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ALTERED SPAYDES: FABLES OF HARLEM& RACE-MUTATION Stories by Greg Tate

This is the post excerpt.

 

ALTERED SPAYDES by Greg Tate 

‘It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now the bossmen were gone so the skins felt powerful and human. They became the lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgement.

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

You sit there like a great black hound spiked to an ivory pedestal. An all night long I heard you murmurin that devilish word. They thought I didn’t hear Y, but I did. Mumblin, feedin that ornery thing that’s living on my insides. Father John. Father Satan. What does it mean to you. You’re dead already. Death. What does it mean to you? To you who died way back there in the sixties. What are you throwin it in my throat for? Jean Toomer, Cane (1928).

”Desire, my dear Sphinx, is the ultimate form of vulnerability, and the most democratic. The only weakness shared equally by the postal worker and the great dictator. Desire is remarkably fluid. Sometimes it turns up as an object, sometimes it turns up as a circumstance. Sometimes it’s just an excuse to behave badly, to act out. Sometimes desire comes cloaked in a pre-emptive strike. Sometimes desire is a blonde girl just bright enough to be verging on catatonia and utter vacuousness while rapidly losing lustre everytime she opens her mouth. But when the blonde is brown,smart, sexy and lotsa laughs’ then what?

     Desire should not be confused with fantasy. Desires should be firmly possible to grip. Desire should reside squarely in the realm of the probable. Desire should require some sacrifice. A gamble. A walk on the wild side. Desire should appear as a chance operation full of dicey prospects and a narrow margin for acceptable error. Desire inevitably fails the test. Desire demands lusting for something that when gained will turn out to be worth far less then what you sacrificed to obtain it.

Babylonia Free/Inside Out:A Womb For Homegirls Prison Journals.

Darling Sphinx, We need come clean. (As) two black women. who. Argue. Constantly. About the womb for hire homegirls. Black women of color for whom other black women dissaprove. Those of my mother Nada Free Mayor of Gothams ilk. Those who say ”Those girls are Out There.” Though the truth is they are ”In Hear.” Listening to things nobody else wants to.

Like’Those Voices’.

All our transcorporeal generations.

Sisters wailing and orbiting the earth in search of an inviting hearth.

A basket of fruit laid down in an out of the way corner or upon an altar. A promise of remembrance. In pushing them out of our busy lives we knew we were hastening our own demise.

Isn’t this why we became Womb For Homegirls? (To) answer their calling?

Calling all black women. Calling all black women. Lettered and unlettered.

Titled and untitled. Forbidden and unbidden. Corseted and uncloseted. All kinds except your kind Sphinx.

Calling that freak of nature who listens only to her own calling.

The one who could somehow levitate beyond reach of Those Voices.

Why do no entombed grandmothers ever come around clamoring for your soul darling one? Perhaps since all you ever do is fight. Night and day. T

hey know to leave you alone and worry more about the rest of us who require the strength of numbers and superior technology.

No matter how often you scrape out Your Womb, you’ll be fine, remain fertile That being your nature, Nature leaves you alone.

Not at the mercy of Those Voices.

But let me tell you something about Those Voices In Hear.

They tell us a great and terrible army will be raised against Us. They tell us that in that time of slaughter our bellies shall autonomically open and unleash our militant and vengeful progeny. And they will fly out of us with their swords and seraphim wings and firelicking tongues and obsidian tails and they shall raze this world of hypocritical Christians, mocking Muslims, un-gentle Jews ,illegitimate Coptics, false worshippers of Kali artificial Nubians, cloned Egyptians. You know of whom I speak.
Love from Dachau, Babylonia

Darling Sphinx,

We all put on genocide alert today. Some kind of renegade circus for the truthful soulful and soon to be multiplying fruitful.

Cigarettes and wooly blunts burned down to nervous fingertips. Studying the smudges and burn marks we’ve reinvented the lost art
of divination.

How many angels can dance on the nubs of these pawed and spavined hands? All these shaking hands. There will be no rowdiness in the lunch hall today.

No lost weekend cuddled up in the game hole with my idol Bunny Primus.

Nada Free Mayor of Gotham. The mother I thought was a cipher, a blank space in my life. She wants us all dead, my sisters and me. Wiped from the face of human memory and reproduction.

I remember the night she became mayor.

Quite vividly actually. I remember admiringly watching her and her campaign manager kissing quite passionately on the lips from the other terrace balustrade. I could see them but they couldn’t see me.

I made myself the lookout posted while my father read the little ones to sleep in their bedroom far down the hall.

I could have told him then that she was well practiced in the art of deceit, surveillance and sabotage.

That she had even trained me to believe she kept her eyes on me at all times.

That I never ever went anywhere without believing her gaze was fixed on me from some secret cubbyhole somewhere inside the walls.

Not until I became a Womb and rebirthed myself for the revolution did I stop believing those eyes continued to scrutinize everything I did.

Where once there were those who considered The Wombs a lunatic fringe of dubious and delusional females now there are teams of doctors gathered around the clock to ascertain how soon we might cesarean ourselves and give birth to sword swinging Coptic death angels who will bear the three sided faces of Marina, Romeo and Mandela Aint Free.

At the end of the day it matters less whether we will or we won’t. What matters, what threatens the status quo is that we do believe we can.

What they all refuse to understand is that the Quantum Black Womb does not carry the seeds of a race. The Quantum Black Womb does not carry on a culture.

No, The Quantum Black Womb is A Dangerous Idea.

And Dangerous Ideas have a way of spreading themselves around like a pestilence. And if we don’t have the science to do this monstrous thing we fantasize about it all the time why be afraid of us?

Because they know one day the will and the way shall come together.

We believe the day is coming soon when we shall hack our babies out of our insides and they shall be airborn and swinging sharpened steel and Coptic rebuke. I know They have begun to marshall forces against our Idea becoming Reality. Tell them I said, bring it on. Tell Nada I said, Bring it on. Come bring it Nada. Come to Harlem. Experience the magic. Feel the thunder and the metallic and acidic rain.
Love from Auschwitz Babylonia.

OF SPHINX, BABYLONIA FREE, CUT-CREATION CAPOEIRA AND THE ROBO-COPTIC BOYZ

Sphinx  had blown into Gotham from Boston scarcely expecting to be spreading her wings and shaking a tailfeather in Harlem proper come Saturday night.  The rainy Tuesday of her arrival had been all about schlepping trunks and other assorted luggage up to the third floor of her Aunt Snead’s South Bronx brownstone. By Sunday she had moved into the Harlem women’s shelter where her song and dance idol Noona counseled abused women and taught them martial arts. It wasn’t adoration for Noona alone which prompted this change of address. The need to move came after hearing Aunty relay to Mother the news that Daughter was keeping strange hours and even stranger company for a Barnard girl. After two hours of pacifying Mother, Sphinx got mad, got quiet and decided to get out:

`There and then I decided whoa, heifer-ho, time to go. Aint having no Aunty Snitches all up in my bloody business. That’s how my Barnard days got to be over before they’d even begun.’

On this point Sphinx  has to be exposed as being disingenous: dropping out of school was actually a decision she’d made long before she got to New York. College had already been rudely shoved out the frame long before Sphinx had swiveled down Club Satana’s burgundy crystal staircase and spied Nona in the crawlspace.  There sat The Woman, holding court, and smoking the biggest prayerstick  Sphinx (or probably anyone else) had ever seen. Not generally known as one for mystical speculation, even Sphinx took this first sighting for an omen. After all she had only come to Gotham for the express purpose of finding Noona. In her mind going to Barnard was  nothing more than a tactic to evade static with Mother about going somewhere as ‘dangerous’ and ‘faraway’ as Gotham. In pursuit of her goals Sphinx knew herself capable of any lie, any subterfuge, any deception. Not even in her wildest dreams however had she never imagined she and Noona would become running dogs right off the bat. Back in Boston folk older, wiser, and more widely traveled had told her ‘miracles happen on the regular in the big city of dreams’ but she thought they were just trying to fill her young head with  bunch of old nonsense.

On her first night in Harlem Sphinx stepped up in the club and started up  a conversation with an old Pretend Friend. Took him aside and liked to rag his ear off. Her Pretend Friend was named  ‘Revelations’; she turned to him whenever she needed some instant agreement. He had come in handy for her somewhere around the age of ten–roughly about the same time she figured out that the life she wanted for herself was going to be vastly different from the one her mother was dreaming of for her.  That first night in  Harlem, The Sphinx and Revelations got to carrying on about girlhood dreams and the promises they were supposed to keep. This tete a tete between woman and epiphany occurred at roughly 3 am just inside the pearly gates of Harlem’s Club Satana. By 4pm Sphinx would be completely drunk and carting Noona to Nona’s place in a gypsy cab. Eighteen months later this very same Club Satana, a tiny but historically significant square of underground real estate, would be under new management and renamed The Bomb Shelter. The name change would occur shortly before Babylonia Free’s mother Nada, then mayor of Gotham, would call in an airstrike against her renegade daughter’s adopted community.  Momma Nada would be specifically targeting for extinction Babylonia’s newfound comrades, the Womb For Hire Homegirls. The rest of Harlem be damned. Same as it ever was.

The night Revelations popped back into Sphinx’s head our heroine was not prophesying future wars. She was instead dancing wildly, wickedly humping her unzipped pantaloons against the backside of  Noona The Body, easily the flyest butch in the house. It was while bumping and grinding her groin against the retrorocket ass of Noona  that  Sphinx realized something more precious than cotan. That something was the power of her own dreams to trasnport her mind, body and spirit from one place to another. What else, she though, ‘could have taken me this far but my dreams?’ How else could she explain that once upon a time her every waking moment in Boston had been spent in misery. Now she was not only forever gone from the dreadful Beantown but living the life she’d  imagined for herself  since she was thirteen.   Everything that had happened since she arrived in Gotham  seemed strangely familiar. Not so much predestined as presaged–déjà vu’ hardly did justice to the feeling.

”This was actually a more fugitive  sensation. The kind that ran along the border dividing the imaginary from the prophetic. It was, as feelings go, this nimble sort of  dream-ninja thing. It was quick, it was stealthy. It was capable of deftly dodging the border guards of the unconscious and slipping into your waking life under cover of night.”

Thanks to her quick and stealthy night visions  Sphinx felt something divine was being presented to her, a naked window on essential truths. These truths might not have been carved onto stone tablets but she imagined they were of the kind that could lead people safely across desert wastes  and even part Red Seas if need be. She felt she was having the kind of appointment with one’s self that could transform a poor girl from Roxbury into a sporting queen. Given enough time her desire for a goodtime in Harlem might even morph into something resembling a mission from god.

There was one problem though. A nagging belief that her visions of Harlem had arrived at the party way before she did. She suspected that they had come early, ripped and roared with abandon, slimed and grimed up the joint and then y broke the hell on out just before she showed up. Clues had been left behind in her mind. A certain foreknowledge of the décor, the floor plan, and even some of the principal players. Sphinx began to have more maddening suspicions. Been here-done-that  seemed to be whispering from the shadows in a voice that sounded a lot like her own. These out-of-body sensations amused at first but soon proved not so amusing at all. She saw all the hot air come whooshing out of her birthday balloon. Scant minutes old, her grand entrance now began to feel like a repeat performance. ‘Sure it had gone according to plan,  but for that very reason it all began to seem anticlimactic as a motherfucker. I mean, c’mon, girl, hadn’t you outlined the entire scenario in your damn diary two years before?’ “fade in: (teaser) Sphinx’s high yella frame falls into Harlem like an astronaut upon re-entry. our heroine drops in with a blast. makes the proverbial big splash. swivels every head in the house with a reckless display of beauty and beatitude. camera freezes on Sphinx holding every hipster’s attention from the word go. many patrons are left stuttering and mumbling blankly to themselves. Not unlike her mythical namesake Sphinx possesses the power to stop men and women on the road of life and make them think twice before making another move. force them to reconsider their claims on cleverness and mortality.”

Though her arrival on the Harlem scene had made good on those adolescent power fantasies, all she felt now was sort of blah, sort of so what? She was becoming so unimpressed with herself on several counts. For one thing the joy of turning adolescent dreams into reality actually turned out to be quite fleeting. Doing the damn thing had proven more shallow than the daydreaming that preceded it. So here she was–sort of happy, but nowhere near as happy as she thought she was supposed to be. Her skin was decidedly not tingling with any sense of triumph or ablaze with an afterglow of transcendence. Where had she gone wrong? In a near-drunken stupor she wouldnt bet on coming to any profound conclusions. Making sense of things was a task to be reserved for a later day and a later diary. (When later came she soberly recalled how ‘in a last, pathetic gasp attempt to ra-ra myself i drunkenly shouted out, `am i the shit uptown or what?’. Uptown, of course, collectively smiled back, cooly winked to others at my expense and then rolled its eyes at me! After riding my own ego-train a few miles, i quickly reversed course and humbly thanked my ancestors for getting me this far. maybe I’d been plotting my escape, my arrival and my grand entrance for so long and in such graphic detail, that i lacked any perspective on how common it would seem to Harlem. Even to me it lacked for much in the way of novelty or surprise–with the exception of meeting Noona.’

Sphinx was not prepared to discover that Noona was the type of woman who let her man use her for a punching bag. That revelation came hours after she went to bed that first night at the shelter. Rattling, simpering, heavy breathing and a dull sort of pounding had all broken into her sleep. She rose to locate those noise’s source and was led to the upstairs kitchen, two flights up. Leaping stairs three at a time, she emerged on a landing to see Noona tied to a heating pipe with inner-tubing, her puffy bruised head hung low as she kept taking even more punishing bodyblows from a squat, elegeantly dressed European male with gauze wrapped around his fingers. The only thing that stopped  Sphinx from rushing him was Noona’s withering glare and a ragefilled reprimand–gasped, shrieked and stuttered out between an assortment of thuds and whacks that not even  Sphinx’s  attack-dog stance served to halt the force and repitition of. “Dont you come up here judging us, no. This is how we love. No bloody business of yours. Get away.”

Noona was not the first kickass woman Sphinx had met who believed violence equaled passion in a relationship. More novel was her mentor’s belief, related the morning after, that being abused helped her better understand her battered pupils.  Noona told Sphinx that she experienced her beatings as a  “a form of astral travel, really. Out of the body experiences that allow me to empathize with weaker women’s pain on a higher plane than may seem evident to you.”

Her abusive manchild (‘Elan’  a name  Noona liked to whisper with more creamy sentiment than Sphinx could stomach) was a banker of Serbo-Castillian birth who resided in a bunker beneath Battery Park City  reachable only by boat. Elan visited Noona only once a month but Noona talked about him as if they were attached at the hip, as if they were soul mates who shared a sadomasochistic lifestyle only they understood as one of love’s many splendored forms. In their dominance-submission scenario Noona could not imagine visiting violence on him. The suggestion alone, she said, was akin to advising she amputate a limb.  Sphinx pushed the idea no further than to raise the question. She had heard enough insane love-stories in her time not to allow Noona’s pathologies derail her own romantic quest–milking the woman for every iota of information about technique that had once made her the reigning queen-champion of ‘cut-creation capoiera’.

Sphinx’s obsession with Noona began and ended with their mutual passion for the sport where DJs in programmed fabric sparred in a deep pit kept ablaze by crossknit particle beams.  Movement and position of the whirling DJs body  relative to the streaming lightrays determined the sound-mix. The goal was to simulate murderous combat while choreographing a party-rocking symphony. This meant never losing the groove and thus incurring the wrath of the tribal dance floor–a writhing mass who would throw whatever was at hand into the pit should you stumble. Sphinx had dedicated her life to the sport after seeing Noona perform in the ’57 Olympics. In those trials Noona had demolished her competitors–some suffering injuries so severe that the sport would be subsequently banned in thirty states for nearly a decade. Noona had brought her rage and well-coordinated recklessness to a sport that up until her arrival had required about as much cunning and competitive spirit as synchronized swimming. Her fury had raised the stakes and made her a role model for edge-driven young women like The Sphinx. She was also the first women anyone had ever seen who sparred completely nude after being the first to have sensors surgically implanted in her body.

Noona’s love for Elan’s abuse aside, training with The Woman made  Sphinx feel blessed,  like her life was finally on the correct course. Yet even with her luck running so high, the whole dropping out of school thing meant finding a job and a domicile to call her own as well. The need became acute once she realized how tempestuous shelter life could be. All those enraged spouses attempting break-ins at all hours, all those shell-shocked fugitive wives having to be kept from shutting off the y-chromosome alarms. “Too many female problems up in this camp” is how Sphinx broke it to Noona after two sleepless weeks of repelling invader boyfriends, husbands and lovers and comforting the braindead manpuppets who loved them

Noona graciously accepted  Sphinx’s decision to leave (‘Girl, I didn’t think you’d last three nights’) When  Sphinx professed a desire to find gainful employment Noona suggested security work with one of the gypsy protection services who ‘regulated’ parties in the neighborhood.  “Hazards of the trade”, Nona informed her, “insure a high turnover rate, so generally speaking, there’s never a lack of openings. Plus, besides regulatin’ being the kind of job that’ll keep you in training and on your toes, doing security is about the best introduction to life uptown a curious and adventurous little butch like you could ever ask for.”

The first security outfit  Sphinx called went by the name Rick’s Mother A Bitch. Ricks directory advert had read Let Us Lockdown Your Function And Even Your Mama Won’t Be Startin None That Stupid Mess’. When she informed the dispatcher that she was training with  Noona the woman up and offered Sphinx a job that very night.

We’ll let Sphinx’s diary pick up the action from here:

“The party site turned out to be turf along the Riverside Drive Promenade between 155th and 161st streets.  Supposedly I had some  long lost cousins up in that area, members of the Jumel Terrace Death Squad. They were fabled as far as Boston for the wreckage they’d put on your function if it was judged ‘interminable’. I wondered if they’d show me love should they turn up. Given my past experiences with roughneck relatives, I tried not to keep my fingers crossed.

I arrived at the bivouac flying Rick’s flag and got surprised by an all woman security crew. I’d never seen a Lockdown that was what me and my girls, in less enlightened times, used to call ‘strictly-clitly’. In  Boston boys tended  to stay more in line when a few butches were present at  events– nobody wanted to be out-stomped or out-shot by a bunch of females in front of his boys–but there were hardly enough real women in Boston to build an entire squad with. Nona told me later that in Gotham they believed that while a dick might maim you for stepping out of line, the going opinion was, based on their need to overcompensate, a gaggle of psycho-security butches  was likely to panic, swarm and kill a nigknack. That line of reasoning struck me as odd since none of the women I’d seen doing the job in Boston had ever put any party people in the grave. On the other hand, these New York butches did look more than capable of putting a hurting on someone if they chose to. They were taller, sturdier and more limber than their Boston counterparts. They also clearly meant business from the showy combat exercises they put on once they’d zipped into the trade’s armored bodysuits. Stuff like bullseye shooting the short cannon while performing backflips, show off-y stuff like that. Even so I have to admit I was truly impressed by their rough and ready physicality. All in all it actually made me feel, like, for once I was among peers.

Rick’s  ringleader turned out to be this buffed middle-aged butch with a brunette topknot named Tunji-Ola-Ola-Ola. I rolled up on cronegirl as she was locking metal braces around thighs  about as hard and faceted as polished onyx.She stopped dressing long enough to give me a vicious once-over. I returned fire with a stare that stated, Don’t even try and get evil with me oldass butch because I’m down for whatever, wherever, whenever.’

As we drew blood with our optical daggers, I noted that Tunji’s hair was unnaturally streaked with grey and white highlights. The streaks made her look like even a much older woman, somebody maybe in her late 40s, not 30s.  This struck me as odd after we’d had some loose conversation.

Tunji, I soon realized could not have been that much older than me. Twenty-seven, twenty eight, tops.  I could  tell she’d led a hard life;figured she’d probably hoped to soften her rough features by appearing far older than she was. It wasn’t working. I knew it, she knew it and she instantly knew that I knew and had thus detected a minor chink in her emotional armor. Knowing she had a vulnerable side probably wouldn’t hurt down the line. Especially since her first take on me seemed somewhere between begrudging admiration and mild contempt. When she came at me verbally, the Virgo in me came out without hesitation. I gave as good as I got, gambled being blunt wouldn’t cost me the gig.Quite the opposite in fact, if a butch played it right.

-So you the one who lives with Noona The Body? Office told me you’d be coming down.

-Correction I trains with Noona. I’m just living there until I can afford to move. This is where you come in. You got work for me tonight right?

-I didn`t think Noona could stand having even one real strong woman up in her space. Not seeing the company she keeps. That little Serbo Spanglish speaking boy she likes to have beat on her, you met him yet?

