A Very Brady Homeland (the lost episodes, circa 1968-73)

 Arise Jan, Marcia, Cindy! Arise Greg, Peter, Bobby! Arise Mike, Carol, Alice!

Vbh.X.118: In Country

The soldier in the bush does not forgive. All is not well with us, not always – what do we know from love? To reach informed decisions among fraudulent sources; that momentary rapprochement with the species – after all it is our planet, in some ways, but we are only the people, our leaders, responsible adults, architects of our…

…the photograph of my mother in a drawer somewhere I never saw again…I know there is a center and I’m walking toward it: union of man and woman for perpetuation of…genocidal tendencies. If only it were simple as fallen cake. Blonde girls, dark boys; the servants ignorant and happy. Tiger lies among the lambs while we devour similar illusions. In love with youth and freaked out by corruption. The judges scratch out every line. “Be fruitful and multiply (but don’t be fruits),” and all this happens over Sitting Bull’s corpse (or some slain Injun under the cement). What we were thinking, that is, we must have known… in the beginning…

Vbh.X.119: Bobby and Cindy Emerge

And love abounds, again, to conquer all together now we’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, again, the letter, the word, can tear us apart: missive misconstrued, one must read between the lines, the meaning of the text must be resolved, that is, our children must be protected from the doors of perception bolted shut. All we wanted was a bond, a union. Nobody cares about us but us, though occasionally a Stranger rides from town to disillusion us. We search our pockets for a tip. Pennies later, Silver gallops down the street. Neighbors complain. Manure on the pavement gleaned by complainers for their gardens; minutes dry like raisins under ersatz sun. Divide them evenly among ourselves, chew twenty times in unison, swallow, like a family, for real, this time…

Vbh.X.120: Mike and Carol Remember

The children were playing while you mowed the lawn. Cut-grass memories of milk; recipes for drinks with mint; cakes colored like moods. Youth isn’t forever, it is now the time to make things. Can you concoct gourmet cuisine while designing your bedroom to appease Pat Nixon? If so, don’t bother me. I value comfort over pretence, lifestyle over life for style. Fruit salad,  garden-grown arugula, a tart or cobbler made from plums. Adam and Eve bounced from Eden and that spiteful land(lord) screaming, “Die!” and “Get ye jobs!”

We return to the garden, also to labor, but our work is pleasure. We find enjoyment in our skills. We don’t believe in peanut butter, per se, but we believe in peanut butter cookies. We believe in the inherent worth of stuff around the house. We believe in using stuff to construct other stuff. Food is not for thought, food is thought. We adapt to the fickle appetites of children. We don’t demand roses without thorns, but we prefer them, and though this is “The Information Age,” not all information is of our age. Sometimes it’s good to work with wood. Sometimes “going digital” means working with your hands to build an edifice worth overtones of Maxfield Parish, incest…

Vbh.X.121: Greg and Marcia lost in the Black Forest, Malibu, Muscle Beach

A clean backyard bereft of possessions. Left to our own, we lived on magic. Pain beyond description. Plummeting gut-feeling of “to have, but-not-enough.” Trail of bread-crumbs, sweets, that bird we saw, an instant. Mother said, “No, no…”

We wanted to behave. So difficult now, after the years, to recapture rage. No matter what happened, forces beyond our control – addiction, attachment, recipe for disaster. Only sacrifice, pulp from the heart, will make us new again, that kind of soft, sentimental tolerance.  Day-to-day awareness of your you. Again, it’s hard to go back, even in trance. Blood rivalries, fantasies of dominance, submission…but there were reference points, a general context.

Actions mattered, or so we believed. A family, an institution. Hierarchy – we at the bottom, out of control. Our only option was to live…

Vbh.X.122: Peter looks out the window.

After the killing, respite: small talk, smokes, lock and load. We sought to eliminate the root of our misfortunes. The cop held the law like an umbrella. Belief in magic powders. Mother came back from the dead to fetch her cigarettes. Everything ablaze – the ranch house, the backyard. Children threw textbooks at the fire. Why can’t we be healthy? That is, released from our addictions: masturbatory visions of his sisters naked “what about your homework?” but we’d already studied that dull certainty what more could they want of us? fighter planes flew overhead on secret missions overseas respect the might of the Nation be thankful our problems have been (thus far) trivial bright future, tons of it, so long as we stay very, very young…

Vbh.X.123: Cindy’s Big Audition

The performance yielded no salvation. Not even God would attend. When we were young, we sang without afflatus. Money came. Mary Pickford curls. Eloquence matters. Your big eyes and cutie-pie smile – who could resist? All that fades. We thought children mattered, that is, it mattered to be clean. There could be no conflict, no ashes to ashes, no dig your own ditch, kneel, await bullet smash warm balloon skull…

Vbh.X.124: Greg and Peter leave the house, but return in time for dinner.

Gut-feeling of doom. Seemingly, all is well: refrigerator stocked with the usual fare; nevertheless, we’re hungry. The newspaper arrives on time each morning. Cheerleaders bare tasty thighs, encourage us onward alma mater smash that opposition, fodder for slaughter. The scoreboard counts the ways. Our (compound) fractured goals– snapped femur jagged splinter rip through skin and cotton. Preparation: sit-ups, push-ups, wind-sprint dead air of Summer, before we were strong. Accept the ball and run with it. Wanted to lie down and sleep, right there, on the grass but home is no place for quitters. Water and oranges; whistles, grunts, cheers. Our  mothers brought us lemonade and tea. The soft life. Promises. Our first great leap toward pussy…

Vbh.X.125: Marcia! Marcia! Marcia! and Greg dreams…

Not everyone is innocent. Nightmares of goose-stepping marauders. A single pubic hair curled out from her bikini. She isn’t of our blood, merely our brood. Rebel within, but to cringe like that, to bow…Papa, papa – strike me! Kill the father, take the girls, erect a statue. Not easy to deal with cascades of desire. Concentrate on work. The day will come when we will leave this place, our faculties intact. Such a small garden for youth to unfold, yet, we are told, we will have memories. We look to the future but one day we will look back at the past and doctor it according to our needs. So we are told. I believe in neither the future, nor the past, only the tits next door, burgeoning, blossoming.  Flower metaphors old-fashioned, but pertinent. Throwing tennis balls at the garage door, practicing my curve, not overly conscious of the Self. Now I am awkward at dinner, spilling milk. Silverware in sweaty palms. Small talk, furtive glances.

Some kind of…I don’t know…society…civilization, and we its discontents.

Father, pops, ‘dear old dad,’ says “Where would we be without our laws?”

Vbh.X.126: Alice Out of Uniform, At Ease

Not quality of life, surveillance. Epic flight. Spray fear on the fire. Lemme tell you ‘bout “the day.” Electric scent of ions. Panic in the air, or creativity.  Anyway, night comes. Spark the tube. Crack a brew. Relax.

Vbh.X.127: Greg and Marcia meet again

Superb thugs, elegant masters of brain judo. Has it been so many years? We grew tired,  traveling far plugged in, connected. I remember when…a dime to hear your voice…not the same after you graduated. People yearn for healthy snacks, cults beckon. Your thesis on thought control and mass society.

The media drone on and on. Still, we learn some things. I wasn’t afraid of the dark, I just preferred the light. Energy diverted. All that garbage in the meadow.

“Burn it,” she cried. We chose fresh air. She said, “You’ll rue the day”…

Conquering armies raided our kitchen. Afternoons of plenty. Paisley, flowers, suede. We watched our denim fade. Almost soul-mates, sharing the toilet and the maid. Ruthless hazing of neophytes. Your beauty saved us from remorse.

Vbh.X.128: Boys and girls in separate rooms

Napalm next door. Another channel. The family room. Potato chips, popcorn. Hand in her lap. Cathode mirror screen float leisurely on heated gene pool. Variant DNA – it’s kosher. Pump, squirt, moan. Logistics. Cards, cake, talk…talk…won’t endure. But to be certain. But to think. Our right to watch ourselves on television. All decisions, the important ones, blown. Absent a Cosmic CEO, we’ve run amok…

Vbh.X.129: Greg and Peter on the beach; Jan and Marcia wade into the vast Pacific

Grim but certain. Ghastly. We are inured. Weather reports predict a house of pain. The test returned positive: life produces life. But when we…the doctor implied there could be problems. What were they thinking, we think, as we scan the old photographs. We can never really know what it was like to live in that time, though we ourselves lived in that time. The art of memory cannot be learned. One must be born prone to illusion, a type of genius shared by all, at one level or other, but wait – I’ve seen that face before. That punim stirred the lava of my apprehension. But I was young then, like the face, which is young no longer in the world of mutability beyond film. Such instances of – what would you call it, delight? – make us wish we were dead…

