Dead men don’t spend on shoes, so I check again the corpse’s boots size and decide alive fellows shouldn’t either. Not that I could buy shoes or anything else around here. I am in the middle of nowhere but I should be thankful of being alive or at least of not being dead. All I can see around is charred land seeded with dead bodies and suddenly decommissioned armored vehicles. I guess this is the way war looks: like some really wild after party. This is the first time I see combat action although I didn’t see that much because the air was full of smoke and I was running in opposite direction than the rest of my platoon when I lost my shoe. But seeing this I see I didn’t miss much. I think I won’t like war. It’s too boring and dangerous.
I am here because coal. And because women don’t like black balls. I am not black, but my balls are. Or used to be, I don’t know what color they are now but they feel like two frozen rocks stuck in my throat. They used to be dark black when I was working at the coal mine. The coal mine is always full of coal dust and after my shift my body was blackened from the tip of my hair to my toes. I showered of course, everything I did was taking showers all day. But it was impossible to clean my testicles, the coal dust got stock there between the cracked skin and only peeling them off would have worked, and I wasn’t just ready to reach those extremes to get rid of the damn coal dust. That is why I enlisted, because every time I was going to get laid, when women saw my coal black balls, they would run scared or puke on the spot. Yes, it was that bad.
I went to a recruitment center in a shopping mall that offered discount coupons for a complete pinewood furniture set from a shop in the same mall. They said they didn’t care about the color of your balls in the army as far as you had some. The recruiter told me that many great generals like Napoleon, Patton, Rommel and George Washington had had black balls themselves. ‘What the hell!’ the recruiting officer said ‘I am veteran myself and I have one black testicle in my shoulder plate. It got stock in there from my buddy Snowflake when a grenade exploded right under his ass in our foxhole. After the war I visited his folks to show them what was left of their son on my back, I am almost a family member now.’ He also told me they didn’t have wars available at the moment but that he would put me in the waiting list if I wanted to kill people. He explained that I wouldn’t be able to shoot people at peacetime. I had to wait for war, then group trips overseas were organized to shoot people in foreign countries where laws regarding homicide were laxer. He said there was the chance the enemy might come by their own initiative to our country to be shoot at and paying the transport cost themselves. Then it wasn’t called war but invasion and no waiting list was required for those because they usually were a surprise and everybody could join the onslaught. For now I would have made do shooting targets and non-extinct small animals because you are not allowed to shoot people from your own country. It did seem like fun so decided to join but first I had to pass an intelligence test and I almost didn’t make it when they discovered that I could do sums and spelling.
They sent me by bus to a sort of prisoners camp where we were forced to sleep in barracks and do gymnastics all the time. Our sergeant was a mexican called Gordo Juarez and for him the army was his family because he had none. He had been found as a baby inside a fish tank by a squad taking pictures of a fresh-bombed town. He was just a larva and the fish tank was the only thing still standing in that place, or so he told us. The squadron adopted him as mascot after having eaten their pet bear during a particularly bitter siege to a candy factory. They took him with them and he made his way up the ranks from mascot to private, then back to mascot, later private again, corporal, major and then sergeant. He really liked the army for some reason but he though that we were just human manure, in spite of the fact that we were part of the army he loved so much, an opinion he never failed to remember us from time to time on a daily basis. Then one day he said there was a war going on and made us pack our stuff hurriedly and loaded us on a plane to come here and shoot everybody.
My name is Dick Cock, but everybody calls me Phallus Slim because my name sounds obscene and I serve in an army of gentlemen, who will shoot the enemy in the face but ask for permission afterwards. Standing here, in the middle of this battlefield surrounded by the dead I begin to realize that I have made the biggest mistake of my life and I might not have time to regret it if all days are like this. I have been here only forty-height hours and all those people everybody calls the enemy had already tried to kill me in every possible manner. I have been lucky, but may be next time they will be luckier. I have to get out of here. I must go back to headquarters, it is almost lunch time and I already missed breakfast.
In the horizon I can see a plume of dust and I don’t think is the road runner. As the dust cloud approaches I see it is a vehicle, it is one of ours because it is painted the same color as the tanks and all the other vehicles in our side. It comes straight to me with two people inside. I hope they are not officers because I look like a mess and officers like their people to look good in case they get killed in battle. The speeding jeep brakes a few meters from me and two officers step out. One of them is tall and wears tinted glasses, the other one looks exactly the same but stupider. I hope I won’t get in trouble for my appearance. They are officers but I don’t know what kind of officer. I never remember the meaning of all those patches they stitch in their clothes, everything I know is that any man in uniform with more patches than me is to be addressed as ‘sir’ profusely and you never make practical jokes to him.
‘What are you doing here soldier?’ asks the man that looks less stupid
‘I am lost sir’ I answer
‘What the fuck happens here? What are all those soldiers laying on the ground. Taking a nap? We have a lot of war to do.’ says the stupider officer, that imagine is the superior of the other man.
‘They are dead sir.’ I say.
‘I can see that soldier. Do you think I am blind? I wear these dark glasses to look trendy. What the fuck happened here soldier?’ asks the less stupid man.
‘People started shooting each other and now everybody is dead, sir’ I reply.
‘Why are you not dead soldier?’ asks the less stupid man.
‘Because if I were dead I wouldn’t be able to answer your questions sir’.
‘That makes sense’ says the stupider officer.
‘Good work soldier’ says the other man and then adds ‘but you look like a homeless. What happened to your clothes? They are dirty with mud.’ says the less stupid man.
‘I am sorry sir, the enemy artillery blown up our washing machine sir’ I answer.
‘Murderer bastards! Don’t worry soldier, we will make them pay for that.’ says the more stupid looking man, and continues ‘I will make sure we send the bill for a new washing machine to enemy HQ. That will teach them not to mess with us and our laundry. We will send the bill inside an envelope with no sender address so we don’t lose our tactical advantage. When they open the envelope and see the bill they will shit their pants.’
‘Yes sir. A very good idea sir. Can you offer me a ride? I am very tired and there is nobody left to shoot here’ I ask.
‘A good soldier always have something to shoot at, private. Why do you think we give you all those bullets?’ ask the less stupid man.
‘Yes sir. You are right sir. But I don’t have bullets either, I lost them sir’
‘How is that possible private?’ asks the stupider officer
‘I stocked them inside my rifle as I was told sir, but every time I pulled the trigger they went away with a bang. It was very weird sir. They didn’t fall to the ground sir. They flew away sir.’
‘Are you suggesting our bullets are defective soldier?’ he asks
‘No sir, our bullets are the best and only bullets I ever seen sir. I certainly like them better than the enemy’s bullets sir’ I say
‘Of course you do, ours are the best and biggest bullets you will ever see private. Get into the jeep, we’ll drive you back to HQ and give you more bullets. But clean your boots first, I don’t want the back seat full of bloody mud.’ he says and motions me to enter the vehicle.
‘Thank you sir’ I say and I run towards them with my foot in a stolen dead man’s boot.
I am on the back seat of the jeep trying not to listen to the two stupid men talking about war. The stupider official is a lieutenant and his name is Pinky Foothead, the other man whose name is Marcel Debris is an army cook with the rank of sergeant, which is equivalent to a chef in civilian life. They are talking about the horrors and inconveniences of war. The sergeant is complaining how one of his spoons just got bended and had to be replaced because an enemy attack. A suicide bomber thrown himself with a grenade in the general’s soup and the general had to order dinner from a pizza joint and it was shoddy. The major says that in spite of that tragedy we are doing very well in the war. He is optimistic we would have killed everybody in two or three months and then we will go home in time to open the Christmas presents. He tells us about a great offensive the general staff is planning but he tells us not say anything to anybody because is a surprise for the enemy’s birthday and we don’t want to spoil it. I don’t say anything because they say that the duty of a soldier is to kill the enemy and listen and laugh when superiors tell a joke, even if it is not funny. But superiors don’t tell jokes anyway, they say.
Back at HQ I go to the canteen to see if there is any food left but there is none and I have to eat from the sabotaged soup of the general, it is not bad but it tastes a bit to religious fanaticism. Then I go to the dormitories where I lived with another ten people, but now they are dead and the place looks really much bigger and smells better. Only Jelly is there. Leonard “Jelly” Jellyman is sitting on his bunk staring at a pineapple and talking. Apparently to the pineapple. The doctor said he has pre-combat traumatic stress syndrome, but I think he is just scared. That is why he didn’t come with us to the battle. We had found him trying to lay an egg into a urinal and crying because the egg wouldn’t come out his ass and he though he was going to lose his baby. The doctor said it was better to let him rest and wait to see if he could finally lay the damn egg and come with us to kill people. The doctor said in that state he would be more a nuisance than a help in combat. I said I was more nuisance than help myself, at least that is what my mother always said, and I asked to stay and help Jelly in case he needed a midwife to lay his egg but they made me go anyway because everybody began to call sick afterwards.
‘ Are you feeling better Jelly? Did you lay your egg?’ I ask him but get no answer ‘ What are you telling that pineapple Jelly?’ I ask.
‘I am giving her advice. If you listen, instead of talking, you would know. And her name is Marjorie. Don’t call her a pineapple. She has feelings, you know.’
‘Okay, her name is Majorie, but she is still a pineapple.’ I listen to what Jelly is telling Marjorie, his pineapple.
‘… and never leave the dishes undone. They pile up, pile up and pile up and there is no end to it. Eat good food and dress modestly or they call you names…” he is telling her
‘Why are you telling those things to Marjorie?’ I ask him
‘She wants to be an exotic dancer and I am giving her advice so people won’t take advantage of her. She has feelings, you know.’
‘Exotic dancer is not a bad career for a pineapple’ I say and I go to my bunk. I get a comic book from my trunk. It is a Percolator comic. Percolator has power to control water vapor and become vapor himself. He got his powers after a freak coffee machine accident while making an extra strong cappuccino. His archenemy is Dr.Starbucks who wants to enslave humanity using an army of genetically engineered coffee beans twenty stories tall. The secret identity of Percolator is Tony Espresso, a young american italian working part-time in a coffee shop franchise. I like him because he reminds me of myself although unfortunately I can’t turn into water vapor. But I still get myself turned into minced meat if I spend too much time in here. I will have to try lying an egg or something.
