Friday, August 19, 2011

Haunted House

I was incredulous, this past Monday, with the Dow up and the financial pundits and media claiming it was a good sign, the news of increased economic activity in the form of mergers of major corporations. If any merger has ever resulted in more jobs, feel free to let me know. As if this isn't going to mean the elimination of "redundancies", and the throwing off and shutting down of otherwise profitable subsidiaries, which is otherwise called "people losing their jobs." Oh, and that Texan, last weekend in the announcement of his decision to run for the Presidency, saying that the debt was the theft of our children's future, as if widespread hydro-fracturing across Texas and elsewhere in America, to export natural gas, is not taking away the freedom of children like my niece and nephew to stay warm in future winters. And then Warren Buffet and that guy from Starbucks, remembering history and the course of Empires, reminding the rich that money insulates no one in the event of widespread social breakdown. And then the clips from Fox News I just saw, in excerpts of an episode of The John Stewart Show, the viciousness and the violent justification, the loud declarations of "class warfare" "parasites" and "the moocher class".

The same week of my first major harvest this year. I put away about eight pints of cherry juice from my wild cherry tree; you can see the cherries in the background of the pictures I published of me in my helmet, a couple of posts ago. I froze the juice. I'm hoping it will be a nice treat and healing too, this coming winter when I'm feeling down. It joins, in the freezer, the black and red raspberries, the wild and cultivar strawberries, about half a freezer full, meager as a winter supply, but I won't think so in the depth of February when it's -22. I gathered bags full of three different kinds of carrots, a colander full of Kohl rabi, and enough tomatoes, cukes and jalapeƱos to make a few days worth of a raw, simply tasty summer soup. Everything is late this year, after the sunless spring and that hideously hot early summer. The weather has settled into a kind of comfortable warmth, with occasional heavy rains - both curiosities in August. Good for the veggies though. The rattlesnake snap beans are on their second abundant crop this summer, two or three meals a day, about five weeks worth this summer so far. I've decided, they're my favorite bean. Which is important to know, because beans cross-pollinate, and that's a problem if you don't have access to a hundred and one different seed varieties in stores and on the Internet.

I wanted to show you pictures, but my new, fancy Canon camera, the updated version of the one that had the lens problem I wrote about earlier this year, has a lens problem. The first camera's lens wouldn't extend and quit taking pictures, this one extended but the lens won't go back in, and it won't take pictures. I'm pretty sure I took less pictures with this updated more expensive version, in less time. Best Buy gave it to me in return for the first broken one and twenty dollars. I pondered for a moment - will they try to blame me? But I'm pretty sure they'll just want to exchange it for another.

My sister's brand new T-Mobile smart-phone has a blank screen. More signs of capitalism feeding on itself, in this age of increasingly scarce resources and increasingly high executive and shareholder expectations. I wonder what the people at my old place of employment think about their vendors making trash? What's that going to do to the bottom line? But then, increasingly fewer people have the resources to purchase the shit anyway.

Also this week, the Halloween store started in earnest. I can actually peddle the Minnehaha and West River bike paths, from within a few blocks of my house, seven miles, to within three blocks of my new place of employment, at the old Minneapolis Florist Supply. Two stories with a big basement, it's not ideal by industry standards, but I think it's perfect. It used to be full of flowers! It hasn't had a tenant in a long time, except a band that just got kicked out of what has to be one of the coolest band practice spaces in Minneapolis. The ownership of the business next-door owns the building. They bought it in 2006 for $1.8 million - way too much - with the intention of tearing it down (it is an inconspicuous, uninsulated rectangle, built in 1919, with most of the windows blocked up), to add a parking lot to their otherwise cramped locale. The city stepped in (after the purchase) and said if they do tear it down, it has to be turned into green-space. Not, a parking lot with a rain garden. Green-space. Minneapolis has miles and miles of green space that serves little other purpose than employing union lawn mowers. I'd prefer sheep, cattle and chicken herders, and garden tenders; the city government won't even allow community gardens on public land. These neighbors, our landlords, pay about $220,000 a year in property taxes. No one has been willing to fill the space without a million dollar build-out. That is a hard pill to swallow.

For us though, the building is perfect. Grungy, but great. A stream of Vikings fans flows by every game day, and streams of zombies will stumble by on the night of the Zombie Pub Crawl, taking place right across the Washington Ave bridge on 35W, right next to the 35W bridge that collapsed in 2007. They just dedicated that monument. Someone came that very night and stole the metal letters for salvage.

