Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review of "A Gothic Nomad Visiting Poe's Home"

Nicky's creative non-fiction story "A Gothic Nomad Visiting Poe's Home" appears in Dirty Black Winter.

This odd little tale starts with an explanation of the difference between an urban nomad and a homeless person. It boils down to urban nomads have "a debit card and a digital camera". So there, Mr. Policeman. You can't arrest Nicky for vagrancy (or whatever) because he has a debit card and a camera. The fact that Nicky includes this bit makes me think that he has been accused of being homeless before. Heh.

Then we jump into the story itself. Nicky explains that he took this trip back in March and April of 2003 "in the wake of the crash and burn interview on the radio were I got eaten alive and was interrupted every other line." I remember hearing about this, but it was before my first encounter with Nicky. I'd be interested in details if anyone has them.

From here on, I am no longer going to follow the text in the order that it's written. Nicky jumps around in time frame like a gecko on speed. I'll cover what happened in chronological order, as best I can figure it out. Unsurprising to anyone familiar with Nicky, this whole story is just one big bucket-o-fail, and I could probably post about 75% of it as lulzy outtakes. But I'll spare you.

Nicky took the train to Baltimore and arrived with "all [his] bags that [he] carried n.[sic]", "that black Kelty fleece liner, and one other thing [he] actually picked up for when [he]I went to New Orleans" and a large carton of Goldfish. He has no map. He's such a stud that he can simply find his way around by remembering episodes of "Homicide:Life on the Street". LOL. He also has not arranged for accommodations.

Then he takes a cab to...somewhere. He couldn't find Poe's grave and the house where Poe lived was apparently closed so Nicky had the cab driver take a photo of him in front of it. Then he writes that the camera died before the end of the trip and he could never get the pictures off it. That leads to the question: is an urban nomad still a nomad - and not a homeless person - if he has only a debit card and no camera? Inquiring minds want to know.

Nicky then wanders around - or perhaps stands in the place the cab driver booted him out of the cab and wrings his hands - trying to find "a  hostel or a hotel that was under $33.00 a night there. There’s nothing." So instead he "crashed for a little bit in the college." No, wait. Later he admits that he actually "pass[ed] out in the main part of Baltimore’s community college hall’s couch." Vagrant, what?

Over the next few days, he wanders around Baltimore. He takes a picture of himself with a statue of Poe because "it was one of those things I could picture Poe doing over me if he was alive to this day." I'm not sure *what* exactly Nicky thinks Poe would be doing to him but that sounds just a Nicky's not gay! No, no, he's not.

The statue is apparently in a "historic park" and when Nicky visits the information office, "the guard on
duty knew who [he] was from [his] website." Nicky is clearly delusional from his lack of sleep from crashing passing out at the college. The guard, a woman, takes pity on Nicky and lets him "take a nap in the area until closing". After she boots him out, he runs into the guy who offers to take him home for the night.

Yes, that guy. Who's been immortalized in Nicky lore ever since.

Short version: Naive-Nicky accepts an offer to crash at the house of a TOTAL STRANGER who hangs out around homeless people urban nomads. The guy takes him home and, if we believe Nicky's version of events, demands sex. Nicky freaks, grabs his pants and runs off with his hands over his ass as fast as his stubby little legs will carry him.

He spends the rest of that night sleeping on a park bench in the snow. More than once: "Waking up with snow covering me with only fleece sleeping bag liner on a park bench or drenched with rain was something that became the common thing for the first two days. There were times I unrolled my bedding in places where the Homeless would sleep just so I can get my medication wearing off." And the close encounter with temptation leads to much defensive "I'm not gay" whining scattered throughout this story.

Nicky also crashes at a mission one night and spends another few nights on someone's couch. Nicky says, "I was able to sleep comfortably in the living room as I’ve always been accustomed to sleeping on couches all my life." Said couch was promptly fumigated thereafter. The "someone" also apparently did not let Nicky stay at the house during the day while he was at work; Nicky had to pack up all his stuff and get out every morning.