I am at the CERN laboratory near Geneva to interview one of the greatest minds of the twenty century for my poorly sold cultural quarterly Letters&Loathing. I am walking alongside a leaking metal pipe buried a hundred meters below ground level: the Large Hadron Collider, the biggest ever built particle accelerator and the most expensive and fanciest atomic racetrack in he world. The LHC, or Big Doughnut as it is called here, is buried in a twenty-seven kilometers long circular gallery that spans the territories of France and Switzerland sheltering the gigantic particle accelerator. It is here that billions of atomic particles are accelerated nearly to the speed of light just to end up smashing their heads against other particles racing in opposite direction, their tremendous speed makes passport checking at the French-Swiss border very difficult to the customs service and several millions cases of illegal protonic imigrantion have been reported already.
I am heading through these galleries towards the subject of my interview who is working here to prove one of his most interesting theories regarding the color of dark matter that could turn out to be not so dark but just unclean. The well known dedication to science of this man has compelled him to refuse the housing provided by the institution choosing to inhabit a hollow section of the particle accelerator’s tube where he can be closer in his work and heating is for free. Getting there is a twenty kilometers long walk along the interminable tunnel and I begin to regret having showed up with high heels instead of barefoot and with a bicycle. Luckily the route is dotted at regular intervals with rest areas where hotdog vendors and souvenir stands offer their merchandise. I finally reach my destination wishing I was proton that can do the complete tour in a millionth of a second without breaking a sweat, even with high heels. And there he is, the man I have traveled literally kilometers to meet: Elmer Roasterfoot, doctor in astrophysics, Nobel laureate in physics and a very competent amateur quantum mechanic.
In spite of his age, eighty and counting, I found Dr. Elmer Roasterfoot clad in overalls stained with oil and plutonium and with the upper part of his body buried in the belly of the sophisticated machine trying to roast a wiener in the proton beam. He tells me how in spite of the precise forecasts of his equations and computer simulations of cooking time, he always end up with a wiener that looks and tastes like a mummified gorilla penis. I decline to share his unappealing lunch with him and he motions me to join him sitting on two upturned plutonium canisters.
Dr. Elmer Roasterfoot is not only famous among the scientific community for his prodigious intellectual achievements but also for being the only scientist to win seven years in a row the Einstein look-a-likes contest, and it shows. Although he is younger than Einstein at his age for relativistic reasons his hair is white as polypropylene and seems have been groomed by a typhoon owed to the constant use of the accelerator’s particle beams as hair dryer. His features and facial expression give the face a striking resemblance to a basset hound that smokes marihuana a bit too often. His big nose has a bulbous quality to it and a dark stain of oil on the tip that in close up inspection reveals to be a mole. He too shares with the father of relativity an absentminded appearance consistent with his forgetful nature, as we speak he repeatedly asks me about a discount on the price per square meter of red burgundy and I have to remind him several times that I am here to interview him not to lay the carpet. Once he is convinced we begin our chat.
Q: Let’s begin with an obvious question. What are you doing living here? Don’t they want you at home?
A: I am not sure. I believe I have a house somewhere but I have been here for two weeks already and I can’t be sure. I do remember I used to have a place with a bed inside, I guess is still there. I tried to built a particle accelerator in the basement but the neighbor complained of the noise and then his pear tree grew feet and tried to massacre is family due to radioactive poisoning. I had to come here to scape a lawsuit for damages and also to use this big machine here to test my theory about dark matter which is not as dark as many assume, it just have been observed under insufficient lighting, that’s all.
Q: Yes, I know about that. But let’s talk about your written work. Some of your books of popular science like Big Bang For Beginners or Fun With Photons are text books in the schools and had helped many people to understand some of the most puzzling phenomena of modern science like why light never gets speed tickets or why gravity doesn’t get sued more often being responsible for so many everyday accidents. Why do you write those books?
A: I write those books to help the layperson to understand the Universe in which they live and of which they are also an insignificant part. People should understand what laugh science is, specially asteroids, that look like giant rocky potatoes but could obliterate life on our planet without batting an eye. Science teaching should be useful and fun, that is why I always add some scientific practical advice in my educational books like proper subatomic etiquette and quantum jokes. Do you want to hear a quantum joke?
A: Not really…
A: Two electrons meet at party and the firs electron ask the second electron: “Where are you orbiting these days?” And the second electron answers: “I don’t know and the more you keep asking the less of a chance to find out.” Ah, ha! Because the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, you know. Ah, ah…
Q: Okay, whatever… Let’s talk about your personal life. I understand that you met Albert Einstein during your freshman year at Princeton, where he was working as a gardener and was already a celebrity after appearing in Playboy’s centerfold twice in the same year. You became friends after he found you one night under his bed conducting an experiment on his carpet and he even lent you his mustache for the presentation of your doctoral thesis about the electrical charge of lint. Is that true?
Q: Yes, he lent me his mustache because it was the same mustache he was wearing when he came up with his famous equation E=mc2 and it had been his lucky mustache ever since. But I placed it upside down in my forehead thinking it was his eyebrows and I was the laughing stock of the examiners during my dissertation. They had so much fun that they awarded me a doctorate anyway, although in the wrong field. I obtained a doctorate in ornithology and they didn’t rectified their mistake until I disintegrated some geese in an experiment designed to test their reaction to intense magnetic fields and gamma radiation that ended with the whole family atomized. But old Al was great man, he even told me how to iron my shirts using just quantum physics and an empty tomato can.
Q: After graduation you worked for the nuclear program of the United States army and helped developing the hydrogen bomb. How did you deal with the ethical implications of your work for the military?
A: I didn’t like them but they paid cash and let me drive a jeep inside the lab despite my lack of driving license. They recruited me because I had the highest rate of accidental explosions during laboratory work on recorded academic history. They though I was a natural blowing things up, once I managed somehow to blow a pottery workshop I attended by mistake believing it was a women’s nudist colony. I never have any idea the bombs we made were intended for war, I always believed it was a secret project to get rid of the moles that were ruining the White House’s lawn during the Eisenhower administration. When I found out what they were for I began a hunger strike but I got so hungry that I had to give up before lunch time. I resigned but I got a grant after pestering the project director’s wife with obscene calls for six years.
A: Tell us about your childhood. You were born in a poor chicken farm in the Midwest during the Great Depression and your parents believed that Earth was flat and that God could be counted on to help healing sick poultry. That is hardly an environment conductive to scientific inquiry, specially after your grandmother was burnt by townsfolk accused of witchcraft for postponing her payment of the Sunday school’s fee. When and how you decided to devote your life to science?
A: I was one afternoon sitting under an apple tree and an apple fell in my head causing me a concussion. The incident made me wonder why apples in that region had the consistency of concrete. Then I found out some Englishman with long hair named Newton had done some work on the subject before me and I promised myself no to let him get the upper hand next time. I developed an entirely new gravity theory based on pears instead of apples. I did all the research at the farm orchard and got a mention of my paper in the local farmer’s almanac. I won five sacks of manure that I gave to my father, my old man always had a soft spot for manure. The incident made him realize you could make a decent living with science whatever it was and he sold my sister to a neighbor whose ox had died. My father used the money from the sale to send me to college, although he wasn’t sure what a college was. He though it was like our farm, but with more and bigger chicken, which was not far from the truth.
Q: Some of your popular science-fiction books for children, like Hot Chicks From The Sun, Voracious Amazons From Venus and Looking Into Uranus, have been criticized for its lack of scientific rigor and labeled as pornography for teenagers. Do you believe they are suited for children? Why did you decided to waste your time to write them?
A: First I wrote those books for my kids but then I realized I had none. Then I wrote them again to arouse the scientific curiosity of the younger generations and stimulate their interest in space exploration. I believe that since the dawn of mankind, when our ancestors gazed at the nigh sky for first time and speculated about the nature of stars, men have always wondered if faraway planets might be inhabited by more attractive and promiscuous forms of female life. If that is the case it is man’s duty to travel to those planets and have as much fun as possible. I want my books to be a source of inspiration for the youth, my vivid descriptions of sexual experiences with voracious alien women is a way to inspire future generations of space explorers. Crews on exploration missions will feel better motivated to spend years traveling through space, let’s say to Mars, if they believe they will be welcomed by a party of green big-breasted nymphomaniac female aliens than if they have to dig for frozen dead microbes. Don you agree?
Q: I am not an expert in space exploration but I am on men and I agree you have a point. You have always endorsed the idea of intelligent life in other planets in spite of your refusal to admit its presence on Earth. You once were arrested for climbing to the top of the Empire State Building and screaming for hours embraced to the lighting rod in an attempt to communicate with aliens. What other less asinine actions have you taken to achieve the goal of contacting an alien civilization?
A: I spent thousands of dollars in stamps for letters sent to other planetary systems but I haven’t got any answer yet despite they contained enough stamps for the reply. I think the post service is rather slow past the asteroid belt and my letters might take a few billions of years to get to their destinations, but there is still hope to reach them with the new express service.
A: What about space exploration? You have collaborated with NASA for many years until the recent scandal when hundreds of NASA monogrammed pencils were found in your desk drawer and you were accused of stealing government property. Your projects for NASA have been called many names, most of them synonyms of demented, and never seen the light of day. Which one do you believe is the reason among so many possible candidates that makes people think you are crazy?
A: I am not crazy! I am a visionary! The problem is that I only seem to be able to envision crazy projects. First I proposed to NASA a manned mission to the Sun and those bureaucrats said it was too hot in there and the astronauts would likely perish. Fools! They believed I wanted to go in daytime, but my plan was to travel only at night. Then I devised a trip to Jupiter using an electric powered space probe but we miscalculated the cable length. The probe ran out of line and got unplugged just two-hundred million kilometers from the planet’s surface. Two-hundred million kilometers! We were almost there! A bit more cable and we would have made it! It was a shame because that year the electricity bill was enormous. Then my project for a seaside resort in the Moon was cancelled when I found out the Sea of Tranquility was dry as a brontosaurus bone. I had had enough with those people. I rented some office space in Houston and established my own space agency but the building management wouldn’t let me store my Atlas rockets in the utilities room because the insurance company upstairs complained about the noise and smoke of the firing tests. When I accidentally sent their receptionist to Pluto the federal government closed the operation and confiscated my calculator.
Q: Let’s talk about your theoretical work in astrophysics in which nobody seems to have been harmed yet. Your theory that black holes are just glorified sewers has been frontally opposed by most of the scientific community and accused of being a form of intergalactic racial discrimination against black holes by prominent members the African-American community who had expressed their discomfort by machine-gunning your house in several occasions. Are you an intergalactic racist?
A: No, I am not. I love space, and space is black, isn’t it? If astronomers spend most of their time watching white starts is because they are easier to observe than the black parts where you can’t see shit. I spent twenty years studying the darkest regions of the cosmos through my telescope and I never saw anything interesting because I had forgotten to remove the lens cap, but it wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.
