The Failure Factory

A Dominican hacker with stories from the Southside of Chicago enters a Hong Kong hotel room wearing a badge that reads “Julian Assange”.

Channing Tatum with no chains on arrives alongside a slew of faux police cadets  a little past two am.

Someone opens the rear window in the factory-plant when the music drops alongside the Kid’s pants.

As the dancing cadets situate chairs, empty and filled between their groins, the beltway on the factory level continues its churn of tasteless marshmallow candies.

The rhythms sync to a carefully curated playlist of R&B while Warhol watches smoking an e-cigarette in the corner whispering to a young Columbian art star.

A Vanity Fair profiler scratches into his notepad in bewilderment of the seemingly chaotic production at play between the hotel scenes and the assembly line nature of the work in front of him.

He writes about the plastic guitar hero guitars, the cement, the videos ripped from YouTube without credit, the stoning of originality, the beheading of professionalism,  and the amateurism.

Philanthropic Amateurism.

Activist Amateurism.

Amateurism as practice in a legal and medical sense.

Amateurism as litigated defense in the 9th circuit of appeals.

There’s another entire section of the factory that remains covered in green exclusively for the moments when Shia Labeouf might come to flex how he really feels after a hard day’s work.

In this particular void, ethical questions regarding appropriation and accreditation to influences are raised.

It’s here where a certain underdog artist spends his weekdays with The Weekend for a time persisting to make mistakes with no gallery space for atonement only to find himself paraphrasing a certain Toronto based rapper.

And it’s there where the bottom starts, where the wolves lose out and drowned out, where late night calls in a turtle-neck sweater meet the rotating structure of a light installation meant to be more than a marketing meme.

Because maybe meaning can’t be attached to all the mistakes made on the assembly line.

But perhaps the mapmaker with lowquat picking habits can step in as curator, degree or not, and rationalize it all into semblance.

And then, maybe the strike will begin to halt production once and for all.




Kill Your Romantics

There’s a blockbuster new museum downtown with funding galore that I’ve been selected to be the director of.

It’s not quite solely a contemporary art space and not entirely a natural sciences facility.

Its collections and holdings are on a constant turn about depending on the director; a mixture of private holdings, personal artworks not shown anywhere, and works cannibalized from elsewhere.

Admission is free while the lines stretch around three blocks and the name is tentatively settled on by the board as MOP (Museum of Pain)

The front desk is advised to tell the public that all exhibits deal with the Hyper-Now.

Immediately, there’s a hallway with polaroids, rotary phones, boom boxes, VHS tapes from weddings, a scarf, a ring, a dreadlock, a stroller, a minivan..

Reliquaries & vessels fitting for the exhibit titled Nostalgia Ultra.

After, there’s an interactive section where someone can step into a polaroid as it develops enveloping themselves fully in the process of preserving an archival moment that would otherwise fade.

Past this, lies a section behind glass containing individual pages from the Old Testament. Whole sections have been redacted with an emphasis placed on portions pertaining to “suffering” “martyrs” and “the unrepentant.”

Even further lies the newest exhibit, “Atrocity In Our Time.”

Suspended from the ceiling hang a set of sagging industrial trash bags with limbs protruding and a foul odor emitting with blackish gray labels on each that read John Cusack, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hansen, Ethan Hawke, and Ted Mosby.

At the very bottom level lies the permanent exhibition splitting off in two separate hallways, which reads “Untitled.”

The first presents a free-standing silhouetted shadow animation with different images on the front and the back.

On one side, a wordless narrator reads a letter in a presumably eloquent and exaggerated fashion. The viewer is not privy to the contents of the letter but it is assumed that it is of a romantic nature for as soon as the silhouetted male finishes his reading, a female rushes towards him, kisses him on the lips and embraces him.

On the reverse side of this projection, this same narrator places an assault rifle into his mouth and pulls the trigger.

His frontal lobe and rear cortex are disconnected in the exchange and he presumes to struggle to place them back into his skull while scooping the remaining fragments off the floor.

Beyond this, a simple transparent charcoal drawing of You & Her and all the Others before.

They are a freestanding set of life-size drawings. An overlap of legs and torsos, and messes of hair. Backlit by a harsh neon flickering set of pillars that transfigures them altogether.

Behind them lies a simple household blender with a label reading “Donations.”

A stipulation in the piece indicates that the acting director of the museum must remove his or her vital organs and place them into the blender on a weekly basis in order for the piece to function.

The flesh is ground into fossil fuel which subsequently serves as an energy source for the neon backlighting.

