road trip: Fashion squares

In the ladies' guide to the apocalypse by summerburkesLeave a Comment

April 23, 2007 – Phoenix, AZ to Los Angeles, CA

Jesse Wack brushes his teeth with straight baking soda. He never drinks the tap water anywhere.

He theorizes that while fluoride is marketed to the masses to strengthen teeth, it actually dumbs down and destroys the human brain.

He says the FDA, a tool of the powers that be, allows destructive elements like fluoride to be placed into substances we consume all the time, to act as sort of a saltpeter for self-awareness, activism, or revolution.

Is he crazy? Well, we’ve got another friend who, out of instinct at a young age, refused to drink the orange fluoride liquid they distributed at school. His brother and sister, who drank it, now sport mouthfuls of cavities, while our friend has nary a one.

Jesse Wack also never consumes anything out of a can if he can help it, or anything with stuff in it he can’t pronounce. He eats like a hippie even more than we do — there’s no way we can stomach snacking on dried seaweed or soy bars.

Jesse Wack wants to get all the fillings in his mouth taken out because they’re made with mercury. Same reasoning. Fillings emit toxic gases any time they’re disturbed, by chewing or brushing or talking or grinding or anything else besides sitting still.

It’s all part of the big plan to keep us down — one small facet of a sinister infrastructure of strategies invented to muddle the minds of the hoi polloi and keep us focusing on the wrong elements of life on Earth, to prevent us from rising up and seeing that things could be done in entirely different and better ways.

wack attack surveys a painting we bought for $5 and thinks on how to "enhance" it

wack attack surveys a painting we bought for $5 and thinks on how to “enhance” it

Jesse Wack is one of the original members of the Hard Times Bike Club, now the Black Label Bike Club, Minneapolis chapter. Not that he has time to ride a bike much any more. He’s isolated himself in Phoenix, in the belly of the beast, away from all his friends, in order to focus on his plans.

Any time Wack’s not working on his paintings or making music in his studio in Phoenix or figuring out how to earn money in real estate and take over the world, he attends seminars and posts Myspace bulletins and researches conspiracy facts. Not theories, he says. Facts.

Even his own mother says he’s crazy. We don’t think so, not at all, perhaps because Jesse Wack thinks a lot like we all do — he just takes it more seriously. Or he’s able to look at the ugly truth for longer than we are without turning his head in disgust. In fact, as a hobby, he stares it down.

His paintings, while intricate and gorgeous, are hard to look at, too, like the inside of his brain. With more tiny lines than a career tweaker’s face, and bug-eyed imagery that flies in the space between Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and H. R. Geiger, Jesse’s work puts a microscope to the synapses of a mind made paranoid — no, not paranoid, just aware — by modern society.

Jesse Wack-style painting takes a LOT of time to do. His favorite paintbrush has like one bristle.

more Wack work

more Wack work

The only place he could think of to tell us to meet him near his house in Phoenix was a strip club, because that’s what’s on the main road there, besides bail bondsmen, pawn shops, gas stations, and retail stores.

His neighborhood appears to be the least harrowing section of America’s fastest-growing metropolitan area — the “dangerous” “ghetto” area where Tempe and Scottsdale nudge up to Phoenix proper. As in, the only part of town that doesn’t look like it’s been nuked and paved into one gigantic super-mall in Vegas.

Phoenix is the worst city in the world. We didn’t know this, but we’ve heard it venomously spat so many times in the past couple days it’s not hard to become convinced, sight unseen. Two hours spent looking for the phone-replacement store made it clear — wherein we actually had to brave a three-block-long mall named “FASHION SQUARE”, built like a casino so you can’t find your way out, full of sheeple in strong perfume and new-looking clothes roaming around with eyes glazed over and arms full of new purchases.

Which sent Jesse Wack and this writer into a paranoiac, delirious state of near-catatonia.

Makes a body want to try Prozac, you say? Naaa. That’s what most of the country’s recent young mass-shooter-killers were taking at the time of their sprees. This Virginia Tech guy included, right? … Living in Phoenix, in this eerily square and too-clean city-sized mall, we ponder all the ways in which American culture encourages dehumanization, making the leap to mass murder easier for the already unstable.

Jesse Wack got lost driving us around looking for the place. WHAT IS ALL THIS SHIT?, he kept hollering incredulously. LET’S BUILD SOME MORE BUILDINGS, we shouted back, AND LET’S MAKE THEM LOOK LIKE THAT. Then we’d point to a square pile of stucco-covered puke, and we’d laugh insanely and have another two-sentence variation of the same conversation. WHO GOES IN THOSE PLACES?, we’d wail. WHAT DO THEY NEED IN THERE? … They live upstairs, he’d say calmly, in those yuppie kennels up there, and they come down to go to work at their job at the mall, and then they go home and watch TV, and they NEVER DO ANYTHING ELSE. THEY NEVER GO ANYWHERE.

In short, we were bitching like high-school goths.

Truly, though, sometimes, this world … the horror. Jesse’s own roommate is living that life, stuck on a single track between the house and the used furniture store down the street. Birth school work death. Work home TV bed work home TV bed mall golf home TV bed work TV bed. Repeat til breaking down with sadness, medicating for it, and opening fire somewhere eventually, perhaps in a crowded mall like Phoenix’s Fashion Square.

Coincidentally, one of the only other places “of note” Jesse Wack and this writer have ever visited together for the first time is the Mall of America outside Minneapolis. Which was the second most harrowing mall experience of our lives, up until this one.

At least the Mall of America had a Hooters and a video game place. Seriously, we couldn’t really breathe again until we got back to where the buildings all shrunk and got ugly in a different sort of way, and the streets were dotted with thrift shops and adult entertainment stores.

How much does it cost to get all the fillings in your teeth replaced?

uhm, much better?

uhm, much better?

We made it to Los Angeles from Phoenix with only two tire blowouts in Blinky’s Royale. Instead of hauling ass up to SF to join the Bike Rodeo, then, we parked outside The Brewery compound of art fags in downtown Los Angeles yesterday, to re-group and observe Johnny Amerika and Tirzah and crew build another big thing for Coachella that spews flames.

But first it was Johnny Amerika’s birthday, and they were ahead of schedule on the project, so there was much drinking, and a big art show and a party, and last night at 2am before everyone stumbled to bed, they made an indoor campfire in their shop by pouring a half-inch layer of denatured alcohol into a drainless, stainless-steel “sink” appropriated from a TV commercial set.

Then they sang “Happy Birthday” to Johnny, who sported no less than six pointy party hats on his head, and let him throw in the match. WHOOSH.


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