Hamburger Valley, California

Hamburger Valley, California

by David McGimpsey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554902354
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 04/01/2001
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 102
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

David McGimpsey is a poet, essayist, and musician. The author of two previous collections (Dogboy  and Lardcake, also published by ECW Press), as well as the recent critical study Imagining Baseball: America’s Pastimeand Popular Culture, he currently writes and teaches in Montreal.

Read an Excerpt

Hamburger Valley, California

By David McGimpsey, Michael Holmes


Copyright © 2001 David McGimpsey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-235-4


    O Porco Mio

    How can I live knowing there's a fish called crappie?
    How can I contemplate the spider's delicate noose,
    the manta ray skimming the seafloor, the weed-eating goats,
    when Donny and Marie are yet once more on TV?

    I'm a little bit tubby, I'm a little bit unemployed,
    though there was the time I worked the photocopy stall
    on the unpopular side of the Riverside Mall
    and got canned (they say) "for making helicopter noises."

    How could I go on without snooze button technology?
    Without the deep back-up of anti-stumble meds,
    just in case I ever want to step elegantly off a jet
    after counting the crests on the wide-like-me sea?

    I double cream, take out the instructions and sleep on my side —
    despite the whirly musics and the unsolid bits
    I may get to use the moneys from a prestigious scholarship
    to finance (I hope) the greatest Sasquatch hoax of our time.

    Ashley Peacock Rubber Room

    The lover crashes through the room
    wearing plaid
    but avoiding other baked bean, East-end accents;
    bumps into a makeshift card table,
    provoking the scorn of players
    who've been all the way to Belgium and back;
    sees a local is holding a pair of sevens.
    That's the way it is most of the time.
    The lover starts out ineffectually,
    all strange accelerations and unexplained floodings,
    umming and ahhing, misquoting old sources —
    even Canto III from The Rubicon of Omar Curtis Armstrong;
    but, used to using words like "gobstopper" and "brill,"
    the lover laments an elaborate pseudohistory,
    sharpens the cleaver,
    separates chuck from loin,
    hangs up his blood-smeared apron
    and halfheartedly defends the oeuvre of The Brat Pack;
    so, the Emilio Estevez pose.
    The lover isn't practiced like a radio doctor
    but he imitates that tell it like it is lilt,
    talks with a slightly pressured tone,
    rushing out "last thoughts"
    as if at any minute the station will break
    for ads from a man who calls himself Crazy
    for fronting a company of mattress retailers and blender czars.
    The lover doesn't act quickly
    but strangely thinks love spasmodic;
    moves like an overused human subject in edible-chemical tests,
    like one who's spent days challenging
    molecules in a preservative
    found in radish-flavored chips
    sold only in Asian specialty shops.
    The lover believes in change
    and, therefore, is ultimately pro cult;
    powerless in the face of the cult's understanding embrace
    of another world
    where babies do not cry out
    as they cart mother robots off to the robot colony.
    The lover asks the same questions,
    so often the words lose definition.
    dolphin assignation,
    forever science,
    rabbit flag,
    rocky incognito,
    tomato solstice.
    The lover becomes an assembly line —
    an assembly line in a hungry continent —
    cranking out electronic toys which dispense mild shocks,
    toys that may or may not be responsible
    for spreading a fatigue-related virus
    that only affects part-time University instructors
    (hence its colloquial name, "The Lucky Flu").
    I love ya, says the lover through uncapped teeth,
    reedily, intimating the cuddly prerogatives
    of the marrying kind,
    aiming ready happys,
    breaking earth on his final
    de-pantsing ground.
    The lover chooses a burgundy.
    the one that goes best with chest pains,
    the one that compliments stuttering,
    the one that puts a fine leathery finish
    on a lifetime of fry.
    The doormat to the flat reads Welcome.
    The lover thinks of what it would be like
    to swallow origamied rsvps.

    nice at any price

      Liberace tamagotchi

    & Cindy Margolis's old-fashioned poultice
        Linda Tripp's licorice whip

    Rebecca Romijn's aspertame
    Slimming, slimming

    From Rita Wilson to Jonathan Taylor
        Thomas's adventureland

      Wesley Snipes handiwipes

    & Ginger Lynn Allen's home pregnancy challenge
      Geri Halliwell sings lovesongs from hell to Bill "The Tuna" Parcells

    peer through
      Vanna White's color-adjusted Sky Light

      Anna Kournikova's banana-hued Range Rover

    and fire up
      a Justin Timberlake rib-eye steak.

      & Gwyneth Paltrow's pin number is Ten Eight Four O
    to the Affleck-affected sexbank, the Pitt pit

    (the Carmen Electra perfecta?)

    where Debbie Matenopolous is no sadder than the rest of us
      maybe just a little, just a little less sunshine

    Ancient Rock Mythology

    I Alice Cooper at Thermopylae

    At a store that mostly sold winter shovels,
    a record bin.
    There lay ambition: switched pricetags
    and Alice Cooper's School's Out came home.
    Camped out by a water-streaked console,
    more furniture than high fidelity,
    coffin-sized, still geared for 78 speed,
    parents' Pete Seeger records tucked tight inside;
    turned on low, ear to the speaker,
    getting comfy, pushing it up,
    waiting-out the inevitable
    Will you turn that damn thing down?
    School's Out had everything: loud guitars,
    praises of juvenile delinquency,
    lyrics about trading cigarettes for beer,
    street fight sound effects —
    cats' claws, broken glass.
    And, the world's greatest promotional item —
    the disc came wrapped in a white panty,
    a soft, elastic, waxy see-through piece.
    Whatever happened to the underwear?
    It was certainly too confusing
    to be thought of as just a rockin' souvenir.
    On thin ice defending Alice Cooper,
    how would girls' white frillies be explained
    to good people who listened to "Feelin' Groovy"?
    A plastic stereo by luck of a birthday;
    locked in the room, volume creeping up,
    bangs on the door, battering, "Turn that down.
    Turn that down! I can't hear myself think!"
    Never. And, in a way, that door was never opened,
    and the records spun my lonesomeness,
    staring at walls —
    bare (but black lighted).

    II Ritchie Blackmore and the Golden Fleece

    In a basement with faux-mahogany paneling,
    his brother's precious records.
    Said Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple
    could actually make a guitar sing;
    "Child in Time" over and over,
    waiting on the transformation,
    his mother coming in and out,
    Eggo waffles and Ice Palace pop.
    Never heard the guitar vocalize
    but it was heavy.
    Not like Zep's flamboyance,
    which was more about chicks,
    satin pants
    and chest hair.
    The Purples intimated the glamour of hotel-room hepatitis,
    gave birth to Fender Strat fantasies
    which would forever be balanced
    by You suck sureties.
    Funky Claude c'est nous.
    Came through to early metal music pronunciations.
    where "stranger" was "strange-ahh"
    and "king" was "key-ay-ing."
    A vital corporeal truth.
    if your ears didn't ring for three full days
    it couldn't have been much of a concert.
    Bootlegs titled Decibel Lords,
    Music to Make Your Ears Bleed,
    Unreasonably Loud
and Deep Deafness.
    Blackmore solo, 1976,
    his elaborate light works fritz-out,
    delays the start of the show until 2 a.m..
    More older brothers and sisters recognized,
    Tiffany Tavern regulars:
    "Whatcha doin here punk?
    You get tickets at the Forum, punk?
    You got anything with you, punk?
    Need us to getcha a beer, punk?"
    A February night at 4 a.m.,
    car exhaust hugs the asphalt
    as a deep cold slaps back rasp and sweat;
    in a full gallop on grand St. Catherine Street
    just enough coin in pocket to buy a Sprite at Mr. Sub.

    III John Lennon and the Minotaur

    Bullish days and thick black smoke,
    a smack of honey bud, as if, as if, as if
    there was a chance (and High School might end).
    John Lennon singing Nietzsche-lite.
    as if he could proclaim the death of Elvis,
    as if he could navigate generational distrust,
    and encode all peer suspicion
    in Fuck you songs written to Paul McCartney.
    Through birthdays of beige corduroy
    and mumbling counselors who sat by the window,
    smiling at the mention of music lessons,
    their eyes on the mall across the highway
    where they took their afterschool pints.
    Called to sacrifice teen angers
    to some college-bound code of maturity,
    we refused. Giving up on normal,
    we did the most normal things.
    a matinee of the Jaws-ripoff Grizzly,
    a tequila bottle dropped in Rossini's Pizza.
    Nickels and dimes to plug the box,
    lyric sheets to memorize.
    Rock music the centerpiece of any life choice,
    the only hope for change.
    a new album nuanced where you wanted to go,
    what society you hoped to leave.
    As you could escape the prisons of BTO and Styx
    so might you find your way through the hallways,
    by the likes of Plastic Ono
    and / or an Inuit-carved toke-stone.
    The long wait for income-adjusters and oncologists
    underscored by a thousand dopey dead ends;
    warming to bright island music
    when any ukulele would do.

    IV Curse on the House of Aerosmith

    Sometime after ABBA called it quits,
    they say Agnetha became reclusive;
    long walks around the parklands of Stockholm —
    no interviews please.
    But even when "Waterloo" and "Chiquitita" raved
    the jean jacket set, the partyers, had rigorous laws:
    Disco sucks, man.
    Barry Manilow? Gay.
    Disco sucks, man.
    ABBA? Gay.

    Black Oak Arkansas, on the other hand,
    was worthy of heavy investment.
    get to the concert early to beat the festival seating rush
    and only a hundred people show,
    partyers all.
    Jim Dandy shakes every hand
    like a well-bred Southern Democrat
    and puffs-up on stage. It was routine, it was work.
    an Emerson Lake and Palmer summer concert
    with a symphony orchestra that went on strike,
    Pink Floyd with a giant inflatable pig
    that did not inflate,
    Peter Frampton with hair that crossed
    Louis Quatorze with Cheryl Ladd;
    and, of course, Thin Lizzy
    and the riff in "The Boys Are Back in Town."
    Even Rush, Max Webster, ZZ Top and Argent
    served their purpose,
    remaining undanceable and repulsive to girls.
    Why hurry? Could such rock-ready geeks,
    what with their taste for instant mashed potatoes,
    really smoke their way through? Come on.
    Would they ever be the ones
    to sit high as a Trump,
    gored by pinot noire and West Side quacks?
    It must have been ripening wisdom
    (or is that "aging out of the demographic"?),
    and it certainly was Aerosmith
    who ended the rock concert streak;
    the Toys in the Attic Aerosmith,
    the Aerosmith on cocaine Aerosmith.
    A big, bright stage show;
    a wall of flood lights pulses out the letter "A"
    and winds down behind the band
    like a rusty ferris wheel at the county fair.
    Straddling the backs of chairs,
    straining to see over wicked heads of hair,
    the repetitive right-on fist pumps,
    rocking a whole row. It was glorious,
    it was a bore. It was long before
    retro disco parties around tasteful kitchens,
    where reformed partyers danced to "Mama Mia"
    in-between conversations which start out "So, what do you do?"
    It was long before Aerosmith's post-ironic durability
    as awards show entertainment.
    Decreed a smoky cul-de-sac for "Yeah, man" sayers,
    the rock show became another "never again" thing,
    as if one could manage destiny by such a choice —
    but now, what do I do?
    Bounce fabric softener has brought increased happiness
    and Agnetha Fältskog walks alone.


Excerpted from Hamburger Valley, California by David McGimpsey, Michael Holmes. Copyright © 2001 David McGimpsey. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. O Porco Mio,
Ashley Peacock Rubber Room,
nice at any price,
Ancient Rock Mythology,
"Let's Hear It for Seasonal Affected Disorder!",
The Jenny Jones Show,
Où Est Queen Street?,
Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" by Frank Sinatra,
Museum Sweet,
As Seen on ER,
The Ballad of Scatter, Elvis's Pet Chimp,
The Inaugural Poem of the Los Angeles Subway System,
2. Dr. Tubby,
Alanis Glossettes,
Air Lardo,
Is It Any Wonder?,
Mr. Baseball,
Vili Fualaau à Paris,
The Narcissus Bloat,
Shake Hands with Oprah,
Tubb E.'s in Love,
Gnawed End Piece,
Millennial Predictions,
Big Pants on Campus,
Thank God for TV,
Lardcake III: The Wrath of Tubby,
That's New England to Me,
More Millennial Predictions,
Gravy-Boy 360°,
The West Wing-Ding,
Fatlanta, GA,
Secret Confessions of Jacques Cousteau,
New Chunky McBeal,
Dollar Store Blazon,
Darva Conger's Oscar Party,
Evel Knievel Knoodle,
3. Hamburger Valley, California,

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