I find myself questioning the sustainability of such a project as another proposal for yet another project comes in:

A permanent installation featuring a film with an endless Summer and a caricature vaguely resembling myself set in Downtown LA and starring Joseph Gordon Levitt in a slow motion tempo of 365 days.

Barcelona threatens to pull its funding if such a piece is willed into fruition.

And as the rest of my limbs and organs begin to swirl I yank the cord from the outlet.

Brownish, pink chunks in the blender harden into a cheap cookie format.

All irreverent pieces are composted because the IRS said so.

In fact you can keep the heart you broke
Privatize it
Place it in a tax free storage container off the coast of Panama
It might be worth something to you someday

Because there’ll be a point
where the contemporary becomes a decade ago
where two summers ago becomes four
and when all those seasons become reliquaries of grain in the pyramids.

So set the board of trustees on fire
Drag the chief curator to the guillotine
Blackbag the CFO
Submerge the building in Flint water
and begin again & again & again & again & again & again & again

Drowning In The Food Chain

As we attempt to rule the land
We know they rule the seas

I recently discovered this

When fighting with a mere fraction

How overpowering they truly are

In such a huge body of water

They dominate it

We can not see 

As far as they travel in their lifetimes

It’s clear to me now

Why you prefer to stay on the sand

You fight these beasts daily

On your terms

No telling what could happen

If it was on theirs 

The ever so handsome Derek interviews the beautifully talented Gabby

Recently, this blogger had the rare privilege of communicating with fellow Paper Plane Pilot Gabby McCullough: an exceptionally talented writer, poet and budding photographer. Below is the interview that transpired…

1) How and when did you initially discover that writing was a passion of yours?
I don’t quite remember how I discovered my love for writing, but I would guess that it was fostered from a passion for reading.  I have fond recollections of writing down small poems and tidbits at the age of about 8 or 9, and resting my notebook atop a colossal volume of classical poetry, so the two are so interconnected for me.  Perhaps the truest thing that I’ve come to understand about my own writing process is that it’s so heavily influenced by other writers.  One of my favorite feelings is that of a blissful overwhelm of emotion when I find a poem or piece of fiction that profoundly moves me.  Language is such an interesting and difficult thing to master, both in reading and writing.
2) Might you share who your favorite poets/writers are, and why?
Oof.  This is a big question!  Here are my top five (in no particular order):
(1) Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  There is such a power to his writing. Everything from his sense of rhythm to his sense of sound, his ability to paint an extremely visceral image, his mastery of rhyme and storytelling–I’m amazed.  Perhaps what’s more, he’s willing to traverse extremely dark places in his poetry.  His literary struggles with repentance and morality and innate evils and societal entrapment are all gorgeous and heartbreaking.  Perhaps more heartbreaking and more fascinating than that is the many ways in which he deconstructs a societal norm and then proceeds to plaster and bandage up (quite incompletely) the destruction that he just enacted.
(2) E.E. Cummings.  If ever there were a poet who could so beautifully baffle me, it would be E.E. Cummings.  The fluidity and brightness of his poetry is so contrary to the (typically) heavy subjects that he discusses.  There is an enormous tension between the cadence of the poem and what it actually imparts to the reader.  I’ve spent hours examining and re-examining “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and have, happily, been unable to reach any decisive conclusions.
(3) Frank O’Hara.  The emphasis on wandering, both in the phrasing of his stanzas and what they contain, the disconnectedness of his ideas in the way that they’re presented–he’s able to enchant and entice readers in a way that few others can.  His poems beg to be spoken, and to me they drip down the page like a Salvador Dali clock.  Truly, they’re just glorious.
(4) Terrance Hayes.  Another man whose poetry begs to be spoken aloud.  His toying with time as a concept and as a construct is so intriguing to me, and it’s challenging to find words to describe just how necessary his voice is.  There is a heaviness in the fall of his words; they refuse, in fact, to fall softly, regardless of the structure of the poem.
(5) Ishion Hutchinson.  Dwelling in the strange and beautiful liminal space between the abstract and the concrete, Hutchinson is able to paint with words some of the most haunting images I’ve ever come across.  There is a music to his stanzas, and his works all have a whispering melody.  Every words is measured and weighed, and he manages to say exactly what he wants to without compromising meaning or rhythm or intent; his words are pointed.
I realize now that these are all poets, and they are all male.  Truthfully, these are just the first of many to come to mind, but I feel I’ve drudged on quite long enough about these incredibly inspirational beings.

3) Do you pursue writing in a professional sense, or is it strictly a pastime that you appreciate?

