Der Zuschauer

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Archive for October 2011

Gorkyland: An Autumn Night by Maxim Gorky

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Maxim Gorky April 1902

An Autumn Night
Source: The Social Democrat, Vol. VI No. 4, April, 1902, pp. 123-128, (3,761 words);
Translated: by Emily Jakowleff and Dora B. Montefiore;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Further editing by Der Zuschauer.

I found myself one autumn night in an uncomfortable and awkward position. I had just arrived in a town where I did not know a single creature; I had not a penny in my pocket, nor a corner where to lay my head.
For a day or two I kept things going by disposing of all such articles of clothing as were not absolutely indispensable. When the proceeds of my wardrobe were exhausted, I determined to set out for a place called Oustya, where I knew there were some wharves and dockyards, which would offer a chance of work. When, however, I arrived there the stir and bustle of the year were over—for it was already the latter end of October, and the place was now empty and deserted.
I tramped about the wet sands, sending the water splashing at every step I took. Eagerly I scanned the ground under my feet, hoping to find some refuse that might be eatable. I had arrived at that state when I would have eaten anything. I prowled about the deserted huts and stalls, thinking how pleasant it would be to feel my hunger satisfied for once in my life. Under existing social conditions it is so much easier to quench the hunger of the mind than it is to satisfy the hunger of the body. As one wanders about the streets, with their richly decorated buildings, which one feels certain are just as luxurious inside as they are outside; exulting thoughts arise in one’s mind, as one contemplates the wonders achieved by architecture, sanitation, and many other elevating and improving arts and sciences. One meets people warmly and comfortably clad—they are well behaved, they always make way for one, anxious, to the point of fastidiousness, to avoid even the knowledge of the existence of beings such as we are. But, thank God, the souls of the starving are often far better nourished than are those of the rich and prosperous! Such a state of affairs gives the rich many a chance of drawing witty comparisons in their own favor.
Evening drew on, the rain pattered down, the north wind blew in fitful gusts; it whistled among the empty stalls and sheds, and rattled against the boarded windows of the deserted vodka-shops. The waves of the river turned to spray under the stroke of the blast, as they dashed boisterously against the sandy shore, throwing their white crests high up into the air; then, as if anxious to return to the vast expanse they had just left, they jostled and leaped back one over the other. The river seemed to have a presentiment that winter was near, and to be making nervous attempts to escape the icy bonds, which the bleak north wind might lay upon it that very night. The sky was dark and lowering, a cold, cutting drizzle, so fine that the drops were scarcely visible, swept through the air. The depressing landscape which surrounded me seemed sadder still for the stumps of two disfigured, broken down willows, and the overturned boat lying near their roots. A battered, overturned boat, and two melancholy old trees stripped naked by the cold wind. Everything suggested ruin, desolation, and disuse. The sky, shedding endless tears, gave a last finishing touch to the whole mournful picture. So desolate and so gloomy seemed all around, that it began to appear to me as if everything in the world, with the exception of myself, were decaying, and that very soon, I alone should remain in the world—the only living being left—I, for whom cold death might be already lurking somewhere near.
I was only eighteen then, and what beauty there is in that age! Thus I walked about the cold damp sands, my teeth chattering an accompaniment to my thoughts in honor of hunger and cold, when suddenly as I turned sharply round the corner of a stall I came across a stooping figure wearing the dress of a woman. Her clothes were wet, and hung closely around her. I stopped and tried to find out what she was doing; and then I discovered that she was scraping a hole in the sand with her hands under one of the market stalls.
“Why are you doing that?” I inquired, sitting down beside her. She uttered a low cry, and sprang quickly to her feet. As she stood up facing me, her large grey eyes full of terror, I noticed she was a girl of about my own age with a very pretty face, which, I regret to say, was somewhat disfigured by three large bruises. The bruises, though placed in symmetrical order, still had the effect of spoiling her beauty. One bruise was just above the bridge of her nose; the others consisted of two black eyes. All of them were exactly of the same size, and had been evidently inflicted by an artist in the art of disfiguring people’s faces. The girl stood staring at me, but the expression of terror gradually disappeared from her eyes. She shook the sand from her hands, straightened the cotton handkerchief on her head, and said; with a slight shiver in her voice:
