Monday, January 31, 2011

There Wasn't Anything More Tenderly Conductive Than an Orderly's Gloved Fingers


     "Ben Flesh," Ben Flesh said, extending his hand.

     "Colonel Sanders," the man said grudgingly.
      Ben pushed his hand out farther. The man took it finally and Flesh grabbed the chicken king's hand in both his own and pulled it towards his face. Before Colonel Sanders knew what was happening Flesh opened his jaws wide as he could and shoved as much of the man's hand inside his mouth as possible. He sucked the startled man's knuckles, ran his tongue along his lifeline, chewed his nails, the heel of his hand, tasted his pinky. The Colonel made a fist and fought for his hand, which Ben still held to his mouth.
      "Lemme be. What's wrong with you?"
     And Ben could not have told him, couldn't have said that he'd pulled his first stunt, an engram of character and aggression. He stood before the Colonel with the man's hand still at his lips. "Finger-lickin' good," Flesh said. "It's true. What they say. About Dixie," he added lamely....

     ...Ben looked at him. The man had removed his glasses. He touched a corner of his mustache like a villain in melodrama and, as they all watched, began to peel it back like a Band-Aid of hair.
     "What?" Ben said. "What's this?"
     "I ain't him. I'm not he. I'm Roger Foster of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I own airport limousine services in three states."
     "You're not the chicken prince?"
     "I'm Roger Foster of Cedar Rapids, Iowa," Roger Foster said.
     "Then what - But why - You look - "
     "Certainly, I look. There's a basic resemblance. I enhance it. I'm a Doppelganger."
     "Does this mean you can't get the franchise, Ben?" Gus-Ira asked.

Stanley Elkin, The Franchiser

  • David Harvey on The Future of the CommonsThe violent neoliberal attacks on the rights and power of organized labor that, from Chile to Britain, began in the 1970s are now being augmented by a draconian global austerity plan that, from California to Greece, entails losses in asset values, rights, and entitlements for the mass of the population, coupled with the predatory absorption of hitherto marginalized populations into capitalism’s dynamics. Living on less than $2 a day, this population of more than 2 billion or so is now being taken in by microfinance as the “subprime of all subprime forms of lending,” so as to extract wealth from them — as happened in U.S. housing markets through subprime predatory lending, which was then followed by foreclosures — to gild the McMansions of the rich. The environmental commons are no less threatened, while the proposed answers such as carbon trading and new environmental technologies merely propose that we seek to exit the impasse using the same tools of capital accumulation and speculative market exchange that got us into the difficulties in the first place. Unfortunately, this is an old, old story: every major initiative to solve the problem of global poverty since 1945 has insisted on exclusive use of the means — capital accumulation and market exchange — that produce relative and sometimes absolute poverty. It is unsurprising that the poor are still with us and that their numbers are growing rather than diminishing over time.
  • How much is too much?
  • Egpyt's class conflict.
  • Egypt rising: Potomac power plays.
  • Yes you can't.
  • Not by process but by outcome.
  • But Obama's so dreamy
  • Speculate.
  • Weast's Plan-B. Whatever you do, do not raise property taxes on mcmansionists who send their children to Sidwell Friends.
  • My future hell.
  • My future hell.


Albert Goldbarth

Elaine's job on the geriatric ward included encouraging
the constipated to loose their stingly, gnarled marbles
into the bowl - by hand: there wasn't anything more tenderly
conductive than an orderly's gloved fingers.
There's nothing redeeming in this: Simply: she
needed the pay, they needed her excavating
(literally: from out/of their cavities) help.
The rest? - "an alien stink that followed me home,
under my toenails, in my hair." But surely we'd do it
willingly for someone we loved... yes? Even
gratefully - for someone we loved. And then
we'd clean the pad, we'd rinse if free of its gobbets
the size and color of cornelian cherries...
gladly, yes? Gladly and changed. Better;
tested. Even when my mother was dying,
shrinking, growing hard rosettes
as if her lungs were tanks in an experiment...
didn't I tend to her? and wasn't it the way
it always used to be? - that with precision instinct
she'd arranged this just so she could prove
to relatives and neighbors that her son
was so caring, her son was the best. I'd wring
the compress, set it on her forehead again.
What a good boy I was!


  1. I don't think the third shirt is ugly, but I'll give you unimaginative.

    This made me giggle:

  2. That new kit is sweet... for a cartoon about a pit team for a VW race car. (think Speed Racer)

    Great Elkin excerpt. And great Harvey excerpt.

  3. Thanks for The Franchiser excerpt.

  4. Ok, bleg. If Müller doesn't get his second yellow on a borderline call against Argentina in a 4-0 win, Germany beats Spain and crushes Robbens and his disgraceful teammates.

    What color are those kits? Are they supposed to be red or is the team moving to Baltimore?


  5. No need to be disrespectin' Speed Racer.