Archive for September, 2009

On September 13, 1837, Bobby Roberts of the Rockford Gazette interviewed Redgrass singer and composer, the Black River Bandit, uncovering the most remarkable facts heretofore gathered about the ominous musician.

“The room was thick with cigar smoke,” as Roberts later recalls the gathering, “and the Bandit would smoothly sip on his wine which was as red as the greasy bandana around his neck.  He wore his famous Red Army cap with presumable pride and maintained a jovial and remarkably sincere demeanor.”

“Intriguingly enough,” he concludes, “I could never get over his terrifying eyes.  They pierced through me like skewers of skepticism.”

The following constitutes the first portion of a series of interviews by Mr. Roberts.

BR: Good day, sir.

tBRB:  Yes, indeed.

BR:  I suppose the most suitable inquiry for me to begin with would be in regards to your name.  Where did you contrive your title?

**The Bandit was reluctant to answer at first, but then, complied accordingly.

tBRB: It began when I lived in Saudi Arabia.  I drove a camel at that time.  His name was King Solomon.  You see, they don’t have motorized vehicles in the Arab nations.  I don’t actually believe they have motorized vehicles anywhere, yet.

So, it was a fateful day at the market place.  I was buying tomatoes.  I picked out about seven, I believe.  The clerk never gave me a receipt.  They don’t have computers, as you may well know.  And the cad was too lazy to write one out.

As I was walking out, some stooge thought it would be funny to yell out “thief!”  I was only beginning to turn around when, before I knew it, I was smothered by a dozen burley Arabs, pounding me into meat pudding.

The next day, the judge condemned me to death, but only after public amputation of my extremities.  This, as a side note, was the same week when a bolt of lightning from the Heavens bludgeoned the Nile River, killing every fish in the world!  The fish began to decay turning the river black.

So, I was sitting in my dungeon, praying to the Lord.  “Lord,” said I, “get me out of this rotten mess!”  The room was dark as a moonless night, save a tiny crack in the brick wall.  The light coming through it began the glow so brightly that I could not see—temporary blindness, as it were.  The entire dungeon began to rumble like thunder, when, all of a sudden, the wall exploded!  King Solomon, my camel, jumped through the hole and just stood there, dignified, and such.

You see, I hadn’t showered for months and I smelled like hamburgers.  King Solomon loved hamburgers and he could smell me from miles away.  He, however, thought I was food and was seemingly disappointed when he saw me sitting there, in the nude.  They don’t clothe you in Arab dungeons, by the way.

I jumped on his back and we rode off towards the sunset horizon.  Before we made it, however, gunshots rang behind us.  The entire Saudi Arabian army was on our tail like flies on excrement.

I heard a loud thud and noticed that one of the goons fired a rocket at us.  Luckily enough, all of my guns were still on King Solomon’s saddle.  I turned around and shot the missile.  It exploded and killed approximately 38.3 of their soldiers.

An earthquake suddenly ripped the earth in half, creating a rather large canyon between the Arabian army and us.  We then rode off into the sunset, as planned.

I went into hiding in a cave with King Solomon for about 25 years, during which time I was wanted by every branch of world government, and every lonely lady on every continent.  The papers hailed me as the notorious “Black River Bandit: Savagely Dangerous; Remarkably Pale.”  I later heard that somebody shot a photo of me escaping in the nude.  The original photograph sold for 17 dollars, which was a lot of money at that time.

BR: Every source for the past 59 years grills you as a “Communist Menace.”  What is your history, if any, with the communist movement?

**The Bandit, at this point, grimaced so intensely that Mr. Roberts began urinating in his skibbies, out of fear.

tBRB: I don’t often disclose such information.  But I like you—not sexually, mind you.  So about 32 years ago, I sailed alongside the great fishermen of the Sea Gale Company.  We traveled all over the world in seven years.  A typhoon, one day, figured it was time to put a plug on our good spirits and smashed our ship into floating toothpicks.  I was sinking unconsciously towards the great blue grave when I was snagged by a 30 foot sea turtle, who was, in fact, heading towards the island archipelago of “Gui Gui”.  They haven’t been discovered yet, which is why you may not be familiar with the name.  I came up with it myself.

Whilst stranded on the island, I ate nothing but 30 foot sea turtle, which lasted me many years.

As you could imagine, I became quite bored and employed my time through a number of endeavors.  I toiled with wooden beams and built a gliding device that transported me across canyons, like some sort of pterodactyl.  But I don’t really feel like discussing my innovations at this point.

