As I said in my first post, the purpose of this project is two-fold: work and humiliation. The two are in inverse proportion: one rises as the other falls. And as I have done no work for the past two days, I can expect to be utterly ashamed of the quality of this post. I have cheated a bit, which is itself shameful, by including material I already wrote.

When I was squatting in Philadelphia, I had a friend who created a hoax Myspace page for – well, I can’t say, as he has continued the hoax to this day. He managed to convince the roving bands of traveling crusty punks (all of whom, surprisingly, use Myspace) of his clever deception. That my friend had not only created one of the boldest, most outrageous parodies I had ever seen, but managed to pass it off as genuine, inspired me to try a hoax myself. I imagined we could create an entire universe of Philadelphia lore, that, like his creation, paralleled reality just closely enough to convince the indiscriminate reader. I also had an ulterior motive: as a squatter who wished to remain hidden from roving bands of crusty punks, I sought immunity through rumor. I created an alter ego under my nickname, Normal Guy. (You have one guess who it was who gave me that name.) Among other things, Normal Guy is 6′8″ tall, and own a rottweiler named Maxwell who roams Camp freely (where Camp is the area surrounding my cabin) and attacks any person unfortunate enough to cross the nearby train tracks. The deception apparently worked, at least to some extent: the cabin shown on Normal Guy’s page is in fact the cabin of my campmate Pat, and to this day the travellers mistake it for my own, leaving my cabin virtually unmolested.

The following is my favorite of Normal Guy’s writings. It is a poem for his Taiwanese girlfriend, Xiu Ng. (Nice name, don’t you think?) It is the first poem I have written in many years:

Poem for Xiu

No form opens out quite like a woman
your body next to classical chemical texts
in an old library, but they are all
open to the same page. Moth and butterfly – both
come from the worm, but I do not know what
to think of you. My bookshelves are full, and I know
nothing worthwhile. Your body next to mine,
beside the bookshelves. We both come from the same text
and we read back and forth to each other,
each in the same tongue. I’ve read the first page of each
one, every one of these books. But you give
in no order, and I take the pages and fold
them up in a drawer with pencils and odds
and ends. You would never know where to look, so you
ask. And I read you the first page. And we
come together
under the shelf
like children playing a desperate scenario
and we are there now
and we are not leaving.
Not for anything.

You can read the rest of his stuff here: Normal Guy’s page