’ve been looking out more and more windows lately, hoping to see something worth seeing. It’s not enough, you know, to have this rich and infinitely wondrous inner world… since that’s all solo, and sometimes you just want to riff on someone else’s theme. You want to maybe even just repeat these three chords along with the drummer for some number of bars—or maybe you just want to sit this whole number out. Dance while someone else plays. Richard fucking did it this time, so I don’t get to. I’ve got to write my section when there’s nothing left for me to say. Nothing relevant anyway, nothing that hasn’t been said in other sections.
     We’ve found our binding, I don’t have any more decisions to make there. I can tell you that I experimented with different degrees of tension, I can tell you about the various types of thread I’ve played with, only to come again to the conclusion that Irish linen thread is really the only, and I mean the fucking only thread to use for bookbinding.
     Okay, I’ll tell you about that. The refinements. But, for form’s sake, I’ll give you a brief rundown on our methodology here, with possible and occasional commentary on what a real binder thinks of our binding.




What we did at the very beginning was basically a repair of a double fan binding for single sheets. Except, of course, we weren’t repairing a failed binding. A double fan binding is done basically by locking all the sheets together, bending the pages one way, then applying glue to the spine and exposed area, and then bending the pages the other way and applying more glue. It’s similar to perfect binding, only much stronger, and if done well, can lay flat at each page. When that binding fails, the way to fix it is to cut channels perpendicular to and along the spine of the book, and then to either simply put glue in the channels or to then lay cords in them and apply more glue. This is what we did. Cut the channels, then glue, then cord, then more glue. For the first issue I did this one book at a time, clamping a stack of sheets between two boards and going at it with a hacksaw, cutting maybe 8 or so channels in each spine. The cord we used was usually the kind used for baking, though occasionally we had access to better stuff—which, incidentally, made absolutely no difference, so we stuck primarily with the cheaper baking twine. This process was extraordinarily time-consuming, but I got it done.
     After the cords were laid in and the glue at least mostly set, I glued the covers on, and lo, there were sporks.
     For the second issue, I built a press, a box designed to hold things exactly the size of a spork. It could hold up to 15 copies at a time, potentially cutting production time by a significant margin. The hacksaw didn’t work for that, so I acquired a neat little circular saw with a blade about the thickness of a hacksaw blade, and used that to cut the channels across the spines, a whole shitload of them at a time. Then the glue, then the cords, then the whatever and etcetera[1]. Add covers and there you go.
     Third issue: Rinse and repeat.

Perfect binding is the most imperfect kind of thing and I dont think it can even called a binding and its not somthing you should really be teaching people to do. The books made with perfect binding arent worth repairing anyway. Sure some of them have sentimental value but I think people need to care more about buying wellmade books instead of whatever junk just anyone puts out. If you have to repair a perfect binding I would definately not reccomend doing it this way. You should scrape all the glue off it and do a fan binding. If the person doesnt want to pay extra then you shouldnot do the job.

Issues 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 all had “floppy” canvas covers, silkscreened at Johhny’s shop in South Tucson—kinda southeast, kinda south-central… kinda I don’t know where, but we went there late at night and stayed there really really late and got them done. Then Johnny joined the Air Force, with the hope that he’d become a pilot and one day, during maneuvers over Tucson in his A-10 Warthog, happen over Convergys, where tech support and customer relations phone people for much of America resides, he’d just happen to completely lose his fully-armed mind and wipe out both locations. I asked him to please let me know beforehand when he was going to spontaneously lose his fully armed mind, as my place of employment is directly across a parking lot from one of the Convergys installations and I didn’t trust his aim. There’s also the sewage treatment plant a couple blocks from there and we’d all be sad indeed, and for so many reasons, if Johnny were to accidentally hit that. Both locations are still standing, but still we no longer had access to industrial-scale silkscreening equipment, so a change was necessitated.
     For issue 2.1 I attempted something monumentally stupid. I mean complex. Full-cloth covered boards and a traditional Japanese 4-hole binding, but sewn through the hinges of the covers, rather than the covers themselves. Not only did this consume vast amounts of time and material, those materials we used were horrendously expensive. We upped the price of the issue to try to offset it, but it turned out that 12 bucks was just too much to pay for a unique and wonderful hand-bound piece of book. Add that to a brief but disastrous liaison with a distributor, and we almost saw the end of spork. Not just as we know it, but altogether. We’re still waiting for payment on the 100 copies given to the distributor. Or, failing that, the return of the unsold copies. Not that I want them back, I mean, what the fuck would I do with them? But something would be nice. Money would be best. See, we borrowed money to get the stuff to fill that order, with the understanding that the first 100 would sell immediately, and that more orders would be coming shortly. We have yet to pay back that money. And brother, it’s a lot of money. We do things a few copies at a time, as our wallets will allow. It scales up a whole fucking lot when you have to do lots and lots of them all at once.
     Issue 2.2 saw an evolution of the binding for 2.1. The sewing was much the same, except that we did not run the thread over the head and tail of the books, as is done in Japanese bindings. The idea was to make it look more like what folk expect when they see a book, and to save on thread cost, as Irish linen thread, as you may assume, is kind of expensive. The idea for the covers was to use Plexiglas, and it seemed like a good idea, except the distributor misquoted the price, so it cost a lot more, and then the manufacturer stopped making the stuff anyway, so after the first 120 copies we couldn’t make any more. So I cut a block of linoleum to say “spork 2.2” and printed up a whole bunch of pieces of bookboard with it, and used them for the covers.
     To attach the book blocks to the covers I’d cut an endpaper that would extend onto the covers about two inches. We sewed through that, and then applied glue to it and pressed the covers to each side and, Hey, would you look at that? It’s another fucking spork!
     I got that method down. Brother, did I get it down. I like it best. And that’s what we did for issue 3.1 and issue 3.2.[2]




