In 2005 I ran a game called AIRPORTATION for a couple of months.  These are some documents related to that game.  They were originally written on my livejournal, but around 2009 I locked and deleted my livejournal, because I was seeking employment and I figured it was counterproductive (most of my LJ was  gaming/fiction notes, undiagnosed depression, or discussion of how much I disliked grad school).

I think that this is everything.


 

SOMEWHERE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY…

As any American could have told you, America was the greatest country on earth. Its streets were paved with gold, its power grid was fed by clean and cheap nuclear fission. Vaccinations were available for all, everyone had a college education, and music — rock, jazz, blues, country, Western — rolled across the nation like waves on the shore. America built rockets to the moon and invented LSD. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Friends, I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Star Wars, Gunsmoke, Star Trek. Graceland and Disneyworld and Times Square. America had Elvis, the King of Rock, and Michael, the King of Pop, and America beat the Nazis and America had the Bomb and America held the Soviets at bay.

But now America is gone — sunk into the wine-dark sea, too good for this world. With it went peace, prosperity, and the Hollywood Dream. The Soviets spread across Europa and the Iron Curtain fell heavy from Ireland to Iberia, from Paris to Rome to Minsk. Africa and the Pacific Rim quail in terror: will they too be swallowed by the Collectivized behemoth, or will they stand fast. Whither the People’s Republic of China?

Both the Chinese and the Soviets hunt down the few remaining Americans. They say there used to be a big military base in Korea, and one near Saigon, but they’re gone, now. The tiny populations of Europan expats in Hong Kong and Manila might shelter a few disguised Americans; some may hide on the streets of Addis Ababa or Abuja. The bulk of the American population is missing, presumed drowned, but there are always stories.

So-and-so flew over a Sargasso of hundreds of American ships moored together in a vast floating city. Somebody saw a green New Las Vegas rising up from somewhere in Inner Mongolia, and somebody else said Australia was gone too and they were keeping it secret. The Americans built a Death Star and right now they’re in orbit around Venus, working out a way to blow up Communism without hurting any innocents. No proof, never any proof.

You are Americans. As far as you know, you are the last Americans. The USSR has an entire corps dedicated to hunting you down, and to evade them you’ve been traveling to one neutral country after another, pleading for asylum. No nation will admit you into its borders, and so you are forced to move from one International Airport to another, keeping one step ahead of the Soviets, trying to find a home.

* Take a chopper out of Saigon and ride a raft of milk cartons up the Nha Be river to hide in Cambodia!
* Try and fail to blend in with crowds of people who all have very similar hair colors, skin colors, and heights, none of which match yours!
* Flee from the Soviet officers tasked with tracking down the last of the Americans!
* Search out the hidden city of New America, floating somewhere on the Great American Ocean!
* Flail around trying ineffectually to communicate in very bad Japanese with people who speak very bad English!

SETTING: Each of the four sessions will take place in a different International Airport: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Delhi, and Tasmania, respectively. Player-characters may leave the airport, but only for short periods; the interiors of Japan, China, India, et cetera, are closed. All bets are off during the fourth and final session. Note that this restriction supercedes the normal Trollbabe rules which put travel destinations and locales squarely in the hands of the players. These International Airports are like small arcologies, with divers businesses and populations; q.v. D’Aubainne International Airport in Over the Edge

RULES: The game will use Ron Edwards’s game “Trollbabe” which the following modifications. Substitute “American” for “trollbabe.” Substitute “global magic and American magic” for “human magic and trollish magic.” Substitute “pop culture” and “American music” for the “found object” and “remembered spell” reroll opportunities.

CHARACTERS: Characters may be of any creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, or political party, but they must be from somewhere between August 9, 1945, and September 11, 2001, somewhere between Portland, Maine, and San Diego, California. Hawaiians, Canadians, and Confederates require special dispensation. Use standard Trollbabe rules for character creation. Please ensure your American has several goals, most or all of which could theoretically be achieved within an International Airport. NB that many things are possible within the spacious, well-traveled confines of an International Airport. NB also that while an American who speaks Japanese, Cantonese, Tongan, *and* Hindi runs counter to the spirit of the game, a bilingual world traveler is a happier world traveler. NB finally that weirdness and diversity are encouraged.

MAGIC: Fighting is fighting and talking is talking, but the magic systems require a little more explanation. Global magic involves contacting local small gods, spirits, elementals, et cetera. These spirits are omnipresent and each have a small, specific purview. They are organized in a hierarchy — I’m ripping off Exalted‘s Celestial Bureaucracy here. Through prayer, sacrifice, and promises of favors and service, these spirits can be cajoled into performing services. Their powers revolve around physical manipulation of whatever facet of reality is in their purview, but within that framework they can be very potent.
American magic is entirely different, and involves Culture, that ineffable quality which binds humanity together into a coherent whole within the noosphere. It exists wholly in the numinous realm of ideas, and while it cannot affect base matter, it can have tremendous effects on the mental plane: thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and drives are all within its power. The only physical changes American magic can work are upon the caster, and even then it’s more limited than using global magic to wear a loa. American magic is also more ephemeral; while the raisins conjured through global magic will continue to exist until they’re eaten or composted, personality changes wrought by American magic last only a few hours or days. The more drastic the effect, the more brief its duration.
Note that global and American magic do not often overlap. A shaman calling on the Coca-Cola loa could rot an enemy’s teeth and soften their bones, or bury them under a mound of shaved ice, while an American magus could use a Coke jingle to instill in them an all-consuming thirst only Diet Cherry Coke can sate, or create an illusory Santa Claus to distract. Or, to put it in D&D terms, global magic is conjuration and transmutation, American magic is enchantment and illusion.
Spirits are alien to the American magic schema. While a global shaman might summon forth Heaven-Under-Glass, the God of the Peepshow, and converse with it to learn what had happened in the airport strip bar the night before, the American magus would be forced to use more indirect methods, such as finding an eyewitness and plucking the secrets out from their mind. An American magus can create the illusion of conversing with spirits — pulling images of Lucille Ball and Top Cat and Ted Koppel from the ether — these imagos are empty and without intelligence; they echo lines from old television shows and a conversation with one is at best like an ELIZA transcript.
However, one way global and American magic synergize is by using the former to call forth a god and then, rather than sacrificing to it in the normal manner, using American magic to trick it into performing some service.
The main downside to American magic is that everyone using it eventually goes crazy. However, as everybody knows, Americans are crazy already. The only other group with anywhere near the mastery of American magic possessed by Americans are those involved in the Bollywood film industry.

EXAMPLES:

Global magic:
Conjure and abjure the god of chocolate-covered almonds to smite your Skittles-eating infidel enemy.
Pray to the local spirit overseeing a cart of janitorial supplies to provide you with a shave, haircut, iron your suit, et cetera.
Beg the Newsprint Elemental to give you the details of some relevant news item concealed within the huge variety of newspapers and magazines (many in languages unfamiliar to you) for sale at a newsstand.
Trade a hot meal from a god of soups and sandwiches for the sacrifice of a token sum of money.

American magic:
Kick your foe in the soul, knocking loose his sense of self-preservation and stowing it inside a handy action movie, thus inducing in him acts of suicidal recklessness.
Compel everyone around you to participate in a song-and-dance musical comedy number (and create the appropriate musical accompaniment).
Change the perceptions of those around you such that you appear to be a few bars of a Buddy Holly song hummed by someone nearby (making you effectively invisible).
Pour into your target the personality of Homer Simpson or Archie Bunker, stirring constantly such while the target overflows and gets personality all over the floor, what remains inside the target is a mixture of the original personality and your contaminant.

FAQ:
Q. What year is it?
A. It’s sometime between 1945 and 2001. There are many anachronisms; there is little to no Internet, but every episode of the Flintstones is available on DVD and reruns of Friends and I Love Lucy are on all the time.
Q. How long ago did America sink, or disappear, or whatever?
A. Not long, between six months and a year. Where the PCs were when they learned it happened, and how they reacted, and why they weren’t on America at the time are all up to them.
Q. How long have we the PCs known one another?
A. If you want to be childhood chums, that’s fine, or you could have just met. Regardless, as the last Americans, your stories are now inescapably intertwined.
Q. Do we have money?
A. Though Wall Street is long gone, VISA and AmEx and Mastercard are all still accepted by every ATM and most vendors.
Q. What happened to the US Armed Forces stationed outside the Americas?
A. They’re gone, man. Maybe where they went will come up in play, maybe not.
Q. What about Canada and Nicaragua and Brazil and Cuba and Mexico and Paraguay?
A. They’re gone, too. People don’t worry so much about them, though.
Q. Why hasn’t someone invaded Japan or Australia, since the US isn’t around to protect them from China et cetera any more? Same question, but for Israel. How did the USSR expand into “Europa” so far and so fast, and why Europe? Why not the Middle East? Why hunt down Americans?
A. Look! Behind you!

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
This Town Will Never Let Us Go, by Lawrence Miles. (War/Culture/Ritual)
Six-String Samurai. (Only one man could kill this many Russians)
Over the Edge, by Jonathan Tweet. (D’Aubainne International Airport)
Unknown Armies Second Edition, by Greg Stolze et al. (Postmodern Magic)
Trollbabe, by Ron Edwards. (Rules)
octaNe, by Jared Sorenson. (Psychotronic feel)
Hitherby Dragons, by R. Sean Borgstrom. (Killer McDonalds Ninja-Cashiers)
Something by Grant Morrision, I’m Not Sure What Yet. Possibly the Invisibles, Which Would be Kind of Ironic.


 

So there’s this American, she’s got a dog, she’s explaining to the Customs and Emigration officials how it’s a helper dog, you know, like a helper monkey, but a dog? For her seizures. Because sometimes, she gets seizures. And no, she doesn’t have papers for the dog. It’s an American dog. In America, dogs roamed free.

And there’s another American, this one has a mullet and a Cubs cap and a faded Wayne’s World t-shirt, he’s lugging a couple of large cases that might have, I don’t know, amps or synthesizers or heroin in ’em, and no, the Customs people aren’t happy with him, either.

The Customs people keep telling this other American that he’s free to go, he can leave the Tokyo International Airport and enter the city proper, all he has to do is carry everything through the X-ray machine, including those cannisters of film, and no, he thinks he’d rather just wait here.

In line — sorry, “on line” behind them is an American who looks Californian, which is a neat trick since not only is all California missing, presumed drowned, but also she’s not Californian. She’s barely American; she’s Upper American.

The fifth American is obviously underage, but that’s not an issue, since he’s travelling with a guardian. In fact the American speaks hardly at all, leaving interaction entirely up to the imago.

The Tokyo International Airport House of Blues
Orson Welles, Lich
Mononoke Hime Otaku Ninja Convention
Josef, Vlad, and Leon
Danger Man versus Secret Agent Man
And So Much More


 

Few have been more disappointed, or more disappointing. Of the Nephilim called Micah, who wore a robe of brass in the days of the Dynasts and taught Jesus Christ the art of Sorcery, this is the story I tell. It is not the story of ruin which led to the sorry state of this world; it a story of triumph and glory. Once triumph and glory were Micah’s hat and glove, but this story is a story about after that. Whether the story is true or not is immaterial; the spirit rises as the body decays.

On the first day afterwards, in a hillside village north of civilization, a boy with a flute played the sheep shorn. From the wilderness around the village came a horse dragging a dead man, who lay on his back and slid across the ground, staring at the sky and smiling a dead man’s smile.

The boy stopped his playing when he saw the horse, and ran it down without difficulty (the horse was a very tired horse, and the boy was a very fit boy), and began to search the horse’s bags and the dead man’s pockets.

“Stop that boy,” said the dead man, “or I’ll put a dead man’s curse on you.”

The boy wasn’t used to dead men talking to him, but the boy was a shepherd and knew life and death. “You’ll do no such thing,” he told the dead man. “You’re dead, and the dead do nothing but slowly rot.”

“I was alive and now I am dead,” said the dead man. This did not frighten the boy. “But I am dead and soon I will live,” he added. This did frighten the boy, and the boy skittered away from the dead man, and threw rocks at him.

“Stop that boy,” said the dead man, “or I will put a dead man’s curse on you and your sheep.”

The boy repented, and powerful scared he approached the dead man. He bent his head in supplication. “O powerful dead man,” the boy sang, “leave me and my sheep in peace; be gone from this place.”

“I’d like nothing better,” the dead man told him, “but I am at the moment dead, and cannot move. Does my horse have his bags?”

“Yea, O powerful dead man.”

“And in those bags, there is a tube of ivory wrapped with silver wire, with a cap which unscrews most cunningly?”

The boy looked in the bags, and found a tube of ivory wrapped with silver wire, with a cap which unscrewed most cunningly. Even the boy, who had spent his life on a hill north of civilization, recognized it as a puissant artifact and fabulous treasure. Dreams of wealth and fortune filled his shepherd’s mind.

“Do not steal my scroll, boy, or I will put a dead man’s curse on you and your sheep and your sweetheart, with her hair like a raven’s feathers and her cheeks the color of a summer sunset,” the dead man told him.

“O powerful dead man,” the boy sang as he held the scroll-case, “I confess such thoughts came to my unworthy heart.”

“Stop that boy,” said the dead man. “Never confess anything, that I command you. And you may call me by my name, which is Micah.”

“Yes, Micah,” said the boy, and he gripped the scroll-case still tighter.

“Now I command you, boy: unscrew the cap which unscrews so cunningly, and remove from within the rolled-up papyrus, but take care not to tear the material.”

The boy unscrewed the cap which unscrewed so cunningly, and into his hands slid a rolled-up papyrus sheet, which seemed too large and thick to ever have been stored in the lovely little ivory case wrapped with silver wire.

“Very good,” the dead man Micah said before even the boy began to say he had completed the instruction. “Unroll the papyrus and you will see a picture in two colors. Mind you do not tear it.”

The boy reluctantly set the scroll-case down in the dewy grass, and unrolled the papyrus. To his amazement, the papyrus, once unrolled, began to shake in his hands, and wriggled like a lamb that did not want to be shorn. He held it as tightly as he could without tearing it, but it slid out of his hands and bounced up into the air. When the boy lunged to catch it, he found that it had become a smooth hollow sphere of papyrus, with no seam or edge. The boy gasped, but did not tear the papyrus nor allow it to fall to the dewy ground.

“What’s the matter?” Micah asked the boy.

“It is round!” gasped the boy. “O Micah, truly today is a witching day!”

“Round? Round?” Micah pressed the boy further. “Truly is it as a ball, or is it round like a cake?”

“It is a smooth ball of papyrus, master,” said the boy, who had decided that calling the dead man “master” might be the wisest course.

“Truly it is as a ball?” asked Micah. “Do not lie to me, boy, or I will put a dead man’s curse on you and your sheep and your sweetheart and your god, for I know you do not follow the way of the Pale Christ.”

“Truly it is a ball!”

“Very good. How much of the map is red?” asked Micah. “And how much is blue?”

The boy studied the papyrus ball. More than half of it was neither red nor blue, but simply unpainted. Two large red splotches with small blue spots inside them dominated one side, and on the opposite side was a much larger blue splotch, with a red splotch adjacent to it and many small red spots inside it. He described it to Micah as best he could.

“So much red! So much to be Christ’s domain!” Micah said sadly. “But my mistake I’ve contained to half the world, at least. I will account this a triumph and a glory, when the reckoning comes, though in riding round the world I wore this body to a nub, and traded life for power. Still, life is renewable, and mine are the secrets. Boy, attend me.”

“I am here, master,” said the boy. He stopped fingering the lovely ivory scroll-case with its cunning cap and squatted next to the dead man.

“I demand to be buried in a proper tomb,” Micah told him, “with all my possessions excepting only the ivory scroll-case, which tempts you so greatly that you would risk a dead man’s curse to steal it. You may keep that, as payment for your service. You understand?”

“Yes, master,” the boy said, and immediately he felt a rush of air coming from all around him, almost lifting him off the ground and throwing him to the sky, but then it was over.

“Our bargain is sealed,” said the dead man Micah, “and misfortune much greater than a dead man’s curse will befall you, if you break it. I will come back here, in a few centuries, and collect my things.”

“Master?” the boy said, in confusion, but the dead man did not speak again.


 

Hong Kong is a city of contradictions, and its airport is likewise an airport of contradictions. No fence surrounds it; no tarmacadam airstrips mark it; no customs agents guard it. For Hong Kong’s airport is a conceptual one. Anywhere in the city might be part of the airport, may house a slice of the dream.

A deconsecrated chapel in a disused children’s hospital is its administrative office, nine times repeated at angles. Space is at a premium on the island; fifteen years ago the city council declared the only solution to their housing crisis to be colonization of the twenty-seven unused spatial dimensions (the existence of which was recently proven by a cabal of string theorists associated with the Georgia Institute of Technology and refuted by a likeminded associated of idealists from the academic towers of Poland, Karol Kalaivanan and his ilk). The subdivision and rezoning of the twenty-seven unused spatial dimensions proved a near-insurmountable task, but as the Hong Kong Zoning Comission’s Board of Trustees swelled to eighty-one thousand members, consensus blossomed like lilies on the water. Now the airport knows no bounds of geography, and it respires the city as a living man respires oxygen.

A single pair of landing strips serve the airport, replicated nine times apiece. Built of satin and corduroy, they stretch above the bay in seeming defiance of physics and good sense; like the bumblebee they should not stay aloft, nor support the weight of the massive metal birds who ride them. An association of mathematicians on sabbatical from the People’s University of Mongolian Science and Art (PUMSA) are two years into a five-year study of the phenomenon; they publish regularly in Annual Proceedings of the Molecular Study Society of Mongolia and its sister journal Ballai Transactions: Rapid Communications in Molecular Study.

From the landing strip the weary traveler will soon find himself within a luxurious hotel, conveniently located within the international terminal. Indeed, the incautious businessman may find his hotel inescapable; the great concierge and magus Jonathan Frakes (well-remembered for storied acting career) obtained his current commission only after humbly admitting his inability to flee the grand Hotel Jete du Beaumarche. The luckier visitor soon masters the trick of moving from one chamber of the airport to another, dispersed as it is throughout the otherwise-unused spaces of Hong Kong: an alley behind a nightclub might connect the Customs office (located on the roof of the International Library of Grains) to the international terminal’s finest freak show (on fine days, between the ninth and tenth holes of the Three Palms Country Club; in inclement weather, the grand ballroom of the Soviet Embassy). A visitor need not worry about straying off the beaten path; escaping the dispersed confines of the Hong Kong Airport is impossible. A trinity of ethnobotanists from the American University of Zaire (nee People’s International College of Angola) are currently carrying out a series of experiments to test this theory; your cooperation is appreciated and please don the provided eyewear and other safety gear in the designated areas.

 


 

 

ALL WE OWN, WE OWE

With the collapse of American power and influence across what remains of the globe, the Soviet Union reigns supreme as the only superpower (unless you count China, and China is half a superpower at best). From the icy fields of Kamchatka to the green hills of Eire, from frigid Murmansk to tropical South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics controls more than half of the world’s land mass. Much of the remainder is dismal Saharan desert or blighted lonely isle; none can resist the forceful pull of Soviet culture!

ALL WE OWN, WE OWE

Rationalists, men and women of science, the leaders of the USSR reject the concept of “magic” as absurd superstition. Fear the power of Americans over your dreams, and you risk yielding them power over your waking life. Magic is merely another face of religion, that pack of lies which keeps the masses under the thumb of a privileged elite. In the glorious communist utopia that is the USSR, there is no magic. There is no need for magic.

ALL WE OWN, WE OWE

However, in these bright dawning days, our ranks swell with the scienticians and theographers represent the brightest flames of Russia’s long history of philosophy, rationalism, and scientific inquiry. Rapidly they uncover new truths, truths long-hidden and understudied, about the world and the place of the reasoning man within it. The new field of study is called Psi by some, Soviet Magic by CIA propagandists, and Spatial Theory by its practitioners. It is the USSR’s powerful and inescapable answer to the challenge raised by the deceitful American shamans with their grotesque parlor-tricks. The Expanded Men and Expanded Women who have mastered Spatial Theory selflessly dedicate their lives to the greater service of the People, traveling within and without the boundaries of the Republics to promote health, safety, and orthodoxy.

Spatial Theory rejects the notion that anything is any distance from anything important to it; indeed, that anything is a separate ontological entity from anything important to it.

As Comrade Khrushchev is in all our hearts simultaneously, so too we are all in the heart of our peerless leader, and by extension we all share a single heart, a glorious “heart of the people” that cannot fail or die or fail to beat, a single unstoppable engine of circulation with billions of chambers pumping billions of gallons of blood. So long as he remains connected to the will of the people, an Expanded Man cannot be injured or damaged: the wounds and illnesses disperse throughout the collective, diluted and made harmless to each individual body.

Spatial Theory rejects the notion that anything is any distance from anything important to it; indeed, that anything is a separate ontological entity from anything important to it.

As is one, so are others. Orthodox Spatial Theory denies the concept of distance between two locations of like function and form. Every library, every schoolhouse, every hospital, every airport is connected to every other. Only the criminal confidence games of American shysters and capitalist fat cats convince the poor worker otherwise. They take the worker’s money for “gasoline” and “transport costs,” an enormous scam draining the coffers of the working class worldwide. The Expanded Man knows that all are as one, and may step easily from Heathrow International Airport outside London to Tokyo International Airport or elsewhere. There is only one airport.

