A Haunted Childhood Courtesy of Wes Craven – A List of Nightmares

wesNine, Ten, never sleep again.

Walking to King Soopers at eight-years-old with a friend, having zero trouble from the clerk renting a copy of A Nightmare on Elmstreet and watching (through my fingers) Tina in a bloody t-shirt as she was dragged across the bedroom ceiling.

Johnny Depp not doing a funny accent or being weird and just acting, without pretense then being good enough to get murdered in a very bloody and wet way in a water bed with headphones on!

The appropriated and haunting nursery rhyme, “One two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix…” was repeated, mantra-like at the playground on the four square court to fuck with and or intimidate opponents into foul or error.

Seven, eight, better stay up late.

Dressing up like a child-murdering psychopath who was burned alive by a vigilante group of grieving parents and returning as a nightmare-controlling demon in a dirty red and green sweater seemed totally appropriate in 1985, for Halloween or just for fun.

With a little bit of effort and some resourcefulness, an old garden glove, four popsicle sticks, red magic markers and scotch tape made for a quick and dirty way to make a semi-decent Freddy glove or pair of “fingerknives…something he’d made himself. They made a horrible sound.” Extra points for using Grandpa’s dusty fedora.

Add some Mr. Pibb, handfuls of dime store candy and easily frightened siblings at a sleepover and the screams would wake the neighborhood at 3am.

Five, six, grab your crucifix.

Of all the well established global franchise cults, Catholicism has a corner on the market for being the most frightening, steeped in violence and blood rituals. Catholic school was constantly infiltrated by dark powers. Most of these forces manifested as whispered fart jokes, dick jokes or vile new curse words used to battle bullies on the monkey bars. After being kicked painfully in the tail bone by a knucklehead bully who, today, is likely a successful dentist, big game trophy hunter and card carrying asshat for life, I was asked not to return to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School for calling him a “retarded bastard shit mouth.” They took issue with the “bastard” part as they have fairly rigid strictures about sex out of wedlock. I also attribute my expulsion to my constant crude drawings of skeletons, demons and, yep, Freddy Krueger slicing and dicing through teenagers in skimpy outfits and the school’s Nuns in a rain of Crayola red blood and gore.

Three, four, better lock your door.

In the basement of my friend’s house we devoured Dream Warriors through multiple screenings. It was gritty. Punk rock. A world that still had Psychiatric Hospitals. Misfit suicidal kids from broken homes and estranged families were locked in a mental ward and terrorized by Krueger. Dream Warriors was the first Go Team-style film that really worked well. Each teen had a special skill they brought to the table to battle the master of nightmares.

Lagenkamp reprised her role as Nancy Thompson and had to follow through with some weird ritual burial of Krueger per her alcoholic father, played with aplomb by John Saxon. It was a return to form for the franchise after a fairly unsatisfying Nancy Drew/possession trope of the second film of the franchise, Freddy’s Revenge. Craven had story and screenwriting credit for Dream Warriors. It stared a young and volatile Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker (and it seems fitting to add that by the time she played Alabama in True Romance she had her siren scream nailed down). Patricia’s angst and anger were palpable. Believable even if it was a little over-wrought.

Freddy was hilarious. Three had the best one-liners like Robert Englund’s famously ad-libbed Freddy line, “Welcome to Prime Time Bitch” as he shoves the head of teen speed lover into the television screen. Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett made cameos! Laurence Fishburn. Naked boobies were visible in the scene with Joey, which turned out not so good for Joey.

We wore out the tape rewinding that bit, one of us checking the stairs for curious parents while the other hit pause at just the right moment [nipple framing]. Along with director Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont (Walking Dead) was involved in the rewrite and according to some shit I just googled, most of the original script by Craven was deemed too dark. Craven based the setting of Dream Warriors on a prison-like “tough love” institution that were common in the late 80’s and into the 90’s and run with fervor by religious zealots and unqualified “counselors.”

It’s hard enough being a teenager without worrying about getting shot for wearing a hooded sweatshirt while strolling through the neighborhood, but add abduction, idiot bureaucrats and Nurse Ratchet-like wardens and you’ve got a stellar recipe for nightmare juice.

