Thursday, March 13, 2014

from "So Our Best Efforts Were Undone" (Sesshu Foster)

postcard: "Rapture" (1988) artist unknown

An excerpt from "So Our Best Efforts Were Undone (Includes Free Ulysses S. Grant Favorite Recipe for Pancakes)"
Sesshu Foster
You cannot teach a man anything about wax; you can only find it within yourself. —Dick Tracy 
When I was a musician, we’d be on the road, traveling from town to town, you can imagine, crossing as it were the inner sea of the prehistoric cheapness of life, in a van or a sedan (doesn’t matter), I’d forget that there were experts in everything somewhere, a whole nation of experts, waiting somewhere, to be vaguely useful, waiting to become a force to be reckoned with. On the outside. Instead, we’d just be collecting our mail wherever we could get it. On the radio or soda machine, or wherever—general delivery. —Smokey the Bear
... We sent out Broderick Crawford to patrol the byways, with their perfume of Mexico City and Zagreb, oleanders and agave growing by the gravel quarry— What did Broderick Crawford know about the moon, he was an alcoholic— suspended license, DUI— Everyone chauffeurs a bit of moon, pieces of moonlight— If it doesn’t have dust on it, you know it has been moved— Moon carcass hanging on a fence— —Pat Brown 
Cigarettes are my ruin, whisky is my grave / some of these nice-looking women gonna carry me to my grave / —Harry Truman 
People began to look like gorillas, their muscles swelled with bristling tufts of hair, flashing teeth and black eyes, they began to look insectile to me, sun glinting hard on their carapaces, limbs jointed, brusquely exoskeletal, exposing nasty pointed hairs, jerky movements in daylight, surfaces too shiny and jagged, their movements jerky and jagged, capable of sudden rapidity beyond which I could even make out with the human eye, people grew frighteningly hard and shiny, growing like dinosaurs, larger than cars suddenly or gas stations, I had the sense that they were lurking behind buildings and fences, consuming things, God knows what, containers of solvents or petroleum products or dead animals, becoming grotesquely huger and huger, threatening to crush their surroundings accidentally, I couldn’t look anyone in the face like that anymore. —Tony Roma 
I have 3 women, yellow, brown and black / I have 3 women, yellow, brown, and black / gonna take the governor of Georgia to judge the one I like / I got one for the morning, one for late at night / I got one for noon-time, to treat a daddy right / —Lee Harvey Oswald 
Yes, I’d like the roasted miasma with succulent diverticulitis, and a side of garlic Sargasso and punctured bees. To drink, let me see, how about crushed ice chest? If the ice is not crushed, just the chest. Yes. —Lee Krasner 
Se atumulta la sangre en el termómetro. —Charlie Chan 
Many were killed as they attempted to swim off the island. Others were shot. Many of the women met their deaths by bayonet. But most horrific of all were the stories of the deaths of children. One Pomo historian later wrote “One lady told me she saw two white men coming, their guns up in the air and on their guns hung a little girl. They brought it to the creek and threw it in the water. And a little while later two more men came in the same manner. This time they had a little boy on the end of their guns and also threw it in the water . . . She said when they gathered the dead they found all the little ones were killed by being stabed (sic)” After the destruction of the village, Lyon’s forces continued throughout the area, killing all Indians they came into contact with. In coming months, hundreds of Indians of all tribes would be hunted down and killed. Nine years later, after the Gunther’s Island massacre near the Pacific coast, one young editor by the name of Bret Harte was so appalled he wrote in the Northern Californian, “Indiscriminate Massacre of Indians: Women and Children Butchered.” —Woody “Woodrow Wilson” Strode 
It looked like Death Valley, except I think we were out toward Nevada by that time. I swear, I think that time Ray Foster did have a ticket. —Cisco Houston ...

An excerpt from "So Our Best Efforts Were Undone (Includes Free Ulysses S. Grant Favorite Recipe for Pancakes)" by Sesshu Foster. The piece appears online at the current BOMB magazine website.  Foster has taught in East L.A. for twenty-five years. He is currently collaborating with artist Arturo Romo and other writers on the website,; his most recent books are Atomik Aztex [2005] and World Ball Notebook [2009]. His WordPress website is East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines, and well worth a browse.

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