Okay, so you’ve got four holes about half an inch from the spine, spaced kinda evenly. Now what you usually do is start at the second hole, wrap around the spine, come back up and move to the third hole, wrap around the spine, then move to the hole at the tail and wrap the spine. Then you move up, reversing the process and passing the initial wrapping to hit the hole at the head, where you then wrap around the spine again, head back down to the second hole and tie off. If you also went around the top and bottom, on the horizontals, it would be a regular Japanese four-hole binding, but you didn’t do that, because this is spork and you’re trying to look all American and shit. Also you don’t want to look like you’re trying to be all obviously arty, since what you’re trying to do is just fucking get the book to stay together, and you’re trying to do it relatively quickly and inexpensively, and in such manner that it is easily reproducible for purposes of scientific corroboration.
     What you’ve got there is even tension all down the spine. But what you’ve also got is the use of more than twice the amount of thread (expensive thread) than you’d really like to be using. The wrapping around the spine gives it strength, but then, so does the glue, and you’re going to use a lot of glue. Do you have to wrap at every sewing station?
     No, no you don’t.
     Just do it at the top and the bottom… then in 3.2 just at the top. It still works. Everything still holds, as long as you made sure you pulled it tight throughout the process.

If your going to do a japanese binding you should do a japanese binding. Its done that way for a reason. You think that you can just floute hundreds of years of tradition and subtle refinements? You do less your not making it easier your doing a shoddy bnding. IMHO of course but maybe my O isnt that H bc Ive been doing this for twentyfive years myself and know what Im talking about. Its kids like you thatll be the death of binding once and all.

But then you end up with it being tighter at the top than it is at the bottom… how do you solve that? Reckon what you do is go traditional again and start at the second station [3], doing the wrapping around the spine there, making the tension at both ends pretty much even. But then when you do it you end up with slippage between the signatures at the head and tail, and that’s no good. No good at all.
     So, with this issue, what we’re going to do—and when I say “we”, you all of course know I mean “me”, since I can’t seem to actually let people help with the processes—is wrap for tension and stability at both the head and the tail. Everything else is much the same…[4]
     Everything, that is, except for the thing glued to the cover. Oh yeah, this fucking rocks. Donovan White, the guy who did the art for this issue, painted a big canvas for us, for the express and explicit purpose of that canvas being cut up into hundreds of pieces, each piece getting affixed to a copy of spork. When I first had the idea, everyone I mentioned it to said, “No way will anyone let you do that…” and I thought, Why not? Why won’t anyone let me do that? And then I talked to Donovan, told him the idea and he proved everyone wrong. He loved the idea, and immediately produced a painting large enough to provide pieces for far more sporks than we can realistically produce. It rocks, he rocks, and really, we rock.