“Well, I suppose you are hungry also; if so, come and dig for a little while, my hands are aching. Look there,” she continued, nodding towards the stall she had been trying to undermine, “in that stall we shall be sure to find some bread, and maybe some sausage. You see this stall has not been regularly closed yet.”
I started digging. After some few minutes rest, spent in watching me, she squatted down beside me, and began to work as well.
We grubbed away for some time in silence. It is difficult to say at this distance of time whether any thought of the civil code, any considerations of morality, or of the rights of property; or of other good things, which wise people tell us should ever be present in our minds, troubled me at that moment. But as I desire to keep as near as possible to the truth, I fear I must acknowledge that at the time I was so engrossed with my work of undermining the stall, that no room was left in my mind for anything but expectation of the treasure I hoped to discover as a reward of my toil. Evening came on apace. The gloom, damp, cold, and raw, grew every moment more and more dense. The swish of the waves was heard less distinctly, but the rain beat louder and more insistently against the boards of the stall. Not far off we heard the night watchman’s rattle.
“Has the stall a floor or not?” inquired my companion in a low voice.
Not understanding exactly what she meant, I did not answer.
“I am asking you if the stall has a floor or not; because if it has there is no use in our going on digging—if we come across thick boards, what can we do? In that case had we not better break the lock; it’s a trumpery little thing,”
A bright thought seldom comes into a woman’s head; but still, as in this case “happy thoughts” do come into their minds occasionally. I always have a respect for “happy thoughts,” and try and avail myself of them as well as I can.
Acting on this principle, I felt for the lock, gave it a wrench, and pulled it off, screws and all. My accomplice immediately stooped down, and gliding like a snake through the square, raised the lid of the stall. When there, she uttered a cry of encouragement.
“Well done, my brave lad!”
A word of approbation from, a woman is worth more to me than a hymn of praise from a man, even if he be as eloquent as all the orators, ancient and modern, put together. Under the circumstances I am describing however, I was not in such an amiable frame of mind as I am now; I paid no heed, therefore, to the girl’s exclamation, but briefly and impatiently queried:
“What have you found there?”
Instead of replying, she began to enumerate in a monotonous voice the various articles sire had discovered.
“A hamper of bottles, some empty bags, an umbrella, an iron pail.”
None of these, however, were eatable, and my hopes were fast fading away. Suddenly she shouted joyfully:
“I have found it at last!”
“What have you found?” “Bread! A whole loaf! Only it’s a little damp. Here, catch!”
At the same moment a loaf of bread rolled at my feet; and my brave little friend soon stood by my side.
Meanwhile I had broken off a hunk of bread, and, cramming it into my mouth, devoured it greedily.
“Come, I say, give me a bit, too. We must get away from this place at once. Where do you think we had better go?” Her searching glance tried to penetrate the gloom of the dark, damp and stormy night.
“Over yonder there is an old boat turned upside dawn; let us get under it.”
“All right; come along!”
We made for the boat, breaking off and eating pieces of bread, and cramming them into our mouths as we walked along. The rain fell ever more heavily, and the river roared louder. A prolonged, derisive whistle sounded some way off—it seemed as if some strong, desperate being were laughing mockingly at everything on earth at the wretched autumn night, and at us, its two heroes. Our hearts throbbed painfully at each shriek of the whistle; but nothing prevented me from eating my bread greedily; the girl walking by my side did the same.
“What is your name?” I inquired, vaguely.
“Natasha,” was the curt, answer, as the girl continued to chew her bread noisily.
I looked at her, and my heart ached for her. Then I turned my glance, ahead into the gloom, and it seemed to me as if the mocking face of my fate were smiling at me, with a cold, enigmatic smile.
