I’ve Moved!!!

Culverted has risen from the sewer drains, traveled across the country, and become lost in the disorienting atmosphere at MicksNeonFog.wordpress.com.

Mick’s Neon Fog is officially the fourth blog I’ve had – Shards of Glass, Wanderlust Misfit, Culverted, and the final iteration, finally, officially, Mick’s Neon Fog.

The first blog (I’m fairly sure it was titled Shards of Glass) came out in 2011 and was cancelled for the same reason its two successors were – uncertainty about the focus of the blog.

Yes, they’ve all been personal blogs and every personal blog covers a variety of topics, subjects, insights, life crises. So too for the three previous blogs I’ve had. What these iterations have been is a process of discovering a theme for my life, for how I feel about the world and myself in relation to it.

What the issue has been is the presentation – how to present the material of, basically, my life, in a single, cohesive context, or theme. Shards of Glass represented the broken pieces of a larger picture, Wanderlust Misfit was during my hitchhiking years, and Culverted tried to wrap my head into the context of ‘a truth running beneath society’.

This has been the problem of my previous blogs: the contexts, the themes, were too narrow. Life isn’t narrow.

What Mick’s Neon Fog, as a contextual theme, can offer that the others haven’t, is a much wider scope to present material in. Think of the title, it represents a contradiction of sorts – fog is mundane, obscures sight, is bland and suffocating and bleary; neon is bright, illuminating, exciting, energizing. What Mick’s Neon Fog offers is the dreariness of modern life and the weird, beautiful, awe-inspiring excitement found in it. This duality, it just so happens, is a perfect description for what’s in me.

A contradiction knows no bounds. A contradiction is freeing, capable of being this and then of being that. A contradiction embodies possibilities, exactly the possibilities that I – and by proxy Mick’s Neon Fog – need to explain. This is, finally and officially, the blog I will keep for the rest of my life.

So go – directly to Mick’s Neon Fog******


Waste of Life Won’t Motivate

The morning glows drowsy sunrays through the blinds. There is the smell of coffee. The living-room is clean and the couch is stain-free, and I am lying on the carpeting. There is something important I need to do today. I need to get a drivers’ license, I need to put food in the refrigerator, I need to pay electric and cable and gas and water and health insurance. I need to study for school. I need to find someone to interview for my blog. I need to write something fictional, for once, finally in the past month I need to devise a novel. I need to engage the world. I need to meet my neighbors. I can do anything I want to in life and my feet can cross the globe. I can be interviewed on NPR and CNN, I can travel the continent for book-signings, I can start a movement. Have a house on Long Island, a seaside flat in Venice Beach. My gut is a viscous malaise. I am content, here on the carpeting.

I slept 10 hours last night. I think I have work today. I am going to masturbate, and then I’m going to eat two eggs, pancakes and bacon. I’ll read, after that, and fall asleep on the couch for a mid-morning nap. I might work later.

This little house smells like a hamster cage, and I am content.

I am disgusted.

No Chance to Live

They live on the sides of highways eating dust. They can be found in alley cardboard castles taking hits of sewer steam. Their eyes are glass hits of acid and turpentine and they still see 10 colors of the rainbow; hearing in thermal frequencies and thinking in ultra-violet, a world hacking to pieces perceptions and ideas and the emotions they see in city smog. And they refuse it. And I drive past cardboard signs stapled to chests asking for freeze-dried fruits non-GMO and organic non-perishables only please, and the sweat caked dirt on my face and body, neuro-rigid hands can’t grip the steering-wheel. I am dying. My head and my chest are ripping open under $60,000 of blood-signed diploma spending 50 hours a week in sun sweat manual labor to feed the cradle. I am supposed to be writing a novel. I am making monthly payments to an insurance company I can’t afford to stop or it wastes gas I can’t afford new pants with a crotch hole already. I am no different.

Where did we go.

What killed gonzo? What shot the tail of the lizard king and burned the strawberry fields. What chopped off the highway thumbs and incestuated the rebellious romance.