In pulling this issue together we slogged through the usual morass of impossibly bad stuff, things we loved but couldn’t publish, and then the stuff we had to have. In this issue there are a couple pieces that really struck me—they seemed at once wholly original and insanely derivative. The voices seemed their own, but still evoked so many authors with whom I have an intimate familiarity… but still there was something, something I couldn’t quite figure out. What it turned out to be is that a couple of our authors this time are younger than our usual crop, and thus present to us the beginnings of our new voice. Them what have been shaped by our world of today, not the world of their university lit classes, but by the world that is the product of the writings of our contemporary authors, good or not, the ones being made into films that are then shaping the society of the world of these people a few years before they enter it… so they don’t have any reason to suspect that the world wasn’t any other way than this, this is what they know, this is how they see it, this is how they relate it. I don’t know how[5] to express exactly my reaction when I came across the first indication of it. It excited me without my understanding what it was I was excited about. Follow that with my recognition of all the authors that went into it, and follow that with absolute incomprehension as to how someone could so blatantly rip someone off and yet sound so genuine…
     I accepted the stuff anyway. Despite the fact that there was no room. I figured I’d just bump someone… and then I figured that hell, it’s our freaking magazine, and we can fucking well do whatever the fuck we want with it. So. So there it is. There you have it and there you are.
     More issues. I’ve wanted to quit so many times. But the more and more we do it, the less connected I feel to the literary community and the more I come to love what we’re doing. I went down to Crescent Newsstand before coming here to the Grill to do my drinking and writing, intent on picking up the most recent issue of Daedalus, but they don’t carry it. I used to buy it there. I didn’t buy it there today. So, wanting something, I looked at the other offerings, the lit mags and whatever, attempted to select one. The first one I opened to a story by an author previously appearing in our own pages, and thought, Hey! Maybe this… and then the story began:
     Paragraph 1: “It was…”
     Paragraph 2: “She had…”
     Paragraph 3: “It was…”
     And I’ll let you know, anything that comes to us that starts like that, well, it doesn’t get read past the second paragraph. Do it once, fine, all right, maybe you got a reason. Do it twice and you’re just being lazy. But three paragraphs all starting passive like that! Shit. Who the fuck are these editors? Have they no pride?[6] Yeah, yeah, I’ll usually read all the way through a story, even when they’ve shown me they’re not gonna give me any reason to read… but so you accepted something, still at times you have to help the author say what they meant to say. Not everything’s perfect. But just accepting stuff because it’s good enough—fuck, I’d rather put out an empty issue. Not that that would actually happen. What we’d get in that instance is an all-poetry issue. And that, maybe, wouldn’t be such a bad thing. We had an all-fiction—or at least “no broken lines”—issue. Mayhap ‘twere not unwise to reciprocate.
     There’s a girl at a table nearby wearing one of them Liz Taylor-esque ideas of what them Romans wore kind of dresses. All gauzy and clinging and low cut. She’s got one of those low-cut thongs on, clearly visible through the sheer fabric of her dress. I want to tell her it’s not working. But I don’t know how to tell her. Sure, fine, thong is great. She’s a pretty girl and it’s not unpleasant, but overall it’s just not working. Maybe it’d work better if there was more of an angle to it, if it didn’t throw such a harsh vertical when everything else was all curves… and maybe I’ve said all I have to say here. Maybe it’s time to get this issue out…[7]




ime out. Whatever. I do not understand what I've been doing, and I've been doing it for years now. Years. This… this—what the fuck do you call it? I don’t know, all I know is that it’s intentional, and despite the fact that I can see no overarching clear or definable purpose to it, I have been consistent. I have cultivated and put forth, beginning in 2000 and continuing to the present, a persona that, while bearing my name and likeness, and sharing many of the qualities people who know me generally attribute to the person they know, is quite unlike the person I know myself to be. In the beginning it was purely that I was bored and desired to be contentious, and I would argue from absolute and fundamentally flawed positions, knowing all the time that I was wrong, and never actually proclaiming myself to be right, but that despite all else, everyone else was, as well, wrong. My arguments were in the most part of a grammatical variety, and I would put them forth in wholly inappropriate venues. Signed them with my given name, but had no sense that it was actually me who was doing the writing and arguing; rather I felt that Drew Burk was an adopted pseudonym that merely happened to be spelled and pronounced exactly as was my given name. It occurred to me only later that not only was Drew Burk, as I signed it, a pseudonym, but that the original to which it obliquely referred was a flimsy and fantastical thing itself, not grounded in ours or any other reality from which to speak. Blandly put, I had no sense of self, and thus it never crossed my mind that when a person met me, that individual might associate the fiction, or the reference, to the person addressing them.
     As the years have worn on I’ve been at times overwhelmed by the persona, not able to effect any escape from the fraud, as there was nowhere to escape to. This is important only in that, some years later, I’ve grown tired of it. I’ll attempt here, briefly, to describe what I imagine I was doing.




