Shadow Boxing The Brockengespenst

Shadow Boxing The Brockengespenst

If a person happens to look up the word “brockengespenst” (a German word with dots over the o) followed by “francophone” and “teratogenic” in close succession, the Googlebot.motivator knows within a few degrees of accuracy that you are most likely reading David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” a hallmark of a certain modern ethos and accepted barn staple of the lonely collegiate esthetic… a.k.a. proof that you know big words and stuff… and/or, you have time to read.


‘Time to read’ in a 50-hour work-week society is becoming the new icon of success. Mercedes, Lamborghini and 50-inch rims have finally been overtaken & replaced in full by books (information), a subtle victory for human kind. Time is the new symbol of affluence. And rushing around in uncomfortable clothes with a chirping phone and a vibrating smart-watch, pulse-monitor, location-beacon to contend with are beginning to lose favor (style-wise) exposing a slow overdue rotation in the appearances game.

At first, it’s a compliment (this stuff I’m saying) to all involved… to the readers.


On a second look, we find the discerning reader started buying, absorbing, taking in, downloading their coffee, biscotti, batteries, news, and books (in bulk) online, in the privacy and relative security/obscurity of home a long while ago, leaving the freshly literate to fend for themselves…alone, in the physical book store.


Ten-dollar words, twenty-five dollar books, and four-dollar coffee is living a hand-to-mouth existence in a feeble clump at the sharper edge of town in realtime, today…right now.

The Corporate structure is legally obliged to repeat ANY last quarter successes, electro-prodding the repeat customer mindset to life on the cold steel ‘information age’ gurney. And while fresh flesh coming through the front door is surely a factor in the modern book store profit model, the book store seems to be locked into an unhealthy relationship with 14-year-olds. An ugly, dysfunctional, company picnic family portrait with “junior” hogging center stage develops on autopilot like the fresh grey blue and yellow fog of a Polaroid picture materializing, becoming a big mysterious box of books producing one allowable question…

Satin or Glossy?

The children’s books and restrooms are in the back, they take up 47% of the store, while CD’s DVD’s, wallets, dinosaur puzzles, stuffed animals, Legos, glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, key-chains, and blank goddamned journal books take up everything right of the equator … & we all know where the coffee is.

What’s left for the adults? (besides the coffee)

You can thank the Lord for “Literary Fiction,” but try to define it and you’ll wind up in the SELF-HELP aisle rubbing shoulders with that salmon-colored sweater guy wearing the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” hat.

There are three feet of “CLASSICS” & three meters of SCIENCE being threatened continually by the nine yards of SPORTS ‘tween the Great Wall of COOKBOOKS and the Leaning Tower of TRAVEL GUIDES.

The MAGAZINES (on angular display) up in the front of the store are the flat dead prisons of yesteryear, the slick volumes of unclickable martyrdom lay unblinking shoulder-to-shoulder with the sad clearance rack being swarmed by paupers like a renaissance musician’s apartment postmortem.

Somewhere in there… in the very center… is a book worth reading. Hunter S. Thompson parties alone in this thinly carpeted travesty, passed over for teen vampire love triangles and 6-week abdominal videos.

I love books, and I love book stores, but this has become something else, a long-awaited sequel to your favorite movie that starts up with thunder and lightning before you realize the timing is off, the dialog is Disney-approved, the supporting actors have all been replaced, the music’s too loud, and the director’s name is unpronounceable.   The organized nightmare rings complete when you realize (popcorn in hand/ass in seat)…

A picture is NOT worth a thousand words.


Jackets Required

 Jackets Required

I notice that we all repeat ourselves.

The repeat cycle a parent must initiate in order to incite the slightest compliance is amazing. “Did you bring a jacket? Where is your jacket? Go back upstairs and retrieve a jacket”…. Moments later we are all miraculously packed into the car, buckled up and rolling down the driveway when it occurs to me to just have a look over at my passengers (AKA the kids, my boys )……… sitting fidgety and blank-faced in the back seat, without jackets! …..It’s snowing out and these boys both have the natural survival instincts of lawn darts. I might be inclined to roll down my window and collect some snow off the windshield and flick it at them, but it didn’t make an impression last time. Instead I stop the car, put it in park and exhale slowly out my nose. In a voice reserved for veteran parents that live in the trenches, this is the monotone of muted frustration. It arises parallel to a complete awareness that we have now officially become our parents. “Take off your seat belts” and “go back in the house” and “go up the stairs“ and “get your jackets and then come back to the car so we can go to school and you won’t die of hypothermia… O.K.?”….I think I got through… They say “uuuuughhhh” in frustrated unison and without looking I can feel the eye rolls I am receiving through the headrest. Is this the stuff I am supposed to look back on with warm fuzzy feelings? Gee, I hope not. And no… it ain’t over, they return with something on…. a “hoodie.” A sad modern excuse for a sweatshirt which would have almost passed inspection, but no…These thin cotton masterpieces are not much thicker than a common tee shirt, loose knitted so you can practically see through them, useless….. I am forced to roll down the window and stop them in their tracks “go back inside and get real jackets!” and the facial expressions are officially in. “Dad’s an idiot.” Do I really have to point at the snow again? Do I really have to quote the temperature and verbally explore pressing environmental factors like freezing to death? Do I have to point up at the sky as snowflakes as big as corn flakes float down onto my boys and their un-hatted heads? ….Yup. Yes I do, Parents are robots. No doubt. They are made. I need to call my mom and dad and thank them for not strangling me. To quote my mother out of context, “You two kids are turning my brain into guacamole.” Mom has a way with words and “guacamole brain” is a real condition, I need to write up a research grant and organize a public awareness concert. I return home to find the front door wide open. It’s my fault. I didn’t actually instruct them to “close” the front door on the way out. Wouldn’t you know it? I do feel warm and fuzzy about these thoughts. How strange.



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