this summer. He turned off his cassette recorder and shut the window. I'm letting the damned air conditioning out, he realized. Dammit, I'm gonna clean my room and stop dwelling in the past. I'm an adult now. Shit, I've got better things to do.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1996 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1996 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 THE LiONS' DEN 512.259.9546 24oo TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <email@example.com>. Thank you. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--