A year into my stay on Gui Gui, the cloudy heavens parted with a remarkable gust of wind.  It smelled like aftershave and garlic.  And then a voice thundered: “Men will speak of a ‘Good Book’ in words of self-righteous piety.  Listen not to their voices, for theirs is the sound of excrement.  Thus, my child, I demand of you: speaketh in unfaltering truths.  Write a new testament to the glory!”

I could not believe it!  The Heavens smelled just like my grandfather.  And I loved my grandfather!

So I began writing—writing insatiably!  Voraciously!  Rapaciously!  After 49 thousand pages, I decided it was time to christen the book.  It would have to be something powerful.  Something memorable.  Something profound!  I called it The Manifesto of the Communist Beach Party.

As soon as I titled the book, a Bald Eagle came roaring through the sky, and I suddenly felt warm inside.  I was subsequently saved by the United States Navy, who were, to my fortune, scouting the island as a possible nuclear testing site.

Back in the United States, I consulted a publisher who denied my book, saying it was “completely gay.”  I actually thought it was quite a serious piece rather than a happy one; though, my weakened spirits were thoroughly crushed by his poor review.

Oddly enough, a gypsy fortune teller later informed me—in bed—that I had provided the rubric for a world-changing, revolutionary pamphlet that would be written by a fat, bearded man some 30 years in the future.  I laughed hysterically at her asinine prognosis and took my money back.  I did, however, pay her for the amusing prediction.

Since then, I have renounced any affiliation with The Manifesto of the Communist Beach Party.

**This concludes Part I of “A Saucerful of Truth”.

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BR: You have always been a critic of the tobacco industry, saying, and I quote, “There’s nothing more bourgeois than cigarettes.  You’ll help pollute the air; not even care if your hair smells like excrement.  That wretched stench cost you six dollars and fifty cents to help some CEO purchase his pleasure yacht, whilst your lungs rot.”

tBRB: I appreciate the reminder.

BR: Of course.  But that being said, I cannot help but notice the plumes of cigar smoke spilling from your lips.  Can you provide an explanation?

tBRB: Fifteen years ago, whilst working for the railroad industry setting tracks amongst a mass of the finest Chinese immigrant workers, I made the acquaintance of a young lad, who I shall, for matters of high security, refer to as Chin—short for “Chinese”, of course.  Chin taught me the art of Kiamikadshuku Sasuikoramashidiadupi, an extraordinarily rare form of Chinese martial art, practiced by only two people in the entire world—Chin and I.  One can, after mastering the art, pluck birds from the sky with one’s toes.  One can mutilate an entire clan of violent, uneducated morons—who spend their days burning crosses while wearing nothing but white sheets concealing their ugly faces—with one mighty flatulence.  One can rip the moon in three pieces, providing enough cheese to feed the great, famished-stricken nations of the world, with one’s genitalia.  Most importantly, and most relevant to this interview, one can, through the mystical art of Kiamikadshuku Sasuikoramashidiadupi, kill a full-grown, healthy male of any race with one’s moustache.  I shall not disclose the mechanisms of this powerful maneuver, for it can be treacherous in the wrong hands.

After three years, half of the Chinese workers succumbed to a great famine that swept through the region like some virulent disease—say obesity or some fast “food” franchise.  Around that time, Chin—my best friend, comrade, mentor in the art of Kiamikadshuku Sasuikoramashidiadupi, who read me bedtime stories on those cold, cozy evenings—was trampled to death.  On that perilous day, the boss, who, I might add, maintained the physique of a lump of lard, consumed nearly ten pounds of filet mignon sautéed in gourmet mushroom cream along with five pounds of caviar and nearly a gallon of the finest champagne brewed in the western world.  After lunch, the boss made his way to the restroom—a dingy, one-person shed a hundred yards from the rails.  Chin was, incidentally, on his way out as our boss approached the loo at a rather unfortunate velocity.  He ran fast for a fat man.  Chin’s body, aside from his distinguished moustache, was nearly unidentifiable post mortem.  I was hysterical, weeping for three entire weeks, which only happens under dire circumstances, such as the announcement of a new CBS sitcom.  I, shortly thereafter, left the railroad gig and committed myself to the art of train robbery.