-Comes to lovers we all get to pick our poisons, dear. Noona probably be with a woman who liked to kick her ass if she swung that way. Some butches just funny like so. So you all are what, some bad ass bunch of straight hets or ambidextros up in this camp or what, huh?

-Some is, some ain’t. I like dick, she likes clit. Whatever floats your boo. Long as everbody knows, you know, like how the saying goes…’

-Who you fucking don’t mean jack. Long as you got your sister’s  back.

-Eggzakatakly. You got a problem with butches who glaze the clit?

-Naw. Back home plenty of my running dogs was basters. I am looking for a room mate though.  You know sometimes butches who baste don’t care to shack up with those of us who go in for that big black dick.

-Where did you say you were from originally?

-I didn’t. I got here about a week ago from Roxbury. Roxbury, Massachoochoo, that is. The big RPM. Thirty three revolutions per minute baby. Roxbury M.I.A.

-Well, mmph and my, my, my. So we got us a radical butch on our hands.

-That would be me. The Ism Radical kinda like Alzheimers. Kind of runs in the family.

-Your people, back in the day, were they part of the Quantum Black Movement?

-Were they? In a major way. You ever hear tell of Romeo Void? Mad pimp killer of Harvard Square? Though you mighta. Well that ignay was my great uncle on my mother’s side.

-Get the phuc yung sung out of here. Your people were QBM like that? Damn. You know I’ve heard the Quantum Blacks are making a comeback. Just like Mandela Aintfree promised thirty years ago.What you know about that?

-No, question iswhat do you about that? Aint nobody oustide hardcore fam supposed to know the deal for real.

-Oh girl, you know I only know what you hear out here–and you know out here you’re liable to hear loads of fanciful bullshit.

-Well, I been hearing that Quantum Black comeback shit since I was old enough to suck milk from the tit. Where that’s concerned I come from a long line of wishful thinkers. If I won the lottery every time I heard The Quantum Black Star liner was coming back I’d be one paid out the ass butch.

-Then you must have family down here you don’t know about. Because I been hearing that Quantum Black comeback shit a lot lately. A lot. Too much for it to be mere hyperbole.

-Oh yeah. Don’t let me be hearing it  from you first if it is true. Cause ignays down here need to know. Me and mine will be mad as a mother if they’re re-starting the revolution without us.

Tunji didn’t look like she knew I was lying about having  Quantum Black blood ties but she wasn’t supposed to. So what if my bloodline was too street-orientated to have ever really been down with them stuck-up Quantum Blacks? So what  if my boast about Romeo Void being an uncle was something  I’d once heard a classmate say? My tales of Quantum Black  ties might have been bold lies, but planting them in Tunji’s brain made me feel less anxious about my money getting funny at night’s end. Never hurts to have an edge over these roughneck strawbosses, I always say.  So let Tunji believe I belonged to a secret society of militant black mutants and assassins rather than my real-life family tree–that droopy assortment of played out players, overage gangbangers and hirsute hustlers if the truth must be told. When it came time to dole out the dollars there don’t need to be thoughts of shortchanging the new girl. ‘

Like most of  her generation Sphinx  had acquired her knowledge of the Quantum Black Movement from reading the collected prison letters of movement leader Mandela Aintfree. Formerly a reknowned sculptor of recombinant DNA, this historic figure had first come to public attention describing himself as “The race’s foremost esthetic terrorist” and as ”The Black Mengeles”. Before his capture, conviction and interplanetary deportation Aintfree had performed grusesome experiments in mutilation, scarification and genetic mutation on the bodies of captured enemy. This enemy he and his comrades in the Quantum Black Movement Race Wars  identified as “the white body politic”. Sphinx actually found Mandela’s writings hysterical, frightening and enigmatic, pretty much all at the same time. The letter he wrote to his 7 year old daughter Nada Aintfree while locked under the Brooklyn House of Detention is fairly typical of his ouevre:

”Dear Daughter, We kept waiting for Childhoods End but the extraterrestials never showed up flapping their forked tails.  When our show got running their speaking parts were not dubbed in. Too late for that little sister. Jonah and The Whale was a closed chapter. No man from Mars coming to play Messiah and we’d blown our chance at Black Moses back in 1929.

We told the old guard (Camelot Drexel’s disciples and that lot), Astral traveling can’t save your ass, and the 13th Pan Afrikan Congress aint never gonna happen.

Our solution was Race War. Guerilla warfare and extravavgant weaponry implants for the body. We converted our Brooklyn studios into genetoxin factories and munitions plants. Had bionic Swat teams shooting up everywhere.

We blossomed into poison mushrooms, microscopic Hiroshimas.

We inducted the apathetic through sheer terror.

Airports began belching hand grenades.

Bodies turned up splayed in the terminals like crippled umbrellas.

We were the ones who blew up the Brooklyn bridge and  burned Harlem to the ground.

We were the ones who said, gentrify this motherfuckers: try moving your leisure classes into rubble and ashes.

Your generation makes me laugh.

You lean left, then duck for cover, or you make tracks for the underground railroad.

You’ll learn. Nevermind you’re no apologist for random slaughter. Nevermind you hold onto the concept of innocent bystanders. This is war, and since The White Bodypolitic never distinguishes between hard and soft targets, why should we?

You might as well be Mandela Aintfree as one more freak nigga caught straddling the fence.  They’ll bring their rabid packs of modified Dobermans down on your ass quick as they will mine. Clamp on hydraulic incisors with a bent towards evisceration. Now go appeal that judgement in World Court. Make a case for the Geneva Convention under suspension of your right to bear genitals. When we came on the scene they were in the process of making BLACKNUSS the legal defintion of madness and disease.

They were making BLACKNUSS synonymous with insanity and the plague.

We were the ones who stood up and said, you want to see sick black and crazy we’ll give it to you in spades.”

As perverse, entertaining and odd as The Sphinx found Mandelas’s prose, the Great Mans’ writings never perplexed her like those of his granddaughter Babylonia Free. Babylonia, Nada’s offspring, was a candidate in  Cultural Anthropology at Barnard, and a scandously unauthorized family biographer. Through a bizarre set of circumstances Babylonia became  Sphinxs’ best friend in New York and in so doing provided Sphinx with quite a leg up onto the stage of world  history. In her own memoirs  Sphinx laughed at herself for having once found Babylonia’s work impenetrable. By then the other woman’s writing style had deeply affected her own.  In fact  Sphinx easily acknowledged that whatever talent she displayed for critical thinking must have come from ‘hanging around’ Babylonia. The debt was plainly revealed in the lines from Babylonia’s ‘Preface To A Proper Hagiogrpahy and Historiagrpahy of Quantum Black Theory   Sphinx quoted  freely from in her memoir Baby Took My Good Side:

“ Only the naive or the duplicitous will tell you that the Race Wars hadn`t been fought over race and power. They’ll try and convince you the wars had once been nothing more than an intellectual game played between two opposing systems of signification :the Quantum Blacks and their theoretical soft targets, the whitebodypolitic. Only after the dialogue left the academy, so they story goes, did things degenerate from the eloquently figurative to the brutally literal. This escalation saw debates  over matters of interpetation dissolve into disputes the Quantum Blacks settled by bloodshed, bombings and assassinations. The fact of the matter was that Race War was the inevitable course of the Quantum Black Movement from the moment of its inception. After all, what movement for Black self determination could not end up at war with the state? The Quantum Blacks defined themselves as ‘Super-Nigknacks’ even though they’d acquired their ultra-BLACKNUSS from  Camelot Drexel’s race-memory implants rather than street-knowledge. They indeed saw themselves as a Black and learned breed of Ubermensch apart. Therefore it should come as no surprise that this self-canonizing cadre pronounced that since they did not know their place relative to the whitebodypolitic, they would find it by bearing their signs of negation to a theoretical black hole. Not to a collapse in the fabric of space-time, dimension and gravity, but to a fold in the curtain of race memory. In effect, this absurdo non reductum meant adhering to the faith that the white bodypolitic did not exist, could not exist, had never existed, and therefore should not exist. That this negation returned the whites as a critical prescence by absenting Them as a a thing to be voided was less a contradiction in terms than the trope which commenced the psychological phase of the Race Wars. In essence the Quantum Blacks were signifying that since they did not believe in the existence of the whitebodypolitic, that bodypolitic could not impose its definitions of BLACKNUSS upon them or the world. This left the Quantum Blacks free to define BLACKNUSS for themselves as opposed to having it defined for them by the cave-boy, the other-man.”

After falsely informing Tunji of her Quantum Black roots,  Sphinx  inquire after her new boss’s lifestory too. Bonding with Tunji she decided might prove useful later for apartment hunting and other stuff. Before  Sphinx was able to work those budding buddy-buddy sentiments Tunji toughened up again and gave her her marching orders for the night.

‘Go introduce yourself to the rest of these ugly butches over there before you see wardobe about a suit. After you’re suited up, wander around some. Get a feel for the landscape. We’ll rendezvous back here in an hour.’

Sphinx replied ‘aye-aye mein commandant’, and thought, ”Well d honeymoon is ovah now chile’. Tunji might have been impressed by my phony genealogy, but it was my tight, flexible body rather than my Quantum Black Movement backstory that she was paying for tonight.

The squads armored bodysuits were kept in a gargantuan, hovering winnabago, a mother ship if there ever was one. I was suprised at how many of their uniforms costumes had been elaborately customized by previous wearers. According to the sign-out log, many had been worn briefly–some for only one Lockdown, some, with no sign-out signature, I suspected, for even less. Many carried medallions honoring Regulators killed in the line of duty. All flashed colorful insignias. A whole load of them were from ancient,mythic Bronx, Brooklyn and West Coast protection crews: Savage Skulls, Decepticons, Zulu Nation, The Bloods, The Brims, The Crips, The Pirus, etc. Emblazoned on many were hand-drawn mystical symbols and Islamic calligraphy. I decided on a black kimono draped affair done-up with orange and crimson flamebursts. (Dragon’s breath?)  The previous owner had laboriously removed generations of patches from the outfit and left it dotted with raggedy stitched-in outlines. Seemed the last woman to wear it was either an extreme minimalist, or, like me, a new girl in town who didn’t want some idiot up in here face over nothing. The costume’s helmet bore an Eye of Horus that flashed blood red lashes. This was considered a neutral symbol as every faction gave love to Metu Neter Divination. The wisdom of those legendary Harlem metaphysicians was respected by all.

Dropping from the vehicle in full armor made me feel like a fullfledged member of Tunji’s squad. It also made me feel more cautious.

I strolled over to the guard rail overlooking the deserted West Side Highway.  Peering down I caught the rest of Tunji’s detachment removing particle-beam projectors from the truck at a snail’s pace. Look at those lazybones go, I chuckled. I remembered the work slowdowns I used to stage in performance of the same grueling task. Never again. No more brute manual labor for this DJ Star. All the same, looking at those projectors being set up left me feeling conflicted.  Admittedly I was hungry for the arena again and  bored with not competing on any level. Here’s the thing: becoming a Gothamite meant becoming a true professional and becoming a true professional meant never doing anything related to cut creation capoiera that was not sanctioned by the Olympic committee. A bootleg gig like tonight’s they saw as only fit  for beginners, hustlers, and thrillseekers.

I had already paid enough dues to be way beyond giving some young fools their initiation rounds. Being good enough to train with Noona should have confirmed for me that I was all that and had nothing to prove? So why was I so feeling like a trapped tiger?  Ego of course: I wanted to play a set just to destroy some  lil rookie nigknacks for the hell of it. Run all the posers out of the arena and strut the circumfernce of the pit projecting all kinds menace, machismo and bad-ass mojo. Since I was working that wasn’t going to happen even if I wasn’t a bona fide Olympian. I knew my skills so were far beyond anybody who was going to show up here anyway. A streak of easy wins in a place like this would only have started me on the road to ruinous distraction. Because what I ultimately longed to do was what Nona had done:create an original style–one that left such an indelible impression on all future practitioners  of the form that they would copy it assiduously and bow down whenever my name was mentioned. Noona was considered the form’s Billie Holiday, the woman who had lyrically translated her emotional traumas into the spine-tingling movement vocabulary and musical syntax of cut-creation combat. My own desires were equally ambitious .I wanted to become nothing less than cut-creation’s Miles Davis :the performer whose lyricism singed her audiences souls and made them shudder to the core. I wanted to be the sort of artist who left her fans mouths agape, eyes looking as if they were in the throes of ecstasy or the depths of a family tragedy. Like my man Miles, I wanted my every gesture in or out of the arena understood as a reflection of my haunted, prickly aura. My goal was to always leave the folk unsettled and swooning in my presence.  ‘As if they’d caught themselves salivating over a beautiful corpse’, I’d tell the New York Times right before my Lincoln Center debut a year later.’

‘Anxiety, alienation, pronounced fear of abandonment, a sense of being an absent even when she was  seen as quite the dominant presence in many a room.’ Sphinx suffered these not just in public but in the privacy of her bedroom. She knew these were a bizarre bunch of issues for a woman who planned to spend her life in the limelight. Over the years she would come to be described by friends, lovers and relations as someone who was ‘There And Not There At The Same Time’. So often did they describe her this way that she came to insist that phrase be used  as her epitaph. The words friends actually chose for her headstone were more provocative but less poetic: ‘Dancing well is the best revenge’ So much for honoring a fading diva’s last request.

Long before she was warned to forget everything she knew about everyone she had ever known,  Sphinx was crafting discrepancies between her memories and her stories. Between what she knew she knew and what she claimed to know. Having become well-versed in the art of keeping her lies straight, she never got confused as to what was fact and what was fiction. She did however leave historians a nightmare to sort out in the form of three memoirs (written during widely disparate periods of her life) and two authorized film versions. At least three of these contradicted as to how she lost her virginity. At first she was an incest survivor. Later she was devirginated by a man she humiliated into having sex after she buttfucked him with a strap-on dildo. In the final telling the dildo wearer became Mother’s boyfriend, ‘encouraged’ by Sphinx to “do to me what he routinely did to Mother”. The only thing which remained constant was her age of deflowering:all of 13.  This slippery way with matters sexual was less aggravating than her prevarication when it came to Babylonia Free. A cunning maneuver since those episodes formed the basis of most scholars interest in Sphinx’s young adult life anyway.

Early on she recognized the need to complicate her herstories and keep the academic squirrels guessing as a kind of insurance against becoming only a footnote in Babylonia’s vaster epic.  The false modesty, grandiosity and muted plea for immortality already present in her first book of memoirs embarassed even her most sympathetic reader, the Franciscan brother, Clay Riley. When  Sphinx insinuated that she and Babylonia had been more than just friends Riley declared her reminescences “certainly untrue in this regard as no evidence from Babylonia’s extensive diaries confirms this point”.   (Riley made his feelings about this matter public at an NYU Africana Studies conference before he’d even finished reading all of Babylonia’s papers. Immediately afterwards, a court injunction was brought against him, halting  completion of  a Sphinx biography he’d been researching for a decade. That injunction was brought by  Sphinx’s daughter Circe Buchanan who was also, bless her soul, the mother of the author of this account.

As best I can ascertain Sphinx’s most honest account of her years with Babylonia Free can be found in Baby Took My Good Side:

“You can call me Geza or you can call me Skeeza. I’ll answer to either knowing, as my grandmother knew on her deathbed, That I have lived the life of a queen and have no regrets. Unlike grandmother, I am not on my deathbed and my memoirs are a work in progress. A neverending saga that will go on long after this body has given up the ghost. This is not my story.

This is the story of Babylonia Free and the Womb For Hire Homegirls. Those coltish, cultish women who always gave Babylonia a hard way to go, even after she’d saved them from her evil stepmother, Nada, mayor of Gotham.

Before she became a Womb, The original Wombs, never really liked Baby (my pet name for her). Mainly because after Baby’s man, Black Snake Dick Head, got chopped up into 13 parts and dropped on her porch in butcher paper minus face and phallus, Baby began scouring the ‘hood for her honey’s lost portions. The Wombs would see Baby out there looking for the dick and the head and laugh. They liked to break-til-broke on the child most viciously. They’d say things like, ‘Lord, look at D gal. ‘Lord, what she looking for now?’ ‘She say she looking for a dead man’s dick.’ ‘Seem to me that mans one broke dick of a fella. Lord That gal. She need to fix herself up and get herself some new dick, some working dick connected to a whole intact working man.’ ‘Hell, that gal aint looking for no man, she looking for chopped meat.’

And so on.  Yet though The Wombs could call Baby a freak to her face she wouldn’t care. Partly due to her anthorpological discipline, and partlybecause she was insanely adoring of the Wombs. Truth of the matter was, Baby loved the Wombs more than  she loved life itself (and went on to prove it as we well know). Baby actually did not think she was so different from the Wombs. Not, said she, when the matter was viewed objectively. I agree that this seems somewhat bewildering, but when your pockets were as fat as Baby’s were then, life is how you flake it, shake it and bake it.

For richer or for poorer, our poor little rich girl saw it like this: she was living out her dream life and the Wombs were living out theirs.  In Baby’s dream life she was Isis to the deceased Black Snake Dick Head’s Osiris, a tragic goddess doomed to wander the earth until she turned up her murdered lover’s missing body parts. (For more on Babylonia’s relationship with Black Snake Dick Head see below, Appendix A, You Can Build And Bone Your Cipher***).

For the record, The Womb for Hire Homegirls were artificially inseminated black market body factories who’d farmed themselves out to an infant mercenary project cooked up by remnants of the Quantum Black Movement. The Wombs ranged in age between 15 and 40 something. They had all been carrying their pregnancies for at least three years. This was nobody’s science fiction to them. In their minds they were the last sisters truly down with the Quantum Black struggle; heroines on a mission, ready willing and able to breed tomorrow’s African revolutionaries. All things being equal, Baby reasoned, I’m carrying on after a dead man’s dick and so are my sisters, The Wombs.

The Wombs took to dressing shabby the winter Baby moved up into the ‘hood.That summer their fashion had been hooded black leather warm-up suits. Come February I was mourning their sacrifice of style for signification. Snowbanks six feet high and the Wombs were draping themselves in billowing expanses of burlap. Nilly little maternity gowns razor-slitted and gilled to ventilate the spine and the tummy. Baby read this gesture as ironic rather than tragic. So that where I saw a banged-up gang of urban bushwomen, Baby saw, `feminist semioticians mocking expectant motherhood as a form of martyrdom. Note the crocus sacks, the crown of thorns, the whole nine yards’. Every day the Womb platoon barreled across the drifts, moving down Harlem’s white peaked boulevards like a batallion of chipper tumbleweed, bare asses flapping in the breeze like it wasn’t really no thang. All I could think about was frostbite and frozen embryos, but Baby saw a runaway fashion show. Or so she described it for Essence:`Stepping smart and satying trim despite a bellyful, our ragass fashion girls continue to look good. Hanging together no matter any kind of weather.” Out on manuevers the Wombs wore their monsta-weaves knotted into a rope-train 30 mamas to be long. Where I saw a chain of male identified fools, Baby saw, a sisterhood of sidewalk mountaineers scaling the streets along cable lengths of artificial human hair’. Whenever the Wombs spoke it was en masse. They sang, cursed and chanted in rude harmony. Theirs was a cacophony of goat-mouthing you could hear for miles. Even at a murmur their approach announced a Babel of bad attitude and enough verbal artillery to take down any man’s army. A rough and riotous black noise was their sound and it screened out the ears of the curious. Outside their circle they sounded like a clarion of idle chatterboxes, talking loud and saying nothing. Baby heard differently of course.

She believed that what went on inside their cabal was an exchange of information rivaling Wall Street. In her mind, they were women clear on the power of the word and the womb to organize the world. ‘Course I never failed to challenge this bullshit line of thinking. I know Baby enjoyed these heated interjections because they displayed a crack in my legendary facade of cool. Everybody you truly love knows how to truly push your buttons, and Baby always pushed mine with a vengeance whenever she went into Womb For Hire Homegirl mythification mode.The girl just plain never tired of confessing her faith that each and every Womb’s pooh-naan was more than–my words here—‘a lower jawbone sewed on a monkey’s ass.’ No, declared she, each Womb For Hire vagina was in fact a mouth of God, immaculately genetically redesigned for spewing out the next line of pro-Black radical prophets.  To really get me going Baby  would also express her desire to one day join the Wombs and carve out a new identity for herself among their `muttering cult of merchandised fertility.’ Damn if she didn’t, too. (Damn her, damn her, damn her).

