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22 September 2013

Three Eternal Devices for Navigating the Fall

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

The clock on my computer says summer is over.

We have a few of these sorts of graceful machinesnote to local burglars: I also have a ninety-pound red hound dog with a blue tongue and white teeth who is trained to devour strangersbut most of the time I do my work on a G4 that runs Tiger, Motorola processor y todo.

It can be slow and is ornery as hell, but it is just fine with me and I would keep it forever if I could. I've been through a few keyboards. (Flat white is a damn poor color if you like to eat pizza whilst typing.) But I think there have only been two times when the thing did not boot. 

Using the G4 is part of a personal ritual. My rite late last night, taken up with due gravity as the Pleiades swung into view, was about how everything before now continuously leaks away into the air, leaving consequences turned out into the world. The retrieval of the past's output as image and narrative is one result of this process.

I've been marking time this way for years and years, though meaning creeps toward abstraction and into sudden sea change as the middle of my century rises. The procedure also has the potential to mutate into cleverly shitty, multi-paragraph introductions designed to defend the use of a type of symbolism based in the neuro-mechanical reflections and quantum entanglements that comprise the past.

If your universe does not work in the manner I just told about, that is just fine with me; every head is a world. But I probably could not make anything at all from the temporal residue data collection area I've built from starlight and bad decisions, if not for dreamy mechanism.

I have bound myself variously to elaborate and arcane techniques perfected in the foothills of the Himalayas or else incorporating passages from all American television broadcasts into my skeletal structure with the specific purpose of gathering evidence of the discomfiting presence of magical postmodernism among a representative collection of widely divergent human organisms.

I hope you think that's funny. It is important to me that you have a good laugh while reading this, because I sometimes see my memory as a curse, and you ought to, as well, I reckonwhen every moment is just hanging there like a big iron rock in the asteroid belt waiting to be mined by the well-intentioned but nonetheless colonial forces of some eccentric Earthling's half-ass literary career.

Eleven years ago, when a very different summer was declining, I met a dog that had been run over by a fellow I happened to know from art school. I saw that dude the other day in Nob Hill. He was driving a bright green convertible and hell, he is my age. I was going to walk over and bust his balls about the car or how he split after the accident, leaving me with a bloody and frightened dog, but "Karma Police" came on the radio and I kept driving. I figured he had probably forgotten all about me and was probably late to this or that country club anywho.

Back then, the dog lived, and she turned out to be a good friend of mine. I wrote all kinds of stuff about that day, about the years that followed. Now, this has been the second summer she is gone from here. I did not notice the summer before this one. I stayed in and wrote and dreamt. That summer of two-thousand-and-twelve I dreamed I left the back gate openthat her owner had finally seen a found dog sign I left at the community center ten years before, and had come to take the dog home.

She had the worst kind of cancer. The doctor ended up amputating her left leg. Her right leg had been busted on the faraway day in September I told about. I was always worried about her legs; she could not stand the rain. The night she died, I was sitting next to her, trying to convince her to contemplate the goodness of water.

She was unconvinced, was weary of earthly stuff. The dog looked up at me, nudged me with her nose and as death washed over her, an elaborate, elusive, smoky and oscillating structure appeared between us briefly and fluttered. I reached out with one hand, and the form vanished. She left behind an empty vehicle. It had the shape of dog, but it was not a dog.

After that, and at night, asleep in order to reckon with the permanence of that passage away from the land and the food and the flowers, I began to employ an all-access, backstage pass to Tlalocan, given to Cabeza de Baca after years of servitude and lonely wandering. I inadvertently scavenged this talisman from a landfill in Hermosillo in 2001, while searching for a G4 possessing magical properties and applications from beyond the stars.

The temporal displacement unit usually lands me in a vast laboratory with astronomical qualities or a byzantine transport center filled with thin locomotives and speedy aeroplanes. Sometimes, I see Rosie and the dog hops up into my lap or leads me to a telescope where I can see planets on the very edge of the galaxy, against the darkness of the void. In the morning though, the sun is bright. I am surrounded by life; yet she is nowhere to be found on this earth.

The ritual begins again as I wander out into the living room, shoeless, and greet my wife. The rest of the pack circles around her and then follows me out the back door, into autumn.

15 September 2013

State Fair, Part 49

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

Imagine for a second it is the future and you leave the Earth behind. Your spaceship is well-equipped though, and it is easy enough to make contact with your handlers back at the watermelon ranch.

Maybe one day, when you've started to lose track of the distance between Lomas Boulevard and Jupiter's inner moons, when the days melt into one long dream of calabacitas, you decide to give headquarters a bell. You ask them if it has been raining lately. When the words, "yes, a lot" crackle and hiss through your specially designed bio-engineered headset, you reply, your sense of time and space kindly reconnected. And you say to the folks in Burque, who are just about a billion miles away by now, "Have you all been to the State Fair yet?"

That is a supposed vision of the future, just to sorta float around the idea of ubiquity, sabes? Besides being the preeminent event in this town three-hundred years from now, it is a well-known fact that the fair is a culturally weighty aspect of our beloved military outpost in the desert. Among citizens, visitors and wanderers, it remains a source of many highlarious and culturally relevant anecdotes.

With that in mind, here are some vignettes, highlighting over forty years of engagement with the gaudy and sublime moving object that rises up yearly from semi-trailers, champion vegetables and twangy guitars echoing in the rodeo hall.


The old man would set aside three days to see the fair. It was good as hell to get away from Gallup. We would stop at the Dairy Queen in Grants for lunch. In nineteen-seventy-five we crested Nine Mile Hill while Kung Fu Fighting played on the radio.

We had a room at the Hilton and drove over to the Fairgrounds in the morning. The other Rudolfo liked to park the car under a big mulberry tree behind the Wine Cellar, which was a bar in Fair Plaza. He said it was a special parking place that belonged to his mysterious business partner. He called this man Sabu. That wasn't his real name and he wasn't from around these parts.

I ended up eating way too much fry bread to compensate for the anxiety such knowledge brought. I refused to get on the tilt-a-whirl with my brother and sister because I felt weird. But I was okay with all of that. Later on, I met a gal named Lisa at the hotel swimming pool. We shared a cigarette and she told me all about California. Her mother had an Arabian horse.


Some friends of mine at art school thought it would be really ginchy to enter some of their work in the fine arts competition at the nineteen-eighty-six New Mexico State Fair. They wanted to show off the idea that not all artists in New Mexico were painting pictures of this or that church or elsewise carving eagles and cutthroat trout out of tree trunks.

One fellow, a formidable sculptor by the name of Stanley Olivarez, submitted an intricate, highly crafted kinetic sculpture. The only reason I can't describe his work in more detail is because of Rob Hawkins. Hawkins' submission caused me to forget about any other work of art on display at the fair that year.

Hawkins had been trying to get into grad school and was known for coming up with ideas that were guaranteed to infuriate his professors. So, Rob asked if I would drive over to the fair with him to deliver his piece. We parked under Sabu's tree and Hawkins opened the trunk.

He grabbed a dirty old basketball, the right half of a rotten pair of Converse All-Stars and said, let's go dude. Inside the exhibit hall, Hawkins set the ball on the shoe, filled out the paperwork and winked at the judges on the way out. He won a second place ribbon for that concoction. Olivarez got top honors and sold his work for some decent feria, but I still can't remember what his sculpture looked like.


They used to have a paint-ball booth on the midway. Some dude dressed up in a gorilla suit would come out of nowhere and folks would shoot at him. I went to the paint-ball booth with Rob Hawkins after he picked up his award, after a camera-jockey from the local newspaper took his picture.

Hawkins looked me over like he was trying to decide whether he could trust me or not. He bought thirty rounds of paint-balls with his award money. Then he let loose on the gorilla suit. He said between clicks that he had been rejected by the MFA program at UNM. After about a minute of that, the dude in the gorilla suit ripped his mask off and told Rob Hawkins he would come over and kick Rob's ass if he kept aiming for the head. Hawkins gave the finger and zapped the dude right between the eyes.

The chase that ensued followed along, past the Asbury Cafe and through Villa Hispana across San Pedro and over to Sabu's secret parking spot and magical mulberry tree. "Kung Fu Fighting" was playing in the background. Rob Hawkins climbed up into the tree and disappeared in flash of postmodern mumbo-jumbo.

His former target wandered back to the midway office, took what pay was coming to him and spent the rest of the day wandering though the fair eating roasted turkey legs and tiny donuts.

07 September 2013

Two Interludes from the Heart of Fringecrest

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

The staff of Things in Light, dogs, ghosts and ghosts of dogs included, are listening to the Jefferson Airplane tonight. One of the Carrillos is piping Crown of Creation through a computerized audio output device. We are just getting buried in the first side, in case you want to know, and that activity is a perfect opportunity to test out the new shiny white keyboard on the G4 in the corner. As is our custom, two random observations or incantations follow.



The episode of Star Trek available for consumption tonight by Albuquerque residents in possession of a specific brand of satellite reception equipment is an episode called "Errand of Mercy". It's about how the Enterprise was dispatched to a faraway world to prevent further atrocities from being committed by a ruthless, militaristic empire composed of dark men with pointy eyebrows, metallic sashes and murderous methods.

Anyone who's been to an American studies conference knows that teevee shows like that were meant to serve as commentary on the conflict the USA had with a horrible bear-shaped thing called the USSR, back before anyone at all had a computer at home. This was when telephones were big, heavy affairs with cables and dials and a thing called a trunk connected the continents together.

On that faraway segment of the space-time continuum, our nation was at war, not so much with the bear but with the ideas the bear had spread to its neighbors. Instead of having to confront the bear itself, it was widely thought to be adequate to fight his far-flung followers, to make blood sacrifices of them in a country and among a culture that neither the bear nor his American adversary really understood.

Eventually the bear died from an ironic combination of neglect and greed. Meanwhile on this week's iteration of Star Trek, Kirk goes on and on about justice and the price of war and whatnot. As usual, Spock does most of the heavy lifting. Somehow, better angels prevail and war is averted. At story's end though, one of the swarthy enemies of civilization remarks that a war between two superpowers, on a planet and among a culture neither understands, would have been glorious. Pretty locochon, eh?


When I was growing up in Gallup, New Mexico, there were three movie theaters. One of them was a drive-in called the Zuni. The other two were sit-down joints in the middle of town. The two film houses, El Morro and The Chief, were only a half a block apart in the generally enforced reality that bound them to the earth, but they might as well have been separated by a distance comparable to what one would experience flying to the moon on an Orion III space plane. 

I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Zuni. It was the late show and the rest of my family, except my infant sister, was asleep in the old man's Pontiac Executive. I gave her some Similac and she laughed mysteriously near the end of the film, during the Starchild part.

El Morro was dark and wooden with red velvet curtains and a clock that glowed in the dark. One Saturday I watched Soylent Green down in the front row.  I spent the next month terrified whenever I accompanied my mother on her errands. I was convinced that large government bulldozers would appear at any moment to scoop up the hapless patrons of the California supermarket.

That all sounds really bitchin' and nostalgic, but the shitty thing was the Native population of Gallup didn't really get to go to either the Zuni or El Morro. They all went to the Chief. The classism and racism that supported this example of segregation was quiet and efficient, de rigeur. The town soaked in the oil of despair. The Chief was Gallup's symbol of the dire consequences of colonialism.

The Chief was a stormy place. There were no rules under that roof, but ashen clouds over it. The fare was grindhouse (kung fu and violent horror, mostly) and in-between shows hard rock crackled through the sound system. I am pretty sure the Chief closed down the same summer we left for Albuquerque. I don't know what happened after that, but I reckon things got better when some corporation or another built a multi-screen megaplex on the north side of town.


Now we are just about finished listening to Crown of Creation. Everyone here at Things in Light agrees side one is where it's at. Especially the opening track, you know, "Lather." It's also been clearly reckoned that, when read aloud, both of the brief narratives included here have a sense of completion about them. Plus which, it rained this afternoon, and we want to walk around in the dark in Fringecrest, listening to the plants and trees rejoicing.

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