Der Zuschauer

A Journal of Essays and Reportage on Drama, History, and Literature

Archive for January 2012

Gorkyland: Wherein the house is rife

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Wherein the house is rife with whispers, malcontents, rumors, lies, and the hard, cold facts: a person, a man, was tossed from the room next door, last night. Seemingly for not looking for work. Each case is different: I am considered disabled; also, I do intellectual work, writing, translation, etc., and so forth, so I am not expected to work for Stop and Shop, or volunteer at a food bank or an animal shelter. Other people do other things: hang at McDonald’s for eight-hour shifts, between coffee, shits, cigarettes, nips and drug deals. One of my room-mates, the Rhino, is a rogue cop and bombed and caught bus driver. He repeats the mantra: “I’m unemployed, I’m homeless; it is all my fault.” The other is a paranoid, conspiracy-driven, autodidact. Mad, mad, and combing the internet for not-for-profit crime. “They will pay; they will all pay.” The man who was popped yesterday was quiet, clean; his only sin, besides the inevitable inexplicable, was sitting up nights watching episode after episode of The Big Bang Theory, which seems to be a canned-laughter, Hollywood sit-com about graduate students! I swear, I swear, I swear, but then you already know this is true, don’t you, Dear Reader? Anyway, nowadays, the paranoia is all about busy work, paperwork, documentation of various meetings with various case-workers, clinicians, health-care providers;
AA, NA, and SA (sexual addiction), BA, MA, HOMOA, PhDA, and Polyamorist AA, etc., ad infinitum, blahblahblahA. If you are ever called an asshole, immediately explain, “Yes, but I am an asshole in Recovery.” Gratitude is the Foundation of Sobriety. Other useful terminology inside Gorkyland, especially inside wet shelters (aka. open drug and alcohol use, or abuse): prison or jail is referred to as “the Big House.” Doing time is referred to as “going on a vacation.” Denizens doing time rarely read Theophile Gautier, “People are nasty, my little one,” or, William Carlos Williams of Rutherford, or Adam Zagajewski from Lvov. Shelter for the homeless is compassion with a strap-on.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Gorkyland: Huge Birds in Central Square

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There were seagulls, really big ones, fighting with ravens and pigeons in the streets for food and trash this morning, right out where all the buses come bounding into time and space and then stillness, and the hordes on the sidewalks were eight abroad or abreast like in Manhattan. And the thing was, last night, at the shelter, they had tossed an African-American woman from upstairs who was crazy but clean and who never drank, did drugs, nor yelled, nor shrieked nor did any of the periodical, weird, science-experiment shit that so many babes do. She was benign, I swear. I mean she was crazy about her three bags of fabrics which she carried about with her everywhere she went and she had all these bizarre, anal, pack-rat organizing tendencies, that made trying to clean out the refrigerator once a week while she was around impossible, but still, she was no fright or horror. She read the New York Times in Au Bon Pain. She had a musical, clear, high voice that seemed incongruous coming out of her body. She dressed in some of those rich fabrics she kept in the bags and seemed African although she betrayed no accent. It seems all the other females hated her, couldn’t stand her; it was all about the toilet and how long she spent in there. “She showers with the light off.” But then all the women upstairs are bitches with pie-slits for eyes, and voices like howitzers, and they can all peel paint off a wall with the language and the attitude, and they call their abandoned daughters cunts, liars, or twats. Anyway I thought Jesus Christ where is this woman going to go at night with all her bags and the ice and snow, and sure she said she’d be back in the morning with lawyers but that never happens the very next morning. You get tossed and you feel angry, outraged, impossible, lost, and then it’s, “Where do I go now? What do I do now? I didn’t do anything.” And then this morning it’s like Spring outside and the enormous seagulls were out fighting ravens and the drunken pigeons for food in the street. You thought, I thought “What we need now are some red-tailed hawks to swoop in and do red tooth and claw.”

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

January 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Gorkyland: In Every Standing Ditch

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There are poets in every standing ditch, in every animal shelter, playground, back alley, in Central Square; there are poets in short skirts bent over taking hog front and back in the men’s toilet of Phoenix Landing, refugees from the dressing rooms of Hubba Hubba. There are poets stacked like dead bodies in the back of Cambridge Police paddy-wagons. There are poets eating pizza on the corner of Mass Ave and Brookline St. passing Rouble Vodka back and forth in a plastic, pint bottles, sitting in the front window, sideways. There are poets with hard-ons in the Salvation Army Worship Hall with nowhere to go. They listen to bands and drink Sapporo; they listen to live music and drink Bushmills.