Baby also liked to conjecture how ‘if nothing else Sphincter-lips, I know you’ll concede the Wombs possess a sense of style and mission missing from the other uptown sisters.’  Well style or no style I did not buy into their mission or their mystique. I’d come up in the same kind of streets the Wombs had and much to Baby’s chagrin, I had no problem calling them ho’s, cows, women of low intelligence and breeding. Not to mention willing victims of a reactionary masculinism bent on reducing black womanhood to the status of commodity-uterus for yet another male dominated master race plan. We had the same argument so many times you’d think we’d have wanted a new script., but you know how those games go. –you don’t want your partner getting all new on you.

Whenever I went ballistic on Baby’s Womb For Hire idolatry she would coyly ask whether my anger didn’t derive from how many ass whippings  I’d taken from sisters like them when my lightskinned longhaired cateyed ass was coming up in Roxbury. And didn’t I think the Wombs made race consciousness pale as a measure of blackness besides the capacity to bring blacker than black babies into the world? And didn’t I therefore think their black woman’s experience carried more weight than mine, no pun intended? I’d fire back  how only a rich, pampered, Ivy League butch like Baby could confuse black womanhood with being a barefoot, raggedyass, knocked up and pimp-dependent ho’. Then I’d howl how my self respect alone makes more more of true black woman than they’ll ever be. Don’t care how many mud puppies they litter up and down the avenue. And so on. At that point in the discussion Baby liked to ask, ‘Could you explain to our listening audience Ms Sphinx, why so many light bright  damn near white sisters  like yourself imagine themselves as five shades darker than their true colors? And I’d say, ‘kiss my ass butch’. And she’d say ‘nobody does it better’. And we’d go on like that all night long, snacking on our own homemade hot buttered soul and candy popcorn. Cause beat dont stop until the break of dawn, beat don’t stop until all the freaks are gone. Yeah, once upon a time me and Baby were girls together and we liked it like that.”

Thus spake Sphinx in print. But on the fine spring night that found her patrolling the Riverside Drive promenade under the command of Tunji Ola Ola Ola, The Sphinx  didn’t have a clue as to where her life was headed other than training.Beyond that, she didn’t much care either. She was too busy living for the moment. Down on the abandoned highway sonic booms were melodiously erupting every twenty seconds. The sweathogs were testing their elaborate rig of particle beam projectors. Soon they’d be spraying  plasma-threaded crossbeams across the padded playing area.

The sounds of armed projectors made Sphinx excited agianst her will. She wondered if her hard and fast rules about not engaging in street level competition would hold up with a contest going on literally below her nose.

“My adamant refusal to fuk with cut dancing unless major money was on the table was crumbling. I could not help admitting to myself how much I was missing the whole proverbial roar of the greasepaint and smell of the crowd thang. Was the mercenary position costing me some good old fashioned fun?  I began to wonder if I wasn’t on my way to the same nuthouse Noona had checked into years before. I had already resolved not to become another Noona:cutting off artistic options to spite my anti-commercial face.  Noona’s refusal to cut-dance for all but the super-rich esthete crowd had left her without a venue. She had become an exotic phantom who sat high and mighty out along the margins of her artform on a lonely Harlem throne.  The prospect loomed of her being forgotten in another generation. She had to know this whether she publically admitted it or not. Noona had not benefitted from cut-creation capoeria’s rise in popularity and patronage after her Olympic triumphs. For reasons still unknown, she had immediately checked into a mental health facility and missed out on the feeding frenzy. While she languished there for two years, players who were her inferiors scooped up endorsements, wealth and fame. When she returned however it was to advocate a return to purity that decried players becoming corporate puppets for chump change. Her fee was in the multimillions for one bout which assured that only extremely well-endowed conniseurs of the artform would ever see her again. I was both more of a populist and more of a freaking exhibitionist than Noona ever was.

Noona was still the champion in my eyes but I longed to find a middle ground between insanity and integrity, oddity and commodity. Neither living like a slave or dying like a high paid geek could do much to make my nipples hard.”

It was while mulling over career options that  Sphinx got rudely drawn into the acquaintance of Medea and Melchisedec. These two fly by night characters, soon to become central to our tale, considered themselves retromusicians, (“singers of the songs time and most people would rather we forgot”) They were collectively known as the RoboCoptic Boy. (“No plural `S’ on the marquee, thank you”, read their contract rider). Later that night they would introduce  Sphinx to Babylonia Free and irrevocably alter her destiny. Right now, merely for the sake of making her introduction, they wanted to drive her to distraction before the party started. Two decades later on her first broadcast special,  Sphinx recalled being sunk deep in thought when “suddenly a fog of metallic vocal tones began steaming up my cranium. Though only  at lowpitched, whining ambient levels they crashed into my meditations with the force of tidal waves. Somehow the low pitched voices became discernible syallables and then a monsoon of shooting stars. The sensation was annoying, disorienting, but also somewhat orgasm-inducing. I wondered if one of my sister Regulators hadn’t slipped me an ill-subliminal mickey. I was randomly chopping at my helmet with the edge of my hand when I saw them:Two dreadlocked jokers at the periphery futzing with piled-high stacks of silver chokers slung Ubangi style around their skinny little necks. From their hair alone I knew they were retromusicians. No style slavish Gotham kid would be caught dead sporting an over and out of here doo like dreadlocks. (It went beyond tacky, bordered on gauche). The only style more offensive was no hair at all. What I could not figure out was how two low lifes had gotten enough money together to cop such high end telepathic music technology. Even on the street, a Subvocalese unit cost an arm and a leg (and sometimes literally those limbs if the exchange went down at an  bodyparts swap meet.)  Clearly these boys were trying to mack me out with the thing and clearly they werent doing such a bad job either. I’d heard better but they were smooth enough. Certainly smooth enough to wet my dried up aint had none in six months pooh-naan. I got impressed by their balls and brazenness. So much so I didnt even think of putting a foot up their asses. See the dicks who came onto me after my divorce (and after I became a fullfledged capoerista) were few and far between. Here I was, giving em my best  madface in full Regulator gear while slinging enough ammunition to bang-bang whole gangs of nignoids into oblivion and these Robo Coptic Boy were still trying to get in my pants. I cut them some slack but I did manage to shake them up a bit though.  I barrelled into them sideways when they thought I was still dazed and said, `You fellas must think you’re mighty cute, but fortunately so do I. They call me Sphinx. Now that you’ve gotten my attention, you should also know that you’re getting on my nerves. This is not a good thing. I’ve been known to beat rude boys to the ground for just breathing wring on my direction. And you two want to do some kind of romance number up in my head?  Rather than have a butch like me smack dem head up the Robo Coptic Boy opted to slyly and seductively change their pitch up. They were clearly bent on causing puddles of melted butter to run from my increasingly volcanic vulva. Besides reanimating my carnal aspect, the RoboCoptic Boy were also setting off feelings of unconditional sister-love as well. The whimsy I heard in their song was not only intoxicating but familiar, familial even. I got to thinking how they were really just big kids, like some of my rowdier young boy cousins. My lust for the Boy then began to take on incestuous overtones. I now longed to discipline these RoboCoptic Boy nigknacks in every imaginable sense of the word. I wanted to protect them from all possible harm as well. I knew the danger of making new friends or taking on lovers in the city Id come to realize my dreams but pushed it to the back of my mind where it kept up its danger signals. Please note that this muted sense of alarm was soon given due cause. Thanks to my passion for the RoboCoptic Boy I soon found myself out fired from Ricks Mother A Bitch. Things you see all went down the tubes when word got around the party regulating profession about how Id beaten one of my security sister’s senseless. This sister you see had gotten to smacking the pea water out of Medea and Melchisedec for trying on her what they’d already tried on me except to far less enamoring effect in her case.  Afterwards I tried telling Tunji my boss that the Boy were family. To her credit, she wasn’t trying to hear that mess. ‘WHAT happened to who you fucking don’t mean jack!’ I had no answer. If I hadnt been Noona’s trainee and on the outside chance, a Quantum Black descendant too, I knw Tunji wouldve had my ass beaten to the ground or worse. Whatever credibility my family fib was ruined the next day when Tunji of all people stumbled upon me and the Boy cuddled up in Central Park two days later.

The upshot of my stupid stupid stupid rush  to save the RoboCoptic Boy was that I now had to new line of work. The obvious options were strip-fighting or fuck sparring both of which were too sleazy for me The Sphinx next proud ruler of the cut-creation throne. There was always bnodyguard work if I could latch onto a rich client. Except up here in Harlem that would mean some thug ugly nigknack and I wasn’t about to go dow that road for love or money again.( I’d had my fill of that life when I went into a green card marriage with my lunatic hitman secodn cousin Keef, one crazy Trini boy if there ever was one).  Until I secured patronage for my art  what seemed the most do-able was dealing prayersticks downtown. As opposed to uptown where it was known to be strictly deathsquad business.

On the upside this meant Id have plenty of time for training. The downside was the potential for being kidnapped tortured and possibly terminated. There was also the fact that for lack of a sponsor Id also have to deal with police payoffs and  bribes out of my own pocket. Dealing was something I’d plain avoided in Boston if only because just about everyone we knew in my family—except for my saintly mother of course—was hustling one drug product or another. After turning pro when I was 18 I had stayed as far away from family tendencies as possible. Today was a brand new day however. I was in love and trouble and broker than a broke dick dog. I suddenly didn’t care about proving I was a better human being than my guttersnipe relations.  The closest Id come in the past to dealing preayersticks was rolling prayers for my Uncle Jojo when I was about eleven. Since he paid us kids off in sweets, and me in contraband asthma medicine, I thought I was getting the better part of the deal. Mother whipped me and my younger brother Dupree quite viciously when she found out about our descent into the family-run criminal underground. Mother vexed on two counts. She had always todl us not to get mixed up with street trash like Jojo. She also couldn’t believe we’d let her spend money  on medicine we were getting for nothing. Only a mother could make you feel guilty using logic that skewed. Since I smoked prayersticks I didn’t have any ethical issues about to consenting adults and all that blasé blip. On the other hand I did not want to get a reputation as a hoodlum since that might stymy my chances at pulling in a deeppocket patron. Nobody wanted to invest in an artist bent on heading for a spot under the jail. Without the right connections Federal sentencing for dealing prayers could be a bitch. At the end of the day however I’ve never shyed away from living dangerously so what the hell? The Robo Coptic Boy spoke of a friend downtown who had more business than she needed. They claimed she might be willing to pass work off to a stranger who came with good references. I was dubious of their claim of being those good references but what did I have to lose by checking this girl out? Famous last words right? Firther investigatiion meant rowing downtown to this club in Soho called Nuryev via the flooded IRT subway canal over on 158th and Broadway. As luck would have it, Nuryev was where I would first lay eyes on Babylonia Free.

I heard Baby before I saw her. I was on the roof playing footsy with the RoboCoptic Boy. A screeching came across the skylight. It commanded the space like a judgement from which there was no appeal. Baby’s annuciatory exclamation pierced my  eardrums like a flaming javelin, one launched by a champion lancer.  This was becoming my night for obnoxious assualts on my delicate auditory organs. Baby’s banshee wail was one of her choice theatrical bits, reserved for greeting her best friends or letting a crowded club know what delight she was taking in her own fabulousness. Reeling from her din I sought out the source of this Siren call and wrecked my bulging sockets on a short and curvy half naked brown girl with darting eyes and a page boy. Stripped to the waist ina sarong  she was stomping her feet on the shoulders of four buffed seven foot bucks like it was everybody’s business if she did.  On several occasions she nearly fell off of her trusty stallions but without failure they stopped her fall upholding Baby’s position bestride their necks.  From her tottering stance when she actually tried to stand still and the general look of obscne madness in her eyes Baby appeared to be quite drunk and yet strangely clear of purpose and mind. She was so manically focused  on her performance I surmised the liquor had gotter her there quicker. I was held in suspense waiting for the muscle boys to tire of her losing battle with gravity and set her down easy. Instead they started walking towards me and the RoboCoptic Boy. They became all smiles then vanished giggling into an alcove behind some nearby curtains. I became s sight of laughter and disbelief myself Im sure as Babys walking pyramid act became 10 imploring hands. They were inviting me to come dance with them. I was looking foxy enough I guess in my sar mimiskirt and this violet neon coil I had slung over one shoulder and one breast while jewel encrusted  ankelts and thighlets shimmied up just below my crotch. Not that that made me more foxy than any of a dozen other women in the place. The morning after Baby claimed it was my big barefeet that had drawn her to me. The most beautiful Ive ever seen on a dancer she gushed. Much to my chagrin Babys handlers said she he recognized me from my Riverside ‘bout’. Apparently my legend was growing as the security butch who had not only bashed one of her sisters but whom Tunji had let live to tell the tale. Meeting Baby did not at the time seem as special as meeting Noona. It smeeled fishy in fact hardly weighted with a similirly simmering sense of predestination. There are no coincidences though at the end of the day  and all of our most brilliant encounter  no matter how manipulated into being bever really belong to the realm of  pure chance. There are always higher forces at work.

When Baby jumped off her companions clavicles and labded gracefully at my feet  she stayed down on all fours for several luxurious minutes recklessly eyeballing my pedal extremities. I knew something magical was happening but exactly what I couldn’t yet say. As I helped her up she regained her composure and a nearly sober posture fronting like a soldier whod been caught looking sloppier than amug by surprise inspection.You’ she snidely cracked, ‘simply must be the lovetoy the RoboCoptic Boy went out to fetch with my Subvolaese thingy. Since they’ve already told me about my wants and needs lets just cut to the chase shall we? Can you start tonight? And by the way since youre so atheltic would you mind doing a little bodyguard duty as well? I’m going on a fishing trip tomorrow and could some more personal muscle besides me . Now do I pay rental fees to you directly or do I deal with monies through the Robo Coptic Boy?’

At which point little sisters I wheeled around to throttle two RoboCoptic necks but they were nowhere to be found.’

FROM THE WOMB TO THE BROOM

Whistles, jeers, catcalls.
They’ll tell you everything about who’s coming for you from just around the bend today. You know how to whistle don’t you Miss Busybody, Miss Know It All, Miss Delphic Oracle?  You just pucker your big Ubangi lips and you blow out a jetstream of guff. You just spear-chuck profanity at everything within earshot. You screech and roar at the dick-swanging dogs and their peeing trees, at the haughty-bitch cars and their slouching lamp posts, at the squawking munchkins and their half- deaf dimwit housewife mammas.

To whistle is to expectorate tornadoes.

To funnel coiled gusts of wind that will get the whole damn world quaking in your footfalls. To whistle is to begat the fear of armageddon.

Inquiring Minds get to trembling.

They want to say, Where the hell is all that noise coming from?

Inquiring Mouths fix to ax their neighbors. They want to ax, Who’s responsible for that infernal racket? What they’ll do instead is sweat into their palms and whisper, ”Can they hear us talking about them?”

Will we hear you? Human we can practically smell you.

You and your fear and all the other stenches you carry around with you. The stink of the unimpregnated.We are not your friends, no. We are, after all, The Wombs. Short for Womb For Hire Homegirls. This is good information to have. A useful bit of knowledge you and yours can profit from.

People under your care will be forever grateful, perhaps even consider you a savior and compose detailed hagiographies after you’ve ascended the stepladder of the gods and hung yourself on the first bright star you see tonight.

These are the facts:
There are thirty of us. We have all been carrying ourpregnancies for at least five years. We have been described as duped, delusional creatures who believe ourselves to be ‘black market baby factories farmed out to an infant-mercenary trade running between Bahia and Luanda’.

This is not correct. We are just a rowdy bunch of military wives combating boredom and nature with an artificially induced form of  prolonged gestation.

People in the neighborhood consider us bullies.

They have their reasons.

Our bellies are hard as titanium and we can sling them around like wrecking balls if we have to. If you want trouble with us, we’re not hard to find. Because real bad girls are never sneaky.

Because real bad girls are bullies not snipers. Because real bad girls want you to fear them on sight. They want you to quake before their wrath.To bow down. To get out the way. To cower and tremble with respect. All of the above.

All our power comes from our brazen ways and our barbaric love for open- air combat. Know that whatever terrorism we do will be done in plain sight. Know that we as a collective have never lost a fight, fair or unfair.

We like to form a gauntlet and then shove, not ease, your ass on down the line.When we bend over with our asses in the air and poop, there goes mud in your eye.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus I say please don’t let me be misunderstood. I was never one of the angry ones. Yes, I did my dirt and was known to jump into the mix when it looked like fun, but I was never vicious out of any political motives. I was there only for the drugs and the sisterhood and the asylum.

Your average regular everyday throw-a-nigga-down-to-the-ground- stomp-his -guts-out-just because-it-felt-good kind of heifer. That was never me. I was never one of those raging against the state-machine type breeders.

No, Lord that wasn’t me.
In those days I was a needy little kitten.
A baby-junkie for my midwife’s affection.
First thing in the morning, I would dive headfirst into the nest she would build for me between the swell of her arms and the cushion of her breasts. I would collapse safely into the pillow she made for me using the wingspan of her broad belly, find a warm quilt in the muscles that ripped out of her spine. Eat every last morsel of strawberry and oatmeal out of her loving spoon. Such were the minor pleasures that made my stay among the Womb For Hire Homegirls the most treasured event of my rather medicore and typical young life.

(Years later, after I became an adult, and had to tolerate more than a little foolishness from my mate, I would retreat to the memory-cave. Choose oblivion and selective memory over castrating him or sifting and sieving powdered wineglass into his cornbread. I would reflect back on the power and pleasuring  I enjoyed when I was a Womb.

Our fish fries and cowgirl dances. Our hair-braiding races and steamy piss competitions. Who could hold it the longest after a day of not pissing.

The latter event always occurred in the itchy-twitchy weeds that grew in the backyard of our glorified nunnery. Shumeya always won those because her water-holding was akin to a camel’s. DJ Chlorine liked to say, “That Shumeya’s hiding two humps by her twat. How we supposed to compete with a damned desert beast?”

Slow boulevard-roaming days and rowdy shut-in nights defined our rhythm and our blues in those times. Between those two extremes you had no other option unless you also ran with one of the neighborhood deathsquads as Shumeya had done before she became a Womb. Every so often she’d have to sneak out of the Wombhouse and float across Harlem with her boy-creatures. She’d come back just before dawn, loudtalking, rushing stories of the night’s adventures out of her mouth before the words could even be properly formed.

One time she told us about stumbling on a nest of sickly mutated wombs. Wombs that were all stomachs and claws and one-eye so low on the side of their faces almost like to be almost on their necks. Barely any faces or no legs to speak of she said. ‘And these butches were so despondent they had committed the ultimate sacrilege: cutting their stomachs open, allowing The Beloved Cherubim to prematurely batwing out into the world and go slicing up everything in sight–including their mamas– before asphyxiating because their lungs weren’t fully formed. ‘

‘They’d likely only had a year of gestation. Hardly enough time to make a warrior. See those type of Cherubim, the type who weren’t soup yet, came out swinging because they instinctually know they’ll live for minutes like fruitflies, but in those minutes can do plenty damage if they’re within stabbing range. Stabbing range was nowhere most of us ever wanted to be so we were forever declining Shumeya’s offers to see Harlem by night, to go out in the urban bush where all sorts of such wild things were.

Staying out of stabbing range was reason enough, but an even greater fear  was of Shumeya ditching my ass if it came to that. Of me maybe moving too slow or too suddenly or too stiffly or me being too tongue-tied or too graceless to be saved–fat bull in the china shop unable to find grace in a space where every swish of my nervous tail was likely to destroy things by barely grazing. Besides, Shumeya being a friend and so generous with her storytelling, how I could enjoy her tales without having to have any of my own and so I thought, Why risk a predicament?

There was also plenty to do in our house when the sun went down. There were games and gossip and sewing teams and bakeoffs. And every so often Shumeya might bring a boy creature home for us to molest and harrass through a hole in the fence in the alley before one of our midwives came after him with a pitchfork and a broom, making us all sigh about the big fish that got away.. Those were good times. The times before we allowed Babylonia Free to wander in and turn the Wombs into enemies of the state.

The wombs, who had never hurt nobody that hadn’t annoyed them first.

But Babylonia had made us enemies of her mother Nada, the mayor of Gotham, who decided we and our Beloved Cherubim to be a clear and present danger to the smooth running of civilization. And that was that. Same as it ever was with those evil Frees.

Crazy Babylonia. We used to see her out the looking for the dick and the head and laugh.We laughed the way kids anywhere laugh when they catch sight of a woman who’s fallen to the base of the evolutionary tree. Fallen down so hard she can’t get up.

You can’t put fallen women in front of children and not expect them to erupt in mockery. Nothing is more guaranteed to provoke the evil, mocking laughter of children than the sight of a fallen woman. We didn’t need to know anything about this womans’ life, her

pain, what had caused her fall, nor did we care to find out. All we knew was that her name was Babylonia Free and that she was so ridiculous she made us laugh.

Babylonia had put posters up all over the neighborhood about her slain lover, Black Snake Sick Head. This Black Snake Dick Head was said to have been assassinated by parties unknown though even then she had to know it was at her mother’s behest. In any event these parties had sliced and diced his body up into 14 equal segments. Twelve of these were wrapped in butcher paper and deposited on her doorstep. The missing pieces, as illustrated on her posters, were the decapitated and castrated parts.

Everybody in the neighborhood knew that she wouldn’t stop searching for those parts until she found and buried them with the rest, or die trying. Finding the dick and the head became her mission in life before she found her way to us in misery, madness and sorrow.

Before that hardly blessed day though, Babylonia could be seen climbing down into the sewers, foraging in abandoned buildings, drunkenly wandering down the most desolate of streets. Her pursuit was relentless, left no stone unturned, observed no boundaries; was fruitless, was frenzied, was wasteful and deliriously unbecoming for such a beauty as she somehow strangely remained throughout this travail.

What did we know about such love? We knew about rape, yes, and we knew about foolish passion and could tell you a thing or two about abandonment and panic if pushed on the subject. But we had nothing to contribute to a conversation on the clauses in the romantic contract which obligate a lover to sacrifice her sanity to honor her lover.

Besides, we were on our own mission of destruction. Barefoot and pregnant, some of us were highly educated, others of us barely feeble-minded, most like moi, falling somewhere in the middle but yet, and still, we were all the prisoners of our bodies, victims of the crudest sort of biological determinism.

Babylonia’s brain might have been stewing in it’s own juices for too long but we somehow knew she was freer than we would ever be. Instrument of a self-made delirium rather than the kind that came with being violated and having nowhere else to turn but the House of Wombs.

(Sure, we could leave the Wombs anytime we wanted but for what? To exchange one locked cage for another? Trade in the bad mother figure who spit you out for the one who adopted you for the genetically altered contents of your swollen belly? Where was the choice in that? None at all, so you stick with the one who has some use for you at least.)

Once upon a time the house of The Wombs had actually been a shelter for battered women. We found documents proving this shelter had been a viable safehouse back when there were men in Harlem. (As you well know today’s young Black man avoids Harlem as much for the memories it contains as for it’s race mutation afterbirths–both products of the war their forefathers in the Quantum Black Movement had  nearly lost to The White Bodypolitic.)

The thirty of us who lived in the house had been raped and impregnated by wizened men who carried the Quantum Black sperm, the Movement’s last standing soldiers of the cause. We had arrived on the Wombs’ doorstep because we were told there really was no other choice after such a dreadful occurrence and because we believed the myth: that our only other option was death by spontaneous combustion in the third trimester.

My best friend Amaretto claims to have seen such an event, though my midwife Queen Moor later told me, after Harlem had been turned to ashes, that this was nothing but a lie the State had put out to insure that all those so violated would march straight into a state-run natal care facility rather than the House of Wombs.

The girls Amaretto  had seen were likely women who had made the wrong choice.

Amaretto persisted in the lie even after I told of her of Queen Morr’s take. Mainly because she’d attached a good story to this lie and had told it so often and so well that to her audience it had become as essential to her mythos as the sound of the and the falling and proverbial unseen  tree in the forest.

Her belly was just about ready to pop”, Amaretto says. “Thing drooping down to her knees. Lady felt so heavy dragging that thing around she couldn’t stand up straight. Like Pithecanthropus Erectus she had to stoop and crawl with every step she walked.

So she crawled into a hole in the lobby of this abandoned apartment building. Laid down shaking. Got to feeling that starvation and passed out, lost consciousness and shit. Then she woke up sweating, in a panic, started steaming and sparking, caught fire, burnt to a crisp. I seen it all. You know I even got the footage to prove it all back home. Say I don’t.”

Back home was Nebraska, was Toronto, was Pontaic, was Stoopenville, Pittsburgh, Wilmington, Cherry Hill, wherever Amaretto decided to arrive from in her storytelling on a given night. During my seven years carrying weight for the Wombs, I was second youngest after Amaretto, my junior by two and a quarter years.

Amaretto had huge globular eyes that poked out of their sockets like a Japanese cartoon character and extremely long eyelashes whose shadows fell so long on her face they looked like tall grass pushing up and flung back by a strong wind somewhere way out in the wild. Those eyes of hers were so unreal, so big, wet and Bambi-ish with extra large egg-size whites. Two milky pools hypnotically swirling around two stark islands of hazel moss.

I remember the day she came to the House so vividly. Breaking wind the second she stepped across the threshold, dragging the floor with this raggedy scarred brown leather floorlength coat that draped around her ankles and made her look like she had dooky-drawers. Big belly poking out from under this too-tight halter top which seemed descended from a tore-up Puerto Rican flag. The sheer sight of her got me immediately happy. See, I was 15. The next oldest girl after me was 19. We’re talking a

gulf of years so vast not even blood ties would have drawn us closer.

Soon as I saw Amaretto I realized it is so much easier to invent a little sister out of virgin cloth than lay claim to a real bigger one. Because with that big one, no matter how desperately you grab at her ankles and embrace the back kick of rejection, that big old half grown girl think she a woman aint never gonna be no real sister to you.

Amaretto I instantly knew was all mine.

Like all of us Amaretto had issues with this space- time continuum. Unlike most of us she decided to do something about it. See, Amaretto took to living, when she chose to, in a pocket universe of her own making. This allowed her to observe the world at an angle that displayed information well-concealed from the rest of us.

In other words she liked to trip out on occasion.

Like you’d be sitting on the galvanized toilet bench with her in the dark and all of sudden she’d saysomething weird like “Here they come, Calletta Those happy girls with the smiling faces. The girls with the ruffled shirts and pleated plaid skirts. I bet they’d like to carve a notch in my brother Harold’s banana. But Harold refuses to be a victim anymore. Harold used to be in their gang but they violated him and so Harold has no balls, and therefore Harold refuses to be a victim anymore.

Now you know Calletta, I don’t mind being a victim. You know I want to go to Mars so bad I’d sleep with an army of sailors like Mz Tralala-la-la- la-la. Two times, even. Girl you know I’d get gangbanged overtime in a heartbeat if it would only get me to heaven. Some people gonna say `That was just plain silly’ because they’ll say you could purchase a ticket for pennies these days, just real cheap. But you know Calletta I don’t want to go to Mars without my drugs and you know if you go with gangbanging sailors then your drugs can come with you too.”

Amaretto and I had the same taste in psychedelics. Actually all the Wombs except Shumeya liked the same thing–Temporal Lobe.

We liked it best because it scrambled your days into random patterns.

Made you confuse a couple of your yesterdays with about three of your tomorrows.

It induced narcolepsy and vomiting but kept you from feeling trapped in the repetitions of the House of Wombs, with its long, locked-in bookings of nights and days.

Lobe is also a prophesy drug.

Lobe is how I know that thirty years from now when they tell our story, they’ll it differently from how I’m telling it to you now. and that it won’t even be our story, that it’ll be the story of Babylonia Free and  she who’ll tell the story of me won’t know a damn thing about what she’s talking about, but because I’ll be dead and the she who’ll tell the story of me will be but half dead, and clinical in her reasoning, and emotionally detached and incredibly more determined than I ever was to misunderstand the whole truth.

She’ll also jot down notes to herself that say things like “A revolution is like a novel. You can start anywhere as long as you overcome the terror of starting at all”

And this confused and conflicted little one, she will also be trying to imagine herself as me in her notes and she will fail miserably. She will be unable to find words that ring true and adequately express my experience. but even so she will still go on scribbling her error packed fictions in the filthy parlor of her great aunt’s house while waiting for her other aunts to arrive.

(Note to self: Remark on the narcissism and reliability of the so-called unreliable narrator. Reliable because you know everything she says is a lie.)

***   APPENDIX A: YOU CAN BUILD AND BONE YOUR CIPHER.

   Samuel Valerian nee Black Snake Dick Head became known during the Quantum Black Movement’s  war against The White Bodypolitic as the most significant combat photographer the Movement was to produce.  He was also, for a time, one of my grandfather Mandela Aint Free nee Bono Pruitt’s closest associates. This friendship actually predated the formation of grandfather’s Quantum Black Movement by several years. The following interview concerns itself with Mr. Dick Head’s first meeting with Mandela at grandfather’s debut exhibition at the Andrea Rosen fils Gallery. I’ve chosen to share this transcript with Artforum subscribers because of the magazines longstanding support of my grandfather’s work and it’s continuing patronage of my fledgling efforts  researching his life, art and activism. Some readers already know that Mr. Dick Head was rediscovered, reconstructed and reactivated by me after three years of arduously and assiduously tracking down the dis-assembled and widely scattered parts of his mutilated bionic bodyparts, all considered lost since the Race Wars. In seeking out his remains, I only sought to reconstruct them in the interest of art history and science. Nothing in my reading about this magnificent man prepared me for the lucidity of his memory, the scalpeled edge of his wit or the charms of his conversation. Those who crave more details will have to await my next book, Fables of A Nigger Faustus or Whatever Happened To The Quantum Black Movement On The Way To Becoming A MOMA-Fucker, scheduled for publication in the spring of next year.

BABYLONIA:You left the Quantum Black Movement  at a critical juncture–just prior to the Movement’s transition from the symbolic and gestural Style Wars phase to the soft-target  Race Wars period. It’s been said Mandela threatened you with death if you left the organization.Did he believe you’d betray the Movement to the white bodypolitic?

BSDH: Click bang, what a hang, your granddaddy just shot poor me. By that time the question wasn’t who Mandela wanted dead but who he thought still deserved to live. Just about every living thing reeked of cowardice, connivance and corruption in his eyes.  He tried to quarantine me  in Harlem until certain operations were completed. I was not having it. I could read the handwriting on the wall. I did not want to be there when the white bodypolitic swept through Harlem  the way Sherman had swept through Atlanta.  Of course Mandela beat them to it. As prescient as my escape was , I ended up going back to shoot the whole shebang for my agency anyhow. And, as you can see, lost my humanity in the process.

BABYLONIA: Give me your opinion on Mandela as a military strategist.

BSDH: In those days I thought Mandela was a revolutionary manque. History has proven me incorrect. He was clearly as much of a military genius as he was an artistic one. Just not very good on the managerial slash political infighting side of things unfortunately.

BABYLONIA: What brought you two together initially?

BSDH: Oh his art work, of course. No doubt about that. I was there at his first exhibition like every other would-be hip Gothamite, black, white, or indifferent. Hysteria had been mounting for months. See, no one but his assistants and his dealer had seen the work in development. The dealer, not a woman usually given to hyperbole, claimed Mandela’s work was the most important formal breakthrough in the plastic arts since Cubism, liberating the visual field as it were, from the wall to the genome. Like Cubism the work was more shocking in form than content, though that’s debatable by somebody’s ethical standards  I suppose.

BABYLONIA:That sort of market-driven manipulation was all it took to get jaded New Yorkers out of their summer homes back then?

BSDH:Other bits of information about the artist leaked out in dribs and drabs. All deliberately blown  into the atmosphere by the dealer, of course. We found out, for example,  that Mandela was a former student of genetic software pioneer Camelot Drexel, that he had a degree in cosmetic surgery and that he had come to art-making for political reasons. We also heard that his politics were a throwback to 20th century black cultural nationalism. And so on. It was rumoured he had wanted to mount a piece at the Chicago Art Institute with his own castrated penis and had been expelled for merely proposing the idea. We didn’t know for certain that he was a brother until those first photographs appeared in Flash Art. You’ve seen them of course, the blurry black and whites  vaguely reminiscent of Joel Peter-Witkins work, and Gerhard Richter’s Bader-Meinhof series.  Mandela crouching with his back to the camera in a Frankenstein lab setting, Mandela leaning on table teaming with maggots and  recently cut clumps of Negroid hair, micro-surgical implements at the ready, Mandela posed against a smudgy pile of humanoid figures stacked in a manner evocative of the mass graves the brothers discovered at  Auschwitz.  With all those gothic trimmings you could almost have missed the creepy and provocative title etched into invite’s black area:Reparations 1-9, Courtesy of The Black Mengeles.

BABYLONIA:What were your first impressions of the man from those pictures.

BSDH: From the git-go I thought Mandela was strikingly ugly. What with that half bald, badly shaved cadaverous head of his, and those ratty braided-hair implants. Not to mention the broad barrel chest way out of proportion to that puny neck. Everything about him was way out of proportion. He was Victor Von Frankenstin and the monster too. A genius who looked stitched together from the body parts of many deceased men. He had the thick forearms of a longshoreman but then such delicate, spidery fingers too–they wouldn’t have been misplaced on a concert pianist. He also had soft watery eyes–crinkly-winkly, just like a Santa Claus, only maybe more discriminating. Eyes all the more chilling for being set under those bushy demonic eyebrows. Mother Nature had clearly had a field day when she blew breath into the form of Bono Pruitt a.k.a. Mandela Aint Free. I’m sure his own physiognomy made it easy for him to freely imagine recombinating someone else’s.

BABYLONIA: Tell all you can remember about the opening night of the Reparations exhibition.

BSDH:There were lines stretching down the boulevard for a good seven blocks. No more than fifteen people at a time were allowed in to view the show–that took about 30 minutes at the brisk pace the guards ushered you along at. My party arrived fashionably late, so you can imagine how long it took us to get in.

BABYLONIA: Were there people out on the street talking about the work when you arrived?

BSDH:No, because the dealer had made special arrangements to house each procession of patrons in a warehouse until all had gone through. We also had to sign consent forms to this lockdown before being allowed into the show. The point was to build a critical mass, heighten the tension and mystery and not spoil the element of surprise for others. In the waiting rooms there was a squadron of security dressed in uniforms resembling those of Kurdish warriors. They escorted you to the restrooms, fed you, or got you out of the building to a private ambulance– if you had, as many did, a medical emergency. Extreme nausea mostly.

BABYLONIA: What was your response to the exhibition?

BSDH:I just made it in with the very last group to be admitted in that day.

Since the groundfloor windows were frosted black we had no way of knowing it was pitch black inside as well. Luminous strips on the floor served as an illuminated footpath. The path led you to a roped-off, white-curtained area  that glowed from within and almost possessed an ultraviolet radiance. Suddenly the curtains parted and all that stood between us and the work were the veils covering the entrances to the shows nine exhibition rooms. Each exhibit–or specimen in Mandela’s parlance– was on display behind glass. Among them was his most famous one, then titled Cultural Properties,  but later renamed Cubist Face Bitch. It or really she was blonde, heavily Nordic featured, half seated, half standing on a surgical table with her back to us.  Her figure was lithe and stately.

 A spotlight was trained on her rippling back and revealed it to be hideously disfigured. I mean the woman’s flesh had literally been scraped, shredded, torn to shreds. We’re talking a lunar surface of scars, welts, bruises, peeling rolls of dessicated skin. After a minute or so a levitating hologram came into view beside her. It held a replica of the infamous 19th century portrait of an ex-slave named Gordon. Gordon had been a gentleman perhaps in his early 50s when the photograph was taken. His nose was aquiline, his posture  stoic yet almost effeminate. He and the blonde were posed in exactly the same way and the scarring on his back had clearly served as the model for the work done on hers. Several epiphanies came to me at once. The exacting quality of the scar tissue reproduction, the nobility of long suffering Gordon combined with his utter lack of shame, rage or visible melancholia. It was as if the violence done to him had only heightened his regality. It brought to mind Toni Morrison’s comment that the remarkable thing about slavery was that beastial treatment had not turned us into a beastial people. Ironically, it would take commodity-fetishism to perform that Americanizing deformation on our folk. The disposessed becoming demonically possessed by their desires for factory-wrought possessions.

BABYLONIA:Elaborate, if you will, on how that idea resounds through Mandela’s art.

BSDH:All of Mandelas work was a critique of the Americanization of the African soul, both the voluntary and involuntary forms of that corruption, and most especially the genetic.

BABYLONIA:Continue on about the show.

BSDH:The blonde pivoted around so that we might see her facial features. Her nose had been scraped off–a homage I immediately knew, to the nasty bit of work Napoleon  had performed on The Sphinx at Geza. She only had one eye, positioned on the far right side of her face. It was streaked, outlined and adorned with kohl, Egyptian style. After a few seconds the lights suddenly dimmed on that spectacle and we were all left violently, nakedly , aware of our selves. Our shaken, shuddering selves. The second curtain parted and we saw a living tableaux, a black man and a  white  woman in togas.An overhead lamp flicked on to reveal that they were Siamese twins, joined together from the hips to the lower cranium.  A caption floated in the air besides them–“Integration is Misegenation is Mutation”. The couple blithely toasted us before their mis-en-scene faded to black. The next installation displayed a movie screen after the curtains went up. When the film began running we were shown Mandela in a doctors smock holding a chalkboard pointer. Titles came up reading Mirror, Mirror Who’s the fairest of them all? A very pregnant white woman who could have been blonde before the surgery lay on a canopy bed. The camera moved in for an extreme close-up on her exposed belly. Her torso dissolved to a vibrant color field  and we were taken inside her womb. She was carrying twins, one black, one white Both were male. In a time elasped sequence the black child grew monstrously larger than his white brother and threatened to crush him at any second. We braced ourselves for the worst, but the film ran out and thrust us back into our stinking fear. We heard the spinning and twirling sound of an empty film reel and it’s full cousin whose celluloid tail had taken to air, flapping away as it made it’s final revolutions . To say we were shocked, outraged, enraged and energized by Mandela’s work would be an understatement. We felt terrorized and victimized. More by the how of the exhibit than even the why. We knew tortured living flesh had been put forth for our delectation. Flesh transformed by monstrous science and artful skill into an objet d’art by an inhuman visionary and racist lunatic. Was the work done under threat of death or done with the consent of the participants? Were those twins real or a  graphic hallucination?  Were these objectified subjects of experimentation, victims or sadomasochists? Was the work reversible? I had to know. It seemed unconscienable,  and even preposterous, that these ‘works’ were on sale. Yet each  was tagged and priced–a parade of mutilated, mutated  and deformed human flesh available for purchase by well endowed customers. The systematic fury of Mandela’s project went beyond nihilism in its vicious denial of human dignity. I knew by then my dear sweet Babylonia that your grand father was the most diabolically brilliant man I would ever meet. I also knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life documenting his career and working methods. I’ve had more insane ideas since, if you can believe that. Excerpted and abridged from interviews Babylonia Free conducted with Black Snake Dick Head  as originally published in the Winter Solstice Special Race Issue of Artforum.

The Virtual Sex Lives of Famous Negro Artists by Greg Tate

THE VIRTUAL SEX LIVES OF FAMOUS NEGRO ARTISTS.

Chatter One

kjm-web-image    

 

All famous negro artists studios are the same–a droning  hubub of syncophantic housenigga activity–except when they’re not the same at all, and are in fact more like that of some doomed  and unhappy Czarist family After The Revolution Comes. Citadels of fear and gloom akin to some Thing escaped howling mad from the pages of  Tolstoy and Nabakov only to be cut-up with Burroughsian savor faire by a snap queen with a flinty arrow.  

    Neither description quite applied to the generally smooth-running operation of my Straw Boss and Artworld Dungeon Mistress Lillian Robeson ( distant cousin to Paul, by marriage, in case anyone cares).  Especially on those wild weekends when Lillian chose to import a select cast of  roustabouts, ruffians, roughnecks,  poseurs, and harlots high and low,  to role-play for her next body of  exquisitely demented and pornogrpahic short films and photographic projects. 

      This motley crew was partly culled from her social circle–all the celebrity chef, friends, neighbors and collectors you’d expect. This group was then. liberally  filled out with a dozen or so random characters chosen with care by one of Lillian’s fearless and intrepid street-teams. 

   On any given weekend these intrepid fishers of hipsters might be seen beating  the pavement on Lillian’s behalf in what  we all know is world’s most  fashion forward cattle-call, New York Shitty. The Big City of screams, dreams and the aforementioned snap-queens.

  

      It was not Lillian who first took to calling them her Cool Seeking Missiles, No, that was me, tongue in cheek, of course —I’m generally  hardly that corny. But once it got out to the media, the Cool Seeking Missiles barely  had to recruit for members. After all, who doesn’t want to be told they’re cool enough to decide who else in Gotham is cool enough too? (Most of you are just a clipboard away from becoming clip-board Nazi, or would be if given the opportunity.)

  

       I had gotten my own start with Lillian way before I thought of a name for the CSM. This would’ve been way back  in the late 90s when I was  still at Pratt. From there I slowly worked my way inside the holy House  of Lillian’s Love . By the turn of the century I had graduated in true Winky Dinky Dog  fashion (Google  Hollywood Shuffle ) from Assistant to Assistant Crew Chief to Lillian’s Second Chief Studio Assistant. 

