Perhaps we should look into the center.
“The persona is a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual.”
“Cities are the same as people.”
The city shows us the things we want to see while we ignore the things we cannot face. In this way the city becomes a fractured mirror. Consider the man who believed his only chance at justice was to take a hostage and march him around town. Or the idealistic dancer who packed the theater yet was cast out by the city. A grand decaying facility on the west side once housed the broken and wounded while a global corporation on the other side of town modifies our brain chemistry and tinkers with the size of cows. A man searches for ghosts in the basement of a bar. Last night a homeless man was arrested when he asked a kind-looking woman for a quarter to catch the bus. And perhaps you’re standing in the center of it all, looking up at the grand columns, scrollwork, and statuary commemorating bloody moments that seem like they happened in a very distant land.
In The Manufactured History of Indianapolis, James A. Reeves blends historical fact, urban legends, and speculative fiction into a world of haunted houses and asylums, kidnappers and peacemakers, old-timers like Troublemaker and Carly Dee, and the ever-present heat of the crowd. This is a wide-angle portrait of what might be the most American city.
Inspired by the methodology of Surrealism and the madness of Dada, the Bureau of Manufactured History is a collaboration between the composer Oliver Blank and writer James A. Reeves that explores the unconscious content of cities.
“The Manufactured History of Indianapolis reminds readers that histories are not always just made. Sometimes they are made up. Folklore, faded memories, and misunderstandings are an important part of the way people understand a place and its past . . . In this book, Reeves invites readers to develop memories of that which remains unseen.”
Signed paperback edition with Big American Night stickers, photographs, miscellany
Pocketbook / 4.3 × 6.9 in / 130 pages
Published by We Are City
She wanted to become a ghost who creeps at the margins of national memory, known only by grizzled old bachelors who see black helicopters in the sky.
Somewhere in Philadelphia.
Crowds cheer on the street. Meanwhile in a dark motel room, Sunnyland Slim sings, “I’m gonna buy me a Johnson machine gun.” He says he’s gonna break his no-good woman out of jail.
Shuttered motels, sun-bleached 1950s fast food signs, and aisles of long-haul trucks sleeping in gas station parking lots.
Somewhere in Utah
A frightened voice on the radio said, “And if we get hit by a huge Syrian x-ray in the dead of winter that takes out our power grid?” She drove past shuttered motels, sun-bleached 1950s fast food signs, and aisles of long-haul trucks sleeping in gas station parking lots. Pall Mall. Lucky Strike. She preferred the old man brands, the unfiltered choices of men who didn’t give a damn. She believed in tradition.
An old Zenith plays over the bar in the Comfort Lounge.
Somewhere in Missouri
These are strange days when the mind settles yet the body rebels or the other way around, yet the two always agree for a few minutes around midnight. An old Zenith plays over the bar in the Comfort Lounge. A news anchor with aerodynamic hair says our internet passwords will be replaced by retina scans. “It might happen sooner than you think,” he says with a laugh while a woman stares into her drink and whispers, “I refuse to believe in a god of confusion.” Voices are quickly swept beneath the jukebox playing dance dance dance to the radio but an old man growls in the woman’s head loud and clear, a distant memory-voice saying all you want is more more more, more booze, more sex, more food, more sleep, anything so long as you don’t have to look at you. She looks up at the television and sees a celebrity smiling in a razor-wire prison and she cannot tell if it’s a movie, reality show, or news report.
Across town an old man in snakeskin boots sips his espresso and says, “Shame. What a waste. She could be a very happy girl.” It’s the most damning thing I’ve heard in a long time, so I go home. I’m trying understand the Greeks these days and I spend five minutes outlining the differences between Anaximander and Anaximenes, one of whom believed the earth was shaped like a cylinder while the other believed it was more like a round table. A girl in a mint green skirt calmly walks her dog in the rain and I get distracted. That’s when I discover that I’m happiest when I’m smoking a cigarette with a cup of coffee, thinking about quitting smoking and no longer drinking coffee.