Over the course of ten years, every company engaged in trade and commerce throughout the vast stretch of North American railroad met the cruel, brutal, savage, inhumane, barbaric, brutish, bloodthirsty, murderous, vicious, sadistic, wicked, evil, fiendish, diabolical, monstrous, abominable, callous, ruthless, merciless, pitiless, remorseless, uncaring, heartless, stone-hearted, cold-blooded, unkind, and dastardly sting of economic despair.  You see, the portly railroad boss responsible for the death of my close friend and comrade, Mr. Chin, had been promoted as Federal Treasurer of National Trade & Commerce by our brilliant and honorable Commander in Chief, Surgey Eldred—the man who pleasures himself to the thought of naked boys and nuclear warfare.

On my break from a long, hard day of pillaging and plundering on the railroad near a small town outside of Coppersville, Texas, I bought a cone of ice cream for two pennies.  I was furious!  With economic inflation, the price of a vanilla-chocolate swirl cone had doubled in two months!  Seething, I walked through the streets of Copperville ready to annihilate anybody who dared to look at me the wrong way.  I needed a way to calm my nerves.  I remembered the cigar in my coat pocket, which I snatched from the cold, frigid, lifeless fingers of a snowman in Iowa.  Somebody thought it would be cute to make a snowman smoke.  The conflagration of the glorious cigar was breathtaking—literally.  The way the acrid particulates tickled my tongue with tender, tasteful tactility; the way the leaves made love to my lips like a luscious cascade of splendor—I was in Heaven.  Until I heard a man cough behind me.

“Great Scott!” he ejaculated.  “How can you bare to suck on such rotten, rancid rubbish?”

I was hurled over the edge.  I turned around in a fit of indignation.  My eyes fell upon the hideous face and portly physique of my former boss—the stooge responsible for Chin’s demise.  I neglected to shave my moustache during my years of train robbery and managed to acquire a 12-inch handlebar.  Never having used the Kiamikadshuku Sasuikoramashidiadupi moustache technique that Chin taught me so many years ago, I decided that this would be a suitable opportunity to do so.  With the power of thirteen megatons of dynamite; the force of a thousand, four-million-pound asteroids; and the energy of thirty million solar flares, the man was transformed into a four-hundred-pound pile of meat pudding.

The following week, the Federal Government announced the financial meltdown of the entire railroad industry and its affiliated trade companies, along with the mysterious disappearance of the corpulent Federal Treasurer of National Trade & Commerce.  I knew it then and there, for it was as clear as a spring afternoon; a truth that would be as inevitable as the bad taste of next week’s teenage pop star; something certain, like the receding intelligence of humanity; as inescapable as the greedy, belligerent, insatiable, rapacious tentacles of American Empire—I simply knew what the future had in store: trains would, from that point forward, make for a pleasant yet unprofitable target of theft and plunder…

**the Black River Bandit paused, twirling the end of his moustache.  He took a generous puff from his cigar and continued.

tBRB: What was your question again?

**This concludes Part II of “A Saucerful of Truth”.

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June 17th, 2008

Listen!  Listen!  Listen!  And hear the agonizingly arrogant voices of fat, philistine radio celebrities.  Listen as they spew their rancid rhetoric and irrational ethos like some Third Reich parcel of propaganda.

Listen and experience epiphanic enlightenment!

Yes!  Listen!  And Learn!

Learn to love.  Love a tank.  Love your car.  Love oil.  And love to drill.

And then Drill!  And Drill some more!

Yes!  Drill & Learn!  Learn TO Drill!  And then Drill in ANWR!

Is this a shortsighted proclamation in patriotic pretention?  Perhaps!  But, God damnit!  Drill anyway!  Fuel this ghastly machine of cancerous filth!  ‘Tis a patriotic pledge to nationalistic sovereignty.

And O, what a marvelous proposal: decimate our wilderness and linger as a bourgeois cancer on this sad and solemn planet!

Then Listen again!  Listen as the middle-aged jocks jeer and cheer—eager to fill their bourgeois tanks with gasoline at two dollars a gallon!  Merriment!  For Lo!  They shall forever dominate the automotive tarmacs in a vulgar display of wealth and social status.

Then plug your ears!

Don’t listen to political queers!

Don’t listen and let us pretend that hydrogen fuel cells and grease engines never existed!  ‘Twas merely some obscure hiccup in some nightmarish dream!

But Listen as I say thus: You’ll only be dreamin’ of Sovereignty and Freedom so long as liquid gold flows from the generous veins of our glorious planet.  For our nation of flag totin’ freedom lovers shall forever suck the petroleum pecker of plutocratic politicians.


July 1st, 2008

A propitious notion resideth amongst us—

transcending mere chimerical frivolity;

a certain revolutionary splendor of scarlet magnificence—

wielding its hammer and sickle whilst breaching squalid fetters of oppression.

