Posts Tagged ‘genius’

Ballad of The Big Ass Skinhead, The Engineer, and The Artists Nearby

01 Apr


Structural Engineer


Alex Roehner romps around the room in her best crayon pajamas, "Use small words and carry a big ass skinhead," she smiles, a service mile of track sunk into the old skinhead she now wants to extend a quiet allegiance. "Hello, my friends," she writes as if she remembers the words of a song she never thought she knew, then quickly types out, "I meant friend in the singular, unless your voices are with you..."

"Allo! Admiring your boots. You caught me looking..." Virtuality, off the record I find myself thinking, is a keen instinct among particular early tribes of hunt and peck typists and rogue artists found in various regions of North America, but according to the latest statistics as compiled by a few former employees of Standard & Poor's—virtuality is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in the early religious rites of ancient peoples whose archaeological traces can be found worldwide, although much disputed among professionals who chalk it all up as garbage character—lost and found, survival of the fittest, not the fattest, not the thinnest, but the fittest—and not worth the investment of digging for clues as to why this rumor persists while bonding together many populations otherwise stuck on it like barnacles on a favorite whale. That former associates of Standard & Poor's are or might be involved in this study is still a mystery. Then I think again of Alex in her victorious boots. I saw pictures. I think I can smell them heel to toe all the way up the calf in all their splendor from here on this page, despite odors of wet cellar wafting up from the stink below. What can one expect from a place built in the 1740s with beautiful 12" wide planks but no sub-flooring...


"Ha! And I was just writing about things that go kick in the night earlier in the day," say I.

"I will write to you tomorrow," she promises. "My brain is coasting on beer at the moment and I can't lift my unabridged dictionary to aide me in a witty and verbose reply to your wonderfully worded correspondence. I love that you make me think without a drop of arrogance!"

"It's a trick I learned years ago when I created a Zen koan in the form of a question which goes like this: what's the difference between arrogant humility and humble arrogance?"

"One you can hear," she states.

"Your response flew right on past me. Come again..." I am genuinely stumped. But Alex Roehner is no stone in the horse's shoe.

"Arrogant humility must be verbally identified whereas humble arrogance is silent and deadly," she explains in a way I had never considered but made sense at this time of night, and as I write this, so I give her sway.

"Wait a minute. If you're buzzing on beer moving west at forty miles an hour and another bloke is buzzed on atomic fireballs traveling in the opposite direction at fifty miles an hour, which detail do you find most arresting? Nevermind. A joke gone astray. Back to the original koan. I think it is simpler than what you have suggested. Think about it." Here I am trying to get her to land on my square, the one I had picked out for her, but she had been too clever for that.

"Did I tell you about that the other day? My answer is for them to call each other a coordinate." Word games can get silly awfully quick.

"Arrogant humility is like a TV evangelist on uppers and downers and a few dancing girls on the side. Humble arrogance is like the lion with a thorn in his paw." I made my point, but I am intrigued by hers, because it does actually fit the model I had prepared, which leads us to the question, are all squares alike? "Tell me what the other day?" Now, she's lost me in the crayons again. "Not that I recall, and while I recall reams, I might be overlooking something. Please clarify."

"About the Jimmy leaving the station going east at 10 mph with 16 apples and Janey leaving the salon going north with a sack of potatoes. You will get my Alan Aldaish humor in a bit." This girl hangs low. I just love that about her. I wonder if she knows.

"No, just another one of those eerie synchronicities we seem to have going right now," I tell her, remembering something about how she was going to jump off until tomorrow tired and bleary, but we were, lighting fox tails strung to long sticks, and running through the naked woods with only words to keep us armed against the bouncing brown bears and their hunters stoked with large guns, and a license to kill. "That is to say, no, you didn't mention that tale."

"I was going on about it the other day. I am forced to take math so my buildings don't topple and I can calculate bending moments. The problem with math is there is only one answer. In English hell, I can make Jimmy juggle those apples while driving with his knees going in the opposite direction of traffic..."

"LOL! Well, Heisenberg might disagree with you, but for building, stiff calculus will suffice under most conditions. My rebuttal signals a slight twinge of satisfaction. But even on that spot, she ups the cost of doing business with a girl strapped to the gurney forced to inhale the forces that exist in a non-literal world taught to call itself literal.