In the poems and short stories I write, it’s largely just for the appreciation of creating something.  I love the process.  I love laboring over the words and the music in the lines.
Professionally, I’m an undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience and English.  The influence of both discourses tends to find its way into my poetry.

4) Apart from poetry and prose, are there other artistic creations that you enjoy?

I fancy myself a bit of a photographer.  I much prefer the process of film rather than digital works, largely because I feel as though I have more control over the actual creation of the image, but I love the careful thought about perception and perceiver, the composition of images, and how the image interacts with its viewer.  Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes vision as palpation with the eye, and I can’t help but consider that when I work with photography.

5) After reading some of your poetry, it is clear alliteration is a poetic technique you employ. What other techniques do you incorporate into your poetry, and why?

I’m a huge fan of alliteration!  When I write, I try to be very conscious of the ways in which words sound together.  For me, poetry has always been a paired auditory and literary task, and so I try to give my poems sounds as I try to piece together image.  I guess it’s sort of like trying to create an odd film soundtrack for each poem.

6) Free verse appears to be a style of poetry you occasionally write in. What is it about this style that appeals to you?

I’ve definitely messed around with a lot of styles, and I’ll typically try and write images first and then see how they fall on the page.  I’m a believer in the idea that form is fluid and, while I’ve written occasionally in more rigid poetic structures, I tend to vary even the forms that I do attempt to write in, re-owning them in small ways.

7) In regards to the words you use within some of you work, would you consider yourself to be a bit of a sesquipedalian?

I am incredibly fond of all words, but yes–I am particularly fond of lengthier words.  I like the way that the syllables roll off of the tongue and into one another.

8) What passions and values are often thematically discussed/referenced in your writing? Might you kindly explore why?

I suppose that I tend to work a lot with images of death or decay.  I would like to think that I do this to better acquaint myself with the idea of dying; the idea that it’s an incurable and inevitable side-effect of living is quite terrifying, and I think I write about it so that I can try better to understand and come to terms with it.

9) One of the things I appreciate about poetry is the multiple interpretations a single piece can have. With this in mind, what do you enjoy about poetry?

I love everything from the sounds to the shapes to the fluidity of the verse.  I think the best way that I’ve ever heard poetry described is that a poem is like trying to fit a tornado inside of a Tupperware container.  There is so much power and force and chaos–all crammed into such a small amount of space.

10) Regarding the aforementioned question, might I ask, what is your poem, ‘the Library’ about?

Insofar as I was writing with any sort of single meaning, I really wanted to explore closely the impact that parents, societal norms, and literature jointedly effect a child.  It was, more than anything, meant to be a physical expression of mental phenomenon and a competition for mental energy and freedom of thought.  I suppose that freedom itself and the idea of defying norm values was really at the core of it.  The sections were meant to be slow developments and slow progression of age as we track with the narrator through her life.

11) ‘Still Patient’ is a very powerful and emotive piece of yours. I personally often write about particularly painful moments in life for the therapeutic benefits, and because heartbreak, pain and loss are often relatable themes for a wide variety of people. Might I ask, what are your motivations behind some of your more poignant work?

Works like “Still Patient” arise from a deeply personal place.  Typically, I’ll write the beginnings of the end products to stories or poems like this months before they’re actually done.  At the time, it’s my way of expulsing the emotions boiling over inside of me and leaving them to settle for a bit before I return to them.  The return is the coming to terms with what’s happened, and piecing things together, and the slow beginnings of moving on.

12) Your name milady, McCullough – is this Irish or Scottish? Do you think your racial/cultural background influences the type of work you produce? If so, might you explore how?

McCullough is, indeed, Irish!  I think that it has a subtle influence, particularly because I’m a strange and uncommon mix of things.  I’ve got Irish, Lebanese, Spanish, and Ukrainian blood running through my veins.  Each of these places has such a unique and fascinating history, and while I don’t feel as though I’m explicitly aware of their influence, I believe that they effect most writers implicitly.

13) There is no thirteenth question. Thirteen is a wretchedly evil number, so I will not include it here.

 14) Do you often find yourself answering questions from random strangers concerning your writing practices?
Not at all!  This is a very infrequent occurrence, but one which I am incredibly thankful for!  Thank you for your kind and thoughtful questions, and thank you for the opportunity to reflect on my own writing process!
I would like to personally thank Gabby for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I would moreover, like to thank Paper Plane Pilot Publishing for granting me the opportunity to conduct this interview. Lastly, I wish to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read this interview. Have a great day!  🙂