Ceaselessly the drops of rain beat against the timber of the old boat, and their soft patter awoke many a sad thought. The wind whistling through the crevices of the timber howled fiercely; a chip of wood hanging loosely inside rattled and quivered out an anxious, sad dirge. So monotonous and so despairing was the sound of the waves as they dashed against the river banks, that it seemed as if they wished to confide the story of some oppression, of some insupportable grief, of which they were utterly weary, and of which they desired to unburden themselves, so that it might be shared with someone else. The noise of the rain, mingled with the rush of the waves, together produced the effect of a long, endlessly deep sound, floating in the air—the sigh of the earth, weary of the never-ceasing changes of the weather—the hot, bright summers, succeeded by the damp, cold and dreary autumns. The wind still continued to sweep and howl over the desolate shore; the foaming river moaned its sad monotonous complaint. Our shelter under the boat was destitute of anything like comfort; it was damp and narrow, and ice-cold drops of rain, mingled with piercing gusts of wind, penetrated through the rotting timbers. We sat in silence, shivering with the cold. I remember getting very sleepy. Natasha, who had curled herself up into a ball, leaned back against the side of the boat; her arms encircled her knees, on which rested her head. She gazed steadily out towards the river. Her wide-open eyes shone brightly, and seemed to grow larger for the black bruises beneath them. She neither spoke nor moved, and her silent, motionless figure inspired me with awe. I longed to say something to her, but did not know how to begin. At last she broke silence.
“What a wretched business our life is!” She spoke each word distinctly, slowly, and with deep conviction. She did not seem to be complaining; there was too much indifference in her voice for that. Apparently she had been reviewing her life, and had put into words, as well as she was able, the conclusion she had arrived at concerning it. A conclusion that I at least could not dispute without being false to myself. I preferred, therefore, to leave her words unanswered, and she once more assumed her silent and motionless attitude, taking no notice whatever of me.
“If one could but croak, and have done with it all,” she murmured, in a low and pensive tone. But still there was no note of complaint in her voice. It seemed as if she had reviewed her past life, and had come to the conclusion that there was no use in continuing to live; and that the only way to escape the mockery of existence was, as she expressed it, “to croak.”
Her clear, cold reasoning made me feel thoroughly sick at, heart. I felt I had no alternative but either to speak or burst into tears. To cry before a woman, however, seemed disgraceful, the more so, as she herself had not shed a single tear.
At last I managed to speak.
“Who has been knocking you about?” I asked, unable to find a more delicate way of alluding to her disfigurement.
“Why, Pashka, of course!”
“Who is he?”
“He’s my lover. He’s a baker.”
“Does he behave like that often?”
“Yes, very often; every time he is drunk.”
Then leaning towards me she began to tell all about her relations with Pashka. She was a “girl of the town,” he, a baker with an auburn mustache; he played the accordion splendidly. He had met her at the “establishment,” had charmed her by his gay manners, his smart, well-polished top-boots, and his splendid clothes. Why, he wore a coat that was worth at least fifteen roubles! She fell in love with him for all these fine qualities, and put herself under his “protection.” No sooner did he realize his position than he began to appropriate the money she earned from the other “visitors”; this money he would spend in drink, and when drunk he beat her without mercy. All this, she explained, would not have troubled her much, if it were not that he shamelessly courted other girls under her very nose.
“That was what hurt me most! I saw he was only making game of me, the rascal; and I was no worse looking than the other girls! The day before yesterday I asked permission of my ‘mistress’ to go out. I went straight to the house where Pashka lives, and found him there with Dounija; she was full of drink, and he not much better. I went for him, I can tell you. ‘You rascal, you dog!’ I shouted. Then he began. He knocked me down, he dragged me about by the hair, he abused me in every way he could think of. But even all that would not have mattered so much. The worst part of the business was that he tore my dress and jacket to pieces. Now I do not know what to do! I dare not go back to my mistress in this state, with all my clothes torn. I paid five roubles for my jacket. He dragged the handkerchief from my head. Oh! great God! what can I do now?”
The last few words were uttered in a plaintive, trembling voice. The ever howling wind grew louder and colder. My teeth began once more to chatter. The girl shivered and crept closer to me—so close that I could see her eyes flashing in the gloom. “What brutes you men! I should like to crush you all under my feet! I would disfigure you all if I could. If I saw any of you dying in the gutter I would only spit in your faces, and leave you there without a spark of pity. You miserable, wretches! You come cringing and fawning to us like mean dogs, but as soon as some silly girl trusts you, and gives way to you, all is over. You spurn and deride her, you dirty rascals!”
She possessed an endless stock of abusive epithets, but none of them were uttered with any force. One felt they expressed neither anger nor hatred for these “dirty rascals.”