"So will calling a structural engineer. Aha!"

"You've heard that science now suggests that observing an experiment can change the course of that experiment, right Alex? But don't scientists observe ALL experiments? I guess the key, and I forget this insidious detail, whether observation of an experiment will change the course of that experiment in a PREDICTABLE or UNPREDICTABLE way."

"Sounds like every word that leaves your mouth is history."

"Or history repeating itself, ha! Besides none of these words are leaving my mouth. I am typing." I pop her a good lickin' with that hit, I think. She's a slammer, alright.

"You're a funny man," she counters.

"Not only that," I type. "I paint pictures few can decipher, or even try. So I guess perfection is not as funny as math."

"But just as confusing."

"Just to be clear, said Confucius, before boarding the train, I have no seeds..."

"Where ever you go, that is where you will be, young grasshopper"

"Oh, that one's old, must be history repeating itself." We are both wearing thin, obviously, nervously fingering our crayons and our last few consonants in the stack we kept near the water tea glass, and Vitamin D pills I took because I never left the terminal long enough to get any sun.

"Or I haven't gotten there yet, wink wink." Another stinker, we're falling out of love with the words that brought us this far, now mere alphabet slaves to routine and obligation. I wonder if there will be a resurgence of energy, of creativity, of probing, thrusting, bouncing unfettered words strung out on string, made for you, played for me. I wonder.

"Oh, you're there alright." You're a buttercup solo in a runaway dandelion field, I murmur to myself, now, as I consider that night when we were living at the Farm. Those were good days. Too bad the old man had no vision. Being an old stuffy government lawyer got the best of him, so I add the next lines to deflect. "And that's me in the corner, losing my virginity. But only because I'm a Libra. And there is no way a Libra can be a free spirit. Am often called one, but they just don't understand the conflicted soul the way us Librans do."

"Thats funny most people say I'm not there, or home, either."

"Silly wabbits. Home is there."

"In a Westinghouse."

"Such an illustrious past, the Westinghouse name." And brand. Surely Alex is too young to remember that tagline from the days of black & white television. She's an inspiration, quick and rich in symbolic references that have specific meaning to me, even this reference to Westinghouse. I give her that. But of what long term use is she to me, or I to her? But I don't have the opportunity to follow up the Westinghouse gem, as she is flagged as offline. Ah, she's back.

"Sorry to flee momentarily but Ive been on this silly FB for a bit too long for one day. I have some serious thinking to do if I am to reply to my friend Gabe and discover Suess' dark side. Dream Grand."

"Okay, thanks for chirping in..."

"Chat tomorrow?"

"Most likely. Bye, and hang tough..."

"Which is safer than Hang 10."

"Especially when you've only got eight."

"Just know I'm smiling."

"Skipping all the way to the building that never falls down...somewhere...and it ain't over some ephemeral rainbow. Just so you know."

"The vision of you skipping with "Skip to the Loo" (haha) is well, well, worthy of some angry art. You are such an inspiration."

"Guess my work is done, he smirks." And I meant it. That was a playful exchange. It's getting late, but not too late to keep the lights on for the honey pot to catch the next fly...

"Meanwhile back at the homestead..."

Are you still here?

"No. Gone home. Clocked out and gone home." I presume Alex Roehner, the girl with the most curious hair I know (with nod to D.F.W.) is working from home. A minute has passed...

"Can't pull yourself away from the little screen?" I tease.

"Busted again," she types. But actually I was the busted one the first time these words were used tonight, or so I'd originally thought, busted for peeping her in her hip boots. But I carry on.

"Home is where my laptop is, tiny dancer..."

"Like a candle in the wind" To have both tapped Elton John was a subtle move, but I realize that in saying that I have be giving people the wrong impression. I can live with that. But, I was just a big fan for a string of four or so albums.

"Caught between the bull and his Picasso. The taxi girl and the sneaker in the rye. Forty secrets the Dali Lama failed to mention on his way down the mountain. Anyways. I'm gone. You take it away. We'll meet up again tomorrow." That's should up the ante. Can't wait to see her next move.

"I have a suspicious feeling this banter could be documented."

"Copy and paste into a text doc. Only way I've found."

