Victor Goes to the Gym

Editor’s note: This was originally read at Salonathon: See Something, Say Something, on Sept. 15, 2014.

He has these massive estuaries, running with strangled blood, tracing ultramarine lines through his biceps and triceps and deltoids and sternocleidomastoids, writing like so many oarfish, massive, long, grotesque, almost … pornographic, these veins, veins in the anatomical sense but also the geographical, because his upper body is built like a topographical relief, all bulges and curves, mountains and hollers, shimmering with sweat, running with a thousand little rivulets atop the great, blue, starving-for-air-and-thick-with-oarfish rivers, and as he lofts the bar, groaning with big 45 lb. plates, first in the right angle, T-rex arm spasm of the skull crusher and then down upon his stegosaurus plate chest for a bench press, is like watching fearful, awe inspiring creation, the bulging branches of Yggdrasil forming before one’s eyes in violent nascence, his every rep dwarfing me via the sheer scale of his cultivated creation, like the first chapter of Genesis or the second of Deliverance.

And yet this Yggdrasil is shaking, quivering, not in time with the DEV or Black Eyed Peas or other tortuous anthem pumped from the pomegranate seed speakers camouflaged within the ceiling of the LA Fitness, and not from the sporadic rhythmic strikings which reverberate mirrors even through the spongy Venus foam of the floor; no, his universe, wrought of his own blood and tears and sweat and some pusher’s steroids, is trembling to the special, diacritic vibration of his own personal entropy, heat and friction—burned off in those rivulets, carried away in the suffocated oarfish estuaries—and ATP exigency devoured, devoured like the oxygen in those great blue veins which are currently jumping their banks with the exertion, with the quivering, approaching heat death of his universe.

I head towards the corner of the gym for the gaunt plum mats and my daily routine of 200 crunches, but it is full of planks and lunges and butterflyed groins, and I look back at the degrading universe, who is clearly struggling. This is plain to see—I see it—and yet I say nothing; no one else notices, lost in mirrors, in their own bodies or another’s, in the Mildred-like white noise swaddling of white larvae poking out from white ears like tiny white crustaceans, and as I watch silently he drops the bar, drops it straight down onto his face as if a blunt guillotine, powered by the massive porthole plates being held on to it by delicate little silver ribbons, powdering maxilla and mandible, sliding agonizingly—due its uneven fulcrum—atop ragged clumps of teeth, of fat, wet tongue, a slowly shearing pestle greased by blood and gum and fat, tearing through his cheeks like melted plastic, riding all the way down into the temporomandibular joint, continuing its slow slide until the plates on the short end of the lever mercifully cover his face even as they crush it into the grey, cleaning agent-soaked padding.

Everyone is running past me and screaming, tongues rapidly, wetly, paroxysmally clicking off of perfect white teeth, high and tight and pre-wrapped ponytails remaining perfectly in place, the hairs clinging to each other in this time of crisis; now bulging muscles—though none, I notice, as perfectly bulging, as lovingly, impressively made as Yggdrasil’s own—ending in ludicrously small hands and fingerless gloves struggle to move the bar, and they are all running—the wall of mirrors makes the horror seem doubled, like two crowds of Samaritans rushing headline at each other to be the good ones—and screaming through the terrible music, and I notice that the gym mats are completely free and I walk over to start my crunches, to create my slaughterhouse gutters. 

Upcoming week

It’s been quiet lately, but at least one new story will be up on the website this week. Hopefully more.

-B. David Zarley

1 note

Grit Lit and Vicious Cycles

You can read my interview with “grit lit” author Karen White for the Sun News here, and my review of her latest, ibid., and sans centipede imagery that makes the ending make sense, here.

-B. David Zarley

Listen to Kevin Gates and drink tallboys for lunch.

Dead Weight review

"There are flashy discrepancies both obvious and necessary, the most theatrical of which is Hinson’s visits to two estates, one illuminating to him in its burning cross, the other in the warmth of its Southern hospitality, both integral in giving a glimpse at the Janus-like face of Palmetto gentry. Charleston itself is routinely noted by its observer to be two separate worlds, one of stately, Old World grace and pulchritude, the other poor and run down. One revealed as haughtily aggressive, the other as eventually hospitable."

Read the rest of the review of Dead Weight at the Sun News

Tobacco Ultima ll Massage review

"In attempting to ditch the ripe-to-bursting pop sentiments of his band Black Moth Super RainbowTobacco could be considered to have only triumphed partially, if at all; while the juicy, baited hooks of BMSR are nowhere to be found, even the most dystopian, disjointed moments of Ultima retain an approachable heart, and for an album wherein everything is meant both to be ugly and assaulting yet immersive in that Universe Music, quais-meditative, zonal ensconcing way, one must imagine that this compromise had to be struck, and with the somewhat mutually exclusive goals of its disparate parts, that it could be found at all is remarkable”

Read the rest at The Line of Best Fit.

Website crash briefly crashed the other night; it’s back up now, but all the copy and articles will be slowly re-added to it as I have the time. Thank you.


Editor’s note: The following was originally read at Salonathon: I Get Around on March 17, 2014.

“I have never heard a Hawaiian word, including and perhaps most particularly aloha, which accurately expressed anything I had to say.” 

Joan Didion wrote that about Hawaii, and I am reading that in Hawaii, and I realize that Joan and I have in common, besides a profession, a nervous ipseity, an infatuation with large sunglasses and cigarettes as masks, and a waistline, a profound distaste for the more prosaic trappings of Paradise; do you know how many rainbows one must see per day before they stop approaching any kind of magical, cease innervating even the most juvenile kind of awe? It varies from person to person, but for me it was two; two rainbows, every day, tracing wet prismatic arcs across the sky, and never mind the literally hundreds—thousands, once you’ve been here as long as I have—fucking frowning at you from storefronts and facades, clothes and accessories and license plates, a ceaseless iridal horsewhipping; do you have any idea how cruel it is, to reduce what was once a spectacle to a commonality? Mahalo, motherfucker. 

It has been 13 days since I winged to the Big Island in a fuchsia tin can festooned with hibiscus the size of a bifurcated man, fighting the nerves—such a small plane for such a large ocean—with an airplane bottle of Canadian Club and a Xanax bar, landing in Hilo as innumerable tsunamis had before me; I stood at what surely must be the end of the world, on black sand before the black Pacific, and traversed the frozen boil of a Cimmerian moonscape, incandescent ribbons perched high upon the caldera threatening to devour and birth as is Pele’s want.

It has been 10 days since I dove a sunken Hell Diver off the coast of Maui for the magazine in 70 feet of water so clear it could be ethanol, and a week since the story was filed, the credit line rescinded, and my ride ceased to be paid for, which hardly seems to matter since room service keeps sending up the yellow fin ahi steaks I cut with my six inch Wenoka dive knife and six packs of Kona Longboard Lager; it has been seven days since I bought some cocaine off of the pretty director’s assistant from the set of Hawaii 5-0 that tied up the elevator bank all day—which can be a real bad jolt in Shangri-La—and six days and one night since I insufflated said cocaine off her stomach, licked off the residue, then inadvertently demonstrated the drug’s veiled administration routes.  

In the listless days since I have been wandering Kalakaua Avenue and the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in a University of Hawaii football jersey, black Sperry Top-Siders, and a non-prescription pair of Wayfarers, looking at the depth indicators next to the pools and silently despairing, drinking Blue Hawaiis bought on a non-existent credit card, and watching alien kingfishers hunt the water features while an edenic malaise set in. Sometimes the birds would exhibit their sovereignty, snatching one of the little ornamental fish; then they would rear back to swallow, and their great ebon bills, fresh water dewed upon them, would resemble how Diamond Head looks right now from the 28th floor balcony, an immense selachian shadow to better juxtapose the lights of Waikiki; Slouching Towards Bethlehem spreads wide and bat like and augers down to O’ahu, the ecru curtains billow like Kamehameha’s sails, and I taste hibiscus on the wind while the rainbows whisper jump. 

-B. David Zarley

For The Love of Movies

"Unencumbered as it is by film school hermetic or cinephile didacticism, freed to flow almost seamlessly, reel to reel, sans esoteric jargon and not requiring of its reader dense unpacking, David Zinman’s “50 Classic Motion Pictures: The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of” is a book on movies written, as Zinman himself puts it, by ‘a move bum, an addict, a guy who’s been hooked so thoroughly he sometimes sets the alarm for 3 a.m. when “The Maltese Falcon” shows up on the late, late show.’

It is the people’s primer, written in gasps and laughter, lacking the brahminic sneer of the Golden Age espouser and a refreshing love letter.”

Read the rest of the review in The Myrtle Beach Sun News.

The Savage Preponderancy of Art

"This, these 120-plus works, organized into stanzas and spanning four dimensions, is exhibition as Legion, as Leviathan, as Lil B mixtape; color, form and shape in biblical proportions, driving amphibian rains and sloughed scales and torn shrouds…"

Read the full review of William J. O’Brien’s exhibition at the MCA in Newcity.