The West |

Shipping Manifesto: The Zeppelin Attack Dirigible Sessions

by Sesshu Foster and Arturo Ernesto Romo-Santillano

edited by Mathew Timmons

THE ELEVATED VIEW AFFORDED FROM HEIGHTS OFFERED BY BALLOON TRANSPORT OF THE FUTURE ARE EXCITING. IMAGINE SEEING THE DRIFT OF EastLA LIKE YOU HEAR PIECES OF MUSIC DRIFTING IN FROM HOUSES SUNDAY MORNING, EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR CRACKING OPEN CODES OF VISUAL INTERFERENCE. —ZAD MANIFESTO   Should we say our names out loud? For the record? Just transcribe it, we’ll sort out who was who later. Or we won’t. Yeah, or we won’t. Who cares? Saturday---Liki, Swirling, Tania--- Who wants to start? Who’s going to--- Nestor, Ben--- What is to be done? Aquila, Mosaic--- This is what we must do. Recapture imagination colonized by internal combustion formats of Hollywood, since the movie industry with its posters of glowering stars brandishing fire arms like big dicks is only the commercial organ of the largest arms export corporations in the world, Colt, Armalite, Sturm, Ruger & Co., U.S. Fire Arms Mfg Co., etc. and U.S. is the largest arms exporter in the world, troops deployed in over 150 countries, in combat in half a dozen at any given moment. (Do these trash movies & exciting wars make Americans happy? No, the suicide rate is twice the murder rate, with 34,000 people killing themselves each year, 94 or so every day, whereas only 17,000 people are murdered annually, which is interestingly more than Mexico in spite of its drug war, curious don’t you think?) What else do we got? No jobs, eh. They’ve fucked up the schools with bureaucracy, testing, bullshit, fees, poverty, they polluted the earth, water, killed off all the fish in the rivers, threw plastic and giant oil spills in the ocean, blighted the cities and infrastructure. All the money went to banks and Wall Street and they told the people, go have fun with your wars. (Predator drone strikes---UAV - unmanned aerial vehicle - $10,500,000 each General Atomics “Reaper”---target and kill thousands in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. 30% of attack deaths are civilian noncombatants, women and children. Drones receive feed control from Creech Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas.) What about us, what can we give the people? Visions of global skies, grand cumulus drift on the atmosphere above glittering seas. Caribbean light values. Shades include prairie sage, egg cream, and coral violet. What’s that about? Waves lapping, an incoming tide. Rising wind. Marine breezes, luminous cloud banks rising over the horizon. Oh, in other words, we give ‘em metaphors and stuff. Same stuff writers and artists always give them. What good is that? Call it “new ways of seeing,” we call it “alternative lifestyle,” call it “human powered flight,” “Ennoblement of Water,” or “Implosion Machine.”   (NOT ONLY CHORIZO SKINS, BUT ALSO TIGHT WOVEN SILK AND CALIFORNIA NATIVE BASKETRY TECHNIQUES COULD BE USED IN THE PATCHING OF DEFUNCT DIRIGIBLES)   We could tell them--- Tell them a story. Implement narrative--- Implement overarching narratives. Like, maybe we can come up with new ones! Can somebody give us a grant for it? You know anybody? Creative Capital won’t do it. They said, nobody’s in charge of us. The fuckers. Yeah. How do we start? Men with brutal faces skyward. Leaping. Orchestral arrangements? Women with perfect teeth. Much leaping. Musculature choreographed to appear and disappear behind hair, or khaki. Flapping of canvas in a hard wind, wind whistling through guy wires. Calendar above a tool bench at the rear of a garage. Calendar leaves begin flapping as in a hard wind, the years flying off. The crackling of fire grows louder. Piles of titty magazines in stench of mildew and rat droppings. Coke bottle crates, empty oil cans. Acres of junk car bodies, quonset huts out in the boulders and Joshua trees. California fire season radio broadcast. Women widening their eyes. Casting a significant glance. Men flaring nostrils, setting their lips in a line. “Completing its first circumnavigation of the globe in less than 22 days, the Graf Zeppelin under the command of Doctor Hugo Eckener arrives over the Manhattan skyline June 5, 1931, as the first streaks of light penetrate a gray dawn.” “Berlin - New York City two days. Friedrichshafen - Rio de Janeiro 2 days.” Here’s your ticket on the Rock Island Line. I hear the crows snickering and chortling. So— Ah— Yeah. What’s the story? Plans go back to the turn of the last century. Personal hygiene in the upper atmosphere. Austrian forester Viktor Schauberger’s water vortex implosion machines. Nikola Tesla’s Colorado Springs experiments to transfer energy through longitudinal waves to telautomatic objects. Porous skin shining metallic in the glare (filters). Glints of hard sunlight on flexing bodies. Heaving breast. Clapping— Robert Desnos dying at Terezín (Theresienstadt) It’s a movie. It’s a movie of the imagination. An imaginary— No. It’s not— Not imaginary. Not an imaginary movie. It’s of the actual or factual or real imagination. Movie of the imagination. Like pseudographic cinema: Asco’s No Movies—impressions of factuality, projecting the real. Do we make this movie ourselves? Let’s get somebody to make this movie. Who can we get? I have their files: Chicana Power Bumpersticker, flamboyant hair, last time I saw her she moved back from Mexico City. She had run from El Paso, TX (van-supported) to D.F., Mexico City in support of rights for indigenous peoples and was living there. She could be the most charismatic lead actress and probably the love interest. Compa He Called Me, went from guerrillero to wandering poet on his way to NYC through any number of lives, he asked me for contacts in the East. Could reappear at any time for supporting role as Engineer Who Fixes Everything At the Last Minute, adding to the suspense.   (FIRST I WAS INTO GEODESIC ALUMINUM MUSHROOMS. THEY SEEMED TO ME THE PERFECT STRUCTURE. NOW I FAVOR THE SOFT LIGHTNESS OF BALLOONS.)   Pirate Radio, one night I was cleaning out an apartment I had already moved out of, carrying the last bag of trash downstairs to the street and he walks out of the dark, asking for directions. "Oh, it's you!" he said when we both stepped under the street light. Years before that, I met this vato in Iowa City (born Durango MX); when he came to L.A., I sent him to my cousin, who put him up till he found a place. Campus radical, led lots of tours till he went underground, but you might hear him some midnights coming out of pirate radio, announcing his Nahua name. He is exactly the authority figure we need for a pilot and commander. Hecho en Aztlan, always working two jobs, raising his son alone in that house on a hill. He must've shown, at some point, the son the same foto he showed me: the scraggly bunch of revolutionaries out in the desert twenty years before, him holding something like a single shot .22 carbine. The son, in his black rocker t-shirts and skinny black pants, Converse All-stars, kept wondering why his dad has to be such a hard-ass. Both could easily do that love-hate buddy routine that audiences always love so well.   (I’M CURRENTLY WORKING ON THE PROBLEM THAT YOU CAN’T REALLY LIVE INSIDE of A BALLOON BECAUSE OF ISSUES HAVING TO DO WITH INTENSE AIR PRESSURES AND POISON GASES)   Tamale Lady, sometimes sells 3 kinds of tamales out of buckets from the back of her station wagon in the parking lot of the Alhambra Market. I don't really know anything about her, like if she has experience at anything like this or whatever, but it might be good to ask her. She might run our whole operation, with all kinds of logistical experience dealing with difficulties of all kinds, getting people out of jail, etc. Grandma Walsh, used to talk to dozens of cats underneath the fruit trees in the front yard, smell of rotten peaches, a very nice person, gone for a long time I expect, now the yard is full of dead cars, I think she could still be talked into lending us outstanding screen presence. Joker, obsidian eyes like laughing flint, what a joker! He has his scars (no, we don't want to see the false teeth); he's been shot at least once. He has his secrets (secret family in another city). He has gambling debts and death threats; those are forgotten. Such a loveable rogue, so funny, what a storyteller, such a joker. Could be a lead actor, whose facile exterior hides a heart of gold, has a thing for lead actress, whatever. Mytili Jagannathan, Philadelphia poet, once led a group of us on a tour of Philadelphia Chinatown. This one has a somewhat different script, but I know for a fact she could handle the gig. Tremendous poise and flashing dark eyes of an air commander. I see her as our crack attack dirigible pilot. Guatemalteco, print shop owner, soccer man, plays the over thirty league, using profits from the business to sponsor a girl's club team, hires a professional coach. Took the girls on a Central American tour where they made region play-offs, yes indeed. He doesn't really have the time, but you know, he might just be talked into supporting role as character actor.   (MY SUBMISSION FOR THE METRO GOLD LINE STATION EXTENSION INTO EL SERENO WAS REJECTED BECAUSE IT INCLUDED A DOCKING STATION FOR FUTURE DIRIGIBLE PROJECTS. THEY ALSO SAID IT RESEMBLED SACRIFICIAL STEPS OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS AND THEY DIDN’T LIKE THAT)   Samba Pa Ti, hopefully he still blasts out those songs like Billy Bragg accompanying himself on a lone electric guitar. I never gave him enough credit for that. Last seen by my brother wearing the blue helmet of UN peacekeepers, waving at the TV cameras in Bosnia. Where are you, my brother? No one is better qualified to be secret agent and gay love interest. First Aid/CPR certified. 81 But Looks 59, came to Calif. in 1920 as photographer's assistant to Edward Weston, WPA photographer in San Francisco, ship welder during World War 2 (steel splinter destroyed the sight in one eye), this old dude scares us every time we go to Redondo Beach he swims so far beyond the breakers you can't even see him. Expert haggler at Grand Central Market over old, wilted vegetables; they can't pull nothing on him. Often says, "doctors just want your money." If he gives you food throw it away. Perfect for the role of Enrique Pico, Chief Financial Officer of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Transport Lines.   I don’t know all of them, personally I mean. You think? I know— Yeah, we can get ‘em. But a couple of ‘em—didn’t they pass away, like die already? Well. Maybe. You plan on digitally recreating them? If we have to. From records, audio files, Mp3 files, CGI scans, telemetronic measurements, old photographs, overdubbing, youtube videos, forensic science with insects, seeds and spores, Shadow Lengthening Imagery and Vegetal Echolocation. The hard part is to get people to commit, to actually do it. I know, right? We have to practically force them. Yeah, practically. Well, not practically. Yeah, actually, we will force them to. We’ll just force them. They have to. They do. Otherwise it doesn’t get done. Otherwise nothing gets done. Yeah.   Oh yeah ha, I once wrote to debunk hoaxes and myths, but as I progressed on each debunking project, I would become more and more confused. I realized that the sighting of anomalies was by nature and definition anomalous. Furthermore, I realized that all anomaly is really variation. I began to see all variation and change as anomalous and in consequence many mundane things in the world; flowing water, growing hair, roadkill, movement of bodies, acceleration and even stasis became as odd and frightening to me as mothman, chupacabra or cattle mutilation. And slowly, my recognition of the anomalous spread to include more and more of the things around me until everything that filled my senses was foreign and struck terror in me: a boy's head cracked by a policeman's fist, my voice slipping across the wind, Lopez-Feliu's hair growing year by year, iron against lubricated iron, a skyscraper falling in a pile, the rapidly worming distances between my eyes and distant views... All is now in flux and changing, everything is anomalous and hoax; even the hoax and story of gravity only dictates one direction of many directions and can be called into question as readily as the mothman hoax—our blood flows up and down, across and back, pumped by a strange hoax—the heart muscle, flowing through strange mythic channels called veins. These words follow a mythical set of systems to become a strangely manifest hoax. The myth of dictated words in mythical symbols representing ideas (themselves anomalous and deceptive) laid down in quick drying hoax-ink on a mythical and unprovable substrate. This paper that you hold in your hand and the content on it and the brain functions that lead you to understand it are all unprovable hoaxes perpetuated by over-active imaginations susceptible to the influence of myth. "On‚" "over‚" "on top‚" "based on"... all orientation and relation is ghostlike and anomalous. Directionality and placement, composition and divine order are hoaxes and mythologies. I'm thinking we exist and ultimately are mythical—like a play with no director or audience, no script or stage, no actors, no props... for reference please see mirror scene in ZAD, mythical movie from the hoax year of 2016.   We can’t let them hold us up. We can’t let anything stand in our way. Nobody is stopping us. Even if they’re dead. We’ll reconstitute them from electrical files, electron images, shadow research and stuff. We can probably do it. I’m sure we can. I think we may have to, in some cases. We’ll figure out some way. It will be interesting, to say the least. How will they get paid? We’ll pay them later. I guess so. We’ll probably have to. Yeah, because, like— It’s not like we have any funds. We have a methodology. We have the methodology of ontology. Pass me that, would you? The tea?   I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING QUICKLY ABOUT DARKNESS IN ART AND NOT KNOWING WHAT TO MAKE OF INDISTINCT FORMS. I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.     Gracias. Methodological ontology. Did you get that from Cal State L.A.? When I was a teenager, I used to read a lot. We’ll pay them in ontology? Ontologically? It’ll have to be an all-volunteer force, at least at the beginning. Looks like it! Harry Gamboa gives people food, when he’s directing his movies. We can try that. Maybe we can get Harry to direct. He’s always busy. But maybe. It could be good to have a big name director like that. Nobody knows Liki Renteria. Not yet, anyway. But one day! Because, for example, check this out. This is my idea: first—we somehow make this movie, then— Then we can pay our people— Well, maybe. I’m thinking we use the money we raise to build actual East L. A. Dirigible Transport Lines, fashioned after the imaginary one built out of— Ontology. —out of preconceptions and misjudgments, Colima dogs and queso fresco— —out of peanut butter and bamboo sticks, Ray Foster’s letters and old lawn mowers, things that should’ve been said but weren’t, afixed in the last light of afternoon— —Manny’s Special Burrito, if you can eat the whole thing you get it free, with added lift from the uncle who always said, “You’re gonna turn out to be the scum of the earth like your old man!” — —cracked pieces of Bakelite radios and toasters, ceramic tile, electrical tape, rabbit skin, willow sticks, laundry baskets, ironing boards, Big Wheels, wind-up toys, piggy banks— —condoms (to be safe), unbreakable plastic combs (with the teeth broken) all dried out by still smelling like hair oil, Roosevelt dimes, axe handles— —writ of Habeas Corpus, needlenose pliers, recycled LAUSD textbooks, parts of Oldsmobiles, American Motors, International Harvesters, Packards, Plymouths, Pontiacs, Hummers, Saturns and 100% recycled parts of car companies that no longer exist— —we will be green, everything shall be recycled or reclycleable: ideas and identities, personal issues and the air that we breathe, time (the long hand and the short hand go round and round)— Love scene, moon over Acapulco Bay— —recycled from wasted lives, from getting hit in the forehead with a brick, from pissing your life away in bars, from not having anything to say anymore— —plus Biktor Schauberter’s astonishing Implosion Engine technology, Nikola Tesla’s longitudinal wave energy transfer broadcasters and receivers, based on the newly discovered Colorado patent interviews— First the idea— Like a dream almost. Then we develop images— Models, functioning prototypes, more or less. Hard to tell till we build some of them. We’ll need a lot of space for the materials. Sensory details, chicken wire, and PVC pipe. No PVC pipe. I’d rather use bamboo and natural hemp cordage. No bamboo then. Ay! Lame! Ha ha ha!   (WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS ARE INTERCONNECTED AND RELATED AND THAT IT’S THE LINKS AND RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN DIFFERENCES THAT MAKE UP THE COMPLEX ARCHITECTURE OF REALITY)   Wide landing fields like veritable open plains. Like steppes. Like El Monte in the 1950s. Love scene, roaring river far below vast as an inland sea, accidental fire—     We’ll expropriate abandoned aerospace buildings out by the Burbank airport. There’s dead sections of the industrial landscape out there, probably some come with hangars attached. Probably. And closer to downtown, certainly there’s abandoned industrial buildings with vacant warehouse space in El Sereno along the railroad tracks. That will work perfectly. So that’s the plan. You got the story? I got lots of notes. I’m always taking notes. Stuff is always coming to me. It feels like having something in your eye, so you have to get it down. Men with brutal faces, leaping skyward. Rising into the sky. Women tossing hair. Looking over their shoulder, hip cocked. Legs