The tone of her voice, was not in harmony with the words she spoke; but what she said made a deeper impression on me than could have been made by the most eloquent, forcible, and pessimistic book or argument that I had ever come across, either before that night or since. I can only express it in this way; and compare it to the death agony, which must itself be always more real, more poignant, and truer to nature than the best description by a master-hand can ever be.
Well, I was suffering acutely, though whether my sufferings were caused entirely by the cold, or by my companion’s words, I cannot now exactly say. I uttered a low groan, and gnashed my teeth. At the same moment I felt two cold little hands fluttering near me—one of them touched my neck and the other my cheek, and a soft, caressing voice inquired sympathetically:
“Will you not tell me who you are?”
It seemed almost for a moment as if someone else was speaking, and not the Natasha who, only a few moments before, had been reviling all mankind, and calling down evil on the heads of men. She was speaking now, however, in quick, hurried tones.
“What is the matter with you? Are you cold? Are you freezing? Poor fellow! Why did you not say so? Why did you not tell me before that you were cold? Come and lie down here. Stretch yourself out like, that, and I will lie down also. Now, just put your arms round me, come closer to me. Now you will be nice and warm. By-and-bye we will lie back to back, and so warm our backs. And so we shall manage to get through the night. Why are you in such a miserable state? Have you been drinking, or have you been dismissed from your situation? Well, whatever it is, it does not matter! Don’t fret about it.”
This girl was actually trying to comfort me. She was even trying to encourage me!
Damn it all! What frightful irony there was in all this. Just when I was busily occupied, settling the destiny of the whole human race, when I was dreaming of reforming the whole social order of things, and plotting all kinds of political revolutions; reading also extremely wise books, the meaning of which, in all probability, was never quite clear, even to, their authors; when I was endeavoring in every way to make of myself a prominent social and active force, just, in a word, when I seemed to have fulfilled the greater part of my task, and presumed that I had at least won a right to existence by making myself indispensable to the human race, and by taking a prominent place in the history of mankind—to think that such a person should stand in need of warmth, lent by the body of a fallen woman, an unhappy, shattered, persecuted creature, for whom there is no room and no place in the world! A woman whom I ought to have protected and cared for, instead of allowing her to console and comfort me, though, indeed, if the thought of my duty toward her had ever entered my mind, I confess I should not have known how to set about accomplishing it. I tried to make myself believe that it was all only a dream, an absurd nightmare, which had come across me during heavy sleep.
But, alas! The cold rain drops continued to pour down on me; the warm breast of the girl was pressed close against mine; her hot breath, tainted, it must be acknowledged with the faint odor of vodka, but oh, so wonderfully revivifying, awoke me to reality; and proved to me almost against my will that it was no dream. The wind howled and moaned pitifully. The rain beat ever louder against the old boat, and the waves outside hissed, while we, lying still in a close embrace, shivered still from the cold. This was indeed stern reality. I felt convinced that no dream, however monstrous, however unbearable, could ever have vied in oppressiveness with this crushing actuality. Natasha continued to talk softly, soothingly, kindly, as none but a woman can do.
Her simple gentle words caused warm feelings to creep into my heart, and I felt it melting within me.
A flood of tears poured down my cheeks, washing away the anger, the grief, the self-conceit, the evil that had accumulated in my heart in the course of that terrible night. Once more Natasha endeavored to comfort me.
“Do, not weep like that dear. Do stop crying. Please God, something will turn up. You will find another place. You will be all right soon”. Kisses, hot, caressing, and soothing mingled with her words.
They were the very first kisses I had ever received from a woman; and they were the best. All those I received later were bought at much too high a price.
“Come, come! Stop that noise; what a strange fellow you are. Tomorrow I will try and find you some work, if that’s what’s the matter.”
The low, soft, persuasive whispers came wafted to me as though through a dream. Thus we remained in each others’ arms till daybreak. As soon as dawn appeared we crawled out from under the boat, and made our way towards the town. There we bid each other a warm farewell, and parted – never to meet, again; though for more than six months I searched for that sweet girl through all the slums of the town—the girl with whom I had spent an autumn night.
If she is dead—the best thing that could have happened to her—may her soul rest in peace. If she is still alive, God grant her a quiet mind, and may she never realize her fall; for that would be only a cruel and futile suffering, and would serve no useful purpose in this world.