Q: You were awarded the Nobel prize for your discovery of the elusive elemental particle called neutrino, although you had wanted it named helmertron. How did this happen?
A: I was one day sitting on my bed getting dress for a conference after the organizers had sent me back home when I showed up in my pajamas. I was putting my shoes on when I felt something odd inside, the left shoe wouldn’t fit in spite of the fact that I always buy oversized shoes because they are the same price as my size and I get better value. Anyway, I looked inside the shoe but I saw nothing, then I noticed something attached to my sock: it was a neutrino in mint condition, it probably got stuck inside the shoe. I put it my pocket and I flied to Sweden the same day after lunch. I got the Nobel Prize that same evening during a dinner with the King of Sweden in a pizzeria near the Royal Palace. It was very romantic, he was wearing a tuxedo and had his crown on. His Majesty instructed the cook to place the gold medal inside the pizza to surprise me and I lost a tooth filling. I was so happy that I insisted to pay the bill myself until His Majesty told me how much he makes a month and then I asked for seconds and let him pay.
Q: That was a good idea. Certainly better that your infamous nuclear-powered toothbrush. What plans do you have for the future? What are you working on lately? Are you writing something I will understand?
A: Yes. I am writing a book on particle physics for retarded children that I believe you might find rather accessible with just the bare basics on differential calculus. It is a cooking book titled 100 Fat-free Receipts With Subatomic Particles.
We finalize the interview with a quick handshake because hair my doesn’t tolerate radioactivity too well and has caught fire. I leave the genius with his brilliant mind absorbed in calculations and equations while the not so brilliant body that carries it around struggles to free his nose from the magnet in which it is stuck.
I am in the little town of Turz in the heart of the Black Forest heading towards a local cafe to meet who many consider the most prominent philosopher of continental Europe and perhaps the world: Günter Worstmood. He has recently become the first man ever to purchase a brand new car with earnings exclusively derived from philosophy essays sale’s. Respected by the majority of the cheerful philosophers community but also loathed by its less fortunate members who have to make do with second hand models of inferior quality, this man is as close as any philosopher can be to stardom and has been compared to Mick Jagger by the magazine Rolling Stones, although the famous octogenarian singer refused to make comments on this subject.
The town of Turz is a clean and quiet beautiful little German town with no remarkable feature whatsoever and almost invisible from anywhere outside, hidden as it is behind so many trees. It is among those trees in the outskirts of Durz that Günter Wortmood owns a house he shares with his wife but he has found more convenient to meet me at the local café because, in spite of the many accomplishments of his academic life, he is still ashamed of the physical appearance of his wife that casts a shadow of doubt over the good judgement of this great thinker and makes one wonder what he was thinking when he got married to her.
We are sitting face to face across a marble table with cast iron legs with two cups of black coffee laying between us. Günter Wortmood figure is that of heavily built gentleman clad in black with a boulder-looking head crowned by a scalp of white hair that is balding in some spots giving his head the aspect of an hairy full moon. The stern face is unsmiling and sour, as are the eyes and the big nose in whose tip rest golden rimmed reading glasses that seem ready to attempt suicide by jumping from the nose to scape so much gloom. His attire is entirely black and austere and seen from afar he could easily be taken for a priest or a giant beetle. We are not speaking yet because after motioning me to sit he seems oblivious of my presence on the table in spite of the fact that I am talking to him trying to break the ice. He informs me that he is not genuinely interested in my opinions or thoughts and reminds that the practical goal of our meeting is the transference of information from him me and not the other way around. Then he makes sure I understand this point and requests the interview to begin because it is getting late and he has a lot of philosophising to do today. So we begin the interview.
Q: The reception of your inspirational book, Vindication Of Death And Other Misfortunes, has been universally positive among academic circles and praised as the most convincing endorsement of suicide ever written, driving many scholars to voice their expectations that you would soon act consistently with your ideas. Some had even offered generously to help you to do so. What do you have to say about that?
A: Those intellectually inferior men should already know damn well that I can kill myself without help of a collection of frustrated scholars that believe philosophy consist in stalking young female students through the window of their dormitories with their little binoculars. If I haven’t committed suicide yet is only because the sales of the book have been so good that I plan to write a sequel titled 1001 Reasons To Terminate Your Life.
Q: But you have tried to kill yourself several times and always failed. Isn’t that true?
A: Yes, I tried to kill myself for first time when I was only nine years old and found out that Universe was an illusion of the mind and existence and illusion of the ego, I felt betrayed not only on an intellectual but also on an economical level because my father was forcing me to save fifty marks a month out of my allowance of five and half. I felt betrayed. Why to save money if the universe was an illusion? Why to brush my teeth every morning, is halitosis an illusion too? So I thrown myself though the window, but I forgot my room was just a second floor and I landed on the roof of my father’s car who made me pay for the medical bill and the car’s roof bodywork, also out of my allowance, in fact I still owe him some money although he’s been dead for over twenty years and doesn’t care any more.
Q: You grew up in Nazi Germany and although you were just a child your father was party member and worked for the Gestapo, although he later denied his affiliation and in the trial he declared that didn’t know the Gestapo was a Nazi organization, he had believed it was a sado-masochist club. He said he joined because he alway had wanted to own a leather coat and play with guns. Do you think it was telling the truth?
A: There is something true in every sentence as epistemology reveals so often. My father was a Nazi. Period. And one with very bad breath. But it is true that he joined the Gestapo because a leather coat. He didn’t speak about it, but what happened is that he sent his favorite leather coat to a Jewish cleaner and it came back ruined and with spots. The Jewish storeowner accepted to pay my father for the coat but wouldn’t take the spots back. My father never forgave him for that and joined the Nazis precisely for their Semitic Cleansing program. I still have those spots in shoe box in the attic as memento of my father’s foolishness.
Q: You went to school during the after-war period and conditions were hard back then. The country was in ruins and food scarce, not to mention school supplies. Nevertheless you revealed yourself as intellectual prodigy at a very young age by writing your first philosophy paper before learning to use the toilet.
A: That is correct. I wrote a behavioral paper on my mother for my third grade class: My Mommy’s Logical Imperatives And His Conditioning By Means Of Pavlovian Principles. A brilliant work, I conditioned my mother to cook my favorite dish and sing me Wagner arias before going to sleep. But those were hard times, the school was in ruins and we had no school supplies, not even paper, we had to pick up bricks from the ruins to write on them which made our bags very heavy to carry. The teacher have to chisel the lessons on the wall for lack of a blackboard and writing a simple sum took several hours. Food was scarce too and we were forced to eat books from the bombed library, I ate mostly classics but some people would eat anything, phonebooks, romantic novels, detective novels, or even movie star biographies.
Q: You graduated at a very young age and published your first book on existentialism Emptiness Is Nothing that was an immediate success and opened you the doors of academic world. You were the youngest scholar ever offered the seat philosophy at Liepzig University but declined and went to teach the children of the reindeer shepherds in Lapland because you wanted to be left alone and there you met your wife.
A: Well, I did teach for a while at Leipzig but all the students were older than me and it is very difficult to keep discipline in the classroom when you have to ask the students for help to erase the top of the blackboard. One day I had a discussion with one graduate student about the nature of being, he insisted being was imperative and I insisted it was conditional and sometimes a headache, but he won the argument after throwing me into a well. After that I decided humanity was hopeless and move to Finland to teach in a remote shepherd community outpost, hoping that in the vastness of the Polar regions I would find the peace I longed for and had a chance to meet Santa Claus personally. But those rustic children turned out to be basically feral kids, every time I gave them bad grades they would tie me to a reindeer and use me as slide. I met a local woman one night. In those latitudes night lasts for six months and the next morning six months later I was already married and she was pregnant, when I saw her for first time on the daylight I realized too late what a big mistake I had made. We left after six year when I realized nobody spoke German there and that I was wasting my time.
Q: But since you came back to your hometown you have produced multiple publications that reveal you as the most original thinker of the century and possibly one of the most pessimistic individuals in human history. Less Than Nothing, Negation of Nothingness, Emptiness for Beginners and You Are Fucked are only some of the titles of your philosophical treatises that nobody dares to read but everybody praises.
A: I believe that the moral obligation of a philosopher is to make people feel bad about themselves, about the others and about reality, but in modern society those duties had been taken over by the advertising industry, the news media and politics respectively. That is the reason why I decided to enter politics, to shape society as I envisioned it: a collection of helpless individuals sentenced to subsist in a world that they don’t understand and where their illusions and aspirations will be crushed to dust. I established a political international forum with the goal of attracting to my cause the intellectual elites of the world but in spite of its catchy name, the Syndicated Humanity International Team (S.H.I.T) failed to achieve any significant support for reasons that still scape me.
Q: Let’s talk about the immediate future. I have heard that the rights one of your more lighthearted essays The Dead And The Ugly had been acquired by a major Hollywood producer to make a big-budget sci-fi musical played by cute critters. Are those rumors true? And if they are, who do I have to sleep with to get a part?
A: I am afraid it is true. But I never had wanted to have my deep and resonant work messed with by those philistines so I had always rejected their offers, but one day a man showed up during a rainy night at my door and said he had had a flat tyre and that if would allow him to call a lorry to tow his car stuck in the mud. Moved by natural empathy to my fellow humans I told him to come in and made his call for a nominal fee of only nine marks. But when I showed him into my studio he grabbed one of my books and ran away and he wouldn’t give it back to me unless a sold him the rights. It turned out that the guy was a Hollywood producer that had devised that trick to fool me into sell him the rights of one of my works. I signed and got the book back but it was all wet and smeared. Hollywood people don’t know how to treat a book properly, and it shows! But in order to safeguard my intellectual integrity I included in the contract one clause that requires the producers to shoot the movie in black and white and with subtitles in German and Finnish. And in answer to your second question I don’t know who you should sleep with to get a part, but if you are extra-nice to me I could put a word or two in your behalf with those unscrupulous merchants of entertainment.
A: Are you making a pass on me Mr. Worstmood?
Q: Are formulating an hypothesis Ms. Foulmouth?
A: Yes, very much.
A: Yes, I think your hypothesis is correct. How much?
THE 1ST LETTER
I write to you from the the deepest, darkest and hottest place I have ever seen without being between your legs. I apologize in advance for the ugly calligraphy and orthographical mistakes. It is really dark in here and I can’t hardly see what I am writing but I have to hurry because the paper is roasting before my eyes and the ink of my borrowed ball-pen evaporating.