There are poets who have no place to keep books. There are poets who hate books; they are after all like head-lice and bedbugs. There are poets who have hepatitis A, B, and C. They have tuberculosis. They are young and have no idea what HIV is. The never ask themselves what women want? Or, what are women are for? They think dogmas are off the leash. They pee on walls. They fill up the hopper in the McDonald’s men’s room with so much shit it won’t hold anymore. They are not registered to vote. They think Mitt Romney is already President of the United States. They know that Mormons are aliens from outer space. There are poets who blow off their case-worker. There are poets who check out Samuel Beckett’s Letters, Vol. 2, and take it with them wherever they go, wrapped up in dry-cleaner plastic. There are poets in Central Square who think Dr. Martin Luther King is a PCP, and that he can’t possibly assuage Michelle Obama’s anger. There are poets, there are poets, there are poets, in every standing ditch. They expect no mercy; they will have no mercy; they give no mercy.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012 Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

January 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Gorkyland: The Fires of Vesuvius

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“It is stated that, in a public market-place, sodomy was committed by a woman with a goat. Juvenal relates, that human flesh was eaten and human blood drunk out of revenge.”
GWF Hegel, The Philosophy of History.

There is snow on the ground. Ice, sand, salt. This morning a man next door was tossed from the shelter. It’s not always nips or needles; he had missed a second meeting with his case-worker. It could have been an unmade bed, a racial slur, evidence of human sexuality. It wouldn’t have been for speaking in Arabic. Eating chocolate in his room would have done it, smoking in the wrong outside smoking area at the wrong assigned time would have done it. Not being properly clothed in the television room, a pungent odor emanating from foul bed linen. They, the ones who are constantly thrown out, are, like all of us, constantly under suspicion, and when the infractions occur you are tossed immediately.

If you have ever sinned in substance abuse you are under suspicion for the rest of your life. You can never recover. You can never regain the spiritual Lebensraum that accrues to those who are capable of Moderation. “I don’t know, once I have that second pint, I just never want another.” And we on the outside believe everything you say. Shelters are always littered with AA meeting booklets, yellow, red; and copies of the Big Book, and various 12-Step tracts. It is also very important that you take Recovery very seriously. And the point of Recovery is that you never recover. “Hello, my name is Maxim Gorky, the 3rd; Ja, Ich heisser Maxim Gorky and I am being an alcoholic. I am being happy to be an alcoholic and I am being proud to be in Recovery, and thus humble and feeble-minded, because I know and you know, I will never be cured of this addiction, this genetically inherited disease; I will never stop suffering from this deplorable weakness of character. I am being lost and you are being saved.”

One is not allowed to look at pictures of naked people in a shelter. You can read biographies of Leon Trotsky or Mother Theresa, God is not Great, but it is not kosher to be sarcastic or skeptical about Recovery or AA meetings; people get very angry about that. And since we are all under suspicion and will always be under suspicion because we can never actually achieve Recovery, well, that is us in a nutshell, that is us in a pie. Reading Hegel’s Philosophy of History won’t do. Reading the Big Book will at least pass for a sign that your brain is fried by substance abuse, and that you know this is so, and that you are accepting this state of humble mental activity, and that you will never be able to manage your own affairs, or indulge in Moderation. “You are moral, ethical scum of the earth, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

One can be tossed from a shelter for many things. You can be tossed for even appearing to be under the influence of anything. But it all gets confusing. You can smirk at the seriousness of Sobriety or Recovery and get disappeared. You can also be a convicted accomplice to murder, and shoot up heroin in the shelter bathroom, high and happy on the hopper, and then suddenly die pitching forward so your ass is on the toilet and your head is in the trash can, and no one will bother your privacy for four and a half hours while rigor mortis sets in and you end up being carried out like a victim of Vesuvius in Herculaneum. You can wear kilts in a shelter but no Nazi armbands. Best not to be scathing about the food; never swear at staff. Smoking marijuana is easier to get away with than vodka or crack or Oxycontin. And yes, if you’re into barbiturates, simplest of all is to wait until late, midnight, and do your stuff in the toilet, and if you don’t die outright, go to sleep happy and high, and hope you can wake up in the morning, because you can also be tossed or banned for not leaving the shelter on time.

Now if your answer to Recovery and Sobriety is the modest, polite remark of Bartleby, the scrivener: “I’d prefer not,” you are in a lot of trouble, even when you secretly and earnestly get away with Moderation. Because getting away with Moderation when you’re trapped forever in Recovery and Addition is a Crime. You are bad, you don’t care about other people, you don’t want to help your fellow-man, you don’t want to make something decent of yourself. And all those books you’ve read are criminal in intent and in fact. In fact you are going to be dropped, tossed, thrown out, abandoned. You are going to be left to your own devices, so you’ll bottom out and realize finally what a true amoral scumbag you actually are.

One can’t prefer not to be in a pauper’s grave. Fire is too costly for you. Raining down lava, fire, and ash? I think not. One can’t help but notice at AA meetings (I have to go six days a week just to keep the bed), that those 8,11,41 year sober men have all been fluttering around the coffee pot like stoned gnats or drunken fruit flies for years and years, and that the only genuine hope of Sisyphean Recovery is dim-witted passivity and ultimately, vacuity.

