Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Dada Comic

If I never grew a conscience, I probably would’ve been a salesman. I’m better at it than I’m comfortable being. Convincing people to give me their money is like cocaine: once I tried it I realized I had to stop right away or else become a whore. Sure, I’ve only had the social skills/septum to pull it off for a couple years; even so, I’ve battled my inner Baldwin since birth.

if you haven't seen this movie none of this makes sense, sorry

Give me the Glengarry leads! I'll suck your dick!

Salesmanship is equal parts ego, smoothness, and product. Ideally, a good salesman is egotistical enough to believe that his personality should sell things, is smooth enough to hide it, and has a product his mark actually wants. The more unnecessary the product, the more the salesman has to do to sell it. The more a salesman’s work affects a mark’s decision to buy, the bigger the rush.

That paragraph’s boring, I know, but bear with me. I worked at the Apple Store in college, where most people already knew what they wanted and I was just there to ring it up, non-commission.  To a stimulant addict, that’s like a cup of black tea—technically against the rules, but if you call your sponsor over it he’ll hang up.

later that night I died of alcohol poisoning

"Dammit, Lundquist! You're hopped up on cola! Hand in your five year chip."

Before that, though, I was a “charity fundraiser.” I put that in quotes because it’s a lie. I was a telemarketer. But, still, for charity! I rationalized this in my head like so: “telemarketer” is bad, but “charity” is good, so if I put “charity” before “telemarketer” it’s okay! Even if I take commission and performance bonuses!

That’s just the Baldwin speaking. In reality, putting “charity” before “telemarketer” is like putting “baby” before “murderer.” Not only was I a Menace II Society, I preyed upon people’s love of cuddly things like polar bears and NPR. What kept me going was this: compared to the Apple Store, convincing a stranger to give you her credit card over the phone is like jamming a bike pump full of Bolivian freebase into your jugular.

open mouth smiles are creepy

I knew there weren't enough diabetic giants to justify making these.

Being good at telemarketing also has roughly the same affect on your soul. At the end of each shift, I’d walk home feeling like Kevin Garnett after the 2008 NBA Finals. Then I’d get home and collapse into a pile of guilt for the annoyance and insincerity I’d inflicted on the world. Every day I took my ego on a rickety carnival rollercoaster, hurtling from swingin’-dick alpha male to self-loathing catatonic and back in minutes.

"remember that time we both walked into a bar?"

Who put this pic of two Poles here?

Should’ve seen it coming. This wasn’t my first time getting into the mess that is ego-driven selling. It all started at the International Culture Fair at Chippewa Elementary.

I was ten years old and entered in a sales contest. The fourth grade teachers assigned everyone a country, and we each manned a booth selling something we made related to that country’s culture. At the fair, the teachers gave everyone fake currency to spend at the other booths. Whoever made the most won. Most kids went the obvious route and brought food—tacos from Mexico, samosas from India, flags from North Korea.

I had Greece and insufferable arrogance.

but everyone gets a participant trophy

"As you all know, first prize is a gold star. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired."

Just a couple weeks earlier, I won my first writing award, and I won it in style. After a trial, a story of mine had earned Illinois Public School District 2’s Young Author Award. The panel at first refused to believe that a ten year old could write with such eloquence, such panache, such synonyms, and so my teacher and parents had to swear that they had seen me write it unassisted. (Whether this had more to do with my skill or with the fact that the district’s budget was a pack of saltines and an assisted suicide doctor I’ll never know.)

left: Conrad Murray, suicide doctor; right: pack of saltines

Give him credit, he made it out.

Riding high, I decided to play to my strengths and write a comic book about the Greek gods. Sound like a good idea? It is, except OH WAIT! I’M WEIRD! The comic was about the hapless underdog Death applying to join the Twelve Olympians, who laugh him off the mountain. Still sound like a good idea? Pepper in a bunch of “jokes” and anti-jokes written by a ten year-old who lives off of Monty Python, Weird Al, and Daniel Pinkwater books, then give it a “hilarious” anti-climax where Death just gives up and leaves.

