(With apologies and thanks to the composer John Adams for the theft of the title.)


A short dream from Manhattan, and a far scream from Japan, Professor Robert O shelters languidly under the cottonwood trees; known in Spanish as “los alamos”. Beneath the trees shaded glade, Robert O. studies the small mushrooms he finds: Psiliocybe Cubensis. The magical fungus implores: “eat me, eat me”. Newton’s “a-is-for-apple” world begins to sour as Professor O’s imagination now encompasses the entire looking-glass universe. Robert is certain he has not fallen, Alice-like, down a rabbit hole. No cute white bunnies appear, just an intense, growing, glowing white light filled with ominous power and the promise to conjure fame, with just a puff of smoke. The nucleus of an idea explodes in his head. Robert’s inner light beams the way forward. His mind is compelled to multiply the speed of light by the speed of light and release its pent up power. The world will stoop, crawling lower than traitors, in fearful acknowledgement of his feat. The scientist is free to pluck the beating heart from the body of knowledge. Desert lizards see him and stick out their tongues.

Money rains upon the great man and renders Robert Oppenheimer wet with potential. He is persuasive, his calculations sound, his confidence unshakable. He has the guts. Nothing trips him up. Energy emanates from every word and gesture. He reigns supreme. Multiplying like mushrooms in the darkness, thousands of light-bulbs illuminate the sinister, secret project, forming in the factory. Half Oppenheimer’s life has decayed realizing his vision. Over 130,000 pairs of hands serve his uranium/plutonium will. 130,000 pairs of feet march in step to bring this nightmare into bright daylight. The happily barren desert is forced to bloom a deadly harvest.

Alpha-male Oppenheimer can taste sweet success in his gut. His minions celebrate the harvest and cheer the achievement. A True man commands and conscripted labor loads the egg of a bomb — ready to crack and bring a violent peace to the world. Wrapped, not in a pretty package, but the womb of a plane, the dumb and blind explosive luxuriates like a first class passenger. The cocksure pilot, cockpit-cocooned, and on the trip of a lifetime, prays for good weather and a steady guiding hand. Amen. A good carrier pigeon is he. The tiny uranium spores await their moment to shine. The well-informed, uniformed pilot trips the fateful switch.

Was she raped or did she succumb willingly? Plane Enola Gay’s short labor is at an end. Induced by history, she births her baby into the pale, baby-boy blue of a foreign sky. Will a mother be called to answer for the sins of her sons?

Forced by gravity, the Little Boy grows to Fat Manhood in a few seconds. “I am unique in the world, with but one talent,” he cries. “Although my life is short, forget me not.” Forgive him not? Choosing an effulgent sky death, he starts and swells. Over the unsuspecting city, HI-RO-SHI-MA, the malevolent colossus mushrooms, whiter than the white of a sun-bleached skull.  Faster than a tear can fall, matter expands and time compresses. First radiant summer arrives, fast followed by the strange snow of nuclear winter, falling like confetti at a divorce.

130,000 die that day: one eye blinded for each eye that oversaw the fabrication of the first uranium atomic bomb. The desert inhabitants of Los Alamos create another desert in obscene, mocking symmetry. A daylight nightmare gallops abroad to terrify the living. Not yet dead and with sightless eyes and deaf ears, and no longer with body parts enabling speech, the “lizard people” (as one eye witness puts it, speaking the unspeakable) moan through the landscape, their skin like cracked, black glass; obscene obsidian deaths.

Turn back a page and the music repeats but with a plutonium variation. Hear it now: NA-GA-SA-KI. Two wrongs make a right. Right? Written in lives extinguished in an instant, their blood (A or O) boiled to steaming incense, their flesh melting like the wax of a votive candle. Japan surrenders.

Shaking radioactive dust from lily-white fingers, towering, glowering Uncle Samuel paints Communism a bloody Red; a tainted fungus that will infect us all. Once soaring hawk, now fluttering dove, Oppenheimer, conscience pricked, flaps his feathers and finds them singed. Bob, bob, coo, coo. What have you been saying, Robert? Bob, Bob, you are the enemy within. We control you, not you, us.

Robert Oppenheimer’s star descends from its zenith: high Alpha plunging to far Omega. Once the hero of the adventure, he is abandoned, cast into a mental wilderness, his beliefs no longer in sympathy with those of his paymasters, his “I say so masters”, his “I say no” masters. They are grateful to Mr. Persona Non-Grata no more: witness the intellectual evisceration. The same slithering, guilty, gutless, duplicitous lizard-dwarves sold us the biggest, whitest of snow-white lies. With the apple-world broken, conscience lies sleeping, unwoken with a forgiving kiss.

The magic mushroom is now grown to insane proportions: grown bigger than Alice, bigger than Robert, bigger than imaginations can contain. Some still savor its putrid, swollen flesh.

Copyright: Robert Lovejoy


Dog’s ears twitched. He scratched and he yawned. He had been sleeping for four million, three hundred and twenty thousand years. During that time many dreams had entertained his unconsciousness.  At the last second of his inordinately long sleep, a great vision filled his vast cranium. Synapses sparked and Dog awoke with a yelp of consciousness. Stars appeared. Because his loud howl had caused the stars to come into existence, Dog realized that he had the power to make anything he wished. He wagged his celestial tail.