Cardboard stapled to concrete walls keeps out the cold where they blow cock and bathsalts: fluorescent lights fuck the pupils prostrate in cubicles making payments on endless debt.

How Synthetic We’ve Become

Samantha tells me I sweat too much and I know this is true, it’s August and when I walk to my car after work the drips run right down my sides, and if I wipe my brow my eyes sting. But there’s a fix for this, Johnson & Johnson makes a bodywash – for men – with aluminum zirconium tetrahydrochlorate, an antiperspirant that forms gel-like plugs in all of my sweat-ducts. My morning routine is shower, then brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush and use teeth-whitening mouthwash. I know there’s fluorosilicic acid in the water to keep our teeth white, but even so. I keep my appearance top-notch, because Samantha and I are moving up in the world.

We work out at the same gym. At different times though usually. I take creatine supplements infused with 4-hydroxy-isoleucine and another pre-workout supplement that dilate my cardiovascular system so that my muscles receive more oxygen and blood. Samantha has been taking the new ‘Viagra for women’, to match my own enhanced libido. I’ve elected to receive monthly testosterone treaments.

Samantha and I eat healthy. No McDonald’s. We buy enriched cereals containing almost all of the vitamins and minerals we need each day. We don’t worry much about folic acid though, because it’s required that all bread is already folic acid enhanced. We take Centrum as well, and go to Whole Foods for other more specific dietary supplements.

We save money where we can (we’re looking into flats downtown). When we purchase produce we look for the fruits and veggies with the thicker coatings of wax. The wax contains the presevatives and pesticides that keep our produce fresher, longer. When we’re home and have unpacked our groceries, we additionally spray our produce with Difenoconazole, a common agricultural fungicide, to further prevent decay.

On the weekends we scrub our townhouse with triclosan-based cleaners and Clorox, and use Lysol disinfectants to clean the air. We are expecting a baby soon in a month, and would like the baby not to get sick. We’ve even planned to accelerate the recommended vaccination plan – 128 shots by the time he (she?) is 18 months.

Samantha and I tan three times a week.

I’m prescribed a mixture of Aderol and Welbutrin to keep me focused at the job I love. These worked well when I was diagnosed with ADD in elementary school, and continue to do so. I take Oxycontin for my constant migraines, an incurable disorder caused by dilated blood-vessels near my brain – that, or because I’ve had the misfortune of twice (twice!) catching a ‘super-bug’, though I regularly take antibiotics so I don’t get the flu. I also eat lots of poultry.

I work in politics for a company called ConAgra. My job is to help make the food-supply more resistant to insects, diseases, drought, synthetic herbicides, and direct sunlight. The goal is to make food more affordable. I understand this a lot, because Samantha and I too are on a budget, which is why we’ve been using formaldehyde instead of skin lotion.

I’ve also been keeping up on the markets. I have a bluetooth I listen to financial news on. Siri reads the news to me, and when I don’t understand a word Siri explains the definition. I can’t say I’ve retained much. But I am looking forward to economic recoveries. The central bank is going to re-manipulate the interest-rates, the economy is finally going to be overhauled by Congress, and new incentives are going to encourage borrowing and spending and money-creation. I am hopeful these new things will get society back to its natural balance.

Happy In-Dependence Day

Mister President, do you swear to uphold the economic prosperity and national security of these Great United States? I do.

Madame Speaker, do you swear to uphold the financial security and safety of these Great United States? I do. Then let us join hands in our singing of Hymn 64.

O say can you see

By the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed

At the twilight’s last gleaming.

I am Student Code 3118946C, and I am at my desk, facing the altar. The altar two stories above looks down at the Great Hall filled with student desks, and in the depths the desks begin to fade, shadows folding into a darkness veiling the extent of this religious delusion – how has this cathedral justified its tithes?

The Emcee of Services, Fox News Model in a primpy suit jacket, rises on the altar and lifts her hands, cue the lifting of heads. The choir continues:

Whose broad stripes and bright stars

Through the perilous fight

Will the Class of 2016 step forward. This includes myself, shuffling into small aisles filing to the foot of the altar of Our Savior. We kneel, looking up at an alter two-stories too high for us to see the elected clergy.

Overhead is a darkness of chains clanging, belts whirring, gears clunking, engines churning. You can see the first few layers of conveyors, of mechanical arms and processes rising up and quickly veiled in the darkness and no one is said to know how high the darkness goes.

We subverient are gathered here today to accept our diplomas stipulating debt-repayment plans – I can choose the 20yr plan, the 30yr plan, the 50yr plan, but the debt-collection agency who has purchased me is going to get their gold, they hold my credit score and life-dreams as collateral.

We subservient are gathered here today at the foot of the alter, kneeling with our heads raised, DHS troops patrolling aisles and windows with M16s and riot-gear and night-vision goggles equipped with facial-recognition technology and retina scanners – poor luck if you have a nervous twitch.

O’er the ramparts we watched

Were so gallantly streaming

I will be ushered to another desk. I have graduated from this desk, owned by The Ohio State University LLC., led by hand to this next desk, property of Halliburton Financial Services. I am told Halliburton even has fluorescent lighting. The choir continues its low-key hymn while the Fox Model Arbiter of Democracy continues the ceremony.

Let us bow our heads and recite Prayer 649:

We pledge allegiance to the flag

Of the United States of America.

And to the financial stability

for which it stands

one nation, under surveillance, defended,

With comfort and money for all.

And the rockets’ red glare

The bombs bursting in air

I have been corralled into this school. I will spend the next thirty years paying off loans they sold to a debt-collection agency, and boy do I thank everyone for teaching me how to obey my bosses and file forms and itemized deductions, for helping me pay for the pharmaceuticals I needed to sit still at my desk. I will faithfully spend the rest of my life making payments to an insurance corporation, in the name of a basic human need. I will watch wars on CNN, monitor frightening stock-market dips on Fox Business, learn about The Benevolent Ones on MSNBC. My children will grow up idolizing Disney brats in ritzy hotels and cruiseliners, I’ll ignore civic duty while watching Disney’s ESPN NFL play-offs Super Bowl Sponsored by AIG Countdowns Rundowns Best Plays Ever. My children will follow corporate careers into newer sub-divisions 3000sqft houses in 3500sqft lots, and I will depend my old infirmity on the caprice of a capitalist hegemony that’s made retirement an ideal I need a PIN and good faith credit in the Corporate Federal Government for.

Screens on the back of the altar show videolink to a marble hall, long mahogany table of men and women who may be hedge-fund managers or Joint Chiefs or Senators or CEO’s – no, I recognize the names of The Unelected Masters of Mankind, bankers for the institution that might be public or private in DC or Manhattan or Riker’s Island London Hong Kong, Live From Baghdad the World Bank Free-Trade Geo-Political Positioning it’s all for our Safety and Wealth, it’s what these people are here to defend, for us.

The video-link speaks: It has come to our attention that Student Code 3118946C did not complete Geology 101, prerequisite for the Corporate Finance track. The student’s degree is invalid. Student Code 3118946C, step forward.

The politesse of proper etiquette requires, when being spoken to, to keep my head down, hands folded in the front. Supplicate. Serve. Masturbate Your Masters.

They have been monitoring me. Processing me. Indoctrinating me.

Student Code 3118946C, are you aware that without us you would not find a career? That you would not be able to afford your car, your TV, your tablet, your vacations, your clothes, your debt if it weren’t for the benevolence we serve you with? Do you understand that, without us, you would suffer and die without a doctor to treat you, without a savings account in your old age? Is that what you want, Student Code 3118946C? Do you understand that without us you are nothing?

