I woke up in a strange place

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

March 28, 2003 I have been assured by my journalist friend Tom that the monkeys referred to in the report about the Moroccan land-mine squad report actually just manage the effort from central command in Qatar. So, that's a relief.

In honor of an exceptional Point-Counterpoint in this week's Onion, I wanted to take a moment to note my favorite entries from the history of that fine genre. Unfortunately, The Onion's online archives are not comprehensive, so I could only find links to a few. I found an outside article that made reference to the powerful debate between the humidifier and the de-humidifier, but not the debate itself, and I couldn't find any reference at all to the one where a Packer fan and a Native American argued over what it was to see one's people obliterated. (Did I imagine that one?) The list looked skimpy without the missing entries, so I did not finish it. (2. Point-Counterpoint: Abortion and 1. Point-Counterpoint: Technology, for the record.) I sent The Onion an email expressing my feelings. Why didn't they archive "'Outdoor Advertising Is A Blight On Our Landscape' vs. 'I Just Wanted To Tell The Nice People About The Delicious Yogurt'"? I am losing touch with the world.

I can't find a graceful way to pimp by Wish List for tearful goodbye presents. Believe me, I have tried.

March 27, 2003 That woozy feeling is back. I must be on the right track.

Obviously, my upcoming departure from indentured servitude has upset the balance of power between the rabbi and I. The shoe is on the other foot, if you will, or the yarmulke is on the other head, if you prefer something with situational relevance, or the crazy beard and curls are blowing in the wind on the other side of the street, you could say, if you were slightly mad. (The rabbi does not actually have either of those, just a slight funk that is reminiscent of old books and lox.) He has come to terms with my decision to leave, and now his only aim is to stall my departure as long as he can. Therefore, when given a task I do not wish to complete, I can threaten to give two weeks notice effective immediately, and he is forced to back off. For example, last week, he wanted me to call a bunch of rabbis who are new to the area and talk them into coming to a luncheon, because I can be charming when I feel like it. I said no, because I did not feel like meeting anyone new that day. And that was that. He is a cagey bastard, though, and has attempted to regain some of his former leverage by bringing cookies into the office and making reference to them whenever I show signs of becoming difficult. Of course, no cookies come from that guy without a story about the extended lineage of the bakers, families of Jews from Spain or Poland who have been baking for centuries. The cookies are generally quite good. I will give him that much.

The United States suddenly became very forthcoming about Iraqi casualty numbers after the Al Jazeera POW report this weekend. I think someone from Gen. Tommy Franks' office is calling everyone who has a telephone to make sure they know that we're up 300-16 or so. You know, pundits are always quick to holler at athletes who draw parallels between sports and war, but no one complains when the government uses the semiotics of organized athletics to make war go down smoothly.

I bought a digital camera in order to chronicle my time in Japan. All I have done with it thus far is to take pictures of myself hanging upside-down and making faces, like so:

In very short order, I start looking like my grandfather does all the time.

(news) A Moroccan publication accused the government Monday of providing unusual assistance to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq by offering them 2,000 monkeys trained in detonating land mines. The weekly al-Usbu' al-Siyassi reported that Morocco offered the U.S. forces a large number of monkeys, some from Morocco's Atlas Mountains and others imported, to use them for detonating land mines planted by the Iraqis. The publication quoted a highly-informed source as saying, "that is not a scientific illusion but a well-known military tactic."

Well-known by shitheads, maybe. Super Monkey Ball takes on a tragic resonance in the light of such wicked, degenerate notions. Monkey Target, wherein monkeys para-glide over the ocean and attempt to land on colorful islands for points, is now re-cast as a dance of aggression and murder. Morocco used to be the place where Grace Kelly was queen. Now, they're trying to put blowing up monkeys next to the phalanx and the flank manuever in the annals of combat techniques. Of course, I will provide space on this web-page for the Moroccan government to deny these accusations, because they are only accusations, and we must be fair, and try to think the best of the world around us...

March 25, 2003 At last, there is another movie where an adorable, insouciant American moppet goes overseas and teaches the English not to be so stuffy and proper, and also the tremendous importance of livening up formal events by doing spontaneous synchronized dance routines to contemporary pop hits. It's been nearly a year since the last entry in this valuable cultural exchange, and past experience has shown that, no matter how comprehensively the film establishes its message, the English tend to forget these valuable lessons if left alone for more than six months, and need another one as a reminder. Do the English make films where charming, insouciant English moppets come overseas and teach the Americans to use silverware and stop drinking out of the toilet? They owe us that much. Meanwhile, the wait for summer 2003's blockbuster Vin Diesel Hits French People seems as though it will never end.

Fuck it; I am going to Japan. I have had it with the rabbi, with freedom fries, and with the Los Angeles Lakers. I am leaving in mid-May, when my apartment lease is up. I tell you no lies when I say this. I am going to teach Godzilla how to express his frustration in ways other than destroying buildings. I am going to gently imply that he went out like a punk in Godzilla 1985, and he should have known better. I am going to make like a new jack Raymond Burr. I have some plans for putting this shit back together. Some will ask if I know any Japanese. I will reply that I been reading some books, and 'monkey' is 'saru' in Romanji, so I am not tripping.

