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Visions Of Wozbrood

So in California when the sun goes down

And I sit on the 7th floor full of reporters

With their broken-down news hound dreams

I watch the flat brown sky envelop L.A.

And sense all that raw pop culture that rolls

In one unbelievably huge bulge, like a tumor

Out past Vegas and over to the East Coast

A metastatis that encroaches upon our dreams

Bending and shaping them to its own design

Devouring our free time as well, and leaving us

Closer to the Simpsons than to our neighbors

And heartsick with post-Edison, post-Marconi blues

America probably spends more time reading

About celebrity lifestyles now than anything else

They fill bookracks, talkshows, magazines, newspapers

And share space in tabloids with paranormal freakishness

From illegitimate alien babies fathered by state troopers to

Brooding bigfoot caught quaffing beer in Oregon bar

But I think that Sasquatch and Julia Roberts

Are just two sides of the same coin of collective yearning

A coin flipped well, I might add, by one Scott Wozbrood

Who wanted to travel to stars, not meet them

But was comfortable with the Great American Hallucination

I think of his poems about paranoid Iowa housewives

And his great epic surreal science fiction stories

I think of Scott Wozbrood and his visions, those visions

Transmitted to him first, I believe, by Zubo

And in my cubicle I would imagine him at home

Smoking, cursing, writing his adventures in the year 3000

Reading great volumes concerning alternate universes

Remembering every arcane and fascinating detail

About yetis, psychoactive drugs, underground comics

As he sought to mutate reality by any means necessary

And I often sympathized with him on longish days

While staring blankly at a computer screen in my cage

As I knocked out articles on the entertainment business

For Billboard, the unholy Bible of the music industry

It was there that I toiled and nearly went insane

Surrounded by the beaten-down old editors

Who had seen Sinatra and Sullivan give way

To the Beatles, MTV and Cicciolina

And by younger scribes who took it all too seriously

And really were just paid groupies eager for a backstage pass

Who spent their days chasing scoops like some intrepid dog-owner

Documented the commercial trends and celebrity gossip

Who was in the Hot 100, climbing the charts with a bullet

Who had a Hot Shot debut or Heatseeker Impact

All names that reminded one of murder, junkies and nukes

Of course it was all easy work, a steady paycheck

But I felt my life slipping away, in a trail of headlines

UB40 Holds At No. 1 For Third Week

Until Arrival Of Billy Joel Laxative

Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" Revealed As Incubus

Hall & Oates Re-Explore Soul In Epic Debut

Editor Loses Soul Writing About Hall & Oates

And so on Advertising Infinitum Ad Nauseum

It was time to flee, hit the road, to pursue Wozzie's vision

The strange UFO sighting he'd been discussing for years

He'd been clamoring for a return trip up Highway 5

To the site of the Incident that had so affected him

And I was tired of referring to humans as consumers

Target audiences, viewers, eyeballs, niches, demographics

I wanted to interview little blue men

Not Geffen or Clive or Quincy

No, I'm talkin' about missing time and abductions

Bringing It, Them, The Unspeakable on home

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So one day, round about deadline time

Just after the conference call with New York

I lit out for the territory, the Wozbrood Zone in fact

Elvis and Sal Paradise and I had all left the building

I would have to drive, of course

Wozzie hadn't been able to shift gears since The Incident

And incidentally had always been somewhat Unusual

Since his first experiment with sensory deprivation at age 9

Locking himself all day into a tiny closet with no light or sound

So I stopped by and picked up Woz from work at the Caltech library

Where he stacked books on string theory and quantum arcana

Had discussed time travel and black holes with Kip Thorne

And worked UFO mysteries into his own Unified Field Theory

And then we were on the road, heading north, ending up

Two hours later somewhere past Bakersfield on Highway 5

As the colors of dusk were making even this barren area look good

Getting ever closer to where The Incident had occurred

Wozzie was smoking furiously, chattering about other dimensions

We flew past long brown fields and power lines

Grape vines and oil fields and ancient fault lines

Barbed wire surrounded scrub and eroded dirt

A sign ahead said: Drentron Avenue one mile

    Woz grew more agitated, "Drentron!

"Doesn't that sound like an alien's name to you?

"He's probably ten giga light years from home, poor fucker!"

And so too were we and the road was empty

Just forlorn tire retreads like little black alligator hides

And three yellow dump trucks going from here to there

"What do you think, Woz, carrying cow or computer chips?"

"I think they've got dead aliens in those things," he screamed

We had to be getting close, to where years earlier

Late late one Tule fog night on his way home

From a Fresno wedding with three friends

Woz's car had been buzzed by something flying low

Lower even than Evil Knievel on a bender

The whatever- it-was was lit like a Christmas tree

But flew silent as falling snow

Came back the other way, right for them, still silent

Buzzed them again, disappeared, reappeared above the overpass

Went back and forth like it was taunting them

"It was harassing us," said Woz, remembering

This went on for twenty minutes, scaring them silly

They all saw it but afterwards forgot it completely

All except Wozzie, forever since haunted and obsessed

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We came up to Arroyo Pasajero, a sandy wash

Surrounded by cottonwoods and a thousand blackbirds

"It's here, it happened right here," Woz was apoplectic

Night was coming fast, sun setting over piles of yellow

And green minerals and sinister looking storage tanks

I was happy to be pursuing the aliens, not industry VPs

"There are no consumers out here," I gleefully told Woz

"No target audiences or trends or niches"

"Yes," he replied,

"It's just us and them -- those interplanetary fucks!"

I could see a dust storm rising in the distance

We were beyond civilization as we knew it

It was then that we saw the lights, dancing over the highway

Teasing us, taunting us, luring us on

For the first time in a long time, Wozzie was speechless

Then moments later was halfway out the window, shaking his fist

"Come and take me! I want to travel in space!"

I saw it all then, his quest for the beyond

The mystic, the extreme, the transcendent

Martian colonies, Europa, Titan, the Oort Belt

Datura, lysergic acid, peyote, San Pedro cactus

Near-death experiences, astral projections, poltergeists

Wozbrood might have pursued these interests

Even if he'd been born in Jerusalem or Jakarta

But I think much of his intensity came

From having been born in America,

Which can so often resemble, to the truly alienated,

Some wealthy off-planet colony full of cyborgs

So here we were, alone with our silent shadow

I think back now to what unfolded on that open road

As Woz met his destiny, in the time that was no time

And I never did make it back to work that year

Not that millenium, nor the next

Later I thought of Wozbrood and his visions

And nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody

Twelve billion years or so after this particular universe was born

Of a singularity smaller than a marble or an old memory

And I think of Scott Wozbrood

I think of all that he found again that day

I think of Scott Wozbrood


dedicated to Scott Wozbrood & Jack Kerouac

JC McGowan 1999

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