Lest you say Joyless House never gave you anything . . . above is a sneak peak of the artwork that will accompany the great Journey, and below: a climactic scene.
Journey to the Center of the Dream is just that; a road book that follows four overgrown adolescents discovering the real America and putting their faith to the test. (Artists, eh? Tourin' mooosicians. We'll see about that!) This here particular scene finds the boys, Black Darkness, holed up in a bombed out squat in post-Katrina New Orleans, terror-fried out of their minds after a night of impossible debauchery and degradation, about to meet one of their musical idols, the Cajun Boogieman, the great Robespierre. Enjoy, you lucky bastards. And when this book finally comes out, remember who treated you nice and shell out the cash!!
A scene from chapter 20
So Mark made his announcement then busied himself quick, cutting up lines of coke . . . and the man walked through the door. Or rather, the man, by an effort of rocking, staggering motions, created an approximate forward momentum that carried his person into the warehouse. Pierre had the look of a man who was not yet old, but nonetheless, had spent up his youth on feral appetites. Red sweating face, white belly bulging out of a tight black T-shirt and a Beatles-style mop top haircut. He let out a hoarse and high-pitched holler, some fashion of Cajun war whoop, I reckon, then got greedily down to the cocaine, his ass finding the folding chair by a supreme feat of luck.
We came out of our respective hiding places and gathered around Robespierre. There was no coke for us; I guess our treat was the heavy presence of greatness. Pierre ripped two fat lines in succession then leaned his bulk against the back of the chair. He did about a minute then, of heavily labored breathing, ejecting a good amount of thick spittle onto his lips and chins. We were all just sort of sitting there, staring at Robespierre. It was with a creepy little voyeuristic thrill that I watched Pierre’s eyes, like two black marbles roiling to the surface of a murky pond, achieve a kind of working focus. They flashed the suspicion of one who’s done several days in and out of blackouts.
Metal Mark, who was lounging in the background rather disinterestedly, put in for Pierre’s sake, “these are the boys from Wisconsin you’re playing with tonight, Pierre.”
A look of slow acquiescence came over Robespierre’s countenance and posture, though he didn’t say anything; he just leaned back in his chair, arms akimbo, breathing heavily – an asthmatic Buddha.
Then, in the way of a child getting a sly idea, Robespierre seemed to remember his status, that of underground rock n’ roll royalty. He puffed out his chest and pursed his lips, eyeing us blearily, slyly. He wanted only for a little crown on top of his head, cocked clownishly to one side.“So where y’all playin’ at in New Orleans?” was the question he posed. I found his slurred drawl almost incomprehensible.
Dante, I guess, understood him best. “A place called the Saturn Bar,” he said, then added respectfully, helpfully, “We’re playing with you . . . at the Saturn Bar.”
Pierre appeared to take this information very seriously; he tightened up his lips and breathed heavily through his nose, flaring his nostrils like a great ape. He narrowed his swollen eyes and nodded slowly, solemnly. It seemed Pierre meant to convey much by this; his face was beet red and sweating profusely. Finally it seemed he just couldn’t find the words and he dropped his head low, shaking his mop top, forlorn. “Fuckin’ N’Orleans man . . . I shouldn’a come back here,” Pierre muttered to himself. “Every time I come back . . . I couldn’t take no hint – God his self tried to tell me with that damn storm! Whoop!” Robespierre ended his lament incongruously, with another loud Cajun war cry, jerking his bulk violently against the metal chair and tossing back his head.
Then Pierre receded as before into a torpid distance. His eyes glazed over with a reddish film. An awkward silence filled the warehouse. Dessy was not there to step in and save his rube cousins . . . and Metal Mark was absorbed in cleaning his fingernails with a pocket knife. Though it was not much my natural inclination, I was compelled to put my own foot forward. I mean, here we were, granted audience with a true master of his craft, a craft we so humbly shared; I felt it would be in poor taste and reveal an utter lack of class for us to let this great man hang, alone, floundering in his extreme crapulence.
“Well, Pierre,” I started, “I personally . . . and I’m sure we all feel the same way . . . but speaking personally, for myself . . . I’m really excited to be on the bill with you. You’re a legend.”
Again, I had the impression that Robespierre was much heartened, touched in the most tender, sentimental way. He drew up his bulk once more and, head held high, pudgy fists at his hips, looked me blearily in my eyes. It occurred to me that Pierre and I were sitting rather close to one another. As his face contorted with feeling and he breathed meaningfully at me, it occurred to me that I could sure smell this great man. It was not a clean smell, per se, but not patently offensive either. I suppose we were like creatures in this way; I hadn’t showered myself in at least . . . several days.
So Robespierre sat up tall like that, staring manfully at me, and shallow, unworthy verbal communication did become his bane. He lifted up his right arm like a proud eagle’s wing and, taking a moment in valorous discretion to steady his aim, he clapped me heartily on my shoulder – one, two, three times – then let his hand rest there, meaningfully. He looked deeply in my eyes and nodded his head in appreciation and, I think, perhaps, reciprocation. It was an exchange of deep meaning for myself.
Robespierre looked around the room then, and asked generally, “So, where y’all playin’ at in N’Orleans?”
***** ****** ******
Look for Journey to be out in late summer or early fall. We are working furiously, but we aint mad. Forward, Bro.