(news) The Arkansas opening will leave only Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia as the remaining Starbucks-less states.

Well, that's interesting.

The Jewish holiday of Purim came and went last week. It celebrates the Jews' victory over the wicked Haman, an advisor to the King of Persia who schemed against them in the 6th century. Feathers get seriously fucking ruffled if you forget to attach 'wicked' to the name of Haman. Insouciant as I am, I could tell immediately not to mess around with that one. I know how to choose my battles. I am drawing up some strategies against those guys in ape suits from "Spectreman".

March 20, 2003 Let me do this Harper's style:

Times I have been mistaken for a rabbi this week: 3
Times I have passed myself off as a rabbi to save time this week: 1
Times it happened last week: 2
Number of monkeys within eyeshot of my computer at work: 3
Number of monkeys within eyeshot of my computer at home: 2
Number of rabbis within eyeshot of my computer at work: 1
Number of rabbis within eyeshot of my computer at home: 0
Position of my bowling team in last season's standings: 23 (out of 26)
Position of my bowling team in this season's standings: 5 (out of 26)
How many more mornings in here: 28 (at most)

There is war; all of the newspapers are using big fonts for their headlines in order to act like they're surprised. When considering world events, I take some comfort from the feeling that I am much better suited for a pirate's life than the majority of my peers. A lot of those motherfuckers will be swabbing decks while I train monkeys to throw dice. I'll tell you that.

March 14, 2003 Oh, right on. And my boycott of the Art Institute will continue until those anti-American bastards start referring to their collection as Freedom Impressionism.

I have troubles. The intersection of SBC's repair department and the management company of my apartment created a mushroom cloud of sloth that overwhelms my attempt to conduct telecommunications from home. It was nice in college, when there were only three or four landlords in town and you could do some real damage with a strongly-worded Usenet message. Now, my landlord knows I'm on the way out, so they give me the janitor's cell phone instead of his home phone, and he's furious at me for calling on his cell. ("I pay for this! This is mobile! I pay! Call at home." When? "You call later.") Now he has a vendetta against me, and I do not have the words to make us allies.

It is a shame that the Wendy's chain of restaurants has chosen to exploit the national climate of fear and distrust with their current ad campaign, which stresses and encourages hatred for one's fellow man. It was widely expected that they would struggle to find a new direction for their advertising after the death of their founder, chubby Freemason Dave Thomas, but this leap into thirty-second tales of man's inhumanity to man - a small town on the verge of physical violence over sandwich preferences, a circle of auto mechanics cursing a recently-departed fellow worker, sadistic treachery hatched by gamblers on an unsuspecting 'new recruit' - is certainly unnecessary. But is it without precedent? Perhaps not. For some, ads run by Wendy's even prior to the outwardly genial, inwardly Lilith-envisioning while sexual congress-having Thomas spoke of suspicion and throwing the undesirables up against the wall. His eyes twinkled in one ad as he went door-to-door, hunting for the last few people who had not yet tried his new bacon sandwich. Vegetarians and vegans across America wondered if they would soon receive a visit from the Wendy's Death Squad. So, we can see that the hatred and divisiveness currently espoused by Wendy's has historical roots, but that certainly doesn't excuse it. Seven hundred coupons for free large Frostys, however, can begin the healing.

March 6, 2003 When the Partnership For A Drug-Free America buys ad time on television, they need to specify that their commercials should not be aired right after other commercials where monkeys pretend bananas are cell phones. Come on, focus up, Partnership. I should not have to tell you this.

So: work is terrible. I am exhausted. I had mad bastard nights in college, like everyone - the peak, I think, was an eighteen hour marathon session to generate 66 pages of largely fictional field observations for a sociology project - but, left to my own devices, I can turn out 2-3 pages per day on a consistent basis with relative peace of mind. Presently, the rabbi demands 8-10 pages per day. My head buzzes when I try to form a sentence in the late afternoon. I'd never felt it before; it's really rather an unpleasant feeling. All around, as I am trying to write, people scream, shriek and squall for reasons largely unknown to me. Their work has nothing to do with mine. They were raised to believe that you are only alive if you are making noise. I have lobbied for a quieter work environment at the least and a lighter work load at the most, and both requests have been repeatedly dismissed. "But you get it done! You always do it!" replies the rabbi. The man is possessed of a sickness. You cannot say that I am not being reasonable. And I have nothing left in me when I go home. I wonder if I'll have anything left when I leave here for good.

As I write this, I can see that the tape machine is spinning; the rabbi is phoning in yet another project, and, according to the counter, it has taken him four and a half minutes thus far to describe it.

Ah, I don't mean to whine, and I mean to keep this webpage current with things of interest, not this sort of thing. But I feel I have to explain myself. This is a strange place, and a sick one.

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.