"Naw, that's falling in the misconceived trap that genius is gone for good. DONT DO IT!" she cajoles. Surely she doesn't think I'm going to pay attention to that big fat lie. Documentation no way belittles genius. Nor suffers it lightly. Nor uses up all its eggs. As you see, I kicked against Roehner's grave wishes, for better or worse, and I trust she will be happy to bounce through this moment of time. Hell, that's what writers and painters do. They document. Enter the readers.

"Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word has a dilemma for you. On that topic, have you checked out Goodreads yet? No? Chagrin."

"Not yet. Tiny magnetizing screen remember? Oh, and Structural engineering class and new NY Sunday times x word puzzles. Trés busy á demain."

"Goodreads is simply a space where you post your own favorite literary experiences. You rate them. You critique them, et cetera, yada yada, dada. It's similar to Facebook and the two services actually interact but Goodreads is ALL about books, your books, and other people's lists. Take it or leave it. Wish it were around about fifteen years ago when I was trying to catalogue my personal library, and had few tools worth fussing over. Well, she's off the clock now. Time to turn the lights out, methinks. Bye dark angel..."

For Gene Lee Wilcox, R.I.P.

26 Jun


Gene Slept...July 12, 1964 - June 26, 1998


Last words on the life and death of Northern Virginia Teddy Boy rocker Gene Lee Wilcox who died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound one sweaty night in June, 1998.

Be careful. Watch out. I take names, ranks, and serial numbers. That's right, I spent some time tonight searching for a copy of the eulogy, or more specifically, the letter I wrote to a friend then living in San Francisco of the untimely passing of my dear friend, Gene Lee Wilcox.

I myself was laid up, recovering from anal surgery to remove a fistula, missed his funeral, and only managed a few weeks later with walking cane to visit the grave of my outrageous but most intellectually connected friend and brother in Washington DC. There were folks I spent more time killing time, wasting weekends, boring each other with nothing in particular, but with Gene there was a mutual respect and fist-solid connection.

Gene frankly was in a league of his own as the ONLY spirit in Washington, DC who freely showed me the molecule of respect I felt I had earned in this tight-assed town, knew both the brutal extent of my trespasses and the splintered breathe of my genius, despite the wealth of ruthless gatekeepers barring the door to my passage. That has changed a bit, but Gene was a trailblazer. Even after I imposed my own exile from the city's music scene sometime in the early 90s, Gene insisted upon his duty with those occasional unannounced visits which almost always turned into a three day drunk rockathon, and more heart to heart than either of us could weather a fourth day. In a word, there was no trace of COMPETITION between us, just unquestionable friendship, mutual reassurance.

Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of his passing. I haven't found the letter yet, but I am still mining old files hoping to find it. Meanwhile, I have posted several other compositions written to the same person, a vigorous sass of a woman named Landry, a year or two earlier, none of which have anything to do with Gene, but everything to do with why I think Gene respected me, much to the amazement of everyone else circulating on the sad periphery of this insane local culture, myself included.

Not for the easily charmed...

No Mail For Three Weeks

15 Jan


Joy To The World


Date: Saturday, January 15, 2000 7:13 PM

Dear Gabe, just back from 2 days in Atlanta where I saw the Rockwell exhibit this morning, and no mail from you in three weeks. As with Andrew Wyeth, and Robert Frost, the establishment critics are wrong again. In color, composition, lighting, and the human experience, the man was a genius. What Mozart is to music, Rockwell is to art. Regarding your reply above, frankly, I am surpised at your hostility. It's well-known that overexposure to the Internet causes mental fatigue, burn-out, and even divorce. CNN had a segment this week about some young people who were forced to seek psychiatric counseling because of it.

With as much time as you spend on the 'Net, and with your reluctance to get away for a some R&R, you should talk to a specialist about it fast. —Richard

It's all perspective Richard. Your characterization of my dismay with a long string of disappointing collaborative efforts—the swill being a primary failure after a year's run, has all but now been disbanded, thank God and you Richard Waller, the kindly gent who helped me finish it off as a waste of time—as hostile, is in itself nothing less than hostile to my own prerogatives of trying to get at the core of things rather than basking in an aura of self-satisfaction amidst the safety nets of cultural iconography, but then you will probably never see it that way, good intentions and all. By the way, contrary to your conclusions, I don't spend a lot of time ON the Internet, and although I admit I DO spend too much time in front of my computer screen and less time in the lively company of the world of crucial matter, I spend most of my time writing and composing pages, taking snapshots, and imagining myself as someone who really cares about people despite my impotency to impact a world too busy garnishing ego to stop this wholesale assault on itself and as a fellow writer and someone whom one might think would sympathize with the plight of a lonely unrecognized writer, your advice to me is nothing less than mocking, although who would believe it to be intentional since you are indeed such a delightful fellow, and incapable of peering down one's nose.