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.

Wes Craven was a pioneer in the genre. Ahead of his time. Say what you will about franchises and the inherent cheesiness of the slasher genre. Craven created worlds (Nightmare, Scream) and tapped primal fears. Freddy’s Nightmares, an American Horror Anthology series that had two new stories per episode starring the how sweet, fresh meat of Brad Pitt and punk rock babe/Tank Girl, Lori Petty. Oh Lori Petty you were the bee’s knees in my adolescent fantasy.

Nightmare is being asleep and killed by your dreams. Strange to think about Craven’s body of work with the benefit of hindsight but those films seem much tamer by today’s standards.

You could turn on the news and have nightmares for weeks. Years if you’ve been paying attention since the Bush administration.

Craven was a brilliant creative force and he will be missed.

Thanks for the nightmares!

Rest in Peace.

You can check out the original script for Dream Warriors by Craven at http://nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com/site/films/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-3-dream-warriors/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-3-dream-warriors-scripts

Flight Waiting

A girl

Writes in taut letters that run together in long streaming sentences and in great blocks, sprawled judiciously across lined pages, simultaneously self-conscious of her subject — herself — and her surroundings (airport bar) wrapped up in the milieu of new sobriety.

Orders a diet coke.

Sneezes quietly.

I sit across the aisle, eyes blood shot,

glancing sporadically toward the obscene white glow

of a broadcaster’s award-winning dentation,

gnawing in rhythm with melodious Zanex.

Flight waiting.

Girl, the same one, in form-fitting yoga pants, shoulders casually slung in a light blue v-neck sweater, punctuates heavily.

She underlines me in every sentence of her black notebook.

Page 100 gets special treatment.

Islands of words surrounded by black ball-point ink.

A candid gliphial conjurer.

I think,

mine is a reservoir I can’t quite fill.

So she pours words like concrete.

But it won’t quick dry

harden fast enough to form a foundation.

She is saddened by sadness.

Longs to be enrobed by it.

And wear it as a gown.

She flips through the pages and retraces her words, bent over the page, hair loosely dangling above the paper.

Disappears – Halcyon Days (video)

Chicago band, Disappears have been sculpting moody and paranoid sonic compositions, altering the notion of structure on each subsequent release since forming in 2008. On the band’s latest, Irreal, they manage to ratchet up the tension with a minimalism that is calculating and precise. I appreciate their sonic aesthetic even more, now that the band seem to be moving toward the type of music they made on the 2013 12″, Kone. They’re delving into the IN BETWEEN space, creating music in an era where you can easily spend 90 minutes in a isolation chamber. Not to be confused with cold or isolating but fluid and viscous.

Some writer with more time and a better grasp of metaphor likened them to David Lynch.

Sure, Disappears make Lynchian-post kraut rock. Now it’s dark…

Disappears are accessing something unique. Getting farther and farther out. The use of repetition, recursive riffs and motifs paired with Brian Case’s monotone vocal delivery of haiku-like lyrics that often end in ellipses rather than declarative cliche, escape the velocity of rock pastiche.

They’re playing at the Casbah on April 3, 2015. The night after TV On the Radio plays the Observatory in North Park.

Another important distinction, Brian Case has an affinity for Taylor Swift, which I share so he and his band get top marks in my estimation.

Haiku 3/3/15

Twirling in the sun

A noose hung on cottonwood

Blade marks in the bark

– Tajomaru Thiret

RIP Wuornos, Serial Killer

Wournos, Aileen

Final Interview

October 8, 2002

Florida State Prison, Bradford County, Florida

I was benighted amidst the yellow birch, conifer and sugar maple in the forests of the Midwest.

There I ran with the squirrels. In my child’s voice the song of the Scarlet Tanager echoed, harbinger of spring, my bared toes massaged the loam under hemlock and black oak.

The sky was wide. It offered a seamless verticality.

When the sun hung above the horizon, I felt, in my child’s body, a tensing of muscles, as if I was lifting something heavy.

Dirt and asphalt cut black scars through the hills.

For me, life was a matter of straying from the shoulder of roads.

Soon the forest gave way to concrete and the broken skyline of cities.

There I met the gritted teeth of the world.

There is a dream memory of me, floating above my child’s body.

It haunts me at night when the alcohol wears off.

I am motionless and lying on black, star print sheets, staring through the popcorn ceiling, peering at a life lived rogue, and a future I can’t imagine.

No, can’t hardly think of me an old woman. Ain’t no getting old.

I heard the nauseating sound of a chord struck, like strings out of tune on an old Dobro guitar.

In the dream memory I can make out his hairline, blocking out the dim sixty-watt hanging from the fixture, his thumbs pressing into my wrists, smell of his stale cigarette and Schlitz breath and see that stars of Dixie tattooed on his neck—my mother’s father—and a bright white light erupted from above.

Not until I heard my grandfather was dead, did the pieces fall together.

And your Father?

[Father was a pedo. Hung hisself in the Pen.]

The grace of Jesus. That’s what I thought it was then, that’s what I call it now, waiting here to die.

The light was a signal and a map.

Codified in pain, I was tasked—me—with removing from the world eight demonic entities.

This was a quest I couldn’t comprehend nor deny.

If you asked me, I would tell you, in my own street talk way, that I shifted from child to woman.

Like a manual shift transmission.

Fast and smooth like that Camaro I boosted with Tracy when we was on the lam from that fucking piece of S.H.I.T. Jasper.

Pressed, I would foreswear my childhood.

That the shift never occurred—was imperceptible—and that I was born an angel, with womanly parts and disposition.

You had a child at fourteen you gave up for adoption?

Ain’t gonna talk about that, okay?

No prob.

Here, this is where we enter the world of the transaction.

Somewhere, inside me, a vacuum.

They said I was too immature to grasp the finality of death.

Prosecutor was a condescending prick. ‘Scuse me for sayin’ so.

But my awareness stemmed not from a lack of maturity but a diamond honed sense of survival.

To avoid pain and embrace the reptilian.

Escaping pain became centrifugal.

A damaged and primitive child, I slipped through the teeth of the world and bared my own.

When I was at County I met an Indian lady, looked me in the eye and told me I was a container.

F-ing Tupperware, I says to her?

No, she told me that I contained everything; anguish, loneliness, sadness, anger and love poured into the hollow point between my sternum and above my pubic bone.

Trippy right?

Please continue.


Learning eventually that the foundation would always shift but the center wouldn’t never change, you know?

I rode the road.

Offered myself.

And the in between plushness of death, extended to the men I encountered.

Under cypress and the smell of wet soil, diesel and aftershave, I absorbed them into mine.

Gave my tender love to Boys who later died under the oily umbrella of a Kuwaiti sky.

In the low-lying hitchhiker’s thumb of the continent, skirting gators in the glades, lessons in the secrets of the transaction were practiced.

Meanwhile, I looked for the signs and signals of the eight.

See, violence in America is idiosyncratic.

I was further enlightened with a pistol in my rectum.

Back of some bastard’s Buick Le Sabre.

Hell fire of rubbing alcohol to wash away the evidence, his sin.

He was my first and when the hammer hit the firing pin, I shot true, relieving the world of the first of eight demons.

This was in?

Must have been ’round Thanksgiving, ’89.

Then it was the principle. The deputy. The businessman. The pastor.

You got any cigarettes?


Sure. Here.


Thanks [shrugs and motions towards her restraints].




That upon leaving this world I would be met by the holy trinity.

Those spirits would bear the names: sodium thiopental; Pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.


What about the other homicides?

When I met them, each of them, my muscles tensed, mouth filled up with hot spit like when you’re about to puke. I’d hear with clarity the strumming of a badly out of tune guitar.

The notes, was always sour.

But it’s how I knew.

The dance I had to perform with them was always terribly painful and violent.

Getting punched in the mouth. Raped in the, you know, in the rear…

But I had faith.

With God. My Jesus was by my side, guiding my hand, sending those demons back to hell.


The used-car salesman. Unemployed high-school coach. Tax preparer. Bar tender from Pensacola.

Before I killed them, they asked me my secret.

What is your secret?

