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Archive for the ‘Nihilism’ Category

Ryan Day


November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day


I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)

D.R. Haney

The Dark Undone

November 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney


The thought came to me when I was fifteen and trying to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Nothing I recall had happened to incite it. I’d spent the night babysitting my younger siblings while my mother attended a party, and she returned home around one in the morning and everyone went to bed. (My parents had divorced, though they continued to quarrel as if married.) My brother was sleeping in the bunk below mine, and as I stared at the ceiling and listened to the house settle, I thought: Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab your family to death?


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns


Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.


Tom Hansen

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

October 22nd, 2009
by Tom Hansen


Want time to write that masterpiece? Well now there’s a solution.

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

Applicants [artists, writers, etc.] from all nations should adhere to the following guidelines;

  1. Chop off your leg [or inflict some other significant permanent physical harm to yourself that your government classifies as a disability] Think twice before chopping off your hand—it will probably be needed for your art.


John L. Singleton

Chicken Wing Floozie

October 5th, 2009
by John L. Singleton


I left home when I was in high school without a diploma and shacked up with a floozie. I call her a floozie not just because my mother called her that, but because she was a floozie. She was a floozie to end all floozies. If being a floozie was anything like being in the Army she’d have been a general. And instead of painting skulls on her helmet to represent vanquished opponents, she’d have painted dicks, to represent vanquished dicks. And to accommodate all the dicks she’d need something like a million helmets and a whole convoy just to transport them.


D.R. Haney

What Child Is This?

October 5th, 2009
by D.R. Haney


A relative is apparently angry at me, or so I was told by another relative. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with my contributions to The Nervous Breakdown (though this piece may well compound the situation). Rather, in his (erroneous) view, I slighted still another relative, so, on the relative’s unrequested behalf, I’m being given the silent treatment.

Meantime, last week, while in the middle of what might be described as extremely trying financial circumstances (including the death of my car), a friend texted to ask why I’d been “talking shit” about him. I could only guess as to his meaning. I’d recently discussed him with a mutual acquaintance, specifically regarding what I considered a pattern of rudeness. I should’ve spoken to my friend, as opposed to about him, but I did so because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. However, our acquaintance seems to have decided a big deal was in order, and tattled.


Lenore Zion

Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over

October 4th, 2009
by Lenore Zion


I call it the “Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over Depression.”

When I was a kid, my parents let me have birthday parties. An entire gaggle of prepubescent girls would swarm my house and play stupid games on Saturday. Most of these games don’t have official names. There was the one where we pretended to put each other into some sort of supernatural spell, a possession of some kind, and even though we all faked it, we also all thought it was real when another girl was possessed. This always made me think there was something wrong with me. Why can’t I become possessed? All the other girls can.


David Breithaupt

Amongst The Un-Molested

October 3rd, 2009
by David Breithaupt


I have to confess, my childhood was somewhat idyllic. I wasn’t molested or fondled, spun or mutilated. I wasn’t MacKenzie Phillips’d nor did I grow up in a cardboard shack in some stranger’s backyard. I wasn’t abandoned, duct-taped, burned, bandied about or water-boarded. Was never felt up by a priest nor unearthed horrid events via hypnotism. My early years, as you can see, were a bit on the normal side. No one wanted me. I felt so left out. Many of my friends had been damaged by such events and I wanted to belong and share their terror. I set out to create my own.


Ronlyn Domingue

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Russians (Iraqis, North Koreans, and so on) and Hate War

October 1st, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue


I confronted eschatology too young. Although benign compared to some beliefs, my Catholic upbringing placed me at the sidelines of Armageddon—strange references to a kingdom come, the Second Coming, Judgment Day. I got queasy at the mention of the Book of Revelations. Sermons and syntactically-strained Bible readings led me to infer a tremendous destructive end to all life, human, animal, insect, plant. There were drawings in books, filled with fire, angels and demons, a sea of the damned. For a child, it’s impossible to reconcile a loving Father with one who will kill every one of his children with wanton violence. Children also don’t grasp metaphor.


Joshua Lyon

From An Old Memoir That I’m Trying To Resurrect

September 16th, 2009
by Joshua Lyon


We get out at the Seventh Avenue station and walk up to the park.  I follow Nicholas down a small paved road that empties out a massive field, stretching black and green before us.  We slink our way across the plain until we get to an empty softball diamond with a metal fence that runs behind home base. Nick drops his bags and pulls his video camera out of the backpack. I ignore it and walk back out onto the playing field. A wall of forest behind Nick and the fence is bordered by a dimly lit path, so we can see if anyone starts to come near us. The mouth of openness on all other sides gives sufficient warning if anyone cuts across the field. I try to see into the woods, remembering this is a notorious pick-up place for gay guys. I imagine hundreds of eyes staring out at us from the tangled trunks and branches.


Ben Loory

Tarnishment of the Living Apparatus

September 15th, 2009
by Ben Loory


There is no point to this. The point is that I’m getting sick. I just noticed it an hour ago. Suddenly I am blowing my nose. Out of nowhere. And now feeling a little wonky. So I took some vitamin C and ate about 14 pounds of sautéed spinach and now I am sitting here waiting to die. If the pig flu gets me tell them I was an okay guy. Kind of quiet and not very good at tennis, but basically decent.

