Annual Summer Romp Comp, Plus Word that Cannot Be Formed

Don't you love receiving a surprise in the post? Not from the tax man, electricity provider or some marketing dick/cunt, but a package with your name and address lovingly handwritten by what surely has to be someone with warm and good intentions?

Every year for, well, a few years now, I've been sending friends mixtapes in the post to celebrate the coming of summer (which, to a sun-starved Norwegian, is a big deal). By now it's become a tradition/compulsion. However, bubble wrap envelopes and postage to all sorts of weird countries run a surprisingly high cost. So from now on, although I favour the delight and surprise of physical objects, I can only afford to give away these mixtapes digitally. Here, then, is this year's summer compilation, for your downloading convenience:

This collection visits sixteen genres in three languages. What unites them, I don't know, except that I imagine they all work best in a park, on a porch, or perched atop a bicycle. To someone in a snow-strewn country, summer is a time for simple, sensual pleasures unavailable in wintertime—the rustle of leaves, the pricking of grass, rays warming your skin (and a breeze cooling it), the sweet explosion of strawberries in your mouth, the smell of burning flesh… Some have said these summer comps are a bit on the laid back side (laidback side, not laid backside—no pun intended), but summer to me is not about vomiting at some street party. Summer is a dreamy, languid time for relaxation and regrouping. Nevertheless, amid the gently psychedelic lounge music on this mixtape I have included occasional bursts of feisty rock'n'roll, lest the listener fall asleep in the sun.

May this summer live up to your grand expectations!

And now for something completely different:


Toilet Guppies is not a literature blog, but the book excerpt reproduced below was written by a musician and instrument maker (of such musical innovations as the dingulator, a kind of guitar made from cars). Besides, it's fucking brilliant writing and it's beyond me why the author's name should remain buried in obscurity. Here, then, is the first chapter of Charles Martin Simon a/k/a Charlie Nothing The Artist's memoir Speeding through Satori: Sex, Drugs, Macrobiotics and Death—in the 60s:
Sakasa Bokei

The wicked doorbell rings, tearing me back from somewhere else, like from an unremembered but nevertheless disconcerting dream.

It's 1965. The middle of November. I'm 24, and Beth Ann, my wife and best friend, also 24, has gone and done it, the one thing finally to which I have no answer, the one thing that cannot be undone, accepted, retrieved, altered, forgiven, mitigated, or in any way fixed. We always used to be able to fix anything. The thing that can't happen has happened. I cannot form the word.

I am at my parents' house, in Clifton, New Jersey, where we came when she got so sick we had to do something; and today is her funeral.

Diiing dong! I forgot about the bell. It's ringing again.

«I'll get it!» I say it loud, so the parents will hear me, but it hurts to raise my voice.

The parents are upstairs. I remember when I was little, they were always upstairs, closed in their room, getting ready to go out or something. Or they were out. Or they were just getting back and busy about that. Whatever, they were always unavailable.

They'll hear me or they won't; it doesn't matter. They're available now, now that it doesn't matter, now that nothing matters and they can't do anything about anything.

«I'll get it! I'll get it!» I say it again, this time to myself. Besides, I need the exercise. I'm ninety-two pounds; and at five feet, ten-and-a-half inches, I look like I just got out of Auschwitz. It's been an ordeal, but it's over. I don't care what happens anymore, and that makes it over.

It takes me a couple of tries to get up out of the chair. The simplest, most every-day movement is difficult and painful to the extreme and requires a focused effort. But I manage to make it to the door and open it up.

There is a blinding wash of light out of which materialize two big men in suits holding badges up in front of my face.

«Clifton P.D.—t' see if yuh want p'leese perteckshun fer de fune-rul.»

Nothing can surprise me anymore, so I am not surprised.

«If you're here asking,» I say, «I guess that means I better say yes.»

«'kay den,» one of them says. «Will be back in time t' take yuh.»

I close the door, and they disappear. Did that happen? The mother's voice, from upstairs, a question mark.

«Police, Ma. Apparently they're giving me protection for the funeral.»

She says something. I don't hear what, but it could very well be, «That's nice, dear.» Because anything she doesn't quite hear or understand, she will always interpret as something good.

Then the father's voice. I can't make out his words either; but with him it will always be the other way. Even the definitely good, he will find the bad in it.

I work my way back to the den and back down into the chair and stare into the hole in the world, the place where she is not. I see her lying there on the day bed where she died. I have so much to say to her. I only need to go back a couple of days, just a couple of little days… Why does that have to be so impossible?

I pick up Ohsawa's last letter to her and read it again for the fiftieth time. There was mystic significance in the way it came to me, but I don't understand such things. I don't understand anything.

Two days after the end, I was walking around the block, when I noticed an envelope on the ground in the middle of a front yard two houses down from my parents'. The incongruity was what caught my eye, the small white rectangle luminous against the green expanse of lawn.

I was not thinking it could have anything to do with us, but something made me go and pick it up. Unbelievably, it was addressed to her, from Japan, from him. And it had not been opened… Why this letter? Of all the letters in the world, why had this one gotten lost? … But no, not lost. It was in my hand—not its intended destination, but its destined destination.

I took it home and opened it, and this is what it said, what it still says, what it is always going to say: «I have made a terrible mistake in your case. Immediately go off the diet. Reread my books and start all over again from the beginning.»

No comments:

Post a Comment