Take that and try to sell it to a bunch of ESL kids who live next to the airport and see how you do.

search "kid reading" on Google images and tell me racism doesn't exist in America

¿Por qué me obliga a leer este libro? ¿Dónde están mis padres?

If your answer is anything less than “great,” The Baldwin is not within you. I sold the fuck outta those comics. It was all in the pitch. “Everyone else is selling food. Why not get something you can take home and cherish forever? You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. All in the latest classic from award-winning young author Peter Lundquist. Okay, now say that to them in Spanish.”

I had created something subversive and original, and the rewards were pouring in. At ten, I had no stimulants to compare this to, so I guess I’d call it a big hug on a nice summer day (note: we need to start kids on drugs earlier).

My teacher came by to grade me. She flipped through my comic, bemused, and let out a half-laugh. “Okay, Peter… uh, what is this?” I contained myself. “It’s Dada. You expect it to be funny, and then it isn’t funny, which makes it funny again. So were you right or not? You don’t know!”

more like R BUTT

Marcel WHOchamp?

She bit back laughter, as if to avoid asking “How do you know what Dada is?” followed by “Wait, you clearly fucking don’t.” So began the end. Juan after Juan filed up to me, waving copies of my book, claiming it was unfunny bullshit and they want their fake money back because Belgium is selling waffles. The ruse came apart, Jack Lemmon got arrested, and goddamit I just crossed the threshold of too many Glengarry Glen Ross references.

Anyway, my brief empire had fallen. I was crushed. But then I figured I was too smart for them and learned nothing because I was a dick. Follow me on Twitter.

still a cola addict

Nothing's changed.

The Greased Lightning Savior

Hey lovers, two things: first, sorry I’ve been a delinquent. Work has been shitballs crazy and also I have seasonal affective disorder and every December I stay inside and hate myself a lot. Second, I was a guest on The Blake Wexler Show. Get it for free on iTunes so you can hear the evidence (and learn about this blog’s origin). Okay here’s a post.

I attribute a lot of my weirdness as a kid to my strong religious upbringing. That said, holy hell am I glad I wasn’t homeschooled, because those creepy little fuckers have the social skills of divorced dads at laundromats for the first time. It’s like no one told them not to walk up to people and smile vacantly until they talk, because no one did. (If that offends you because you were homeschooled and your mother always said you’re perfectly normal, remember: she owns a life-size crucifix.)

"well, technically fourth-specialest."

"You're my second-specialest little guy."

I didn’t find out just how close I was to being a Duggar until 2007, when Jesus Camp came out on DVD and everyone I knew who saw it asked their ex-creepo religious friend if hardcore evangelical Christians really are that kooky. My revelation didn’t come necessarily from my answer (“yes”), but from the fact that I was everybody’s ex-creepo religious friend.

Good thing I never went to a Jesus Camp. Wait, hold on. I totally did.

this image is copyrighted to GOSPELGIFS so keep it on the dl guys ok?

Thank you Lord for ruining our eyesight!

For the heathens out there, VBS stands for Vacation Bible School. It is the place pop songs go to die in agony and kids go to get the Satan spirit-fingered out of them while everyone else is at a water park or something (I don’t know how summer works). Every year, once real school gets out, parents or annoying kids drag their kids or parents to church for a week or two to learn about how god loves them so much that he Marvin Gayed his son so Jews can’t get into heaven anymore.

"What's Going On" is our generation's Sermon on the Mount, prove me wrong

He died for our soul.

Then everybody does crafts and sings and hates being there. Well, okay, it’s just the godless or soon-to-be godless kids who hate it—when I still thought it was all true, I loved VBS. I was that irritating kid who raises his hand after every single teacher question, even if it was “did you know that you’ve completely ground away my will to live?” (“Yes! Next question!”)

