Speedy Marie

DEB: Don’t waste your youth. Don’t waste this coffee high. Get it down on paper. Grab life by the clear plastic tab and tug gently until you reach orgasm.

VIJAY: What?

DEB: Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about, Vijay.

V: I know what you’re talking about.

DEB: Thank you.

[East-coast trees flash by. It’s all green. The trees may as well not have trunks. They’re just hanging, diagonal foliage. The forest is empty of deer. Insects accumulate on the windshield, but Vijay and Deb, hallucinating, interpret this as an argument against the existence of insects outside the car.]

VIJAY [Driving]: We’re approaching eighty miles an hour.

DEB: [Hallucinating]: Is that the name of a town?

VIJAY: Yes. “Eighty Miles Per Hour.” Population: 60,000. Mayor: Debbie K. Leamme. Public libraries: Yes.

[I should probably get back to work. Big heap trouble focusing. Every day. Forever.]

The Crown of Bañals


A stage in a crappy New England theater. A sloppily made bed “stands” (figuratively)  stage left. A lamp, some other furniture. A copy of Bonjour Tristesse and a bottle of buffered analgesic “stand” (figuratively) on the night-stand table. A silent 5-year old squirms weirdly in a  corner. He can be played by an adult if you don’t have convenient access to 5-year-old actors when you’re staging this play. Make sure no one from the theater company comes out and says anything before the play starts, no matter how imperative they make their fundraising/development efforts sound.

Someone named GRASS-FED CRABGRASS struts all sexy-like onstage, sits down at a desk, opens her white Apple laptop. She’s a regular woman in a red bustier, except she’s wearing a giant papîer-mache  frog-person mask. Close on her heels is an ELDERLY GREMLIN, WITH GNARLED WALKING STICK AND TOGA.

GRASS-FED CRABGRASS: I hate your blog.


GFCG: Well… it’s different that I hate it. Since I’m the “audience.” [Runs finger absently, erotically across her laptop’s roof]

EG: How you know you’re the audience? Maybe I’m the only audience I care about.

GFCG: Clearly that’s not true. Otherwise there’d be way more nudity and self-involvement. It’s clear from the way you write that you care a lot about whoever your “audience” is. Me. [Heterosexual, North American pornography is projected on the wall behind EG and GFCG]

[A long pause.]

GFCG: I’m bored. With this blog. With this… “demimonde.”

EG [Plaintively, pleadingly]: I am, too! What should we do?

CG: We’re not doing anything. There’s no “we.” I’m just telling you this. You do whatever you want. I’m going to the FastHaus. [The FastHaus is a trendy nightclub where no food or drinks are served, where supersexxy urban dwellers go to not ingest any calories, to dance, to make sex with each other, to lose weight. NO PETS, NO DRUGS, reads a flashing neon sign]

EG: This is depressing. I’m all alone, and you’re right here. You’re so close, but I cannot touch you. [Begins doing fake/funny mime-moves with his hands. “Invisible wall,” “Frozen cowboy,” etc.]

CG: You’re depressing. I’m a skinny fridge filled with low-cal pudding. I’m gorgeous. I’m empty. But for the pudding. The pudding is what I feel. And I almost feel… that you…. You. Are my pudding. My “pud-pud.” [A teensy pause.] This is fucked up.


A library. William Flesch, a professor of English Literature at Brandeis University and author of two books, Comeuppance and Generosity and the Limits of Authority, sits at a desk, writing long-hand with great concentration. His legs are crossed, and he wags his ankle.

The elderly gremlin walks in. He watches Flesch write for a few moments, then turns and plaintively addresses the audience.

EG: Is it somehow illegal for me to include the real-life figure of William Flesch, whom I’ve never met, in this fiction? Surely Flesch will find this web-page — perhaps an enterprising toady will forward it to him. A web-savvy loved one will alert him to its presence. Its presence will rear itself, immutably, in the snack bar of a bowling alley on a lightless afternoon. I don’t think I’m breaking any laws. But am I being an asshole? I haven’t read his work. I just wanted to point out that I think it’s “funny” that he wrote this book, Comeuppance, which is about the “biological components of fiction,” and that his name is Flesch. Surely a man of his apparent erudition (based only on his C.V., I guess) has already come up with a multitude of hilarious puns and careful witticisms about his name. He’s probably been getting comments about his name at least since high-school, or even earlier. Anyway, that’s the only reason we’re here: His name is Flesch, and he wrote about the biological components of fiction. Gah.