It's going to be a wild ride. We are quad-rangulated, so to speak, between Uptown, downtown, the Seward neighborhood and the University of Minnesota. I think it will be about twice as crazy as it was last fall, in Uptown, on Hennepin Ave. You can see the building from the light-rail. I'm looking Joyward to putting on the orange afro, the wacky jacket and the golden shoes Stephan gave me. It's going to be so much fun. I have the two coolest jobs ever (more on the other job, in the next post). I'm hoping to hire the staff to make it the coolest Halloween store in the Midwest. I'm not technically the job creator, but I'm the one who picks the staff. Look for the add on Craigslist. Or drop in. You just have to know how to have fun - and you have to like people.

I'm an unlikely retail Halloween manager, insofar as I don't buy much but craft booze, bud, coffee and good food. The whole notion of consumer stuff seems to me a kind of insanity, thoroughly disconnected from the consequences to biological systems; but then, if we stop buying stuff, what then? I had a vision tonight of our antique basement. It's perfect for a haunted house. I would put a 1970's TV at the bottom of the stairs, playing excerpts on a reel, of Jimmy Carters "Crisis of Confidence" speech that helped cost him the election, warning us that if we didn't take the reality of fossil fuels seriously America would be doomed. There's an old furnace behind the stairs that looks like it was once fed whole sections of trees, which I'd put a guy in a suit feeding a guy in coveralls into. In the first stall I'd put Reagan, parroting the word "freedom, freedom, freedom" with a cadre of stern faced suits standing behind the oval office desk he is perched on, holding strings attached to his back. Stalls each for GHWB and Clinton, both smugly assuring us that credit is money, that an endless exchange of 1's and 0's can replace the real economy, as if it wasn't really a practice of de-skilling and a continued weakening of America to grow a global hegemony of supra-national elite. Then PGWB doing a little diddy about a crusade and tax cuts paying for wars, on a house which people are being dragged out of by Sheriff deputies. And then Obama, Bernanke and Geithner, looking cock-sure, sitting on stumps around a bonfire in the woods, all of them in suits, the be-sooted ghosts of Henry Paulson, Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers hovering behind them. Then a stall with Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry hovering together, smiling hand-in-hand, leaning over a manger cradling the four horseman of the apocalypse and the whore of Babylon, on a burning pile of bibles, and tea partiers and brown and gay people. And then, into the very back of the basement, where I'd make a long dark winding hallway, with a row on each wall of young men and women in wheelchairs, missing various body parts, and otherwise scarred and disfigured. The wheel chairs are actually there, a hundred or more of them. (Free storage for a hospice.) I'd invite real vets to sit there, if they wanted to.

At the end, an exit, a stair that's really like a ladder for an old farmhouse cellar, built for one at a time, leading to a little hole in the floor behind where our front desk will be. The most disturbing haunted house in Minneapolis.

We wouldn't sell a thing.

And then what kind of manager would I be? How then could I provide jobs for 35 good people? How then could I help my friends who gave me this job when no one else was offering and I didn't have any money, finally make a return on their three year investment, a nice auspicious financial burst leading into the birth of their mask company? How then could I put myself in a position to start paying the mortgage on this house I am living in, this land I am living on, the mortgage my father has been paying since the collapse of 2008?

No, I will not make such a statement in this place of business. This will instead be a place where people can come and enjoy themselves, in this twilight of the only Empire any of us have ever known. Where people can come and maybe explore the multitudinous nature of the self, if they want to. Or just buy a monkey suit - which may be more healing than you know.


Luciddreams said...

Let me just say that your description of that haunted house was imaginative genius. Such a great visual compression of our political past, present, and near future. I'm not sure you could stuff much more meaning in such a short space. It really is a testament to your ability as a writer. You should publish a fictional novel. I'd buy it, full price to, not off Amazon ;0)

I shared this blog post on a forum I'm a regular on.'s forum. You can reach the thread directly here

I'm sure you won't mind.

William Hunter Duncan said...


When I was a general contractor remodeling houses, I relied entirely on references from those who I did work for, to those who were looking for someone with integrity. It worked very well, when credit was essentially free. Hopefully now, I can reserve those skills for my own house, to transform it into the urban off-the-grid model I imagine.

I have little expectation or desire that my writing reach any audience but by the word of one to another. You will never see my books on Amazon; if all goes as planned, I'll release my books this winter, for free download; if readers think I should keep writing, they can donate whatever they like. And hopefully, I'll have the freedom to write the books rattling around in my head. Thanks for the help. I appreciate it immensely.


Candice said...

I second what Luciddreams has said. That was a beautiful piece of work. I very much enjoyed it, thank you.
I feel as if I need to find a balance between the realities of life and the silly, child-like antics and distractions to stay sane and happy.