This time last year I was busy squirreling away on a degree in Design Communication and found myself having to “design my own death”. This eventually took shape as a series of illustrations which ended in this album cover type illustration. In order to tie this all together I wrote a short description of how I came about my demise.
I reached into the dark depths of the cold water and pulled out the soft tan burlap sack, which had been thrown into the lake by two young men in white shirts riding as-new old-fashioned black bicycles. The large text in western serif font reading “Saturate before using” at the rim of the bag only added to my fear of danger. Jackson Browne’s first album was called Jackson Browne the lettering on the radiator bag was a misinterpretation by the public and remained a joke between the singer and photographer Jim Marshall, who on a trip to Joshua tree with Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell; who sat in the back seat of the black Lincoln Cosmopolitan with suicide doors penning “Big Yellow Taxi”, had completely failed in their peyote ridden haze to get any useful photographs for the album cover.
That was 1971 I was born in 1971 and they were living in laurel canyon, I had worked with a woman named Laurel Click who lived in Laurel canyon. This level of synchronicity combined with the fact that I could no longer feel my legs as I was being swept away down the meromictic lake did not bode well for the future. To my left I could see the stranded pontoon boat; owned by Pastor Inqvist of the Lake Woebegone Lutheran Church who had purchased it from Father Wilmar of our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Catholic Church only last summer. I plucked the pink-eyed albino cat off my torn eyelids. I could see his name was Zantzinger from his silver nametag, which was blinding me in the early morning spring sunshine. Forced her into the sack and threw it at the pontoon where it hit the deck with a sound only a sack full of wet kittens could make, their startled spiky heads turning to watch me helplessly drift under the dark water’s surface.
The heavy black leather steel toed boots purchased from Earl Krebsback’s hardware did little good fighting my way to the surface. I passed the bubbling bacteria between the fresh and saline waters, wrenching and gagging my way from awareness to helplessness.
The haze cleared slowly revealing two elephantine, white marble gateposts with hints of mother of pearl on their edges. On either sides of the monumental turnstile were two sets of Taliban guards. A tall sallow skinned man in a stiff white shirt and a shinny black badge reading Peter came toward me “Shalom”.
Coughing, choking agony, the stiff hairs of Laurence Bunsen’s salt and peeper beard stabbing into my cold, wet cheeks, the sent of week coffee and cigarettes in my lungs. Dull outlines of people standing, I could hear one say, “it’s too late”; as the zip passed my face; the sound of so many people crying was unnerving. Doors closed, engine started, Bob Dylan singing “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” played in the background to what was either a eunuch or an over sized woman singing out of tune.
Bright lights, rubber tubes, cold liquid formaldehyde passing uncomfortably up my… The soft voice of a woman said “Hey there, my name is Rachel Corrie, lets take a walk” I left behind my blue naked body and took what felt like the safer bet.
Though terrified Pastor Inqvist was relieved not to burst into flames upon entering Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Catholic Church for my ceremony. After all it was just outside he had purchased the pontoon boat for the annual East Coast Lutheran Minister’s Bean Feed. The even was a huge success until the boat ran aground on Agnes’s elbow leaving the conclave no choice but to wade ashore. Saturated ministers with furrowed brows, in earth tones and hushpuppies gazed at Pastor Inqvist before making their way. That pontoon boat had only ever brought luck to a wet sack of kittens.
J.S. Bach: Fugue in C minor rumbled from the rotary auto-play organ as the congregation gathered. People from the chatterbox café and the sidetrack tap, the Bunsen’s, Krebsback’s and the Lake Woebegone Whippets joined the somewhat out of place camera crews from Fox News and CNN. It was an unseasonably hot 60 degrees out, plaid shirts were carried under arm revealing off-white T’s, which would usually have been swapped with summer whites.
There I was sitting in front of the alter, in a black urn with a fugue playing on the auto organ. I had always pictured people dancing to New Order’s Confusion. Vampires, Traci Lords, strobe lights without Wesley Snipes and the silver bullets. Father Wilmar prepared himself to start the service glancing at my black agnostic ashes he remembered the words Father “wear a condom just in” Casey had uttered when he was a boy “It doesn’t matter what you do right now son! You were born a Catholic, you will die a Catholic”.
Martha Bunsen caught her reflection in the glossy black of my urn as the two men ran from the Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Catholic Church to their shinny red rocket ship, which departed with a strangely efficient, cold wet rumble.
After the rocket took off all that could be heard were the soft melodramatic tones of Jeff Hayward singing “The chances of anyone coming from Mars are a million to one he said aahhhhahhh….” From Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds concept album. The deep rumbling base and the sound of the unscrewing of large metal cylinders grinding from the open door of the wood paneled, metallic blue, ford galaxy with two as-new old-fashioned black bicycles on the roof rack.