Drew Burk, fiction editor and binder for spork, is not the most pleasant person. He’s contentious and critical, always ready to attack for any displayed failing. His rejections to several authors who submitted their work to his magazine have gained something of a legendary status in small sectors of the independent publishing world. I think he’s proud of this. Yes, he is. Very, almost inordinately proud, though it’s tinged with some amount of regret that his intended meaning went unheeded. Despite which, in all but two instances, even his most violent and vitriolic rejections received heartfelt Thank-yous in return. It should be noted that with regard to spork at least, he strove to be somewhat correct, if not exactly right. Perhaps, though, it was right rather than correct.
     The idea was to give an honest reaction to the work submitted. Not a simple yes-or-no, but to express exactly what whichever piece had inspired. Part out of respect for the idea of an author, that most did desire an honest appraisal of what Drew perceived them to have or have not done in their work, and part a desire to do what he could to impress upon people the idea that even though they may have written something, that did not necessarily mean that their writing was worth reading, let alone submitting to journals for publication. Most work falls into the category of “Good, but not good enough…”, about which there is really very little to say, especially considering the infinitude of journals out there, both print and electronic, who are desperate to fill their pages, and who are in many cases staffed by people for whom Good really is Good Enough. That this results in a self-perpetuating cycle of ever-increasing mediocrity causes all of us pain, but it’s not something that Drew felt he could do anything about, save for presenting work he felt was emblematic of an alternative. And even these emblematic pieces did not always live up to what he hoped, but there were always hints, signs, that these authors, if encouraged, would eventually produce the work which he felt their submitted pieces implied.
     The rest of the submissions fell into two categories: “Almost great and then you fucked it up”, and “Please God, STOP THIS NOW!” The latter would invariably receive a request that they look into other means of expression, often questioning just what the hell made them think they could do this in the first place, and why it had never occurred to them that writing was something that required skill, discipline, and at least some degree of command over the language in which they purported to write. Though fun to write, these rejections eventually began to take a toll on Drew’s sense of well-being, and the endless stream of awful work coming in daily threatened to overwhelm what little time he had for the rest of his life. But even in these cases, the responses to the rejections were almost invariably positive. Some were angry, but not at Drew, instead they expressed their wish that someone, anyone, had been honest with them at any point over the time they’d spent going so horribly wrong. Certainly that was at least a small mitigation, but coming always after, it did little to help in the overall. And that there was always something else, always more and more… he could spend every minute of every waking hour and never deal with them all. In the end the predominant emotion changed from anger to sadness, which then welled up in a renewed anger, directed elsewhere, which shall be dealt with below.
     The former category is the most painful. The pieces that fall therein often bear the reek of workshopping, of someone having been taught to screw up in just the way he screwed up. What does one do then? It’s like they’re tattooed. Big dragon right on the face. There’s nothing you can do about it. Even if the tattoo is removed, there’s still scarring. It’s never what it was, you can’t ever see what it was. There’s no fixing it. These attacks would be personal and very angry. Trash the piece, do something else, this is ruined… “Whatever the fuck made you think this was the right way to go…”
     I can’t bring it up. I can’t make Drew rear that head. It’s simply not there anymore.
     What it was supposed to do, the intent there, was to force these authors to confront either Drew or their piece and fight it out. He wanted to be proven wrong. He desperately wanted to learn, he wanted to know why these things could be right. The argument most often employed in response was: “Well, what the heck do I know? I only go to Columbia/Yale/Oxford/Harvard… what do I know compared to the sad little editor of a nothing journal out in Nowhere, Arizona?” And I don’t think I need to say that such is hardly a convincing or useful argument. Exactly the opposite, I think, proving Drew’s point that if the sad little editor of a nothing journal in Nowhere, Arizona saw such fatal flaws, then maybe there was something wrong with the piece after all. Many authors confuse publication with validation. I can attest from personal experience that this is not the case. Drew says what he wants in every issue, however he wants, and in many instances it’s said poorly by design—as is the case in this issue, where he sat down, ordered a beer, started writing, then drank his way through the rest of the section, running slipshod and careless through all the things he didn’t necessarily care about saying or not saying—and then it’s published. Standing as shitty and angry counterpoint to the patiently thought, careful words standing sentry at the opening of every issue.
     Sometimes the fights yielded wonderful results, but that was rare. And again, it was sadness and then anger. And we’ll get to that presently.
     When it’s not you doing it, even if he shares your name, you don’t care so much what people think. You’re just a tool to be used for whatever purpose you’ve been designed. And maybe you, you’re a hammer, but you’re not the right hammer for the job, so another is required.
     The question I cannot answer here is if this is merely a refashioning of the old pose, fresh for a new age, or if it’s a new pose altogether, or whether this is me, really discussing what I was trying to do. If we accept the idea that I really have no sense of self, then this surely cannot be me, as there is no me, but still I wonder how much of a pose this is. Guess we could say that whatever you do, it’s always a pose, just that some poses resemble you more than others.