Vbh.X.130: Family Trip

Like clowns in a small car, we formed special bonds, honked for direction. Stopped, interrogated, we produced ID. All papers in order. My brothers, my sisters. Mama, papa. Stale bread and cheese. The trout are dead. We whistle in the dark, afraid of beasts in this protected wilderness, courtesy Teddy Roosevelt, big game hunter, like Hemingway, but made of stiffer stuff. Olfactory rush. Nose like a raccoon. I smelled her hair. Pulsating glands. The price of gasoline. A memo from the President: search and destroy…

Vbh.X.131: Jan, Peter, Bobby, Cindy, on a picnic, laugh about the past

Scream as we may for ice-cream, we demand novelty, choice, butter-fat not withstanding. Cereal box promises. Send your name, address, favorite singer and, of course, proof of purchase. Reward you with amusing – never much good: snap-together tchotchkes smashed in a day, neutralized. Impatient for the mailman nonetheless. We fought over flub-dubs. Plastic, sugar-dusted.

Authority: malfeasance from the top. Trickle-down cascade of corruption. Buy our nutrients. Cherry crème formula to tantalize your tots. Just say “no” to dugs…

 

Vbh.X.132 : Carol’s “hot flashes” and mood swings

I don’t pretend to know how women’s bodies work, I merely own one. Next time we’ll go cruisin.’  I haven’t met a single…I don’t respect many…there comes a time…I’ve been meaning to…yes. Out in the world, the children, the broken whatcha-ma-call-it.  Hold me. I’m determined. I hate my lawyer, daughters, vows. Who ever sent me anything I actually wanted? Look at me. Listen. When it was possible to choose, I never – the station-wagon, the counter-top, linoleum, Windex, suitcases; ginger-beer and rum dark as molasses. Ordinary…plain…the sun shines only on stars. Dreaming of cigarettes a decade smoke-free. That boy who set the movie-house ablaze yelled “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and he meant it, and saved many lives. His mother growing old in the nut-house, the asylum. Stomach trouble, she claimed. Our narratives, our situations, subject to debate. The telephone won’t stop. Cheerleaders…firemen…a virgin werewolf scratching at my door…

 

Vbh.X.133: Mike drinks absinthe at the bowling alley

Too many, six billion, to reconcile with government, democracy, tax shelters, food and the rest. Pledge allegiance to a cloth. Hide our hearts with our hands and warble. Wave yet oe’r the land of brave red rockets. Relax girl, when it’s your turn, when it comes, you’ll be dead forever. I too was lost, for a while. One mind reading silence of eternal inward. Dreaming of you. The question of morality. All that controversy about – chastised by the network. “Unhealthy relationships,” they said.

The bartender said, “Los Angeles.”

His companion sipped her very pink cocktail.

“Constantly,” the bartender said. “She can’t stay away…from trouble…”

 

Vbh.X.134: The family breaks; the children go their separate ways

I dreamed America put on weight. Huge calico frock. Massive flesh bucket of lethargy and tears. Liberty in her cups. Denatured nectar. The man on the train went on and on about markets, portfolios, preferred stock…

Another day the waterfall.

You… thing —“qualify, propose, negotiate, close”— you thing—of…

Letter from /dev/null: Once, I could barely walk. I lived, like a vampire, off strange blood. Too much suck, my hard-drive brimmed before I’d grepped to glean, sort, sift, digest; before I could process, to make sense clean, it was gone, all of it, extinct: memory. Loves distant as stars. If data travels at electric speed (so long as servers hum like clock-work: cleaned, tuned, Enlightened) what effect on works and days, and other presumptions of this, the Sixth Extinction? One day, new beings will evolve, perhaps from flies, a thousand eyes for every buzzing brain; incessant flight from this gross pile to that, no time to dream of dreaming. We’ve only got weeks, (relativity-ly speaking: so flies time). Why waste winged words in contemplation of the clock-tick? One must DO. Something. Ideally, perhaps, possibly, nothing at all. Yours, The Phantom of /dev/null Read other articles by Phantom.