February 10, 2014

“That boy’s moving his bowels pretty good.”

dog_poopFor The Love of Canine Effluvia

For a epicurean of Ackerman memes, there is, of course, a taxonomic issue, since Ackerman’s “official” literary output was often rife the repetition of oddball fragments that were not strictly “memes” as they were encapsulated in a single artwork. Once such “border case” is the one in question: “That boy’s moving his bowels pretty good.”

This phrase is uttered in a story of Ackerman’s (unpublished, and I’ve been unable to find the story yet), but I could swear I heard him say it 3 or 4 times about my dog (who happens to be female) when we lived together. Further, hearing Ackerman read this story got my friend Kevin* excited about this meme, who continued to drop it into conversations for years after, and who considers it a “true meme.” The trick is with this one is to deliver it like you are a very old man, rather world-weary, but with a fixation.

All of which reminds me of the time Ackerman read his famous “Not Ideas About The Gobbling, But The Gobbling Itself” at an African-American “Father’s Day Poetry Throwdown” night. This monumental text repeats the word “gobbling” hundreds of time, and is classic Ackerman “Language Writing to A Bad End.” In other words, fascinating, embarrassing gibberish.

Ackerman had been asked to “read” at this event by our very nice neighbor Linda Thompson, who new him as a nice old man and didn’t really understand the nature of his work. Al then asked me to accompany as his “bodyguard,” which I did–resulting in one of the most squirm-inducing experiences in my life.

Going on fourth (after three very earnest and stereotypically “bad poetry slam style” African-American men had thrown down), it was finally Al’s turn. He began by saying, “since today is father’s day, I thought I’d read a nice poem about Thanksgiving,” and proceeded to plow through 20 minutes of gobbling, gobbling, and more gobbling. There are times when people are offended or put off and there are times when the people are so overwhelmed by concerted disrespect to their context that nothing can even be expressed or brought up—where people look down and shake their head, defeated by a superior insanity.  This was one of those times. I was amazed we got out alive, and payed no vast social consequences for something so deeply ill-advised. Ackerman said to me, as we were leaving, “John, I’m glad they didn’t come at us an try to hurt our back!”

What does this have to do with the dog turd meme? Ackerman’s own father was schizophrenic, white, and very very wealthy–though his mental illness cost him his freedom. And, to my knowledge… he also never had a dog. End of story.

* Incidentally, Kevin doesn’t believe that Blaster was particularly concerned with the intestinal regularity of the canines he would single-out for praise, but rather wanted to revel in the anticipation of the fact that soon the pet’s owner will be bending down to scoop hot dog shit into a plastic bag—something he found intrinsically funny.

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