      Before we’d even gotten halfway into the new century’s first decade  I was enjoying my  second year  as the boss’s Studio Manager. I’m now known worldwide as  the second most tenured and powerful employee in Lillian’s operation. This, in arttworld terms,  is a position s roughly equivalent on a scale of Being and Nothingness to being somewhere between pretty hot shit —though not my personal mountaintop— and being one of the best paid  flunkies of Famous Negress Artiste in all of tarnation. 

       No applause  please, (though thanks for the fawning appreciation), but it really don’t mean jack to me other than a health plan and a paycheck, and okay, sometimes more monkey-shine ass fun than you can can shake a barrel of banana peels at. 

        I do sometimes wish I  felt more like  the  last guy to leave the second classic Miles Davis Quintet. Like  say, That Major Dude  Herbie Hancock before he went off to form the Headhunters or Wayne Shorter before  he slipped into Weather Report. Course Being All Thats  would imply I had enough cache to just up and leave after 5 years and jumpstart my own faltering career. Uh, no, I don’t think it’s  going down like that anytime soon.

     Instead my position in Lillian’s world was caught in a holding pattern. Destined I fear to be more like that of your friend the lifetime grad student: You know who I mean—the guy  still holding down an associate librarian position at the same Ivy League university where he was on year eight of his incomplete  dissertation entitled ‘’Tragic Magic Realism,  Creative Mutilation in the Village ‘Literatures’ of  Romare Bearden and Toni Morrison”.  

        In other words my high-posting job was a no-brainer in service to real genius. A gig  requiring little original research, thought, or imagination. One exactly  like an academic  work of staggering banality destined to disappear on contact with air and which no one, not even the author ever expects to be mistaken for some heartbreaking work of deep, dark Stygian genus. 

       In other words I was like so many of my peers;  stuck in my mid to late 30s sucking air in a studio assistant gig while waiting for a better idea  or two to show up in my own work.  

Therefore I will  likely spend the rest of my 30s praying I’m  not doomed to spend my 40s caught up in Lillian’s tractor beam. 

I certainly didn’t want to end up like her beloved pater famlias Patrick. 

  

        Monsieur Patrick was many things to The Missus Lillian. He held many titles and attributes in her queendom. He was, variously, depending on day and task at hand,  her stalwart Man Friday,  her very own grey-haired eminence, her deliver-of-offers one shouldn’t refuse consigliere a la Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen in The Godfather, her debonair head assassin a la  Geoffrey Rush’s swashbuckling protector of  Elizabeth’s throne, 

         

    Among my top five New York nightmares was Patrick suddenly abdicating his place beside  Lilian’s throne, and announcing an emergency retirement. 

     Patrick had been attached to Lillian since oh, forever and a day. They had known each other since about when exactly? At least as far back as her early 20s when she first began showing and selling her student work hot out of grad school  way back in the late 80s.  

         Patrick related to us that  he’d found his way to Lillian via her friend Allegra, a Nigerian writer who’d introduced Lil  to her uncle Pat, recently returned  from  a twenty year exile in Algeria after experiencing a major broken heart after his lover of  35 years  had died in his arms from a sudden and merciless malady.  (About this catastrophe one  infamously bitchy studio assistant had taken to dubbing  any recounting of Patricks trauma  as ‘The Algerian Hotel Incident ‘. When this bad bit of comic relief was traced back to him the poor fellow wasn’t just asked to leave, he was shown the door with a royal foot up his ass, courtesy of Patrick).

  Allegra had related Patrick’s wrenching  loss to Lillian before she knew her  beloved Uncle was coming to New York on business. When they were first introduced it was Gay Dad/Genius Negress/Gay Daddy-daughter love at first sight for those two.

    Patrick reminded Lillian of her own Dad– a  retired gentleman of leisure who’d passed on two years prior to their meeting; Lillian  reminding him of the daughter he’d help conceive but had never gotten to  know. 

    (The only woman Patrick had ever slept with way way way back in the late 60s was his common-law hippie wife, Marsha Beth Janowitz, a woman who’d  turned Jesus Freak and then Jehovah’s Witness before moving  to Guam with their infant daughter,  Persephone Prometheus,  in the mid 70s. Ostensibly  to build  digital village wells and sewage treatment plants in the name of The Redeemer. Last Patrick had  heard there was an entire section of rainforest named after Marsha Beth. About Prpsephone Promoteus, who by now was 48, he had heard nothing in decades.)

        Thanks to Patrick’s stern forbidding presence the death rattle of paparazzi-attracting fame and instant celebrity misfortune that had attempted to stalk Lillian’s early success had been kept at bay for almost two decades now. 

     Patrick’s  Mafia-like readiness to ‘take out the garbage’ had allowed Lillian to focus on not ever repeating herself—more or less like her only artworld idol, David Hammons who’d also never repeated himself. (Hammons, David, b. Chicago, 1945, came to fame in Los Angeles in the late 60s with his ‘body-print’ series,  portraiture involving ink,paper, live bodies and vaseiline; moved to New York and Harlem in 1975, still continues to make work using a plethora of unconventional materials such as grocery bags, lice-ridden hair from barbershop floors, telephone poles, basketall hoops, chandeliers, bottle caps, two tears in a  bucket,  hand made perfectly round snowballs and big well-rounded balls of elephant dung). 

   Thanks to Lillian’s gratitude for her continued sanity, Patrick’s nurturing and protective Papa Bear persona was given a place to heal for life from the loss of his beloved Thomas. 

       Lillian also gave Patrick the license to ill on or  stiff arm  any fool who brought a whiff of haterade or distraction to her door-step. 

Note that this permission to dissuade unwelcome visitors  extended not only to friends, family, neighbors, fellow artists, curators and even collectors, but also to the occasional ex-lover who didnt know his or her shelf life was up.  

Patrick, in a word, was no-joke.

      He enjoyed his power, his position and the intimidation factor that he  loved exuding with it. If it didn’t make up for his grievous loss it certainly gave him a reason to do more than just get up and stay mad at god and the world in the  morning.

          No one wished Patrick eternal life more than me, not even Lillian. Simply because the utter collapse of my own career ambitions ( creative and social, inside and well beyond the studio) could stay well hidden behind Patricks’s robust alpha dominance of Lillian’s life,  As long as Patrick’s haploid heart kept beating  my own long-running contribution of service in Lillian’s employ continued to be obscured, opaque, mystifying, even. 

   So when I,  with a straight face, would croon  ‘pay is good/ health care superb/for sure/ but mainly I’m just doing this part-time to keep the lights on in my own studio’ nobody questioned what I was doing or not doing in the pursuit of my own shit.

(Being in the shadow of some else’s success is annoying but not intolerable; being in the shadow of genius is simply debilitating. I’m here to testify). 

     

   As long as Patrick remained  large and in charge,  nobody outside the ranks had to know the real  truth. That I had become as indispensable and dependent upon Lillian’s workflow as Patrick. Or that I  more and more functioned in his stead–misdirecting the clamoring hordes who would come knocking for Lillian’s attention when Patrick made his yearly return to Africa around the crucial time of late  August to mourn  at Thomas’ gravesite. 

     A trip always  un-propitiously set just when all those  last little things had to be finalized for Lillian’s fall exhibitions, of which there usually three about to go down in far-apart region of the globe.

         Only enough of all this and that about Patrick and me. Because in no way shape or form am I trying to surreptitiously tell my story through Lillian’s (that would be a short story indeed). Because as we all know the true center of the universe, and of our story, is the fabulous Lillian and  those wildass production weekends of  hers. Events of which much has been speculated and  which very little has ever been written that I’d consider accurate, or  even very much revealing.

     Just so you know: Now the big question for me before I took this assignment at Lillian’s request was exactly which of those wild weekends I felt warranted being presented for  public inspection and schadenfreude. 

     While it would have been easier to choose from one of a more ancient vintage– given that many of the principals are (as fate would have it) beyond caring, seeing as how they’re all presently either too wealthy, too forgotten, too high or too dead to care— how much fun would they really be for today’s mass audience?  

Yes I’m talking about all you vaguely curious too-smart-for your-britches  post teen and tween folk living in the pop-cultural here and now.   

      What I’ve decided is that  instead of taking you way back, I’ve chosen to take you back only three  years. Practically a full-on epoch in pop cultural terms I know, but certainly not an entire cultural millennia by any stretch. 

 

    Having been in attendance  at a decades worth of Lillian’s shoots, I think I can safely  say, and with a total lack of exaggeration, that most of  her wildass production weekends have been  quite wildassedly predictable in terms of their general salaciousness quotient. 

    By which I mean nearly any one of them could provide all the predictable amounts of nudity, drunkenness, obscenity and otherwise lewd and lascivious behaviors necessary to keep the blogosphere near bursting with scandalous celeb-on-celeb crimes, misdemeanors and peccadilloes. Thus keeping our culture’s 24 hour gossip cycle satisfied for easily a fortnight. 

    Yet,  while any of those wildass production weekends might easily answer what happens when hordes of the beautiful and the damned get incestuously corralled in a controlled environment for a few intoxicating days of butt-nekkid simulated love-making and revelry, the weekend I’ve chosen has special significance.  Less for who was zooming who and more because it was the one and only one to  ever be shaken and stirred by the quite Jane Austenesque appearance of Lillian’s own proverbial madwoman in the attic, her sibling Sybil, Jack, Lillian’s  certifiably batty  and once believed lost-in-the Amazon baby-sister nee Jacqueline.

     On the weekend-in-question,  Jack  turned out to be neither lost nor lacking in familial  over-familiarity when she showed up at Lillian’s  door demanding not only a place at the table of Lillian’s success but a room of her own with studio privileges to boot. 

(What happens to a dream deferred? These days it shows up on your doorstep in rags posturing like the cock of the walk and expects to be treated like a queen).

   Two years earlier Jack had virtually vanished beneath the family’s radar. An event which alarmed no one one since it meant she was less likely to come mooching and marauding at their doorsteps..

    Jack was last thought to have descended into a romantic maelstrom of her own devise with her man at the time, Bryan Lorq  Byron Jones— fledgling first-novelist, intrepid globetrotter and bon vivant. A macho and controlling kind of brother  who was allegedly  requiring that jack  play a damnably Eurydice/Marpessa Dawn outlaw-sidekickitype chick type role to his  Orphic loser/Orwell-in-London fantasies of living in  Sao Paulo’s favelas until he finished his bold and deviant novelization of  the bold and deviant 1970s  cult film classic Touki-Bouki by Senegalese director magnifique Djibril Diop Mambéty.

      Somehow, as it turned out, in Jack and  Bryan Lorq Byron Jones’ version of the Greeks favorite doomed-love myth that Eurydice would walk out of hell alive  while Orpheus stayed behind,  snugly and smugly waxing lyrical odes to his own class-traitor demons. 

But in the brief time she and Lorq Byron spent in  Sao Paulo’s high-tech maroon colonies on the hill, they were routinely shot at, robbed, beaten, raided,  nd made to up and runoff in the middle of the night on  numerous occasions. 

       Three years into these misadventures however, Jones  finally finished his adaptation. Thats when, much to Jack’s aghast and chagrin, the rebel-couple’s real journey into nightmare began, from Jack’s  radically precious perspective.

       Lorq Byron not only became a lauded African American first–as in First Nigra from the states to write a Brasilian bestseller based on an obscure West African flick  from the 70s (about a bohemian Bonnie and Clyde who robbed not banks but  the closets of closeted African dandies) but also promptly turned, in the glittering spotlight of this bourgeoisie-titillating  accomplishment, into an upright model citizen and upwardly mobile moldy fig.  

         In a nutshell, Jones’ surprise success and near instant embrace of literary fame and foppery  was the ultimate buzz kill for  Jack.  The beginning of their end, as it were, for her and Mr Jones,  who clearly did not know what was going on in her head, heart or loins.  

         

    Because while Jack was cool with being shot at  (‘the price of ticket, baby’ she liked to say) she had never signed up to be the  muse of  a ” nerdy hi- society coon’ as she put it. 

      Simply put, the Inferno had run it’s course and Paradise was a mite too dull and petit-bourgeois  for Jack’s liking. And so it was that she decided to once again to find herself  back at Lillian’s front door. As good a place as any  for her to once again embrace The  Cause —provoking  maximum chaos and mayhem among the gilded  set.  Not to mention  Lillian;s being a place  where she was sure her appetite for destruction would be both enabled if not  fully appreciated.

     As Jack’s always outstanding luck would have it,  babysis chose to arrived unexpected and unannounced on the same Friday  afternoon when  Patrick and I were  both  out at different airports picking up two cast members–Lucinda and Oh Oh–a once happy go lucky couple  recently romantically severed torn asunder and unjoined at the hip. The pair had of of course booked their flight together during better days of wine and posturing together. As of the previous week they  had suddenly become unable to imagine even breathing the same rank airflight oxygen nitrogen compounds. 

     By the time Lillian’s shoot came around, Lucinda and Oh Oh had decided that while neither wanted to toss-away all the cool cache and free publicity they’d automatically accrue from being in a Lillian exhibition, neither of them cared  to share  First Class accommodations  from Costa Rica to  Houston to JFK. 

     So while I was just scurrying past La Guardia on the road to JFK and Patrick was halfway between Newark and North Bumblefuck,New Jersey, Jack, once again out-the-box, was suddenly in Lillian’s face, materializing out of the blue, like a combo Tasmanian tornado / Lovecraftean ‘colour out of space’  Prompting Lillian to blurt run on sentences on the order of  ‘Damn gurl you know I hate it when you do that know you liked to scare the shit outta me’ when Jack suddenly  jumped up just on the other side of Lillian’s breakfast nook window, clamoring for full access. 

   Yes, Jack, true to spooky form, was not only  ‘just there’, but there with all  the  serendipity, precision and poltergeistean disregard for locks, doors, alarm systems, crocodile filled moats, high castle walls, electrified fences and surly bigfoot bodyguards which  only the truly deranged can possess when the goal is stalking and traumatizing well-hidden and allegedly well-protected famous personages. (We ask you to recall Bjork v stalker-dude 2000, Letterman vs stalker-chick, 2003 and Thurman v. supercreepy stalker dude 2008).  

     Thus did a stunned speechless, and all-shook-up, Lillian find her personal space breached and unpreprared to repulse the breathless onslaught of  self-dramatizing doggerel and derangment which  her prodigal baby sis had come to deliver, with manic moxie to spare,  and, per usual, drunk on arrival.  

       Unstated but actually foremost among Jack’s  stated needs was a need for studio space.  The terror of this request is one which can only be fully grasped when one is made aware of  Jack’s practice and it  fully fearsome capacity to disgust:  As a visual artist Jack made works on paper using a special shellack derived from a solution of her own precious, putrid and varied bodily fluids. 

   The end product was gorgeous and not at all odoriferous but you didn’t want to be anywhere near her when she was in the throes of excremental creation. 

    I’ll spare the streaming details but having had to defumigate Jack’s quarters in Lillian’s house after Jack’s last visit six years earlier, I ‘ll simply say, I too, know why the caged bird cries Amandla! 

      So that again while this need for studio space would never be formally requested among the various items Jack demanded of house staff, Lillian knew the upshot of not being quick to offer it: Jack woulD simply camp out  on the grounds behind Lillian’s studio and go about her slimey-drippy business with a bucket in some  odd corner of the woods  until alternate arrangements were made.   

    Lillian’s Connecticut property contained a two story barn for visiting artists to do studio work, and  a 16 room, four floor, mansion where she housed her guest-cast over a long production weekend. 

     Lillian  also had another space in an abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard residential project that had gone bellyup. It had been given to Lillian for a song  after some plumbing and electrical wiring had been installed but way before much in the way of walling, painting or decorative features were anywhere near done. 

That space came to generate its own tragicomic- erotic history over the years but nothing to compare with the wild Connecticut weekends like the one in which Jack made her all-time looniest stand.

  

      Sleeping arrangements were generally handled by Patrick as he was way more knowledgeable than any of the other staff about all the current scandals involving the fabulously rich and infamous. 

          Lillian cast across the full spectrum of film, fashion, finance  and music stars of the day, as well as from any of that lot’s bratty offspring. No matter if they were famous for public sluttiness more than anything else. aface was a face as far as she was concerned, even a retread face with recessive celebrity DNA.  

  

    With as much sordid knowledge as any blogger, Patrick insured that all unnecessary drama was kept to a minimum between all those known to be recently divorced, professionally humiliated, cuckolded, or bitchslapped, by another invitee. 

      As much as possible such folk were distanced, diverted, distracted or dissuaded from crossing a potentially offended party’s path–at least as much as it was humanly possible to keep celebrity worlds from colliding on  a glorified soft-porn shoot. 

   Since Lillian herself didn’t own a television and used the Internets as little as possible( astonishingly only once a week, for 4 strict hours, on Sundays)  she knew next to nothing about who was zooming who in the wide world of celebrity cocktail sports. 

       

     This well disseminated piece of information somehow had the effect of making all who were  invited to her star studded shoots feel  safe around her–as if her media world innocence turned her weekends into a lofty media-free bubble in which they could become both classier and completely  trashier version  of themselves. How she knew most of her own celebrity friends though was less for their work (or  their 15 minutes of notoriety) and more for their collecting of her stuff. 

      Lillian did listen and follow music incessantly–primarily that of female singers, living dead and undecided, and strangely enough she also made it a point to see every movie that came out within a week, no matter how presposterously popcorn or les miserable-y   indie-depressive. 

     I  have to say  that I’ve still never ceased to be amazed by the volume of filmgoing she could manage in a week–often on the same days I saw her do  12-14 hour studio days with only a dinner break.   

     Lillian  was nothing if not disciplined though –up before dawn for Vikram yoga and pilates in the large shed  she’d had built especially for the purpose. Swimming in the man-made pond afterwards. Pumped and ready for  the studio by 9am, out no earlier than 8 most days, then off into the night to satisfy her movie jones.  

 

    The year Jack returned from the dead, Lillian’s weekend  project was  based on Kurosawa’s Seven Samauri. The plan was to reshoot a scene from every major plot point in the 4 hour story but without horses swords or cowering villagers. What would be seen instead was just a bunch of angry charcoal black pseudo Asiatics in kimonos running around smiting the air and whipping up dust before going up in a haze of simulated orgy-ing.  Think Beckett meets Jackie Chan vs. Chris Tucker meets Pornhub; think Once Upon A Time in China meets Krapp’s Last Tape meets Emanuelle in Africa. 

  Lillian later told her official biographer the piece should not be read, as many critics did, as some sort of meditation on war and death angels,’’ but instead as  a ‘depreciation’ of Duchamp and Chaplin….a homage to kicking up dust with pratfalls’….at best i myself just consider it  ‘a dust-up for dust’s sake kind of flick’. ‘’ (It was what Lillian did with the dust  in the post that of course made it Art and not pastiche.  Lillian made movies with real colorful characters saying colorful things but in every one of them her swirling miasmic digital dust storms always had the best lines.)

     The  weekend of Jacks’ return the invited guests  included Ras Cock-a-Nova and his music production partner Lil Mz Jah Jah Girl, those guaranteed annoyingly  fey tricksters The Matterhorn Twins (of late pubescent Disney Channel fame), the entire (and entirely buff) all female cast from that season’s sleeper cable hit  Amazon Deathstar (kinda like a ‘Who wants to Marry A Woman Wrestler In Space?’ type of reality dating show that combined athletic competitions and astrology readings) as well as the three person transgendered 4D sculpting  collective, Writhing Degree Zero.  

   Lillian had also planned on having  two lead vocalists and  three ‘stunt-guitarists’  from her favorite new supersilent noise band What Rough Beasts  since their debut cassette-only recording  Slouching Towards Ethel and Them  was the only thing she’d found herself able to listen to after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend Hans Mann. 

You all remember Hans right? Guy best known for next to nothing besides dating my boss– unless you count his credits as one of six co-producers  on that awful remake of Alien starring a laughably faux dykeish Nicole Kidman in the Ripley role. ( A surprisingly terrific Tyler Perry in the Yaphet Kotto role was  the flick’s saving grace though. Not only for Perry’s greasepainted performance as crewman Parker,  but  because of  Perry’s contractual-diva demand that  his character not die trying to save a screaming white woman but perish instead saving himself half-disguised in half-whiteface had blackface drag.  

   Hans  had earlier made a fool of his younger self  attempting to update Bogart in the Duke Mantee part in a badly timed remake of The Petrified Forest . His performance  was described by one critic as a ‘vacant mediocrity’. ‘

     The director likely assumed he had the next Keanu on his hands—somehow  imagining the audience wouldn’t be able  tell the difference between the smoldering vacancy of Keanu and the simply vacuous. 

