Wherein Father Alexander describes his lesser invitation into the Fancy Lad Vulcan Mindmeld in a hotdog den in the bowels of Worcester, Massachusetts and his greater journey into the core of it’s silver apple.
I didn’t bother asking Big and Clancy what they were doing in Worcester. Why were they there? Worcide? It was a mystery to me and, by nature, I minded my own business. The truth, I later found out, wasn’t particularly interesting. Nevertheless, as they were leaving Worcide they asked where they could find gourmet coffee. Specifically, gourmet. That was Big’s exact word.
“Are you serious?” I asked laughing at the vague pomposity of the question.
“Yeah…” Big ejected air. It could have been confused with a laugh. Something like a laugh. Recognition of my amusement/disgust. More confusion than disgust, but I discovered later that it made sense.
Worcester, as far as I’m concerned, is decaying – like most post-industrial American cities I’ve found – and the thought of there being a gourmet coffee spot seemed ridiculous. It still does. But, there was one – perhaps the only – about 50 yards away. I didn’t know that at the time.
“I mean, there is a gas station over there.” Pointing down Washington St. “I’m sure they have coffee.”
“I love that album.”
“What’s your favorite song?”
“That’s from Incesticide.”
This exchange never actually happened.
I pointed out Coney Island Hotdogs earlier – with it’s bizarre dripping, phallic, neon sign – and suggested they might want to go over there. “FL4: The Final Chapter (Children of the Korn Syrup)” was released a few weeks earlier and Big’s song, for his part, mentioned hotdogs. I figured it was an obvious choice.
They agreed and we left the flaming emerald. We pulled in front of the neon sign and I put coins in the – wrong – parking meter which caused a brief moment of confusion and paranoia.
I kill Big and the FL Van gets towed. [Fuck it] was the general consensus.
We went inside Coney Island Hotdogs and ordered. There were a bunch of people there Big and Clancy seemed to know. That was disturbing to me for whatever reason. As Big later pointed out, I’m easily disturbed and nervous, apparently, for no reason. And drenched in sweat, but we haven’t gotten to that part yet. Anyway, there were about 10 strangers eyeing the sweaty, disturbed and nervous freak with – I later found out – their co-workers. I thought they were there to screen the new video and their boss was a representative from a Skate magazine. I have an overactive imagination.
We spoke about skateboarding between mouthfuls of slop . Except Clancy. He sipped the sponsor – the simple joys of day-drinking – and listened. I later found out he doesn’t consume flesh much less mystery meat. I brought up the obvious topic which was the recent stay at Bam Margera’s dead castle.
I waxed poetic: “When I first started skateboarding I used to go to Rhode Island, maybe once a month, and spend the weekend at Skater’s Island. That was basically where I learned to skate. One weekend I went there and found out Tony Hawk was having a demo – or something – and Donny Barley was there. And Bam. This was right before CKY2K was released. He did a switch backside tailslide – SSBSTS – on the highest ledge. It was recorded for an ESPN show. Very weird. But, that was how I heard about Bam. My Mom said she’d marry him if I wanted.”
“That is fucked up.” Clancy remarked as he nursed the sponsor, a Narragansett draft.
“Yeah, but I grew to hate CKY and Jackass and all of that bullshit. It turned all of my friends into monsters. I stopped talking to them.” I took a bite of diced onions and mustard, emitting fumes, and continued my monologue trying not to spit food. “Don’t you think it’s weird that the X Games are sponsored by the Navy… AND Johnny Knoxville used to always wear – camp – military gear in the movies?”
I was testing the waters, really. Clancy and Big looked at each other. Clancy smiled. Certain aspects of my research into the Experiments have alienated me when I tried to describe their subtleties: counter-culture manipulation and how naivety is exploited, etc. & anon. I was warned about it, but I never really stopped bringing it up. Like the moment I am relating to you now.
Anyway. I realized I needed to withdraw. I mean, I could have gone on about the ocean representing the subconscious, port of berth/birth and so on, maritime admiralty law – regurgitating Jordan Maxwell and Von Morgenvelt’s schizophrenic “social torsions” but I had work to do.
“I need to go.” I looked at the clock. “I have to report to the Pits.”
