We voted to repeal the taxes. We don’t give a crap about our schools. We want more automatic weapons. And we like our vacations….”
by david moscovich
The press pass clipped to my navy tweed jacket reads ‘Raoul Duke.’
It’s the night before the election ’04.
We’re walking towards the green awning. It’s an Irish bar. O’Grady and Hegel are walking ahead of me. It’s better that way.
I am sporting the homemade press-pass tonite. And the cigarette holder. Classic Gonzo hat, FBI-style sunglasses, hawaiian shirt. Cigarette. The press pass clipped to my navy tweed jacket reads “Raoul Duke.” It’s superimposed over an altered photograph of myself with a long smoke and sunglasses. Hat.
The wardrobe is nothing short of transformative. I simply disappear.
The band inside is a six-piece crackers-go-funk (in an Irish bar). Five or six newspaper stands are lined up outside.
He takes the papers from the local “Southeast Honey” stand, en masse.There are about fifty or sixty papers falling from his arms. While the papers are falling around him he opens another paper door cache. In with ya. The lot.
A woman dressed in lavender formal wear is watching from inside. The next cache is due. These fucking papers are like wild animals. They need some revising. It’s time to play musical bears.
Move ’em in, move ’em out. Switcheroosky, Duke.
O’Grady and Jon appear nonplussed. They walk inside. It’s better that way. Better not to be implicated. Raoul was almost prepared for this.
He drops a coin into the slot.
Opening the paper cache, he takes all the papers. He walks away quickly into the street. He drops a couple papers on the dotted yellow line. His wide seesaw stride denotes a fairly ruckous ether binge. There is a brick wall partly enclosing a small parking lot, with no lights. It’s dark enough to piss.
He lights the smoke on the end of the holder, dropping the papers. When he finishes, walks across the street, stands under a doorway.
Pixie Storm would later comment on the incident:
“That wasn’t littering.
The street is litter.”
The smoke unfurls successfully into the streetlamp, where Raoul is apparently contemplating the rain.
He walks in with a lit cigarette, dancing. There are three people dancing, and it’s a six-piece band. They’re hot, for loose crackers in an Irish bar.
Someone taps him on the shoulder.
“You can’t smoke in here.”
Raoul swings his arms around wildly almost knocking down his perpetrator.
It’s lavender girl.
“This isn’t Havana libre? Viente-tres? Que piense usted sobre el eleccion? Cabron o super-cabron?”
She shakes her head.
“You can’t smoke that in here.”
“I’ll be right back,” he says.
The cigarette gets thrown into the street.
Raoul is busy upon entry. Dancing.
“It’s a three dollar cover,” says the man at the door.
The dancing is hot. And Raoul is busy.
“I’m in the band.”
The microcassette falls out of his pocket. Now he’s interviewing the public on the back porch. The bar has a back porch. It’s an Irish bar.
“People’s Poll. ‘Scuse me, people’s poll. Who did you vote for in the fake presidential election?”
“Yes, it’s anonymous. Time or place will not be noted. People’s Poll.”
“Well, I’m not supposed to talk about it. I…”
Next. A group of eight.
“People’s Poll, who did you vote for?”
“People’s Poll, totally anonymous. Taking an anonymous poll. Care to contribute?”
“We all voted for Bush.”
“We all voted for Kerry.”
Now here’s a merry group.
The spokesman says, “We voted for Bush and Gay rights. But against the environment.”
“I’m wearing a condom, we’re gonna be safe tonight.”
“We voted to repeal the taxes. We don’t give a crap about our schools. We want more automatic weapons. And we like our vacations.”
Where’s the jon in this place?
Conveniently located at the bottom of the stairs, next to the kitchen.
What’s in here?
There is an alarmed looking guy with a knife and some vegetables.
“People’s Poll,” says Raoul.
“People’s Poll, who did you vote for.”
He extends the mic towards the knife.
Another guy opens the freezer door.
“People’s Poll,” he yells.
“Who did you vote for in the presidential election?”
“Bush. I voted for Bush.”
Raoul turns away.
“He’s my Nixon, man!” he shouts as Raoul gets the stairs.
Next is a party of six. All democrats. That’s sixteen to two, Kerry to Bush.
The ajoining bar.
Barkeep: Hey don’t be bothering my customers, man.
Raoul: People’s Poll. Who did you vote for in the election?
Barkeep: Stay away from my customers. Go. And stay out of the prep kitchen.
Raoul (extending mic towards barkeep): It’s totally anonymous. People’s Poll. Care to comment?
Barkeep: Go away and stay out of the kitchen, man. I’m telling you.
Newspaper stands have handles.
“Remember after the election, O’Grady, when the newspapers read IT’S BUSH? Those newspaper stands really go down easy. You just take them by the handle on top, and smash them face down into the pavement. It’s meant to be. Why else have a handle?”
“I think you should write a letter to the editor and tell him that. Tell him that was your reaction, and the day of, and the headline. Leave him exact locations where the stands were dropped, and the time. Buy yourself some envelopes and latex gloves. Because they’re gonna be looking at every fiber. Make two copies, both on an old smith corona. Mail one from the west side, and give me the other. I’ll mail one from Olympia. They’ll never be able to trace it.”
After a pause he says, “That’s not a suggestion.”
“No. That’s command form. Jesus, O’Grady.”
We’re driving around in the droppah. The droppah is a small white 2-door import that makes ford pickups look bigger than my apartment. Stare me down from that bumper, sure, but get out and I’ll show you a real piece of imported ass you all-american world-fuckers.
The soundtrack is maximum rock ‘n’ roll. I know this side of town as like my home town. I just make U-turns for sport.
Fortunately, I am not writing a novel. Nor did I tell anyone such lies. However, in my imagination I am spending countless hours sitting typing drinking from the same coffee cup, endlessly turning out the pages. Endlessly listening.
In my imagination I am an alcoholic with a pissing problem. So I rig the toilet so I can continue writing and pissing and drinking. I call it the rinse cycle. In my imagination, the trick is to do the rinse in one sitting. Make the knees wobble with the calcium leached from the marrow.
But I haven’t written a goddamn thing.
I keep talking about it, don’t I?
I keep telling friends I have to go.
I keep going somewhere.
O’Grady, I’ve got to get to that room. All I need is one week. One serious week and nothing else. Just firemaidens at my bedside bringing the dishes, coffee, cuba libre’s and goat cheese. Crackers, no doubt. But a muthafucka’s gotta start somewhere.
Get me to that room!
Where are ye, firemaidens?
Where are ye, grand blips of imagination?
O’Grady is playing a microcassette. The sound is noisy, at best. The room was full of a bad jukebox and what sounds like three or four people competing for the mike.
He keeps rewinding to the same passage. He is scribbling in blue quotation marks on a sheet of white paper. I can’t see what he is writing. I can’t make out anything from the tape, but I enjoy the noisiness.
I need noise.
Living in this city is like standing in line most of the time. An excess of hushed whispers. Closed doors. Where is the anger? Where are the blinding lights? Where are the vultures in this fucking ghosttown?
Yelling on the streets, where are they?
Arguing, fixing old beat up cars, where are they?
I miss Havana.
What the fuck am I doing here?
(illustration: john richen)
David Moscovich works at the Center for Dyslexistential Studies, an organic sheep farm and writer’s colony outside Portland, Oregon. He is a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler and partakes in an all-carb diet, owing to a background in cultural anthropology. More from David can be found in the Vault of Smoke.