What do you think he saw? Damn--I regret the awed way I phrased that and the hushed voice I used. As if I think acid is a religious experience, a visionary thing.Himself, Josh says. You always see your true self on acid. You just usually see more than you want to see. So it all seems disorted. See what I mean? He's not your normal stoner. The guy should become a poet, a psychologist, a scientist. We pull up near Greg's house and stare at it like it's a damn fortress. You don't think he needs to go to the hospital? I ask. Nope, Josh says. For a while, I thought maybe, yeah. But he's good now, he's off it, he's not hallucinating anymore. You're sure? Yeah. 'Cuz you can die on LSD- That's such anti-drug propaganda bullshit, Dan, Josh interrupts. Nobody's ever died from an LSD overdose. Ever. As long as you keep people from doing stupid things while they're tripping, it's all good man, man. Why do you think I babysat him? He reaches into the backseat and punches my shoulder. LSD isn't your dad's smack. So stop worrying. I scrunch down in the seat. How'd he know about that? Right. What's the plan? I'd ask him if ther was a key hidden under a rock, Josh says, but he's not gonna be much help. Watch. He pokes Greg in the leg, prods him on the shoulder, grabs his cheeks and smushes them together, the way parents do to a baby and says, Ootchi googi Greggy, did ums have a good trippy? Did ums find out itty-bitty singies about oos-self zat oos didn't likeums? Yup... Greg was in his own little world...
J.L. Powers
Voicemail #1: Hi, Isabel Culpeper. I am lying in my bed, looking at the ceiling. I am mostly naked. I am thinking of … your mother. Call me.Voicemail #2: The first minute and thirty seconds of I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You by the Bee Gees. Voicemail #3: I’m bored. I need to be entertained. Sam is moping. I may kill him with his own guitar. It would give me something to do and also make him say something. Two birds with one stone! I find all these old expressions unnecessarily violent. Like, ring around the rosy. That’s about the plague, did you know? Of course you did. The plague is, like, your older cousin. Hey, does Sam talk to you? He says jack shit to me. God, I’m bored. Call me.Voicemail #4: Hotel California by the Eagles, in its entirety, with every instance of the word California replaced with Minnesota. Voicemail #5: Hi, this is Cole St. Clair. Want to know two true things? One, you’re never picking up this phone. Two, I’m never going to stop leaving long messages. It’s like therapy. Gotta talk to someone. Hey, you know what I figured out today? Victor’s dead. I figured it out yesterday, too. Every day I figure it out again. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I feel like there’s no one I can —Voicemail #6: So, yeah, I’m sorry. That last message went a little pear-shaped. You like that expression? Sam said it the other day. Hey, try this theory on for size: I think he’s a dead British housewife reincarnated into a Beatle’s body. You know, I used to know this band that put on fake British accents for their shows. Boy, did they suck, aside from being assholes. I can’t remember their name now. I’m either getting senile or I’ve done enough to my brain that stuff’s falling out. Not so fair of me to make this one-sided, is it? I’m always talking about myself in these things. So, how are you, Isabel Rosemary Culpeper? Smile lately? Hot Toddies. That was the name of the band. The Hot Toddies.Voicemail #20: I wish you’d answer.
Maggie Stiefvater
So I close this long reflection on what I hope is a not-too-quaveringly semi-Semitic note. When I am at home, I will only enter a synagogue for the bar or bat mitzvah of a friend's child, or in order to have a debate with the faithful. (When I was to be wed, I chose a rabbi named Robert Goldburg, an Einsteinian and a Shakespearean and a Spinozist, who had married Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe and had a copy of Marilyn’s conversion certificate. He conducted the ceremony in Victor and Annie Navasky's front room, with David Rieff and Steve Wasserman as my best of men.) I wanted to do something to acknowledge and to knit up, the broken continuity between me and my German-Polish forebears. When I am traveling, I will stop at the shul if it is in a country where Jews are under threat, or dying out, or were once persecuted. This has taken me down queer and sad little side streets in Morocco and Tunisia and Eritrea and India and in Damascus and Budapest and Prague and Istanbul, more than once to temples that have recently been desecrated by the new breed of racist Islamic gangster. (I have also had quite serious discussions, with Iraqi Kurdish friends, about the possibility of Jews genuinely returning in friendship to the places in northern Iraq from which they were once expelled.) I hate the idea that the dispossession of one people should be held hostage to the victimhood of another, as it is in the Middle East and as it was in Eastern Europe. But I find myself somehow assuming that Jewishness and 'normality' are in some profound way noncompatible. The most gracious thing said to me when I discovered my family secret was by Martin, who after a long evening of ironic reflection said quite simply: .' I choose to think that this proved, once again, his appreciation for the nuances of risk, uncertainty, ambivalence and ambiguity. These happen to be the very things that 'security' and 'normality,' rather like the fantasy of salvation, cannot purchase.
Christopher Hitchens