Let us predicate all entire of the following upon the premise that children will continue to be born. And that we are not going to die today, tomorrow, or even next year, but that we are going to be around for some time yet to come…
     Contrary to the hysterical pleadings and dire statements of many arts organizations in our country today, there is now more art surrounding us than at any other time in… well, ever. Never have so many aspired as they do now, and never has there been such charlatanistic complicity on the part of so many Artists, colluding with museums and educational institutions, to foster an undeserved and farcical belief in unfortunate individuals as to their prospects as an artist. Parallel to this, and really the same thing, where once upon a time, a liberal arts education was simply the core of any course of study, it is now, and has been for some while, a course of study all unto itself, producing for us a disturbing number of people wholly unsuited for meaningful integration into society. And when they do integrate, as they must, the employment opportunities open to such are rarely such that any significant amount of their education is useful in any manner whatsoever. There is the argument that in the art world, as in the world of business, that it’s all supply and demand, and that if the work of any one artist is of sufficient merit said artist will find success. This argument is so stupid as to not deserve any further discussion, just as the idea of the business world actually functioning anymore on the laws of supply and demand is ludicrous to such a point as to be beyond laughable. And really, the art world and the business world are so inextricably linked (as perhaps they have been for a long time), that there is no meaningful difference between the two, as both are concerned primarily with product and brand dominance. And again, this isn’t news, only a statement here to make sure it’s been said, in case there are any who need for it to be said.
     Art is a thing, as oil is a thing. Both of which we need, but the need for which we could transcend if only sufficient effort would be applied. That effort is in some small fashion underway, but in a less than halfhearted manner, thus to maximize opportunities for capital and profit while the illusion of need still persists.
     Art serves as a filter or a magnifying lens by which we can make some sense of our senseless world. Or it did, some years ago. Even more years ago art served the world itself, not seeking to make sense at all, but rather to enhance and reflect—and yes, often the reflections and enhancements were all pure illusion, but yet they translated nothing. What we see in that art is what we want to see. We cannot know with any certainty just what they were doing, or why they were doing it. We can suppose, and we do, and the arguments never end. I’m probably wrong too, right alongside everyone else, but that doesn’t change anything.
     Art, in its capacity as filter and lens and translator, serves to further complicate and magnify our incomprehension of our increasingly senseless world. And with increased incomprehension comes the need for bigger and newer lenses and filters, more skilled translators. And so we see the rise of fiction. The rise of abstraction. Escapist means by which we can look away from, rather than dealing directly with, our incomprehensible world. We get new and newer skews and we feel like something, at least, has been handled. But how does a painting, a piece of sculpture, a book of poetry, or some escapist novel make for a better world? These things that force us further into solitary isolation while ingesting them, even as we congregate to discuss our own solitary impressions… isn’t it in some way better to strive together toward a brighter day, a more comprehensible tomorrow, rather than laboring alone to create things to light up—and with what frail light—small corners of our shared darkness?
     So much of this art we have is the product of pain and anger and injustice and horror, disillusionment, loss, loneliness, fear, incomprehension… What I want is to work toward the eradication of art. To eradicate the need for art. The work itself shows us the results, displays the symptoms of our growing sickness. I want to step above it and remove the cause. And no, I cannot do it, but I want to try.
     Because art is a business, it does not do to have the same style of incomprehension as everyone else. We can go to Borders or Amazon and pick up the accepted and established versions. What we need is new forms of pain, new kinds of misery, novel ways of taking you away from the stupidity of your existence. Go to a massive retrospective in Bilbao or New York or London or Los Angeles and chart for yourself the progress of our absurdity, our willful descent into ever-deepening pools of nonsense. No. We need new levels of degradation, new heights of fantasy, bigger and better ways of looking away, and so much the better if you can use some current atrocity or other as your springboard from which to leap further and further away from a reality we’re all blithely ignoring. Our artists compete to give us more ways to not understand.
     Even as we are busily not understanding, our need to be understood grows keener with each day. We need to make everyone aware of how we see things, and we scribble it all out alone in our caves rather than engaging with each other, so desperate to be recognized as we are, apart from everyone and everything else. So desperate to have an identity separate from our brothers, sisters, this solipsistic arrogance… the explicit statement that this is how I see it; and not just that, but this is how you must see it, else my self receives no validation and I simply do not exist. And that’s a load of crap. You are alone because you want to be alone. You are alone because you want to stand apart, to have an identity separate from everyone else. But you are not different. We are all like you. You are not individual. You manufacture this individuality from nothing to ensure that even if your existence is grueling and unrewarding, it does not go unremarked upon, even if only by a few. Your pain is not your pain alone, and if you’d stand up and go outside you’d see that yourself. We’re all hurting. It’s not okay, but maybe we can work together to see what can be done about it. We don’t even have to address this pain, we can just move on away from it. It’s not that hard, if you’re not doing it alone.
     Common struggle? Bullshit. We’re all trying to outdo each other, and we’re ruining everything with it.
     It is not acceptable that we now thrive on escapism. It is not acceptable that we have created a horrendous reality for which the only option open to us is avoidance and denial. We exist in this art-fueled unreality, this pretentious examination of everything that gives us no insight, no understanding, no cure, nothing of value—except for a monetary sort, which is of no real value. When art attempts to address reality, it does not bring us closer to what it addresses, it does not bridge gaps in understanding through circumventing or subverting our expectations—even when we are subverted, what have we gained? We receive for our efforts only another layer of confusion, another massive occlusion murking up the discussion; and the problem here isn’t so much that the discussion keeps getting more convoluted, the problem is that we’re sitting around just talking in the first place. The problem is that we are actively not living, we are actively not participating in existence, in life… the worlds of art and business have in common the desire to shape our reality as it suits them, to enforce perceptions upon viewers/participants/workers/whoever that don’t make any sense outside the gallery/office walls; certainly they do not want you to provide for yourself, or to have anyone else offer up an alternative that cannot be easily subsumed into the whole.
     I harbor no illusions that any wholesale or sweeping change can be effected, yet I do believe that we can, each of us, consciously disengage from the fraud that is daily heaped upon us by the companies, individuals, organizations, universities, colleges, presses whose existence depends upon our continued and increased need for the means by which to escape the world which will only continue to worsen if we do not look up and take stock of just how stupid it’s all really getting. Leave your studio, abandon your desk, get the fuck outside and take a fucking walk. Look at that new strip mall, that new housing development and consider whether it’s really doing anything that needs to be done, in the all-encompassing betterment-of-existence sense. Spend more time with your friends, your children. Do not do the morally ambiguous thing. Do not take the easy way, though it saves you time. You have more than you need and so little of what you want. Do not ignore those things you have seen before, what you’ve heard already: pre-existence does not preclude validity. New is not better. New is marketing hype, and it’s infected everything.
     There is no self, and the problem with that is that people think it’s a problem.
     What I envision, someday, is hordes of Working Artists, actively engaged with our world as it is, as opposed to legions of effete consumptives with corporate sponsorship languishing the days away. A universality among efforts, everyday utilization of motion, color, sound, light, language, by all participants toward a collaborative and continual, continually evolving environment, reshaping moment by moment our world in acknowledgement of the ephemerality of all things, that all is in flux and that we are not subject to the whims of ephemeral flux, but active participants in the instantiation of all things. A shift away from art as product toward art as existence.