This gem is buried in Nicky's recounting of couch-surfing: "I did this often when I was at the apartment in Justice too. My bed was two places at the apartment, my sick bed was the living room as much as Michelle hated when I did that." Michelle hated when Nicky parked his sick ass on the couch for days at a time instead of in his bedroom. How utterly unreasonable of her! To want to be able use the living room as room. I can only imagine how bad of a roommate Nicky must have been. No money, no hygiene, and no common courtesy. Yikes.

Nicky runs out of money before the trip is over and has Granny wire him some money because he "didn’t have a debit card just yet."

What? He has neither a debit card or a (functional) digital camera! Guess he's not really an urban nomad, then. Just a crazy man loose on the streets of Baltimore.

He tries to find an author and "friend" named Diane, but she wisely avoids him. He eats a lot of  "street food", probably because sit-down restaurants won't let him in because he looks and acts like a crazy homeless person. He also has weird dreams about Poe being his BFF and loving all his (Nicky's) work. He writes that dream-Poe "was dressed in modern clothing almost if he was borrowing the grungy take on the Gothic community with the torn up black cargo shorts, hooded sweatshirt, and hiking boots."

Predictably, Nicky gets sick as his odyssey in Baltimore is wrapping up. We are treated to a paragraph or five lovingly describing the blankets and sleeping bags that bondage-sleepsack-Nicky preferred to wrap up in both while sleeping and while travelling on the train.

And now things get a bit confusing. I think Nicky also went to Washington D.C. on this trip, and I think he ended up back in Chicago via train with a couple of days to kill before he could catch the bus back to Granny's Basement. He stayed at "a variety of places," with "a fingernail that was falling off when [he] was in D.C. that was infected pus everything." Gross. TMI.

It gets better, though. Nicky writes, "In fact in D.C. it fell off and I was feeling very ill from it. So when I came to Joliet Union I called an ambulance to get me over to the hospital. I was x-rayed and everything. It was my bronchitis acting up, and tired as hell." He called an ambulance over AN INFECTED FINGERNAIL.

At the hospital, they take some blood, treat whatever his issue is, and kick him out. Nicky is then  accosted by a "drug addicted lady" in a station wagon who asks Nicky if he is homeless. Has Nicky learned from his encounter in Baltimore with the guy picking up homeless guys urban nomads? Of course not. She offers to let him "stretch out" in the back of her car, and he accepts and promptly falls asleep. Unfortunately, we never learn how Nicky got from there to Granny's Basement.

The story ends with more whining about the gay guy in Baltimore and how "visiting Poe’s home ended up becoming a Gothic story within itself, one that would scare more people than a work of fiction." The end.

Overall, this story is completely lulz-worthy and demonstrates once again that Nicky should not be allowed to travel on his own.


Lewis said...

What a bloody moron. Nicky from nomad to vagrant by his own definition. Nice review, Jenny.

Jenny said...

Thanks, Lewis. I think he's truly clueless about how he comes off to normal people.

Anonymous said...

fan bloody tastic

50 Foot Ant said...

That was absolutely great.

I need to review Dirty Black Winter sometime myself.

But still, the idea of Nicky grabbing his pants and running off into the night with one hand clutched desperately over his crusty starfish makes me laugh.

Jenny said...

Somebody with more clip-art talent than me needs to make a graphic of that.

Phil Smith said...

Oddly enough my sympathies are with the guy who propositioned Nicky. He dodged a bullet there. I mean, what if Nick said yes? The poor guy would never get a decent night's sleep after that? Out of the blue he'd be subject to flashbacks of the lice crawling over Nick's arse-hair, and that's it: back to the shower, time for another vigorous scrub-down with the brillo pad. "Never be clean... never be clean... never be clean..."

Anonymous said...

The fact that he even named it "Dirty BLack Winter" is lame considering that's almost a direct lift of the title "Dirty Black Summer" by Danzig. Cheap.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun!