Each Friday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from Golden State basements, thrift stores, estate sales, and just this once the internet.
Author: Mike Vanderboegh
Date: The last year or two
"But, one wonders, who would cry over a dead congressman or senator who voted to take people's liberty, property and lives? Especially after innocent victims of his predatory law-making were already littering the streets."
"Duncan's first intimation that this was so came when a flint-tipped arrow entered just above and slightly to the right of his anus and penetrated his scrotum, one of his testicles and the base of his penis. It appeared in the lower edge of his peripheral vision, sticking out of his fly like some stone age parody of an erection."
When they got hauled off for allegedly plotting to kill Americans and office buildings and tyranny, those silly old Georgians pulled the trick thousands of murderers have over the years: Blaming a book.
But this time it's not a holy one or anything - in fact, it's not even a book, really. Rather, it's a bunch of blogpost chapters of domestic terror fan fiction barfed up by Mike Vanderboegh onto his Xanga or whatever. It's terrifying and kind of hilarious, a uniquely American stew of paranoid screed, self-righteous history lessons, gun-catalog fetishism, and Red Dawn remake action scenes.
(And training. There's lots of scenes of training.)
The novel - named "Absolved" after John Locke's promise that the citizens of a tyrannical government are "absolved" of obedience - concerns a batch of self-important Alabama halfwits who decide that the smartest way to show the powers that be how wrong it is to pass gun-control laws is to shoot lots of people. Its attention wanders, with some
blogposts chapters abandoning the main narrative to instead depict insurrectionary moments, real and imagined, throughout America's past and future -- and even one in Ireland, for good measure.
Also, many chapters open with long, copy-and-pasted quotes from sources like George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Daniels, Hitler, and Wikipedia. And as godawful as all this is, there's one passage whose madness verges upon the majestic: The 950 words Vanderboegh spends considering all the ways one of his mean 'ol bastard characters is and isn't like the Muppet Gonzo.
Here's a taste:
"Like Gonzo Greene, the Muppet was always doing death defying acts and, also like Greene, he never gave a damn if they worked or not. The death defying was the important thing. The rush. Skating across thin ice with a wolf pack at your back. Greene lived for the adrenaline as much as the kill. It was almost sexual for him. One of Greene's favorite episodes was when Kermit decided to cancel a jousting match and Gonzo, in armor for the sketch, forced Kermit at the point of his lance to reverse the decision."
This is a revelation. For the people who want to save America by destroying its government, watching Gonzo fight with Kermit is only one degree of separation from the sexual.
Here's some other lowlights -- including, on page 3, the entirety of that insane Muppet compare and contrast essay.
The Opening: The first chapter shows us an old man musing upon old photos and a full life as he waits for federal "thugs" to storm his house. They do, and the old man's traps, guns, and grenades kill dozens of them.
As they circle, the hero, Phil, thinks contradictory nonsense right out of Lewis Carroll:
"The rule of law no longer applied. Now it was the rule of man, which is to say, the law of the jungle. Phil smiled at the thought."
As he rains waves of slaughter upon the government's "gangs," Phil smiles, "chuckle"s, and muses about how he's performing a "duty." Here's the kind of killing that duty entails:
"The improvised Claymore mine in the flower pot that he had detonated when the front door flew open had shredded them from the left side, leaving the rear door intact. Body armor and helmets had saved some from instant death. Phil fixed that by shooting through the window, hitting each of them carefully in the head."
Nice of him to leave their rear doors intact.
Vanderboegh tries his best to make us like this old fed-killer. The novel opens with these lines:
"Phil Gordon felt old, sick, tired and cranky. Cancer did that to you, but he didn't have to like it."
For Vanderboegh, it's not enough that cranky Phil is man enough to stand up to his government - he's also the rare American daring enough not to click "like" on cancer's Facebook page.
The Language: Vanderboegh's heroes -- a posse of "improvised munitioneers" calling themselves the American Republican Army, or "The Twelve Apostles" -- sing long, old-timey songs, just like Tolkein elves, except these are about the old south or Ireland and sometimes feature the word "nigger." Some characters say "frigging," and when they swear Vanderboegh is always polite enough to replace the u in fuck with a dash. Sometimes, he even sounds like a teenage girl, as when he describes Bill Pritchard as "a white haired, weathered old pilot with about a gazillion hours in the air."
He can't write of violence without thinking of breakfast. When Cherokee nomad Charlie Quintard knifes a federal agent to death, Vanderboegh writes, "He violently moved the knife back and forth, 'scrambling his eggs' as someone once said."
(Next time an English teacher tells you to cut down on your adverbs, instead of thinking "What a fussy request," please think back to Vanderboegh's use of "violently.")
And when "hero" Joe Cornyn crashes his cropduster (and firing some missles or something) into the Virginia base of private-security firm Brightfire, Vanderboegh writes that he "got all the barracks, smashing them flat to kindling with blood jam running out the splintered cracks."
The death count is north of 9,000, which is some serious jam. Also, this is what happens when you scribble out the first draft of your novel on the placemats at Waffle House.
Next: Wretched dialogue! And some patriotic woman hating!