O say does that Star Spangled banner yet wave

There are sounds of fawning, crawling at the feet of the Masters of Mankind because our neighbors are hungry and poor and we want someone to do something, because we might lose our jobs, be unable to afford the aisles of our favorite supermarket chain. There are sounds of drones screeching, bombs falling, catastrophe. People shouting in a crowded mall because their neighbor looks suspicious. But we are saved by the benevolence and altruism of Humankind’s Dominant Hegemonic Power, the most Powerful Human Beings history has ever seen, watching after us, feeding us, curing our ailments and concerning themselves with our mental well-being.

O’er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

Happy In-Dependence Day.


Servitude Sine Qua Non Capitalism

The daily sweat burning August sun into the red of my neck, head bent day long placing pavers up a driveway to a three car garage. Exhaustion is when limbs get numb, dehydration underestimating the volume of a gallon water jug. When the lightpost by the cascading stoop comes on, lights an orb with edges dissipating into a night hiding the house’s upper-floors… there is something I’ve missed. I am supposed to be home and I am still laying bricks. The stars in the sky out-competed by the porch lights deck lights driveway lights garage lights lawn lights of the much-acheived sub-division. I stand up from the bricks and turn a confused circle. I am pushing a brick-loaded wheelbarrow back down to the pick-up, curb parked. The pick-up has accrued at some point several tickets beneath the wipers. The wheelbarrow catches an unevenly-laid brick and the weight is a moment tumbling free of my hands. I was supposed to be home. There is something I have missed. My kid is asleep and my wife on her one night off is waiting up for me. It wasn’t supposed to be this. Suburban lights have lawns glowing green, surreally, past the windows of the pick-up. I must have made a wrong turn. The GPS doesn’t plug in anywhere and my flip-phone isn’t receiving 2G. Somewhere in a cul-de-sac I have become lost. I am sweating needle-pricks from my goosebumps and I don’t know where I am. In the windshield are memory-versions of myself sitting in college classrooms, studying in the library, taking rum from my empty pockets sleeping nowhere, and in a mindless storm of impulse rocketing my future down a highway away from school, towards towns I’d yet to explore. And needed. And desired. A life not spent bent supplicating paychecks from the boss’s desk. I am on my own. And I am crushed. And my family has no future in a townhouse past the gentrified edge. And I am sinking in debt and insurance and credit scores I refuse to check. And I am told to hire a crew. If I’d just stayed in school a degree and then ten people working under me. I must have become confused. Or corrupted, with some sick ideal a dozen people shouldn’t work beneath me. I am a fuck up. The windshield a translucent reflection bloated to dimensions of pathetic ethics, face pallid stained with blood sinking into a gut that won’t climb itself a single capitalist rung. Idealistic refusal and the delusion my children will be better off. That I work for no one and I run no one, and I am confused. It is four in the morning in a cul-de-sac and the pick-up still a mile down the driveway. There is something I have missed. I am placing the bricks back in the wheelbarrow and this is the day beginning. I was supposed to be home.

Disengaged The World

College is three years behind down the road left lingering the paper-trail of an aborted degree. I have turned my facade into a quarry chipping away Doc Maartens and Oakley’s, peeling skin off TV screens and masturbating to Fox News anchors. Instead of two more years on an Art History major I am the animal-rights terrorist blowing open zoo cages I peer deep inside my self to see. I am the bathsalt nightmare flinging shit at alley walls; I am the molly nakedness supplicating gay bears at who brush across me; I am introverted by confusion not neatly parsing dreams from waking life. Wander into house parties stealing fridges for the day’s last meal. There are ghosts avoiding eye-contact on city streets and drug corners. Pallid skin cracks dehydration of bingeing month-long hangovers. There are childhood dreams folded into realistic goals, folded into consumer excess, folded into financial stability, folded into a college degree, into a part-time job, a decent apartment, into a shit-hole mattress on the floor. Repulsion and rejection folding further in, tear off the vapid and burn the social expectations burn and rot and burn and rot suburban sprawl wrapped in 10,000 count thread, ever further in. Gouged the eyes of every expectation indiscriminately, left dangling from the wire-strand lightbulb of this abandoned housing.

Too Stupid To Understand Carnival America

The woman on the phone is telling me the doctors’ bill is separate from the hospital bill, for the third time, we’re not the ones you sent the financial aid applications to. No, sir, I cannot transfer you to another company. No, I do not have their number.

I am stuck in a traffic circle’s inside lane, and nobody is letting me get over so I can stop circling. I am buying my groceries at a corner-store because Kroger keeps telling me their super-markets are staffed by my friendly neighbors who care. I am supine in a field during a thunderstorm.

I am being told that I do not understand that Ohio State University does not own my debt, nor does the Department of Education, sir, you need to get in touch with the debt-collection agency that has purchased your debt.

I am at the carnival and the politicians have arrived for their speeches. Britain left the EU because racists are taking over. I am eating wild onions from the Ferris wheel’s overgrown lot because these are the only produce not treated with caustic pesticides. I think about drinking water from the pond to escape wondering why the government cares so much about my teeth, but on fourth thought the pond is definitely artificially green because it’s also a great idea to dump copper into water, for aesthetics.

I am being told I don’t understand. My professor is smug and telling me I don’t understand and the Young Republicans are snickering. The liberal in the Lexus, with the Hillary sticker, is visibly pissed at me for confusing his blinker with the intention of turning.

I am being told I don’t understand how the world works. I am told I need to finish my degree. I am told I need to stop drinking. Why have you moved five times in that many years? Don’t you want some stability? You need a job. You need health insurance.

I have submerged myself and I am holding my head under water with both hands. There is a taste of paper-clips in my mouth. I am holding my head under green water and every time I give up the Ferris wheel is still there, and the only thing I can’t understand is why everybody thinks these things are understandable.

How To Suffer For Your Dreams

The jungle floor undercut with gnarled twisting roots, ankle-snappers, watch your foot, through the verdant thick that’s only green with promise, and when the sun sets the dark is impassable – but there is no time to sleep, step by cautious step hands feeling along the jungle floor. Some days the sun’s high but the canopy’s a carpet, no light gets through, there is nothing above, no sky, and what you crawl through is a shadow swamp of muck; up mud hills, across ravines, through miles of hemlock you crawl. You have dengue, yellow fever, gangrenous extremities; day-long vomiting and dark shivers you sweat through for no reason you can find. But you continue to crawl, up on your legs, cut through the vines. This isn’t an illness you suffer, it is a circumstance of everyday, even when the body’s spent with dengue-sweat delirium, this is everyday. It only stops if you stop.

The jungle breaks on a cliff of foresight – a thousand miles of impenetrable endless thick, and the horizon propping up the promised land on a mountain pedestal: your Eden at the top veiled by thick humid cloud, never seen, not yet touched, illustrated by your obstinate dream. To crawl forward is now to climb down.

And all along the way have been the Exit Signs, posted to moss damp trees, stuck to rock faces, placed glowing in the deep crevasses formed by roots where you know you can climb in and find – annual vacations, financial security, suburban housing, carpeted floors, a family to love, clean cars (working cars), cures for your malignancies and melancholies and fantasies and obsessions; a big screen TV, watching Netflix from the couch comfort after a long day at the office desk giving you paychecks for stability and shelter and peace of mind.

The body hurts and the heart’s stuck in the hopelessness mire. You ignore this and you crawl. Wading through stagnant bog moving piece by piece the branches of overgrowth barbed-wired with thorns. The rains have come, covered in muck and shit that gets in the skin gashes and begins to infect, your sense of being sense of time – it has already been seven lonely years – mosquitoes molest your face, spiders feast on your back. Vines tangle for your neck, roots grab at your ankles, leeches bleed the stomach and parasites multiply in your genitals. And you are crawling.

You are crawling and your body is tearing into pieces. The mind is rejecting itself and the skin is suppurating from boils, gashes, abrasions, infections; melting away. To sweat all day and continue through the night, through the body aches-and-pains of a seven-year disease. You keep going because your skin and muscles will fall away, an exoskeleton you leave behind and feel refreshed – third fourth fifth wind this day – and the path behind you is littered with the selves you’ve shed, and you keep yourself from noticing how each skin is just a bit smaller than the previous, that you are in fact finite and running out of self and time. You keep yourself from noticing because it doesn’t matter: you will get there or you will (like a candle slowly extinguished in an opaque fog) fade into an obscure, meaningless death. It doesn’t matter.

you crawl on.

In Every Adult, Hidden The Child

I am the bottom feeder hollowed out by worms and full of holes. This is the subtle, vacant vibration of an early-morning rude to the past night of liquor and molly and remarkably personal conversations with acquaintances. This is me finding my way home from a downtown flat.

Rush hour. The morning is still gray and I am lost. This is a part of the city strange and disorienting, the sidewalk rush of suits and hipster office packs, harried cellphone calls while hailing cabs and the slaughter house of an over-packed bus stop.

I am sure of where I was: I am not sure how I got there, or how I will get back, back to the old duplex with the rotten-wood front porch and the Craigslist furniture. I am seated on a low brick wall along the sidewalk, watching the buses come and go, wondering if the 16-bus or the 9-bus goes up Fourth Avenue.

And what I’m wondering is who these people are. Why the mirror-glass high-rise offices and the pretentious houses in sub-divisions – who has the estates, who’s stuck in the Home Owners’ Associations? Who has a wife that drives a Porsche minivan, who has a clunker hoping a promotion to a higher floor comes with the net-gain of buying a Jetta? Who has four bosses? Who has a dozen people working beneath them?

Yet there is a brightness summoning.

The man leaning against my brick wall has his briefcase beside his feet, shiny black pointy-toe shoes. He’s eating a cream-cheese bagel still half-wrapped in foil, and he uses both hands to hold it, bringing it to his mouth using both hands as though it were a prized possession that must be so carefully taken care of and admired lest he lose this gift.

There is a woman on the bench seated back but with her hands on the edge of the seat, fingers curled under. Her open-toed heels are knocking discordantly against the sidewalk beneath her and her face is chewing her cheeks, eyes lost somewhere inside of herself. She sticks her legs out, and it becomes so apparent that she is looking at her painted toenails to try to take her mind off of whatever it is she feels so irresponsible for.

The man beside her has earbuds in, a neat gray suit with silver hints and a face you can place on a moody teenager waiting for the school bus.

A bus pulls in and the waiting crowd as a unit clusters and moves to where the bus will come to its final halt. The doors open and the business ladder-climbers move up the steps, the line moving. There are some sharp words from the waiting mass, looks of annoyance – they will be scolded for being late. Someone is talking to the bus driver, trying his best to get on the bus but I’m Sorry Sir This Pass Has Expired. He is digging through his pockets, saying I’m Sorry I Have To Have To Some Change In Here, looking through his wallet apologizing to everyone in tardy-limbo. His look coming back down the steps trying to squeeze past everyone, it’s embarrassment and worry and the tangle in the lower-intestine that you are going to be late. The feeling doesn’t change with age.

There is a brightness here, in the confused face of the corporate accountant trying to make sense of the bus-route map. He has the same stomach-pit of helplessness he felt at his locker in middle school.

I think of my parents, for the first time since abandoning the college they were helping pay for. They’re no different, just children trying to raise children. Of all their perceived abuses, injustices, I’m aware of their breakdowns, panic-attacks; parents at 45 still feeling helpless, unsure, and themselves in need of a parent (but my grandparents have been dead).

The brightness is the child still buried in every suit, in every beggar, in every golfer and every dead-beat; in the drunk and the executive – it comes through in everyday moments of fear, unsure of the outcomes of a decision, worrying what the next days will bring.

There are uncertainties feared in all of us, and this is what is beautiful:

The wonder of childhood is the not-knowing, the wonder, the unformed lump of clay still sought as an answer, every impression an indentation savored as something miraculous in need of understanding: this still comes through, no matter the outfit.