I must confess I am a little mad at you. To bury that hammer in my head wasn’t a nice thing to do, I think you overreacted. I was just having this little chat with your sister when my penis accidentally slipped in her mouth and we were trying to undo the mess when you came into the bedroom. You jumped too fast to the wrong conclusion! If you don’t believe me you can ask our daughter that was there. She saw what happened and was laughing all the time, specially when I undressed just to prove a point in a discussion about anatomy completely unrelated to the incident and she found that I had a fifth limb and that it could spit.
I am not sure what the hell is going on in here and the cell phone’s coverage is out. So much for the fucking Economy Plan! This damn mobile phone companies. They let you down as soon as you are dead and can’t pay the bills.
As I said is pitch black in here and very hot, like when we went for vacations to the Caribbean and there was that hurricane and we got dysentery. What a laugh! I was raped by locals while you took pictures and then to console me you bought me that funny figurine of a Elvis made of coconut shell that I hated so much and you always insisted me to wear on the top of my head. Those were really good times Mary! Don’t you remember? How can be you so callous after so many years of marriage?
Well, I have to leave now. I am standing in a sulphur lake and the skin of my feet is beginning to corrode. I will write to you soon if I can find a mail box, the only one I can see from here is melting away because the heat and I don’t think I will be able to find the hole in the molten heap in time. I love you. Please write me back. I am very sorry for what happened. If you give me the opportunity I will make it up for you. I will take you for dinner to that French place and I will behave as a gentleman. I promise. I won’t make any jokes about the maitre’s funny speech like I did last time.
With everlasting love,
THE 2ND LETTER
My dear Mary,
I still haven’t got a reply for my previous letter. I hope you got it. The mail service here is awful. The postman had his legs eaten by a vicious dog and letters take a long time to reach their destination, especially the heavier ones that have so many letters on them.
You should come here once in a while and I would show you around. This place is not so bad as I though at the beginning. The views are splendid, sulphur lakes, molten rock rivers and fireworks show twenty-four hours a day! Can you believe that? Better than Las Vegas, although the waitresses are not so attractive. I don’t like little red skinny women with hoofs, specially if they pick me with a two meter long pitchfork. Did you know one the reasons I married you was that you were the first girl with no hoofs that ever paid the slightest attention to me? Doesn’t that tell something about how much I love you? Aren’t you going not to forgive me?
I must leave. They are calling through the speakers system for a meeting becuse there is some big shot coming. I see him from here. He is big and red and has horns the size of bazookas. Please, write me. I miss you.
Lots of love,
THE 3RD LETTER
My dearest Mary,
I have some bad news. I am in Hell for eternity. They just told me and I got very scared. Then they told me what eternity was and I was terrified: apparently it lasts forever. When they told me that I almost collapsed. But then they said I could get two or three years reduction for good behavior. But may be they said that just because they saw how upset I was when I started to cry and wetted my pants. We’ll see.
I miss you very much. Why do you not answer my letters? Are you still mad at me? Yesterday I met a guy with a story similar to mine. A really funny guy from Madagascar. He told me his wife caught him in the act of raping a goat and murdered him by inserting an umbrella down his mouth, but the poor guy is as innocent as me: he mistook the goat for his wife because they both speak alike and it was quite dark. Do you really think I am that sort of pervert? At least your sister belongs to the same species. Did you think about that? Doesn’t that tell you about how much I love you and your species?
I will wait impatiently for and answer. I have to go now to a barbecue organized by the management. They told us to wash our feet before going, which doesn’t make too much sense to me.
PS. Can you send me clean underwear and some socks? My socks have burnt away and I want to look good in case Satan shows up for an inspection.
THE 4TH LETTER
My dearest beautiful Mary,
I still haven’t received any letter from you. Why don’t you write me? Are you seeing somebody? I hope not. Specially if his feet smell any better than mine.
I got the Fed Ex package with the clean underwear and fresh socks I asked for in my last letter. What is your problem? Do you only read the P.S.? Anyway, the underwear was starched beyond recognition, it feels like an armor and I can’t hardly bend. And the socks were mismatched. Please, be more careful next time. Is this your way to take revenge on me? By sending me over-starched clothing and mismatched socks?
How possibly can you still be mad at me for that long forgotten incident with your sister? Do you think I have feelings for her? How can you believe that? You know I never had any feelings for you after the wedding night. How can you think that I have them for your mentally retarded sister who has a prosthetic leg placed on her amputated arm? Do you think I could fall for such a woman? You know I can’t tolerate ignorant women who don’t know the meaning of the word cunnilingus.
In the bright side, I am beginning to make friends in here. They are a bunch of damn losers but they are an improvement compared to the sort of friends I had while still alive. And more fun too! Most of them are here due to medical negligence but there are some really interesting characters as well. Like Tom, an accountant for a big corporation that once performed anal sex with an auditor to obtain a tax exemption for the company he worked for. And he is still wondering how he go here, being a Mormon and all! He is a total wisecracker, you will meet him if you come to visit. I also met a really nice German girl that died because complications related to a colonic infection after a rubber glove got stuck inside her intestine. She is a really warm woman and we have innocent talks while walking by the sulphur lake not unlike I used to have with your sister. Her name is Ingrid Grossfucken, she used to be in the movie industry back in Germany and I have good reasons to believe she was not the wardrobe assistant.
Missing you so much, your defunct husband,
PS Can you send me my electric toothbrush, my teeth are beginning to rot and, believe it or not, there is not a single dentist in Hell.
THE 5TH LETTER
My dearest beautiful but silent Mary,
I begin to worry about you. After two thousand years I fear you might have forgotten about me and I need fresh underwear. In a place that literally smells like hell everybody looks at me as if I was a leper because my body odor. What have you been doing all these centuries? Have you found that comb that you lost when you tried to do the cat’s hair and the cat panicked? I just remembered it might have ended up under the chest drawer. Look there. When are you coming for a visit? I miss you.
Satan comes from century to century for an inspection just to make sure everybody is properly roasted and yesterday the Lord of the Abyss himself smeared some gravy in my back and praised my screams. I might get a promotion! You could move here and we could get tormented for eternity together? How does it sound? You always said you wanted man who commits. We can spend the eternity here. Isn’t that commitment or what?
I miss you,
PS. Forget about the toothbrush. All my teeth fell already, but I still feel attached to them so I carry them around in my pocket.
THE 6TH LETTER
My indifferent and maybe illiterate Mary,
I am beginning to lose my patience. I can’t believe that after a three-hundred million years you only could find time to write me a postcard from Bahamas saying: Having fun. Wish you were here, take care and stay out of trouble. Mary. LOL. Are you insane? Do you think I care about your vacations? What is your problem? And who is that asshole with the caipirinha and the straw hat in the picture? What is he doing with his filthy pawn in your ass?
Okay. I did it. I did rape you retarded forty-seven years old sister in front of our daughter. But I didn’t post the pictures in the internet. That was our daughter. I swear. Are you happy now? I confess. Can I go back, please? Should I go to Hell for what I did? She provoked me. She walked around the house naked and bathed in the fish tank and I bet she knew I was looking. What about that? She might not have been able to count beyond three but she did know how to provoke and erection.
I have no idea what is your problem with me if you don’t answer my letters. Women! It’s is always the same story, you want men to know what is going on but don’t give us a clue, and then you complain precisely because of that: that we do not listen to the things you do not say.
But I don’t want to upset you baby. I am doing very well in here. I’ve been in waiting list for an air conditioner for seven thousand years but they called yesterday to tell me they are coming for the installation soon and to stay in my cave from three to eight during the next millennium. If you come we are still on time to switch it on together.
Please come, I miss you,
THE 7TH LETTER
Listen to me bitch,
I am sick or your shit! Come here and pick me up or you will regret the day five billion years ago in which you were born!
Your sister doesn’t even remember what happened that day. What the hell! She doesn’t even remember ME after seven years spent screwing her with a paper bag in her head. I ran into her yesterday in a community meeting to demand better torments for the pedophile community. She stared at me blankly as if I were a stranger. Although that is exactly the way she always stared at me before, probably because her mental retardation. By the way, what did happen to her? She has put on some weight in spite of having lost the lower half or her body.
If you don’t answer this letter I swear I am writing you no more! I fucking swear!
The walls of the homely room I enter are whitewashed with lead-free pale blue paint. There are eco-friendly wooden shelves packed with books and stone flowerpots with luxurious indoor tropical plants everywhere. The hostess invites me to lay down on a gorgeously festooned Balinese-made teak chaise lounge under a reproduction of the famous self-portrait of Mexican paintress Frida Kahlo printed on chlorine-free recyclable parchment. She deposits in my hand a steamy aromatic mixture of organic Ceylon Tea inside a delicate Japanese-made dirt-free tiny Zen bowl. She informs me that the splendid chaise lounge in which I lay buried in fair-trade Indian hand-stuffed cushions is oriented, as is the rest of the furniture, according to the most stringent Feng Shui criteria. All these elements coalesce to create inside me a feeling not unlike being submerged deep inside a warm giant protective uterus and I wouldn’t be surprised if a spermatozoid flies through a window and initiates a delicate nuptial dance searching for an egg. Such a feeling would not strike you as utterly nonsensical, dear reader, if you knew this lovely villa owner’s name. I am at the Balinese home of the Argentinian poetress, novelist and women-rights activist Luna Maria Candela for an exclusive interview to my magazine Letters & Loathing. Heroine and source of inspiration for millions of women around the world and a formidable foe for the few men that know of her existence she counts among her friends movie stars, politicians and famous artists but also can be found side by side with the destitute, the oppressed and the ugly, although for aesthetic reasons she prefers to be seen in public with the former rather than the latter.
She is right in front of me sipping with great delectation from a Zen bowl identical to mine but for her name written with felt pen on the delicately curved surface. Luna Maria has the kind of unassuming beauty that women find so appealing because it doesn’t threatens them, but that men find so profoundly repulsive. To put it in other words, Luna Maria is a very intelligent and tenacious woman but she didn’t have too much luck with her face. She must be closer to her sixties than to her fifties but looks much older due to sustained overexposure to sunlight on the beautiful tropical beaches that surround her villa. Her skin has the texture and color of an over-baked croissant that has spent too much time in the oven. There is no way to know her age with exactitude because my insistence on the subject has already been rewarded with a friendly reprimand in the form of a cooper-free fork prick in my leg. Her silvery hair is cropped short and decorated with a gracile white orchid grown in her own bathtub in spite of the discomforts she had to endure while bathing. Her almond-shaped eyes are pale blue and two in number. Her jewelry is as unpretentious as her appearance and made of simple natural materials like fishbone but she wears numerous pieces in wholesale quantities. She dresses in an ample colorful Indonesian hand-woven sarong that was presented to her by local fishermen to spare the hideous view of her naked body to the locals and that now she is required to wear whenever she leaves her villa under penalty of death by stoning squad.
