Voyd of Course

"It's like the Onion, only skinnier!" --Milton Swift "Still worth the price of the paper it's not printed on." --Felicia DuBois "The unspeakable, spoken." --Malin Wuptke "More interesting than computer solitaire, though perhaps not so effective a distraction from the void." --Harlan J. Rippington "Satire today, history tomorrow." --Steven Wallace

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Location: Santa Fe, NM, United States

In 1966, I wrote a fake newspaper article under the headline "JACK CASS SETS WORLD SHOWERING RECORD." Mr. Yohans, my 9th grade English teacher, liked it so well that he read it aloud--to much not-quite-suppressed giggling, at the sound of which, Mr Yohans said, "What? What? Did I miss something here?" I spent the rest of the afternoon in Principal Leon Duff's outer office. When Mr. Duff, who was a busy man, decided he didn't have time to see me, his secretary sent me back to the classroom, where I was greeted like McMurphy returning from solitary. Emboldened by my de facto exoneration, my friends began work on their own fake news stories. I remember a spate of Russian names in the stories, including "Ivan Kutchikokoff" and "Ivan Jerkinov." Needless to say, our newly suspicious teacher sent both of my friends to Mr. Duff's office, where they were not as bureaucratically blessed as I had been. They sat detention for a week. This I took as a lesson in subtlety--and in how to start a commotion and slip from the room before the law comes down.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This Just In: News That Stays News


Washington—In testimony before the congressional panel to investigate the response to Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA Director Michael Brown blamed the poor wading skills of the New Orleans poor for most of the problems they experienced.

“You look at the videotapes of those folks,” Brown said to the packed hearing room. “Stumbling, weaving, dropping their food and water, their next of kin. It’s just obvious. If I made one mistake in my response, it was not realizing what poor waders the citizens of New Orleans are.”

Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas) was quick to question Brown’s claim. “You mean to say improved wading skills would have alleviated this disaster?”

“I mean to say,” Brown shot back, “that when you live in a swamp you need to know how to get your asses out of the swamp.”

Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut pressed the issue further. “What,” he said, “in your mind, constitutes good wading technique?”

“Look,” Brown replied, rising from his seat. “These folks were taking long strides from the hip. That doesn’t work. It throws you off balance. A garbage can, a shed, or a dead body bumps into your shoulder--you’re down. Good wading technique requires short, mincing steps.” Brown demonstrated the technique for the panel.

Representative Shays thanked Brown for the demonstration. “Is it your belief, then, that some of the 200 billion dollars in aid should go towards some sort of wading school?”

“Definitely,” replied Brown.

The hearings will continue tomorrow when Mark Spitz, winner, in 1972, of seven Olympic gold medals, will critique the New Orleans residents’ swimming abilities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This Just In: News That Stays News


Washington—Adhering closely to a Heritage Foundation plan for reconstructing hurricane-devastated areas, U.S. President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to use slave labor.

In an oval office speech that followed by just a week his suspension of Davis-Bacon wage controls, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to override the Emancipation Proclamation and reinstitute slavery in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

“Most of these people were unemployed anyway,” Bush said in a televised statement from the Oval Office. “At least this way they’ll have shanties to live in, good honest work to keep them out of the appliance stores, and three square meals. A lucky few may even get to sleep with their masters.”

Bush's action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew sharp rebukes from two of The Emancipation Proclamation’s biggest supporters in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to reinstute slavery," Miller and Kennedy said in a joint statement. “This is not only unacceptable in terms of human rights, it’s political suicide.”

When informed of Miller and Kennedy’s comments, Press Secretary Scott McClelland laughed and told reporters that Bush had that under control—he was also planning on suspending the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But even Republican senator Trent Lott of Mississippi was critical. "President Bush should realize the colossal mistake he has made in signing this order,” said Lott. “We need to ensure that America’s slaves are illegal aliens from Latin America and Asia and not American citizens.”

Ralph Reed, political advisor and right-wing-Christian-at-large was more succinct. “You know,” he said, “I always preferred a good field holler to this rap you hear nowadays.”

Friday, September 23, 2005

Entertainment Headlines

Following the Success of Ganja-Laden Reggae CD, Nelson Plans Ecstasy-Fueled Techno, Meth-Driven Heavy Metal Projects

World Headlines

Lured from Afghanistan Cave by Promise of "Cable, In-Room Coffee"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gravestone Rubbings from the Cemetery of Failed Writers


This Just In: News That Stays News


Midland, Texas—In a clandestine press conference in south Midland, Texas, yesterday, a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confessed that nobody really knows what happened on March 13, 1969, the day John Kerry pulled Jim Rassman out of the Bay Hap River--an act for which Kerry was awarded the Bronze Star.

“We were into some killer shit that day,” said the man, who identified himself as a passenger on Lester Thurlow’s swift boat. “All I remember is the colors, how everything seemed more intense than usual, and how it seemed to take hours just to move your hand from here to here.” The man moved his hand a foot to the right.

