The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. If you were a Martian, what sort of Martian would you be? Would you be good or evil? An emperor or a worker bee? Warrior? Scientist? Magician? Please base this on solid research such as Bugs Bunny cartoons and hundred-year-old movies with terrible special effects. Go.
The thing to remember is that transitioning from human to Martian is extremely traumatic: the DNA transmogrification alone is enough to induce the sort of systemic damage that is hard to put into terms easily understandable to humans. Such a shift would yield a sort of memory wipe that would manifest on Earth as a vision quest – I’d be walking around a sixth dimensional world looking for some sort of grounding object to connect the Martian world to the terran one. If you happened to see me after the transformation, I’d likely be wandering around the streets of a town foreign to me, likely someplace in New Jersey, wondering how I got there and what to call myself. This complete loss of identity is a common ailment of Martian transformation.
After a time, the details of my transformation would come back to me, but because of the immense amount of physical change that transformation into a Martian requires – from the cellular level on up –I still wouldn’t remember my identity. To help myself recall, I’d try to make things simpler by eliminating my first and middle names. A single word as moniker makes it easier. After this, I’d buy a creepy mansion and would go to big box discount stores dressed in all black to buy cat litter for my brood of feline friends and I’d squabble with the gang I used to pal around with and would use Roman numerals instead of digits.
All of this, of course, is based on solid research of Glenn Danzig.
2. Say you dwelt in the Transformers Expanded Universe, which is also known as “What Hell would be if Michael Bay were the Devil.” What would you transform from and into? What would your name be? Would you be good or evil? Assuming that El Diablo Bayo was willing to afford you some creative control, who would you choose to costar with in Hell, Shya LeBoeuf, Mark Wahlberg, or John Cena? Why?
I would transform from Orson Welles’ existing career, where his role voicing a robot in the 1986 cartoon Transformers movie was one of his last, into Orson Welles’ imagined career, in which he started going to see bands play at the Masque in Los Angeles in the 70’s. He’d make friends with Alice Bag and Darby Crash and Black Randy and would move into the Cantebury Apartments. He was already at the fore of self-releasing and -producing his own movies, so the spirit of punk rock would enable him to document all the bands of the era, particularly his own. Either/Orson would be a conceptual group, presenting elaborate alternate realities on stage in two-minute bursts. Of course, as Welles’ alternate timeline is itself a transformation, a wormhole would inevitably open, revealing an alternate future in which Welles would be wasted while trying to pitch big-market wine in commercials. (Something this absurd would never happen, thank goodness.)
I lived in Boston for ten years, so I’m contractually bound to choose Mark Wahlberg here, but only if he promised to tell us about talking to livestock.
3. What do you think James Joyce would have to say about Lady Gaga? How about Beckett?
James Joyce would say: She was born this way yes the expression of self that was there even before she so brazenly ripped it off yes the singer becomes a movie star yes but she already was all and nothing yes because she is all and he is all and Milo is not all but proximate to all yes the covers swirled around her yes as she lay with her head next to the feet of one of her earlier selves yes but they all exist at the same time yes all now and later yes the watermelon ones preferably yes and the other selves include selves of others yes long curly hair and a Hawaiian shirt yes this is him and her and them all the selves all the times in one time him and her and them born was she.
As Lady Gaga hasn’t publicly expressed love for chicken and beer, it’s hard for me to guess what Josh Beckett thinks of her. She probably doesn’t wear cowboy boots enough for his liking. But he does have a thing for singers.
4. Donald Trump: Please explain. I’m not looking for the usual socio-politico-econo-answer-o here, but rather the sort of explanation we’ll be able to feel good about. Meaning, complete bullshit, of course. Example: He is a product of an illuminati plot involving the splicing of human and reptile DNA, something along those lines. Please be creative and specific!
We’ve already covered aliens and alternate timelines here, so it’s time to switch gears for a few minutes. What would happen if everyone’s hard drive was erased? What if broadcast airwaves reasserted themselves as the prime means of disseminating information? I tinkered with this notion in my novel Hidden Wheel (available wherever fine books are sold), but I connected the notion to punk rock and future historians.
But what if this happened right now? The impact would be immediate: everyone’s blood pressure would go down if the Internet wasn’t feeding the 24-hour news cycle (or vice versa). So, the explanation, obviously, has to do with the evil cabal of phone companies. Remember how nice everything seemed on Twitter from 2008-2015? How it was a place to post snaps about award shows and sporting events and goofy pictures of cats? This was all part of the evil plan to get us addicted to a pleasant kind of mundanity – before, that is, the panic-inducing inevitability of checking one’s phone a zillion times a day to make sure the bombs aren’t yet falling. For the phone companies to play the long game so skillfully by creating a headline-generating machine dozens of years after the advent of cellular technology speaks to the depths of their depravity.
5. It’s a broadly posited theory that cats meow as a way of communicating with humans. They are, purportedly, mimicking the sounds human babies make, having rightly deduced adult human caregivers as being willing to do just about anything to appease their squawking progeny. Given another million years of evolution, do you think cats will completely subjugate humanity. Discuss.
If you’d ever met my cat Spippy, you’d know that feline subjugation is not a million years away. Especially when an extra hour is added to the day in November.
6. Tell me all your thoughts on God.
This song came out in 1995, which was at the height of my very loud, very self-righteous proselytizing about all things punk rock and ‘sellout’ (even though I had never paid rent yet). Perhaps not coincidentally, I was reading a lot of Maximumrocknroll at the time. Dishwalla’s signifiers include enough mid-nineties post-grunge sounds so that I likely decried this song and band as being tools of the man and a product of the industry’s attempt to cash in on Nirvana, blah blah blah. Man, I must have been insufferable.
Now, this song is totally gray, totally vanilla.
As far as God goes, I’ve never met her myself, but I have very little to complain about, so I’d say I’m blessed.
Michael T. Fournier is the author of Hidden Wheel and Swing State (both novels on Three Rooms Press) and a book about the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime. His writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Entropy, Full Stop, Pitchfork, Electric Literature, The RS 500, Chicago Review of Books, the Collapsar and more. Fournier is a regular contributor to Razorcake, America’s only non-profit punk magazine, and reviews books for Maximumrocknroll. He’s the publisher and co-editor of the broadsheet literary journal Cabildo Quarterly. Fournier plays drums in Dead Trend. He and his wife Rebecca and their aforementioned cat overlord Spippy live on Cape Cod. More @ xfournierx and/or michaeltfournier.org
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press in 2017. He is currently at work on a novel, The Book of Loki, and a hybrid collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Superman, the Seven Gods of Death, and the Need for Clean, Romantic Poetry. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.
Photo: Rebecca Griffin