Her last published book of poetry, Starfish on a Meadow, inspired by the menstrual experiences of Kurdish women refugees has been hailed by lesbian activist as the definitive work on the subject and has become a best-seller in the Middle East. Today she will answer some questions about her work and personal life for us.
Q: Let me begin with a delicate question about a review of your last book that says that your exposure of the menstruating habits of Kurdish women constitutes a violation of their right of free menstruation and states that the public exposition in your book of the aforementioned habits could have a catastrophic impact in the deeply conservative Kurdish society. The article accuses you of jeopardizing those poor women’s safety and exploit their monthly menstrual suffering for material gain. What do you have to say about that?
A: That article reeks of chauvinism and testosterone. I am positive it was written by a man.
Q: Well. I am sorry to disappoint you but it was me who wrote that review, as you would know if you read my magazine, but I imagine you are too important for my little homemade quarterly. As you can see I am a woman.
A: I wouldn’t be so sure about that darling. Let me see your vagina!
A: As you should know if you read Vogue instead that insignificant paper of yours this villa is my private feminine sanctuary. No men is allowed here with the exception of my lovers, so in practice no man has entered this house for over twenty years. Some had tried to infiltrate the compound disguised as women claiming to be journalists or fans. Yesterday I caught a paparazzi dressed as a pineapple hiding in a fruit basket. Prove me you are a woman or this interview is over!
Q: Okay. See? Is it enough?
A: No, open your legs wider and use that recycled paper lamp to illuminate the area. I am getting older and I can’t see so well. That is better. Everything seems in order. Thank you darling.
Q: Let’s go back to the initial question. Don’t you think your last book constitutes a form of exploitation of the misery of those women? Your epic poems about the menstruation of muslim women has created such an upheaval in the Middle East that Starfish on a Meadow has outdone the Koran at the top of of the bestseller lists. Muslim religious leaders have to wait for hours to purchase barely enough volumes to feed their pyres in the local mosques, and printers in Teheran had to establish extra shifts to provide enough fuel for the hundreds of fires that burn every day in their country, generating prodigious quantities of CO2 emissions that have already reached the stratosphere.
A: Well that is certainly one of the causes my sales in the Middle East are so good and probably is also the reason I found a plastic explosive attached to my panties during a visit to Tripoli for a canine exhibition. But it is not true that fueling those pyres of intolerance is the only reason those highly spiritual men of God purchase my book. Some of them actually read the book before throwing it into the fire. I even receive letters from mullahs praising my inflammatory style and the combustible qualities of my book. I particularly remember a letter from an Yemeni mullah so impressed by my poetic descriptions of the vagina that he wrote me telling how he had decided to undergo a sex-change operation to implant a vagina under his armpit to impress his brother.
Q: That is a certainly interesting story. But you haven’t answered my question yet.
A: No. The answer is no. It is not exploitation. It is art. The menstrual cycle is a reality of mother nature that misogynistic society will have to accept as a fact of life and learn to appreciate esthetically. I have been menstruating profusely all my life and I will until the day I die, maybe even afterwards. I am not ashamed of that. On the contrary. In my book I wanted to celebrate with my Kurdish sisters this holy manifestation of the cycle of life by means of the universal language of poetry. And with the goal of delivering my message, this summer more than three thousand women from all nationalities and races will gather for the biggest collective menstruation ever assembled. In the company of these brave women we are scheduled to menstruate simultaneously in front of the United Nations building in New York in the greatest event of this kind ever witnessed by womankind. We already have obtained the sponsorship of a company that manufactures recycled sanitary napkins and the Guinness Book of Records delegation has sent confirmation of attendance .
Q: Well, we will have to stay in tune to see what happens with that. Good luck! But let’s talk now about you. I understand you were a child prodigy and for that reason your father locked you in a cage for seventeen years. Is that true? How did that affect you emotionally?
A: Yes, he was the stereotypical latin macho and didn’t wanted me to receive any sort of education besides, maybe, a degree in sweeping and moping technology. He always believed that the only option for a woman is to marry and become her husband’s unpaid housekeeper and the caretaker of his children. But he reconsidered his position on the matter when I reached my teens and he realized how difficult would be for somebody with a face like mine to obtain a decent husband. Still he wouldn’t let me leave the cage to go to school for fear the nuns could compromise my chastity as he has witnessed in innumerable pornographic films set in convents that he collected as a hobby. He was a very traditional and authoritarian man. He hired a personal tutor that would come every morning to give me lessons in my cage placed on the patio.
Q: Was your tutor a man or a woman?
A: He was man. A young and handsome university student. But he never had a chance with me because my father made him wear padlocked steel shorts every time he was around the house and he was never allowed inside my cage. We used to pass the homework papers through the iron bars. He was sensitive and educated and I fell in love instantly. From him I learned to love poetry, he wanted to be a poet himself but he wasn’t half good as I am. I was about to suggest him to find the means to runaway together when I found out he was gay in the worst possible way you could conceive. One night I saw him from my cage hiding behind the garden’s hedge giving a B J to my father.
Q: Wow! I imagine this episode is where you got your inspiration for your first published short story Sons Of A Bitch that was attacked for its veiled homophobic undertone and for using the word faggot four-thousand fifty-six times.
A: You imagine damn right darling! But I disagree in labeling the book as homophobic. The subject of the book is love, the only theme is worth writing about is always love, the fact that the vexed heroine of the story expresses her love by becoming a homicidal maniac that kills her victims by snatching their penises with pliers is incidental. It is the repressive masculine society in which she lives that forces her to express her love in such an unorthodox way.
Q: Well, that explains everything. What about your mother. How was your relation with her? Was she a factor in your resolution to devote yourself to poetry? Did she help you to achieve your goal?
A: Are you kidding darling? No. She was an illiterate halfwit that spent all of her time on the kitchen cooking for my father and cleaning around the house. She idolized my father to the point that she wouldn’t let the dog take my father’s sleepers to him because she wanted to do it herself. Many afternoons I had to withstand the ruckus caused by her and the dog fighting for the stretched sleeper pulling with their teeth in opposite directions. It was shameful. But she was a mother after all and although I despised her for her weakness after seeing her defeated by the dog so many times, she still would come around my cage sometimes and leave a plate with homemade cookies that tasted like chalk.
Q: I can see why you left the family home a soon as you could. In the seventies you were studying in the United Stated during the sexual revolution. In college you joined the OFL (Ovarian Front of Liberation), a radical feminist group that has been recently listed second after Al Qaeda as the world’s most perverse organization after Hillary Clintoris joined the movement.
A: That is true. But by then my very good friend Hillary was not yet member. She failed the admission poetry test because she showed at the exam with her bra and at the time we had a zero-tolerance anti-bra policy that has changed only recently replaced by a don’t-ask don’t-tell about-bra.
Q: This period of political struggle is the setting of your satirical novel The Burning Bras Sisterhood that became the bible of the women’s liberation movement and that sold so well that allowed you to buy an electric typewriter. It was also a scandal because the explicit depiction of your sexual experiences with men, women and other mammals. Were those experiences autobiographical or did you make them up?
A: Some were on some were not. What I wrote about sex with men with big penises was based in conversations I overheard in the lady’s room where I spent a lot time locked in the toilet reading Virginia Wolf and hiding from people that made fun of my hairy legs. The lesbian experiences described in the book are mostly originally mine, as are the descriptions of intercourse with underperforming ugly men and other mammals. But the celebrated scene of anal sex with a giant eggplant is inspired on a dream I had constantly at that time. As you may know I always been interested in female sexuality, specially in mine, and I am co-founder of the first Tantric Institute of Vaginal Studies that studies the link between female mental health and sexual activity but by those days we just copulated indiscriminately for the fun of it.
Q: But you fell in love with your young blind pottery teacher and tried to marry her, isn’t it true?
A: I don’t believe in marriage. It is a chauvinist institution whose only goal is to deprive women of their freedom and sell those stupid overpriced white dresses that end up in the trash bin with the discarded Christmas trees. Ours was a political act of defiance to convention cleverly designed to empower and galvanize the oppressed lesbian community. Same sex marriages were not allowed at the time in any country, so we celebrated a weeding ceremony on a raft anchored in international waters for that purpose but the ceremony ended abruptly when a shark ate the wedding cake and my girlfriend’s legs. She become a quite popular martyr of the feminist cause and left me for a specially handsome kind of clay that is found on the Himalayas. She never forgave me for the fact that the raft had been my idea.
Q: You have remained single since then and had devoted your life to your prodigious literary output of poetry, essays, papers, conferences, novels, articles and shopping lists. Don’t you regret that your dedication to the cause of women rights has prevented you from the experience of being a mother? I know you went through a terribly traumatic experience of abortion while still young because you wrote about the aftermath in two books: 101 Beauty Recipes Using Placenta and 101 Ways to Cook a Fetus.
A: Yes, it is true. But I don’t like talking about that, it was a terrible experience and everything that I had to say about it is written in those books. It was all a big misunderstanding. I though I was at the dentist and forced the obstetrician to extract the fetus through my mouth. It was horrible, I nearly choked.
Q: The reading of your poetry is considered by literary experts as very demanding intellectually for the many mythological references you use and for your request that l’s and capital i’s to be removed from the text because you consider them phallic symbols. Is it your work only for the intellectual elite?
A: Absolutely not! My work is written for the masses! Many of my readers are women that cannot read because they have been denied a proper education by the repressive conditions prevalent in their native societies. But I still encourage them in public and push in private to buy my books and stare blankly to them for hours. Even if they are illiterate the power of poetry is such that the exposure of their souls to the magic healing power of the written word will help them to improve their poor living conditions. It certainly helps to improve mine, and if you don’t believe me, look around you. Do you know how many books you have to sell to buy all this bric-a-brac?
Q: Many, no doubt about that. Let’s talk about your plans for the future. You already mentioned the International Menstrual Gathering for Menstruating Freedom this summer in New York. Do you have any other projects?
A: Yes. At the Tantric Institute of Vaginal Studies we are experimenting with a revolutionary training method combining hatha yoga and voodoo that will enable women to achieve an unprecedented level of control of their vaginal muscles. Once this technique is perfected it will allow women to teach their vaginas to speak or even sing. I have already taught mine the mystic syllable: Om.