“Then there were noises. I remember thinking that it sounded like a Keith Moon drum solo. I thought to myself, ‘maybe we should do something,’ but the moment passed and I nodded out. When I snapped out of it, boats were speeding around like bumper cars. It was like, Wow, what’s all this?”

The man also claimed that a recent meeting of the Swift Boat Vets fell apart over a prolonged off-the-record argument over whether they’d smoked Thai sticks or sensimilla. One vet even suggested it was black Lebanese hash. According to the man’s account, the meeting broke up with Lester Thurlow grumbling, “Kerry always had the best weed, and he never shared.”

A few enterprising vets suggested that Kerry’s stinginess could be the theme of the Vets’ next attack ad.

This Just In: News That Stays News

Apostrophe use up 900% since 2002

Grammarian’s predict still higher rate’s in the coming decade’s

Normal, Illinois—A study commissioned by the United States Department of Education report’s apostrophe use is up 900% since January of 2002. Much of this increase is attributed to handwritten sign’s, but apostrophe’s have also shown a significant increase on commercially-produced sign’s.

Calling the increase “alarming,” U.S.D.E. Apostophe Specialist Josh Stearn’s predicted that by 2010 every “s” would be accompanied by an apostrophe. “It’s a little disconcerting,” Stearn’s said in a hastily called press conference at the Department of Education’s Punctuation Control Center. “Given the worldwide shortage of apostrophe’s, supply’s could be exhausted by mid century.”

A weary President Bush, appearing on national television for the first time in more than a month, suggested the current boom in apostrophe use would pass. “My intelligence tell’s me that these figure’s are artificially inflated,” the President said. “A great many of these apostrophe’s are being produced by terrorist cell’s operating within university’s.” As a precaution, Mr. Bush announced that he was raising the terrorist alert to orange.

Monday, September 19, 2005

By Unpopular Demand: A New Poem by Chuck Calabreze


after Fred Frith

Possibly amidst the smashing glass.
There amongst the tambourine marchers.
Possibly before the door slams.
Before the drummer stumbles. Before
the scatteration of cymbal and tom,
the crash and rattle of toppling snare.
Possibly before the pharmacist staples
the bag to the bag to the label
to the receipt. Possibly there, among
the ordinary gleamings in the silverware
drawer, the wine glass coaxed into song.
Possibly before the ambulances arrive, before
the lumberyard truck starts backing
and the geese lay their necks along the grass
and emit the hissing blat we learned
to call honking. Possibly before someone
climbs tableside and attempts a ragged
Mr. Bojangles imitation. Possibly
before the dinner music. Before
epistemology. Before the arrival of the latest
tropical depression. Before Romanticism.
Primitivism. Possibly before
the fight song, the drinking song,
the mystical ravings. Back there,
in the dawn of time immemorial
or something rather like it. Before
the baying hounds. Before the cartographers
mapped even the darkest caverns
of our collective psyche.
Before blenders. Crock pots.
Before the lap dancer tossed
the man’s drink in his face. Before
lap dancers. Before drinks. Even before faces.
Somewhere during the cacophonous
ceremony we were beginning to commence
to initiate, quite possibly the hysterical
combatants were shouting
over and over for no reason: Dead
squirrel! Dead squirrel! Dead squirrel!
Whether celebration or lament
we cannot know, but the chant was,
reports indicate, accompanied by much
high-stepping and forceful vomiting,
by smashing glass, door slams,
stumbling drummers: Dead Squirrel!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Art Opinions

Chuck Calabreze: On the Tenuousness of the Poet's Existence

Not existing would, I suspect, be a source of consternation for most, but it's a perfectly natural state for a poet. My plight, then, is not exclusive to me. Oh, sure, most poets have corporeal existences while I do not, but they, like me, do not truly exist until they are in the midst of writing. My own situation is simply more extreme.

I exist first as an attitude, a comical cynicism, a penumbra of righteous doubt. I come into my full being, though, only in the enactment of language. A sputtering mouthful of mismatched adjectives and nouns, a verb full of venom, a simile that both celebrates and laments the modern condition. Suddenly I am alive, surfing the wave of being, shopping in the existential mall, among the bric-a-brac, my existence preceding my never-to-be-found essence, the language sculpting me in my own image. The poem as shopping spree. Or this: I am a lap dog who has spotted an open door. I romp. I sniff. I lift my leg. I plow my nose through the new-fallen leaves.

Surfing the wave of being. Every poet is most alive in the poem. I am only alive then. Carving turns. Shooting the curl. Spinning on my board. Then, just as suddenly as I began, I crash, kick out, or wash out in the foam. Banished to non-being once again. The poem is the wake of my having-been-here, the rent in the ocean that has already healed over.

[NOTE: Guest blogger Chuck Calabreze is a member of The Heteronymy Collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poem "Maturity" will appear in an upcoming issue of Indiana Review.]