“Hey, Alexander. Any time you want to come to Headquarters, let us know.”
“Sometime soon. I’ll see you later. I’m glad you were able to make it.” And with that I returned to Maynard Town.
“So, are you boys just holding those boards to look cool, or are we gonna skate?”
There was a group of about 7 of us walking on some street by the Purple Cactus in JP. Big laid his skateboard onto the asphalt and pushed away. Mr. Tweak followed suit, masterfully tucking a 24 pack of “Narragansett” under his arm. Then K-Man. Finally, Mr. Tomasello. Abe, Orange Man, was waiting around for me to materialize. I took too much time and he had dematerialized.
[Here we go.] I thought to myself.
I adjusted my 100 pound Magic Bag of provisions – ubiquitous – & tried to balance my way after them. It was getting cold. Late October 2017. [If I fall I’m fucked] A lone car passed, inspiring hops onto curbs, death defying blasts through leaves and miracle passes over storm drains. I trailed closely behind Mr. Tomasello; heroic lander of the 1080 on the banks across from AS220 in Providence.
“You alright Alexander?” K-Man called back to me.
My bag weighed me down and I began moving too fast. Shooting past Tomasello I conjured an accidental powerslide here and a mystic sweep there as we drew near Fancy Lad World Headquarters. Visions of Gleaming the Cube or the Lost Boys trickled across my memory screen as I idled into a pile of leaves and a curb. I survived.
Earlier in the day I got on the Red Line train at Alewife. I delivered chrism to the seven churches at Harvard SQ. – making a brief stop at Leavitt & Peirce and In Your Ear Records [RIP] – and found myself on an Orange train soon thereafter. [I wonder if this has something to do the Orange Man moniker] The thought dissolved into greater concerns when I took note of the mechanical voice on the loudspeaker of the subway.
Between messages of “If you see something, say something” there was a very clear message of “Due to construction, shuttle buses will be waiting at [some stop I’ve since forgotten] to take you to [some other stop I’ve since forgotten].” Fantastic. It was almost 3 in the afternoon and I sensed by the time I arrived it’d be night.
I parsed telepathetic over the Ghostbox to Big: “I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.”
“What?” He responded quickly.
“I may have to terminate the mission. It’s too late. Major delays. Major hassles.”
“Permission not granted.”
“Ever see Ghostbusters II?”
No response. It was an obvious question.
“I feel like that green slime under the city is infecting everyone around me. Heavy construction. The rage is mounting. Fast.”
“The slime was pink.” He wasn’t amused, psychically communicating [Lame excuse].
“Oh yeah…” I look around at the demonic, reptilian, waxform faces shifting around me in an aura of body odor and mysterious neon sweat.
“Don’t worry. Get here when you get here.”
I’m sure this is from a movie, but I can’t remember which one: a character is terribly disfigured. An arm torn off by a werewolf in a varsity jacket, half a face peeled off, the character’s eye exploded in yellow oozing pus, a leg split in half with a bone protruding from green skin, crawling on shitty Earth – pathetic. A nightmare scenario. The character, on the verge of death or something worse, unable to cope with reality says, “I’m pretty fucked up, man…” To say the least.
“I’m pretty fucked up.” I say casually & quietly, smiling to myself in reference, as a large Jamaican woman eyes me stepping back slowly.
I sigh. Not because I don’t want to continue but because the Ugly Spirit is making life miserable. Never a good sign. Finally, after an hour or two, I make it to where I need to be. Nervously – the sun is setting and anything done at the Power Hour resonates into Eternity – I send a message along the Ghostbox.
“We’re at a basketball court on Centre St. Across from the Station.”
I walk outside. Directly across the street there is a lonely road and I begin walking. I’m enveloped in trees quickly. I see a dead bird on the sidewalk. [This isn’t good.] I continue. There is a large gate leading into the Arboretum.
[I’m sure the basketball court is in here] I walk through winding paths. Occasionally I hear what sounds like skateboard wheels. I get excited only to see nothing. Nervous hallucinations among happy groups of people on leisurely strolls on the weekend. The sun is going down. There is no hope.
“Where are you?” The Ghostbox churns unpleasantly like an empty stomach on amphetamines. I’ve been walking for an hour and it’s dark.