      Lillian  was still pining over her beloved young movie mogul wannabee by the time  her Seven Samuari project one year later  when a sympathetic girlfriend slipped her the recherché cow-punk  aires What Rough Beast had embedded on   Slouching Towards Ethel and Them.

    As it turned out What Rough Beast  had come off a recording hiatus in the Bahamas and gone right back on the road. Because of  tour scheduling  ‘the Beast’ (as fans monikered them) would therefore arrive  a full day-and-a half after  almost everyone else was to have vacated the premises.  

     That ‘almost everyone’ however insured they too had major fun and misadventures all their own while they were under Lillian’s roof and  Jack took to landing  on  them like ,Malcolm Had said  Plymouth Rock landed on Blackfolk. 

    Though Jack was free to terrorize her sister while we were at the airport, Lillian had a trick up her sleeve for Jack. Namely the not-so-coincidental arrival of Lillian and Jack’s mother, Ann Jolene, later that evening—Mom making  a two day stop-over on her way to Aruba from Nova Scotia where she lived with her second husband who was not their father. 

     The mental respite this provided Lillian should not be underestimated. The child may be father to the man, but the mother is rarely child to the daughter, let alone  when that daughter has been reported embarrassing you in public in front ofgrwonfolk while in  full-on  lil’ bitch mode. 

  

   And so for the day and a half that Lil and Jack’s Ma, Ann Jolene, was there, Jack managed to be  quite the controlled specimen and well in control of her otherwise buckwildin’ need to produce and collect liquid and crustaceous matter from as many of her orifices as possible and  in front of as many people as possible. 

     No Mom wasnt having it. and a good thing too, since Patrick and  I had our hands full with The Matterhorn Twins once they decided they were going all out to get decked by the members of What Rough Beast. 

   {About this rude maternal  disruption of her performance ambitions Jack scribbled in her diary: ‘Again and again . Ex semper Novi Africa. Again and again. Always something new being shat out of that Africa. Again and again. New is being shat out of my mother’s tight African Ass.  Again and again. ‘I think you loved her to death mom thats what i think the problem is.’  Lillian The Good One. Running home to tell Mother Africa about what a shit I am. The same Mother Africa who shoves me out the door. Always. Again and again. Out of our Mother Africa never is heard a kind word about Jack. But Jack is back, blacker than before and twice as darker. Nobody does black like Jack.Who shats the blackest shat of them all.’’ }

 The Matterhorn vs Beast contretemos was mostly  for a stupid and provocative combination of  offenses that included card cheating and cockblocking. Had I been asked I would have told The Matterhorns, ‘’Please pick one tactic or the other when you want to chump two long-bearded Southern-deviant looking dudes with your Matterhorn foppery’’—but nobody asked me shit.

    There was already a good chance at least one of the Matterhorn Twins was going to be hospitalized by the time Patrick and I got wind of the fisticuffs in the making. 

    I actually did get  a slight concussion from a glancing blow intended for Matterhorn B when I decided I’d dive in between him and Rough Beast number 7—a miffed smack to the dome that would have caused my 220 pounds far less damage than it would a Matterhorn. Fun stuff.

      Patrick being Patrick he had one Matterhorn and one Beast each in a headlock, his macho fabulosity never ceasing to shock and awe other men in those tense sort of situations.

     When the Matterhorn and the Rough Beast both stopped wriggling in his ironclad grip, he let them go, giving each a proper shove in opposite directions. They both looked glad for the opportunity to sit their asses down on the floor and suck up some  air.  

Patrick came over, sat between them, and advised they   pick themselves up, dust themselves off,  and go to their rooms sensibly or be prepared to be tossed out on their ears in the dead of night. 

       Behind the whole fracas was that Once Upon A Time  Matterhorn A had tried to a  woman favored by  the Beasts who had come up to the shoot with a  Harlem dance troupe. She had spurned the Matterhorn; he had never gotten over  the ego-bruising.  Not long after Matterhorn A had seen on media  that the Beast’s lead singer had taken a fancy to her. She was pretty typical rock star girlfriend fare as far as willowy and pouty goes, Sister Grrrl version of a Milla Jovovich/ Keira Knightley type but tough and smart like them, definitely not a bimbo, far from it.  

    I think she made music too but mostly she wrote books–I’d read a couple–short tense romances, very Japanese in that way, always about giddy young women with fragile psyches and big hearts in a world of trouble. 

      In any event Matterhorn B not A had made it his business to sulk and stalk and stare at her from the moment he saw what his brother saw–some long haired freaky mulatto alt-country- boy going ga-ga and moving within tongue-swapping range of his  ex-Nubian Queen in that bizarrely proprietary way that only angry black men who generally  only date white girls can affect when we’re confronted with the sight of some random longhaired half breed looking cracker ogling and canoodling with  the first and last black girl who’d ever broken their merrily miscegenating hearts. 

      After about the third time the  Beast dude noticed  Matterhorn A hovering around and went  to ask him what was up The Matterhorn had made the mistake of thinking he was going to clown some  country bumpkin with jungle fever.

    As for the pouty and willowy brown cause of all the bolo-tossing heads-up consternation, she managed, after watching all the aforementioned conflamma go down, to then avoid all things Beast and all things Matterhorn for the rest of the weekend. As if together they all formed  one rabid cloven hoof carrying wildseed strains of the Ebola virus.  

       She didn’t need the drama and  neither did Patrick,myself or Lillian.  Last thing we all needed, in fact, was some toxic hemmoraging of the moment into a full scale rockboy bitch-spat on her behalf while Jack was on the prowl.   

     { FYI Unfortunately it was me who got fixated on the pouty and willowy one after that, another side story for another day though i will say something in the way she moved me can be attributed to  what I can freely identify as my innate and longstanding fascination with any woman capable of casually provoking four doggish studmuffins like the Matterhorns and the Beasts to mutually assured destruction and then not even caring. The kind of forewoman who can then just  as casually slink away from the bloody scene like she was as disinterested as anyone. A total innocent bystander in her mind and no more at the center of the rumpus than the current temperature  in Bangkok.

     In her case, I have to also admit I  was quite a bit more than ‘fascinated’,  but somehow still managed to keep those naughty feelings on the low while Lillian’s shoot that weekend was in need of my full, well-paid, attention. 

YOUR BOY LOST

YOUR BOY LOST
Listen Honey— Is your older brother dead?  He probably been dead a along time right?
I havent seem him for a long time.
He moved away?
He got the fuck away from me.
I know what that is.
Really? I think you dont know more now than you knew before you went off to the joint.
You might need me to get the fuck away from you too.
Aint nobody scared of you you old con job.
Way i see it that  works in my favor and not against it,right?
What you care about what Eric is doing now?
Up the way  I was given a message for him. Told it had to go straight from my mouth to his ears. From these lips to The God hisself as it were.
What if god is dead?
Then the word intended for The God will have died with him too.
We could go round like this all day talking in riddles.
Or we could just do the damn thing. pick up where we left off down memory lane.
I was just 14 then. i got appetites for other kinds of dishes now.
Was it something i said?
The road to hell is paved with some heavenly creatures but you are no longer one of them. The cherry popping was not ALL that memorable near as i can recall. Anyway Eric’s not dead. he’s in Seattle. Off the coast, really. On an island. He works on whaling boats now.
You’re shitting me.
Can’t make this stuff up. Friend of his dared him to come up and try it. Turned out he like it. a lot. next best thing to moving to Alaska he said. Corny MF says much as he loves playing his Bob Marley, he never thought he’d ever be a ‘wailer’.
Eric still got jokes huh?
And babies to feed . Three girls, two boys since ’09.
Goddamn. Is he building a nation up there?
The  girl had twins on the way when they met, no babydaddy in sight. The rest are his.
So you been up there?
Two times. A real sight to see if you know Eric like we do. We all might have pictured him becoming many things but never a whale-hunting Eskimo. Nobody ever pictured that on the radar. So you going all the way up there  to see him?
Guess i got to. But I  need a halfway decent  job first. That last letter  I got from Sanford  he also said to look you up Said  you might have something a brother could handle. Something about driving a truck?
Moving lifting and driving a truck. You still working on that novel.
Still putting down a line here, a line there every so often.
Ever gonna finish it?
Naw, not really.  Its just something to keep my mind stimulated in the cold wee hours before  the dawn. Finishing it would just mean I’d have to start a new one.
Whyd you do it?
The book. Oh you mean…..
Yeah that little old thing….
I really dont know. Once he called the cops on me in my own house….I just felt like I had nothing to lose…..
How’d that work out for you, all that fatalism?
So no brother  and no love.  Can you point me to that hauling and truck-diving  job?
A legit job? Or a job in the cut?
What you got that’s   legit of course. I just got out. Aint trying to waste all this free time looking over shoulder.
Of course ….I know a guy makes his living delivering art to galleries. Good honest labor. 12 hour days  but a lot of work He stays busy. I worked with him for while back. Money wasnt bad. For a while. Some of the work is light. Some is like moving an apartment. Some of the damn installations and shit. Furniture books shelves, big ass disco speakers, Once we even moved a fleet of small tractors for a show. he had to bootleg borrow a  couple flatbed trucks from a friend  for that one.
Never a dull moment?
Plenty of dull moments but sometimes every once in a while you get like a nice science project. the spice of life.
i’ll check him out. where’s his operation
Out on the slip.
I gotta take a boat?
Or the prison bus. Else  jog across the bridge.
Even in this weather?
Crime waits for any man. Good honest labour always awaits those who don’t mind grinding like  a Mexican. I just put you ahead of the pack gringo. Dude  prefers English speaking cats because its the art game— tweaky high strung clients and all— but he’ll take come what may  tails. jazz and cocktails. a Strayhorn or a Rolling Stone. Don’t let a Mexican beat you out of  a job tailor made for a college educated nigga like you who knows how to speak American.

like when your mama did dionysus

dear diary, (and he who shall remain nameless)

so word was there were these orgies in detroit. or at least there had been several near reliable rumors of some orgies going on in Detroit.

     anyway, in any event  I took it on faith. that my source had already been to a few good romps and had met a few good men, and him being a sporting gent he’d  invited me to accompany him to the next slew  based on his wonderful and memorable  recent  experiences….. 

    dark dead end street.

other houses in that cul de sac empty and up for sale. 

this one too likely but somebody had figured before they moved out they’d have a big adventure up in that piece. 

       never met the owners but  there i was —checking the action out on some strange people’s living room,kitchen and dining room floors. 

       was sure enough some action taking place as me and my comrade rolled in, all kinds action. 

    no kinda furniture nowhere.

 guess they’d moved that out already.

half parquet  floor, half old carpet.

 thick but frayed nappyheaded red  gold shag carpet.

 fibers flying everywhere  up my nose. 

me and my guy—not him who shall remain nameless or  the guy i came with but  this other guy i bumped into on the way in. Chosen because of  he big knobby hands and tapered fingers—a working class artist type i surmised.  

we discovered this bowed matress likely removed from an old fold couch out on this closed-in porch patio.

 it was as nasty as it sounds.stained,spotted but fairly new. 

     we had just started to get into it when this  fat dude rolls  off this one bitch and onto his back. fatty then sits up, beside me then comes a rushing whitewaterrafting river of his jism all over my fisted ass while my face was getting rubbed raw against the carpet by the way mydude behind me was digging into me.. not everybody’s idea of sexy but just what i like. to be in a room full of consenting adults sexually expressing themselves as spontaneously and as honestly as they desire. 

    thats whats sexy to me. 

some like the hunt, some like the game, some like the networking the fluid  exchange for their hustle  agenda. just give me a room full of freaks doing the damn thing until they’re spent, spun-out, exhausted, drained to the core.

    i had a feeling the one my main guy  he took me too in dc would be a little better. 

       it did have at least markedly cleaner surroundings though the fisting dude knew what he was doing and thats the kind of luck of the draw i like in these situations over any damn hygiene considerations. 

    quite frankly i think only the truly disturbed would expect cleaniliness next to godliness from a room full of strangers fucking willy-nilly til the cows come home. 

      they exist though— those people who will only orgy in genteel surroundings among polite company. 

     those people just want to feel naughty or even nasty. 

they dont know a damn thing about buckwilding, fucking for fun. you figure, poor dears poor babies— they just want to feel a little less repressed for 15 minutes. 

 in spite of the fact you could tell the maid had been there before we arrived and  lots time had been  taken with creating the right ambience in dc –it was in a southwest hotel suite;the entire floor had been booked so there’d be no tourists wandering aghast into the lobby at 2AM, and there was of course more cocaine, and more dust, like there always is in dc…  despite all that there was also more kinds of sex between all kind of creatures. some  even looked like the thing and some actually were that thing and some were even hosting that thing. there was a man who looked like a giraffe. by which i mean he was very tall and very yellow and very horse faced. not at all spotted sorry if that disturbs your picture but i’m describing not desiring. you can give him spots in your own account or even your fantasy if thats where this leads you.( i look forwrd to reading your remix one day soon). 

     in any event i remember particularly enjoying sex with giraffe man because in that setting the most perverse thing you can imagine is sex with one person for as long as you can go. long as thats what both wanted it was good and when it got boring we didnt push it, not a second more. 

     now some people would just leave rather than watch an all night orgy in which theyre not participating but the giraffe man and myself just sat against a wall in a  side- room with mute television playing a dvd  besides us (a highlight reel of glenn turman’s entire career arc, from getting his first piece of high yellow ass in cooley high to getting his old ‘swole’ dick-sucked by his high yella secretary while mayor of baltimore on the wire) 

    we also  talked about our favorite fassbinder movies. veronika voss and maria braun  for me, a toss-up between querelle and  the alexanderplatz  series for him. 

fassbinder the deviant and  fassbinder the democrat. 

no difference between the two. what makes him so valuable as a an artists i think. what makes any real artists valuable, if being absolutely incorruptibile on behalf of the immoral work, being as wantonly flagrantly decadently human as possible in the life. 

or so i argued with giraffe man. 

he had a different take on things. 

he felt the worst human failing was failure of nerve and fassbinder was a god to him because he never seemed to suffer from a hint of that. 

i said ‘like a  god to you?’ suddenly feeling like i hadn’t  just been fucking  a beastial half man half giraffe but by some embryonic hannibal lecter wannabe in utero. 

and he said yes and reiterated  fassbinder became like a god to me. 

and i said did it make you want to brain blasck men over the heads wirth whiskey botles and blow women up with gas ovens just to make a point about the holocaust? 

then he accused me of confusing fact and fiction and i said i’m not the one who called fassbinder a god because he did those things either.

i told him it was a good thing we stopped fucking when we did and then i told him good night. 

i had to go back out into the full-on orgy to get my handbag which i’d actually been keeping an eye on  throughout  the festivities during the whole time we sat up against a wall on the other side of the room.

   suddenly  i felt drained. 

not by the goings on around me but by the fact that there were people in my world, even temporarily,  who walked around saying insufferablke things like ‘fassbinder was a god’. 

   so whats my problem with that ?

 well, i’ve seen god and ive seen gods  and god aren’t creators but destroyers, annihilators—greedy hungry ravenous insatiable destroyers at that. and all they like to feed on is blood and the eternal sunshine of the sociopathic mind.

real  artists respect the power of beauty. 

gods are for all you poor creatures who just want the power.  cant’ you tell i’m so not impressed. 

 i could never so disrespect an artist by comparing him to anything so lowborn as a god. 

a god gave us  Rwanada, a god gave us Auscwhitrz.

 Phillip K Dick got it wrong-saying god didnt make anything evil but cokroaches. God is a cockroach, Phillip K Dick. you  got it all kinds of wrong. all u Valis freaks will grok what i mean) 

   moving things along, the next orgy we atttended was at sex shop in Paris. everything and everybody in lace, leather and chains. what is it about the french and bondage anyway? something in that paradox of being considered the most revolutionary of french societies when they’re really the most repressed. the same people who invented the word bourgeosie also invented camembert and  the guillotine.

never forget that. 

    they celebrate de sade but they gladly suffered a De Gaulle. de sade may be their saint but the dreyfuss affair is their soul. Ive got the papers to prove it.

     unlike dc I was ready for action in paris, four women, four men, fourteen hours of tigressess and tigers on all fours, clawing, scratching, tonguing licking spitting tho’ no shitting because t i do split hairs between bodily fluids and bodily wastes . somthat any members of my little octopod who had to go, best go  elsewhere far away from me, and only return scrubbed and ready for inspection with the wipes and  fluffy white feather duster i kept handy for just such occasions.

2.

      My father was the official videographer for a kind of ghetto chippendales that took place in a dank wet basement under a church in bed-stuy.

     45,55, even 65  year old men in muscle shirts and  g strings lewdlly dancing to house music while distressed overweghit damsels fainted and expired around them for  long nights that did not quickly turn  into days.

  I never accompanied dad there but i did find the tapes after he died. there was other stuff in there too, even he and mom getting it on to the tune of The Delfonics, Blue Magic, Marvin and the Stylistics. Mom was wild and inventive, Dad was tender and indefatiguable–I’ve got the videotapes to prove it.

          Everybody with beautiful parents should be able to watch movies of their beautiful parents sex lives. It would help explain a lot. For instance I think my parents should have kept fucking but  stopped having kids at just one of us–not even me because i’d have gladly gone unborn to let them keep fucking the way they did–they brought real honor and heat to the act  every time–and not even their eldest, my older brother Ralph who like all Ralphs is just a little too content with himself as an entity to have ever need bother being born… but no its our younger sister ‘Queen’ Margot who they should kept and raised because by the time she came along they were ready to do the parent thing more than the wild thing and so Queen Margot grew up with these wonderful parent people Ralph and I didnt really know. 

     Understand I’m not blaming them for anything or complaining  because I feel  the only things all parents  owe their spawn beyond the gift of life is food clothing and shelter for about 14 years, the occasional  pat on the head, making sure we do enough homework to know basic math and basic reading and not molest their sons or daughter s while they sleep. 

      Only later did I realize that we forced parenthood on our folks by being born when we did while  they were just in the middle ballin’ and  had no intention of disrupting the parties with diapers and feedings and school plays and soccer matches and  the like. 

     They even tried a little swinging but they never could go through with it with other people because other people were so defective and deformed in their eyes by comparison. 

I found all this out years later after theyd both passed from one of our neighbors who knew them when.

    Theres a crazy erotic black and white picture another friend took of them, shot in profile and close-up from about 10 feet way . The two them sitting in a tall  mahogny chair in a large white room. They’re  bound to each other by chokers and chains and oiled up and you can see dads cock just beginning to bury itself in mom’s muff and her legs wrapped around his back.

     my favorite  of the extreme close ups focuses on their glistening lower torsos.  an abstract sculptural shape got formed by the light in the space between their two  dark lithe  six packs.  coiled, contorted. on the verge of spontaneous combustion from all their explosive touching, grinding, undulating away to the breakadawn.

 

PERCEPTIBLE MUTABILITIES IN THE THIRD KINGDOM OF THE COOLIDGE HIGH 5

PERCEPTIBLE MUTABILITIES IN THE THIRD KINGDOM OF THE COOLIDGE HIGH 5

by Greg Tate

The members of the Coolidge High 5 had gathered once again for their biannual  discussion of  race matters,coon bidness and sulfated/melanated yo-yodelic kulcha klashery. 

       Remarkably the gang was all still here and marvelously  standing strong, only faintly hobbled by girth, gait reduction, and age: Ironman, Bay-Ray, Kidd Funkadelic, Brother Space and Tetragrammaton. This time they were gathering  in the courtyard of the former Manhattan lair of their fallen Prince of Darkness Miles Dewey Davis. Dewey’s fabled West 77th St digs had been purchased recently by Tetragrammaton. His new found fortune  was all due to the market killing he’d made off shares of a recent  invention–the ethno-botanical afro-hallucinogenic designer drug known as  Race Memory.  For little more than  a dimebag one could have a controlled  and hyper-melinated ancestral possessn flashback experience that included jumping between loas and speaking in polyphonic Khmetan tongues. The incantatory veve-schematic formula for the drug had been  extracted from the verse structure of  Bob Kaufman’s poem “African Dream:

In black core of night it explodes/ silver thunder rolling back my brain/bursting copper screens/memory worlds/deep in star-fed beds of time/seducing my soul to diamond fires of night.’

