Archives for the month of: August, 2017

I’M VEGETATING IN MY VIEWING SPACE — it no longer seems right to call it a living space, since there’s nothing I do here aside from watching whatever my laptop sees fit to stream — wondering about the lobotomy that Dr. Schlitz may or may not have performed, when whatever I was watching before is interrupted by a CNN consumer report, starring Big Pharmakos in his new role as a shameless Pussygrab apologist. He’s interviewing Dr. Schlitz, who’s taken on the role of a consumer safety expert.


“And so tell us, Dr. Schlitz, about these snazzy Personal Ethnostates that ULTRA MAX has been selling …”


“Well,” the doctor begins, “as you know, they’re flying off the shelves. Orders are backed up till next month. So I’m not quite sure whom this consumer report is for, but, if anyone out there hasn’t preordered yet, let me explain. What the good people at ULTRA MAX wanted to do, to serve the resurgent racial purity market in the wake of Pussygrab’s unanimous victory last fall, was to give the people of Dodge City the chance to create racially pure Ethnostates for themselves. You know, to experience the singular joy of life in a racially pure environment, free of, well, not to be insensitive here, but free of the filth, squalor, and disease of Otherness. The rank sweat of outsiders … aliens … undesirables. You get the idea. So, in consultation with the Colonel’s Health & Sanitation Commission, ULTRA MAX’s CEO (who chairs the Commission) ingeniously pioneered the notion of the Personal Ethnostate: a small tentlike enclosure each Dodge City citizen can pitch in his or her backyard and simply sit in alone, basking in the knowledge that the din and clamor of other races is, for a brief blessed moment, nowhere to be found.


A screen behind them shows a shirtless white man zipping himself inside his enclosure in his backyard, with the words “MISCEGENATION-FREE ZONE” painted in blood over the flap. It’s unclear whether this is an advertisement for the product or live footage of someone actually using it. I muse, for a moment, on what the distinction, at this late point, might be.


The man gives a little Nazi salute and goes in. Then comes a moment of silence, before a whirring of blades and a sickening shriek.


Big Pharmakos looks to Dr. Schlitz and says, “Can you tell us a little about what’s going on in there now?”


The doctor nods. “Well, what you’re hearing now is the man shaving what I believe may be either his arm or his leg off, if not both. You see, racial purity is a trickier subject than some may think. It’s not simply a matter of appearing on the outside as though you belong to one race or another, or of having one last name or speaking one language or another. It’s really a granular, microbial issue. It goes deep. So, in the Personal Ethnostate Starter Pak, ULTRA MAX sells what they’re calling a ‘piece-by-piece body part DNA testing kit,’ which is pretty much what it sounds like: it allows the user to test each part of his or her body for racial purity, and, should he or she discover any unwanted dark genes in, say, the left forearm, or the right buttock, he or she is free to simply shave them off with an electric flensing knife, also sold standard in all Premium and Deluxe Personal Ethnostate Paks, and available for an extra $29.99 if you opt to go with the Basic Family Values Pak, which I wouldn’t recommend.”


“Very interesting,” Big Pharmakos replies, looking a bit warily at his fingers splayed out on his knee. I also hold my fingers out and look at them, wondering, a bit uncharitably perhaps, about their true nature.


“And now?” Big Pharmakos continues.


The camera on the screen behind them zooms in through the flaps of the Personal Ethnostate as the now arm-less, leg-less man opens a sleek metal canister and lets out what appears to be a horde of warrior ants, which start ripping his remaining flesh apart with amazing efficiency.


Dr. Schlitz smiles at the image, like it’s helping him relive a fond memory. “Well, now the man is simply carrying out his Personal Final Solution, which is a decision we believe very strongly ought to remain in the hands of the consumer. The warrior ants are gnawing away his racial impurities on a microscopic level. Each piece of offending flesh is being separated, with great force, from the others, so that only the core, that of absolute irreproachable purity, remains.


The screen behind them now shows a gleaming white skeleton, the black warrior ants absconding with the last of the man’s red flesh dripping from their mandibles.


WHEN THE ANTS have departed the Ethnostate, the camera cuts to the front of the man’s house as a crew of robots breaks down the door and begins looting. They take his flatscreen TV, his wife’s jewelry, his guns, his gold trophies, his iPad, and even his signed Ted Nugent concert poster. When they’ve taken everything of value, they glide back onto the street and into the house next door.



