I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

December 18, 1999 I have found that all of the New Year's 2000 hype is infinitely more bearable and in fact rather entertaining if, whenever you see something that mentions it, you mentally replace 'the millenium' with 'humanity's descent into cannibalism'. "the Clarion Hotel is the only place to celebrate humanity's descent into cannibalism!" it's okay, at least. well, nothing can redeem "Millenios". don't worry, it'll all be over soon.

everyone queue up: who will be the first person to do something that critics call "post-millenial"?

so, where do you plan to be when humanity descends into cannibalism? I know several people who are heading up to a house in rural Wisconsin, which seems a very sensible thing to do. personally, I'm curious to see what's going to happen. I can't imagine that much chaos will be visible from the quiet street in Urbana where I plan to be, but some trace elements should be within a quick walk. I do feel like I should be in Chicago, perhaps looting a bookstore, but there's going to be a lovely party down here. we're going to dress up nicely and have a formal dinner to make the upcoming barbarism all the more poignant. if you're reading this, you're invited. (I've found myself repeating that line several hundred times and I want to assure everyone that I'm aware of its only moderate degree of cleverness. I just haven't found a better way to phrase it.)

why am I so excited about New Year's Eve? partly because of the distant potential for total social collapse, but mostly the atmosphere. one of the best nights of my life was spent walking the streets of Chicago right after the Bulls won the NBA championship. everyone was outside, and although society wasn't overturned, there was this implication hanging in the air that certain rules didn't apply anymore. everyone knew what the laws were, but they seemed like a suggestion more than anything else. it was electric. that's what I'm hoping for here. I've considered all of the angles. I've never had much of an objection to getting maimed. I am, however, against anyone eating babies. that rule should still be respected.

you may remember that I mentioned my action movie a couple updates ago. the latest development is that the bad guy will die at the end when the good guy punches him off the roof and the bad guy gets impaled on a clown who happens to be standing on the ground below. my action movie is going to make a billion dollars at the box office.


I don't have a bible on hand at the moment, so I can't remember exactly how Jonah got out of the whale. was it through the mouth? did it poop him out with some taco bell? since I can't recall the key details, I'm going to have to abandon that metaphor and just say that I had a whole fucking lot of school work to do. two theses and several papers, something like 120 pages in two weeks. all of it was research, too. (whatever happened to good old english papers where I'd get to ramble about some guy's poem until I'd met the required page length?) to complicate the entire thing further, I developed a massive stomach disorder that had me vomiting nearly everything I ate and left me anemic from lack of ability to keep anything with iron down. the low point of the entire episode involved a man named Santiago putting his finger impossibly far into my arse with extremely tenuous justification. he claimed to be a doctor. I don't know. eventually I went to a real hospital, had some surgery, and kind of sorted things out. it was a mess. I managed to do fairly quality jobs on all of the papers aside from one. we performed one of my favorite Potted Meat shows somewhere inbetween. when it was all over, I slept for about a week.

so, in theory, as far as I know, I graduated with my three degrees and I'm done with school forever. no one has told me otherwise. the rest is a blur.

Christmas was alright. low-key, like Thanksgiving I didn't do much because I didn't have much to do. not many people are in town at the moment. a few of the ones who are did quite nice things for me and I was unprepared as usual. I'm terminally crap at the gift-giving routine. I never know when to do it and have like two ideas, both of which are a gift certificate. (in one version, I include a card.) I'm constantly tempted to buy abjectly terrible gifts for people, like a Stryper album or a book about living with herpes, just to see how far politeness of reaction will stretch. then I remember the lesson from Sesame Street about how you shouldn't perform cruel psychological experiments on your friends, and I buy some gum instead.

I did my best to foster panic in the area by playing the famous Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" broadcast on the radio. I don't know if it worked. I live in a test tube and I don't get out much.


I plan to stay in Champaign through the duration of my lease, which is mid-August, and then move up to Chicago to do god knows what. I want to keep writing/performing comedy, which means that my next few years will probably be spent working crap jobs and looking for rich benefactors. a witty dental assistant said that it sounds like I'll be a waiter. she must be a Hollywood insider when she's not busy cleaning people's teeth. I'm polishing my resume for a position as a trophy-husband. I could do that for a while.