”Inamorata and Narration By Conrad Roberts” from Miles 1972 album Live Evil was playing as the brothers entered the deceased maestros’ desecrated homage to Mecca and Medina. Tetragrammaton greeted them all with bear hugs and commented on the marvel of the enduring friendship. He then passed the mic to his ace boon sounding board, Ironman. For his part Ironman had come to inform the group about a paper he was slated to soon deliver before an august assemblage of Black Surrealists and Afro Futurists. This announcement  in turn kicked off the expected cracking and jonesing session initiated as always by Bay-Ray and Brother Space.

   “Man whut the flying who the bazooka was why?” blurted Bay-Ray in his best Tone-Loc growl. “I say Black Maybe or maybe you just talking trash like Stevie Wonder told ya back in 1972. ”

”You heard the moon Bay Ray. The moon say him gwaan talk to the people deem bout Black So Real-Izm and Afro Fugitive-Izm”.

”Umm hmmm. Like we don’t already know everything there is to know about how drylongso  these runaway afros be.”

Kidd Funkadelic interjected, reprising, in his typical clipped manner, his recurring role as the only one attempting to restore some  adult gravitas back into the conversation. 

”So. Yo. Yo. Yo. Ion. mane. How  are you. Defining.  Black So Real Ism. And Afro Fugitivism. My brother?”

The garrulous Ironman was happy to oblige him and wrest control f the conversation back from the groups resident clowns 

        “‘Glad you axed that Kidd. With respect to Black So Real Ism what I first do is invoke a piece of verse by say Jayne Cortez, Ted Joans, LeRoi Baraka or Bob Kaufman. Like sumpn by bruh Kaufman like so:

Quietly pursuing catastrophic histories buried in my eyes./And yes, the world is not some unplayed Cosmic Game/And the sun is still ninety-three million miles from me/ And in the imaginary forest, the shingles hippo becomes the gay unicorn.

”This structure is then cross referenced with something by Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Slim Gaillard or Bessie Smith like when Bessie sang about Black Mountain:, In Black Mountain all a child will smack your face/The babies cry for liquor and all the birds sing bass.

       ” A lyrical  integer like that is them rammed through a sequence of data from the Jet magazine online archives circa 1950-1975. Like for example this marvelous  bit of reportorial splendor about 1951 Zanesville, Ohio:  emphasis on the Zanees.

”A racial melting pot for more than a century, Zanesville, Ohio is a city of lost boundaries. Entire families have been crossing and recrossing the color line for so many generations that today it is virtually impossible to tell which families are white and which are colored without visiting city cemeteries which are still segregated.

As well known for its light skinned negroes (some jibe there are no dark negroes in town) as for its Y shaped bridge (only such structure in the world) the small pottery making city of 40,000 probably has the highest percentage of Negroes who pass in the US. Many break family ties to leave the city and cross the color line but there are hundreds who stay and pass as white.  In 1845 school authorities rushed into a classroom to evict fairskinned negro children attempting to attend school with whites. Confused as to the children’s whereabouts in a sea of white faces one official pointed out one child as Negro.

”Hold on, thats my gal!’, his colleague protested.

Another child was singled out and questioned ”Are you one of them”   ‘

‘One of what?” the child asked

”One of them Africans”, the official answered.

”No sir ,I am as white as you are”, the child, who really was Negro, replied.

Their teacher, who refused to identify them, was fired.

Irate whites burned down the school .

It was not until 1887 that barriers against Negro children fell.

Zanesville traces its racial inter-mixing back to more than a century ago when the city was a popular stopping off point for slaves fleeing to freedom along the underground railroad. Many of the Fugitives remained there, later marrying among the whites and Indians to begin the many generations of fair skinned negroes. Yet although the city readily welcomed them there were repeated attempts to Jim Crow them and their mulatto children.”  

             “‘That my brothers is how we  begin to engineer indexical coordinates for Black So Real Ism in our cultural historical midst. And re-mix them as well.”

“Why that was simply marvelous Ironman. Yes I Tetragrammaton totally feel you on the oblique cross-referencing of those disparate literary  categories of race mixology.”

”Yeah yeah yeah”  grumbled  Bay-Ray with an eyeroll, “’cause it can’t get nommo black nor mo’  so so real than  that.”

”A man concurs”, Brother Space . 

”Ya na see it bumble raises Bay-Ray? A town fulla whiteskin-did negro chillun under suspicion of closet Africanism get verbally assaulted in school by an invading hoard of redneck aliens. Shades of body snatchers. You damn right it don’t get nommo so really truly Black than that! Ya goddamn betcha.”

Kidd Funkadelic pipes up again too.

        “”Okay but  Yo.Yo.Yo–what’s the freaking deal with Afro Fugitivism, Ironman? Do the math on that, Sun’ inquired Kidd Funkadelic.

”Sure nuff now dig this Kidd. We all know that the first insurrectionary sci-fi novel serialized in America was written by our man in Pitts burg Martin Delany. This goes down between 1859 and 1862. Bruh Delany also named his simply marvelous abolitionist paper The Mystery a full century and some change before the invention of Black Mystery Month, We further know bruh Delany to have also been a barber who   learned the medicinal arts of fire-cupping and leeching and thus saved the city from a cholera epidemic when all other doctors fled in horror. Our brother MD then goes on to negotiate land  from chiefs in Sierra Leone to push along that later repatriation and thereby  invents true Pan Afrikanism in one fell swoop. MD was also, we should add, not only the first black man to be admitted into Harvard medical school but the first booted out at the insistence of his candylandass white supremacist classmates. Delany, Toussaint L’Overture,  Nat Turner, Moses Jefferson and The Masonic Knights of Liberty (who as you may recall amassed an army of 50,000 free men in the 1850s to march on Atlanta) and of course our beloved Harriet Tubman,that superspy general of the techno-military Combahee Plantation liberation–it’sthrough them all I came to devise my ironclad notions of who constitutes a bona fide Afro Fugitivist. One who not only practices the  hoodoo art of envisioning Afro Fugitivist Slave Actions and Black Liberation but who embodies them spectacularly. From there it just a short leap to Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men and Tell My Horse, Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Jet Set Arkestra, Jimi Hendrix South Saturn Delta blues and all things George Clinton, Grace Jones and Michael Jackson.  From there we can easily access the understanding that Black So Real Ism and Afro Fugitivism are but two large eternally flowering  branches of the same deeply rooted baobab tree. You with me so fire Funky Kidd”‘ ?

”Yo.Yo. Yo. Indeed i do. Mister Ironman. ”

Tetragrammaton goes on record seconding the Ironman’s emotions.

“‘Dig we do, and dig  all must. Especially long as we’re in my house my Ferrically Oxidized bredren. And now that that we’ve gotten that business out of the way shall we bust out the single malt liquors and the chalices  of Grappa? Can we now  formally toast those dearly beloved, dearly departed  and forever marvelous avatars of Black So Realism and Afro Fugitivism Mr David S Ware, Ms Jayne Cortez and Mr Lawrence Douglas Butch Morris?”

Oh hell to the monkey yeah” proclaimed Bay Ray. Its about to be on with the chalices up in this here Prince of Darkness palace.

   And so like Shine and The Titanic, The Coolidge High Five swam on, destined for the fabled gates of nowhere ever after. 

AN EMMA LAZARUS MYSTERY FRAGMENT

AN EMMA LAZARUS MYSTERY  FRAGMENT

A Speculative Flash Fiction by Greg Tate

    Emma Lazarus was born Edward Petry. Emma completed her transsexual  transformation at the age of 35. Myra Lazarus was born Mary Macafee, converted to Judaism at the age of 49 and  marries Emma Lazarus.The rest is mystery. Family history.

   I’m a private eye, a purveyor of dirty little secrets, but its not my case, my family ties notwithstanding.

    It’s family business and it could have easily become my case except for one thing: I always make it a point to stay out of my family’s business.

     Course they’d like to make it my business. Fish gotta swim, bullshit gotta fly.

     And yeah maybe somebody in the family circle should find out why my cousin’s mother up and married a woman who used to be a man.

Somebody like my cousin who needs to know for her own peace of mind though she’s incapable of understanding anything thats not Bible approved. 

  A problem compounded by the fact that everything she knew from the Bible had come from her mother’s lips.

  You cant explain shit like that really. 

I know that because I know people as they are, not as we’d like to proslyetize them to be.

   People are, by definition, strange, restless, mysteriously, ultimately unknowable creatures.

    Creatures possessed of often immutable if not inscrutable drives,

man around these parts. 

     After a awhile we like to think we know what makes everybody tick because most of us do the same dumb shit time after time , year after year. 

   Everybody over the age of 30 tends to have a rhythm. 

You can follow it like clockwork. 

Set your metronome by it. 

    Then somebody like Aunt Mary comes along, deviates from the program. Jumps ship, resigns from the God squad.

Why? 

Because love is stranger than God and stronger than dirt. 

     Point being the person who was Mary Macafee had always loved the person who was once Eddie  Petry regardless of her God or her beloveds gender disposition.

     Her daughter wanted to blame the devil or find out some kind of cult programming was at work.  Wanted me to get to the bottom of things. 

I told her my dishonorable profession was best put to work tracking down deadbeat dads, parent kidnappers, cheating spouses, the occasional lowlife blackmailer–but decidedly not lapsed Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

That was half the truth of course. 

The other half was I thought my cousin was better off with her own skewed suspicion of brainwashing. 

    Because I knew that In this instance the truth would not be setting her free. 

If only the truth worked like that when your whole being is wrapped around a reductive notion of human nature. 

    If only the truth could liberated you from fear, prejudice, blind obedience to abridged scripture. 

    But I knew that Aunt Mary’s daughter would not be liberated by the truth of her mother’s genuine love for a man turned woman. 

     Because the thing about Aunt Mary was that though she worshipped a pretty frightful idea of God she was nothing but the face of love herself. 

This is one of the strange things about people and faith.

 It comforts the weak and the strong, the good and the evil, the terrorist and the terrorized, the unforgiving and the impossibly generous alike.  

    So that inside of some ridIclulosuly medieval, repressive scenario like the Witnessess you do find people like Aunt Mary.

   People  who cant deny the power of love because at the core all they are made of is love. And whatever  drove them to the faith was that and not the potential for state-approved lunacy that had attracted so many others. 

     And every so often pious people like that are gonna flip.  after a life of self-sacrifice and  choose to let  love rule over the misinterpreted and misapplied  teachings of the good book. 

    I wanted no part of spying on her, invading the privacy of her new life. 

Maybe I was also enjoying the bitter irony of it all, given her high and mighty holy family. 

     As things turned out I should have taken the case. Taken my own self-righteous snobbery off the table and helped my family set things right between mother and daughter. 

    It turned out to just not be in the cards.

EMMA LAZARUS MYSTERY FRAGMENT 2

 

     She then came back four years later and murdered my uncle, her ex.  Somebody should try to find out why….. 

‘DEM GLITCHES BE RUNNING TRAINS IN NEGRIZONA!’

‘DEM GLITCHES BE RUNNING TRAINS IN NEGRIZONA!’

Speculative Fiction by Greg Tate

Most nights Negrizona is an all-beuys club, but tonight the beuys have graciously opened their house to any glitch in heat, any glitch off the street out here in Negrizona.

      Among the beuys there’s a meager few old doggs long toothed enough to remember what it is to be hunted and caged because of who you choose to love.  The difference between those beuys and us is that all my glitches  are being hunted and caged for not loving a species we got no love for at all.

Me and thesevglitches  could all die up in here tonight. All twenty four of these glitches and me  acting like we don’t know no better than to be caught dancing  close to one another glitch in a public space. 

     Nevermind we all grew up feeling that way anyhow.

Nevermind  that we’re all the kind of glitches who’ve always understood that dancing close and risking annihilation are activities already on  the most intimate of terms. Nevermind  how those polarities come with the price of the ticket, define  the  terms of  our fleeting existences, the existential threat foremost in our minds.

What’s changed today though isn’t the base  specter of our enemies torturing or murdering  us, but the means by which it might be carried out.  For glitches like us there now looms a horde of fates far worse than death. Been that way for quite a while now. Even way  before The Governess  and The Law of The Father  began offering  fools a mortgage on  our wombs and a lien on our souls.

Glitches like us have been at odds with the Law Of The Father since the Stone Age.  Only thing that makes this any different is the role The Governess plays now. She who would  sell her own kind out to The Father to save her own ass and in the process, cut our chances of survival and of resistance down from high percentages to meagre fractions.

   Some of us came here tonight with glitches we love.

Some of us will not be going home with the glitch  we came in with tonight.

A few of us aint gonna  make it all the way back to The Breach, our home among the stars

Only a scant few will return to The Brech just the way the   left it.  Two halves of a whole and  loving couple who dared stroll hand in hand in public —on Earth as they were  in glitch-nigga glitch-negress  heaven. Fully aware of the danger, exulting in the thrill.  

     Some glitches take the risk because they love how hot the embodied loving will be once they’re safely in Negrizona where The Governess can’t directly reach out and’touch’ them. 

     They’re the kind  who like to  the rest of us glitches entertained and stimulated, the kind who’ll tell all the juicy details. Tell whoever who’ll listen how no  loving could ever be hotter than the love we make freely and recklessly under the threat of combat, prison, multiple forced impregnations,  repeated braindeaths.  They’re the ones who live by our code to the fullest.  The ones who basically be on some shit like, ‘If  tonight is going to be last time we make love lets make the kinda  love that burns.ahole in infinity.

     I’m talking about glitches like that one over there,Little Miss Peaches& Clover. Look at her  and her partner of seven years  over in the corner wantonly canoodling like   teenagers on some illicit rendezvous. I don’t even have to read their lips to know the kind of party line they’re dropping on each other   “Baby if they bust in without knocking then let them find us just like this drenched spent tangled up thigh on thigh tongue on tongue,spit  on saturated lips fingers dug down in engorged liquified yoni madness.”

Or words and actions to that effect).

The girl -interloper I lust to go home with tonight is dancing alone. Remarkably she even dances to the only two Charlie Parker tunes  DJ Clotel ever likes to rock ‘Now’s The Time’ and ‘K.C. Blues” (And not even the stately Dial versions, but some ole extra-crazy frenetic live versions, as avant garde in their embrace of funk and chaos as anything Sun Ra ever did.

I’ve been on this girl ever since we got here. Taking serious note of her moves and well  synchronized they are to Parker’s schizoid and mercurial  moods. Been duly noting  how well  she knew her body and how readily she’s able to  get lost in her own joy. Shimmying, slipping and sliding her hands all over herself   in rapture to every one of Parker’s  serpentine bluesy free-as-a-Bird licks .  

     Girlfrenzy is rocking these white capri pants  and a black and red plaid shirt tied tight just above her navel. The tail of the knot curves and pincers above a drooping pearldrop navel-ring. Her kicks are some elaborately embroidered  blue and gold harem sandals.  Her feet  are small and daring. They delicately dart across the floor in a way that makes me mumble ‘twinkletoes’.

When she winds her waist to Bird, eyes closed , arms clasped above her head,  your eyes cant help but watch how that teardrop catches the light. You know that she doesn’t need the spotlight to feel good about her dancing, but   that she isn’t mad at all the attention she’s getting from me either. Like her pearl teardrop, she can’t help catching the light or brightly beaming back in ways that bedazzle and sparkle the eyes.

      Even for all her seductive nonchalance  you can tell she loves being seen, adored, lusted after. How much she loves to use her form and rhythm to hypnotize all who might find themselves captivated and mesmerized by her  enjoyment of the music, the way she moves herself.  Tonight she’s my private dancer even in a hall filled with 23 other pairs of eyes.

Girlfrenzy has to  know she’s not everybody’s type in here. She even likely knows most of us  can tell she’s not from around here too. That all of my glitches  can see in a glance that she’s a college girl  from across the tracks who likely cut out after curfew from her dorm, Vader her way to Negrizona  all alone and unafraid of what lie on the other side,  way over here in the way-out-back– out here, beyond the starshine, in Negrizona.

I give her props for even making the journey.  Because I know women who live two blocks from this club who won’t even come out of their house day or nights  or even  walk down the same side of the street it’s on.

I understand why, of course.

Even if most of us  are now way past the  optimum breeding age decreed by The Governess, the sheer threat of being caught by The Father’s forces  can be  soul-crippling for some glitches all the same.

Nothing satisfies The Governess’  power mania more than catching a glitch she’s already broken by remote control days and weeks before.

      They’re the ones who  turn off the technology that can keep The Governess’ Anti-Body bugs out of their  homes and present themselves for surrender and capture willingly. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen enough to spook the rest of us.

Because however tough we are we know how easily that could be us too.Ghosts before our time. Prone reproductive instruments of  The Governess’ will.Womb For Hire Homegirls without even the benefit of minimum wages. Half-life Black epitomes of that old canard, ‘How willing these slaves be.”

But one must ask if being that afraid of getting  locked up knocked up, lynched etc.  isnt the same  as not living at all.  The twenty-four of us who remain  on the frontlines say ‘fuck being a  robot-girl, fuck being a laydown-staydown cybernetic zombie bitch’.

They think: The Governess and The Law of The Father  get no vote in this. Because the day I can’t  dance with who I want to dance with and fuck who I want to fuck is the day I need to be shot in the head without hesitation or mercy.’ I’m not being trying to melodramatic or beyond self-righteous here.  I’d never  claim to speak for all.  Just those who still walk the path of freedom or death. Even given how hard it is now to insure a clear and conscious death-state when you need to.

To  ALL you glitches who choose to stay safe in bed behind The Breach  tonight and live in fear behind closed etheric-data portals : You’ve  made your choices in your cloistered four cornered rooms. And  I respect  your choice from a democratic perspective. I just know I’m not one of You. That I’m not the type who can stand becoming the kind of glitch who cowers in fear of  being soul-raped by The Governess and The Father the second my spirit  flashes out of The Breach. Fear  of being coerced  into doing what The Governess believes  our kinda girl frenzy was born to do: Namely screw, brew and hatch babies for her masters in The Quantum Black Movement.

The young girl with the teardrop navel  who  I am determined to drag home tonight  always smiles to herself when Bird plays some lick she finds particularly delicious.

It’s a beautiiful thing to see and to feel.

Just as beautiful  to watch is the way she I can see her entire programmed consciousness sliding deeper into the music’s  erotic grip. The work  The Governess  did on her is spectacular. It practically looks too good to eat or eviscerate.

I dont know what i find sexier:that she lives for this music or that she merely knows that such music exists at all. You don’t get too many younguns up in spots like this who so openly and fragrantly declare themselves to be  in love with the canonical legacy of  Charles Christopher Parker.

I  allow myself to inwardly swoon over her slow bop and slow grind  to ‘K.C.’ I’d like to look at her and think, ‘Hey, maybe theres  hope for a few of these chillun, hell  for our  entire lost-and-found race, even.   I’d also  like to live in a world where such thoughts were possible about an actual womb-born person and not just a  shimmy-sham flimflam assassin simulacrum extracted from my basest desires.

     Thanks to the Governess pogrom of destruction, what little there is left of my race are all up in Negrizona tonight. All those I truly consider My People in terms of  spirit and espirit de corps.

Of women with bodies and minds there’s  plenty, way more than my twenty-four bitchen glitches of course. By my unofficial count there’s fewer and fewer sisters around who are in genuine possession of  any real soul anymore. Those numbers seem to be dwindling with each passing nanosecond.

The kind of glitch in possession of  whatever right stuff got us across the bloody Black Atlantic eons ago. Only glitches I know like that are hanging tough in Negrizona tonight.They aint nowhere else to be found  on thisEarth tonight but Negrizona. They’re the only ones going to to witness my dancing bebop baby’s precipitous last moments  as a slave of The Governess and The Father  here in Negrizona.

(Where is Negrizona, really ?Wouldn’t The Governess and her minions like to know. Everywhere and nowhere and hidden in plain sight. More nowhere than somewhere is what they’ll figure out with each passing day. )

I like to tell my fellow soldiers, ‘They cant kill all of us without losing the fight’.

Its a tad dramatic but it’s true too. Because our only saving grace is that scores of secrets known only to Negrizona womanhood will die with us. And the only reason The Governess hasn’t  taken us all out is because of those secrets. This is why she’s more committed  to terrorizing our community into surrender than bludgeoning it into submission.

A slow psychological war of attrition is The Governess’  strategy for all my glitches–24  bold hold outs who won’t stay home terrified in The Breach. So The Governess wants to ee how many of us she can make snap under the pressure, drive mad with fear.

Is she’s winning By any means necessary. Because there’s just 24 left out of our  original 2000 glitches   to go.

More adorable young women dancing to bebop like they came out of the womb just knowing the steps. That’s the club I’d really like to join one day but that’s not the club I find myself in tonight. There is thankfully  someone here who feels me on this  and she’s the only one I need to feel understood by tonight.

There is a god and  a girl do gets lucky sometimes.