“I don’t know…” I got out of the Arboretum, but I’ve found myself walking along what appears to be a highway. No basketball court here… “The tree sanctuary…” I took latin ages ago and know aboretum has something to do with trees. [Cornelia et Flavia est puellae romani. Cornelia et Flavia sedet sub aborem. I swear I’m n-n-not an idiot.] “…There is a rotary up ahead.”
“Here,” Big says, “I’m passing you over to Tweak.”
“Okay.” This would be my first interaction with Tom Tweak: Master of Ceremonies/Gnar Czar.
“Father Alexander?” The name is so stupid everyone always says it as if it’s a question. Long gone are the days of the clergy it seems.
“Here.” It must’ve been obvious I was beginning to lose it.
“Hi. You’re really close. Don’t worry. So when you get to the rotary take a right. Keep going for a bit and you’ll come to another intersection. Go straight. After that you’ll come to a statue. Take a right. That is Centre St. Go down a bit and on your left you’ll see the court.”
“Thanks. I’ll be there as soon as possible.” This becomes a trend. Father Alexander getting lost. Father Alexander being a trogg. Father Alexander always appearing randomly many months later at Orchard in Allston, wild-eyed, with Tom asking, “Why do you always appear when we go to Orchard?”
Once I experience something I never forget it. Although some times it takes a few goes. All Big had to do was tell me to go toward Deep Thoughts.
We all walked up the driveway off Lamartine St. and I scoped a sickly old haunted looking house. Decorated with all manner of wicked shit with skateboard bits and metal hanging from strings I entered the first proper skatehouse of my life. I walked through the front door and carried on until I came to the far wall of the kitchen. It was impossible to continue onward so, naturally, I turned around and stood awkwardly eyeing a piece of art.
“Do you want to meet Fiske?” K-Man smiled at me as I circled around the kitchen trying to find an unobtrusive place to put my crucifix. A second ago I asked Big if his painting is hanging in the kitchen – a hamburger still-life – was “a sandwich or something”. Small talk, I guess. It backfired. Tears welled in his eyes, and I felt awful. Dani, his Sweet Old Lady, rubbed his back lovingly and insisted it was alright.
“Okay.” I whispered to K-Man. [Here is my out] I felt strange. [This is unexpected.]
For the past few months I’ve inspected archival materials of Fancy Lad Skate Co. and I immediately developed a fascination for Colin Fiske’s ability to, apparently, skateboard over anything at any speed. I also considered the possibility that Fancy Lad, as a group, existed as a kind of buffer between Colin Fiske and the rest of the world. Something like the Memphis Mafia and Elvis. It was a painful thought. The Memphis Mafia didn’t rip, as far as I know. Either way, the prospect of meeting Fiske as an out from having offended Big suddenly dawned on me as something painfully absurd.
K-Man knocked on the door.
Maestro was eating dinner. He turned his electronic music down to talk and eyed me eyeing his food like a wild beast. He looked at the food and then back at me. And smiled.
“Hungry?” It resembled a Lady K dish. Rice, beans and mystery.
“No.” As with a Lady K dish I hallucinated hair and lint amidst the beans, etc. A phobia triggered. “I’m thirsty, though…”
“Here.” He handed me a mug and pointed to the corner. “There is water in the corner.”
Under a black fabric there were massive, ornate, decanters full of water. Primo glassware. [Lady K in spades… Why, Lord, does everything have to be so strange?] I stood up and got light headed. Fiske noticed.
“Are you alright?”
“You eat gluten?”
“I eat a lot of hotdogs.”
“Potato rolls or regular wheat bread usually.”
“Gluten is bad for me. It gave me sleep apnea.”
“Really? Something like that’s been happening to me a lot recently. It’s terrifying.”
“Really?” His eyes widened. “You need to cut out gluten.” He takes a spoonful of mystery. “Tell me about the dizzyness.” He looks at the open door. “Do you mind closing that?”
I never closed the door. You never know what will pass through an open door. I did as he asked and I continued: “I’ll be about to fall asleep. Suddenly, I feel like I’m not breathing anymore. I panic and my heart starts racing.”
“And you eat gluten?”
“I live on a diet of hotdogs and sauerkraut.”