I often have dreams about bread.

for now, I plan to find a job in the decent-to-poor range, produce a ton of theater over the next several months, read some books, continue the radio show and do whatever it takes to get a milkshake. in the long term, I plan to keep on with the creative end and I don't know what else - or where, which leads me to:


these are the ideas I've had so far. as you read the following list, you may ask: where's Champaign? my answer is complicated, but it does involve kicking you very hard. moving forward, then, and clinging to the illusion of choice in the matter:

Chicago is where I'm headed initially. I know lots of people there, best place to do comedy in the nation, and jobs would be easy. there's always the desire to go somewhere other than where I've been for my entire life, though.

Cincinnati is a dead gorgeous city. I don't know anyone there, but it's the hometown of the Afghan Whigs and that has to mean something. nice compromise between east and midwest. "scene" may or may not exist.

Boston is out east, covers a decent amount of space, has lots of history - all of which are good. on the down side, people talk funny and the job market sucks (according to sources). don't know anything about the arts.

Philadelphia seems to have all the advantages of Boston, but a little less of each. people do not, however, talk funny and that is important. arts are good as far as I can tell. don't know about jobs.

Toronto has a Second City which is a huge plus and is supposedly a very nice city. I don't know, I just have a good feeling about the place. it's in Canada, though, and I don't know if I could ever get over that.

Tijuana for when I decide comedy is bullshit and surrender to the drunk revolutionary inside of me.

I always thought it would be a longer list. I'm always the last person to get these memos, anyway. Juneau, Alaska will probably be added when I'm 30 years old. I suspect I'll be moody and nomadic around that time. if you have inside information about any of those options, please pass it along.

Curtis Mayfield died a couple days ago. I hadn't known that he was ill. he was one of those people who genuinely made me feel better about the world by virtue of his being alive somewhere in it. he wrote and performed volumes of beautiful soul, r&b and funk music from the late 50s (including the soundtrack to 'Superfly') right through a couple years ago - even after an accident at a concert with a collapsed lighting rig left him quadripelegic. I highly recommend his two disc set 'The Essential Curtis Mayfield' if your music collection hasn't already been enlightened by the good Mr. Mayfield. to quote Kurt Vonnegut, speaking about the recent death of another great artist, Joseph Heller: "That's terrible." and it is. there are, however, many good things that he left behind. praise be.

no angry polemical ranting in this update. I'm tired, and I'm feeling all of these late nights. try this, though; perhaps the most fantastic and disturbing website I have ever encountered.

I love winter. it's my favorite season, easily. driving sucks but everything else is good. I love the way air tastes in cold weather. it's much easier to warm up than it is to cool down (e.g. you can only get so naked). winter is the one time of the year when my imaginary war with the universe really seems to make sense. and snow is wonderful. it's a kind of freedom. some of the old French anarchists felt confined by history itself, and when it snows you can imagine yourself anywhere you'd like to be - like not in Champaign, for example, and not in 1999, and not 21 years old. this photograph was taken by Alfred Stieglitz in New York in the 1890s. beautiful, isn't it? that's how it looked like when I was driving home alone the night before Christmas Eve this year. (I had a stereo playing a song about a bullfrog named Jeremiah, though, which sums up the difference between 1890 and 1990 rather nicely.)

the end, then, to "lost like this". it's kind of an artificially imposed ending because nothing major has changed in my personal life - the end has arrived cos I graduated and am losing UIUC net access. but it's an end nonetheless, and that's okay. I don't know. I guess I don't feel all that lost any more, either. I have a fairly good idea where I am. (next to a tree.) I plan to write a new webpage in a couple months. it'll be smaller, tighter, and no less charming. (I've always been in it for the charm.) when I know where the page will be, I will put a link to it here. this page will remain on UIUC's server for a long time after I've lost access to change it, so it's not going away any time soon. if I forget to post the new address, email me here or there.

lost like this, found like that.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.