Ben has a closed hole in his lower lip, 2in-diameters in his lobes and resembles the body of a starved chicken. But for the scratchy phrase tattooed on the arm, Too Rad To Die, ode to Thompson via Steadman, the primordial illustrator of the Strange, and Rad, and All Too Vibrant To Live Life Dying.
I am a poorly oriented steak, and I serve in a corporate cafeteria with Ben bone chicken. We don’t speak much, and tip-toe around the boss, corporate owner of myriad fast-food penitentiaries. When we do speak it’s me to mention his tattoo. The conversation quickly pulls through Thompson and Wolfe and slows down around Bukowski, Camus, Nietzsche.
I disagree with Ben’s nihilism because if there’s a spiraling nothingness somewhere far out there, there’s a spiraling nothingness deep in here, in each of us, and that’s far too fucking scary an idea. And that’s exactly it, he says, why he feels so nil – what he sees inside himself projecting on the larger purpose of life.
We hate on the food we’re serving, the insurance corporate park we’re sweating food for -politics, money, Hollywood, professional sports, TV, capitalism, consumerism, religion, materialism. We’re both rot poor and can’t keep jobs, more drugs than dollars in our wallets.
And when I met Kathleen she too loved Bukowski and Ginsberg and Satre and Kierkegaard. She was boho and minimalist, journalist and poet: I once saw her run from people trying to take her keys, and later at my friend’s smoking pot in his shed we heard the crash, and we saw our friend stumble from a steam-gushing hood-crumble, Kathleen still at the wheel looking closely at the telephone pole six inches from her face. She drove home winding curves topping sixty in suburbia, had crawled into her car and crawled back out.
And when I learned about dialectical thought the probabilistic universe and the true peace of anarchy Kyle had just come free of jail, simple hippie bald-head pissing blood from prison hazing – his second stint for public intoxication or maybe this one was his assault charges. He too knew more about Camus and Beats and immensely happy vicariously when our married managers finally left the fast-food hell hole for peaceful pastures. He too can’t keep a job, or a car, or an apartment.
And for the girl with no furniture in apartment funded by begging family, who knew each human was the antennae of a separate quantum wavelength or field, and read biology textbooks and The Will To Power and spent weeks without eating, or without sleeping, or only on adderall or crack or bath salts, just to further push the box of her own pallid consciousness. The city has not heard of her in two quiet years.
To wonder why Ginsberg saw the best minds destroyed by madness, and we the endemic generation drugging kids who itch to learn their own heads outside of class, banishing the insubordinate living hodge-podged with part-time fast-food careers and no degrees but piled boxes of books every graduate’ll never touch. Why the most intelligent are the most troubled, dysfunctional, brutal, diseased – seen shit-covered scratching through floor-boards swollen by mold. Why a bout of independent thought crushes the same as a bout of mania, and if you search for something honest thinking too far and you’ll be shoplifting Walmarts for rent and heroin, god damn it all to ever die in a real job.
Society’s an avalanche and the good ones gone mad.