AxeMan journeyed to Woodstock in the summer of 1971 for the express purpose of returning his imaginary friend (see prior post) to its rightful owner, Philip Guston (seen in the company of Phillip Roth, at left). The two cranky guys were plotting a vengeful act against their arch-enemy, Richard M. Nixon. At that moment, it is also possible that Roth was brewing his own alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, a Jewish boy from Newark who would enter the literary world as an alter-alter ego with the moniker of Peter Tarnopol in My Life As a Man in 1974. About this, AxeMan knows nothing. Not even enough to ask. But now, as he begins to address serious identity problems, the time may be at hand. The clamor of his religious identity has already been broached. He, unlike Zuckerman, has been cast as an Atheist. And now he has another, far more complicated, piece of his identity to explore; a facet that The Creator has been loathe to entertain publicly, and certainly not to the degree that Roth has.
AxeMan had almost no experience with women. Just before returning his Imaginary Friend to his owner, he asked him what he knew about women. “Did you ever have a wet dream?” AxeMan said. “What’s that?” said the IF. “Not really sure,” said AxeMan. “I’d like to help you,” said the IF, “but I think Guston wouldn’t let me. He did like to tell this story about a 2000 year-old man. Somebody asked The 2000 who was the person who discovered the female? The 2000 said, Bernie.” “Who was Bernie?” AxeMan asked. “Haven’t a clue,” said 2000, “but as I understand it, one morning, Bernie got up smiling. He said, I think there’s ladies here. Cause in the night, I was thrilled and delighted.” “I don’t get it,” Said AxeMan. “Me neither,” said the IF. Recalling that story, AxeMan knew he had a couple of questions for The Creator.
The Creator is lollygagging about, reading The Paper, when AxeMan busts in on his morning ritual, “Look at this, AxeMan. What do you think it is?” says The Creator, carefully covering up the caption. Preoccupied, AxeMan says, “Who gives a shit.”
“No, c’mon, guess,” says The Creator.”
“A boat,” AxeMan says. A boat on its side.” The Creator squints. “Bullshit. It’s a Frank Gehry Hotel. Anyone would see that.” “Well, I’m not anyone,” says AxeMan, “and I still don’t give a shit. Besides, I have some serious questions.” “About what?” snarls The Creator (whom we will now call TC) who thought he had a pretty good post-ironic gambit with the capsized boat. “Women,” says AxeMan. “Have I known any women? How many? Have I had sex? Have I been married? Am I gay? Am I polymorphous perverse? What am I? I have a right to know. You wrote a whole book about me, with pictures, and the only women in it are my mother, my aunt and some woman I supposedly knew in California.” TC stiffens. “I couldn’t afford to print more than 62 pages. Make it whatever you want. I couldn’t care less.” “Liar,” AxeMan barks. “Ooh, touchy, touchy,” says TC, wondering WTF is polymorphous perverse? “You haven’t the guts,” AxeMan says. “You’re afraid to give me a sexual identity because people will think it’s you.” “Please, no one’s gonna read this. It doesn’t matter.” “So if it doesn’t matter, then tell me. I hate not knowing anything.” “Well,” said TC, “get an avatar. Be the best you can be. Or the worst. Just make something of yourself. I’m tired of the responsibility.” “You’ll be sorry,” AxeMan said. “I am already something else, and I have as much credibility as you do.” “Sure you do. Just run it by me before you go shooting your mouth off.” “Fuck off,” AxeMan said. “Nobody edits me.”
The Creator (TC) is buying some time. Maybe AxeMan wants to talk about sex, but The Creator has more pressing matters. For one thing, jurors in Philadelphia found Msgr. William Lynn (left) guilty of child endangerment. The defense counsel claimed thatLynn had made efforts to address the issues but was blocked by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua (right). In Philly, the court had heard how one priest joked about how hard it was to have sex with three boys in one week, after internal Catholic church documents were read in court for the first time.Secondly, the Brooklyn District Attorney charged four ultra Orthodox Jewish men of trying to extort a witness in a rabbi-sex abuse case. Now those are the kind of sex stories TC ‘likes’. If AxeMan thinks TC is gonna dish about the women in their life when all this other crap is around… good luck.
At the dawn of AxeMan’s Genesis, The Creator advised him; If you don’t have a myth, make one.
For AxeMan, a myth required an anthem, or at the very least, a mantra. When he heard Neil Young singing Fallen Angels, he listened to it over and over, line by line, on his iPod. “Is there anything he knows, that he ain’t said?” Anthem? Mantra? Does it matter? Does truth really matter? He’s been trying to answer this question, but finding his own truth (with a noisy alter ego in the background) has been no easy task. Why, just today, listening to the public radio analysis of the constitutionality of Obamacare, he heard a shocking sidebar. Apparently, there is a law called the Stolen Valor Act. The law stated that you can’t lie about being awarded medals or commendations during your military service. Made sense to AxeMan.Xavier Alvarez was a former local elected official in California who had been elected to the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, CA. He’d said he received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Marines. The dummy told the story AFTER he’d been elected. And not only had he not been awarded the medal; he had never even served! The uniform was fake (or rented).
What could he have been thinking? AxeMan thought Alvarez deserved to get a whupping. But the Supremes didn’t agree. Lying might be immoral, but if you gain nothing from your bullshit, it’s not a crime. The Washington Times went apeshit. AxeMan thought he remembered something. He went to google to jolt his memory. Yes! This was the newspaper founded in 1982 by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. AxeMan smiled to himself. Thanks to the Supremes, life had just gotten a whole lot easier.
The Creator gave AxeMan two books. “These are good ones, pal.” “Are they fiction?” said AxeMan. “Fiction, schmiction. There’s truth everywhere.”
“And lies,” said AxeMan.
Lying is a subject he has been rigorously exploring in his search for his own identity (he either is or has an alter-ego). Having finished both books, he wonders how the Brits got so hoidy-toidy, so Masterpiece Theatre, so to speak, given their violent history, especially regarding their insane and fickle religious compunctions. (more later about beheadings, Thomas Cromwell and his boss, Henry VIII). AxeMan, under TC’s orders, reads the NY Times every day. He pisses and moans, but in fact he likes it. For example, he just read a review of a book called The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. He will get around to that one, but first things first. He has also learned today that He remembers Sheen as a TV priest during his younger days in the 1950s. AxeMan learns that one of the criteria of sainthood is determining if, after his death, the candidate has interceded on behalf of a live person to bring said live person back to life. Nuts, right? But these are Roman Catholics we’re talking about. So two years ago, in Illinois, a woman gave birth to a stillborn because there had been a knot in the umbilical cord. He was not breathing. In the ambulance the woman started praying, repeating Fulton Sheen in her head, over and over and over. She had seen Bishop Sheen on Youtube during her pregnancy. Sixty-one minutes later the baby started breathing. The Vatican, in all its wisdom, is now considering sainthood for Bishop Youtube. You gotta love these people. (If you can’t get to the NY Times link without paying, the story is also here.)
Axeman is relieved to be done with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. He was sick of 16th century England and the Beasty Boyz, though he enjoyed both books enormously. Thomas Cromwell? If the recorded notes of his final moments are to be believed, he desired that his head and his heart be sent back to Rome (though the author, Hillary Mantel raises serious doubts in her afterword). So what was the takeaway? God save this, God save that, God save the Queen, God save the King, Repent to God, Swear before God, Relinquish your God, Accept this God, God can’t help you now, Kneel before God? And even after all that, they’re still at it, one version or another version of each other; for one another, against one another, for centuries, across continents, across oceans, across mountains; Protestants, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Mormons (In the Adirondacks? Wait – are they Christians? Jury still out). And why would it matter in 21st century America, especially to a Jewish-born Atheist? Well, in 1999, Barry Levinson made a movie called Liberty Heights. A scene at a lake in Baltimore depictsa sign on a fence; “no coloreds, dogs or Jews.” AxeMan was taken aback. He recalled the identical sign at Mooney’s Lake, an amusement park in Atlanta, almost in his backyard, where he grew up in the 1950s, at almost exactly the same time as Levinson’s movie portrays the moment. Oblique? Fuck it. Life’s one big circle jerk anyway.
AxeMan Crosses the Imagine’o Line. He and his creator have been having a difficult time determining who’s robbing this train. They have decided to create a users manual in the hopes of establish boundaries. It’s probably not working yet.
In the Care and Feeding of an Alter Ego, how many alter egos can one alter ego have?