I was big on volunteering, too. Need help putting chairs away? No but I’ll do it. A King David for the Friday play? I’m your tubby blonde star. Someone to cover up your affair? I’m no first stone-caster!

conservative Christians like to say this verse and "judge not lest ye be judged" get taken out of context because they haven't heard about irony yet

"It's only okay to murder adulterers if you're perfect." - Jesus/Jack the Ripper

My main VBS contribution was also my nerdiest. I ran the projector.

Starting at age 11, when we moved to a new church that played songs too new for the hymnbook, it was my job to switch out lyric sheets on a ’70s-era overhead projector made of green plastic and cancer fumes. I feel weird typing “projector” over and over, because this was no ordinary projector. It was evil. Not once in seven years did we ever replace its child soul-powered lightbulb, clean it, or turn it over to the Museum of Shitty Technology That Offends All Five Senses. I’m gonna call it Apollyon, because that’s the coolest demon name in the bible.

"projector" is also a way lamer name for a metal band

Twinsies!

Every Sunday and every day of VBS, I faced off with Apollyon in what can only be described as the clearest visual representation of the downward trajectory of my faith. At first I took the job so I could be in the front pew, soaking up every word of the Word. As time wore on, though, I stayed so other people wouldn’t see me spacing out or trying not to laugh at the song lyrics.

Laughing? At praise songs? How cynical is this guy? Well, feast your ears on this and tell me:

“Hungry I come to you for I know you satisfy/ I am empty but I know your love does not run dry… I’m falling on my knees/ offering all of me.” If you hear that as anything other than “I want to suck Jesus’s dick,” you are a Mormon.

So, to bring it back to VBS, by 2007 I was a rebellious, moody, atheistic teen who wanted to get the hell out of Illinois and church forever. But since I was just the right age to make sure the kids didn’t glue their eyes shut or murder the weak among them, I was conscripted as a VBS “volunteer.” Joy.

lo, a miracle! Three days later he called me back.

"It's a lot easier to praise from your knees. C'mon, WWID?"

Oh, quick major setting detail I forgot—our church was 90% Chinese. Combine the conformism and fear of evangelical Christianity with the conformism and fear of Asian-American culture and you get just the right atmosphere to let outlandish shit slide. Case in point? The song that made me quit VBS forever, “Go Go Savior.”

Plenty of pop songs get butchered in modern churches—it’s a simple, easy way to connect with the prized younger audience. Every American church had its own version of Hoobastank’s “Crawling in the Dark” in 2002. (If I just brought that song back into your memory after years of repression, I am so sorry.) “Go Go Savior” is a whole different monster.

only 434Animeguy would put "The Reason" over "Running Away"!

The only "best of" I'd ever write about Hoobastank would be in the event of their deaths and would order them from most to least just.

“Go Go Savior” is a word for word rewrite of “Greased Lightning” and the most cynical Christian cash-in since indulgences. I don’t remember the lyrics, except that “greased lightning! Go greased lightning!” was replaced with “Go savior! Go go savior!” and all references to pussy wagons, chicks creaming, and getting lots of tit were purged in favor of descriptions of Christ’s love. Our church bought it and played it for children because apparently none of the people in charge had ever heard “Greased Lightning” before.

burnin' up a quarter mile of tough stains

It has a song?

There I was, at Jesus Camp, listening to a recording of a children’s choir bleating over synthesized guitars to the tune of a song about getting your dick wet, feeling Apollyon spread tumors around my throat and lungs, when I realized: I don’t have to do this. I’m not the weird almost-homeschooled kid anymore.

That night, my Jesus Camp days ended. It took me a few years to get that I had just replaced weird religious kid with weird angry kid, but at least I finally broke ties with my old phase.

Fuck I hate Hoobastank. Why did I make myself think of them.

please never wear helmets

If you're thinking "I liked that one song" look at this picture and learn to hate again.

The Sit and Reach

There is nothing a fat kid dreads more than Presidential Fitness Week. We spend so much effort on ensuring that the extent of our physical inadequacy is never uncovered that, when all that truth comes out, every fat kid in the country turns into a sweaty version of Bill Macy at the end of Fargo.

Steve Buscemi was hot in that movie

"Don't make me run a mi-hi-hiiiiile!"

Honest. Next time a fat kid’s in your house, offer him food and watch his eyes. He’ll sneak looks at everyone else’s plate to make sure he’s no higher than second in total food intake, no matter how hungry he is. This is because we try to make people think that the reason for our fatness is whatever reflects least pathetically on us: it’s not that I eat too much, it’s that I have a slow metabolism; not that I fear exercise, but that I’m too busy for it.

appropriate facial reaction

My gym has weird hours and also is a Wendy's.

Dodging the truth is harder in gym class, but we have ways. Here are some tips from a lifelong pro:

  • change in a bathroom stall,
  • team with other weaklings, not athletes—you can blame your team’s horribleness on them, and most importantly,
  • find at least two things you’re good at and overcompensate.

Expend no effort at something you’re bad at (almost everything). Then, when you find out you’re okay at badminton or have a good volleyball serve, be sure to murder the shit out of it in gym. Don’t worry about how much you’re sweating, even if you smell like a South African whorehouse. The extra work you put in might convince people that you’re not terrible, but just too cool to care about running or dodgeball. (It won’t, but you’ll think that and maybe not cut yourself tonight.)

if you're offended by me saying my sweat can smell worse than AIDS, you haven't seen me show up to class late

Cheer up you fucking disaster.

Unfortunately, there is no escaping Presidential Fitness Week. You will fail at several basic physical tests in front of your peers. Tough titty. With any luck, though, you won’t self-destruct entirely, because there are two tests you have a shot at.

Pullups are right the fuck out. No fat kid has ever done a pullup. Play it cool; don’t try. Same thing with the mile run. Walk. If someone yells at you, jog half-heartedly until they stop staring.

so why did the XFL fail?

Were you even listening to me?

The biggest failure potential comes from the sprint and the pushups. You have to sprint, but luckily everyone hates your body as much as you do and won’t want to look at your gross boobs hitting you in the face. Pushups suck because you’ll probably defy the gym teacher’s expectations and do one, so they’ll be on your ass “encouraging” you to “succeed,” which means all eyes will be on your body as it crumbles like that bag of Doritos you sat on once.

who am I kidding "once"

At least crushed Doritos have a use.

That leaves crunches and the sit and reach. Crunches are a breeze! If your suck-it-in muscles are as developed as mine were, you’ll smoke all the skinny kids. Sure, you’ll leave a sweat outline on the mat that’ll convince everyone you’re a giant human-shaped slug, but whatever!

Sit and reach was my signature event. Maybe it’s my aforementioned freak knees, maybe it’s the fact that I have an NBA-length torso on jockey-length limbs, maybe it’s my hours of practice at grabbing cookies and remotes without getting up. Whatever the reason, I sat and reached better than almost anyone. Since this test involves no physical exertion, but is as public as all the others, I recommend that all fat kids get good at it if they want to feel almost like real people.

I think he misunderstood the phrase "iron cross"

Suck it! Not literally, though I'm sure you can manage by yourself.

My final tip, fat kids, is that if your school has some kind of cool-sounding program where you can opt-out of regular humiliating gym to help special needs kids, don’t you fucking dare do it.

I did. Please learn from my example.

not pictured: the last eight inches of the pole ;)

Don't do this either.

My high school had one of the biggest Special Ed programs in the country. People brought their kids from several states away just to get the specialized treatment that the school was increasingly incapable of providing, because the exponential growth of disabled kids was at near-Chernobyl levels. To meet the demand, they outsourced gym to one overworked lesbian and a ragtag band of student volunteers.

spread Kid Vid's eyes apart a few inches too

This but whiter.

I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know that I would spend the majority of my last two years of gym with Nate. Debilitative cerebral palsy Nate. Near-quadriplegic, family of champion wrestlers, trapped-intelligence Nate.

Nate hated me. HATED me. I know a thing or two about burning with resentment but holy shit guys, I’ve never seen anyone hate anyone like Nate hated me, and I’ve seen my friends become successful quickly. And I totally deserved it.

"Watsky's shooting ANOTHER video?! Goddammit I'm running out of spite-tattoo space!"

If I were black and raped this guy's sister, he and Nate would be even.

You see, Nate knew my motivations from day one. Most of the people in the class were at least passably healthy and there to help. Not this guy. I joined the program out of cynicism, laziness, and the knowledge that the girls with the highest pity ceilings would be there.

(Side note and important rule: every hot girl who volunteers with special needs kids has a disabled brother, and the hotter she is, the more disabled he is. Really hot girls whose brothers are just a little Tourettesy have no reason to be there. Yeah, it’s getting real as shit in here.)

you can hate but this is LIVED EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE

I don't make the rules.

To make things worse, I had a functioning body that I voluntarily didn’t use. While I bitch about running a mile, he would’ve killed me in a heartbeat if it meant he could walk for a day. To make things even worse, my job with Nate was to provide resistance for his exercises.

For half an hour a day, he had to try to punch me and I had to effortlessly hold his fist in place.

man I really come off bad in this one, huh?

Just really, really close.

What was most impressive about Nate’s hatred is that he expressed it all without the use of words. Yep! He couldn’t talk. He could, however, bore deep into my soul with his hate-eyes, and you had best believe that someone without the use of his voice or limbs gets really good at non-verbal expression.

I still remember the exact moment of the worst expression I ever got from him or anyone. Presidential Fitness Week, junior year. The special needs kids and volunteers took the tests together when possible, so for the first four days, Nate watched with a mixture of spite and amusement as I huffed my way to Does Not Meet scores like an obese penguin.

"a merciless god destroyed my motor functions but even I run faster than you."

This but whiter.

Friday. Flexibility Day. I had to administer the test designed for Nate, which he passed, painfully and barely—his range of motion had grown less than his therapist had hoped. Right afterwards?

The sit and reach. I killed it. Best score in the class, easy. Despite the pitifulness of my body, my greatest strength was his greatest weakness.

There are no words for the look he gave me right afterwards, but below is the closest I’ve got. That, fat kids, is why you shouldn’t be like me. Or, if you’re going to join a program like that anyway, at least get laid. I won’t high-five you, because you’re despicable, but I will understand. Go outside.

and then we were stuck with each other for another year.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

The Lost Birthday

As a rule, I don’t cry and I don’t puke. Like crying, though, there are exceptions—public exceptions. Including the time I already covered, my years of partying have caused me to throw up a grand total of five times. All but one of these involved a phenomenon college students everywhere call “the spins.”

for a fun time, add vodka and/or ricin to your next keg party!

Asphyxiate! Asphyxiate!

For all my old readers out there, first off, what was Bush One like? Also, the spins happen when you drink and smoke weed at the same time and make you feel like you’re in that ride where they stick you to a wall and drop the floor out from under you and make out with the girl you were flirting with, except the ride only ends when you yell at it and throw up on its couch.

I can’t handle the spins. I’ve held on to my guts through rollercoasters, pure absinthe, fevers, and mixing bathtub gin with malt liquor and Smirnoff Ice. Pass me a joint, though, and I turn into a sixteen year-old Juliet understudy.

except I never remember to turn the shower on to cover the sound :(

"We're looking for someone a bit, uh, 'younger'-looking."

I’d give you examples, but bragging about how much I used to drink already makes me sound like a bro douche so I’ll cut the shit. The focus here is supposed to be on how being a weird kid made me act out, both for the attention and because I had the social sense of a retarded time traveler.

so crates are a great packing method, huh?

"Nice dress, queer."

Instead, here’s a story that foreshadows the disaster that was my nineteenth birthday more accurately. In fourth grade, my best friend Justin and I were huge Mortal Kombat fans. Maybe it was our insecurity over being two of the only whites in town; maybe it was blind pubescent bloodlust. Whatever punches the hurt away!

Anyway, one recess, we decided to stage a playground fight as Scorpion and Sub-Zero. The homoeroticism of screaming “GET OVER HERE!” while pretending to penetrate another guy’s chest with a spear was lost on us, but whatever! Murder’s fun!

imagine any fighting video game announcer has a boner the whole time. You're welcome.

He paid his fifty bucks.

The fight began when whoever was supposed to be watching us stopped watching us. We both screamed “MORTAL KOMBAAAAAT!”, ran to a patch of open blacktop, and pretend-beat the living hell out of each other.

This lasted for about two minutes, at which point the principal, under whose open window this had all happened, dragged us into her office and gave us detentions.

I wish I could say that was the dumbest part of that story, but then there’s this: we knew we were under her window the whole time. Even so, our impulse to do something self-destructive with obvious consequences pushed us onward, because ten year old boys are invincible.

Kel Mitchell has lived up to the legacy of his role by becoming invisible in Hollywood.

Either that or we were following the "we're invisible if no one's looking at us" rule.

College is a great time to exorcise this particular belief. On no day did I learn this lesson (that is, don’t do things that will bring you pain) so immediately as on my nineteenth birthday.

First things first: I can’t remember what happened. My memory is a photo album that your ex got to first, just a couple of shots that you know aren’t the important ones. All that I’m sure of is I fell out of a chair, had to close one eye to read, and at some point said “this doesn’t taste like rum anymore.”

guess me and Trevor just went all-out on our blanket fort that year

Weren't there more people here?

Here’s how I got myself into trouble. I had been having an awful birthday. Almost no one was available, I didn’t have anything planned, no one gave me anything or acknowledged me in a non-Facebook context—in other words, how all of my birthdays will be now since I’m 21.

There were other bad things about it, too, but the one thing I remember most clearly was the pledge I made to myself as soon as I started drinking. Since nothing I hated about the day needed remembering, I decided to black it all out.

also how I look when I try to jog

How I looked by 3 am.

This means that the narrative I have of the night was supplied by other people. According to them, my brother and my friends Tim and Steve came over late and we all got really drunk in my garage. The rest of them passed a bowl around, but I refused because I didn’t want to get sick. (Ha!)

Then they noticed that I’d made a point of getting myself horribly drunk and decided to take advantage. One of my favorite read-along books as a kid happened to be in the garage, and my friends rightly guessed that it’d be hilarious to hear from someone slurring worse than your grandpa when he mixes bourbon with his stroke meds.

bark HUSSEIN omaha beach, fought the Nazis I did

"Backs steal. Olivem. Even the Pepsodent."

This much I know for sure, because there’s an audio recording. I won’t post it here, but I will say that however bad you think it sounds, it’s worse. The book’s main character is a machinosaurus, a sentient bulldozer thing shaped like a dinosaur. For some reason, I pronounced this “makinasaurus,” despite numerous correction attempts. After the second one of these, any time someone said anything or laughed at me saying makinasaurus, I’d shout “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

in the end it turns out the monster is actually a metaphor for Hurricane Katrina

GREAT LITERATURE IS OPEN TO INTERPRETATION

About halfway through, there’s a loud clattering sound followed by uproarious laughter. Tim explains to the microphone that I’d fallen out of my chair for no reason, as I had just been sitting upright. Don’t know if you’ve ever been drunk enough to have worse equilibrium than a dead guy, but it’s possible! Dream on everyone!

I don’t know what I was thinking getting that drunk, especially considering how much of my stomach lining everyone saw later that night. Probably the same thing I was thinking when I punched a kid in the face in front of the principal ten years earlier. Good thing I learned my lesson!

Gary Busey/Robin Williams lovechild, is that you?

Two years later.