Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Delusional Wretch

Look what I found!

It's a dusty old ruin, just like you.

Cordially Yours,
The Red-Haired Monk of Excess

Monday, April 27, 2009


I knew it was out there somewhere, beyond the horizon, with its towers of glass and steel and the masses and all that bullshit. I suppose I'll always know it's there. I miss it most days, but it ain't half bad out here. Blue skies, greenery, wildlife. Sure the raccoons get into the trash all the damn time and I go days sometimes without seeing another damn soul, but you get to appreciate all the nature being out there.

I still think about her. She had a pink flower in her hair and a dragon tattoo winding its way down her right leg. She came up to my table in the back of the cavernous bar, her silhouette slowly appearing behind the cigarette smoke like a ghost. Just seeing her outline I knew she was beautiful. When she cut through the smoke and I got a good look at her all I could do was try to devise a way to break the ice, but she walked right over to me and set her drink down.

Christ, how long ago was it? We lived the life in those days. There was the cash, the cars, the getaways, and the gang. We had our stupid little hideouts that were sure to be raided by the police not even a week after we found them. We always had to move around, but we always had the money to do it. There was that time when Joey, our vault guy, got his hand stuck in the car door and messed it up but good. We had to scrape by for a month before he could open those safes again. Still, no matter who we split the take with it was always just me and her in the end heading out to the bars with a big sack of cash and the will to spend every last cent.

She wanted to settle down, do things right with an alter and a priest. Hell, I didn't even know she was raised Catholic. We were gonna buy a place. I was gonna open a bar like I was planning to do the night she met me and we stole our first car together; before we started living that crazy life. We were going to go legit; we were going to do it right.

We were gonna-

I pulled her out of the bank and put her in the car ready to rush her to the doc. She told me to drive. She said to keep driving until the engine dropped out of the damn car and that we'd start over wherever that would be.

She outlived the car by three days. It's sitting out there a rusted-out heap in the grass with her underneath it.

So yeah, I miss the city and the old crew and the hustle and bustle and cash and the long nights out on the town. I miss it every day, but the best thing the city ever gave me is under that car, and I'm never going to leave her side.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dear You Foolish Fool

Old and Stuck in the Grass.

Reminds me of you.

The Dusty Emperor of Nothing

Trojan Horse

From a transcript of a lecture at Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio by an anonymous graffiti artist. The speaker wore a black bag over their head for the duration of the lecture.

I want to thank you all, first, for asking me here today. I don’t get to do many of these. So, anyway, let’s get started.

Graffiti is more important than Monet.

It’s true. And I’m not telling you this like some bullshit academe or professor who memorized every book in the library.

I’m credible.

I’m not a sidewalk chalker or a bathroom stall scratcher, though some of the most insightful things I’ve ever read have been scrawled on the walls over urinals. But seriously, graffiti is more important than Monet. And Kandinsky. And Degas. And da Vinci.

You know why? Urgency.

All those other guys don’t get arrested for their art, and if they do there’s a whole fuck-ton of artsy bleeding hearts writing poems about the first amendment outside their cell. When I debut a new work I’m usually running in the other direction and people write letters to their city council about it and they paint over it like they’re afraid it might get worse.

And you know why? Urgency.

We’re showing people something too close to the truth. We’re talking about what’s bothering us right now and it scares the shit out of everybody.

Did you guys get that slide that I brought? Could you bring it up? Great.

Now this is something I did with two other guys in…well, I’m not gonna say where we did it. It’d be like telling the cops where you hid the money, you know what I mean? Anyway, we did this in about fifteen minutes across the street from a Citibank. We didn’t plan it out. We just agreed that we didn’t like the idea of an organization that on the outside is so friendly, but that ultimately runs by collecting and stockpiling money.

Then we just got to it. I was thinking about it like a Trojan horse. The other guy was trying to show the guts of it, the nasty, jagged machinery that motivates this kind of stuff. The third guy was just filling in our gaps. We all saw what it was becoming and sort of aimed it in the final direction.

It felt like jazz sounds.

Anyway, I know my time’s almost up. Short spot. Just remember the urgency. That’s probably the most important part of what I do. Thanks a lot.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dear Dust-Covered Philistine

What does this say to you?

Does it speak to you of your Doom?!

~The Red Headed Monk of Excess

Sunday, April 19, 2009


James sat on a stoop with his plaid, beaten-up, laundry bag and tried to make sense of where he was. He checked the bag and saw all of the clothes neatly folded and smelling of detergent, so he assumed that he was on his way home, but could no longer fathom where it was located. He wanted so badly to ask someone where he lived, but in New York it was doubtful that any passerby had ever seen him before or would likely see him again. He had pride every once in awhile, depending on when you caught him, but today you could see the desperation in his eyes as he struggled for a flicker of memory.

I met James in 1998 at a shithole bar in the East Village. One of those notorious shitholes where all the CBGB fuckers used to go after seeing their favorite, terrible, punk bands. He was old as dirt then and a bit crusty, and if you caught him in the right light, the kind that came in the windows during happy hour, you'd almost mistake him for an extension of the stool on which he sat. It wasn't far from the truth in those days. He'd sit and drink until last call without showing even the slightest hint of inebriation and the bartenders never charged him. He'd tell stories to all the equally crusty gutter punks about his life and the shit he'd seen, and if you listened carefully you'd think the man was full of shit, but something would tell you that he wasn't. He was losing it back then, you see, and whenever he'd tell you a story about V-Day or running guns in the 70's for anti-Vietnam extremists, or hiding out from the law on a hippie commune outside Denver, you'd hear him and know that to him he was telling you a story from last week. It all happened; he just hadn't a clue how long ago it happened to him.