And Dog said, (making it up as he went along):

“Let a great round fiery ball (which I will call the Sun) be thrown far into the sky to keep dogs warm, with a smaller ball (which I will call the Earth) to chase around the Sun, as a place for dogs to live. And let the sky of the Earth be blue because I like the color blue. And let the warmth from the Sun’s light strike the Earth, but unevenly so that black dogs can live comfortably near the equator without burning and white dogs can only go there for a vacation. And let a smaller light (which I will call the Moon) shine on the Earth when it gets dark, to give dogs something to bark at. But don’t allow the Moon to shine all the time, so dogs can rest their throats after barking too much.

“And let there be creatures other than dogs, because a world only full of dogs would be boring. So let there be cats and squirrels for dogs to chase. Let there be sea-swimming whales and tree-dwelling koalas. And make the whales look like fish but give them little legs inside their bodies to remind them that they were once the creation of dogs. And give the koalas pouches, which open downwards, so they will know that koalas are really seeing the world upside down and that dogs are always at the top.

“And let there be a great variety of trees so dogs have somewhere to pee and somewhere for cats and squirrels to run to.”

Dog’s brain was hurting but he carried on:

“And let there be Dog Walkers so that dogs have someone to pet them and throw balls for them and feed them. And give the Walkers bigger brains than dogs, so dogs don’t have to do all the thinking.”

Having suddenly been given his vastly superior brain power by Dog, Walker took over Dog’s creative streak:

“And let us make female Walkers, so that male Walkers are reminded when and where and how to walk dogs. And make females so that males have something to play with when they are not walking dogs. And let females come into the world expecting the males to be honest and let them be disappointed.

“And let us make the sexes appear really cute to each other but mutually incomprehensible.

“And let us make coupling between males and females the most desirable thing in the world, so that all may know jealousy and need, as well as desire. And let us make coupling really nice to do, so that young Walkers will get pregnant too early and have to struggle and be poor and break their parents hearts and increase the population to breaking point.

“And just for fun, let us make Walkers naked so that everyone will laugh at their wobbly bits so they have to invent a clothing industry that produces ridiculous new fashions every year. And let the clothes look good only on the thin Walkers.

“And let the next most desirable thing in the world be the hardest for most to obtain and let’s call it ‘money’.

“And let us reward the rich with money for getting richer and let the rich dominate the poor so the poor know it’s better to be rich.”

Walker was struggling. What could he invent next? He tried hard:

“And let Invisible Beings come into the world. Worshipful Invisible Beings who keep quiet and never reveal themselves.

“And let Walkers form into groups and show irrational allegiance to just one Invisible Being and not any of the other Invisible Beings, so that each side can be distracted from talking to each other and finding common ground.

“And let all the different groups believe that their Invisible Being is the only one that exists. And let each big group speak a different language as well to reinforce their differences and make communication almost impossible.

“And let the Invisible Beings have any power they choose, such as reading our thoughts or watching us in the bathroom.”

With the power newly invested in it, an Invisible Being took over the theme and began to invent the things that were missing from Dog’s World. Although it was silent, Dog thought he could hear the Invisible Being talking inside his head:

“And let there be floods and tsunamis that are hard to say and spell and let them occur in the middle of the night when people are sleeping or at mid-day on a sunny weekend when many are playing on the hot sand.

“And let the Earth quake along coasts where most Walkers live and let the earthquakes happen with no warning. And let everyone tremble to mimic the trembling of the Earth.

“And let there come diseases to irritate and dishearten. And let there be little diseases like Thrush and Athletes Foot. And middle-sized diseases which don’t kill but which debilitate slowly and give them names like Arthritis and Parkinson's. And let there be some really big diseases and call them Cancer and Dysentry and Cholera and make them killers.”

Dog was definitely getting irritated and disheartened with his Creation and his Creation’s Creation, and his Creation’s Creation’s Creation, but the Invisible Being grew more and more excited and more than a little carried away with itself. It continued nonetheless:

“And let ever larger groups of Walkers form together until they invent the means of their own destruction. And let them invent war so that the old can watch the young die for a change instead of the other way around.”

Dog sighed loudly. Just to show his irritation and disheartenment with Walker’s Invisible Being, Dog bit Walker to make the Invisible Being stop. Since Walker’s Invisible Being, was invisible and now silent, it was impossible to tell if it was there or not.

As Dog’s majestic universe began to grow and expand, he barked at the little light he had created and wished on the Moon and Stars that he had stopped with those.


Copyright: Robert Lovejoy



A view from the Gripe Department:

I have seen two exhibitions recently: one was of Turkmenistan jewelry; and the other of African-American quilts. In both instances the makers were described as "artists". Considering the jewelers in question worked mainly making armor, maybe "artisans" would be more appropriate. Also, most of the quilts were not that well designed or made, so "makers" or “quilters” should have been enough. I don’t really object to anyone calling themselves an artist, but museums and gallery spaces should have some better understanding of the intention of the people involved in the creative process: not everything that is chosen to hang on museum walls is necessarily made by artists, however interesting. Do museums wish to edify or just glorify? Maybe you become an "artist" once a museum or gallery decides to display your work, whatever the quality.