It's time for a brand new installment of the WWD insano-fiction serial Acid Fizz. Please let us know what you think so far. If you'd like to catch up on earlier chapters you can find them here:
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This is all a bit like when that guy Rufus played me a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony slowed down one thousand times into one angelic chord that unspun eternally. It was during the ethnography conference in Hamburg, we’d gone back to his apartment after the dinner. I’d had a few glasses of red wine and we smoked Rufus’ hash that he’d rolled into a little worm on his coffee table and lit at one end and I listened to that chord and it was as dreamy as the world had ever been for me. There was a humid gust of air through the window and I got it on with him just because I felt too good not to.
I feel now like I am that chord and also I guess a little like the hash smoke my breath plucked out of the air, that stung my lungs and vitrified my brain. I never understood then where drugs put me, that they staged me just high enough so I could step up to the gate, but left me there without the key. I know now there is no amount of wine or narcotic that can give me that key. The key is something else.
It was luck that I found it but it was like the terreiro was just waiting there for me and also like I’d found a secret compartment hidden in me, some unknown clump between two organs where all that I was meant to be had squirreled itself away. So lucky that I found what I didn’t even know I was looking for. If I had never gotten that Fulbright to study in Brazil, never joined the House of Tulio, where in the world would I be now?
Not here, not riding this angelic chord, not some scattered molecules in the sky. Ever since Ed’s teddy bear incinerated in the landfill and the last of the stuffing fizzled away and I drifted away in the smoke I’ve felt so free. It is the feeling that every drug only hints at like photographs of the Sistine Chapel only whisper of the real thing. But then by that same token I suppose there is the Sistine Chapel and then there was the actual Genesis it depicted. It is wonderful to be a gas. I hope all other gas knows that.
I kick around a little, something must be flying through here. A bird’s wings toss the air over and then it pushes under me and I swirl and then graze some membrane. It’s an eye and I impregnate it, slip into it and the diffuse feeling like that infinitely stretched chord ends. It’s like I grow veins out of me, grow them into a brain, into a spine, and the spine grows into bones, and each bone grows into other bones into more bones into muscle and into the follicles holding my feathers in place. I flap and lift and the wind is solid as I cut through it. It is like kneading the air into the right shape to slide on. I hope this bird knows how magnificent this is. Its thoughts are just indecipherable twangs, like some ragged twirling cylinder in a player piano.
There is a purple glow in a corner of the dark sky and I know its name: Milwaukee. I shove the bird’s body to force it in the city’s direction. I angle the beak, I paddle the wings. It is difficult to coordinate and I can’t quite repeat the motion I’ve felt it do. Maybe it is the rhythm I can’t get quite right. Everything falls out of joint. I drop, flip in the air, first one way, then another, knocked hard this way and that as the air shoots up all around us. I’ve lost control. In my head I hear a car wreck, aluminum crumpling and glass crunching, but that’s only my imagination. I withdraw completely from the controls and the bird extends its wings and beats them against the rocketing air. A few muscled flaps and then he rights us.
I poke myself forward just a tad into the bird’s brain and look at the glow of the city, but I don’t touch anything else. The bird is willing to concede its direction to me and we fly toward the glow. Maybe it was headed that way to begin with…
I skim over the swerving taillights and fuming noise on Locust Street, over the cool air rising from the river, over the wooded strip of Riverside Park, and then over Oakland Avenue. Drunk folks line out of Oakland Gyros and around the corner. Is it Saturday? Some of them touch each other and the others just reach to their friends with course barking and cackling. I’ve been among them, smoked a hole into my good shirt waiting in that line once and then scarfed a gyro down without noticing and demanded a new one. They threw me out.
It must be Saturday. No other night of the week would be so busy, not in the summer. And it must be late on a Saturday night, around bar close. Did I get that lucky? Exactly one week since I was lying on my bunk in the MSDF. Odd to put a name on that length of time, like naming the number of minutes between the big bang and now. I don’t even have to wait. She’s at her microphone right now, ready for me.
I steer the rudder and point the beak at the campus, at the red fuzzball the radio station’s antenna blinks into the hazy night. The trees and houses file in a line under me. Soon all this matter will be like a foreign country to me or like a luxury. I won’t have to guess at things, how do I do this? why do I feel like that and how do I get to feel different? Beethoven’s Ninth won’t play at a one thousandth, it will play at every speed possible.
There’s Stadler Hall with the antenna climbing out of its roof. The website said the studio was on the sixth floor, so one-two-three-four-five-six, there it is. I nose us down and accelerate. I’m getting the hang of it and only falter a little. The twangs from the bird’s mind spin faster, possibly protesting, I don’t know. I lock the bones into place and glide on my bearing. It’s not like I want the bird to die, but I happen to know the place it’s headed to and it isn’t much worse than where it is now. It’s not as if it can go where I’m going. No one can. Thank you, Oxalá. My head is yours.
The red bricks come into focus, so close I can see the texture of each one. This is extraordinary, the air wedging between my feathers, supporting my belly but also caressing my back, the softness of the bones against each other, barely exerting like stirring a spoon through sweet yogurt. I hope it knows how wonderful it is to be a bird. I can hear the music through the wall. The bricks are too close to focus on. The bird chirps sharply. I smell its blood as I osmose through the wall, dispersing again, slowing into something primeval. It is wonderful to be me.