[Flesch sets down his pen, cocks his head thoughtfully, then rises to exit. He and the Gremlin spar playfully for a moment. Flesch throws a few skilled roundhouse kicks and Muay Thai elbows, before he exits, stage right.]


A coffee shop on a college campus. Everyone is naked.

JEAN: I like it best of all of us! Of the three of us, I’m the one who likes it best!

PAULA: Poppycock! I think it’s tops! I regard everything, always, that peers into my purview, and of all that multipicity I swear to Christ it’s I who dig it most!

PRISCILLA: Eff that, bitches! Tis I, tis I, tis I who wants to hug the monolith with maximal, earnest vigor!! Gahh!!!!!!!!!!!


Who cares?

—I think you do.

—What gives you that idea?

—You seem… invested.

—What makes you say so?

—I dunno. You seem furtive. You’re eating too quickly, and too much. Your  furtiveness belies your investment. If you didn’t care at all, you wouldn’t be eating — at least not so much.

—What is it that I care about?

—I can’t tell you that. Only you can answer that.

—So you know that I care about something — but as far as what it is I care about, that stays private and mysterious?

—I guess that’s what I’m saying. Maybe it’s not mysterious to you.

—Well, say that what I really care about is eating? That I like it? If I really like doing something, doesn’t that mean that I care about it?
What about the genocide in the Congo? Would you guess that I care about that?

—I don’t like thinking about your eating habits in the same context as an African genocide.
It’s odious.

—By extension, then, would you say that I’m odious?

—I feel like that’s the conclusion you’re trying to push. I think you’d feel some kind of satisfaction if I replied Yes: Yes, you’re completely odious. Thinking about the deaths in the Congo in the same thought-breath as thinking about the way you appear while you’re eating your massive lunches is shameful, and you’re shameful. You should feel ashamed, and you should be punished.
And but instead, the world will continue to shower its favors on you. You’ll probably win a Wii and a subscription to the London Review of Books in a contest you didn’t enter. I’m trying to make you happy by telling you this. Your sneer looks comfortable. [Memo to myself: Invent a new item of clothing called the “Sneer”? And make it really comfortable? Some sort of fleece/chamoix facial scarf, with lots of swaths cut out? Reminder: ask Kolleen about this ]
Is this the first time you’ve been to The Mirror?

—Yes. Well, I’ve been before, but I always came alone. I’ve never talked in one of these rooms with another person.

—Do you like it?

—Sure. It feels like the difference between masturbating and having sex, maybe. “It’s usually better with another person.”

—Do you think that same logic applies to conversations? That is, is having a conversation with someone else usually going to be more enjoyable or productive than it is just knocking language around by yourself, in your own head?

—I think that raises the question of writing. Because with writing it’s not just knocking around in your own head. You’re squeezing it out of the tube onto a brush, onto a canvas. And then you can read it over, revise it, email it to a woman, etc.

—So is writing more like masturbating, or more like having sex? And what’s the difference between writing and correspondence? Isn’t all writing correspondence, in any guise? [Note: Maybe I should market a new brand of fleece (or chamoix) garment called The Guise? “Grab a brand-new hot-purple Guise before hitting the slopes this year — it’ll keep you warm, sexy, and aloof!” “Yo! Dis ‘Guise’ is ‘da bomb’!”]

—Writing is a simulated conversation. You’re still alone. It’s masturbation that sometimes later gets projected onto the wall and then couples couple and copule beneath it.

—People making love while a porno plays on the TV.


—I don’t think you’re listening to me.

pounded into pumice

DOUG: [On phone] Can I get an order for pick-up?

JANET: [Separated by a wall; on phone] Go ahead?

DOUG: I’d like a salted pumice sheath, eight crabtree and evelyns, and a dickless massage?

JANET: [Writing it down] One sheath… crabtree and evelyn, and… We don’t have dickless massages today.

DOUG: OK… do you have steamed BBQ pork buns?

JANET: Yes. Are you vegetarian?

DOUG: [ashamed] Yeah….

JANET: [Laughing; she is perfect] That’s OK, I’m joking, we have them.

DOUG: Thank you.

JANET: OK, that’s gonna be… $42.36. Pork is expensive.

DOUG: I understand. Thank you.

JANET: OK, ten minutes, bye bye!!!!

peace in the valley

Sometimes Animal Collective comes on any of the forty internet/college/freeform radio stations I listen to all day at work and I’m kind of like, Really? You’re playing Animal Collective again? Then I look down and see a white apron, white shirt, black slacks, all covering a super-ripped gym-toned body, and I’m like, Whoa! I’ve fallen through a wormhole! Now I’m a male model, living in NYC, working part-time as a waiter at a fancy restaurant in the meatpacking district! No time to think more about how this happened! I better check on table six!

