Sunday, March 21, 2010

State of Shock

State of Shock

Dateline: January 10th

After a generation of complacency, a state of shock has descended upon our city.

The greater metropolitan area is awash in shock waves. Shock waves brought on by rampant rumor, by suspicion, by paranoia, by the revelation of the Great Secret, if indeed it was the Great Secret that was revealed.

No one knows for sure, but most believe it was nothing less than the Great Secret that was written across the sky, posted on empty billboards, and pirated over the airwaves in between the dips and ascents of the licensed frequencies. The messages were high-pitched, crackly, and broken with syllables of silence. If the polls are to be trusted, then 63% of the citizens believe it is indeed the Great Secret; especially adults under 5 foot 6. With a 4% margin of error.

But even if it is all a hoax, a joke in poor taste from the twisted mind of some sick comic, even then, one thing’s for certain: the state has been forever compromised. And the city lies in a state of shock.

March 1st

The city is in a state of shock. And everything is disrupted. The city council calls a special session, but half the aldermen send letters of resignation. Wedding plans are cancelled. New religions and storefront churches spring up on every street corner. The traffic lights change colors as if keeping beat to an unheard tune. They are likely to flash green in all directions. Or flash green in a code of short and long bursts before flashing back to red. Others flash green and red at the same time, and have even flashed new colors: magenta, mauve, ecru, smoky blue. The city’s symbols have gone haywire. They are no longer to be trusted. Or: they express a new reliability. If we can only crack the code.

April 21st

A state of shock has descended upon the city. Even our artists are in the grip of it. Especially our artists. One gets a grant to paint a mural to capture the Secret: its Greatness. Another works in miniatures to depict the Secret: its surreptitiousness. A third uses broken watch parts and pages randomly ripped from a dictionary. “Is this how you see the Secret?” her lover asks. “No,” she answers, “it’s how I see the shock.”

Journal Sports Page July 5th

At the ballpark the stout umpires huddle at home plate and declare the shocking outcome of the game before it starts. Both dugouts, the bullpen, the grounds crew are in shock. The concession stands concede. The sellout crowd of 57,000 gasps at the shocking message displayed on the shocking scoreboard. Bewildered, the on deck batter turns for help to the desperate third base coach. Looking for a sign. The coach watches as his own right hand touches the bill of his cap, moves across the letters of his home team jersey, pantomimes obscenely above his head, then falls limp to his side. Does some shocking meaning linger in the shocking air?

September 17th

At the university, a symposium is held entitled “Shock and Mock Shock in Post Contemporary Culture.” The Professor Distingue addresses the shocked gathering.

“Mock shock is best illustrated by Claude Rains in Casablanca when he says, ‘I am shocked, shocked to find gambling on these premises.’ More genuine shock is registered by Major Strasser when he gets gut shot.”

The Professor Distingue uses the DVD player remote control to illustrate his point. But the pause button triggers fast forward, and the reverse button likewise seems to have been tampered with. Besides, someone has spliced an animated cartoon into the movie, so that instead of Ilsa, it is Betty Boop whom Bogart ushers onto the airplane. And the airplane wears a lascivious grin, and arches its eyebrows Groucho-style, and licks its airplane lips. Betty climbs aboard. Shocked scholars gaze upon the distinguished professor’s shocked face and take shocked, illegible notes. Across town, at the junior college, a new two-year program is announced. Leading to a degree. In Shock Counseling. Shocked citizens rush to enroll.

October 9th

The shock wave, the great shocking shock wave, may be subsiding. The lakefront set have taken to throwing shock parties. I’m throwing one myself. Consider this your invitation. The first store wide shock sale was held by a major electronics chain outlet, and all sales records were broken. The local newspaper, hoping to reverse declining circulation, has appointed a shock editor and now has a SHOCK tab on its online homepage for easy access to shock news stories.

December 15th

On the new streets, the new leaders have forged a new normalcy. Chieftains of commerce have readjusted profit forecasts, and shock is marketed to all mainstream business sectors. Commodities? Shock marketing. Consumer discretionary? Shock marketing. Biotechnology? Financials? Healthcare? Shock marketing shock marketing shock marketing. Shock has become a posture of reverence. Required in the New Shock Temples. Where congregations of shock are lullabied by sermons of shock delivered by shocklerics. Employers promise their shock-addicted employees they may keep their shocking jobs if they go through shock abuse rehab. The agitation calms, the edge dulls, the imminent message washes away. The Great Secret is no longer great nor mysterious.

December 30th

We have been in our pocket for awhile now. There may be other pockets. We do not know this. We’ve discussed it, the possibility of other pockets in other parts of the post-shock city, and we agree that it is likely. But we have no proof. We just don’t know. But there’s at least one. And we’re in it. Keeping our hands warm until it’s time to use them again.

And we have some stuff in here. Sofa cushions, a coupla mattresses. A turntable. Typewriters. A transistor radio One working computer. And lots of books. Stuff we got peddling the schlock shock basal skills texts. To the educational marketplace. In the post-shock economy. But now, now we’re hunkered down. In our pocket. Waiting. We lean against the cushions, reread to each other The Long Goodbye, and ponder the question of right conduct while we await the shock of rediscovery.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

26 February 2010 ArtBeat Performance

Here is a video of my entire performance at the 26 February 2010 ArtBeat show. It runs 28 minutes and includes "Postcards from the Hecatombs (published below)," a collaboration with Petra Press, "The 1950s (also published below)," and excerpts from "Stalking the Oklahoma Ostrich Under the Nixon Administration."

Video shot by Heather Suchy Acton.

Feb 26_2010 ArtBeat Video

Here is a 7-minute video showing moments from the 26 February ArtBeat show. It features music of co-host Annie B, music of Nicole Waters (listen to "I Think I Like It When You Hurt Me"), art of Albin Erhart, films by Shawn Monaghan, Phil Koch, SUPERMASSIVE Studios, and Quinn Hester, photography of Eddie Daniel, art of Brittany Farina and others. I performed several spoken fictions including portions of "Postcards from the Hecatombs," "The 1950s," and "Stalking the Oklahoma Ostrich Under the Nixon Administration."

Video was shot and edited by Heather Suchy Acton.