Missed Part One? Never fear! Click HERE to catch up!
by Eric Hendrixson
The House on the Rock is an architectural anomaly, a spectacle, an autobiography in clutter, and a museum of hoarding. It holds vast, unrelated collections of of artifacts, some of them authentic. It is said to be the most popular tourist destination in Wisconsin.
As you enter, there is a small museum dedicated to the man who made this happen: Alex Jordan, Jr. A college dropout, Mr. Jordan enjoyed picnicking on Deer Shelter Rock, a towering rock formation near Spring Green, taking a hibachi and a gallon of Tom Collins with him on each trip. When challenged by the land owner, he leased the area for his picnics, eventually purchasing the rock.
After building a platform on the rock, he decided to build a Japanese-style house on it. He decided this having never been to Japan, probably never having seen a Japanese house. The first section of the self-guided tour is through the home he built without a blueprint or any architectural experience. The house is like something a Frank Loyd Wright impersonator would have designed during a drunken weekend, the floor plan resembling a cavern more than a house. While Johnson was well over six feet tall, the ceilings would be low for hobbit hole. The building resembles a stone treehouse that has grown wild. Live trees grow through the walls. It is decorated with dolls, oriental artifacts, kitchenware, stained glass, and self-playing instruments, including a banjo, tambourines, and a player piano that plays Aerosmith’s Dream On slightly out of tune.
The house climaxes with the Infinity Room, a tapering, unsupported structure that hangs over the valley like a wood and glass diving board in a creaking, vertigo-triggering homage to insane design. The house is only the first section of the tour. The second and third sections are larger buildings dedicated to this local eccentric’s collections.
The second section starts with a mill house, complete with a working waterwheel that turns only itself. The visitor then sees a number of glass cases, showcasing a collection of completely unconnected items, including a flintlock rifle with three locks but only one barrel, massive stores of colored glassware, locally-produced medieval armor and weapons, self-playing musical instruments, and animatronic displays. Because the exhibits are not labeled, identified, justified, or explained, they resemble a bunch of stuff more than a curated museum.
The tour continues through a replica old-timey Main Street—complete with ridiculously complete collections of the kinds of items each business on the street would have, coin operated nickelodeons, and animatronic fortune tellers. The dim lighting gives a twilight effect throughout the tour.
by Eric Hendrixson
As midnight approached, we were far from the highway, on the kind of country road that starts a third of the horror films made in the ’80s. That’s when the GPS signal dropped out. My wife hadn’t told me where we were going. When we decided to take a trip, I’d hopped into the car like a Labrador who doesn’t know whether he’s going to the park or the vet. We drove through Dodgeville, up a hill, and past a tractor dealership. Near the top of the hill, I saw a Boeing C-97 parked next to the road. We had reached our destination.
Don Q Inn advertises its rooms as Fantasuites. The website claims that these suites will “spice up your stay.” We walked through the heavy wood doors into the lobby, where barber and dentist chairs were arranged around a huge, circular fireplace. On the counter, there was a lending library of VHS tapes and Stephen King books. According to a sign in the lobby, the hotel does not permit children, only consenting adults over 21. That was fine. Apart from a few business trips, I have never rented a hotel room without my consent. When the clerk woke up and came to the desk, we asked her what restaurants might still be open. She yelled the question back to another clerk. “McDonald’s,” she said. “And Walmart.” She gave us keys and directions to our room.
Our room was at the end of the hall, next to an emergency exit that led directly into a cornfield, making it useless in the event of a corn-related emergency. When I opened the door, I saw a spaceman suspended above the room’s only window, which was draped with black curtains. The walls were covered in a wallpaper mural of the moon’s surface and black space, accented with comets, stars, and planets. A Formica moon rover served as a coffee table. There was a rock formation on the left side of the room, from which a moon rock waterfall fed the tile-lined tub in the crater. Above it all was a Gemini space capsule, accessible by a spiral staircase built into the rock. In the space capsule, there was a circular bed, complete with a TV/VCR, a car radio, and switches that controlled the lights and ceiling fan. It was the bedroom I would have wanted when I was five, twenty-five, or thirty-five. It’s the bedroom I will want when I’m ninety-five.
Each of these fantasy suites is its own work of art. The subjects include a ’50s theme with a pink Cadillac, an igloo, a hot air balloon, and a medieval dungeon, complete with shackles. Is it good art? Well, probably not. The rooms are like a plastic Halloween costume of Spider Man that says “Spider Man” on the front. It’s not so much a moon landing as a collection of the signifiers of a moon landing.
As for the business model of catering to sexual fantasies, I’m a believer in Rules 34 and 36. I’m sure there are people out there with a moon landing fetish, but there can’t be that many of them in Wisconsin. They must have all moved to Florida by now. The fantasy aspect is beside the point. As a bizarro, former dinner theater worker, and B movie fan, the diligent, sincere, overdone, and wrong-headed manner in which this fantasy was constructed and presented pleased me immensely.
The hotel has a tunnel between the rooms and the restaurant, decorated like a carnival spookhouse with spiderwebs, portraits that change to skulls as you walk past them, and body parts stuffed into corners. Finding the restaurant closed, we crossed the road toward a roadside bar with a motorcycle and a few pickup trucks parked outside. There, we had local beer, cheese curds (the staple of the Wisconsinite diet), a couple games of pool (free ever since someone broke the sliding coin acceptor), cookies (because someone brought cookies), and conversation with the locals, mostly about how many shots Thor, the designated driver, should get in exchange for driving the others back to town. In the morning, we drove to our real destination: The House on the Rock.
Check back soon for PART TWO of Eric Hendrixson’s Bizarro Field Trip featuring The House on the Rock with creepy-cool photos!
Eric Hendrixson was born a military brat overseas. He has lived in England, Texas, Spain, Texas, Iowa, Texas, and Virginia. Attending two kindergartens, two elementary schools, five junior high schools (one twice), two high schools, and two colleges, he learned that most realities are hypothetical and are merely intended as suggestions. His first job, in musical theater, confirmed that lesson.
That’s right. No FFF this week. We here at Bizarro Central are in dire need of content!
If you have a bizarro story, 2000 words or less, attach it as a .doc or .rtf and send it to email@example.com. Please include a brief, single paragraph bio.
Here’s a fun gif:
Thirty, jobless, and going prematurely bald, amateur director Simon has dumped every last dime into his pet project: a musical adaptation of the cult film LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD. With a week til curtains up, the production is a disaster. His actors can’t act, his crew hates his guts, and his set has a tendency to go up in flames. And all that is before the actual leprechaun, a mythological beast with a penchant for limericks and grisly murder, catches wind of the whole operation. Gathering as many four-leaf-clovers and wrought-iron spears as they can, the surviving cast and crew must band together to kill the creature and ensure that the musical goes ahead as planned. But with an army of undead strippers at his side, the leprechaun is determined to disembowel, behead, and battle rap his way toward reclaiming his gold…and his intellectual property.
by Chris Kelso
I take time over the stress of every word. Do you like to write? You like to read though…right?
To be an artist is to suffer.
The deliria can be rather disorientating, so I decide to connect the rooms in my house with lines of taut thread and then I’m is able to feel my way along each strand to the desired part of the house. I believe the reward of suffering is experience and that pain is the great teacher of mankind.
I pass through the door that connects the hallway to the kitchen and immediately hallucinate. A tessellation of colours set in viridian zig-zag towards me like lightening through fog. I forget why I went into the room in the first place. My mind is now brimming with brilliant ideas that I hope can be retained until I gets back to his study, but first I have to eat.
I go to the white rectangle that freezes my food and bring out a red, raw, rounded object, perhaps an onion or an apple. I laugh so hard at the pulsing fruit/veg heartbeat in the palm of my hand that I have to stop myself, as if suddenly surprised by, and aware of, my own mirth. I eat the fruit/veg.
I exit the blue lightening kitchen and re-enter the hallway that connects each room. I go back into the study fast as degenerate matter, full of renewed fervour and manage to type up some of my backlogged ideas. I believe there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
If you walk in on this stooped and mealy coloured man writing at his desk, you’ll notice a few things – firstly, when I masturbate I moves my penis in circular gyrations between the tight O of my thumb and index finger in a way that would suggest I have my technique down to a very fine art – hallucinations are at their most vivid when I’m at a climax, or so I would claim. I enter the vortex of my own hand and am frequently mesmerised by the subsequent pearlescent geyser. Masturbation is the only respite from my perpetual creativity which has devoured me like syphilis, and I masturbate a lot.
Secondly, I am a man who, unlike the rest of the Slave State émigré, am in possession of more than a little street-cool. My fix-up bildungsroman novels have gained a cult following amongst underground literary enthusiasts. A man of the picaresque, of the nouveau roman…One suspects that no one realises I am imprisoned in my own mind, in my own home, in fact! Where behind each door is a new ugly and visceral delusion waiting to set upon me…
I enter the hallway again and continue along to the door leading to the bathroom. A hallucination hits me the moment I drops his trousers. Although I feel intact and present, I am certain that the cortical stimulation I’m experiencing since eating the circular fruit/veg has left me foaming in the heart of an epileptic seizure. I remember that I believes we cannot learn without pain and that Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.
I drop to my knees, void my bowels and feel the rest of my brilliant ideas leave my body in a jet of multi-coloured excrement. On my knees, I nurse my empty head and my empty stomach. I pull myself to my feet and feel around for the rope that leads to the sanctuary of my study, but my wriggling fingers investigation only fresh air…
‘Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.’ I mumble to myself and the redundancy of it all sears through me like a thimbleful of neutron star.
Henry Malkmus pops into my head. He has a concentration camp tattoo on his arm.
– Why did you make me the way I am? – He asks.
– Who would you rather have been? Ignius Ellis? Larry? Dan Smear? Denny Carr maybe? How about Kip Novikov or Big Sur? Isabella? The Black Dog virus perhaps? You already are all those people. My characters are so poorly fleshed out. You idiot, don’t you realise it doesn’t matter?
– It does to me. Why did I have to get stuck behind a drywall and get raped by shadow demons?
– The bisexual incubus thingy?
– I was actually running low on ideas…
– Well ain’t that just fuggin great?!?
– Listen, Henry…can I call you Henry? I’m not a bad guy, just a bad writer.
– I keep seeing silverfish…
– That’s my fault I suppose.
– No fuggin shit?
– I had a character in a book called ‘Transmatic’ called Ignius Ellis who discovered that the Slave State was run by extra-terrestrials who were closely sprung from Silverfish. Quite funny really…
– So I’m not even really….me?
– Fraid not, you’re kind of a cross between Ignius Ellis and a bunch of other McGuffins :)
– You can write in emoticon?
– So can you, look…
– I don’t know if I can…
_ :) :) :)
– Hey, I’m sorry…Henry was it?
– What am I supposed to do with myself now?
– What’s cliché for you won’t go by you. It’s better to have clichéd and lost than never to have clichéd at all, right? Am I right? Plenty more cliché in the sea!
– God dammit! How does it end? Just tell me that much? Come on! Come on tell me! TELL ME! HOW DOES IT END? HOW DOES THIS FUCKING END YOU CUNT, YOU UTTER CUNT????
Malkmus starts to fade out as easily as he had appeared before me.
There is the sound of a younger man inside the hollowed concave of my skull – weeping. I am almost fresh out of ideas, almost free from the slavery of imagination. I cannot wait to be free.
I feel the loose, exposed circuitry as the brain tries it’s best to self-apply electrical tape, to twist naked connectors and achieve new voltages with frayed wiring. I know I will be fine eventually – until I walk into a different room of the house that is…
Malkmus stared at the concentric crater, observed its bowl shaped, low-rimmed hollows then stood aside so the nosegay of plant-alien scientist could get a better look. They had Slave State badges on their lab coats and t-shirts underneath that read YOYODYNE COMPANY
Chris Kelso is a writer, illustrator and editor. His books include – The Dissolving Zinc Theatre (Vilipede Publications), The Black Dog Eats the City (Omnium Gatherum), Schadenfreude (Dog Horn Publishing), Last Exit to Interzone (Black Dharma Press), A Message from the Slave State (Western Legends Books), Terence, Mephisto & Viscera Eyes (Bizarro Pulp Press), Moosejaw Frontier (Bizarro Pulp Press), Transmatic (MorbidbookS) . He recently edited Caledonia Dreamin’ – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent with Hal Duncan and is the co-creator of the anti-New Yorker, Imperial Youth Review.
“BIZARRO ACROSS AMERICA” PROGRESSIVE BOOK TOUR BRINGS STRANGE NEW VOICES TO THE EAST COAST!
In September 2014, the writers, artists and co-conspirators of the Bizarro genre are coming to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, to spread the gospel of Bizarro Fiction to new audiences and die-hard fans.
September 1, 3pm: Bizarro Writer’s Workshop @ CHOP SUEY BOOKS — 2913 W Cary St, Richmond, VA
September 1, 8pm: THE WINGNUT — 2005 Barton Avenue, Richmond, VA
September 3, 7pm: THE COPYCAT — 1501 Guilford Ave, Baltimore, MD
September 4, 3pm: Bizarro Writer’s Workshop @ A-SPACE, 4722 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA
September 4, 7pm: THE FARM
September 5, 6pm: YORK EMPORIUM — 343 W Market St, York, PA
September 6, 7pm: MELLOW PAGES LIBRARY — Studio 1Q, 56 Bogart Street (@ Harrison, across from the L Line Morgan Ave station), Brooklyn, NY
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE TO ATTEND!
BIZARRO FICTION is a fast-growing underground genre of high weirdness, with over 100 titles in print from ERASERHEAD PRESS, RAW DOG SCREAMING, BIZARRO PULP PRESS and others. It’s been described as “the genre of Anything Goes” and “the literary equivalent of the Cult section of your video store, back when there were video stores.”
The BIZARRO ACROSS AMERICA TOUR will feature readings, performance and odd behavior from some combination of:
MYKLE HANSEN — Wonderland Award-winning author of “I, SLUTBOT” and “HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME!”
“Mykle Hansen has already proven himself to be one of the great new humorists of our time, in league with Christopher Moore, Terry Prachett, Robert Rankin, and Tom Robbins, only a hell of a lot weirder.” – Carlton Mellick III
VIOLET LEVOIT — Baltimore-based author of “I AM GENGHIS CUM”
“An amazing performer … also stunning on the page. The prose is fast and cruel, beating down all taboos. Go read. Don’t eat anything while you do so.” – Daniel Wallace
BRADLEY SANDS — author of “RICO SLADE WILL FUCKING KILL YOU” and “TV SNORTED MY BRAIN”
“There is no simple way to describe Bradley Sands’ fiction, but ‘superretardo anarchy awesomeness’ is a good start … one of the funniest authors you will ever read.” — VERBICIDE
WILLIAM PAULEY III — author of “THE BROTHERS CRUNK” and “DOOM MAGNETIC”
“THE BROTHERS CRUNK is a bizarrely imaginative blend of sci-fi, horror and fantasy adventure… creativity has never flowed so freely… a perfect example of bizarro fiction… every single line is littered with wild and imaginative ideas.” – FANGORIA
CHRISTOPH PAUL — author of “PSYCHOANALYTIC CELEBRITY POEMS” and “THE PASSION OF THE CHRISTOPH”
“Everything you were afraid to ask (or find out) about men and sex, toilet paper rolls, porn stores, teenage rehab, post-sex etiquette, being single, military school, and karma. Paul is now one of my favorite humor essayists; David Sedaris eat your heart out.” — INDIEREADER
G. ARTHUR BROWN — author of “KITTEN”
“KITTEN is bizarro written with sincerity… I’d call it slow-burning bizarro.” — S.T. Cartledge, House Hunter
CHRIS GENUA — author of “FOOP!” and “LICK YOUR NEIGHBOR”
“Chris Genua is one of our authentic literary lunatics…” – James Marrow
“..a new, innovative, clever author with a thrilling amount of potential: when he’s good, he’s so good that no one can touch him.” – REFLECTION’S EDGE
ERIC MAYS — author of “NAKED METMORPHOSIS” and “KARAOKE DEATH SQUAD”
“KARAOKE DEATH SQUAD is the book that secured Eric Mays’ place in my mind as one of the funniest guys in print.” — Joshua Myers
SCOTT COLE — author of VIOLINS FOR SALE and a top secret, forthcoming novella
“VIOLINS FOR SALE is weird, a little dark, a little violent, but more than anything, it’s fun, which is what bizarro fiction is all about.” — Cameron Pierce
PLUS: Brian Keene, John Lawson, Adam Cesare and more still confirming!
Bizarro is the genre of the strange. The stories and poetry of Bizarro are often provocative, usually funny, always outrageous. Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders they still have gained great respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov’s Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Fangoria, Cemetery Dance, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Details Magazine, Gothic Magazine, and The Face, among many others. Bizarro books have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.
Follow all things Bizarro here: http://bizarrocentral.com
For press queries and other information, contact Mykle Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org