(Translated by Emily Jakowleff and Dora B. Montefiore.)

Dora Montefiore Archive | Maxim Gorky Archive
Social Democrat

Written by herrdramaturg

October 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

Gorkyland: Rats

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Last night rats crawled upon my sleeping face; it was no wet dream. They bit, tore, ripped the skin from my face. There were Alcoholics Anonymous rats, Salvation Army rats, Prescribing Psych-Nurse rats, Substance Abuse Specialists rats, even Shelter Faggot rats. They went for my throat, my eye balls; they shit in my beard. They even tried to get at my genitals, and tore at my jeans. They told me that there was something wrong with me and that there would always be something wrong with me and even if I was clean for 42 years I would still be a 42-year-old scum-bag relapse waiting to happen. The rats gnawed on my ears, my fingers, my toes. They made filet mignon butt-steak out of my ass. They told me I needed a mentor and he would be a dominant homo mentor, even if he was actually a she-slag, butch-pussy dyke in a hideous rhumba skirt. I fought back. I threw unopened beers at them; I smashed rum and brandy bottles and slashed them into pieces. I had an alcoholic, homophobic, misogynistic, giant-killing fit. I slaughtered them all. I killed all the rats. I fought for my eyes, my ears, my cheeks, my penis and my balls. I said no to faggots and Alcoholics Anonymous; I said no to mentoring, and consensus about failure, and most profoundly I said no to a higher power, who was just a nasty, filthy Sodomite in a Nurse Ratchet white dress. And when I woke up I was clean, and I was calm and I had been reading Pliny, the Younger’s Letters. I knew that wet dreams were about loving and not about rats and scum-bags, weasels and stoats. I felt reassured no one would ever ask me about going to a meeting again. “Did you ever see anyone more fearful and abject than Marcus Regulus, following Domitian’s death?”

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright Der Zuschauer 2011.

Written by herrdramaturg

October 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Gorkyland: Twist, Twist, Twist Again

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The are no pussies in an animal shelter. nor punch-bunnies either. There are barking dogs, baying hounds, Aegis-class cruise missiles, but there are no pussies in a shelter. There are no female breasts, no tits, titties, no jugs, hooters, fun-bags, wahoos. There are no bra-busters in a men’s shelter. No A-Cups, no B-Cups, C-Cups, D or DD-Cups, no Triple E-Cups, no Quatro F-Cups. There are no female nipples: pink, red, or brown, barely pronounced, big as your thumb, flashing like lights on a patrol car. No biting, no sucking Lulu’s nippons. There are no girly armpits either, shaved, hairy, stubbled, five-o’clocked, razor-fatigued, no sweaty, salt-licked, girly armpits. Nothing. There is no female pubic hair in a men’s animal shelter. No bush, cotton candy, Black Forest, swampland, barely there, tease-tufted, no navel to anus, no shaved, bald, nor red-demonette, nor wooly bully. And, of course, there is no pussy, beaver, squack, snatch, taco, bearded clam, sperm-barn; there is no mons veneris, Venusberg, love-shack; there is no semen-intake center in a dog house. You will find the usual gattling-guns, howitzers, moon-rockets, yogurt cannons, roman candles, sad-sack dicks. There are baton rouges, baton noirs, tossers, and walking sticks. But, alas, there is no muff-diving, no rug-munching, no forced march, no frog-march, no boob patrol, no crotch hawking, nothing like that in a men’s animal shelter. Just the pass word: Ou la femme? Charchez la femme?
I don’t even know what it looks like.
I never knew what it looked like.
I can still remember what it smells like.
Fish shack in late August.
Sauteed sole in a lemon beurre blanc sauce.
She harrowed out my nostrils.
Nipples like red cherries in the snow.
Armpits with hair like the end of the Korean War.
Curls at the back of her neck.
Her ears gone beet-red.
I remember when-
Let’s twist, twist, twist again,
Like we did last summer.
O do you remember when?
Let’s twist, again, like we did last year.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright by Der Zuschauer, 2011.

Written by herrdramaturg

October 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Gorkyland: Upon the Nature of the Universe

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Last night in the shelter two men were tossed for having dirty urine. Outside it was dark and below freezing. Dirty urine refers to the results of a test which indicates evidence of alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and/or other drugs in the body. The two men were no angels; one learned they had both served jail-time from their rather loud, whispered, conspiratorial conversation. The larger man had the bunk above me. Both had been “randomly picked” for a urine test. “Random” after only two nights was certainly not “random.” “Arbitrary” was certainly not “arbitrary.” The shorter man hung on the other man’s ear like an Ugolino or Iago, fastened on like a ghost draining a corpse. He was the “smart guy” in a colony of imbeciles. Always with the know it all about everything and nothing. “This is shit; that is shinola.”
“We can do drugs, but we have to be cool about it. We can obtain at AA meetings; we can use at AA meetings.”
The larger man had the rough splendor and good looks of a working class Mark Antony. The other had not even the trick of uniqueness. He was a clinging shade, a ghoulish shadow. They both had the lethal skin tone of oxycontin.They knew they had dirty urine. Right beside me, ostensibly asleep, they whispered hoarsely. The large man had been asked for a urine sample, then the shadow; can shadows pee, or bleed, or even die? The ghoul was resigned: dirty urine, back out on the street. Mark Antony was in anguish.
“We should have stayed at the Sally.”
The Sally is street lingo for the hideous Salvation Army shit-hole in Central Square.
“If we go back tonight we only get 4 nights back in.”
“If we wait out tonight we can go back tomorrow for six nights.”
“Are you going to test or what?”
“But why us after 2 nights?”
“If you have dirty urine you don’t belong in here anyway.”
“We start a new job in the morning, full-time, construction.”
“Let us stay the night, then we won’t come back.”
“Test-or get out!”
All this time I’m wide awake in a deep sleep. The hairs on my arm stand up; I’m dried up in my throat like a 1,000 year old mummy that needs to cough, wants to spit, would kill for a cold beer. Why just these two? Why care if you know you’ll test negative to either “random, arbitrary,” or even fucking “deliberate?” Where would I go? Back to the Sally, into the Charles River, like that young black women who took her own life last week? Don’t you have a babe, a broad with a wide bed-even if she nags, and doesn’t let you drink? Don’t you have a friend with a sofa worth surfing? You could drink ice beer there and read Lucretius. Why care if you know you’ll test negative? What do I know? Why do I know? How could I know? Digression: creation balances destruction.
“There’s nothing to do but test, then we’re out, but the restrictions will be less if we come back.”
“I don’t want to go out.”
“We have to.”
I wait to pee until the smoke breaks when both the gladiators and the enforcer will be outside on the landing. I wait to pee so I won’t be seen to be awake. I’m really out cold, unavailable for “random, arbitrary, or deliberate.” I’m really out cold, I’m stone cold dead on the floor; I’m out like a light.
“Okay, let’s do it; we’ll test.”
I’m out like a light. There must be an infinite number of worlds. There is no divine interference in the self-regulated working of nature. The world had a beginning and will have an end. I’m out like a light. Stone cold dead on the floor. Serene like Epicurus. I wake up. The men are gone. The enforcer is gone. Lucretius is there. There is frost on the roof across the way. I still have money for ice beer. What to do? What to do next? There is no third form of existence. All qualities are properties and accidents of matter and space. Time to rise, time to rise and shine.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright Der Zuschauer 20011.