So, this morning it was one tall man still in his 20s who was tossed for not hooking up with his case-worker. Next week it will be some man in his 40s with a Walpole record and rats gnawing at his face. Or the guy with the kilt will be found to have beer cans between his legs. Homeless? Unemployed? What was it? What was that one thing that caused the failure and the breakdown? Why is ice-beer so terrible? And Zoloft, Viagra, and Seroquel are all right? Then there are the cigarettes and the confessions of Zeno. Why allow that in institutions? Is it because smoking is a quicker and surer way to the pauper’s graveyard? Still, let the smoker be. Let them continue to swallow smoke and fire. Leave them, at least, in peace. Who would have ever imagined so hopeful a word as Recovery would have all the ramifications of a chain-gang?

“If Death thus haunted the minds of the Egyptians during life, it might be supposed that their disposition was melancholy. But the thought of death by no means occasioned depression. At banquets they had representations of the dead (as Herodotus relates), with the admonition: ‘Eat and drink–such a one wilt thou become, when thou art dead.’ Death was thus to them rather a call to enjoy Life.”
GWF Hegel, The Philosophy of History.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012 Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

January 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Correspondence, Gorkyland

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Gorkyland: Bitter Cold, Vicious Wind

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“It is snowing. The farm-workers are fucking the cows, perched on 3-legged milking stools, it seems. They are called ‘juniors’ and are driven away pitilessly.”
Samuel Beckett, Letters Vol. 2. p. 332

The shelter is warmer but essentially seedy, shabby, and depressing. Men swearing under their breath, beating to death an old pair of shoes. My room-mates would make a rabid weasel or a raunchy stoat proud. No pinteresque drinks cabinet allowed. No one reads books, except some of the vagina-people who lean over bibles, self-help titles, all of them dog-eared, under-lined, yellow like rancid cook books. This morning it was all about the bathrooms, men desperate to go while the opera singers shower, or, the odd negro does god knows what forever. So surly, stupid men pawing the floors in the hallway in agony. Why are women so distrait in the morning? Puffy, pie-slit eyes, with raspy throats; voices expectorating across the kitchen like malevolent cannon balls. Three holes, bingo. Then there is the zombie coffee doctor spin and dance routine: pour, taste, sugar, pour, stir, Cremora, stir–hack hack hack a roo splat splat spit–more sugar, more Cremora, finally done, then the St. Vitus dance to the table and the chair. Imagine being 60 years old and feeling extreme nostalgia for rock and roll. Imagine being 60 years on with an oxy gnaw on trying to focus long enough to actually read Keith Richard’s Autobiography? Then the two hours of paranoia/porn research on the Internet at the public library. “Where does all the money go, man?” Then there is the Jap-mad-scientist guy with the Abraham Lincoln beard who pours over issues of Nature or Mind or Science. Then the sad, creepy, shelter-faggot homos. Why can’t men walk up to a urinal and do their business without getting urine all over the floor? And when it’s bitter, bitter, vicious cold where does one go? To stay warm? To piss, read, shit? Where besides the subways, the public libraries? Where do the vagina-people go because they do seem scarce on the street? Where, where, who cares? Sad sacks, male and female, in baseball caps scratching tickets with a nickel or a fingernail, happy happy happy to go to AA for the coffee. And the company? In a winter coat and cargo pants festooned with nips of Old Thompson’s, or nappy-head Seagram’s Gin. Overweight, homeless, shelter moron dressed in athletic apparel from the National Polo Association? Where have you gone Ralph Lauren? Where have you gone Louis-Ferdinand Celine? The way the Spare Change Newspaper works is, you pay 25 cents a copy, and turn around and sell that for a buck. Do they pay writers? I wouldn’t know. I’m too much of an intellectual snob to know that. God, shallow, false pride. Would Jack London know? Or Stephen Crane? When I work do I work for character or beer money? Now in the Stone Building at the library. Very quiet. Still early. So–the bathrooms at Shaw’s were closed down, the bathroom at McDonald’s (Due to extreme vandalism this bathroom is closed), then at Starbucks the door was open and so stood t-rex a 6′ 5″ spook, braying, reeking, rasta-mutha-fucka asshole asshole. A truly terrifying nasty shit-hole dinosaur. And all of that before I could even get out of Central Square. My intention is to work here throughout the day. “Three things happened at once: the communists lost an election; Solidarity won; the communists acknowledged that Solidarity won.” That might sound like a syllogism. Must stay awake, must stay warm, must rustle up chow. What ever happened to checking out chicks at the beach. Am I still an intellectual?

“The spirit of [Godot], in so far as it has one, is that nothing is more grotesque than the tragic, and that must be put across right to the end, particularly at the end.”
Beckett, Letters Vol. 2. p 350.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012 Der Zuschauer.

Georg Trakl: Die Ratten

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In Hof scheint weiss der herbstliche Mond. [an s-set]
Vom Dachrand fallen phantastische Schatten.
Ein Schweigen in leeren Fenstern wohnt;
Da tauchen leise herauf die Ratten

Und huschen pfeifend hier und dort
Und ein graulicher Dunsthauch wittert [umlaut]
Ihnen nach aus dem Abort,
Den geisterhaft der Mondschein durch zitteert

Und sie keifen vor Gier wie toll
Und erfullen Haus und Scheunen, [umlaut]
Die von Korn und Fruchten voll, [umlaut]
Eisige Winde im Dunkel greinen.

Written by herrdramaturg

January 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm