Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

It’s New Year’s Eve at the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Montreal. The usual for a nostalgia-flavored party staged by the local oldies’ radio station.

It could be a high school reunion or a one-night cruise on the Good Ship Lollipop. Nothing new, everything old except, of course, we’re celebrating a New Year.

Everyone is dressed for the occasion with lots of shimmer and shine. But one outfit really does stand out. It’s a woman wearing a sweater that spells out “Happy Holidays” in large battery-operated flashing neon letters.

And it’s a big inspiration to us all, a kind of talisman taking us into the New Year. Fat guys begin to dance on tables, conga lines form and snake their way around the ballroom floor, empty champagne glasses are pyramided thirty high on tables filled with sparklers and red, blue and gold noisemakers, and the Pink Cadillacs get us to dance with their golden oldies’ tunes, from Danny and the Juniors’ At the Hop to Elvis’ Suspicious Minds and Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire.

Of course, no one mentions that Danny slit his throat one night in a motel room, and left a note saying that he just couldn’t stand singing that song one more time.

We all know what happened to Elvis.
And Jerry Lee Lewis? Well, there is all that talk about his dead wives.
A frightening ritual of fake ecstasy and real nostalgia.



Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

Las Vegas is America
at the 3d millennium
A theme park of hope and desolation
where prophets of the Old Testament
Job most of all,
sometimes give up the ghost,
walk out of the desert
and take their noon-day place
at the blackjack tables

Along the boulevard of broken dreams
the dusty, windy gutters are filled
with crumbling flyers
for sex
Las Vegas style

Just outside of Caesar’s Palace
gamblers on bended knees
make offerings of incense and prayer
at the shrine of the American Buddha
under the desert sun

Not Babylon revisited
but a hybrid Babylon for a hybrid America
showgirls and dying elephants
and white tigers and Cirque de Soleil
and hot air and cold air to the hyper
and total surveillance
and gamblers and hustlers
and losers and winners
and junior moms and dads with strap-on
baby pouches
come to the future
come to the theme park
come to pray one last time
all day and all night
at America’s last and best mall
of magic and despair


Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

it’s Easter Sunday in Montreal
And I’m doing my very best for baby Jesus
Dragging a pixel cross through the streets of the old city
on a pilgrimage to the Oratory
high on the hill.
Yeah, the one with Brother Andre’s heart
on grisly display.
Rumor has it the heart went missing in ‘65
Stolen by the mob and held for ransom,
But the Church just said:
“Keep it. There’s plenty more where that came from.”

And it’s a truly swell parade
Seems that just everyone has come out for the big party
of death and resurrection,
Elvis look-alikes
Cross-dressing Madonnas
the restless, drifting soul of Kurt Cobain
and I swear that just ahead of me
Princess Di and Jackie 0 are all dressed up in
their Easter Sunday finery

A woman on stilts walks across the way
carrying the head of John the Baptist
on a plate to Planet Hollywood

The tomb is empty
Maybe it’s waiting for us

And the cross is penance
“Sure, and I’m a natural born virgin,”
Madonna whispers in my ear.


Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

“I’ve got a game I like to play. I like to see how far I can get into the GAP before a salesclerk says: ‘Hi! How are ya’?” ’ Alexis

Nietzsche wears khakis? You bet!
A pre-GAP kind of guy
who wrote On the Genealogy of Morals
for an age when philosophy couldn’t be haikued into
regular, slim or relaxed fit.
When people hadn’t yet learned
I how to recline .
by shopping at the GAP

circulating among all the black and beige
and navy and white
But then, the GAP is post-Nietzsche
Because it’s about the post-human body
like a hole, or a space in-between, where the body
goes to disappear by fitting in,
just vanishing into frenzied inertia:
that’s styles in memory of events that never happened,
or into a neutral-zone: the GAP is not the Abyss
it’s a recombinant store where the basics
can be folded, spliced, and resequenced
And why?
Because the GAP manufactures our fantasies
"That shirt would be terrific for golf!”
“These pants are nice for now,
but great for Bermuda this winter!”
“Everybody should have a flesh-colored bra in their wardrobe.”

a nowhere style of clothes
which are never really in,
yet never really out
no cuts, no transgressions, no disturbances, no gaps
without Nietzsche digging in the soul-meat
without conscience-vivisectioning for relaxed fit minds
without body-vivisectioning for slim fit morality
without nutcrackers of the soul for regular fit looks
Where the post-human body in the mall
happily disappears into The Genealogy of GAP.


Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

We’re sitting in a cyber-coffee bar in San Francisco talking to Denise. A dancer by night and an artist by day, Denise is strikingly beautiful in a delicate, porcelain-like way: tall, slim with shoulder-length auburn hair, pierced nose, lip, and, of course, a single eyebrow. At one point she stood up, turned with her back towards us, displaying magnificent tattoos in the form of multi-color angel wings that went from her shoulderblades down to the small of her back in the colors of the most exquisite medieval stained-glass, and all this cut by slender red scars splayed up and down her arms.

We ask about the scars and she tells us about the latest SM scene in the City. It seems these days that in the hip areas of San Francisco the body cybernetic is out-of-date, unplugged from outlaw consciousness and allowed to float off into the East where the tech-hype is only now getting underway. What’s really new in SF these days is some pain cut with a lot of healing. It’s called Slash and Burn. Cut long slits down your arms or legs, really any flesh will do, pour a bit of gasoline into the wounds, and then ignite the flesh. Now, don’t let it burn too long, we’re not talking about flesh arson here, about burning down the whole barn of the body in a massive end-ofthe- century conflagration, but about pain with a recuperative purpose. As Denise explains: the real joy of inflicting pain on your own body lies in the pleasure of the healing process. It’s almost addictive. Cut the flesh, pour on gas, watch it burn, and then eagerly anticipate the long, slow healing powers of the body.

The body in San Francisco, then, as all about cynical feelings intensifying the pain of the flesh to get one last hit of the angel wings’of bodily healing.


Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

Just off Highway # 3
the old road, sometimes called the Nashua Turnpike,
running between New Hamphire and Boston,
Not Interstate 93
with its big six lanes of crash car traffic
moving at hyper-velocity
taking the dormer communities
into the Boston office towers
with their little speckled dreams of
“Dress Down Fridays”
but Highway No. 3 as what passes for a
rural route in America these days,
tired and hungry and speed-crazy
you park your body in the Clam King.
Been doing this for ten years, every six or seven months
It’s across the street from a fantastic
used-car Corvette dealership,
right across the way from empty textile factories
lining the Manchester River,
and very best of all,
just down the road from
bargain-basement clothes at Marshalls
and heart of the heart
country books at the Caldor’s display:
It was in Caldor’s one day
that I first spotted Kenneth Anger’s
Hollywood Babylon,
the kind of book that is so good
that you don’t want to buy it
because anything this delicious must be out of bounds,
not really serious just because it’s really serious.
So, you leave Caldor’s without the book
but every time you pass by that way again
your car suddenly goes on auto-pilot
and does a quick entry into the parking lot
so that your brain sickness
can be fed images of Dead Babylon
And it gets to be a habit:
Take Highway #3 to the Clam King
order a heaping plate of fried clams
(or little clamettes if you’re not too hungry),
sit down with all the working clam-folks
from the surrounding towns
gaze out at the gleaming corvettes
each with a story to tell
about some mystery of the highway not yet explored,
listen to the lonely sounds of the cars sliding on by,
and read Hollywood Babylon again and again:
James Dean: the “human ashtray”
Jayne Mansfield: decapitated in a car accident
Marilyn Monroe: suicided,
Charlie Chaplin: Hollywood’s most famous chickenhawk
Drug overdoses, hotel fires,
murders of the stars by gun, by knife,
by strangulation, by love
All of the speed and violence and desire gone empty
of crash America is in Hollywood Babylon, :
a kind of raw primitive truth
or maybe an illusion that’s willed into truth
that you just know you want to feel
this dark hole of energy in its last sacrificial rites
to finally know America by its clam kings gone bust.



Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

Deep red velvet curtains with gold tassels, Roman
striped wallpaper, low rose-colored lights, and a mirror
that always lies.

Red satin, pink lace, black lycra, Maidenform bras,
thong bikini underwear, silk pajamas, a softly diffused
smell of sachet.

What is Victoria’s secret? Maybe it is the dressing-room,
the mirror, the essence of sachet?

Victoria’s Secret can be your secret
Cellulite fades away in the dark
Small breasts can be enhanced by the Wonderbra
The stomach can be flattened by a lycra slip
Midriff bulge can be masked by a long-line bra
Or don’t think about your body’s flaws and slip into a
diaphanous negligee
Victoria’s Secret can be your secret
with its dressing-room wonderful
as a dense sign of the body imaginary
Where you disappear into the mirror in the soft light
becoming all sorts of people,
playing back dreams of intimacy
Victoria’s Secret can be your secret
In front of the mirror you always look your best
Posing head up high
stomach in, back straight
- dreaming ahead to a lover’s touch
remembering a glance from a lover’s eyes
Victoria’s Secret can be your secret

This can all be your secret
Until you exit the dressing-room
into the mall with its fluorescent lights
and the mood of your body deflates
from Victoria’s Secret
with its deep red velvet curtains with gold tassels,
Roman striped wallpaper, low rose-colored lights
and a mirror that always lies
back into the body flawed
that stands exposed to the mirror of life.


Arthur & Marilouise Kroker

For many years, doctors have been injecting silicone into women’s faces. Now a New York City doctor has outdone the procedure by taking silicone from low grade transistor fluids and injecting it directly into the skin of women, disappearing facial wrinkles. This is the new digitalized, transistorized face that rewires memory: no more wrinkles, no more tears, no more history.

But the face does have a history, and a remembrance of that history. The transistorized face in New York rebels. It rejects the silicone, that tries desperately to justify its existence by sliding, seeping, weeping such that the transistorized face becomes a virtual face that floats beyond time, beyond wrinkles: it is also a face that operates under the sign of a fatal destiny. It will always oscillate between digital ecstasy and earthly decay. The scene of a greater mythological drama, the transistorized face remains condemned to an endless repetition of Nietzsche’s prophecy of eternal recurrence: a physics of the weightlessness and pure energy of wrinkle-free seduction versus the earthly drag of transistor fluid as it seeps under the fatal pull of gravity to the lower regions.