Vintage Verbiage

28 05 2008

Q. What’s worse than a plagarist?

A. A time-traveling plagarist.

Close friends have been reading countless drafts of my nearly-complete debut novel, American Emperor, a pseudo-pornographic odyssey through the last years of the 20th century with an effortlessly awesome Manhattanite postmodern Caesar, Baligula (too obvious?  constructive criticism welcome), at its center.  And well they should re-read this manuscript in its myriad incarnations: it’s a burgeoning, blood-spattered masterpiece. The deposed and down-on-his-luck emperor resurrects himself as high society’s most divine pillar by establishing cutthroat professional “friendships,” ensconcing himself in über-expensive fashions to the point of obsession and gruesomely torturing those who may or may not have slighted him in the past, recording every tedious detail along the way.

Intellectual thievery, thy name is Bret.

All this work only to have the hacks at Random House tell me they see unmistakable echoes of a book published 17 years ago and want no part of the inevitable legal hoopla I’m inviting.  I suppose they mean my pending lawsuit against Mr. Ellis, who is recklessly abusing his apparent ability to hopscotch through history and, frankly, flattering himself by passing off my fictions as his.  I say: “fine!”  I will take this cad on by my lonesome.  How dare he re-write my happy ending!

Just the same, I have the feeling we might hit it off. 




22 05 2008

Yeah, I’ve been following this toga-wearing Upper West Side douche around, tapping at his windows, puffing out my chest plumage. Seems to freak him out.  Shouldn’t have gotten up in my bidness.  Why do you ask?

—Nero (With Nothing Better To Do)

This Is Going To Sound Crazy

21 05 2008

But hear me out.  It’s all true.  A goose has been following me.

No, you shut up.  I’m not insane.  Well, of course the encyclopedia is going to say that, but look at the facts! What?  I don’t have encephalitis, or schizophrenia.  Epilepsy?  I don’t even know what that is, but you can bet I’m free of it.  Do I look like an invalid to you?  Once in a very, very long while, I’ll have a spell and faint, yes, but that’s just the Falling Sickness, my Uncle Gaius says.  I don’t expect you to understand—it’s part of the regal temperament.

If I were crazy, would I mind being called crazy this much?  Would I protest so much against that characterization, or so strenuously?

Think about this: I don’t live in a psychiatric asylum of any kind.  Show me a schizo who has his own luxury condo on 105th and Central Park West!  Fine, alright, that’s true: the chateau style building I live in was once an insane asylum, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Straitjackets were bound to get left behind in the conversion!  I’m not necessarily forced to wear them whenever I foam at the mouth!

When have you known a mentally unstable person to be holed up in a Gothic castle like this?


Please, just listen.  I was walking in Morningside Park, which I can do alone, without assistants, thank you very much, and without raving so loudly to myself that people take pains to get out of my way.  I was blending in just fine, not that I have to make a conscious effort to “blend.”  I was feeding whatever you normally feed the birds (it certainly wasn’t sharp metal can lids or gravel or anything like that), when I noticed a goose bullying the smaller sparrows and ducks around and snapping up every tasty morsel of the very edible stuff I was tossing out.  I shooed it away politely, because only a whacko would use something as drastic as firearm to scare it off.  

AND NOW IT WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE.  All he does is stare.  But it’s horrifying.  He’s at the window right now.  Oh, God, if only the doctors—er, tenant association—would let me have curtains and drawstrings.  It’s not as though I’d use them to hang myself, if you can even do that with curtains and drawstrings, which I never even wonder about.

I fear I’ve made a powerful enemy. 

—Caligula (Sane)

Worked Stiff

12 05 2008

So it’s come to this.

It took defaulting on student loan payments for Flight Academy for me to seek gainful employment, if you can call it that. The temp agency sent me to what has to be the dumpiest PR firm in midtown—we’re in the basement of T.G.I.Friday’s (not a client, by the way). Forget about natural light.

Thus far nobody’s even told me what I’m supposed to be doing. All I can glean from my workspace is that I’m expected to sit and produce copious amounts of garbage:

And because they refuse to give me a building ID, the front desk security guard/T.G.I.Friday’s hostess tried to shoo me away when I came back from lunch break.

Also, it turns out I don’t get a lunch break.

