May 232001
 

Title: Immeasurable, the Waste Land
Fandom: Vortex
Characters: VonGraeding
Rating: T
Warnings: Expletives, violating the cultural norms, rampant Gonzo Journalism
Notes: I was young, and sincerely fed up. And yes, VonGraeding does wear velvet opera dresses when he’s feeling campy.


at last, i have come to a grudging truce with the Waste Lands. Without the environmental stresses, i’d have nothing to complain about. with nothing to complain about, i’d have nothing to write about. life would not be worth living without that base level of environmental adversity.

i have finally become truly enculturated, like paul atreides, to this desert hell. i look like i belong, i eat green chile, i can spell Albuquerque… sometimes, i even enjoy the frontier. not just the food, but the people you find there in the dead of the night. the ones who are intimidated by silence and the dull glaze of a murderous intellect. the posturing idiots who fall back at a few quiet words in nihonglish about the peculiar uses one can find for the small electric device in one’s left pocket. a few tabs of ephedrine, and the world becomes a crisp, bright whorl…sensation and sound…the taste of blue neon light in the adobe dust.

mirror shades and gary numan cannot separate me from the delicate sociological web. i despise the gaping gringos and their sodden green lawns just as much as the men whose families have lived here since tin suits were in style, if not moreso. yes, i can despise them more. i was once like them, but this place changed me. for nine years i have fought the dust and the sun, starvation and violence, but i fight for the land, as much as i fight against it. i know when the water comes and goes. i don’t shower every day. i have no car to wash. what i drink is usually shipped in from canada, where there is more water than there is here. i have learned to live with the burning days and the freezing nights without jerking around with the "climate control" in my apartment until the gas bill goes through the roof. (actually, i’m lucky if the swamp cooler works at all, nevermind if management remembers to turn it on) but some of them, they never learn. they firmly believe that places like rio rathole and the near heights are nice safe middle class neighbourhoods where their children will be safe and happy. *bzzt* you can’t walk in the heights, nor can you bicycle, as drivers there seem to believe it’s funny to hit cyclists with their car doors as they pass, and pedestrians are viewed as a minor annoyance that one can throw cans at. rio rathole isn’t much better. in some places there are still no sidewalks, and yet middle class white housewives think it’s paradise, if a bit hard to get grass to grow. they have taken vapid suburbia and tried to transplant it into the burning wastes. what kind of idiocy is that? go home, i tell them, brooklyn is a nicer place. but they won’t go, because surely it is better to share a grocery store with dirty mexicans than with communists and faggots. these nice ladies are glad to go see the symphony on campus, as am i, but they’d never go anywhere in the area afterwards in a group of less than eight, because, goodness knows, they might be shot by drug-crazed illegal mexican vagrants! i once offered a tired-looking theatre-goer a caffeine pill to ease the evening, but she clung to her husband insisting i tried to sell her "crack". i shrugged and wandered back to my A-section seat, zipping my leather jacket over my velvet evening gown to keep out the cold. it’s funny, though, they live in the areas of town with the second highest rates of murder, burglary and rape, and yet they are afraid to walk my streets at night because it’s the "dangerous part of town". i guarantee, the university area has the lowest crime rate of any neighbourhood in albuquerque. why? because we’re college students and low-income, single parent families. we don’t have the time or the energy to go around plotting against our neighbours, except maybe when they throw loud parties, and then it’s time to bust out beethoven’s greatest hits and start a stereo war.

i live here. i see it every day. i used to live in the heights, and i, who fear little, was nervous about walking to school, or leaving my window open at night. not because i’d heard stories of violent crimes committed by rampaging high school students, but because those rampaging high school students beat the bejesus out of me, slashed my girlfriend’s tires, and frequently threw large rocks at my windows. of course, with me, it was kind of a personal vendetta. i was intelligent, ruthlessly honest, and entirely kamikaze. they couldn’t handle the intellectual pressure, so they had to kill me. *shrug* it went on until i dropped out, and rumours went around that i had died. when i came back, incoming freshmen blanched and stuttered in the hallways. "oh my god, you’re DEAD!" one shouted at me before backing into his locker and scaring himself. i might add, i’m not an imposing boy. i am a good nine or ten inches shorter than my shortest brother, which puts me in at about 5ft even. i’m wiry and knock kneed, i dress like it’s 1985, and i wear enough steel on and through my body that i jingle like a reindeer. however, superstition and rumours of death apparently carry one into god status around here. who am i to argue?

enough about the heights with its gangstees and its teenage mothers. back down to the heart of the city, one of the few reasons this town has grown from 400,000 to nearly 1.2 million in the last ten years: the university. on the whole, the school blows. since it is possible to graduate high school with a third-grade reading level, none of the core courses here are particularly challenging, even for a religious studies degree. it’s really disappointing, but every now and again, you’ll hit upon an elective taught by some fr00tbat professor who loves the subject and teaches it with the fervor of the pulpit and loki’s sense of humour. claire waters is one of these. should you ever have the chance to experience one of her medieval studies classes, do it. it is a truly amazing experience, which may or may not include monty python, mediaeval bæbes, or getting to whack a classmate in the face with a stuffed cow. plus, you’ll likely come out of it saying words like "woad", "rood", and "tharf". or perhaps a class by the visiting dr. wagner, the german christologist, whose sense of absurdity and thick accent make any class worthwhile. i won’t even go into last semester’s course on the gospels…

classes aside, though, the campus is fantastic. fruit trees that no-one else realizes give edible fruit, a half hidden waterfall (very small, but effective), warm vents from the library climate control (great places to read a book in the snow), and of course, unprotected communications wiring. if i wanted to make a cheap long distance call, i would do it on campus. if i wanted to wreak havoc by resorting a network, i would do it on campus. why? because it’s just too easy. mind you, the author does not advocate these actions, so if you do them and get caught, that’s your problem, you imbecilic twit. honestly, though, i’m a hacker, not a cracker. hardware is my game. you give me the pieces, i can put it together and make it go. and if you don’t have the pieces, i know where to get them cheaper than you ever dreamed. you want it, i can find it, and not just hardware. whether i’ll admit it to you when you ask, or not, i can get it. the question is whether i want to. profits aside for a moment here, there are some things i just don’t deal in. i really try to stick with the business of selling hardware, repair services, and information. few things happen here that i cannot get data on in less than 24 hours. thankfully, though, no-one ever tells me anything unless i ask. it keeps me out of trouble. it’s difficult to get caught up in things you know nothing about.
***
[insert "shooting myself in the foot"]
***
fought with my intelligent and stunning admin. thankfully s/he is very forgiving. a few hours later, kicking and screaming forgotten, my brother comes over to have a smoke and bullshit about his girlfriend and good music. hilariously enough, after all the raving about how safe it is here, the girl next door got her window shot in, because her roommate doesn’t have any business sense.

the next bleary day…my brother has gotten me hooked on this fantastic techno song, and now every time i turn my head i hear margaret thatcher saying "acid party — come to the party". on the brighter side, i have at least partially resolved this hellhole i live in, and i figure more will get rearranged before i go to bed. i no longer mind the duststorms and the sand that creeps in around the badly sealed doors and windows of this place. the machines may mind, but i’ve yet to hear the distinctive sound of a dust-crash. this leaves me with one fairly quick machine with which i can download vital mix components like scruffy the cat’s "tiny days", and other things you’ve never heard of. i wonder if i can find that terrible remix of "10 green bottles"…i’ll be shocked if no-one has it. mmm…music on the brain…

hrm. looking back over this, it looks like the ephedrine induced ravings of an insomnia-crazed city politics junkie. i just can’t get away from the politics, can i? no matter where i turn, or how deeply i hide, the rumours invariably trickle down to my greedy info-deprived mind…fuck this. i am going out into the woods with some of the most politically minded people i know, and when i come back, i shall once again declare my thirsts for this swill quenched. (for now, at least…)

if i write enough of this shit, maybe someone will be sick enough to publish it — bad art and all. although, it should be noted that i am neither as depraved, nor as good with a pencil, as ralph steadman. not even the orange fuzzy bunny strikes quite the chord of horror and disgust as his images from the ’72 campaign.

"take you this talisman, one small mexican bean, and remember: go."

i have this poppish optimism swirling about my head. the sort of thing you get from listening to too many punk love songs…"punk rock girl", "olga crack corn", "what i like about you"…and yet for all that i still can’t find "i like you too", the gritty punk classic featuring lines like "i like slugs and snails/dripping slime in pails/and i like you, too", or some similar thing. it’s been a while, i can’t quite remember the words. it was one of my mom’s favourite songs. but, yes…poppish optimism… i can do anything. it’s like being on lots of good speed, but without the twitches. it’s power. it’s all in my head. it’s like suddenly being a jolly, eight foot tall barbarian, with a quart of mead in one hand and a cudgel in the other. kinda makes me want to sing drinking songs and merrily bash random members of the moral majority upside the head…

i’ve suddenly decided that as smooth as the transition is, i’m just not happy with "final man" (covenant) right before "angel" (wumpscut). i need to squeeze another track in there, and i also need a version of "angel" that doesn’t skip at the three minute mark. *shrug* this is going to be one of the easier mixes i’ve made, but it will not be _easy_. having a medium which is easier to tweak leads me to want the volume to be fairly consistent on this one. after the disaster that called itself _desert_of_the_real_, i have been trying much harder to balance the volume on things. i’ll probably actually cut a new master of _desert_ and send a better copy to the party it was originally intended for. no point in keeping the old tape.

"look i’m a politico! look i’m a dj! look i totally lost my shit!"

shouting at the audiogalaxy client: "don’t you ever fucking die?" and suddenly the song i’ve been downloading for the last two hours at a snail-crawl, which has finally reached 99% done, vanishes from the list. i stare at it for a moment in shock, hoping that means i got it, and not that the user sending it has logged off… only one way to find out. huh. looks like success. unfortunately, the site is no longer responding to http queries or queries from the client. this means that after i finish this download, the client will no longer be able to find the rest of the list. dammit.

hm. this is actually beginning to look like a problem on _my_ end. *gasp* perhaps if i wait for this transfer to finish and then reboot the bastard thing, i’ll fix it. dead giveaway? netscrape, when opening a new window, attempts to load the dead page.