ZDMT #3

The morning of my appearance at the Fort Wayne Deer Park Lodge, I became enraged in the shower thinking about some of the people I work with at the university. This happens three or four times a week, in the shower, among other places throughout the day, especially at the university itself. Dialogic one-acts of unparalleled idiocy and incompetence and ignorance dance across my mind’s screen in fasttime, and I get madder and madder as I apply Bath & Body Works sandalwood exfoliating scrub to my heels, knees, elbows and palms, rubbing it with mindful resolve around the nails where the dry skin is particularly fearsome. I hold the container of the scrub to my nostrils and sniff deeply, at controlled intervals, acknowledging my thoughts, but attempting to place them elsewhere, in a hypothetical sarcophagus that I shut and seal and bury, embracing a would-be zen nature.

Failure.

My father attended my first two ZDMT performances but managed to elude me on both occasions, notwithstanding various disguises. Determined to confront him, I waited outside the entrance to the Deer Park Lodge, smoking cigarettes and doing curls with a 35 lb. kettle ball. He never showed up. Admittedly I felt sort of naked. I felt precisely the same way, it occurred to me, when my parents dropped me off for the first time my freshman year of college at Wittenberg University, a hideously overpriced liberal arts receptacle. I recall wearing a yellow t-shirt and white knee-length shorts. It was sunny. I smelled flowers and gasoline. The rest of college is a well-deserved blur.

The Deer Park Lodge isn’t much different than Rotary. I don’t suspect this is a condition limited to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Both groups possess dynamic ideological sensibilities and healthy cartels of masculinity. The Lodgers simply don’t have as much money as the Rotarians. Which means they are a vastly different species after all. They look different, they talk different, they act different. Class is the great divider. And, as I explain in Codename Prague: “Difference is the payload of identity.”

I stopped counting the audience at 500. I don’t know why or how the event was so well attended. One Lodger told me the ZDMT had simply gained a lot of word-of-mouth momentum in Indiana, but I imagine there are other factors involved.

I read chapter two of Codename Prague, “Slaughterhouse-Five.” Originally this piece appeared in Withersin Magazine. The title is an allusion to Vonnegut’s novel but has little to do with it. Nothing really happens in the chapter, or rather, what happens is incidental to the propulsion of the plot and serves as a means to illustrate some aspects of the social and (meta)physical landscape of the novel’s diegesis. My protagonist essentially gets lost in the “Slaughterhouse District,” which I describe as a “jagged bulge of steeples, chimneys, ducts, pipelines, elevators, fire escapes and smokestacks. The buildings were black, sharp, latticed by tiny blue windows. Gold-rimmed gondolas whizzed across the metallic grey sky on thin tracks of wire. Periodically the shadow of a man in a bird suit passed through the moon, a great jaundiced globe that hung above the night like a tumor” (29). Stand-out features include “a Jim Carey robot with red Riddler hair impersonating a CSI David Caruso” (30), a “Philip K. Dick flab suit” (30), a genetically enhanced sheep whose head explodes (32), and an Orwellian “Two Minute Hate” (33).

“Slaughterhouse-Five” is only a few pages long, so I read it six times.

Questions afterwards touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the elementary—e.g., What kind of porn do you like? What’s a novel?to the more sophisticated—e.g., Should science fiction be taught in high school? Did Althusser really need to write For Marx? Actor Tom Skerritt, 77, was in attendance—apparently he grew up in Fort Wayne and currently keeps his home here—and commented on the afrofuturistic tenor of my writing, then suggested that postmodernism was nothing but an excuse for lazy writing and halfass world-building. This prompted an overlong and somewhat illicit soliloquy during which I insisted that Codename Prague was not postmodern but postmodern, like, with the “post” crossed out. Tom said that crossing it out was just another instance of silly postmodern hoo-hah, although he confessed that he had not thought about Codename Prague as a postmodern (or postmodern) novel until I brought it up; rather, he simply wanted to get certain thoughts he had about postmodernism “out of [his] head.”

I ended up staying at the lodge for two or three hours after my performance, drinking Carlsberg lager, a Danish beer I used to drink all the time when I lived in Liverpool back when it cost 1.5 quid per pint. I got along with the Lodgers much better than the Rotarians. Mostly we talked about how much we hate crowded coffee shops and people that talk too loudly on their earphones. Before I left, a kind of congenial Fight Club mêlée broke out and everybody bashed in each other’s heads for awhile with bricks, bats, axes and knives. Pistols were outlawed.