Voyd of Course

"It's like the Onion, only skinnier!" --Milton Swift "Still worth the price of the paper it's not printed on." --Felicia DuBois "The unspeakable, spoken." --Malin Wuptke "More interesting than computer solitaire, though perhaps not so effective a distraction from the void." --Harlan J. Rippington "Satire today, history tomorrow." --Steven Wallace

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Location: Santa Fe, NM, United States

In 1966, I wrote a fake newspaper article under the headline "JACK CASS SETS WORLD SHOWERING RECORD." Mr. Yohans, my 9th grade English teacher, liked it so well that he read it aloud--to much not-quite-suppressed giggling, at the sound of which, Mr Yohans said, "What? What? Did I miss something here?" I spent the rest of the afternoon in Principal Leon Duff's outer office. When Mr. Duff, who was a busy man, decided he didn't have time to see me, his secretary sent me back to the classroom, where I was greeted like McMurphy returning from solitary. Emboldened by my de facto exoneration, my friends began work on their own fake news stories. I remember a spate of Russian names in the stories, including "Ivan Kutchikokoff" and "Ivan Jerkinov." Needless to say, our newly suspicious teacher sent both of my friends to Mr. Duff's office, where they were not as bureaucratically blessed as I had been. They sat detention for a week. This I took as a lesson in subtlety--and in how to start a commotion and slip from the room before the law comes down.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


            “Aargh,” says Joseph “Pegleg” Stewart, President of The Southeast Chapter of the International Pirates’ Association. “Johnny Depp. He’s a swine, I tell ya. And I tell ya true. Ain’t never fired a black powder pistol. Never swung, boots first, onto the deck of a rich man’s vessel. Not an ounce a pirate in that lad.”
            “Here, here,” shout the eight members of the IPA, clanking their flagons of ale loudly in assent.
            “Being a pirate’s a manly occupation,” chimes in Black Bart, the organization’s secretary and a champion climber and swinger of ropes. “Someone should tell Depp that it’s swashbuckling, not swishbuckling.” A roar of derisive laughter erupts from the small crowd gathered on the deck of the schooner anchored off Big Pine Key for the annual gathering of the IPA’s Southeest Chapter.
            On the deck, two young pirates grapple briefly until one tosses his adversary overboard. Pegleg Stewart eyes the water until the young pirate’s hat appears on the surface, followed by the air-gulping young man. “Let the sharks have ‘im,” he shouts and another round of cheers and flagon-bashing erupts.
            “We’re deeper and more complex than Depp’s portrayal would indicate,” the pirate they call “The Philosopher” says. He sits on a treasure chest and tugs lightly at his hoop earring with his right hand as he speaks. The Philosopher has been pirating for forty years, though lately he’s been relegated to spyglass duties and the occasional fuse-lighting.  “Frankly, we pirates are victims of a history of stereotypical portrayal by Hollywood. I mean, look. The eye patch, the wooden leg, aargh this and aargh that, the parrot thing—that one really gets me. Do ya see any parrots aboard here today? And then Depp comes along and, sure, he’s pretty to look at. But suddenly he, Johnny Depp, is the iconic pirate. This skinny runt of a man, this rock star pirate. Now, if you say you’re a pirate, people say, Oh, like Johnny Depp! To which I say, No, no, a thousand times no.” Cheers erupt once again among the dozen pirates who have been listening closely, ears cocked, unpatched eyes bulging, to the Philosopher.
            “We’d ‘ave ‘im walk the plank, we would,” says Pegleg Stewart. “See what the sharks think of his “performance.”
            Overcome with joy at the image of Depp among the sharks, James “Fatboy” Jones sprays a mouthful of beer on his comrades, upon which three fellow pirates jump him and wrestle him to the deck.
            The Philosopher pulls out a knife and begins whittling, then pauses. “What Hollywood misses,” he begins, “is our depth. Fatboy, for example, has an abiding interest in Latin American literature, magical realism and that sort of thing. He’s written quite eloquently about the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez for a number of critical journals. And Pegleg himself has recently penned a scientific paper on the effects of climate change on the pirate’s profession. These subtleties were missed entirely by Mr. Depp.”
            The Philosopher completes his thought and leaps onto a nearby wooden keg. “Ain’t that right, boys!” he shouts to wild cheering.           
            “He’ll be singing a different tune when we get a hold of ‘im,” shouts Pegleg. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” he spits. “We ain’t no Rollin’ Stones rock star pirates. We’re hard workin’ seamen.”
           “Bring ‘im aboard,” shouts the pirate they call Scalded Dog. “We’ll slice that pretty’s throat from ear to ear.”


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