Rob Delaney

The Grimmest Squat in London

September 5th, 2009
by Rob Delaney


It had been a bad morning, the day I went out to look at the squat. I’d had a bitter fight with Binh and then she had a violent premonition: she saw me, she said, lying in a pool of blood; there were spilled pills and a crack of gunshot. It was, I had thought, a fairly stylised, cinematic instance of clairvoyance, but it chilled me nonetheless. It’s the East in her, these depths and silences I don’t understand.

I met Noel, an anarchist colleague from the school where I’d recently found a job, out in East London. Tower Hamlets, the place was called, allegedly the poorest area in Britain.

The high-rise was as long as the street, with five floors, and the whole building had been squatted. It was grey, desolate and forbidding, like a Communist residential block in Eastern Europe fallen into post-Soviet, feral abandonment. Slogans had been daubed in big letters along the balconies on the higher floors:





Peter Schwartz

Faith Isn’t Stupid

September 4th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz


I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good. (more…)

Erika Rae

By The Way…Dressing Up Emo Will Not Save You From Jury Duty

August 7th, 2009
by Erika Rae


Just in case you happened to be wondering: no, dressing up like a Marilyn Manson fan is not, in fact, an effective deterrent for jury duty.

I’m going to blame this one on the fact that I’m a Gemini. Allow me to explain.


Aaron Dietz

A Thousand Words: I Have a Fear of Heights; I Went Skydiving Anyway

July 26th, 2009
by Aaron Dietz


I’m at the airport, confident. I’ve never had vertigo in a plane before, so I’m not worried about jumping out of one.

Besides, my dad is jumping, too, and I don’t want to wimp out on him. Mom is here, too, documenting the whole thing in photos, so if I wimp out, there will be photographic evidence of my cowardice. (more…)

P.T. Winton

Confessions of a Hypomanic Insomniac (Infomercial Hangover)

June 22nd, 2009
by P.T. Winton


It’s not so much insomnia as it is hypomania.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I can’t sleep. My brain does not stop.

It’s like texting with my best friend. I want to stop, but alas, I can not. (After all, we have things to do — kids to bring to soccer games and tacos to make.) So, we try to stop, we really try. But within fifteen minutes, one or the other of us types, “Hey, guess what I just thought of?” This is how my brain works. I try to stop thinking, then this little voice pipes up, “Hey, have you thought about the implications of cold fusion?”

Who the fuck cares?

But, there it is, I can’t stop thinking about an issue that I have no authority to think about. Sometimes it goes on like this for hours, or days.

I watch the TV to try to turn my mind off. Watching television at four in the morning has a side effect. Infomercial inundation. That’s a problem for me. I am hopelessly naive, and these commercials prey on people like me.

Every night I tell myself not to give in, but resistance is futile. (more…)

Stefan Kiesbye

Elegy for a Tutor

June 19th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye


The two teenagers are making out on the sofa to my left, not two feet away. They kiss, then speak to each other in Spanish. Fabiola, my 3rd grade student, sits at the table with me, to my right, hunched over a word search for ‘winter.’ She’s never seen snow, a blizzard, or sleet. I tell her about snow storms in Buffalo, and the ‘Zero Visibility’ ice-cream. Her friend, she answers, who moved to L.A. from Colorado, has seen hail the size of Chicken McNuggets. Which are Fabiola’s favorite food.

In Spanish, the boy asks, “Does he speak Spanish?”

“No,” I say, “but I’m not stupid.”


Milo Martin

The Strenuous Conditions of Dealing With a Milk Spot at the Bottom of a Highball Glass

June 17th, 2009
by Milo Martin


you know when you’re washing the dishes 

and you find a tall glass 

and it’s got a milk spot encrusted right down in the very bottom 

and in the very center 

and it’s there and it’s impossibly stubborn 

because you’ve neglected your dishwashing duties for the last four days


Andrew Johnson

The Case for Disbelief

June 3rd, 2009
by Andrew Johnson


“It’s easy to be cynical,” people say. Does it follow then that being a nihilist is like falling off a log?

Rejecting all systems of belief or belonging on the basis of their existence, no matter how attractive or unattractive they might be?… I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty difficult to me.


D.R. Haney

The Assholes

May 31st, 2009
by D.R. Haney


It was the Saturday night before Halloween, and a friend’s band was playing at a party at a gallery not far from my apartment in Echo Park. I was in a bad mood, though I don’t remember why, since this happened a couple of years ago. Then, too, I’m frequently in a bad mood, which I consider a natural byproduct of being a writer.

Anyway, I drove over to this party and parked a few blocks away, about to head inside when I ran into my buddy Pete on the sidewalk. Pete’s one of The Assholes, as this particular group of my friends sometimes refer to themselves. I’ve always maintained that I’m not really an asshole (despite being one of The Assholes), but I can certainly act like an asshole on occasion, and this night was one of them.