Gorkyland: Or, Living in Hobbes’ Ditch

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My name is Maxim Gorky, the 3rd; I was born in Moscow in 1953, the year of Stalin’s death. I am a distant cousin to distant cousins of the famed writer, Maxim Gorky, and a fifth generation Old Bolshevik. I am also related to the celebrated Russian wolfhound in Walt Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp, and like him I have lived a desperate life in various animal shelters and man shelters; and so have come to know, and can thus write about, the lower depths, the high and low, the down and out, shit hole and armpits of Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aka., the People’s Republic of 02138. I entered Moscow University in the Fall of 1989 to study classical languages, fled the Soviet Union in 1992, took an MA at Harvard in Comparative Languages, and finally, after a second failed marriage and two daughters, staggered to the completion of a Doctor of Philosophy degree in English Studies in Moscow in 2003. Things had been edgy all along and were destined to get a lot worse. You see I have long been an underground man like my countryman Dostoevsky. I have endured crabs in London, washed filthy dishes in filthy water in Paris, gambled away fortunes in Baden-Baden; I have drunk myself into an asylum in Dublin, haunted typhus wards in Berlin, died in the snow in Warsaw, and come back from the dead, only to end up this past February in the stinking, nasty, Salvation Army in Central Square, and that is not the worst, that is only the beginning.
As a still committed Old Bolshevik, I can tell you all about life from the inside of American socialized medicine. I can tell you about the growing infinity of names for shit, schiesse, merde, (forget 17 names for a blackbird, forget 38 names for snow). I can discourse on the plethora of cheap vodkas available in unbreakable plastic bottles. I can tell you about hepatitis A, B, and C; HIV, Dengue fever, and the Ebola virus. I have slept under the same roof with weasels, stoats, badgers, dogs, pigs, felons, liars, hose-bags, scum-bags, shelter faggots, rump rangers, pimps, whores, shooters, hit men, stabbers, sterno-drinkers, and old Trotskyites, Mensheviks, Black Panthers, SSI Men, SSDI Men, accessories to murder, ministers, Mormons, Tiger Woods dudes, the ghosts of Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. I have drunk cool-aid with Jim Jones survivors and the acid was very good. I know how to party; I can grab the night by the junipers; I can tangueray and martini all night long. I can dodge plates thrown by bitches. “Ants crawl upon my drunkard’s arms.” I can toss piss, sperm, and the whole nine yards. I can do Hegel, yodel, and schmegel. But I can’t get a job; I used up all the money I had; I used up all the unemployment I had. The Dramatists Guild Fund won’t give me any more emergency money. I lost my apartment, my library, my clothes, my girlfriend, my cat, my dog, my Communist Party card. I lost the lush life and found the low life. All I’ve got left is the truth and I’m getting paid 5 cents a word for that. I tried selling my sperm, but they told me I was too old. Tall, yes, blue-eyed, even handsome, yes, and the advanced degrees; hell, you can make $900 a month smacking your mackerel twice a week; you can even mail it in, but not if you’re 58, look like one of Milton’s fallen angels, and your Johnson isn’t, after all, what it used to be. If I could get a grip I could get a job or a flat or subsidized housing after two years. I’ve done everything else. I tried to sell Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets as my own but no one was buying. so now I’m trying the truth for 5 cents a word. Stick around, it could get interesting.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright by Der Zuschauer 2011.

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Written by herrdramaturg

October 11, 2011 at 11:51 am