Q : Really?
A: Yes, listen.
Q: Wow, that was really impressive! What about your romantic life? Are you with somebody now?
A: Now? Now I have vibrating egg inside my vagina. It has been there for three weeks and I think I have to replace the batteries, so we’ll have to speed up with this before they close the Seven Eleven. Without my egg I get in a terrible mood.
Q: Okay. One last question then to close our little chat. You said before the only subject worth writing about is love. What are your thoughts about love? Are love and sex the same thing for you? And if they aren’t, why did you a applied for a marriage license that was denied to marry a thirty-three centimeters long black dildo?
A; Yes. I believe that love is the most precious thing in the world. All my work is devoted to it. Most of the characters of my books are women forced to live in the margin of society because they are not allowed to love and are not loved with the intensity they need and they go insane. For my sex is exactly the same.
As if to confirm the validity of the closing statement of Luna Maria her vibrating egg’s has gone dead and now I found myself at the gate of her high-walled beautiful damn villa bargaining with a tanned bike-taxi driver over the fare to my hotel while he tries to grossly overprice me. In the distance a cloud of dust from her speeding limo still can be seen in the fading light of the sunset while I wonder why that bitch didn’t offer me a ride.
Killer Grass is hailed by public and critics as the most interesting voice of Moldavian literature and has recently achieved international notoriety and commercial success after his works have been translated to English and sold at a reduced price. His name is mentioned every year as candidate for the Nobel Prize, but always in the wrong discipline although during the 1974 ceremony he snatched the medal from the perplexed Biology laureate’s hands and would have get away hadn’t the other man been faster than him.
This are excerpts of the interview soon to be published in the literary quarterly magazine Letters & Loathing that I write, publish and distribute personally. It took place in Killer Grass’ beautiful home in the Moldavian countryside. The sanctuary where he writes his novels and essays is located in a charming quiet valley on the Carpathian mountains. His charming little house is perched on the slopes of a bigger house that belongs to a local landowner who lets the author live there because has a superstitious fear of his yellow teeth. In Moldavian folklore people with yellowish rotten teeth is said to be able to transform you in a hair dryer.
I received an invitation sent by his faithful secretary Mrs. Alma Sukker who has been with him since he discovered that he couldn’t tie up his shoes without help. The interview took the form of a relaxed informal chat by the fireplace sipping an excellent and aromatic coffee that the author himself grows in the basement of his house during his free time. Later on the evening the interview took the form of a turmoil and a hurriedly visit to dispensary when my socks caught fire on the fireplace and a too enthusiastic Alma tried to extinguish my legs with a broom resulting in a fractured tibia.
Killer Grass is a lean and energetic man nearing his nineties but with his mind still lucid and aware of his surroundings, to probe that point he repeatedly peeks under my skirt. He wears a checkered shirt under a thick woolen jersey, a bow tie and has forgotten to put his pants on. His underpants are white with a pattern of yellow smileys matching his slippers. His face is elongated with coarse skin framed by wild white hair shaped as a beard from hears down and like the satellite photo of a high pressures front hears up. The tiny blue eyes behind his thick lenses tell of a life devoted to reading and intellectual pursuits and are honest and wise. The right eye looks the more honest but seems as if the burden of wisdom has found better accommodation on the left, despite the fact that the pupil was lost in a hunting accident when Mr. Grass was mistaken by a wild turkey and shoot.
The preliminary chat reveals me a warm, charming and intelligent man with a great sense of humor and significant tendency to spit when pronouncing a diphthong. He bursts into laughs a number of times while I tell a literary anecdote about how James Joyce almost had his penis severed by a piano lid. Every time he laughs I have to salvage his false teeth out my coffee cup and once they fly out the window and, dependable as always, Mrs. Alma has to wrestle the dog in the backyard to retrieve them.
When I see that the venerable master is starting to doze off and that saliva begins to slip down his chin I decide to start the interview with a lighthearted question.
Q: Let me ask you first a question that is not related to literature but that I hope you won’t mind me asking. How many books do you have to sell to buy a place like this? Three?
A: Very funny. I didn’t bought this heap. It has belonged to my family for generations but after the war I had my parents sent to a mental institution because none of the could understand any of my books and because that way I could move to the first floor from my room in the attic. I hated my room in the attic, some magpies nest there and drive my insane by picking in my head while I sleep. For years as child I had nightmares in which magpies ate my genitals and forced me to attend hair dressing lessons.
Q: That sounds familiar.
A: Of course it does, my first poetry dealt exclusively with magpies. I see you have read my books. I never I imagined you could actually read. I am impressed young man.
Q: Thanks sir, but actually I am young lady. My name is Alissa Foulmouth. I told you several times before.
A: I know, I know, don’t you worry my child. I always wanted to be a woman myself.
Q: Okay. Let’s go back to your childhood. We all know that your early writings deal with the issue of magpies. But let me ask you. How and when did you decided that you wanted to be a writer?
A: As a child I always wanted to be an obstetrician. I used to practice with cows. But one day I found a dusty letter in a corner of the dinning room. I was mesmerized although I couldn’t understand what it meant. I told my parents I wanted to learn how to read and they untied me and let me go to school. Later I found out that letter I was so fascinated with was just a plain capital K, I think it fell from my father’s tome of Kafka’s complete works, but there was so many K’s on the volume that I gave up finding if any was missing.
Q: You just mentioned Kafka. Some critics have compared A Trial, your last novel with Kafka’s work, specially with The Trial, because the only difference is that your book has far more orthographic mistakes. Are you a great admirer of the immortal genius from Prague?
Q: I mean Kafka. Do you like Kafka?
A: Oh, yes, indeed of course. I love him. I always leave some scraps for good old Kafka. He is getting old now. Like me. But I still enjoy to have him in my lap on a cold night and stroke his penis until he…
Q: What? Your dog’s name is Kafka? Isn’t a that a coincidence?
A: I don’t know about that but I had a cat before called Schiller. He never produced a single decent poem. He could only write about sardines and his calligraphy was hideous.
Q: I feel like we are losing track here. Let’s back to your childhood. Tell me about your parents. Did they encouraged you as a child to follow your dream of becoming a writer?
A: Well my father did, he was a man of letters. He had worked as typesetter all his life, he was specialized in questions marks. One of his designs was praised in a local farmer’s journal. My mother was another story. Her sister had married a Czech that claimed to be writer but he stabbed her with his fountain pen in their wedding night and ran away with her cattle. My mother hated writers since then.
Q: How sad. But your parents sent you college, is that right?
A: I think so. I don’t remember that period so well. I remember the University, it was a collection of large buildings with tables inside and young people reading and taking notes. There was some older people too. Curiously enough they stood up most of time and spoke incessantly. Those where different times and women were not admitted in the University.
Q: But you met your first love during that period, isn’t that true?
A: Oh yes, I remember that part very well. I met her in the Medicine Faculty. She was so beautiful and young… she was also the first woman I ever saw naked. Actually she was naked the first time I saw her. I think that is why I fell in love with her. She was lying on a table in the anatomy ward. I though she was sleeping and I tried to awake her with a bucket of water but then I realized she was dead so I had sex with her. She seemed indifferent but I had the best time of my life. I took her with me to my room in the boarding house and we started living together until the landlady complained of bad smell to the police. She was an old hag and I think she was jealous. She always had a crush on me, but she looked too much like my own mother. And I had certainly enough with my own mother. Anyway they took her away, not my mother, my corpse girlfriend, and I tried to kill myself by drinking from my ink well but only got my tongue black.
Q: You didn’t die and you wrote your first book instead. Sweet Putrefaction was banned and labeled necrophilic pornography. The volumes were requisitioned and burnt.
A: Yes, that’s exactly what happened. But do you know what?
Q: No, what?
A: What what?
Q: You were telling us about your corpse girlfriend. Please continue.
A: Oh, yes, of course. Do you think I am senile? Yes, Linda. Well I never knew her real name but I always called her Linda.
Q: Then the war came and you joined the resistance underground and tried to keep writing. I can imagine those were really hard times. Tell our readers about it.
A: Yes. It was difficult for all of us but for me it was worse. I remember one night I wrote a particularly lovely sonnet while waiting for a troops transport we had ambushed. We were hiding on a ditch by the train track and it was pitch black. It was raining and the ditch flooded. Do you have any idea of how difficult is to write in the dark submerged in mud to your neck? When I got home I couldn’t understand a single word I have scribbled on damp paper. And to top it off we had blown a transport of swine. We mistook their snouts protruding between the cart planks by machine gun muzzles. It was a fiasco. They found a dead pig impaled in the lighting rod at the top an Orthodox church three kilometers away.
Q: But your experiences as a freedom fighter became the source of your next book A Death in the Mud that became your first published novel. Is that correct?
A: Yes and no. Death in the Mud was based in experiences of that period but they were not mine. I took them from a comrade’s rucksack. He was my friend and died in my arms after a particularly nauseating breakfast. Women were not allowed in the resistance either, and we were all terrible cooks. He had no further use for his experiences so I put them to good use in my book, but I left outside any reference to him to avoid problems with the law.
Q: Very wise. What happened when the war was over?
A: The country was in ruins and the only thing I did well besides writing was bombing. It is the only short of professional training you get in guerrilla fighting. My comrades never left me have a gun because they said I was crazy. I couldn’t find a job because there was nothing to blow left in a country already in ruins. I had to come back to my parents and stay with them. I blowed up some cows to stay in shape but I knew that what I really wanted was to write.
Q: Then you went to Paris and wrote your existentialist masterpiece about the war The Dead Don’t Sweat. Tell us about your Parisian days.
A: France and Paris in particular were a bizarre place. Everybody spoke a strange language called French and I couldn’t understand a single word. I locked up myself in my rented room for three years. The landlady would slip omelettes and crepes under my door and siphon French wine through the key hole. After three years of isolation listening to the radio I felt confident I had mastered the French language and decided to leave my room. Understand my disappointment when I find out that I had been listening to the BBC’s international broadcast service and could speak only English, albeit with French accent, probably due to my diet.
Q: Then you fell in love for second time. Tell us about it.
A: Her name was Ivonne. I met her one night while taking a stroll on a public park. She was very attractive and the most sensual woman I had ever seen. The women from the Moldavian countryside look, smell and behave like horses. In fact thousands of Moldavian women are saddled by mistake every year. But Ivonne was different, she smelled like roses, had no facial hair and she didn’t seem to mind the only French words I could pronounce correctly were merde and croissant. We drank and I took her to my place and we made love all night. She even let me do things to her that would had made blush Linda. And Linda was dead. It was a total let down when she asked me for thousand francs. I was devastated. Specially because I didn’t have that kind of money. She told me not to worry and asked me if she could make a phone call. I though she was calling a taxi. What a nitwit I was! Next thing I remember I was lying on a hospital bed with seven broken ribs and both my legs fractured. I learned an important lesson that day: never trust a woman that shows interest in somebody like me.