Call me Lee…

Let Some Birds Fly to Catch the Worm – On Writing

Good friend and collaborator John O’Hara told me to focus on getting CS done. “Let some birds fly to catch the worm,” he said. Those little gems folks pass on fill the sails.

I haven’t sent an update to the CS Kickstarters in a while. I’m not thrilled that the project has taken so long to get done. So instead of updating I’m waiting until I have something tangible to share. That should be very soon. Possibly next week.

Now, on to a random firing of neurons manifesting in black marks on a white background.

I think about when I started this project, nearly eight years ago, writing feverishly on the Trolley on the way to work, early in the morning, smell of stale beer and old ciggy-refries from the can collector on his way to the El Cajon Recyc Center, sound of Manu Chau “Welcome to Tijuna” in my headphones, feeling inspired and writing as fast as my hand could dictate the ideas in my head on a semi-fresh Moleskin with a black ink Signo Uni-ball.

That morning, the character of the Alchemist appeared, near fully formed in my head.

Rodia Grigoryevitch Zaytsev, AKA The Alchemist (El Paraguas – The Umbrella)

Owner of The InterZone, COO of Arnelle Liquidation Associates.

The Alchemist is a tall, barrel chested man who is balding with a large beard that rests on his chest, full lips, deep-set eyes and aquiline nose with a prominent bridge. He has double-zero gauge ear lobe plugs and is usually pictured wearing a rubber apron with large black rubber gloves, he is also sometimes seen in a meticulously tailored three piece suit. He smokes cigars. Drinks mescal. He is hacked into the Agility DAS Surveillance network and can watch things happening all around the city.

He was refined over time but the basic concept remained. From there Anton and Xispa and Arellano manifested and the initial treatment for Caustic Soda was totally different from what I have now but I loved every aspect of creating the world of these characters.

The real thrill of writing is the doing. Getting it out. Working it out. Finding that rhythm that happens when the story is hot on the brain pan and you can’t stop thinking about what happens next. How your characters will react and what will become of them in the fictional sequence of events unraveling from wherever they are conjured.

I’ve had interactions with writers. “Writers.” Man, they’ll tell you all about the idea for the story they’re planning on writing. Bragtalk about the vintage typewriter they set up in their cloistered space, where they machete narratives from the tangled jungle of ideas. There are those who’ll try and convince you that writing is something “they love to do.” They love writers and the writerly things they do. Drinking scotch, staying up late, speaking like Old Bull or Bukowski. Name dropping. Smoking cigarettes. Listening to Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Random sex. Bad relationships. Heartbreak. Pain. Whatever helps you get the words out, indulge those impulses but not at the expense of the work. The work is what matters. Words, rather.

My grandfather, survivor of a few bypasses, was diagnosed with ALS in his nineties. Just recently he found out he has terminal cancer on top of his terminal ALS. Unable to communicate, he wrote “I wish I had more time to do everything.” At 92, even 100 years of life seems insufficiently short.

Paycheck is a real drag though, man. Writing takes time and effort. Time is in short supply. The economies of art making are asymmetrical. My mentor and friend, Harold Jaffe writes, “Possibly the hardest factor for concerned younger artists to accept is that there will always be an incommensurateness between their imaginative efforts and results. The primary obligation is to not avert your eyes: to bear witness.”

CS is an action sci-fi western. Peripherally, it is an examination of technology, surveillance and power. A look at the drug war, mediated and filtered through graphic narrative.

It’s real and its unreal.

Imaginings of an ideal. Point is, you have to get the work out. Find writers who write and want to share their work. Writers who talk about writing are full of shit. Myself included.

I try to be less full of shit everyday.

Embrace being one of the unrehearsed.

With CS, at least in the beginning, I was working from my gut. Punk rock graphic narrative. My script for Issue 1 was a mess to navigate. No wonder it took two years for Dan to illustrate it. I sent him 5 or 6 versions over the course of two years.

Of interest is a recent quote from Scott McCloud on Tatsumi [read full post on AV Club]:

And then gradually [Tatsumi’s] artistic convictions began to overtake his survival instincts until finally he was able to do something that was more meaningful in the long run to him and more aesthetically adventurous. But there’s still that sense that you are as an artist, this is your job and you’re part of a society that only values you to the extent that you can give society what it’s looking for, what it wants. And that determines the shape of that career, and so you can feel a bit like a pinball just going from bumper to bumper trying to make your way in that life. But in the end, those artistic convictions did carry Tatsumi through it all. And without some kind of coherent aesthetic desire or sense of mission, one can just get rolled over by the day-to-day needs. And I see a lot of artists suspended in the present. I see artists just trying to work to do what they think everybody wants to see, and I feel as if I can already see how it’s going to end up. Even if they’re talented, even if they’re getting some success, if they’re not stretching beyond that, then it may not end happily for them. Fortunately, Tatsumi did transcend that day-to-day struggle.

Getting space to create. That is the struggle. Time as well. Those two are like twin helix, space and time.

Back to CS. Rodia, the Alchemist, doesn’t suffer fools. He’s a killer and a poet. Foil to Anton Nevona. I imagined him as a modern day Raskolnikov (his name “Rodia” is Raskolnikov’s patronym) minus the conflicts of conscious or propensity for being a bumbling fuck up.  I saved the bumbling fuck up character for Anton–modeled him after someone I know intimately, the cowardice and the desire to not be exposed as a coward. But The Alchemist was also born of my impression of “K” from The Trail if he were instead a functionary of the state rather than a man trapped in the absurd spiral of prosecution and bureaucracy. A killer and an accomplice. A realist. Someone to build a better mousetrap. A guy who will always fail better.

Putting together a 3 issue mini-series on a DIY budget is a big accomplishment. Getting the words to appear as illustrations by a capable and talented artist is an accomplishment. Convincing people that the vision and the story are worth supporting is an accomplishment. I have no idea if anyone will “like it.”

Writers, they’ll tell you that the work they do is solitary. Lonely. That writing is therapeutic. Cathartic. Sure those things are true. But anyone who identifies as a writer cannot possibly be a writer without readers.

Over the summer I was approached by a gentleman who wanted to make CS into a film. I put together a synopsis. Sent it out. Tried to follow up. Tried to connect. Nothing doing. Did I dream momentarily of going “pro”? Yeah. I did. I reached out and made some connection but it wasn’t quite enough. Did I take it personally? Yeah. It takes so much energy to make a movie.

How the fuck do so many shitty movies get made? A friend who works in the movie biz agreed to look at my pages and he was incredibly generous and helped me refine the piece. If there were more of this type of dude helping young writers/artists navigate the sea of bullshit, maybe less shitty movies would get made. But he’s just one fella. I owe him a debt. No bullshit goes a long way. Really, it does. That goes for those folks in your inner circle. You know the ones who always encourage you despite the chorus of disapproval in your head, telling you it can’t be done. Hold those people dear.

Getting discouraged by rejection can be kryptonite to any creator. Any creator worth a shit will plug their ears and keep hacking away at that jungle until they clear a semi-coherent path to the gooey center.

Fail better. Always.

This post is a fail better post. Somewhat random and incoherent, loosely tied together with string, barely wrapped for your delectation.

Within the next few months, Caustic Soda Hello, the War is Here will be done. Nearly 80 pages of a graphic narrative about a guy bumbling his way through a dangerous and indifferent world.

Top Twenty Semi-Context Free Concepts Purloined from John Berger


  1. Political resistance often begins in a meanwhile.
  2. The consumer is essentially somebody who feels, or is made to feel, lost, unless he or she is consuming.”
  3. Once, long ago, a future existed.
  5. The Eternal is meow.

The most beautiful sea

hasn’t been crossed yet.

The most beautiful child

hasn’t grown up yet.

Our most beautiful days

We haven’t seen yet.

And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you

I haven’t said yet. – Hikmet

  1. One was born into this life to share the time that repeatedly exists between moments: the time of Becoming, before Being risks to confront one yet again with undefeated despair.
  2. In the war the dark is on nobody’s side; in love the dark confirms that we are together.
  3. Spray. Paint. The. Walls.
  4. Illuminated moments arrive by way of tenderness and love.
  5. Political resistance often begins in a meanwhile.
  6. The consumer is essentially somebody who feels, or is made to feel, lost, unless he or she is consuming.
  7. Are we approaching disconnections which amount to what can be called madness when found in the minds of those who believe they can rule the planet?
  8. Where do birds go when it rains?
  9. The wind got up in the night and took our plans away (Chinese proverb).
  10. There is a very direct relationship today between the minutes of meetings and minutes of agony.
  11. Happiness is what pierces grief.
  12. Spay/Neuter
  13. The memory of the dead existing in timelessness may be thought of as a form of imagination concerning the possible, the imagination is close to (resides in) God; but I do not know how.

i.)             God is an astronaut

ii.)            God is an anachronism

iii.)           God is a frozen goat’s milk yogurt honey lavender popsicle 


  1. Purchase a large 20’ x 10’ strip of painting canvas from local hardware store. Add one of the above quotes using can of Krylon. Display barely legible banner from freeway overpass. Try not to die while hanging banner.

a.)  Feel more alive

b.)  Feel less dead

c.)  Feel between breaths


 *1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19 from John Berger’s Hold Everything Dear. 



Raised Lettering, Jesus…Guns

A Military optics manufacturer supplied targeting scopes to US and Allied troops in [______] and [______] referencing scripture verses featuring, “2COR4:6” and “JN8:12” in raised letters.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reads: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness.”

And John 8:12 reads: ‘I am the light of the world.”

Amidst controversy, the manufacturer of the “Jesus Guns” offered 100 modification kits to remove the inscriptions.

Roughly 250,000 of the targeting scopes are in service.

GooQuery 1: effects of light pollution during combat.

GooQuery 2: what would Jesus do, in a combat zone. 

Draft 1 Printed in Pacific Review 2011: Revolt

Available at Amazon

Federal Bureau of In Your Face Book

The F.B.I. has entered the social networking space creating phony profiles in an effort to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize dissidents.

Distant acquaintances and “friends” who post: at the gym; waiting in line; guess who got tickets to the Superbowl? or other insufferable humble brags and literal “in the moment” activities, attention seeking narcissism or uninformed political bating while sharing pictures in grammatically/syntactically incorrect prose are, quite possibly, bored and overpaid analysts @ Quantico.

Printed in Pacific Review 2011: Revolt

Available at Amazon

*In light of the Edward Snowden’s revelations last year regarding the NSA’s massive data collection program, this piece, though speculative when I wrote it, can easily be edited/redacted in a few places. For example, F.B.I. changed to NSA and Quantico, changed to Fort Meade.



Designer Rebel

Espousing Jihad Chic: Olive Drab Shemagh Kafiya; Duo-tone Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses; Desert-Camo iPhone Case; Versace bomb belt; hand-sewn Cavalli bandolier; Kalashnikov w/ USB and headphone jack (dig the latest Faakhir Mehmood); KidRobot branded SIM-card reprogrammer (screen printed to look like an IED).

Balaà, coolest mutha fuckin’ insurgent in Karachi.


Printed in Pacific Review 2011: Revolt

Available at Amazon


Revolutionary Brain “An Insurgent Text” – Reveiw


Revolutionary Brain by Harold Jaffe

Harold Jaffe, author of 20 books, including Terror-dot-Gov, Beyond the Techno-Cave and 15 Serial Killers, turns his critical eye to America and global media culture in his latest collection of essays, quasi-essays and “docufictions,” Revolutionary Brain. These 19 texts, written with Jaffe’s confident élan, range stylistically from interview, to reportage, to the use of an extensive list of pornographic keywords in the text, “Revolution Post-Mill.” The result is a book composed and organized much like an album, each text a song to be listened to individually, or within the context of the whole.

Revolutionary Brain interrogates our collective amnesia in relation to our obsession with technology, with all the attendant contradictions. We live in a time where we are increasingly aware of looming environmental catastrophe, yet our awareness of global warming is sublimated by the use of the term as a semantic palliative.  Despite real social progress towards diversity, class inequity is worsening dramatically. The news media profits from diverting attention from crucial news to corporate-sponsored blandishments. Jaffe’s writing addresses these issues, deftly intermingling relevance with irreverence, juxtaposing pain with beauty and conveying serious thought with brevity. These aspects are perhaps best depicted in “Crisis Art.” Jaffe writes that “crisis art” is situational, “hence created rapidly rather than painstakingly revised and refined,” and Revolutionary Brain, though clearly refined, addresses crises while also being “keenly aware of text and context” (Jaffe 25). The prerogative of the activist/socially conscious writer is to reconfigure, interact and integrate information and deliver the result in a text that vibrates, bears witness.  “Crisis artists must swallow the poison in order to reconstitute it. Expel it art…The poison, currently, includes our crazily spinning, electronic-obsessed, war-making culture and its profit-mad institutions; along with the rapidly worsening environmental crisis.” (25)

Though the bulk of this collection includes longer essay-esque pieces, instances of compressed writing also appear as shorter, micro texts like Fear and Pet Girl. Fear is a dialog between two unknown individuals discussing the use of cognac to alleviate fear. The final line is expressive and taut. “After cognac you feel clear. Unafraid. Only then will you permit yourself to be merciful.” ( 45) “Pet Girl” describes a relationship between a submissive and her master who leads her around in public on a silver leash. When questioned about the dynamic, the girl, explains it is her choice and she isn’t harming anyone. A few other interludes appear in the form of actual To-Do lists, these serve as reminders, ostensibly to readers, to embrace pleasure.

Additional fictive exchanges between the author, and an artist or celebrity are used effectively to frame a concept or theme. In Weep the author “interviews” the actor Marlon Brando months prior to the actor’s death, discussing Brando’s propensity to weep. Notably, Brando was one or perhaps the only Caucasian to pay his respects to slain Black Panthers leader, Fred Hampton. He wept openly at the viewing. This segues into a close inspection of weeping as a social act. The author is careful to make the distinction between the tears of the bereaved and those who experience “despair without fear,” and the crocodile tears of televangelists, politicians and billionaires embroiled in scandal.  Finally, the title acts as a mantra and also a challenge:  to weep is to feel.

Truth-Force begins with a repetition of dialog between los pobres (“We, The Poor Ones”) and an unidentified interlocutor aboard a train as they discuss the ultimate fate of a junta torturer captured by revolutionaries.  During the exchange is a coded sentence, “I’ve read the report,” which triggers a yes or no vote by the compañero. Votes tallied will determine whether or not the torturer is to be executed. A detailed account of torture by electrocution experienced by one of the compañeros follows: “You’d expect the electric shock to feel like catching hold of a live wire with your fingers. One might tolerate that. This is a hundred times worse… I didn’t know until inmate compañeros told me afterwards that they wept to hear me tortured. I screamed and wailed, they told me,” and it ends with a wrenching, “pain beyond pain” (69). Just as there are images that can’t be unseen, there are texts that, once read, cannot be forgotten. Revolutionary Brain infiltrates the reader’s mind, resonating long after reading.

Salvation Mountain is a docufictional account of “Dewey Birdsong” and his testament God is Love in the form of a mountain made of adobe, paint and various debris sourced from the Imperial Valley desert in Southern California. Dewey—the fictive incarnation of Leonard Knight, who began building Salvation Mountain nearly thirty years ago—explains that while he may make a hundred mistakes, that with Jesus he can start again with the same enthusiasm. The prose here is spare and beautiful.

The book’s title is inspired by the real world events involving members of the notorious Baader-Meinhof Gang, a group of German anti-imperialist revolutionaries, and the abuse of their corpses by authorities. After the apparent suicides of imprisoned gang members (including the bizarre “self-inflicted” gunshot wound to the neck and four stab wounds to the heart) in May 1976, German authorities extracted their brains for study, with all but Ulrike Meinhof’s having since been “lost.”

In Revolutionary Brain, Harold Jaffe shines light into the gaps in the official discourse so as to find an opening, plant an idea and let it grow, positing that critical dissent never becomes extinct in the mind and passions. This is powerful writing from a mind that refuses to remain silent, that continues to bear witness.

Copies available at Amazon