On top of that, my boss, Arnie or Ernie, whatever, got up in my beak about getting feathers on the water cooler nozzle. That buttwipe can’t prove anything. He probably doesn’t even know that I lost my last job by blogging about my buttwipe boss.


After-School Extra-Special

22 04 2008

Perfect. As soon as I get to Manhattan for the season, I find out that this douchebag red-tailed hawk named Hank thinks he owns the place and routinely demands “tribute” from any “pussy” birds roosting on the island. What am I, back in high school?

Hank forces mortified human family to witness evisceration of beloved pet cockatoo

Here’s what’s up, Hank: we all know that inside you’re some crybaby brat that had a messed up childhood and craves love. Probably your mom preened you till you were way too old for it. Whatever. Maybe if anyone gave a shit about your emotional health we would deal with that. But instead we’re just going to keep telling you where the weak squirrels are hiding so you can pick them off without all the wingwork. We’ll cave to your every bullying demand, denying you any catharsis whatsoever. No one will ever love you, and you’ll die alone, so fucking alone, wondering why no one stood up to you and turned your life around.  Sad, right?

No.  No one will be sad.

A Hangover Worthy Of Bacchus

15 04 2008

Curse you, green fairy! Caligula, I always ask myself, why is it you must be felled by Manhattan’s every hot & trendy drink as if according to strictest schedule? Are you that much of a glutton for excess that you need to drink a dozen dirty pomegranate martinis when antioxidants have their fifteen minutes? Well, yes. And with absinthe in everyone’s glass these days, I keep waking up on the sidewalks of Chelsea in front of well-concealed club entrances, my body sore and spongy, my mouth tasting of blood and licorice and latex. The addiction, I think, has something to do with those lovely gleaming metal spoons used in administering sugar water to the drink—they appear benign enough, but just try shoving one into the human body!

Of course, the preparation of the cocktail is usually all I remember. I then descend into an amniotic haze so swimming and bright, you’d think I’d yet to be born. The Christian world should be so lucky!

Full disclosure: you will not encounter a woman this sexy or barely clothed while on an absinthe bender

Caligula’s DreamLog #1: Higher Education

9 04 2008

Ever since I had my professional augurer decapitated by my professional metalsmith’s headchopper (try predicting my assassination now, traitor), I can no longer look to the flight patterns of birds to predict my future. The only augury I remember from my days as a student is that seeing a lone goose means a friend will soon punch you in a sensitive area.

So I have taken to writing down my dreams, in an effort to understand my fate. Here are last night’s feverish impressions.


I am jogging, which is immediately suspicious, as I normally I pay Sextus, a slave boy, seedless grapes to exercise for me. Nonetheless, there I am, sweat streaming into my…am I wearing a sports bra? Good god. I take a moment to study the road I’m following. Paved, with lush greenery on all sides.

Suddenly I realize I’m a graduate student at the University of Florida. I’ve never been there, so who knows how these images spawned that conclusion. I pass a big abandoned-looking building, crossing a bare, weedy plot of land lined with decrepit dumpsters. I desperately want to look at the filth inside, but my body carries me further. Fuck that, am I right?

The University of Florida

My uninformed dream-version of the University of Florida proves surprisingly accurate

Now I’m walking up to an academic building, maybe for a class. In fact, yes! I’m there for an art lecture, The Body In Pain (1990-Present). I could practically weep with sadistic joy. Then I’m paralyzed by the fact that I don’t know any of the tan people streaming up the steps and into the building. Where am I even going? A beautiful blonde approaches me and introduces herself, as though I’m even going to remember what her name is! She’s impressed at my class list, and inevitably, flashes of experimental torture consume my thought. She points me in the right direction and trots off. I will find her again, I promise myself.

Just as she leaves an old southern professor comes up and explains, since it’s abundantly clear I’m unfamiliar with local custom, that now I’m obligated to ask this girl to tonight’s “Big Dance Formal,” or some such generic hootenanny. I roundhouse kick the professor, drag his body to the dumpsters I passed earlier, and heave him into one. I jump into the dumpster after him. Only when I’m inside, it’s the Colosseum, empty except for some garbage, used condoms, and the unconscious southern professor. I sit on his chest and wonder what was covered in the art lecture I skipped.

And then I woke up.


Our education is never complete.