ME: How is everything?

JEFFREY KATZENBERG: We’re terrific. Actually, can we get another bottle of this Malbec?

DAVID GEFFEN: If I drink another glass of Malbec I’ll queef. Weren’t we eyeing that Ribera del Duero?

KATZENBERG: Bitch, the only thing I was eyeing was… your face.

[The joke, such as it is, falls flat. Everyone lapses into an uncomfortable silence. A BlackBerry begins vibrating and flashing, and does a weird sideways dance across the tablecloth. I’ve got to say something! I’m going to break the ice!]

ME: You know, we actually just got a very few bottles of a Gran Tinto, from Peru. Our buyer tried to keep it all for him and his boyfriend. Then our owner tried to do the same thing, something about his wife’s birthday. It was actually our pastry chef, Bianca, who’s a fiery young lesbian with a shock of canary-yellow hair floating atop an otherwise bright-red rat’s nest of a coiffure–who convinced everyone to leave at least a few bottles for our most preferred and celebrated customers.

DAVID GEFFEN: I’m willing to risk it.

KATZENBERG: Sure, me too. Why not. We’ll try a bottle.

ME: No, I said our most preferred customers.

[A terrifying microsecond elapses, and then I waggle my eyebrows with almost infinitesimal subtlety. The table roars with laughter and approval. I have succeeded again!!]

[Laughter gradually subsides. The assistants look at each other. They are so fucking hot!!! They’re wearing polka-dots and are seriously the hottest people you’ve ever seen. You would murder a puppy just to get close enough to smell their hair. They’re really cruel and selfish, though, so forget about it.]

[The Animal Collective song, which has been playing this whole time, except with a weird string quartet restaurant-wormhole remix thing happening, isn’t this a WEIRD SCENARIO, you guys?, finally ends. I look down and I’m wearing an oversized polar fleece with tahini stains all over it. I am back in my office.

I walk over to the overturned ice-cream truck. Ponder for a moment, then clamber on top. I’m a spazzy, inadept climber, and it almost seems like I’m going to slide off at several key moments. Planted audience members should be gasping with exaggerated fauxfear for my safety. I’m finally on top, where I brush myself off, compose myself, and address the audience.]

ME: I’m judging “Literary Merit” as a part of that “Literary Death Match” thing at the Elbo Room tonight (3/13/09). Starts at 7, costs money. 647 Valencia St @ 17th St. Don’t come. It’s a weird concept this time. Comedians will be reading works from other writers? Like Cheever and Barthelme? And Saunders and Tao Lin??? I don’t really get how I’m supposed to judge (or compare) the literary merit of those writers — normally it’s authors reading their own works…. we’ll see. I’m planning on being drunk and either super-fake antagonistic or super-faux saccharine. Anything but sincere. I have eaten sixteen dinners in the last forty-eight hours.

Not pictured: Gisele Bündchen
Not pictured: Gisele Bündchen

Beer quantities

An OBESE TEENAGER sits at his desk in California. Two potted plants fuck slowly on the desk’s northwest corner. An overturned ice-cream truck lies on the other side of the open-plan office; the ICE-CREAM MAN writhes around on the ground in front of the truck, silently moaning and slo-mo thrashing and rubbing ice-cream and fake blood on his uniform. The OBESE TEENAGER wears headphones and an oversized button-down shirt. His hair is closely shorn. He looks like if George Clooney were ugly and fat and young.

OBESE TEENAGER: I am hungover. I wish I had some pot. I can’t get anything done today. I love rock and roll. I wanna live on an abstract plane. Three French Doctors without Borders were kidnapped in Darfur. Michelle Obama has been promoting healthy eating more than Laura Bush ever did, even though Laura also wanted fresh, organic veggies to be served in the White House. One of Michelle and Barack’s daughters started getting “a little chubby” a while back, so they ruled out juice boxes and something else. A blazed gunman in Arkansas was sentenced to reading this blog every forty-five minutes for the next six months as part of a plea bargain. If there are no new posts, he has to re-read whatever the three or four most recent things are. He gets quizzed every other day. “I think I got off pretty easy,” the blazed gunman reported. “This will be more fun, for the first few weeks, at least, than community service.”

ICE-CREAM MAN: [Moans loudly, continues writhing.]

