Click to Subscribe
Writing Can
Experimenting with the Interview Novel: 1/20/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
When Incognegro, AKA Oliver Wendell Hayes, asked me to write a short novel about a crackhead superman, he mentioned that he was going to use it as a script for a film he would make. Having been interviewed at the Incognegro Studio, I thought that structuring this story as a series of interviews would be a new writing challenge, a type of novel that I have not done, that also leaned on my experience conducting over 1,000 interviews and being interviewed near a hundred times now.
I decided to use as much recent, real-life experience as possible in this story. I also decided to use Paul Bingham, AKA Doctor Breck, in this story, as he interviewed me with his wife a dozen times on video, and also because he called me two days after I talked to Oliver with intelligence on the murder of a friend, and also the use of pharmaceutical opiates by meth-heads to morph into high speed zombies.
Yesterday I wrote the final chapter of Can. Today, as I proof and paste the various chapters, I will make notes below citing the source of the inspiration.
Can will be published in its entirety on this site.
The character, Can is based on a deaf, orphaned crackhead whose name I forgot, that I worked with in a supermarket in Northeast Baltimore in 1981. The man was a blonde Caucasian, with such high energy levels that he damaged much work equipment and stock. A friend of his foster brother told me that he was deaf, because he had taken the small death benefit left by his mother on her passing and bought two large concert amplifiers and stood between them, screaming metal lyrics, crying, and playing air guitar. If this fellow is still alive, he would be sixty years a sufferer upon this earth.
Thank you for tolerating this experimental novel, which I do not expect to be well received. Hopefully Incognegro can make use of it.
-James, LaFond, 8:02 AM, Saturday, January 21, Selek, Washington
Front Matter
The world of Phentland is real, and is here in many parts of Murica. Murica, as a cartoon antihero dystopian nonfiction setting, was first identified for me by Mister Grey of InTheseGoingsDown infamy.
Mamma Maroon
This woman is based on two homeless women and one security guard. The first homeless woman mistook me for an Apache warrior in 1994 East Baltimore and appears in a Harm City book. The other currently lives under the marquee of the deserted Day Theater in Southeast Portland, and is West Indian. The security guard appears in The Logic of Force as witness to a baseball bat murder and used to work security at housing projects and once found a dumpster baby alive. The character’s mannerisms and speech are based on this tormented woman who I worked with at Store 45 on Fort Avenue in South Baltimore circa 1998.
Bendy Carwash
This character is patterned directly on a former girlfriend who described herself as Bendy, due to her flexibility.
Joe Gleason
This crackpot conspiracy theorist is based on me when I was fat and interviewed by Incognegro about the Move Massacre of the early 1980s in Philadelphia. I remember Oliver showing up to interview me at my mother’s right after I became homeless. My mother and sister were thrilled that I had a black friend, divining it as evidence that I was not entirely evil. When my mother asked Oliver about our association, he said, “James has been my friend since I was fifteen, ma’am.”
Mom said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What is all this equipment for.”
“Your son is an authority on numerous things. I’m here to interview him.”
Mom said, “Oh My God, that’s terrible!” and returned to the kitchen reminding Oliver that if he needed rescued that she was there for him.
Russel Drinks
Russel is a composite of Mike R., a crack dealer from Harlem, who saw Mike Tyson KO Mitch “Blood” Green in the gutter at 4 AM in a street fight, and the crew on the Eastpoint Metro Supermarket from 1994. On that crew was Stick, a crack addict, and Mike, a powder cocaine addict, who debated each other the efficacy of their drug of choice. They, and I, did more work than the other 9 men combined. I was the third fastest. Stick was #1. Mike was #2. Except, when they had no coke, then I smoked them. Stick had no ego, and the character Doug in Sansa Jones is based on him.
One night, as the lazy slugs, the alcoholics and pot heads, teased Mike for not being able to keep up with me when he was out of coke on Thursday, at lunch time, he bought a box of Dexitrim diet pills, took a cold coffee—room temp—a warm Pepsi, and chased the pills in this order, claiming that the carbonation injected the caffeine. Bobby Parks actually got sick seeing this and went into the men’s room to hurl his lunch. Mike assured us that if he had his coke as well, that he could virtually orbit the globe, and that if he had no shame, like Stick, that the combined smoke delivery of crack and the carbonated caffeine would turn him into the superman that Stick was when he was on his chemical game. Mike claimed that he did powder coke as a class statement, like earlier generations of Italians did when they dressed in suits to mimic the Anglo elite. So, the recipe of Can’s Good Samaritan Tonic, was invented by a blond Italian clerk named Mike in 1994, and I relate it through Russel who was based on a black crack dealer.
Physically, Russel is written as Oliver, so he can play the part, who is actually running a sweat shop and using his children as laborers!
Sleepy Phatz
This Ramada Inn is where Paul and His Woman, Leanna stayed with me before taking me to the train station for points east. Their banter during the interview comes from their actual dynamics interviewing me. They are presented here faithfully as I have known them.
Sansa Jones
Sansa is written as a character that would be easy to play for Oliver’s chief unpaid actress—his sister. She is based on a woman who took the train with me through Oakland and Sacramento in late 2020, who I helped with her luggage carry-on which she described as wheelie-gigged.
Corby Ringtone
Corby is a friend of mine in Felony Flats, Portland. His story as related is true, with my adding only the Good Samaritan Can, and splicing in the two tweakers, who decided one night to rob me on impulse, and then decided against it when I grinned and opened up my duster to get access to my knives. I merely set them into the story that Corby told me in the last week of December 2022. Dawn and Amy are our barmaids, and I am the man buying him peanutbutter whiskey.
‘My Friend’
author's notebook
Crutch Fu
z-pill forever
the year the world took the z-pill
dark, distant futures
menthol rampage
the lesser angels of our nature
taboo you
Ward Burt     Aug 7, 2023

Philly movie massacre of the early 1980s? Would you care to elaborate?
  Add a new comment below: