Here are a few intermediate sketches by Bruce Litz for Uncommon Knowledge, the illustrated book of Whitman McGowan performance texts. There are a couple of dozen sketches Bruce is working from, all of which will eventually be rendered in scratchboard.
New Mexico, Alien Nation
Once the “Land Of Enchantment” was home to the Anasazi, which means either “the ancient ones,” or “the others,” or “the assholes who we are not,” depending on who you talk to. In the mid 20th century Wilhelm Reich researched flying saucers charging around the Southwest on orgone energy funneling through there. Strange place. You got your Stone Age culture/Space Age culture, cowboy and Indian culture, trucker and biker culture, culture culture (mostly up north), and the ultimate counter culture in mid state in some die hard Socorran separatists. Were their genius alien lawyers able to discover Socorro County was accidentally ignored in the succession of land grants between Spain, Mexico, and the U.S., when in 1953 they declared Socorro a sovereign nation, set up a border, printed their own money? This really happened. New Mexico…Alien Nation!
The Socorrans weren’t even very far out compared to the University of New Mexico DMT experimental subjects who recently communicated with super powerful beings of another dimension in the first USA research in 20 years into mind expanding drugs, experiencing telepathic and transdimensional states akin to Indian trance visions. USA tax dollars could be allowing those folks to talk to aliens, and that could be a very good thing. If we eat more magic mushrooms, will we see no more mushroom clouds?
Highway signs warning “Don’t pick up hitchhikers – Prison Nearby” might be there because aliens roam that wasteland? There’ve always been some strange ones running around -Plains Indians raiders, Elvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca’s conquistadors, Billy The Kid, Geronimo, the U.S. Cavalry (The Long Knives), and now, the Milky Way Gang? Cattle mutilations, bubonic plague, tb, “Navajo flu (the Hanta virus)”: government plots, or aliens experimenting?
Just like the Socorro close encounter, where people saw E.T.’s walking outside their saucer around the corner from the coffee shop, just like Roswell it has to be covered up even if it isn’t true those little green men taught you how to do the bop. The Tourist Center people into cigar store Indians. “Out near Radium Springs? People don’t go there no more. We kinda don’t like to beat the tomtom about them Radium Springs, if you know what I mean.” Was I talking to a real person, or had they taken him over?
New Mexico has a lack of most natural disasters: earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires. But there is The Lightning Field near Pie Town for you ozone deficient thrill seekers and Albuquerque’s Atomic Museum, which tells very well the story of what happens when atoms go bad. And there exist in New Mexico strong spiritual forces you don’t usually see: the sacred healing earth of Chimayo, Indian and Hispanic medicine men and witches being said to turn into animals or fireballs bouncing off adobe walls and rooftops, and heathen-Christian combo pueblo elders. Singing cacti and talking coyotes and crucifixes, The Manhattan Project and alien astronauts, they all come with the territory.
Big black areas of scorched White Sands real estate mark where test missiles launched from Idaho hit, or where Star Wars laser shots sizzled the sagebrush. If your car fails you out there and you don’t have a cellular, you walk to Star Wars Deli and call Atomic Towing. Dust devils and hail pecked at our off road vehicle outside a bar near the beginning of El Jornada Del Muerto at Las Cruces.
I watched 4 German rocket scientists all order the same dinner and drinks, and I, too, was drinking huge bright blue frozen daiquiris. Jawohl, those 4 king-size “Tijuana Tidy Bowls” sure as shit could’ve wiped out either the taste of cattle mutilations carried out with surgical precision by U.S. govmint employees researching downwind effects of unconventional weapons delivery systems or bad memories of liposuction robot tests for the first probe of another inhabited planet, a pretty stupid operation if they’re here already.
Maybe that’s why there are places named Lemitar, Beklabito, Gabaldon, Sunspot: intergalactic barrios! Si, maybe it wasn’t a Martian who named that town Sunspot, okay. But what about Sena, Rencona, Leyba, Jal, Nageezi, Mogollon, Naschitti? What language is that? So maybe Bo don’t know Navajo ‘cause it ain’t from around here. Somebody should check that out.
Young Mr. Jones in the Woodrose hippie cafe
exclaims to his fellow Christians
“There’s nothing better than good corned beef.”
Well, I can think of one or two things, I thought
beginning with a starry night in Big Sur
after we’d all smoked a bowl of Humboldt
& she & I were 69’ng in a Buick back seat
while our white line feverish driver
got a blow job in front from his wife
& a UFO followed us down the Coast Highway.
The car swerved a little when we all came together.
Surviving that was better than corned beef
you poor, simple, misled bastard.
Back Cover of Uncommon Knowledge
selected texts for spoken word performance
by Whitman McGowan
Illustrated by Bruce Litz
Due Out in late ’13
from Zeitgeist Press