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"the BabyLon"

... and Babylons, old and new*


("Hanging Gardens of Babylon" by Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574))


(graphical depiction of the Internet from 2005, mapped at opte.org)


Born in Seattle General in the wee, small hours of a rough and rainy January, the BabyLon was 5 weeks early. Her mother, Mary Tompkins, had her night out with the girls cut short in the middle of a disco-ball lit dance floor at Hooter Boogie on Madison and 12th, her water breaking like a weary womb-dam near the end of a Wild Bunch cover of the Stones' "Brown Sugar."

Apparently the BabyLon had had enough. Bored to gestation death in an efficiency apartment the size of a loin closet, with meals that offered nothing a kid could really sink her interest-teeth into. No burgers. No fries. No Oreos and ice cream. And no fucking Internet. Really, who would hang around a slime-walled crib at the Uterus Motel, with no music? Not this kid.


Mary Thompkins felt much the same. Nine hours after the delivery, and after filling in the "name it" form left at her bedside by Nurse Booty, with the BabyLon sleeping just down the hall in a bassinet in the baby dormitory, Mary got dressed and left. Left Seattle General, then left Seattle in particular four hours later, on a Greyhound bus headed for L.A.

She'd dreamt of being in the movies for as long as she could remember, encouraged in large part since the age of 6 by Grandpa Lon, a kindly geezer with no front teeth and a gift for spewing chewed tobacco juice in a stream nearly as wide as the yellow stream he'd pass while watering the zinnias. "Hey, what you lookin' at, Fool-a-Roo?" he'd ask Mary grinning, as he waived the stream from his teeny weenie in circles through the evening air.

At 19 the former-virgin Mary still had her looks, her reedy body amazingly returned to its former, slender glory after the watermelon stuck inside her stomach had been removed by the kindly staff in delivery. "Wow. That's better," being the first thought that flashed through her head after the pain train of a vagina stretched to 3 times its normal width, had finally passed.

In a 30-minute layover in Portland, while listening to the Punch Brothers sing "Rye Whiskey" on her iPod, Mary bought a quart of Rainier Ale and a pack of Luckys from the HopShop next door to the bus station. Then, sitting on a concrete traffic barrier behind the bus stalls, she smoked and drank, imagining the BabyLon warm and safe, tucked snug inside the hospital's progressive strategies for care. The kid would be better off without her, she was sure.

As sure as her own mother had been 19 years earlier, when she'd left the hospital in a small town in Minnesota where Norwegian-American farmers still sat at home on Saturday evenings reading seed catalogs. "Okay, then," Grandmother Tompkins had muttered as she got into a cab and headed for the Amtrak train and the bright lights of Chicago.

The lights in the baby dorm were also bright, but without the uneven and gritty light-dark contrast that living in the unplanned neighborhood of chaos and transgression can provide. "To the corner, of a dormer, a lurking gargoyle fled" was a line from Trenton Molson's great Canadian novel about the light-and-dark history of architectural decoration.

"A novel?" his editor at Pigeon Poop Books had asked when Trenton brought him the cardboard file box full of 1200 unnumbered pages of manuscript.

"Where's the beginning" Editor Riley asked, rummaging through the box and pulling out an empty 1-pound bag of peanut M&Ms.

"There is no beginning," Trenton answered. "Also no end. No middle. And, since I started it twenty-seven years ago, I also have no memory of what the story is actually about."

"Oh," Editor Riley replied, staring deep into the chaos of the box. "That's deep, Trenton."

"Actually, the box is only 12-inches deep, which is a good size for a 1200-page manuscript. I was going to tie it up with quarter-inch sisal rope, but that seemed a little rustic."

"Quarter-inch is a handy size," Editor Riley responded, still staring at the contents of the box. "Emmy-June uses quarter-inch rope for all her bondo scenarios."

"Oh, that's good."

"Yes. Not too big. Not too small. Just about right. You know, for rope."

"Say something else about 'the neighborhood of chaos and transgression,'" Barty Williams, the baby in the bassinet next to the BabyLon now asks looking back, using the thought waves babies use to communicate before they learn the ins and outs of language.

Nurse Booty had just picked Barty up and slung the kid over a sturdy shoulder, like a trout that's about to be transported out into the big, blue sky world where trout come to realize they've somehow learned to breathe the big, blue air.

"Okay," the BabyLon thought-wave answers. "It's the here and now. Where the Renaissance has left us. On this side of a chasm that separates us from the tribal, beasty night. Where kids can carry on like this, by exchanging thought waves head-to-head."

As the story camera suddenly pans back and up, through the room ceiling and the hospital roof, in a shot that begins to flood with the sights and sounds of a multitude of human lives merging into a riot of activity. This being the neighborhood of chaos and transgression in the story's word-play title, where transgression is defined by our capability to see and hear the cacophony of individual things as they move through individual points of time and space, and we transgress against the narrow group-head filters of a 2-dimension past, by living in the unfolding 3-dim now of who we indie are.


20151110 09:11 (984 words)
_______________
* happy birthday Linux, empowering the web at 24 -- v. 0.02, the first usable release of Linux source code, released Oct. 5, 1991

music:
- "Natural Way" by by Marike Jager, from "Here Comes the Night" 2011, performed live
- a) "Master Pretender"; and - b) "The Lion's Roar" music videos by First Aid Kit
- performed live in Seattle 2014 by Rodrigo y Gabriela (- 0:00 "The Soundmaker"; - 5:20 "Santo Domingo"; - 15:00 "Torito"; - 21:00 "Diablo Rojo"; - 28:00 "Fram"; - 34:00 "Orion"; - 37:00 "The Russian Messenger"
- "Funtimes in Babylon" by Father John Misty, from "Fear Fun" 2012, performed live in Seattle 2012

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