Archive for flamingos

Arts and Farts and Crafts Week 1: Writing – “Tar and Feathers”

Posted in arts and farts and crafts, fiction with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by hoagiefest 2020

We’ve decided to take a more “mixed media” feel to our artsy-fartsy challenge (once called “Writer Wrong”), so I’ve decided to call it “Arts and Farts and Crafts” in reference to one of my favorite films.

Next week’s medium is PHOTOGRAPHY. The theme is OUTDOORS. If anybody would like to play along, create some new art by Thursday following these rules, blog about it, and let me know.

For this week, our theme was based on an e-mail from my friend Nichole.

Peering through Venetian blinds I got my first look at the fuchsia demons. They perched innocently upon my Kentucky Blue in numbers approaching a hundred. Pink Flamencoes. Evil in plastic form.

In Florida there is a boy scout fund raising gimmick where they stick a lot of plastic flamencoes into some persons yard. They helpfully provide a sign stating “You have been Flocked by Troop#___” And then you are asked to “donate” to the troop in return for having the flamencos removed from your lawn.

Using that as inspiration, I freewrote this. Not great. I’m a little rusty, but I should be getting back into it soon. For now, I’ll just Frankenstein the pieces I like out of this and use them elsewhere.

Tar and Feathers

I pull down a slat in my Venetian blinds. Behind the blinds: nothing but a sea of blazing pink swimming with vacant, black eyes. Maybe a tree here or a rock there. Some grass–Kentucky Blue. But mostly just plastic pink flamingos standing ever-motionless with legs crossed in figure-fours. Fuschia demons basking in both the brightness of stagnant Frankfurt sunlight and the joy of blinding me.

The neighbors must be going batshit insane. The neon birds clash with the peeling, pale-blue paint of my ranch house like some terrible cotton candy concoction. Nothing I can do about it now.

There was a time when I could have stopped it. I would look through the blinds every morning to see houses and fields and sky and eventually, in some far-off place I’d never venture–mountains.

Then it was there.

Just a stupid lawn ornament. Some idiot kid probably stole it off the three-square-foot lawn in front of some ramshackle trailer from that community outside of town that’s filled with so many telephone poles it’s practically canopied with wires. It wasn’t worth the time and mental anguish to leave my house and remove the eyesore. Over the ensuing days, the collection grew and grew and grew and grew and all I could do was stare through the slats. Now there’s nothing else. Only pink.

There’s an old folktale about the creation of the earth. My mom used to read it to me at bedtime. Some ancient deity created the world in seven days. He started with the land, followed shortly thereafter by the sea and the sky. Threw some plants into the mix–palm trees and potatoes and those stupid spiky things that get stuck to your clothes. Then he created the animals, starting with the dumber amoebas and working his way through bark beetles, buzzing bumblebees, teeny-weeny mice, redheaded woodpeckers, bushy-tailed squirrels, raccoons with masks, until finally he ended with humans. Then he created Richard the Lionhearted, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Colonel Sanders, and your grandma. On the seventh day, he was exhausted so he took a vacation. On the eighth day, he realized that the teenagers had nobody to make fun of, so he created me.

No matter where I go, the hooligans always find me. The teens tire pretty quickly of the dumb old favorites–ding-dong-ditch, poo-in-a-flaming-bag, what-have-you–and come up with some dumb new favorites to take their place. They place fresh fish under the windshield wipers of my beat-up old Plymouth Breeze, so that when I eventually exit my house the fish are baked onto the window, covered with flies, and filled with maggots. No matter where I go. I seem to be made to suffer. It’s my lot in life.

I look back out the window. Can it be that there’s even more pink than previously? It’s hard to tell now. There are so many birds. Where are these things coming from? Kids must be calling all K-Marts across the country looking for damned lawn ornaments.

My pops used to tell me tales of amazing rains. Once, he told me, the world was actually covered entirely in water. Some vengeful god was tired of the sex and the drugs and the rock and roll, so he pissed all over the earth until everybody drowned. Then, one guy and his wife repopulated the whole of humanity. He saved us from drowning in water, but doomed us to an eternity drowning in overpopulation–an ocean full of incest-bred siblings.

My pops used to tell me lots of tales. Used to drink a lot of whiskey, too.

My refrigerator hums to me. I hum back. Passes the time. I used to sing, but I forgot the words. I’ve been speaking later and later in the day. Sometimes I don’t talk ’til maybe eight o’clock at night. Later. Never. Doesn’t matter. Not much that can’t be said with a well-placed grunt. Or a hum.

A rustle. Brief. Then longer. Louder. Longer. Louder. This is not a normal sound. It is not the humidifier; the furnace; the mice; the humming. This is papers shuffling–an ever-nearing taxtime accountant. The rustling gets louder and louder until my windows shake. Until my teeth shake.

Just as creation myths are made for every belief system, destruction myths are par for the course. I’m a little bit muddier on them, just because everyone in my family died before they could finish reading that book. Or maybe they just got bored around the part where everybody begat everybody else. I think the end of the world will have something to do with a team of horses, and a big fire.

The noise is coming at me now. There’s not much left of the windows, and not much left of my teeth. Feathers are everywhere, pink and glorious and beautiful and horrifying. And those eyes–those eyes, black as coal, judging me and my every thought. My face is bloodied and oozing from wounds I didn’t know I’d gotten. Maybe they’d always been there. When was the last time I looked in a mirror, anyway? Must have been years ago, shortly after I’d seen that first bird. The Alpha Bird. I close my eyes. I open them. I close my eyes. I open them again. The noise is still here. Nothing has changed. Nothing ever changes.

I close my eyes and open them one last time. I spy the door. I make my way through the noise and through the feathers, and I step outside.


Posted in fiction, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by hoagiefest 2020

I am writing again. And not silly blog-writing, either (although that will continue at my normal, leisurely clip). I’m going back to my training in creative writing and actually putting things down on paper.

I was inspired, in a way, by a lot of these weekly/monthly food challenges on the Internet (see especially: Tuesdays With Dorie, Cupcake Hero, Vindicate the Vegetable). If I had to fall flat on my face coming up with a title as clever as the above, I would call it something like “WriteRight” or “Write or Wrong.” Or “Writer Wrong.” What do I know?

Here’s the skinny. My friend Nichole and I are writing a piece every week in response to a prompt (which one of us originates every week). The piece could be a story. It could be a poem. It could be visual art. Anything. Just creative output springing from the prompt.

I decided to jump right into it and do a short story (or, I guess, a “short short story”). It’s due on Thursday, and by posting this I’m obligating myself to posting writing her every Thursday from this point forward, no matter what happens to this silly challenge thing.

Other things that are inspiring me:

Joli’s blog, which is full of fantastic stuff lately. Even the posts she uses as filler until she writes new stuff are incredible.


Violent Femmes’ cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Gnarls Barkley covered the Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” on their first album, and I guess this is the Femmes’ way of returning the favor. I have the 12″ single in hand, and the CD is forthcoming. The music is raucous and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. They’ve even managed to work the theremin–best known for kitschy ’50’s sci-fi instrumentation–into the mix. I’m not the biggest Gnarls Barkley fan (although “Crazy” was a fun, easily-digestible pop song), but I’m a huge Femmes fan and was not disappointed by this release. I’m also generally encouraged by the fact that they’re recording again after an ugly lawsuit between the lead singer and the bassist regarding music rights.

That’s it. Be back on Thursday-ish with a story about flamingos.