We didn’t talk much about skateboarding. Mostly diet and staying healthy. He passed a large jar of a powdered black substance along with a spoon after putting some in his water. I put in a spoonful. [“It’s char– Wow, you put a lot in.”] I mentioned something about how drinking 10 glasses of water in 30 minutes clenses the digestive tract. Or kills you. We both experimented for the rest of the conversation.
Fiske had me check out his VHS collection – multiple copies of THX1138 – and his books.
“I don’t read a lot. I’ve got books on everything, though, but I don’t read them. I prefer movies.” He takes a sip of water. “I’ve probably watched over 1000 movies.”
It was funny. Big said the exact same thing an hour later. The exact same thing. I knew why they were so close at that point. They loved watching and making movies.
I wander about.
“Do you think Ganesh is the patron deity of skating?” I asked randomly. I figure skateboarding is a form of yoga.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, Ganesh rides around on that mouse everywhere and it’s a magic mouse that can take him anywhere. Sort of like a skateboard, you know.”
He looked at me like I had stated emphatically there must be a God because our index finger fits perfectly – a little TOO perfectly, if you ask me – into our nostril. I was inspecting a poster at a Nepalese friend’s house and I inquired about the mischievous looking mouse a few days earlier. Mercilessly, the topic was dropped.
Fiske sketched a spot and a diagram of a stunt he had in mind somewhere in New Hampshire and used his finger – which I imagine fits quite snuggly into his nostril – to show me what he intended to do. Over a year has passed – and I’ve heard nothing about it since – so I feel safe describing it: two sets of ~10 stairs with a flat section between them. Fiske ollies the first set, over the flat section and lands on the second set of stairs, and riding down them magically.
He ignored me, wisely, and spoke: “I’m not sure how I’m going to bail, if I need to.”
“You really have to commit to it.”
“I know…” He smiled. “I’ve been planning it for about a month.”
“Please don’t die.”
“Does death frighten you?”
“So, Father Alexander, how did you first hear about us?”
We were outside on the porch and they all stared at me. I just met Orange Man and clearly the weird stranger on their porch – yours truly – made him uneasy. He was packing his toys and the rest of the contents of his room in preparation for moving out of Headquarters. I laughed nervously as Big eyed me awaiting a response to his question.
“My friend Charles told me about you.”
“Oh, a friend.” They all laughed. There is an aspect of menace to Fancy Lad. On the surface they seem like squares, nerds [with beer], but then you see them talking business to each other in hushed tones and the air changes.
Big continued: “I’m flipping the script, Alexander. Now I’m the one asking questions. Tell me more about this friend Charles.”
“Charlie is one of my closest friends. I haven’t heard from him in a while, though.”
“When did this Charlie tell you about our work?”
“Ah, an old fan.” K-Man smiled.
“Well…” I paused. They all sat forward or maybe they dosed me – and I just realized it – & they all appeared to sit forward. “I never realized Fancy Lad was a company until about a year or two ago. I thought it was a crew, a gang, a gaggle… He told me you were funny.”
“Funny?” Mr. Tweak took a sip of “Narraganset” and stared into the void. Monotone. “I don’t think I’m that funny.”
“And?” Big eyed me deeply.
“And?” It’s like the Experiments all over again. My head is reeling.
“That was all he said? We’re funny?”
“… and that you rip.”
“Ah, now we are getting somewhere.” The Lads nodded in agreement. Or appeared to nod in agreement.
“Charlie would never lie to me.” Never a truer phrase hath been spoken.
“I see. Now, why after 5 years did you decide to contact us?”
[Because Mike Lindquist is God. Because it took 5 years to get around to it. Because Fancy Lad is the only skateboard crew worth a fuck. Because someone is actually doing something genuinely funny and good. Because no one else is willing to watch the 1,000 hours of footage put out by you maniacs and write about it truthfully. Because I have nothing better to do. Because there is nothing better to do. Because I know what you are up to. Because you sample a quote from Jimmy Carl Black – “The indian of the group” – from a Beefheart documentary and that is deeper than Jim Greco dressing like Johnny Thunders. Because.]
I settled for “Why not?”
“Righteous. Let’s start the pod.”