Spatial Theory rejects the notion that anything is any distance from anything important to it; indeed, that anything is a separate ontological entity from anything important to it.

Importance is in the mind of the observer, and the mind of the Expanded Man is the mind of a powerful and well-trained observer. What is important to us is ours, by definition within Spatial Theory. To make use of that claim to ownership is to command the fealty of the owned thing, to act at a distance. Ownership is a function of the body; truly no one but you can own your arms. So too it is with your possessions. The Expanded Man claims ownership, taking according to his need and providing according to his ability: he commands the motion of distant objects to follow his mental commands as surely as a worker commands his own feet. To understand a thing is to know how to destroy it; the Expanded Man may burn away owned objects, always according to his need.

Spatial Theory rejects the notion that anything is any distance from anything important to it; indeed, that anything is a separate ontological entity from anything important to it.

We are all connected.

THREE EXPANDED MEN

Leon — Leon is tall and nervy. He wears horn-rimmed glasses and a badly-fit black suit. His hair is in a pompadour, and he has a long wispy goatee and mustache. He neither drinks nor smokes. Leon looks like Gary Busey as Buddy Holly as Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu as Trotsky. He speaks every language, including Sanskrit, Hmung, Aramaic, and Enochian, with a Russian accent.

Joe — Joe is small and angry. He wears a badly-fit gray suit with a Mandarin collar, hair slicked back. He has a walrus mustache, and acne. He drinks. Joe looks like Joe Pesci as George C. Scott as Stalin. He speaks Russian, and English with a Russian accent.

John — John is of average height and serene. He wears rimless round glasses and a badly-fit black suit. He is clean-shaven, but his haircut is slightly shaggy. He smokes, but not just tobacco. John looks like John Lennon as John Lennon in a bad Vladimir Lenin disguise. He speaks Russian, and English with a Liverpool accent.

(In other words, the Expanded Men are Terminator-type unstoppable, with telekinetic, pyrokinetic, and teleportation powers, and implied telepathic abilities. Also, I was twenty-five before I found out the Wicked Witch of the West’s guards aren’t chanting “oh wee oh, we OH-oh,” but “all we own, we owe.” Can you believe it?)


 

 

Who’s our leader, him to whom we all swore fealty?

Only a conspiracy theorist would say he knew it was coming, and conspiracy theories weren’t cool even when they were cool. It’s luck alone that permitted the Disney Corporation to survive the unthinkable. After all, he lost so much. Disneyland? Gone. Walt Disney World? Gone. EuroDisney? Crushed under the booted foot. Tokyo Disneyland survived the initial onslaught and panic, but it’s a mere shadow of its former self.

Who’s the spider at the center of his company?

The true heart of the Disney Corporation is the EPCOT Center. Not the one in vanished Florida: the Extragovernmental Paraphysical Central Orbiting Technology Center, the Mouse Ears in Space, launched scant months before America went missing as part of the Disney Corporation’s transition to an offshore multinational governing normalized organization (an OMGNO). Redaction of claims to citizenship were mandatory for all employees. To be a Disney company man is to be truly cosmopolitan, a citizen of the cosmos.

Who’s the ruler of this band, his merry jamboree?

Now he recognizes no government or ground-based authority; in the vacuum of space he controls and defines his Culture more tightly than he ever could dirtside. Old Man Disney, his mind and body wracked by the cancer, lives in a sealed clean room, safe from earthly toxins. In his name the Disney Operatives scour the globe, seeking out misuse of Disney intellectual property and traitors to Americo-Disney-Family Values. Now Old Man Disney’s agents, who foreswore God and Country in the name of the Mouse — now they have heard tell Americans still walk the spaces between the airports — now they come searching.

D – I – S

See you real soon.

N – E – Y

Why? Because we like you.

His Name Is Walt Disney!

They come armed with space-age gadgets. A cellular telephonic communications system frees them from land-lines and wiretaps. Hand-held electronic computers allow them to solve differential equations without a slide rule or even pencil and paper, store their names and addresses and notes. They fly ultralight helicopters. They reject crude magnetic tape in favor of optical Compact Discs and solid-state media, and their radios are AM/FM and transistorized. Their automobiles are strange super-technological hybrids of gas- and electric powered. I’m told their belts have grappling hooks and their wristwatches electromagnets and divers other widgets.

All these gewgaws are proprietary Disney Corporation technology; they will not function in the hands of an outsider. Operatives have been laced with biometrics, cybernetics, and trademarks: Disney’s science, which one day will make all this small world a better place. These devices are likewise powered by the proprietary D-Field Power field, a space-age energy broadcast from the Disney Lunar High Fusion Reactor Complex. The Moon is theirs. The future is theirs.

Some Disney Operatives practice American magic, but most rely on their trusty automatic pistols, their cell phones, and their bottomless expense accounts.

