This is the story of Francisco—pejoratively called Frankie, unbeknownst to him—the middle-aged, denim-jacketed, long-haired pseudo-revolutionary Executive Director of a small NGO singing songs and playing guitar with his little makeshift band of false rebels, primary among them the incomparable minion Sonya de la Torre on tambourine, the pride and joy princess fresh out of community college with fresh red lipstick and caked make-up, no one on harmony, just a couple other drifters in the room, together butchering “Blowin In The Wind” rather than engaging in budget negotiations that would keep the organization and its programs afloat while our “engagement specialist” sat at his desk trying to tune all that out-of-tune clanging. What can we do? Frankie’d (always) say (about every fucking thing). What more can I say, I ask, you, now? Some, seems, so I will.
There’s a thing I started writing a couple years ago and never finished. A thing about threes. In it I started and never finished saying that important things come in threes. Just look online. Profundity comes in threes. Steps to success/achievement /perfection come in threes. Good things come in threes. Meaningful things, delicious things, great things—if it matters, it comes in threes, I started and never finished saying, probably because it wasn’t that important or profound or delicious.
Once I was six or five years old and did things kid backward like I do them grown backward now and I remember one day doing my six or five year old backward best to ponder nonexistence because it struck me ponderably, little ponderable thing I was barely getting used to existing and ponderance in the first place, sitting on the floor of his father’s room, over by the table at the bedside—remember?—maybe flipping through one of his pilot dad’s aviation magazines by the light of the bedside lamp, that antique-store-strange white-painted metal lamp with the ornate key-shaped switch like a wick knob you’d find on one of those kerosene contraptions like the one my aunt gave me because I like the idea of things and you had to turn that ornate key-shaped switch on the antique-store-strange lamp for the electricity to ignite, a functional piece of creative anachronism in a hodgepodge sort of room where I liked to go to play, that day chance pondering upon what it would mean to die. Well, not die, but to be dead. I swear I wasn’t a morbid little soul, I just had a bit of a ruminative side. Thankfully I grew out of that and I no longer think anymore, about anything.
And I see it’s all material, sure, that’s fine, again material, more material, immaterial and otherwise and with depth, yes, of course, I’m not mad, of course, not quite, not yet, of course, but I just can’t let the idea go, not quite yet, because I like to start things strangely and because where would it (go)? That’s unclear, sorry. I mean the idea that it’s all stuff all here and always has been and I wonder why I used to wonder how we’d break free from context, from the maybe not so barefaced subjective that stuff-makers like Eliot and Frosty Frosterson believed would impinge upon one or both aspects of a dual identity I’m not sure I believe in, the day-to-day sufferer, on the one hand, and the artist creator on the other. But why? And here again I go wondering stuff, taking stuff and doing something to it and wondering what and why and how and in the end just saying.
We had two dogs when I was growing up, brothers they were, one called Sammy and Moxie the other, both black and brown and white, some kind of beagle-shepherd-wolf-bird-dog-bear mixes or something magical like that, the latter with longer, scragglier fur for catching burrs and getting caked with mud and all manner of undesirable substances and the former with shorter fur of the sleeker sort for speed and stealth and general petability. I’m from a place far far away where we have dogs like that in abundance, a mythical land of blue mountains and orange moons and green clovers and faeries of assorted shapes and hues and temperaments and it was a great place to be a kid. A kid with dogs, these.
I write under the name “Mischa” but that’s not my real name. Well, not anymore, usually, I mean it’s real, and it really was ceremoniously bestowed upon me by the power vested in my parents and the state of Virginia, but I tend to go by Mike or Michael—or Fernandoquan inside inner secret insider circles—because Mike or Michael are generally easier for everyone else to say/pronounce/accept and it makes for a nice 50-50 personality split, Mischa boy and Mike/chael man. Sometimes the split’s more like 80-20 or 20-80, depending on the lean of polarity and fat content. So now you know: Mischa as a child and for clandestine writing activities, but it’s Fernandoquan to real friends. For everyone else, Mike/chael will do.
Magritte was here, over two years ago now, and I visited him at The Museum on a cloudy, drizzly, seasonably chilly Chicago day in an early Chicago October. Time wrinkles like that and here I am on a not-hot-enough early July Chicago Sunday thinking how last week’s heat is right around the corner ahead but we’re not there yet, a few more days, they say, and thinking also how a little madness is actually what makes us sane, how only the truly crazy ones don’t seem to understand that and I remember sitting in a Chicago lecture hall some years prior to Magritte, enduring a sermon on the Weberian “perspective” delivered by a prof with a verified fetish for Asian girls and more than a few students laughed when, without a hint of jocularity, he mentioned Weber’s emotional breakdown and sanatorium stint. They laughed. Graduate students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world and they laughed because someone fell apart.