Near as I can tell he was a Navy man in WWII. That's the earliest in his life I'd heard. He swam up to enemy boats in the South Pacific and strapped explosives to the hull, watched his friend get obliterated by gunship fire on the swim back. Lost his taste for violence, and became a small-time gun-runner for anti-war movements at the start of Vietnam. Don't ask me about the irony there. Gave it all up and moved out to the mountains with some fucking flower children sometime in '76. He moved up here in the '80s sometime and has been here ever since while his mind slowly dribbled away.

He's spent his later life telling stories to idiot kids that were too useless to know that they mattered. Now he's sitting on a stoop trying like hell to remember where he lives, what year it is, and if those are even his clothes.

Soon he'll be gone. His entire life lost in the breeze, and it'll happen before he goes cold. It hurts me something fierce. I haven't done shit compared to him.

Who will I meet when I ask him if he needs help? The soldier? The criminal? Or just another geezer with little-to-no sense who used to be somebody? He's alone on the street and I'm the only one who knows anything about his life, and that includes him.

I take his picture. It's all I can do, really. One day my kids will ask who the old man is in the frame. I'll tell them his name was James, and that he was a far better man than any are likely to ever meet in their lifetime.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dear You Arrogant Old Fool

Look at this.

Think on this.

~The Dusty Emperor of Nothing


Leonard Horton died three weeks ago and is surprised that nobody has noticed. He is sitting on a metal fold-out chair in a purple guest room on the second floor of his granddaughter’s house in a developing suburb of St. Louis. His right hand is shaking. It has been shaking for the last three weeks.

He jumps to a misunderstanding in the supermarket two days earlier. A mispriced loaf of bread has caused him to break into tears in front of the cashier. He doesn’t have enough money to pay the young lady. He doesn’t have a credit card. He doesn’t understand them. She doesn’t quite know what to say. Everyone is staring at him.

He is sitting in a bar in Arizona fifty years ago. He’s tired from the day’s work and his associates commiserate. It was a good day, but it was a long one. He recalls the steer that split from the herd and spotted Ernie, sending him up a tree. Ernie turns red. Everyone laughs. He’s funny. They order another round.

He is on the phone with his daughter. She is telling him about the rising cost of gas and how it just isn’t economically feasible to keep the house in Arizona. He tells her that without it he won’t have a place to live. She tells him not to be silly. He doesn’t respond. She tells him about St. Louis and the mild weather and the arch and the steamboats. He tells her to go to hell. He slams the phone down. His right hand is shaking. It has never done that before.

He is twenty-three and in the barn at the end of the day. Janice is there too. She says she has something to show him. She takes off her necklace. She says she has thought about it for a long time. He unbuttons her blouse.

It doesn’t take long.

She says he’s the strongest man she’s ever known. He believes her.

He is back in the purple room. He is looking out the window. There are four identical houses in a row. There are no trees. There is a gas station that is also a restaurant that is also a coffee hut. He closes his eyes.

He can see it. There is an endless field of dusty orange and tumbleweed. There are red rock walls and burnt stone pillars stronger than were ever built. There is a blue sky, sweet Christ, is there a blue sky. It is a hell of a view.

There are memories in that place. There is a soul that speaks to its people. It is home.

He opens his eyes. He can’t believe it is taking death this long to kill him.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

To My Favorite Emperor of Not A Damn Thing,

Take a good long look at this landscape. Is it not beautiful?

Now, do something about it.

The Red-Headed Monk of Excess

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Josephine awoke with the sun and felt renewed after what seemed to be an endless winter of diversions, distractions and depression. She stared out of her balcony to the garden below and knew that finally, spring had arrived. The thought filled her with a renewed love of life and her world.

She put on her silk robe, the green one Bertram had given her on the day of their engagement. She felt a brief pang of sadness at the memory of him, but it passed with the cool breeze blowing to her from the east. Had it only been four months since his departure? Only a quarter of a year since he left her alone? No matter, she thought to herself, there is life and light yet in the world and today, of all days, it seems to shine only for me.

She forewent returning indoors to reach the garden and instead climbed down the lattice near the balcony. The last time she had done so was in her youth, climbing down to meet Bertram and escape into the night and into the city to dance amidst the extraordinary lights and people she could scarcely believe existed outside of her tiny villa.

The roses were in bloom, and she could smell them from anywhere in the garden. Still, she wanted to be immersed in their scent. She approached the wall where they hung and took one of the flowers gently in her hand as she put her nose to it. It smelled like a rose, but also of passion and magic; of love and castles and insatiable sexual appetites. She closed her eyes; dulling one sense to enhance another and lost herself to the scent of the rose.

She stayed there for hours. She could still scarcely hear the hum of the mag-rail outside her walls, bustling with track-cars carrying their passengers to the metropolis not far from her house. The technological jungle spread far and the sound of electricity seemed to hum all around unto infinity. No matter, she thought again while sitting in her little green square surrounded by the vast gray metallic onslaught, here things grow. Here there is life.

When the sun faded into the horizon and the moon rose high in the sky she could look out from her little patch and see the stars burning in the sky from thousands of years ago. He's up there somewhere, she knew, finding a new sphere out in the nothing, where things can grow, too. She smiled big, even as the tears fell from her cheek, and she lay down on the grass and stare at the sky, looking for her love before drifting into a soundless, peaceful sleep.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dear You Fire-Headed Menace,

I came across this reproduction in my sojourns across the Internet.

Create something from it.

~The Dusty Emperor of Nothing