AN EXERCISE IN HEAVY-HANDED PARODY AND MISANTHROPY
(THE AMERICAN DREAM.)
(i) The Culture
(Sold my soul for a quarter.)
. “How can I help you?”
. Glazed eyes and a poorly-suppressed sigh conveyed
. That however much they were paying her for this,
. It clearly wasn’t enough.
Bang! Boom! Crash!
Violence! Action! Sex!
A vicarious summer, ten bucks a pop;
branded merchandise soon to follow.
All you’ll need,
all you’ll ever need.
Save for the hotly-anticipated sequel.
Metallic behemoths, hot chicks.
Cinematic excellence, ADD culture.
A match made in heaven.
Even better are the wide-screen,
crystal-clear HDTV monstrosities.
Infinite channels of nothing,
a wasteland of raw emotion.
. Her hair fell brown-black in carefully casual waves,
. Waves parted by stylishly retro rectangular glasses.
. Eyeliner, applied in a trendy scene style, rimmed
. Eyes I dare not meet in dreams.
Glorious lifelines, those earplugs,
pumping manufactured angst.
Provocative female vocals compliment
phat synths, catchy beats, and forgettable lyrics
about this breakup or that affair.
Dance/pop replaced hip-hop,
alt-rock after emo-whine.
Ironically angsty artistic faded,
succeeded by whatever’s danceable.
To hate myself or to hate the world?
Or just to screw it, drink, and party?
Music for all.
I go for the punk and the classic rock.
The Green Day and the ACDC.
Institutionalized disrespect, prefabricated chaos.
This is my culture.
. Drink after drink of caffeine buzz
. Shouted at me from the chalked blackboard.
. She sighed, fingers impatiently drumming
. On the faux-marble counter-top.
. She glances at me, at the register.
. Impatience, boredom.
. So deliciously ironic.
Books are a more sophisticated delight.
Still untainted by the ignorant masses,
they offer their subtle pleasures.
The classic psychological twists
are my favorite, of course.
1984, Animal Farm,
love me some George Orwell.
House of Leaves owns my soul.
My darling Lolita, princess of darkness.
Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies.
But most of all, Fight Club,
the idolized masterpiece.
Pain to feel alive,
paying for the right to live.
(ii) The People
(When in Rome.)
. I scanned the menu once more, testing her patience.
. Her glazed glance turned to a glare.
. Inhaling the sharp scent of coffee grounds,
. I picked my poison.
Jeers and taunts ring like merchants hawking wares.
Cliques fill the hallways like circles of demons.
The jocks and their cheerleaders,
the preps, the Goths, the artsy drama kids.
Nerds, gangsters, druggies.
Rich and poor, black and white,
separated by increasingly visible lines.
An ancient and unchanging power-structure,
otherworldly forces assigning each his place.
Don’t rock the boat,
or else we might drown.
A biblical flood, a cleansing disaster.
. I dug through my pockets, never breaking eye contact.
. Coins clanked onto the counter.
. The drinks here are ridiculously overpriced,
. And a Tall is the least tall thing I have ever seen.
These kids, they get high, they get drunk.
A cocktail of malice, complete with prescriptions.
The over-diagnosed, the over-exposed,
generation of lost hope.
Well-wishers in comfy offices speak
of paranoia, schizophrenia, ADHD.
Depressed, anorexic, bipolar.
These are my people.
Everyone must be fixed.
If only they knew.
But if a pill cures all,
and a drug molds personality,
then who are we, really?
. I watched as she moved to the machine.
. Easy-listening music floated from the speakers.
. My shoulders ached from the weight of the backpack.
. She glanced back at me, and I was still staring at her.
I am better than them, and I know it.
They mock me, but their cries mean nothing.
People today are stupid, lifeless.
Just drones, cogs in an endless machine.
They wouldn’t know life unless you took it from them.
I was smarter than all of them, more logical,
I saw through this mess,
this objectivist nightmare.
I would come as a savior,
a shepherd of the sheeple.
I would judge the quick and the dead.
A bit of social turbulence, that’s all.
A spark for the revolution.
Our own Project Mayhem.
Bring corporate America to its knees.
(iii) The Incident
(No cry for help.)
. She handed me my drink.
Intimidated by my stare, her eyes darted to and fro.
Finally, I released her.
I turned around, a table in the corner
my lonely destination.
My pace quickened as I neared my sanctuary,
my kingdom, my freedom.
The lone chair invited me, calling for me
to sit in it, to fulfill its destiny.
I passed yuppies sitting,
typing on their MacBooks.
Probably writing pretentious poetry.
God, I hate poetry.
I hate art. I hate culture. I hate the philistine barbarians who have destroyed cinema and symphony. I sat down in the chair and stared again at the barista – oh God, her eyes. She reminded me too much of that one girl, that oh so wonderful girl from my algebra class who was so terribly out of my range, and knew it, and flaunted it, making out with that ugly imbecile of a jock she called a boyfriend – yes, she would have to go, and what a shameful thing it would be, for she had such pretty eyes. I placed my backpack on the floor beside me, reached inside of it, felt around, searching for my creation, my treasure… I had made it at Sam’s house, with stuff that I had stolen from the chemistry lab – they had all kinds of explosive stuff in those cabinets, and I would just sneak some home with me each day until I finished it. And now I would finally get my opportunity to use it, to set things right, to improve the world… to reach my destiny as a savior, a hero, a saint, a martyr… I would be remembered for this – I would make it into the headlines, the evening news. I envisioned the scene in my mind, watching the reactions of the people around me; that old man, he won’t know what’s going on, but that lady over there has a chance, and she might be able to escape… I could almost feel the blast now, I could almost hear the explosion, this was turning me on. But I must calm myself. I mustn’t lose control. This all had a purpose. I knew what I was doing. Social upheaval. Yes. Fear, terror, chaos. Yes. Sticking it to the man. Yes. I can do this. I am your one true fear, your one true enemy. I am Legend, the Jesus of Surburbia, the savior of the damned, ironman, the waiting. I am the unwanted, the unwashed, the uncared for, the slumdog, the underdog. I am the chosen one, the Muad’dib, the beast behind the wall, the walrus. I am your father, the kids your parents warned you about, invincible, a freak, a weirdo, the final solution. I am the last fragments of soul burning through your dead eyes. I am that last gasp for breath before everything fades to blackness. I am the sickening feeling in your gut as you realize the breaks are failing. I am the alpha and the omega, the creator and the destroyer. I am the way the world ends.
(iv) The Reaction
(Empathy is a lost cause.)
“Did you hear what happened?”
“That Kyle kid?”
“He was always such a freak.”
“I never liked him.”
“He looked sorta gay.”
“I always knew he would go crazy.”
“I mean, did you see the way he acted?”
“He was such a creeper.”
“Remember that time –”
“Yeah!” “Oh God.”
“He used to stare at me all the time.”
“He was always pretty weird.”
“I pushed him down the stairs once.”
“Ha… I stole his lunch a few times.”
“The other day, he told me to watch the news.”
“I dunno, I guess he was trying to make the headlines.”