/ April 2020

So I’m holed up in this run-down safehouse and my typewriter jams, right, so I smack it with my good hand and get the keys clattering again and I check out the window every couple minutes because, you know, these cops, they sneak, creep, crawl, and climb up on you when you least expect it until suddenly you hear a rap-tap-tap on the window and the goddamn SWAT goons are breaking glass, you’re dodging bullets, you’re contraband pistol is like a squirt gun to this industrial-grade death shit they throw at you, and I’m just trying to finish my story that’s been brewing in that mind of mine, the mind voided of human contact by the regal authority of the infected state, the bureaucrats telling me that friends are prohibited under Civil Code Fuck Off, Subsection Fuck You, the goddamn state reaching its long arms into my business, my property, my sanctity of mind, I can’t even type a minute without worrying about those cops breaking my fucking windows again, and why?

So I had this potluck, this weekly thing, a mundane, mechanical part of life, you go, bring food, banter, innocuous, innocent, well, I guess, not anymore! So there’s this order, they love their orders those goddamn cops and their buddies which I like to lovingly and accurately refer to as “the state” (here’s a hint: it’s not loving!) and they order this and that and you think, for the sake of all that’s decent left in this plagued world, just relax for once, like, let us out, let us live, let us breathe--

So this potluck happens, tick, tock, like clockwork every week, and what happens? The goddamn plague rolls in like some Biblical shit, call me Pharoah because the Bay is Blood and the Hoarders are Locusts, how long do we have before the Firstborns go down? It’s like the Flood, but I didn’t build a boat, so the ocean just eats you up, but imagine that instead of water it’s cops, and they just draw their industrial-grade death weapons and they just light you up--

So as I was saying this potluck was kind of an institution, but if there’s one thing cops hate it’s institutions I’ll tell you that, or maybe they hate culture in general... The Psychology of a Cop: an opus, imaginary, killed by the flood… Some sociology grad student, visionary, was writing their thesis trying to understand those cops, but where are they now? Maybe they’re home or maybe they got executed for striking, the union’s dead and the cops alive, fuck

So this potluck was going to happen, anyways. I was gonna be there, tick tock, like the clock. Well the cops had different ideas, sharpened their knives, polished their guns, searching, hungry, lusting for a target. So you start off by cooking, right, that’s potluck step one, phase one, those cops aren’t even in the picture yet, just cook, produce, create, the energy of the house in which you lie trapped fills the food as your last desperate creative outlet, you need to survive, you need to create, what’s left, what else can you do, cook, stir, make sustenance

And I always liked cooking and let me tell you why. Here I am mucking around my daily life doing work, school, whatever the underpaid writers’ room of my life comes up with, right, and I’m out here stuck in the future where we have cyber school and data thieves, and I think all the time, I mean every day, honestly, I should’ve been an alchemist, right,like they knew how to live, they didn’t waste time with any boring shit, they were like kids playing at science and now the future is the adult and you look back on your youth and you’re like, wow, I wish I could still do alchemy, wow they had fun, but now we have these standards and these rules and they dress it up and call it science! But like those alchemists weren’t doing this boring technical jargon with the deoxyribo-whatever-the-fuck… I mean they were looking for immortality, like they were really after some wizard vibes and now the latter-day alchemists who we dress up and call “science” and it’s like, what are they doing? Who cares?

So there I am over the stove and the oil is popping as the fan whisks dead air away and I got noodles boiling one pot over as the knife comes down and the broccoli meets its end under the Terror with that food-guillotine I wield with impunity against the friends-cum-enemies I like to call “sustenance” sitting there gathering dust and wasting my electricity in the fridge, those good-for-nothing freeloaders! And I throw these spices in and that’s what does it, the aroma wafts up like the smell of my enemy’s blood, conquest, victory, the boil, the trouble and toil, that cauldron, yeah, there it goes, I’m making something, that’s power, and in that moment I am the alchemist, the youth returns to the psychological milieu of my futuristic cultural moment and I am making gold, I am brewing the philosopher’s stone, immortality, the purity of the conquest of the chemical nature which turns against us at all times, but particularly, of course, in times of plague…

So I’m cooking up a storm and they call me the alchemist, but listen, let’s get to the meat, as it were. Well you couldn’t go outside, I mean nobody could, that’s what those goddamn cops said, the state wraps you to your room in the chains of plague... And at first, I mean, I’d like to say that I was coping fine and didn’t feel like some bundle of yarn knitted together by an arthritic grandmother who maybe was blind too because my god, I’m barely together -- but then it wasn’t bad, that was just the start, right, it was new, exciting, like, it’s a new world man! It’s the future! But like I was going strong I guess, so what happened, now I’m unraveling, do I talk to people? Have I ever? The cops tell me not to because speech is plague and plague is death and so we’re trapped in this crazy tiny safehouse and my typewriter jams again and I smack it with my good hand and look for cops, those goddamn cops, but no, we’re safe now, keep writing, my god, who knows how much more time--

So here’s what became apparent: to go the potluck I had to break the quarantine and the wrath of those cops would come down like the sword of Damocles above my head and I better be ready to run, run, run, away from the wrath of God the Bureaucrat and State the Son, and fight for my life to bring that stir-fry where it was meant to go, so let’s see, what’s next?

If you’re gonna go outside you need a plan because the moment you step out of your shelter those cops are after you like bees on honey or like the West on the left, so it’s terrifying first and foremost and you have to have a concrete material plan to transport your stir-fry to Kyle’s house because as soon as you go out you’re breaking the law, the law!

So I take some weapons, first of all, what do I have to work with? I have a hair-tie to shoot at the cops, a jar of honey to stick their feet to the ground, an old potato as a projectile weapon, a spatula to flip them off, some vinyl to launch as disks, a candle to throw them off the scent, fast shoes to run fast, and a picture of Reagan to garner sympathy if worst comes to worst and the cops catch me. And I have the stir fry all bundled up strapped to my chest to keep it warm as I slink through the cold dark plague-ridden night, god it’s cold and more so because it’s lonely, but back then I was fine, really, it was normal then, except for those cops

So here’s the action: I was sneaking up Telegraph and I feel like all the eyes are on me and I’m thinking, I should’ve gone up Dana, Telegraph is too busy, but maybe it’s the principle, I’m on the ‘graph to grasp onto some shadow of normalcy and pretend like it’s okay and I imagine that all the businesses are open and it’s all okay and Carol will send an email saying it’s all a joke, and I’m stuck in thought ambling, not slinking anymore, mistake, and boom gunshot behind me and a bullet whizzes by and the fuzz is on me, here we go--

So I sprint up to campus and start weaving around those trees, shrubs, buildings, and dreams left behind in the rubble when everyone left, bullets flying around me, sirens wailing as the cops replicate themselves and create car cops, and above me there’s air cops, next thing I know they’re gonna figure out how to burrow like moles and there’ll be fucking ground cops popping up to catch me, but not yet, not then, just mundane cops, and I’m running--

Bullet grazes my arm and blood starts flowing and that’s bad because of those bright-eyed cops plastered against the gray death of the plagued-ridden hellscape through which I ran as the pale moon mocked me and gave away my position to the cops whose noses sniff, sniff, sniffed me out for being an enemy of the state as my stir fry got colder and the specter of death rose from the drops of blood I left behind and I thought, fuck, I’m going to be late to this potluck--

But I shot my hair tie and and I stuck them with honey and I clocked one with that moldy spud and flipped that spatula and sliced ‘em with Miles and the lavender candle almost masked my animal musk of fear but by god Reagan stayed in my pocket and I outran those cops and I got a couple nicks from the slugs fired with fury by the heat on my trail… but I stumbled into the potluck after losing them and the motley crew of underground renegades who had endured such a similar trek gave me salutations and bandages and we sat down.

And I’ll say that the feast I had that night was the greatest meal I had ever had and ever will because I knew that I had won. The cops ambled outside looking for someone to shoot and I was in a warm house with good company, good food. Heavy is the head…

The plague had stolen so much and trapped me in the cage of the digital world while the beautiful brutality of the physical world rolled by my window and every breath of air and flash of light reminded me of the virtual shackles which surrounded me because of the menacing plague, the state, the cops, the conspiratorial cabal of cruelty which had stolen my freedom and scorched it to nothing at the altar of fear, and every time I got a phone call which they call a class it reminded me of the loneliness and the wrath of the imminent future which terrifies all of us, the gig economy, the apps, the algorithms, we thought we had more time to prepare for the digital nightmare but it consumes us already, hastened to our end by plague, who came on the promise of apocalypse but will leave us with the legacy of a cowardly new world built on the grave of physicality and reality, human interaction mediated through the opaque algorithms of the new aristocrats…

The potluck fights against the dying of the light and the grotesque dawn of the algorithm age which strikes against its dissidents with the state and the market and the culture of the new, the algorithm which has the plague as its emissary and the potluck as its enemy, that potluck, that undeniable human connection, that blossom of joy and togetherness which has been irrevocably shattered by the panic, the terror, the blanching of the face as that fabled horseman of the apocalypse crests the hill before you and comes crashing down--

Fear not, my child. The algorithm shall be your sword, and the state shall be your shield. The horseman of plague will crash against the future.

Maybe I will, too.