HERE THE CONSUMER REPORT ENDS and the screen bifurcates into two separate anchors debating what we’ve just seen. One argues that CNN is still, however subtly, an anti-Pussygrab network, revealing the nefarious workings of the Colonel’s race-baiting plutocracy — “don’t you see? He’s driving his own base to suicide in order to plunder their stuff with impunity,” she insists — while the other anchor swears it’s been coopted by Pussygrab loyalists and is now openly flaunting the Regime’s corruption, utterly unafraid of showing the public what it’s up to, since, as this pundit puts it, “subtlety and secrecy are the tactics of yesteryear. The era of naked, shameless greed — greed that is praised for its nakedness and shamelessness by the very people who stand to lose the most from it — is upon us. Hallelujah.”


Though I know I shouldn’t, I put this window on mute and open that of ULTRA MAX’s online shopping network, just to see how deep the backlog of Personal Ethnostate orders really is. Deep enough, I find, that even if I put my order in now, I wouldn’t be able to be alone with my purest self until after Christmas, at the earliest.


Until then, I think, cueing up Netflix, all of whatever’s in me is stuck here together, wondering how much further down this all goes.




“After the tragic massacre in Sacrifice Square last night,” Big Pharmakos (who’s apparently become a newscaster, or at least started playing one) tells the camera, “a new theory has grown too compelling to ignore. Dr. Schlitz, over to you … ”


Dr. Schlitz, a cut-rate Mengele lookalike, clears his throat and says, “What I would like to speak with you all about today is the very real possibility that the man, or should I say creature, you all call Col. Pussygrab, your so-called Mayor, is in fact nothing but a mass hallucination brought on by a fungal infestation of the brain.”


“And from where, Dr. Schiltz, might such an infestation have arisen?” Big Pharmakos looks like he’s struggling to read cue cards that are either too small or too far away.


“Oh, who knows. Dead Sir, I’m guessing. Or bad meat, bad potatoes, bad soap. Airport security machines. Exhaust. Such spores can find any number of ways in. The question now is whether a procedure involving the frontal lobe — ”


“A lobotomy?” Big Pharmakos interrupts.


Dr. Schlitz winces at the term, but nods. “Sure, if you like. My crew and I will be setting up a mobile brain unit — a van — and making the rounds throughout Dodge City immediately after this broadcast. We would like to look inside the heads of each Dodge City citizen, nothing invasive, just to check for brain disease. To see if Pussygrabism is indeed, as I suspect, a neurological rather than a political phenomenon. And to see if a simple procedure can neutralize the source of this phenomenon before another, well –” he gestures at the photos of the carnage on the screen behind him.


Big Pharmakos looks stranded, like he’s hoping some producer behind the camera will tell him how to respond. When no one does, he coughs into his fist and says, “Well that’s our time for today, folks. You heard the doctor. Please be ready for his, um, van whenever it comes by.”



AS THE SCREEN freezes briefly between segments, I wonder if our complicity in submitting to this brain exam (I can already tell there won’t be any resistance) is itself a symptom of Pussygrabism. If we weren’t so rotten-through already, I wonder, would at least some of this strike us as strange?


I lose my train of thought as the next set of images fills the screen. Naturally, it’s of Dr. Schlitz and his crew inventorying Dodge City citizens. One at a time (a mobile CNN unit is filming) they load people into the van, sedate them with a blast of Pussygrab imagery straight from a hyper-bright flatscreen, and saw the tops of their heads off. Dr. Schlitz then pokes around in their brains — a number of such procedures are spliced together into a montage, set to a Fleet Foxes tune — with an array of wires, prods, and scalpels. Then he scowls and glues the tops of their heads back on.



AFTER THE MONTAGE, the doctor appears back in the studio with Big Pharmakos (was this all filmed before the van scenes?), and says, “Sadly, the brain rot among the people of this town is too advanced. I was unable to perform frontal lobe surgery because said lobe was already mostly gone. Nothing left to do for these people, I’m afraid. Pussygrab is here to stay, folks. Hallucination of not, better get used to him.”


Here he makes a strained hiccoughing sound, like he’s suppressing a laugh, and stands up so abruptly the cameraman fumbles and loses the shot. CNN cuts to commercial.



ALREADY, from inside the chamber where I sit watching this, I can sense the controversy brewing: what if, while pretending to examine our brains, Dr. Schlitz actually performed the lobotomy that made Pussygrab permanent? What if he was working for the other side all along, and the brain rot was merely an excuse to get in our heads?”


As soon as this thought occurs to me, I know it’s true. It has that ring to it, at least in my head. But what about my head? What about my lobotomy, or lack thereof? When’s it coming? Or what if — this is surely the more terrifying possibility — it already has? What if they came in here hours ago, dragged me into the van, snipped my lobe, and dropped me back off, none the wiser?


I start to panic, staring at the door, unsure whether I’d rather see it open, thereby proving that they haven’t gotten to me yet, or stay closed, thereby proving …


I find I can’t quite complete the thought.

I FIND MYSELF AT THE END OF A TRAILER FOR A MOVIE WHOSE NAME I DON’T CATCH but which seems to depict the formation of 100 soldiers into a Victory Parade in Sacrifice Square. According to the trailer’s narrator, “our troops so thoroughly defeated the enemy that all memory of the war has been erased. No one, today or ever after, will be able to say what the war was about, whom it was against, nor even where it took place.”


The question I’m left with (other than whether to see the movie — I know I’ll end up seeing it eventually) is how we can be sure these soldiers are actually the same as the ones who departed Dodge City to fight the forgotten war. They look completely standard-issue, like a random sampling of 100 action figures from a ValuPak of 1000 … so who’s to say these are the same Dodge City boys that supposedly set out all those months or years ago? At the same time, I think, treating myself for once as a rational debate partner, let’s not be too insensitive: who’s to say that the war itself didn’t burn their personalities so thoroughly away that these faceless brutes are all that’s left?


I chide myself for either my gullibility or my heartlessness (though not both). Then the next trailer begins. This one’s called¬†Coal Country, and promises to tell the story of how “Pussygrab sent all the unemployed coal miners back underground until the next election.”



THEN THE TRAILERS END and the main feature starts up.


It’s a sequel to¬†The Dodge City Basement Boys, a special I remember watching a few months ago, back when the Pussygrab Regime still seemed young, before he’d called a snap-referendum and run a second, unopposed campaign in order to be voted “Double Mayor,” a position he then declared “at least twice as powerful as any Mayor in history, maybe three times.”


This time around, the narrator tells us that The Dodge City Basement Boys voted for Pussygrab on the promise that he would completely destroy the outside world and thus free them from the bad faith of dwelling inside the Game while knowing that an outside world continued to exist, a world in which they’d made no progress and had no prospects for success or approval.


At the same time, the Normcore Voters — most, if not all, of Dodge City’s adults — voted for Pussygrab for a diametrically opposed reason: that he would add entertainment value to their TV viewing because now reality TV would actually be real. “We wanted to feel like what we were seeing on the TV, even when it went beyond belief, was really happening. Like it was news, you know? Otherwise, we feared that watching TV would someday get old, and then where would we be, in terms of our lives and stuff?” says a man identified as Roland Epps, dentist, 43.


“So,” the narrator says, “Pussygrab and his Swamp Creatures have a dilemma on their hands. A dilemma that, if they’re not careful, could fracture into an outright Schism: on the one hand, their mandate is to destroy the entirety of Dodge City’s External Reality, leaving nothing but the Game. On the other hand, their mandate is to make Dodge City realer than ever, such that those watching at home might feel their TV diet growing fresher rather than increasingly stale. Ball’s in your court, Pussygrab. What’s your move?”



Now the Netflix Movie begins in earnest. In one half of a split-screen, a team of Regime-loyalist hackers is hard at work creating a prototype of “the destroyed Dodge City,” which they plan to import into the Game hoping that the Basement Boys will accept this in lieu of actual destruction of the outside world. (“I mean, if they live full-time in the Game anyway,” one of the hackers says, “how will they even know the difference? They’ll look up from their in-Game lairs and see the ravaged post-Dodge-City wasteland we’ve designed, and believe the Colonel has made good on his campaign promise.”)


In the other half of the split-screen, another delegation of Swamp Creatures, led by Paul Sweetie, is hard at work torturing various Dodge City citizens, trying to put them on Permanent Swamp Mode so as to tether them forever to the belief that what they’re watching on TV constitutes the hyperreal world they all believe they voted for, while, presumably, the Regime carries out its real work in secret.


