I have outlived Elvis Presley and probably the Beatles, and yet I haven’t lived a morsel of what they were. The gods of Rock ‘n Roll have passed, faded into history, and there is no one left to worship their memory. The new reality is this: Charlie Cronic is the new King of Rock ‘n Roll. He twirls the dial and boosts the volume and he sings his greatest hits in the guise of Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Del Shannon, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, ad nauseum. He rules the airwaves with profound, nonsensical, wise and profane lyrics; up-tempo, pulsating rhythms, twangy guitars and pedal steel, sitars and tambourines. I am the listener, driven mad by the pickpocketed sounds of music, buried beneath his voice. It is the greatest hits of the damned, the banal choir of the endlessly haunted.
I want to paint him upon a massive canvas of black, where shadows are the norm and the color of flesh is dimmed by the black pearl of night. His hair, limp and dirty, great clots of grease and peeling scalp matting his once porcelain features. He was once human and fragile; he became a cartoon, and now he has become a caricature of who he once was. And me? I’ve become a mad, haunted painter, not much more than a finger painter, spreading colors with my hands, twisting them into surreal shapes and prisms of black.
I long for the sound of sirens and gunshots, police amplifiers and squealing tires. I have stopped caring, and yet I care enough to continue. I remain inert and yet I am desperate to run, to hide, to hunt for any vestiges of normality. I am pinned, I am glued, I am molded into the shape of this car seat, watching the miles fade away like optical illusions in a haunted carnival maze. The miles stretch out like gruesome arms, pulling me – pulling us both – into the maw of an open-mouthed horizon.
I have become so weak, so weak-willed, that I have surrendered to his miles, and yet I want to bludgeon anyone who gets in our way. I feel this inequitable anger and disgust for those miles past, this thirst to survive, and yet there is nothing to make it seem noble or even worthy. I have become an empty voice, hollow and fleshless. I want to be what Cronic was before his damnation, burrow into myself and shut down the lights and hear the purring in a dark, dark room.
Excerpt from Cronic – Coming 5/1/15