Q: But later you wrote an alluring short poem about her called The Dirty Slut that deals with the subject of lost love and reconciliation.
A: Yes, I wrote that very short poem about Ivonne. I had wanted to write a novel but she insisted to charge me five francs a word so I only could afford the poem. But I had learnt my lesson. I outsmarted her. I wrote the poem in her presence and added the consonants after she left. She said the poem was gibberish but I knew better. Unfortunately I misplaced many of the consonants and my publisher broke my legs again. I decided to come back to my country as soon I recovered.
Q: You came back after all those years. What kind of welcoming did you had ?
A: After the publication of The Dead Don’t Sweat I had become a sort of celebrity here, but my mother still hadn’t get over the fact that I was writer. She still hated writers. She had read my book and didn’t understand anything. She insisted that a saucer pan that figures prominently in the book as a symbol of social injustice was inspired in her and tried to stab me with a spoon as soon as I crossed the door. I survived the attack but I was so traumatized that since then I had to mix the sugar in my coffee with my finger and drink soup directly from the plate, which is one of the reasons I do not get many dinner invitations.
Q: Let’s talk about that. Your detractors say you are a misanthrope. You rarely socialize and when you do you chose to eat under the table and wear a paper bag in your head at all times. Your work pervades a deep contempt for human condition and you were arrested once for inducing and abortion on woman by insisting in giving her directions to a butcher shop when she was requesting medical attention. Tell me, do you hate people?
A: No, definitely no. I like to eat under the table because that way I can peek more comfortably under women’s skirts. It is true, and I had said that many times in my books and also to people that were not even interested in listening to me, that I consider the human species essentially as the failed experiment of God. Many times, when I begin writing a novel I put myself, so to say, in God’s shoes and let me tell you: They are huge! They smell a bit rancid, like Roquefort cheese. But being in God’s shoes is an unique experience. It gives you perspective, and that, for a writer, is priceless. You see humanity as it is: a frantic ants race but more chaotic, more fecund. And then, when I begin writing, I actually become God. I can have my characters to do whatever I want, to think the way I want them to think. If I want them to fall in love I can make that too. I can kill them and I can also bring them back to life, as much times as I want. If I want, I make them to dance without having any music played. Isn’t that being like God?
Q: Well that is some interesting shit Mr.Grass. Can you pass me back the joint?
A: Sure. What was I talking about? Oh. Yes! God. Have you ever realized how the word GOD has only three letters? And how much the words GOOD and GOD look alike? There is something rotten in that. That is why I always distrusted the priests. I felt they were hiding something from us. Behind the paraphernalia of the rite, behind their unctuous smiles, behind the altars there was something that was slowly decaying for an eternity. That slowly decaying matter was us. We have forfeited our souls to them and in the process they became jailers of our conscience. I try to free humankind of that invisible slavery with every word I write, with every letter, with every drag…. Man, this shit is good! Where did you get it Mrs. Foulmouth?
Q but A: A Jamaican guy I met in London. Fucked once.
A: I feel sleepy and I can’t find my goddamn teeth .
A: They are there, under the sofa. There. And you can call me Alli.
Q: Thanks. Would you please show me your tits Mrs. Foulmouth? I mean, would you show me your vagina Alli?
A: I came here for a literary interview, not to fuck with a nonagenarian writer that looks like Montgomery Burns.
Q: I didn’t say anything about fornication. I just wanted to see your genital organs. But now that you mention the subject I can give 200$ cash now and 200$ more tomorrow. With that you can get yourself a nice handbag. What do you say?
A: Make it 500$ and you got yourself a deal.
Aria For A Red Turtle is the title of the first and last Experimental-Constructivist Opera ever written. It was composed in 1928 by the great German composer Franzs Hans, also known as Hans Franzs, or Franz Han, or Franz Hans and commonly misspelled Han Franzs.
Born in Leipzig into an unemployed family of traveling deaf musicians young Hans surprised his parents at the tender age of six by not being deaf. Seeing the natural musical predisposition of their only non-deaf child and harassed by debtors the family voted to sold him to a wealthier family of fish merchants that could afford giving him some education and understand whatever he said when he moved his lips.
Young Franzs Hans spent his childhood teaching bell canto to the death fishes in his adoptive family’s home and that constituted the only decoration in the house. He composed is first music at that time: The Herring Waltz a light tune to be played with a spoon and saw.
At the age of fourteen his adoptive family sent to him Vienna to get rid of him and to study composition. He was accepted as a pupil by the great Richard Strauss, in spite of the fact that Strauss was only seven years old at the time and still lived in Munich. Nevertheless he finished his studies and obtained a position in the Imperial Opera House of Vienna as a shoe shiner. It is during this period he composed his famous twelve sonatas for violin and twisted flute inspired by a brand of shoe polish called Lurz. The pieces were too modern for the Viennese taste and its public performance were banned by imperial decree after the shoe polish brand sued Franzs for copyrights infringement. Embittered by his failure to have his music performed in Vienna his political views radicalized and joined the Anarchist movement which he felt appealing to his political ideology since their quarters where the only place he was allowed to take his socks off in public. He moved to a more squalid quarter than the one he lived and where he shared room in a boarding house with a family of gipsies for double the price of his former apartment.
Fired from his job after mistakenly shine a barefoot Hussar he tried to survive by playing the platypus on the streets until he discovered it wasn’t instrument when it laid an egg on his shoe. He felt devastated after six years invested in writing a cantata for platypus and orchestra of fish bones.
Drafted to play in a military band at the outbreak of the Great War he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for bravery shown taking a German machine gun nest with his trumpet as only weapon. Although he had to return the medal when somebody pointed out to the Austrian General Staff that Germany was fighting in their side. For this infraction of the military code of conduct he had to spend the rest of the war peeling potatoes, which he decided wasn’t so bad after all when he saw what happened to people’s heads when crossed trajectories with a bullet. The time spent in potato shift inspired him to write the score for his minor work Tuberculous Cantata although he failed to have it performed when he couldn’t get any decent mezzo-soprano among the thousands of potatoes he examined.
After the war he moved to Russia attracted by the revolution that seemed to be taken place there. He spent eight years wandering the Russian tundra looking for Petrograd until an illiterate mujik informed him that the city has been renamed Leningrad, that he was standing in the middle of Nevsky Prospekt and that if please, would he be so kind to step off his toe.
It was while in Petrograd that his life took a prodigious turn of events when he was mistaken by the man in charge of heating Stalin’s slippers. After seventeen years at the service of the Soviet dictator he addressed him for the first time on a rare day Stalin appeared to be in a good mood. Impressed by the bold and innovative musical notions of Franzs Hans, that were alien to one of the tyrants with less musical sense History has ever known – Stalin always felt jealous of Hitler who could play “Oh, Susanna” with a comb – the Soviet ruler commissioned him to compose an opera depicting the struggle of the proletariat and the achievements of the Soviet regime. The work should be befitted of his megalomaniac ambition of making Soviet Union the most modern country in the world and, if that failed, it should at least amuse the more sour members of the Politburo.
The opening was scheduled to take place one year later to coincide with the inauguration of a new petrochemical plant in Minsk and would be attended by the higher rank members of the Politburo accompanied with their wives and household poultry.
From the very moment of its conception Franzs Hans envisioned the production as the most costly and extravagant work of art the World had ever seen but after experiencing the unpleasant contact of a NKVD agent’s gun in his temple he reconsidered the foolishness of his vision and significantly reduced the scale of the project. Nevertheless the production was bound to be the most avant-garde and cost-profit balanced in history.
For the writing of the libretto he trusted his parrot who always wrote all his lyrics in one of the few recorded cases of a durable and successful collaboration between a composer and his pet. Like the celebrated case of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s dog who used to clean the maestro’s hears and caused him an infection that left him deaf.
Initially the opera was titled Roaring Red Rural Rage in Russia but the scarcity of R’s in the Soviet typesetting industry attributed to counterrevolutionary and revisionist elements who snatched the R’s needed to spell their own names caused Franzs Hans to panic and he picked up a name at random from the Vladivostok’s phonebook. The Red Turtle was the name of a Vladivostok’s Bolshevik pub with no chairs, no tables, no drinks and no music but that used to be packed on Friday nights.
Aria For A Red Turtle is not only the first opera whose score is designed to force the players to play their instruments upside down but also the first one in which only animals are on stage. It is said that served as source of inspiration to George Orwell to his brilliant satiric novel Animal Farm, although the story sounds apocryphal or even preposterous to hears trained in those things. This opera script contains several features that make it unique. Conceived as a total artistic experience the thirty thousand pages libretto include complete sets of instructions and regulations that extend to every aspect of the production: sets, stage, make up, animal wardrobe, lighting and even includes a detailed trading code dealing with the purchase of pop corn during the show and pricing of fresh drinks.
The opera opens with a loud French horn delivering a beautiful solo while delivering also the program to the audience. The program is written backwards and stained with coffee to symbolize the backwardness of the literate upper classes and reactionary intellectuals but the coffee stains are probably the result of somebody’s clumsiness.
Public must attend the representation naked but for a bow tie drawn with charcoal in their necks. This seems to be a reference to the pauperization of the coal workers that could rarely purchase tickets for the capitalist theater shows, specially if they showed up naked at the ticket boot. In fact the idea seems to be closely related to a similar event of the mythology created around the October Revolution. Still under Tsarist rule it became fashionable in Saint Petersburg among the Soviets to attend Opera performances naked to show their contempt for middle-class conventionalism. The practice was abandoned when winter came and several members of the Supreme Soviet had to be unfrozen by placing them unusually close to a samovar. They had been found frozen in the snow while waiting in line to buy a ticket for a performance of Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs. Lenin himself almost lost the tip of his nose because frostbite in a completely unrelated incident that involves a talking mollusk.
The overture of the opera consist in a cacophony of horrible screams of pain and anger achieved by dropping six tones of molten lead on the orchestra pit while the members of the orchestra are arranging their scores unaware of what is in stock for them. The screams of the musicians constitute an exquisitely vivid metaphor of industrial power smashing the proletariat, or at least is certainly vivid for them although probably not so exquisite.