Walt Disney, EPCOT, the Mouse, the Disney Lunar High Fusion Reactor Complex, Earth’s Moon, D-Field Power, EuroDisney, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Mouse Ears in Space, Tokyo Disney, the Doormouse, Herman Melville, B’rer Rabbit, Christopher Robin, the March Hare, Disney White Whaling Resort, Ludwig von Drake, the Mad Hatter, Brutus, Ol’ Pete, the White Rabbit, Moby-Dick, Ahab, Chip, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, Minnie Mouse, the Great Gatsby, Mickey’s Pal Goofy, Mickey’s Dog Pluto, B’rer Fox, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc, Tweedledee, Tiger Lily, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, the Cheshire Cat, Sleepy, Ishmael, Daisy Duck, Gyro Gearloose, Jiminy Cricket, Horace Horsecollar, the Queen of Hearts, Clara Cowbell, Prince Charming, B’rer Bear, Captain Hook, Queequeg, Mrs. Queequeg, Donald’s Nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Tweedledum, the Blue Fairy, the White Whale, Rich Uncle Scrooge, Billy Budd, Snow White, Magica DeSpell, Dale, Starbuck’s, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Buster Keaton, Aesop’s Fables, Rabbit, Peter Pan, the Evil Stepmother, Stubbs, Alice in Wonderland, Americo-Disney-Family Values, and all associated symbols, phrases, characters, words, ideas, and the distinct likenesses or similarities thereof are TM the Walt Disney Corporation, in perpetuity throughout the universe. All Rights Reserved. 


It’s a lot of things, but it isn’t pretty.

I told you ’bout Strawberry fields,
You know the place where nothing is real.
Well here’s another place you can go,
Where everything flows.

Looking through the bent backed tulips
To see how the other half lives
Looking through a glass onion

I told you ’bout the Walrus and me man.
You know that we’re as close as can be man.
Well here’s another clue for you all,
The Walrus was Paul.

Standing on a cast iron shore yeah
Lady Madonna tryin’ to make ends meet yeah
Looking through a glass onion

I told you ’bout the Fool on the Hill
I tell you that he’s living there still
Well here’s another place you can be
Listen to me

Fixing a hole in the ocean
Trying to make a dove tail joint
Looking through a glass onion

(Lenin/McCarthy)

~Let’s boogie!~

Hehe, haha, hohohoho

Pauly Walrus, Pauly Walrus
The amazing thinkateer

~Wee!~

Pauly Walrus, Pauly Walrus
Everybody give a cheer

~Yippee!~

He’s modest, clever, and so smart
He barely can restrain it.
There’s so much generosity.
There is no way to contain him…
to contain him…

~Wow!~

to contain, to contain, to contain…

~Ewww!~

Pauly Walrus, Pauly Walrus
He’s a genius who just can’t be beat
Expanded Man, propaganda whiz
He’s the best darned guy who ever lived

~Americans are really gross.
Americans I hate the most.~

Pauly Walrus, here he is!


 

WALT DISNEY’S MOBY-DICKTM

 

The heroic IshmaelTM!

The loyal QueequegTM!

The tragic AhabTM!

The beautiful AgathaTM!

The hilarious duo StubbsTM & StarbuckTM!

And the evil White WhaleTM, Moby-DickTM!

 

Now at last this DisneyTM animated classic is coming out of the Disney VaultTM, available on BetamaxTM, LaserdiscTM, and Region 1TM Digital Video DiscTM formats.  From the classic wordplay of the “beefsteak and shared beds”TM scene to AhabTM‘s famous song ‘When Beholding the Tranquil Beauty of the Sea,’TM from the romance between AgathaTM and IshmaelTM cut short by pirate blades, from the thrilling climax as AhabTM completes his self-destructive quest and dooms his crew — it’s all here in glorious TechnicolorTM and remastered Hi-Fidelity SoundTM!

 

Don’t miss out on any of this seminal DisneyTM event!  From the grand ball within the EPCOT CenterTM (covered by D! RadioTM, the Disney TimesTM, and Fearon Television ConcernTM) to the twelve-part comic-book maxi-series tie-ins “I… Ahab”TM and “Queequeg and the Cannibals,” TM to the four waves of action figures, to the Starbuck’sTM Starbuck MugTM, to Disney’s Moby-DickopolyTM, to the 45-episode cartoon show Ishmael and His MatesTM, to the line of Disney’s Moby-DickTM infant sleepwear, children’s casual & activewearTM, plush toys, bedsheets, wallpaper, other home furnishings… this is the culturalTM event of the year!

But act fast, because all too soon Walt Disney’s Moby-DickTM will be disappearing once more into the Disney VaultTM!

Ahoy, matey!  ‘Tis the White Whale!TM

Walt Disney’s Moby-Dick is copyright 1939 the Walt Disney Corporation.  All rights reserved.


It would be beautiful, if it was not an airport.

It is a dome that rises majestically into heaven, all glass and steel and incandescent lighting.  At sunrise the colors of morning turn it pink and yellow and it is a blooming flower.  At noon the shadows fall away, and it is gleaming and white, a glass onion.  At sunset the colors of evening turn it red and orange and it is a burning flame.  It is one of the architectural wonders of the Second World.  It is Stalingrad International Airport, and it would be beautiful.

It is not beautiful, because all airports are one airport, and no airport is beautiful.  So to preserve its ontological integrity it has been made ugly.  Yellowed propaganda posters cover its walls, just often enough and just awful enough to ruin the effect.  Spills and mud are purposely left uncleaned until after stain sets in, and by degrees the once-golden carpet has become the color of Coca-Cola.  The men’s restroom smells faintly of fish.

 

In addition to serving cargo (human and freight) transported throughout the Second World, SIA is the headquarters of those torchbearers of Marxism-Leninism, the Expanded Men and Women.  Recruited from all corners of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the ninety-three Expanded Men and seventy-four Expanded Women train and refine their Doctrine of Ontological Unity here, a half-step from any airport in the world.

 

The still center of the SIA, the heart of the glass onion, is called simply the Chamber, because it is every room.  Ontological Unity pervades the air of the chamber, purified by stately engines reinforced with the constant maintenance by highly-trained Expanded technicians.

 

The Chamber is not, strictly speaking, part of the functional airport, and yet it is its heart; this ontological paradox secures it more truly than any bar or bolt possibly could.  Freed from the paean to ugliness which marks all airports, the Chamber is a marvelous place.  Art treasures from five continents decorate its walls, the birds sing a pretty tune, and there is always music in the air.  Its center — the very heart of the Chamber, and by extension the SIA, and by extension the USSR, and by extension the world — its center is a ring of beanbags, cushions, and other soft, comfortable chairs.  Every fragment of this whole and unified chamber is devoted to making its guests comfortable.

 

This is where Paulie Walrus interrogates Americans.


You called me last night on the telephone
And I was glad to hear from you ’cause I was all alone
You said, “It’s snowing, it’s snowing! God, I hate this weather.”
Now I walk through blizzards just to get us back together

America is gone. It is not upon this earth. Soviet submarines plumb the United Pacifico-Americo-Atlantico Ocean and find nothing. Disney Corporation Overflight Satellites beam questions over the troposphere and hear answers from no one. The scattered children of the mother country cry for the nourishing milk of Culture, but their calls are heeded. Was America ever truly part of this world? It seems impossible that one land could hold such infinite variety, the land of the Breakfast Club and the Maltese Falcon, of Star Trek and Taxi Driver, of Camelot and Watergate. Maybe America was always as it is now: the land of dreams, memory, Culture-spawned illusions. But maybe not.

We met in the springtime at a rock-and-roll show
It was on the Bowery when it was time to go
We kissed on the subway in the middle of the night
I held your hand, you held mine, it was the best night of my life.

Paulie Walrus dies by inches. The thinkateer’s link to the collectivized consciousness has been sundered at the taproot, and now his ontological integrity fades. Soon he will cease to be a man unlike other men, and slide headlong into anonymity. If you ask him, he’ll tell you only one thing could save him: the rugged individualism made famous by American cinema and rock music. If you don’t ask him, his plum-colored velvet suit will fade, his gentle kindness will devolve into brusque passivity, and his teeth will rot.

‘Cause everyone’s your friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you’re young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there’s just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me

The liche Orson Welles hungers. It used to be easy to find Culture to consume: it dripped from every vending machine and transistor radio. Culture pooled under studio apartments, grew wild in the streets and fed whole memetic ecosystems. It’s all gone now; only Orson remains. Orson is eternal and unchanging, forsoever long as they keep their filthy paws off his movie. Sometimes they mocked Orson, paraded him like an animal in front of their dismal cameras, begged him to hawk frozen foods and boxed wine. But now they are gone and Orson remains, and the core of Orson is a hunger only Culture can sate.

Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry, Co-op City, Katz’s and Tiffany’s
Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State where Dylan lived
Coney Island and Times Square, Rockefeller Center
Wish I was there

The Fearon Group began life as a subsidiary of Disney Philippines, Ltd., but then foreign investors bought out the bad old man’s stock and began Phase Two. When you drink Starbucks you participate in an ongoing ritual praising Tixeon, the obfuscating god that hides under the skin of cities and belches cockroaches at night to feed its favored children. When you drink Pepsi you undergo a mystic communion with Tixeon the Closed Gate, whose sigil is the Bisected Circle. When you eat Burger King you eat the body of Tixeon incarnated as the Resurrected Bull-King.

You wrote me a letter just the other day
Said, “Springtime is coming soon so why don’t you come to stay.”
I packed my stuff, got on the bus, I can’t believe it’s true
I’m three days from New York City and I’m three days from you

Four of the Expanded, John, Josef, Yoko, and Leon walk the road of the world. There is only one road, really, a spider’s web of footpath and highway that connects every building to every other, that makes every house the same. The usual ratio is one Expanded Man or Woman per threat to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but this is no simple ‘zine or bioterrorism cell. It may be the only chance to sop up the infestation of America that too long festered at the edges of the Second World. The enemy’s culture must either be left alone, to die its unnatural death, or else helped along its creeping doomy way. Soviet reason and truth shall shine through the corrupting shroud that is America, and socialist-elementals will rule everywhere forever and ever amen.

‘Cause everyone’s my friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you’re young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there’s just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me

Lottie the Human Log, Texan and professional circus freak, sleeps under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere with her friends and allies. She misses Tommy her husband, crushed under a falling tree, and she misses Teddy her son (lost serving ninety-nine years for first-degree murder in Folsom State Penitentiary). She misses Newhart.

‘Cause everyone’s my friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you’re young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there’s just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me.

The bad old man in the EPCOT Center, who once held Culture in his left hand and Merchandising in his right, feels constant pain. The tumors started in his lungs but spread to his kidneys and stomach. Every minute he’s awake is a minute of agony that none of the pills and drips and injections can stop. He should have died a long time ago, but he knows they need him. Without him, Culture would have dried up and blown away a coon’s age ago. He anchored it, tied it geographically first to the West Coast and then to the East. The glory should be his, as much as the blame. His great troubles began when he tried to extend America beyond its geographic borders, when he opened the park in Paris and one in Tokyo. The thick skin of America he sliced open with his plastic gift-shop theme-park knives, and Culture bled away into the sea.

It’s his duty to make things right. He can’t die until he finds Idlewild.