My attempt at a universalism has failed, even though I never dared relinquish my own staunch individualism so as some might observe to include the fatal flaw inside the experiment itself, but now to score a language which reflects that long haunting failure will be the task of my next one thousand pages.
Yet, I am just a bit astonished that you would have me censor my most intimate thoughts about the world as I see it, since you have no such compulsion to flack on matters which wreck your own sensibilities, such as christian fundamentalism, and let me repeat myself since my own poor taste is no longer a secret, in saying that I agree with you in rejecting as sheer folly the antics of most of those Word of God folks, although I certainly do not share your total disdain of the works of an ancient people that affect so many lives today, and are interesting to me on many levels, not the least being how ridiculous the populations of "true believers" and "disdainers" alike have cannibalized and misjudged them for millennia resulting in atrocities of every sordid kind. The modern Three R's are the very blood offering of controversy and cannot be escaped no matter how finely we slice and dice them or cooly attempt to avoid or abolish them: Race, Religion, and Riches.

Rockwell has always been a favorite of mine, and I am guilty of no small pinch of envy that you can find your happiness among these "friendly" pleasures, but why do you persist in criticizing my own stab at happiness which is generally derived in seeking out and trying to map the motivations of minds great and small in a lifelong attempt to bring order to the chaos of my own mind which has been taught riot by the cacophony of competing shards of literature, art, politics, religion, myth, and mirth for so long that it hurts to feel anything anymore because the voice of opposition is always just around the corner? My attempt at a universalism has failed, even though I never dared relinquish my own staunch individualism so as some might observe to include the fatal flaw inside the experiment itself, but now to score a language which reflects that long haunting failure will be the task of my next one thousand pages.

Most people just turn the noise off, shutting down a part of themselves that threatens to overwhelm them with truth or nonsense however empirically secured...

I can't, but talking to a specialist is no answer. I thought I was talking to one with you. Still I consider you my friend, so I raise my cup to thee, despite your ode to sobriety!

How's that health you recently spoke of?


Gabe, I am misunderstood! I was not trying to mock you, only trying to help. I know how I feel after an hour and a half on the 'net. I can't imagine working on it all day. I'd be as mixed up as if I had been listening to 10 hours of rap. I think your well-written reply above is worth reading again and again. I have not meant to criticise your "stab at happiness" philosophy. I have already said that YOU inspired me to read the history of philosophy as opposed to studying the works of each individual philospher. I can't do that. I'd be reeling from the abstruseness, but if you can do it, more power!

And I do not TOTALLY disdain the works of ancient peoples. Who doesn't like Epictetus and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius? I also assume you mean the Bible. Ecclesiastes is beautiful, but Thomas Jefferson, God, and I disapprove of the Revelation as coded nonsense. That sentence is a joke. We should lighten up. Great letter you wrote. Regards to Sue. I must stop now and coax sweet sounds from my violin. It has a mellow tone. Did I tell you it was made century before last? It was, by August Gemunder & Sons, New York, 1899. —Richard

Oscar Wilde (Museum Of Modern Wonders In Two Acts)

11 Sep


Oscar Wilde


Dateline September 11, 1999

Well Bracken (you still wish to be known as Bracken, eh?), as I said today, I was rather touched by that flick I saw last night, WILDE, and so have been reading up on Oscar via the web. Talk about the penultimate master of negation. Every utterance is an inverted of the common, a negation of the mundane, a transcendence of the obvious.

Of course he was a bugger, and thus he shall remain, shall we say, utterly worthless to you as a commanding spirit? But I am indeed awed, particularly since I now know he was such a sad, physical giant of a man, as personified in the movie and reiterated in the additional photographs and extensive commentary I've found this evening in a welcomed break from the stress of today's 14 hour DNS outage. Toad says they hope they've fixed it as of 10:30 this evening, but are aware that their upgrade is probably still buggy, speaking of the laws of buggery.

Fascination with Oscar? What that says about me is yours to ponder, for I surely boast no pat answers and homophobia is your bag, not mine, but I do host a lingering sympathy for that gentlest of giants.

Might you have preferred Oscar the Hun? He was a master negationist, so he is of your intellectual tribe, can't you at least agree? This reminds me, I am overdue in torquing Kubhlai's remarks on sexuality.

Penned Oscar: "We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless...real beauty ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face."

Flat out, Oscar Wilde was pure genius and the greatest of intellectual pretenders.


My Early History Thanks To William Gaddis Slipping On Iced Tea

16 Jun

William Gaddis

William Gaddis


Date: Mon Jun 16, 1997 6:39:16 PM

Well, I looked up iMote. Found a page there with a list of Gaddis books for sale. There's remarks on Frolic Of His Own, too. Guess I'll make this my Gaddis link. the current link is to your `favorpage'. You might get a kick out my pages. We certainly share some common interests: Gaddis, Pynchon, Dostoyevski—let me know when you get the Gaddis stuff together, so I can look. —Owen

Owen, thanks for the link to my Gaddis page, but you might want to change the link to the following URL to reflect the major body of work rather than the old GeoCities plot to take over the world I once surmized was as effective as a Gaddis repetition. I will certainly let you know whenever I finally get around to fleshing out the spot, especially now that I know someone out there is claiming interest in the same clues of genius I also sniff.

Yes I got a REAL kick out of your pages. We are nearly the same age, dig many of the same authors, and both wanted to be Bob Dylan, or at least arm-wrestle him. We are also as different as apple pie and cheesecake. You are vigorously educated. I am merely a word-obstructed bibliophiliac, graduating highschool in Fernandina Beach, FL in 1973, and don't care much for the comics underground, although here in Washington DC many of my acquaintances past and present are deeply rooted in that culture. I've never been to Bloomington, but I did live in NW Indiana (Hobart, Valparaiso, Gary, Portage) after highschool for a year, working at Bethlehem Steel Corporation at Burns Harbor (Chesterton). And I visited a punk rocker palomine in Columbus OH grooving in on my motorcycle, which to some of to hardcore rednecks there was but a mere Honda 750 riceburner, but to me a damned righteous ride in 1986. There's a long story in that hint, but I'll save that for later. Swell town that Columbus.

I aim to die as a writer, writer, writer, famous or not, and love the web as much as any 20 year old microserf as I seek to exploit the multimedia pools of my mind with the California tools of my generation, a southern hermit crab canon locked inside my own Macintosh studio as the wife supports dollars and scentswise my own true tales of subordinary madness and recognitions.



Writing From One's Own Nostrils

07 Sep

Spotting Friends In The Picture

Spotting Friends In The Picture


Originally published on September 7, 1996

I wrote: "...what I might really need is a good five cent cigar and a well-edited collection of GT/The World letters. Now THAT'S A JOB for the Bracken's breath, but he couldn't stand it. He'd abolish Thy letters, and want to publish his own. I just don't think Len Bracken is talented enough to edit Gabriel Thy, nor I, him."

Tom wrote:

I heard that. Lenny commented on that to me recently, saying he offered his editorial services but 'you wanted to write about everything' with a knowing chuckeling. I smirked to, know the widing gulf between the kind things Lenny writes, I write about, and what your doing. Lenny has done some editorial work for me and it's been effective in achieving the limited, specific goals of commercial writing, similar to the goals of academic writing. Focused, defined, and above all CLEAR and unambiguious. If you're going to go out on limb with thousands of vague poetics allustions and private jokes, then we can't help you. It [is] a strange and mercurical landscape out there, maybe you'll be recognized as an innovative and important writer who went it alone and created his own unique style. Then I will attend my own Tom Howell Roast and listen to scores of writers and critics tell me what a fool I was for not understanding that I was in the presence of genius, then eat my dinner of crow.

BTW, Lenny and I have a film treatment in the hopper with my agent in New York. We're egarly awaiting a FAX of editorial comments, margin notes and other ego-deflating comments about how we didn't write it right. Should such a FAX come across your machine, please notify me immediately. Look forward to your spirited rebuttal (this is not a flame, but a mere creative spark).


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""