MARCH OF THE MONSTERS: "CANDY PIPER"


Well, the evening arrived as usual, and the smokey moon hung like a lantern for the moths that flock into the streets aching for it. Adorned in bright, living glowsticks and Futurist-gypsy clothes, the candy kids flood the city looking for a night filled with amplifier worship and syrupy fever dreams (induced with intent and the utmost enthusiasm). The raves that they seek grow, organic, from the husks and shells of the industrial world, and in dark warehouses and basements a spooky mitosis takes place. Proteins assemble to the sound of drums into a mass, and then a population, and then dissolves smoothly into a single organism. Music binds it together, and chemicals fuel it until it burns out.

The grey and humble bookreaders who go through the days made of thin wire begin to flesh out and become real beneath waking streetlights. Garish onionskin cartoons layer up over the world and replace it piece by piece. They gloss themselves with Robitussin and glucose, and pipe white noise into their ear canals. Digital ghosts shuffle from one side of the brain to the other, sighing and dissipating.

Ravers, candy kids, with too-alert eyes tinted Red Dye #2 and milky insecticide saliva from tongue-staining drinks, are out tonight. They trickle into the downtown core and pool in the low places of the city, seeing only in false colours.

There are two of them out now, prowling for parties, their pockets holding MDMA and dimes ground down into counterfeit TTC tokens. They reach a heavy door, unmarked besides the natural designs of powdery rust. It's locked, and their evening is nearly ruined. Misread directions or a wrong turn somewhere.


They hear a sound that intoxicates them, but it doesn't come from inside. Without Ulysses' wax and ropes, their minds get whited out, and they are entranced. Sound waves coloured paperback-yellow glide along black crystal, and machine gun strobe lights beat everything else down. The man making the music is standing alone in the street behind them, a small amp slung over his back on a leather strap. His thin piano key teeth are bared in demented smile, and long pink and blue hair spills over round, low sunglasses hiding golden eyes. His clothes are a carpet sample book of materials and colours. He is a globetrotter, a time traveller, an anachorism and anachronism. He is tall and fearsome, but he is not to be feared. The man barely exists; he is an avatar for the music he makes. With a long finger he beckons, and begins to walk down the street.

This is off the grid, unscripted, but they've done that before. Raves emit a radar signal, and on certain plateaus reached with chemical sherpas, they are audible. Sometimes it is necessary to go off the beaten path when you've reached a dead end, but it's only a matter of time before another path is found. Their screwdriver adrenaline mixes with Red Bull blood, and the resultant precipitate forms. Compass needle, pointing straight at the man.

They are following.


Teal clouds swell with aluminum lightning, and shudder out a shower of rain. Complex patterns blossom and shift in the kids' minds and occupy their attention exclusively. The streetlights flare obediently to the rhythm, and the candy kids follow the man in a parade that begins to grow in length.

Another alley, and three more kids at a locked door with wrong directions and no luck. Now there are six of them in the street, and they dance along. The sides of the buildings fuzz and blend with each other, melting into two long, smooth parallel walls. An eternal silver corridor lies ahead, and none of them notice. The beat gives them meaning, and automatic functions take their cue from the wave motion of the songs. Heartbeats and breathing resonate and correspond to the music that trails behind the man making it happen.

The Pied Piper accumulates his child followers and they fall into line. Nobody witnesses the parade, and not even a car passes. The group moves on for hours, a hazy zombie caravan steering through a white saccharin maze. There are a hundred candy kids in tow. Each one wilts as their synthetic dreamland begins to fade, but the world that should be underneath is missing. They've been high on hundreds of Saturday nights, but they've always come down to solid ground eventually. This time the ground is not there. Polygon streets glitch up and they come down through them, and they keep falling.

The young lost ravers slide along on musical rails the music man laid. He interrupts his dance to look back and grin at the crowd behind him. Half-asleep and utterly docile. The Candy Piper cackles and continues, descending the stairs into the subway station. Everyone follows. They march into the tunnel, and over the next few days the city stirs and missing persons reports rise to the surface.

Apparently the State of New Jersey might ban the Brazilian as two women were reportedly recently injured during a localized hair removal session. Unless I'm wrong (and I might be) a waxing involves dripping molten wax very, very near all those hypersensitive naughty bits. That sounds painful. Then you let the wax cool (ahhh). Then you rip it all out, hopefully taking the hair follicles along.

Does any of this sound like fun to you? But that seems to be the style of the moment. It appears that even men are joining in the dipiliatory movement. One of the things I like about being a guy is that I'm not expected to wear makeup. I don't have to overpay for clothes that constantly go out of fashion. I don't have to buy and wear complex undergarments. In fact, they alone are proof that transvestism isn't something one does by choice. Ten pounds overweight is not a moral tragedy. Finally my body hair is supposed to be cool. Which is great because I have lots of it. And yes, i have seen 'The Forty Year-Old virgin". No thanks.

Okay, I shave my armpits. I get painful rashes from deodorant if I don't, and without deodorant I'm probably not pleasant company. I'm that vain. I don't wish to stink during dinner. After sex is soon enough. Yet it seems that social and sexual pressures are combining to ensure that young women need to go 'bare', so there shall be more screams and yelps of agony in the name of vanity. Unless they happen to be masochists.

It may be that the skanks are winning.

Hoagie Day


I went to bed at three thirty last night. These days, it's early for me. My sister comes in and out of the room as she usually does, asking me to sign her into my laptop, as she goes to see my mother. When she comes back she hands me a twenty, and says, "Six hoagies, hot peppers on the side." I am way too tired for this crap, but it is the third Saturday of the month, it is one of the first six months of the year, and the Audubon Fire Department is selling these hoagies for half their street value.


I put on my coat, and within five minutes of being woken up, I am ready to go. My dad is arguing with my sister over who would get the soda out of the car. My cousin already did it, but is still recovering from surgery. I have a feeling my sister was probably asked to run this errand in the first place, but I don't complain (much). I don't hear the fire trucks, which usually blare around Audubon at this time as if the high school were on fire.


I remember about five years ago, when we were cleaning my grandfather's house, and he wasn't feeling well. Washing off a plastic mat full of dog crap, I heard a very loud siren. I thought to myself, either my family called 911, or half the town was ablaze, it was that urgent. Then I heard someone crying out of a bullhorn, HOAGIE SALE! ONLY THREE DOLLARS EACH!!! We didn't get hoagies that unseasonably warm February afternoon, but we would finally have to call the paramedics. My grandfather would not return to his house, passing away almost a week later.


Today, the hoagie doesn't taste as good as usual. I don't think it has to do with this memory, but it doesn't help.

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