 

SOMEWHERE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY…

While Nat King Cole sings “Welcome To My World”
You request some song you hate, you sentimental fool
And it’s the force of habit:
If it moves, then you fuck it
If it doesn’t move, you stab it
And I thought I heard “the Working Man’s Blues”
He went out to work that night and wasted His breath
Outside there was a public execution
Inside He died a thousand deaths

And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they put Him in a suit of lights

Once upon a time in America… but it’s all America, isn’t it? For time out of mind the world has been a blender stirring myth. Epic on epic, Iliad upon Iliad. Moby-Dick and Uncle Scrooge, Nixon and Clinton and Elvis. Never-ending stories of adventure, romance, and glory. There is nowhere that is not America, no land beyond the green Pacifica Sea and the white-sand beaches. There is no space wider than the open range, where Pecos Bill and the James brothers spar. There is no time greater than Now, for Now is the pinnacle of human civilization. Luminous beings are we, not crude matter.

Since the singularity we have lived as gods. All that we want or imagine or remember surrounds, supports, and entertains us. We conjure up water from Huck Finn’s Mississippi River, and drink of it. We summon feasts from Alice’s Restaurant and eat our fill. We wear the hats of the great heroes: Captain Kirk, Rocky, Homer Simpson. The vulpine Robin Hood, if you’re into that sort of thing. Sometimes they forget they are not fictional; sometimes we all do.

It is a time (to the extent that time still exists) of infinite plenty.

In the perforated first editions
Where they advocate the hangman’s noose
Then tell the sorry tale of the spent Princess
Her uncouth escort looking down her dress
Anyway they say that she wears the trousers
And learned everything that she does
And doesn’t know if she should tell him yes
Or let him go

And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they put Him in a suit of lights

But now it’s all going wrong. We become jaded and surly, and our imaginations become mere echo chambers. The tropes and dreams of Culture are reshuffled, remade, reiterated endlessly, but never added to. Nothing new is being made, and slowly we are bored by the finite bounds of our infinite space. Ideas once enticing and solid are now deemed deadly-dull, painful, and unreliable. The food of the gods no longer sates our stomachs.

There is talk of Rebellion, and Democracy, but no one seems to know who to Rebel against, or what Democracy would do. The answer isn’t in the past, for we brought that with us, and the answer isn’t in the present, or we would have it already. The answer lies in the future; something must happen before ennui and entropy and mundanity collapse all our great works and crush our beautiful DVD dreams.

It’s all going wrong, and we all know whose help we need — the spider at the center of the web, master of the company. He holds Culture in His left hand, and Merchandising in His right. Once He was sickly and dying, but in His castle on the Moon he reigns supreme. He is our beloved Uncle Walt, the bad old man.

Well it’s a dog’s life in a rope leash or a diamond collar
It’s enough to make you think right now
But you don’t bother
For goodness sake as you cry and shake
Let’s keep you face down in the dirt where you belong
And think of all the pleasure that it brings
Though you know that it’s wrong
And there’s still life in your body
But most of it’s leaving
Can’t you give us all a break
Can’t you stop breathing

The bad old man in his diamond tower in Azimuth One, the Lunar city — which isn’t really located on the moon any more, because nothing is really located anywhere, not any more — mastered the majik more thoroughly than any other living human, made it sing and dance for him. He swept down and scooped out its brains a coon’s age ago, when the Formation was still being birthed, midwifed into existence and swallowing up all kinds of ideology.

Now his rivals are subverted or spread, and all the Formation kneels before him and radiates out from his castle on the Moon. The bad old man has become the Good Wizard, patron of the arts, father of his country.

He hasn’t been seen or heard from in these parts for years (to the extent that a word like “years” means anything, any more) but surely the currently state of decay falls from his inattention and absence. The time has come to pierce the gates of Azimuth One and make contact with the bad old man, speak of many things, and then bring back his wisdom to heal the broken world.

And I thought I heard “The Working Man’s Blues”
I went to work that night and wasted my breath
Outside they’re painting tar on somebody
It’s the closest to a work of art that they will ever be

And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled Him out of the cold cold ground
And they put Him in a suit of lights
And they put Him in a suit of lights

Reaching the bad old man will not be easy. The Briars surround Azimuth One, a vast sea of discarded fantasies into which every wrongheaded, obsolete, unpopular, or outré dream was thrown. Among the twisted roots of the Briars dwell strangers, enemies, and victims aplenty, with weird tastes and little reason to permit trespassers passage through their little patches of home. They hold no love or fealty for the bad old man, and will not look with sympathy upon the quest.

Even getting to the Briars is a feat, for between there and here is infinite Formation, the vasty reaches of American majik turned real, Word made Flesh or vice-versa. No longer beholden on the dreams of plenty, our fellow Americans look upon us and each other with mistrust and fear. They claim control over scarce goods, because they lack the wit to deny scarcity. We must not just pass them, but surpass them, if we hope to reach the bad old man.

We’re off to see the Wizard.

 


Comments

AIRPORTATION: More Than Ten Years On — 5 Comments

    • Uh, let’s see. In the last year I wrote another novel-length Community fanfiction, and then, finally properly warmed up, I wrote an actual non-fanfic novel, with characters and a plot and everything. To my knowledge at least two of the six people who tried to read the manuscript made it all the way through!

  1. I might as well add my two cents here and post the filmography of my character, the B-movie director I modeled on Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, and any number of other makers of horror/action schlock. See if you can catch the debt 30-year-old Mike had to David Foster Wallace OH I’M SORRY THE ENTIRE EXERCISE WAS A BLATANT COPY OF INFINITE JEST’S FAMOUS FOOTNOTE 24:

    http://mgrasso.livejournal.com/644686.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *