What Kind of Monster Are You?

Self-fashioned life. No more a monster than Lovable, Furry Old Grover in The Monster at the End of This Book.

“Why should I be scared of you?” asks DC punk guitarist and vocalist Christina Billotte near the end of her band Slant 6’s song “What Kind of Monster Are You?”

Several more of the group’s songs turn up on the eternal mixtape soon thereafter.

“Ladybug Superfly.” “Babydoll.” “Partner in Crime.” “Don’t You Ever.”

Am I a victim of my own desires?

The lyrics to a song of theirs called “G.F.S.” stand out to me today, causing me suddenly to hear the song anew, its references to “stars going retrograde” and “recollection starting to fade” far stranger now than I ever knew them to be before.

The perfect guitar solo on “Time Expired” leaves me mulling my past in the hours afterwards, the song’s words forming a hieroglyph, echoing if not quite rhyming slant with the words on your necklace.

Jamberry

Jamberry is an audio-visual tone-poem that riffs on the American Dream-State and its history. It sings the raft down the river, the one containing Huck and Jim from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — only it follows the raft’s progression (reimagined as a canoe) well beyond Twain’s time. Huck and Jim plunge over a waterfall, enter a time tunnel and drift prophetically past trains into outer space. Moons, rockets: they’re there on the page, Jamberry thus possessing a kind of “space flick plot,” like the one referenced by Black Arts poet David Moore (aka “Amus Mor”) in the opening minutes of Muhal Richard Abrams’s “The Bird Song.” Traveling across time I recall Raistlin Majere, the mage who adventures to the years prior to the Cataclysm in Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance novels. Books that delighted me when I read them as a kid. Afrofuturists like Moore see in the space flick plot a means of escape. Chariots and arkestras part the waters and lead the righteous ones to Zion.

Saturday November 7, 2020

On the table before me is a new board book, an interactive one with a “Slide and Find” feature. Frankie and I slide panels on each page and meet animals: Water Buffalo, Spider Monkey, Bald Eagle, Macaroni Penguin. The book is called Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? The election votes have been counted, and a result declared: Biden/Harris victory, Trump/Pence defeat. Many celebrate, as there is certainly reason to. Jes Grew-style dance parties erupt in the streets amid a mood of general happiness and relief. Frankie and I listened to the new Terror/Cactus single “Churro vs. Crow” and the accompanying track “Regresso” by Orquestra Pacifico Tropical aloud on our morning walk.

She and I admired the leaves, a colorful array of browns, red, oranges, and yellows, on this beautiful autumn day. Afterwards, a friend pulls up and honks her horn in our driveway. She and Sarah walk Frankie midafternoon while I run to Goodwill and score a stack of LPs from the Nonesuch “Explorer Series.” ‘Tis a good day.