and arms akimbo. Tattered fabric flapping in stiff wind like flags. Trolley careening around a bend on an embankment above Huntington Drive, 1930s— Parachutes descending through clouds. Clouds whipping through guy wires. It’s a kind of aerial ballet. Mechanized to an extent. A new civilization. The possibility for one. Sort of like going back into the past to alter the future. We’ll see. Just call 1-800-DIRGIBL. Women with perfect teeth. Arched eyebrows, cute crinkly nosed squint. Crinkly skin of desire— Clock faces, gauges, dashboard instruments. All technical. People watching from balconies— Women with strong shoulders, rising into the sky. Pert square or boyish shoulders. Tania, everybody agrees with that. I still want that in there. It’s on the tape. Stiff wind in the wardrobe. Coffee whipped out of the cup by wind, drops driven across a smooth surface, when you look down the cup is empty (in a 1930s way)— Someone behind the curtains— Love interest gets a severe haircut? Occasioning a disturbance, setting off a running gun battle? An aerial duel between fleets of airships? We gotta come up with some better than— Stale stuff— Yeah, don’t worry. If nothing else, we’re masters at improvising. Ay! Lame! Ha ha ha! Shadows of attacking ships emerging from the cloud bank are thrown onto the the dirigibles below. Crew choice when the ship goes down in flames, burn with the ship or leap to certain death. The sad choice of duty. Analogous to war capitalism where you burn in the ship or leap into space. (You knew what you were signing up for, kids.) Laying down your life for your fellow man (Merrill Lynch, Chase Bank, Lehman Brothers, etc.) in a world that is forever at war. She always has new tattoos. One day she’s covered in Japanese camellias, and the next time she reveals skin they’ve become robots. It’s a running gag. She explains how to create new tattoos out of old by ingenious designs where you rewrite over the previous ones on a continuing basis. Lots of coincidental revelation of skin. Human skin, soft. Taut dirigible skin. She has a praying mantis as a pet. She talks to it. Maybe it could do the voice over. Explosions rock the ship. Like BP Deep Horizon, they only have a few minutes before the platform is consumed. Only one parachute, you know what this means. No, you take it. No, you. No, you. He thrusts it at her and steps to the open (door?), says, goodbye my dear. Jumps. She straps on the parachute and leaps overboard to try to save him, plunging through atmospheres. Will she reach him in time to pull the cord? Why didn’t he think of that first?     Shot of the praying mantis, light green as a spring rain, swaying delicately on the shuddering or cracked guages of the console. Praying mantis voice over—unintelligible squeaking, blotted out by sounds of destruction. Those insects can’t even make any noise, do they? Maybe they make a crunchy sounds when they chomp up their mates. Just when all seems lost, East L.A. Dirigible Transport Lines on fire, shot to pieces, some going down in flames (proud ELADTL flagship Colima, with its distinctive dog head consumed by a BALL OF FIRE, still proudly upholding its dog head)—sprouting tiny white parachutes like dandilion seeds in the blurry air smudged with columns of smoke, the heroine plunges through the air seeking out what’s his name, who jumped with no chute. Suddenly far above, out of the columns of smoke and storm front cloud banks, appear the giant tentacles of Kraken, the— What’s that? Like a giant octopus? It comes out of the clouds, a giant sort of puppet octopus? Yeah! It crushes the fascist zeppelins of the reactionary forces and saves the day. WTF? It’s another metaphor. One metaphor is saved by another. Really? Oh, I don’t know. Can we do that? Can we do what? Make a giant Kraken octopus out of papier-mache, so that it doesn’t look like “The Giant Claw” monster from 1957, operate it from wires and drop it through cumulus cloud banks and swirling black smoke? We’ll have our technical experts work on it. Special effects! It’s doable. They can bail out AIG and Detroit, we can bail out East L.A. Dirigible Transport with a Kraken. They didn’t bail out Detroit! They bailed out car companies. Kraken, out of the sky? Out of clouds? Out of the unknown Trash Vortex. Trash Vortex? In the sky? What about the leads, will they be saved? You’ll have to see it to find out. Maybe they end up in Sky City in the Trash Vortex. A sequel! Is the praying mantis saved? Watch to find out!