Live From the Moon! (Part 2)

[Last of a two-part post.]

It was dedicated to my old friend Lisa Tepley.

The Encyclopedia of Necessary Atrocities started with a bang:

Encylo_cover

Dear Reader! You hypocrite reader!
—my double,—my brother! Your
eyes attend to this fragment,

an
ENCYCLOPEDIA
OF ATROCITIES PERPETRATED BY
INNOCENT BYSTANDERS
in the
UNREAL CITY

(and therefore told by the standard
victim six decades after the lost
generation convened in Paris,
delivered in the spirit of all good
dirt bitches’ BIRTH PANGS, post-war
pride and Charles’ love & XXs)

set forth in a modern tongue
with pieces extracted from within
the tow-linen coffee sack, as comical as
the tin mush pot crowning the head of

our mythical father,
JOHNNY CHAPMAN

Two voices in the wilderness
belting out that Shakespearian Rag
during the supreme madness of the carnival season,
a few taps of the toe,
an American Dream
and this,

A SLICE OF LIFE
(with a few seeds)

Presented for your
edification and amazement

by

M. Maupin
Author & Printer
1981

Encylo_textJustified text, illustrated drop caps, poetic pullquotes, black and white images and, well, the general look and feel of an encyclopedia. The back cover credits were, to say the least, the height of narcissism:

I would like to thank the following for their help: Ray Bohn, Ken Mackelbergh, Studio 1050…, Theron Hollingsworth, Ed Fisher, Jeffrey Dunne, Joseph Allen Prouse, Pat Ciernia & Art Whores, Ltd., the L&J Café, Jethro’s Saloon & Eatery, the Lakewood Logue, Mr. & Mrs. Paul Maupin, Jr., Fourth Grade Language Arts teachers who saw in me the new James Joyce, and all the myriad others who helped make these atrocities necessarily possible.

On May 16, in a hastily put-together planner-diary, I wrote:

A bad day that, because of a bad, unlucky circumstance, turned out to be okay, had a nice twist to it. First, the reason I haven’t written for so long—I get enormously tired at night and can’t lift a finger, much less write. All my money’s gone. Mrs. Weisbrod’s letting me pay her by mail. I spend most of my time writing, laying out and thinking about The Encyclopedia. Tomorrow I will complete the final draft of the last entry, typeset it and any other errors on Monday and Monday night have a little keylining celebration.

And then, June arrived.

There was a “Mark of Excellence Banquet” on the first Saturday of the month (location unknown, but the extant program reports a 6 p.m. cocktail hour with dinner at 7 and program at 8 p.m.). Executive Editor: Mike Maupin, listed near the top with Editor-in-Chief: Rod Gunsell—which is ironic, since I still have my staff resignation letter from earlier that quarter.

So … it’s likely I didn’t receive any award for excellence.

Graduation followed on Sunday, with another irony. I was a couple credits shy of the Associate of Arts degree I’d been working two years to attain. Still, I’m listed in the Class of 1981 roster. Go figure.

In a way it mattered little to me (the Family Project probably thought otherwise). I’d finally completed The Encyclopedia of Necessary Atrocities (Revised Abbreviated Edition). Coming in at a slim 10 pages (not including front and back cover), with reverse type and fish icon on the cover (swimming off-page on the back), I was proud of the damn thing.LiveMoon_CITD

And one of the last entries, with a cropped-in image of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, “Live From The Moon” on the Family Project’s late-’70s Sony TV, provided the intro to “Gizmo,” here in its entirety:

Gizmo: The weatherman shoots his finger at a low-pressure system on the map.

Late that afternoon the family got back from the baby’s funeral. Marjorie and Tom were a year and a half into their marriage and the baby, Christina, who saw so little of life, had been the couple’s firstborn.

Convened in the young family’s kitchen were the immediate relatives: Marjorie’s mother and father, her sister Audrey and husband Terry, their children Dave, Marcella and Virginia; Tom’s mother, Katherine, sat at the kitchen table and wept. Her youngest son, Marshall, in his late 20s, stood over her, his cold hands resting on her shoulders. Marjorie made coffee for everyone and the children ran into the living room to watch television. The adults mulled over their coffee and shot stiff glances at each other, looking for signs of consolation or hope.

In the living room the television blared away, amid occasional giggles from the children. Marjorie felt horribly uneasy and hollered for the children to turn the set down. Grandmother Katherine heaved faint, squeaky sighs. Still the television howled and the children did not respond. When it seemed that Marjorie would explode into the living room, Marshall jumped ahead of her and took charge of the matter. Instantly upon seeing him stomp into the room, the children leapt to attention and David rushed to the set and lowered the volume.

Little Virginia sat by herself and, with glowing eyes, loudly sang along with an advertising jingle for McDonald’s. Marshall looked at her briefly and, returning to the kitchen, thought, “I just want to say how very sad it is…”

Christina … just a baby. And John Lennon had left the planet. He was only 40.

It was up to the rest of us to dream big.

As they would’ve wanted us to do.

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~ by completelyinthedark on October 10, 2014.

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