It’s been five years since a website by the name of EYEshot caught my... well, eye. But then I received an IM from the “longtime advocate of orthodontics reform” tonight which featured a vampire telling me, “You suck worse than I do.” How appropriate given I had last IM’d the reclusive Eyeshot Editor (hereafter, “the EYE”) when I saw him online six months ago, saying, “I thought I killed you....” I hadn’t killed him but he wasn’t talking to me so what’s the difference?

But tonight he did talk. Through a vampire emoticon. At first I thought he must be drunk and feeling nostalgic to message me. As we parted he told me he was on his way out the door to meet a Lebanese. Drunk on love, it seems. (Or hope at least.)

How did I find EYEshot? If memory serves (and often it does, better than most wait staff these days in a college town) I was searching for “experimental writing.” Not theoretically experimental, not informed, not educated. Or least not “higher educated.” Rather, high-schoolishly educated, with one eye on Moby Dick and the other on what’s Vanna White wearing tonight?

So there was EYEshot in my time of need. Need for what? Affirmation that the Internet actually was populated by radicals conducting experiments. Punks and anarchists and slackers, all snide and superior. All sure there was a frontier to explore. Finally! One need not eat Grape Nurts and join the Air Force – fuck the moon. It’s a hump of dry rocks. The Internet has people who don’t make sense until you get to really know them... thru their online persona! It’s also got lotsa other crap the moon ain’t got: blah blah blah, duhh duhh duhh insert some cutsie remarks here about porno and gambling and purple pills for purple penii. 

One thing I bet the world of astronauts and engineers and the Internet have in common: lousy jokes. The kind you force yourself to smile at in a lobby while making a mental note to join in if a crowd suddenly forms around the cracker jack and starts stabbing him, thrusting with the power of repressed glee.

In EYEshot I was also seeking a personal boost. In November of 1999, I got my first piece of writing accepted for Internet publication. It was on a site called deluxe rubber chicken. I couldn’t have been prouder... Sadly, either the publisher couldn’t have been stoneder (he sent me a follow-up email saying he had lost my piece and could I email it again) or perhaps my writing couldn’t have been truer to its own cause. I say this because the rubber chicken site was affiliated in some way with the English department at the University of Buffalo. I naively took the publisher’s suggestion that I “send more stuff – [he] loves it!” and emailed a couple more pieces. My suspicion is that the second time he looked at the burgeoning works of Kenny Fliegen, he was a) not stoned, and b) beginning to recognize that this was not the theoretically-based reactionary MFA prose-poetry he had initially hoped it to be... Nope, this was just some dude playing around with all the competing echoes in his head. I probably didn’t even have five-digit student loans to repay.

So nothing of mine ever appeared in deluxe rubber chicken and a month later while switching over the home Internet account from AOL to some other service I found an email in my wife’s inbox headed “I love you.” Kenny Fliegen hadn’t sent that email. And as it turns out more than just email was landing in his wife’s inbox.

So the EYE has this website, this EYEshot. I won’t say I submitted. I never submitted to the EYE. I was a complete bastard, pissed off that I was so alone and there was no one to be pissed off at. But the EYE was willing to joust and joust we did. The results are there. Look at them yourself. I challenge you to find a penpal who will not only take your abuse AND dish it out but also stick around for weeks of the same. No one got their feelings hurt and any confusion we engendered was proof that we were on the experimental edge. If an avant garde work makes sense then it can’t bloody well be avant garde can it?!?
Perhaps a piece once was avant garde but now it’s historical. 

(See brief editorial note below.)

Speaking of history, I can pinpoint the time within it where the EYE did turn me off. As I recall he was somewhat tired of the tone of things by this point anyway. He had attempted to redirect my destructive impulses, encouraging me to assault the senses of various other creative artists loosely linked in whatever movement it is that the EYE is a part of or at the fore of. I don’t know and it would be too higher-educated to figure it out – there’s right brain thinking and left-brain thinking and then there’s higher-education brain thinking. That’s the part of the brain on top of the other two hemispheres’ It forms the point which can be used to identify university-based creative writers. Anyway, I quit feeling a part of the EYEshot range following 9-11. How cliche, right? Awww, hell naw. This is Kenny Fliegen.

And this is the only sense in which 9-11 has in any way directly affected my life. The closest 2nd would be losing a pair of toenail scissors to the TSA at the airport security check in Birmingham. But I don’t live in New York, or Los Angeles, or anyplace any foreign terrorist would ever consider blowing up. If a terrorist gets me, his name will be something like Lee Boyd Malvo or Tim McVeigh or Eric Roberts Rudolph. In fact, if you check the line on the board in Vegas right now, I think you will find that you, too, are more likely to be blown up or blown away by a domestic terrorist with three names you CAN pronounce than by anyone claiming any sort of loose affiliation with the prophet Mohammed.

I was shocked to see the Towers attacked and fall. I was not angry nor saddened particularly. Mostly I had no trouble understanding why Middle-eastern zealots would stab at the “Great Satan”. I don’t condone the attacks but truth be told, I don’t give a shit about them either.

So when EYEshot’s editor and primary contributor sent out a call for 9-11 related material I gave up on the Internet having an edge. Everything has been organized now. It all makes sense. Can you really surf and get lost these days? I’m sure I’ve seen all the possible color combinations allowed between #000000 and #zzzzzz. And a search for “experimental writing” or “avant garde avacados” gets you no further than the Urban Dictionary, a site dedicated to exposing the sexual undertones of every word in the English language. Note: Just as it is true that the native peoples of Alaska have 47 words for “snow,” it is also the case that the world of hip-hop has 1,213 vegetable and/or dessert references for a woman’s derriere. So there.

(Brief editorial note: Oh the avantgardening of youth!)


See summertime & disappear mt. rainier


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