“What could go wrong?” Pussygrab is caught asking on a hot mic, his tone seemingly non-rhetorical.



THE HACKER TEAM GETS RIGHT DOWN TO WORK, lifting the lid off the Game (which they apparently managed to commandeer right after the election, perhaps taking the reins from the previous administration — no two Dodge City citizens agree as to the Game’s origins, if they even agree about its existence) and beginning to sow destruction.


I watch on Netflix as they turn Sacrifice Square into a pile of smoking debris, boil Dead Sir into greenish vapor, reduce the Bar to digital boards and nails sweltering by the side of the road, and even reduce the Hotel (the same one I’m sitting in, the one that doubles as Pussygrab Palace) to a pile of rubble that reminds me of Berlin circa 1947.


As a finishing touch, they create an in-Game version of Pussygrab himself, incarnated here as a tribal warlord with sharpened teeth and a necklace of skulls, on the assumption that the more they can do to convince the Basement Boys that all of Dodge City now exists solely within the ravaged landscape of the Game, the less they’ll have to worry about the Boys’ interference aboveground.


The Basement Boys initially rejoice at this upgrade, burrowing that much deeper into their basements secure in the knowledge that there’s nothing outside to miss out on. “At last,” one of them says to the camera, “we can breathe free knowing that the basement’s the only place to be. Sex, money, prestige … finally, not having these things makes us stronger, not weaker. Thanks, Pussygrab, for fucking up all the shit you said you were gonna.” He addresses this comment to the in-Game Pussygrab, clearly acknowledging him as the real thing.


Then, finishing his ice cream and shouting for his mom to take the bowl, he picks his controller back up, unpauses the Game, and drives his avatar into the smoking remnants.



“BUT WHAT OF THE NORMCORE VOTERS, AT HOME WATCHING TV?” the Netflix narrator asks. Indeed, I think. What about them?


It turns out that, at first, they’re satisfied too: Dodge City, outside the Game, looks the same as ever, so the entertainment value of watching Pussygrab poison its drinking water, imprison its journalists, and shutter its hospitals has lost none of its pizzazz. They sit at home eating takeout (“Does this Chinese food taste worse?” they wonder. “What happened to all the Chinese people that used to live here?”), laughing and cheering along with the Regime, secure in the knowledge that, just as they always wanted, the reality TV they’re watching is now truly real, and thus no longer a diversion from the lives they might otherwise have to wish they were living.



ALL MIGHT HAVE REACHED A DETENTE AT THIS POINT HAD THE HACKERS NOT LEFT THE SEAM TO THE GAME OPEN. But, in their haste to escape the Basement Boys’ notice, they did. They fled the Game after destroying the virtual Dodge City and forgot to patch things up on their way out.


So, as is only natural, the air of apocalyptic decay from within the Game begins to ooze out into the real (so-to-speak) Dodge City. Pretty soon (unless Netflix has cut a lot out of this section) one-eyed humanoid hulks are wandering out of the Game and onto the streets of Dodge City, brandishing sharpened sticks and rocks in slings, led by the digital warlord version of Pussygrab himself, who’s now bellowing about burning the corporate overlords alive and eating the hearts of the faithless for lunch.


The split-screens merge here. The left-hand side looks slightly more digital, the right-hand side slightly more analog, but it’s clear they’re now both on the same level of reality, one whose consequences will surely apply to everyone watching, myself included.


The digital Pussygrab rips a cobblestone from the ground of Sacrifice Square and smashes it over his head, shrieking, “From now on, no Apocalypse is pretend!!”


The Basement Boys, I think, must be loving this.


The Netflix special stops here for a BREAKING NEWS interlude, featuring Paul Sweetie in his white wedding dress, shouting into a mic:


“A contingent of highly undesirable aliens has just poured across our border,” he tells the cameras, as screens behind him show those same faceless soldiers from the Victory Parade shoving the Game characters into armored vans. “This wouldn’t have happened had adequate border security measures been taken by the previous administration, but let’s let bygones be bygones. What matters now is how we respond. And let me tell you, we’re going to respond with extreme violence. The dawn of a new Dodge City Genocide is upon us, folks!”