When the havoc subsides the surviving members of the orchestra engage in a beautiful melody in which the violin takes the lead and propels himself in a tragic solo that is only interrupted when the much bigger Contrabass, who likes exactly like a violin on steroids, smashes the helpless violin to bits. The melody becomes then an eerie repetitive tune in which this time the tuba takes the lead. Being so big the tuba is not scared at all of the bullying of the Contrabass that is so full of himself that wants to be called Double Bass. The sinister tune increases progressively first to become a loud noise and then an insufferable cacophony not unlike the sound produced by millions of chickens being cooked alive at the same time. The public vomits and the red curtains rise.
The background of the stage is covered by a large black and white photo of Stalin. He his depicted in heroic position while fighting with his dog in the bathtub. Both are naked but the dictator seems to be winning the fight and had managed to pin down the dog near the faucet. This curious historic photograph was taken one spring in the dictator’s Crimean summer home by is sister-in-law called Boris. In the original picture Leon Trotsky is also in the bathtub with Stalin helping him in his struggle by bitting one of the animal’s paws. Later on Trotsky traveled to Mexico City where he died after spending too much time with an ice axe buried in his head. He had fallen in disgrace when he mistakenly wore Stalin’s underwear with Stalin still in it. They made themselves the laughing stock at the day session of the Politburo and Trotsky was outlawed as a counterrevolutionary element, his name vanquished of the history book and his library card cancelled. Secret police experts doctored the photo to erase any impression that the man that ruled the biggest country in the world with iron fist needed anybody’s help to drown a dog. The image of Trotsky was retouched to look like an inconspicuous giant rubber duck that is actually much better looking than Trotsky.
In the middle of the whitewashed stage floor there is a giant boiler made of brass and crisscrossed by an intricate pattern of pipe-works. Through a hatch we see the roaring flames of a coal fire. Clouds of hot steam puff occasionally out of leaks between the pressure joints. A dirty man in a overalls enters the stage with a toolbox from which he produces a key to fix the problem. He fixes the problem and leaves.
The giant boiler symbolizes the incipient and accelerated process that the Soviet nation was undergoing at the time this opera was written. In an unprecedented effort to catch up with Western technology and industry the Soviet regime had devised a plan to reuse all available land to grow joint rings instead or turnips but the harvest failed due to drought. The result was substandard joint rings that leaked. So the steam jets become a barely veiled call of attention to the Commissar for Heavy Industry who was found dead in his office two days after the performance crushed to pulp under the pressure of his area of responsibility.
The orchestra resumes with a mellow music not unlike some elevator tunes and a red turtle enters the stage. The original idea was to have used a real red turtle but it was impossible to find any with enough experince in bell canto to fill the role. A common green turtle was selected among thousands of applicants and submerged in a tank of red paint for six months. When the turtle was extracted from the tank she had perished and the new candidate was merely had her shell varnished with red nail polish.
The turtle faces Stalin’s portrait on the wall offering the tail to the audience and begins a recitation of inflated industrial production statistics following the dissonant beat of the syncopated music and the rhythmical hisses of the boiler that has come back to life and is leaking and fizzing as if it was about to explode. There is a general feeling of great pandemonium. The piercing falsetto voice of the turtle steadily raises the volume, the cheerful lyrics go on like this:
-One million two hundred thousand seventy five hundred tons of corn.
Two million six hundred thousand twenty nine tons of potassium nitrate.
Seven hundred thousand two hundred and three tons of tin.
Three million seventy five hundred one litres of chocolate syrup.
Six hundred twenty six war planes that can actually flight and three thousand two hundred sixty seven than cannot.
One million three hundred seventy five thousand six hundred ninety nine left socks.
One hundred and ninety nine right socks… – and the list goes on.
Meanwhile sheep slowly start invading the stage with a petrified look on their faces trying to figure out what is going on in there. They seem to converge in the focal point where the turtle keeps restlessly chanting figures in spite of the discordant noise and the fact that the steam vapor his cooking her alive. The meaning of this tableau could hardly be any more obvious.
The red helmet-shaped shell of the turtle represents the Red Army and Soviet military might. It is said that it was during one this performances that a young engineer from Pinsk derived inspiration for his design of the Russian T-34 tank when he saw how the turtle would hide head and legs into her shell. First he though it was some sort of magic trick because he was unaware turtles could do such things. Back in the tin appliances factory he supervised he draw the blueprints for the T-34 that went into production and proved later far superior to its German counterpart, mainly because the Germans have looked for inspiration in an otter and had to feed his tanks regularly with raw fish which proved a nuisance during the invasion of Russia.
The figures recitation serves the purpose of advertising the achievements of Stalin’s Five-Years plan of industrial production that, incidentally, felt so short of its initial goals that only lasted three and half years. A symbolic undertone also pervades the act of switching the traditionally mundane lyrics of an aria for the recitation of a state-level shopping list of sorts. The message is loud and clear: any form leisure in Soviet Russia is about to be replaced by hard productive work. This was indeed the fate of many aristocracy and clergy after the October Revolution. Many nobles were taken for a picnic to Siberia never to come back and the sight of Orthodox priest sweeping the streets with their long beards became commonplace in Russian towns.
Also the turtle, as is well known by historians of the period and people interested in historical curiosities, was the pet animal of choice for Stalin who always had one in his desk drawer. A fact that the German envoy Von Ribenttrop discovered during a comical incident after the signature of the nonaggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. Back in Berlin and about to show his Fuhrer the signed papers as proof of the inferior penmanship of the Soviet tyrant he was bitten in his fingers by Stalin’s turtle that had wandered into the German’s suitcase attracted by the smell of a lettuce sandwich placed there by Frau Ribbentrop. To avoid a potentially lethal diplomatic incident the turtle had to be returned safely to Stalin in a heavily guarded train convoy but the pact was bound to fail when later on Stalin found out that Adolf Hitler was not only a nazi but also better singer than himself.
The sheep herd embodies the masses converging around this cluster of powerful symbols of the Soviet utopia. In fact the sheep used in the performance were selected in a rigorous nationwide casting from the different Soviet Republics that was named Soviet Idol but became popular under the name of Wailing Idol. The contest was won by a young lamb from the Republic of Georgia. Stalin, a Georgian himself, became good friends with the young sheep and invited him several times to graze in the Kremlin lawn. The lamb achieved great popularity afterwards as a soloist under the artistic name of Blackie Fourhooves with his rendition of a Soviet version of a popular blues tune with all mentions to cotton replaced by wool. His promising career as the best singing lamb of the Soviet Union was cut short by the one of the Stalinist purges, that in spite of their name have nothing to do with Stalin vowel movements that by all contemporary accounts were as fluid and efficient as his policies to the point that some political rivals suggested they originated in the same point of Stalin’s anatomy. Arrested by the NKVD and falsely accused of having received more than two thousand sacks of German fodder as payment for spying secret Soviet military sites while pretending to be ruminating, he was brutally tortured by a team of expert interrogators and a chef that roasted and ate his rear quarters with him still attached to them. He bravely resisted just to succumb later and sign a fake confession when they threatened him to roast his parents. He was tried in one of the infamous show trials that amused the Soviet population from time to time in absence of decent radio broadcasts and bread. His lawyer made a brilliant defense but all was lost when it was revealed during his final exposition not only that the he was a sheep of Jewish ascent but also that lamb is a Christian symbol and the favorite dish of many plutocrats. It didn’t help either that the defendant spent most of the time eating the tribunal’s folders or the feces the president of the tribunal found on the sole of his shoe. He was sentenced to death by firing squad and served for dinner to the tribunal members in the course of the trial after-party.
When finally the stage is virtually buried under sheep and some animals are already falling into the orchestra pit with great rejoicing of the audience the sheep initiate what only can be described a chant of Soviet political slogans at the tune marked by the Red Turtle. At that precise moment hundreds of chicken start to rain from the ceiling creating even more upheaval. For years critics tried to elucidate the symbolic meaning of those chickens without success and some speculated they were included to increase the commercial mass-appeal of the show holding no symbolical meaning whatsoever. Nothing further from the truth. Originally intended as a call for fraternity and understanding between nations, Franzs Hans got everything wrong and had them thrown on stage on the sincere belief that chickens, not doves, were the international symbol of peace and that they could fly too. The explanation for such a gross mistake lies on the fact that Franzs Hans was very shortsighted and never could differentiate between species of poultry to the point he always though his own daughter was some sort of bird until she gave birth instead of laying an egg. In subsequent performances the mistake was a undone by parachuting frozen chicken.
The orchestra tries to keep the pace of the fast evolving events and plays faster and louder trying to make themselves heard in the intense pandemonium that unfolds around them. The string section engages in a specially frantic movement and one violinist accidentally slips his bow inside the cello player’s nostril. When the chaos seems to subside a woman in the second row screams like possessed and gives birth to a baby helped by a dentist on the ninth row, all of this is achieved without any of them leaving their seat for fear of having to spend the rest of the performance sitting on the wet floor.
The newborn baby embodies the cathartic birth of the new Soviet Man and the dentist symbolizes the need for good dental hygiene. After that the stage is cleared out using flame throwers after which only the Red Turtle remains and smell of overcooked lamb chops permeates the air. A bitter remainder to the audience of what will happen to them if they don’t behave. The Red Turtle is then hoisted with a winch and the performance is over. The public is rounded up by soldiers and loaded in cattle carts in a train to Siberia where refreshments and a thirty years long critical analysis of the opera is scheduled for them.
The opera was a great success among public and received very good reviews from the critics. Specially from those interested in staying alive and that constituted a majority. Nevertheless recently undisclosed files from the KGB archives indicate that the music critic of Pravda was sent to a Siberia because he misspelled Stalin’s name in his otherwise positive review. He spent forty eight years writing “STALIN” in a giant blackboard until he run out of chalk and died on the spot. Ironies of history, he was already in the Bering Strait, having written his way across Siberia and just a few paces from Alaska’s frozen territorial waters.
Hans Franzs wasn’t very fortunate either. After the successful opening he retired to Smolensk to write a symphony dedicated to Stalin’s feet a theme he knew well and cherished. He died leaving his work unfinished when Germany invaded the Soviet Union and a inebriated SS corporal shot him at a fancy dress party Franzs had the bad fortune to attend dressed as a rabbi. The Red Turtle was never performed again until 1961 in East Germany during a visit of the premier Nikita Khrushchev but the German rendition of Aria for a Red Turtle turned up a fiasco when Khrushchev got food poisoning never achieving the levels of quality of the original performance in Minsk, that remains a classic to this day.