OBESE TEENAGER: I shit you not. I’ve gotta get outta here. Soak the beans overnight, sautee some onion and garlic in a pot, then pour the beans with their soaking water into the pot. Bring to a boil, add salt, pepper, more garlic, cook for two hours. Maybe throw some cilantro in there. You have a lot of black beans now; use them wisely.

ICE-CREAM MAN: Did you know I also sell weed?

OBESE TEENAGER: That’s interesting. I know a lot of really well-regarded people who smoke marijuana.

ICE-CREAM MAN: Yes, it’s true.

OBESE TEENAGER: Not just in the arts, either. Successful people from many walks of life.

ICE-CREAM MAN: I know, it’s interesting. I can’t say I’m surprised.

OBESE TEENAGER: Last night at the bar a guy with shoulder-length hair, wearing a T-shirt over thermal underwear, walked in around 1:30, ordered a whiskey. “Excuse me,” he said, clearly drunk, though not especially threatening. “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” I hesitated. “Are you asking because I’m wearing Dockers and have dirty eyeglasses?” I said. “I have incredible ‘Jew-dar,'” he said. He turned out to be half-Jewish, on his mother’s side, and was from el Salvador, partially, somehow. He grew up listening to KFJC in Santa Clara. “Taped the station all the time.” That’s how he found out about the Fall, when he ended up taping “Totally Wired.”


ICE-CREAM MAN: Do you think it’d be hard to be a milk-man? I feel like it’s the same thing as being an ice-cream man. I think it’d be easy. I’m looking for a change.

O.T.: It’s different. I think you’d run into problems. You have to drop off the milk at doorsteps; it’s not like ice-cream, where people come to you.

ICM: [Shyly] Is it true that milkmen sleep with ‘desparate housewives’?

OT: I think that’s an ‘old desperate housewives tale.’ I mean, you probably will end up sleeping with a bunch of housewives, but just as often you’ll probably end up sleeping with confused, desperate poolboys. You know what I mean?

ICM: Yeah, I guess I do. But hey, I meant to say: I can sell you weed if you want. Just ask for the “Zany Grasshopper Pop.”

OT: [A long pause.] God, that sounds terrific. Is it available now?

ICM: What?

OT: The… ‘Mighty Grasshopper Pop’?

ICM: You mean ‘Zany’?

OT: Right, right— ‘Zany.’

ICM: It is. Here, come into the truck, and I’ll see if I have any fresh stuff.

[They disappear into the rear of the overturned ice-cream truck. Faint dub reggae becomes audible. The stage remains empty for a few beats.]

[A DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE and a DESPERATE POOLBOY enter from stage left and right, respectively. The HOUSEWIFE is just the OBESE TEENAGER in a wig, housedress, and quickly applied makeup; the POOLBOY is the ICE-CREAM MAN in overalls and a straw hat, carrying a long mesh net. They meet in the center, in front and to the left of the truck.]

DH: Whoa, I can’t believe I’m still writing this ‘play.’ I should probably get back to ‘work.’ maybe I’ll enter some copyedit changes. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

DP: yer pretty

DH: Why thank you. You’re handsome, and articulate. [They hold each other. Blackout.]




CROWD: We love ya!

OCAMPOS: Wha–? [adjusts bathrobe]

CROWD: You’re a mentor!

OCAMPOS: [fumbles in bathrobe’s pocket for a cigarette. Pulls out a slightly bent, unfiltered Camel. Fumbles for lighter. Farts silently. Wind blows across his pelotas. He peers down at the crowd from the patio. Mild panic at a sudden mild tumescence in his “loins.”]

[A PARTICULAR WOMAN in the crowd makes eye-contact with Ocampos. She is the one. He is the one. Ocampos looks pointedly away. An URCHIN hurls a bouquet onto the balcony. It is damp and dirty and grazes Ocampos’s bare, hairy shin.]

CROWD: Come down! We want to devour you!

OCAMPOS: [Inhaling deeply on the cigarette] I’d love to, I really would. It’s just that — the medicine — I don’t think— my breakfast—

URCHIN: Come down! I wish to devour you!!

OCAMPOS: [Turns back toward the door to his bedroom. The breeze has picked up. His hair now points southeast. His ass looks pretty good to the crowd, through his terrycloth bathrobe. The URCHIN throws a digital meal from Castlevania onto the patio]

note: meal not visible
meal not visible

[The SPECIAL WOMAN has wrapped her face in a cheesecloth and bustles rushédly into the building. The security guards look the other way. She is wearing a little bit of makeup.]