Not like I’d want to be taking just any bebop dancer-college-girl-type home with me on this or any other night. But I knew on first glance that this one was already my kinda chick. Free where it matters between the ears, below the waist. and on the balls of her feet.

Unfortunately for her just not free enough in the heart to go undetected  by glitches like ‘We’.

My male counterpart, my best friend among the beuys, has already locked down his fixation for the evening. He always did move faster than me. Except we’re in no rush, Miss Pearl Teardrop and I. Because  ain’t nobody else up in here checking for her and I aint trying to check out nobody else either.

We’re on a date with destiny Mz Pearldrop and I.  May the best glitch win, and may the best glitchg once again, be me.

We all knew from the giddy-up.  We knew from the moment Mz Pearldrop swung in the joint  that she was here in disguise for The Governess and The Law of The Father.

Sauntering in all saucy trying to be undercover for The Governess but not so undetectable as they likely told her she’d need be.

We all spotted her immediately.

Knew that was the One chosen for the job tonight just as soon as she came up in our beloved Negrizona Same as we all knew soon as the Charlie Parker came on that she was here to try and take me down by any means necessary.

Meaning that  once again,alas, it would be my job to take her down first. To drug her, interrogate her, drug her again, do what had to be done with what was left of cuties like her once they got caught out here doing  a bad impersonation of one of us.

I dont know why The Governess thinks we can’t see what we can see?Aint we women after all? Black women at that? Black dyke detective souljah women on top of all that?

Sheeeee-it.

Eyes and antenna trained from birth  to be like flies: omnidirectional, clicking and computing compressing thevvast amounts of information necessary for survival in nanoseconds.  Any one of us capable of uncovering more clues in a throwaway glance tossed off by any given biddy come into our view than a whole team of Quantum Black   Movement surveillance could detect in a month.

What was so amazing was that  The Governess  thought we were too stupid to not know a fake among of our own. Or believe that our astute and legendary powers of observation were just myth. Like we didnt know the face of Love when we saw it and when we did not.  Like an artificial girl- thing like Ms Teardrop  might as well have been from Mars trying to  pull that off.

That  we of all glitches couldnt tell a free and  loving glitch from a pretend-one in a heartbeat . It was truly insulting–.the  notion that just because you want us to be stupid breeder cows  means we’re already more brainless than Ken and Barbie.

Maybe The Governess thought  we were under  too much pressure to be thinking straight?  She should know us well enough to know better, but then again,maybe The Governess truly believed her own hype. Figured that since she had once been one of us she could teach  How To B A Total Glitch, like, ‘one of  Us’ , to any novice who naively fell into The Quantum black Movement hoping to be cured of her radical-oppositional tendencies.

Glitches ask me if Ithink The Governess  been away from us for so long she dont know who she’s dealing with. I always tell em ‘No. she’s  just lost the capacity to love herself and got caught up in  loving the arrogance of her trackers and their patriarchal- institutional power. ”

That’s where she picked up this idea that we can’t be as smart as her now that she’s running some shit on the inside for The Father.

Because obviously if we were as smart as her  we’d stop being victims of our bloody chromosomes and subhuman lifestyle and just get with the Quantum Black Movement’s program, same as she did.

I concede that The Governess  has got a point – a pathetic and pathological-ass point but point nonetheless. Rhetorically at least. For the sake of playing devil’s advocate, let’s say I hear her: Why suffer all this dread and uncertainty for the limited returns and anxious pleasures  of living and loving free? Why except for maybe the same reasons Miles Davis one gave as to why he made music: ‘You don’t do what the critics tell you to do. You do what your body tells you to do’.  “Go the way your blood beats” underscored his good friend, Mr James Baldwin.

So here we are glitches, twenty-four of us down here at the Alamo, wild free and over 21 and not even acting like all our love will soon be in vain.

None of this means I can’t enjoy how well Little Miss Navel Pearl is doing her dance for me, or how much effort she is putting into putting on her show. Knowing the truth about her doesn’t take away from the enjoyment I’m deriving from how much passion and choreographic skill she’s bringing to her masquerade.

I feel honored by her  virtuosic attempt at such deception, I really do.

The Father  had found themselves a good one with her. A real comer. An artist even. One who could work for them and enjoy pleasuring herself too. As much for her benefit as for my own and for all the worst possible reasons.

She was obviously such a true believer. Such an idealistic hard worker for the way way gone-wrong side of history.

Wrong side tonight anyways, since this was one night  the victors were not going to be writing the history about to be written. Because tonight the script is flipped and the victors were going to be these remaining 24 gltches of Negrizona, not The Governess.

I wasn’t mad at her, Mz Pearl. Truly and in all sincerity, I  wasn’t.

Because we were at  war and whether you lived today to fight another day or whether your died tomorrow you were already a casualty. Because I have always been of the belief that as soon as you kill for someone other than in spontaneous self-defense of your family then you become a casualty of war.

A criminal against humanity. A genocidal contract killer. A betrayer of the most fundamental pact of the human contract.

All over what at the end of the day were just minorvdifferences  of  philosophy. In our case, differences ultimately  about the value our kind of glitches placed on our bodies  versus those imposed upon them by The Governess, The Law of The Father  and  The Quantum Black Movement.

Once again I was going to have to ask myself whether our principles were worth the young life I was going to take in the name of protecting Negrizona and The Breach?

The Governess knew we had more of a conscience about these murders than she did.She for sure knew that everytime we buried one of her operatives we felt like we were  burying one of her own. The Governress also knew that the only thing squared it for us was we knew we were making our stand–at no matter the cost–for our own unborn and for those who would follow. All our sisters and brothers yet to be conceived.

I’m not so abstract or cavalier about outright murder anymore though.

All the young glitches  blood on my hands won’t allow me  to be ever again.

Kililing  Pearl was going to be like killing myself all over again, an experience I’d already had more times than I cared to remember. Such were the paradoxes and unpleasantries that come with  this kind of life and this kind of war.

This is a cold fact that my sexy little private bebop dancer will never have a chance to  figure out for herself after tonight. That realization alone hurts me to the quick. Makes me feel more kinds of sad and alone in the world than most of you will ever be able to fathom.

Because strangely enough I do tell  myself that I’m doing it all for you–though perhaps the truth is I’m doing it for the glitch inside you–the glitch you are all so afraid to be. A glitch more like Miz Teardrop than a glitch hiding on the other side of her  Breach apartment walls praying the Boogie Woman dont getcha.Whichever junior Wittgenstein among you works out that syllogism first gets the prize.

We love a snitch.Anybody’s snitch. No matter if theyre working for us or for The Governess. Because the mind of a snitch is like no other mind you will ever encounter. Its a mind that doesn’t even know what body its head sits on. Its all impulse and reflex and instant gratification but incapable of any sense of even short term consequences. The girl I’m going to snuff out tonight got into Negrizona  because a snitch up  told her what to say, what to wear, what to dance to, all the basics for getting close to me.

Practically everything Miss Teardrop  needed to do to act like more of my type than she already was. The only thing the snitch couldnt tell her was how to be a free woman in her heart.

The snitch knew she’d be lacking that– be lacking in that way of owning her lovejoy, come lacking in the vitals and the intangibles of that and the way it fueled the vainglory and the guts of being one of us.

I’m even willing to bet that this snitch  probably didnt feel so snitchy sending sent  the girl on her way, knowing she wouldn’t survive, but figuring that since the girl was ready to die for the cause anyway, what difference it make if she can’t fake it til she makes it?

By a snitche’s feeble minded reasoning she had done her job–got Teardrop up in Negrizona but hadn’t let The Governess know why she would be instantly detected because they hadnt asked her about that. Because everybody thinks snitches are as dumb as they are corruptible and thats always a bad mistake.

Under different circumstances, in another life, like the one I used to Iive back before The Governess went crazy, Pearl would have been my  type all the way. I hate wasting a good woman for the sake of politics. I hate wasting someone as lovely as her solely to make a political point.

What’s truly bizarre is that The Governess keeps sending these young lovelies up in here after me when Melinda and Belinda are the ones out there in The Governess’ realm inflicting all the real damage.  me and these other 24 glitches up in here, we’re just a decoy.

Somehow The Governess has yet to figure that the whole point of me being alive is to draw fire and attention away from M&B– to be  their loudmouthed unrepentant buffer.

The boisterous sort of glitch you put outfront to greet the public  while two battle axes not fit for public consumption slave in the back. Meanwhile Melinda and Belinda are in the background teaching women everywhere but Negrizona how hatch murder and mayhem against the Quantum Black Fathers by the bucketloads.

Teardrop is wearing a Fon mask, I’m wearing a Luba. Even in the bed we’ll never see each other whole faces, only bits of eyes, mouth, tongue. We”ll have sex, she’ll be put to sleep by my pheremones; she’ll be gone with the wind by  morning.

Damned to tarnation, blown to smithereens, scattered to the four winds, optioned to oblivion.

All I  promise myself to do, as always, is to make her last night on earth pleasurable beyond measure.  I’d like to believe that  I have always done this for all of the poor glitches The Governess has sent to me to kill. That because of me they at least leave the planet with a taste of all the love  they missed over here on the darkness beyond Negrizona.

The truth is that the dead leave me with as little knowledge of their true selves as I’ve given them of mine  even with  all the effort both parties always put into pretending sharing and satisfaction.  f youve never asasinated a woman whose just given her bodily all to proving her heaving passion for you, you’ll might never understand what I mean.

I think only The Governess could understand since every girl I’ve exterminated has only been driven to attack me out of their love for her. When I think of  all of those glitches bodies that have risen up against me on her behalf , and all the ones I’ve had to take out for that reason, I  strangely start to feel pity for The Governess–that her own love for power has supplanted her capacity to love those who love her so purely, so unconditionally, so remorselessly.

For this reason a quite perverse and twisted kind of intimacy has been formed between myself and The Governess. I won’t sully and denigrate the memories of my  beloved dead lovely ones anymore than the war has already forced me too. I can’t say there’s something sexual or erotic about my connection  to The Governess because that doesn’t do the feeling justice.

What she and I have between us is actually more akin to a shared awareness of a  godforce beyond gender. A power she and I have come to mutually hold  over the lives of all these  young women in her command who are willing to fuck other women just so they can then murder them on The Governess behalf.  The Governess, I think, has transformed me into her own Dark Angel of The Crossroads.

In most wars things never get so personal, so transparent between one Field General and another’s mutual power over the bodies of their soldiers. Our little conflict has become unique in that respect.Because without The Governess’  desire to a amputate and extinguish the love in our bodies the war would have no objective, no endgame,  no chance of ever being winnable and losable for either side. The Governess has rendered the capacity for love in our bodies into the enemy territory.

For her our ability to love ourselves and our own kind  has gotten in the way of an invaluable, renewable resource. To her our love is just running amok over here in Negrizona, growing out of control like some wild kudzu like thing, wantonly flaunting its independence from her supervision,exploitation or control.

Like any other war,  folk’s refusal to be domesticated or dominated  is always the real threat to the enemy–whatever  source of strength and righteousness in any people that won’t  be conquered simply because their enemies say so.  The mastery of the savage by the so-called civilized, the chosen, the better armed–mastery over-all that dares to cry freedom, always requires the complicity of those they desire to vanquish.(in our case our wombs and our raging hormones and pheremones) ultimately

Back when she was with us The Governess only ever had one joke she could tell well.It was a riddle she liked to tell all the newbies who came in, back when we were in basic together. It was one  that she claimed her jock brothers liked to repeat around her when she was just a wee girl.

Q:”Why did god create Woman?”

A: “To be a life support system for the pussy.”

If I ever get to see The Governess again I’ll let her know: Out there in Negrizona we we just trying to do the glitch-God’s will and keep it that way.

EVERY BODY GOT A THANG

EVERY BODY GOT A THANG, speculative fiction by Greg Tate

 

ROCKWELL

That last lil snicker they let through the screens was forgetful, disrespectful, stunted, retarded, limited. All  in all, quite typical of his kind and all  quite to my consternation, disappointment, chagrin, dismay.

What were these  ET’s thinking? 

Like the rest of his kind that lil snicker would have to Re-Vamped.

    On the other hand the last true black nigga broad they pushed through the screens was quite atypical of her kind.

Meaning: Not bossy Not belligerent Not easily incensed by the slightest reproach or critique.

She too would have to be revamped (damn the luck).

Up here what’s good for the goose is truly bad for the Up here an angry black man  is always a problem but a  black woman who can’t–or worse won’t –access her anger, is a problem

    I had told these space cadets  not to let too many of the wrong kinda snickers through the screens at the same time. Had begged them in fact to filter the dem snickers more but  you know these thangs got  as little respect for a begging snicker as they do for a  bucking snicker.  Might as well be a bucking snick as a begging one.

Even after I told ’em the real deal How all that free time on our hands  aint a good look for My People. No way no how.Told dem ETs we’re not a sit down inward looking race.We’re an action race. Easily entertained but easily bored. No good entertainment, good sex, good food, drank, drugs or good gossip.   there wasn’t even enough bad gossip to go around because we were all so isolated so much of the time, all locked up, like we had to be for the good of the project, all locked in with Our  Things. Lookahere Boss– they even less civilized and sensible than even my kind of snicker is, which  as you know is already next to none.

    Roughass ghetto style  snickers they wanna let up in here are the kind I been tryna to get way from my whole life. Who the fuck wants to have the same old grimy ‘hood experience in space? IfI d known this is where it was going I never would’ve agreed to come out here in the first place.

       once I realized they were going to just pack them in, let any kinda snickers in, I suggested we decrease the life expectancy, of all these random sniggers.  i still  considered em My People.  But  these random snickers were not personal friends like our first group to arrive had been. So I recommended we  decrease their life expectancy, perhaps by even by as much as 75 percent I said. Because these  snickers you letting in here now are wild and unpredictable, they wont know how to act after about a week and putting a cap on their mortality will be  a great motivator for dem wild bunch. And  I told them all this but did anybody listen? But did any of you snickers gathered here today back me up?. No, of course not. And look what happened just like i predicted. Before I was the bad guy,  sorting out all the malcontents and treat  them  the proper re-adjustments and revamping. Got to be there was plenty of unhappily re-adjusted snickers around there soon enough, but don’t you dare still blame me. I told you snickers to stand behind me before they let these wild snickers up in here and you wouldnt. You coulda spared a whole lotta grief. You snickers knew I’d take the weight. Do what  needed to be done. You snickers know better than to try anything. Better not do a damn thing to stop me finishing what I started. That new group is getting put on The Ticker while they sleep and thats that.

                          CHARLOTTE

I’ve aged in ways I could have scarcely imagined before my butt got booted out here.I wish i felt all the wiser but all I really feel is the weight of years. Years  I’ve accumulated but not lived or experienced in my bones. My memory has suffered losses and deficits that you should only feel after a long and storied life  My life has been neither long nor storied so why do I now i feel like some 80 year old matriarch of  a slave family trying to survive Birmingham in Grapes of Wrath Depression-era 1930s America?

MUGABE

They promised us all kinds of shit to get us out here. I wasn’t buying none of it. Didnt want none of it either. I can’t say I wasn’t  curious though. Curious about what a bunch of regular snickers would  do when set loose . Partying on the Mothership indeed. I knew this wasn’t going to be no StarTrek. i knew these snickers would get out here, take shit way further out than anybody expected because thats how we do. Aint no way it wasn’t going to get uglier. Because whatever line separates the alien from the  ugly– well lets just say we crossed  that line way back at Alberquerque. By the time we got out here to Alpha Centauri–forget about it. Shit was on.

                       CHARLOTTE

The sex just kept getting better between me and My Thing.  I’d had j every kind of sex you could imagine on earth– even simulated plant and insect sex. So  what the big deal about sex with a 12 foot tubular bell with skin like a potato? no big deal. Once My Thing let me know  it liked smoking dope  much as i did, we were home free.  getting high together means free about sharing fantasies and  role playing.  Role play has always been one of my bedroom specialties. Once I know what   turns my partner on I have no problem  assuming the position. Other broads go a little batty.  Some broads  I knowwon’t even masturbate in the same room as their Thing. Repulsed by the idea. Thats why their Love-Things just withered and died. Not a good look when you’ve spend eternity in a room with  a dead Thing. 

   Aint like they hadnt seen the footage. Aint like they didnt know what they were getting into. What was contractually expected –nobody put a gun to their head and said ‘Come on out to space and fuck an animal-mineral-vegetable a few times a week for research.

I  didnt get these tired bitches. 

Why come all  he way out here to be contrary. 

To be all proud alone? Why come this freaking far just to end up another lonely Black spinster tale. Back on earth just giving up the pussy for porkchops but out here they want to be picky?

C’mon girls get your freak on: If you won’t love your Thing ain’t nobody gonna love your Thing for you. Get with the program for Christ’s sake.

MATURE VICTOR

If you danced sculpted wrote poems and novels, painted pictures made music, any of that…If you did any of those creative expressive type things around your Thing  then sometimes that meant as much or more to a Thing as  the more physically interactive stuff of your engagement. They could be muses and lovers too. You could get all kinds of new inspiration from them–new feelings new colors new techniques. If you had been feeling in between and subhuman  and alienated and Other your whole life then bonding with Things who were subject to not feeling human and loved themselves  could, or shoulda come pretty naturally. Wasnt true for everybody like Charlotte just said though–they were like certain German Jews I’d once read about who stayed too long after the Nazis took over. Jews who believed as long as they acted like good Germans they wouldn’t be penalized for having bad Jew blood. But  motherfuckers who think your blood is too impure to be mingled with theirs could give a fuck about your law abiding behavior. And if  motherfuckers are giving you and your kind an ultimatum to get off the planet now or die later, you need to wake the fuck up and go, dont look back, and stop thinking they gonna see you aint like those other sniggras,, that you’re human too, and willmake an exception. Anytime they abolish prison so that all spiggots, good spiggots, bad spiggots and even all spiggots who dont know they spiggots can all get off the planet… Well just read between the motherfucking lines spiggots and Go. Because if there’s one thing the ‘stem is quite efficient at its killing many of a certain  motherfucker they dont like, with the quickness. Remember Hiroshima. Remember Rosewood. Remember Bombingham.

BOSS REED

Charlotte and I came to  disagree on a whole lot during our experience out there with Our Things but on this one point we couldn’t have been more in agreement: there was way more room for self definition in Other than there’d ever been in human. Once human became just another form of Other why hold on to human as your core identity? Why stay confined to human psychology or human philosophy about the meaning of human life after we’d come out here to become freely Other with the Other?. I mean I i like my mind fine but i could certainly do without my subconscious for a while. And as for my unconscious, well, hell my dreams been telling I aint human for as long as I’v been alive. To paraphrase Malcolm X, we dont catch hell because we’re human we catch hell because if we were really human we wouldn’t catch any hell.

DOO RA

Race Memory (as in the dope made from the lysergic brain secretions caused by the biochip software i’m talking about and not the concept) is some potent shit. So potent  that  you dont even need to be fucking with it if youre not some kind of pure blood African.  And we weren’t pure blood nothing except maybe mongrel but we kept fucking with Race Memory out there because the shit was so potent, and we needed something to remind us who we really were because the idea was to make us identify so much with these alien beasts we forgot we were ever human let alone that we were still Africans,  Once you took it just that first time, once you went there, all you could think about was how soon youd be able to snort some and go Black there again. Like, youd be  high as fuck, regurgitating the blood  and bile and brains of ancestors by the second and you’d already be wondering, how soon is now, how soon after I come out of this high can i get back to being high again? Fucking a Thing was okay after that, after you threw some Race Memory in there because it made you feel invincible, like a warrior with a hard-on and you wanted to fuck that Thing silly four ways to Sunday– a mindbender in and of itself. But nothing compared to Race Memory when it came to getting you all kinds fucked up and overstimulated. Once my Thing caught on it decided to get all kinds of high with me. As a consequence, mine got really soulful in a quicker amount of time than most. Got so it could pull the Holy Ghost right up out of its guts as good as I could when we took to singing the gospel of Christ together.

DEEP DARK AMBER

I dont know what they were thinking really. What they expected different to happen from what turned out to be. Because you know how comeptitive some snigglers are. How they think love aint nothing but a battlefield for real. Not in no metaphoric sense but like for real. Like everything is a blood sport or a battelground to them kinda snigglers.  So even carving notches on they belts over how many Things they’d bagged wasn’t out of the question. Seeing how many Things they can get all strung out by they tongue or they clit or they dix, that wasn’t  out of the question either. Talk about your frigging masters of the universe. Sneaking up into peoples rooms and bagging other peoples Things like they was raiders of the lost ark. You want to teach an alien race what it feels like to possess base human emotions? Just put a pile of horny snigglers up in their midst. Which I suppose was always the point.