Snail Mail in Braille

Diary, Aug 31, 2021: Early morning. A car with no catalytic converter slowly parallel parks outside my window. The driver gets out and urinates right on the street, in plain view of everything. Only minutes later a teenage girl walks by. The car drives off, as loudly as it arrived. 

On my way out, I discover two people sprawled out on the floor of the lobby, nearly blocking the entrance. One is digging through a garbage bag, the other is picking her nose. “Good morning,” I say as I step around them. One grunts back, but neither look up at me. 

A few blocks away I happen upon a greeting card soaking wet on the ground near some mailboxes. It’s homemade. “Happy Birthday, Amber.” Amber’s friend wishes she could be there to celebrate. “Here are some cards to play drinking games with.” As I continue on I see another birthday note and an opened package on the ground. The gift remnants are scattered on the side of the street for the next couple blocks, and it becomes clear that a thief has stolen Amber’s mail, torn it open, and discarded what wasn’t of value to them. 

I get very sad. I think about how we’ve treated each other in the last couple years, and how close to cannibalism we are at this very moment. For a painful, terrifying moment, part of me wishes a real plague would come along and wipe us all off the planet, and do it quick before the billionaires have a chance to get to Mars. 

When I enter the woods, I encounter a beautiful little snail slowly making its way across the trail. A year ago, I would’ve transported the creature to safety so it wouldn’t get crushed by some oblivious jogger mom or manbun-wearing hiker bro. Sometimes, if it was a banana slug, I would stand by and wait ten minutes for it to safely cross. But today I leave it in the hands of God, or somebody like God.

Self-Portrait of Gib Strange by Michaelangelo (a podcast appearance)

I made a new friend. Here’s my talk with writer/artist/psychedelic trickster The Ungoogleable Michaelangelo:

Audio gets fuzzy at times from the 20—40 min marks. If you can’t tolerate it, just skip ahead. Despite technical difficulties interrupting the natural conversation flow, we managed to make a good connection. We’re investigating a lot of the same territory in our work and have a similar appreciation for paradoxical inversions and acrobatic associations. Michaelangelo gets it, and, as you’ll hear in the hilarious intro, he does a pretty good impression of me. Or rather, he does a good parody of my parody of myself 😉




On Thanksgiving—actual Thanksgiving—the building is eerily quiet. The office is dark. The staff are all at home with their families. I go for a walk outside, where the breeze blows cold. The stores are closed, and the sidewalks and park are empty. I sit down on the bench below the American flag whipping in the wind, and watch the pigeons shuffle about, as the faraway silence moves through me in strange, ethereal waves, surrounding my mind in a cool vapor of unreality.


I think of the old Twilight Zone episode where a man finds himself alone in an empty town, with no memory of who he is, or how he got there. Evidence in the form of a lit cigar in an ashtray and a jukebox left on, indicate that the town was recently inhabited, but as he wanders around he finds not a soul, and begins to suspect he’s dreaming. By the end of the episode, paranoid that he’s being watched, the man is running through the streets screaming, “Where is everybody?” When he pushes a button at the crosswalk, it’s revealed to be a panic button, and the man is seen in an isolation booth being observed by men in uniform, who then break him out of what was only a sensory deprivation-induced hallucination. This isolation experiment was a test of his fitness as an astronaut in preparation for a long, lonely trip to the moon. 


Having aired a couple years before Ham the Astrochimp survived his launch into space, and a decade before human astronauts finally reached the moon, this episode is now a remembered anticipation of future space travel. It has proven oddly prescient about the isolation and loneliness of modern life though. Also, with growing internet conspiracy theories about the moon landing, there’s a sense that the event was a kind of collective hallucination. I wonder if anyone’s ever dreamt about waking up to discover they’re the only person on Facebook.


Today, the moon is alone in the big blue sky, plain and striking, full and luminous. I tilt my head back further, and watch the flag above me rippling against the sky. Assuming the lunar landing wasn’t fake, did you know the American flag Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted on the moon is no longer American? Exposure to harsh ultraviolet sun rays has long since bleached the flag white. Instead of a claim staked by a conquering nation, now the flag appears to signal surrender to aliens. I close my eyes and picture in my mind, the white flag on the moon, hanging eerily still against the black sky.


The wind picks up, sending a chill through me, and I decide to make my way back home. At the crosswalk, I wait for the light to change, even though there are no cars coming. I press the panic button, but the observers of this experiment, if they exist, do not intervene. Across the street, parts of the red “Don’t not walk” hand have been covered by black tape, so that it appears to be giving the middle finger.

Ghost Hunting Video

Dear listeners, readers (and soon to be viewers), I have created a NUV YouTube channel with video clips for excerpts from the audiobook. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE! I only have 9 subscribers. It’s sad. In honor of Halloween, I’ve just posted 2 new videos of the ghost hunting bit from the chapter The Invisible Script. They are 3:45 each. I couldn’t decide which suited the spirit of the piece more, so this is a kind of choose your own misadventure. The “haunting version” is spooky, abstract, and immersive, while the “hunting version” is funnier and more accessible. Maybe I will leave them both up and whichever has the most likes/views by Halloween is the one that stays. A little healthy competition.

Hope you’re all well out there in ghostland.