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Letter from America April 29, 2004
A Binge Too Far
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 2 of 3
Earlier last week, in the late-stage of a binge, when paranoia becomes the "balanced" voice of reason in your head, I grew obsessed with the notion that the "wrong element" was trying to barge its way into my neighborhood. These mega-rich Malibu aristocrats were growing decadent and careless, I reasoned. They didn't see the threat out there.

So I got into my brother's Audi, and started patrolling the streets, looking to root out loiterers and poor people, blasting Who's Next (everyone in Malibu listens to classic rock, so I figured I should be a good neighbor). I didn't want any have-nots coming into my parts and thinking they could loaf around. These people needed to understand the value of hard work and elbow grease, and to be happy with their lot in life.

I saw two stringy-haired dirtbag kids in black apocalyptic-rock T-shirts shuffling down the street.

"Hey!" I said, rolling up next to them. They didn't answer. "Hey, you kids draw any water around here?"



As a native Californian, I recognized their contempt and fecklessness as unmistakable aristocratic traits, and moved on.

Later, at a park on the corner of Grayfox Av, I blasted "Meet the new boss/same as the old boss" to a family of Malibu aristocrats throwing a Frisbee with their dog. I just wanted to let them know that I was keeping watch so that they could enjoy their family outing. They looked at me strangely, and I gave them a reassuring thumbs-up before pulling away.

Later, I spotted a Mexican woman standing at a bus stop. That brought me down. The bus comes about once every four hours here -- the Mexican servants bus in from the barrios, clean the messes that the spoiled children and the bipolar wives and the leather-complexioned husbands make, then they wait around for the long, hot bus ride back into the baking-hot LA basin. The gardeners at least have beat-up pickup trucks and vans to ferry them in and out. Sometimes you see the Mexicans waiting in the emergency lane of the Pacific Coast Highway, presumably for a bus or a carpool van. They don't show any resentment -- that's the part that always impresses me, and I can never understand why the same aristocrats who hire them always vote for the sleaziest Mexiphobic politicians. I'll give that more thought later, after I'm thrown out of this Cinderella carriage.

Everything was going fine here until yesterday, when I foolishly ingested one too many stimulants one too many days in a row. Like an idiot, I thought it was all merely a matter of volume -- if I just took a little more, I'd get over the metabolism-hump (which had grown higher) and find myself in crystal-clarity. But stimulants don't work by simple input/output mechanics -- there is something quantum about the laws of stimulants, so you never know when they'll affect you in strange and unpredictable ways. The more I gorked, the more blurry my cognition. Words were like sand bags. I had to stop. Then the panic seized me. An awful, dark panic. I was sure I was being betrayed.

I flipped on the television to divert my mind. On the Discovery Channel, there was a documentary called "Biography of a Corpse." Any reasonable person would have fled the room, but I thought that this was some type of trick question, so I stayed and watched. It begins off with a fresh, genuine corpse, some old man who had donated his body to science whom they named "Corpse 3024," lying on the grass so that the forensics scientists and documentary makers could time-lapse film a corpse's decay. Botflies, yellow jackets and other small, winged insects quickly swarmed into the corpse's open, one-toothed mouth, into the ears, the nostrils... I thought maybe the corpse was fake, but they dispelled that hope with tight close-ups of the orifices, the complex skin grooves and hair follicles beneath the nose, and the voracity of the botflies and yellow jackets crawling in and out of the mouth, and into the fold of his eyeball, squeezing between the blue-white eyeball flesh and behind the lid into some place I didn't want to know about. It was the swarming pile of maggots that poured out of the corpse's mouth and nose like some vomit-creature in time-lapse that finally convinced me to change the channel.

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