Strange thing here: I’m embarrassed now. To have said this. But just as I let Drew spew and then publish whatever he spits out, so too will I place these words in the only place I really feel safe. What I think I’m asking for—since I intend to continue with this spork thing for some time—is that maybe when your pen goes to the paper, or fingers to the keys, or brush to canvas, or whatever, that maybe you try, rather than inventing something new to distract us, to instead chart our progress toward a sensible tomorrow. And I guess I’m also asking that you participate in that activity.
     This embarrassment is probably also due in part to space limitations. Room to list the grievance, or at least one part of it, but not enough to explore all the facets and ramifications, nor to offer up anything really useful in the way of workable solutions or alternatives to the problems I’m moaning about—and what is it, other than further refinement of what I’ve been saying in almost every other issue anyway? To do it justice would require many hundreds of pages and many more voices than my own. I don’t have either at the moment. It’s been suggested that this might not even be the proper venue for this discussion, attacking art in a magazine that’s devoted to the idea of art… but then, maybe it is. Whatever the case, we’re still doing it, and are going to continue. The magazine and the arguement.


[1] Et cetera means, literally, “and the rest”. Et meaning “and” and cetera being the plural of the Latin word ceterus, meaning “the rest”. So, to say and etcetera is wonderfully redundant. I’m a pedantic bitch. I’m a pedantic bitch just trying to fill my damned pages. Not that anyone reading this magazine wouldn’t already know that, but I felt like saying it, and like I’ve said so many times before: this is my space and I get to say whatever the hell I fucking well want to say and if you don’t like it you can just go out and start your own little piece of shit lit mag.

[2] The idea at first was to be a quarterly in the sense that we put stuff out four times a year. We did it the first year—the fourth issue, issue 1.4, was a pair of radio plays performed live at Hotel Congress. But since then, we’ve been less than quarterly. Less than semiannually even. We still call ourselves a quarterly, and the reasoning there is that we do stuff at least four times a year, even if nobody ever sees it. And I can assure you that we have, but I won’t tell you what we’ve done.

[3] When I say “station” it’s the same thing as a hole. They’re functionally interchangeable terms, at least in the context of this discussion. In other contexts, they’d mean different things. But here, it’s the same. I’m drinking a bunch of beer, good Scottish amber something-or-other, as I write this, so I have to pee right now, (insert the time it takes to urinate here), and I’m having a thought, thinking of doing something here in my section where I get to do whatever the hell I want. I’ll keep thinking about it. I like the idea, but I won’t go into it yet. I’m still mulling.

[4] I’m thinking I’ll do it. What “it” is… okay, I was informed years ago that we’re not allowed to publish our own stuff here, beyond those things written specifically for the issue for editorial purposes. No poems, no stories… it’s just not “how things are done”. But I’m not, and never have been interested in how things are done. Everything, most of everything we do, is all about being other than how things are done. I’ve looked around at different journals, with an eye toward sending them my writing, my stories, my whatever, but I haven’t found any that I really want to be seen in. I like spork. I like what we do, and I’m very much a fan of why we do what we do. I’m going to use my space for my own, non-editorial purposes.

[5] In my now-drunken state.

[6] Pause a second here while I check out own stuff to make sure I’m not being a stupid hypocrite… Okay, yeah. We’re good.

[7] Okay, here’s where I’m pointlessly subversive. I’m putting it in the footnote area, rather than giving it its own space like the rest of the stories, because my argument’s always that if your work’s any good it’s going to stand on its own on the strength of your words and phrasing regardless of the formatting. So, here:

Dana Smokes
by Drew Burk

Dana’s out of group now, him over there all talking God with Jenny not even caring if anyone else is there just took his cock right out and strokes him while he talks God to them standing around and I can’t figure how one figures with the other but like she said just cause she’s looking for salvation don’t mean she ain’t what she is and if she wasn’t what she is she wouldn’t be here now would she so here’s where she is and she can’t help it if she’s got to take them out and stroke them even while someone’s talking God to her. And Dana, idiot, he thinks she strokes him cause he talks God and that’s not it just that none of us want those hands near our cocks, figure others got other reasons so just me I’ve seen her hands and the nails and I don’t know the names for what she’s got on her skin but my not knowing all the words to a song don’t keep that song out of my head once some idiot sang it to me, you know? Him afraid he talks baseball she’s gonna lose interest and if I liked him even at all even one small bit I’d find some way to tell him kind to not get her hands on him, specially not there but it’s not even part of me but all of me wants him to rot right out right from the core and start it right there at his cock so I don’t mind seeing it, not like Jeff, Jeff at the door and don’t know what he is nurse or janitor or bouncer or concerned roommate or whatever but he’s got a nametag and Cheryl lets him out the front door and when he sees Jenny messing Dana’s cock he chokes like a chimney stopped its own flue so to shoot soot at everyone and ruin Christmas or black the screen when everyone’s watching Star Wars and when Jeff sees it you can be sure Dana’s not gonna see Jenny for a few days at least.
     “Only one match, we gotta all light at once or buttfuck and chain after to keep the fire alive.” That’s me telling Bobby and him only seventeen but here with us anyway since they say he’s real dangerous and I don’t think he’s any more dangerous than any others but it’s not my opinion anyone’s asking today or if they did it wouldn’t be because they’re looking for it but just to make me feel like I’m vauled and no that’s not it they want to show me that I’m wrong and fuck if I don’t care about being wrong not like we agree on anything maybe if we could see eye to eye on a thing or two they could then show me how when taken together with this line of thought we travel one road and we’re all moving together and nobody stepping on nobody and this is all for the good because we’re gonna progress this way, right, but we’re not in the same car or on the road and they know and I know that and so until there’s something in common beyond some anatomical structures there’s no wrong to be had. Nothing to compare against and their metaphors don’t work either since we’re not talking about the same things but even then when I ever give a fuck about being wrong? Never, that’s when. Turn me to Dana now:
     “Never. Nefuckingver and you got no applicaple metaphors neither so shut the fuck up and I’ll tell you again we ain’t friends and when you say God that ain’t what you’re saying and if you took the time to ask Jenny she’d tell you she don’t care what’s in your mouth or heart just in your pants,” it’s not stopping and she’d probably do better work you shut up and stop distracting her but that’s when Bobby says shit.
     “Shit. I mean sorry. I mean the match went out.”
     “Backup plans are what we got, Bob.”
     “You said buttfucking and I don’t want to do that and okay now I feel real stupid I remember what that means just they say I’m gay and the doctor and mom say that I just got to get a handle on it and I’ll stop acting out but if I’m gay I don’t get to have a girlfriend anymore as they say there’s no such thing as bisexual and really I want to shut up I want to shut up now there’s nothing in these words I want to be saying. I want to borrow your cigarette. Actually,” Bobby breathes he’s getting slowed down not gonna go manic on me and I don’t mind him going manic I understand just fine, he gets a rhythm and the points come out like the backbeat so you can dance to him and get him all at once and that is why we’re friends, that and we’re roomies and if you don’t get along with the people you share the closest spaces with then there ain’t nothing in the world gonna ever let you be happy no matter where you are and that if nothing else is something I’ve got a good handle on at least unless they put Dana in my room with me and then I think I’d get a good handle on what it’d feel like to just fucking kill another man. Kill a Dana anyway. And Bobby says Anyway,
     “What I think I’d rather is if you would light mine for me. I’m not steady today.”
     “Not steady for the last week, it takes a while you know.”
     “How long did it take for you to get used to it?”
     Bob there ain’t no used to it there ain’t nothing but you fight it or you shut off from it but you don’t get used to it ever and don’t even try giving in there ain’t nowhere to go you’re all right just wait it out and if you gotta suck a dick or two to make your momma happy then goddammit you just up and do it, “It takes a while.” Had me a heart I’d kill you kid but heart’s not it I really feel like somehow you fake it and you’re gonna be okay you’ll be really okay but I see you acting like they’re making sense or they wear you down I’m gonna see it in your eyes and that’s the day I’m gonna negate that trust Cheryl got for me and I’m gonna ram something sharp and hard right into each of those eyes and it won’t be you so I ain’t worried about forgiveness and the reason I don’t care that Dana went over to their thinking and gave up is more than I don’t like him anyway but there wasn’t anything to him in the first place so with him it’s like a step up but like the kid said, “When you go up from shit to crap that ain’t what you should call any kind of improvement, Bobby. Give me your cigarette okay?”
     That part of me never minds lighting the shaky ones for them since that’s all me smoking then and that’s like the prize for learning to match up the cigarettes and yeah ain’t nothing separating that prize from any other they’re all the same, give me a gold medal for high jumping really I’d have to be that guy with the gold high jump medal if I wanted to get out of here twelve-foot walls and smooth but you give me that medal and maybe I get a little pride but I get a little pride here too plus some extra smoke so figure I got it okay. And pull and start Bobby’s cigarette for him and I don’t smoke too much since I like the kid and give him back the cigarette and smile. Good as it’s gonna get for now anyway. Flux and flow the money’s gonna run out we got us Republicans in all the offices so they’re gonna say with one head that they’re gonna keep everybody safe and then the other hand’s gonna do shadowpuppets about lowering the taxes and all the funds will then absent themselves from the MH coffers and me and Dana will find ourselves recognizizing ourselves and that’ll be fine for me anyway but Dana he put himself here he wants to be here he’s lazy. Dana’s big disorder is laziness and me I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me but like I said they’re not in the business of valuing my opinion here and like I said I feel like it’s all right and I’m not so worried about me and the rain yesterday washed things pretty clean and right now, right now there’s sun and sparkle and fuck if there ain’t some birds singing.
     “That’s a pretty song, Bobby.”
     “That’s a human appellation, they’re just talking I think. Not a song.” He smokes and I search for the word.
     Anthropomorphization is the word. “You’re looking for.”
     Bobby says what? but it doesn’t matter. Not songs is the point.
     “They talk very prettily then, Bob.”
     “It can be singing, I like that better now anyway.”
     And Dana’s pants all creamed and see Jenny just don’t stop it’s got nothing to with anything just she gotta have a cock in her hand and where the fuck is Jeff right now I just can’t look at that anymore and maybe when Bobby’s gone I won’t even wait for a reason to get a handle on killing a Dana he’s just fucking lazy all that is is he’s lazy, “And I’ve got no problem with someone that can’t, just a problem with them that won’t.”
     “My dad used to always ask me that, You can’t or you won’t?”
     “Your dad had the right question.” And you know the answer to your mom’s question and you know for damn sure you got the means to suck you just enough dick to make your momma happy and see it doesn’t matter that it’s wrong but you gotta get away so that’s when you shut off the worst thing could happen to you is you get better in their eyes but like I said I got a plan for that just I don’t know how to tell you without Heisenberging everything so all there is for me is to be subtle and watch and there’s a movie about that and the big metaphor it plays out just like that but fuck if it wouldn’t kill me too to have to do it. That is a pretty song.
     “Rob Zombie says I have to kill you.”
     Pop stars and their delusions, “When did he say that, Bobby?”
     “Last night. I’m really sorry. It’s just what he said. I don’t know what to do.”
     What you’re gonna do is. “What you’re gonna do is let him tell me himself that that’s what you gotta do. Is it on your walkman? You give it here and have him tell me.”
     Something about his car and yeah Grampa’s car and, “He’s not talking to you, that there inside is a false prophet, a liar, you don’t go listening to him. And you know how I know? Rob Zombie tells you himself for real that you gotta kill me you ain’t gonna stand around talking to me about it, right, you’re just gonna do like your told. Nothing to apologize for either way even if he does decide I gotta go,” but what Rob Zombie’s got against me to want that I can’t say I figure Rob himself can’t say as there’s nothing to be said except Bobby’s looking down and I finish my cigarette and look down and this time we both say shit.
     “Now you can apologize, Bobby.”
     “You really don’t have any more matches?”
     “Remember how I said I had a plan?”
     “Well, kid, much as I like you you just fucked it up. Like I said, I’ll take that apology now.” Rained yesterday and there’s a box over in the corner an appliance heats a filament and you light your smokes on it but there’s a puddle and no matter how crazy you are you know you don’t make that connection don’t do the electrical appliance standing in a puddle of water.
     “I’m sorry.”
     “It’s no big deal.”
     “I would say it is. Not that I want anyone mad at me, but we’re all together in this, we’re all sharing culpability. I just happen to share the end of the rope.”
     “Crazy or not there ain’t no solution.” But if you’re lazy.
     “Hey…” I say to Bobby. But if you’re lazy.
     “Dana you can have that smoke you asked about a couple weeks back. I got to the end of the pack and it turns out I do have an extra.” And yeah he’s already zipping up and we only get one chance at this and so, “Bobby, we only get one chance at this but we do this right we’re gonna have our smokes lit.” Kid smiles. One more thing you gonna really just have to suck it up and take it and even if their stupid idea that you fighting the idea of you being gay makes you violent and angry pans out and no it ain’t gonna pan out you can be gay and angry at the same time Bobby, you be gay and angry at the same time and I don’t see why you can’t be all them at once gay and angry and have your girlfriend since the thing is that since me and them agree on exactly no things like as in nothing at all then they cannot say that I am wrong. I got me a feeling like there’s some sense like it’s planar and we can intersect and never meet and the fact that we’re all at odds doesn’t mean that I gotta be wrong or them either and that’s as far as I want to think there since all I wanted to establish was that Bobby can be all at once gay and angry and have a girlfriend and, “Bobby, there ain’t nothing wrong with being angry.”