Capitalists trembleth in fear!

Bellicose Communists whimper, for behold!

Red Flags of Liberation shall flutter in the violent winds of proletarian might!


June 17th, 2008

Ye prince of the republic, squanderer of ore, brusheth they shoulder of proletarian dust—burdensome parcels thou art obliged to reckon with.  Ye hath naught but unwithering contempt for those of subordinate stature—filthy beasts ceaselessly toiling in loathsome burden under thy podium of aristocratic autocracy.

Alas, my Lord!  Ye scoffeth in an air of tremendous patronization towards the milieu of proletarian squalor.  The vile stench of serfdom!

And O!  This fire growing in my soul!  How intolerable!  Inextinguishable!  O, how I wisheth upon thee the woeful misery of indigence and poverty!  For only then will ye meet the true Burdens of Life.

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The room was thick with smoke and the kids were twirling their skulls like loons on LSD.  From the speakers, a river of dissonant melodies and other acoustically offensive hubbub—referred to as “music” by some—pierced through my ears like a dull knife.

On the opposite end of the room, I noticed a tall, emaciated looking kid.  His hair was poorly cut—deliberately, I presume.  I recognized him from an anarchist meeting I attended a month prior.

“Hey, comrade,” I said, extending my hand to shake his.  My arm and hand remained in this position for some time.  His face was expressionless.  Peering through his glasses, he seemed to have experienced some sort of brain trauma, or perhaps he was recovering from a lobotomy.  After a while, he reached up with his soft, damp fingers and delicately gripped my palm to complete the gesture.  It felt as if I had placed my hand in a bowl of cold excrement.  He did his absolute best to avoid eye contact.

“So,” I said, “I seem to have forgotten your name.”

He mumbled something inaudible.

“Come again?”

He managed to squeeze out a monosyllabic word:  “Sam.”

“It’s a pleasure!”

He muttered something else as he stumbled off.

After an hour nurturing a bottle of red wine, I was nearly brain-dead.  The group producing the horrid squawking finally finished and it was my turn to perform.  Everybody sheepishly clumped up into tiny, separate clicks scattered about the room.  They appeared to be entirely disinterested in each other’s topics of discourse, of which contained little substance.

“Good evening,” I said through the fuzzy speakers.

The monotonous murmur continued.

“I’m the Black River Bandit.”

After the first song, half of the room cleared.  The kids decided it was best to congregate in the back yard where the stench of urine was most prominent.  I performed a total of eight Redgrass numbers—mostly to myself.

For the next act, I figured I would join the herd and enjoy the evening breeze.  The cigarette smoke was thicker outside than inside, which was helpful in masking the stench rising from the puddle of urine enlarging in the corner near a brick wall.

A lady spoke to me.  It was the first time anyone acknowledged my presence.  Her voice was monotonous.  “Your music is different.”  The young, attractive lady released a pound of smoke through her mouth and nose.


She walked off just as a grinding noise filled the house inside.  The congregation immediately returned to the room to dance—or at least to do something that resembled dancing.

“Perhaps,” I thought to myself as I sat alone on a filthy couch near the murky puddle, “I should reconsider this Redgrass bit, and do what the other kids do.”

I ran home and wrote a new song.  I wanted to give it a title that really fit in with the art scene in Rockford—something hip; something acceptable; something as empty as my wine bottle; something saturated with the wisdom of a toddler; something the kids can relate to.  I named the song “Cigarettes & Girls”:  Cigarettes & Girls – the Black River Bandit

What do you think about my poetry?

Does it make you feel surreal?

What do you think about my half-assed musicianship?

The worse the music sounds, the better you feel

I care about my haircut more than I care about the world

Our modern age don’t need no prophets of peace

Just an army full of idiots who sing about cigarettes and girls

Do you think my guitar riffs are indie enough

To be accepted by the kids?

Do you think I’m vegan enough

To be a real anarchist?

I look like a bum, but I shower three times a day

I’ve got charisma of a brain tumor and an attitude that’s blasé

And our modern age don’t need no prophets of peace

Just an army full of idiots who dress indie

Who scribble on canvas in obscurity

We’re a modern age of artists who sing about cigarettes and girls

Don’t classify me, I’m individual!

Don’t lump me up with the rest!

I don’t associate with anyone

Who doesn’t call themselves an artist!

We’re all artists and we’re different than the rest of the world!

Although we drink at Starbucks, drive pickup trucks

And smoke cigarettes and sing about girls!

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